Fortune Arterial: Akai Yakusoku OP Single – Kizunairo – Review

Album Title: Kizunairo
Anime Title: Fortune Arterial: Akai Yakusoku
Artist: Lia, Ruka
Catalog Number: AMG-7019
Release Type: OP/ED Single
Release Date: September 27, 2010
Purchase at: CDJapan


Tracklist

Track Title Artist Time
1. kizunairo Lia, Ruka 4:33
2. I miss you (Lia Ver.) Lia, Yagi Yuuichi 3:27
3. kizunairo (Inst.) Ruka 4:32
4. I miss you (Inst.) Yagi Yuuichi 3:23

Review: In evaluating “Kizunairo,” it is best to approach it in terms of what this song doesn’t do rather than what it does.

First off, the song’s technical demands tend towards the low side; the passages themselves aren’t difficult since the melody never fluctuates so wildly that it requires the singer to exercise firm control over her voice so that she hits the notes spot-on. It’s not much of a negative, but “Kizunairo” should compensate for that through other attributes like having a catchy melody or being able to convey the scope of the song’s sentiments. I’m sorry to say that it does neither aspect all too well. The melody is marginally catchy at best, and at the rate it’s going, it’s not one I’ll remember six months from now. Furthermore, the subject isn’t anything I haven’t seen or heard before, and so, would not be able to form a strong association with it either way. To shine at all, this song, moreso than many others, requires that its execution be decent.

Enter Lia.

I’m convinced that her vocal presence alone is sufficient to elevate the most vanilla-y J-pop song into something that’s enjoyable at worst. She certainly does so in “Kizunairo” where the clarity of her expression succeeds in drawing me into the song, especially during the verses, where I experience the urgency through Lia’s delivery. The verses hold my attention, even if it’s short-lived, and the fast tempo carries me along all the way to the chorus. It’s just a shame that once there, my attention wanders elsewhere since the sentiment it expresses doesn’t mesh too well with the melody. As pleasant as the whole package is, “Kizunairo” is a wasted opportunity because it doesn’t make good use of Lia’s vocals to deliver a truly memorable, heartrending experience.

“I Miss You” is better as it takes the form of a slow-paced ballad accompanied by a gentle violin and piano that evokes a soothing, heartfelt sound that, as you might expect from its title, treasures those joyous times long past. Based on the music, I thought for a second that this was the work of Hajime Kikuchi of eufonius fame since the relaxing, nostalgic tones that it offers up matches well with his style. But no, Yagi Yuuichi is responsible for its composition and he does a good job nailing the song’s sentiments in a way that I can empathize with the singer’s regrets. The song is a bit too simple though, and I’d peg it as a poor man’s “Natsukage” since it doesn’t have the brilliant melody or delivery to set it apart. If nothing else, it’s not as forgettable as “Kizunairo” as the repetition of the song’s title in the chorus reinforces the message that is easy to identify with.

It’s a shame that neither song is musically compelling, since it means that Lia’s voice isn’t used to its fullest potential. At her best, she’s capable of conveying unto us a deep sense of emotional pain or buoying our spirits by imbuing it with hope and doing it in such a way that it stays with us forever. With Kizunairo, I’ll be surprised if I can recall this single in a month. It doesn’t contain a song engraved by time, that’s for sure.

Rating: Decent

Kizunairo

zzeroparticle

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.

15 thoughts on “Fortune Arterial: Akai Yakusoku OP Single – Kizunairo – Review

  • November 23, 2010 at 7:01 am
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    From what I hear of Lia, it seems its really up to the producers to compose a track that can utilize her vocals to the fullest, and Toki wo Kizamu Uta was certainly able to do that. In Kizunairo her vocals are too flimsy. In My Soul Your Beats and Tori no Uta the vocals are too aggressive. For me its all about striking the right balance.

    Then again, usually the better the anime, the better the OP isn’t it? 😉 I haven’t heard too much attention given to Fortune Arterial. So Lia should sing for an Ghibli movie.

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  • November 23, 2010 at 7:58 am
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    I have listened to the song at least 55 times already and it’s sounds okay, but it’s a bit rougher than her past songs. I haven’t listen much to her songs outside of Key, well maybe Girls Can Rock from School Rumble, but then again… that song is in English like disintegration, which sounds really good… but still better than 絆-kizunairo-色.

    I still agree that Toki wo Kizamu Uta is 10x better than this… even My Soul, Your Beats beats it too. I think it has more to do with the composers since Jun Maeda and Shinji Orito makes pretty good stuff…

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  • November 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm
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    One thing I like about the OP is the drums. Not just a really really simple pattern looped a bunch of times. I’m assuming that all the music was synthesized on a computer (clearly the strings are), so props to the arranger who can synthesize percussion like a champ. I love it when they put the ride on 2 and 4 (during the chorus); so groovy.

    This just seems like one of those songs that has a catchy melody…but the melody (at least to me) doesn’t really say anything. It’s just a convenient arrangement of notes. Logical, follows the harmony, follows general ‘rules’ of melody…but each distinct phrase doesn’t really complement each other. The TV size isn’t the best representation of it either, since it seems like it ends rather abruptly on the interlude (horrible place to end the tune).

    Great voice though, geez.

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  • November 23, 2010 at 2:08 pm
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    I’ve been listening to this one for awhile and it took a bit but it eventually grew on me. The latter half of the chorus is appealing to my ear because of the repetition “tsutaetai tsutaekirenai” and “namidairo no daiamondo” especially the latter because of engrish. The song itself isn’t that interesting though, only that repetition and somewhat catchiness. The beginning of the full version is interesting because it is nothing like the rest of the song and sets up an entirely different mood.

    Like Lelangir I don’t like where they end the TV size because for me that’s when the song actually starts getting interesting with the coda-like “kowagaranaide musunde ne ai wo deai wo” I would have liked to hear more of that. It has a much more epic feel than the verses and choruses and less standard j-pop.

    As for “I miss you” I dug it since I first heard it just because I like soothing songs that I can fall asleep to, such as Mitsudomoe’s “yumeiro no koi” from last season. I actually like the original Veil version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chi6qzqUr_4 a little better than Lia’s just because I don’t she does as good a job with the verses and some of the notes may be too low for her. Lia’s chorus is better though.

    Overall though I prefer the two Fortune Arterial themes to many of the others this season.

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  • November 23, 2010 at 5:43 pm
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    That was pretty much my impression of the song. I was going into Fortune Arterial expecting to have a rather mundane opening song, but I was pleasantly surprised by how not terrible that the opening was. The song itself isn’t hard to listen to, but I think for all of us who have heard Lia’s other works, this song pales by a long shot to everything else that she’s done.

    Unfortunately a large component of why the song fails for me is not only the rather, well, boring melody, but also the lyrics are just… ugh. They’re just… terrible beyond words. Gah.

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  • November 23, 2010 at 6:49 pm
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    MMM! Delicious descending Pentatonic passage in strings at 0:31.

    @lelangir Definitely found the drums to stand out more than normal [boring] looped drum patterns some/most op/eds succumb to. Good catch.

    I’m no scholar of anime music when it comes to singers, so when I did take time to find out who Lia was, then I was very pleased that I did know her from other anime ops/eds. But with that said… I’m not sure if I really liked this op she sung. I know for a fact she can deliver so much more… it almost feels like that there’s some kind of lock on her preventing her from belting out a better melodic line. [/rant]

    Wait I’m not done ranting yet as it seems. [rant] I am not a fan of when music producers raise the key of the music to the Neapolitan of the key (Say this song is Bminor, the Neapolitan of Bminor would be C natural (because C# is normally the second scale degree in Bminor), the flattened (or naturalized) second scale degree of the original key). I finished listening to the full version of this op and heard this. I just think it’s really cheesy and almost thieving for the listener for the producer to do this. They could have honestly kept it in the same key and developed the op. Of course I’m just being nit-picky. [/rant again]

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  • November 23, 2010 at 7:03 pm
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    Yea, Lia has incredible vocal abilities. I love her.

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  • November 24, 2010 at 12:05 am
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    @mrwan
    I’m in no way blaming Lia for this subpar set since she’s got a solid track record with performances and so, it’s most likely that the fault lies with the composer for not being able to capitalize on what she’s capable of doing well.

    I’d also love to see her sing for a Ghibli show since I suspect that Hisaishi’s deft hand in the composer’s chair can turn up all sorts of wonders. I’d disagree with the notion that good OPs have good anime or even vice versa. The original FMA (good show with lackluster OPs) and Myself; Yourself (crap show with a decent OP) would serve as counterexamples.

    @chikorita157
    As much as Lia’s songs might be pretty solid when compared to the entire body of J-pop out there, when this one is compared to her past works, it’s definitely a noticeable dip. So yeah, composers are to blame for sure!

    @lelangir
    My drums can’t possibly be this groovy! I did have to listen to the instrumental version to catch the drums and I see what you mean since the drum part is pretty nice and diverse.

    Otherwise, no disagreements there. This song feels more like a collection of musical phrases more than anything cohesive, and that’s partly why listening to this feels so disjointed and unsatisfying. Well, beyond Lia’s vocals anyhow.

    @Taka
    Well, I’ve hit about half a dozen listens of this and so far, it’s not latching on with me. I did think that the flashy intro to the full-sized version was kinda odd since you’d expect it to be a more cheery piece rather than one that sounds a tad bit somber and interesting as it is, it sure doesn’t lend itself to making “Kizunairo” more cohesive.

    As for the interlude, yeah, that’s when the shift makes things all the more interesting than the semi-catch melody that’s been supplied up to that point. Shame that people who don’t explore the single won’t really get to hear it.

    Veil’s version is pretty nice. I was afraid of a wispy chata-ish voice, but she does pull through with the whole nostalgic/regretful vibe rather nicely.

    The OP/ED combo is (sadly?) better than a lot of the stuff this season. I’d peg SoreMachi’s OP/ED as being the best though.

    @Mystlord
    It’s kinda odd how not bad J-pop, when compared to Lia’s output feels so subpar. Luckily, we can blame the composers for that. As for the lyrics, they don’t really carry much weight since I don’t understand them anyways. But I did look it up and yeah… it’s kinda cheesy when it comes down to it and with that knowledge, the song feels even worse since the lyrics don’t match the melody’s sentiments. I dunno if that made any sense, but yeah.

    @Rhythmroo
    I’d place the lock on the fact that the composer sucks. Pair her up with someone who can draw out the fullness of her voice like Maeda and you’re definitely going to be in luck.

    As for the Neapolitan, this is probably going to be something I’ll have to look up since my music theory powers are currently weak :p That said though, I do see the point about this OP not being fully developed and that shift was kinda unnecessary since there was more work that could have been done.

    Out of curiosity, when you say “thieving,” does it mean that this shift is used too often?

    @Yi
    She’s probably one of my favorite singers. Shame the composers couldn’t take advantage of her vocal range to produce something memorable.

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  • November 24, 2010 at 5:59 am
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    This is technically my first time hearing a full single by Lia, and she definitely left a very good impression. The music, to me, was pleasant enough, but what impressed me more than anything else is the strength of Lia’s vocals.

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  • November 24, 2010 at 11:53 am
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    @zzeroparticle

    The first reason why I say thieving is because they slap these ops/eds on an album and sell them for a ludicrous price when hardly any development, new material, or skill. They just simply extend it with the same material in a different key. So in this sense, they rob your $$$.

    But to answer your question about it being used too often: Yes. It’s used so often that it has become a composer’s/producers building block to extend, not develop, their songs/tracks. I mean if this was video game music I would find this acceptable, but it’s the op/ed track of a show, it should have some variety in it because it’s going to represent your anime show. Don’t let it suck, ya know?

    Note: Sorry for the whole theory talk, I’ll keep it on lock. :)

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  • November 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm
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    >>to the Neapolitan of the key (Say this song is Bminor

    You mean just…direct, unprepared modulation up a half step? That’s such a staple of pop music, and I agree that it’s a convenient way of a composer/arranger just saying like “well, I want this to get more epic, but I don’t want to do any real development.” I think it can work sometimes (sometimes I hear direct modulation up a wholestep, or rather, two consecutive half steps), though it’s so ubiquitious..yeah…I feel you.

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  • November 25, 2010 at 1:31 am
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    @Jen
    I remember you saying something to the effect that Clannad After Story’s OP just didn’t grab at your attention. So with that in mind, you may want to revisit her works. Whatever problems the composers may have done are easily compensated by her really wonderfully solid vocals. She expresses the essence of the music and for composers who can really draw that out, that’s where you start hitting the masterpieces!

    @Rhythmroo
    Haha, as if CD prices (at least, to import) aren’t already pretty ludicrous, especially with exchange rates the way they are. So yeah, to equate this to highway robbery isn’t too far off especially when the composers take those kinds of shortcuts.

    As for the theory talk, I know lelangir enjoys it (as evidenced above). Feel free since I certainly could use a bit of learning in that particular arena. :p

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  • November 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm
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    I agree. This song does sound subpar compared to the list of incredible songs she has sung, like the intensely beautiful Natsukage ~Cornwall summer mix~, her version of Chiisana Te no Hira, and Light Colors. This song is simply “okay” at best and wouldn’t even grab my attention if it was sung by another vocalist.

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  • November 25, 2010 at 5:03 pm
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    @lelangir
    Couldn’t have said it better, I was actually questioning if calling it a Neapolitan was even correct after I wrote the comment (Neapolitan usually shift to the major anyways and this doesn’t do that, it’s directly a half step to Cminor), so modulation is probably the best way to put it. And yes another mod is up a whole step. I don’t really mind those that much, I’ve heard good use of a whole step move, but going up half a step sounds ridiculous to my ears.

    @zzeroparticle
    I guess I’ll still continue my theory/anime op/ed rants then. 😉

    Reply
  • November 26, 2010 at 1:07 am
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    @Suzushina Yuriko
    I’m especially fond of both Light Colors and her version of Tiny Palm. Somehow, riya’s work on the original just doesn’t have as forceful an impact, which is why I really loved how Lia really shown brightly in her performance of the latter. Light Colors was pretty engaging and was absolutely beautiful, intense when it needs to be, but also light at times too. Overall, she’s really good about the way she delivers up the song’s sentiments and I’d probably peg her as my favorite anisong artist of the now.

    Reply

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