Tag Archives: Pokemon

“Naked Arms / SWORD SUMMIT” – T.M. Revolution

Takanori can see inside your soul.

T.M.R hasn’t been around for a little while. Takanori himself has been active with abindgon boys school and the field of being awesome, but he hasn’t “made revolution” since 2008’s Resonance, which was a fantastic song. I am still a relatively new T.M.R fan so I’ve had his entire discography to tide me over during the wait for this single. Seasoned fans probably found the wait to be tougher since they had heard it all before. Man, I have good timing.

Naked Arms picks up right where Resonance left off. It’s got attitude! Takanori’s vocals are out of this world. This man can seriously sing. I really liked the unpredictable melody that the songs boasts as well as the fact that the energy never dies out during the song. There isn’t a dull moment. Naturally, the PV for this song is delightfully camp (Takanori seems to really enjoy being on camera, okay?) with an interesting usage of color, or lack thereof. This song wasn’t as good for me as Resonance but it’s still a fresh track and a great reminder that even after two years T.M.R is still going strong.

I still don’t know exactly how I feel about SWORD SUMMIT yet. I like it, but there’s something too perky about it. I’m just waiting for this to turn up on Dance Dance Revolution (alongside GACKT’s Koakuma Heaven, hehe). I definitely dig how the flute was integrated into the song at the instrumental break. This song is DDR-meets-Pokemon-battle. Yep.

In Conclusion: I was blown away by this single. T.M.R is just brilliant, simply put. Naked Arms is an epic win for sure and SWORD SUMMIT grows on me with each listen. Highly recommended!

~Alisa~

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Filed under Japanese Pop, Japanese Rock, Sakurayume's Collection

Luzmelt-ing Away the Stress

While the weather outside is starting to heat up, Japanese rock has entered a deep freeze, an ice age if you will. All of us J-rock/V-kei junkies are feeling the chill, as noted by this post on my favorite blog, Secret Garden. I think this has turned us all into brats. I know I’ve found myself surfing videos of bands I’ve never heard of, only to stop listening when I don’t like what I hear after a mere thirty seconds. I’ve lost my patience, and that is no way to operate. I think the constant fear of all visual music turning into this has taken me over. By the way, I am not responsible for what happens to you if you click that last link.

A couple days ago, I happened upon Luzmelt’s newest single “Sacrifice” and began to feel the deep freeze thaw a little. The review for “Sacrifice” can be found here in the event that you haven’t read it yet. I felt a glimmer of hope about this band, something I had not experienced single my lucky encounter with the ill-fated XodiacK back in January. Inspired, I picked up Luzmelt’s two mini-albums, Swallowed Scenery and Luz-Destination.

Swallowed Scenery's Cover

Swallowed Scenery is the first release by Luzmelt, which came out on February 24, 2010. It is obvious that the band was just getting its feet in the water at this point, because the songs all have that tired VK sound that you hear everywhere and no track really stands out. I am glad that I started with a newer release because my snobby self probably would not have given this band a second look after only listening to this. The one song I liked from the mini-album was Isotope because it has just a hint of what their later sound would become.

Luz-Destination's Cover. Very similar to that of Swallowed Scenery, but the content is radically different.

The second mini-album, Luz-Destination is insanely different from Swallowed Scenery. It adopts that (mildly) electro-rock sound that drew me in to Luzmelt’s work to begin with. I love the energy of Grief Color Destination and Dazzle Closet (which sounds like Visual Kei set to Pokemon Battle music, and I LOVE that!) I was also impressed by La Salida because its a calmer style of song and is a wonderful ending to an album that was pulse-pounding from the get-go. La Salida, to me, tied up all the loose ends and made the mini-album all the more refreshing.

IN CONCLUSION: Check this band out! DO IT!!! Not much else to say.

~Alisa~

ARTIST RECOMMENDATION: Light Bringer
Watch the PV for Diamond. Its not too bad. The vocalist (female, I might add) is a tad on the shrill side, but its another song that’s got me energized and feeling good about J-rock again.

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SPECIAL REVIEW!!! The Music of Final Fantasy 13

The OST, with main character Lightning on the front. I gotta say, her character has grown on me over time, but she's nothing compared to Fang. ❤

I felt like doing this write-up because I’m such a loser for FFXIII these days. I don’t play it, don’t know how to play it, and don’t pretend to know how to play it so I’m sort of a poser fan. My experience with the game involves me shoving the PS3 controller into my fiance’s hands and saying “play it.” Yes, I have enslaved my own fiance just so I can watch him play this game for hours on end while I drool at it like a babbling idiot. And I don’t think he minds it much. 🙂

What’s funny is that I totally hated the game at first, would roll my eyes when my fiance turned it on, and went off and buried myself in Pokemon. I thought the game, despite having great graphics, was over-the-top and had storylines that were so nauseating that it turned my stomach. This is because I had never fully understood how Final Fantasy works. Its nothing like the games I’m used to playing, where you have a clear objective, you go do it, and then its over. When you play a Final Fantasy game, you live it. You feel like you’re best friends with all the characters just because they become so believable as the game progresses.

Okay, ranting aside, and on to the review.

The music of Final Fantasy XIII was composed by Masashi Hamauzu, and it is a far cry from the music we were used to Nobuo Uematsu cranking out. Because FFXIII takes place in a more futuristic society, the music reflects that. The battle theme for the game is really rock-ish with some heavy thumping guitar driving the beat. The battle theme has some elegant, yet still really contemporary strings in it, which screams classic FF but with a twist. My favorite song from the game is called Will to Fight and is the music from the Fifth Ark dungeon. Its a very hard and tense song, but also incorporates harp and some angelic vocals. I loved the contrast here, because it really works and doesn’t seem strained. You can listen to Will to Fight here:

Not every song in the game is modern sounding. There are some that sound like older FF pieces. Examples include The Promise, which is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, like we expect FF songs to be. Another orchestral piece is Fang’s Theme, which is a strong and confident number and totally captures the aura of butt-kicking Amazoness Fang. She is totally my hero.

Another song worth mentioning is Sazh’s Theme. Sazh is a ridiculously cool character because he’s got super powered guns and a BABY CHOCOBO which lives in his afro. How much more crazy awesome could you be? Sazh’s Theme is a smooth and jazzy piece which is really unique, I thought.

In Conclusion: The OST for Final Fantasy XIII is four discs, so there’s no way I’m going to cover each track in detail. NO WAY. Just trust me in saying that all the music is great, and is a seamless blend of old and new. I think the music is part of the reason I love the game so much.

~Alisa~

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Filed under Sakurayume's Collection, Special Articles

My L’arc Will Go On

Japanese culture in the United States is pretty much hit or miss. Either you love it or you know nothing about it. Not too much gray area. Besides that, a lot of Japanese cultural elements are stripped out of popular anime like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, to Americanize them. Names get changed, the theme songs get replaced with English ones, and really bad ones at that. Thanks a lot, 4Kids. Consider this video:

When you have to change rice balls to sandwiches or donuts or anything BUT rice balls, you are totally ruining the Japanese-ness of the show.

So where does L’arc fit in to this rant?

Listen. If you like anime, you’ll at least know about Fullmetal Alchemist. If you know about Fullmetal Alchemist, you’ll know L’arc. Maybe I’m being disgustingly linear, but for me, L’arc was the band that introduced me to Japanese music through FMA. Shows like Fullmetal and InuYasha were ones that didn’t entirely lose their original themes when they were dubbed and brought to the U.S. Sure, Fullmetal cut down their ending themes to 30 seconds and lost two out of four openings when shown on TV, and InuYasha never had opening music on TV, but at least you got that tiny snippet of Japanese music somewhere. That made all the difference.

An anecdote:

One August day in 2005, I was in my local record shop buying Pocky. I noticed they had a small bin of CDs labeled “anime.” Curiously, I looked through and saw soundtracks from popular shows like DBZ, FLCL, and some others. Then, I spied a copy of L’arc~en~Ciel’s SMILE album (lots of people didn’t like this album, but it is my favorite!) with a big sticker slapped on the front reading “FEATURING ‘READY STEADY GO’ FROM THE HIT ANIME FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST!” I bought it.

My experience with SMILE was gradual. At first, I played “Ready Steady Go” over and over and over again. Then, I eventually accidentally hit the shuffle button instead of repeat, and the song “Revelation” played. I adored it from the first listen. My interest was piqued, and before long I had listened to every track and learned every lyric.

I thought, “hey, this is really good. I bet there is other really great Japanese music out there too!” I began to research popular music and order albums from the big names like Ayu and Utada. Loved ’em. I discovered all kinds of music, even the superindie stuff that I’m so hardcore about these days. All thanks to L’arc.

I can’t call L’arc my favorite group, but I will always credit them as my jumpstart to loving and appreciating not only Japanese music, but international music as a whole.

In this way, L’arc~en~Ciel will always be the most enduring Japanese musical act to me. I also think they will endure because they are everywhere. Besides Fullmetal, they have tie-ins all over the place, and Hyde himself is one of the most recognizable figures in Japanese pop culture.

Maybe this rant makes little sense to my readers, but I wanted to take some time to thank L’arc for bringing their music and culture to a nation where a lot of it is silenced and diluted.

Reader Question: What was your first experience with Japanese music?

~Alisa~

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I Forsee Much Procrastination…

Ohhh crap.

I’m innocent! Blame my fiance for this! It is his fault if this holy grail of video gaming causes any absences from the blog world.

I’ll try to get to work on that e.via review… just as soon as I get my Spinarak up another level…

~Alisa~

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