Sunday, November 27, 2016

WTPT-Pokemon Christmas Bash Review-Part 1

Way back in 2007, I appeared on the WTPT Pokemon Podcast to discuss the "Pokemon Christmas Bash" album. In the first part, KC and Jowy do a brief news segment, then bring me in to introduce the album:

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for permission to upload this audio.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Review: Pocket Monsters XYZ Character Song Collection Volume 2

Steven Reich
Earlier this year, Pokémon put out an EP of character songs featuring the Japanese voice actors from the sixth generation of the anime. Predictably (given that the EP had “Vol. 1” in its title), this has led to a second volume that was released in late October. Despite its name, this second volume also includes the songs from the first volume (though not their instrumental counterparts), and as such, the question becomes whether the new songs add enough value for consumers who already picked up the first volume. Here’s a run-down of the new tracks on this album:


“DreamDream” is one of several rearrangements of songs from earlier in this generation in this collection. Unlike when this was done in generation four for Hikari (Dawn), however, this version is fairly close to the earlier release of the track. As a result (and perhaps also due to my unfamiliarity with Serena’s Japanese voice actor, Mayuki Makiguchi), I’m not particularly attached to this rendition of the ending theme. It’s hardly bad, but doesn’t offer much beyond the original version.

Brilliantly (a.k.a. Glitter)

Performed by Citron’s (Clemont’s) voice actor Yūki Kaji, this remake of a song from the “Getter Ban Ban” single was more appealing to me, but perhaps that’s just an indication of my fondness for his engineering work (similar to how my love of art elevates my opinion of Tracey), or that the underlying song appeals to me more due to its “fun” quality. In any case, it ends up being one of the standout tracks on this collection for me.

Pikachu’s Song

A call-and-response track between a group of children and Ikue Ohtani, this is clearly a song designed for a different audience. There’s a fair amount of variation, and I appreciate the challenge writing this song must have presented, but it’s definitely not something I would listen to more than once in a while.

Meowth’s Ballad

Another in a line of Meowth-related tunes, this song (as the name implies) goes for a lighter mood akin to “Meowth’s Song” from generation one. Like the older track, I enjoy listening to this, and it’s impressive that Inuko Inuyama can deliver such a low-key performance. Definitely comes across as one of the better entries on this CD.

XY & Z (Movie Version)

As one might expect, this is the earlier TV version with some new instruments (Side Note: I really miss instances like the first few English movies and “High Touch” where they would re-do or otherwise majorly change the theme for the movies-it doesn’t have to happen for each one, but it would be nice to see more often). My feelings on this version are pretty much the same as the original-it’s good overall, but the ending doesn’t seem to be quite what I wanted tonally.


If I didn’t own either, I’d probably pick up just this second volume (especially since I’m not running a station anymore), as there’s not a great need to own the instrumental versions present on the first volume. If you already have that first EP, I would still say this is worth purchasing as long as you’re interested in enough of the new tracks. I would have preferred to have a few more fully original songs, but in general it’s still a good package.

Want to see an unboxing of this CD?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pokemon: The First Movie Ending Theme Comparison

Anne of Pikapi Podcast joins in to compare the Japanese and English ending themes of Pokemon: The First Movie. What do "Together With The Wind" and "We're A Miracle" have to offer, and which one will come out on top?

Additionally, I recently posted some bonus audio from that discussion:

If that's still not enough for you, here's a preview of our discussion of the second movie's ending themes:

The full version will be posted later, but you can hear it now as a timed exclusive on the Pikapi Podcast Patreon feed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Unboxing a "We're A Miracle" Mastering CD

Christina Aguilera's "We're A Miracle" wasn't written or recorded for Pokemon: The First Movie, but it did take some work to make it ready for the film. Here, we go over a mastering CD that I picked up off of eBay that fills in some details about how that song ended up where it did:

This was an interesting opportunity for me, as I'm always looking for ways to find out more about the production process behind Pokemon music. It's difficult to say if or when I'll have another chance like this, but I'll certainly keep looking.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

WTPT-2.B.A. Master Review-Part 4 (Listener Mail) + First Movie Ending Theme Discussion

In the last part of the episode, we go over some of the mail Jowy and KC received:

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for permission to upload this audio.

If you missed some of the earlier parts (or want to restart from the beginning), all four parts are available in a playlist:

If you still need more discussion of Pokemon music, Anne from Pikapi Podcast and I recently recorded a comparison of the Japanese and English ending themes for the first Pokemon movie ("Together With the Wind" and "We're a Miracle"). It will appear here eventually, but for now it's a timed exclusive on the Pikapi Podcast Patreon feed. Here's a sample:

Monday, September 19, 2016

WTPT-2.B.A. Master Review-Part 3

We continue our discussion of the Pokemon 2.B.A. Master album by giving our overall thoughts:

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for permission to upload this audio.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mega Shiny Garchomp Cosplay (Geek.Kon 2016)

At Geek.Kon 2016, I had an opportunity to interview Ross Cunha, a cosplayer with an amazing Mega Shiny Garchomp outfit. Find out what materials he used, and what went into the build process:

After this video was posted, Ross provided us some photos showing the construction of the costume:


Partially assembled headpiece

Partially painted headpiece

Wire planter used for tail
Dorsal fin
This is definitely one of the most impressive costumes I've ever seen at a convention, and I had a great time interviewing Ross about his creation.


Steven: What does it take to make a killer Garchomp costume? Let’s find out.

Hi, I’m Steven Reich, here at Geek.Kon 2016 with Ross Cunha, who has made an absolutely fantastic Mega Shiny Garchomp costume. We have a little bit of it here, but you can see a full picture of it right now.

And Ross, let’s talk about a few parts of it. Start at the beginning. Why did you choose to make a Shiny Mega Garchomp in the first place?

Ross: Well, I was playing Pokemon X and just wondering around Route 13, the desert area. I came across a random encounter and it was a Shiny Gible. Like, oh my goodness, that is the first Shiny I’ve ever encountered in the wild. So, I just had to capture it. And I did. And I leveled it up into a Garchomp and Mega Evolved it. I had no idea that the Mega Evolution form would look so drastically different from the regular version. I’m like, wow that is beautiful. That is going to be my next cosplay.

Steven: Absolutely. That’s sometimes the inspiration there. Let’s just do this head to toe. So, you’ve got right here with us, you’ve got the headpiece. Which, you can see there has the face, and the teeth, and the little side things. How did you go about making that? Where did you start? And what was the process like?

Ross: I started off with a bicycle helmet. I decided I would build up the basic shape with paper mache and wiring. And then I wanted to experiment with a type of thermal plastic. So, I decided to go with WonderFlex. What I did was I basically used cardboard that I got from my work. The fins here are made from cardboard tubes. So I built up the basic shape, covered it in WonderFlex. Then, I decided I wanted an articulate jaw.

Steven: Oh, it actually moves. That is really neat.

Ross: I built up the jaw using wood and cardboard. Made the teeth out of wood. And I put little hooks and rubberbands on the inside of it so that the jaw would move when I talk. After that, came the painting. And it just came out better than I had ever expected. I put a lot of time mostly into building the helmet alone, compared to the rest of the costume.

Steven: But we do still want to talk about it and let the folks at home know about the rest of the costume. So besides the head, you also had to build basically a jumpsuit. What went into that to cover the torso and legs?

Ross: Well, first came the material. I wanted to do a Shiny version. But knew that if I went with anything that was actually shiny in material, it would probably look pretty bad for pictures. So I went with a dull satin. And I managed to find just the perfect color at my local fabric store. Started off with the leggings, and then I built the shirt to go with it, and I sewed them together. I left a slot in the back because I knew that I had to be wearing a dorsal fin as well. So, I had to accommodate for that as well.

Steven: You really got everything in there. The fins in the back- well, there’s a fin and then there’s a tail. How did those come together?

Ross: First thing that I had to do was I made the fin out of wood. And I took pictures from the game, blew it up, and made it to scale. So I cut out the fin, and I made myself a harness using a metal plate, and bolts, and brackets.

Steven: And you actually attached- the tail is attached to the fin by a wire there. Is that just to keep it from dragging on the floor?

Ross: Yes. The wire is also a conscious safety choice for other people that might be near my costume. Because obviously, if they get caught on it, it could damage their cosplays or anything like that. Fortunately, that’s never happened. But yeah, it’s for both support and visibility.

Steven: You also had to make some claws on your arms for the costume. Is that more wood there?

Ross: Yes. Those are made out of wood. And I drilled finger holes for them. So, I’m basically holding them like this at all times. And the interesting part about that one was making the sleeves that cover up my wrists. So, I wanted to go for a complete look. And my wrists are completely covered up. I have literally no use of my hands at all while I’m wearing the costume.

Steven: Yeah, it’s obviously not something you want to wear all the time. Which, is one reason we only brought the headgear down for this interview. How much would you say the costume weighs, overall?

Ross: Let’s see. This helmet alone weighs about 7 pounds. The tail itself is made from an old tomato planter that I found in my back tool shed. And that’s about 2.5 or so. The dorsal fin, probably another 2. All around, I’d say probably about 15 pounds. The sides themselves are rather heavy for their size.

Steven: Yeah. That’s always something to consider. But, it looks like you managed to accomplish getting around at the photo shoot yesterday pretty well. You sort of implied earlier you’ve made other costumes. Which ones have you made?

Ross: I’ve never done any other Pokemon costumes before. The ones I’ve done before this are Batou from Ghost in the Shell, and Dust from Dust: An Elysian Tail. I’ve never actually made a costume of this size and scale before.

Steven: Absolutely neat. And like I said, super impressive costume when it’s all put together. Alright. Well, this has been Steven Reich from Geek.Kon 2016.

Transcript by