(Bring My Love) Right Back to Me

Because the song translations I did for Pioneer were for the music division, not the anime division, they covered theme songs from other companies, too. That is the only possible explanation for Pioneer’s decision to hire me to work in 1997 on lyrics for the mad hair-metal theme to Fist of the North Star “Ai o Torimodose”. I did the best I could… and you thought Schoolgirl Milky Crisis was weird.

Shock of love! When heaven sent you it was just the start

Shock of love! Stopped me in my tracks, now you’ve got my heart

Burning fever binds me waiting for my love to find me

But now I’m giving it my all

None can stop my anger, I just point my little finger and down

They all fall

Shock of love! Just one look at you, heartbeat’s getting fast

Shock of love! Me and you as one, and it’s gonna last

Now my heart is burning with the madness they call yearning

To find the place where you’re hiding

I can’t live without you, fight the cruel thoughts that doubt you, I’ll do

Anything

Now you’re far away, a quest to save our love, and I’m here waiting for you

Tomorrow’s gone, until you bring the key

Never can forget your pretty smiling face, for I know your heart is true

Bring my love right back to me*

Shock of love! Shining light upon the shadows in my mind

Shock of love! Just the thought of you, and my thoughts unwind

When we’re back together, promise it will be forever and then

Take me in your arms

I will hold you to me and nobody’s gonna free me again

From your charms

repeat *

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Blackout

With his ponytail and khaki vest, Ichiro Itano looks like a rock star. The man who once strapped fifty fireworks to his motorbike to “see what would happen”, who once had a part-time job playing the Masked Rider in a department store theatre, is also one of the best animation action directors in the business. He taught for four years at the Yoyogi Animation College, and now he’s facing down a class of eager students in Switzerland, demonstrating how to use wide angle lenses, how to shoot moving vehicles, and how to block a cavalry charge against Chinese soldiers. All things that come in handy for the director of Angel Cop, Blassreiter and Gantz.

Someone asks about authenticity in animation, and his eyes light up mischievously.

“Let me put it like this,” he says. “There’s this flight school in America run by retired air force pilots. They’ll give you one lesson in really fast English, and one safety demonstration, and then they’ll take you up to 10,000 metres. You have a co-pilot, but he leaves it to you once you’re up. So it was me and Shoji Kawamori, in jets, ready for a dogfight. All as part of the research for Macross Plus. I wanted to know what it was like to fly a plane, to be in aerial combat, and I was curious about G-force.

“Each plane had a laser pointer, and if you could keep the enemy in your sights for three seconds, you scored a hit. So we started the dogfight, chasing our tails. I scored six hits on Kawamori. He was all over the place, but I was really good!

“So after all that, I decided: ‘I’ve done the dogfight. Let’s faint.’ So I grabbed the joystick and pulled right back on it. I heard the pilot shouting ‘Itano! Itano-san! Mr Itano! NO! Stop!’ and the G-force pushed me back in the seat. I felt my head lolling and then there was black. I’d blacked out, and it was like someone had pulled the plug on a computer.

“After that, it was just like I was rebooting. There was like static, and images, and the realisation that I was… wait… in a plane? Why am I in a plane? Why is there an American slapping my face…? Where am I… wha-? And then BANG, I’m back, after a minute unconscious, my head spinning as the co-pilot brought the plane down to land.

“I stumbled out of the cockpit and down the ladder, and then I threw up.

“Afterwards, everybody went to lunch. But the producer from Bandai took me off into a corner and just gave me a coffee, some paper and a pencil.

“He said: ‘No lunch for you. You might drop dead at any moment. First, you must draw the storyboards of a blackout.’

“So I sat there and drew the storyboards for the sequence in Macross Plus where a pilot blacks out. And that’s what we call authenticity.”

(This article first appeared in NEO magazine #69, 2010)

Tough Boy

Just when you thought it was safe, I dig up another of my song translations from the Pioneer anime CDs. This one is the theme from the second series of Fist of the North Star, for which i set myself the intellectual exercise of keeping all the Engrish lyrics in exactly the same place in my translation as they occurred in the original.  “Tough Boy”, for so this song is called, is an interesting exercise. Even to the Japanese, it must have seemed impossibly dated — I was hired to translate it in 1997, with a chorus that lionised the fact that its singer was “living in the eighties.” Good luck with that!

From the looks of this, it seems that I couldn’t be bothered to make the lyrics to this one actually rhyme. Perhaps I knew I was on a hiding to nothing.

Welcome to this crazy time

On the run and deep in trouble, your life’s on the line

You’re such a tough boy…

She never met a boy that made her feel so bad

I got a feeling that a man like you could drive her crazy

You, tough boy…

Here we are, at the end of the century

Our time is now, out on the streets, our generation’s taking over

Keep you burning, till the race is run

Got to be more to your life than all this scum and crime and dirty fighting

No boy no cry, cast your fears aside

There’s a bright tomorrow waiting, wait until you see the rising sun

We are living, living in the eighties

We still fight, fighting in the eighties

Looks as if you’ve had your share of battle scars

It’s gonna take more than a few hard knocks to break your spirit

Such a tough boy…

Everywhere she turns she gotta feel so sad

I got feeling that’s there more to you than causing trouble

Tough boy…

Here we are, in the eternal rockland

Our fists are raised, it’s time for us to make a stand and take it over

Keep you burning, till the race is run

Gotta fight the madness of illusion, till our hopes and dreams are all our own

No boy no cry, keep on keeping on

Turn and face the wind and take its strength so you can be a hurricane

We are living, living in the eighties

We still fight, fighting in the eighties

We are living, living in the eighties

We still fight, fighting in the eighties

You’ll notice, perhaps, that my pronouns are all over the place here — a sign of my indecision over whether the singer was male or female, and hence whether the titular tough boy was first- or third-person. Such switches in addressee are a bad idea. I’m pretty sure, for example, that such vagueness in the lyrics of “How Does She Know” in Enchanted cost the song its Oscar. But there won’t be any Oscars for “Tough Boy”, either, not till hell freezes over. These days, I would be able to YouTube the original song and get a look at the band… or Wiki them to work it out, but those options weren’t available 13 years ago. At least, they weren’t to me.