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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Song of the Week! 3 January 2015

A new year is upon us, and with that is the perspective of many song additions for both arcade and console games. For the latter, we are getting a peculiar DLC pack for Taiko 3DS 2 near the end of this month, featuring all songs that are somewhat related to Matsuri (祭),the Japanese word for 'festival'.

While the theme chosen is fine, the songs in the pack may sound quite stagnant to some people, as you can find all of them (with a few exceptions of course) in at least 3 or 4 Taiko console games in the past 5 years! Why don't choose something Matsuri-related that doesn't come around very often? Something like...

 Omatsuri Ninja (お祭り忍者) Ninja --- Old ---
x4 (308)
 Taiko 1

 Omatsuri Ninja (お祭り忍者) Ninja --- New ---
Allx4 (100)x4 (147) x5 (260)x8 (365/334/285)
Taiko PS2 5 (2P)x4 (100)x4 (147) x5 (273/273)x8 (365/334/285)
 Taiko PS2 5, Taiko PSP 1

Here we are again, talking about another song from the very first Taiko arcade! We also happen to stumble upon one of the hardest licensed song among the original 25 tracks in the game, with a 4-star Muzukashii from the older, 1-to-5 rating scale. Omatsuri Ninja is the first single by the early 90's idol group known as Ninja (忍者), starring four male members: Yamagizawa Susumu (柳沢超), Endo Naoto (遠藤直人), Masaki Shinya (正木慎也) and Nobuhide Takagi (高木延秀).

Founded in 1985 under the name of 'Shigedan' (シゲダン), the act started as a group of skilled dancers with acting skills whose members have joined a wide range of entertainment media in five years, from musicals and movies to variety shows and radio broadcasts. After two changes of the act's name (into 'Boy Ninja' (少年忍者) and the definitive 'Ninja') and the leaving of former members Shiga Yasunobu (志賀泰伸) and Furukawa Eiji (古川栄司), Ninja began composing and performing music as an idol group, until the group's disbanding in 1997.

Their musical journey started with Omatsuri Ninja, released as a single on August 22nd, 1990. The song is based on the idea behind Japanese singer Misoba Hibari's single Omatsuri Mambo, in the spirit of giving a new spin to the traditional Japanese festival music. The single was released in two different wariants: the Water Cloud (水雲, Mozuku) and the Heat Haze (陽炎, Kagerou), each including Omatsuri Ninja and a different track for the Side B: See You Again...! for the former and Burai (無頼) for the latter. While both singles have seen positive reception, the Water Cloud is by far the most popular one, peaking the third place at Weekly Oricon charts and #95 place for the best singles list of the release year.

Being Matsuri-related, the song was seen as a fit match for the first Taiko game, crafting for it one of the first Muzukashii charts with both even and odd-numbered clusters for a fair challenge. Years later, the song has been revived for two Sony console Taiko games with tons of different features: now the Taiko cut of the song is shorter, but brand new charts have been made for all the modes, with Muzukashii having a 2-player chart (only on Taiko Godaime) and Oni mode featuring forked-path gameplay with more Don/Kat cluster mixture, compared to the original Muzukashii. On top of that, this is one of the few songs in console Taiko history to apply Don-Chan a custom outfit while playing the song, which -appropriately enough- is the popular Ninja outfit!

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