Brace yourselves. Here, we have a four-year long project of a number of renowned artists, musicians, designers and engineers. It took four years and bucketfuls of talent. To create this. This. On the official website, there’s something like a statement or a personal note written by the executive producer, Aoki Ryou. That statement was about the pandemic, how a number of events related to Gibiate’s release were canceled and how they chose not to postpone the show voluntarily. Now, that was a massive mistake. See, the worst thing about Gibiate isn’t that it’s mediocre; it’s the fact that a bunch of creatives couldn’t tell that it’s half done and that crucial pieces of the story, the animation, the dialogues and the directing were left out. Did no one see it after it was edited? It’s no longer a matter of artistic choice and artistic freedom; it’s a matter of a badly produced project and not being able to understand that the project had already collapsed before the very first episode aired.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t really plan on including spoilers but in case there are a few, I don’t care and probably neither should you.
The Opening Theme. Shamisen instead of vocals? “GIBIATE” by Yoshida Brothers feat. SUGIZO
At the start, I’m like “Well, ok. That sounds nice.” but after a short while, I begged to listen to some vocals -especially in the chorus. The melody of the song does not justify the use of the shamisen. It just doesn’t. It’s written in a manner to approximate vocals and this is something that shouldn’t have happened. This project has been promoted as a grand collaboration between world-renowned musicians and artists. Why follow the OP norm, then? It’s as if it was a cover song. Although in his interview, SUGIZO stated that he showcased a plethora of different Japanese music traditions, everything was overshadowed the moment the shamisen pretended to carry a vocal-styled melody.
Not to mention that there was a seemingly huge rest around the 00:28 mark that I wasn’t happy with. The song started off dynamically but I found that it didn’t match the visuals well enough. It’s as if it was a draft rather than the actual piece. But to be fair, I don’t entirely blame the song, I blame the parts of the song that were selected. The rest of it is not as bland as these 90 seconds. Then the dynamism built during the first thirty seconds faded away, in the sense that we got used to it. There was no gradual climax, nothing to predispose us that we’ve reached the peak of the song. It just went flat, probably because it reached said peak on the very first part, at around 00:14.
Also, what happened to the outro? There was nothing to support those two little shamisen notes at the end. (To clarify: ‘little’ as in their sound. It’s a sort of muted sound and to be heard, the strings must be struck with quite a bit of force.) It’s half done. Why? A second ago, it was the most interesting part of the entire song, right? Or that’s what it was supposed to be. How can it end with a turn-off as big as this?
OST first impressions. by Koshiro Yuuzou
I found the first scene engaging and the first track holds this melancholy that makes sense given the story. Everything was cinematic, we had a nice track, until we came across a derp spider-frog inside the plane that was flying next to the helicopter we were following. You know, 2 minutes in and I wanted out. After looking at this shady 3D design, the music just stopped having an impact on me. And it was a shame because the first track was nice.
If the soundtrack was different or if someone else composed it, the anime itself would have looked so much worse. The music helps. A lot. No, it doesn’t only help. It makes me wanna watch what’s going to happen. It dramatizes whatever that is we’re watching. It has so many layers, so many elements but everything works really nicely together. Really, the best part about it is how Koshiro Yuuzou utilized the timbre of each section to create a number of layers capable of meddling with the viewer’s emotions.
Overall, it’s the only good reason I can find to watch this show. I’m not really fond of the character design, the Gibia design, the dialogues nor the 3D animation. Maybe I should just read the story and listen to the soundtrack on its own. Or perhaps, I should give the whole thing a second chance…
The Ending Theme. Not as bad as the OP. “ENDLESS” by SUGIZO feat. Ooguro Maki
So, there are two ED versions. The one is sung by Ooguro Maki and the other one is sung by a new Chinese band, VOGUE5. As I haven’t found the VOGUE5 ED, I will not be commenting on it.
So, this has been called a ballad by the creative team. But if I called it a ballad, I would have to add a couple more words, as in: It’s a fast power ballad with modern enka influences maybe some power pop and new wave, flirting with the 1990s decade. The tempo of 90 BPM, the intense drumming and powerful guitar solos/riffs definitely wouldn’t make me call it a ballad in the first place but that’s merely a technicality…
Now, as for the song. I like it. I deeply believe that it’s immensely better than the OP and it definitely picks up the vibes of the anime better. There’s one thing that I dislike and that’s on 00:25. There’s something wrong with the vocals there. Either the melodic line, the lyrics, the way those two notes were sung or Ooguro’s breathy and husky voice made it look as if it was out of scale (but not an accidental). The rest is fine, with a better progression and an evenly distributed dynamism.
Arguably, the most important part of creating is knowing when to say ‘no’. In this project, I feel that the word ‘no’ has been totally neglected, perhaps even forgotten. I spent some time watching the artists’ comments on the GIBIATE project, I spent some time reading about the team’s background and careers. The GIBIATE project is supposed to be an anime that gave the artists a chance to work together. If not for Gibiate, they probably wouldn’t have it. But more importantly, what this project did, or better what it planned to achieve was to promote Japan. Japan is defined by its polar opposite duality of tradition and modernism. What I gather is that people are interested in Japan or worst case scenario, they are just neutral, meaning that they don’t spend much time thinking about it. If the entire point of the project was to communicate Japanese traditional music to the world, then it would have probably been a better idea to make really well-made short non-animated stories or short clips with just the music. If the animators and designers were a must-have, then I would still prefer animated short stories, without much dialogue, perhaps only a couple of thematic lines, related to the music. Not badly written incoherent blabber. That significantly lowers the production value. NHK did a splendid job introducing the world to the Japanese tradition, through their Blend series, where they rearranged popular songs from the west to showcase their traditional music instruments. The point was to communicate -in an interesting and high quality manner- Japanese culture to the rest of the world.
So, that’s marketing. Did they really try to promote the project? The YouTube channel in which they uploaded the anime trailers and the interviews of the artists is a mess. And not only that. Now that I’m writing about it, I see that it has 778 subscribers. Yes. Seven-seven-eight. And I’m one of them. What promotional method did they use? What marketing strategy did they follow? How did they manage to attract a mere 33K views after spending four years on the project? That’s their best number, btw. How did they manage to make a video that could attract only 15 views? No, it’s not a typo. Fifteen. As in a bit more than a dozen people were interested enough to watch it. How did they communicate it abroad, exactly? So, their only hope was the canceled expos?
Most of an anime’s budget goes to marketing it. Where was that exactly? What I see is a vision of few that could not be realized and a money-pit where every last yen fell into.
- OP was flat after the first 14 seconds.
- OP song was not edited well to become a good OP and raise the viewer’s excitement as it should.
- In the OP, the melody carried by the lead shamisen resembled a melody that should be sung. So, it seems more like a cover rather than an original song.
- OST is very good and suits the story and the setting.
- ED that is better executed and more dynamic when compared to the OP.
- The creative team seems to have made inappropriate artistic decisions. As I’ve only seen the first episode so far, I call it a bust rather than a success.