With each year comes a flurry of new anisong artists who ply their trade. Some burn out quickly and disappear never to be heard from again. Others manage to stick around for just a bit longer. Rare is the artist that manages to become a permanent fixture on the scene. Nevertheless, I randomly feel compelled to comment on the promising ones in recent months whom I will be keeping an eye on. Plus, it will be fun to look back on this a few months later to see how accurate my predictions have been.
The first, and perhaps the one with the most hype, is 15 year old Suzuki Konomi, winner of the 5th Anisong Grand Prix. While her youth and sheer vocal strength suggests a very bright future ahead, the past record of Anisong Grand Prix winners does make me cautious. Anisong Grand Prix judges tend to pick people with very generic voices to please everyone; Kawano Marina and HIMEKA are prominent examples and aren’t artists whom I would ever listen to repeatedly.
The other two winners failed to fare much better. While Kita Shuuhei’s debut single Breaking’ Through fit his tense and somewhat strained voice, his butchering of Natsume Yuujinchou’s “Issei no Koe” is a sin for which he would never be forgiven. Sasaki Sayaka, meanwhile, has shown that she has degenerated into mere cute fest, which I get more than enough of from the seiyuu singers. That said, Suzuki does have the best voice among the winners thus far, and has released a solid debut single. Still, I’ll rein in my expectations until I have heard more of her works. I can only hope that her talent is tapped upon.
Next up is the much anticipated Haruna Luna, who is lucky enough to secure a tie-in with the popular anime Fate/Zero and composer Yuki Kajiura in her debut. The results, however, have proven far from stellar. While there is nothing offensive in the song “Sora wa Takaku Kaze ga Utau,” there is just no hook. Honestly, I do not recall anything so bland from Kajiura since “Calling.” The b-sides of that single does not help Haruna’s situation the slightest, as she proves herself a competent but largely uninteresting singer.
Finally, we have Ieiri Leo who released her debut in February, for Toriko. Among the three, she seems the most confident in showcasing her vocal abilities. This confidence is absolutely crucial because singers should be more than just pleasant voices capable of delivering the lyrics as written without trying to add their own flair to the performance. They are musicians, artists in every sense of the word. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe that the voice is an instrument like any other, and the true maestro would know how to get the most out of it. Ieiri is one of the few singers who are not merely karaoke-ists. This is especially noticeable in the full single, where the a-side was performed with a lot more energy and modulations, while the b-side was sweet and innocently optimistic. Her style may not sit well with some, but honestly, where is the fun in music if we are not allowed to critique the musician’s interpretation of a piece?
All in all, the past few months has given us three good singers, all of whom show a fair amount of promise. Do tell me if I have missed out on anyone else!