Some say Hironobu Kageyama is THE anime singer (I did). Why not? He is one of the most illustrious shounen anime, games, and tokusatsu show singers to date. Though I am very sure you have heard of at least one song from him, or his band, JAM Project, I want to introduce you to a few others. I hope by the end of this you will have some newfound favorite songs by him.
Much like his peer anison (anime song) singer that I covered before, Isao Sasaki, Hironobu Kageyama has had a long career as a prolific entertainer. His real name is written as 景山浩宣 (Kageyama Hironobu) but he changed it to 影山 ヒロノブ with the same pronunciation. He was born on February 18, 1961, and has been active in the music industry since the late 70s. Initially, he joined a band named Lazy as the vocalist. As he grew his career, he found his niche in the anime/tokusatsu/video game song genre.
One of his most long-lasting gigs is composing and singing many Dragon Ball songs. Fans of the series will know his songs such as “Cha-La Head-Cha-La,” “We Gotta Power,” “Dragon Power ∞”, and more.
In 2000, he co-founded an anime music supergroup named JAM Project (Japan Animationsong Makers) with other famous singers. Ichirou Mizuki (the aniki, or Big Brother, of anison), Masaaki Endoh, Eizo Sakamoto (of the Animetal fame), Rica Matsumoto (Satoshi/Ash in the Japanese Pokemon anime), and Kageyama himself made up the original members. Shounen anime fans will know them from the opening song of One-Punch Man anime adaptation, “THE HERO! ~Ikareru Kobushi ni Honō wo Tsukero~.”
For obvious reasons, I will not include “Cha-La Head-Cha-La”. I will try to have a wide variety of genres and origins be it from anime, games, or tokusatsu shows. Of course, they will be older songs that you may have never heard of.
Dragon Ball Final Bout—“Biggest Fight”
Dragon Ball: Final Bout is not a good game but I remembered the Japanese Opening song being amazing. Do not ask me how/why I played the Japanese version. “Biggest Fight” was replaced by an instrumental rock song in the US localized version. The whole game feels sluggish and the fighting mechanic was not fun and polished. This song is, to me, the only saving grace and I still love it.
Hikari Sentai Maskman—“Hikari Sentai Maskman”
This is one of the earlier super sentai gigs that Kageyama completed. Hikari Sentai Maskman aired from 1987-88 spanning 51 episodes. It is a fairly standard series as far as the genre goes. The theme focuses on latent mystical energy known as “Aura Power.” Each Maskman specializes in different martial arts. Red Maskman is a skilled karate-ka, Black Maskman is proficient in an Okinawan martial art named kobudo, Blue Maskman commands Chinese wushu, Yellow Maskman is adept in ninjutsu, and Pink Maskman is an expert in Taiji Quan.
The song is a great listen with beats that convey urgency and instruments that scream of the 80s’ glorious era. I heartily prescribe this song as an accompaniment when you jog.
Transformers: The Headmasters—“You Are a Transformer”
Did you know that the Transformers cartoon has spinoffs in Japan? Transformers: The Headmasters has a different storyline from the American cartoon. It was wholly produced in Japan based on licensing agreement with Hasbro. Takara, a giant Japanese toy manufacturer, imported the Transformers cartoon. After a couple of seasons, the company decided to create a Japan-exclusive continuity. The Japanese creators diversified from the animated series to video games, manga, and a novel.
“Suki Suki Suki”
I managed to find an original composition by Hironobu Kageyama unrelated to Japanese pop culture. “Suki Suki Suki” still sounds a lot like his usual rock creation but a little mellower. As you may have guessed from the title, the song is an intense confession to someone. Suki (好き) is often uttered by someone to express his/her liking towards something or someone. In this song’s case, a romantic attraction towards someone named Elisa.
Choujin Sentai Jetman—“Kokoro wa Tamago”
Yeah, I know. It is another song from a super sentai franchise. This song is different though. It is a nice melodic ballad that served as the ending song. It is a love song with an allusion to what would happen when one longs for a girl of his dreams. What he should do when he misses her and what he could do if they had a falling out. I find it an odd choice for a sentai show ending song but the themes sort of connect in a way. Choujin Sentai Jetman took after bird motifs and the song likens one’s heart to an egg. Another connection I can make is the love story between the Red Hawk and the White Swan that ultimately results in their marriage.
Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross—“Star Dust Memory”
“Star Dust Memory” is not the main theme for this rather obscure anime, rather it is an insert song. Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross is one of the several projects bearing the Super Dimension monicker. The most famous one being The Super Dimension Fortress Macross that was adapted in the US as Robotech. From what I understand, Southern Cross made up the second saga of the American Robotech series.
This is a great song to chill and drink tea to. I am super glad to discover that Hironobu Kageyama dabbled in one jazzy number. If only the song were longer.
Street Fighter II— Crimson Fist ~Burning Blood~
This is a rather quirky one. Kageyama covered Ken’s Theme from the Street Fighter series, adding unexpected lyrics to the classic. What set me off laughing is the inclusion of game sound effects in the middle. You need to listen to it to see what I mean.
That is all for now. I hope you have enjoyed the selection this time and perhaps gotten more curious about Kageyama’s other songs. He has shaped my enjoyment for heart-pumping, head-banging anisons. I came across many compositions and covers that I had never heard before while writing this. However, I will leave it to your own curiosity to discover more of his singing.