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From iNiS, the creators of Gitaroo Man, comes this rather clever Rhythm Game for the Nintendo DS. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan ("Yo! Fight! Cheer Squad") revolves around a group of male cheerleaders who go around rooting on people all across Tokyo in a variety of tasks to a variety of Japanese pop and rock music. Their clients include Tsuyoshi Hanada, a ronin student trying to get into Tokyo University; Yasushi Tanaka, owner of a ramen shop trying to drum up more business; and Ichiro Tamura, a Salaryman who... grows to fifty feet tall in order to save his daughter (and the city) from a giant blue mouse on the rampage.Then there's the stage where they get pulled through time and space to cheer on Cleopatra's royal construction crew so she can lose weight via pyramid power...And for the Grand Finale, they cheer on the whole world to create a Combined Energy Attack big enough to save the planet from impact with a giant asteroid.It's a weird game, but that's part of the appeal — it seemingly crams as many familiar anime, manga and Japanese Culture tropes in as it can to make it as Japanese as possible. The game mechanics make good use of the DS stylus, as they involve tapping markers that appear on the screen in time to the music.The original game was a hit with import gamers. It was such a hit, in fact, that it was followed by an Americanized counterpart, Elite Beat Agents. In May of 2007, it also got a full-fledged sequel with the unwieldy title of Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii: Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 ("Get Fired Up! Hot-Blooded Rhythm Spirit: Hey! Fight! Cheer Squad!"), which featured new music, new scenarios, and a team of friendly rival cheerleaders from the upscale side of town. In addition, there is also a free PC clone called osu!, featuring user-created stages.You can find a translation of the manga panels from the first game here and the translation for the second here.And just for fun: Computer desktop backgrounds for the first game and the second game. There's a wiki for the games (and other games made by iNiS), but you won't find much there.See also osuNote: When we refer to the stages, we're using the title of the song featured in them, just like in the Elite Beat Agents page, because repeating the Excited Title! Two-Part Episode Names! over and over again gets pretty tiresome.
Anime Theme Song: Every level is backed by a different song, which has varying amounts of relevance to the action.
Anti-Frustration Features: In the sequel, if you run out of health on Easy mode, the Hard mode cheerleader for the team you are currently playing as shows up and revives you with about 3/4 of your health so that you can continue the song. Run out of health again in the same song though, and it's Game Over. Of course, it won't work on the final levels, so you're on your own for that.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: What the girls in Hiroshi's class do if you fail "Atsuki Kodou no Hate". They call him a lewd old man, a pervert teacher, a person who doesn't wash his clothes... and an idiot.
Art Evolution: The sequel features somewhat less cartoony proportions.
Big Eater: Anna has a brief stint as one in "Okoru Kotoba" judging by how large her bowl is compared to Aoi's and Sayaka's. Also, in the same song, when Kai notices that he and the others have to start cheering while they're in the middle of eating, he wolfs down the entire pot.
Big "OMG!": Dan and Joe yell "Oh! My God!" when you fail the first two sections of "Shanghai Honey".
Big Rock Ending: No better way to close out the final song of the second game.
Bilingual Bonus: One for the Japanese players. In the second game, Ookami Gorou, the star of "Kibun Jōjō ↑↑", has "Wolfie" written on his shirt in English.
Call Back: Hajime's pose before cheering in the sequel is exactly like Kai's pose in-between cheering segments in the original.
In the second game, Takuya's parents in "Bambina" are the couple from the first game's "Melody". "Go My Way" in the second game features Shizuyama Kazebayashi, and the vase he makes at the end of the song (which turns out good if you do well in the song, and bad if you don't) calls back to the first game's "Kokoro Odoru", where the objective was to inspire him to create a good piece of work. His "Big bang!" catchphrase also shows up again. "Zenryoku Shōnen", the first song from the second game, is almost identical to "Loop & Loop", the first song from the first game, featuring the same target and a similar problem (trying to get into university in the first game vs. trying to get a job in the second game). Both songs' intros even consist of Tsuyoshi Hanada yelling at his family about his problems while they just laugh at him.
Also, some of the targets of certain songs appear in the videos for the other songs. In the first game, Dan and Joe from "Shanghai Honey" appear in the ending of "Taisetsu na Mono". Shizuyama Kazebayashi from "Kokoro Odoru" appears in "Thrill", and the cat from "Linda Linda" appears briefly in the intro to "Melody". Also, if you fail the first section of "Over the Distance", Tang Yao from "Linda Linda" shows up. In "Linda Linda" itself, Tsuyoshi Hanada from "Loop & Loop", Sachiko from "Koi no Dance Site" and Hiroshi from "Atsuki Kodō no Hate" appear eating at the restaurant in the ending.
In the second game, Ebi-yama from "Okuru Kotoba" appears in Takuya's dreams (and in a poster on his bedroom wall) in "Bambina".
Cherry Blossoms: At the end of every stage in OTO 2, and the end of the teacher's stage in OTO 1.
Also, the menu tree and the trees along the river bloom into these when you finish all four difficulties.
Also in the song "Glamorous Sky" in the second game, there is a girl actually namedSakura. And to make it meaningful, she's the person that the (10-year old) target has a crush on who is being transferred to another school. In the second section of the song, the kid personally takes her to a (fake) blooming cherry blossom tree.
Christmas in Japan: "Samurai Blue" takes place during Christmas, and opens with the Asahi team selling Christmas Cake.
Circle of Friendship: Both games end with the inhabitants of Earth singing and dancing together to fire a giant hadoken of love and music at whatever was going to destroy the world.
Comic-Book Time: In the first game you help unite a couple in an early mission. In the last mission they already have a baby. In the sequel, the kid is now six years old and they have a second baby. So that's at least six years and 9 months... the main characters, however, seem to remain the same age.
Continuity Nod: Characters from earlier stages make cameos in other stages.
And characters from the first game appear in the second as well. Takuya's parents are the couple you united in one of the first missions.
Part of the entire map in the first game gets reused in the second, although a couple of changes were made to the surrounding area.
The Cover Changes The Gender: "Bang! Bang! Vacances" was originally done by boy-band SMAP. The game used female singers, likely to fit the scenario better.
A similar thing happens for "Shounen Heart", but they make the singer an old man instead, for a similar effect.
Determinator: Forget everyone else, Tsuyoshi Hanada practically tops all of them. He's failed his entrance exams and been rejected by employers 99 times each. Not only that, his family normally treats him like crap. No wonder why he's so desperate in the beginning of the game.
Difficulty Spike: Most people have no problem with the game until the final levels. And Hard mode kicks the difficulty up a notch.
Dissonant Serenity: The game overs for the last level involve the team(s) you cheered with smiling. You know, after completely freaking out over the fact that the world is going to end and you couldn't do a damn thing about it.
Expository Theme Tune: The tutorial theme basically translates to "Cheer, cheer, cheer! Put your fighting spirit into it! Cheer, cheer, cheer! We are the Ouendan!
Expy: Eisaku is a dead ringer for Phoenix Wright. They have identical color schemes, identical clothes, and very similar hairstyles. When he gets fired up, even that slight difference disappears, to where the two are virtually indistinguishable.
Fanboy: Takuya from the same game seems to really like Ebi-yama, a sumo that you help cheer on. Not only does a dream version of him appear in the stage Takuya is in, the kid even has an Ebi-yama T-shirt and poster in his room.
Fangirl: The three middle-aged fangirls of JIN 2 in OTO 2. And apparently, Honoka and Reika (the supporting rival cheerleader squad) may also be his fangirls, since they appear carrying a fan with his name (Honoka) and a Hachimaki with his name written (Reika).
Fire-Forged Friends: The squads couldn't exactly handle the heat death of the sun alone, now could they? One bonus pic later reveals the squad members all got together for a picnic, with the Normal mode leaders in a heated match of... arm wrestling?
Gonk: JIN2's fangirls. Christine Kamogawa's design counts as well, looking almost superflat compared to the more generic supporting cast.
Gratuitous English: In the first game, "Melody" has this with the foreigners saying "Look! Matsuri? Help shimāsu!". "Shanghai Honey" has a crowd shouting "HELP!", as well as the subjects of the song, the police officers Dan and Joe, who are implied to be American (though they speak Japanese too) with "OH! MY GOD!" and "Good Job!" being used depending on whether you fail or win a segment. The last stage of the first game, "Ready Steady Go", has a New Yorker asking "What's" (no really, that's all the speech bubble says) regarding the oncoming meteor, and later the Americans scream "Oh! No!". There's even some Gratuitous French in the same stage, with "Oh! Lala!" and "Non!" being used in the same situations. In "Neraiuchi", Cleopatra exclaims "YES!" if you do well enough on certain sections.
In the second game, the monkey in "Monkey Magic" exclaims "Yes!" if you pass the part with the dog. The old man in "Shōnen Heart" says "Hello?" in the intro. In "Samurai Blue", the mice shout "Go!" if you do well enough in the first scene.
Also in general, the Cheer Girls use this, saying "GO!!!" instead of "Osu!" and saying "3, 2, 1, GO!" in English at the start of every song.
Gun Kata: Dan and Joe do this if you do well enough in the first two parts of "Shanghai Honey".
Historical Beauty Update: Literally done with Cleopatra. She starts off as a fat Gonk, then uses pyramid power, miracle dances and the support of Japanese cheerleaders to make herself beautiful in order to impress Antony.
To the point where the second to last line in the credits is "Thanks for your love and support!" In Japanese, the word for both "support" and "cheer" is ouen.
Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The official names for the difficulties: Rather than Easy, Normal, Hard and Insane), we have Light-Hearted Cheering, Bold Cheering, Fierce Cheering and Magnificent Cheering.
Involuntary Shapeshifting: Poor Goro Okami has been cursed to transform in a wolf whenever he sees something round, white, shiny, or some combination of the three, which gets in the way constantly on a date with his girlfriend.
Japanese Pronouns: The first cutscene of "Countdown" changes the (plural) pronoun depending on the leader, with "boku-ra" on Easy, "ore-tachi" on Normal, "wareware" on Hard and "watashi-tachi" on Insane. The keigo used is slightly different as well.
Meaningful Name: There are more than a few. Most notably, the Noble team in OTO 2 have names that mirror their rival's, and Goro Okami had the misfortune to have a surname that could also mean "Wolf".
More than that: each difficulty's leaders have a theme in their forenames. Easy has names that refer to inexperience, Normal has animal themes and Hard is basically a representative of what their team is like. Insane has Floral Theme Naming for everyone except the American.
Aoi Kanda's name is retroactively meaningful. As the cheergirls didn't get profiles in the first game, the fact that she could speak multiple languages could reference the fact that Kanda is a place in Tokyo known for its large supply of books.
Moment Killer: Tan Yao can be a huge cockblock on certain levels.
Mondegreen: The loud drum beats can seriously distort what some of the singers are saying, but even without them, people mistake "Can you master baby?" from One Night Carnival for... something else. There's also "I wanna be a Pop Tart" for "I wanna be a Pop Star."
Mood Whiplash: Notably averted - the sad stages have no "OUENDAAAAN!" cry, and the Ouendan themselves are completely silent throughout the stage. The first game's "Over the Distance" just has a quiet "Ouendan...", while the second game's "Believe" doesn't have anything at all.
Also, after completing the stage, the "Ouen! Dai seikou!" cry is much, much quieter - and the cheer squad has tears on their eyes".
Moral Dissonance: Cleopatra stage: You cheer on Cleopatra so she can order her slaves around greatly!? Well, at least they get as fired up as she does...
But what happens if you play the stage poorly? A hilarious bit of physical comedy, as with every other stage? No, the slaves die. Cue the uncomfortable laugh.
Mukokuseki: Averted. Although it becomes somewhat less so in the second game, all the characters at least maintain realistic eye colours. You know they're doing a good job when the Japanese guy with blonde hair and blue eyes◊ still looks Japanese. Even the Americans have a few brunettes among them like Dan and Joe.
Nintendo Hard: Compared to other rhythm games, the beatmaps themselves are actually pretty simple. What makes the game Nintendo Hard is the absolutely unforgiving life meter, which penalizes you greatly for missed notes, such that it only takes a few missed notes before you fail out, and even if you manage to survive at first, not only is it really hard to build your meter back up, but you can still fail out later because the meter is always decreasing when you're not hitting notes. Which, by the way, makes it possible to fail even if you are hitting all the notes, unless you're hitting most of them perfectly. Oh, and the final stages? They like to throw a lot of spinners at you, and then have you hit tricky note sequences after the spinners, which tend to make your hand a little shaky for some time afterwards...
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Dr. Shintarou Kuroiwa, the young genius physician from OTO 2, who can cure male pattern baldness. And give farm animals therapeutic massages. And repair microwave ovens. And make an entire island's inhabitants so healthy they burst with muscles, even the women and the elderly.
Open Heart Dentistry: In the second game, a doctor is called to "operate" on a man's bald head, a horse, and a malfunctioning microwave oven.
Every time you complete a stage, the Ouendan shout "Ōen! Dai! Sei! Kou!" (literally "Ouen! Big! Suc! Cess!"
And some of the songs have it too. "Sekai wa Sore o Ai to Yobundaze" from the second game notably has "Ai! To! Hei! Wa!" and then later in English: "Love! And! Peace!". The opening scene to that song also features a Crowd Chant of "Ou! En! Dan! Ou! En! Dan!".
Punny Name: Ookami Gorou. As anyone who's played Ōkami will tell you, "Ōkami" can mean "great wolf" if written with certain kanji. Also, changing the kanji for "rou" in "Gorou" and changing the first kanji to "Ga" would give it the meaning of "hungry wolf".
Reasonable Authority Figure: The angel who deals with the recently deceased Ishida Tetsu has no problem letting him temporarily return to Earth so he can give his wife a proper goodbye.
Shout-Out: Considering how the games were made to lampoon as many Japanese Media Tropes as possible in what is considered an E rating in Japan, some references were inevitable.
"Koi no Dance Site" is a Whole Plot Reference to Cinderella, and "Monkey Magic" is a pastiche of Toy Story. The "Koi no Dance Site" section is even called "Cinderella Proclamation! Will Junior Turn His Face Toward Her!?" ("Cinderella sengen! Junior wa furimuku ka!?") in the game.
Stealth Pun: The opening of "Zoku" on the hardest difficulty, featuring the cheergirls packing boxes. You could say that Anna is the most stacked.
The Stoic: In contrast with the Yuuhi Ouendan and even with his own squad, Kaoru is rather mild mannered throughout the sequel. Of course, like the rest of the Nobility, he has his Not So Stoic moments at the end of "Believe" as well as in the last two songs of the game.
Stripperiffic: Not so much for the cheergirls in OTO 1, but in OTO 2, it becomes obvious since they get more revealing costumes.
Unstable Equilibrium: The scoring system. Your score multiplier for each note hit is directly proportional to your current combo. Break combo at the beginning or end? No big deal. Break combo in the middle? Rage Quit!
Unusual Eyebrows: Mainly of the Fiery variety, although Ryuuta sports some impressive Lightning brows.
Urine Trouble: On some levels, notably "Linda Linda", a kitty tends to do his business near the target, especially if the Ouendan aren't doing well.
Verbal Tic: Tan Yao says "aru" a lot after sentences, which is usually an indicator of a Chinese person.
Monkey-kun's toy soldier partner has "de arimasu," which is a very military way of speaking. Or maybe a "Shout Out" to a certain sergeant too.
Weaksauce Weakness: The robots from "Shanghai Honey" are weak to water. And decide to invade a planet that's two-thirds made of it. And start their invasion on an island nation.
Whole Plot Reference: Replace "music-hating alien invasion" with "The Sun is dying" and "petrifying death beams" with "falling chunks of ice", and the final stage of the second game is almost shot-for-shot identical to EBA's.