Going back to the beginning with the data file here, MELL has been with I’ve since the start of it all. (Post originally written May 31, 2007, rewritten February 4, 2008)
Amongst the current I’ve Special Unit roster, MELL holds the distinction of being the only member who has truly been with the group since the very beginning. In fact, according to common speculation she was doing songs with Kazuya Takase even before that – the 1998 BLUE GALE eroge “My Dear Are Naga Oji-san” (My Dear アレながおじさん, link NWS) featured opening and ending themes by one “Orihime”, and while it’s never been officially confirmed, Orihime seems far too much of a MELL soundalike to be anyone but her.
Her debut as MELL came in 1999, when she sang 美しく生きたい (Utsukushiku Ikitai), ending theme for eroge Hakidame -trASH- (吐溜 -trASH-). Hakidame was also the first eroge that I’ve officially worked on (although as mentioned before, Takase and co. had been doing BGM and theme songs for eroge long before it), giving MELL the undisputable title of the original I’ve girl.
However, unlike KOTOKO’s relatively quick rise to prominence, it would be a long time before MELL got a solo release of her own. Her ‘big break’, as it were, came in 2006 with her Engrish-laden opening theme for action anime Black Lagoon, the excellent “Red fraction”. It was largely due to Red fraction’s popularity that whe was able to make her North American concert debut at A-KON in Texas on June 1, 2007 – following in KOTOKO’s footsteps to become the second I’ve girl to hold a concert outside of Asia.