Maria†Holic OP Single – HANAJI – Review

Album Title: HANAJI
Anime Title: Maria†Holic
Artist: Yuu Kobayashi; Tatsuya Nishiwaki
Catalog Number: ZMCZ-4481
Release Type: OP/ED Single
Release Date: Feb 11, 2009

Track Title Artist Time
1. HANAJI Yuu Kobayashi; Tatsuya Nishiwaki 4:37
2. HANAJI BLOOD EXPLOSION-MIX Yuu Kobayashi; Tatsuya Nishiwaki 4:26
3. HANAJI (Original Karaoke) Tatsuya Nishiwaki 4:37
4. HANAJI BLOOD EXPLOSION-MIX (Original Karaoke) Tatsuya Nishiwaki 4:23

Review: Akiyuki Shinbo’s brilliance with the camera along with the wackiness of his shows’ premises tends to yield some crazy, but artistically interesting opening sequences with music that fits it well. “HANAJI” is no exception to this generalization and ETERNAL’s post at Memories of Eternity does a thorough job of delving into the artistic side of the opening. However, the artistry of Maria†Holic’s opening is incomplete without having the music to back it up because “HANAJI’s” frenetic pacing and tone contributes to making the entire package enjoyable to watch and listen to.

Before we actually delve into the meat of the song, there is one oddity worth mentioning: this song is a miscast since the credits list Yuu Kobayashi as the singer. To be exact, the problem that crops up has nothing to do with her performance, but rather the fact that she voices Mariya in the anime and the despairing tone with which she performs this song is at odds with Mariya’s evil, sadistic attitude. Why Asami Sanada, who voices the hapless Kanako, wasn’t called up to sing it is strange given the relevance the song has to her situation. However, it’s not something I’ll dwell on too heavily since it does not stop the song from being enjoyable.

“HANAJI” starts off with a solid electric guitar rhythm and the mood of the song becomes readily apparent once Yuu Kobayashi makes her entrance. Kobayashi’s inflections convey the feeling that’s she’s teetering on the brink of despair and total insanity which, if you take this to be a description of Kanako’s situation, is all too fitting with the series. For example, the way the “yamete” section leading up to the “ahh~” is sung sounds like she’s at wits end and is pleading for someone to free her from this personal hell before she becomes completely unhinged by Mariya’s malicious antics. Through the dissonance, the song creates a sort of chaos which accurately summarizes Kanako’s tortured state in Maria†Holic as she becomes victimized by those around her.

Though I enjoyed this track, one cannot derive the same amount of enjoyment without being familiar with the series because Kobayashi’s tone can be whiny and irritating to people who don’t have the context to understand what’s going on. Without it, there’s little reason to listen to this album unless the listener wants to give the instrumentals a shot. The solo sections like the interlude between 1:22-1:29 and the riff between 2:27-2:41 are vibrant in the way they pump a strong dose of energy into the track. Even if the solos won’t push this track from being above average to enjoyable for those not familiar with the series, they do provide the song with an interesting section that makes for a good listen.

“HANAJI BLOOD EXPLOSION-MIX” is an altogether different sort of beast in the way it adopts a harsher, more violent tone compared to the original. The flurry of electric guitars make for an entrance I can only describe as being fairly rough and coarse before it yields to Kobayashi, who is accompanied by a piano that’s played softly, yet dissonantly so as to keep the listener on edge. After each line, the explosion that the title refers to comes through in the form of a barrage of instruments, making the hellacious situation become even more so by creating a sense of uncertainty. That is, an attack could come anytime, anywhere, making those who are already paranoid and neurotic even more on edge. The background parts, like Kobayashi’s repetitive “yametes” and the section where an outworldly chorus sings “hanaji,” bring out the grim, ominous atmosphere and for that, I like this version much more than the original because it has a certain flair and intensity that the original lacks.

“HANAJI” and its explosive remix together carry the tone of Maria†Holic quite well. On its own, “HANAJI” is an above average rock track that has excellent electric guitar work, but Kobayashi’s performance can be a hit or miss depending on one’s familiarity with the series. Context once again raises its head, and to fully enjoy the experience, one should definitely listen to this song in conjunction with the opening sequence because the two complement each other really well.

Rating: Good

Opening – HANAJI

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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.

0 thoughts on “Maria†Holic OP Single – HANAJI – Review

  • February 21, 2009 at 1:18 am
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    Basically, I listen to the song solely for 0:53 – 0:57.

    Reply
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  • February 26, 2009 at 7:05 am
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    And I basically watch the sequence for 0:16 – 0:18.

    The whole thing with Kobayashi singing from Kanako’s point of view is confusing if one chooses to think about it (I don’t), but her singing combined with her performance in the anime shows she has a hell of a lot of range and voice acting talent. I have a strong suspicion that she sings the OP for no more of a reason than that she’s the best singer in the main cast.

    Reply
  • February 26, 2009 at 9:52 pm
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    @Omisyth
    I can certainly see the appeal of hearing her suffer the way she does. A bit bipolar perhaps, but that’s the way Kanako is.

    @Sorrow-kun
    That guitar work there is pretty rockin’, I’ll say that much. Also, agreed with that thought regarding Kobayashi probably being the best singer of the lot. It’s an issue that I raised simply because I noticed it more than a deal-breaker or anything since it doesn’t make the song less enjoyable.

    For my next trick, I’ll try to find out whether Miyuki Sawashiro sings Track 2 on the ED album to this series. The vocalist sounds a lot like God (which is logical given the track title) and since Sawashiro plays God (heh), it wouldn’t surprise me if that turned out to be true. (CDJapan seems to confirm my suspicions.) If that’s the case, it’s time to retag!

    Reply
  • March 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm
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    Eh I thought the guitar “solos” in the full version were fairly unimpressive. Maybe “fills” (as in drum fill) would be more appropriate, though excellent guitar solos in anime songs are lacking from what I’ve heard. They weren’t bad, just not what I’d call a solo…

    Reply
  • March 3, 2009 at 10:57 pm
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    Well, terminology is going to be the death of me yet. I’m going to presume that solos tend to be lengthier? I’m just curious if there’s a cuctoff limit for what constitutes a “fill” versus a “solo.”

    And yeah, keep looking out for these kind of misuses. You’re talking to someone who can’t identify a circle of fifths if his life depended on it :V

    Reply

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