Phantom Metal, an attachment that vibrates with the wearer’s emotions to produce visuals and noises, is used to confront each other by impossibly gorgeous rapping teens. The illustrious “CLUB Paradox” hosts a rap battle between four teams: BAE, The Cat’s Whiskers, cozmez, and Akanyatsura. Which handsome yet humorously inept rapper will emerge victorious?
Gee’s verdict: Negative Flow
As Glorio’s resident hip hop aficionado, it appears that it is once again my turn to complain about comically bad Japanese corpo rap. There’s not much to say about these shows because any criticism I have is unrelated to the intended purpose of this type of product. On some level, this type of multimedia endeavor exists to sell products based on the pretty lads, and the quality of the music or poetry doesn’t really matter. You’re interested in this because you like the characters or the VA associated with it. It makes no attempt or cares about marketing good hip hop.
But, as the one and only warrior prepared to uphold the honor of the terribly deceased Nujabes, I can’t let it go. Hip hop in this anime is utter crap! Taku Iwasaki was hired as the show’s composer, and his background music flows better than the licensed pieces. That makes sense given Iwasaki’s history of incorporating hip hop into his work. That is maybe the most perplexing feature. Even if you only listen to songwriters with an anime/video game background, there is a lot of fantastic Japanese hip hop out there. If you pay, Lotus Juice will joyfully rap complete gibberish for you. Mabanua done an excellent work for MEGALOBOX. Punpee and Skirt are likely doing nothing now that the Odd Taxi film has been released. Get Daoko on the phone, you jerk. She hasn’t rapped in around ten years, but I’m sure she could.And it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of Japan’s absolutely exceptional hip hop discography over the last 30 years. RHYMESTER and King Giddra flawlessly mimicked 90s style, which paved the way for Shing02’s jazzy vibes in the 2000s, as well as more modern musicians like MIYACHI and JP THE WAVY.
Anyway, I realize none of this is important, but if you’re even somewhat interested in Japanese hip hop, there are plenty of incredible examples to check out, both old and new school. You are not required to be satisfied with Paradox Live.
Artemis’ verdict: Phantom Hip-Hop
Anime has a history of categorizing music as’hip hop’ and then producing songs that sound like generic idol group material with hints of inspiration from the aforementioned genre. Nobody is surprised that Paradox Live falls into this category, but the fact remains that, despite Japan having a thriving hip-hop scene, this show draws nothing from it – it’s just an overly large cast of pretty boys dancing around in baggy clothes singing words with little rhyme and zero story. Because the background music is far superior, it’s a shame it wasn’t used for the main music passages.
If Paradox Live had gone the camp route and dialed everything up to 150%, a la SK8 but for hip-hop (even if it still wanted to use that word in scare quotes), I would have been cool with that. Unfortunately, the anime plays everything straight, with little effort put into making it funny for more than a few scenes. It’s probably a good series to watch with a friend while pointing out how stupid everything is every few minutes, but I don’t see much value in it otherwise.