Welcome back to Visual Kei&Anime! We’re back in business with the follow up from last month’s feature, GLAY. Before you dive in this part, please check out the first here!
Before we dive into the official collaborations, I want to mention two unofficial ones that I’ve covered before. GLAY were featured into two volumes of manga, GLAY: The Message and GLAY: Jiro released in the early 2000’s. I’ve dug through a lot of archives and GLAY never officially acknowledged their production, so they’re higher quality doujinshi. If you’re curious about them anyway, I’ve reviewed them here.
We return to official collaborations in November 2000 with the film Blood: The Last Vampire. GLAY provided the main theme “I am xxx”. While the Blood franchise is well known, this movie is a little less so. As always, here’s a quick synopsis:
“The teropterids are beasts who pose as humans that only exist to drink human blood. In 1960’s Japan, there’s a group that are dedicated to destroying them. The best slayer is known as Saya, and now she’s sent to a U.S. army base that faces a major infestation… perhaps…” (Paraphrased from the MAL listing)
This song despite it being my first listen really made me feel nostalgic. Anyone familiar with the early 2000’s action movie soundtrack trends will probably feel the same way. GLAY’s band formation is blended with a little bit of electronic instrumentals to it giving it that ‘technology’ vibe to it. I wasn’t expecting it for a song related to the BLOOD franchise but, it works.
Overall though, “I am xxx” is a rather simple track. That’s not a diss either. The structure follows all the basics in terms of lyrics. They’re pretty minimal usually being punctuated with Teru’s very well enunciated “Yes I Am, Oh, Yes I Am” to break it up and launch into the next part of the song. It feels very much commissioned for the film but it works.
I have to say that the blend of GLAY as a band, the ‘technology’ effects at the beginning, and then later on the soaring almost operatic elements of the female vocals is pretty impressive. I wasn’t sure that the female backing vocals would be the best compliment to Teru, but they suit the song well. For a song built up from so many dissimilar elements, it does come together for a unique result. Even the way the ending sort of drifts out is a good touch.
Now we jump forward to October 2013, and a new collaboration of a whole different level. This being with none other than mega franchise Diamond no Ace, i.e. Ace of Diamond (DnA). This collaboration would prove to be extensive, but we have to start at the beginning. For the first season of DnA (2013-2015), GLAY provided the third opening theme “Hashire! Mirai” for episodes 52 through 75. For those not in the know, here’s a quick synopsis.
“Eijun Sawamura lost his final middle school baseball game, though he and his teammates vow to go to the national tournament in high school. Surprisingly, Eijun is recruited to Seidou high School, due to his unique style of pitching. He accepts the offer, and is ready to improve his skills and go to Nationals! Yet, he’s surrounded by talented players and struggling to stand out to become the team’s ace. Fellow first-year Satoru Fuyuya manages to get a starting roster slot, sparking a fire in Eijun. So now, a potential rivalry begins, and the Seidou team as a whole is on their way to Nationals which will be anything but easy”. (Paraphrased from the MAL listing)
As an additional note, during this initial run there was also the Diamond no Ace OVA that used the same song as it’s opening theme. To keep this concise, I’ll encourage you to read the plot of said OVA here.
The metaphorical whiplash I got between this and “I am xxx” was a lot. It’s like I listened to two different bands if Teru’s vocals weren’t so distinct.
Before continuing forward with this commentary: I have really grown to hate the Shonen anime tie-in’s that bands do. I’m not gifted enough to break it down in technical terms, but there is such a formula at play that all these songs really start to run together. GLAY, super stars in their own right are no exception to this. My comments for the DnA tracks will probably read similarly.
That being said, it’s a well put together song. It understands the unspoken rules of the standard shonen anime opening theme well. There’s a lot of nice repetition of positive messages related to the story at hand. Teru sticks to his comfortable range and it works, especially with the background vocals added in. The band plays into their strengths too, and we even get a nice little Jiro bassline around the 3:30 mark for a bit of spice.
As expected, as Diamond no Ace was renewed for season two, GLAY was recruited to provided theme songs once more. Episode three’s opening previously mentioned track “Hashire! Mirai” was used. For episodes four through twenty six, GLAY’s song “HEROES” was used as the fourth opening them. Then for episodes twenty seven through fifty-one, their song “Sora ga Aozora de aru Tame ni” as the fifth opening theme. Also worth noting is that according to MyAnimeList that Teru made an animated guest appearance in the Second Season OVA? Who knew! But a quick overview of where we are in DnA-
“Season Two takes place after the National Tournament, and Seidou’s team is moving forward despite the changes to the lineup. They’re working towards another season as old and new rivals appear to challenge them. Furuya and Eijun are determined to lead the team with their skills. And maybe one of them will get the title of “Ace of Seidou”. (Paraphrased from the MAL listing)
I’m genuinely burnt out from these songs at this point. Lyrically, not much to write home about even if it’s Teru’s composition and writing. It’s perfectly fine for a SPORTS! anime series, but not something I would cite as the band’s best work.
In comparison to “Hashire! Mirai”, there’s a lot more care and thought put into the composition. It’s no surprise since “HEROES” is also their 20th Anniversary track on top of it. Throughout the entire track, Jiro was absolutely killing it on the bass line. I might be a bit off, but it felt like he was doing a rhythm guitar part then a bass line. Both Takuro and Hisashi have some very impressive guitar-work, especially with Jiro taking the lead rhythm-wise. Their guitar lines really help build up the track and keep it moving. They also do get their time to shine with a solo here and there.
Of course, it’s always a given that Teru’s double duty on drums is impressive. This time around there’s just so much drive behind it that really helps this song take shape. There’s some piano elements tinkering around in the background, a scaled back hand-clap for the rhythm section, and a few other parts too. I wish there was a more widely available version of just the instrumental for this one, it’s that well put together.
I love GLAY I really do. But I swear to god for Visual Kei&Anime in general if I hear one more song that references the “blue sky” I might rip my hair out.
It’s a fine song. No major complaints regarding lyrics, composition or delivery. In fact this song almost feels a bit more subdued, at least until the 2:10 mark. Maybe it’s a reference to how much the DnA characters have grown. At least we get a really cool guitar solo to follow that up, but I’m not strong enough to tell if it’s Takuro or Hisashi solo though.
We then take a brief break from DnA, and back to GLAY as just a band. As part of their 53rd single promotions, GLAY released their music video for “Kanojo wa Zombie”. It was released on January 27th 2016, and the animation was done by Millepensee. So we have both the song and the music video to check out!
After a string of Teru compositions, I’m so glad we finally get a Hisashi one. Because honestly, “Kanojo wa Zombie” is just purely fun. I used purple translations’ lyrics as a reference, but the whole song is just really goofy. I mean there’s a dialogue break in the song reminding the dude that a zombie girlfriend is probably a little dangerous!
There’s a pretty quick scale run in the background that gives this a more ‘anime’ feeling. Coupled with Jiro’s bassline replicating that later on in the song was a nice touch as well. Teru’s drums are tuned down, at least in the mix, but still have a really strong driving force throughout the track. Takuro and Hisashi’s guitar work shines and helps create a great upbeat track.
Animation-wise, this isn’t the most visually stunning music video ever but it does have a lot of personality. Millepensee made some stylized characters that dips into the moe aesthetics without going to crazy. There’s some short cuts and simple animation tricks that are ‘low budget’ but really give it a pop. More importantly it really leans into the sweet and goofy energy of the song, especially as at the peak of it’s action. I mean there’s a lot interesting personalities that we didn’t get to see fully developed… GLAY another animated collaboration about “Kanojo wa Zombie”? Please?
In April 2016, GLAY was tapped for two more opening themes for the anime Kuromukuro. For episodes two through thirteen their song “Deathtopia” was used. “Deathtopia” also being the ending theme for episode one. The opening theme for episodes fourteen through twenty three, as well as episode twenty five is their song “Chou Onsoku Destiny”. If you’re like me, and not in the know here’s a quick overview.
“During the construction of Kurobe Dam, an ancient artifact was discovered therefore the United Nations Kurobe Research Institute was established in Japan. While the scientists research the artifact, their children study at Mt. Tate International Senior High School. Yukina Shirahane is the daughter of the head scientist, and she manages to solve part of the artifact’s puzzle. After solving it, samurai Kennosuke Tokisada Ouma appears before her. So Yukina and Kennosuke find themselves defending the Earth against a sudden outer space threat. However, in the background is the mystery why Kennosuke appears and why he’s hell bent on protecting her…” (Paraphrased from the MAL listing)
This song being another Hisashi composition over Teru one (no offense, love you Teru) really changed my mindset on the song. I noticed in general that I tend to like Hisashi’s compositions over anyone else’s. There’s a way that he writes the instrumentals that really gives them a lot of push if that makes sense. They’re easy to listen to and I don’t mind looping them either. It’s also the first time in all of Visual Kei&Anime that the specific composer made such a big impact on my enjoyment of the song.
Outside of the name, I feel like “Deathtopia” is one of the few anisongs that really does fit best into GLAY’s more general discography. I think part of that has to do with the solo work that’s fit into the song. At 0:25 in there’s a short guitar solo that launches us into the song, and there’s another longer solo starting at 2:50 that’s really nice as well. There’s also some whiny backing vocals that punctuate the track that give it a really strong personality.
This is another first for the Visual Kei&Anime series, that being how well two anisongs fit into each other. It makes sense since they’re on the same single, but it’s a rarity for anisong contributions. They tend to be a secular single, or packaged with an unrelated b-side. So listening to this back to back, the transition between tracks is seamless.
Being another Hisashi track, I really like the repeated call and response chorus. I haven’t heard that type of musical element used much in anisong much, let along in VKei (or JRock being honest here). It’s a really interesting touch and makes it more memorable. I also think I heard a tiny bit of influence from “I am xxx” in terms of backing vocals, but that might just be me. The final highlight is just how much Teru’s drum work. There’s something just really noticeable to my ear regarding it.
As you can anticipate in 2019, with the third season of DnA or Diamond no Ace: Act II, GLAY was tapped once again for opening themes. For episodes one through twenty six, their song was “Hajimari no Uta” was used. Then for episodes twenty seven through fifty two their song “Ryuusei no Howl”, as well as the ending theme for episodes forty five. You can probably anticipate where DnA is going, but just to keep it consistent.
“Seidou High School has emerged victorious from the fall tournament, and now get to stand on the ground for Koshien. So with various tournaments on the horizon the action ramps up once again. Friends, foes, new and old faces emerge as the uphill battle continues. Eijun Sawamura is determined to get that coveted jersey No. 1 from his team rival Satoru Fuyura. The duo continue their struggle for the ace of diamond, and for Koshien”. (Paraphrased from the MAL listing)
Okay folks, I hit my limit with DnA tie-in songs. Even after intentionally spacing out my listening sessions by days at a time. I love Teru to death, but all his DnA compositions are so similar that they’re started to melt together for me at this point.
It’s on par with the previous collaboration songs in terms of lyrics and relatable. It fits just well enough to be used as the tie-in song, but is also broad enough that it’s a pretty generic inspiration song. While I liked the violins, piano, and even the chimes in the song, I wish they were a little more emphasized over the band and Teru’s vocals. Just for a little bit more variety.
Okay, so I am pleasantly surprised with this one. Teru is still composing this song, but Takuro wrote the lyrics. According to the DnA fandom wiki, Teru said this was written with a team who had just lost in mind, in hopes to inspire them to continue playing.
I will admit that Teru chose now of all times to really play around with the composition by a lot in comparison to his previous works. At around the three minute mark there’s a whole synth breakdown with some really wild elements, and following that even an acoustic guitar solo? It’s a jarring difference between this and even “Hajimari no Uta”, but at the end of the day… I’m still burnt out folks.
And there you have it folks, GLAY’s extended anisong discography. I do apologize since the word count on this is a bit more then I usually allow myself to do. If you’re curious why it’s so unevenly broken up it’s mostly because 1. I can’t count, 2. I didn’t want to separate all the DnA entries and 3. I didn’t realized until after publishing my first post that GLAY had an official tie-in with the Blood movie. So… oops?
Either way, I hope you enjoyed this feature despite my burn out from the DnA collaborations. I have more to come from a different artist so I’ll see you next month for another installment!