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.

Monday, June 22, 2020

J-Canuck's Favourite Anison (Since Coming Back Home)

The very first Author's Picks article in late 2013 belongs to JTM and he chose the opportunity to cover some of his favourite anison, J-Drama and Japanese movie themes. Strangely enough, I realized that I have yet to describe some of my own favourite anison although I have often touched upon the genre in articles going all the way to KKP's inaugural year of 2012.

Well, challenge accepted then! However, when I was dreaming up my list, I also realized that I had forgotten to include some of the very first anison themes that had come to my ears such as the ones belonging to "Space Cruiser Yamato" and other tunes before 2011. So, when it comes down to it, I've decided to make this list under one simple condition: my favourite anison are to be for shows that I've seen over the past decade since returning from Japan in December 2011. I will make a separate list for beloved anime themes pre-2011 at a later date.

Thinking up the list, I believe and I think you will also believe that a lot of my choices for favourite anison have that certain funk and groove, and that is probably due to the fact that my favourite genre in Japanese popular music is City Pop/AOR. But there will be a few exceptions.

Shall we being then? Ah, before I forget, the list isn't in any particular order.

1. Yasuyuki Okamura -- Viva Namida (Space Dandy, 2013)

An anime series doesn't necessarily demand a cookin' theme song to be successful. I've seen some pretty fine shows for which I can't really remember the themes, to be honest. However, a great opening theme can act as a splendid business card for what the show can bring to your senses. Case in point: "Viva Namida"(ビバナミダ)by Prince-ly funk artist Yasuyuki Okamura(岡村靖幸)for the out-of-left-universe show "Space Dandy". As I mentioned in the original article for the song, I knew that I had to get the single when I heard it on Episode 1. Seeing all of the sexy opening credits paired with this sexy song made my choice pretty inevitable. I was getting major Bootsy Collins vibes from Okamura who at the time looked like a buttoned-down company cog until he began hitting the dance floor.

2. Masayuki Suzuki feat. Airi Suzuki -- DADDY! DADDY! DO! (Kaguya-sama Season 2, 2020)

Okamura got all funky? Well, so did Suzuki(鈴木雅之), and he and his namesake, Airi(鈴木愛理), added dollops of soul to "DADDY! DO! DO!" to this opening theme for the second season of "Kaguya-sama: Love is War" which will end next weekend, much to fans' disappointment. Folks had been wondering whether Martin would be back to reprise opening theme duties and they were celebrating in the streets when he and his new partner brought a song that may have even eclipsed the amazing "Love Dramatic" from Season 1. Like many YouTube viewers, I've listened to "DADDY! DO! DO!" a ton of times since it was put up and I've yet to get tired of it. Who would have thought that such cool songs would be associated with a rom-com manga-based anime (albeit maybe one of the most popular works ever made)? Now, the pressure is on whether Suzuki can pull off a three-peat with Season 3 (and yeah, there just HAS to be a Season 3).

3. Cast of "Joshiraku" -- O-Ato ga Yoroshikutte...YO! (Joshiraku, 2012)

Getting all sentimental here, but "Joshiraku"(じょしらく)is one of the first anime that I got to see at my buddy's place soon after getting back to Toronto for good. "Kaguya-sama" is the "Frasier" of anime to me, but "Joshiraku" has always been my anime "Seinfeld". The five female rakugo artists simply banter about anything under the sun in their tiny resting room away from the stage. And that raucous opening theme "O-Ato ga Yoroshikutte...YO!"(お後がよろしくって。。。よ!)has had the same effect on me as the theme song for "The Flintstones" did for me whenever I got to see the adventures of Fred and Barney. It's just a welcoming happy tune for each episode while the credits show off the loony mayhem that is to follow. It's just a pity that a second season never came to fruition but at least I got to see the beginnings of Ayane Sakura's(佐倉綾音)career.

4. Petit Rabbit's -- Daydream Café (Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka? Season 1, 2014)

Speaking of Sakura, here she is as part of Petit Rabbit's, the main cast singing the first opening theme for the franchise "Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?"(ご注文はうさぎですか). "Daydream Café" in its own way is very similar to the opener for "Joshiraku" in that it gives off that welcome shiny and cheery tune basically describing a typical episode of what is basically Girls und Cafés, and the cast perform the tune in character. Although there have been a number of theme songs now for "GochiUsa" in the past six years of its anime existence (including the one that will adorn Season 3 later this fall), I think "Daydream Café" will always be the one theme that fits everyone to a tea...tee.

5. Chinatsu Akasaki, Haruka Tomatsu & Aki Toyosaki -- Wa! Moon! dass! cry! (Joshi Kosei no Mudazukai, 2019)

Since I've been throwing in these comparisons of these anime to American sitcoms that I've known, how about saying that the zany "Joshi Kosei no Mudazukai"(女子高生の無駄づかい)is a mix between "MASH" and "Welcome Back, Kotter"? Discuss! As I recall, there were a few really catchy theme songs in the summer of 2019, but "Wa! Moon! dass! cry!"(輪!Moon!dass!cry!)has come out on top for me because it has been the earworm that has kept on giving all these months leading to the 1-year anniversary since its appearance as an anime. Akasaki(赤崎千夏), Tomatsu(戸松遥)and Toyosaki(豊崎愛生)who play the main trio in the show must have earned their vocal hazard pay in lunging into this playful sing-song rap with a dance remix rhythm. And the song even gets rather poignantly sweet at the end. It just makes me hope that a second season might come out.

6. Shonan no Kaze -- Grand Blue (Grand Blue, 2018)

Talk about hoping for a Season 2. It's hard to believe that it will soon be two years since the wall-to-wall hilarity of "Grand Blue"(ぐらんぶる)assaulted my funny bone. I still go to the reaction videos from time to time to share in the laughter, and I finally got my own copy of the show. "Grand Blue" the opening theme by Shonan no Kaze(湘南乃風)is the ultimate mood maker for summery good times and dancing on the beach (maybe there can be some actual diving, too!). Like the other themes, it has prepped me into a good mood for each episode.

7. Natsumi Hioka & Hiroki Yasumoto -- Kumamiko Dancing (Kumamiko, 2016)

Great theme (and it's an ending theme this time, too!)...too bad about the anime, though. Frankly, I thought that "Kumamiko"(くまみこ)finished its run somewhat like Roman Polanski's 1965 psychological horror "Repulsion", but on happier news, that ending theme "Kumamiko Dancing" was just oodles of fun along the same lines of "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars. Who'da thought that a tune about a relationship between a talking bear and a teenage shrine maiden could be so deliciously danceable? If the show hadn't ended the way it did, I would have said looking at the ending credits that everyone was in a happy place in that village.

8. Maaya Sakamoto -- Million Clouds (Amanchu!, 2016)

Of all of the shows listed here, "Amanchu!"(あまんちゅ!)is the one show that isn't a zany comedy. I mean, it has its examples of gentle humour but really the anime that really focuses on diving is one of the sweetest and most wistful slice-of-life shows that I've ever seen, and it's far away from the "Animal House" that is "Grand Blue". It would only be logical that the opening theme matches that calm coming-of-age atmosphere, and that has been achieved with Maaya Sakamoto's(坂本真綾)"Million Clouds", one very moving theme song that captures the feeling of growing up, making new friends and learning about life.

9. KMM Dan -- Witchcraft Activity (Witchcraft Works, 2014)

"Witchcraft Works" was an intriguing anime although as the episodes moved on, I was starting to lose track of the story. However, what stayed constant was the earworm status of the ending theme by KMM Dan, "Witchcraft Activity", and one of the group happens to be seiyuu Natsumi Hioka(日岡なつみ)who's already represented above. The first time I heard this song whipped up by TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN FUND at the end of the pilot episode was all I needed to get that urge to get the CD. The full-speed beats and the rat-a-tat delivery by the group absolutely bewitched me.

10. fhana -- Aozora no Rhapsody (Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon, 2017)

Another opening theme that welcomed me and other viewers into the world of corporate cogs, elementary school students and magical beings, fhana's "Aozora no Rhapsody"(青空のラプソディ)is trippy and sweeping at the same time. Those opening words and the disco strings had me crying "Uncle!" and what was additionally wonderful was that jazzy guitar bridge in the full version of the song. Now, if only a second season would come for this one, too.

Whew! Got those 10 up there. Hopefully, there are some of them that you like and I realize that there are some that I would have liked to have gotten up here but that's all she wrote. I'm just glad that I could finally get my first anison list up.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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