Nakayoshi 60th anniversary Album “Twinkle Songs”
なかよし創刊60周年記念アルバム「Twinkle Songs」 (Nakayoshi Soukan 60 Shuunen Kinen Album Twinkle Songs)
Columbia Music (Nippon Columbia)
To celebrate 60 years of Nakayoshi, this two-disc collection compiles opening and ending songs to many of the magazine’s anime adaptations. From Princess Knight to Sabagebu!, relive the magic of Nakayoshi.
Nakayoshi manga was a big — if not the biggest — part of my early fandom days. Some of you, like me, first got into anime and manga because of Sailor Moon, but other early English manga licenses like Cardcaptor Sakura and St. Tail. Targeting females was a big part of TOKYOPOP’s early success, and the magazine itself was revolutionized when it pushed the magical girl genre thanks to hits like Magic Knight Rayearth. Nowadays, Nakayoshi doesn’t quite have the impact it once had; I’m sure people can debate whether its push toward more mature risqué series (Missions of Love), the decline of magical girl stories, or the widening of shounen/seinen genre outside of the traditional action stories is to blame.
Regardless, when I heard a collection of Nakayoshi opening and ending songs were being compiled into one set, it spoke to the young me’s heart. But I assumed they were the TV size versions, and while one and a half minutes is nice when watching a series, a song is less entertaining in that size when listening to music. I want full size, dang it!!
Until I found out that these really were the full size versions. Then I rushed off to buy it. But I could have had this years ago if I had done the smart thing and, you know, look at reviews or the length of the album in minutes. In my defense, some places have this listed as 45 tracks, which would drive down the average track length.
While I didn’t look at the length, I did look at the songs themselves. Here’s a shot of the track list, but if you want to see the translated titles or preview the tracks, check out CDJapan and other sites.
Don’t get me wrong: Sailor Moon had some wonderful themes, many of which I still listen to. But while other series are only represented with a single song, Sailor Moon gets nine — all but the Moon Lips version of “Moonlight Densetsu”. Nakayoshi‘s other famous 90s magical girl manga? Cardcaptor Sakura gets just one: “Catch You Catch Me”. Not to mention other anime like Magic Knight Rayearth and even the music-focused Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch get just one song apiece. It’s even worse considering other albums like Sailor Moon Super Best (which contain all 10 openings, the Starlights’ two songs, and the three movie themes) are still readily available. I can understand putting in a couple of pieces, but Sailor Moon is overrepresented here.
Plus, it really takes away from the flow of the rest of the CD. Since everything else has only one or two tracks, it’s ,”Oh, I remember that show! And that one! Oh, yeah, this takes me back!” — a fast trip down memory lane. The Sailor Moon section is like, “Okay, it’s Sailor Moon time, I guess…” This section just drags. If you don’t mind missing out on iconic hits like “Moon Revenge”, though, this is about as cheap as you’ll find for an official 90s Sailor Moon CD.
Maybe some tracks couldn’t make it in due to the artists’ contracts and labels, like “Platinum” from Cardcaptor Sakura. Sakamoto couldn’t even sing a character song for Ouran High School Host Club because of her music label. But no “Groovy!” or “Fruits Candy”? If “Yuzurenai Negai” can be included, then “Hikari to Kage wo Dakishimeta Mama” could have been as well considering they’re by the same artist and from the same anime!
Okay, moving on.
I believe the tracks are arranged in order from oldest to newest, with all the Sailor Moon tracks sticking together. A few tracks that originated in other medium (like Hell Girl) do appear here, so this isn’t all just Nakayoshi manga that became anime. The second disc has fewer tracks, but it’s also because the songs are longer. A couple of tracks feature male artists, so they almost feel out of place in this girl-centric set.
It’s interesting to compare how older series’ themes tend to be more Western-like in their explain-the-show-musically approach versus modern themes which often are used as a means for J-pop artists to get a popularity boost. It’s no surprise that tracks from series like Princess Knight or Candy Candy made it considering how popular they were, but there were series I had never heard of featured either. Do you know who this is?
Evidently, this is Spank from Ohayou! Spank. Its theme song features a lot of calling out to the dog, Spank. Unfortunately, to a native English speaker, it’s an awkward song to say the least. Nothing like suddenly hearing “Spank, Spank, daisuki yo [I love you!]” in the middle of a kid friendly CD set…
Even if you have heard of Ohayou! Spank, I still doubt most English fans will be familiar with every series on this set. Some of the ones you have heard of you might not have thought about for years. I mean, how many of you know of Daa! Daa! Daa! (aka UFO Baby), let alone remember its opening theme?
Also, arranging the songs chronologically makes sense, but I’m not really a fan of how it plays out. For example, “DANZEN! Futari wa PreCure” is an upbeat, ready-to-fight number, and then it shifts to the softest and one of the slowest tracks: Hell Girl‘s “Karinui”; then we switch it back to cheerfulness with “Kokoro no Tamago” from Shugo Chara!
As for the songs themselves, they’re hard to rate. Obviously, older themes like “Wapiko no Genki Yohou” I adore because I adore the show. As a song, it’s obviously going to rate lower than a moving ballad like “Watashi-tachi ni Naritakute”. More than the songs, it’s about the listener’s memories of the anime they’re from.
Still, if you are just looking for a mix of anime themes, this has more variety than you might expect. “Ankoku Tengoku” is a dark, mysterious tune that goes from shouting to used car salesman speed. It doesn’t sound like something from a magical girl anime. “Koi wa Question” is a typical girl group song, and “Tuxedo Mirage” is one of the few tracks sung by an actress(es) in that series. Songs like “Third Love” I enjoyed even though I have no knowledge of its corresponding series, but it still has that old anime theme feel to it, so it may not be for everyone. As for songs I didn’t like, the two sung by the guys come to mind. Sorry, dudes, but they were really grating on my ears.
I already mentioned my disappointment in not having more Cardcaptor Sakura songs. If I could choose any song to be added, it would no doubt be “Junshin” from St. Tail though. It’s a beautiful ballad, and I believe the author of Flame of Recca and MÄR wrote about how he was always waiting for the song to play on the radio.
The set itself is pretty straightforward. The internal booklet includes lyrics to all songs and that’s it. No images or explanations of the anime from which they came, which would have been nice. The logo on the front and back of the booklet are in pink foil, and they do look really pretty against the polka dot background.
How about a 70th anniversary set, please? Maybe we can get some of those songs we missed in the 60th? Otherwise, despite Sailor Moon hogging the compilation, I loved reliving some of my old favorites. Plus, at around $30 American, it’s like $1 or less a track, so it’s very reasonable. If you’re an old school shoujo fan, pick this up!