2018 was a long year for me. I moved to another city and started law school. The Winter Olympics happened in South Korea and the FIFA (men’s) World Cup happened in Russia, but unfortunately, I don’t recall much of what transpired in either of those sports competitions other than the U.S. women’s hockey team winning an Olympic gold medal over Canada and France winning the World Cup.
New anime series I watched most during the year included Pop Team Epic, gdgd Men’s Party, Takunomi., Laid-Back Camp, Crossing Time, Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighborhood., and Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san. You might notice the majority of those are slice-of-life comedies or series with short episodes.
I also watched many older anime series and movies with a group that I likely would not have watched on my own: Genesis of Aquarion, Simoun, Crest of the Stars, Mononoke, the first season of Minami-ke, the 1985 Night on the Galactic Railroad movie, the 1979 Galaxy Express 999 movie, and the Birdy the Mighty OVA series as well as re-watching Beck, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, and Ouran High School Host Club. (You can read more about some of these in the “Check-In” posts I wrote earlier in the year.)
There were many buzzy new series I didn’t get to last year that I’d like to sample this month, particularly A place further than the universe, Cells at Work!, Darling in the FRANXX, FLCL: Progressive and FLCL: Alternative, Golden Kamuy, Hinamatsuri, Planet With, Wotakoi, and Zombie Land Saga. Add that to the unwatched and unfinished series carried over from 2017 & earlier and I suppose I don’t have an excuse if I claim I’ve got nothing to watch.
I’m watching a handful of new anime this winter season and the one that has impressed me the most so far has been Wit Studio’s The Rolling Girls. Its visuals are very colorful and its vocal songs (OP/ED & inserts) are catchy, too. The thing that caught my attention when I looked more closely at the credits is that those songs so far are all covers of tracks by ’80s & ’90s Japanese band The Blue Hearts.
The Blue Hearts’ most recognizable song in the West is likely their 1987 hit “Linda Linda” since it has been featured in other media after its debut including the 2005 film Linda Linda Linda (here’s an English trailer), wherein a high school girls’ band plays covers of Blue Hearts songs. That movie was released on DVD stateside by Viz Pictures in 2007 but I think it’s currently out-of-print.
Back to Rolling Girls: covers of the following Blue Hearts tracks have aired so far, sung by the show’s four main voice actresses: (UPDATED 4/1)
– “Hito ni Yasashiku” (人にやさしく, 1987) as main opening theme, episode 1 ending theme
– “Tsuki no Bakugekiki” (月の爆撃機, 1993) as episode 2-3, 5-7 & 9-12 ending theme
– “1000 Violins” (1000のバイオリン, 1993) as episode 1 insert song
– “Eiyuu ni Akogarete” (英雄にあこがれて, 1987) as episode 2 insert song
– “Nō Tenki” (脳天気, 1993) as episode 4 ending theme
– “Nagaremono” (ながれもの, 1988) as episode 5 insert song
– “Train-Train” (1988) as episode 6 insert song
– “Sha La La” (シャララ, 1988) as episode 6 & 9 insert song (instrumentals)
– “Neon Sign” (ネオンサイン, 1991) as episode 10 insert song (instrumentals)
– “Aozora” (青空, 1989) as episode 11 & 12 insert song (instrumentals)
– “Yūgure” (夕暮れ, 1993) as episode 11 insert song
– “Owaranai Uta” (終わらない歌, 1987) as episode 12 insert song
Also: “STONES” (“Some Girls” by Rolling Stones?) as episode 8 insert song
There’s a song collection CD with an April release date that claims to feature five cover songs from the show so there should be at least three more debuting in future episodes.
Space Dandy was an interesting experiment in broadcasting with English dub episodes premiering on North American cable before their respective Japanese airings. It was also a showcase for different animation directors & writers and that led to varying visual and storytelling styles over the course of its two seasons. I’ve only seen the whole first season and the first episode of the second but I do intend to finish the rest of the series next month, especially after seeing Scamp of the Cart Driver include 4 episodes from season 2 among his 10 favorite Dandy episodes.
The soundtracks for each season featured a range of artists including Taku Takahashi (previously contributed tracks to Panty & Stocking‘s OST), headline composer Yoko Kanno, KenKen, Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro, OGRE YOU ASSHOLE and many others.
Earlier this month, I completed the first season of K-On! after getting Sentai’s DVD re-release set. The last episode in that collection dealt with Houkago Tea Time (the main girls’ band) being invited to perform at a live house on New Year’s Eve with a few other bands. On Saturday night, I went to a live show at Witch Room in midtown Sacramento featuring three bands – local group Desario, Tennis System and headliner Be Forest from Italy – and thought back to that episode while I was there. Continue reading
Every once in a while, I come across an anime song cover album while browsing albums on Spotify. I’ve found there are a bunch of these albums from various artists and most of them also are listed on Amazon MP3 and other services. Something about them being on legitimate music services bothers me a bit because I get the feeling they are gaining from other artist’s lyrics.
Most of the groups listed on these music services are published through Cyber Chord Records & Anime Records and the name Eddy Hoefler comes up when doing a search for those labels. The latter operates out of Berlin, Germany, according to that label’s website.
One artist who stands out from the lot is Shiroku, whose catalog is mostly covers but also features some original songs. She performs concerts at conventions and had attempted a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year for a fourth CD album of anime favorites but it seemed to have not reached its goal.
I suppose another way of looking at Western-produced anime song cover albums is to think of them as similar to doujin music releases that are often sold at Japanese fan events like Comiket since both are produced by fans of particular series or genres. I’m more interested in original doujin albums rather than the ones that mainly remix or reinterpret game soundtracks (Touhou has a popular subject for years). I was glad to learn last night that some artists like Buta-Otome have branched out into producing some original albums after getting their start through Touhou vocal and instrumental albums.
After thinking about the matter that way, I guess I don’t feel as irritated as I once was, especially if I consider it a way for some budding artists to express themselves and potentially get noticed. I remain curious about the legal issues surrounding cover and tribute bands in general. There are many rock tribute bands across the US – and presumably around the world – and I’ve never really felt comfortable about them either as I’d rather hear the originals and maybe some creative remixes.