Friday, May 29, 2015

Metal Briefs: Otaku Edition

I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m a nerd-wannabe, and that includes a minor case of Japanophilia. For better or worse, though, my Japanophilia is not uncritical. Also, you should know that there’s Japan—which can put forth such magnificent, serious music as Corrupted—and then there’s Japan, which apparently has giant robots and synthesizers in everything. I turned my giant anime eye to three metal releases that seem tailor-made for otaku.

Blood Stain Child: Epsilon (2011)
4 out of 5 stars

This may be the least cool thing I've ever rated this highly, but so be it. Blood Stain Child is an unholy blend of mainstream metal with beauty-and-the-beast vocals, a hint of Lacuna Coil, and ten tons of Dance Dance Revolution. Holy shit if it isn't infinitely better than that formula might suggest. I'm not recommending it, exactly, but I am pointing it out and telling you that for some reason, I like this.

Aldious: District Zero (2013)
2 out of 5 stars

On the surface it would seem Aldious is a little more genuine than Blood Stain Child, since there's not a layer of synths deep enough to drown a totoro. But unfortunately--despite a catchy song or two--Aldious doesn't have quite the draw. I'm not sure whether it's a little too Euro-power-metal, or it's an uncanny valley effect, but it's not doing it for me.

Imaginary Flying Machines: Princess Ghibli (2011)
3 out of 5 stars

The films of Hayao Miyazaki feature several imaginary flying machines, and that's where this project gets its name. They sound like Blood Stain Child, but they play songs from Studio Ghibli films. That would be the equivalent of a metal band formed to play Disney songs. The results are mixed. It can work far better than you’d expect: The clean female vocals on the theme from Castle in the Sky, the cut from Princess Mononoke, and that theme from The Secret World of Arrietty! But when you hear someone growling "Totoro, totoro," something doesn't add up. The Ponyo song is a Pantera tune gone wrong. And then there's the oddest of the bunch--it turns out, John Denver's "Country Roads" was on a lesser-regarded Ghibli film. The idea is executed with the utmost skill, but the idea is apparently one of those Japanese things that gets completely lost in translation. But it must sell, because they made a second one.

(Sorry, couldn't find an embed for this one.)

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