Sunday, July 19, 2015

Music and Lyrics, and Beyond

6:56 AM

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The key with being known for something is to focus on that one thing and do it well. For my main fandom Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, it was the comedy. For almost all the sports anime I’ve ever seen, it was all the hot athletes.

And for my other main fandom, the Exit Tunes Presents ACTORS franchise, it was the novelty of having famous voice actors singing Vocaloid songs.

Being in the ACTORS fandom was the most accidental thing I have ever done, honestly. My character bias from the aforementioned Nozaki-kun lies squarely on responsible, quick-tempered drama club president Masayuki Hori, who had a character song, PRINCE HUNTER. Constant repetition of that song led to me eventually contracting a massive voice-crush on his voice actor – Yuuki Ono, better known as the voice behind Kuroko no Basuke’s deuteragonist, Taiga Kagami.

Searching for more of his songs led me to a Tumblr ask made by someone who’d eventually become my friend, who also talked about Ono doing a cover of Yoshiwara Lament. It’s basically the story of a tragic prostitute from the Edo era. Yup. Kinda NSFW. (Here’s a Youtube link, for anyone interested.)

As weird as that sounds, that’s where it all started.

Turns out the song was part of a bigger franchise, the aforementioned ACTORS series, where songs originally sung by Vocaloids (like the ever-popular Miku Hatsune) are covered by voice actors. Aside from the aforementioned Yuuki Ono, who lends his voice to the disarmingly complex Mike, there is Kensho Ono, better known as the titular character of Kuroko no Basuke, who voices Ryuunosuke. Swim club ace Hozumi’s voice comes from Kyoukai no Kanata’s KENN. Gundam SEED’s Soichiro Hoshi gives life to constant poster POV guy Hinata. And Subaru Kimura, part of the ever-resilient Doraemon franchise, is the voice for the resident accidental heartthrob Chiguma.

It’s the popularity of these guys, as well as that of all their other colleagues (there are 22 of them in total), as well as their pretty damned good voices, that keep the franchise going. (One of my favorite examples: the intro of this video, Mike’s Disappearance of Miku Hatsune. Yup. That’s his actual voice.)

But there’s one more aspect of this franchise that doesn’t really get much notice – which is to be expected, since it’s in Japanese in the first place, being in the format of audio drama tracks, put into the compilation albums in order to break the monotony.

Though, of course, one would first need rudimentary Japanese comprehension to appreciate it (audio tracks don’t have subtitles, to my eternal dismay), this combination does a pretty good job of mixing things up – I, for one, never find my daily commute boring, not when I’ve got these tracks to spend my time with.

Listening to the dramas, one would find out that there’s a story woven underneath all the cute guys and passionate singing – nonsensical at times, fluff pieces at best, but still, there. Apparently, all this singing started from a desire of these students from faraway Tenshou Academy to be able to communicate with the wide world around them, and eventually it escalated into some kind of Hogwarts-level points-escalation showdown between all the school’s clubs participating.

This doesn’t mean that they’re all at odds with each other, though – in fact, the Beautification Club’s Rei idolizes the Singing Club’s Mitsuki, Broadcasting Club’s Seijun is friends with the Japanese Research Club’s Kaoru, and the Archeology Club’s Mike’s bond with the Singing Club’s Hinata is such that he refers to the other as his ‘soulmate’ in conversation. (Yes, I did not just make that up for shipping fodder. This bromance is canon.)

It is this overarching theme of friendly competition and easy camaraderie that makes the always-adorable, sometimes-outrageous nonsensicality of the ACTORS series much, much easier to swallow.

More than a way to pass the commute or a repository of cute boys, it’s a ray of cheerful light in this serious world, and, well, let’s just say that the boys of Tenshou Academy never give me a dull moment.

Article by Trish
Cover art by Ginny
Fan art by Hannah
Trish is an accountancy grad with a fic-writing habit. She's older than she seems to be at first glance (don't let the height fool you), tends to go rambling off at the worst of times, and can't really see the appeal of consistent sleep patterns. Save for a one-time stint at her high school paper, The Thing is her first foray into non-fanfic-related publication. She has a twitter account, @postscriptress, where she spoils her own writing and keeps reminiscing about the time when she was trilingual.

Ginny is a self-proclaimed aesthete majoring in Advertising Arts. Aside from art, she enjoys baking, playing video games, watching animations, and getting distracted by cats. While still uncertain as to what she exactly she wants to become, she has an unwavering ambition to pursue a career in the art world.

Hannah is the type of person who has a liking to almost everything she discovers. Considers coffee and sweets as the best things in the world. She can be seen by her laptop, doing whatever comes to mind. Tends to space out but makes an effort to pay attention most of the time.


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