|Kukiko-dan: Yukari Yamazaki, Yoshiyuki Togawa, Wataru Kubota
|Jul 22, 2009
|1. Aoi Hana
|3. Ushiro ni Kikoeru
|4. Kanashimi Shirankao
Review: Aoi Hana’s OP wasn’t something that caught my attention early on. Part of it was because during the course of watching the series, much of my attention was focused on J.C. Staff’s beautiful art and animation during the intro sequence and part of it was because I did not initially warm up to Yukari Yamazaki’s voice. Her singing brings a muted quality to the track that felt almost too simplistic in its composition. It wasn’t until someone nominated it as a track for the MAL Song of the Week Club’s Piano Week that I was really forced to listen to it critically. Though I wasn’t completely won over by the music in that instance either, it grew on me as I listened to it all the more after that week had ended. So while I cannot declare it to be one of the better heartfelt OP/EDs out there like Sorrow-kun did over at Behind the Nihon Review, it’s a track that makes for a pleasant listen on its own, but shines even more when heard in conjunction with the opening sequence.
“Aoi Hana’s” piano part takes a no frills approach as it plays a plain introduction without any accompaniment, making for a simple beginning that might not be wholly engaging, but is nevertheless fitting with the soft, soothing mood that the opening sequence seeks to invoke. Yamazaki’s entrance serves to reinforce this mood in the way she utters the opening lines of the song with a subdued, almost timid, feeling of gratitude, as though she was practicing saying the lines while gathering her resolve to say this to the person to whom she cares a great deal. She repeats that line and this time, her delivery, combined with the addition of other background instruments, makes her sound more confident in expressing her thoughts and feelings, which she finally does for real at the 1:00 mark.
This is where the song picks up as Yamazaki conveys her sense of relief while apologizing for whatever wrongs she has committed. As soon as the apology comes forth, the person to whom she is addressing reacts positively, signaled by the little *ding* at 1:39, which dispels the singer’s fears and allows both people to renew their relationship. What proceeds afterwards is a sense of pure joy gained from acceptance and this is expressed aptly through the rhythm and the heartfelt singing, which effortlessly conveys the sense of happiness that continues to linger after the song has finished. Its simplicity might not be immediately engaging, but the song manages to shine beautifully alongside the animation, making it a fitting opening to Aoi Hana’s emotional, relationship-driven storyline.
Simplicity continues to be a trait that describes the rest of the songs on this album. “Gradation’s” tempo is slow and its music is really plain, but overall, it provides a soothing aura in the way it just drifts along. The feeling of relaxation that Yamazaki instills in her songs continues with “Ushiro ni Kikoeru,” which captured my attention early on. Her delivery consists of enunciating the lyrics in a rhythmic manner that is surprisingly catchy and when she finishes up with the first verse, the saxophones take over for the next 30 seconds to create a relaxing mood through a pleasant, laid-back melody before Yamazaki comes back to finish the track. Last, but not least, “Kanashimi Shirankao” brings back a quaint melody featuring a soft delivery and a piano that reinforces the quiet, pensive mood.
One of the things that I’ve noted about Yamazaki is that her music tends to be on the quiet side, and this works quite well when she’s trying to impart a soothing atmosphere or a more emotional tone like she does in “Aoi Hana.” Excitement is hardly a word to describe this album and if one is looking for more energetic pieces, one is advised to look elsewhere. But for those who do take the time to listen, this album offers a pleasant experience, especially if one is looking to relax because there is a simple sort of enjoyment one can derive from Aoi Hana.