Without a doubt the most popular vocalist in the I’ve Sound camp, KOTOKO is by far the most prolific of the girls – and the perfect starting point for our I’ve Data File series. (Note: post originally written May 30, 2007, rewritten February 3, 2008)
Introduced to the I’ve collective by her vocal coach Eiko Shimamiya, KOTOKO’s debut as an I’ve vocalist came in 2000, but not as KOTOKO. Prior to adopting her all-capsed alias, she was the front-woman for I’ve’s industrial/punk-tinged group Outer. Outer’s first song “Synthetic Organism” was released in September 2000, thus making it KOTOKO’s true eroge debut.
Her first vocal performance as KOTOKO came with “Close to me…”, opening theme for the eroge effect ~Akuma no Shi~ (effect～悪魔の仔～). However, Close to me… wasn’t exactly the first time the name KOTOKO had shown up as, prior to recording any vocal work as KOTOKO, she had already been given writing credit under that name for the lyrics to the AKI song Pure Heart ~Sekai de Ichiban Anata ga Suki~ (Pure Heart 〜世界で一番アナタが好き〜). KOTOKO’s role as a lyricist and songwriter for other I’ve girls would continue long after Pure Heart, and she’s written the lyrics for almost all of Kaori Utatsuki’s recorded output.
Later that year came her first CD releases, both exclusives to the Comic Market 59 (‘Comiket’) convention. With fellow I’ve vocalist AKI she released the “Dear Feeling” EP, and unrelated to I’ve she also released her first solo album “Sora wo Tobetara…” (空を飛べたら…) at the event. Dear Feeling would later go on to become one of the most treasured of I’ve rarities, while by contrast Sora wo Tobetara is largely ignored by the collector’s market.
Following up the release of Dear Feeling, KOTOKO’s first (and only) solo EP for I’ve was released the next year, and her integration into the collective was made complete with her appearance on the I’ve Girls Compilation vol.3 “Disintegration” in 2002. It was also in that year that she also made her anime debut with “Shooting Star”, opening theme for the anime series Please Teacher (known as Onegai Teacher, おねがい☆ティーチャー, in Japan). Continuing their trend of using KOTOKO for their important firsts, Please Teacher was also the first anime I’ve Sound produced music for.
The release of KOTOKO’s “Hane” (羽, largely a remade version of Sora wo Tobetara) in 2004 on Geneon Records marked the beginning of I’ve’s collaboration with the major label. Their partnership would later on in that year lead to the release of KOTOKO’s first major single, Oboetete Ii Yo (覚えてていいよ), ending theme from the Studio 4°C anime Mahou Shoujo Tai Arusu (魔法少女隊アルス).
Since then, she’s grown to become the figurehead for I’ve internationally with a US tour and American releases of her CDs Hane and Stokesia as well as her 2004 tour DVD. In addition to her overseas presence, with far more songs under her belt than any of the other girls, she’s easily the most visible of the collective in Japan as well.
(Editor’s note: Discography section from the original I’ve Data File removed – it was a nice idea, but she really has too many releases to effectively track in what is essentially a lightweight data file.)