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!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

MOSAIC.WAV announces Live Goods

MOSAIC.WAV just put up a special page to list the Live Goods which will be available for this weekend's concert. Disappointingly, it does not include a First Live DVD, which is something I've been hoping for. Of note is an "Amusement Pack" BGM CD, available for free to customers who purchase for 3500 yen worth of merchandise. They've conveniently enumerated the options which customers can select to obtain said BGM CD, as if ordering from a fast food joint. It goes without saying that this CD will become collectible and highly sought after. Well, I just did anyway. There's no word on whether this includes new songs, but I wouldn't rule it out.

About the goods themselves, the tote bag looks good but, being of the male persuasion, isn't something I'd be caught dead wearing. The t-shirt on the other hand is a bit more appealing, but not how I would imagine a perfect MOSAIC.WAV shirt, as it is perhaps a bit too artsy and not to-the-point enough. In fact, if they made a t-Shirt with the bag logo, that would be right up my alley. The cell phone straps... eh... I don't own a cancer transmitter. But they're cute.


The LUCKY BASTARDS who get to attend will have the chance to score a FALSIE THE PSEUDO-SCIENCE GIRL tumbler! This is awesome in so many ways, but perhaps most significantly in the sense that this MAY foreshadow a Falsie follow-up song. Why not? They've done it with both Akibattler and Melodroid on their 5th single, why wouldn't Falsie be next? And Magical Hacker Risku while we're at it, eh? Now I'm not sure if this tumbler can be used to hold coffee, which is what I would use it for. There seems to be a typo on the list, because 13.8x75 millimeters? Isn't that awful small, or are we talking about a miniature model? With all that text? Isn't 1 inch = 25.4 millimeters? Total typo. Either way, the concert organizers are expecting a sellout crowd and are opening the doors @ 2PM, for the sole purpose of merchandise sale.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Terms used in the Japanese music industry

I recently realized that I use a lot of term that may make a lot of sense to me but maybe not to all of my readers. So in a soucis for completion, here is a list of commonly used terms.
  • Single: This one you should all know, as singles have been around for over 100 years. It can refer to one of two things: two songs (A-side and B-side) packaged on the same media or a single song used to promote an upcoming album. While the latter is the form commonly used in North America these days, especially with internet-released singles, Japan stuck with the classical definition and this isn't about to change. Historically, singles were limited to two 3-minute long tracks on each side of the vinyl (hence A/B sides) but this archaic limit was of course shattered with the coming of compact discs. The conventional A/B tracks are still in place but they can be accompanied by remixes of older songs and bonus material. Those are called maxi-singles and the format enjoys tremendous success in Japan, particularly in the form of CD+DVD bundles.

  • Off-vocal tracks: No self-respecting Japanese single ships without off-vocal versions of the A/B tracks. Of course the Karaoke aspect is what drives this decision, but I can imagine that a number of budding seiyuus and singers learn the ropes by imitating their role-models. A variation of the off-vocal track is the instrumental track, which completely ditches the back vocals.

  • Official single: Artists can come up with a number of songs before joining a label, but only then will their releases become official. Material released before being signed is referred to as "demo". Of course, some artists will want to jump the hoops by starting their own label; but even then, when (and if) they actually get signed to a real label, they usually try to downplay or disown their previous releases.

  • Eroge/Galge/Visual Novel: I don't think I need to define "anime" here, but "eroge" and its derivations may not be as clear to everyone. Basically, the term is used to describe games that feature an awful lot of text and all share a common theme: get the girl. Naked, it goes without saying (hence the "ero" part) They play sort of like those Choose Your Own Adventure books, but with risqué consequences. Surprisingly, by North American standards, these erotic games enjoy a decent market in Japan, but I won't get into that. One of their strongest marketing ploy is to include elaborate introduction sequences that feature energetic songs. This is how MOSAIC.WAV/MOV, I've Sound and UNDER17 actually got together, writing exquisite music for the shady underbelly of the Japanese entertainment industry.

  • Denpa: I've already tried my best to define denpa (also called 'moe songs') in the past, but for completion's sake, let me give it another shot. At its most common denominator, denpa is nothing but a sub-product from the vast JPop family. The difference is that the songs are almost always energetic and never really take themselves seriously. There is a heavy focus on video games sound FX, the beats and vocals are often lightning fast and overall the arrangements are surprisingly complex if you are willing to dissect the songs into layers. Denpa is closely associated with eroge, but a number of anime theme songs can also be considered denpa. Note also that artists don't have to completely "label" themselves as denpa, as it is not uncommon for full-length albums to contain one or two denpa tracks, while the rest is serious business. Furthermore, a typical JPop song may also contain a denpa part, but it will remain JPop in the end. Basically, it is a song-writing style that you can either apply to parts of a track, or all of it.
  • Eroge single: Not to be confused with a demo, Eroge singles are different from official ones in the way that they are promoted. Look at how KOTOKO is currently sitting at 11 official singles (with a 12th on the way) but how many eroge singles has she been a part of? I'm thinking around 50, if not more! This is of course to draw a virtual line between general content and adult-specific stuff. While the songs on eroge singles may sound completely innocent, the material they promote is anything but.

  • Major album: See official single, replace single with full-length album. Note that, much to the dismay of many fans, major albums are often nothing more than a collection of remixed tracks pulled from popular singles, sometimes to unbearable extents.

  • Raibu/Live (ライブ): The cool Japanese way to say "concert", "show", "gig", "concert" etc. There seems to be no distinction between smaller or larger concerts, they're all ライブ. Alternately you can use コンサート (consaato) but that's mostly appropriate for large scale events.

  • Event (イベント): Events differ from Lives because they are held in-store or on the street, not in a convention center or a music hall. They are highly promotional in nature, but they also do bring the fans and community together. For instance, an event can be used to commemorate the availability of new merchandise or the launch of a new series (anime, video game, DVD, movie). In the case of an anime event, the voice actors, creator, staff, etc, will form a panel and answer questions from fans and press alike. Events are sometimes broadcast live on the internet/radio. In most cases, a related band will perform 2 or more songs, usually OP/ED themes. Fans can then ask the band some questions and obtain autographs. Most events are free!

  • Drama (ドラマ): 戯曲 tracks consist of vocalists telling a fictional story over some background music (BGM). This is often done to expand upon plots that exist within other songs. Of course, if the single is from an anime series or game, the original seiyuus will provide the vocals and the plot will come from the source material. CDs containing nothing but drama are also available, for true hardcore fans will eat those up. MOSAIC.WAV's latest album contains about as many drama tracks as music tracks.

  • Image/Character song: Similar to drama tracks, but these are full-blown songs instead of just telling a story over BGM. These are used to give extra insight into the life of a specific character and do little in terms of plot advancement. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has a single for each of their characters, so does Lucky Star. Again with the case of MOSAIC.WAV, they are masters at composing "Image Songs" for characters that they just pull out of thin air. A more tangible example would be the majority of songs composed by IOSYS, all of which were inspired by the Touhou Project, though in this case we're deep in "fan fiction" realm.

  • Insert song: Every once in a while, an anime show will feature an additional song or two that aren't the OP or ED themes. Mostly during the final moments, when the fate of humanity is at stake. Those are conveniently referred to as "Insert Songs" and are released on a single near the end of a license's lifecycle, as a final marketing push to get rid of excess merchandise. I suppose eroge "Insert Songs" work the same way, though I have no idea personally. Again, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya comes to mind with its three extremely popular Insert Songs, "God Knows...", "Koi no Mikuru Densetsu" and "Lost my Music".

  • PV: Promotional Video... brutally honest way to refer to a music video, or a videoclip, or a... you get the point. In case you're wondering, Japan does have its own MTV channel, however they mostly play the same crap that plagues America. Music Japan TV is better, but overall I don't care about run-of-the-mill pop; I love the wacky stuff, hence this blog...

  • Lucky Chance GET!: I'll have a whole entry on this one later...
Feel free to add to the list!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

On being a 外国人... in ¿メキシコ?

We interrupt our regular daily sporadic denpa programming to bring you this slice-of-life bulletin.

Every once in a while, my company sends me down to our Mexican branch for random jobs, more often than not training new employees. I'm usually the goto guy for these situations, seeing as how I can speak English (you be the judge) and sé hablar un poco de Español tambièn. Plus, while I wouldn't want to live my whole life there, I absolutely love the country. In return, Mexicans love me back... I hope? As you can tell from the title (being a foreigner in Mexico), I'm going to share some of my experiences there. I read a lot of blogs and one of my RSS reader sections is dedicated to foreigners living in Japan. It actually seems like a requirement to entering the country:

- Japanese Customs officer: "Maa, I see from your Passport that you're American"
- Budding young JET enthusiast: "Yes sir, I'm here to teach English"
- JCO: "Do you swear to God, Buddha and Allah that you will record every single one of your conversations and bizarre situations on a blog?"
- BYJE: "Way ahead of you, sir" *types furiously*

One of the most popular (and controversial) subject about foreigners living in Japan is the Gaijin Effect. This unwritten law entails that each and every foreigner will encounter a situation where their mere "foreigness" will allow them to easily get out of a pinch, get preferential treatment or simply free stuff. Much has also been said about how trendy Japanese girls will "hop" from one foreigner to another, collecting them like a bunch of handbags.

Well, the same could be said of Mexico, really. If you stay off the beaten, Americanized path, you'll encounter some people who, either out of admiration or confusion, will let you off the hook if you forget to feed a parking meter or skip a traffic light (oh wait, traffic lights mean NOTHING in Mexico). Por ejemplo, I was in this old-school arcade and I really wanted to play The House Of The Dead (who wouldn't? game is so rad) Now I couldn't wrap my head around their weird key-operated system (in my days we just plopped quarters in) The poor clerk didn't speak a word of English and I just couldn't understand what he was trying to say. Lo and behold, he produced a red key from his pocket and pointed to the HOTD machine. "Free", he managed to say. Needless to say, I really enjoyed my time there.

Much like Japanese girls are seemingly instantly attracted to "exotic" foreigners (to the dismay of their parents), so are Mexican girls (NOT to the dismay of their parents). It's no secret that the quality of life in Mexico is much lower than what I am used to, it being a former third-world country and all. I have the feeling most women are taught at a young age that foreign men equate a better life. So, it is not uncommon to have girls flock to you if you are of the male persuasion, because lesbianism still isn't well established in religion-heavy Mexico. Just when I was playing said HOTD, a couple of ladies massed around me, praising my zombie-shooting skills and giggling to each other... so much so that it threw me off my game, so perhaps they were actually making fun of me as I racked up the Game Over screens? It could also be that Mexican ladies are just warm-hearted, not COLD-BLOODED like most North American women... so all the power to them.

Whenever I hit a new area, one of my top priorities is to go on a game rush. I am an avid game collector and I love to find new treasure spots wherever I go. But Mexico is definitely one of the worst places for this particular hobby. I remember that in the nineties, Nintendo shifted SNES cart production to Mexico, that's when they started making the "slimmer" carts that you could pull out without hitting the eject button. So I wrongfully assumed that SNES carts would be plentiful in Mexican used electronic stores. Save for some rare games bought in Texas, I will come home nearly empty-handed, what a disappointing game rush! But the kicker was when I saw some of the prices for new games. Super Mario Galaxy, for example, sold for a delirious 880 pesos. That's nearly $85 US!! Most crappy PSP and NDS games were at the 5-600 pesos mark, too. And the ESA wonders why people pirate games so much down there...

Finally, Mexican people are also very proud of their diverse meals. They eat a lot... it was not uncommon for me to skip on the day's fifth meal because I was about to blow up. Plus all that eating before going to bed isn't good for acid reflux, much less the fact that EVERYTHING comes with a double dose of the good ole spice of death. I took part in a burrito eating contest, only to drop out after two, because these things were huge and my company pays to work, not drift off to sleep during the day. For that reason, Mexicans get into work real early, 6AM at the most. Anyway, if you are a picky eater, either you will have to make some compromises or stick to Denny's and Mc Donald's. Much like Japan has various meals based around ika (squid), Mexico has a plethora of meals that feature some American-disdained animal parts, such as tripitas (fried beef or chicken tripes) and burritos with shredded beef tongue.

Contrary to the USA, getting into Mexico is a simple affair. I usually go in on a FMN visa, but I may as well not stop and declare myself because they couldn't care less. Not that I recommend doing this! At the El Paso/Juàrez crossing, getting into Mexico, visa and all, is a simple 5 minute affair. There are currently tons of ESL jobs available, and while you won't make a killing, you'll make more than enough to get by and accumulate valuable life experience at the same time. Compare that to the implosion of Japanese ESL schools such as Nova and the high cost of life in Japan, second thoughts will start to creep in. But if ESL is not your thing, don't worry. Mexico is rapidly becoming more and more industrialized each day, meaning everyone has an opportunity. That's it for now, if you have any questions, I'll try my best to field them.

Monday, 5 May 2008

CD検討: Super happy KOTOKO catch-up fun time

I have been neglecting my favorite Japanese singer for some time, sadly. Part of the reason is that the I've Sound blog guys are doing such a commendable job, but I also have been spending a lot of time updating you folks on the latest MOSAIC.WAV happenings. However since two of her eroge singles came out on April 25 2008, we all know what that means: more denpa!!! よし、いくぞー!

Song: I need magic ~解けないマジ☆キュン♪~
Game: カラフルウィッシュ ~12コのマジ☆キュン!~
(aka Colorful Wish)

Release Date: 2008年04月25日
Vocals & Lyrics: KOTOKO
Composer: C.G mix
Get short version and lyrics
Watch OP video on Youtube

As the title of the song clearly indicates, KOTOKO hereby declares her magical requirements. Unlike the sweet 詩月カオリ who politely asked her listeners if they possessed strong knowledge of paranormal phenomena, KOTOKO is unabashed in her proclamation. This girl not only necessitates the stuff, she demands that magic be available to her, at all time. I swear there must be something in the Japanese water that turns denpa singers into mahou-depraved nutbags. Dry humor on recurring lyrical topics aside, this is a wacky tune that raises the SHORT CIRCUIT bar even higher. The song's main attraction is the swift line delivery that never relents, but the arrangement also scores big time with its apace rhythm and witty disposition.

Song: Swift Love ~健全男子にモノ申す~
Game: つよきす 2学期
(aka Tsuyokiss 2)

Release Date: 2008年04月25日
Vocals & Lyrics: KOTOKO
Composer: 井内舞子
Get short version and lyrics
Watch OP video on Youtube

Denpa doesn't have to be all electronics all the time, the good old electric guitar is still getting a lot of love in Japan. As far as I'm concer
ned, "↑青春ロケット↑" and "Double HarmoniZe Shock!!" were some of the best songs from the SHORT CIRCUIT II compilation, yet they were heavily guitar-driven. The good news is that "Swift Love" tries very hard to be a spiritual sequel to these songs and it succeeds in a number of ways! But in doing so, it also sounds like a bit of a copycat, particularly in the chorus. That won't stop me from loving the heck out of this tune, since it very clearly rocks. I appreciate the last bridge which has KOTOKO singing on top of a heavy distortion feedback, this adds a lot of depth as the eroge theme climaxes into its final moments. Climax, eroge... get it? fufufufu.

Song: 決断のentrance
Game: PRISM ARK らぶ2マキシマム
(aka Prism Ark Love^2 Maximum)
Release Date: 2007年12月29日
Vocals & Lyrics: KOTOKO
Composer: C.G mix
Get short version and lyrics
Watch video on Youtube

Teh denpa, where is it? Not here, as you can tell just from listening to the first 10 seconds of the track. Indeed, "Ketsudan no Entrance" is a great representation of the aggressively smooth JTrance that I've Sound have been tweaking to perfection for nearly 10 years. However, I am outraged and I need to vent. In my very humble opinion, "Ketsudan no Entrance" has no business being associated to eroge. This is an epic, fully-featured song that belongs on national Japanese television, opening or ending a big-budget anime series. It deserves a lot more than being shoveled on a limited edition Comiket single for a game that, while notorious in some circles, won't reach a larger share of the population that NEEDS to hear this song. Some will argue however that the true version of this song was renamed "Sociometry" and used as the ending theme for Shakugan no Shana II. I can hear the similarities, but overall I'm seeing a musical case of the classic "neglected twin" dilemma. If you don't already have this song, hunt it down by whatever means.

Song: Ha!!!ppiness
Game: 新妻は魔法少女
(aka My new wife is a Magical Girl)
Release Date: Spring 2008
Vocals & Lyrics: Outer/KOTOKO
Composer: 中沢伴行・尾崎武士
Get short version

This last game isn't actually coming out for some time but the short version was made available earlier this year. "Outer" is one of the many I've Special Units and this particular one hasn't been heard of for some time. Basically, they are going for a punk-ish sound and attitude, but kind of fail at it IMHO. One of their songs is called "Leave me hell alone" [sic] so yeah, real pissed off material. Let's not forget the particularly Rammstein/German-like "Laze & Meditation", which was my (unfortunate) introduction to Outer. But actually, my main problem with this here song isn't the music, far from it. Sure, there are some questionable melodies and the drums sound far too triggered/unnatural but overall we're talking about a solid blueprint. Nope, what my head can't wrap itself around is the murky, barked vocals that ta
rnish the first 45 seconds and come back at 1:15, ordering me to "just do it" (sponsored by Nike?) among other things. Otherwise the short 30 seconds sandwiched in between are actually decent, if not forgettable. A great example of punk-done-right from I've Sound would be "Get My Way!" from 川田まみ; will "Ha!!!ppiness" become the reference for what not to do? I'll leave it at that for now and give the full version a spin when it finally comes out. Oh, and I could have dealt with an single exclamation mark replacing the "i" in "Happiness", but three of them in the middle of nowhere? What the hell, dude.

I am aware of her upcoming single "Special Life!" which will contain a denpa-infused track (but not to the level of the mind-blowing 七転八起☆至上主義) so I'll report on that when it comes out. But in the meantime, there are plenty more eroge singles for you to check out, as I've only listed the most recent ones. A good starting point would be KOTOKO's entry at and then you can google for youtube/nicovideo/nicosound feeds. Finally, remember that game makers almost always make their OP available for download so this is also an option if navigating Kanji doesn't scare you too much.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Ronald McDonald loves MOSAIC.WAV

I don't know what to think of the following video! It gets pretty mesmerizing towards the end.

On a related note, I sure hope MOSAIC.WAV will write more うじゅ songs, because I am still playing the Sengoku Dama image songs on a weekly basis. I am a bit sad when fascinating characters such as Akibattler, Tsunderoid and Ujuu are used for a song or two and then tragically laid to rest. Absolutely unjust!