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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Namco Original Showcase: God Collection Songs

Another of the Taiko Team-announced song series, this cycle of songs has begun during the life span of the Taiko no Tatsujin White Version arcade firmware, with the objective of making original songs that are referencing the Japanese mythology, be it with the title alone or with the song's actual lyrics and themes as well. For the first time in Taiko arcade gaming, this is the very first song series to be formed and grouped into its dedicated custom folder, whose title was soon adopted as this collection of songs' very own series name.

While on this page we'll be primarily focusing our attentions on the songs themselves (and the artists behind those), you can find out more facts about the involved Japanese mythology tropes and figures in our multi-parter Feature series (Part 1 - Part 2).

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-God Collection Series-




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 KUSANAGI aran
Version
Allx5 (200)x6 (407)x7 (569)x9 (745)
 Taiko 0 W, Taiko 3DS 3, Taiko +
 180
 none
 fltlnd


The God Collection series was started as a couple of songs that were simultaneously released for White Version's launch, featuring new-coming talents from the hardcore techno music production club known as HARDCORE TANO*C, the very same one where t+pazolite is one of the main members.

Holding the name of one of Japan's three Imperial Regalia/Sacred Treasures, the full-instrumental track KUSANAGI is made by the nick-named aran, owner of the Otographic Music label and one of the aforementioned club's latest members (joining in 2009). Born in the Saitama prefecture, his creations tend to gravitate around the UK Hardcore style, while also jumping around other musical genres from time to time and, in recent years, taking commissions for the creation of music in other media. One of his first works for rhythm gaming lies in the Groove Coaster song VOLT, with which KUSANAGI is sharing multiple sound samples. Always on Taiko-related grounds, aran also made a remix of t+pazolite's Shiny Kung-fu Revival, which was released in 2015's Ponko2 Girlish CHS album.  For more informations about aran and his works, there are his Twitter and Soundcloud pages.

Despite being a 9* Oni, KUSANAGI's chart is able to pull out some serious curve balls to even the most experienced of players, thanks to its tiring cluster successions and its nasty 1/24 cluster stunts ready to break the combos of those who either don't hit them fast enough or don't properly hand-switch in order to carry on with the following 1/16 portion. For its console debut, KUSANAGI has been used as a boss fight track against the Quetzalcoatl in Dokodon! Mystery Adventure's Story mode.

 Kagutsuchi (カグツチ) Massive New Krew
Version
Allx4 (135)x6 (345)x7 (464)x9 (716)
 Taiko 0 W, Taiko 3DS 3, Taiko +
 162-172
 none
 kagu27


For an original composition titled after the mythological kami of fire, yet another couple of talents from the HARDCORE TANO*C club came forth to take on the Taiko bounty.

Kagutsuchi's creators are the composing duo of Ryosuke Tachibana (橘亮祐) and JAVELIN (most commonly known as 'Jenkins.C'), who together are known as the Massive New Krew. Founded in 2008, the unit was mainly a DJ set duo until the year 2011, when they began composing hardstyle track albums under the Massive Circlez label with original creations, where their use of the "bouncing" heavy bass has been a trademark of theirs for nearly every single song. In a 2015 interview, they revealed that the choice behind their unit's name was made because of the Massive New Krew's initial-based abbreviation (MNK) standing for "something dirty". If you want to know more about the unit's works, there are Massive New Krew's Soundcloud page and the individual Twitter accounts of Tachibana and Jenkins.C.

Much like aran, Massive New Crew's creation have been featured in other forms of media, including the anime series of SHOW BY ROCK! and Groove Coaster with the couple of songs VELVET and Shiva. For the Taiko-related lore, both Tachibana and Jenkins.C were invited to one of the Taiko Team's livestreams together with aran and t+pazolite, in order to talk about their debut Taiko track. Later on, Massive New Krew also made an extended version of Kagutsuchi, which is featured in their Massive CircleZ BEST album.

Being a Dokodon! Mystery Dungeon boss track against the Viper Orochi (as well as a serious Dojo Ranking accuracy nightmare on White Version), Kagutsuchi's Oni mode retains a similar difficulty degree to aran's KUSANAGI, with its notechart recipe featuring more 1/24 clusters at a slower-paced base BPM.

 Shiritsu Takama-ga-hara Gakuen Koukou Kouka (私立高天原学園高校・校歌) D.Watt (IOSYS) feat. Np Hiko Inuta & Yamamoto Momiji
Version
Allx4 (164)x6 (342)x7 (586)x9 (829)
 Taiko 0 W
 188
 none
 ???


This series's continuation has happened some months after White Version's launch and -just like in that instance- two songs were released at the same time for the newborn series, courtesy of returning composers from the IOSYS doujin circle.

The first of the two songs was composed by D.watt, with Yuuya Kobayashi as Np Hiko Inuta (Np 犬田彦) being the lyricist and monotone member Yamamoto Momiji (山本椛) as the singer. This is one of those tracks where the title already gives out its lyrics' topic in advance (literally meaning 'Private Takama-ga-hara Gakuen High School ・ School Song'), with father of gods Izanagi being the teacher in the fable heavenly grounds' most prestigious institute to the entirety of 1st-generation Japanese gods (神産み, Kamiumi) and islands (国産み, Kumiumi).

According to D.watt in an interview released for a Taiko Team blog entry, the radio-styled song came out from the canned project of a sequel song to IOSYS Aki no Nikushoku Matsuri 2014. with the hardest part of the project being the creation of a lyrics set that can make its listeners feel the "serious fun" of Izanagi in his teaching position while dealing with his many students.

The Oni notechart mostly relies on standard 1/16, but -once again- the adding of an averagely-high base BPM can turn out to be crucial for players to overcome in order to to be stamina'd out by the Izanagi-speaking portions. The students' raw call is the main deal, as some 1/24 clusters may or may not sneak their way in, too!

 My Muscle Heart ~TV Takama-ga-hara-style Anime [Muscular Magical Girl Takeminakata] Main Theme~ / Yuuya Kobayashi (IOSYS) feat. Yamamoto Momiji (monotone)
Version
Allx3 (169)x4 (244)x5 (488)x9 (834)
 Taiko 0 W
 140-195
 none
 ???


And the winner for the longest Taiko no Tatsujin song subtitle goes to...

Silliness aside, My Muscle Heart is Yuuya Kobayashi's God Collection track, once again starring Yamamoto Momiji for the main singing role with D.watt as Shichijou Lettuce the lyricist. The tone for this song is quite the different one from D.watt's Japanese God-related song, as the ancient lore has been taken as an inspiration to pitch an opening theme for a fictional Anime series starring magical muscular girl Takeminakata-chan, which is joined after the pilot by Takemikazuchi in her battles for the defense of the town of Ashihara-no-Nakatsu-chou (葦原中町, kinda like Ashihara-no-Nakatsu-Kuni but a town) from external threats.

On the very same Taiko Team blog entry mentioned before, D.watt has pitched this fake Anime series' pilot episode, in order to give a little bit of context to the dialogue that can be heard in the song. The human Nakata Takemi (武御ナカタ) is a young freshman at the first year of junior high whose main interests are sports and muscle training. One day a girl named Kazuchi Takemi (健美カヅチ) hails from an unknown land, befriending Nakata but is actually here to claim control of the town. Nakata, following the cue by Shiro-usagi the bunny fairy (transformed into a mascot charm to protect Nakata, returning the favor of her father), transformed into the muscular magical girl (including protein yogurt and a half-baked transforming spell). She takes on Kazuchi in a contest of strength (in a form resembling the predecessor of sumo) and wins defying the legend (literally). Kazuchi cries in defeat and swears of not returning without winning Nakata. The song ends with Kazuchi joins Nakata's homeroom class at the school, embarking on the twisting plot of the (non-existent) series.

My Muscle Heart's Oni mode where the Go-Go Time portions trump the non-highlighted segments in the length department, almost entirely featuring 1/16 cluster formations along the way.

 Yomi no Izanami (黄泉のイザナミ)
Version
Allx4 (222)x6 (331)x7 (680)x8 (858)
 Taiko 0 W
 162-172
 none
 ???


One of White Version's public swan songs (as well as said firmware's very last Don Challenge reward), Yomi no Izanami (lit. 'Izanami of Hades') is the tale of shaman-queen of Yamataikoku Himiko's grandson and her close friend singing about the tragic fate that has occurred to Izanagi's godly spouse Izanami. It's also the bearer of a rare and interesting backstory concerning the very employment of the people being hired for the creation of the song, as revealed by a Taiko Team blog entry!

This is a story involving the two singers behind this song: independent singers Shinno Aya (真野綾) and Yabuki Takane (矢吹高音), the latter of which can also be heard in Namco Original Takara no Oka. The two singers are actually long-time friends in real life after 10 years of dating, so it was an even merrier surprise for both to see that not only the other friend made the cut for Bandai Namco's job application, but that the two would perform together for the very same song! The composer is Production GIW's Hisui (翡翠), which for the song is diverging from his usual style to make a more traditional 4/4 tempo with progressive rock vibes. On the lyrics department, instead, we have another couple of well-known Taiko names: Giu (祇羽) and Yura Hatsuki (葉月ゆら). Each of the two gave its own mark to Yomi no Izanami in different ways with their words; while the former took care to give individuality to the song's main characters with their words reflecting their own personas (Himiko's grandson being dark and mysterious and her friend speaking in old, traditional celebratory terms), the latter refined the whole song's musicality in order to make it more mystical and fantasy-sounding.

Yomi noi Izanami is a tale for the ages in the 8-star Oni tier, as this is the first song of said rating bearing the Ban-Nam note counter, mixing the regular 1/16 rhythms with the experimental, fast-paced 1/12 and 1/24 clusters that can be spotted towards the end.

 Amaterasu (天照) Tatsh a.k.a Zeami
Version
Allx4 (191)x7 (355)x8 (546)x10 (858)
 Taiko 0 W (limited), Taiko 0 R
 125-200
 none
 ???


Closing the circle of the God Collection (in White Version, at the very least) is the fabled Amaterasu, an instrumental song titled after the major Shinto goddess of the sun and the universe. Dropping the two most used aliases for the song's subtitle with the 'also known as' link, this is the track by Tatsuya Shimizu (清水達也) that made its premiere as the World Championship 2016 winner's exclusive track, with Yosuga -the returning champion from the 2013/2014 tournament- dropping live a Donder-Full Combo in front of the astonished live audience of the event! A month later, the song has been made available to public Taiko Red Version arcades through the firmware's very first update.

While cheesing through a perfect run for the 2016 Taiko world champion has been proven as a concrete reality, your average Taiko player may find the many clusters running at 200 BPM more and more tiresome, despite the cluster formations's hard-to-read factor not being on par with exotic cluster formations appearing in many of his former Taiko creations. The Oni's Max Note count also appears to be the same one of VICTORIA, Cranky's debut Namco Original which also made its premiere at the World Championship 2016.

And speaking of the devil, ...

 VICTORIA Cranky
Version
Allx5 (289)x7 (432)x8 (545)x10 (858)
 Taiko 0 W (limited), Taiko 0 R
 185
 none
 ???


In a surprise announcement from the Taiko Team, it turns out that the other premiered Namco Original of the WCS2016 Finals turns out to be part of the God Collection, setting a new precedent for this song corner due to the track being titled after a goddess that's not coming from Japanese mythology! Victoria is, in fact, the Roman personification of victory, being the equal identity of Greek mythology's Nike.

This track comes from the hands of Hiroshi 'cranky' Watanabe (渡辺宏), an independent composer whose earliest works online are dated as far as 1998, being one of the amateur song-makers for the PC beatmania simulation program BM98, acronim for Bee-Emm-Queue-Hatchy and later on for the more-commonly-known 'Be-Music 98'. During those years, his main musical production was heavilly inspired by the works of Japanese rock band TM Network, but he developed his own style as time passed by with his own Dance-Rave musical approach, up to unleashing what has become the viral Flash animation '1000キタ━━━━(゜∀゜)━━━━ッ!!' which used his song Party 4 U.

Cranky went on a hiatus period in the early 2000s, which ended with his participation for the 2009 edition of  THE BMS OF FIGHTERS, a recurring event aimed to the creators of BMS files (acronym for 'Be-Music Simulator', the successor file extension to BM98 which is nowadays the standard for Bemani sim files). Nowadays, he's still in activity for both solo and collaboration pieces with many other independent musicians over the years, as well as being the holder of his own music label, Feline Groove. Plus, as his label and Twitter profile handle aren't enough of a hint, cranky is definitely a lover of cats and alpacas! For the song VICTORIA, he teamed up with independent composer and singer (as well as his real-life wife) Ryoko 'Pico' Watanabe (渡辺良子), with which usually creates songs under the fictional unit name of VILA.

Compared to Zeami's Amaterasu, VICTORIA puts a bigger emphasis on smaller 1/16 clusters for its Oni mode, (partially) leaving to the averagely-higher BPM speed to do the rest of the work for stamina-daraining means. There also are some mono-color 1/24 cluster spikes towards the end, so be careful!

 8OROCHI REDALiCE
Version
Allx5 (266)x7 (442)x8 (686)x10 (958)
 Taiko 0 R (promo only), Taiko 0 Y
 200.8
 none
 ???


The continuation of this peculiar series on Red Version went on thanks to another Taiko no Tatsujin-related tournament, with another full-instrumental track whose number-punny name references the legendary 8-headed and 8-tailed dragon Yamata no Orochi from Japanese mythology. It also marks the Namco Original debut of yet another artist for this series showcase: Yoshikazu 'REDALiCE' Nagai (永井良和).

Born September 15th, 1980, this is one of the most known composers in the independent J-Core scene as he's been the founder of several music labels that have grouped a wide assortment of Core-related artists along the years, with most of his earliest works finding spikes of popularity in many of the bemani music game series. His music production has been inspired by the DanceDanceRevolution song BOOM BOOM DOLLAR (K.O.G.G3 MIX), which led him to the music-making scene in many aspects, the most prominent of which being -again- original -core music under his HARDCORE TANO*C music label and Touhou Project arrangements under the SAISEN TURN parody duo with Masayoshi Minoshima (簑島正佳) and the ALiCE'S EMOTiON label (of which he's the founder). For what concerns the REDALiCE alias, the related website and Twitter pages are good starting points for more informations about his works, alongside this page from bemani wiki Remywiki listing all his works that have been featured in Konami's many music series.

After the artist's debut in Taiko lore with the SOUND VOLTEX transplant song Masakari Blade during the third Tenkaichi Otogesai tournament, the very same event also hosted 8OROCHI as the Winner Showcase award for the tourney's winner, with a public release slated to Yellow Version months later. During its creation, the song was known by the temporary name of 'Masakano Blade' (マサカノブレイド), as an additional reference to the SDVX-transplanted track.

Counting exactly 100 more notes than both Amaterasu and VICTORIA, this 10-star Oni challenge feels more like a difficulty continuation of Masakari Blade's Oni, with more complex cluster passages scrolling towards the player while familiar pattern elements from the former REDALiCE transplant also show up, such as the 1/6 dkkd clusters. The notecharts were made by Taiko Team leader Etou, who stated to be inspired to put in all charts as much references to the number 8 as possible, from single clusters to max combo values.

  8OROCHI REDALiCE
Version
All


x10 (1001)
 Taiko 0 Y
 200.8
 none
 ???


For its public debut, Etou also charted a Ura Oni difficulty setting for 8OROCHI, a first among the God Collection tracks. While some of the aggressive pattern formations are brought back note-per-note, the major twist of this Ura Oni lies on the visual scrolling speed trickery that is employed during the track, most notably including single notes being spliec in at x3 scrolling speed and the 1/12 clusters now coming at the player in a high-to-low scrolling treatment, from x3 back to x1 the regular BPM speed.

Those who are hunting for the best score possible on this track, however, will also have to deal with the fierce pre-final Go-Go Time portion, where consecutive note stanzas are hosting short hit-balloons spliced in with the last 1/12 clusters! Each of these balloons require less hits to be burst, starting from 8 to 7, 6, 5 and so on, until a giant Don note is used instead.

 Geki-un! Shichifuku Happy Crew (激運!七福ハッピークルー) Yuuya Kobayashi (IOSYS) feat. Yamamoto Momiji (monotone)
Version
Allx4 (???)x5 (???)x7 (526)x9 (777)
 Taiko 0 Y
 180
 none
 ???


The day after 8OROCHI's public debut on Yellow Version, the same arcade release saw the first outlet renewal for its reworked Rewards Shop unlocking system. Wouldn't you know it, yet another God Collection piece made its debut as one of the Summer '17 purchasable items!

The same artist crew from IOSYS that brought us previous modern Namco Originals such as My Muscle Heart has made a song about the shichifukujin (七 福神) deities, known in the West as the Seven Lucky Gods and rooted in several Eastern-spread religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. One of these seven godly figures, the Hindu-related Benzaiten (弁才天/弁財天), is also referenced right at the beginning of the song.

With more than 4/5 of the song being enshrouded in-game by Go-Go Time zones, this upbeat song's Oni mode sports a familiar-looking max combo value by squeezing lots of 1/16 clusters with a bigger focus on more complex clusters than harder trials of the same ballpark, such as Yami no Mahou Shoujo. The returning special combo number has its own meaning, though, considering that the song itself is about the Seven Lucky Gods!

Back to song series page

1 comment:

  1. Cranky's "VICTORIA" may be related to his earlier song, "HISTORIA", from "crossbeats REV."

    ReplyDelete