Theme Songs Of Tokusatsu And Anime Shows

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‘Thunderbirds Complete Visual Guidebook’ published in 1980 that I have

When looking back at the theme songs of tokusatsu and anime TV shows I enjoyed as a kid, I realize extra consideration seems to have been given to making the songs easier for children to sing with child-friendly melodies and lyrics including the choice of words.

When looking at today’s tokusatsu and anime shows, however, it comes as a surprise for me to find their songs completely unrelated to the contents of the shows even with no hero’s name sung in the songs.

 

The melodies sound sort of ostentatious for me featuring loud rock music while I’m not saying rock music is bad (as I love it) but that makes me wonder if they are liked by children.

While this seems to be a means to try to sell the theme songs even apart from the shows, I feel like I miss the old style of theme songs I was familiar with as a child.

When I was a kid, theme songs were an inseparable and integral part of the shows in which they were sung at the beginning of each episode and, depending on the show, at the end as well.

 

Funnily enough, the SFX and animation shows imported from abroad back then had their Japanese theme songs somehow.

It was not until my adulthood that I learnt, for example, the UK SFX TV series Thunderbirds doesn’t originally have its theme song while its Japanese theme song was sung at the beginning of each episode and it is widely known as the Thunderbirds theme song among Japanese even now.

The Japanese people involved in producing the Japanese version of the show dared to mix the Japanese vocals with Barry Gray’s original instrumental music of the Thunderbirds theme.

I love the audaciousness the people exhibited at that time.


10 thoughts on “Theme Songs Of Tokusatsu And Anime Shows”

  1. I remember the first cartoon theme songs I heard that did not have the title of the series or the name of the main character in the lyrics were Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999. This made the songs seem very mature and serious to us when we were kids. However, unlike the songs of today, the theme songs from Harlock and 999 were actually about the series (even though the title of the series or name of the main character was not in the lyrics). I also think they paid greater attention to those lyrics, as my friends and I thought they were like poetry. I remember we discussed who is the “small blue bird” (“aoi kotori”) in the 999 theme song, and what is the deeper meaning of “inochi wo sutete, ore wa ikiru” in the Harlock theme song. Even today, these are still great theme songs!

    1. Yes, I think the pioneering song in which the title and the name of the main character were not sung was the ending theme of Space Battleship Yamato that is ‘Bright Red Scarf’ (Makka-na Scarf). The theme songs of Harlock and 999 should have been in the same line.

      1. Ha ha, I remember being scared by the ending of Yamato because of that song! The other one I was afraid of as a kid was the ending song of Sen-nen Jou Ou (“Queen of Queens”?) — I ran from the room or changed the channel when it came on!

        1. lol I love the Yamato song! 🙂 Sen-nen Jo Ou means a-thousand-year queen literally.

          As to the 999 song, I think it’s OK to interpret the aoi kotori is from Maeterlinck’s Blue Bird presumably representing hope (but it could represent someone in this context as you said).

          Come to think of it, the Harlock lyrics may sound contradictory as it literally means ‘I will live throwing off my life’ while I think it truly means to live at the risk of my life for my own honor or glory to defend my pride.
          I feel like Japanese people tend to be intoxicated with the words rather than logic like the world of naniwabushi.

          Sorry if this is irrelevant as you may be talking about something deeper than this!

  2. The Japanese opening of Thunderbirds is great! The original composition is already amazing but the addition of the vocal track makes it even more rousing and exciting. In Italy they would flat out make completely new songs for imported Japanese shows. The only exceptions I can think of are Ultraman, which used the American opening, and Kotetsu Jeeg, which kept the original song but added new Italian lyrics. I suggest you check it out!

    1. I enjoy hearing these different Italian theme songs for the Japanese TV shows! Prassio, what would you say are the most popular Japanese cartoons and superheroes in Italy? It seems to me that some popular ones were Megaloman, Gattiger, and Trider G7.

      1. I know some people who watched Megaloman (seeing videos of it shared on my feed in fits of nostalgia) but to be honest that’s the only one tokusatsu show I’ve heard of personally. What people here preferred were the cartoons, and the ones that really left a mark in popular culture were Mazinger, Jeeg and Grendizer. One of the only superhero movies made in Italy references Jeeg throughout the entire story and even in the title (“Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot”, it’s a good movie). Devilman was popular but I suspect it didn’t catch on as much as the robot shows. For example, my mom doesn’t know Devilman but knows Jeeg and Mazinger and has heard of Megaloman. I actually never heard of Gattiger and Trider G7 before! It’s probably because these shows were broadcasted by regional stations.

        1. I have just found and enjoyed the Italian version of the Jeeg theme song!
          While the original song was sung by Ichiro Mizuki who also sang the theme songs of Mazinger, Great Mazinger and Grendizer, the Italian vocal also has a Mizuki feel! I think it sounds great! Thanks for your suggestion!

        2. Ah, they just showed this movie (with the English title “They Call Me Jeeg Robot”) at one of our theaters! I missed it, but I hope to see it one day.

        3. I also came across the trailer of ‘Jeeg Robot’ while checking out the Italian version of the Jeeg theme song! The movie looks like fun!!!

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