Sunday, November 11, 2007

Anime Musings

Contrary to public expectation, the first anime to blow me away was not Choudenji Machine Voltes V . Neither was it the (to my mind) superior Tosho Daimos. Even the awfully campy mecha designs of Mekanda Robo's enemies couldn't cut it for camp-loving me.

What blew me away was Aim for the Top! Gunbuster. While fast-forwarding the usual drek (Dragonball Z) back in the days of pirated nth generation VHS tapes, I came to a section of static and snow, which was suddenly replaced by Gunbuster's final battle. That was when it happened.

I know what you're thinking-- that it was the women protagonists and the depiction of their bouncing pulchritude that got me hooked. Well, you're wrong. What blew me away was the music.

Synth keyboards, crying electric guitars and distortion pedals, wind and percussion instruments coming together in a rousing theme that carried me through the hopelessly lopsided space battle. Heh, hopelessly stacked against the invading aliens.Whoever had produced the series (Gainax) had spared no expense where the music was concerned. This was one of the key observations that turned me into an anime freak in the nineties.

Super Dimension Fortress Macross, with its heavy emphasis on music (it was an essential part of the story) had already debuted in the Philippines sometime in the late eighties. But a year's worth of winsome singer Lynn-Minmei could not move me as much as that couple of minutes of Gunbuster kicking butt. Still, the Gunbuster experience made me appreciate the complexity and hard work that went into the music in these animated productions.

It bespoke of a love for the craft of making a robot show (heck, any show) that you just had to respect. Looking back, even the horribly campy old super robot shows with their overly simple story lines had kickass music for their day.

What galled were that I didn't know that Gunbuster was Gunbuster, and worse, neither did the person who rented the Dragonball Z video to my brother. I wanted more and I languished because of my sorely limited grasp of Japanese at the time. The internet was still a year or so from making itself well-known and my source could not identify the show.

When I decide to make an animated short, I'll do my best not to neglect the music. Considering how badly my note-reading and instrument playing skills have deteriorated since my old band went to med school, that's going to be a tall order.

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