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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Song of the Week! 3 June 2017

Not every song that makes its way into Taiko gaming is already up-to-go in its more common form in order to be receiving its notechart set; some tracks, in fact, have to be reworked with minor tweaks beforehand.

Some of these song adaptations also come with title remarks to their altered status! Meet another couple of those tracks in today's feature.

 Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou (とんかつDJアゲ太郎) -Taiko no Tatsujin Mix-
Allx4 (155)x6 (282)x7 (505)x9 (725)
 Taiko 0 R to 0 Y

Starting up on more recent grounds, we find the 'Taiko no Tatsujin Mix' rendition of the soundtrack featured in the Anime transposition of Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou, the comedy Internet manga series that is also the name-giver of this very track.

For a little bit of background to the source material, the original manga series was penned by the nick-named Iipyao (イーピャオ) for Shueisha's digital-only Shonen Jump+ print from November 2014, featuring Yujiiro Koyama (小山ゆうじろう) as the illustrator and counting 10 physical tanbokon releases to this day. The manga is all about the gullible Agetarō Katsumata, a young guy whose family is running a 3-generation-spanning restaurant whose specialty are dishes based on tonkatsu (breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet). Fond of club DJ culture and constantly noticing several common traits within this passion and tonkatsu, the young Agetarō tries to conciliate these two topics alongside all his other events in everyday life. The manga's simplistic style won over its readers' judgement both online and in Shueisha's Men's Non-no magazine, to the point of the Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou story being ported in Anime form between April and June 2016, through a 12-episodes series by Studio Deen.

Another puzzle piece that has been slotted to the bigger picture of Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou's growing popularity was brought by the Taiko no Tatsujin franchise, where the series's humor-fueled premise and the fact that its title kinda sounds like 'donkatsu' (as in, the Taiko series' flagship notes/drum siblings) have been enough to warrant a mini-collaboration! Unlike many other Anime series using either their opening/ending theme, this 'Taiko no Tatsujin Mix' actually consists of a BGM medley with music from the anime, all of which being made by Daisuke Fujiwara (藤原大輔). In order, the tracks being featured in this "Anime Medley" are titled OILY MIX, CHECK THE BACK UP, Juicy & Crispy, Rainy Lenny and the BIG MASTER FRY MIX (whose bits are featured in the song's Go-Go Time zones).

This track is also notable for quite the unique implementation of custom dancers to a song: as the video footage above shows, in fact, there are not any 'main' custom dancers appearing as the player performs better during the song but rather it's the same "framing background" for the whole track, with only a change in lighting when the Soul Gauge is capped! At the center we can see Agetarō Katsumata himself doing the DJ work, while selected frames from the original manga are displayed behind his location.

Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou for Taiko no Tatsujin means is starring notecharter sentai Arihotto (アリーホット) in his favorite commissioned task yet! The chilly club vibes make room for different kinds of rhythms being played at an approachable speed for reading means, ranging from oddly-timed note couples to more and more aggressive notte clusters, culminating into actual streams towards the end. With its removal from Yellow Version, the song is no longer playable anywhere in official Taiko gaming.

 Grip & Break down! -Tatsujin Edit.- (Grip & Break down! -達人Edit.-) Touhou Project Arrange - SOUND HOLIC feat. Nana Takahashi
Allx4 (195)x5 (268)x6 (405)x7 (495)
 Taiko 0 M, Taiko +

Due to this week's particular theme, I find myself in the position to talk about a couple of topics in the same song feature once again: the Touhou Project arrangement scene and Eurobeat-styled tracks (in English, no less!). Different artists and source pieces are involved since the last time these two topics collided in our Song of the Week corner, so gather around for yet another doujin story!

The authors of Grip & Break down!! are members of the long-running independent circle SOUND HOLIC, in activity since 2006. The doujin unit's main production is the production of custom arrangements from music in different spheres in Japanese culture, from Anime to videogames with music from action series such as Mega Man and, most prominently, Team Shanghai Alice's Touhou games. Together with the nicknamed 'core' members of the unit (such as GUCCI, MasKaleido, SHU, panoman and 8STYLE); SOUND HOLIC also makes custom music for several rhythm game series, also including the production of original songs, often joining forces with independent vocalists such as Mayumi Morinaga (森永真由美). The unit's musical production and repertoire details from its members can be found in SOUND HOLIC's personal website at this link.

G&BD's singer is a long-time recurrent collaborator of the SOUND HOLIC unit: Nana Takahashi (高橋菜々), whose musical curriculum led the artist to have multiple works in both rhythm games and doujin unit scenarios, collaborating with other Touhou-related groups such as ZYTOKINE as well as making/singing for music game tracks, with major roles -again- in bemani fields. In recent times, she's also been the dubber of one of the arcade versions of the Groove Coaster series' navigators, lending her voice to the 3EX update's newcomer: Yume. Nana Takahashi also has her personal website to make people aware of her works, as well as a separated blog and Twitter handle.

The original Grip & Break down!! comes from SOUND HOLIC's 14th album release, 紅 -KURENAI-, which made its debut at the 75th edition of the hobbyist-fueled Comiket fair on December 29th, 2008. Arranged by the resident duo of SHU/GUCCI and lyricised by the nick-named Blue E, the song is an arrangement of U.N.Owen wa Kanojona no Ka? (U.N.オーエンは彼女なのか?, lit. 'U.N.Owen Was Her?'), the boss theme track that is played in the Extra Stage of the first Windows-era videogame of the series (the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil). The song was re-edited for its very first music game appearance in the SOUND VOLTEX series, but the original version of the shorter cut also appeared in many other bemani games, from arcade-exclusive outings (BeatStream and DanceDanceRevolution) to console-exclusive ports (jubeat and REFLEC BEAT). In 2012, Grip & Break down!! was given its own official music video, which can also be partially seen in the song's porting into Sega's maimai series (link).

For Taiko gaming, this was one of the three simultaneous releases inspired by the danmaku-based game series to be released after the very first couple of arrangement tracks that got transplanted into Taiko (Night of Knights and Bad Apple!!). Much like with other songs being geared with harder difficulties since their debut, the Oni mode is made of mostly sparse and intuitive cluster formations, mostly made of either vocal-following beats or (mostly) mono-color clusters. The low note count also serves as a nod to fans of the Touhou lore, as the number 495 is actually a reference to the final spell card attack that is used by the vampire Flandre Scarlet (as well as her in-game age), Embodiment of Scarlet Devil's Extra Boss; the spell card is known by the English translation of Q.E.D. "Ripples of 495 Years" (QED「495年の波紋」), with the acronym standing for the end-of-statement 'Quod Erat Demonstrandum' blurb.

  Grip & Break down! -Tatsujin Edit.- (Grip & Break down! -達人Edit.-) Touhou Project Arrange - SOUND HOLIC feat. Nana Takahashi

x9 (777)
 Taiko 0 M, Taiko +

The 'Tatsujin Edition' of the popular Touhou arrangement comes with an extra Oni challenge since its debut, where 1/16 longer cluster-charting is king once again. There's also a splash of speed-enhancing scrolling trickery, so mind how to clear the portion in-between Go-Go Time portions in advance!


  1. Correction: Grip & Break Down -Tatsujin Mix's Oni (Not Ura) is actually a seven star.

    1. P.S.
      Grip & Break Down's Easy mode is actually a four star.