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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Namco Original Showcase: 'no Ran' Songs

Eagerly anticipated for years, this is the third song series in Taiko games entirely made by Tatsuya "Zeami/Tatsh" Shimizu (清水達也), the popular composer in gerenal rhythm game lore who revealed his identity in occasion of the 2013 Taiko arcade tourney's finals.

Much like the 'no Mai' songs, this series includes tracks whose titles end with the words 'no Ran' (ノ乱) at the end, which also defines the background theme for these songs. This series, however, features all instrumental tracks, all of which have set the bar for difficult Oni patterns and gimmicks higher and higher, alongside the already-well-known 2000 songs.

It's also worth mentioning that this is the first song series in Taiko games where the Taiko fans themselves have played a big role into the songs' introduction in many aspects: their presentation, a tangible help for other players in terms of their unlock in arcade through custom movements (such as the 'Yuugen Missionaries') and even their creation, thanks to the feedback received by the Taiko Team during several Nicovideo livestream sessions in the past.


-no Ran series-


 Yuugen no Ran (幽玄ノ乱)
Allx5 (481)x7 (708) x8 (883)x10 (1262)
Taiko 0 M, Taiko Wii U 3, Taiko PS Vita, Taiko 3DS3, Taiko PS4

Originally composed to be the final boss of Taiko Sorairo to be revealed at the Taiko Tournament 2013 finals in October that year (and whose title was inconspicuously shown on a promotional flyer for Taiko Codename Katsu-Don), Typhoon Wipha caused the event to be delayed. Namco chose the replacement date to be a whopping eight months after the original, so Yuugen no Ran would be the final boss of Sorairo's successor instead, which we came to know as Taiko Momoiro. Yuugen no Ran (lit. 'War of the Unseen') is the 12th song to use the Zeami alias, and according to a blog entry posted today, it won't be the last, despite the fact that he announced the next Taiko song would be using the Tatsh alias.

Like Donkama 2000, the existence of the song has been known long before release. Much longer than Donkama, in fact; hints of the title has been spotted in many places, while Donkama was first known through a sound clip in the Sorairo soundtrack CD. The title was first spotted, as mentioned above, in a promotional flyer for Taiko 0.5 (Codename Katsu-Don) which was actually being used to promote a crossover for Kimi to Hibiku Harmony, the theme song of Taiko 3DS. It was spotted in both arcade promo pamphlets and one of the 3DS game's help pages. Fast-forward to Sorairo Version, both a blurred hint from a Taiko Team blog entry and one of the secret morse codes from Sorairo's Normal Route of Soroban 2000 gave out additional hints of this song's existence, which was planned to be a giveaway gift for October 2013's Taiko tourney Finals. The typhoon occurrence was unforseen and unfortunate, however the wait finally ended on June 2014, when Tatsh stormed onto the stage challenging the champion Yosuga to an exhibition play, for the very first time in the world, of Yuugen no Ran (video). After Yumeiro Coaster, this is the second Namco Original song to be introduced by an arcade tournament contest held by Bandai Namco!

A custom version of the song, called Yuugen no Ran -Album New Mix- (幽玄ノ乱 -Album New Mix-), is available in one of Tatsuya Shimizu's solo albums, FRONTIER. This song is essentially the same as the original, with the inclusion of Taiko drum sounds flawlessly playing the Oni mode's notechart, in a similar guise to the Taiko mini soundtrack albums' "Oni Mix" tracks.

Yuugen no Ran is a 'final boss song' in every sense of the word. The entry style is reminiscent of Zeami's Ryougen no Mai in many aspects, as both songs start at a slower pace before speeding up and becoming much harder. However, Ryougen no Mai pales in comparison to Yuugen's absurd 300 BPM. The almost inhuman speed was utilized to its fullest with many 1/16 clusters and extremely long streams, which though simple looking, are almost impossible to pull off without special speed training. It is now at the very top of the records for highest base BPM, ousting Mikan no Uta's 286 BPM after 7 years holding the title, and highest number of hits per second, dethroning both Rotter Tarmination Ura and Yawaraka Sensha Ura. It's also the second song for the Taiko 0 arcade generation (after Donkama 2000) that has not be Full Combo'd by anyone at launch day, with the first FC feat being reported 29 days after its release.

Calculator, one of the 2013 CreoFUGA winners, had a short BPM 300 section at the end of the song with a 17-note 1/16 stream, which was already considered a mighty challenge to do properly. And that was just one stream. What is considered Calculator's most difficult stream is commonplace in Yuugen no Ran, testifying to its frightening difficulty.

At 1262 notes on Oni, Yuugen no Ran is the second Namco Original song to break the 999 note limit, and is third in quantity to Shimedore 2000 (+), which has 1414 notes. However, when all notes from all four difficulty courses are totaled, Yuugen no Ran trumps Shimedore, especially with its Muzukashii course being at a record high of 883 notes. The concept that was used for the creation of Yuugen no Ran's fiendishly-hard Oni chart was the idea of a "super hard notechart that comes from the future".

 Infinite Rebellion Daisuke Kurosawa - Original Song [Yuugen no Ran/Zeami (Tatsh)]
Allx5 (497)x7 (696)x8 (920)x10 (1304)
 Taiko 0 Y, Taiko PS4

Some years after the 'no Ran' song cycle's closure, the popular 1st-runner of the series got a rock-styled arrangement as part of a 2017 arcade collaboration between the Taiko no Tatsujin series and the emerging sound-creation company INSPION. The composer and performer of this track, on the other hand, already has quite the extensive story in the Japanese music scenario!

Infinite Rebellion's creator is Daisuke Kurosawa (黒沢大佑), a prolific composer and guitar player from Yokohama, in the Kanagawa prefecture. Having learned to play guitar, bass and drums at a very early age, he's been employed by Konami's music game division bemani since 2006 for the creation of songs that are mostly featured in the GITADORA series (formerly known as GuitarFreaks/DrumMania), while being part of the indie progressive rock band Orbital Resonance (軌道共鳴) and later on the founder of his own act since 2011: the Daisuke Kurosawa Progressive Band (黒沢ダイスケプログレッシブバンド). His most-known aliases are 96 and 96-chan (96ちゃん), as the goroawase reading of 96 is Kuro (黒, lit. 'Black'), which is the artist's first letter of his name. Daisuke Kurosawa's website and Twitter feed are valid online sources to hear more about the artist himself, as well as the profile page on bemani gaming wiki Remywiki which offers a full listing of all the songs he contributed to create/perform for Konami's music game branch.

In early 2017, Daisuke Kurosawa left Konami to join the then-emerging INSPION company, of which he's one of the main composers... and that's how the Taiko series had the occasion to feature his guitar talent in notechart-playable form! Being inspired by one of the hardest Taiko trials of modern times, it's no surprise to spot several cluster formations winking back at the original Yuugen no Ran's Oni notechart portions, as well as new and fresh ways to make un-experienced players' hands break within seconds due to the many aggressive clusters of varying density. There are also a couple of remarks to the '96' alias of Daisuke Kurosawa in the chart, as the Oni stanzas 63-68 count an average note density of 96 hits/second and of course, the 2nd Go-Go Time zone starting at stanza no. 69, the reverse number to 96. It's also worth mentioning that Infinite Rebellion's Oni mode bears more notes than Yuugen no Ran's Oni, being the new 3rd-placer only behind to Shimedore 2000 and Sotsu Omeshiki's complete version!

 Souryuu no Ran (双竜ノ乱)
All x5 (247)x7 (347) x8 (447)x10 (970)
 Taiko 0 K, Taiko 3DS 3, Taiko PS4

Literally meaning "War of the Double Dragon", Souryuu no Ran is the second entry in the no Ran series, again using the Zeami alias. The song is first revealed on August 28 2014 in a livestream, and then introduced in the version 2.06 update to Kimidori ver. as a default. Souryuu no Ran was also quickly included in Kimidori ver.'s Ranking Dojo as the second song for the Tatsujin rank, just only 22 days from its debut.

The 320 BPM once again renews the record of highest basic tempo in a song, only rivaled when Tenkaichi Otogesai later brings over FLOWER from the BEMANI family (346 BPM, speculated doubled to fit 1/32 notes). Even so, the chart's scroll speed is uniformly slowed to half, making it plays like 160 BPM. Don't think that is tame though, because the closest stream are now apparent 1/32 notes, which translates to a peak density of 21.3 hits per second. That is a league higher than Ryougen no Mai's one-time 20.8 hps, all while peaking at more places and in much longer streams.

Like Yuugen no Ran, no one was able to Full Combo Souryuu no Ran on the first day of addition, only conquered 7 days after in Abekobe and 19 further days in the regular variety. The first Donderful Combo was also in Abekobe and was achieved on December 20 2014, after more than 3 months since added. With the abundance of very close streams of kat's, Abekobe can change them into more manageable streams of don's (so that drumroll techniques can be used), which explains why both of the milestone happens with Abekobe first.

  Souryuu no Ran (双竜ノ乱)
All---x10 (448)
All (2P)---x10 (448/603)
 Taiko 0 K, Taiko 3DS 3, Taiko PS4

Here is the namesake for Souryuu no Ran: a two-player notechart in its Ura Oni mode, with some more volume going to the second player. It is also at this point where the act of "one man playing both sides on two-player charts" receives a officially recognized name: Sou-uchi (双打, lit. Double Play), as voted by livestream audience also on August 28 2014.

A lot of the very closely packed streams in the regular Oni are split among the two sides, making the high density easier to handle. Instead, there are now rather weirdly put off-beat notes all around, posing another kind of challenge.

Only the 1P side will be used in one-player plays, no matter which side the player is using (video). This makes Souryuu no Ran's Ura Oni technically easier to clear than its regular Oni. But that's not how this song should be rightfully played! No one had passed the song in true Sou-uchi fashion until 43 days later, which again used the Abekobe modifier.

 Shikou no Ran (紫煌ノ乱)
Taiko 0 x5 (242)x6 (297)x8 (538)x10 (823)
 Taiko 0 Mu, Taiko Ps Vita, Taiko 3DS 3, Taiko PS4

Like no Mai series before, no Ran series is expected to close with three songs plus one Ura. This third and final installment in the series was first hinted in the year-end livestream on December 12th in 2014, in which it was decided with Zeami/Tatsh that the song will have a traditional Japanese vibe and be a Dark Hardcore-inspired instrumental piece. The chart was also voted to be charted as a 9★ on Oni mode, while in actuality to be closer to a 10★.

The completed composition was shown unto the world three months later on the March 10 2015 livestream. Just so happens it was the Murasaki ver. release celebratory livestream, the title decision also have a lot of purple mixed in, and Shikou no Ran (lit. War of the Purple Flames) emerges after rounds of elimination voting.

Two months later, Shikou no Ran made its official debut in Taiko games, as a Murasaki Version DonChare first-hand unlock track, and then swiftly used in Murasaki ver.'s first online tournament (suitably named 紫煌の陣, lit. Battle of the Purple Flames). Despite the previous stream suggestions about the Oni notechart, Etou's Taiko score for the song has been judged hard enough to be treated like a proper 10-star Oni, despite the difficulty degree is not the same as Yuugen or Souryuu's. Put your worries to rest though, as Shikou no Ran can still make players sweat for its 1/16 and 1/24 clusters, the 124-note stream in the middle and the signature 1/24 dkdkdkd cluster to end the chart.

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