Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

Posts Tagged ‘ themes ’

I love Engrish. I really do. As uptight as I can get about the rampant misuse of English by native or theoretically fluent speakers, I find it ridiculously endearing when obviously non-fluent foreigners try, even when they get things wrong. Or maybe especially when they get things wrong. So it always pleases me to hear musicians stumble along with their broken pronunciation and broken grammar in anime theme songs or just in general; it’s courageous of them to even attempt singing in a language they’re not all that familiar with. I mean, Tomoko Kawase supposedly has a friend write her English lyrics for her, but she still ends up with stuff like “don’t scary.” There are a lot of great songs out there with awkward grammar and “alternative” pronounced like “alter” and “native” spliced together. Maybe they’re supposing that their primarily Japanese audience won’t notice or care, but with the significant overseas popularity of anime and related media, you have to wonder if they think about how silly they might sound to native and fluent speakers of English.

This post isn’t actually about Engrish songs though. With Engrish as such a common element in so many anime themes and inserts (and indeed, Japanese music on the whole), it’s always a real surprise when you hear a song that’s in English. English! No mispronunciations. No sketchy grammar. Minimal or no accent. They’re a rare breed, but not all that difficult to find considering a number of very popular series include them. Sometimes they’re sung by native speakers and sometimes they’re still Japanese artists, but they’re always a real treat when you come across them:

8. “living inside the shell” – Steve Conte, Shanti Snyder, and Yoko Kanno (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG ED)

It’s a huge given that there’s going to be Yoko Kanno somewhere on this list. In fact, exactly half of the songs on this list are composed by Yoko Kanno, two of which are performed by Steve Conte. Few people would argue against Kanno’s astounding skills across all styles and genres of music. Blues, jazz, hip-hop, classical, orchestral, pop, folk, rock, electronic, whatever, you name it, she’s done it. Language? Japanese, Latin, Italian, French, Russian, some made up gibberish that sounds Latin-based, and of course, English. It’s hard narrowing down her extensive portfolio of works to a handful of songs, but “living inside the shell” is surely one of my favorites. SAC’s first season ending, “Lithium Flower” was also a contender, but I prefer Conte’s vocals to Scott Matthew’s and the lyrics I find better suited to the thoughtfulness of SAC’s themes. The spoken portion by Shanti Snyder also adds an eerie dimension to the mood of the piece.

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TV Cuts VS Full Versions

February 19, 2009 Editorial 6 Comments

A few weeks ago, “trust you” by Yuna Ito debuted as Gundam 00 S2‘s second ending theme. I’ve always considered Yuna Ito to be a good artist — her voice is very pretty and most of her melodies are nice to listen to. I liked the work she did for the two live action NANA movies, but I had yet to hear a song of hers that really struck me as being amazing. “trust you” was definitely a first love kind of thing, though I do think that the context of 00’s ending animation, as well as the themes of the series itself, helped a lot with that. It’s a very thoughtful package; both the song and the animation have a nostalgic, peaceful, and contemplative feel to them. It’s the best kind of ending theme: one that makes you reflect on the series in a serious kind of way. It’s especially appropriate for Gundam, even if I don’t really think 00 specifically deserves something so appropriate.

I found myself listening to the song pretty often and counting the days until the single’s release. That’s the wonderful marketing ploy of it all. Anime themes are always singles, and they always debut on air a month or two before the single’s due to release. That’s a month or two that you have to sit around with a minute to minute and a half teaser of a beautiful song. It drove me nuts. I actually really love the TV cut version of “trust you” though; it’s easy to tell where things are abbreviated, but I thought it was pieced together very well. It’s obvious that the intro is probably longer and it feels like the first verse extends directly into final chorus.

Well, the single’s still not due out until March 4th, but the PV released a day or two ago, so I got ahold of a PV rip. Finally! A full length version of the song! …Why doesn’t it sound as nearly good as the TV Cut?

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(aka, “Yes, I Watched It 26 Times”)

I was bumming around some forums recently and found a topic about opening themes that people actually watched through every single time (or something close). I thought it was a darn good question and consequently sat down to think about which applied to me. I’m usually pretty impatient to get to the content of each episode; after all, I really only watch series one of two ways: either I binge it and swallow the whole thing in the span of two or three days, or I follow it as it releases, which means agonizing over each episode for a week and then downloading it the second it surfaces on its release day. Both situations call for the skipping of opening themes because I’m so damn eager to get to the content.

Still, for one reason or another, there are indeed a handful of opening sequences that I was just so fond of that I watched every single time. And here they are for your viewing pleasure! (They are also, of course, accompanied by my usual verboseness if you want to read. ;3)

(5) “Super Drive” – Gravitation (OP, Yousuke Sakanoue)

To start off with, I know this isn’t the greatest opening in the world, and a lot of my attachment lingers from when I was obsessed with the series. Still, looking back, there are a lot of things about it that are unique and rather endearing. The very beginning of the theme, with its sunlight and leaves, remains one of the most memorable aspects of any opening I’ve ever seen — why exactly, I’m not sure, but to this day, every time I find myself looking upward at sunlight filtered through leaves, I’m reminded of this opening and this series. Maybe it’s just the fangirl in me. The animation snaps back and forth from rather simple/generic character pans to strange, semi-realistic environment and background shots. That aspect of the animation is one of the quirkiest things about Gravitation, and I really think it helped to add to the reality of the musical environment, even when other elements remained farfetched and ridiculous.

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