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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Song of the Week! 13 July 2013

As we've seen on many occasions, the new arcade allows for songs to be easily added and taken out for the usage of special events. Wanna see a couple of those today?

 T.W.L. Kanjani Eight
Allx3 (428)x4 (428) x6 (428)x6 (428)
 Taiko 0 S (promo only)

We can't start talking about limited-edition songs without involving the Japanese variety show Kanjani no Shiwake Eight somehow. And which song would be better than one created by the show hosts themselves? The band I'm talking about is called Kanjani Eight (関ジャニ∞), a modern enka boy band managed by the multimedia talent agency Johnny & Associate, and signed to Imperial Records. As six of their members are from Osaka, their songs often reflect the Kansai region's traditions and stereotypical aspects, reworked in a pop/rock key.

Kanjani Eight was born at the turn of the millenium in the Kansai region as a combination of the four Kansai Juniors from the so-called "Junior Golden Age" of Kansai music (consisting of Subaru Shibutani, Yuu Yokoyama, Shingo Murakami and Ryo Nishikido) and another fresh Japanese group called V. West. Both had an early spike of popularity in their debut years, but competition from newcomers into the field forced the Kansai Juniors and some of the V. West members (Ryuhei Maruyama, Shota Yasuda, Hiroki Uchi) to merge in order to stay relevant. The band finished forming in 2003, with the introduction of drummer Tadayoshi Ohkura and Hiroki Uchi's departure two years earlier to join another band called NEWS.

As part of the talent agency Johnny & Associate, the Kanjani Eight boys have performed as hosts in many other media, like radio broadcasts, movies and television variety shows. Among those, we have the aforementioned Kanjani no Shiwake Eight, which became the band's first hour-long show to be aired during the Golden Time slot, in 2011. Since then more family friendly sections were added to the show. And there's where Taiko comes in!

During some episodes, the show's guest stars are usually invited to try out popular J-Pop and Anime songs on a special Taiko no Tatsujin arcade model, which periodically features J-Pop tunes from Kanjani Eight themselves and other songs which aren't available in public models. However, the TV Asahi headquarters feature that very special model in the lobby to let everyone to try the songs featured in the show. The exclusive J-Pop licenses are usually released in couples or quartets after 2-3 weeks, featuring songs whose Muzukashii and Oni modes share the same note patterns.

The song T.W.L. comes from the first batch of exclusive Kanjani no Shiwake Eight songs as their 16th single. It was released on April 20th, 2011, as part of the double-A single release "T.W.L./Yellow Pansy Street" and it's been used as the opening theme of both the Crayon Shin-chan anime series (being the 13th overall) and for one of its movies as well, named Crayon Shin-chan: The Storm Called: Operation Golden Spy. The song's music video itself is literally the band interacting with Shin-chan itself! While T.W.L. peaked both the Daily and Weekly Oricon charts of the debut period, Kanjani Eight member Yuu Yokohama stated that the song has been one of his favorites to perform with the band.

Besides the occasional 3-note Don clusters, the song's Muzukashii/Oni patterns follow a simple 1/16 pattern so everyone can enjoy the song regardless of skill level.

 Walking Through The Towers Puzzle & Dragons
Allx3 (104)x4 (164) x5 (270)x7 (481)
 Taiko 0 S, Taiko 3DS 3, Taiko Wii U, Taiko +

Before being featured for a particular arcade event, today's second feature has been a limited edition song on console Taiko...twice!

Once simply known as Puzzle & Dragons (Boss Song), Walking Through The Towers is one of the BGM tunes of the aforementioned 2012 Japanese mobile game Puzzle & Dragons. Developed by GungHo Online Entertainement, the game is a split-screen hybrid RPG/match-three puzzle game: the lower half of the screen is made up of colored jewels, and players drag one of them around to form same-color rows or columns to defeat the monsters in the upper screen. You get to recruit and train the monsters encountered, much like in Pokemon.

The game is currently the highest-grossing iOS and Android application in the world, with 16 million downloads in Japan only and a monthly revenue between 62 and 84 million dollars. These numbers for a free-to-play videogame made GungHo a very rich company, even richer than Nintendo itself! Speaking of Nintendo, a 3DS sequel to the game, named Puzzle & Dragons Z, has been announced during the Pazudora Fan Thanksgiving 2013 event to be released for both Japan (Winter 2013) and North America (2014).

As for the songs in the game, Walking Through The Towers is composed by Kenji Ito (伊藤賢治) and Yukio Nakashima (中嶋教雄). The former artist is a well-known freelance composer whose earlier works include early Square games, while the latter is loyal to GungHo. In a rather unusual turn for a mobile game, Kenji Ito also released an iTunes soundtrack album of the game under the 'itoken' alias on May 2013. The album's name is 'Puzzle & Dragons Original Soundtrack -itoken limited-' and also includes three remixed pieces created together with a couple of Namco-related composers: Denji Sano (Taiko Time, Boku wa Shinse) and Kouta Takahashi (music for Ridge Racer games).

The journey of the song Walking Through The Towers has been really rocky through the recent years: after a Taiko no Tatsujin + limited campaign in 2012 with a generic song name (the song was officially untitled before 2013), another Taiko + event in the following year rebranded the song with its definitive title and added dancers to it. The release of the PazuDora pack means that it was no longer limited on the smartphone Taiko. A similar destiny to his song occured for the arcade scene: after being playable only in the aforementioned Pazudora Fan Thanksgiving 2013 celebration, Walking THrough The Towers became a default GM track after one of Sorairo Version's last software updates.

Gameplay-wise, Walking Through The Towers perfectly fits the place of a 7* Oni challenge with an average BPM value and several special notes along the chart.

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