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.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Yoko Takahashi -- Zankoku na Tenshi no Tehze (残酷な天使のテーゼ)

Well, another anime season has come and, a fond farewell to shows like "Hibike! Euphonium" and "Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works", and welcome to the new summer season. One of the shows that my anime buddy introduced to me was something called "Sore ga Seiyuu!" about the trials, tribulations and thrills of a trio of voice actors trying to get that break in the industry. The first episode was...OK. There was nothing particularly incredible. It was just the usual cute characters, including the lead who looked curiously like the goofy Yuki Nagato from "Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu", and a similarity to "Shiro Bako". However, what got my interest was at the very end when the actual seiyuu finished up with the jolly ending theme that will include an excerpt from a famous anison each week. The producers couldn't have done better to start off the series with a rather beloved song.

Yup, hearing the ladies sing "Zankoku na Tenshi no Tehze" (A Cruel Angel's Thesis) definitely perked up my eyes and ears. And I was never an Evangelion fan, either. The anime "Neon Genesis Evangelion" started up a month before I arrived in Japan in November 1994 for my longer second stint as an English teacher. However, since I didn't get into anime during my time there, it would be months before I started noticing that word "Evangelion" being bandied about on the telly and then seeing the gigantic posters of one Rei Ayanami and the Evangelion all over Akihabara. I kinda thought the latter was a mecha as designed by Charles Addams...there was something quite Lurch-like about it.

The piece de resistance was then the opening theme itself. Whenever I watched TBS' "Countdown TV" in the wee hours of Sunday morning, it seemed that "Zankoku na Tenshi no Tehze" would always be showing up in the rankings over and over for weeks and weeks on end. For an anison, I thought that the song had gone further up the Oricon list than it actually did which was No. 27 at its peak. But it was a very long resident on the charts as it placed at No. 191 in 1995 when it was released in October of that year (a whole year after the show began?!), No. 161 in 1996 and then No. 156 in 1997.

Just a brief detour, but the opening credits for "Neon Genesis Evangelion" were something that I had only discovered quite recently. They were very well done so I guess I am indeed a sucker for quick-cut openings with a killer theme song..."Mission: Impossible" and "Space: 1999" come to mind here.

Amazing thing that "Zankoku" came out almost 20 years ago. Aside from the other "Evangelion" theme that Yoko Takahashi(高橋洋子)sang, "Kokoro yo Genshi ni Modore" (心よ原始に戻れ), this song is the only other contribution I know by her. Neko Oikawa(及川眠子)provided the lyrics, and she is the one who wrote up a number of songs for the late80s/early 90s aidoru duo, Wink, including their famous hit, "Samishii Nettaigyo"(淋しい熱帯魚)back in 1989. Meanwhile Toshiyuki Omori(大森俊之)took care of the melody which seems to have that successful mix of Tetsuya Komuro(小室哲哉)and late 80s anison. It may not have actually cracked the Top 10 on Oricon but it did make TV Asahi's list of the Top 100 Anime Songs at No. 55. And I gather that the anime fans would have probably stood up and saluted if the song were played at any convention.

Yes, indeedy...get those glowsticks out!

And those amazing opening credits were just ripe for parody...even on live-action TV.

One of the craziest things that I read regarding "Zankoku" on the Wikipedia writeup was that initially during production of "Evangelion", director Hideaki Anno had apparently wanted to use excerpts from Borodin's "Polovetsian Dances No. 2" as the opening theme. My boyhood memories suddenly bubbled up at that cheap commercial (that you see above) I used to see for years and years where the old fellow explained how the 50s standard ballad of "Stranger In Paradise" was adapted from "Polovetsian Dances". The crazier thing was that a recording of "Stranger In Paradise" was something that I had heard even earlier on the old RCA Victor over and over. Y'know...I did like both versions but frankly, I'm happy that Yoko Takahashi got her chance for the anime.

Yoko Takahashi's backup singers?

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