Sunday, December 6, 2015

Jam Project - The Gate of The Hell

It is interesting that there is an entire genre of music in Japan dedicated to the production of soundtracks for animated features, but perhaps even more fascinating is the sub genre of super robots. Yes, there is an entire genre of music in Japan written about giant super robots and there are musicians whose careers are partially dedicated to writing songs about the deep mythology of Japanese robots.

Jam Projects is an interesting combination of creative inspirations, you see Jam Project is a super group of rock stars who had worked frequently on music about super giant robots among other related televised shows. So they are sort of like the Trans Siberian Orchestra only Japanese and with a healthy focus on robots instead of Christmas. The message I am attempting to convey is that Jam Project is awesome.

Introducing Jam Project.
Why so does Japan love giant super robots so much? As if they needed a reason.

The easiest way to understand the appreciation and love of giant super robots in Japan for westerns like me is to compare them to super heroes. In Japan their super heroes did not wear costumes and capes they commanded giant super robots, and instead of super powers they had giant super robots, and there is a wide range of television series, movies, manga/comic books, and cross over events worthy of comparison to the complicated mythos of Marvel or DC. Now imagine how awesome it would be if we had musicians who dedicated their careers to singing about the Justice League or the Avengers? That would be amazing, but in Japan they have already done that for themselves, there already have plenty of songs created about Tetsujin 28, the Geter Robo and Mazinger Z.

Mazinger Z in particular is very famous and popular, internationally so, just not in English speaking countries because a dub was never made in the seventies for us to enjoy, and after missing the party it proved too difficult time and again for the marketing of Mazinger Z to breach the US and British commonwealth markets. Too bad though because from what I understand Mazinger is an insane manga and anime with several retellings that promise to be equally insane and amazing.

Mazinger Z was created by Go Nagi, who for all intents and purposes is a maniac. Osamu Tezuka (the creator of Astro Boy) is often referred to as the god father of anime and manga, if that’s true then Go Nagi is the perverted uncle no one talks about. When Go Nagi was not telling stories about an ultra-violent demonic super hero (Devil Man) or a super sexy android fighting super sexy space amazons (Cutie Honey), he was telling stories about the first ever giant robot that was being piloted by a man, and that robot was Mazinger Z. The series lasted a very long time but ended with Mazinger Z being destroyed in a final battle against Doctor Hell, because fuck subtly. But due to popular demand Go Nagi was forced to create a sequel with a new pilot and new Mazinger robot, called Great Mazinger. Great Mazinger also lasted a long time but he survived his final battle against Archduke Gorgon, who was a green skinned Greek warrior whose lower torso was a tiger, yes you read that right. This led to a third series where the original pilot, Koji Kabuto, returned to pilot the new UFO Robot Grendizer. What an adventure.

There have been many different version of Mazinger.

Alas the seventies were a long time ago and newer generations didn’t really know much about Mazinger Z so it was time for a rebranding, a newer more powerful version of the original super robot was what was needed and thus Mazinkaiser was born. Naturally Jam Project was hired to write the soundtrack.

The main theme for the short anime series Mazinkaiser would be called “The Gate of the Hell,” somehow the terrible English makes it even more fantastic. Speaking of broken English the opening is in English:

“Shall find the end of this world,
There was a gate to the dark side,
And in there guardian is here,
He will come, here as Kaizer.”

Good try boys. I think we all know what you mean.

Most Jam Project songs have a strong theatrical touch, which is to be expected since most of their songs are written for or about television shows and movies, but what I mean is there is a very full sound in all their songs, a very over the top and classical pose. “The Gate of the Hell” is a little different; it is definitely a metal song, as it should be, as it is about the powerful version of the most famous super robot in history.

As I understand most animated incarnation of the Mazinger are toned down, as in they are less violent and crazy then Go Nagi’s original manga incarnation. This was a reoccurring problem Nagi ran into, everything he made was super over the top violent and sexual but his ideas strongly appealed to kids. So basically a super powerful, grim looking, badass metal super robot that has to fight and violently kill robotic monsters controlled by the evil Dr. Hell, does warrant a metal song, and Jam Project provides.

Jam Project founding member Yoshiki Fukuyama is one of the lead vocals on this track and you may remember him from my last review as he was the talented man who sang “Angel Voice” from the Macross 7 soundtrack. So that is a nice tie in.

“The Gate of the Hell” would be a great metal song without the Mazinger connection, but of course that is the icing on this otherwise already delicious cake. There is both intensity and a level of appropriate aggressive anger in “The Gate of the Hell” that suggests an endless and epic combat, the perfect theme for both a metal song and a giant super robot. Sometimes everything works together to make a perfect song for the intended purpose.

- King of Braves

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