April 2, 2009

Punkolle - listen once, then sweep it under the rug forever

After over a month of waiting due to some shipping snags and the delay of another accompanied item, my copy of Punkolle ~voice actresses' legendary punk songs collection~finally arrived last weekend. Well..where to start?

It's fitting that the cover features moe avatars of the six seiyuu all delivering the middle finger squarely to the listener. I suppose that is exactly what was promised though - terrible renditions of songs pronounced with atrocious engrish accents in ridiculous voices. In fact even the "engrish" part is suspect as many tracks are utterly incomprehensible. The liner notes naturally do not contain any lyrics, since it is clearly a wasted effort. I suspect the recording process involved the recording crew ambushing stumbling drunk seiyuu on the way home from a bar with a microphone and betting if they could sing from memory.

Of course for everyone who happily listens to the Moetans, Maritans, and countless other "this is a pen" style attempts in the world by seiyuu to cutely mangle the English language, concerns about quality or clarity take a backseat to novelty. With this in mind as context, Punkolle was generally a success. Sure some songs had a few wasted opportunities to get creative with the source material, but most tracks met expectations nicely, and three particular ones exceeded way above and beyond. In order of preference:

1. Sex and Violence. This song practically defines the entire compilation.
Momoi opens the album on a high note, taking generous artistic liberties with "Sex and Violence." In order to compensate for having exactly one line, each slightly-too-happy reptition is done with a slight variation on the voice or background effect that progressively escalates into the absurd. By the second half, Momoi has gone clearly lost her mind and has gone from just adding "cha cha!" in between lines to declaring herself to be a cat, yodeling in high falsetto for the backing vocals, slurring her speech like an old man, and inexplicably screaming "Oniitan!" (in a song about Sex and Violence). Listen carefully and you can probably pick out more than two dozen different voices in all.

2. God Save The Queen. I have no future.
Ikezawa Haruna's take on God Save The Queen is excellent and probably my second favorite track on the entire album. Ikezawa has a decent enough voice, but what really distinguishes this performance is that instead of just singing the words, she makes a ridiculously cute attempt to throw in an accent, tons of vocal slides, and plenty of style. She even rolls the R's! The effort is quite amazing and at some points it almost seemed as she really did believe she was a punk superstar. The song sort of runs away with its own personality and makes for highly amusing listening. She does this well in Basket Case as well, although to a lesser degree. Either way, Ikezawa's strange accent is something I can't quite pin down but I know I like it.

3. Pretty Fly (フォ・ア・ホワイト・ガイ)
Since "Pretty Fly" is already a satirical work in itself, intentionally corny, and a popular target for parodies, I figured there wasn't really much potential in this song aside from maybe the humor in Kadowaki Mai calling herself a white guy. Yet somehow, Mai manages to create a musical abortion that few people can ever be ready for. The entire song sounds like it was done by a second grade student desperately trying to recite lines for the school play while making "> <" eyes and running out of air. The delivery is occasionally broken up by her piercing "ahaa ahaa" that is enough to make me nervously check over my shoulder for policemen (explaining the situation probably wouldn't make things better). This is the track you can show to annoying people if you want them to look at you funny and leave you alone.

While there are a few other nice covers, these three tracks are all that make the entire album worth getting. Of the remaining titles, Momoi's Call Me was probably the strongest in terms of singing ability. Other fun tracks included Goto Yuko's surprisingly non-abrasive "Smells like Team Spirit", "London's Burning," and Shimizu Kaori's "Blitzkrieg Bop" which sounds like it was ripped out of an Adventure Island level. The weakest tracks were Tanaka Rie's covers which, while not actively bad, did suffer from extreme dullness. Punkolle could be a historical album noted to be one of the few song compilations where Goto actually comes out ahead of somebody else.

So I guess I lied in the subject, because the truth is I actually might listen to it a few more times, but only certain songs and I probably wouldn't admit it under any non-otaku social setting. In the right situations though, it is a nice CD to bring out especially since it appears to have flown under the radar in the English speaking community (I only read 2 - 3 sites talking about it at all). As proven in Hawaii by another Momoist, it can be weaponized for highly effective use during road trips - great for springing on a captive audience. To avoid severe bodily harm when listening in a group setting such as the above, make sure everybody involved has a safety word established in case things get out of hand.

Buy it!

Also, I got the Momoi card :P

Posted by Paranda at April 2, 2009 11:15 PM

Comments

>> it appears to have flown under the radar in the English speaking community

CDJapan and Amazon compete to sell their things to me, the good buyer, so I knew about this pretty loooong time ago.

I think it sucks. Terribly.

Posted by: danie~ at April 3, 2009 7:32 AM


Amazon never really knows what I want but CDJapan is great about this though. They've beaten Momoi to some of her own announcements. Actually Amazon kind of annoys me out because I'll look at one page for an electric skillet or something and the next week I'll get "We noticed you are buying cookware" stalker ads yet I can't seem to opt out of this one feature without disabling new item notification entirely.

Re: album I'd say the majority of this album is pretty much unlistenable for the second time around including my #3 pick, but I just can't trash it completely since I'll still find myself voluntarily replaying Sex and Violence and God Save The Queen.

Posted by: paranda at April 3, 2009 9:41 AM


Oh, you bastard. The Momoi card~~~~

Posted by: tenton at April 4, 2009 12:31 AM


Was the production staff all drunk, from the conception to production? Besides incorrectly using a kanji in Momoi's name in the introduction piece (yet not anywhere else!), Ikezawa's given name is written as "Haluna" in track 2, but as "Haruna" in track 8, but only in the back of the case. Who's Kadowaki Maii(iiiiiiiiii)? One 'i' is plenty, thank you very much.

And after all, they did come up with the idea of releasing a CD with 6 unrelated seiyuu singing not-all-so punk music.

Or maybe all that is intentional..., punk!

Posted by: catsspat at April 4, 2009 9:55 PM


Was the production staff all drunk, from the conception to production? Besides incorrectly using a kanji in Momoi's name in the introduction piece (yet not anywhere else!), Ikezawa's given name is written as "Haluna" in track 2, but as "Haruna" in track 8, but only in the back of the case. Who's Kadowaki Maii(iiiiiiiiii)? One 'i' is plenty, thank you very much.

And after all, they did come up with the idea of releasing a CD with 6 unrelated seiyuu singing not-all-so punk music.

Or maybe all that is intentional..., punk!

Posted by: catsspat at April 4, 2009 9:55 PM


Well, at least for Kadowaki Mai, she changed the kanji for her name, so I think that's partially understandable.

Besides, what's a punk album without everyone being drunk? With the way some of the songs got butchered, I could sure use a few drinks. ^_^

I can still tolerate most of the songs except for Smells Like Teen Spirit. Maybe that's because I custom made a CD with the originals following right after. The Therapy Tracks, I call them. :P

Posted by: tenton at April 5, 2009 1:15 PM


Wow! You are right, this has completely flown under the radar in the English speaking world! It's a tragedy, judging by the ten second audio clips, its an absolute masterpiece! I am sure the Exploited would be happy to know that thirty years after they recorded "Sex & Violence" it would be covered by a deranged group of drunken japanese female singers..quite fitting really!
So how on earth do I order it? I speak not a word of japanese and when I tried to translate the "http://avexnet.or.jp/punkolle/index2.html" in google it came out as babbling nonsense.
I would be really thankfull if you could let me know or have you considered making a torrent or uploading it to rapidshare/mediafire etc - I know it would make so many people delerious with joy!
Failing that, a step by step guide on how to order the thing would be really appreciated!

Many thanks from the UK
Paul.

Posted by: paul harvey at February 1, 2010 3:04 PM


It's still for sale :) See the "buy it" affiliate link in the post.

Posted by: paranda at February 9, 2010 12:05 AM


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