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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Song of the Week! 3 February 2018

In lieu of the very recent collaboration plans, today's feature is rooted in the past, present and future of Pop Team Epic's creator and his works. You are Mother Fucker?

 Necrofantasia ~ Arr. Demetori (ネクロファンタジア~Arr. Demetori) Touhou Project Arrange - Demetori
Allx5 (254)x7 (371)x8 (698)x10 (1160)
 Taiko 0 K, Taiko PS Vita, Taiko +

It's impossible to talk about the working portfolio of Pop Team Epic's creator -the nick-named Bukubu Okawa (大川ぶくぶ)- without a mention to his former publications as a doujin artist, which mostly revolved around Touhou Project-themed comics. One of his works that were posted on his pixiv profile (link) made him even reach high meme-y peaks in the fandom's community, starring the bakeneko Chen (橙) while honking on a bike. While Taiko games don't have any track renditions to Chen-related songs thus far, this one track belongs to a character that is somehow related to the humanized feline, so... bear with me, okay?

The original Necrofantasia made its debut in the 7th main-line Touhou game, Perfect Cherry Blossom, where it's featured as the Boss track of the Phanthasm stage. Said additional stage's boss enemy is the ancient youkai sage Yukari Yakumo (八雲紫), one of Gensokyo's most knowledgeable beings and co-creator/protector (with the Hakurei clan) of the Great Hakurei Barrier, the mystical boundary that separates Gensokyo from the rest of the Earth (in-series known as the 'Outside World'). This blonde youkai's unique ability of boundary manipulation has made her known along the years as the 'gap youkai'; not only that, she also appears as one of the Fever Touhou custom dancers in Taiko no Tatsujin (she's the one on the rightmost side!). Yukari Yakumo holds the all-knowledgeable fox spirit Ran Yakumo (八雲藍) as her shikigami for what in simple terms can be seen as a master-servant relationship; Ran Yakumo, on the other hand, has the bakeneko Chen as her own shikigami (...see? Everything goes full circle!).

The guitar-lead arrangement of Necrofantasia that is playable in Taiko gaming was made by the Demetori doujin unit, formed by Tokunaan (徳南) and Kyuuhouji (九宝時). Formed in 2005, this heavy metal circle's sole two members are actually brothers, whose real names are respectively Masaru Teramae (寺前甲) and Tadashi Teramae (寺前直), both of which were also affiliated together to the Shinsekai (新世界) act. Masaru is also currently affiliated to the jdk Band, Nihon Falcon's sound/music unit for which he contributed with songs for the company's many RPG series, such as Kiseki/Trails and Ys.

Demetori's Necrofantasia arrangement, originally known as 'Necrofantasia ~ Remix' (ネクロファンタジア ~ Remix), made its first appearance in Demetori's fourth album: Il mondo dove e finito il tempo (Italian for 'The World Where Time Has Ended'), originally released at Comiket 73 on December 31st, 2007. Since then, the song made its Taiko debut through some of the earliest  conventions, becoming available in the 3rd Niconico Chokaigi and the 15th Reitasai convention in 2014, before its public outing on Kimidori Version and portable Taiko titles a few years later.

For this arrangement of the gap youkai's theme, current Taiko Team leader Etou has packed in one of the most stamina-draining challenges of the entire Variety genre, featuring a 4-digits notecount on Oni with different intertwining 1/16 note formations to deal with. While not being as fast or as gimmick-leading as other hard Oni trials, long mono-color clusters and end-song tempo shifts have also to be dealt with here!

 POP TEAM EPIC Pop Team Epic
Allx2 (???)x3 (???)x4 (???)x8 (423)
All (2P)---x8 (405/405) (video)
 Taiko 0 B

Finally, we're at today's main course! With the opening theme to the fresh Anime adaptation of Bukubu Okawa's Pop Team Epic (ポプテピピック) coming to Taiko shores, we can spend some words about another Yonkoma digital manga release on this corner, more than 6 years after our look on the Kill Me Baby lore (see here!).

This publication begun in 2014 as a Seinen digital comic for Takeshobo's Manga Life Win website, receiving a yearly printed release from 2015 onward. Chronicling the daily misadventures of two profane 14-years-old girls, the short Popuko (ポプ子) and the tall Pipimi (ピピ美), this is a comedy series that became popular due to its absurdist/rude humor and pop-culture-referencing action, spanning multiple manga 'seasons' across the years and still active to this day.

In early April 2017, the release of a 12-episodes Anime series was announced by King Records, but while the series was originally slated for an October '17 debut, the Pop Team Epic Anime only debuted at the start of January '18, due to an "error" from the producing company. The main opening theme of the Anime, named after the very same digital manga, is composed by the nick-named Gin (吟) and performed by professional voice actress Sumire Uesaka (上坂すみれ), which in Taiko fields can be spotted as one of the singers in the already-perma-deleted Anime song INSIDE IDENTITY and as the dubber of the iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls idol Anastasia (thus conversely featured in the Taiko-transplanted songs starring said idol, like GOIN'!!!).

Being a collaboration-related addition to arcade Taiko gaming, the song comes with custom elements to boot, which for POP TEAM EPIC's case consist of Popuko and Pipimi's faces being used as Lucky Notes when the song is played in the Issho ni Waiwai Ensou multiplayer mode, alongside the building caricature of the Takeshobo headquarters, often seen in the source material as the two girls' arch-enemy for constantly messing with the manga series' printed runs. POP TEAM EPIC was also one of the Blue Version debut songs to be playable at JAEPO '18, ahead of said arcade firmware's public release date.

POP TEAM EPIC's Oni notechart blend is a cluster-heavy affair that screams of old-school stamina endurance, with no modern 1/16 cluster spikes on sight.

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