White Album OP Single – Shin Ai – Review

Album Title: Shin Ai
Anime Title: White Album
Artist: Nana Mizuki; Noriyasu Agematsu; Miki Watabe; Youhei Sugita
Catalog Number: KICM-1270
Release Type: OP/ED Single
Release Date: Jan 21, 2009

Track Title Artist Time
1. Shin Ai Nana Mizuki; Noriyasu Agematsu 4:56
2. PRIDE OF GLORY Nana Mizuki; Miki Watabe 4:41
3. Gozen Rei-Ji no Baby Doll Nana Mizuki; Youhei Sugita 4:20

Review: The more I listen to Nana Mizuki, the more one-dimensional of a singer she becomes. She certainly has a good voice, but her vocal talents aren’t too diverse, which can be irritating to those who seek diversity. Then again, I’m probably not someone who can honestly write that off as a major fault because my previous review of Nana Mizuki’s single Trickster was slightly negative because of how the music differed from my tastes and expectations. So although Shin Ai, the OP single to White Album, isn’t all too different from the body of Mizuki’s performances that I find enjoyable, at the very least it’s a return to a style that I welcome with open arms.

Noriyasu Agematsu’s style is readily apparent from the opening notes to “Shin Ai” and if you’re familiar with his other contributions like with Mizuki’s “Justice to Believe,” it’s easy to guess at how this song is structured. The piano opening starts out with a serene motive before the piece bursts with life as a flurry of instruments join in and set the mood and pace of the song. Nana Mizuki makes her entrance around 0:25 and her voice shines brilliantly as she conveys a tone that is reflective and nostalgic, at least, until the chorus part comes in at 1:14. At this point, the tempo picks up and the tone becomes more passionate and emphatic. Throughout this section, Mizuki pours her heart out into the music and the vibe that this song gives off is a strong affirmation of love, especially with the short, repeating motive from 1:17-1:19 that sounds almost desperate as though she were pining for her lover before the first verse ends it with her reemphasizing her desires. And as the song continues, there are a few issues with Mizuki’s performance, particularly with the way she handles some of the higher notes, but luckily, those don’t detract too much from the song. The strength of Mizuki’s emotion-filled performance as well as the energy that she puts into the music is what makes this song so appealing, sealing it as yet another solid Mizuki track.

“PRIDE OF GLORY” is a departure from “Shin Ai” in that it starts out with a dominating melody that seems inspired by a Bach fugue and settles into a techno beat that complements Mizuki’s performance decently. The problem comes in the fact that there isn’t much that stands out in this track and as a result, it’s nowhere as entrancing or engrossing as “Shin Ai.” This song attempts to be forceful by employing heavy beats, but unfortunately, they’re far too pronounced, which make them distracting. That’s not to say that it’s utterly devoid of anything interesting. The electric guitar riff around the 3:00 mark makes for a nice diversion, but that’s about the extent of it because that section doesn’t last nearly long enough to get much development. Mizuki’s performance remains solid, but because the heavy beats add so little substance to the piece, what ends up happening is that it becomes a fairly mediocre track.

Finally, this album wraps up with “Gozen Rei-Ji no Baby Doll” which is a fairly upbeat and inoffensive pop song that packs a nice rhythm and melody and makes it enjoyable because of how laid back it is. Instead of bending the song to her will and filling it with intense passion like in some of her other songs, Mizuki goes with the flow, which has the effect of leaving the listener at ease. There aren’t any twists or surprises to worry about, so one can simply relax and be taken along for the ride. Although it’s a generic pop song the feeling of peacefulness and joy that this track brings is perfect for closing out the album.

This album is definitely solid and even though “PRIDE OF GLORY” can get on people’s nerves, there aren’t any really subpar tracks to drive down the overall quality. Furthermore, the reversion back to Nana Mizuki’s usual style should keep her fans pretty happy. Even though others may wish for some more variety, maybe it’s just best if Nana Mizuki sticks to her strengths and delivers consistently enjoyable tracks. But if you’re not of this mindset and want to see a different side to her, it may be best to just skip this one and move on.

Rating: Good

Opening – Shin Ai

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Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

5 thoughts on “White Album OP Single – Shin Ai – Review

  • January 23, 2009 at 5:39 am
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    Nice review. I feel it was a rather good ballad that reminisced Heart Shaped Chant, harps and all.

    Reply
  • January 23, 2009 at 7:26 am
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    Can you give a little more detail on why you consider Nana Mizuki a one-dimensinal singer? Personally I think her previous single Trickster which you found a bit lacking due to unfamiliarity to your tastes showed us some of her diversity. Arguably however I think the difference may have been that she utilised a different voice for both Trinity Cross, DISCOTHEQUE and Trickster which brings it down to a Character Song level. I guess it really depends on your personal taste in the end.

    Reply
  • January 23, 2009 at 2:25 pm
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    @Shin
    Your comment puzzled me a bit at first since my preconception of a ballad was that of the medieval variety. That is, a song that’s used to tell the story. When I looked up the term for alternate meanings and saw that it does include love songs like Shin Ai, your comment makes a lot more sense and I’d definitely have to agree with your thoughts, especially with the comparison to “Heart Shaped Chant.”

    @Guest
    If there’s a time for me to get egg on my face, this may be one of those.

    When I’d written that line, most of her music that came into my head tend to be the same stylistically. Just to list a few:

    Innocent Starter: Starts out soft, gradually builds up until it reaches an energetic chorus part and then ending on a consonant note.

    Eternal Blaze: Starts out soft and then the buildup occurs. Chorus has a feeling of urgency and closes out.

    Secret Ambition: Same as Eternal Blaze but even more pronounced as far the intensity peaks go.

    Justice to Believe: Similar to Secret Ambition, but the background instruments play a larger role.

    It’s undoubtedly an an oversimplification as well as a superficial way to describe her music since the differences in each of those tracks are nuanced enough as to make them enjoyable. However, I’d been sticking wholly with the tracks that I enjoyed, so some of her attempts at branching out like “Still in the Groove” (which I disliked) didn’t enter my thought processes. Hopefully this should explain what was going through my mind.

    And as for “Trinity Cross,” “DISCOTHEQUE” and “Trickster,” I acknowledged that she did attempt to sing outside her usual style, but it just wasn’t to my liking. That is, it’s not an unfamiliarity issue so much as they’re not the kind of music I really enjoy listening to. Your observation about her using a different voice for that wasn’t something I picked up on, but I could see that being an unconscious factor that went into my opinion.

    Thanks for helping me clear up my thoughts!

    Reply
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