Attention please! We are looking for a new writer!

電波の世界 started in December 2007 and while our passion for the genre has only increased over the years, it's been difficult to find time for new articles and features. That's why we (denpanosekai and mandichan) are looking for an enthusiastic new writer! Here are some typical articles and tasks:

※ album previews and reviews
※ event reports (comiket, M3, live, etc.)
※ artist spotlights and interviews
※ denpa watchlist renewal
※ a new theme would be nice!

Do you want to make a difference and contribute to the original and leading source for English denpa news worldwide? Please contact denpanosekai [at] gmail [dot] com today!

Friday, 22 February 2008

断然電波: momo-i's Famison 8-bit series

Widely regarded as one of the most recognizable Japanese celebrities, Halko Momoi (aka the "Queen of Akihabara") gave denpa fans a heart attack when she announced in 2004 that UNDER17 would be no more. The other member of the quintessential denpa/jpop/jrock duo, the notorious Masaya Koike, would later go on to collaborate with MOSAIC.WAV. But she made honorable amends in 2007 when she released her two famison CDs. They feature 8-bit remakes (think NES and Sega Master System) of old anime theme songs from the 70s and 80s. Now you may be thinking: "8-bit music huh? That must sound awfully boring." Well, classic gaming sound effects are a staple of denpa and evoke nostalgia feelings for a large number of people in their 20s and 30s. Not to mention that the musician behind the chiptunes is none other than Shikura Chiyomaru, who has a large number of game themes to his name. The arrangements are surprisingly complex and offer a refreshing new take on some otherwise timeless tunes.

The first volume came out in March 2007 and was met with critical acclaim. While most songs are highly enjoyable, some stand out more than others. For example, ラムのラブソング (aka Urusei Yatsura's OP) shamelessly uses sound effects from Super Mario Bros, and I love it. タッチ (touch) is highly melodical and features some FX reminiscing of the Zelda II intro. 裸足のフローネ evokes memories of Adventure Island and is equally enjoyable. In fact, none of the tracks come out flat. They are all accompanied by shorter karaoke versions.

Momo-i went ahead and surprised everyone by announcing a second volume, which came out in July 2007. I remember that at the time, "Famison" sounded like it was going to be a one-shot affair. I guess that momo-i and crew had a couple more aces up their sleeves and wanted to keep it a secret. Now, while the first volume is absolutely classic, it pales in comparison to this second release. They went with a very strong opening track, ペガサス幻想 (aka Saint Seiya's OP). Coffee's got nothing on this song in terms of waking me up in the morning. It is absolutely brutal; I can feel my blood boil as I turn into a henshin superhero. In fact, take a break from reading and watch this flawless hot-blooded intro.

Allright, allright. Not to discredit the other songs, but this one track finds itself in constant rotation here at the World of Denpa headquarters. The transition to 8bit was amazing; I'm sure the band Make-Up would approve. Other greats include 薔薇は美しく散る (some of the most enticing momo-i vocals ever recorded), 新オバケのQ太郎 (crazy arrangements which remind me of Contra/Mega Man), すきすきソング (100 times more insane than the original) and finally, バナナの涙, which might as well be the Star Tropics opening theme.

Of interesting note to non-native speakers of Japanese; all of these songs feature simple, and I do mean extremely simple vocabulary and basic grammar. Anyone shooting for a JLPT4 should check out these songs. If you're not at ease with the words that you hear, you might consider working on your 日本語 skills a little bit more. Of course, this is directly related to the fact that most anime produced in that time period was destined specifically for children. Computer hacking and political conspiracies weren't exactly common themes back then.

Halko Momoi performing live @

Since the release of both albums, momo-i has performed some of these songs at various events. There are no indications that a third famison volume is forthcoming, but momo-i has personally stated that she would like to work on a 16-bit sufamison follow up, so that is definitely something to keep in mind. By the same logic, the anisongs covered would be from the 90s era, so this should appeal to an even broader age spectrum. On the other hand, much as I love games of all kinds, the 16-bit sound is definitely not as distinct as the 8-bit kind. But with Shikura Chiyomaru behind the music, there's nothing to worry about.

The official famison website features a wealth of reading material from the people involved in the making of the records. Furthermore, it offers a highly detailed 8-bit jukebox which you can use to sample all of the songs from Vol. 2. When I first heard about famison, that jukebox had songs from Vol. 1, but not anymore. Should you want more Haruko Momoi information, allow me to redirect you to, by far the best English-language momo-i fansite the internet has to offer.

Final Fantasy VII and X; NES-style [updated]

CinnamonPirate (whose impressive resume includes Der Langrisser translations and work on Beggar Prince) has unearthed a rare Final Fantasy VII NES ROM and posted multiple pictures as proof. Needless to say, this is completely unlicensed and could only come from China. But contrary to the cheap knockoff products we've come to expect from that country, this cartridge was a behemoth and probably the results of a couple years of work. I can't imagine the business plan for this project, how did they think they could recoup R&D on this? Read the post for extensive details regarding internal data organization. [update]: You can now view footage of the game on Youtube. Sadly, slow and boring battles make up about half of it.

This also reminds me of a previous attempt at recreating a new Square game on an old platform. In late 2005, a group of Japanese programmers worked hard on a Final Fantasy X NES ROM. Their efforts were commendable, but it looks as though it was all in vain. Either real life obligations caught up to them or the great Square-Enix hammer of injustice struck down the project.

Finally, visit this site for an extensive look at the world of black market Chinese Famicom carts. Among the most surprising are NES versions of Chrono Trigger, Diablo II, A Link to the Past and Tales of Phantasia. Oh and a Saint Seiya RPG? You betcha!

In the name of all that is holy and bad ass,
I need this game, NAO!

Monday, 18 February 2008

Akibablog goes 英語, MOSAIC.WAV articles

The excellent Akihabara blog has recently launched its English channel. Not only is the translation accurate and fairly natural, they actually translated articles from the past couple of weeks. Bear in mind that the site often features NSFW pictures, otherwise the articles are really interesting and you can tell the guy is a hardcore otaku. But other than risqué figurines, they also like to feature MOSAIC.WAV quite a lot. Here are a few articles I found.

Last Battle! Akibattler "μ" on Sale
This very recent article was translated into English so don't worry if moonspeak isn't your thing. I love how it gives an in-your-face account of what walking into a very large MOSAIC.WAV presentoir would be like. "Just listening to its intro, you get hope, power, courage, etc; it's difficult to express its hotness in words. Let's scream together, Akibattler-!" How can you go wrong with such a great sales pitch? For great justice!

「SPACE AKIBA-POP」 street performance (featuring Masaya Koike)
This 2006 article chronicles a live performance in support of their then-freshly released sophomore album. This performance featured Masaya Koike (of Under17 fame), who also played a large part in the making of SPACE AKIBA-POP. Check out these ecstatic fans! I hate how he rubs his signed CD in our face, though. Lucky bastard!

「We Love "AKIBA-POP"!!」 street performance
Written in 2004, this article actually dates back to before the blog made the move to its own server. It documents one of the first live performances by the band, in support of their debut full-length. They were accompanied by heavy-metal musician IRON-san. Over 200 showed up and the crowd quickly exploded once the gig started, with fans desperately trying to get a peek at the band. A very short video sample was posted but while very cool, it barely last 15 seconds.

On a separate note, I apologize for the recent downtime. I promise to make up for it, very soon!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

MOSAIC.WAV 「1st Best Album」 unofficially confirmed

Various online retailers have begun putting up listings for MOSAIC.WAV's 「1st Best Album」, which is expected to be released on March 12 2008. Interestingly, nothing about this compilation is mentioned on the official MOSAIC.WAV so far, which is a bit odd considering the release date is just over a month from now. I wrote an article about a new album late last year, but I didn't expect it to be a greatest hits.

This slightly disappoints me as I am anxious for new material to be released, but I guess MOSAIC.WAV are at that point in their career. They do have over 60 tracks to choose from after all, it will be interesting to see which ones make the cut. I happen to think that they haven't made a bad song yet, but if they leave out Love Cheat! then the world has no chance to survive, make your time.

At this point, I am hoping for remixed tracks and one or two new songs to be included. Better yet, the 1st Live as a companion DVD, although this will probably get a separate release eventually. Otherwise, with a price tag of 25+$, I will be holding out on this one and hope that they showcase a new release at C74.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

見てください: MOSAIC.WAV- ラストバトル!

MOSAIC.WAV's 5th single was officially released in stores yesterday (02.01.2008). I thought I would do my share of propaganda by translating the title song and posting it on Youtube... enjoy!

Now, allow me to share this learning experience with you. This is the first time I've actually had to translate something so eccentric, as none of my Japanese lessons ever dealt with denpa lyrics. In that capacity, I ask that everyone, Japanese native/major or not, plays nice with me: I am open to suggestions and corrections. I had a rough time with some of the lyrics because I only had the short version to work with and I suspect most of the plot elements are explored in greater detail within the complete one. For example, who is Dr.109? I can only assume he is the bad guy in this tale, but details about his motives couldn't be any muddier. Shibuyoung's origins were made just as unclear. I definitely had to take some liberties when translating, even though some of the more literal parts still hurt my brain. More of these translations are in the pipeline, so quality should increase in due time.

The whole technical aspect was also an ordeal in itself. To create the AVI file, I used Adobe Premiere 1.5, which was overkill considering the video itself is nothing but an MP3 playing over a static image. I then created the SSA subs using VisualSubSync, simply because it allowed me to inspect the wave form as I applied the captions. In the space of 4 hours, I tried countless subtitling tools that all failed miserably in satisfying my perfectionist needs. I'm a programmer cum engineer, so a functional GUI is a must. When my SSA file was finally in order, I had a problem with VirtualDub while trying to "burn" the subs onto the AVI. As you can see from the video, two Greek letters are used, namely α and μ. Those characters weren't supported out-of-the box so I had to hunt down a plugin with UTF-8 support (VSFilter 2.38/guliverkli2) .

With the hardsubbed AVI ready to go, my second big problem came in setting up my Youtube account. I had never uploaded any videos before today and frankly, after such a horrible experience, I fail to see how the site managed to become so popular. The user interface is terrible. I learned the hard way that you can not update one of your videos with a new version. I had a change of heart about some of my initial lines so I went back and changed them locally, but then I was forced to delete the video and upload a new one. If it had been up for months, all of its comments, ratings and favorite links would have vanished, /dev/null style. Furthermore, they tell you that any account change can take up to 6 hours before they are accepted. Preposterous, I know. Small example: want to change your account picture? Make sure you have a lot of time on your hands. First of all, they tell you that whatever you upload will be resized to a ridiculous 130*96 resolution. Fair enough, I will resize my trusty Adol the Red avatar to this "widescreen" format. It finally shows up after many failed upload attempts and 2 hours of patience, only to be displayed at an even more insane 100*75. WTF? Being the perfectionist that I am, I resized it again to 100*75, and 3 hours later, it shows up as 128*96... to hell with it.

If you have read this far, thanks. Recently I have received a number of encouraging emails telling me to keep at it. I have been pressed for time in the past couple of weeks but things should slow down by mid February, after which I can return to a regular pace. For now, the Dallas Stars are on TV and considering everything I did today... I really earned some time off!