Big deal? Absolutely: Phantom 680 is the primary plane in "Phantom Burai," one of my favorite manga! Written by Shou Fumimura, drawn by Kaoru Shintani, and serialized from 1978-83, this Shounen Sunday staple revolved around the peacetime pranks and perils of pilot Tetsuo Kanda, navigator Hiroyoshi Kurihara, and other Japan Self-Defense Force airmen at Hyakuri Air Base. It's mostly a hoot, but gathers power all the while to sneak up and get you in some serious moments.
I first checked it out, yow, 24 years ago now, 'cause I liked Shintani's "Area 88" so well--and wound up liking the less-angsty but just-as-engaging "Phantom Burai" even more. The two are much different animals, thanks to Shou Fumimura--which is actually one of a couple of pen names of Yoshiyuki Okamura; he used his second one, Buronson, when writing "Hokuto no Ken."
"Phantom Burai" was neither animated nor attempted in live action. It did not have squat for merchandising. But in 1986, it gained a new dimension when the Futureland label of Toshiba EMI subsidiary Youmex brought out an LP record of songs and instrumental pieces for it (concurrent release on CD and cassette tape was planned; I have yet to see it surface in either of those forms, but keep searching for the CD...)--part of the flock of manga-inspired "image album" LP record releases, thickest in the '80s, that help test fan interest and pay the rent for music-makers.
Image albums predated the anime incarnations of several manga ("Arion," "Honoo no Tenkousei," "Justy," and "Ring ni Kakero" come right to mind, but just because I have those LPs; there were scads of others). But even if an image album ultimately didn't prove to be a manga's springboard to other media, the record itself could certainly still be worthwhile for fans--and that was the case with "Phantom Burai." (Heck, I about wore ruts in mine after Mighty M found the LP for me in '87!)
Written and arranged by Hiroya Watanabe--who also scored the "Justy" OVA and its preceding King Records image album, as well as TV series "Shurato" and OVA "Devil Hunter Yohko," to name just a few--"Phantom Burai" featured songs performed by Shoko Yamagiwa (who also sang on image albums for "Area 88" and "Yami no Purple Eyes"...and who blazed into TV anime with "Galvion" insert song "Be A Hero"!), Miki Kakizawa (who sang two of the end themes in the "Iczer-1" OVAs), and Rove Bard (Shigeyuki Shibano, Osamu Hikita, and Hiroaki Suzuki), a guy-group so mainstream that this didn't even make their online discography.
But, hollld the bus--the search for anime-related tidbits on Rove Bard uncovered something that floored me:
That's a near-42-minute chunk of buried treasure on Niconico Douga, coupling the audio of the entire album with footage of real Phantoms!! (An account and password will be needed.) Wow, technology really is your friend...! I'm a happy, happy camper.
...Anyway! FIgured had best blah-blah on "Phantom Burai" before this weekend's wall-to-wall sentai celebration gets underway. Saturday early afternoon is a field trip with fellow anison fans to the storied Sky Theater for the Go-onger hero show, and then it's on to Shibuya for the Super Sentai Spirits III: 20th Century concert. Super Sentai Spirits III will conclude on Sunday with the 21st Century concert.
And then it's back to Earth--where this niftay li'l Phantom 680 is sure to remind me again how great things can be when manga and music merge.