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.

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.

Eir Aoi Performs Solo Concert in New York

Aldnoah Zero ED Theme Eir Aoi
Eir Aoi, the artist behind such hits as MEMORIA from Fate/Zero and more recently, Lapis Lazuli from The Heroic Legend of Arslan will be performing her first solo concert in New York at New York City’s Gramercy Theater on May 25. Tickets for the event can be obtained through Livenation though Crunchyroll Premium subscribers are eligible for special access including a talk session with Eir Aoi and a post-concert “meet & greet”.

Eir Aoi’s musical portfolio should be readily recognizable among anime fans. In addition to the titles mentioned above, she’s also worked on anime like Kill la Kill and Sword Art Online. Her career as a singer has also gone over well; her latest album, D’Azur, debuted at #3 on Oricon’s weekly album chart for the week of June 22-28. I’m not a big fan of hers since I don’t think she controls her volume very well, but I’m probably in the minority on that front.

This won’t necessarily be her first concert in the US. In 2014, Eir Aoi came to Anime Expo for a special Kill la Kill event, one that was pretty well-received by those in attendance.

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:

Rewrite Anime’s Music Staff Includes Key Visual’s Jun Maeda and Shinji Orito

Rewrite, an anime based on the Key Visual Arts visual novel of the same name, is set to be released in July of this year. The show, which takes place in Kazamatsuri, revolves around Kotaro Tennoji and his interactions with his classmates Kotori Kanbe, Chihaya Ohtori, Akane Senri, Sizuru Nakatsu, and Lucia Konohana. To take a sneak peek of what the show has on offer, here’s the promotional video for Rewrite.

Much of the staff who worked on the game version of Rewrite will be reprising their roles for the anime. The voice cast is one area in which this occurs, but the same goes for the music composers. Names from Key Visual Arts include Shinji Orito and Jun Maeda who have worked together on previous Key Visual works like Kanon, Air, and Clannad. Ryō Mizutsuki also has worked with the Key composers as an arranger for Little Busters while Maiko Iuchi brings her experience as part of I’ve Sound to the team. Last, but not least, Soushi Hosoi has worked on his fair share of visual novels as well.

I’ve long ceased to follow up on Key Visual’s other VNs beyond Air, Kanon, and Clannad, so this probably won’t be something I’d pick up. The music in the PV is a mix of light and darker atmospheric fare that doesn’t readily catch my attention, but I’m curious to see Maeda’s tracks in action since he can capture those heartfelt moments really well.

Babymetal Performs on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Babymetal might be one of those things that I’m not really destined to get. I’m not a hardcore fan of Japanese idol pop and definitely not someone who tunes into metal music (longtime readers should know my genre interests quite well by this point). Nevertheless, this fusion of idol pop and metal is one of the few things to really catch on with international audiences and to that end, they got a chance to debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert earlier this evening, performing their song “Gimme Chocolate” for American audiences on TV for the very first time. Their full performance can be seen below:

Their performance was amusing and lively even if it wasn’t enough for me to buy into what the trio of Suzuka Nakamoto (“Su-metal”), Yui Mizuno (“Yuimetal”), and Moa Kikuchi (“Moametal”) offered. The music was just a bit too repetitive for my tastes and didn’t really have enough dynamism for me to really get engaged. Some things just aren’t for me and Babymetal is one of those things. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying their works though. After the end of the performance, Stephen Colbert noted that their latest album, Metal Resistance is out if you’re looking to listen to them some more. Fans of their work will be pleased to find that this album has garnered largely positive reviews from the music press.

Weekly Anime Music Releases – March 30

With the new anime season flying in, the amount of anime music releases is slowly petering out. But fear not. Within the span of a few weeks, we’ll be deluged by more OP/ED singles from more shows than we care to count. I like to use this time to enjoy the tranquility. Maybe even review an OST or two. So with that, here’s what we can expect out of the week of March 30:

Anime Soundtracks and Albums

Cinderella Girls


Artist: Hidekazu Tanaka
Purchase at: CDJapan
I can’t really claim to be a big fan of the idolm@ster franchise, nor am I one of those haters either. I just haven’t gotten around to seeing much of the series or gotten a chance to grow close to any of the characters in any meaningful way. But I know there are quite a few people who adore it, go to live shows, and all that good stuff, so that’ why I’m including it here. I’m not sure of Hidekazu Tanaka’s pedigree, but a quick look over his composer credits reveals a lot of very very catchy pop music. Being able to write catchy pop music hooks doesn’t necessarily make for great soundtrack composition skills, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. And I’d be curious to know whether anyone has given this OST a shot.

One Piece Arrange

One Piece

Album Name: ONE PIECE Arrange Collection CLASSIC
Artist: Kazuhiko Sawaguchi, Yasunori Iwasaki
Purchase at: CDJapan
One Piece’s soundtrack isn’t something that I’d immediately jump into, but from what I’ve heard, it’s pretty decent. And so, we have this arrange album consisting of some of the better-known One Piece themes all assembled and arranged by Kazuhiko Sawaguchi and Yasunori Iwasaki. I’m a big fan of arrange albums in general, just to see how they use some of those old themes, and would like to see what sort of creativity shines through. [Read more…]

Qualidea Code Anime Reveals Theme Song Performers LiSA, GARNiDELiA, and ClariS

Qualidea Code
Qualidea Code‘s biggest splash isn’t going to come from its plot, which centers around kids who fight against the UNKNOWN (creative name, huh?) alien threat. Rather, the biggest news is the list of performers who will be performing the theme songs for the anime.

At AnimeJapan 2016, the people behind Qualidea Code announced that lisa will perform the opening theme song, ClariS will perform the first ending theme song, and GARNiDELiA. None of these three artists are new to the world of anison. LiSA received her big break performing songs from Angel Beats before moving on to the opening to Sword Art Online. ClariS, a two-girl group, performed the opening themes to Ore no Imouto and Madoka and GARNiDELiA worked on Kill la Kill and Mahouka. A video of the announcement can be seen below:

Now, if you’ve read any of my reviews of their work, you’ll know these are artists I don’t particularly hold in high regard. LiSA is too loud and burst-y for my tastes since I like my music to have some semblance of a dynamic range. ClariS is autotuned to hell and back and I don’t find any of the songs they’re made to sing to be all that enjoyable. Finally, GARNiDELiA plays it by the J-pop book and doesn’t stand out much from other artists.

The only point that got my attention from the Qualidea Code anime announcement is that the soundtrack will be composed by Taku Iwasaki. Iwasaki’s hasn’t been overwhelmingly consistent lately, what with his wild bouts of experimentation, but at least it’s a steady hand at the helm. Small blessings.

Amanchu’s Soundtrack Composed and Performed by Gontiti

Amanchu!, an anime that derives its story from Kozue Amano’s manga of the same name, is one of my top picks for Summer 2016’s anime releases. The anime, which focuses on teenagers who form a scuba diving group, possesses a gentle atmosphere that makes it a spiritual successor to the equally wonderful ARIA franchise, a work also done by Kozue Amano. And to top it off, Amanchu!‘s soundtrack will be composed and performed by GONTITI, a group also known for their gentle, laid-back melodies.

I first became aware of GONTITI through their work on Yokohama Kaidasishi Kikou, and was immediately drawn into their light acoustic guitar melodies that captured the relaxing atmosphere that the anime projected. One of my favorite pieces of theirs is “Dance of the Evening Calm” which is a nice and light Spanish-flavored piece from YKK and showcases the type of sound you’re in for when you watch Amanchu!

GONTITI, the duo made up of Masahiko “Gonzalez” Mikami and Masahide “Titi” Matsumura, have since gone on to work on other another anime OVA in TO-Y. Beyond that, their involvement with anime is still pretty sparse.

Still, I’m excited to see what comes out of Amanchu!’s soundtrack. Already, the early signs look favorable with the promo video that was released a few days ago. GONTITI’s acoustic guitar work is just a little more alive, a little more serene, and all that comes together to make the whole presentation just a bit more special. To see what I mean, I’ve embedded Amanchu!’s PV below.

You can expect the anime to be released sometime in July.

The Pillows Performs Ninja Slayer’s Episode 1 Ending Theme

For most anime fans, their exposure to the rock band The Pillows came about through watching FLCL. Amidst FLCL‘s spasticness, The Pillows thrilled with musical numbers such as “Ride on Shooting Star” and my personal favorite of the bunch: “Little Busters”. Although their anime contributions since then have been few and far in between with contributions to Beck and Moonlight Mile, this spring season, they’ll be contributing a song to the Ninja Slayer anime’s long list of ending themes in the form of “Locomotion, more! more”. Better still, this song will be the first ending song to be played in case you don’t want to go through the entire Ninja Slayer anime.

So although Ninja Slayer has been streamed about a year ago, the new Ninja Slayer TV airing will compile those TV episodes with the broadcast to begin airing on April 2 on Tokyo MX1.

And if you’re like me and you’re not all that keen on watching Ninja Slayer, you can still catch sight of the song on The Pillows’ 20th album, titled Stroll and Roll. This album will be released on April 6, marking 27 years of being around, rocking out, and winning Western fans with their contributions to that Gainax anime of old, FLCL.

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