May’n & Nakajima Megumi at Anime Expo 2010

July 6, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Posted in Kanno Yoko, May'n, Music, Nakajima Megumi, _live performances | 13 Comments

I’ll never forget my reaction the day kisekigurl asked me why I wasn’t going to Anime Expo since May’n & Nakajima Megumi were holding a concert there. In disbelief, I checked AX’s website, then proceeded to shriek and jump nearly high enough to hit the ceiling.

Having previously canceled my AX pass due to a lack of interest in attending, I re-booked and bought a concert ticket.

Thanks to a friend, I managed to secure spot C311, a ticket in the center section in the third row from the stage.

Concert report (and pics) after the cut.

Continue Reading May’n & Nakajima Megumi at Anime Expo 2010…


{single} Eclipse – nO limiT

June 22, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Eclipse, Hayami Saori, Music, Nakajima Megumi, Tomatsu Haruka | Leave a comment

Eclipse – nO limiT

(released May 29th, 2009)

1. nO limiT
2. moon passport
3. nO limiT (off vocal)
4. moon passport (off vocal)

Eclipse’s debut single. Eclipse is the name of the idol group in Basquash! and its members Citron, Rouge, and Violette are respectively voiced by Nakajima Megumi, Tomatsu Haruka, and Hayami Saori. nO limiT was the first opening theme of the series, and moon passport is an insert song.

nO limiT kicks off with a bang, with a badass guitar and piano intro that I really didn’t expect from a seiyuu idol group song arrangement. It’s hard to tell who is singing which line in the verses because of the vocal filter, which annoyed me at first but eventually grew on me. The best part of the song is the rapid back-and-forth lyrics in the chorus; the three girls have excellent rhythm and play off each other seamlessly.  I also like how the last chorus is sung in unison.

Hayami Saori has lead vocals on moon passport, and it’s a mid-tempo rock ballad played during the characters’ more introspective moments in the series. Hayami is the strongest singer of the bunch (despite my being partial to Nakajima Megumi), and her voice tone is mature yet with a sweet, delicate edge. The song isn’t so special, but Hayami’s voice really shines here. I prefer the verse melodies, the chorus just sounds like a typical song Morning Musume would pull.

Overall Grade: A

The Top 10 Worst Things to Find in a Person’s Room

March 10, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Posted in Anime & Manga | Leave a comment

Finally a post in over a month…

There was a recent survey conducted in Japan – what was the worst thing you can find in man or woman’s room? Which items, if found in those rooms, would make the owners less desirable to the opposite gender? Men and women answered for both surveys.

I found the articles on a rather “shady” (to put it nicely) Sankaku Complex – I admit to lurking there once in a blue moon when a blog I read posts a link, this time I believe it was danie, courtesy of her Twitter.

Anyhow, I’m pretty sure a lot of the list isn’t going to surprise anyone, but some of them really did make me raise an eyebrow.

Continue Reading The Top 10 Worst Things to Find in a Person’s Room…

{single} Hikita Kaori – Egao no Wake

February 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Posted in Hikita Kaori, Kajiura Yuki, Music | Leave a comment

Hikita Kaori – Egao no Wake
引田香織 – 笑顔の訳

(released October 25th, 2006)

1. 笑顔の訳 [Egao no Wake]
2. 笑顔の訳 (karaoke)

Hikita Kaori’s 2nd single. This song is Shounen Onmyouji’s opening, and is composed by Kajiura Yuki.

I was seriously not expecting Hikita to pull off a song like Egao no Wake – compared to her debut, it’s a lot more rockish and hard-hitting. I will admit that some of her belting on the higher notes in the chorus felt a bit forced, but I loved her overall energy. I think she did a much better job on the verse, keeping that sense of tension in her voice without overdoing it. Egao no Wake’s melody is not particularly catchy, but still rather addicting. Trust Kajiura Yuki to pull another one on us, I loved Kajiura’s mix of electronica (this is how you do beats properly in anison!) and the hint of traditional Japanese elements. I’m not too fond of the guitar solo though, it’s a bit generic. However, the part with Hikita singing the chorus and the Kajiuran choir harmonizing was gorgeous.

Overall Grade: A-

{single} Inoue Marina – energy

December 12, 2009 at 10:33 pm | Posted in Inoue Marina, Music | Leave a comment

Inoue Marina – energy
井上 麻里奈 – energy

(released December 21st, 2005)

1. energy
2. Way
3. energy (original karaoke)
4. Way (original karaoke)

Inoue Marina’s 2nd single. Both songs were featured in the anime Ginban Kaleidoscope, in which Inoue Marina also provides the speaking voice of Honjou Mika. energy is used as the ending theme, while Way was an insert song.

When I first heard energy in Ginban, I was surprised that to find out it was sung by Inoue Marina (she sounds totally different in Houseki). The arrangement is simple as well – repeated guitar chords and a beat. I liked the use of short, punctuated, string lines during the chorus instead of a dramatic sweeping one. I think I enjoyed Inoue’s voice the most in this – her clear diction, her clean melodic voice, and the emotion and energy (pun intended) she put into this. I have a thing for songs that make the accompaniment back off near the end, and the singer sings the chorus melody in a softer, more expressive voice before singing it again with more power, and Inoue was beautiful in that part. energy is soothing yet lonely at the same time – there’s a sense of serenity and solitude with undertones of yearning.

I really didn’t like Way at first due to the intro with those backing vocals and the melody doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. Way is faster-paced and a lot happier than energy. It’s a good thing the accompaniment is still rather simple in this one, I was afraid it would get messy. It’s mainly a fun song, but Inoue really impressed me with her vocal technique and versatility in this track. She uses a fuller, more mature voice (reminds me of a lighter Shimatani Hitomi in some bits) and transitions from a solid chest voice belt to the lighter head voice register with ease. Overall, I still find Way a bit dull song-wise, but I keep listening to it just to hear Inoue’s voice.

Overall Grade: B+

Fall 2009 Anime First Impressions

December 11, 2009 at 1:30 am | Posted in Anime & Manga | Leave a comment

Alright, since I’m having a minor panic attack due to the fact my compsci final exam is tomorrow, I decided to finish up this post as well to get the jitters out of my system.

A very belated impressions post, but enjoy anyways! :)

Also forgive the cheesy song title puns for the “good – okay – bad” categories I divided the series up into…

Continue Reading Fall 2009 Anime First Impressions…

{single} Okina Reika & Hikita Kaori – Tsuki no Curse/Michiyuki

December 11, 2009 at 12:39 am | Posted in Hikita Kaori, Kajiura Yuki, Music, Okina Reika | 2 Comments

Okina Reika & Hikita Kaori – Tsuki no Curse/Michiyuki
翁鈴佳 & 引田香織 – 月の呪縛(カース)/みちゆき

(released May 25th, 2005)

1. 月の呪縛(カース) [Tsuki no Curse]
2. みちゆき [Michiyuki]
3. 月の呪縛(カース) (karaoke)
4. みちゆき (karaoke)

Okina Reika’s first (and only) single and Hikita Kaori’s debut single. Both songs were used in the anime Loveless (Tsuki no Curse as the opening, Michiyuki as the ending) and both were composed by Kajiura Yuki.

I’m not making fun of Okina Reika when I say she’s a one-hit wonder since she literally hasn’t done anything else. Tsuki no Curse opens with Okina singing slowly, then the guitars rev up and the song really starts. The melody is catchy, and while I found Okina’s belting a bit too nasal for my liking upon first listen, it’s grown on me and I can’t imagine anyone else singing it. I think the best parts of the song take place near the end – the bridge section with all the Kajiuran backing vocals taking the spotlight (I liked them throughout the entire song, actually), the guitar solo, then Okina coming back with subdued accompaniment before the final chorus. I also like the lyrics Kajiura wrote – they’re beautiful in a dark, isolated way (they almost seem to be from Soubi’s perspective). My favorite part (translated) is “in a world without words, we speak of love”.

Hikita Kaori’s Michiyuki is a gentle ballad, with lyrics (again by Kajiura) about finding love in a cruel world (they fit the nature of Soubi and Ritsuka’s relationship very well). They’ve got even more impact than Tsuki no Curse’s due to the Hikita’s vocal delivery. She doesn’t have a very powerful or distinct voice, but it’s warm and soothing and covers the dynamics in the song well. I love the lilt she does during the chorus peak the most – it almost sounds like she’s crying, but oh so quietly…Arrangement-wise, I prefer the piano and strings in this to the guitars in the A-side, and I’m glad that the echoes and choir vocals aren’t overdone here. Michiyuki also ends beautifully – Kajiura’s opted to wind the song down and use the verse melody, then the song’s string intro, and finally only piano at the end – the song closes as it has opened, giving the listener the impression of a dream.

Overall Grade: A

{single} HIMEKA – Hatenaki Michi

December 11, 2009 at 12:13 am | Posted in HIMEKA, Music | Leave a comment

HIMEKA – Hatenaki Michi
HIMEKA – 果てなき道

(released November 25th, 2009)

1. 果てなき道 [Hatenaki Michi]
2. 空は教えてくれる [Sora wa Oshiete kureru]
3. 果てなき道 ~Instrumental~
4. 空は教えてくれる ~Instrumental~
5. 果てなき道 ~Anime Edit~

HIMEKA’s 2nd single. The A-side is the ending theme to the anime series Tegami Bachi (also known as Letter Bee). The coupling track is also an original song.

I loved Hatenaki Michi from the moment I watched the first episode of Tegami Bachi, and my love for the song has grown even more in the full version. Now THIS is the HIMEKA I’ve been waiting for – the vocals are strong and full (her belting is wonderful, and her head voice peak notes are gorgeous), and this song is full of passion. I love the arrangement as well – the piano, guitar, strings, and harp (!!! yes, Yoruko is a sucker for harp) give this track a beautiful wintry feel. The part before the final chorus makes me think of a snowy mountain path and a starlit sky, but maybe that’s because I’m so used to the Tegami Bachi ED sequence. Hatenaki Michi is catchy, emotional, and memorable…and much more epic than Asu e no Kizuna.

Believe it or not, Sora wa Oshiete kureru sounds even more anison than Hatenaki Michi. Good piano intro, leading into the vocals. HIMEKA’s vocals are a bit more aggressive here, and the song is more rockish than the A-side. It even sounds like something that Mizuki Nana would sing (perhaps we can hope for an Animelo duet someday?). However, while HIMEKA gives a strong performance, the song itself is a bit weak – the melody is nice, but doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that HIMEKA might have been autotuned in this (her voice sounds a bit too polished in some parts).

The limited edition of the single comes with the Anime Edit of Hatenaki Michi. There’s not a big deal to say about it, except it’s a wonderful cut. I like how it starts directly with “aimai ni…” instead of having the whole build up to it, but I still prefer the full version to it, since this one feels faster-paced and has less contrast. Overall, this single is a step up from her debut. Keep up the good work, HIMEKA – we’re cheering you on, no matter what you go through!

Favorite Track: Hatenaki Michi

Overall Grade: A

{single} Nakajima Megumi as Ranka Lee – Seikan Hikou

November 30, 2009 at 11:48 am | Posted in Kanno Yoko, Music, Nakajima Megumi | Leave a comment

Nakajima Megumi as Ranka – Seikan Hikou
ランカ・リー=中島 愛 – 星間飛行

(released June 25th, 2008)

1. 星間飛行 [Seikan Hikou]
2. ねこ日記 [Neko Nikki]
3. 愛・おぼえていますか -デカルチャーエディションsize- [Ai Oboete Imasu ka? -Deculture Edition size-]
4. 私の彼はパイロット -MISS MACROSS 2059- [Watashi no Kare wa Pilot -MISS MACROSS 2059-]
5. 星間飛行 -without Ranka-
6. 愛・おぼえていますか -デカルチャーエディションsize without Ranka-

Nakajima Megumi’s debut single, although it’s more of a character single since she’s singing as Ranka Lee. Kanno Yoko composed the first two vocal tracks, and was involved in the arrangement of the other two.

Oh yes, the “kira~!” song that’s almost a viral meme – Seikan Hikou is a cute poppy number performed as an insert song.  The guitar intro with Nakajima’s vocalizing is rather infectious. Nakajima’s vocal performance continues to impress me, she’s not only got a good voice, but she does a wonderful job making the song so Ranka-esque. She injects just the right amount of moe that it makes me want to give Ranka a little hug or glomp.  The instrumentals fit this song perfectly too, guitar, bells, and just a touch of strings – I’m also impressed with Kanno Yoko’s ability to churn out stuff like this. The entire song makes me want to get up and dance!

Neko Nikki – Used as a special ending song, the song’s about a young girl (Ranka) talking about how things like swings and watches and even cats have a diary of their own. And that if her own lips had a diary, they would record the amount of times she called her beloved person’s name. The melody and arrangement (dominated by a clean, repeated piano line) are both rather simple. Despite Nakajima’s wonderful performance on Seikan Hikou, it’s in songs like this that really let her voice shine. Neko Nikki is just so serene and innocent – I especially liked the “7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” countdown parts, where Ranka is counting down to meeting someone (presumably Alto?).

Here we have the Deculture Edition size of Ai Oboete Imasu ka? (which was played as the ending theme during the Macross Frontier pilot episode). It’s a cover of arguably the greatest classic in Macross history. Nakajima’s voice is more suited to this song (I wasn’t too fond of the original due to the fact that Iijima Mari’s voice was too thin and nasal for my liking). Kanno’s arrangement of this is probably the most minimalistic I’ve heard from her so far – not that I mind it too much, but the ‘squirming’ synths got on my nerves a bit. It was much better during the chorus, with the backing vocals and more instrumentals.

And there’s another Macross classic cover – Watashi no Kare wa Pilot. It was an insert song in the episode where Ranka sang it for the Miss Macross 2059 contest. Nakajima’s cutesy side is back (I love it when she sings the “kyun kyun” parts!), and again, I prefer her rendition to Iijima Mari’s original. I like the arrangement of this one better too. The biggest problem I have with this is that there is only a short version – Nakajima only sang one verse and one chorus. Hopefully the later soundtracks will have an extended cut.

Favorite Track: Neko Nikki

Overall Grade: A-

{single} Shikata Akiko – Katayoku no Tori

November 30, 2009 at 11:19 am | Posted in Music, Shikata Akiko | Leave a comment

Shikata Akiko – Katayoku no Tori
志方あきこ – 片翼の鳥

(released August 19th, 2009)

1. 片翼の鳥 [Katayoku no Tori]
2. VII
3. 片翼の鳥 -instrumental-
4. VII -instrumental-

Shikata Akiko’s first single on a major label. The title track is opening theme for the anime adaptation of Umineko no Naku Koro ni. I suppose this is her entrance to the anison world – she’s quite prolific in the doujin music and game music circles.

If I had to sum up Katayoku no Tori in one word, it would be majestic. The Italian choir entrance already set the song up for something epic, and I was holding my breath to see if it would hold through. Shikata Akiko exceeded my expections in more than one ways than one. Shikata’s singing style is very unique and can even border on ‘wailing’ in some cases, but it really suits the nature of this song. I loved her mysteriously floaty manner during the verses, and her crying out in the breathtaking choruses. The layered backing vocals are used tastefully and don’t overpower the song. As for the instrumentals, they aren’t anywhere near the focus for the song, but I loved the bells before the final chorus, and the tambourine keeping the beat in other parts of the song. The chorus is even catchy – this song wins on so many accounts!

VII reminded me a bit of Wakeshima Kanon’s work due to the orgel and cello in the beginning. Shikata’s vocals sound like a more playful, sinister version of KOKIA. VII is rather slow for just about first 2 min, then the music changes and the pace picks up. I liked the contrasting moods in this track – the first section reminded me of a girl singing alone to herself while dancing with her dolls (why am I thinking about Ushiromiya Maria?) and the second part makes me picture some occult summoning ritual with a big banquet  and it’s creepy when Shikata sings “Saa, asobimashou!” (“come, let’s play!”) VII ends on a very spooky note, with the sound of a winding pocket watch (or doll/puppet joints moving), an orgel that seems to be slowly breaking down and going out of tune, and some footsteps.

Overall Grade: A+

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