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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Song of the Week! 26 July 2014

This year, songs from the Variety genre often tend to appear in couples for this feature! Today, it's another one of these kinds of double-feature.

 Amachan (あまちゃん) Opening Theme (オープニングテーマ)
Allx3 (81)x5 (133)x6 (258)x7 (328)
 Taiko 0 M to 0 R, Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko Wii U, Taiko +
 Variety -> J-Pop -> Variety

Before the recent collaboration projects wave -either with Touhou or Japanese prefecture mascots- from the public Taiko Momoiro arcades onward, the Variety genre's avant-guard for the Sorairo games generation consisted of only two new songs, with one of these being featured in all the modern Taiko videogames up to this day. After chatbox user Yusri Khairi's request, it's time to know a little more about this tune's origins.

Now, since this song actually hasn't a proper name, it makes sense to talk first about the related television show, simply called Amachan. Being aired for 6 months last year between April and September, this is the latest drama series written by Japanese screenwriter Kankurō Kudō (宮藤官九郎) for the NHK, resulting in a strong, positive reception from the Japanese audience. The plot revolves around Tokyo high-school girl Aki Amano, who after a family reunion in the Tohoku region town of Sodegahama began to pursue the dream of becoming a young 'ama' (海人), a tourism figure whose task is to dive in the sea for sea urchins, shellfishes and other marine creatures; hence the diminutive 'chan' in the series' name. Along the way though, her life started taking a different spin, as the young Aki happens to gradually become a popular idol through many situations and ultimately find a way to revitalize Sodegahama's activities with her new skills, even after the social scars caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.

Being able to bring new audience to NHK's 'morning dramas' time slot (or 'Asadora', 朝ドラ), Amachan managed to become one of last year's most popular shows, becoming a social phenomenon for the themes being explored, some popular catchphrases and ultimately winning the GRand Prix price at the 51st Japanese Galaxy Awards for 2013's best television program. The series' success is reflected on both the soundtrack's Oricon charts (topping 5th place for the overall soundtrack and 1st for selected song compilations) and the earthquake-struck Tohoku region as well, managing to net over 32.8 billion yen in economic benefits, thanks to the series alone.

Coming to the drama's music, the majority of Amachan's soundtrack has been made possible by multi-instrumentalist composer Otomo Yoshihide (大友良英), who contributed in both the composition and performance sides of the project. The opening theme is also one of his creations as well!

On Taiko, this opening theme managed to back and forth to the Variety genre on console games, while on the arcades it's being treated as a J-Pop tune, making it technically the second full-instrumental song on Taiko for that genre after Rip Slyme's Deep Cleansing. The Oni mode's difficulty rate has its time to shine during the first Go-Go Time segment, where both 2 and 5-note clusters can catch off-guard players, while the rest of the song features more simple, on-rhythm 1/16 note patterns common to the difficulty tier.

 Yoshimune Hyobanki Abarenbo Shogun BGM (吉宗評判記 暴れん坊将軍BGM)
All arcade, Taiko PS2 6, Taiko PSP 2x3 (59)x2 (85)x4 (159)x6 (223)
Taiko 3DS 2x3 (59)x3 (85)x6 (159)x7 (223)
 Taiko 7, 8, Taiko PS2 6, Taiko PSP 2, Taiko 3DS 2

From the NHK, we abruptly change the channel to Tv Asashi as we take a closer look to the most recent song revival for the Variety genre, thanks to the recent Taiko 3DS videogame's DLC features.

Once again, we have yet another song with no actual name, as it's the opening theme of the 1978 show from which it borrows the title itself: Yoshimune Hyobanki: Abarenbo Shogun (lit. 'Chronicle in Praise of Yoshimune: The Bold Shogun'). This one is a drama of the Jidaigeki (時代劇) genre, meaning that the story is set during one of Japan's previous time periods -mostly from the Edo period-; in this case, Abarenbo Shogun tells a collection of fictitious events in the life of shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune (徳川吉宗), while also making some nods to some factual historical events. As many of the other 'period dramas' being aired in Japan, the main motif of the show was the kanzen-chōaku, which literally means "rewarding good and punishing evil". In 30 years and over 800 episodes, The 'Rowdy Shogun' Yoshimune had to deal with a lot of issues from present-day life, such as political corruption and many other social problems.

As already stated, the 'BGM' music we can hear on Taiko from the show is Abarenbo Shogun's opening theme, composed -together with the incidental music- by Shunsuke Kikuchi (菊池俊輔), one of Japan's most highly demanded music composers for movies and TV series. After being the composer for many popular long-running shows of different genres such as Anime (Doraemon; Dragon Ball), and Jidaigeki series, people started stating that his music was enough for a show to become a hit. For this track, it surely has been for Konami/bemani, as it has been the eldest licensed song to being made available for the longest time overall within the pop'n music and REFLEC BEAT franchises' life span!

On Taiko grounds, the song got several changes for its title, ranging from the abridged Abaren Shogun title to the one which is currently used as the main one, which also appeared in the Sony-related console games as the subtitle instead. Being a short song with low notecounts on each mode, the improved gauge drain ratio makes every mistake more influent, despite the plain 1/16 notechart for the song; as such, Futsuu to Oni mode's star ratings have been re-rated as harder challenges, thus making this song's Oni mode one of (if not the) owners of the lowest notecount chart ever made for a 7* Oni, even for the same-tier songs of the previous generations, like for the One Piece OP theme FAITH.

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