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11/7/13

MY TOP 10 FRENCHED-UP ANIME THEMES

Growing up in France, I was exposed so several delicious things: croissants, the word "merde", American B-movies and Japanese anime.

Every anime series was, of course, dubbed and entire new opening title sequences were designed to the sound of unique French tunes which usually had nothing to do with the original Japanese songs. Usually this was thanks to a TV show called Le Club Dorothée.

Some are corny, some are hilarious, some are brilliant, some are just bad, some are combinations.

Here are my personal favourites:

10
JULIETTE JE T'AIME
(MAISON IKKOKU)


Let's start with a guilty pleasure, shall we? Juliette Je T'Aime's opening theme was nothing epic or particularly exciting but it was catchy and you'll find it hard to meet a French person who doesn't remember, at the very least, the chorus. Sung by French anime theme mastermind Bernard Minet, it's corny but it's cute and puts you in a good, cosy mood before the show, what more do you want?

(listen to the original theme HERE)

9
ALBATOR 84
(SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK)



Now there were two Albator themes: one for the 1978 season and one for the 1984 season. The 78 theme is the one slightly older viewers remember but I personally grew up with the 84 one so it's the one I was exposed to the most. Besides, I always found the 78 theme a little dopy. At least this one sounds grand, like something important and official's going on! Sung by Franck Olivier, whom you can see horribly spliced into the above video, it's a memorable French-ified anime theme and sounds much less like a James Bond opening titles sequence than the original Japanese version does.

(listen to the original theme HERE)

8
OLIVE ET TOM
(CAPTAIN TSUBASA)


Like Juliette Je T'Aime, this theme is one which found itself embedded in every French 90's kid's DNA through basically being annoyingly catchy. The lyrics in this one are particularly awful but it's all about the opening choir which makes the show sound way more intense than it actually is. If you liked football growing up then this was the show for you: every game seemed to last for days! Singer Jean-Claude Corbel was also responsible for the French Duck Tales theme, which was awesome.

(listen to the original theme HERE)

7
SAMOURAI PIZZA CATS
(SAMURAI PIZZA CATS)


How could I not include Samourai Pizza Cats? It's called Samourai Pizza Cats, for crying out loud! And the theme never forgets it. You hear those words sung about a thousand times in that opening and it makes you so hyped-up that not even the show itself could live up to it. That said, it was a really fun series: very goofy, anarchic and random. Great cats-and-pizza-related stuff.

(listen to the original theme HERE)

6
SIGNÉ CAT'S EYES
(CAT'S EYE)


Isabelle Guiard sung this one after French TV decided to change the original Japanese opening of Cat's Eye as it was deemed "too risqué". Luckily, Guiard's theme was a good one: it had a cool rhythm, a quirky quality to it plus, as a bonus, it sounded a lot like Duck Tales! Can't argue with that. I barely remember the show itself but it's unlikely I'll ever forget that darn theme. Well played, Isabelle. Well played...

(listen to the original theme HERE)

5
CAPITAINE FLAM
(CAPTAIN FUTURE)


Ok, this is one even my grandmother knows by heart, and she never even watched cartoons or anime! Ever! There are a couple of versions of this one: one by Bernard Minet, which is good, and one by Richard Simon (see above), which is glorious. It's got a kickin' 70's beat, a lovely melody and laser beams shooting aimlessly throughout the song. It's a classic.

(listen to the original theme HERE)

4
JAYCE ET LES CONQUERANTS DE LA LUMIERE
(JAYCE AND THE WHEELED WARRIORS)


I'm cheating a little bit with this one seeing as it wasn't a completely Japanese production. The animation was done by a Japanese studio, hence why it looked like a typical anime, but the rest was done by French and American studios. Still, it was a good show and at least felt genuine, plus its opening song was fab. Sung by Nick Carr, this is one I always felt would have done really well with different lyrics if it had been released as a normal single, even if it was just a French version of the American theme. It's just a terrific song.

(listen to the American theme HERE)

3
KEN LE SURVIVANT
(FIST OF THE NORTH STAR)


We all know Fist Of The North Star: blood, gore, muscles, leather, bushy eyebrows, exploding heads. It's a cult 80's masterpiece. And so is that theme song. Keeping the spirit of the original Japanese theme, Bernard Denimal made sure to keep it over-the-top and badass... and say "Ken!" a heck of a lot. Appropriately epic and testosterone-fuelled.

(listen to the original theme HERE)

2
LES CHEVALIERS DU ZODIAQUE
(SAINT SEIYA)


While not quite as awesome as the original Japanese theme, Bernard Minet's Frenched-up song was so catchy that, whether you watched the show or not, you at least knew the words to it. Of course, the series themselves were very cool so most of us actually watched it. This is the Bernard Minet anime theme everyone remembers and, although he re-used some of the same aspects of it for his Wingman theme, this one's far better. The video above, with Minet himself showing off his cheesy grin, odd fashion sense and "fighting" moves, is worth it alone. It's all kinds of good.

(listen to the original theme HERE)

1
NICKY LARSON
(CITY HUNTER)


God I loved Nicky Larson. I mean, here's a show about a perverted private investigator-type guy in an 80's film noir setting in which every case he works on somehow involves a beautiful gal and getting hit on a head with a big mallet. What's not to like? Certainly not this opening theme which both captured the sinister mood of the more serious stuff in the show but also its sillier, funnier aspects through the playful lyrics. Contrary to popular belief, the song wasn't sung by Bernard Minet but Jean-Paul Césari, from whom you can hear a very cool recent acoustic version of the tune HERE. When the series were shown again on French TV much later on, the theme was changed for a disappointing song by Diese. Not having Césari's classic tune in there was just sacrilegious. You can't beat this Frenched-up theme, it's simply perfect.

(listen to the original theme HERE)

So that's my list, if your favourite Frenched-up theme's not in there, feel free to let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @TheRetroCritic.

Honourable mentions include the Dragonball Z theme, which may be really weak compared to the original Japanese one, but which is still completely memorable. Also sillier but worthy efforts like Le College Fou Fou Fou and Dr Slump and stuff like Wingman and Les Samourais De L'Eternel I always enjoyed.

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