Game Music

Soundtrack of the Month 07/2009: AI CHO ANIKI

July 1, 2009 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook Soundtrack of the Month 07/2009: AI CHO ANIKIon Twitter

To most gamers, whenever the name Cho Aniki comes up, it’s usually at the butt end of a joke. The first time the title really came to light in the West was in an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly during 1996 reporting on Cho Aniki: Kyoukyoku Muteki Ginga Saikyou Otoko, the 4th game in the series released on PSX. Just by a few screenshots and a small blurb, gamers in the West were now aware of an extremely strange game series, using gay stereotypes and imagery without any shame, something that was completely unheard of for most Western gamers.

But Cho Aniki isn’t simply a game that uses gay jokes and questionable characters to shock. Underneath all the wacky humor there’s actually a game, and sadly because of all the articles focusing solely on the gay material, very few have ever sought out to actually sit down and play these games. And while the Cho Aniki games will probably never be known as amazing games due to their gameplay, there is one thing they do have that stands out: amazingly diverse, and surprisingly good soundtracks.

Find out why Ai Cho Aniki is our soundtrack of the month for July 2009.

Most fans of the Cho Aniki series will most often credit the music to Koji Hayama, who composed the first game in the series. While his work on that game was superb, I personally always preferred the style and compositions of the man who took over the composition seat in the sequel, Ai Cho Aniki. Ai Cho Aniki is the second game in the series, which is now up to 7 entries. Like the first game, it is a shooter, but a very different one.  For one thing, your character is vertically stretched, and the shots fly in an angle.

Taku Iwasaki is the man behind the soundtrack, and while he might not be a well known composer for most, his style and skills are awesome. Other games he has composed and arranged for are Soul Edge, Muv-Luv Alternative and the PERSONA ~trinity soul~ anime series. While Koji Hayama is all out crazy in his music, using voice sample chants and hypnotically relaxing melodies to accommodate the bizarre action on screen, Iwasaki takes things in a bit more traditional direction and makes the music follow the action on screen a bit more effectively.  However, it still does contain just enough craziness to be immediately identified as Cho Aniki.

The CD starts out with “Shanghai Power Slam,” the best track on the CD, and arguably the best song in the entire Cho Aniki series. Yup, that’s right, and if you don’t believe me, go check it out, and you’ll realize I’m speaking the truth.

The track starts out with a soft synth and pad, slowly building up the things to come. Little by little, we get more parts added, with the supporting synths coming into play, both a modulated synth and a panning one, closely followed by the drums, perfectly building up us up to the main melody. All the elements meet in the middle with a signature Cho Aniki chant before it explodes (literally) into the main melody! My goodness, this track defines awesomeness from this point on with live guitar shredding and an excellent percussion breakdown.  There’s even a cell section added in for good measure.

What a track. With so much going on, it might sound like a trainwreck, but Iwasaki is clever and uses just enough of each element, and makes it all work. The chants are there, but used to build upon the melody instead of overshadowing it which sometimes happens in Cho Aniki music. The synths are crisp, and has that perfect retro sound to it, and the structure is just awesome, constantly building up energy and making you want to cause some thongtastic damage.

The next track, “Slash Temple,” starts out with some ceremony bells being clung, before going into a frantic rock synth track. This is also a really good track, with a lot of atmosphere to it, and the crazyness being a bit more turned down. “Biography A & S” is next, and is exactly what you would expect from Cho Aniki as the whole song consists of a rather sleazy melody with male voices going “HMPH!,” women going “AAAAH…,” and of course, a female opera singer. It’s all sexually suggestive, and it starts going faster and faster, and the voices get higher and higher in pitch before giving us the famous last words, “motto,” or more, and the female going “dame,” or stop. Oh Cho Aniki, always keeping us blushing till the end.

From here on, the album mostly goes into percussion based tracks or the rather atmospheric synth tracks that the 2 opening songs set up. There honestly aren’t really any duds on this album, but there are some other fantastic tracks that also stand out, such as “Aniki Strike Malignant Festival,” “Heat of Tomyan” and “A•NI•KI.” We also get tracks lead by the opera singer earlier mentioned, and the album fittingly ends with a French-styled love song, complete with French dialogue, which I can only imagine is full of love and happiness.

Hopefully one day, we will get a Cho Aniki collection set soundtrack, which are really hot right now in the game music world. While all Cho Aniki soundtracks have standout tracks and awesome music in general, none is as consistently as good as Ai Cho Aniki, and to me it’s the best of the series, as it doesn’t go so wacky as to totally alienate casual listeners. For game music fans, it will have that lovely 90’s game sound, almost in the style of Taito’s HAGGY at times.

The first Cho Aniki game was released on Wii’s Virtual Console service in 20707 worldwide, and opened up the chance for all gamers to experience Cho Aniki for the first time. I highly recommend it, for its gameplay and its soundtrack by Hayama, and who knows, maybe with enough support shown for our thong clad heroes, they might release Ai Cho Aniki as well.

And if this writeup did not convince you of its awesomeness, then maybe this picture on the booklet will:

Oh Cho Aniki, you did it again…

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