Review: FUDANJUKU’s ‘OTOKO’ [Music]

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by Elizabeth Chan | staff writer

Cover of FUDANJUKU's album OTOKOFUDANJUKU’s album OTOKO is a compelling balance of powerful electronic rhythms mixed with the refreshingly higher toned harmonies of the girls’ voices.  The title of the album is a pun utilizing the words for “sound” and “drum” (or “beat”) with the word for “man”, which is a telling reflection of the sound of the album and FUDANJUKU’s “male” persona theme.

True to the theme of “beats” and “sound,” each song brings a different play on beats and rhythm while also hitting various different types of songs.  At times, the play on rhythm also incorporates the natural rhythmic nature of Japanese syllabalry in the lyrics and the way the song is being sung. In some songs, this comes out with one syllable at a time being sung while on beat.

To the average listener, “Kaze Ikki” is probably the most noticeable example of the play on beats because, for the most part, it appears to be a sort of march with a significant amount of repetition utilizing the group’s name and the title of the song.  As a first song, it is an excellent opening for the album as it showcases FUDANJUKU as a sort of army squadron that is geared up and ready for the rest of the album.  While this is the most obvious show of rhythm, “Tanada Mai” incorporates a more traditional Japanese musical style to the application of rhythm with the use of a hand drum and a musically Japanese melody while “my hometown” showcases the play on rhythm utilizing a rap about each of the members’ respective hometowns.

Also, since we are talking about an album that includes a song with a distinctly Japanese melody and tsuzumi drum rhythm juxtaposed to a song with a rap, another notable thing about this album is simply how diverse each of the tracks are.  In addition to these, there is also “MOVE,” which is an electronic dance song while ”Shinjite Yuku” is a pop-rock song.  The ladies even let out more of their geek side musically with “Tobitate! Fuuranger,” a nod to tokusatsu heroes and specifically, Super Sentai.  The song even comes complete with dialog from their shows that include the usage of gattai.

The album is, of course, a collection of songs by an idol group and there are definitely songs that represent that aspect to FUDANJUKU included in the album, such as “Love Spider” and “Noraneko Maria” which also have a very 80s/90s idol feel to them.  However, despite being much more along the vein of an “idol song,” these pieces are able to stand alone in their own right and become fan favorites.  ”Noraneko Maria,” for instance, sounds like it could be a theme song for a jazzy detective drama, while songs like “Mugen no Procyon” carry with them a childlike, inspirational message full of hope for a bright future.

Anime fans should also recognize “Ame Tokidoki Hare nochi Niji” as the ending theme for the soccer anime Ginga e Kickoff!!, showing that this album, just as FUDANJUKU itself, really has a variety of fascinating points to offer.

The collection on the whole is very well rounded and there are definitely interesting aspects to each of the tracks, but I think it is also fair to say that each of the individual niche interests of each of the members could have been further reflected in the music.  It is a great collection of songs and serves the purpose of providing inspirational and entertaining music for fans to listen to, but it is fair to say as well that the album is focused musically more on typical idol music and it would also be nice to see more of their individual otaku personalities taken into the songs they sing.  It seems like the theme of the band is focused mainly in their stage performances and in-person appearances, which is a great way to draw a crowd to the live performances, but I’m sure many fans would also enjoy hearing their favorite member sing about their otaku area of expertise as well.


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[NOTE: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the SPJA.]

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