About Tamers’s OP, EDs, and insert songs

A translation of this post from Digimon Tamers lead writer Chiaki Konaka’s Digimon Tamers 2021 Blog, regarding Tamers‘s vocal music and the “Days -Information and the Extraordinary” drama CD. (The text was originally posted on his Twitter in December 2017, and reformatted for this blog post and posted on April 2, 2021.)


Here, I would also like to touch on the process of forumlating our approach towards the story for the BD-Box bonus drama CD “Days -Information and the Extraordinary-“.

It’s rather long, so I’ve extracted the text from a series of tweets and organized them here.

During the summer of 2017, I was asked to write a new drama CD, and so, in order to iron out a proper plan for what kind of story I wanted to make, I revisited Digimon music (not just Tamers) for the first time in a while and listened to it in endless succession.
Even Tamers by itself had an enormous number of CDs released for it, and it really was quite a surprise for me.

I had no direct involvement in Digimon’s music whatsoever. Had there been some kind of live concert or event for Tamers, I probably would have gone, but I haven’t had that kind of experience either. As a result, I wasn’t acquainted with Kouji Wada-san1. I remember being shocked when I heard of his passing.

The Biggest Dreamer

To be honest, when they showed me the demo for “The Biggest Dreamer” and told me that this would be the demo for the song, I remember being rather disappointed about it. The reason was that I’d really liked the rock sound from Adventure and 02, but here we had a very pounding and in-your-face 16-beat instrumental.

But I’ve been through countless experiences of taking my first impressions back like this. As I continued listening to it, Kouji Wada-san’s singing vocals were not only powerful enough to hear the kind of conviction that boosts confidence, but also had a sense of pain to it.

For the Digimon audience, the series’s most immortal song is “Butter-Fly”. Personally, I like the “Strong Version”, which brings it down a semitone and has only the guitar (a keyboard-less hard rock arrangement), but the one that moved me the most is probably the “Theater Version” with the a cappella.

As far as the music itself goes, taking out personal attachment related to being directly involved, my personal favorite is 02‘s “Target ~Red Shock~“, which is more of a hard rock song than the more oldies rock-n’-roll-styled “Butter-Fly”. Moreover, “Target” even happens to have a progressive development in its interlude, with an unusual time signature.

Like “Target”, “The Biggest Dreamer” was composed and arranged by Michihiko Ohta-san, and had an even more dramatic pace to it than there ever had been before. So, of course, once I’d gotten to listen to it, I inevitably ended up listening to it every day.

Incidentally, when a screenwriter ends up becoming involved with music, it usually starts the lyricwriting, but since I’m also someone who plays music myself, I ended up wanting to start with the song.

I haven’t been acquainted with the lyricist, Hiroshi Yamada-san, but he managed to get his committment across all the way down to the title of “The Biggest Dreamer”, the kind of title with a blunt meaning you wouldn’t normally expect for a children’s show. The lyrics even try to describe the period of a young boy’s life in very true-to-life ways.

The secondary title of the final episode, “The Power to Dream is What Makes Our Future”, is effectively my own translation of “The Biggest Dreamer”, and I was hoping to connect the song to the main story itself. But only episode 50, directed by Kakudou-san2, ended up having the song. Well, that’s how things are.

Taking a moment to touch on the opening movie, according to Kakudou-san, “It’s the masterpiece of a decade. No, perhaps, more like 15 years?”

Kaizawa-san3 has already forgotten the things he did himself for things like the 2D motion and the background image processing (and if you ask Producer Seki4, she’ll just say things like “ah, is that so?”…), so I would like to get on it and ask the media people what Kaizawa-san’s directing technique was.

Slash!!

In terms of lyrics, what surprised me the most was the insert song “Slash!!”, and I don’t know how far he read through the story before writing it, but the line “Realize your courage” made a shock run through me, and it had an extraordinary impact on supporting my heart as a writer.

“Slash!!” is sung by Michihiko Ohta-san himself, and the cool intro cutting right into the decisive scene gets me excited and think “there it is, there it is!” every time this song is played. In fact, the first decision in front of me when I started working on the drama CD was most certainly whether we’d have this song play or not.

I knew that it would be easy and straightforward to just make a sequel with an easygoing atmosphere, but I think the thing stopping me was that I kept thinking, Tamers is something different, isn’t it? Or in other words, it would become something that would dramatically reconstruct the idea of a “sequel” that I had been avoiding.

There must certainly be people who have imagined what happened after the final episode in their own hearts, and others who have made their own fanwork. However, when I thought about it in terms of the “sound” of a drama CD, I couldn’t come up with anything besides a sequel to the main story. I hope you can understand.

You can’t bring back Tamers‘s tension unless it’s something that’ll give the listener goosebumps. So with that, we put “Slash!!” (TV size) in it. Even writing this much about it gives me goosebumps and confidence.

Continuing on with Tamers‘s insert songs, the evolution song “EVO” was written by Shouko Ohmori-san, and I don’t know who the vocalist, WILD CHILD BOUND, is. In any case, the song is by Cher Watanabe-san, and although it has a techno sense to it, it’s more fundamentally power metal.

* An event in 2018 revealed WILD CHILD BOUND’s identity to be Masataka Fujishige-san.

The Ultimate evolution song, “One Vision”, returns to the Yamada/Ohta pair. The vocals are by Takayoshi Tanimoto-san. I’m grateful that this song could have lyrics that truly express the intention of the story. From the beginning of this project, I’d been thinking about how Digimon and children could truly fight together, and I’d asked Shinji Aramaki-san5 to draw the concepts for it, and I was finally able to guide all aspects of it together with Matrix Evolution. Although I think WiZ was the one who named it, not me.

* I have a bad habit of doing this when writing, but from here, the conversation ended up on a tangent about how I met the Digimon planning companies, WiZ and the Bandai Boys’ Toy Division.

I was the one who dragged down the meeting between Kenji Watanabe-san, Atsushi Kitagawara-san, and Volcano Ota-san6, and I’m still deeply sorry about that (the full story of how we switched from Impmon to Digimon is still detailed on http://konaka.com, but the original WiZ and Bandai plan had the protagonist’s Digimon partner be Impmon, and I said “he absolutely has to have an Agumon type,” and so Guilmon was newly created for it.

However, once that was through, I think we were truly able to create the ideal collaboration. In particular, Kitagawara-san made the plan to introduce Grani in the end, and I was able to plan out the composition of the story so that it would properly foreshadow him. I think the progression of the Ark becoming Grani and leading to Crimson Mode worked out perfectly.

But what truly worked out for the best was Grani’s voice actor, Masami Kikuchi-san, playing him with a quiet bass tone that just barely had a sense of emotion at the last minute.

“Do you want wings, Dukemon?”

Kenji Watanabe-san also made the designs for the D-Reaper Agents, and, most of all, the final version of the D-Reaper to appear (rough draft by Kenji-san, cleanup by Nakatsuru-san7) was a huge inspiration in writing the story.

The story behind the creation of the D-Reaper will be described elsewhere later.

I apologize for rambling on and on, but this series of posts was intended to be about “looking back at the songs and music of Tamers”. We’ll leave it here for today. Maybe I should do this on a blog? (End for now)

Volcano Ota
@volcano_ota
Replying to @yamaki_nyx and @kakudou
Incidentally, after Wada-san temporarily went on hiatus and returned, he said something along the lines of “I can still sing this song reasonably well even at the original key,” and he used to sing “The Biggest~” a lot at live performances…I remember something like that (^_^;)
December 12, 2017

Chiaki J. Konaka
@yamaki_nyx
Replying to @volcano_ota and @kakudou
Ah, it’s been a while…
December 12, 2017

Chiaki J. Konaka
@yamaki_nyx
Replying to @volcano_ota and @kakudou
Ah, the Strong Ver. was lowered by one semitone in order to make the sound of the guitar a little fuller, and back then, Wada-san was in top condition…

December 12, 2017

After this conversation, I was able to meet and speak with Kenji Watanabe-san and the now-voice actor Volcano Ota-san at the talk show event for Digimon Story (the PS game).8 When we were in the waiting room after the event, Ota-san told me about his memories of Wada-san. That was a good day.

Chiaki J. Konaka
@yamaki_nyx
There’s another version of “The Biggest Dreamer”, which is the “Rearranged Version” included in Digimon Opening Best Spirit. It’s an “unplugged” version with nothing but acoustic guitar, and you can hear Kouji Wada’s voice up-front with full realism. amzn.to/2j04FCb
December 13, 2017

Chiaki J. Konaka
@yamaki_nyx
The B-side for “The Biggest Dreamer”, “Wind”, was the Digimon song that had the strongest sense of a universal “good song”. The secondary title of episode 23, “Digimon All-Out Attack! Head Towards the Wind” has this song play in it, so that might be why we added it onto the title. amzn.to/2AyPWcl
December 13, 2017

Chiaki J. Konaka
@yamaki_nyx
The Digimon All-Out Attack title naturally comes from the Japanese title of Destroy All Monsters (1968), “Monster All-Out Attack”, and it’s the manifestation of my own massive excitement at the idea of Digimon finally becoming giant monsters and having a huge fight in Nishi-Shinjuku. As far as I’m concerned, Digimon really are giant monsters after all.
December 13, 2017

Chiaki J. Konaka
@yamaki_nyx
While I had no involvement with it (although I confirmed last night that I can’t quite exactly say that), the opening for Frontier, “FIRE!!”, went back to rock & roll, but I was surprised by its B-side “With The Will”. It was the kind of progressive metal you’d get from Dream Theater. Of course, it was by Cher Watanabe-san. It really pushes on you…
December 13, 2017

That “last night” I referred to was the Digimon Story talk show, and Kenji Watanabe-san confirmed to me that Chakkumon’s bear logo was derived from my (and my younger brother’s) symbolic “Kuma-chan” mark. At the time, seeing that had made me think, “huh, one of the main Digimon in the next series seems familiar.”

Ending Themes

The ending songs for Tamers were sung by Ai Maeda-san, also known as AiM, who had also done them for the prior series. Tetsuji Nakamura-san did the direction for the ending sequence, and, paired with the refreshing song that “My Tomorrow” was, I think it was especially relieving for the younger viewers during the beginning to see that the children, who’d had awkward relations with each other during the earlier episodes, would eventually become proper friends.

The second half’s ending was “Days -Affection and the Ordinary-“. It’s a “fierce love song” with a Beatles kind of sound, but at first, I was taken aback. Certainly, it is true that, when you put the focus on Takato, it’s a sort of Bildungsroman for him, and it’s not like there aren’t any romance elements in the story at all. But even when you put it in that way, there’s no way you could possibly describe it as a romance story. Even now, I’d still like to ask the music producer what he was thinking. But it is undeniable that the song has its own charm, and I don’t think there’s any other song that brings out Ai Maeda-san’s singing so vividly. Maeda-san’s vocals are almost entirely unprocessed beyond EQ adjustment, and it has a fresh feeling even down to the breathing. It’s a song that gets the feelings naturally and fully across. When Takato finally saves Juri in the final episode, she embraces him with gratitude. That’s about as much as we were able to reflect the song in the story itself.

“My Tomorrow” was also full of an organic sort of sound like that of the 80s, and I believe the prior series used to have a lot of modern electro-pop, so while I don’t know if it was intentional, the Tamers endings were tracks made with a focus on live performance, and it personally made me very happy.

Chiaki J. Konaka
@yamaki_nyx
On top of the single version, “Days” also has a version called “Thanks Version 1”, which is included in Single Best Parade, and the chorus of the coda becomes thicker and longer as it fades out. I really like how it gives me an odd feeling of excitement. amzn.to/2CbaGnW
December 13, 2017

There have been various kinds of speculation about the fact that the subtitle of the drama CD is a play on this song, but I’ll have to stay quiet about it for now. I won’t be writing here about what happened with Takato and Juri afterwards. In any case, I finally got to talk about the opening, endings, and main insert songs (this got long).

Well, now it’s been released, and those who wanted to listen to the drama CD have heard it, and so as for what the “intention” of that was, well, actually, it’s just a very good song, so everyone should keep listening to it, or something like that.

As far is music is concerned, on top of that, I also tweeted a ton about the character songs, and the soundtracks, but…


Translator's notes
  1. Kouji Wada = The vocalist for a number of famous Digimon songs, including opening songs for Adventure through Savers, who passed away in 2016. []
  2. “Kakudou-san” = Hiroyuki Kakudou, series director for Adventure and Adventure 02, and episode director for Tamers. []
  3. “Kaizawa-san” = The series director for Tamers. []
  4. “Producer Seki” = Hiromi Seki, producer for Adventure through Frontier, among other things. []
  5. Shinji Aramaki = A concept and CGI designer for Tamers. []
  6. Kenji Watanabe and Volcano Ota = Credited as being creators of the Digimon franchise, and heavily involved in its early planning and development. “Atsushi Kitagawara” is a guess at the name’s reading, since there isn’t much documentation on them. []
  7. “Nakatsuru-san” = Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, character designer for Adventure through Frontier. []
  8. The Digimon Story event Konaka refers to is an event held on January 27, 2018 that was held at the K-CAFE in Nakano Broadway, promoting the at-the-time upcoming Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory. []

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