Guilty Crown OP Single – My Dearest – Review

Album Title: My Dearest
Anime Title: Guilty Crown
Artist: supercell
Catalog Number: SRCL-7793~4
Release Type: OP/ED Single
Release Date: Nov 23, 2011
Purchase at: CDJapanPlay-Asia

Track Title Artist Time
1. My Dearest supercell 5:38
2. Tsumibito supercell 3:46
3. Dai Hinmin supercell 4:20
4. My Dearest (TV Edit) supercell 1:33
5. My Dearest -Instrumental- supercell 5:38
6. Tsumibito -Instrumental- supercell 3:46
7. Dai Hinmin -Instrumental- supercell 4:20
8. My Dearest (TV Edit) -Instrumental- supercell 1:33

Review: If it’s one thing that gets fans of a band riled up, it’s the replacement of a member. Ryo and his brainchild supercell found themselves on the wrong end of that anger when they suddenly ousted the much-loved Nagi in favor of fresh-faced newcomer Koeda, an ire strengthened by the revelation that she was naught but 15 years old. But it seems fans were jumping the gun. While it’s a stretch to say that Koeda is an outright improvement over Nagi, overall, the new voice is a welcome change. Nagi’s clean, open vocals were always elegantly, inscrutably delivered but could come off as a bit sterile and shallow. Koeda’s voice is a bit more nasal and brash, but more emotive, robust, and deep.

Perhaps it was a proactive measure on ryo’s part, then, that he changed around his vocalist, because his songwriting hasn’t evolved as much as it has interbred and mutated. Ryo has always been about big, obvious melodies supported by big, obvious chords, and while this is by no means bad, I can’t help but feel he has stagnated a bit as a composer. Everything he has released thus far seemed to brim with newness and imagination; that said, this single never outright offends but fails to surprise. The innovative, plucky indie spirit that made him famous (and me, a fan) has faded somewhat, and that is concerning, if not truly lamentable.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to like here. This single, like many of its ilk, is one that rides on the strength of its title track, “My Dearest.” Stylistically, it seems to be the culmination of every songwriting trope Ryo has used thus far in his career as supercell. It’s very much a concentrated, refined distillation of every sound supercell has become known for: heavy emphasis on piano, sweeping strings, broad, echoing backup vocals, fat, proud chord changes, generic (if highly capable) rock drumming, techno elements, a sappy electric guitar solo.  All of this forms the espresso of supercell, in all its cheesy, po-faced, self-serious glory.

But, like many a Japanese car, it’s not necessarily what goes into it that makes it good, it’s how it’s assembled. There was a lot of attention paid to the way the song’s many components (vocals, acoustic instruments, electric instruments, synthesizer tones, filtered acoustic instruments) came together. The arrangement here is truly special in a deeply impressive way. There is an amazing sensitivity as to what instruments are playing and how much they’re playing at what volume. Even with so many individual instruments at play, no single voice becomes needlessly neglected or annoyingly overbearing. The reintroduction of an element is always meaningful and serves some sort of purpose. If you find yourself liking this song, remember this: it’s not the composing you’re being impressed by, it’s the arrangement.

As for most fans’ point of contention, as I addressed, Koeda in “My Dearest” is competent as to be a non-issue. She doesn’t try to sound like Nagi and thus sounds nothing like Nagi and sounds just fine not sounding like Nagi.

Sometimes though, I do wish she would sound a bit more like Nagi, especially on the B-side. B-sides tend to be afterthoughts in the world of singles, and this isn’t much of an exception. The weaker composing here on these tracks combined with some grating emotive attempts by Koeda mean I can’t recommend these numbers in good conscience. Koeda’s delivery sounds a bit too forced in both these tunes; “Dai Hinmin” in particular rubs me the wrong way. It almost makes me hearken for Nagi’s more honest inflection, but I’ll call Koeda’s performance on this b-side simply passable and write off these annoyances as the quirks of a first impression.

Rating: Good

Guilty Crown OP – My Dearest

Aftershok

A huge jazz nerd and unabashed fan of alternative rock, I joined Anime Instrumentality in December 2010. I tend to get very passionate when it comes to music and try my best to understand how it works. An enormous fan of The Pillows, among my favorite anime composers include Ko Otani and Yoko Kanno. My tastes in anime vary wildly, but I try to be as thoughtful about my viewing as I am about my listening. I play the saxophone.

12 thoughts on “Guilty Crown OP Single – My Dearest – Review

  • December 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm
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    I’ll admit it took a bit to adjust to the new girl’s voice, but I do rather like it now. As a fan of guitar solos in general, it should say something when I think the one in “My Dearest” is superfluous and distracting. Only part of the song I dislike, really.

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  • December 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm
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    I would argue that the drums are far from generic and far from just plain rock. To my ears there is a mix of styles. There are rock beats in the chorus, R & B type stops in the verses, a marching band like sound in the opening motif, and a big band buddy rich style of speed brushing during the bridges. This composition is as heavy on drums as it is on piano and vocals.

    I will say though that it was the arrangement and particularly the structure that drew me to the single. It’s quite a departure from the standard verse-chorus of a lot of Japanese pop, it’s a more through-composed song that still manages to sound cohesive rather than disjointed.

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  • December 20, 2011 at 6:36 pm
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    Oh, how I loathed the B-sides on this single. Hate, hate, hated them. I can’t even bring myself to listen to them anymore. As far as “My Dearest” goes, it’s actually one of the rare times where I prefer the TV cut to the full song. After listening to the full song, I realized how well produced the TV cut was. Every note has impact. The full song has way more superfluous mucking around in comparison. Whoever did the TV cut knew what they were doing.

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  • December 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm
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    I was pretty appalled when the online community was absolutely flaming Koeda, for the simple reason that she isn’t Nagi. I enjoyed her performance in My Dearest (awkward Engrish aside) and think she is actually a promising departure from Nagi, whose recent album under Supercell is rather bland. But like you, the painful B-sides made me reevaluate my assessment of her…

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  • December 20, 2011 at 9:05 pm
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    I’m not bothered at all by Koeda, I think she’s great and her voice goes well with the hard-hammered pianos and the rocking guitars, but I think supercell has gone from good composer to good “but a bit overrated” composer. His mainstream approach to his songs isn’t bad and all, but now it’s just being too overplayed. Rock music is no doubt, one of his strengths, but his style of writing rock music does not differ from the rest of pop-rock music artists out there. And when he tries to mix in his other styles (techno and electronic music), in the end it only accentuates how flashy and generic his songs sound. Other than that, I still think his melodic prowess is the best in the industry.

    I also think the arrangement of “My Dearest” reflects the essence of the show itself, which to many people, is a semi-ripoff of Code Geass. I noticed how Geass R2’s opening and this particular song has too many elements in similar (particularly the two songs are in the key of C major and both has an orchestra playing in the background), which I think was how most people sub-consciously got to that conclusion. I now feel bad for those producers who said the show 😀

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  • December 20, 2011 at 10:06 pm
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    I find myself agreeing with pretty much everything in the review. My Dearest feels like the logical final culmination of progressing from The Story You Don’t Know, Sayonara Memories, This Star Sparkling Night, and Hero. It has the feel of all those songs while still carving out its own identity.

    And yeah, the shrillness of the B-side tracks totally put me off. The worst B-side tracks among any of Supercell’s.

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  • December 20, 2011 at 11:10 pm
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    @chrono
    I was personally fond of her voice from the get-go, even from the awful preview trailers that had it in the background. As for the guitar solo, I’d say that’s pretty much standard fare, but it was just a bit too much cheese for me.

    @Taka
    To your credit, I do believe was a bit unfair on the drumming in the title track, it really is one of the better aspects of the song. I suppose my “generic” statement was rather misplaced and more a comment on the song as a whole, but I did write that the drumming was highly “capable.” Take that as you will.

    The strength of the arrangement, though, I don’t believe lies in the structure. Though the backgrounds are highly varied (“through-composed” was actually a term that was in one of my earlier drafts for this review, but got cut out, heh), there is a very concrete verse/chorus structure to the song that does not vary much from the norm. The strings and percussion are written very well, they just follow a predictable form, is all.

    @Sorrow-chan
    Wouldn’t say I hated the songs, but the inflection did grate me quite a bit. I can see what you’re saying with the full song, though. One of the biggest disappointments about it, in my opinion, was that it played its emotional trump card twice. The sequence doesn’t appear at all in the TV cut, but I’m talking about the section starting from 2:35.5-ish where everything drops out bu the piano. That section was so dramatic and well-timed that it gave me goosebumps. But, Ryo copies that section directly near the end of the song, and it just ruins the impact. If it appeared just once near the end, it would have been so much more powerful, but the second time it played, it was just too predictable and stale. On the flip side, the TV cut omits a number of measures that make the cadences sound a bit rushed, especially in the string chorus near the beginning following those opening vocals.

    @Jen
    Mostly agreed, I suppose. I liked her enough in the title track that I’m willing to give her another shot in the upcoming album. Then, there’s Chelly…

    @Roy
    My sentiments more or less, but I can’t really say, because I’ve never seen the show. I do still like his melodies, but it’s time for him to consider that there’s a whooooole other UNIVERSE of harmony out there for him to explore.

    @lvllvllvlvlmvnnnlvln
    I find myself agreeing with you pretty much agreeing with everything in my review.

    In all seriousness, those were basically the exact songs I had in mind when I said his style was rather derivative of… himself.

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  • December 25, 2011 at 2:51 pm
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    I initially didn’t really like “My Dearest” and was surprised that Nagi was replaced by a newcomer. After a couple more listens though, it grew on me and I now find it quite enjoyable.

    However, if given a choice, I still prefer Nagi over Koeda (although she is impressive for a 15 year old).

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  • May 4, 2015 at 2:17 am
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    At the first sight (or sound), the B-side was so bad that I stayed away as much as I can from it. Tsumibito was decent enough, I appreciate Koeda for singing it without sounding like amateur singer, but Dai Hinmin was….. not so good. Around three months after listening this single, I concocted the theory that maybe this single was made with Koeda’s “mode” in mind. She has around three “mode” of singing, after listening to Zigaexperientia for awhile, and after I noticed that, I thought that this single is actually intended as introduction to all of that. Maybe a way to persuade Nagi’s fans who probably disappointed that Nagi wouldn’t be the singer anymore, by showing what Koeda can do.

    Then, 6 months after listening it, something weird happened. I actually enjoyed the B-side now! …..once you get used with the sound of it, it’s not so bad anymore. Although intellectually I can criticize it, I can’t hate it anymore. But still, a B-side you need 6 months to like is… ehh…. no good. Maybe it’s because I don’t use MP3? Some of Koeda’s songs sounds pretty mangled when I hear it in MP3. The problem got fixed once I swapped it with FLAC, though.

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    • May 5, 2015 at 8:50 pm
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      Repetition can definitely contribute to enjoying a song more, especially if you find yourself noticing more of the nuances that passed your attention the first time around. And if you’re able to commit to that, props to you. I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle that.

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      • May 5, 2015 at 10:53 pm
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        My first time listening it, I can only hear a cacophony of sounds that I barely registered, so yeah, it’s all thanks to repetition I survived till the end.

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