|Anime Title:||The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya|
|Artist:||Tomokazu Tashiro; Aya Hirano; Minori Chihara; Yuko Goto|
|Release Type:||OP/ED Single|
|Release Date:||Aug 26, 2009|
|1. Tomare!||Tomokazu Tashiro; Aya Hirano;
Minori Chihara; Yuko Goto
|2. Senzaiteki Taiyou no Shoumei||Aya Hirano; Minori Chihara; Yuko Goto||5:23|
|3. Tomare! (off vocal)||Tomokazu Tashiro||3:58|
|4. Senzaiteki Taiyou no Shoumei (off vocal)||5:20|
Review: From the onset, “Super Driver” and “Tomare!” were in for an uphill climb. “Bouken Desho Desho” and “Hare Hare Yukai” had set a high bar for Haruhi’s OP/EDs and not surprisingly, neither of their followups are able to measure up. Part of it, I think, stems from the way the older songs were able to instill excitement because at that time, Haruhi’s arrival was a breath of fresh air upon an anime environment that was showing signs of stagnation and the impact of those two songs rippled across the anime fanbase. The arrival of Haruhi’s second season rekindled the enthusiasm, but this time, its atmosphere is muted by familiarity. While the excitement is still there, it diminished and the current OP/ED sequences parallel the show’s fortunes. A distinction does need to be made when talking about this quality drop however because “Super Driver” was a major letdown, but the ED “Tomare!” manages to treat us to an enjoyable listening experience that hearkens back to “Hare Hare Yukai.”
It is the energy delivered by the rhythm and the instrumentation that accomplishes this feat. The bustling atmosphere from the introduction gives us a taste of what is to come but instead of assaulting our senses with excitement and enthusiasm, the piece backs off, allowing the vocalists to build it back up to its zesty chorus. It does help that each of the vocalists bring a unique quality to the song; Yuuko Gotou’s entrance can best be described as a soothing tone with a touch of timidity and Minori Chihara’s continuation is sharp as it juggles a vague feeling of doubt, but Aya Hirano tops both of them by delivering that Haruhistic push of confidence with her emphatic “Tomare!” before proceeding with her buildup. By the time the chorus rolls around, it has become quite clear that the song’s message aims to reach people rendered immobile by fear and uncertainty and push them to grab at life’s opportunities and use it to create meaningful memories. Carpe diem. The backup vocals and the instruments complement the main vocalist in the chorus by instilling an infectious feeling of exhileration which encourages the listener to pursue those endless possibilities. With such an optimistic message, it’s easy to be drawn into “Tomare!’s” delightful atmosphere, making it a competent successor to “Hare Hare Yukai.”
“Senzaiteki Taiyou no Shoumei” works in complementing “Tomare!” by toning down the excitement in the preceding track through an easygoing, generic pop melody. All the elements that go into a good, forgettable pop song are present here, from the catchy melody, to the succession of singing that is perfectly competent if unremarkable (though in Aya Hirano’s case, her tones fit perfectly and her vibrato is well-executed, which I suppose is remarkable), and of course, you leave it feeling rather upbeat even if you can’t recall what the song sounds like a week from now. But that’s not a bad thing since after “Tomare!,” you want the followup piece to be calming, and “Senzaiteki Taiyou no Shoumei” allows you to relax and unwind.
“Tomare!” won’t ingrain itself in the minds of anime fans the way “Hare Hare Yukai” was able to, but even with the weight of the latter bearing over it, it succeeds in being an enjoyable album all the same. The excitement is there, the enthusiasm is there, and the call to proactively grab life by the horns is definitely there. Those three aspects grab at what Haruhi is all about and if the show is looking to keep those aspects in the viewer’s mind after each episode, “Tomare!” is a perfectly fine way of achieving that end.