(By Gerry &
SONG OF THE WEEK: THE NEXT GENERATION #6
theme" (4,068,960 bytes MP3 format)
theme" (4,299,888 bytes MP3 format)
This week, I thought I'd try something different for Rice World's
serial Song of the Week article. Radically different. I know many of you probably stared
at the title, befuddled at what it was, and some others knew instantly. To put the
questions in your mind to rest, yes this week I am featuring TWO songs instead of one.
Think of that as a Thanksgiving treat =). And the other question, no this is not in
English. It's in Japanese, so those that understand the langauge can rest assured they
know something that we here at Rice World don't. =)
With that out of the way, let me attempt to explain why my choice this
week is so out of the norm. Just lately, I have been exposed to a terrific anime series
known as Rurouni Kenshin. From what I've gathered, Rurouni simply means wanderer, and
Kenshin is the name of the hero of the story. Okay, so putting two and two together yields
a direct translation of "Kenshin the Wanderer"... let's just leave it at that.
Now, some people may remember me doing some friendly anime bashing, but that was mainly to
annoy some friends that enjoy blowing their life savings every year at Anime Expo. Inside,
I actually do appreciate their unique way of story telling through cartoons. Dragonball
was one of my early favorites when I was in Taiwan.
Rest assured, Kenshin is nothing like Pokemon. It's an anime geared
towards teenagers and maybe even young adults. The story is of a strong Samurai warrior
named Himura Kenshin, that was so feared during the Japanese revolution that he became a
legend when he vanished for 10 years after the war. Here is where the cartoon series picks
up, as we are introduced to a seemingly innocent wanderer in the now modern town near the
outskirts of Tokyo. This journeyman is actually the legendary Samurai I mentioned earlier,
but of a reformed heart and mind. All the cold blooded murders Kenshin has performed in
the past during the war has haunted him, and he has vowed never to kill again. The sword
he carries around is called the Sakaba sword, which is incapable of cutting through human
flesh. All his talents as a warrior has been transferred to the cause of keeping his
friends safe and protecting the people he loves.
As the title of the songs indicate, they are the beginning themes and
ending themes to the TV show. From what I gather, it has gained quite a cult following in
Japan, and hopefully one day it will find itself into the boob tube of us Americans. The
songs themselves aren't the same either. The beginning tune is upbeat, with some hints of
electrical guitar scattered around. It's a song that would easily be stuck in your head if
you give it enough time to pound it's way in. The ending theme, on the other hand, is a
softer melody, but not entirely so. The singer, if you listen closely, has a good control
over her voice and the octaves which she attains for the song is perfect. It's a smoother
listen than the first, and it certainly conjures up happy images while the beginning theme
is more of an adrenaline pumper. Overall, both are very catchy to my ears.
Even if you have no interest in Kenshin, nor in any other anime series,
it doesn't really matter. This is, after all, an article dedicated to songs, and people of
all tastes should try them out. I think we work pretty hard to put up songs that are
either relatively new to the radio waves, or unique enough that we think many of our
readers would enjoy 'em while at the same time be different from what you're used to
hearing day in and day out. I mean, what kind of article would the Song of the Week be if
we put up songs that are in the Billboard Top 40 all of the time, right? =)
I admit I
haven't watched this anime series before, even though all 92 episodes (maybe more) are
sitting in my apt. getting dusty. But damn, anime has never ceased to amaze me, not only
w/ its animation and storylines, but also w/ its music, which seems to consistently fit
the mood and theme of the particular series.
So when Rice put these 2 songs as the SOTW, I was
both mystified and rather eager. On one hand this was the biggest step out of mainstream
Rice World has ever taken. On the other hand, I love anime. It rocks! If only I had the
dough to buy it. But damn, one series has a zillion episodes. How the hell are students
and teens supposed to afford it? Luckily, I have a nice hook-up here at UCLA. My roommate
is like the president/librarian of UCLA's Anime Club. So I get to watch all the latest
releases from Japan, plus we have every episode! Woo hoo!
What first struck me about the opening theme was
how upbeat it was. Reading Rice's preamble about this SOTW made me think the music would
be more moody. Like representative of Kenshin's internal strife and demons. But instead we
have Judy and Mary chirping like birds. I realized, though, that all anime music is like
that. The opening theme is supposed to sound mainstream Japanese, and indeed this hard
rock style is evident on many series. I've been spoiled by Macross too much. =) The best
soundtrack ever right there.
The end theme is a great song, and perfect for
overlaying highlights or previews from Kenshin. I realized Kenshin is not the typical
brooding and dark anime series, ala Lodoss War or Berzerk or anything. I guess Kenshin
even has its happy moments. But after listening to these two tracks, I confess I'm more
eager to watch this series, especially since it's become a phenomenon of sorts in Japan.
Lyrics: <N/A cuz we don't understand Japanese>