Modernization of Gundam…..I talked a bit about the idea yesterday in the comment section for ghostlightnings article on Gundam 00’s final battle and how I thought the show might be an attempt to update Gundam for the 21st century paradigm we live in now. Gundam Tribute I think has much the same idea in mind, only now it is about the Gundam sound rather than the core concept itself.
First off I bet some are asking “what is Gundam Tribute exactly”? Well simply put it’s a collaboration between Sunrise/Bandai and Lantis and some of todays most popular music artists and idols in Japan to cover some of the classic Gundam songs and make an album out of it. This is of course part of the 30th anniversary celebration for the franchise, but as I mentioned to the ghost yesterday I think it’s also a further example of Bandai’s current strategy of branching out and trying to bring new fans into the fold. How exactly does this work with the music? Well when you have the likes of Jam Project, CooRie and Little Non the latter two of whom are popular in the moe and eroge branches lending their status to Gundam songs (and vice versa) it may just help to bring the fans of their music into a greater awareness of Gundam and may even legitimize it for them as well. Idol status goes a long way in Japan and while Gundam is an established tradition it’s not popular with all. Gundam Wing branched out to female viewers and Gundam Seed branched out to a younger generation, but I think Bandai is always looking for new opportunities, and that’s an interesting thing. I guess we’ll see what’s what, but for now I’m kind of eager to do some cross comparisons of the song covers on this album with their originals and to go over what they did with the pieces and what I as long time Gundam fan liked and disliked about these updates.
This article is going to be a little youtube video heavy so just bear in mind when you load the rest that it might take a little bit longer than normal.
Ai Senshi By Jam Project (Original By Daisuke Inoue)
Alright so the way the way I plan for this to work is pretty simple. The originals on top and the covers on the bottom. This is an overall great start to the album with one of the more famous and popular classic Gundam songs in Soldiers of Sorrows insert Ai Senshi, which has already seen many covers from Gackt to American artist Andrew “Party Hard” W.K. The original was actually sung by Daisuke Inoue (not the same one that invented Karaoke) and plays out like an upbeat cheer with lyrics that are actually kind of depressing whereas the new version fits in nicely with JAM Project perfomance style of music. Very high energy to go with the upbeat nature of the song as well and it’s also neat to hear each of the voices of the JAM Project have their crack at the song. Moving on.
Toki Wo Koete By Faylan (Original by Mami Ayukawa)
Zeta Gundam’s first openings cover gives me mixed feelings on this one. It’s hard to imagine a more technoish sound coming out the modern version than the one from the 80’s and I kind of miss the awesome guitar solo in the beginning of the original version. Faylan’s version sounds just a bit to artificial to me. Damn Autotune……
Toki Wo Koete By Miyuki Hashimoto (Original by Hiroko Moriguchi)
Zeta Gundam’s second opening cover is different in better way than the first one I have to say. This is the opposite of what Faylan’s was like and now we have the cover sounding less like a synthizer driven song than the original. We’re also able to better here Hashimoto’s voice since she isn’t filtered like Faylan’s and she even seems to be borrowing a bit from Hiroko Moriguchi’s style. It’s different yet familiar, a good combination for this Gundam fan.
Silent Voice By Yozuca* (Original by Jun Hiroe)
Also known as the only ZZ Gundam song that I felt was memorable, this is the second opening for that series as covered by Yozuca. The original marked the shift in tone from goofy to serious with it’s slower beat and the sense of urgency it brought….especially compared to the absurd Anime Ja Nai. This cover manages to capture a lot of what I felt made Silent Voice so memorable with it’s chorus, but it’s neat to hear a softer singing style from Yozuca as well during the verses. As if she chose to take the lyric “silent voice” to heart during that part. Still not the most memorable of the covers though.
Issenman-Nen Ginga By Aira Yuhki (Original by Jun Hiroe)
This cover manages to take the more gospel/rock ballad like version by Jun Hiroe and give it a more whimsical sound. In this case I think I actually might prefer the cover version to the original just for how different it sounds compared to most Gundam music I’ve heard. Always interesting to hear new styles for old standby’s and especially so when they are enjoyable as this.
Eternal Wind By Aki Misato (Original by Hiroko Moriguchi)
It’s kind of hard to top Gundam F91’s ending theme with a cover, but this one gives it a go. There’s something missing in the atmosphere for much of the beginning song though I have to say and I’m not sure I like Misato’s singing voice as much as Moriguchi’s for this song. While the instrumental gives us some surprises later on by giving us a different sound (not exactly what I would have hoped for mind you) it’s still missing that tempo change and added intensity at around the halfway point that the original really sold itself for me on and Misato’s voice never quite gains the intensity I would have hoped for. Again though as I said it’s hard to top the original in this case.
Stand Up To The Victory By Rey (Original by Tomohisa Kawasoe)
I recall hearing that when Victory Gundam first came out that Japanese didn’t know what to make of the rock driven opening that the early 90’s brought to the franchise. I wonder what they’d think about this version now if they could have seen into the future. It’s definitely got the same high energy and it’s still rock, but it’s just a little different and Rey has done a nice job of making it their own. Can’t complain.
Just Communication By Minami Kuribayashi (Original by Two-Mixx)
I think everybody has heard this one at least once. For me it has a long history because it was the first anime opening that I actually got to see on broadcast television in it’s original form. You see back when I was just starting out on this whole anime fandom thing the only easy way to watch any was on YTV here in Canada and the dubbing companies used to love to cut up and replace the original theme songs with their own which usually turned out to be utter drivel. Bandai however made history here when they chose to send Gundam Wing to YTV with only the dub track being inserted for English speaking viewers and YTV ran it as it was. Needless to say turning on this show Gundam Wing to see what the deal was and seeing this Japanese theme song left a huge impression on me and no it’s being covered. Love telling that story by the way. Anyway Just Communication is known for it’s eurobeat/dance flavour, but the cover seems to be going for something more like an akihabara para para club beat flavour. Can’t say I’m down with it as much, but I bet otaku are having a field day with this one somewhere.
Fly In The Sky By Little Non (Original by Ushima Hitofumi)
I was always more partial to the second G Gundam opening “Trust You Forever” (I mean it had Master Asia and Schwarz Bruder grappling and sounded like a Gaogaigar song to boot) and never quite felt all that big on Fly In The Sky, but this has to be the most radically different sounding cover on the entire album in a bad way. Fly In The Sky’s original sound gave more of that feel of a martial artist challenging himself to reach the heights of his discipline, but Little Non’s version sounds all “lolied up” and more like something that would go with a magical girl anime about trying your best, making friends and all of that other sugary sweet stuff. Granted G Gundam was about that stuff to, but in so much more of a manly way (Men communicate with their fists after all). I’ll say no more…..moving on.
Dreams By Masami Okui (Original by ROmantic Mode)
Over half of the selling point of the original version of Gundam X’s first opening for me has always been that rocking 40 second lead so it’s a good that that Okui’s version has that too, albeit with a much different style that includes actual vocals. I’m not sure what else to say then other than I think this is a pretty neat cover, especially with the use of back up vocals that sneak in and out of the song, but certainly give it some extra points in terms of style. Also looks for the tempo change around halfway through and the inclusion of some piano. The original was a lot more static in terms of sound so again neat stuff for this cover.
Resolution By Masaaki Endoh (Original by ROmantic Mode)
I like to call the original the final countdown of Gundam songs, but here’s what I think is neat about the cover version……first of all it’s not the same singer for this Gundam X opening follow up as it was for the original which adds some variety to this part of the album (I’m actually surprised they chose two Gundam X openings and left out Turn A Turn) and second it’s by the guy who sang the Gaogaigar theme. That means about 1000% more guts and passion for this version of the song and that is most welcome. Love this cover.
Kaze Ni Hitori De By Kageyama Hironobu (Original by Daisuke Inoue)
We go back to the original movie trilogy for the final section of this album with Gundam’s own folk song. Here’s the problem though…..I think this one sucks. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Kageyama Hironobu and the contributions he made to JAM with his Project there, but this man is simply meant to be a loud and energetic performer who is there to rock your socks in concert and his voice simply does not lend itself to the folk nature of this song. His voice sounds strained as if he just wants to belt out the lyrics as per his norm, but he knows it’s not going to happen and I know this song just isn’t happening. Shame…..
Beginning By rino from CooRie (Original by Daisuke Inoue)
The song from the psychedelic acid trip scene from the third movie (spoilers shall not be included) is covered here by rino and it’s nice to here something different from Inoue who pretty much does every song from the original movie. Rather than be all eerie and unsettling with it’s musical accompaniment this cover appears to seek to be more lamenting with it’s usage of piano and rino’s soft vocals. I think it works personally and as head to the finale of the album (as this song was used for the penultimate moment of the original TV series) I think this cover fits in quite nicely as part of the tribute album.
Encounters By Granrodeo (Original by….you guessed it, Daisuke Inoue)
And so we arrive at last at Encounters which was the send of song for the original Mobile Suit Gundam movie trilogy and thus would be an appropriate sendoff for this tribute album under any circumstances, however…..holy shit is this amazing. Now the original was like a cheesy love ballad that fit perfectly with the ending of the series, but Granrodeo (you may have heard them doing the opening for Needless which aired a couple seasons ago with the song “Modern Strange Cowboy”) has turned this into a full blown rock ballad and the most radically different sounding song on this album in good way. In fact I have to say this is probably my favourite cover song on the entire album. What a way to end things off with such a bang.
Well….that about does her again. As always I recommend most of the albums I do runovers of otherwise why would I be bothering to listen to them in the first place, but I’d especially recommend this one for the Gundam fan. If you can get a hold of it then I say snatch it up, otherwise there’s always youtube. Hope you all had fun and here’s one more Gundam relevant bonus video (as if this thread didn’t have enough) to lead us off that I just say today and thought was pretty neat.
Defend My Love by Namie Amuro
It’s Namie Amuro singing a song with Amuro Ray in the music video and the song is pretty damn catchy too as far as I’m concerned