2015/12/17

Twin Top 7: The Best of 2015


Welcome to my final blog of 2015. Before I get into the meat of the post there are a couple of things I want to talk about.

As I'm sure you know I take pride in the videos I make and the poorly worded blog entries I write. Well...things are going to be a little different in the coming year.

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Videos: They will be changing ever-so-slightly. The thing I always liked about my channel is how videos from 2007 aren't too much different from the videos of 2015. You can pick up anywhere and watch any of my videos while only encountering very subtle changes. I started tightening up editing in 2011. In 2012 I started using my current camera with more vibrant colors. In 2013 I dropped the bullet points and went straight to the rating.

The change I'm going for will just stream-line everything a little better. I've done a few test videos and still haven't really reached a decision on what style I will be going with. Expect some kind of change in January with some subtle tweaks from there.

Oh yes, and I know...I KNOW that HD is the number one thing I get grief over. Here's the thing. I've done a handful of HD videos with zero feedback or notice from anyone. Youtube also removes the HD option over time on videos that lose steam (let's face it, my videos either live out a comfortable existence or peter out until people with very specific tastes seek them out--I rarely have a true hit). It's not worth it to try to retrofit my tiny work area (I have to fit myself and backdrop inside a very small space...and then photoshop the times where I run out of backdrop). It's a pain in the ass. (Here comes the important part) Sorry, this is a hobby--not a job. Being able to do whatever I want with no financial recourse makes putting weekly content out possible--especially halfway into my ninth year doing this. Life is different in your 30s. I've always been more interested in editing and creativity. Making videos a little bit wider and a fraction sharper kinda goes to the wayside when I have limited space to work in.

tl;dr There will be subtle changes to videos in 2016. We'll see where that goes...but no HD yet. Youtube in general is becoming a wasteland...so why bother?

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The Blog: Yes! In more uplifting news...here is the big announcement I hinted at in my last blog. I will be writing FOUR entries in January of 2016. What's the occasion, you ask? I started this blog way back in 2011--January to be specific. To mark five years of making barely cohesive posts I will be posting something new on the 1st, 9th, 17th, and 25th of January. You can expect to see a long form article, a CD Collection post, a super-obscure (and really friggin weird) Tokusatsu movie & soundtrack review, and a brand new Top 7 post covering my most requested topic.

A big "thank you" to everyone out there who has become a regular reader of my small blog. A lot of work goes into writing this blog and watching the favorites and retweets roll in after I post new entries makes it worthwhile. Whenever you're willing the give me the stamp of approval and pass it on to your followers, it gives me the motivation to carry on and put just a little more effort into making these posts what they are (review of five CDs suddenly becomes fifteen, etc.).

Thank you for your continued support! Keep the retweets/favs/tweets/comments/smoke signals coming! I look forward to seeing what everyone thinks of for what's in store for January. See you there!

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Top 7 Best CCLemon99 Blogs of 2015

Worst: Older...wiser...? [20.September]

I was pretty beat down when I wrote that. I typically don't like posting anything about the ongoing IRL problems...but I had absolutely nothing to say. The opening line in that entry pretty much says it all...

07. The Mystery Surrounding My 250th Video... [01.January]

I still haven't gotten to the bottom of what in the world happened, nor have I re-uploaded it. I am going to maybe do a re-edit and post it once more.

06. Gunhed... [16.January]

Please, please, please check this movie out if you haven't already. Or atleast read my entry on it. Gunhed on Blu Ray in 2016. Make. It. Happen!!

05. GUEST POST: D3rachi's Top 17 SNES Games! [01.July]

Big thanks to Andrew for filling in with his killer list. I was away at the time...plus a tree had fallen on my house the week before. Did I mention what a rotten summer I had?? To be honest, though, I did ask him way in advance to help me out. Then things got extra FML...and he delivered. Thanks again, sir!

04. Toy Story: Prism Flash! (Both Of Them!) [04.September

It was nice reliving a time when now expensive toys were super-cheap and when my wife tolerated my toy collection. I have my next story picked out. It's a great toy with a somewhat surprising story behind it. Expect that one sometime soon.

03. The CD Collection--Gridman, Changerion, Guyferd, Mikazuki & Evolver [04.December]

Yeah, so what if this was my previous entry. I got a ton of good feedback from this one. I had a blast revisiting the excellent CDs from these largely forgotten/ignored shows. It might not have been as crazy as my Metal Hero review, but this one was definitely my favorite CD Collection post of the year.

02. Zyuranger--The Completist Edition (w/Top Seven!) [01.April]

I had a lot of fun revisiting Zyuranger when the awesome Shout! Factory DVD set was released in North America earlier this year. This was a solid companion post to my previous entry. I've been asked if I'll be doing the same thing for Dairanger after my latest revisiting. Nope. My all-encompassing Dairanger post covered basically everything I've ever had to say about Dairanger.

01. The "English" Version [14.May]

This one was a surprise hit. I cannot stress this enough...I was not trying to be mean-spirited in any way. Except when it came to Mickey. Mickey is obnoxious on all of those English-version songs.

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Top 7 Best CCLemon99 Videos of 2015

Worst: Denji Sentai Megaranger DX Mega Winger [17.May]

If I can be entirely honest...this was the year of me making videos that I wanted. This one happens to be the lone exception. I reaaaaally wanted to get to Mega Voyager, but that required me to make a video of Mega Winger first. It's not a bad video, but I made a video of a yellowing toy that I got for free. Definitely not ideal... A lot of people seemed to look past that and give the video positive feedback. This one bugged me, however. At least I was able to move on to Mega Voyager the week after.

07. S.H.Figuarts Uchuu Keiji [02.August]

I might not be a fan of these figures, but I still enjoy the video I put together to show off their blinding chromeness. I was able to get in some slick editing to one of my favorite portions of the Sharivan Synthesizer Fantasy. I even threw in a preview for the excellent Juspion Figuart at the end.

06. Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger Nendora [21.June]

Let's make some Doramonsters! This was my eighth anniversary video...and things didn't really go to plan. I detailed what happened in this blog. Not only did this video have an interesting story behind it, but I was really happy with how it turned out. Who knew making little clay monsters and stabbing the hell out of them could be so fun? Even though I now have a broken toy, I'm glad that everything that happened happened.

05. S.H.Figuarts B-Fighter [27.September]

So many great B-Fighter videos in 2015. I had two months worth! I like this one the best, however. There is no denying the magnificence of having all of the B-Fighter Figuarts together in one video. An amazing set of toys in one tight little video.

04. DeLorean DMC-12 (AUTOart Model) [04.October]

I didn't get to do too many car reviews in 2015. What I reviewed was basically a ghost car. AUTOart planned to make 6000 of them but halted production with under 1000 models completed. The car's finish was too difficult to perfect, which lead to a high percentage of parts being scrapped. Luckily I preordered mine through a vendor who ended up with a few copies. The car was technically never widely released. If you didn't have a preorder, you didn't get one. If you lived in Europe, you didn't get one. DeLoreans are truly cursed.

The video itself turned out great, IMO. It was kind of a given seeing how photogenic DeLoreans are. I was able to add the perfect music to it and create a video that still gets quite a bit of play from me. It was a great way to ring in 100,000,000 views for my channel!

03. S.H.Figuarts Kamen Rider ZO [11.January]

Excitement was high for this one. The wait for this guy was tough. Making the video was a ton of fun. Editing it together was a breeze...everything was great. I love Kamen Rider ZO. I know the movie and music like the back of my hand, so I had a very clear picture of what I wanted going into it. It all came together perfectly.

02. Choriki Sentai Ohranger King Pyramider [27.December]

So this was my final video of the year. A big way to end it, no? This one was definitely a challenge to put together. I thought it turned out really nice. That King Pyramider theme music is pretty badass.

01. S.H. Monster Arts Godzilla Effects 2 [05.April]

This is an underrated little video IMO. Where else are you going to see Ultraman, Godzilla 1964, Daizyujin AND Dragonranger in one video? Nowhere, that's where. I kinda felt bad for this set since it's gotten some pretty lousy reviews on various websites. With a little creativity, you can really turn this set into something truly worth getting. I mean... I see that there was some missed potential, but you can really make all of the pieces work in your favor. Especially if you're an Ultra Act fan.

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I can't thank you enough for reading my blog in 2015. I really look forward to all the happenings of 2016. See you then!

-CC


2015/12/04

The CD Collection--Gridman, Changerion, Guyferd, Mikazuki & Evolver


Welcome to my final CD Collection post of 2015. This time I'm going to be going off-genre once again and looking at a bunch of CDs from the 1990s and 2000s. I had a great time going through these CDs once again and I hope that I can broaden your horizons a little bit through this post.

So let's get into it! It's time to look at CDs from Gridman, Changerion, Guyferd, Mikazuki, and Evolver!

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Denko Chojin Gridman Shudaika
VIDL-10346
1993.05.01

What is it about the 1990s and the amazing Tokusatsu theme songs? Even the stinkers like Fiveman and Jetman are halfway decent and are favorites of a lot of fans (nobody likes the Ultraman Great theme song, though...). Gridman is one of the first unique ideas of the decade and if you remember one thing from the show...it's easily the catchy as hell theme song. Maybe the ending song isn't as catchy, but I think it's a fitting companion to the opening theme song.


Both songs are by Norio Sakai. This disc has four tracks--the OP, ED, and Karaoke versions of both.


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Denko Chojin Gridman Original Soundtrack
VICL-424
1993.09.22

Ah yes...the Gridman soundtrack. Now this one is pretty popular among the download dorks, so I think this is one of the few CDs in this entry that people might be familiar with. It's also pretty damn popular among CD collectors, however. Prices are pretty high on this one as it was only released on it's own in 1993. It did get a later release in the 10-Disc DVD set in 2005, but that would mean committing to buying the entire series just to get the music collection.

I would say that this is probably the weakest music collection of 1993, but really...how could it not be? It was up against Dairanger, Kamen Rider ZO, Kamen Rider SD, and Janperson. Those are all amazing music collections. I would call this music collection the last winner instead of loser.

Digital Plaid? Awesome!

Great soundtrack by composer Osamu Totsuka. He has a much more prolific career as an arranger (both Jiraiya themes as well as both Blue SWAT themes), but he also managed to compose the music collection for Ultraman Chotoshi Gekidan. I'll get to that one some day. Regardless, this is the first time I'm reviewing his work.

There are some excellent action pieces scattered throughout. If you've seen my review of the awesome ULTRA ACT Gridman, you've heard some of them. The soundtrack does heavily rely on cues from the lone IN song from the series, Futatsu no yuuki, by Compoid Three. It would have been cooler to hear bits of the theme songs worked in. Both theme songs are present on this CD in their full-sized versions. There is also an instrumental version of Futatsu no yuuki included.

I would say that the only thing holding this disc back is that it's a bit on the conservative side. It's a great listen, but it isn't quite where it needed to be for 1993. Not outdated, but certainly not forward-thinking. 1993 was an awesome year for Tokusatsu music.,,


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Choko Senshi Changerion Shudaika
CODC-922
1996.04.20

This single contains the opening and ending theme songs to Changerion. The opening song, OVER THE TIMES~Ima wo koete, is sung by MISA while the first ending song, Hohoemi no tabidachi, is sung by Moku Honiden.

It's easy to see why the opening song is the most well known thing about the series. Not only is it a very catchy song, it's well-produced and a little bit of an anti-theme song. There was a lot of Tokusatsu in 1996. Carranger and BF Kabuto had the heroic theme, Guyferd had it's own unique theme (more on that in a bit), while Changerion's theme song had a darkness to it contrary to the show's title.


The first ending song is definitely the better of the two in my opinion. Like the opening single, this one is very well put together and catchy. It has a great intro (that gets snipped off in the TV Size version). The only problem is that it sounds kinda similar to pretty much both Guyferd theme songs and the BF Kabuto ending song.

This single has four tracks--two vocal, and two Karaoke.


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Choko Senshi Changerion Shin Ending Theme
CODC-1009
1996.08.21

This is the single for the "New" ending song, Changerion~Hikari no mirai, as well as the IN song GET UP!!!, both by KAT. I'm not entirely sure if it was designed to be an ending song since this song had already been released for some time on the song collection. I mean, it does sound like it could've been a rejected ending song that ended up being used later on. It's a good enough song, but I prefer the first ending song better. This one is kinda similar to the first ending, but also reminds me a little bit of Jiban's ending song. I should note that the version on this single is slightly different than the version on the Song Collection. This version is about ten seconds longer.


GET UP!!! is the only IN song to make an appearance on a CD Single. It too is an alright song. I mean this one could've been intended to be used as an ending song for all I know. It kinda has that sound. In fact, it pull the same backwards-record trick that the first ending song pulls.

Four tracks here. The first two are vocal with Karaoke versions to finish it out.


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*NOTE: This is the R-Ban Columbia release. I have the regular release, but couldn't locate it in time to take photos for this entry. I am using this as a placeholder until I can find the regular release*

Choko Senshi Changerion Original Soundtrack
COCC-13401
1996.05.20

I guess the best way to kick this off is by saying that this CD is probably the most average thing about Changerion. I actually mean that in a really good way, though. In terms of series music collections, this one is pretty standard fare but with a bit of a cinematic feel. I would certainly peg it above BF Kabuto at least (yeah...I'll get to that one eventually).

Changerion's music collection is composed by Umaro Yasukawa. The name is largely unfamiliar to Tokusatsu fans as his only related works are Kamen Rider The First, The Next, and the 2006 Sukeban Deka movie. Changerion is the only Tokusatsu series to date. You never know, though, he's still active--he could return.


There is a very minimalist feel to this one. It has a darker atmosphere throughout most of the disc with the likely begrudging inclusion of the light-hearted tracks because this is a Toei production afterall. When I say dark, I really mean it. Some of the moodier tracks could pass as direct sequels to the amazing Blue SWAT music collection (man...I REALLY need to finish reviewing the Metal Hero music collections...goal for 2016!).

Maybe the mood on some of the tracks are a little too literal, but this one is a treat for the ears. It's also fairly common as it was part of and older wave of ANIMEX1200 releases.


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Choko Senshi Changerion Song Collection
COCC-13574
1996.07.20

I already talked about four of the eleven tracks here as they appeared on the CD singles. So let's get into the other seven...

RAKU City Paradise is the first song...and worth talking about on it's own for a couple of reasons. First off, the title is pretty strange. It is styled as RAKUしてパ・ラ・ダ・イ・ス!with some people simplifying it as RAKU シテパ ラ ダ イ ス. The bassline also sounds a lot like the one in Johnny B. Goode. It might not be the strangest song on this collection...but it's definitely out there.

The next unique track is called Blue na mikazuki ga tsukisasaru. This one is also worth talking about on it's own because it also sounds like a familiar song. It reminds me of Billy Joel's Honesty at times. I'm leaning toward coincidence...being that would be a really weird pull. Then again, I've heard some weird knock-offs in the past.


C'est lui Changerion~kare koso Changerion is easily the weirdest song of the year. Remember...there are like 20 BF Kabuto Songs, 40+ songs from Carranger, and a handful of questionable Guyferd songs. The song is entirely French. I posed the question to people who have seen the whole series (I've seen like 3.7 episodes...but that'll soon change) and they basically told me there no reason for there to be a song in French. It's also my favorite song from this song collection. It has a super slick bass line and is just smooth as hell. So what if it's inexplicably French...it's great. Definitely one to listen to with headphones. Oh yes, I suppose it's worth mentioning that the singer is Vie Vie, who I'm assuming is this person.

BRAND-NEW~Kokoro onputachi~, Chikyu wa ai o matteiru, BORN TO BE WILD~ai wo komete ashita e~, and an English version of the opening theme song round out the disc. Of those, I would say that Born To Be Wild is probably the only memorable song. The English version of the opening song isn't very good...but they ended up using it as the opening theme song for episode 20. I wrote about the perils of English theme songs in the past and forgot to include this one...but really it's just as random as the others I mentioned. I suppose the choice lyric from this one would be "Oh my Changerion".

I've always had a soft spot for this song collection for one very big reason. It's refreshingly unfamiliar. There are no songs by Kageyama or Kushida here. Most of the songs are by KAT, who I can't find a single damn thing on. MISA, the singer of the opening theme song, spent some years on Sera Myu as Sailor Mars. Really...that's about it. This song collection manages to stand out in a very crowded year thanks to it's relative anonymity.


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Choko Senshi Changerion Original Soundtrack 2
COCC-13983
1996.12.21

Leftovers! Sometimes they're the best part!

There is only a little bit of continuation from the previous music collection here. A little bit of new music mixed in with some Instrumental tracks that were entirely absent from the previous disc.

Some new songs make an appearance here as well. A remix of the opening theme song along with a vocal version of Akemi's song (which previously appeared as a Karaoke version on the first music collection). There are also Sound Effect Mix versions of both of the opening theme songs. I looooooove SE Mix versions of theme songs. All music collections should have this! Well played!


I know I'm not saying a whole lot about this CD, but it is really good. I can't recommend this one over the first, but if you have the first then you should definitely also pick this one up. There is a certain satisfaction after listening to this that you probably own all of the music that was made for the series. Everything just feel complete...which is rare even when the word "COMPLETE" is in the title of the CD. I'm really glad they decided to put out a second music collection for Changerion. They were really doing fans a solid this time around.


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Shichisei Toshin Guyferd Original Soundtrack
TOCT-9458
1996.06.26

Toho REALLY knows how to do a soundtrack. I previously wrote about the soundtracks to both Cybercop and Gunhed and I think both of them are fantastic (Gunhed is a little bit more fantastic). Guyferd really continues the trend of Toho giving their products a little bit more dimension by giving them a superior soundtrack. This has the darkness that the Gunhed soundtrack has with a bit of a jagged industrial edge (90s, duh). It does sound like the Changerion music collection, but unintentionally less polished.


I would kinda like to talk about the series composer...but I don't have much information outside of his name being Tsuyoshi Yamanaka (credited as "yamanaka"). Apparently he was the synth/guitar player for the short-lived band called "smart" (explaining why he is also credited as "yamanaka(smart)"). They released a handful or albums and a bunch of singles, but were gone almost as quickly as they appeared.

The song collection is also included on this disc. Six out of the seven songs from the show are presented here. I'll talk more about those when I get to those singles. Well, except the song I'm Believer, which is unique to this disc. The song is by Kotono Shibuya, who sings the ending song. It is credited as being a song from the Capcom game Rockman X3. I like the song quite a bit for it's smooth 90s sound. As for why it was included on Guyferd's soundtrack? I don't know. I haven't seen too much of Guyferd.


The weirdness only begins here...


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Kenzo Fukuyama: Eien no Chikai c/w Kimeru nara
TODT-3718
1996.05.16

This is the only CD outside of the soundtrack that truly belongs to Guyferd. It contains the opening theme song Eien no Chikai along with the song Kimeru nara, which is absent from the soundtrack. As an opening song I think Eien no Chikai might be a little bit on the weaker side. As a song in general, I happen to like it quite a bit. Both songs on this disc make great Summertime chill songs. Even though they might sound timeless on the surface, I really do get a mid-90s vibe from both of them.


This single has both of the songs along with their Karaoke versions. Four tracks total.


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Kotono Shibuya: Befriend c/w One More Time
TODT-3739
1996.06.05

Remember how the Guyferd soundtrack contained some songs from both Biohazard and Rockman X3? Well...this CD single has songs from both Guyferd and Rockman X3. Befriend is the ending song from Guyferd, while One More Time is the opening theme song from Rockman X3. Got that? This has lead to some intense irritation for collectors as both Tokusatsu fans and video game fans want this one in their collection. Luckily I've had this one for over ten years. The few dollars I paid for it back then sure beats the almost $100 this one goes for these days. Unless it was a megahit like the Segata Sanshiro single, gaming CD singles go for megabucks thanks to the short supply. In this case, there is also some cross-genre factors in play.


Both songs are pretty good. I don't quite like this one as much as the previous single, but it does have a similar summertime sound in both songs. Kotono Shibuya never did anymore singing after this, which is a shame, She has a pretty enough voice. The only other thing I've been able to find from her was another single from 1992. She primarily maintains a career as an actress.

Both songs along with their Karaoke versions are present here.


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Fumitaka Fuchigami: Yume de owarasenai... c/w Kori no manazashi
TODT-3706
1996.04.10

Eagle-eyed readers might notice that this CD was released in April, which predates the OP single by a month. The funny thing is...this isn't really a Guyferd Single. This single really belongs to the Capcom game Biohazard (or Resident Evil as it was later renamed for the West). I'm not entirely sure where the overlap was, but both songs from this single were included in the Guyferd Original Soundtrack...so they're part of the show's song collection.


Kori no manazashi is Biohazard's opening theme song with Yume de owarasenai being the ending song to the game. Both songs are great...and definitely fit the horror-survival game framework better than Tokusatsu series. The random English bits in Kori no manazashi are particularly entertaining. Yume de owarasenai is a smoother song in structure, but I kinda prefer the craziness of Kori no manazashi.

Four tracks on this one. Both vocal songs along with Karaoke versions of each.


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Mikazuki In Rock
IDCA-1001
2000.12.27


Time for some more crossover! Instead of crossing over with video games, the Mikazuki soundtrack crosses over with...metal? What the hell is going on with this soundtrack? The opening song, Crescent Moon, is by Don Dokken. Wow! Even I know that name! I'm not going to pretend to know much about the genre or the guys who appear on this soundtrack, but this disc was kinda unearthed in the west as a popular disc for metal fans thanks to the artists who appear.


I'm not sure what those who bought it for the metal made of friggin figure that was included! Holy hell...this CD is awesome in every way. The amazing artwork, the cool figure (which I'll likely review for my channel at some point), and the music. I suppose I should talk about the music.


This is one hell of a Tokusatsu music collection. It's short (11 tracks) and all of the tracks are song-length, but it's quite a disc to listen to. Crescent Moon is a fantastic theme song. Lost Memories, the ending song, is alright--it's pretty much the only Japanese thing on the entire disc. My absolute favorite track has to be Idom by Devin Townsend. Goddamn...


Look for this one on my Youtube channel at some point.


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-Evolver- Music From Motion Picture
NEO-005CD
2004.08.15

I supposed I should explain what the hell Evolver was before I get into reviewing it's music collection. It was a semi-independent Tokusatsu video series from 2004. It was produced and sold by Jungle Limited (better known as Anime Jungle, or Jungle SCS) and all six episodes were released over three DVDs. I happen to have the entire series on DVD...and I'll probably revisit/review it sometime in the future. For now...let's talk about the soundtrack.

The entire disc was composed by NEO, who worked on various Jungle productions before and after this. The opening song Evolution Device is sung by Takeshi Kusao (Trunks from Dragonball!) who also has a bit part in an episode. The ending song CARMINE is sung by NEO himself. Both songs are good, but I think I prefer CARMINE a little bit more over the solid synths of the OP.


The music itself is good for a one-man music collection. It's all pretty dark, and from what I remember of my last viewing of the series, fit very nicely. There are some pretty creepy tunes. This is a good disc...and sadly I don't think it's even worth talking about. Why? Well, it was only available from Jungle as a made-to-order CD-r (the DVDs of the series were widely available). My copy of the soundtrack in particular is a review copy. I reviewed it once back in the day...and here I am again reviewing it in 2015. I haven't tried this, but maybe there is someone you can contact at Jungle who would be kind enough to sell you a copy. I somehow doubt this would work though since they seem to be a different company than they were in 2004.

So this is an already extremely rare CD...and I have a personally made review copy. 1/1 in the whole world. Heh. Good luck topping that!

Oh yes, and if you're wondering why I even included this CD in this entry...there is a valid reason. One of the starring roles of Evolver is played by Takeshi Hagino. You know, Kamen Rider Ouja...or better yet........CHANGERION. Hah! I totally planned this. Not really. I only remembered halfway into writing the review of this CD.


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Recommended Pick: This is a new feature I'm going to be adding to these CD Collection Posts. Basically I am just going to list my top recommendation of the post. The pick for this one is pretty tricky, but it has to be the Guyferd Original Soundtrack. It's incredibly rare and quite costly, but it definitely won't disappoint.

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I hope you enjoyed my final CD Collection post of 2015. Be sure to check out my CD Collection page. I am planning a massive overhaul of the CD Singles section and still have to make several more additions.

I will be back with one more post later this month. There will be a couple of Top 7 lists as well as a pretty big announcement. Be sure to check back soon.

See ya next time...

-CC