ALI PROJECT to release Best-Of Album this June

ALI PROJECT has been around for quite some time. A very long time, in fact. My first exposure to them was in listening to “Coppelia no Hitsugi” (“Coppelia’s Coffin”) on the Noir soundtrack. From there, this duet of Arika Takarano and Mikiya Katakura have gone on to lend their voices to many a well-known anime series including Rozen Maiden, with “Kinjirareta Asobi” (also known as “Forbidden Game”) and “Baragaku Otome”, and Code Geass, with “Yuukyou Seishunka”. More recently, they’ve released their latest single, “HimikoGaiden”, a song which seems to fuse Middle Eastern musical flavors with their trademark ethereal gothic lolita sound and costuming (seen below):

A history that dates back 25 years is a lot of history to go through. And to celebrate all that, the duo will release a best-of album this June. On top of that, they’re also planning a series of performances in Chiba, Nagoya, and Osaka, Japan.

As of now, no details of which tracks made the cut have been released. It’s probably a given that their better-known anime songs will be present, which should delight the fans of their drawn-out gothic lolita body of work. With that said though, I haven’t kept up with their performances or releases since 2009, so let me know which notable tracks they’ve released since then!

AniSong World Matsuri has Yousei Teikoku Performance at Otakon

Last year, Anime Expo started the concept of the AniSong World Matsuri, where many anime artists would be given the chance to perform in concerts around the world. Last year’s Anime Expo featured the likes of Eir Aoi, the Love Live girl band Aqours, Luna Haruna, JAM Project, and Lia. With that, the concept has expanded this year with performances at Anime Expo (once more), Shanghai, and Otakon.

Yousei Teikoku_Band_ArtistPhoto

It is at Otakon that Yousei Teikoku will be added as a performer, along with the likes of JAM Project, FLOW, and T.M.Revolution. The band started up in 1997 with Yui Itsuki on vocals and from there, they have gone on to perform music that puts together a unique blend of heavy metal, classical, and techno to go with their gothic lolita stylings.

On the anime front, Yousei Teikoku has done the vocal themes for anime like Katanagatari, Kurokami, and Future Diary‘s “Kuusou Mesologie”. More recently, their works include Big Order‘s opening theme “DISORDER” and “Kyuusei Argyros” for Tokyo ESP and they’ll have a new single coming out on May 31st.

Although Yousei Teikoku has more recently begun performing overseas, this will be their first visit to Otakon. But not the US though since they’ve shown up in Texas, Boston, and Vegas in the past.

Anime Music Companies Announce ANiUTa Music Streaming Service

Aniuta music app
After what seems like forever, the anime music industry has gotten their heads together and have finally come up with an anime music streaming service with over 50,000 tracks. The service, called ANiUTa, features a collaboration between the record labels FlyingDog, Inc., avex pictures inc., Frontier Works Inc., Kadokawa Corporation, Lantis Co., Ltd, Marvelous Inc., PONY CANYON INC., SUNRISE Music Publishing Co., Ltd., TOEI ANIMATION MUSIC PUBLISHING CO., LTD., and TOHO CO., LTD, covering a major chunk of the anime music publishing industry. Anime that will prominently be featured on streaming service includes hits like Attack on Titan, Free!, Genesis of Aquarion, Girls und Panzer, K-On!, Kantai Collection, Love Live!, Lucky Star, Macross Frontier, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Wake Up, Girls!, and Yuri!!! on ICE. On top of anime music, their lineup also includes music from games, superhero productions, and even Vocaloid.

The reason why I say this is a long time coming is because, aside from a few pieces of anime music and songs scattered over on Spotify, it’s pretty hard to find that stuff online. YouTube is decent for that, but if you’re looking for any OP/ED theme, you’re more likely than not to hit upon some horrible Nightcore version of the same song or a slightly sped up version to evade the content ID filters. You can also try going on some online anime music radio station to get your fix, but having a service with music on demand is better if you’re picky and like to curate your own playlists like I do.

The service does come with a price tag. Right now, the monthly subscription cost comes out to about 600 yen ($5USD). Paid users will have access to all tracks and special perks like pre-sale concert tickets and and exclusive items. If you’re a free user, you’d be able to search their catalog and listen to samples.

So far, it’s only available in Japan, but the plan is to roll it out worldwide within a year.

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.

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.

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.

Momoiro Clover Z American Concert Tour Includes New York, Los Angeles, and Hawaii

Momoiro Clover Z, the wonderful gaggle of idol pop stars that includes Kanako Momota, Shiori Tamai, Ayaka Sasaki, Momoka Ariyasu, and Reni Takagi, have announced that they will tour North America this year. The tour, dubbed the Crossing America Ultra Live, will consist of 4 performances total and will take place in New York, Los Angeles, and Hawaii. This announcement came at the tail end of their Japanese concert tour that’s quickly coming to a close.

This concert tour won’t mark Momoiro Clover Z’s first appearance in North America. Last year, they performed in concert at Anime Expo alongside Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons who represented the glam rock band KISS. The two made for an oddball performance as they sang “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina”, a collaboration worth of a 2015 MTV Video Music Award.

But anime fans will want to seek them out for their theme song performances, many of which are pretty memorable. “Mugen no Ai” from Bodacious Space Pirates proved to be pretty popular and it was hard to find people who didn’t like the deliciously obnoxious blend of traditional Japanese fare mixed with high-speed shoujo rap in “Nippon Egao Hyakkei” from Joshiraku. In addition to those songs, they’ll also perform a version of the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal: Season III opening theme.

Koji Wada, Singer for Digimon’s Butter-fly Dies at 42

Koji Wada
Koji Wada’s “Butter-fly”, used as the theme song to many a Digimon anime has become an iconic part of the franchise. Starting with the song’s debut of the original Digimon Adventure way back in 1999. Since then, “Butter-fly” has featured prominently in such Digimon franchise productions as Digimon Adventure 02, Digimon Tamers, Digimon Frontier, Digimon: Data Squad, Digimon Xros Wars and the Digimon Adventure tri movies. Because of his work on the Digimon franchise, Koji Wada was able to perform for fans in as faraway places as Brazil and Chile.

Unfortunately, all that came to an end last week when Koji Wada died of cancer in his upper pharynx. He had been battling with cancer continuously since 2003, which caused him to take time off in 2011 when chemotherapy and surgery could not banish the cancer for good. He was still young, just 42 years old.

To celebrate his work, his agency, Solid Vox will hold a Koji Wada Farewell Event for his fans in Tokyo later this month. In addition to his work on Digimon Adventure, he performed “Honoo no Overdrive” for Transformers: Robots in Disguise in 2000 and also released 2 albums: All of My Mind and Kazakami no Oka Kara.

For those who want to listen to the clarity and passion of his performance of Digimon Adventure’s “Butter-fly” can listen to it here:

Choro Club Returns to Compose Aria the Avvenire Music

Aria the Avvenire
ARIA the Avvenire might be a continuation of the ARIA franchise or it might be a series of flashbacks involving the ARIA characters. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to reliving the anime series that stirred my heart as I watched the characters start off as gondolier novices to become full-fledged professionals.

But if there’s anything I’m looking forward to even more in ARIA the Avvenire, it would be the return of the Choro Club and Takeshi Senoo to work on the soundtrack. Below, you can find the short trailer of Avvenire confirming that much, though they use the track “AQUA” from ARIA the Animation instead of any new composition. Still, it’s a nice way to bring out the nostalgia surrounding the anime.

The ARIA soundtracks are some of the best anime music I’ve ever heard. And if you’ve read my review for the ARIA boxed CD set, you’ll find that I regard it as more or less a masterpiece. So I’m hoping for more laid-back music in this go-around in a way where I can say it’s the same, but different. One thing that the Choro Club and Takeshi Senoo have done well is in melding the new tracks from subsequent seasons while maintaining the integrity of the common musical thread that runs throughout the entirety of the series.

So, once again, here’s hoping for a sterling effort all around from the Choro Club and Takeshi Senoo. If they can at least preserve the wonder and the charming atmosphere of the ARIA series, that’s about all I can ask for. But if they can amaze me with some new tracks and themes, then I’m prepared to be blown away by their excellence.

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