I love damn near everything to do with Japan. I have studied its language, culture, and cuisine, but the one thing that I keep coming back to is their pop culture. In my opinion, there is no other country on the planet that can compare to the campy awesomeness that Japan kicks out every week. The same country that is responsible for Malice Mizer and other ‘themed’ J-Pop groups is also the land of the soundtrack, and the main reason I am writing this article.
Just rifling through my iPod you’ll find about 20% of the total space being filled by either J-Pop, J-Rock, or various soundtracks from Japan. Some of my favorites are the OSTs from some of anime’s most venerable titles, such as Cowboy Bebop, Full-Metal Alchemist, FLCL, Macross, Gundam, The Slayers, Ranma 1/2, Tenchi Muyo!, and Bubblegum Crisis.
For the longest time, I couldn’t understand the lyrics but enjoyed listening to the music nonetheless. There’s always been something about Japanese vocals that has held a place in my heart and mind, yet it wasn’t until I started going to college that my love for the country grew exponentially. In fact, the ONLY class in college that I ever managed to get an A in without much effort was my Japanese class that I looked forward to each day.
Today, I want to talk to you about one soundtrack in particular that has had me enamored for the past week and just won’t let me go. That soundtrack is for Katamari Damacy, a game that I will always hold in the highest esteem. The CD itself is known as Katamari Fortissimo Damacy and features a metric shit-ton of musical styles and accomplished artists from the J-Pop/Rock scene.
The second track on the album and the opening title of the game, ‘Katamari on the Rock: Main Theme’, is a song that I have needed to wake up with everyday since I got this CD. It features Masayuki Tanaka, who to us weeaboo crowd is one of the greatest vocalists in anime openings (well, that is if you loved Fist of the North Star).
The CD moves onto an overture featuring the Katamari Damacy theme, then onto an amazing piece of Japanese hip-hop, and THEN onto a fugue played on a synthesizer that at first seems terribly hokey but is actually really well done and fun to listen to. I can guarantee that you’ll hear more than one track on this album that will resonate in your head after you finish.
By far, one of my favorite tracks on the whole album is ‘Que Sera Sera’ performed by Charlie Kosei who is a very accomplished jazz musician in Japan who composed most of the soundtrack to the infamous Lupin III. Finishing in a very close second is ‘Lonely Rolling Star’ performed by Saki Kabata (who is a virtual unknown to people here in the US) who has a very beautiful voice that makes this song a perfect lullaby for my little girl to listen to.
Trying to find this CD, like all Japanese music, is a chore. Luckily, if you’re not the kind of person to want to spend the extra money to have it imported, there are other less reputable places to find it (and seeing how it wasn’t licensed for the US, there is no legal ramification). However, for those of you like me who are collectors, I suggest buying it. Trust me it’s worth it…