Lucy, Natsu and the rest of Fairy Tail’s guild of misfits return to DVD this September with the fourth part of their adventure, charting their escapades between episodes 37-48. And joining them through this part of their quest is the brand new opening theme ‘R.P.G.: - Rockin’ Playing Game’, from the visual kei band SuG.
These rockin’ game players present another example of English being bent beyond recognition by imaginative Japanese minds (you can see other attempts by clicking here). Believe it or not, SuG named themselves after the English word ‘thug’ (say it with a thick Japanese accent…) but thug for life they ain’t – just look at them! The only thing they’re ‘representin’ is most likely some kind of hair spray or the hippest new colourful brand from Harajuku. This bunch of musical, cutesy rascals would much rather be bustin’ bubble gum beats than poppin’ caps in asses.
So why use the word ‘thug’ at all? It stems from the Japanese word ‘akuyuu’, which literally means ‘shady friends / company’, but can be used informally to refer one’s partner/s in crime. It’s this latter, more playful meaning which vocalist Takeru and his bunch of misbehaving vagabonds wanted to capture with SuG.
Any doubts to these chaps’ cheekiness can be rectified by their lyrical content and cheery melodies. One of their newer singles to be released in the UK, ‘Toy Soldiers’, comes slapped with an explicit contents sticker, which is highly unheard of from a Japanese artist. Even creepy metallers DIR EN GREY, whose songs contain the most morbid and controversial of subject matters, rarely make the realm of the warning sticker (their music videos are different story entirely). Instead, SuG’s fluffy little rockers take their self-branded ‘heavy positive rock’ to mischievous levels. The aforementioned single, despite encouraging the listener to be happy with who they are, was also promoted as a ‘hard and naughty military march’ – my Japanese can’t quite fathom exactly how hard or how naughty their march is, but it certainly had the censorship bods wagging their collective finger and shielding the ears of the innocent.
‘R.P.G.’, SuG’s track from Fairy Tail, can be found on their fifth album, Thrill Ride Pirates. The album received a limited release across Europe via CLJ Records, though its singles, and those after it, remain available on iTunes despites the albums falling out of license. ‘R.P.G,’ is also just as encouraging and upbeat as ‘Toy Soldiers’, containing an energetic mix of sped-up punk spirit mixed with unique Japanese pop-rock, and features alongside bouncy tracks such as ‘Crazy Bunny Coaster’, ‘funky idiot’ and ‘Fast Food Hunters’ – a song for our times, indeed.
If only all thugs were like SuG… the world would be a happier, more colourful, and somewhat naughtier place to live in… until then, there’s always Harajuku.
SuG’s single ‘R.P.G.’ is also available digitally from iTunes. Fairy Tail Part 4 is out on UK DVD from 17 September from Manga Entertainment.
Across the Fiore kingdom, wizards join guilds and make their pay by filling magical needs - but one guild has a reputation as the roughest, rowdiest, most dangerous of all: Fairy Tail! In the midst of a mission to break the curse over Galuna Island, Natsu and the gang face a band of deranged mages trying to resurrect the monstrous demon Deliora. Gray's determined to put the freeze on the sinister plan in a frigid battle with a rival from his past - even if it takes his own life! Back in Magnolia, the city becomes a warzone after sorcerers known as Element 4 destroy Fairy Tail headquarters and kidnap their beloved rookie, Lucy. A bone-crunching, skin-charring fight between fire and iron erupts when Natsu squares off against another Dragon Slayer wizard!
Andrew Osmond has the technology… to watch Mardock Scramble
In Mardock Scramble: The First Compression, the young heroine is burned to a crisp, then remade Frankenstein-style. Fifteen year-old Balot is blown up in a car by her sugar-daddy Shell, a serial-killer. Then a seedy scientist rescues Balot’s charred body, plops it into an underground vat and refashions her as a super-avenger.
In the West, we’re still inclined to think of anime as coming out of manga, as naturally as eggs from chickens – one line into a Mardock Scramble piece and we’re already talking about eggs again). In Mardock’s case, both the manga and anime are alternative versions of a novel by Tow Ubukata, published as a trilogy in Japan and collected into one volume by the publisher Haikasoru. It’s comparable to what happened with Battle Royale, a novel which spawned a live-action film and an even more lurid manga.
Arthur Rankin Jr, who died last Thursday, was not often thought of in connection with Japanese animation, though he played a major part in its history. In America, he’s best known as the co-founder of Rankin/Bass Productions. A stateside brand, the Rankin/Bass name is linked with handmade family cartoons as fondly as Oliver Postgate or Aardman are in Britain. But while the studio’s cartoons – especially the stop-motion Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) – are evergreens, few people know their animation was Japanese.
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If we look back at the 25 episodes of the TV series, Blue Exorcist: The Movie seemed more cohesive in comparison – there were certainly less of those ‘for the hell of it’ moments (no pun intended) and more well-connected, relevant events.
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Tom Smith on the newest numero-enchanted musicians
It may sound odd to English ears, but 7!!’s choice of pronunciation makes sense (well, a tiny bit of sense) when put into the context of where the band grew up; Okinawa. It’s an area that’s closer to Taiwan than mainland Japan, and one that’s had a heavy US military presence since the Second World War. These factors, among plenty of others, have had an affect on the cultural evolution of the islands, and one of the most evident examples can be found in local popular music scene.