By David Cabrera
#57 - I Do Understand Burning Friendship! I Will Fight Evil People With You! - Animetal USA
Have you guys heard the Animetal USA album? (http://animetalusa.com/) It's been a while since it came out, but it's really impressive! A group of veterans cover the classic, catchy anison standards in English and make them spit heavy metal flame. This album isn't yet out in the States, but it was hard not to notice when it came out in Japan. The site has samples, so give it a listen!
The song choices are definitely for Japan rather than the USA: the list largely comes from the 70's-80's nostalgic soft spot of catchy anison, the days of Ichiro Mizuki, Isao Sasaki and so on. None of that stuff actually showed up in America, aside from the Yamato theme song, which was translated to English for Star Blazers. I don't think too many people here actually know these songs, especially stuff like the theme from Dokaben or Star of the Giants. Anime/manga fans here aren't really into sports, and they definitely aren't into old stuff. Cruel Angel's Thesis, on the other hand, everybody knows.
(An Animetal USA for American fans would probably also include Cha-La Head Cha-La, one of Minmay's songs from Robotech, and the theme from Sailor Moon.)
The lyrics to the songs are translated extremely literally, to the point where they sound pretty weird in English. The more complex and figurative the lyrics-- in particular, the theme from Evangelion-- the stranger they wind up sounding in English. In this sense, the simple lyrics of the Mazinger themes, being as they are about being big and strong and beating up the bad guys, translate the best.
I also thought it was charming that key phrases in the songs like “Uchuuu... senkann... Yamatooo!” and “Yuke, yuke, Tiger Mask!” were left as they were. “You wa shock!” doesn't really translate into anything in English-- I've seen fans debate as to what exactly it was supposed to mean-- and that's why it's such a wonderful and irreplaceable phrase.
In any case, this stuff is fantastic. I'm not much of a metalhead, but the talent on display is overwhelming. I hope that Animetal USA has as long a tenure as the original band did, and that one day I get to hear them cover the theme from Bryger. And Jetman, too! And a sweet metal ballad version of the theme from Gunbuster! Get on it, guys!
Next time I'm at one of the Japanese karaoke places in the city for some drunken anison fun, the guys and I will definitely have to check and see if any Animetal USA tracks are in the catalog yet. I can't wait to yell “Who is it? Who is it? Who is it?! Shadow that hides in the sea of hell!!”
The band is coming to Anime Expo in Anaheim in July, which makes me (once again) awfully jealous of my fellow otaku across the country. The last-- and probably only-- time I got to rock out to anison live was Jam Project in Baltimore back in '08. What a nice bunch of people. I made sure to say “Sparking!” to Kageyama.