Welcome to a special installment in the Denpa Editorial series. This time, we will be casting a philosophical look at the multiple similarities between Hockey and Denpa. You read that right! Only open-minded readers need apply for the rest of this blog entry.
Currently, Canada is in full Hockey mode, despite only one of the six Canadian teams having made the second round of the playoffs. Depending on your language, this is known as "La fièvre des séries" or "Post-season fever". Having played for close to 15 years, I consider myself a lifetime addict. But when the playoffs roll around, hundreds of thousands of new and old fans tune in to Canada's gift to the world. Public places, historical monuments, fire trucks are covered with flags and police cars are ... burned down when riots break out. But I, of course, am a hockey fan 12 months a year and while I do have favorite teams in each conference (Montreal Canadiens for the East and Dallas Stars for the West), I'm a fan of the game first and foremost and I'll gladly sit down to watch two teams fight to the death, no matter who they are.
The Stars will make it all the way this year!
So where do those similarities come in? Here's a big one right off the bat. Both Hockey and denpa are twisted offerings of sports and music respectively. Hockey, with its over-the-top violence and faster-than-lightning action is shunned by most media outlets and is currently suffering from very low ratings in the US, though those have been looking up recently with the addition of young and skillful players such as Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Similarly, Denpa is the bastard offspring of JPop and fans of Japanese music in general will not necessarily appreciate Denpa artists, sometimes going as far as ridiculing the genre. Denpa is dirty, noisy and draws malign from listeners who can't acquire the taste of something completely different.
Hockey and Denpa fans are equally dedicated to the cause they love. Last week, I went to a HUGE sports memorabilia store in Texas, looking for some Dallas Stars goods that I couldn't score here in Canada. When I asked the clerk where they hid all of their hockey stuff because I couldn't find any, he just replied, visibly disgusted, that they'd never keep it in stock. Even while I was in the city of Dallas itself, I couldn't spot anyone wearing Stars gear or cars rocking mini Stars flags like they do in Montreal. True fans are few and far between and depend on each other for the progression of their sport... or musical genre! Even though JPop is serious business on the internet, Denpa is severely underrepresented (when not misrepresented) and I'm doing my best to raise its profile. This blog right here is currently your only community option, so let's work together to turn it around!
As I've said, Denpa is dirty for most people, but those with classically trained ears will be able to isolate and enjoy each separate layer of sound as they merge into one. Hockey comes together the exact same way. While the "norms" will look at a game and come to the conclusion that it's nothing more than a bunch of coloured dots running after an even smaller black dot on a pure white surface, true Hockey fans will tell you that it's the multiple facets of our sport which make it so appealing. Unlike Baseball, Tennis et j'en passe, Hockey has multiple modes.
- 5-on-5 is the regular one where all players are on ice. When two skillful teams are playing, this can create a maelstrom of va-et-vient where both clubs take turns attacking the other's zone.
- 5-on-4 situations happen when a team is afflicted with one of the multiple penalties available to a referee. If you are on the punished side, your players change into penalty killing mode (just the name gives me shivers) or PK as we say. This is an exciting situation where getting the puck out of your zone becomes the top priority. Conversely, the attacking team goes to massive attack where defense men can be swapped with forwards in order to put more pressure on the defending team.
- 5-on-3 are also possible! This is the same situation as above except with more pressure on both teams! The pressure on the defending team goes without saying, but if the attacking team doesn't manage to score after a 5-on-3, this takes away a lot of their confidence which the other team can then build momentum on.
- Sudden death overtime. Seriously, what a great name! When three 20-minute periods have passed and both teams have scored an equal number of goals, the game goes into overtime. This amps up the players and the crowd so much that it isn't uncommon to have the game-winning goal scored within the first five minutes.
- Shootout. When overtime has run its course, teams will move into a shootout, which often provides some of the most memorable moments of the game.
Finally, Hockey players, much like Denpa musicians, are insane people. You have to be! Think about goalers, for instance. On any given game, they will face an average of forty shots of vulcanized rubber pucks traveling at speeds between 80 and 100 MPH. The pressure is on them the whole time as well, either they come out of the game as heroes or total zeros. Players themselves face all kind of injuries, considering the robust way the game is meant to be played. Put in one word, hockey is violent. Denpa is violent too, you know? Like trance music, Denpa frequently uses extremely high BPM, sometimes in disorganized and erratic ways. The high pitched vocals can be enough to make a normal person go crazy. Lay these elements on top of some completely unpredictable patterns and you have yourself a recipe for madness.
Which brings me to a question: why haven't the Japanese picked up on Hockey more than they have? In all honesty, this is a discipline in which they should excel. Europeans have proved that brawl & brawn isn't everything, as their agility and sharp reflexes brought a whole new dimension to the game. The most successful competitors need two particular qualities to make it far: discipline and ambition. Don't tell me the Japanese don't reek of these traits. (Un)suprisingly, the biggest hockey sensation in Japan right now are the Tokyo Canadians, a bunch of Canadian ex-pats who crush Asian teams wherever they are asked to play. However, Japanese, Chinese and Korean hockey enthusiasts have united their efforts in creating the "Asia League Ice Hockey" [sic] which goes to show that hockey, not soccer, will help resolve the ongoing Asian conflict. Look at this cute page where Hokkaido's Oji Paper teaches its fans how to behave at a hockey game.
I'm personally hoping for Hockey to pick up in Japan and become one of the most played sports there. Can you imagine a hockey-based anime series? I sure as hell can, and it would be fantastic... players would learn new skills as they level up, gallons of blood would be shed, we'd somehow have tons of upskirt scenes & fan service and the last three episodes would feature a best-of-seven (played on the MoooOOOOoooon) which would determine the fate of humanity. MOSAIC.WAV would sing the opening track and KOTOKO would rock the ED while Haruko Momoi would voice the hero's damsel-in-distress. This would also spark centuries of fraternity between Canada and Japan and bring world hunger to an end. Oh, the possibilities.
After reading this article, there's no doubt in my mind that you're craving for a hockey game right now. If you're in Canada, you've got it good as the tax-funded CBC shows playoff games every night, and you can tune into TSN, RDS and RIS for the rest of the season. For the USA, Mexico and the rest of the world really, I have a great deal for you! Hockeywebcasts.com has links to live feeds of ALL games (no matter what league) along with an exhaustive archive of past games.