My Top 5 Locally Translated Japanese Opening Songs

If you’re a 90’s kid, you probably grew up with anime and tokusatsu series with Filipino version opening songs. It’s such a shame that local TV stations don’t do that anymore. I mean, I totally love JPOP and JROCK songs, but there’s a certain charm in translating the songs in our native language (if done right or at the very least, entertaining way). To be honest, I wanted to post more than my top five, but the sources are scarce. Not too surprising since back then, we record TV shows through VHS tapes, and it’s not that common. Furthermore, it will take some effort to convert that recorded video into digital format. Anyway, here’s my list!

Magic Knight Rayearth

Bt’X

Dragon Ball

Shaider

Maskman

Ugh, I wish I could find more videos like Thunder Jet and The Musketeers. I was supposed to add Julio at Julia, but after verifying, it’s not a Japanese anime. How about you guys? Which localized opening song is your favorite? (~^_^)~

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My Recipe for a Good Live-Action Adaptation

For the past few years, there were several releases of live-action movies based on Manga, Anime, and Video Games. It has been a hit-or-miss opportunity for every production wherein big budget doesn’t always equate to a great movie. Here, I’ll try to give my two cents on what it takes to translate these media properly. Just a disclaimer, I didn’t graduate from a film or literature related course. These are just purely my opinion, and I based them on the live action movies that I’ve seen so far.

Resembling Cast

It’s one thing to give an actor or actress a make-up and hairstyle to match the character that he or she is portraying, and it’s another thing to pick a cast member who looks just like the character, effortlessly. The latter is quite difficult to fulfill, but when the production pulls it off, it will leave a lasting impression to the audience. One best example I can think of would be Christian Howard who plays Ken Masters in Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist. One look at the guy, and you instantly imagine him executing a Shoryuuken. Beyond the looks, the guy can perform martial arts moves that are convincing enough to emulate the reference character.

Speaking of martial arts moves, picking Takeru Satoh was a perfect choice to play as Kenshin Himura for the Rurouni Kenshin movies.  He’s a trained athlete, and he can do some insane acrobatics combined with elegant swordsmanship. You can see on his execution that he’s the guy for the job. Don’t believe me? Watch this video…

As for an example of a bad casting, you can look no further than Dragonball Evolution. Among other things that this movie had done, the casting alone was a complete mess for me. Watching on mute will leave you confused who’s who. Even Piccolo who can be worked around through proper prosthetic failed to deliver.

Loyalty To Story

One big reason that the fans got hooked with the source material was probably the story. There were events that made the series memorable, and they are looking forward relive these moments. Of course, there are parts that need to be changed or omitted due to the constraint that movies can only run up to three hours, but it should be done in a seamless manner. Kind of like what was done in Death Note. The events were modified, but it still made sense to the overall story. I actually think that the L in the live-action was quite smarter than his anime/manga counterpart.

Now, if only the Tekken movie did not happen. Seriously, the good plot of the video game franchise was murdered by this B-Movie.  The monumental moment where Heihachi threw Kazuya on the cliff was not presented, heck even the story behind the devil gene was not there. Christie’s not using Capoeira, Marshall Law not using Jeet-Kune-Do (Blasphemy!), and the list goes on. The only thing that the movie did right was picking Lateef Crowder as Eddy, but hey, that’s for the Resembling Cast criteria.

Familiar Cinematography

It’s an awesome feat if you’ll be able to remember that shot that exactly captures the same image that you’ve seen in a manga or an anime. Such moments will give you nostalgic fun. Also, if the director can get a clearer view of highlighting the character’s resembling features and skills, it gives the viewers the feel that this medium had been loyal to the source material. Take a look at Rurouni Kenshin (yes, I really love the film, and I’m going to cite it more than once). You can see from the camera angles how Kenshin’s speed and agility were emphasized with beautiful rope works that enabled the actor to lean, bend, and high-jump like the original character.

I understand that the filmmakers have a certain liberty to play with a franchise in the way that they know best. However, I believe that it’s just proper not to ruin that franchise with such style. After all, it was the stuff that the source material was made of that gave it its popularity. Disregarding these factors may prove to be disrespectful to the fans. I hope they will learn from the indie and Asian movie scene on how to do things right. ‘Til then, I recommend the following movies for good samples of live-action adaptations. Enjoy! (~^_^)~

Good Live-Action Movies:

  • Rurouni Kenshin Trilogy
  • Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist
  • Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow’s Joe)
  • Gatchaman
  • Shinobi (Live-Action for Basilisk)
  • Kamen Rider The First and Kamen Rider The Next
  • Garo: Red Requiem

Some of the Anime Shows That I Want to be Remastered

A lot of anime series have been rebooted or re-mastered for the past decade, which entertained a new set of audiences and brought some fun nostalgia for the old ones. Some of the notable franchises are Dragonball Z Kai, Full Metal Alchemist, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Hunter x Hunter, Rurouni Kenshin (New Kyoto Arc), and most recently Sailormoon Crystal. I can’t help but wonder if the other anime series that I’ve grown to love will also follow their path. I remember rushing up to go home after the class so as not to miss the local TV station’s spot for the weekday’s anime series (yes, there were five which corresponds to a specific day for the same time slot), oh memories XD. With this, let me share with you some of the anime shows that I want to be remastered.

Slam Dunk

Sure, Kuroko’s Basketball is a pretty cool series on its own, but back then, the anime basketball fever was brought by Slam Dunk. It became a hit here in the Philippines since A LOT of Filipinos are big fans of the sport.

The story revolves around Hanamichi Sakuragi, a high school punk with a long streak of rejection from girls (50 times). One day, he met Haruko Akagi,  another girl who instantly made him love struck again. In the hopes of getting close to her, he joined the basketball team as suggested by Haruko herself, despite his zero knowledge for the said sport. Good news, he was accepted in the team. Bad news, Haruko’s brother Takenori Akagi is the team captain and a super rookie by the name of Kaede Rukawa is stealing the spotlight for the team.

Even though I know how to play basketball, I’m not really a loyal follower of the famous leagues, but this anime gave me a nice perspective of the intense moments of an actual game. Okay, maybe dunking the ball on top of another player’s head is going overboard, but the events keep you hanging in your seat as you watch how the team struggles to win, second by second. If there’s one thing that I want to change with the series, it’s the loooooong flashbacks that happens every once in a while. It’s so long it took Kogure’s three-point shot to reach the rim only after the end of an episode. Ranting aside, this series is really good, and after watching a couple of youtube clips, I realized that this anime could use a digital re-mastering (I also realized how old I am haha… not funny). TOEI, I hope you consider this possibility.

YuYu Hakusho

Before  the phenomenal Hunter x Hunter series, Yoshihiro Togashi made the equally sensational YuYu Hakusho, a.k.a Poltergeist Report for the western audiences, a.k.a Ghost Fighter here in the Philippines. The show is just great; it was re-aired here in the Philippines several times, and yet it still gathers a considerable amount of viewers, though not as many as it was first shown here.

Yusuke Urameshi is a delinquent high school brawler (hey, am I  seeing a pattern here?) who out of sheer response, saved a kid from being hit by a car which supposedly cost him his life. I used “supposedly” because it turns out, he has a shot of having a second life again. The plot gets thicker as it unfolds that Yusuke has a greater purpose to fulfill as a detective of the spirit world. From there, he encounters new formidable foes and allies through his missions leading to the revelation of his real identity.

It’s hard to think of something to be improved in this show other than its outdated animation. The pacing is just right. There was never a dull moment. If there were fillers, then I hardly noticed it. Maybe the fight scenes could be improved, not that there’s anything wrong with it, but more fluid motions can make it more awesome, specially Yusuke’s fight with Sensui. Given that Hunter x Hunter is still running, a remake of YYH may seem less probable to happen, but who knows? Come on Togashi-san, make it happen. ^_^

Time Travel Tondekeman

Popularly known here in the Philippines as Time Quest, this one-of-a-kind story about an accidental time travel led to fun ride full action and comedy with some occasional  trivia about world history and geography. A lot of you may be too young to get a glimpse of this show (it was shown during my elementary school days, you do the Math), but try to watch a few episodes, and it will get you hooked the same way it did for the 90’s kids.

This is about Hayato, a soccer player and Yumi, an aspiring musician who came across a talking kettle Tondekeman, who apparently can travel back in time. By accident, the two were transported to Baghdad, but got separated from Tondekeman in turn as Abdul gets his hands on the technologically-advanced kettle. Since then, Hayato and Yumi continuously try to win back Tondekeman only to end up in another time-travel adventure.

If you’re a bit saturated by action-packed series or dragged by teen-based anime, then this anime has a balance of both. It’s a good refresher and will bring out the child within you. If this gets remastered, the only worry I have is that I will long for the Filipino dubber of Tondekeman. For those who haven’t watched this in local TV,  his chant for traveling through time is a classic. Lilipad! Lilipad! Takure! (Fly! Fly! Kettle!). I know it sounds kinda lame when translated, but this phrase had been instilled to the mind of every child who had watched this show.

Most likely, the 90’s kids will be the ones who will enjoy this post. To be fair, several new series were great too. Too bad, I don’t have much time anymore to follow an anime that runs hundred of episodes (sigh One Piece). Well, if you didn’t have the chance to watch these shows back then, I suggest you give them a try. The trend may be different, and the animation may seem outdated, but you’ll still be entertained. To end this post, I’ll leave you with one of the remade scenes in the DBZ Kai, the Ginyu Forces’ arrival where they added an official soundtrack just for the team itself! Enjoy! (~^_^)~

My Top JPOP Song Revivals and Renditions

I seldom see some JPOP songs get revived by other artists, whether Japanese or non-Japanese, that’s why I thought of writing this post. One local artist actually made it to my list. Can you guess who that is? Well, read on to find out. 😉

Combatler V – TK+9 Factory

I consider the original version as one of the most intense robot anime opening song that I’ve ever heard. My teammate and I even listened to this song during our overtime work to rejuvenate our spirit LOL. The revived version, performed by TK+9 Factory transformed it to something more rock. The result may diverge from its accustomed tune, but I think it fits more with the other modern anime themes, besides, the same level of energy is still in tact with the song. Just watch the video above, and you’ll see what I mean.

Love So Sweet – Glay

Yes, you’re not mistaken. A JROCK band revived a song from the famous JPOP boy band Arashi. Originally a theme song to the JDrama version of “Hana Yori Dango”, this song was performed in one of Glay‘s concert. To be honest, I’m still seeking the boy band type of voice that fits with this song, but then again the live performance and the musicality that comes with it (Arashi just danced with the song  while Glay actually played it XD) make it an impressive performance.

Zutto Kimi no Soba De – Oystars(?)

I’m sorry, but I’m not that sure if Oystars was the one who sang this version XD. All I know is that they did a great job considering that the original one was sung by a female singer, Yuki Masuda. For those of you who were too young to know (ouch), this was the second ending song to the anime Flame of Recca. The opening song was performed by Oystars, hence the speculation haha. For those of you who haven’t watched the series, the Filipino version is currently aired so give it a try. One of the pretty decent series I’ve watched back in my *cough* *cough* high school days.

Cha-La Head-Cha-La – Gino Padilla / Flow

For this entry, I included two versions. The first one is from the famous JRock band Flow. This one was used for the recently released DBZ movie “Battle of Gods”. Even though I was disappointed with the movie, the revived song was pretty cool and gave justice to the original version. The other version I included here was actually performed by Gino Padilla. Yep, that same local artist who sang the theme song for an old Close-Up commercial. This version was used for the promotion of one of the DBZ Movies that was shown here in the Philippines, “The Greatest Rival” where Goku fought against Frieza’s brother Cooler. The translation is pretty decent, though some of the measures had to be adjusted, overall it sounded great.

1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou – Flow

Okay, as much I want to avoid entries from the same artist, I guess Flow just knows how to make a kick-ass revival of an anime song. If you’re a self-proclaimed Otaku and you don’t know where this song came from, shame on you LOL. For the others, this song was originally the 6th ending song of the anime  Rurouni KenshinI actually like the new song better. Compare the song with Siam Shade’s version and see for yourself. It seemed like the song evolved to a greater level due to the new arrangement. I’m excited to see their next target song (*_*).

I know that there are other songs that I missed with my limited knowledge of the Japanese music industry, so if you have any recommendations in mind, feel free to post it in the comments section. Now, time to replay 1/3 again. (~^_^)~

Movie Review: Gatchaman

A nostalgic, sentai-ish, action movie is how I describe the live-action adaptation of Gatchaman. More popularly known in the Philippines as G-Force, the movie was released last October 2 through SM Cinemas (like Rurouni Kenshin and some other Japanese movies). Here, I try to review the different aspects of the movie.

Courtesy of j1studios.com

Story

If you don’t want to know anything about the story before you watch the movie, then feel free to skip to the next section. As for the others, continue reading. For those who are old enough to remember (*cough* *cough*), Gatchaman is a task force of five individuals formed by the alliance called International Science Organization (ISO). Their aim is to protect the human race from the alien antagonists known as Galactors led by the mysterious masked man(?), Berg Katze. The members of the team are Ken – Leader and Team Tactician, George – marksman, Jun – electronics and bomb expert, Jinpei – the wiz kid hacker, and Ryu – the brawler and ship pilot. Actually, that’s all that I can remember about the synopsis of the original anime. The movie shares the same base plot. Other than this, the elements that add color to the story have something to do about their share of dark past, love interests,  family and friendship bonds, and… oh wait, I think that’s all they used XD. Generally, the progression was fast, which is good since there are only few boring moments. I have to admit, I agree with Kotaku’s review that the movie is full of cliches. With this, a lot of parts of the movie may seem predictable to you, depending on how much you watch action movies. However, I like the story angle on how Ken’s leadership was put to the test and on how he came with the realization on what a true leader is. There are also occasional funny moments brought by the antics of Jinpei and Ryu.

Courtesy of cineheroes.net

Acting

I may sound biased, but Japanese actors and actresses are really good in acting. They have this way of expressing their characters in a moving and convincing way, and Gatchaman’s main casts are no different. They really captured the persona of their respective characters. While watching, it won’t take long before you realize what type of role this actor or actress is portraying. The most notable actress would be Eriko Hatsune.
[START OF SPOILER] She actually portrays two roles in the story, each with different personality. Her performance as Berg Katze stands out through her monologues and villainous acts. [END OF SPOILER]

Courtesy of aintitcool.com

Production

Since this is sort of a sci-fi type of story, special effects should play a vital role in the movie. I can say that it’s above average but not any grand as you will see in Hollywood movies. This is more like a sentai movie with a higher budget and more serious production. The costumes are well designed, especially the Gatchaman force. They dropped the bird-like design with something that looks more like an armor with agile-type build. No wonder it costs $ 40,000 each! The action sequences are impressive. The camera shots totally emulate the ones in the anime, including their flying formation. The first action sequence even introduced them one by one with a displayed profile, which you can typically see in most Japanese action series and movies. Nevertheless, it’s fun to watch. One thing to note for though, this first action scene may be the best one for the entire movie. I’m not saying that the rest of the action sequences are crappy. It’s just that, the first one was so spectacular you will expect something more for the latter part of the movies. The weapons used were loyal to its anime roots. Those who are familiar with the series will enjoy the montage of each member’s special skill. I was hoping there will be some sort of Henshin sequence, but I guess it’s not my lucky day. Spare my tokusatsu fanboy side XD. The rendition of the story is somewhat darker than the anime, so it felt like Nolan directed a sentai movie, and I like it.

All in all, fans of the series will enjoy the show while action movie enthusiasts may be satisfied most of the time and impressed at some point. Beyond the cliche, I think Gatchaman is a fun movie to watch and a good treat to all 90’s kids who are looking for a nostalgic treat. Oh, and don’t forget the after credits! (~^_^)~

Anime Movies in SM Cinemas

After SM Cinema’s successful theatrical release of Rurouni Kenshin: The Movie, they continue to acquire more exclusives from current and upcoming Japanese movies. Right now, there are three anime movies that are added to their queue.

Naruto Shippuden: Road To Ninja

Synopsis:
Sakura and Naruto are brought in a mysterious world by a mysterious masked ninja where all the people they know have alternate personalities. Moreover some of the people who are supposed to be dead are revived in this world most notably, Naruto’s parents. With Naruto finally having the chance to fulfill his desire to live with a complete family, he’s now facing the risk of being trapped inside this fake world. Watch a whole new fight featuring the Akatsuki members, Uzumaki Kushina, and 4th Hokage himself Namikaze Minato.

If you’re planning to watch this movie, then you should get moving. Today’s the first day of showing for this film. See the schedule here.

Hunter X Hunter: Phantom Rouge

Synopsis:
The story is supposedly part of the YorkNew City arc which the writer, Yoshihiro Togashi eventually scrapped off. Kurapika had his eyes stolen, and the suspect happens to be the former No. 4 of the Phantom Troupe (Before Hisoka). Gon, Killua, and Leorio come to his aid but the Phantom Troupe blocks their way. The former No. 4 is also speculated to be the one who exterminated the entire Kurta clan. Kurapika is determined to execute his revenge no matter what sacrifices he has to make.

As a fan of the original series, I’m interested on what this whole lost chapter is all about. Schedule of the local theatrical release is still to be announced.

One Piece Film Z

Synopsis:
The marine’s trump card, Dyna Stone (stones that create powerful explosions when exposed to air) was stolen by a marine Ex-Admiral, Zephyr. He formed a new group called the Neo Marines that aims to exterminate every pirate on the Grand Line. The Straw Hat pirates joined the battle when the Neo Marines attacked their ship while crossing their path. Luffy and the rest of the gang are set out to battle their most challenging opponent yet.

I haven’t watched the entire series. Having 594 episodes (and still counting), it will take me a lot of time to keep up unless I file a month of vacation leave and do the marathon all day long XD. I watched a few episodes though and I really enjoyed it. Schedule of release is still to be announced.
If you can read katakana, then you might observed that part of the movie’s soundtrack was performed by Avril Lavigne with her own version of Bad Reputation (Originally popularized by Joan Jett).

For my wishlist, I would like to see Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods and Detective Conan: Private Eye in the Distant Sea. Make it happen SM Cinema (~^_^)~.

Sources: animenewsnetwork, wikia, tvtropes