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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Song of the Week! 5 September 2015

As a way to wrap up our 5th Anniversary Blog celebrations, let's take a look at the eldest Taiko generation, for another early 10* Oni challenge in Taiko gaming.

 Taiko Samurai (太鼓侍) --- Old ---
Taiko 3
x5 (268)x7 (519)x10 (519)
Taiko 4, 5
x5 (268)x7 (519)x10 (519)
Taiko 6
x6 (268)x7 (519)x9 (519)
Taiko PS2 1x6 (268)x7 (519)x10 (519)
 Taiko 3 to 6, Taiko PS2 1

 Taiko Samurai (太鼓侍) --- New ---
Taiko PSP 2x5 (178)x5 (268)x7 (519)x8 (581)
Taiko DS 2x5 (178)x5 (268)x8 (519)x7 (581)
 Taiko PSP 2, Taiko DS 2
 Japanese Style -> Namco Original

Looking back to Taiko games' origins, it's interesting to see how traditional Japanese-sounding music wasn't properly found in the series until the third Taiko arcade game, in order to give room to try out different music directions for the series and seeing what sticks the best to the players. Nonetheless, the third arcade game gave out plenty of iconic and newly-made tracks echoing to more Japan-sounding vibes, such as Fuun! Bachi o Sensei and today's featured song.

Composed by Masubuchi Yuuji (増渕裕二), Taiko Samurai is an impromptu-inspired track starring the peculiar sonority of Asian musical instruments, with a more prominent presence of the end-blown shakuhachi (尺八) flute and the 13-stringed koto (箏). The song is performed by the 6-hand unit Kokoo, which Taiko Samurai's SongID (kokoo) also references as well.

Formed in 1995 and currently affiliated to the talent agency Office Sound Pot, Kokoo is made of lead composer/shakuhachi player Akikazu Nakamura (中村明一) and two professional female koto players: Michiyo Yagi (八木美知依) and Maki Isogai (磯貝真紀). The unit has held concerts all around the world, achieving a worldwide fame for their improvisation-based performances with the two peculiar instruments, for both tradition-inspired tracks and modern-sounding vibes. For more information about the unit and its members, we forward you to the Kokoo website's profile page. In Taiko grounds, the unit was also involved in the making of Nijiiro Yumeiro Taikoiro's long version.

Despite getting a quite limited release in the first two Taiko generations, Taiko Samurai's lore has made its way in future installments in a number of ways: the fictional status is mentioned in Taiko Sandaime/TDM's theme song, it was one the only DLC songs on the second Taiko PSP to have paint-themed custom backgrounds (as this video shows) and it can proudly warrant the title of being the very first boss track in Taiko games, being featured in the second Taiko DS game's Story Mode as the BGM for the first fight, against the recurring Grandpa.

Taiko Samurai's journey through the titles includes fluctuating rating changes and almost-untouched notecharts among the years, save for the song's decreasingly-rated Oni mode. It's still an important turning point for Taiko no Tatsujin notecharts, as long clusters make their debut with both this song and the aforementioned Fuun! Bachi o Sensei, leaning to the easy side for Taiko Samurai's mono-colored cluster and more approachable 1/16 patterns.

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