Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Opening Reaches 5 Million Views on YouTube

Dragon Maid Anime
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid has been generating waves in the anime community this season, most notably for its cute characters crammed into a comedy anime that focuses upon Kobayashi and Tohru, a dragon from another world who decides to live with Kobayashi as a maid and, in the process, bringing more dragons to the yard.

But as good as the show is, there’s something to be said for its opening theme, “Rhapsody of Blue Sky”, sung by anison veteran Towana, who performs as the lead singer for fhána. The opening theme has caught their audience’s attention with its music and its shenanigans, bringing in over 5 million YouTube views in less than 3 months. Here’s a look at “Rhapsody of Blue Sky’s” music video:

Between the exuberant “CHU CHU YEAH” introduction and the overblown cheeriness, it’s kind of easy to see why this video managed to catch on. Just like the animated version, there’s a lot of energy and in the video, it’s through fhána’s Towana, who dances her way through the first stanza (somewhat expressionless countenance aside), before letting the blond sampler, Kevin Mitsunaga, to steal the show with his expressions and his moves as he grooves right along. The only way this video could have been better is if they maintained that scene in the anime’s opening visuals where people are spinning upwards.

With this success, “Rhapsody of Blue Sky” has risen to beat out all other videos to become the #1 most-viewed video on Lantis’s YouTube channel, beating out the myriad of Love Live videos that have seemingly been their mainstay.

Yuri on Ice Soundtrack Reviews

Yuri on Ice went on to dazzle us with its energy, its paean to ice skating, and the development of its characters. However, none of that could have been accomplished without the music which not only captured the ice skating routines’ visual artistry, but also touches upon some of the characters’ struggles as they strive to become a champion.

When we reviewed the Yuri on Ice soundtrack, we saw it as an album that was very diverse and packed a lot of character. Where else would one find an album so wonderfully crafted, with such diverse fare as classical, opera, R&B, electronica, and jazz could coexist? It’s an album that is very nearly perfect and one that comes highly recommended.

On top of that, we also took a shot at seeing how well reviews could be done in video form. Our very own zzeroparticle took a stab at it, so let him know what you think about it. We’d love to hear some feedback about whether this is a format that could work in the future and what you’d like to see from it.

Thanks for sticking with us! Hope to see you around.

Amanchu!’s Anime Music Is A Mixed Batch

One of the more enjoyable anime from last season was Amanchu!, a show about two girls, Teko and Pikari, who immerse themselves into the world of scuba diving. The anime itself is sourced from the Kozue Amano manga of the same name and is directed by Junichi Sato. The music also highlights composers and singers new and old, and I’ve gotten a chance to review Amanchu!‘s music in the latest batch. Here’s the rundown of my thoughts if you’re curious:

  • Amanchu! Original Soundtrack – I was actually hyped for Amanchu!‘s soundtrack when I discovered that the music would be composed by Gontiti, the acoustic guitar duo that did an excellent job with Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. Amanchu!‘s music proved to be pleasant, but the biggest sticking point is that it just wasn’t memorable enough. Laid-back acoustic guitar music can only take you so far, and without more compelling themes to drive it along, won’t lead to any sort of life-changing experience.
  • Amanchu!’s Opening Theme: Million Clouds by Maaya Sakamoto – I fell in love with “Million Clouds” when I first heard this. Maaya Sakamoto’s voice is crisp and clear, with all the serenity in the initial stanzas before bursting into an infectious exuberance that speaks to the thrill of discovery and takes you all the way to the end. Definitely one of Maaya Sakamoto’s stronger works.
  • Amanchu!’s Ending Theme: Futari Shoujo – This ending theme basically plays to the characters who sing it. In “Futari Shoujo”, we see Ai Kayano and Eri Suzuki, the two voice actresses for Teko and Pikari, respectively sing a song about friendship. Ai Kayano, who sings first, has a shy, quiet voice that matches Teko’s character while Eri Suzuki’s delivery is more extroverted, in line with what you’d expect from the outgoing PIkari. The overall tone is balmy and pleasant, but not altogether too memorable. On this album, I actually prefer the works of the group Misteria Feo, which takes Mina Kubota’s compositions into a more ethereal realm. A solid album overall though.

Boom Boom Satellites Ends Their Career with Kiznaiver opening

Boom Boom Satellites
The Boom Boom Satellites burst on the anime music scene with “Shut Up and Explode”, a song that packed the kind of energy that would help the song stay true to its title. The song, used as the opening theme to Xam’d: Lost Memories, basically put them on the map, and they’d go on to do other anime works including “Broken Mirror”, used in Gundam Unicorn.

So there’s a measure of regret when they announced that their song, “Lay Your Hands On Me”, used as the opening to the anime Kiznaiver, would prove to be their last. The reason for that is that vocalist/guitarist Michiyuki Kawashima experienced a brain tumor relapse. As a result, he’s suffering from partial paralysis and can no longer perform. This development had forced Boom Boom Satellites to cancel their concerts in Osaka and Tokyo last November.

Still, they’ve had a rich, 20-year career, as they’ve entertained fans in both Japan and the US where they made appearances at major US conventions like the NY Anime Festival back in 2010. Their compositional credits in the anime realm includes “Back In Black”, which serves as the main theme for the upcoming anime adaptation of Ninja Slayer.

So even though their performances will fade into the waves of time, there’s never a better moment to relive their best-known work, even now, “Shut Up and Explode” where the refrains of “Run Away” will forever burn into my memories:

Anison Singer Aimer Collaborates with Taka from ONE OK ROCK and Ling Tosite Sigure’s TK

Since her debut on NO.6’s opening theme, it’s safe to say that Aimer’s stock has been soaring pretty high. Her music career has propelled her forward, giving her opportunities to work with composer Hiroyuki Sawano on Gundam Unicorn’s signature song, “RE:IAM” and then Yoko Kanno herself on the emotional “Dare ka, Umi Wo” from Terror in Resonance where she earned high praise for her ability to convey the desperation and glass-like fragility.

And the collaboration offers don’t seem to stop coming either. One of her next projects has her working with vocalist Taka from ONE OK ROCK. This particular project will be pretty meaningful for her because she has expressed an interest in collaborating with ONE OK ROCK in the past. Together, the two will perform on the song titled “insane dream”, featuring Aimer’s thick voice alongside Taka’s vocals.

If you’re curious about how that collaboration will go, here’s a sneak peek of the song on Youtube:

But Taka’s not the only artist that will work with Aimer on this single. There’s also TK from the prog. rock band Ling Tosite Sigure who helped Aimer produce the song titled “us”. Although this has been announced, there’s really no preview of the song to be had anywhere. But given Ling Tosite Sigure’s oeuvre, it should prove to be a unique track.

Finally, later this year, Aimer will be working with Yojirou Noda from the pretty popular band RADWIMPS! I hadn’t heard of this particular group until about a month ago, but when I sampled their music, it was pleasant and easygoing. RADWIMPS’s music packs quite a bit of atmosphere in their music and I figure that meshes well with Makoto Shinkai’s works. Whether Aimer will also see time on a Makoto Shinkai anime is anyone’s guess though.

Anisong Matsuri at Anime Expo 2016 Features Concerts by Sphere, JAM Project, and T.M. Revolution

Anison Matsuri Anime Expo
A couple weeks ago, we announced that the J-pop artist MICHI would be at Anime Expo. Based on the YouTube videos featuring her vocals, I concluded that she was competent, but not the kind of singer that would draw crowds to Anime Expo.

All of that changed when Anime Expo announced that they’d be hosting the Anisong World Matsuri in conjunction with the convention. And boy did they get some big names to commit into showing up.

The collection of singers feels a lot like a who’s who of Anison. You’ve got acts like JAM Project who’ve seemingly been around forever. New fans know them for their One Punch Man opening theme, but these guys go all the way back to 2000 when they debuted with “Kaze ni Nare” for Éx-Driver. Their better-known body of work includes Scrapped Princess’s, Gravion, and Mazinkaiser opening themes.

But that’s not all. There’s Sphere, whose singers might as well be the K-ON girls (with the addition of Haruka Tomatsu and Ayahi Takagaki thrown in for good measure), FLOW, whose work on Code Geass is pretty damned legendary, and T.M. Revolution whose work really needs no introduction since he’s collaborated with Nana Mizuki on Valvrave’s opening theme but whose work on stuff like Gundam SEED’s “Invoke” is far better known (and far better sounding). There’s more artists that you can peek at above, but that’s a pretty formidable lineup to say the least.

Unlike many of the other conventions, this one’s practically in my backyard. If you check on Daisuki’s website, tickets are still not yet available for purchase. But for an event of this caliber, I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out. So watch this space for updates and hope you’ll look forward to my concert reports like the ones I do pretty much every year!

Persona Artists Lotus Juice and Shihoko Hirata Perform at Otakon’s Pre-Con Festival

The convention guest list continues to add on Japanese singers to their roles and this time, it’s Otakon that’s putting out their announcements. This year, rapper Lotus Juice and singer Shihoko Hirata will be making their appearances at the Otakon pre-convention festival, the Otakon Matsuri. Lotus Juice and Shihoko Hirata will be performing at the street festival on August 11 that takes place before the convention actually begins.

lotus juice rapperWhether you fall into the category of Persona fan or, like me, simply enjoy hearing from artists who’ve collaborated with composer Taku Iwasaki, this is a treat! Although my first exposure to Lotus Juice came with the battle theme from Persona 3, which he did with Shoji Meguro, my favorite performance of his was when he collaborated with Taku Iwasaki, rapping in Katanagatari‘s almighty “Bahasa Palus”, a piece that shines in its pure, unadulterated epicness! Videos of those works below if you haven’t heard him:

I doubt he’ll be able to perform “Bahasa Palus” at Otakon though. The Persona stuff is probably fair game.

Shihoko HirataAs for Shihoko Hirata, I’m not familiar with her works on the whole. The only time I’ve her vocals have been when they’ve featured prominently on Persona 4‘s game introduction and the anime’s opening theme. Compared to Lotus Juice, I don’t have strong opinions of her work in that I think her voice is suitable when it comes to matching Persona 4‘s overall atmosphere. She’s not someone who’s capable of blowing me away though. Serviceable and well… at least it’s not squealy J-pop. Examples of her work below:

As is the case with East Coast conventions, I won’t be able to make it, so it’ll be interesting to hear second-hand reports.

Makoto Shinkai’s Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) Film Features Soundtrack by RADWIMPS

Kimi no Na Wa Your Name
If there’s any certainty in the anime industry, it’s that any work by Makoto Shinkai will have dazzling visuals accompanied by a solid soundtrack. Ever since I first listened to Voices of a Distant Star, I enjoyed Tenmon’s short, sweet music. That appreciation reached a high point with 5 cm/sec, which featured the famous “One More Time, One More Chance” melody and insert song that captured love over long gaps of time and space really nicely. His subsequent work for Garden of Words did not feature Tenmon, but KASHIWA Daisuke did a stellar job on the score as well.

So after Garden of Words, Makoto Shinkai’s next work is titled Kimi no Na wa (Your Name). Unlike a tale of two long-distance lovers, this film’s premise revolves around a body swap, where a city boy finds himself in a country girl’s body, and vice versa. But while this premise isn’t exactly something to look forward to (not like it’s a premise that hasn’t been done before), what I did enjoy was RADWIMPS’ work on the soundtrack. You can hear one of their songs, “Zen Zen Zense” in the trailer below:

Talk about an energetic soft rock track! With the guitars going off in the background, the whole tone of RADWIMPS’ music reminds me of something you’d get out of all the soft rock groups they used in Honey and Clover, which makes me wonder if this anime will also turn into a coming-of-age anime. RADWIMPS do pretty much all of the music for Kimi no Na wa. Based on the trailer, I can say that Shinkai’s got a lot of solid collaborators in the music department and this work will be no exception. The band’s leader, Yojiro Noda, had met Shinkai two years ago and subsequently became involved with this film early on.

That said, RADWIMPS has made quite a name for themselves. Two of their singles, “Order Made” and “Dada” managed to hit number one on Oricon’s single charts. They are pretty popular in Japan, and even if I’ve not heard of them, their stuff is pretty eclectic. At least, if this video is of any indication because the Kimi na wa trailer was much more conservative. It’s pleasant though!

Fans of RADWIMPS should totally link me to your favorite works via YouTube. Mostly as a way for me to get up to speed on who they are and what they do.

ZAQ Comes to AnimeNEXT 2016

ZAQ Singer
I’ve got a soft spot for solid singers, I’ve got an even softer spot for solid singers who can actually compose music. That’s kind of why I enjoy ZAQ as an artist. When she got a chance to perform her first single, “Sparkling Daydream” for Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, she went out of her way to compose the song and write the lyrics. Mad props! Since then, she’s gone on to do other works like “Alteration” from Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, and, lately, performing Wareru “Doukoku” for Concrete Revolutio ~ Superhuman Phantasmagoria and penning a song for Luna Haruna titled “Ripple Effect” for High School Fleet. Needless to say, ZAQ is pretty talented.

With all that anime work she’s gotten lately, it was a matter of time before she’d be making appearances at anime conventions. And so, in June, ZAQ will be making an appearance at AnimeNEXT in Atlantic City, New Jersey as the convention’s first musical guest. On top of that, it’ll be her first North American appearance, giving her an opportunity to show US anime fans what she’s capable of on the performance, but hopefully the compositional aspects of anime pop music as well.

Unfortunately, East Coast conventions are still a thing I haven’t been able to make time for. But I’d be interested to hear what comes out of her concert and panel. Especially because I don’t really know a lot about her beyond the fact that she’s gotten a lot of anime work as of late, which means she’s gotta be doing something right. Or maybe that’s just with Kyoto Animation?

J-pop Singer MICHI the First Anime Expo Music Guest

Michi J-pop
As the summer anime convention season gets under way, it’s inevitable that many J-pop singers for those anime OP/EDs will get a chance to strut their stuff around the world. For Anime Expo, the first artist they’ve announced for the 2016 Expo is MICHI, a relatively new anison artist who got her career started on the theme song to Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers-.

Her debut single, titled “Cry for the Truth” showcases her vocals, which are huskier than what I’m used to hearing from many other artists who tend to squeal with glee. MICHI’s performance, in this instance, is actually measured, if just a bit safe and boring. It’s not enough to make me want to look at her subsequent works, but there might just be something there.

In case you want to take a peek at her performance chops, here’s a short version of “Cry for the Truth” from Rokka:

As I sorta hinted at above, she’s not limited to just her performance for Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers- theme song. Subsequent works include the theme song “Checkmate!?”, used in Dagashi Kashi’s opening. That’s followed by her next single, “Realistic!” which will be the ending theme to the upcoming series, Kuromukuro.

MICHI’s appearance at Anime Expo will be her first appearance in North America. Other fun facts include her being the first Anison artist to come out of Okinawa. It makes me wonder whether there’s not a whole lot of music talent scouting done in that region, else it’d be hard to imagine why anyone would take notice of that fact.

Anyway, it’d be nice if anyone who enjoys her works can comment. I don’t care about her too much either way and her appearance at Anime Expo isn’t the kind of appearance that can pull in crowds and get people excited like a FictionJunction. I’m interested in seeing what other artists start coming out of the woodworks to headline an Anime Convention Concert for this summer though.

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