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Sound Decision
Trigun, Viewtiful Joe, Ah! My Goddess

by Jonathan Mays,
What kind of sick irony is it that Missouri had state-wide tornado drills just two days after we got nailed by the real thing?

In relevant news, next week's Dir en Grey concerts in New York and Los Angeles are all sold out—almost 3,000 tickets moved in all. Meanwhile, Warcon's profile says the new Dir en Grey album came out March 7th. The sidebar used to say April 4. Now it says May 16. Review coming as soon as it is actually released, or in 2015, whever comes first.

Trigun: The First Donuts Geneon

It's not too late for Trigun, is it? Gosh, I hope not. Tsuneo Imahori, the man behind Gungrave's awesome Spanish spin, really outdid himself with this subversive CD, a cool fusion of rock guitar and jazz spirit.

I think Permanent Vacation is my favorite piece. How can you not love a guitar line that channels Johnny Cash while a saxophone leads the way? The track actually ends before the sax can polish off its Last Note, which is not at all jarring because the whole disc feels like one big jam session and they stopped only because they ran out of time.

H.T, Trigun's theme song, is thankfully intact, though it sounds a little muddled compared to The Pillows' loud and clear FLCL tracks. Carrot & Stick embodies the disc's irreverence: imagine someone had nothing better to do, so he started banging on a few drums, and by accident it turned sort of catchy, and so somebody else picked up an electric bass and started strumming along. There's also a tuba interlude, which is kind of hard to take seriously.

At times Trigun's music is less creative, as in Blue Funk or Never could have been worse, and then it adopts some of Firefly's chummy Western touch. But usually it's more like Stories to Tell, which reminds us one of the best things about jazz is that you have to mix it up as you go. Sounds like a good rule for anime music.

Viewtiful Joe Geneon

Who is Viewtiful Joe?

I wish I knew. He's a pretty good singer, and it's not every day you see a trademarked character in the performance credits. Viewtiful World is an awesome song, with a cool call and response bridge and "college pop" chorus that really sounds more like country rock. Maybe it's old Evan and Jaron echoing in my head, or maybe I'm just losing my mind, but I really think I've heard this song before on the radio. Any ideas?

Anyway, there is a clear, and big, difference between pop rock stars like Bennie K and a group like SaGa, the other band that has six songs on the disc. Rapping does not come naturally for the SaGa crew, and their songwriting is questionable. Still, they're really not all that bad. Brighter Side is a cute-ified pop song with enough electric guitar to keep you from being too embarrassed. Spirit Awake borrows a healthy amount from '80s pop, particularly one song I can't seem to place at the moment, but if you can't have fun with cheap rip-offs, it's probably time to lighten up.

There are another 30 or so tracks on the disc, most of which are under 90 seconds, and none of which are good enough to really matter much. The one possible exception is Friendship, which shares more than a title with the Ah! My Goddess track. I guess it's a friendship kind of month.

Ah! My Goddess TV Geneon

If not for one well timed oboe phrase, Shirou Hamaguchi's Ah! My Goddess soundtrack would basically be dead in the water. The criminally underused instrument makes its first appearance on the 26th track (of 29), and within seconds it soaks the entire score in melancholy. I don't think it is enough to justify buying the disc, but if you happen to find a copy in your possession one day, you could do worse than listening to Friendship.

I don't really know what to think about the rest. If you're really desperate for meditative string interludes, I guess Ah! My Goddess would fit the bill, but you can do so much better. Why not Fruits Basket, or Someday's Dreamers?

Feelings of Being in Love nearly gets a wonderful theme going, but then it putters to the end of the refrain. It's kind of odd—most of the time when you start a simple piano solo on the right chord, the rest falls into place. Hamaguchi wasn't "feeling" it, maybe.

A Gentle Heart has a similarly strange problem. The violin and guitar just don't complement each other. They don't build and fall in parallel, or even contrast. Instead, the violin gets a nice solo and the guitar is just...there, like a dancer who knows the song but gets nervous when it's his turn to shine.

Yoko Ishida's Open Your Mind theme is one of her best and brightest arrangements ever. Even when the writing lets her down before the bridge, she stretches with enough confidence that you might think it's okay to have a song go higher and higher until you get bored or run out of space. Alas, it doesn't matter much here becuase all you get is a short TV cut. Buy All of Me instead.

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