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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Song of the Week! 16 December 2017

Today's double-feature topic is about seeing how song-addition scheming trends on both console and arcades may be disrupted from time to time with a 'black sheep' crossing to the opposite shore.

 Calamari Inkantation (シオカラ節) Splatoon
Allx2 (97)x4 (141)x5 (269)x7 (432)
 Taiko 0 Y

Many rhythm games with music from games/series that are playable in a selected family of consoles have been putting them only on console ports from said family of systems; the Taiko franchise has been one of those series for the longest times, but during the current HD arcade scenario it has happened that selected tracks have become arcade-exclusive picks instead, often times with no ports for future games slated on their "proprietary" console grounds!

If a trip to the Nintendo Medleys song series showcase isn't enough to prove my point, one of Yellow Version's launch songs comes from a quite recent title among Nintendo systems' exclusive library of games, and being roughly 2 years old by now, you can even say it's still quite a fresh one! (har har har har) Silliness aside, Calamari Inkantation is the English name being given to the song Shiokara-bushi, featured in the 2015 third-person shooter Splatoon. Released worldwide between May 28-30 as a Nintendo Wii U exclusive, the game is set in a world mainly inhabited by the inklings, humanoid creatures that can also turn into ink-formed squids. The game's play modes are focused on both the inklings' own abilities and their ink-based weapons with which duke out against the invading Octarians (in the Story mode) or against other squads of 4 inklings for territorial supremacy in a number of different multiplayer modes where inking the surroundings (or certain spots on the battlefield) is the key to rise victorious with the other teammates.

With over 4.6 million copies sold worldwide (one third of which coming from Japan), Splatoon has been appointed as the most successful new home console intellectual property (IP) in Japan since Nintendo's very own Wii Sports. Following such appreciation from the general public, there have been a lot of Splatoon-related products and events in its home lands, including a yearly tournament event series (the Splatoon Koshien), two Yon-koma comedy manga series for Kadokawa's Weekly Famitsu print, one manga serialization for Corocoro Comics by the pen-named Sankichi Hinodeya (ひのでや参吉) (which is also going to be localized in North America by Viz Media) and live concerts/soundtrack albums starring the music from the game (and its sequel, Splatoon 2, that was released worldwide earlier this year).

In Splatoon, Calamari Inkantation can be heard first during the latter half of the final Story Mode fight against DJ Octavio, the Octarian army's leader. We know the identities of the song's composers/performers thanks to the song's listing in the game's first soundtrack album: the Splatoon ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK -Splatune- (スプラトゥーン オリジナルサウンドトラック -スプラチューン-), appointing Shiho Fuji (藤井志帆) as its composer with the vocal/singing roles being handled by the half-natural, half-autotuned performance of Splatoon's idol inkling duo of Callie and Marie, voiced respectively by Yuki 'keity.pop' Kudara (百済友希) and Mari Kikuma (菊間まり).

Takemoto (タケモト) of the Taiko Team has handled the charts of this arcade-exclusive song from Nintendo grounds, molding for its Oni mode an almost-pure 1/16 cluster challenge with little to no resting portions during the 2nd Go-Go Time portion and a wide variety of cluster formations flowing at a manageable speed. For those who want to jam harder in the song, the actual Splatoon games feature it in the Squid Beatz rhythm-based minigame, alongside the rest of the game's soundtrack; said side mode plays eerily similar to Taiko games on button formations, ... so much so that some of the Squid Beatz note formations have inspired the KFM mode sets on Taiko! (see more here)

 Ephemeral, Great and Splendid Land of Grief (泡沫、哀のまほろば) Touhou Project Arrange - Yuuhei Satellite
Allx2 (75)x4 (178)x6 (360)x8 (634)
 Taiko 0 R, Taiko 3DS 3

With 'proprietary-system' GM tracks usually being a console Taiko prerogative, the opposite can be said about the Touhou Project arrangements coming to the series, which have been first and foremost arcade-debut guests (and often saying as exclusives) for the longest time. To this day, there's only one Touhou song which has made its debut on console grounds, and you're looking at it right now!

Mostly known with the direct-Japanese translation title of Utakata, Ai no Mahoroba, Ephemeral, Great and Splendid Land of Grief is an arrangement of tracks coming from Imperishable Night, based on said Touhou game's two themes from the Extra stage: the Stage theme Extend Ash ~ Person of Hourai (エクステンドアッシュ ~ 蓬莱人) and the Boss track Tsuki Made Todoke, Fushi no Kemuri (月まで届け、不死の煙; 'Reach for the Moon, Immortal Smoke'), belonging to the immortal human Fujiwara no Mokou. This track made its debut in the doujin album by the same name that was originally released on August 11th, 2012, in occasion of the 82nd Comiket.

This arrangement was made by regular contributors of the Yuuhei Satellite (幽閉サテライト) doujin circle, in activity since 2010. Together with its work portfolio and stage events, this circle's rise to notoriety is highly linked to Manpuku Jinja's fan-animation Touhou series Gensou Mangekyou ('Fantasy Kaleidoscope') ~The Memories of Phantasm~ (幻想万華鏡~The Memories of Phantasm~), for which the circle has been providing a selection of musical tracks among their works for both its trailers and the actual episodes. Nowadays, Yuuhei Satellite is part of a 3-pillars "doujin network", together with the more recent Yuuhei Katharsis (幽閉カタルシス) and Shoujo Fractal (少女フラクタル) sister units.

The nick-named Iceon and HiZuMi are the two arrangers of this Imperishable Night-based track, featuring the nicknamed J-POP artist senya (Twitter) as the singer. Japanese music game fans may already know senya's voice due to a wide number of former songs that have been signed by her real name -Mayumi Morinaga (森永真由美), as she has lent her voice for an impressive number of original songs in Bemani gaming (see here!) With the rise in popularity of playable Touhou arrangements in music games, her performances as senya have started to spread in non-Bemani titles as well, and such is the case of this very song.

Ephemeral, Great and Splendid Land of Grief made its first Taiko playable presence for the third 3DS videogame, but it's far from its only music game cameo! It was one of the first tracks in the original SOUND VOLTEX BOOTH series opener, went on the smartphone ports of the jubeat and REFLEC BEAT series up to end up in the now-defunct BeatStream series. Outside of Bemani, it was featured in another Bandai Namco franchise with Synchronica and in Sega-rooted music game series as well, in both CHUNITHM and -later on- mamai as part of its latest version's newcomer launch song lot (maimai MiLK). Both the BeatStream and maimai ports of the song use the 'extended short version' that was featured in the Episode 8 teaser of the aforementioned Fantasy Kaleidoscope fan-anime series; for the same reason, these are also the only music game versions to provide said video trailer in the background.

Marimo Institute (まりも研究所)'s charting approach to this song is not that much dissimilar from the one used for the later-released Calamari Inkantation, but the heavier overall note/cluster ratio and the more intricate note formations have made its pure 1/16 Oni chart to be rated one star higher.

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