There have been a lot of vocal albums released under the banner of “Super Robot Taisen,” both studio compilations and live concert albums. However, most of the songs performed would come from the classic anime, particularly the works of Tomino (Gundam) and Nagai (Mazinger). Now, however, Super Robot Taisen has become so large that its own cast of characters has created its own subseries of games and anime: dubbed the “Original Generation,” this brand of SRT stuff combines all the characters from past SRTs that aren’t from other anime to mesh one sweet, sweet storyline together.
This album, which celebrates the series’ 15 year history (beginning on the Game Boy with the very first Super Robot Taisen in 1991), has a strange mix of some excellent instrumental performance and a male vocalist (Ichirou Mazuki) whose tone and style I can only describe as “Asian nerd opera.” It’s nothing new; in fact, it’s the same sort of silliness we’ve been hearing from mecha anime theme songs since the 1970s. It fits the bill, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s pleasing to the ear.
If you can swallow the cheesy vocals (indeed a spectacular feat for the untrained ear), what you’ll find is a very cool arranged/performance album celebrating some of the best themes from this long-running series. If you check out the composers and arrangers for this album, there’s one name that ought to stick out: Ryo Yonemitsu. Yeah, that guy. The one who did all that amazing VGM in the early ’90s and then disappeared for a decade. He worked on this project, and it shows. Check out the samples for two of the songs he worked on (tracks 2 and 6), and revel in all its guitar-wailing glory.
I’ll quickly point out my favorite song, “Neppu! Shippu! Cybuster,” the classic theme of Masaki’s mech (Cybuster). The song is always good, regardless of the form, and it’s been done as a vocal track before as well. But really, this one was just the best, even with the guy-who-takes-himself-too-seriously singing and the girl-who-sings-three-octaves-too-high doing backup vocals. Really, truly excellent stuff, if you’re into this sort of thing.
Unlike most SRT albums, that were either printed by First Smile (old stuff) or Lantis (new stuff), this puppy was printed by Bellwood. I’ve never heard of them before, but the print run according to the packaging says it will go out of print in February of 2007, giving it a short 6 month run. If you’re interested, start looking before it’s too late.