review - 01.03.2018 00:01

The godmother of "girls metal" throws her hat and goggles into the “anison metal” ring.

It’s seldom possible to pinpoint the date a genre of music came into being, but the birth of “anison metal” can safely be said to be October 23rd 1996 – the day ANIMETAL’s debut single was released. In the two decades since, “anison metal” has become a small but vibrant facet of Japan’s metal scene, thanks in part to the continued involvement of Japanese metal luminaries like ex-ANIMETAL frontman EIZO Sakamoto. In late 2014, Mina, the godmother of “girls metal” and then-leader of DESTROSE, threw her hat (and goggles) into the ring with ANIMETA Girl.

Despite sharing (most of) a name with ANIMETAL, Mina’s project doesn’t share her forerunners’ habit of only playing the 90-second excerpts of songs actually played over an anime’s opening credits. Instead, all five covers run their original length. An aspect of the ANIMETAL formula that she stayed true to is in her choice of covers, selecting songs so far removed from rock or metal, you’re curious to give them a listen for the sheer novelty.

The one exception to this is her treatment of You Izumi’s Dame!. The original version, which served as an ending theme for “Rurouni Kenshin” in 1998, has always been a serviceable rock number in its own right. As such, Mina’s take is so little changed from the original, her session vocalist Toguro Imoto, better known nowadays as FATE GEAR frontwoman Nico, might as well be doing karaoke.

Fortunately, she was a touch more adventurous with the mini-album’s other tracks, including its high point, the iconic “Sailor Moon” theme Moonlight Densetsu. It’s pretty clear Mina wanted to make this cover something special, as she went to the trouble of recruiting a live rhythm section for the recording: BRIDEAR bassist HARU and Screaming Symphony drummer Leo Wakiya feature alongside Nico. Best of all, Mina also shoehorned an exchange of solos with guest keyboardist Takanashi Yasuharu after the second chorus.

The remaining tracks can’t top Densetsu, but they do manage to avoid the Dame! karaoke trap. The metal rendering of Matsumoto Rica’s Mezase Pokémon Master is surprisingly successful, and far better executed than Powerglove’s mangling of Jason Paige’s Pokemon Theme (Gotta Catch ‘Em All). To close the album, Mina revisits “Sailor Moon” and serves up another surprise in the process. Though not augmented to the extent Densetsu was, Otome no Policy, as sung by earthy-voiced ex-Disqualia frontwoman IBUKI, is a world away from the breezy little ditty that launched Ishida Yoko’s career.
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