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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Song of the Week! 5 May 2018

Today, I want to talk about Vocaloid stuff! ...kinda ...sorta ...not really...

 Kimi no Planet (君のプラネット)
Allx3 (155)x5 (209)x6 (303)x8 (450)
 Taiko 0 R, Taiko PSP DX, Taiko Wii U 2, Taiko 3DS 3, CD Donderful, CD Sorairo (demo version)

Erm,... kind of an odd way to kick off a Saturday feature, isn't it? The reason for that is simple: I've picked a couple of Namco Original tunes from the past few years that have shown some ties with the Vocaloid universe along the years. In short, it's like doing a Vocaloid feature without Vocaloids!!...

...Anyway, what you're looking at here is one of the final PSP Taiko game's debut Namco Originals, added to Portable DX through the earliest paid DLC efforts of the Taiko series. Kimi no Planet (lit. 'Your Planet') is an 8-hand effort from both newcomers and returning artists, with the composer/arranger duo coming from a more rooted "Bandai-Namco-affine" ground and the lyricist/singer duo being more affine to the indie music-making scene.

Composer Masanobu Konaba (駒場雅信) and arranger Takashi Ikezawa (池澤孝之) both share credited efforts in the soundtrack of the Chaos;Head Anime series, with the latter of the duo also adding some musical contributions to Namco's Katamari Damacy and Idolm@ster series to his curriculum. Lyricist Nao Hiyama (日山尚) and returning vocalist Haruka Shimotsuki (霜月はるか), however, are also tied together by professional music-making means, seen as the two are part of two music-oriented doujin circles: canoue and tieLeaf.

We've already talked about Haruka Shimotsuki in one of our previous Song of the Week features (link) as a music performer for many Anime/videogames and as a Maple Leaf's label founder, but back then we failed to touch upon her general music gaming portfolio! On bemani gaming, it's possible to hear her voice in the beatmania IIDX series with the console-exclusive Taitou no Suika (泰東ノ翠霞) and Element of SPADA, a track that is somewhat related to the crossed-over-to-Taiko Scars of FAUNA, as one of our former SotW features can testify (link). Later on, Haruka Shimotsuki became more involved as the singer of many tracks for the latest arcade entry in the REFLEC BEAT series (including Hoshi Utau Tami and Kurobeni Tsukui) and even got to sing for Colorful Note, one of the DLC songs in Noxy's Lanota mobile music game!

For those wondering where do Vocaloids fit in Kimi no Planet's bigger picture, we're almost there: the limited-release soundtrack album of Sorairo Version has included a demo version of the song, going by the prototype title of Haru no Yume (はるのゆめ) (lit. 'Spring Dream'). A quick listen to the track is more than enough to point out the two major changes from the song's final release: the different lyrics set and the vocalist herself, using Hatsune Miku's voice to carry out the jig.

With the Taiko series' major change on the star rating standards involving this song both for its DLC debut and its later outings in future titles, Kimi no Planet is arguably the most debate-starter on the difficulty rating discussions among Taiko fans, often pointing out its 8* Oni as not worthy of such a high rating. As a support to this thesis, the low count number and the even lower note density (2.95 hits per second, the lowest among modern 8* Oni charts) are more than often the more weighted-in factors, together with the relatively harmless scrolling speed changes and the offbeat-based, pure 1/16 notechart that Kimi no Planet's Oni mode has to offer.

 Ninja wa Saikou (忍者は最高)
Allx3 (151)x4 (219)x5 (402)x7 (604)
 Taiko 0.5, Taiko Wii 5, CD CC-1

Today's second track is one of the Codename KATSU-DON firmware's launch-day Namco Original debuts, featuring a couple of artists from the MONACA unit (of Angel Dream songs fame) as well as a singer that may or may not be further involved in the Vocaloid-o-sphere later on in her life...

Translatable as 'Ninja is the Best', Ninja wa Saikou features DON'T CUT-famed Sho Ishiyama (石濱翔) as the song's composer/arranger and Keigo Hoashi (帆足圭吾) for the chorus portion; the latter is also renowned in Taiko fields for being the main artist behind Tokoyami no Mori and its sequel song, the console-exclusive Houkan no Kogetsu. The song's singer is Yumemi Nemu (夢眠ねむ), an artist whose professional life has branched into many different fields, including magazine modeling, DJ work (as 'DJ Nemukyun') and idol singer/stage performer as the third member of Akihabara's Dempagumi.inc (でんぱ組.inc) unit since 2009.

From February 2017, the multi-talented artist is also available under another commercially-available alias: a brand new VOCALOID4 voice bank! The Dear Stage company (formerly known as Moe Japan) have hired Yumemi Nemu to be the voice provider for a Vocaloid who is named after her, only with the 'Nemu' part of the name being written in Katakana ('ネム') rather than the usual Hiragana lettering. The Yumemi Nemu Vocaloid in music gaming has found in Taito's Groove Coaster series its only music game home as of late, with the playable ports of two songs going by really long names:  Arui wa Yumemi Nemu to Iu Gainen e no Succeed and Ano ne... Jitsuwa Watashi, Mumin Nemumanda...♡.

Ninja wa Saikou's Oni mode is packed with small clusters to the brim for another pure 1/16 notechart trial, echoing back to the former Taiko generations' more simple way of song-charting. Be sure that the unusually-high note amount for the difficulty range doesn't affect your stamina management!

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