|Anime Title:||Black Bullet|
|Release Type:||OP/ED Single|
|Release Date:||June 04, 2014|
|01. Tokohana||Yanagi Nagi||4:26|
|02. Wasurenai Tame ni||Yanagi Nagi||4:31|
|03. Cross Road||Yanagi Nagi||4:49|
|04. Tokohana (instrumental)||Yanagi Nagi||4:27|
|05. Wasurenai Tame ni (instrumental)||Yanagi Nagi||4:31|
|06. Cross Road (instrumental)||Yanagi Nagi||4:49|
Review: Professionally-produced albums isn’t a phrase I take much stock in, especially where J-pop is concerned. “Tokohana,” the title track from yanaginagi’s latest single used as Black Bullet‘s ED theme is certainly professionally produced, but is a less-than satisfying experience because it fails to take advantage of yanaginagi’s vocals. The better songs are the B- and C-sides, where the her vocals are far more expressive, leaving me to wonder if it’d be better to give her more control over the entire production process.
To “Tokohana’s” credit, its mysterious aura, with an ethereal chorus thrown in, creates breathless anticipation by suggesting that the song will progress into darker realms of suffering before seeing the light of redemption. But once that section passes, the song becomes an uninspired fast-paced J-pop track that pumps up its energy without providing an outlet that would have listeners hanging on to every note. Yanaginagi’s vocals are monotonous (or at least, as monotonous as yanaginagi can be), creating a uniformity that’s boring: throughout the verses, her dynamics fluctuate little. Whether that’s “Tokohana’s” composer Shinya Saito’s doing or something else entirely, this lack of dynamism means that the song is not built up and does not show any feeling of progression.
So by the time the chorus rolls around, there isn’t much to look forward to. Yanaginagi’s vocal bursts lack the spark that would have emotions inflamed and the followup lines sound more like a literature professor’s dutiful explanation than anything exciting. Perhaps it’s the language barrier that’s the issue here, but I’d prefer that emotions are shown rather than told. Afterwards, there’s a fistful of instrumental rhythm and energy that is anything but nuanced, leaving my senses dulled by Saito’s overeagerness. Interestingly, the song is at its best when the instrumentation stays quiet and yanaginagi is allowed to express herself more. Lesson to the wise: keep Shinya Saito out of yanaginagi’s way.
This plea’s validity is strengthened in “Wasurenai Tame ni” where yanaginagi’s experience with doujin music yields a track that’s pleasant and, more importantly, plays to her strengths. Its slow, piano melody, with a flickering synth for accompaniment, evokes a serene setting in which yanaginagi can quietly move me through her singing. When she enters, her delivery, which includes a fuzzed/muffled measure, provides a gentle buzz as she rekindles a memory from ages past. The stanzas are also pleasant; when she sings, her voice moves up and down in a way that tickles the eardrums and keeps me engaged. Best of all, the instrumentation fits yanaginagi’s idiom, complementing her singing by enhancing her ability to express herself. All together, the track might be a bit plain compared to her previous works, but it’s nevertheless enjoyable for the vibrant vocals which envelope listeners in its warmth.
Finally, we come to “Cross Road,” which takes its melody from “Danny Boy,” a traditional Irish tune. In reworking this song, Akifumi Tada, the arranger, gives the source material more of a pop-ish feel, making it a far cry from the nostalgic emotions that the original conjures up. Yanaginagi’s faster tempo also cuts loose any trappings of the original’s sentiments, but in its place, the spark of optimism that it confers upon the listener is enjoyable, leading one to think that no obstacle is too tall to overcome. Given that this song was used in a commercial for correspondence education courses (see the video after the rating), it’s a fitting message to be sending to potential customers.
Since her departure from supercell, I haven’t been following yanaginagi’s progression that closely aside from a few doujin songs that she’s performed. So based on what I hear here, not having ryo’s music to back her up hasn’t been a hindrance since her vocals are strong enough to overcome a composer’s limitations. What it can’t overcome, however, is if the composer decides to let the instrumentals overwhelm her delivery. “Tokohana” is disappointing in this regard, but thankfully, “Wasurenai Tame ni” and “Cross Road” are an affirmation that her vocal abilities are as solid as ever.
Black Bullet ED 1 – Tokohana
Black Bullet ED 4 – Wasurenai Tame ni
Cross Road commercial