2020/08/22

K2 - That Time Hiroshi Fujioka Was In a Mountain Climbing Movie


Since we're still stuck at home...how 'bout we watch a movie? I have a collection of bad movies that I like to paw through, and I came across this one and felt the desire to watch it again.

Today I'm going to talk about a movie that I bought a long, long time ago for one very good reason...


Yes! Instead of partaking in the 20th anniversary of Kamen Rider, Hiroshi Fujioka was globetrotting as mountain climber Takane Shimuzu (which I feel should be Shimizu, but whatever...it's their movie) in the 100% forgotten 1991 film K2. That's it. K2. Named after, well, the K2.

Before I get into this post I should probably air a few disclaimers. The first disclaimer is that I am going to go hard on the spoilers, of course. Considering this is a fairly dramatic movie, you may want to just rent it if you have any inclination (heh) to watch a survival movie about mountain climbing. Also, Hiroshi Fujioka is featured quite a bit, but he is far from being top-billed. So...you'd better be a fan of Kyle Reese from Terminator since he's our lead.

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Taylor and his best friend Harold are two climbing hobbyists who stumble upon a team of climbers who are training for a secretive big climb lead by billionaire Phillip Claiborne. Among the team are a set of twin brothers, Jackie, Dallas, and Takane. The following morning they are awoken by an avalanche that took the lives of the twin brother while Taylor and Harold are able to save the others. Seizing the opportunity, Taylor and Harold are able to join Claiborne's expedition, which happens to be to the perilous K2 in Pakistan.

Cliche "Convince the Wife" Scene

Once the climb is underway, problems begin to mount. The hired porters begin to strike, and a freak mishap causes Harold to use to quick-thinking to save head porter Malik's life. Most of the porters abandon the climb and Claiborne begins to suffer from pulmonary edema. Jackie and Malik stay with Phillip with just Taylor, Harold, Dallas, and Takane left to attempt the climb. As Dallas is leading the climb, he nominates himself and Takane to complete the climb with Harold and Taylor remaining at the final camp. During an overnight storm, Taylor and Harold are awoken by a very badly injured Takane who informs them that their tent had been wiped out before succumbing to his injuries. Taylor and Harold inform Jackie at the other camp and say that they'll look for Dallas in the morning.


Claiborne's worsening condition means that he has chartered a helicopter to pick him up within forty eight hours giving Taylor and Harold very little time to attempt the rest of the climb themselves. They manage to reach the summit and take celebratory photos while leaving an American flag and Japanese flag to honor the fallen Takane.


During the descent Harold slips and suffers a horrific injury while simultaneously losing the only rope the duo has. After a long argument, Harold convinces Taylor to continue on the descent without him. After suffering a fall himself Taylor finds the frozen corpse of Dallas and is able to take his rope and adrenaline shots. He returns to a nearly dead Harold and manages to bring him back with a shot. The two then continue their descent as Claiborne, Jackie, and Malik are all collected by their helicopter. Malik tells the pilot that they must at least try to look for the now-stranded duo since Harold had saved his life earlier. Miraculously Harold and Taylor are found and the film closes with Taylor holding up a pick axe to signal their location.


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It's always refreshing to watch a movie where there's no real or metaphorical villain. This is just a drama based on a play of the same name. I don't even have a particular interest in mountain climbing, but I've enjoyed this movie the handful of times I've seen it. It's plot is razor thin, yet it really doesn't feel like anything is missing. It's just an hour and forty five minutes of enjoyable cinema that really isn't dated in any particular way.

On your feet, soldier.

Where this movie really, really, truly falls flat is in the cinematography and quality of releases. The thing that stops me for recommending this movie is the complete lack of wide shots and scenery. You'd think that a movie set in this type of environment would emphasize the landscape a bit more to accomplish what the play this was based on couldn't...yet it doesn't. Everything is done in a tight shot. To make matters worse, I upgraded my VHS copy to DVD for this review and was greeted by the exact same transfer. This is the official Lion's Gate release...and it's a Full Frame VHS transfer. I did some research to see if there is a better version and...nope. The DVD for sale on Amazon at the moment seems to be some weird version with hardcoded Korean subtitles based on some of the complaints.

The bottom line is that...yeah, maybe rent it on Amazon. It's an alright movie if you just like a decent drama. Maybe it goes a little too cartoony by Taylor's superhuman strength toward the end, but then you remember that he spent an entire movie being chased by robot Arnold Schwarzenegger and I guess it makes a little more sense.

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...but that's not why you're reading this review, are you? You want to know about Hiroshi Fujioka's part in this. Alright, I'll give you the goods.

I kinda laughed when Fujioka's character was first introduced in the movie. When Taylor and Harold first happen upon the team doing their training Dallas, whom Taylor is already acquainted, is giving some minor accomplishments/tidbits on each character. When he gets to Fujioka it basically goes like this...

Dallas: ...and he's Takane Shimuzu.
Takane: Hi.


Even in leaner times, Fujioka has always been a mountain of a man. Does he need to have any provenance? If you want to defeat a mountain...be a mountain.

From his introduction he is largely seen chilling in the background. Most characters that aren't Taylor or Harold are basically there for background considering this is based on a play. Fujioka does dramatic poses like nobody else in this film check this out...

Dramatic Funeral Pose
Intimidating the Porters Pose
Break time Pose
Concerned for the Boss Pose
Ummm...maybe this one isn't so badass...

You get my point. This movie is basically Michael Biehn on his own, but it's nice to have another familiar face (to us Tokusatsu dorks) along for the ride.

As for the reason why the character of Takane is part of this story...I have no idea. This play/movie is loosely based on the real-life climb of Jim Wickwire and Louis Reichardt, but there is no mention of any other climbers that may have been part of their team prior to their reaching the summit. Maybe the director just really, really liked Kamen Rider?

I get why Hiroshi Fujioka was cast. This was a physically demanding role. I just don't understand why Takane was there. Haha.

Regardless, it was very sad to see his character die off even if he did it in somewhat of a heroic way. He was able to reach Taylor and Harold's tent to try to save himself and inform them of the situation rather than dying like Dallas did in his weird zen pose. If it hadn't been for Takane, they'd have been none the wiser and woke up the next morning without knowing anything had been wrong...and leading them to never make their attempt to the summit.


Should you watch this movie just to check out Fujioka? I'll say...yeah, why not? If you're disappointed, I don't want to hear it. But yeah, it was fun to have him along for his handful of random moments. Like him gleefully sharpening an axe while Dallas slept...


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...but wait! There's more. This isn't the first time Hiroshi Fujioka hit the international film scene. He is the first Japanese actor to belong to the Screen Actor's Guild after all.

Join me next time for a more substantial entry into Fujioka's international acting career. One where he does way more than hang out in the background and isn't expected to deliver one or two-word answers in English at random.


Stay tuned...

-CC

PREVIOUSLY...

The CD Collection--Ultraman 80 / Andromelos Music Collection [2020]
Running To Horizon--30 Years of Digitalian Is Eating Breakfast
The Toys That Made Us: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
CCLemon99 Magazine Issue Eight

2020/08/05

The CD Collection--Ultraman 80 / Andromelos Music Collection [2020]


Hi there. This is something I've been looking forward to since it was first announced earlier in the Summer...

Welcome to my review on this glorious 5-Disc beast of a CD set containing the songs and music from Ultraman 80 and Andromelos!

The reasons I was looking forward to this set will become very clear soon into the review, but you don't understand...this is the set I've been waiting for since Columbia started doing these anniversary box sets. Sure the Ultraman Great/Ultraman USA box was fun, but 80 is the last great Showa outing for Ultraman.

So here it is...all five discs are getting reviewed and I'm thrilled to finally be doing this. Let's get into it!


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Ultraman 80 / Andromelos Music Collection
COCX-41138~42
2020.07.29



DISC 1
Ultraman 80 teema ongakushuu tokubetsu-ban
Ultraman 80 Theme Song Collection Special Edition 

01. Ultraman 80 / TALIZMAN

Possibly my all-time favorite Tokusatsu theme song. I'll go on record as saying that 1980 had phenomenal theme songs. Skyrider and Kamen Rider Super 1? Great! Denjiman? Even better! Ultraman 80 takes the cake as the best, handily. It completely ditches the Showa series did with their themes and brings a fresh outlook to the return of live-action Ultraman.

This song not only has infinite catchiness, but it has the sort of majestic feel that I think Ultraman Great's Bokura no Great tried and failed miserably at. God that song is so lame......

The band in charge is TALIZMAN, whose singer Harry Kimura later lent a pair of songs to the Uchuu Keiji Gavan song collection. His strained vocals somehow nail all of the notes perfectly and really bring a great backing track to life. Sure the background vocals help, but until you hear the Karaoke version of this song you don't realize how great the combination of all of the vocals are. The recipe for this song couldn't be better.

The version presented here is the full vocal track WITH the Main Title. You know...that little theme song before the theme song that sounds like the theme song? Yeah...that. It's also fantastic.

02~06, 08~11 Theme Ongakushuu BGM

This is basically the first music collection from the series. Later on we'll get to all of the outtakes and oddities...this is the polished stuff.

I kinda criticize Showa Tokusatsu BGM for sounding too similar. If you're into the Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, and Metal Hero, you'll know what I mean. Until like 1987 your choices of composers were basically Michiaki Watanabe or Shunsuke Kikuchi. Sure, Sentai broke free a little sooner, but those two were pretty much it--and their BGM was...tired by the end.

I really think that Toru Fuyuki's Ultraman 80 compositions are well-done and quite progressive for 1980. Kikuchi was too gung-ho on the science fiction sound in a "let's explore the stars" kinda way while Watanabe was turning in the same tracks annually. This...is proper. You have haunting tracks with female vocals, very mild (and effective) usage of synthesizers, and those killer theme songs to pepper in every once in awhile.

07. Kokoro o moyasu aitsu -Yamato Takeshi no uta- / Koji Numata

The lone insert song from the series.

I gotta say...I've always loved this sleepy disco ballad. It's incredibly catchy and just...nice. I get a warm feeling listening to it. It's great to finally have a Karaoke version of this later on the disc.

12. Let's Go UGM / TALIZMAN

Let's Go UGM...U.G.M.!

The not-as-good-as-the-opening-theme-song-but-still-awesome first ending song to the series. It's definitely done in the same style as the OP, but it has it's own unique charm. It is more catchy than the OP? Perhaps... I don't think so, but if someone told me they think "Let's Go UGM!" is catchier than "HE CAME TO US FROM A STAAAAR!" I would buy it.

Kidding. I wouldn't. This is still a great song, though. It's a very peppy track!

13. Ganbare Ultraman 80 / TALIZMAN, Columbia Yurikago-kai

This is the second opening theme song to the series. How do you top that awesome first opening thing? You can't...but TALIZMAN certainly tried! Really, this is the best they could have done. It's a great theme song that would probably be amazing if it didn't have big boots to fill.

This is pretty much the same situation that happened with the Skyrider opening theme song. Awesome 1st OP and great, but not as great follow-up.

I guess we can start with the build-up. The whole time this thing is getting warmed up I'm like "Ohhhhh shhiiiiiiiiii". The song is incredibly smooth with the appropriate usage of the brat squad on backing vocals. That great little guitar part is the last piece in place to make this a great little opening theme song.

Again...great theme song, but it was an automatic "L".

14. Chikyuujin da yo / TALIZMAN, Columbia Yurikago-kai

I.....prefer this over Let's Go UGM.

Hear me out. The structure of this song is just so damn perfect. Again, wonderful use of the kid's choir for the backing vocals. The thing that gets me is that while every Ultraman 80 theme song is infinitely catchy, the other three are through lyrics. The music here is the catchy thing. You'll be whistling this one for sure.

You know what it reminds me of? An upbeat, poppier version of Billy Joel's Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) at times. They both have that similar brass and guitar work. The same? No. But...I just get that feeling.

I've been told I'm not normal for loving this ending theme song as much as I do, but I really feel like the perfect combination is the first opening theme song and this, the second ending song.

15~16 Namiashi Koshinkyoku 

These are the "Regular Foot March" versions of the first two theme songs. Translated further, this means they're the Disco Instrumental Versions of the theme songs.

Hell yeah. This is what I live for.

17. Ultraman 80 [Original Karaoke]

18. Let's Go UGM [Original Karaoke]

19. Kokoro o moyasu aitsu -Yamato Takeshi no uta- [Original Karaoke]

20. Ganbare Ultraman 80 [Original Karaoke]

21. Chikyuujin da yo [Original Karaoke]

22. Ultraman 80 [TV Size Karaoke]

23. Let's Go UGM [TV Size Karaoke]


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DISC 2
Original BGM Archives 1

01. Opening [Main Title 1]

This is the alternate/extended version of the Main Title tune. At fourteen seconds, it's just a smidge longer than the version tacked onto the Full Size OP on the first disc.

02. Ultraman 80 [TV Size] / TALIZMAN

Funny thing about TV Size opening theme songs... Until 1984/1985 the TV Size theme songs to series were generally recorded separately rather than edited versions of the Full Size opening theme songs. In some case you get fun little additions like in the Seiun Kamen Machineman OP.

The differences here are subtle. The thing that will stand out the most is the more pronounced "Ahhhhhh!" toward the end.

03~60 Original BGM dai 1-kai rokuon

More of Toru Fuyuki's great music collection for the earlier episodes of Ultraman 80.

61. Let's Go UGM [TV Size] / TALIZMAN

The TV Size version of the first ending song. Like I said for the OP, this is a specially recorded short version that is slightly different from the Full Sized version.

At fifty-three seconds, there isn't enough time to get into the song sadly.

62~68 Bonus Track/THE⭐ULTRAMAN MONO BGM hoi-hen

Some leftover pieces from 1979's animated THEULTRAMAN series. Now I feel inclined to swing back and pick up that 5-CD set...

The first six tracks are short leftovers with the final track being an instrumental version of the song Kaijuu Requiem.


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DISC 3
Original BGM Archives 2

01. Jiho~M-70 Shin Opening~Ultraman 80 (1 Chorus) / TALIZMAN

This is a 1-Chorus version of Ultraman 80. It features the Main Title as well as some weird recording markers prior to that.

The version of Ultraman 80 used is an edited down version of the Full Size OP.

02,04~07,09~20 Dai 2-kai rokuon BGM

The remaining bits of music from the earlier episodes. This BGM is based on the earlier theme songs and the IN song Kokoro o moyasu aitsu -Yamato Takeshi no uta-.

03. Ultraman 80 [Instrumental]

This is the greatest Instrumental Tokusatsu theme song ever. I don't even mean that because it's based on the best theme... This is much, much, MUCH more than just a horn or guitar replacing the vocals. This is an experience. They seriously take the theme higher to a whole new level.

It starts pretty slow with horns replacing the vocals, then more and more of the orchestra joins in. By the time the build-up is over the song is completely eclipsed by the orchestra. It's hard to explain...but this is magical...

08. Let's Go UGM [Instrumental]

Same story here as Ultraman 80. This is a hyper-inflated version of Let's Go UGM. It's done with greater effect in the opening, but this is damn fine as well.

21. Ganbare Ultraman 80 [TV Size] / TALIZMAN, Columbia Yurikago-kai

The TV size version of the second opening theme. A lot of the things I love about the song are kinda missing here, but hey...it's still a lot of fun.

22~39 Tokusatsu Original BGM Collection Ultraman 80 no sekai - mi shuuroku Monaural BGM senshuu

These are more alternate takes and variations of the BGM. As you would expect from the title, these are all in MONO, but still sound fairly crisp.

40. Chikyuujin da yo [TV Size] / TALIZMAN, Columbia Yurikago-kai

41. Ganbare Ultraman 80 [TV Size Intro-tsuki] / TALIZMAN, Columbia Yurikago-kai

42. Chikyuujin da yo [1 Chorus] / TALIZMAN, Columbia Yurikago-kai

43. Ganbare Ultraman 80 [Instrumental]

This instrumental version is much more traditional than that grand version of the first opening theme song. It's just a lone horn replacing the vocals. Still good, but this could have been just as amazing.

44. Chikyuujin da yo [Instrumental]

Same story here. Just a lone horn replacing the vocals. I think a guitar would have been a tad more suitable for this particular song.

45. Ultraman 80 [Instrumental Mero betsu take]

A different Instrumental version. While this is different than the amazing version we got earlier, it's still much more than a normal Instrumental. The orchestra is back, but maybe at half power. It's fun, but a tad softer.

46. Let's Go UGM [Instrumental Mero betsu take]

Same story with this one, except one of the new instruments brought in is...clapping?? I'm down. This is great!

47. Kokoro o moyasu aitsu -Yamato Takeshi no uta- [Instrumental ME tape ongen]

I've mentioned my affection for this song previously...something about hearing it in MONO makes it even more comforting.

48~57 Koka-onshuu

Sound effects! I really want to make "80!" my ringtone now...

58~60 Ultraman 80 mei-bamenshuu - yoribassui

OK, these three tracks are pretty rad.

The first is the UGM Wandaba theme with series effects added in. The second is the awesome Ultraman 80 instrumental with sound effect added it. It sounds like we're just listening to the action scene of an episode...it's great! No dialogue outside of the occassional "Shuwatch!".

The final track is an alternate take of that really awesome instrumental of Ultraman 80.


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DISC 4
Ultraman 80 / Andromelos in 1981

01. Ultraman 80 / TALIZMAN

This is the version of Ultraman 80 that you're probably used to. Yeah, I know, weird that it's only showing up now on Disc 4.

The only difference here is that the Main Title was clipped from the start and it just gets into the Full Size song proper.

02~39 Tokusatsu Original BGM Collection Ultraman 80 no sekai

This is the final batch of alternate and scratch takes for the BGM collection. Again, these tracks are all in MONO, but still sound very clear.

40. Andromelos / Ichiro Mizuki, Columbia Yurikago-kai

Ichiro Mizuki's talents are shockingly rare when it comes to Ultraman theme songs. This is his first official-ish Ultra theme song...and pretty much last until Ultraman Orb in 2016. He did do the ending theme song to the Ultraman Story film in 1984 as well, but that was a one-off. Sure he had a few songs here and there like Zoffy's boring theme song as well as a Columbia cover of Brave Love, Tiga, but there isn't much in the way of genuine themes.

This is a hard song to dislike. It's so chipper and irritatingly catchy. The bass is so simple, but it draws you in like a tractor beam. Maybe it could do without the back-up brats, but it's still a lot of fun. I knew this song made it once I saw this sweet bass cover of it.

A tad repetative? Yeah, but it's great.

41. Kaettekoi yo Andromelos / Ichiro Mizuki

This is the Andromelos's ending theme song. This is much more serious than the happy-go-lucky OP, but it a good little ballad.

42. Andromelos [Instrumental]

43. Kaettekoi yo Andromelos [Instrumental]

44. Andromelos [Original Karaoke]

45. Kaettekoi yo Andromelos [Original Karaoke]


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DISC 5
Andromelos BGM-shuu [THE ADVENTURES OF ULTRAMAN] yori
Andromelos BGM Collection from "THE ADVENTURES OF ULTRAMAN]

01. Andromelos [TV Size] / Ichiro Mizuki, Columbia Yurikago-kai

This is the sloppily cut TV Size version of the Andromelos theme. It's literally the first seventy seconds of the song with a very hard cut after "Attack!".

02~42 Andromelos shiyo BGM

This is the BGM for Andromelos, which is done by composer Mark McKinniss. If that name sounds a little...foreign, there is good reason. The music is actually the soundtrack for the English dub of THEULTRAMAN, which was called "The Adventures of Ultraman".

This is all very simple and synth driven. I like it, but it's very...one-note. It's quite moody with the dramatics stabs, but has some nice rock elements. Kinda like stock music for industrial training videos. I mean that in a fun way. Haha.

43~47 Andromelos ni okeru mi shiyo BGM

This is just a small bonus collection of the unused BGM from Andromelos for completion's sake.


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OVERALL: Amazing. Like...I knew I was going to love this set, but this goes beyond that. This just may be my favorite Ultraman CD in my collection now. Sure, the Ultraman Powered set from indie label Cinema-Kan is equal parts as good (and just as recommended!) but this set gripped me from start to finish and really didn't let up. The songs are amazing, it's great to finally have the full Toru Fuyuki score for Ultraman 80 and it's also delightful to have all of the Andromelos / The Adventures of Ultraman stuff after years of not being familiar with it at all past the theme songs.

The packaging is what we've come to expect at this point--a sturdy cardboard shell with the five discs housed in individual slimline cases and a 64-page booklet packed with information.


If I *HAD* to find a gripe, I suppose I could be bothered to bring up an incredibly minor one. It would've been nice to have the Star Ocean Mix Vers 5.0 of Ultraman 80 from the Extreme Cyclone~Rebirth of Superheroes remix album from 2000. Again, this is super-nitpicky...but it pays to be extra thorough.

Definitely pick this set up today! It's going to be my CD of The Year, for sure! If the 90s are more your bag...the aforementioned Ultraman Powered set won't let you down either.

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There you have it...my long-winded review of this massive CD Box set. Be sure to check out my CD Collection page for more just like it.

Stay safe!

-CC

PREVIOUSLY...

The CD Collection--Gattai Tamashii ~Super Sentai Robot Song Perfect Collection~
The CD Collection--Ultraman Great, USA & Ultraman Powered Box Sets
The CD Collection--Denko Chojin Gridman Original Soundtrack

2020/07/21

The CD Collection--Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer Theme Song Collection


It's time for a CD review...and for something a little bit different. I normally don't give full reviews for CDs outside of Tokusatsu, but this one is definitely worth examining. Not only are there a lot of familiar names here, but we're also getting that Columbia sound. It's enough for me to put my slight disdain for Transformers aside to finally pick this set up after years of procrastinating.

Yeah, I'm reviewing this 2003 CD set the day that it arrived in the mail...in 2020... Considering it was backordered for two months I may have gotten the last brand new copy available. You'd better give it a try now if you're interested...

Anyway, here's the review.

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Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer Theme Song Collection
COCX-32353~4
2003.08.20


DISC-1

01. TRANSFORMER / Satoko Shimonari [Tatakae! Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer]

The opening theme song to the first Transformers series. Oh yeah--Full disclosure before we continue. I don't know shit about Transformers. I'm really using the booklet as a helpful guide as best as I can while describing what these songs are from.

This song has always been a favorite of mine. It's incredibly chill and one that ends up in a lot of random 80s anime theme song playlists that people put together for good reason. Part of it is probably out of curiosity (Can you believe Japan actually gave our toy commercial a dignified theme song?), but also that it's pretty solid. As far as mid-80s Columbia tracks go, this is a real gem.

02. Peace Again / Satoko Shimonari [Tatakae! Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer]

For the ending song we get this somewhat creepy tune. I like it a lot because it's quite unique sounding, but I can't help but get a little skeeved by it's haunting sound.

The vocal version is great, but I tend to give this one more attention through the Karaoke version that I have through a different CD set (Yeah, this isn't my first Transformers CD set...maybe I'll get to that other one someday).

Great song. Minimal and creepy.

03. TRANSFORMER 2010 / Sho Hirose [Tatakae! Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer 2010]

I love the energy of this one, but man it's hard for me to really say I really like it. It isn't bad, but I've never been a fan of jerky music when verses start up. It's a distracting trick.

Sho Hirose isn't bad in his yell-sing through the whole thing at least.

04. WHAT'S YOU / Sho Hirose [Tatakae! Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer 2010]

Ah yeah. I actually used this song in a video if you can believe it. The Karaoke version that is... This vocal version is really, really bad. The music? Awesome. The singing is just frivolous. I intentionally picked this song for my review because it has an FM sound quality to it...and is from Transformers...

Music? Great. Vocals? Go away.

05. The Headmasters / Hironobu Kageyama [Transformer The Headmasters]

The first of our familiar voices. This is another song that has always just been around due to it being sung by Hironobu Kageyama. This is Maskman-era Kageyama, so it has that same reverb effect that he loved to have until they forced him to get real for Dragonball Z.

To be perfectly honest, this theme song is pretty generic. It isn't entirely exciting, but it's serviceable I suppose. Soldier Dream from Saint Seiya and Hikari Sentai Maskman are definitely two theme songs from the same era that utilize Kageyama way better.

06. Kimi wa Transformer / Hironobu Kageyama [Transformer The Headmasters]

Kinda more of the same with the ending song. It's a little catchier than the opening theme song, but it's also kinda tacky. We do get a little more emotion from KAGE, but this isn't much more than a watered-down Ai no soldier.

07. Chojin Master Force no theme / Toshiya Igarashi [Transformer Chojin Master Force]

Another familiar voice...it's Toshiya Igarashi. He sang a substantial chunk of the Kamen Rider Black song collection, but neither of the theme songs.

This time around he DOES sing a theme song...and boy is it lame. I legit thought I accidentally skipped a track, but nope. This is the lame ballad that brought this series in for every episode.

Man, I really wanted this to be cooler.

08. Moero! Transformer / Toshiya Igarashi [Transformer Chojin Master Force]

More of the same. It's quite lame, but at least it isn't as boring as the opening theme song. There is a nice guitar break to liven things up a bit...and the background singers give some nice dimension.

Other than that...bland. Igarashi sang a good portion of the songs in the song collection...I may have to check them out someday in hopes that something is interesting there.

09. Transformer V / Koji Kaya [Tatakae! Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer V]

ANOTHER familiar voice. Koji Kaya sang a good number of songs from Chojinki Metalder, Chojuu Sentai Liveman and a singular song from Kosoku Sentai Turboranger. Yet...no theme songs. Is Transformers where Tokusatsu singers graduate to theme song performers?

Ehhhh this one has the energy, but really isn't a great song. Virtually every Tokusatsu song that Kaya is responsible is better than this. It's just too generic and the background singers hinder it. Considering this guy was the mecha singer for all of the Toku series he was in, you'd think Transformers would be a slam dunk.

10. Cybertron Banzai / Koorogi '73 [Tatakae! Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer V]

Yet another familiar set of voices...Koorogi '73. They did countless Tokusatsu songs until they basically vanished by the 90s. I used to hold them in some esteem, but as I've been reviewing a lot of Sentai song collections I've found them more obnoxious than anything. They seem to be at their best when they're strictly doing background singing, but occasionally have a fun solo song.

This is not a fun solo song. This funky samba track...yeah, I guess it's fine as an ending theme song, but I guess this was beneath Koji Kaya to attempt. Eh, I don't hate it, but I really don't like it either.

11. Transformer Z no theme / Ichiro Mizuki [Tatakai! Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer Z]

OK, this...this is why I bought this set. Remember I mentioned that other Transformers CD set I own? Yeah, it has the full size Karaoke version of this song and a TV Size vocal version. No full size vocal version...and what kills me is that this song is easily one of my favorite anime theme songs...nay, one of my favorite Ichiro Mizuki songs.

Ichiro Mizuki is a legend. This would have been the same year that he made his return to Tokusatsu to drop song excellent songs on the Winspector Song Collection after being away for a few years. His voice was damn near perfect in the early 90s.

It's hard to describe such a well-crafted theme song. It just does everything right. The music is perfectly balanced and the singer is correct. It's a shame this was wasted on an OVA and not given to a full series.

12. Mirai no kimi e / Ichiro Mizuki [Tatakae! Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer Z]

This isn't a bad ending theme song. It's a smidge generic, but Mizuki gives it some life. I can see other singers nailing this one as well, but it's nice to have a familiar voice sing it for us.

13. WAR WAR! STOP IT / Shitamachi Kyodai [Beast Wars ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

Suddenly we've gone from 1990 to 1997...

This weird rap track is the theme song for Beast Wars. You know what...? I like it. It has a pretty smooth beat and the rapping is actually pretty competent. *Chuck Norris Thumbs Up.gif*

Yeah, I remember Beast Wars being a bad CG nightmare, but I really dig this opening theme song. It kinda gives me a little Pumps And A Bump vibe.

Definitely wasn't anticipating thinking about MC Hammer at all this week...

14. FOR THE DREAM / MICKEY [Beast Wars ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

Hey Mickey! We know Mickey from her singing on various late 90s Super Sentai songs...including those weird "English" versions of the theme songs for a bunch of series.

I enjoy her Japanese singing a lot even if we didn't get much of it in Super Sentai, so this is a treat. She isn't as forceful as she is on those tracks, but I really enjoy this one. The beat is also a lot of fun. Yeah, I like this song as well.

I'm tempted to hunt the single down for this...

15. GET MY FUTURE / Cyber Nation Network [Beast Wars II ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

While this sounds more like an IN song, I can appreciate why it was chosen as the opening theme song. The singing isn't incredible, but it's fine. Yeah, this is a pretty cool song.

16. SUPER VOYAGER / Cyber Nation Network [Beast Wars II ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

More of the same for the second opening theme song. This isn't bad, but it really would've been nice if this differentiated itself just a little bit from GET MY FUTURE. The music is just a little more dense with random sounds. That's about it. It really just feels like they couldn't decided which song to make the theme when the answer should've been "neither".

Again, these two are pretty good...but they're not really opening theme song material.

17. Yume no irubasho / Jun Yoneya [Beast Wars II ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

Ending theme song. I like this. It's very chill. It reminds me of a slightly softer version of Guyferd's theme song.

18. SPACE DREAMER ~Harukaru Beast Wars~ / COA [Beast Wars II ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~ Rio Convoy Kikiippatsu! (Gekijoban)]

Movie theme song for Beast Wars II and...

I know that voice. I know that voice.

Shushutto sanjooooooooooooooo

*shudder*

Well, this was an unpleasant surprise. Another Tokusatsu singer has entered the chat. This time around we have Hideaki Takatori of Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger fame. You know...the series that really killed a lot of my interest in Tokusatsu songs? Yeah. You're a sneaky one with that alias.

Beyond his lame vocals, this song is just weird...and not very good. This song is repetitive and really just doesn't go anywhere.

You thought you could trick me. Congrats...

19. MY SHOOTING STAR / COA [Beast Wars II ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~ Rio Convoy Kikiippatsu! (Gekijoban)]

Since I'm not totally biased, I'll be fair and say that this song isn't too bad. Signature Takatori voice squeaks aside, I really can't complain about this ending theme song.


DISC-2

01. Hajimari no uta / Seiji Katsu [Beast Wars Metals ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~ (Gekijoban)]

Another movie theme song. Not gonna lie...this sounds like it's from 1992, but the booklet says it's from 1998.

Ehhh this would only be bland if it really did come out in 1992, but since it didn't it's bland AND dated. I really don't have too much else to say unfortunately.

02. Hateshinai kono uchuu (SORA) e / Seiji Katsu [Beast Wars Metals ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~ (Gekijoban)]

This is the ending theme from the Beast Wars Metals movie. Really, THIS should have been the theme song. It isn't brilliant, but it certainly mops the floor with the actual OP. I *just* listened to Hajimari no uta and have basically forgotten how it goes. Like someone hit me with one of those Men In Black memory flash things.

03. Hello! Toughness / Seiji Katsu [Beast Wars ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~ Gekitotsu Beast Senshi (Gekijoban)]

Another Beast Wars movie theme...again by Seiji Katsu. I guess I should talk about what kind of singer Katsu is. OK. He does a bit of yell-singing, but he isn't bad.

This song has some life. It's easily the best of the three songs here by Katsu. I mean...by far. It's a little bit tacky, but I'll accept it. It's fun.

04. Love For Ever ~Kimi o mamoru tameni~ / M.C.R [Beast Wars Neo ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

Alright, I've listened to this song twice and really can't make sense of it. This is the opening theme song to the Beast Wars Neo TV series.

There are times when this song is really good, and then it feels like the band goes on a break during the verses. I guess the fairest assessment I can make is that it's inconsistent? Really, it isn't a bad theme song, it just can't make up it's mind.

05. Te no naka no uchuu / Hitomi Yuuki [Beast Wars Neo ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

The ending theme song for Beast Wars Neo. It's a pretty standard ending song...chill and inoffensive. I like these type of songs, so I'm down. It's otherwise pretty anonymous.

06. Ano yume no kanata e / COA [Beast Wars Metals Convoy Dai Henshin! (Gekijoban)]

Oh Jesus... "COA" again...

I genuinely laughed when I heard the intro. It's this nice piano melody that is suddenly shattered by Takatori's honk-sing.

I really like this song! It's pretty smooth thanks to that bassline and is accented nicely by the piano and fake horns. Why is it that the movies are getting the better themes while the TV series tend to get the questionable ones?

07. WA!WA! Wonderland / COA [Beast Wars Metals Convoy Dai Henshin! (Gekijoban)]

I saw the title and I saw the singer and kinda winced as it approached. This is a less fun very of Robotack's Ii Janai. It's good, but definitely check out the way more fun Ii Janai.

Sorry, I legit stopped listening to this half way through to listen to a Robotack song... They are similar! Right down to the key change...

08. Tamashii no Evolution / Hironobu Kageyama [Beast Wars Metals ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

Beast Wars Metals TV series theme song. The awesome song title lives up to the song. A slightly-past-his-prime Kageyama returns to drop this great rock track on us. This is the period where he started to get back to his rocker roots and adopted this warbly singing style that kinda sucks the emotion from his voice. It works here, but man...I miss his soul...

I would say that this is likely the most operatic theme song that Kageyama has ever done. It's more of an experience than a catchy little diddy to bring in the new cartoons this week.

Yeah, this is awesome. Not gonna lie.

09. Chitose no Soldier / Hironobu Kageyama [Beast Wars Metals ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

The second opening theme song for Beast Wars Metals. It's similar to the first, but isn't as good. For whatever reason, the vocals are just drown out quite a bit. Like Kageyama had a cold or something.

Another great rocker, but Tamashii no Evolution is really where it's at. Even if this song has the superior shredding...

10. Ba Bi Bu Be Beast Wars / Hironobu Kageyama, Masaaki Endo & The Ba Bi Bu Be Bombers [Beast Wars Metals ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

The first ending song for Beast Wars Metals...and it features Masaaki Endo! Kotetsu Kyodai! Another Tokusatsu singer to add to the list!

......and this song is surprisingly terrible. I mean the title kinda gives that away, but man...the disappointment hurts. These two are usually rad together. Not to bring up Robotack again, but both of these guys sing GET HIGH! and that song is flippin' great.

11. HALLELUYAH / Hironobu Kageyama, Mitsuko Horie & The Ba Bi Bu Be Bombers [Beast Wars Metals ~Cho Seimeitai Transformer~]

Second ending song. Second boring ending song. Once again, the title kinda gave it away.

The biggest shock is the appearance of yet another Tokusatsu singer...Mitsuko Horie! Good lord. They really, really tried to get *everyone* didn't they?? Not gonna lie, though, she sounds horribly out of place here. It was nice to have her back a little while later for Gaoranger at least.

12. Honoo no Overdrive ~Car Robot Cybertron~ / Koji Wada [Transformer Car Robot]

Heh. I actually own the single for this for some reason. I really like this song...it really does a good job at bringing the point across that vehicles are back, baby! This is the theme song to the Car Robot / Transformers Robots In Disguise.

This is probably the most TV-Opening-Theme-sounding themes of all of the Transformers themes I think. It's structured in a way to make an easy cut for the TV Size version and it has that earworminess energy to make it stand out.

Did I catch the series? Nope. My good friend dug it when it was airing, though. He asked me to hunt down the J Trains for his birthday if that means anything to you...

13. Marionette / Mami Nishikaku [Transformer Car Robot]

A really good ending theme song. It's slick but has some really good energy. It verges on being generic, but goes hard on the key change early to keep it moving along.

14. TRANSFORMER -Dream Again- / PSYCHIC LOVER [Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer Micron Densetsu]

The first opening theme song to Micron Densetsu / Transformers Armada.

I hate Psychic Lover. I truly do. I almost want to apologize to Hideaki Takatori for the berating. Yoffy is just...not a good singer. I know that's a royally unpopular opinion, but I really just think he sucks.

Oh yeah, these guys also assaulted my ears with their songs from Dekaranger, Boukenger and so on.

This song is mercifully OK. It's just...alright.

15. Never Ending Road / PSYCHIC LOVER [Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer Micron Densetsu]

What it is with Psychic Lover and ending songs about roads?

The song is meh. It's great if it's 1987 and lame metal is your thing.

16. Transformer ~Kotetsu no yuuki~ / Hideaki Takatori [Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer Micron Densetsu]

Dammit...I was so busy looking ahead for COA that I didn't even realize Takatori has a song under his real name... Tricked again!

This is the second opening theme song to Micron Densetsu / Armada.

Takatori is EXTRA annoying on this one. The squeaks and drops in his voice are just unbearable. No wonder Kamen Rider bailed to avex if this is the talent that Columbia was promoting...

This has way more of an ending song feel to it for some reason...I'm not sure why they deemed this worthy of an opening theme spot...

17. Don't Give Up!! / PSYCHIC LOVER [Cho Robot Seimeitai Transformer Micron Densetsu]

Ehhh...this is OK. It's the second and final ending song to this failed experiment of a song collection for Micron Densetsu / Armada.

Again, it's OK. I really hate how Columbia, to this day, puts this exact same beat under 90% of their songs. It's just so...tacky.


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OVERALL: This set is awesome. As I disclosed early in the post, I largely bought this for the theme songs from Transformer Z, but I'm always down for some new music that I otherwise would never check out. Looking closer, it was a great surprise to see so many familiar names on the roster. A whopping TEN artists made this new journey into Transformers songs worthwhile. I feel like the only singers they didn't manage to snag from the era were Takayuki Miyauchi, Akira Kushida and Shinichi Ishihara. Everyone else is basically accounted for...

The stand out new (to me) tracks were the first Beast Wars theme songs WAR WAR! STOP IT and For The Dream. I really dug both of them...and a lot of the other Beast Wars themes. They're definitely going to make the rotation.

This set might not have been a 100% winner, but it was way more good than bad. I definitely recommend this if you're like me and have heard every Tokusatsu song collection like a hundred times and wants something new.

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That's all for now. Check out the CD Collection page and continue to stay safe out there!

-CC


PREVIOUSLY...

The CD Collection--Gattai Tamashii ~Super Sentai Robot Song Perfect Collection~
The Toys That Made Us: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
It's Been a Year, 'Bro! [Hasbro Power Rangers]

2020/07/05

CCLemon99 Magazine Issue Eight


Welcome to CCLemon99 Magazine Issue Eight. This is the sporadic thing that I do when I have a bunch of little topics and no real motivation to write up something that needs anything resembling research.

The last issue that I wrote was only two months ago after a long hiatus. Part of the reason that I write that issue was, well, the pandemic. I hope that you've been keeping safe while COVID-19 is causing supreme hell over the globe.

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What have I been up to...?

Not that you asked...or cared...

Since the last issue my life has kinda gone haywire. I went from working occasionally to working double-time. That's kinda why I totally didn't do anything for the thirteenth anniversary of my dead-ish Youtube channel.

Speaking of...I have been slowly bringing some videos from unlisted hell into the real world. Not that it really matters since Youtube lists my videos as being for kids. Ehh...I don't know. I'm kinda glad I stopped when I did, though I really miss making videos.

If I were to try something new on my channel...what would you like to see?

I've been trying to keep busy with everything going on.

Other than that...I'm fully back into the grind at this point.


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More and More and More Streaming

Since I last wrote it seems like more and more things Ultraman and Kamen Rider are streaming. You know what is still completely flippin' dead, though? Super Sentai. Go to hell, Hasbro.

It only makes sense to branch out. Maybe there wasn't an incentive to peddle wares outside of Japan thirty years ago, but it's pretty apparent how limited the market is these days. I'm just incredibly grateful that we're finally getting an opportunity to participate here in the world. Again...go to hell, Hasbro.

Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FOREVER and Ultraman Z are pretty remarkable in that we're basically getting things simulcast. How cool is that...........HASBRO????

I never thought I would be so desperate for a Fiveman DVD release.........

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Ultraman 80 / Andromelos Music Collection!

This one certainly came out of nowhere. 

Assuming it isn't delayed we will be getting a five-disc set containing all of the songs and music from Ultraman 80 and Andromelos (and some additional BGM from THE⭐ULTRAMAN)! I'm super down with this whole thing since Ultraman 80 is musically one of my favorite Ultraman series.

This is the latest in this series of massive box sets from Columbia. Last year we got a five-disc box for THE⭐ULTRAMAN that I haven't picked up yet. Before that there was an Ultraman USA/Ultraman Great four-disc set that was released in tandem with the essential Ultraman Powered set from CINEMA-KAN. 

The Sentai, Rider, and Metal Hero libraries may be abandoned at the moment, so it's nice to see at least Ultraman getting some love from Columbia.

Oh, and the best combination of Ultraman 80 themes are the first opening theme and the second ending theme song. They're all good, but those two are the best out there.

There's no link to buy it on Amazon yet, so here is the page on Columbia's site with the full tracklist.

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Kiramager...again...what...

In the last issue I kinda railed against the lousy packaging of the Kiramager toys. This time I'm kinda baffled by the package AND the toy.

I'm likely never going to watch the show, so I'll never know what exactly is going on with this thing. Yeah, the Shiny Kiramai Changer is...a thing.

I don't have mine yet since the shipment has been held up for a month due to the item I ordered with it being stuck in backorder hell, but I'm kinda confused at what exactly is going on with this design.

I get that they had to do something different after the drink coaster Kiramai Changer, but damn.

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Some More Isolation Listening...

Even though I've been going to work everyday, I've still been really careful about interactions and have largely been isolating. Who am I kidding...I've been isolating most of my life. I only emerged briefly to get married and go to school. Haha. The music never ends for me.

Miho Nakayama - COLLECTION I

I never really got into Miho Nakayama...but I can tell you two facts about her.

2. This CD is worth your while.

You can tell I'm not serious when I'm only really into the greatest hits album. There is a lot of gold here, though. The main reason I picked this one up is because it has two tracks from super-producer Tetsuya Komuro of TM Network...who coincidentally also has a Famicom game. This is early Komuro, so his tracks are actually lacking his signature style. 

[C], CATCH ME, and Tsui terune notteru ne are really good songs with Komuro's weird 50/50 and incredibly sweet JINGI Ai shite moraimasu not disappointing in their greatness.

The stand-out track by a mile is the infectious WAKU WAKU sa sete. The weird thing is that if you told me that this was a Tetsuya Komuro track, I would absolutely believe you. This song is a regular in my rotation, for sure. I genuinely enjoy a good pop song and this is one that ticks all of the boxes.

Check this disc out if you're looking for some non-offensive 80s JPOP to rock out to.


I'm not a fan of ska...or games from the first Playstation. This soundtrack is something of an exception.

While I don't own the Tondemo Crisis! or Incredible Crisis! game anymore, I will forever rock this soundtrack. The game's theme song is one of the catchiest ever and this disc features a few variations of it. I enjoy a lot of the stage music as well. My favorite has to be the smooth Taneo Dance Fever stage music with the Freeway Running theme right behind it.

I've always wanted to talk about this one, but there isn't mush more to say than this is a really fun little game soundtrack.


I've yet to meet a VGM Rock Arrange album I didn't like yet.

Sure, I'm not the biggest fan of Rockman/Megaman, but there is no denying some of the catchy tunes. I own the Rockman-Rockman 10 soundtrack boxset for a reason.

This one really blasts off with the Elecman~Crashman~Magnetman Medley and glides along nicely for twelve total tracks. My only complaint I guess is that sometimes the rock part tends to be a little vague in favor of almost bare game music. It's a decent mix, but at times it just sags a little bit. It's hard to describe, but maybe you'll pick it up if you give this one a listen.

There is also a Techno Arrange album out there, but I could never really bring myself to snag it. I think I'll just stick to rock...man...

1966 Quartet - Thriller ~ Michael Jackson Classics

I have NO idea how this album made it's way into my radar, but apparently I've owned it for exactly five years according to Amazon,

The title pretty much says it all. It's a Quartet...and they perform Michael Jackson classics. I've enjoyed this album immensely in the time that I've owned. It kinda ranges from dramatic (Thriller, Bad, Billie Jean, Beat It) to really, really sweet (Human Nature, We Are The World). It's all really good, though. My personal favorite has to be Human Nature. It was just made for this type of cover.

No gripes with this one. I just wanted to share that this great album exists. So check it out!

Tatsuro Yamashita - Big Wave (30th Anniversary Edition)

It's really weird how I wasn't paying attention and suddenly Tatsuro Yamashita and his wife Mariya Takeuchi because immensely popular. Great! I have no idea what City Pop is, but I'm glad that we've run out of decent new music and have to look back to a time of smooth grooves.

Oddly enough this album is more of a soundtrack...or at least it was a video album of sorts. Yeah, the music was played over some generic surf footage of your Aunt and Uncle in the early 1980s. The biggest clue is the title track, The Theme From Big Wave, which happens to be my favorite track of not just the album but from Yamashita in general, kicks things off. Jody is also a top jam, and one that always makes me think on the R33 Nissan Skyline

From there, this album doesn't really do too much for me. Magic Ways is great, but really this is one I like to put on for ambiance rather than for any kind of emotion. It's a bit too Doo-wop-ish. It's a great album, I can't see this one setting anyone's playlist on fire like a lot of his other work. Jody and The Theme From Big Wave are universal gems, though.

(Bet you thought I was going to link to Plastic Love. Nope. Sweetest Love is the greatest. Fight me.)

Yuji Ohno - The Best Compilation of Lupin the Third

It's always weird when you come across a compilation that mainly focuses on covers of a single song. More often than not there is good reason for such a thing to exist, but it doesn't always mean it isn't repetitive. 

I can say in good faith that this set borders on being too monotonous, but the Lupin theme is just so damn good that it somehow overcomes it and makes for a great listening experience. Sure there are some other tracks included, but who didn't buy this for that brassy masterpiece of a theme?

I'm a big fan of Yuji Ohno's work, particularly his Machineman Songs and Music. This, however, is really what he's known for...

My favorite versions of the theme have to be '78 (2005 New Mix Version), '79 (2005 New Mix Version), '89, and '97. Those two from the 70s are just so damn funky and face-paced while '89 is just LOUD. The '97 version is just...madness. Haha.

I love this set.

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Anyway...that's all for now. I'll be back later in the month with a new article that will expose a truth that you may not be ready to accept. I'm not sure why I wrote that so dramatically...it really isn't that bad. Heh.

Stay safe! Wear a mask! The virus never went away...

-CC