A Guide to DYNAMIC CHORD: The Rise and Fall (and its Resurgence)

dynamic chord

Initially pointed out as one of the best otome visual novel games and with rock music that stood out, DYNAMIC CHORD has gone through one of the craziest journeys as a mixed-media project.

Estimated reading time: 44 minutos

This is an original The Hand That Feeds HQ feature.

Reproduction of the contents in this feature is strictly prohibited unless you’re the rights holder (Asgard, Honeybee Black or Nippon Columbia)

When it comes to 2D music projects with rock at their core, DYNAMIC CHORD was the first one to jump to the spotlight.

With a unique set of bands, a major focus on its storytelling through rich visual novels, and its high-quality music, DYNAMIC CHORD was once one of the best and most exciting projects around.

However, a set of issues in quick succession between 2017 and 2018 ultimately made this project hit rock bottom.

At the time of writing this feature – 2021 – DYNAMIC CHORD franchise made a shy comeback, surprising everyone with that news early on in the year.

In this “A guide to” feature, you and I revisit – or visit (in case it’s your first time coming across this project) – DYNAMIC CHORD, its story, struggles, cast, and music.

A video feature – more compact about DYNAMIC CHORD – is going to be published on THTFHQ’s YouTube channel in late October 2021.

What is DYNAMIC CHORD?

DYNAMIC CHORD is a mixed-media project launched in 2014 by Honeybee Black and Asgard that kicked off with visual novels, sooner branched out to drama CDs and then to music releases, manga, and even a stage play.

It featured character designs by Ryo Fujiwara (A3!, Tokyo Color Sonic!!) until 2018 and scenarios/stories by Yuzuko Asai (Photograph Journey, BLACKISH HOUSE, Starry Sky, etc.).

In 2017, an anime adaptation premiered – although met with tough criticism – and a smartphone game was launched in 2018 and soon discontinued.

The project features 4 rock bands, all tied to each other in one way or another.

Story

The DYNAMIC CHORD franchise has always had its strongest point in its storytelling (let’s forget the anime adaptation). There are 4 main visual novels – one for each band – and the focus is strong on an overarching band story and the individual stories for each character.

So, if you talk about DYNAMIC CHORD’s story, it’s actually a rich one. Whether it is a quality one or not that is up for each gamer to judge but in 2014, this franchise was doing storytelling in 2D music projects better than any other project of the same nature.

The story is explored in the visual novels, drama tracks accompanying music CDs, and, to some extent, the anime adaptation.

In brief terms, and because this is not a feature exclusively about the story – there are awesome websites out there that reviewed each game and cover those stories in detail, I welcome you to check those – DYNAMIC CHORD’s overarching story covers the 4 bands, how they came to be, bonds between members and interactions with other bands in the franchise, their individual struggles as songwriters, their passions that influence their music, past traumas and, ultimately, the teamwork that makes all bands rise to the occasion time and time again.

Individually there’s a lot of drama going on. There are some stories that cover situations that may deserve trigger warnings – abuse, lack of consent, stalker behavior, and the sort –, and love is depicted to various degrees of depth as you – the player – get to know each band member.

In a way, the stories in DYNAMIC CHORD are human ones. It’s more than the glitter of being a rockstar and more about what shapes each individual behind that mask of a rockstar.

Games: two polarizing experiences

There are 4 main games – the same amount of fan disks or, as the franchise names those “append disks” -, and there was, at one point, a smartphone game.

The experiences couldn’t be more polarizing. The DYNAMIC CHORD visual novels were rich in storytelling and were quite lengthy to play.

The smartphone game was essentially idol farming with none of the original games’ quality and little replayability.

The Visual Novel games: romance with a rockstar

If you mention DYNAMIC CHORD’s games, most fans of the franchise will talk a lot about its visual novels. Some fondly, others will have reservations about some of the stories due to how some themes were explored.

Still from Dynamic Chord feat. Kyohso (2015)

But by the end of the day, DYNAMIC CHORD’s selling point was the visual novel games and up to this date, the best format in which the franchise got to flesh out the stories for each character and its bands.

For those not familiar with the term, “visual novels” are games with which you can interact with its story via character choices. These are rich in story (prepare yourself to read a lot) and with a high level of replayability given how the choices impact the overall ending. Visual novels usually have multiple endings (good, bad, etc.).

When it comes to art, it’s not common for 3D characters to be in visual novels (it’s possible, not common though). What you usually have are static character sprites and to top it all off, important events are displayed with high-quality CGs.

Music and sound effects are key and while not required, most high-budget visual novels have fully voiced main characters and stories.

Now that we’re all on the same page, the DYNAMIC CHORD franchise is still best known for its visual novels.

Each character had at least 6 – 10 hours of content (some characters have even longer stories) in their routes which is, by otome visual novel standards, rather long, and all routes were fully voiced by a star-studded seiyuu cast.

Yes, these were otome visual novels focused on romance. There were 4 visual novels released from 2014 to 2016:

  • Dynamic Chord feat. [rêve parfait] (2014)
  • Dynamic Chord feat. Liar-S (2015)
  • Dynamic Chord feat. Kyohso (2015)
  • Dynamic Chord feat. apple-polisher (2016)

The games were initially available for PC and were later ported to PSVita. Each game was standalone. There were 4 main games and 4 append disks that added a bit more story to each of those games.

Depending on the game, you – the player – come across each of the bands due to different reasons. Those are the following:

  • rêve parfait: the player is a childhood friend of the band’s Kashii brothers
  • Liar-S: the player is a rich university student in the same campus as some of the members of Liar-S
  • Kyohso: the player works at DYNAMIC CHORD talent agency and is, by chance, recruited by Kyohso’s vocal, Yorito, to be their manager
  • apple-polisher: the player is a professional and diligent solo artist

The fact that the starting points for the player character in each game are unique to each game made it all the more exciting to play the games.

Why is that?

Well, each game would feel – and felt – different to play.

Each main player character had its story, experiences, and ambitions. In some cases, the player character had a strong, driven personality that made you root for her. In others, inexperience made you “rage” with some of the character’s decisions.

As far as storytelling goes, your player character wasn’t an “empty slate”. It had individuality and your choices added the missing bits of personality to it.

And that’s why DYNAMIC CHORD’s games were really beloved by otome gamers: if you were really particular about how your player character is from the get-go, these 4 different starting points helped you choose which game would go more in-line with your tastes or better reflect your personality or something akin to it.

The smartphone game: the final nail in the coffin

During DYNAMIC CHORD PREMIUM FAN MEETING 2018 and in the aftermath of a less than optimal anime adaptation, the DYNAMIC CHORD franchise announced the release of a smartphone game.

That game was launched on August 9, 2018 and it stopped distribution on April 18, 2019. The game lasted 9 months and why was that?

The game was filled with technical issues. For many players, every time you used the app, it asked you to download the whole game again. For others, the download was never completed.

And for those that got to have the game successfully downloaded and installed and weren’t asked to download all data, again and again, there was a whole load of frustration about the game’s mechanics.

Contrary to the high quality that long-time fans of the DYNAMIC CHORD franchise were used to, DYNAMIC CHORD JAM&JOIN was far from replicating that.

This was not an adaptation of the visual novels to smartphone format – something that some fans wished – nor a rhythm game – like other fans wished.

It was an idol farming game. As simple as that.

A clumsy mix of A3! (its missions and training) and Kaikan Phrase (the dull presentation), that took away the joy and excitement of rock music – one of the biggest selling points of the DYNAMIC CHORD franchise – as well as their traditional romance elements and basically created a whole new game with the same old characters, barely any story available and 1% voice acting for home screen lines and a couple of grunts in the non-voiced story.

The training component in the game to level up cards

It was obvious that the game was the last resort, a cash grab for Honeybee Black and Asgard.

The fact that the original cast was only brought in for a couple of lines for the home screen and everything revolved around the gatcha component of the game gave those intentions away.

Example of a gatch draw with KYOHSO’s Yorito card

For DYNAMIC CHORD JAM&JOIN, Asgard and Honeybee Black chose all the good things – things that made it unique – about the DYNAMIC CHORD franchise and… threw those away.

You can understand why fans were frustrated.

Their sheer love for the franchise was not enough to actually put up with a game that wasn’t enjoyable, had gameplay mechanics that were repetitive and boring, and barely touched upon the music or even the romance the franchise was known for.

The game was DYNAMIC CHORD yet, at the same time, it was not DYNAMIC CHORD.

It didn’t feel like it.

Of course, there were good points about it that kept some fans around until April 18, 2019.

The art was the same as the original and its BGM lent a lot from the original soundtrack of the visual novels.

The nods at the original visual novels were strong with those two points and, in a way, what brought some of the long-time fans to check the game and stick around.

After the poor anime adaptation that left the franchise as the laughing stock of 2017, the clumsy smartphone game put the final nail in the coffin.

And not helping the franchise was the “silent” news – only known about much later in 2020 when the DYNAMIC CHORD franchise went the crowdfunding route – that Nippon Columbia dropped the franchise from their artist distribution roaster in 2019.

For anyone following the industry attentively, all the signs were there.

The DYNAMIC CHORD franchise had hit rock bottom.

There was no way this franchise could rise from these happenings given how poorly it had performed between 2017 – 2019 and how its image was in shambles.

Well, stick around because this story does have its redemption arc.

The anime adaptation: the beginning of an (almost) end

As I’ve mentioned above, the DYNAMIC CHORD anime adaptation was a dumpster fire of bad ideas, genuinely lazy and funky animation put together to fit 12 episodes of original content within the franchise.

For starters, if you’ve been reading this feature up until now paying some attention to it, you already know that the franchise has 4 main games with 4 different player characters. And the story is all about romance.

So how to adapt the games into anime?

That’s a genuinely hard question to answer, especially when the franchise had decided to create standalone games for each band and there was way too much story to cover in its anime adaptation.

Many people were hoping Asgard and Honeybee Black would adapt each game into a season with only the “canon” romances being addressed for each band to avoid messing up the story or creating a reverse harem.

This sounded like a genuinely good idea and seemed like the best way to respect the original material and, in a way, adapt it for fans of the franchise but also make it appealing and accessible to newcomers.

However, there was one initial problem.

The anime adaptation was green-lit just for promotional purposes – which is to mean, anime with only 1 season to bring in new fans to the smartphone game that would end up being launched months later. Nothing more.

There were no plans to adapt any of the visual novels.

The anime would pick up from the final point in all the games – making it incredibly confusing for newcomers – and, for some players that didn’t follow some of the bands, it didn’t make much sense either.

Also, there wouldn’t be any signs of the player character, removing all possibility for romance in this adaptation.

The anime was to focus only on the main bands and their issues and challenges. That could work.

Then you watched the anime as it aired, you’d also notice that it also didn’t focus much on live performances by the bands.

So… what was the anime about?

Honestly, as someone who played all 4 visual novels and suffered through the first 3 episodes of the anime adaptation – until calling it quits after watching the same drumming and guitar playing “animations” + the story going nowhere -, the anime didn’t have any direction whatsoever and did not make much sense either.

Many of those who are fans of the franchise and actually went on to watch the full anime series arrived at a similar conclusion: the anime was bad.

The animations were subpar, at times just a collection of stills, the voice acting wasn’t brilliant – and many of the voice actors barely got any lines despite being part of the main cast -, the script and directing were weak and the character designs were… how do I put this?

  • DYNAMIC CHORD
  • DYNAMIC CHORD

Did the characters even look like that to begin with? It looked like a bootleg anime adaptation, not a licensed, original one.

Everything about the anime adaptation felt wrong within the very first minutes.

The anime adaptation was not even close to putting the spotlight in the strong – at times genuinely good – writing and drama in the games. Character development was residual, kept to the absolute minimum, starting from the idea that people checking the anime were already familiar with the original content.

Stripped away from all the things the franchise was known for and with the story left to the devices of a writer that had nothing to do with the original content, DYNAMIC CHORD’s anime adaptation was a husk of the quality and drama the franchise was known for.

It got bad reviews domestically and overseas.

There was genuine frustration within the fanbase seeing how their dear franchise had been approached and developed into an anime that didn’t flatter DYNAMIC CHORD, its original writers and character designer, nor the voice actors.

The anime adaptation was the start of DYNAMIC CHORD’s downfall.

The main cast: popularity and experience taking over

DYNAMIC CHORD kicked off its activities in 2014 with a cast that mixed experience with new, up-and-coming seiyuu talents.

It seemed like Asgard and Honeybee Black wanted in the franchise’s cast the most popular singers among seiyuu around 2014 as well as some rising talents that were already giving a lot to talk about.

And they did not spare any expense. The cast was jam-packed with popular seiyuu from the get-go, many of those with ties to other popular 2D music projects or with a highly respected status within the seiyuu industry.

But not everything was about popularity. In 2014, there were very few seiyuu that were solo artists, and 2D music projects were only then starting to become a trend. This project picked the best singers among the seiyuu available and willing to join the project and ended up creating quite an exciting lineup.

There was some care to have the frontman for each band sounding unique and fit the style of each band.

Takuya Eguchi, Takuma Terashima, Shouta Aoi, and Showtaro Morikubo were in charge of bringing life to the bands they were going to front from that point on and what fans got over the years from them were batches of performances filled with raw excitement, a lot of emotion and a lot of flair going on.

Takahiro Sakurai, Kousuke Toriumi, Ryohei Kimura, Nobuhiko Okamoto, and Tetsuya Kakihara were there as well being the most popular members in the lineup, helping to bring in a lot of fans to this franchise.

Although when they joined, they were still rising stars or practically unknown to 2D music fans, Yuichiro Umehara, Soma Saito, Kaito Ishikawa, Shinnosuke Tachibana, and more have turned into popular seiyuu, some are stars in their own right, making the lineup even more appealing and better known to newcomers.

Taku Yashiro, Yoshiki Nakajima, and Yuya Hirose were rookies when the project was launched and have also, over the years, gained a lot of popularity.

Over time, the lineup for this franchise got packed with stars in the seiyuu industry so you can say that right now, DYNAMIC CHORD has a strong and star-studded cast.

The Bands: unique identity and vibe

The DYNAMIC CHORD franchise is big on having each band with a unique identity, sound, and vibe. All 4 bands perform rock music but there’s plenty of experimentalism mixed with what you’d call textbook rock music.

Pop-punk, emo-rock, Electro-rock, and hardrock got to shine in 2014 through crafty compositions and passionate performances by all 4 frontmen.

For those intending to play the visual novels, there are plenty of womanizers around as well as other individuals with rather questionable personality traits that leave you with that feeling that you should call the police.

If you’re checking the drama CDs or the music, some of those traits will not manifest as most are only noticeable in the characters’ individual routes in-game.

Without further ado, let’s dive a bit into each band and their lineups.

rêve parfait

Rêve Parfait

rêve parfait consists of Reon (CV: Takuya Eguchi), Tsumugi (CV: Ryohei Kimura), Kuon (Kousuke Toriumi) and Aki (Yuya Hirose).

They are the energetic powerpop/punk-pop band in the franchise. Expect the unexpected with their music. It’s that unusual.

Takuya Eguchi voices rêve parfait’s frontman Reon Kashii (also called by his stage name KING).

Though he’s arrogant, selfish, overbearing, and only does things his own way, Reon also has a childish side to him. He can also be moody and highly strung; his emotions having extreme highs and lows. Invited by his older brother Aki, Reon joined the band. When he’s in the middle of composing, he gets so absorbed that he forgets about the world around him.

Yuya Hirose voices rêve parfait’s drummer Aki Kashii (also called by his stage name Knight) and Reon’s older brother.

Aki is gentle and carefree. He doesn’t have much confidence in himself and gets anxious easily. When Aki was in his 3rd year of middle school, he invited his best friend Kuon and his younger brother Reon, which lead to the formation of [rêve parfait]. He chose to become the band’s drummer because he wishes to act as musical support for Reon and Kuon. Aki is also a lyricist, and his unique outlook of the world is part of the band’s style.

Ryohei Kimura voices rêve parfait’s bassist Tsumugi Momose (also called by his stage name Bishop).

Tsumugi quickly resorts to fighting and has a sharp tongue, something that, allied to his straightforward personality makes him come across as rude.

Initially belonging to a different band, Reon invited and recruited Tsumugi after having been charmed by the latter’s skill as a bassist. With Tsumugi joining, [rêve parfait] was formed. His deceased elder brother inspired Tsumugi to start playing the bass guitar.

Kousuke Toriumi voices rêve parfait’s guitarist Kuon Tsukinohara (also called by his stage name Rook).

As the leader of [rêve parfait], Kuon always takes the wishes of his bandmates into consideration. Very caring and a good conversationalist, he has a lot of friends. Since his father is a congressman and his mother is a lawyer, Kuon is polite and gets excellent grades. With his parents are often away on business, the Tsukinohara family’s house has become the band’s hangout.

Liar-S

liar-s

Liar-S consists of Sakura Hinoyama (CV: Takuma Terashima), Chiya Suzuno (CV: Nobuhiko Okamoto), Seri Yuisaki (CV: Tetsuya Kakihara) and Soutaro Haruna (CV: Soma Saito).

The band is known for its slow-paced, emo-rock sound.

Takuma Terashima voices Liar-S’ frontman and guitarist Sakura Hinoyama.

He’s a cool young man of few words, incredibly emotional at the core, distrustful of others yet regarded by everyone for his overwhelming singing skills. He joined the band during high school because of Seri’s request. He has a lot of pride and confidence in the band’s music.

Nobuhiko Okamoto voices Liar-S’ guitarist Chiya Suzuno.

The youngest in the band. He’s in charge of composing all of Liar-S’ songs. In high school, he was invited by his senior, Seri, and began playing with the band. He likes music from a wide range of genres.

Tetsuya Kakihara voices Seri Yuisaki, Liar-S’ leader and drummer.

The bright leader with good manners and high social status and influence. He’s the founder of Liar-S’ predecessor, S-leeper. Due to the fact that he can immediately open anyone’s heart, he has many acquaintances in the industry. He’s a fast-thinker who learns the ropes of everything easily.

Just have the police number on speed dial because alone and in close quarters, Seri shows his true colors (and it’s not pretty).

Soma Saito voices Liar-S’ bassist Soutaro Haruna.

A man that acts like an older sister to everyone. Friendly to everyone and a jokester at heart, he is, as a matter of fact, the member in Liar-S with the most common sense.

He became a member after the former bassist, Shinya, left the band. With Soutaro’s arrival, the band changed their name from S-leeper to Liar-S.

apple-polisher

apple-polisher

apple-polisher consists of Narumi (CV: Shouta Aoi), Shinobu (CV: Yuichiro Umehara), Yuki (CV: Yoshiki Nakajima) and Yuusei (CV: Takahiro Sakurai).

The band is known for its unique brand of rock, mixing rock with minimalistic electronica and R&B.

Shouta Aoi voices apple-polisher’s frontman Narumi Amagi (also called by his stage name NaL).

Known for having a clear singing voice that dazzles everyone. Narumi spent a lot of time living abroad and as such, much of the lyrics he writes for apple-polisher have a lot of English in them. He’s the youngest member of apple-polisher.

Yoshiki Nakajima voices apple-polisher’s guitarist Yuki Aoi (also called by his stage name UK).

A sly womanizer with a rather cynical demeanor, Yuki is one of the characters that easily raises a lot of flags for those playing apple-polisher’s visual novel. However, there’s more to him than meets the eye.

He fell in love with Narumi’s singing voice and decided to invite him to the band, thus creating apple-polisher.

He’s the band’s resident composer and lyricist, a specialist in making the band’s trademark danceable, ethereal electro-rock sound. It is said that apple-polisher’s sound deeply reflects Yuki’s personality beyond what people can see.

Yuichiro Umehara voices apple-polisher’s leader and bassist Shinobu Kurosawa (also called by his stage name Kuro).

Kind, mature, and taciturn at all times, he’s the grounded member of apple-polisher, acting like an older brother to his bandmates. Used to compose music but due to certain events, he no longer does.

Takahiro Sakurai voices apple-polisher’s drummer Yuusei Otoishi (also called by his stage name Toi).

Just like Yuki, Yuusei is a womanizer however he’s carefree, mischievous, and a bit on the bratty side, something that distances himself from Yuki’s cynical and almost unapproachable vibe.

Prior to joining apple-polisher and while living in the United States of America, he played for different bands.

KYOHSO

kyohso

KYOHSO consists of Yorito (CV: Showtaro Morikubo), Tokiharu (CV: Shinnosuke Tachibana), Yuu (CV: Kaito Ishikawa), and Shinomune (CV: Taku Yashiro).

They don a mature, dangerous, and more aggressive sound than all other bands in the franchise.

Showtaro Morikubo voices KYOHSO’s frontman Yorito Kisaka.

Charismatic and free-spirited. Although not the band’s leader, he tends to act like it, trying to bring harmony within the band and helping out fellow bandmates.

Shinnosuke Tachibana voices KYOHSO’s leader and guitarist, Tokiharu Hanabusa.

Mature, reliable, and kind-hearted to everyone around him, there’s more to Tokiharu than what meets the eye. He’s extremely straightforward with women and raises a couple of red flags during his in-game route.

Kaito Ishikawa voices KYOHSO’s bassist Yuu Kuroya.

Out of all members, he’s one of the most difficult to deal with, being distant although, deep down feeling lonely all the time. He’s a womanizer as a result, sleeping around just to avoid feeling lonely.

Taku Yashiro voices KYOHSO’s drummer Shinomune Sumiya.

Easily the grounded and most mature member of the band, he has a stable personal life, is kind, patient, and respectful at all times.   

Shuffle bands

The DYNAMIC CHORD counts with 2 seasons of shuffle bands.

As you may have noticed, only the frontmen of each band actually get to sing in this franchise so, when you read the words “shuffle bands” you have to expect just crazy things on the instrumental as the vocals will remain pretty much the same as their trademark.

DYNAMIC CHORD shuffleCD series 1st bands:

Rabbit Clan

Rabbit Clan: Reon (vocals – rêve parfait), Rook (guitar – rêve parfait), Yuu (bass – KYOHSO), Seri (drums – Liar-S).

The shuffle band released the single “SWEET DREAMS”.

KICKS

KICKS: Sakura (vocals and guitar – Liar-S), Chiya (guitar – Liar-S), Bishop (bass – rêve parfait), Shinomune (drums – KYOHSO).

The shuffle band released the single “believe in you, believe in me”.

TAMELILY

TAMELILY: Yorito (vocals – KYOHSO), Tokiharu (guitar – KYOHSO), Soutaro (bass – Liar-S), Knight (drums – rêve parfait).

The shuffle band released the single “Pinky Lily no Saku Koro ni”.

DYNAMIC CHORD shuffleCD series 2nd bands:

TRYS

TRYS: Reon (vocals – rêve parfait), Tokiharu (Guitar – KYOHSO), Soutaro (Bass – Liar-S) and Toi (Drums – Apple-Polisher).

The shuffle band released the single “TRY TO RISE“.

Hinoyamatai

Hinoyamatai: Sakura (vocals – Liar-S), Kuon (guitar – rêve parfait), Kuro (bass – Apple-Polisher) and Shinomune (drums – KYOHSO).

The shuffle band released the single “ROCK WITH YOU“.

Sugar Toxic Panic

Sugar Toxic Panic: NaL (vocals – Apple-Polisher), Chiya (guitar – LiarS), Yuu (bass – KYOHSO), Knight (drums – rêve parfait).

The shuffle band released the single “lock you up“.

Mr. Perfect

Mr. Perfect: Yorito (vocal – KYOHSO), UK (guitar – Apple-Polisher), Bishop (bass – rêve parfait) and Seri (drums – LiarS).

The shuffle band released the single “Mr. Perfect“.

The main frontmen

DYNAMIC CHORD

DYNAMIC CHORD has a stellar lineup and that starts with the frontmen for its bands. All vocals fit the styles they are performing, leading to natural performances filled with a unique flair.

Takuya Eguchi

Takuya Eguchi TV Guide VOICE STARS vol.17

Takuya Eguchi is known in the seiyuu industry as a vocal chameleon. He can pretty much sing high, low, or anything in between in his vocal range, as well as adapt his voice to every character he performs as.

When he joined the DYNAMIC CHORD franchise he was still far from being considered a good singer but he certainly brought a lot of skills to the mix that helped his performances as Reon stand out.

After years active with the seiyuu unit Trignal, Takuya Eguchi made his solo debut in 2021, adding “singer” to the multitude of creative things he does.

Takuma Terashima

Takuma Terashima Reincarnate

Takuma Terashima was one of the highest-rated names when he joined the DYNAMIC CHORD franchise. He brought the hype from Utapri, franchise that he is the face of, and a lot of experience from his solo career as well for his performances as Liar-S’ Sakura.

Terashima has a solid mid-range but his performances tend to not being consistent – especially noticeable in a live setting – oscillating between “impressive” and “lacking” depending on how he’s feeling.

Still, he brought to Liar-S a certain dread and longing that fleshed out the band’s performances in ways that people weren’t expecting.

Shouta Aoi

Shouta Aoi give me love me

Shouta Aoi is a renowned solo artist, actor, and voice actor. He’s vastly experienced when it comes to singing, being considered by many as one of the best singers among male seiyuu.

When he joined the franchise, he’s just started to experience popularity in the Utapri franchise as part of QUARTET NIGHT.

Aoi is an all-rounder with a voice tone often dubbed as “angelic”, with his high notes being an awesome greeting card.

He’s got a vast array of skills under his belt – including an ethereal, crystal-clear falsetto – that always elevate his performances. In a live setting, Aoi sounds like he eats CDs for breakfast.

As Narumi, Aoi had to tackle a lot of English in the lyrics – performing it with a clear pronunciation – while giving it a slightly suggestive twist at times, matching the band’s unique sound.

Showtaro Morikubo

Showtaro Morikubo

When you think about a rockstar among male seiyuu, there’s only one name that instantly comes to mind: Showtaro Morikubo.

He’s the embodiment of a rockstar and has a natural charisma on stage that really makes him hard not to focus on.

Vastly experienced as a singer – and also bringing a bit of the Utapri popularity with him to this project -, Showtaro Morikubo easily proved himself as one of the best singers in this franchise.

As Yorito, Morikubo’s performances carry a bit of grit, a unique rawness that reminds me a lot about Hyde. At times, it’s noticeable how much inspiration he took from Hyde to shape Yorito’s singing style.

DYNAMIC CHORD’s music: a quick analysis

Now, this is not an extensive analysis – as you can tell by the title of this section – so I won’t be covering all releases by each band.

A note that, despite all bands having star-studded lineups, only the frontmen sing in this franchise. There are no character or individual songs, just band songs.

I’ll cover 2 iconic songs by each band that I believe best represent their talents and unique sound and, at the same time, are great entry points for you.

Still, for reference – in case you’re interested in checking out any of these bands -, I provide you a list of the entire discography chronologically arranged.

Let’s check how each band sounds:

rêve parfait

They are the energetic powerpop band in the franchise. They are far from being considered a “conventional rock band”.

Their sound has shades of ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION and KANA-BOON.

Songs that best highlight rêve parfait’s quality:

  • JUDGEMENT
  • -since you been gone-
JUDGEMENT/Snow-White (2015)

JUDGEMENT” is a banger, one of rêve parfait’s most iconic and grooviest songs. The bassline is massive in this track with the guitars bringing a bit of a funky flair into the mix.

The drums are raw and loud, powering their way through to the fast-paced pop-punk chorus. The little details in this song are a delight to listen to. From the brief intermission between chorus and verses to those punchy bassline accents and even the drum fills, this song shines in its details.

On the vocal end, Takuya Eguchi delivered a performance that required speed and precision. There are multiple tempo changes in the song with the tension jumping at all the unexpected places, keeping the listener on their toes.

There are some influences of Brit and emo-rock keeping this track interesting.

rêve parfait
p.s.i hate you♡xxx (2017)

-since you been gone-“ is loud and raw right off the bat. Listening to this song will certainly give off indie vibes as the recording/editing was kept intentionally simple to reflect that.

Although the verses are intense, the chorus mellows down a bit, being one of the best melodic parts in rêve parfait’s repertoire.

The addition of synths in the background and, at times, powering the song forward, are interesting and, as expected of the band, a sign of their versatile sound with plenty of influences into the mix.

The song has a breakdown in the bridge that goes deep and hits hard as Takuya Eguchi delivers a charismatic performance.

Complete discography:

Liar-S

The band is known for its slow-paced, emo-rock sound.

Their sound has shades of Bluebeard, Malegoat and WRONG SCALE.

Songs that best highlight Liar-S’ quality:

  • STELLA
  • RISE’n SHINE
Goodbye Subway / STELLA (2015)

STELLA” is that kind of song made to tug your heartstrings. The loneliness in this song is strong, easily felt in the stripped-down intro and carrying over with Takuma Terashima’s forlorn performance extremely close to you.

The acoustic guitars almost lullaby the listener but what impresses the most in this song is how raw its chorus is, bringing overdriven guitars to the spotlight while drums washy way your sadness. This is a textbook emo-rock track with some shades of Brit-rock to it.

RISE’n SHINE” is different in tone but its emo vibes are still strong with guitars screaming in the distance, drums being urgent and the bassline as crunchy as ever.

The lyrics are dramatic and the performance rises to the challenge, with the drums going crazy in the chorus, capturing the rawness in Takuma Terashima’s performance.

This track also has a riveting guitar solo that will put you on the edge of your seat.

Complete discography:

KYOHSO

They don a mature, dangerous, and more aggressive sound than all other bands in the franchise.

Their sound has shades of Hyde, VAMPS, L’arc en Ciel (yes, everything with Hyde in it).

Songs that best highlight KYOHSO’s quality:

  • x-maniac
  • precog
DYNAMIC CHORD vocalCDシリーズvol.3 KYOHSO (2014)

x-maniac” was quite the impressive debut song for KYOHSO, showing everyone what their sound was all about: hard-hitting rock with an industrial edge. Glitchy synths coexist with dirty guitar riffs, a slow-paced bassline, and powerful drums.

The chorus is performed by Showtaro Morikubo emulating Hyde’s style and overflowing with charisma, slowing down while opening the sound to other melodies that bring a bit of color to an, otherwise, dark song.

The melodic guitar work is easily the best part of KYOHSO’s sound as a whole and in this song, it does not disappoint. The solo in the bridge is absolutely delightful to listen to, going on for quite a bit of time while flaunting how it sounds. For bassheads, the bassline is massive starting from the 2nd verse, standing out in the middle of the splashy drums and low guitar riffs.

Roots of Life/precog (2015)

Although KYOHSO is known for its dark and heavy sound, there’s a melodic, emotional side to the band. “precog” is a perfect example of that toned-down, gentle side.

A minor piano melody and dramatic strings are in charge of the emotional intro to this song. Slowly, splashy drums, an overdriven guitar melody, and deep bassline join in, further enhancing the dramatic vibe of this track.

The song flows at steady slow pacing, much in the style of a power ballad, and counts – once again – with a beautiful guitar solo in the bridge, in charge of making the feelings in this song pour all over the place.

Showtaro Morikubo goes for a powerful performance overflowing with longing and melancholy, easily one of his best outings as Yorito.

Complete discography:

apple-polisher

The band is known for its unique brand of rock, mixing rock with minimalistic electronica and R&B.

This band is really unique so there’s really no band out there with a sound close to it.

Songs that best highlight apple-polisher’s quality:

  • HOLDING OUT
  • what have you done for…
apple-polisher BACK 2 SQUARE 1
BACK 2 SQUARE 1 (2017)

HOLDING OUT” is easily the band’s best song. This is the song in which all of the band’s influences have the spotlight.

The rock in those guitar riffs accentuating the performance, the minimalistic, almost ethereal electronica in those synths and synthetic drums as well as the R&B influences in the lyrics and emotional performance by Shouta Aoi.

This song will instantly stand out for its downtempo and dreamy vibe and that suggestive, alluring vibe in the lyrics leaves a mark. If you’re into loungy dance music with a touch of rock and emotional – yet simple – lyrics, this is the song for you.

beat goes on/what have you done for… (2017)

For those that played the visual novel “what have you done for…” will hold a special meaning as it is a song composed by Kuro – remember, the character that would not compose music due to a certain chain of events – with the player character as the influence at the core of its composition.

This song is all about longing and love as well as misunderstandings. It’s a simplistic bearing of heart for Kuro and it counts with a flawless performance filled with R&B riffing, stunning long notes, and ad-libs by Shouta Aoi.

Complete discography:

Live Shows

The DYNAMIC CHORD franchise held a couple of live shows with its frontmen in attendance.

DYNAMIC CHORD NO LIMIT LIVE 2015

The 1st live show was DYNAMIC CHORD NO LIMIT LIVE 2015 and all cast at that time – apple-polisher only joined the franchise later that year – was in attendance for its talk parts.

DYNAMIC CHORD
DYNAMIC CHORD NO LIMIT VOCAL LIVE 2017

The 2nd live show was DYNAMIC CHORD NO LIMIT VOCAL LIVE 2017 and only featured Takuya Eguchi, Takuma Terashima, Shouta Aoi, and Showtaro Morikubo. The event counted with “Light” and “Shadow” sessions with performances by all bands embracing those concepts.

The 3rd time the cast hop on stage to meet their fans was at DYNAMIC CHORD PREMIUM FAN MEETING 2018. This wasn’t a full live show but a talk + mini-live event including guests such as Ryohei Kimura and Kousuke Toriumi in attendance.

The rise and fall. A new beginning.

The journey hasn’t been kind to DYNAMIC CHORD. What was once one of the most exciting 2D rock franchises has managed to fall from grace.

It had everything to still be a top-tier 2D rock music project.

But what happened that led this project to actually fall that low and is now struggling to get back on its feet?

A bad anime adaptation and an equally underwhelming smartphone game release (all in the span of 1 year) happened.

And that was enough for Nippon Columbia to cut ties with the franchise, thus the long silence from the franchise following those 3 unfortunate events.

It seemed like the original creators – Honeybee Black and Asgard – were adamant about not letting the project die in front of them and thus, they decided to try and see if there were any fans of the project left and among those, who were willing to support the project should it continue.

And what better way to do that than to take the project to a crowdfunding platform?

That’s what Honeybee Black did with the objective of releasing a new CD for each of their bands in 2021.

And fans were more than willing to have their beloved project back for more. The crowdfunding for those CDs went 527% over the initial goal, giving a well-deserved 2nd chance to DYNAMIC CHORD.

Honeybee black then founded its music label, now being in charge of exclusively distributing the new catalog of all bands.

And thus, the project started to get back on its feet, working towards regaining the trust of the public at the same time as bringing a lot of nostalgia back.

rêve parfait, Liar-S, apple-polisher, and KYOHSO made their comeback in 2021, after 2 years away from the public eye, signaling a new era for the franchise, this time around in a mix of being crowdfunded and self-sufficient (thanks to the profits from sales and surplus of money from the first crowdfunding campaign back in 2020).

Why should you check DYNAMIC CHORD and its bands? What is so unique about it? Will casual rock or pop fans enjoy it?

While this may not be the strongest 2D rock music project out there, it sure is the one that has the most complete story/backstory and that can be enjoyed through high quality – sometimes even pretty long – visual novel games.

At the same time, while some bands may have a generic sound in comparison to more recent 2D bands, there’s still a lot of quality and novelty about bands like apple-polisher – with their mix of rock with electronica and R&B – or even Liar-S with emo-rock.

And even for bands like rêve parfait – unpredictable and unconventional – there’s plenty of awesome songs to check. If you enjoy aggressive rock music much in the style of Hyde, KYOHSO is incredibly strong and has a sound that you can’t find with ease among 2D rock bands.

Casual fans of rock music will certainly find a band in this project that will grab their attention.

So, when push comes to shove, DYNAMIC CHORD may not be the strongest project in comparison with FlyME Project, Band Yarouze! and much less with the extremely popular and eclectic Dear Vocalist, but it sure has pushed the boundaries of storytelling in 2D music projects, creating a rich, well-developed backstory for all characters, having 4 unique bands within itself and a strong presentation when it comes to the music releases.

Unfortunately, when someone nowadays mentions DYNAMIC CHORD, there are 2 things that come to mind that tend to eclipse that quality and unique twist to the 2D rock project’s formula: the appalling anime adaptation and the equally uninspired smartphone game.

And although the project went through big highs and big lows, being in an almost “dropped and done” status, it is trying to make the best out of its 2nd chance to get back where it was.

The character designs seem to no longer be by Ryo Fujiwara but are heavily inspired in those, retaining a lot of the original flair that the characters had.

The cast is the same.

The music remains as exciting as ever.

If people take the time to listen to the music by all bands or even play the visual novels – putting aside those 2 massive stains in what would be an otherwise perfect track record -, DYNAMIC CHORD is well worth your time.

Make sure to check the music from DYNAMIC CHORD and if you do enjoy it, spread the word about it!

A guide to” special features are released every 2 months at The Hand That Feeds HQ.



DYNAMIC CHORD on social media:

Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Also, the only person managing everything The Hand That Feeds HQ related. In 2011, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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