I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sumire Uesaka -- Katyusha (Катю́ша / カチューシャ)

I bought this gorgeous Soviet souvenir in the Ukraine booth in a traditional marketplace, called Feira da Providência, held in Rio de Janeiro last week.

Recently, I’ve been listening to some Russian Folk songs and Eurodisco gems from the 80s with Russia and/or former Soviet Union as their main themes. I was very surprised to come across so many Gorbatchov-era inspired synthpop songs, thanks to Perestroika and Glasnost.

In Japan’s case, we now have Sumire Uesaka (上坂すみれ), a young seiyuu that happens to be a Soviet Union enthusiast, who sometimes embraces Russian themes in her songs. I thought about introducing one of her Russian inspired songs today, but, in the end, I decided to work on her rendition of the classic “Katyusha”, a famous Russian anthem during World War II (or the “Great Patriotic War” in Russia).

“Katyusha” is a song I like a lot since I discovered it many years ago. It was composed in 1938 by MatveiI Blanter (Матве́й Бла́нтер), with lyrics written by Mikhail Isakovsky (Михаи́л Исако́вский). Also, although created in Soviet Union, it’s not a song full of political propaganda, so, instead, we get a patriotic song about a girl in love with a soldier who is fighting for Mother Russia in the war. It’s ironic how the song was written in 1938, a couple of years before the Soviet Union entered the war. You can listen to the version recorded by the great Red Army Choir below.

Back to Sumire Uesaka, I only discovered she recorded “Katyusha” after J-Canuck's comment on my post about her Eurobeat single "Kitare! Aakatsuni no Doushi". It was a very pleasant surprise as, like I said earlier, "Katyusha" is one of my favourite Russian songs.

Katyusha was recorded by Sumire Uesaka and Hisako Kanemoto (金元寿子) in 2012 for the “Girls und Panzer” (ガールズ&パンツァー) anime, which portrayed a world where fighting in tanks was somewhat a hobby, similar to other sports. I dind’t watch the anime yet (I’m planning to), but, apparently, Sumire and Hisako were the girls commanding Soviet tanks, and that’s why, in a scene, they appeared singing “Katyusha”. Singing in Russian was not a problem for Sumire, as she studies Russian language, but I wonder how hard it must have been for Hisako.

A funny thing about this anime rendition of "Katyusha" is that, due to copyright issues, it couldn’t be aired in the American version. Instead, the same scene aired with another Russian song in the background, “Korobeiniki” (Коробейники), which is widely known for being “The Tetris Song” (even I played this version of Tetris a lot during my childhood, although mine was probably from a cloned video-game).Don’t get me wrong, “Korobeiniki” is also a great song, but it was not very suitable for the scene. Here’s a video comparing the original Japanese version with the American one.

Finally, this anime version of "Katyusha" can be found in “GIRLS und PANZER Original Soundtrack” album, which was released in December 2012.



  1. Spasibo, Marcos.

    I was hoping that one of us would mention "Girls und Panzer" here someday. "Katyusha" was a song that I have heard in the past through various media but I had never expected to see it heard, let alone sung, in an anime. I'm perfectly understanding of the intricacies of copyrights and all but the inclusion of "Korobeiniki" in the English dub really doesn't do the scene justice.

    By chance, do you have the soundtrack to the series? I have it on hard drive and it's one of my favourite anime soundtracks. It has a nice variety of tracks but still with the main theme acting as an overture throughout.

    1. Hey, J-Canuck.

      I've been listening to Sumire's version of "Katyusha" since you introduced me to it several months ago, but just now I decided to give it a go here. Like you, I'd never expect to hear it in an anime. In an interview, Sumire said Japanese people often sees Russia as a scary country, so it was a surprise to se "Katyusha" being played and covered by an aidoru singer/seiyuu.

      As for "Korobeiniki", it's not suitable for an epic scene like the one on "Girls und Panzer". I can't really smell the war with a nice and easy-going song like that playing in the background. Somehow "Korobeiniki" made me remember of France.

      About the soundtrack, I'm still downloading it (started downloading a couple of days ago). The speed is kinda slow. I'm not the biggest fan of anime soundtracks, but I'm somewhat anxious to listen to it. Maybe there are a couple of nice surprises like "Katyusha" hidden on it.

    2. Hi, Marcos.

      By the way, I forgot to mention in my last comment how much I like that souvenir!

      As for the soundtrack, it's reminiscent of some of the music I heard for some old movies such as "The Dirty Dozen" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". There is an overture feel with the main theme but there are also some other interesting tracks that don't include the military march feel.

  2. Girls und Panzer is so absurd but i love it. I also have an affinity for tanks, so that helped me warm up to it.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.