Get used to it. I'm going to be using that word often in this entry.
Despite having a list of very good topics to write about this week, I had a very hard time getting the wheels spinning on any of them. I was reluctantly heading into what would have been a half-assed conversation about a certain Tokusatsu series that I have been quietly watching (I'll get around to it...and don't worry, I'll be ready next time) when my Tokusatsu CD rip library dropped a diamond in my lap.
How have I not gone over this yet? For those who are a bit language challenged, the song my playlist selected for me is an English version of the theme song from Shotaro Ishinomori's final (living) television series Yugenjikko Sisters Shushutorian. Every single time I happen upon one of these English Versions of Tokusatsu theme songs a flurry of confusion washes over me. Why do they exist? Who are they for? Why is the music sometimes different or even re-recorded in some cases?
I don't have anything against the occasional English lyric thrown into a song. Hell, sometimes a masterfully placed English lyric is what makes the song memorable. The theme song from Macross was good enough as-is, but the addition of "Will you love me tomorrow?" makes it immortally badass to me. It was a single sentence that was sung clearly and made perfect sense. It didn't test the limits of, in this case, Makoto Fujiwara's English by keeping it short and sweet.
There have been many instances of English phrases being thrown randomly into Tokusatsu songs, but they were never smooth. Remember the song Sexual Lady from Bioman? "You are rhythmical dancer"? Right... Or how about Dairanger's ai no soldier? "I love you! (You!) On the fire!". Or how about "Gaomuscle do the hustle!"? I take that back...that lyric is actually brilliant. I really don't think anyone at Toei or Columbia really cared about the random nonsense lyric--and they really shouldn't have. The problems only occur when you pack an entire song full of near-gibberish lyrics.
Let's take a look at English versions of songs that were perfectly fine in their original Japanese language versions. I'm not going to cover Ultraman since...well, all of the versions of that abysmal song Take Me Higher alone would be enough for their own entry.
Oh yes, I should also note that I'm really not trying to be mean spirited here. I am just genuinely baffled why this trend happened and why it went on for so long.
Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion (1985)
The rest of this entry will be about songs that really have no reason to exist--but I have a theory about why this one might make atleast a little bit of sense. The mid-80s were a glorious time for Toei branching out into international markets. While Sentai didn't quite make it's full international debut (Yes, yes. Goranger and Battle Fever J in Hawaii), Metal Hero had recently hit it big in France. It is entirely possible that some English version theme songs were put together to court potential US distributors. I mean, Juspion itself was the first truly new Metal Hero show since Gavan...so why wouldn't Toei try? In the end Juspion didn't land in any English speaking markets and the English theme songs were dumped onto the Music Collection LP and later the Song Collections once CDs were popularized.
I'm Juspion -- This is a cover of the opening theme song to Juspion. I will give whoever "Henry" is credit for atleast being forceful in his struggle through the lyrics. I won't give Columbia credit for the title. I'm Juspion? The original title to the song was Ore ga seigi da! Juspion which should really make the title I am justice! Juspion. That would have been much cooler. If they wanted to be original, how about Justice+Champion=Juspion!?
Choice Lyrics: "You know you are boy. I know you are tough"
A Wolf In Space Juspion -- They got the title right, but this one is just as bad as the opening theme.
Choice Lyrics: "Hey! Here we go I'm just a wolf in space!"
Yugenjikko Sisters Shushutorian (1993)
The only connection this series has to the English language and Western pop culture is episode 40, which centered around Ultraman and Tsuburaya in general (Booska!). That particular episode has become very popular among Tokusatsu fans thanks to all of the Toei-Tsuburaya cross pollenation, but that is where the similarities end. Besides, this song was recorded and released way before that episode even aired.
Today Is The Day (niconico, skip to 18:54)-- When I first got my hands on a Shushutorian CD I never bothered to read the fine print on the title to this song. The rather generically titled song actually held an incredibly strange English version. This one managed to atleast somewhat incorporate the existing English lyrics "I don't know it. What do you do." (They changed "I" to "We" for some reason). They also left in some Japanese, which is pretty rare for these English versions. "Yugenjikko Three Sisters Shushutorian!" was left unchanged.
Annoyingly this song isn't on Youtube. Here is the Japanese version. Here are the English lyrics...if you're crafty enough, you can probably find the English song.
I really can't wait to talk about the Shushutorian songs someday. I have so much to say.
Choice Lyrics: "1-2-3 Yeah! Are you ready now?"
Gekisou Sentai Carranger (1996)
This is where Toei went off the rails for no reason at all. The theory I had with Juspion really doesn't apply here since Power Rangers was already a thing and in it's fourth season. Out of the blue someone decided to tack English versions of the Carranger theme songs onto the 87 other Carranger songs they released.
Carranger The Unstoppable -- This is the English version of the second Carranger opening theme song. Right off the bat you'll notice that the music is ever so slightly slowed down. Oh, and you'll definitely hear the numbingly awful rambling over the usually silent intro to the song. The funny thing is...the lyrics aren't *that* bad on paper. Everything that makes this song horrible lies on the singer "Mickey". The painfully shrill voice and lazily pronounced lyrics turn what could've been a somewhat passable song into a terrible, terrible nightmare.
Get used to Mickey...she'll be around for awhile....
Choice Lyrics: "Energy loaded, power stand by. Save the world for eternal peace. Defeat the evil that terminate. Now you're ready for Accel Changer."
Samba Paradiso (niconico)-- OK, even the title of this one is weird. The original title of the ending song is Paradise Samba, which is more of an English title than the title of...the English version... My brain really hurts. The lyrics make NO sense. At all. None. The singer is still Mickey, but she is doing a this weird grunty-style singing voice. Better than that high-pitched dog whistle that we heard in the English opening theme.
Choice Lyrics: "I wanna win and show it to my mom and kids."
Denji Sentai Megaranger (1997)
Megaranger had a light fixation with the English language. That's all I got. Again, no real reason for this song to exist, but it does. Since I wasn't yet a CD collection in the late 90s, I was utterly shocked when I watched the excellent Megaranger vs Carranger when it first came out in 1998 and heard the English version of the theme used during the big fight scene. Yeah, two years in a row of having English theme songs officially makes this a trend.
Megaranger The Cyberdelix -- You'll first notice that the music is once again slowed down a little bit. This one also managed to incorporate plenty of elements from the original theme song in the lyrics. Once again, this song's major failing is Mickey. She's back and even more grating than before. Between the way she says "Denji SentaaiiiIII" and how she holds that note for waaay too long at the very end...ugh. She makes my teeth hurt.
Choice Lyrics: "It's alright I just feel so high"
Seijuu Sentai Gingaman (1998)
This one makes a little more sense than the previous two from a logistical stand point. The singer of these songs and their original Japanese versions is, Ryo Kisami, who is secretly legendary singer Masato Shimon. Shimon has had plenty of English language songs in his career, so how bad can it be?
The Galactic Warriors Gingaman -- It took them three tries, but they finally got it right. They finally managed to have a singer who can handle singing in both Japanese and English. Shimon is pretty particular in the way he pronounces "Gingaman" versus how he says it in the Japanese version of the song. The only Japanese word to be found in the entirely of the song is the "Ginga" in "Gingaman" No mention of Sentai this time. Honestly, this one isn't terrible. The lyrics are kinda disjointed in places, but it all kinda works.
Choice Lyrics: "Astro energy filling up power to space"
Naked Mind -- This is the English version of the ending theme song. There are some oddities, such as the random changes to the backing vocals at the very beginning and middle of the song. Plus the title could have been modified a little bit better... Shimon hides his less than perfect English in his singing style, which is very similar to how it is sung in Japanese. Again, this one isn't all that bad. I even had a hard time finding a choice lyric from this one.
Choice Lyrics: "Your Naked Mind, I need you so I want you to stay..."
Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGo Five (1999)
Mickey's back... *sigh*
Rescue! GoGo Five -- This is by far the worst of trio of Mickey-helmed English version Sentai theme songs. The lyrics are not only unintelligible, but when you can make them out they make ZERO sense. She even changes the name of the show with "We're the Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGo Rescue Five". She doesn't even manage to hit those high notes as well as she used to but is just as irritating as ever. Good God.
Shinichi Ishihara sang the original Japanese theme song and has done plenty of English singing prior to this. Why wasn't he called in? That would've, at the very least, been entertaining. Is Mickey the go to when the original artist can't be bothered?
Choice Lyrics: All of them. Holy shit.
Mirai Sentai Timeranger (2000)
Finally. I've finally made it to the bitter end of the English Sentai theme run.
Beyond All Space & Time -- The English version of the Timeranger theme song stealthily snuck it's way into the second song collection by not mentioning Timeranger at all in it's title. With a title like that, it could've been just an average image song.
The only nice thing I can say about this song is that atleast the vocals are consistent. Kumi Sasaki returns to sing the English version and her style is very similar to how she sang the original version. The results are pretty bad. She hits the same notes in the same places, but I'm having a hard time placing the lyrics. The lyrics aren't very good to begin with, so
Choice Lyrics: "More than a thousand, more than a million. Beyond the count of, Billions and Trillions."
Kamen Rider Kuuga (2000)
The biggest blessing of Kamen Rider being an absentee of the 90s is that it missed out on the English Version trend. Well, maybe Rider didn't quite make it out of the woods in time. Both of Kamen Rider Kuuga's theme songs got the English treatment...something that, in my
The Masked Rider Kuuga! -- The nicest thing I can say about this cover is that it reminds me of the early 80s mini trend in Anime of having English theme songs. This is mostly because Masayuki Tanaka is singing...and he's from Crystal King.
Beyond nostalgia, this is garbage. The now unkillable Mickey is here doing the backing vocals, adding all kinds of weird and unnecessary lyrics. The biggest problem this song has is easily how badly Tanaka pronounces the word "Masked". He says "Mas-ked". Really?
One other little oddity is that they used the TV style intro version of the song rather than the album version. This is something I'm sure I'll discuss more once I get around to writing about my Kuuga CDs.
Choice Lyrics: "Jumping over that cliff. Now is the time.".
Into The Blue Sky -- Like Masayuki Tanaka, Jin Hashimoto is an 80s singer. Hashimoto nearly matches the energy that he had singing the Japanese version of Kuuga's ending song here, but he doesn't quite bend the lyrics to his will. Mickey once again adds backing vocals that nobody asked for.
You may now wave goodbye to Mickey...
Choice Lyrics: "I'll take you to the future, where no sadness is ever making sense."
There has to be some kind of story behind these English versions of these Tokusatsu theme songs. To question their existence is to question my own, really. I'll never know the answer...
If you want to see what happens when someone uses their English skills for good in a Tokusatsu song, stick with Disco Ultraseven.