by Rachael Carothers,
To some people, Gackt is a musical genius; to others he is little more than an egotistical maniac. No matter what your opinion is, it is difficult to argue that he is one of the most popular musicians in Japan. Gackt was introduced to the world in the late 90s as the vocalist for the visual kei band, Malice Mizer. In 1999, he decided to go solo and his popularity skyrocketed.
Gackt has professed his love for the Mobile Suit Gundam series in the past. On December 17, 2007, he released 0079-0088, a collection of Gundam theme songs. The songs range from covers of songs from the Gundam 0079 Movie Trilogy to rereleases of his original songs from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation. Rounding out the album is the theme song from the “Gundam: The Ride” amusement park attraction.
We are introduced to Gackt's vision of the Gundam world with his version of the classic song “Ai Senshi.” Daisuke Inoue was the original performer of the song and, unfortunately, his version has not aged well. It sounds very much like a television theme song from the 1980s, which is close to the truth considering it was the theme for the second of the Gundam 0079 movies.
Luckily, Gackt is able to rock out with the song. Instead of giving us a limp rehash, he replaces the soft piano with an electric guitar, adds some heavy drum beats and finishes the sound off with his strong vocals. The result is a song that not only shows the hope that lies within the Gundam series, it is also relates the feeling of mobile suits fighting in space better than the original.
“Metamorphoze,” the opening theme song for Mobile Suit Gundam: A New Translation, starts off hard before slowing us down just a little. As the verses and choruses continually switch the pace of the song, it's easy to understand the mixed feelings a Gundam pilot may feel. That person will want to defend their world to their death, yet they still want to be able to be with their loved ones, which is what Gackt sings about in his lyrics. It is the mixing of those lyrics coming together with the harsh guitar that makes this song so perfect for the Gundam world.
Originally released on the Crescent album, “Kimi ga Matteiru Kara” translated to “Because You Are Expecting Me” when Gackt created English language subtitles for his songs on last year's United States release of his The Greatest Filmography 1999-2006 ~BLUE~ DVD. This time around, Gackt adds a full orchestra to his usual sound, which gives us very powerful results. Once again, the lyrics tell the story of a man who is longing to return to his loved one and his hope that she is waiting for him. As with “Metamorphoze,” this is a theme that fits well with Gundam.
Another song from both the Zeta movies and the Crescent album, “mind forest” is a tale of loss. The loved one has crossed over into death and the singer is now left with nothing but beautiful memories. We can feel a bit of the desperation in his loss when the chorus kicks in with the heavy guitar line taking the lead. The woodwinds that pepper the song give us a bit more of a spiritual feeling, which gives the entire song an ephemeral yet sad tone.
As the one song I was not previously familiar with, “Suna no Juujika ~Interlude~,” the ending theme for the first Gundam 0079 movie, cannot be compared to the original. However, I can say that this version is absolutely beautiful. This simple duet between two guitars makes it difficult to imagine that the song could get any better. I do have to admit that this makes me curious to hear the original version.
“Dybbuk,” the second ending theme for the third part of the Zeta movies, is a strange song to find on a Gundam album. In Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is a spirit that has attached itself to a living human and, therefore, controls that person. Meanwhile, this very harsh sounding song is about someone so lonely that they wish to die. Maybe, if you tilt your head and squint your eyes, you could make the connection saying that the singer's loved one has died, or passed onto the spiritual world if you will, leaving him so lonely that he wishes to join her. It's a bit of a stretch though. Either way, this is one of my favorite Gackt songs. Not for the lyrics but just for the overall sound of the words going back and forth between different singers, making it sound like they are fighting.
Next up is “Dears.” This song, originally from the Mars album, is not only the theme song for the Gundam: The Ride amusement park attraction that closed in January 2007. It is also the name of Gackt's official fanclub. While this is a sweet song about a couple fighting to stay together, that theme is the same thing that makes it an odd choice for an amusement ride theme song. Try to imagine standing in line, waiting to get on an exciting ride based in the Gundam universe, and all you can hear is Gackt singing. Considering the beginning of the song is low-key, it doesn't feel like something that would get you pumped for a blood-pumping ride until a full minute into the tune. If the song is on perpetual repeat, like ride theme songs tend to be in the US, that beginning part would ruin any buzz you'd get off the faster parts.
One of the few ballads on the album, “Love Letter” was the first ending theme to the third part of the Zeta movies. Originally released on Valentine's Day on an album bearing the same name, this is an absolutely gorgeous love song backed by a full orchestra. Gackt tends to dedicate this song to his fans when he sings it in concert and for good reason. The song is about always being with and supporting the people you love with all of your heart. While this isn't the hard-rocking fighting songs that I would associate with Gundam, “Love Letter” is definitely a great song for the franchise as it embodies the spirit of love and hope that is the undertone of Gundam.
Finally, the album ends with Gackt's version of Daisuke Inoue's “Meguriai.” Once again, the original hasn't aged very well. Even the “Yes, my sweet. Yes, my sweetness” part, which should be the highlight of the song, sounds like something that would be played at a junior high school dance. Meanwhile, when Gackt's vocals take over in his rendition, the song sounds powerful. He makes that exact same part of the song much more masculine and forceful, which is something that should be paired with a space drama.
It's easy to understand why hardcore Gundam fans won't like Gackt's versions of classic songs. He has taken something “old school” and easily transferred it into something that today's generation would be able to relate to. People have complained that “kids nowadays” aren't interested in old school anime. That's because, for the most part, it hasn't aged well. The animation is choppy and the music is dated. Maybe, if more currently popular artists would be willing to remake songs from their favorite anime series, younger people would be willing to take a chance on an older show. Since Gundam is still quite a popular franchise, it doesn't really need the shot in the arm that some other series could use but it's possible that this is a step in the right direction for old school anime.
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