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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Song of the Week! 22 December 2012

Well, we safely dodged the "end of the world" frenzy and jumped into the end-year holiday period, ready for some well-deserved rest. What better occasion to make a SotW feature larger than usual?

In a nutshell, today we'll feature six songs, one for each music genre in Taiko games! (Variety/Children genres count together as one) Two of these are picked by me, two by aquabluu/pikaby and the other two are requests made by our readers! So, with so many songs the feature took quite a while to make, but it was all worth it.

 Memeshikute (女々しくて)
Allx3 (104)x4 (147) x5 (244)x8 (378)
 Taiko 0.5, Taiko PSP DX, Taiko Wii 5, Taiko Wii U, Taiko 3DS

Today's marathon begins with one of my favorite picks from J-Pop, featured in the very recent arcade/console generation. But first as usual, let's dive into the history of the group who made of Memeshikute one of the latest Oricon hits!

Under the concept of "Hyper Giga Hybrid Super Subculture Visual Rock", vocalist Sho Kiryuin (鬼龍院翔) and guitarist Yutaka Kyan (喜矢武豊) founded the 2004 Visual Kei rock band Golden Bomber, which recruited bassist Jun Utahiroba (歌広場淳) and drummer Kenji Darvish (樽美酒研二) soon after. Golden Bomber produces a lot of music and makes collaborations with many other artists as well. Sho Kiryuin also performs as a standalone singer sometimes, after his debut with the song "Life is SHOW TIME!" (the OP theme of Kamen Rider Wizard, also on Taiko).

Although the roles of the four people in the band are mentioned above, the voice and all the music is done by the one-man army that is Sho Kiryuin. Rather than a regular pop-rock band, Golden Bomber is an "air-performing" band; the studio recordings for their songs are done by other professional musicians (with the music composed by Kiryuin), while in concerts, Golden Bomber's members dance and perform and act out dramas with the aid of videos, instead of performing their songs with their own instruments.

Despite the unusual nature of this "air band", Golden Bomber's singles resulted in big hits, with Memeshikute as their most famous song. Released on October 21st, 2009, the song is their first single and the 7th overall disc released, hitting positions No. 77 and 4 respectively on Oricon's Weekly and Indie charts. Later on, in 2011, the song was featured again in the single "Memeshikute/Nemutakute", hitting positions No.4 and No.1.

Following Memeshikute's renewed popularity, Konami has featured the original version of the song in more than one of Bemani's rhythm games series last year, by skipping only a few franchises. Some months later, both Taiko 3DS and Taiko 0.5 made room for an extract from the original song, although shorter in comparison to the Konami cut. Nevertheless it's the second most played J-Pop song on the arcade, right behind Telecastic Fake Show; as for today, more than 10000 plays have been registered on the arcades, with over 4000 Full Combo plays overall. The version used on Taiko is not a cover; it is the original song by Golden Bomber themselves.

Like most of the newer songs, Memeshikute's Oni mode - notecharted by Etou - is focused more on pattern gimmicks rather than high note counts, mostly with 5-note clusters and Go-Go Time section resembling old J-Pop challenges like Ikenai Taiyou.However with its BPM being average and the low note total giving a less-than-satisfying stamina challenge, it is considered to be quite a overrated 8* Oni chart. Taiko PSP DX's downloadable version of the song includes Golden Bomber's members as special dancers, as well as a 2-piece costume from the band.

Be Somewhere Rockman.EXE Stream OP
Allx3 (129)x6 (187) x7 (378)x9 (477)
 Taiko Anime 2

This song is the only Rockman/Megaman related song in the entire history of Taiko (unless of course Namco decides to pair up with Capcom for this sometime in the future), and since the Blue Bomber just celebrated his 25th anniversary just a week ago on December 17th, what better timing to feature his only song here?

Be Somewhere is an opening theme for the anime adaptation of Rockman.EXE, known outside of Japan as Megaman Battle Network, a spinoff series of the regular Rockman games with RPG elements and a fresh new concept. In a nutshell, Megaman Battle Network takes place in the near future where the Internet is a way of life and everyone connects online with devices called PETs (abbreviation of PErsonal Terminal) and connect to access points to the Net via cyber beings called Net Navis, which have their own personalities and otherwise act like real people, only in digital form. The stage is set with protagonist Lan Hikari (known in Japan as Netto Hikari) and his Net Navi, Rockman.EXE. The duo take up virus busting and set out to defeat the World Three organization, led by none other than Dr. Wily. A large majority of the characters, enemies and bosses are directly lifted off the original 2D Megaman shooters and presented differently.

The game series was first released in 2001 on the Game Boy Advance and was praised for its fresh take on the genre, with two distinct worlds, the real world and cyber world, each offering different forms of gameplay. The battles themselves were also an eye-opener, using computer chips and combinations of them to take out familiar enemies and new ones from the Megaman universe. Megaman Battle Network was extremely popular, and in total spanned six main games and three further spinoffs to it. It is one of the most successful GBA RPG lines and the third most popular Megaman series overall, behind Megaman X and the original Megaman. The anime adaptation was also long and received with much fanfare, spanning four seasons covering the events of the game.

This song is the opening to the third season, Rockman.EXE Stream, which takes Lan and Megaman.EXE through the events of the 4th and 5th GBA games, battling Dr. Regal and the Nebula organization, making new friends, and ending with a confrontation with Duo, a galactic mecha which decides the fate of entire civilizations and destroys those he deems to be unworthy. In Taiko no Tatsujin, Be Somwhere is a very exclusive song, only found in Tobikkiri! Anime Special for the PS2, as a mid-tier 9* Oni chart with average BPM. At the time it was quite challenging with many 2 and 4 note clusters and some longer streams, making for a more complex rhythm than the song might suggest. It might be an 8* chart at the current standards if we see it again in another Taiko game.

Go Go Yuureisen (ゴーゴー幽霊船) Hachi/Kenshi Yonezu
Allx3 (121)x4 (188) x6 (314)x7 (505)
 Taiko PSP DX

This is a very odd song. 'Odd' is still an understatement, especially when you listen to the original song and see the lyrics for yourself. Go Go Yuureisen (lit. Go Go Ghost Ship) is a song produced and sung by oddball indie Japanese artist Kenshi Yonezu (米津玄師) in his 3rd full-length album, diorama. That name sounds familiar, doesn't it? Yep, Kenshi Yonezu is the real-life counterpart of Vocaloid song producer 'hachi'. You can check out his discography and profile here.

No matter how he makes his songs, Vocaloid or otherwise, most of Kenshi Yonezu's songs focus on very unconventional themes and are accompanied by grotesque and/or weird music videos (watch Go Go Yuureisen's original PV here). Hachi did not start out making Vocaloid songs however; he made his own music and was only decently famous with his first album, Hanataba to Suisou. In 2009, Hachi started dabbling in Vocaloid songs and struck gold when he released Matryoshka, his most popular Vocaloid work, and released his second album, Official Orange, this time with all Vocaloid songs. The huge momentum and exposure he gained from Vocaloid propelled his 3rd album, diorama, into being more than just an obscure indie album of Japanese music, and is well-received by the public.

Go Go Yuureisen is the flagship song of the album, and has been licensed for use in more than one rhythm game. Besides being on Taiko PSP DX as a downloadable song, it has also been picked up by Sega for their new rhythm game MaiMai, and is a decently tough song there. On Taiko, Go Go Yuureisen is your regular average 7* Oni with quite a high BPM and a few clusters along the way to trip unsuspecting players up. The song has not seen release anywhere outside of PSP yet.

 Heaven and Hell Overture (「天国と地獄」序曲) Jacques Offenbach
Taiko PS2 5x4 (168)x4 (262)x5 (370)x8 (489)
Taiko 7 to 10x4 (168)x4 (262)x5 (370)x7 (489)
Taiko 11 to 14,
Taiko Wii 2, iOS
x4 (168)x4 (262)x5 (370)x7 (563/504/490)
Taiko DS 1x4 (168)x5 (256)x5 (370)x7 (563/504/490)
Taiko 0, 3DS 2x4 (168)x4 (262)x5 (370)x6 (563/504/490)
Taiko Wii 5x4 (169)x4 (260)x5 (370)x6 (563/504/490)
 Taiko 7 to 14, 0, Taiko PS2 5, Taiko DS 1, Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko Wii 2, 5, Taiko Wii U, Taiko iOS

After pikaby's two songs, today's Classic song comes from a user request from a few weeks ago by cdhsausageboy. Heaven and Hell Overture is an extract of an even larger overture for one of the operas of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), a German-born French composer, cellist and impresario.

The opera in question is called Orphée aux enfers (or Orpheus in the Underworld), which premiered in 1858 with French text written by Ludovic Halévy. It made its debut at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens of Paris, where the original version ran for 228 performances The opera is also said to be the first classical full-length operetta (lasting more than a single act).

It fits in the opéra bouffon sub-genre as its main purpose is not to tell a proper story for the sake of it but rather on satirize the ongoing society's behaviours and costumes. The operetta itself, Orpheous in the Underworld, is a parody of another opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck, named Orfeo ed Euridice (Orpheus and Eurydice) after the Greek myth. By using the characters and backstories of Greek mythology to its advantage, Offenbach's satirical elaboration of the ancient myths scathingly targets the stilted performances of classical drama at the Comédie Française and the scandals in society and politics of the Second French Empire.

The "Heaven and Hell Overture" in Taiko is a very slim extract from Orpheus in the Underworld's overture, focused on the track's most lively section. This "abridged cut" also holds the famous risqué piece known as Galop infernal ("Infernal Galop"), played mostly on the operetta's Act 2 and universally acknowledged as the first association with the Can-Can, a high-energy and physically demanding music hall dance which also made its debut in Orpheus in the Underworld. The opera was brought to Japan in 1914 and, on its performance in the Imperial Theatre, was known as "天国と地獄" (Heaven and Hell), and that name was adopted in Japan instead of "Orpheus in the Underworld", which explains why the latter name is not used on this site; we use the Japanese name.

Making its debut on Taiko PS2 5, the extract from the famous overture has traveled into a wide number of both arcade and console games, with many changes made to its notecharts and difficulty star reductions. Starting as an 8* Oni song, it was soon downgraded to 7* with a newer and more dense challenge packed with forked paths added from Taiko DS1 onwards, and stamina plays a more important role here. A few changes can be seen here and there with the gimmick notes like Giant notes, Yam notes and Kusudama notes making for slight changes.It was further reduced to 6* and becomes one of the hardest songs in the 6* tier with many confusing clusters in the Master path especially towards the end.

 Tower of Babel (バベルの塔)
Allx4 (150)x5 (203) x5 (301)x8 (467)
 Taiko PS2 4, Taiko PSP 1, 2, Taiko Wii U 2
Namco Original -> Game Music

My choice for today's Game Music genre was inspired by the questions of this year's Taiko Quiz competition (you can see all the questions and answers here), leading to this niche console exclusive song.

The mythological Tower of Babel is the name given to two different puzzle games; one released in 1986 for Nintendo's Family Computer (Famicom, the Japanese NES) by Namco, and the other one published in 1989 for Amiga, Atari ST and Acorn Archimedes (yeah, that's the name of the console) by Rainbird Software and Microprose Software, the same company which contributed to making the first PC instalment of the Worms game series. Taiko no Tatsujin is a Namco franchise, so the 1986 game is the one I'm going to elaborate on.

Released in July 16th only in Japan, The Tower of Babel (often mentioned as simply 'Babel') is a platform/puzzle hybrid game and also one of the few Namco games to being featured in the Nintendo Vs. System series, which is a selection of NES games redesigned for arcade gaming in conventional coin-op machines in the late 80ies.

The game's main character is called Indiana Borgnine (インディー・ボーグナイン), an archaeologist who is in search of the fabled floating garden of Babylon. After reading some lost scriptures, he determines that the only way to see them is to travel to the very top of the 64-storey Tower of Babel, a construction mentioned in the Bible. In order to reach the top of the tower, the player has to interact with the L-shaped blocks of the tower, which can be arranged properly in order to create staircases and other balanced shapes to progress to the next level.

Ryuichi Takada (高田龍一) is the composer of the game's soundtrack, as well as this medley in Taiko. The medley begins with the main theme, progressing to the Big Password Stage and the Ending theme, heard when Indiana Borginne finally reaches the floating garden of Babylon. Takada will return later to the Taiko scene by composing an iDOLM@STER song (L.O.B.M) and two SORA songs, Gliese 581 and Bunpasong.

Tower of Babel's 8-star Oni mode is a straightforward 1/12 notechart scrolling at an average speed; however the pattern variety offered by its long clusters still makes it a good challenge for practicing both handswitching and the tricky 1/12 rhythm.

 Fly away
Allx4 (195)x5 (241)x5 (437)x7 (579)
 Taiko 0.5, Taiko Wii 5

Today's final song comes from kathy's request, and it's a really recent song too! Fly away was one of the two default Namco Original songs of Codename Katsu-Don's updated songlist. Fly away has lyrics, telling of the wonderful journeys that dreams inspire in everyone, if the dreamer musters up enough courage in himself to fulfill these dreams. Appropriately, the song is fast-paced and upbeat, giving a very hopeful vibe.

The song is composed by Yano Yoshito (矢野義人), while its lyrics are written and sung by Tanimoto Takahashi (谷本貴義), previously involved in many cover versions of Anime/Dragon Ball songs as well as some remarkable Namco Original songs (Hikari no Kanata e and Happy & Peace among others).

As fast as Koibumi 2000 and as confusing as Go Go Kitchen, Fly away's Oni chart is a rollicking 7* Oni with simple clusters in the middle of streams of notes which can be very fun to play once you have the rhythm down pat. The chart is a reminder of simpler times during the old Taiko standards when a chart of such speed would have been seriously considered for a 9* Oni rating.

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