The Feminine Touch to the Manly Spirit

Whenever I listen to the full version of the opening to Brave of the Sun Fighbird, a particular lyric gets my attention. Not present in the TV version, the line says, “Kanashimi o kudake, taiyou no tsubasa,” or “Crush sadness, oh wings of the sun.” The way the singer Yasuko Kamoshita emphasizes each syllable of “kanashimi o kudake” sends a jolt of excitement through me.

I think the reason why I notice it so much is because it’s a super robot theme sung by a woman. However, it’s not just because it’s a female vocalist, but because I feel like given the exact same song with the exact same fiery lyrics, male singers and female singers for super robot anime produce different results. Music’s not my strong suit, but if I had to describe the difference, it’s that the male singers tend to sound more passionate while the female singers tend to sound more heartfelt. When Kamoshita tells Fighbird to “crush sadness,” you can hear a twinge of sadness in her voice too.

You might be thinking, “But wait a second, it might just be because this is a 90s anime and at that point anime songs were changing!” And you’d be right on both points, but I think that this feeling extends back towards previous decades as well. Let’s not forget that female singers for super robot anime have been around for quite a while. I get the same impression from Horie Mitsuko’s work on Super Electromagnetic Machine Voltes V and Space Demon Daikengo, as well as MIO/MIQ’s Aura Battler Dunbine and Heavy Metal L-Gaim openings, though those two  are real robot shows so that genre shift factors in as well.

“Men and women sound different!” seems like such an obvious thing, but it really makes me aware of how the same song or piece of art can take on varying emotions once you change certain pieces.

For a fun comparison, let’s look at various openings throughout the decades featuring duets between Horie Mitsuko and anime song legend Mizuki Ichirou.

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Sometimes It’s Translated as “Hero” Too

As I mentioned previously, Heroman seems to take a lot from Tetsujin 28, particularly with the idea of a kid remote-controlling a robot and using it to fight evil. However, I think there’s another series which draws a number of parallels to Stan Lee and Bones’ collaboration.

The series, or rather franchise I’m talking about is the “Yuusha” or “Brave” series. In  the 1990s, Sunrise and toy company Takara created a series of super robot cartoons emphasizing the combining robot (and in turn, sales of toys based on combining robots). There was a new show every year from 1990-1997, with The King of Braves Gaogaigar being the biggest name. The two I want to concentrate on in particular are the first two, Brave Exkaiser and, particularly, The Brave Fighter of the Sun Fighbird.

In both shows, alien space police possess Earth vehicles in order to fend off evil menaces, which is at this point the most likely origin for Heroman in my opinion, particularly with the way the scientist in the first episode of  Heroman sends his signal out to find extraterrestrial life. Similarly, in Fighbird a kooky scientist makes contact with alien life forms, including the aforementioned ghost alien cops, but also space criminals who escaped from a space prison (in space).

I know the similarities are pretty shallow, especially because Heroman is barely out at this point and hasn’t even established that much of its own story, but it really reminded me of those early Brave shows.