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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Namco Original Showcase: Seafood Songs

Bandai Namco composer Akitaka 'AJURIKA' Toyama (遠山明孝) joined the ranks of the Taiko no Tatsujin-related artists late into the 2nd arcade generation, mostly due to some of his songs from other games being ported into Taiko titles. Like for many other artists before him, however, his Namco Original-related production is mostly tied in by a main theme, whose growing impact made it so to become an actual song series years later.

The series takes its roots from the first song, The Carnivorous Carnival, being affectionately shortened to KaniKani (蟹蟹, crab-crab) thanks to Japanese approximate-readings of the title. It only begins to develop starting from Taiko no Tatsujin Kimidori ver., when sequel songs are released with titles that are more obviously intentional in coining the gimmicky shortened forms. The name of the series takes from the "Seafood Seeker" title, obtainable since Yellow ver. that involves only Full Combo-ing songs from this series in the same credit.

Note that while Taiko Time is also frequently shortened as Taitai (鯛鯛, sea bream-sea bream), it is not considered as part of this series due to significant differences, including its katakana spelling and not being created by AJURIKA (but Denji Sano).


-Seafood Series-


The Carnivorous Carnival
Taiko 10 to 13, all consolex5 (199)x7 (236) x7 (460)x10 (777)
Taiko 0, Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko +x4 (199)x6 (236) x7 (460)x9 (777)
Taiko 10 to 13, 0, Taiko PSP DX, Taiko Wii 1, 4, Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko +, CD 2008

Previously featured in Song of the Week: April 14 2012
This song's history goes back to Taiko no Tatsujin 10. Remember Angel Dream in the series article? The Carnivorous Carnival was unlocked together with it on the arcade's first of many code sequences, and is an image antagonist to Angel Dream; it is supposed to evoke an infernal, evil atmosphere, in contrast to the light and heavenly mood of its partner song. It may seem like it wasn't popular, but ask any Taiko fan and one of their song recommendations for an entry level 10* will be this song. It has a catchy rhythm and powerful beats with a satisfying level of challenge, not frustratingly difficult nor too easy. In fact, it gained a fondly remembered street name of 'kanikani' which means 'crab' in Japanese (Taiko Time follows the same pattern too).

Last year, this song was voted as the 2nd most loved song in Taiko, second only to Saitama 2000 in the 10th Anniversary Taiko Memories poll. Which is the main reason why it was brought back soon after Taiko 14 and included in the songlists of all arcade and console games released in the Taiko 10th anniversary period (with the exception of the 3DS Taiko, which has not yet been released).

The Carnivorous Carnival was the first song in Taiko games created by Akitaka Toyama (遠山明孝), a former Namco songwriter and composer for many other videogame series (like Tekken, Ridge Racer and Katamari Damacy) and currently one of Taiko's sound team since the 10th arcade. Takahashi-san, the old Taiko Team leader, is behind Kanikani's challenging notechart, which has an unpredictable notechart full of a wide variety of clusters and deathstreams mashed together. It's a great entry to 10* Oni because besides the obvious stamina factor, TCC is an invaluable lesson in learning when to handswitch and when not to, and its BPM is low enough for advancing players to do the job and improve themselves. However, it was downed to a 9* on Taiko 0 after the firmware update introduced it as an unlockable song.

Before you have a chance to fight the Time Dyne Professor in Taiko 3DS 2's Story mode, his three trusted henchmen -Pietro, Helga and Darnum- challenge Don-chan and his friends with a boss fight, featuring The Carnivorous Carnival as the tune being used for the battle.

 Evidence of evil AJURIKA
Allx5 (317)x7 (391)x8 (564)x10 (814)
 Taiko 0 K, Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko Wii U 3, Taiko PS Vita, Taiko +

Previously featured in Song of the Week: March 4 2017
One big background trend that has been surrounding the 3rd-generation Taiko arcade gaming's journey is the tendency of crafting Namco Original sequel songs, starting with the inception of the Don Challenge monthly feature. The monthly-returning feature has also marked the return of AJURIKA in the Taiko scene, as the sequel song of his Namco Original debut was introduced through the arcade-exclusive treat!

Evidence of evil, in fact, happens to be a spiritual successor to The Carnivorous Carnival, the Namco Original that was originally supposed to be the demonic counterpart of Angel Dream. The former NO classic's composer, Akitaka Toyama (遠山明孝), is also back for the task, only that this time his contribution is being directly referenced in the song's subtitle with the inclusion of his nickname, AJURIKA. Much like The Carnivorous Carnival, this song's title is eligible of alliteration trickery that refers to edible crustaceans, as the Ebiebi (エビエビ) abbreviation/nickname calls back to fried shrimps (in contrast to TCC's crab callbacks).

This fated song sequel that has traveled across all the modern console gaming outlets was charted by Kuboken, who specifically aimed for its Oni chart to pack in the first 400 notes so that a whole note stanza was left empty after the 400th note! With almost every note of the chart packed inside a cluster that is part of even longer and more aggressive chart sections, the high note density (outside the blank note stanzas) has been more than enough to warrant a full-difficulty rating for all of Evidence of evil's modes.

Turquoise Tachometer AJURIKA
Allx4 (162)x6 (257) x8 (474)x9 (835)
Taiko 0 Y

At the opening of the new Rewards Shop format together with the inauguration of Yellow ver., we are being told that not only crustaceans get the AJURIKA treatment. Turquoise Tachometer is meant to be shortened as TakoTako (蛸蛸. octopus-octopus), as in wasei-eigo terms Turquoise would have been read more like taakoizu (ターコイズ).

In case you don't know, a tachometer measures the rotation speed of shafts or disks, and in vehicles they are often used to monitor how the engine is running. By that naming, it is fitting for it to have racing-related lyrics over sounds familiar to a racing game OST (like Ridge Racer in Namco/Taiko no Tatsujin terms).

Being the first song in the series to not be rated a ★10 at debut, Turquoise Tachometer mostly feeds on its even-number clusters (for example, the chorus has 4-5-4 clusters which throws the middle group into a hard-to-grab offbeat) and longer and highly-mixed streams for the complexity. Twice in the song the scroll speed is played with a steady rise to 1.7x and then suddenly back to 0.8x, causing obstruction of view that is likely to throw off some players among the already-tricky streams.

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