Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle OP Single – Brain Diver – Review


Album Title: Brain Diver
Anime Title: Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle
Artist: May’n
Catalog Number: VTCL-35116
Release Type: OP/ED Single
Release Date: November 2, 2011
Purchase at: CDJapan, Play-Asia

Track Title Artist Time
1. Brain Diver May’n 3:44
2. Kono Mama de… May’n 4:36
3. Brain Diver (without May’n) Tomokazu Yamada 3:43
4. Kono Mama de… (without May’n) Kohei Wada 4:39
5. May’n☆Space -Phonic Nation Live Ver.- May’n 6:21

Review: There are many bones I have to pick with May’n’s singing: it’s contrived, it’s thin, and frankly, it’s like a rubber band that’s ready to snap any moment. There are only a few of her works that I can sit through without a splitting headache at the end and “Brain Diver” is one of those rare finds.

With its rapid tempo, we don’t get many sustained notes from May’n – the sort which tear at her throat and my sanity. And to her credit, May’n does handle fast and rhythmic songs quite well. “Brain Diver” capitalises on her talent and astutely hides all her weaknesses. Her overly dramatic delivery, which usually raises eyebrows, actually raises the quality of this song because it goes together rather well with the discordant synthesizer sounds, making the song even catchier. It’s generic pop, no doubt, but if she can make it sound as good as it did, there is really nothing I can complain about.

But as we progress on to the B-side, I am reminded painfully that the usual May’n fare is never far away. Starting off with instrumentals that sounds right down the Maaya Sakamoto alley, my stomach just churns while waiting for May’n entry. As expected, she completely desecrates the song with a delivery that is still as contrived as ever. Her complete lack of meaningful modulation, the painful amount of repetition, and the slow pace of it all make this song plain torturous.

Still, I tip my hat off to composer Tomokazu Yamada and arranger CHOKKAKU for managing to bring the best out of May’n, who actually ain’t all that shabby. Spare me the “Scarlet Ballet” and “Ready Go!” nonsense; this is the song I want to hear when I attend AFA this weekend.

Rating: Good

Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle OP – Brain Diver

Jen

I have been a contributor to Anime Instrumentality since late 2009 (blimey...). Being a lousy musician trained in cello, keyboard and voice, I feel obliged to censure the other amateurs who have the cheek to release their rubbish to the world, and to affirm those who actually deserve their salary. Nothing gives me more joy than listening to good music, though I admit that writing scathing reviews on bad ones comes close.

12 thoughts on “Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle OP Single – Brain Diver – Review

  • November 11, 2011 at 9:21 pm
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    Great review. I think you really hit on it. This is just a pop song, and by acknowledging its own limitations it shows great execution. Just like the show for which it serves as the OP, Brain Diver is neither deep nor subtle, but it does have a lot of attitude. The effect is a fun, exciting piece — great for folding laundry, BTW.

    Reply
  • November 12, 2011 at 7:55 am
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    Out of interest, how did you find May’n’s single Ready, Go? I really liked her performance of it on the Animelo Summer Live 2010 – Evolution videos and her performance earlier the same day with Minori Chihara of Genesis of Aquarion.

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  • November 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm
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    I think her execution at the very beginning definitely added a ton of suspense to the entire show. It’s definitely hard to create that feeling of mystery and tension, and her explosive whispering managed to convey that mood quite well.

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  • November 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm
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    @Joojoobees
    I’m somehow kinder to this song than the anime. It’s not that I hate the anime, but it was way too predictable for me. And the art and animation… It’s rather interesting how the drama worked for the song, but (to me at least) flopped in the anime.

    @Arthur
    Frankly? I hated that song. Leave the bubbly stuff to Asou Natsuko please… But with May’n, I understand that she has this amazing ability to turn everything into gold once she performs live. In fact, for the song ‘Get Ready’, I honestly thought it’s one of the stupidest songs when I first heard it, but when I see her perform it, even I’m swayed. As for Minori Chihara, I’m not fond of her either. Nothing to do with her voice, more with her voice projection and pronunciation, that makes everything sound very aggressive. It just annoys me, except for when it actually fits the song, so stuff like ‘Defection’ is all good. So the two of them together? Showmanship would be good, I’m sure, but I may bleed from my ears.

    @Mushyrulez
    I hope you have heard the full version then, cause the anime one doesn’t do any justice at all. The terrible animation kinda distracts you from the awesomeness of the song, even.

    Reply
  • November 12, 2011 at 8:47 pm
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    @Jen
    When I discovered anime OP/ED songs, it was largely through the clips of live concerts on Youtube rather than from their anime. Many of promotional videos (particularly Minorin’s apart from “Freedom Dreamer” which she wrote the lyrics for) seemed like the vocal equivalent of an image album put together in a hurry so that the real work of getting a good live vocalisation could be done later. It was only the live arrangements that seemed good to me. May’n, I have very little experience of beyond Animelo and some other live video clips. On the other hand Chiaki Ishikawa seems to be able to deliver great vocalisations both on studio recordings and live performances.

    It would be interesting to know which singers of anime/game songs have had much training in classical or traditional Japanese style singing.

    Reply
  • November 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm
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    @Arthur
    I see. For me, its always through their mp3. And often, I don’t even watch the anime, so I don’t even know the context. That’s why my judgment is often based purely on the song, and the lyrics if they are particularly good or bad.

    Classical and traditional Japanese singing? Ok for traditional, with have Atari Kousuke, though he is kinda self-trained. But it feels so authentic you won’t notice the slightest. Mizuki Nana is trained in Enka, at least for a while, and you can tell through her wide vibrato actually.

    As for classically trained, we’ve got KOKIA (I just love her). Do check out her OP ‘Fate’ and you’ll see what I mean. (Giving in to my biased side: it’s heaven on earth.) She’s also done some brilliant stuff for Gunslinger Girl, so do check that out. Also, there’s Takagaki Ayahi, who’s a trained soprano. Listen to her songs ‘Be With You’, or her cover of ‘You Raise Me Up’ to hear her beautiful high notes. She’s actually trained in Opera though, but we haven’t heard any of those yet.

    Reply
  • November 13, 2011 at 12:59 am
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    @Jen
    Thanks for the pointers. I’m sure I must have heard Atari Kousuke’s singing somewhere before. His Wikipedia entry gives some performances of his that have been used in anime. KOKIA’s Fate was just wonderful, and the Gunslinger Girl song I heard by her on Youtube was good also. Takagaki Ayahi, she doesn’t even have an English Wikpedia entry, but I gather that her name is also written 高垣彩陽? If so, I did find a clip of hers on Youtube from Lisan Live!

    Reply
  • November 13, 2011 at 8:17 am
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    @Arthur
    Yea, Atari Kousuke’s pretty good, just bland after a while. I’m glad you like KOKIA. You can check out her albums too, since most of her works are actually not for anime. ‘Remember Me’ is more of her pop-ish stuff, but if you don’t mind slightly eccentric stuff, ‘The Voice’ is excellent. For Takagaki… I certainly hope that live hasn’t killed you. For someone vocally trained, her control in live is pretty bad actually.

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  • November 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm
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    I really hope you mean it when you say the anime version doesn’t do the full version any justice, because what I hear in the video is taking me back to the nausea of yesterday. Or maybe I haven’t really heard May’n singing her usual fare, so I don’t have a reference standard.

    And you know once you start on “classically trained” the first name that pops into my head would be from the OST side xD

    Reply
  • November 13, 2011 at 7:29 pm
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    @dawntodusk
    Shh… Not so loud. Her fans may check out this page. XD Though they would probably stop reading after the first sentence. But yea, do check out the full version, it is good. The TV-version has one more headache inducing element: the video.

    That doesn’t count, dear. Nearly every voice you hear in soundtracks will be professionally trained, because that’s where quality matters. Don’t ask me why in mainstream pop it doesn’t, but that’s the way it is…

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  • November 14, 2011 at 2:54 am
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    @Jen
    Actually to be honest I didn’t look at the video at all, just let it play while I read so I can’t see the animation. And now that I’m listening to it again, I realise that there are English words which slipped my attention the first time round…

    Actually I have a theory for that: because you can’t slap a pretty face and a high-budget PV onto a soundtrack, so you need some quality to make up for it. (Now to disappear into hiding before the May’n fans catch up with me XD)

    Reply
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