Monday, 5 May 2008

CD検討: Super happy KOTOKO catch-up fun time

I have been neglecting my favorite Japanese singer for some time, sadly. Part of the reason is that the I've Sound blog guys are doing such a commendable job, but I also have been spending a lot of time updating you folks on the latest MOSAIC.WAV happenings. However since two of her eroge singles came out on April 25 2008, we all know what that means: more denpa!!! よし、いくぞー!

Song: I need magic ~解けないマジ☆キュン♪~
Game: カラフルウィッシュ ~12コのマジ☆キュン!~
(aka Colorful Wish)

Release Date: 2008年04月25日
Vocals & Lyrics: KOTOKO
Composer: C.G mix
Get short version and lyrics
Watch OP video on Youtube

As the title of the song clearly indicates, KOTOKO hereby declares her magical requirements. Unlike the sweet 詩月カオリ who politely asked her listeners if they possessed strong knowledge of paranormal phenomena, KOTOKO is unabashed in her proclamation. This girl not only necessitates the stuff, she demands that magic be available to her, at all time. I swear there must be something in the Japanese water that turns denpa singers into mahou-depraved nutbags. Dry humor on recurring lyrical topics aside, this is a wacky tune that raises the SHORT CIRCUIT bar even higher. The song's main attraction is the swift line delivery that never relents, but the arrangement also scores big time with its apace rhythm and witty disposition.

Song: Swift Love ~健全男子にモノ申す~
Game: つよきす 2学期
(aka Tsuyokiss 2)

Release Date: 2008年04月25日
Vocals & Lyrics: KOTOKO
Composer: 井内舞子
Get short version and lyrics
Watch OP video on Youtube

Denpa doesn't have to be all electronics all the time, the good old electric guitar is still getting a lot of love in Japan. As far as I'm concer
ned, "↑青春ロケット↑" and "Double HarmoniZe Shock!!" were some of the best songs from the SHORT CIRCUIT II compilation, yet they were heavily guitar-driven. The good news is that "Swift Love" tries very hard to be a spiritual sequel to these songs and it succeeds in a number of ways! But in doing so, it also sounds like a bit of a copycat, particularly in the chorus. That won't stop me from loving the heck out of this tune, since it very clearly rocks. I appreciate the last bridge which has KOTOKO singing on top of a heavy distortion feedback, this adds a lot of depth as the eroge theme climaxes into its final moments. Climax, eroge... get it? fufufufu.

Song: 決断のentrance
Game: PRISM ARK らぶ2マキシマム
(aka Prism Ark Love^2 Maximum)
Release Date: 2007年12月29日
Vocals & Lyrics: KOTOKO
Composer: C.G mix
Get short version and lyrics
Watch video on Youtube

Teh denpa, where is it? Not here, as you can tell just from listening to the first 10 seconds of the track. Indeed, "Ketsudan no Entrance" is a great representation of the aggressively smooth JTrance that I've Sound have been tweaking to perfection for nearly 10 years. However, I am outraged and I need to vent. In my very humble opinion, "Ketsudan no Entrance" has no business being associated to eroge. This is an epic, fully-featured song that belongs on national Japanese television, opening or ending a big-budget anime series. It deserves a lot more than being shoveled on a limited edition Comiket single for a game that, while notorious in some circles, won't reach a larger share of the population that NEEDS to hear this song. Some will argue however that the true version of this song was renamed "Sociometry" and used as the ending theme for Shakugan no Shana II. I can hear the similarities, but overall I'm seeing a musical case of the classic "neglected twin" dilemma. If you don't already have this song, hunt it down by whatever means.

Song: Ha!!!ppiness
Game: 新妻は魔法少女
(aka My new wife is a Magical Girl)
Release Date: Spring 2008
Vocals & Lyrics: Outer/KOTOKO
Composer: 中沢伴行・尾崎武士
Get short version

This last game isn't actually coming out for some time but the short version was made available earlier this year. "Outer" is one of the many I've Special Units and this particular one hasn't been heard of for some time. Basically, they are going for a punk-ish sound and attitude, but kind of fail at it IMHO. One of their songs is called "Leave me hell alone" [sic] so yeah, real pissed off material. Let's not forget the particularly Rammstein/German-like "Laze & Meditation", which was my (unfortunate) introduction to Outer. But actually, my main problem with this here song isn't the music, far from it. Sure, there are some questionable melodies and the drums sound far too triggered/unnatural but overall we're talking about a solid blueprint. Nope, what my head can't wrap itself around is the murky, barked vocals that ta
rnish the first 45 seconds and come back at 1:15, ordering me to "just do it" (sponsored by Nike?) among other things. Otherwise the short 30 seconds sandwiched in between are actually decent, if not forgettable. A great example of punk-done-right from I've Sound would be "Get My Way!" from 川田まみ; will "Ha!!!ppiness" become the reference for what not to do? I'll leave it at that for now and give the full version a spin when it finally comes out. Oh, and I could have dealt with an single exclamation mark replacing the "i" in "Happiness", but three of them in the middle of nowhere? What the hell, dude.

I am aware of her upcoming single "Special Life!" which will contain a denpa-infused track (but not to the level of the mind-blowing 七転八起☆至上主義) so I'll report on that when it comes out. But in the meantime, there are plenty more eroge singles for you to check out, as I've only listed the most recent ones. A good starting point would be KOTOKO's entry at and then you can google for youtube/nicovideo/nicosound feeds. Finally, remember that game makers almost always make their OP available for download so this is also an option if navigating Kanji doesn't scare you too much.


Anonymous said...

You're saying KOTOKO's Prism Ark and Shakugan songs should get up and switch places? Sounds good to me! I would have much rather have had Genzai no Requiem than being, Ketsudan no Entrance than BLAZE, and maybe stick BLAZE as the ending where it belongs. Then maybe they wouldn't be so outclassed by Mami's themes.
It's a shame the past couple years of eroge themes still don't get any love from I've, and by "love," I mean, "re-release in a compilation." Not counting SCII, of course, but Genzai (and Ketsudan, for that matter) would never had made it to a denpa compilation.

電波の世界 said...

A swap you say? No, I doth not suggest such a thing and I'm sorry if that's what I led you to believe. Allow me to elaborate.

As a man, I am genetically engineered to Serve & Protect The Twins. So in this case I cannot pick a clear winner as both songs are so similarly attractive. The point I was trying to make was that Ketsudan deserves way more than the poor treatment it got. It goes to show that, much like 原罪のレクイエム as you wisely pointed out, I've Sound (and Geneon, really) should be more careful in allocating, marketing and promoting its theme songs. For hardcore fans like you and I, it's almost criminal the way such diamonds are carelessly buried in the sand. They _NEED_ to release a new compilation and show these songs some respect. Because paying $20+ per single is madness in the end, not to mention half of them are out of print or not for sale outside of Japan.

Furthermore, I am slightly perplexed by your 'outclassing' comment. Shakugan no Shana is renowned for its impeccable choice in themes. It has yet to fail in that department, even though "being" ranks a bit lower in my opinion as well. The common feature with the ending themes is the incidental intros that these songs all possess, whether naturally or with the help of a little arrangement magic. The way the show gracefully merges from action/mystery/drama to the credits is sublime and I can't really think of any other series that pulls it off as well. Just think of the fantastic Elfen Lied and its atrocious ED transition. By itself, the song isn't bad (love Kawabe Chieko) but it completely ruins the disturbing mood that the series works so hard to establish.

All this to say that BLAZE and Sociometry had very big shoes to fill, much like JOINT and 三角形 (Triangle) in the face of the timeless classic 緋色の空 and the absolutely monumental 夜明け生まれ来る少女 (Yoake... I could write an encyclopedia about my love for this theme. If one song can be used to restore my faith in humanity, it's this one) So in that respect, I believe that the selected songs performed more than adequately and deserve to shine in the spotlight. I'll admit that the first time that I heard these songs (samples on Youtube before they were used for the show), I was not as impressed as I later became. It's as if they were built from the ground up to accompany visuals and carry a sense of urgency and attachment to make sure the viewers come back for more, but also as a sign of respect from the anime studio to its viewers. As you can tell this worked very well on me, so the mere suggestion that the themes should/could have been swapped slightly disheartens me. To each their own!

Thanks for your comments and if anyone else feels the need to step in then please do.

Nadirah said...

I like Sociometry, but I positively love Ketsudan no entrance. Nothing like a loop of that song to get me going in the day!

And my God Maiko Iuchi sure puts out something addictive in the form of Swift Love. That's like my sugar, man! (As you can clearly tell I'm kinda high on it right now. Karaokeing that song would be hard... doesn't stop me from trying xD)

I'm sorta meh on I need magic & Ha!!!ppiness (or however you spell that song) but mostly because the second one is still not in its full version glory. I need magic was too typical sounding to my ears that I couldn't really differentiate it between other denpa tunes from KOTOKO.

My 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

You know, I had all but forgotten the other songs mentioned in this post when I need magic and Swift Love came out... I mean, yeah, Ketsudan rocks the casbah in a rather fantastic manner, but it isn't the best of the Prismax theme songs (I have to give that honour to Yui Sakakibara and Kimiko Koyama's patently impossible-to-romanize denpa overdose "ぷりずむっ☆") and it sort of seems to drag when you compare it with the sugar-high lunacy of I need magic and Swift Love.

But while Ketsudan wasn't a disappointment (simply screwed over by not being denpa than anything else), Ha!!!ppiness was. See, unlike you, I always loved Outer: I'm nothing if not a massive sucker for fake Japanese punk, and short of perhaps Masaaki Homma (just pretend you know what I'm talking about) there's no faker punk than KOTOKO. So for one with some sick and completely inexplicable fetish for wannabe badass Engrish and heavy-metal posturing, Outer was like some kind of gift from the heavens... Up until Ha!!!ppiness, that is. I mean, OK, so the Sonic Youth cover was ill-advised, but that was from a Comiket exclusive. And maybe Leave me hell alone didn't really fit in with their other songs and maybe Outer really did suck all along, but at least KOTOKO's band had heart before. But Ha!!!ppiness was the exact opposite: a murky, unappealing mess of a song with a godawful title (even worse than "Laze and Meditation", fer chrissakes) that is to date the only I've song I actually have hated enough to delete from my hard drive. Seriously, I kept every filler track from Hikarinadeshiko, the Virgin's high! and Kirei na Senritsu singles, and even the godawful not-even-I've-to-begin-with MELL/KOTOKO track "Mother's Song" faithfully without deleting anything from them, but Ha!!!ppiness had to go.

But enough ranting about Outer. You did a good job with your KOTOKO report - don't let yourself think for a second that just because Hikaruhoshi and I are around it doesn't mean you shouldn't by all means write about I've.