God’s Memo Pad and the Joys of Licensed Theme Tunes

For these last few months, some people asked me what had happened to Aquagaze’s Anime Weekend. To that surprisingly large part of the anime fandom, I have one message: you are reading it right now. The name Aquagaze’s Anime Weekend has lived its best days. My anime watching and blogging is not limited to the weekend anymore, nor do I want to waste my time making more flashy logos and title cards. I’ve chosen to focus on my writing instead. Besides, I’ve grown tired of the admittedly arrogant practice of sticking my own name into the name of my blog. I’d much rather go with something original. If even Liam Gallagher does have a big enough ego to name his new band Liam Gallagher and the Inspiral Nuns, neither should I. Now do not act as if you don’t know who Liam Gallagher is. He sang the best anime OP of all time.

Of all time!

Eden Of The East is not the only show to have a theme song by a Western artist of some renown. Sadly enough, as some of you might remember being the case with “Falling Down”, these never find their way to the licensed versions of the shows, but it sure is fun hearing some English in an anime that isn’t brutally butchered by some squeaky girl group.

Madhouse’s Paradise Kiss, based off the manga by Nana author Ai Yazawa sets its quirky shoujo chaos to the retro beats and sing-along-proof airs of Franz Ferdinand’s “Do You Want To”.

Not even a world-famous band is safe for the fury of the east, as Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” was used as ED for 2006’s Ergo Proxy. Well, set to the ending animation and faded out at a completely random moment is a more accurate description.

Even live-action movies get this treatment. For the Space Battleship Yamato movie, Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler wrote his first solo song based on an English translated script and some movie clips. The thing that struck me the most though, is that they still make hard rock ballads like this.

Most of these songs do fit the themes or mood of the corresponding anime in some way, but my mind went completely numb when I read that the song licensed as ending theme for the 2006 live-action Death Note was “Dani California” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band whose funky, cock-sock wearing swagger would be the last thing you’d associate with Death Note. The production team pulled this stunt again a few months later, by slapping “Snow” from the same band and the same album onto the movie sequel. I can’t help but think that this was only done because the song in question happened to be the Peppers’ charting single at the moment.

Another well-known example is Speed Grapher, a Gonzo anime about a former war photographer who is given the ability to destroy everything that he photographs by a girl whose bodily fluids give people powers corresponding to their fetishes. I am not making this up. While I can’t help but feel as if this plot summary just screams ‘cult classic’, Speed Grapher is mostly known for using an 80’s classic as theme song, more specifically Duran Duran’s “Girls On Film” of all things.

Choosing “Girls on Film” was a surprisingly logical choice, not only because the anime features a lot of girls being caught on film, but also because the song is rather famous for its fetishistic music video. Another fun fact about the 1981 song is that the band only found out that their record label had sold the full rights to the song when they were contacted by FUNimation, who wished to license the song for their Speed Grapher release, more than 25 years later.

Now, once again, those dirty Japanese have stolen a piece of our wonderful and blatantly superior music for use in their infantile porn cartoons. What exactly J.C. Staff was thinking choosing a 1993 hard rock track as ED for the first episode of their new show Kami-Sama No Memo-Chou (God’s Memo Pad) is beyond me, but I cannot complain. In fact, I even missed it when it turned out that the real ED, form episode two onwards, is a rather generic J-Pop track.

This made me think of some possibilities of my own. Not that I don’t like J-Pop, but replacing the typically forgettable original songs by licensed gems might be an improvement in many cases, don’t you think?

Warning! The following video contains copious amounts of the nineties. Extreme caution is advised.

The ‘doing boys like they’re girls’ line in Blur’s “Girls and Boys” would already immediately nominate it as theme song to every yaoi to have ever been created, but the catchy chorus lyrics pretty much summarizes the entirety of Wandering Son in one big, snazzy synthpop ball of snark. Just replace ‘do’ with ‘love’ or something to keep it all G-rated.

We have girls who are boys, boys who are girls, girls who like boys to be girls, boys who like boys who are girls, boys who like girls who are actually boys and end up dating the boys’ sisters, girls who like girls, boys who like boys and girls who occasionally dress as boys, not because they are boys but because they feel like it and boys who dress as girls because they’re assholes. Of course it fits.

Poor Shinji.  I know that everyone and their mom now want my head on a stick for even remotely implying that I want either “Cruel Angel’s Thesis” or “Fly Me To The Moon” replaced, but I’m not saying that these songs are bad, I’m just saying that ‘Teenage Angst” by Placebo could make a good Neon Genesis Evangelion theme song as well.

One fluid gesture, like stepping back in time.
Trapped in amber, petrified.
I’m still not satisfied.

If there is one thing that the five episodes of Evangelion that I have already seen have taught me, it’s that piloting a mecha is hideously frightening. Who can really blame Shinji for allegedly being a whiny little bitch? How would you react if your father, who hasn’t spoken to you in years, randomly plucks you off the streets and forces you to fight off mysterious alien creatures in an enormous bio-robot… thing?

Shinji is a goddamn badass. Just a badass with some teenage angst. Later on, piloting Unit 01 becomes automation for him, like one fluid gesture. The most frightening moment I have yet seen in the series is Shinji sitting in the pilot seat, drenched in Morning Rescue –trapped in amber, hint, hint—blankly staring into the distance and mumbling ‘Yes’ whenever he is commanded.

Since I was born I started to decay.
Now nothing ever – ever goes my way.

Really now, all this song lacks is a lyric about how it’s all daddy’s fault. Then again, daddy issues are probably too straightforward for Placebo.

This song on my list comes straight off my favourite album of all time, A Weekend In The City by Bloc Party, and fits straight in with my third-favorite show of the season, No. 6. In fact, No. 6 is a pretty great show, but when Mawaru Penguindrum and Bunny Drop are your direct competitors, No. 6 sadly falls just a bit short of being the best.

But enough about how good No. 6 is because really, who gives a damn about that? No, let’s talk about what is really important… YAOI! Irony aside, three episodes in, I still don’t really know whether the writing staff is actually going for a romance –and a decently set up one at that, or just a bromance.

Either way, the song, which you are hopefully listening to at this very moment fits Sion’s state of mind at the start of the second episode perfectly.  “I Still Remember” is all about remembering an intimate relationship with another boy, a person you met once and can’t stop thinking about. Hell, Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke, well known for being an extremely awkward interviewee–and having a name that is impossible to pronounce–said that the song is all about boyhood homosexual experiences. And it’s damn honest.

What better way to wrap up with than with a timeless classic? While I’m not a big Beatles fan myself, or a fan of psychedelic rock in general, I can’t deny that “A Day In The Life”, with its characteristic piano twinkles and the insane psychedelic orchestral build-up culminating into a nightmarish last note straight out of LSD hell is anything but a musical masterpiece.

During my last attempt to force music I like upon anime, someone already proposed to hook up Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with Azumanga Daioh, and it’s hard not to see why. Both are psychedelic, colourful and occasionally downright wacky. As we are looking for a single track to replace that hideous ending song of Azumanga’s, it’s only logical to roll with the one about falling out of bed and combing your hair. Azumanga is still a show about nothing, after all. Nothing, on crack.

How did we get here already? We went from changing Aquagaze’s Anime Weekend over Eden Of The East, cock-socks, nineties music videos and Morning Rescue to yaoi and finally, The Beatles.

Oh well, this is what I will be doing for the coming season. I’m a bit tired of summarizing and reviewing anime episodes week after week, so in stead, I’m just going to blog about whatever I feel like blogging about, inspired by the anime I have been watching. Maybe not weekly, but at least regularly. If there’s anything you’d like me to blog about, or if you have anything to say at all, you know I’m a sucker for comments, so fire away. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to listen to some more music.