It’s come to my attention that there’s a few of you ne’er-do-wells out there who take objection to the fact that “Rock the Dragon” was soundly defeated by “CHA LA, HEAD CHA-LA” in Issue 6 of Otaku USA. I can think of only one explanation for why anyone would think in such a fashion, and that’s that they just must not know about Hironobu Kageyama.
In the modern era of what passes for shonen anime and anime in general, the opening and ending theme songs are selected based on whatever single the sponsors are trying to promote at the time. That’s why most of the time the songs seem to have little to do with the show you’re watching. It’s because they don’t! But once upon a time, back when DBZ was still being made (and every so often nowadays), you encounter theme songs tailor-made to the show itself. And when that’s the case, chances are good that Hironobu Kageyama is on the scene.
Over the years, the man must have crooned nearly fifty songs specifically for Dragon Ball Z alone, most notably the opening theme songs. I may be committing blasphemy here, but I always liked “WE GOTTA POWER” the most out of all his DBZ discography. It might be because the first DBZ anything I ever saw was Fusion Reborn, the 12th movie. As fate would have it, I started off at the top of the mountain since that’s the greatest Dragon Ball anything ever, but regardless of what your favorite part of the Dragon Ball saga is, chances are there’s a Hironobu Kageyama song to go with it.
Alone, the man’s contributions to DBZ-dom would be just cause to canonize him in Anime Song Valhalla. But that’s just the start. Back in the 1970s when so much of anime being made was one super robot mecha series or another, you could always tell the theme song was written for the show because they’d say the name of the show/robot plus some of the special attacks right there in the lyrics. A similar rule holds true for those live-action sentai shows which get adapted into Power Rangers here in the US, and so it is that whenever they make a new super robot show or “ranger” series they invariably produce a tailor-made theme song for it, and Hironobu Kageyama is the man that must be appointed to sing that song so that tradition may be upheld.
But just as one solitary red ranger cannot battle the forces of evil, Kageyama is not alone. Much like that “Forever Red” episode of Power Rangers Wild Force, he is aided in his quest to scream his lungs out by a cavalcade of other anime singers that are each red rangers in their own right. With their powers combined, they form JAM Project, and you can rest assured that if there’s a Go Nagai remake or Super Robot Wars title, JAM Project will be there to belt out the theme song in throat-bleeding fashion, and that song’s name will probably be in English and composed entirely of capital letters because no mere kanji could ever hope to adequately contain the soulful might contained within Hironobu Kageyama after he says something like “DON’T WANNA KNOW WHY EVERYBODY READY GET IT ON!”
As fortune would have it, JAM Project is coming to America in a few short months, as they are the musical guests at Otakon this year. As this is probably one of the only chances you’ll get to see them perform short of heading out to Japan and mecha / tokusatsu fans are so dedicated to their interests that they will neglect to pack deodorant if it means that it’ll leave enough room in the suitcase for one more Revoltech figure, the fanboy funk miasma cloud at this event is likely to reach or even surpass the level set by the previous record set during the world debut of Macross Plus at Anime Expo so many years ago. This is the moment Mike Dent was born for! Will he fulfill his destiny and have Hironobu Kageyama and the rest of JAM Project endorse his podcast and only his, a la Tomokazu Seki last year? Don’t ask me! I can’t go to Otakon because all the hotel rooms sell out the week after the previous convention, months before they announce a single guest.