01 - Cho Aniki Otoko no Tamashii
02 - Black Bullet Shibuya Appearance
03 - Cho Aniki vs Muscle-Attached Bat Number One
04 - My Muscular, Handsome Man
05 - Mister Posing Mania
06 - Black Comet
07 - Chikapoko
08 - Deutsch Gingerman
09 - Muscle Bodyguard
10 - City Pops
11 - Kabukichou Lovers Suicide
12 - Going Back to Brazil
13 - Shave Your Body Hair
14 - Justice is Not a Dance
15 - Muscle Gang Leader
16 - Stage Sweeping
17 - Battle Victory
18 - Thomas
19 - Game End
20 - Uminiin's Theme
21 - It's a Serious Song, Good-bye
22 - National Tour
This is the soundtrack to the Wonderswan Card-Based RPG of the same name. It's also known as "Otoko no Tamafuda" based on a pun incorporating the words "Soul" and "Card Battle." "Otoko no Tamashii" roughly translates to "The Soul of Man."
Now, those of you who aren't in the know, you ought to take some time to learn about Cho Aniki. Masaya's shoot-em-up series featuring large, flying, muscular men with giant holes in their skulls (where laser beams come out) is probably the strangest franchise to ever catch on in Japan. Yes, the Asian equivalent to the ambiguously gay duo is quite famous, but few people even knew about its brief stint in the role-playing genre.
The series has always featured music by an equally eccentric composer (right up there with Tenpei Sato, but for different reasons), Koji Hayama. This arranged soundtrack for the Wonderswan RPG has some surprisingly addictive music, and I was quite glad to finally get ahold of it.
Random vocals are found all over the album, and they're all done by Hayama himself. Take a listen to the title track. The man screaming "OTOKO NO TAMASHII!" like he's grunting on the toilet is Hayama. That should give you a good idea of what you'll find on the album.
But it's not all weird grunge rock. There are some delightfully catchy melodies all over the album: sometimes eccentric techno-synth-pop, sometimes more traditional pop. Hayama also likes to play around on the organ, much like the well-known Motoi Sakuraba.
Take a look, also, at the names of these songs. It should give you an idea as to the frantic silliness of this three-ring-circus of an album. "Deutsch Gingerman" features Hayama shouting the word "Deutsch" to the beat of a drum, as though it were an imperial march. "It's a Serious Song, Good-bye" is a bold-faced lie for a title...well, more like a joke...the song is pretty silly. But of course, the winner for the *most ridiculous track title EVER* award goes to "Shave Your Body Hair." It's not a request, it's a command. Get to work, and listen to this soundtrack while getting rid of that pesky chest hair.
I'll take the criticism for making this review more of a joke than an attempt to cover the music. In all fairness, most everything about the Cho Aniki series is meant to be either laugh-out-loud or raise-your-eyebrows funny. I'll end by pointing out that the musical merits of the album are many, as Hayama is really quite a decent composer. If you've followed other Aniki OST releases, you should know that Hayama is great at what he does. And, luckily, this album ranks pretty high among the Cho Aniki discography, so do give it a shot...should you ever be able to find it! First Smile albums have became difficult finds, but this is one of their later prints, so if you're really interested, it shouldn't be too difficult to find used.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann