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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Song of the Week! 20 June 2015

Our third week for this corner's portable-themed month is about downloadable songs on Taiko 3DS 2, which -together with many others- have been enhanced for their latest outing in some fashion or another from their previous appearances in Taiko games.

 TRUTH --- Old ---
All arcadex5 (174)x6 (250)x4 (346)x7 (410)
All consolex5 (174)x6 (250)x5 (346)x7 (410)
 Taiko 7, Taiko PS2 5, Taiko PSP 1

 TRUTH --- New ---
Allx4 (156)x6 (184)x7 (367)x7 (487)
 Taiko 3DS 2

Taiko 3DS 2's DLC distribution has supplied many old songs across the months, with many of them receiving some notechart re-working love concerning one or more modes in order to make them updated to the current times. This particular trend carried on until the very last month of distribution with one of the debut, second-generation songs for the Variety genre.

Truth is featured in the 1987 namesake, 12th studio album by the Japanese jazz fusion band T-Square, known back in the day as The Square. The band was formed by a group of students of the Meiji University in 1976, reuniting young talents under an act whose name was inspired by New York's Madison Square Garden. Among the years, T-Square has seen multiple name changes and many members (over 20!) join and leave the act throughout the years, with the only member still active today in the band being founder and lead guitarist Masahiro Andoh (安藤まさひろ). Andoh is also the composer of many T-Square's songs, such as the well-recognized Truth.

The reason behind the huge popularity of Truth among the other songs of the band is tied to Japan's Formula One world, as it has been used as the official theme for Fuji Television's F1 coverage from 1989 to this day, either with its original version or one of the band's many arrangements of the song, such as the 2001 Truth 21c. The version of the song we can hear on Taiko is the original one, although the title wording is all capitalized between games.

Both the Oni notecharts of Truth tackle the average 7* stamina-based challenge trope in two different approaches, with the older one mostly relying on more single notes and clusters towards the Go-Go Time and the latest incarnation featuring smaller clusters and little to no rest in between notes all alround the chart. The Taiko 3DS 2 version of the song is also a slightly-enhanced version of the original cut used for the previous Taiko games, hence justifying the use of a different SongID (truth2 instead of truth).

 Lupin III Theme '78 (ルパン三世のテーマ'78) --- Old ---
Taiko 1x3 (132)x4 (289/???/132)
Taiko 2x3 (132)x5 (178) x5 (293/269/235)x8 (281/269/235) 
Taiko 3x4 (132)x5 (178) x5 (274/269/235)x8 (293/269/235) 
Taiko 4x4 (132)x5 (178) x5 (274/269/235)x5 (313) 
Taiko 6x5 (132)x5 (178) x5 (293/269/235)x5 (313) 
All consolex4 (132)x5 (178) x5 (274/269/235)x8 (304) 
 Taiko 1 to 4, 6, Taiko PS2 1, CD Red

Taiko 1 (Muzukashii)
Taiko PS2 1

 Lupin III Theme '78 (ルパン三世のテーマ'78) --- New ---
All arcade, Taiko PSP 1x4 (106)x4 (161) x5 (304/280/246)x5 (324) 
Taiko PSP DXx4 (106)x4 (161) x5 (304/281/247)x5 (324) 
Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko +x4 (106)x5 (161) x6 (304/281/247)x7 (324) 
 Taiko 7, 8, Taiko PSP 1, DX, Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko +

Our brief DLC journey takes us to another of the first Taiko game ever made's original 25 songs, with another song that also finds itself cemented in popular culture praise, both in its homelands and overseas. The iconic theme from the animated transpositions of Monkey Punch's Lupin III (ルパン三世) manga series has been one of the first Anime songs ever released for the franchise, and since we're about to get a new animate series for the master thief's 48th Anniversary later this year, it seems the perfect frame to anticipate its release with a quick overview of the original series and its legacy!

The original comedy-kaitō manga series started its serialization on August 10th, 1967, with mangaka and illustrator Kazuhiko Katō (加藤一彦) signing his work with the pen name of Monkey Punch (モンキー・パンチ). In short, the series is about the thefts and escapades of the titular Arsène Lupin III, grandson of the fictional gentleman thief Arsène Lupin from Maurice Leblanc's series of novels. His love for treasures and good women have made him travel the world, plotting and publicly announcing in advance his will to steal precious goods of any sorts, being constantly chased by inspector Koichi Zenigata from the Interpol. Many of his operations are supported by the help of recurring theft companions, such as the marksman Daisuke Jigen, the swordman Goemon Ishikawa XIII and the femme fatale Fujiko Mine.

The original run of the comic lasted for two years with 14 tanbokons, only to be continued from 1977 to 1981 as Shin Lupin III (known overseas as Lupin III – World's Most Wanted) for 21 more volumes worth of content; after that, Lupin III's story continued through the hands of different artists and story-writers to this very day, continuing both with the main plot and adding side-stories about the manga's characters. For these reasons, a monthly Lupin III Official magazine begun its serialization in 2004, in order to grab both old and new stories for the gentleman thief by the hands of different authors, such as Lupin III Y, Lupin III M, Captain Zenigata, M.F.C. (Mine Fujiko Company), Goemon Ishikawa XIII, ... the list goes on!

The warm reception towards the series has lead to the creation of the three-parter animated series Lupin the Third, with Part 1's 23 episodes being released between Monkey Punch's original two series (October 1971-March 1972) and the other two parts being released during (October 1977-October 1980) and after (March 1984-December 1985) Shin Lupin III's serialization. The anime series has started after the positive feedback towards a short TMS Entertainment pilot film, which -once that the anime series was planned and aired- was followed by 10 movies between live action, part-animated and fully animated pictures, 5 Original Video Animations, 25 movie-sized television specials, several audio CDs about the series' music and over 2 dozen of video-games between laser-disc arcades with scenes from the first movies, 16-bit titles, Playstation 2 and Nintendo DS games. In more recent years, two more animated series have been in planning for years, with the 13-episode series Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine being aired between April-June 2012 and the aforementioned new series -simply titled Lupin the Third- that is planned to be debuting this year in Italy before its Japan debut, as it's mainly set in the independent republic of San Marino, which is located in the Italian peninsula.

The fan reception towards Lupin III is still strong in recent days, as proven by many Top 50 and Top 10 surveys issued from different organizations such as Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs, video rental chain Tsutaya and TV Asashi in recent years, with the highest regards for the original anime/manga series and the Hayao Miyazaki-directed Lupin movie, The Castle of Cagliostro. The many tribute events dedicated to Monkey Punch's gentleman thief have also proved the same dedication for their scope, including Lupin-related trains, amusement park attractions, museum collections and even a real-life stealing challenge for certain Japanese landmarks! The series has also had many opportunities to cross roads with the Detective Conan series, through several dedicated OVAs.

The iconic Lupin III theme song made by Yuji Ohno (大野雄二) is available on Taiko games in its original version, the one that was made for the very first Anime series in 1978. As for Truth, this song also got some slightly different arrangements by the same composer years later, mainly distinguishable because of the composing year being tackled at the end of the title; to this date, the main ones are Lupin III '79, '80, '89 and '96. The Taiko cut of the 1978 version slightly changed during the franchise's first year by cropping to fade the end of the song; this was reverted later from its Taiko 7 release onward, also featuring revamped audio.

The most rocky transitioning between Taiko generations, however, lies in its modes' charts, which have received small changed in almost every single game of the past generations. Highlights include being the only song from Taiko 2 with less notes for Oni/Donderful's Master Course than Muzukashii's, the loss of forked path gameplay on Oni from Taiko 7 onward and a title misspelling for the first PSP game, with the Roman numeral III in the title instead of 'Sansei' (三世). The base recipe, however, remains the very same one: lots of small, mono-colored clusters under low BPM values and many single Kat notes in between said clusters.

  Lupin III Theme '78 (ルパン三世のテーマ'78)

x8 (378)
 Taiko 3DS 2

Instead of getting another Oni mode for new patterns, the Lupin III '78 theme got a fully-fledged Ura Oni for all the players to enjoy, featuring pesky 1/24 clusters and Kat notes being more prominently involved in mixed clusters. It's also another fancy occasion for the Taiko Team's goroawase number fascination to shine, as both modern Oni/Ura Oni rating put together form 78, the year of the song's creation! As if this isn't enough, the Ura Oni's Max Combo value references the song's title once more, with 378 being a compressed way to say Lupin 3rd, '78.

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