Tokusatsu robot songs can lift spirits amid pandemic

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Gattai Damashii CD box

A special CD box set featuring only songs about robots from Super Sentai series tokusatsu superhero TV shows has been released. Titled “Gattai Damashii” (Combination spirit), the six-CD collection contains 122 robot songs from 45 TV shows, from “Himitsu Sentai Gorenger” (1975) to “Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger” (2021).

A notable feature of Super Sentai series are the giant robots boarded and operated by superhero team members in the shows.

In most episodes, the superhero team fights an enemy character who refuses to stay the same size until the end. The enemy usually comes back bigger and stronger to retaliate, only to be attacked by the giant robot. As if to show the superheroes’ combined effort to fight the evil, the robot comprises several machines operated by each member.

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The cover of lyrics booklet 1

These fighting giant robots are the shining stars of the show. The robot songs, or roboson, are not the shows’ theme songs, but are played during selected episodes to uplift the mood of the scenes.

Since the CD box set includes all the robot songs from Super Sentai series, fans can have the luxury of comparing a Gorenger song sung by Isao Sasaki in 1975 with a song about a combined robot in “Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger,” currently on air, sung by Sasaki and Mitsuko Horie. Another Zenkaiger song in the set is sung by Psychic Lover and Mayumi Gojo, so you can enjoy listening to two duets, one by a veteran duo and another by two tokusatsu singers of the 21st century.

Furthermore, what makes this box so fun is that the robot songs are arranged chronologically. By listening to them in order, you can feel the gradual change in such songs in line with the changes in the times.

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The cover of lyrics booklet 2

According to Kentaro Anai, the Nippon Columbia Co. director in charge of the Super Sentai series, the newer the songs, the faster their tempo. This is apparently because the battle scenes in the shows are becoming slightly faster with the evolution of computer graphics and other visual effects technology.

“On the other hand, the deepness of the sounds never changes,” Anai said. “We make sure that a faster tempo won’t make the music lighter. Lightweight doesn’t fit giant robots.”

The lyrics are another proud asset of the songs because they are full of the characteristics of each robot and the names of the signature weapons that vividly remind us of all the good scenes.

The liner notes are also special. They are not just the usual commentaries on the songs, but also include the thoughts on robot songs by 10 creators of the series, such as producers from Toei Co. Also among them are Katsuyuki Miyaba, who was responsible for music selection in the series; tokusatsu special effects director Hiroshi Butsuda; episode director Noboru Takemoto; and scriptwriter Junko Komura. They are all creators as well as big fans of the series, so their words are really interesting to read. The idea for the liner notes was suggested by writer Tomohisa Toyota, who was in charge of the planning and production of the box set.

To be honest, I feared that listening to full-power, typical robot songs one after another might be a bit overwhelming. But I was wrong. I felt high-spirited listening to the songs.

Come to think of it, those songs are all played at the climax of the episodes, so you can only feel elated.

Why don’t you pump yourself up with some riveting music by listening to this CD collection at home during this prolonged pandemic?

Suzuki is a Yomiuri Shimbun senior specialist and an expert on tokusatsu superhero films and dramas.