OK, so before anything else: I have no idea whatsoever how 七転八起☆至上主義！ is supposed to be romanized. Originally I thought it was “Shichitenbattou Shijoushuji”, but apparently that was wrong and it’s actually “Shichitenhakki Shijoushuji”. Expect now I hear that’s also wrong and the second word’s supposed to be “Shijoushugi“. Making matters even more confusing is the fact that KOTOKO seems to say “Shitenbattou” at one point in the song, potentially suggesting my original romanization, while still wrong, was in fact closer to the correct spelling than “Shichitenhakki”. But you know what? For convenience’s sake, I’m sticking with Shichitenhakki Shijoushuji. Because even if it’s incorrect, it works for me.
Oh, and the song’s the second opening from anime series Hayate no Gotoku! (ハヤテのごとく！), which KOTOKO also sung the eponymous opening theme for during its first season. Sorry for not mentioning that earlier.
KOTOKO – 七転八起☆至上主義！ (2007, Geneon)
4. scene (Instrumental)
Denpa. (電波) Occasionally romanized as ‘dempa’, the term literally means ‘radio waves’. But more to the point, it’s also the umbrella name for a hyperactive style of Japanese electronic music in which cutesy vocals (usually quite high-pitched), frantic beats usually a great deal louder than they need to be and anime-inspired lyrical themes collide to create something of an insane hybrid creature somewhere between happy hardcore and J-pop.
And strangely enough, while a lot of KOTOKO’s eroge songs (particularly those compiled on her SHORT CIRCUIT albums) are practically textbook examples of the denpa genre, up until Shichitenhakki☆Shijoushuji! her Geneon releases were completely devoid of it. Whether this was Geneon’s choice, I’ve’s or even if it was KOTOKO herself I do not know, but with this new single that’s all changed.
The first thing you’re likely to notice about Shichitenhakki is that the intro doesn’t really match the rest of the song – continuing the recent I’ve trend of distortion-soaked guitars kicking off songs regardless of how the rest of it sounds (Virgin’s high!, Get my way! and Naraku no Hana all featured pseudo-heavy metal riffing in their intros – might be a coincidence, but it kinda makes one wonder), Shichitenhakki’s first 22 seconds seem more well-suited to one of MELL’s pseudo-metal tracks than a KOTOKO denpa song, but as soon as the song’s synth hook kicks in it’s immediately obvious the intro was just a bit of joking around on producer C.G mix’s part.
Vocally, KOTOKO really gives the song her all. Where most of her recent singles gave the impression of a talented artist resting on her laurels and not putting too much effort into it, she approaches Shichitenhakki with the exact same kind of infectious energy that made her SHORT CIRCUIT albums such a joy to listen to. C.G mix’s production is top-notch as well, the song’s brilliant synth hook and ridiculously cheerful overall sound making it something you’ll certainly have trouble getting out of your head – if you even want to get it out. Sure, it trips up a bit about halfway through when the intro’s guitars come back to segue into a somewhat unnecessary guitar solo. But, really, when the rest of the song is this much fun why bother with nit-picks? While it’s up for debate whether or not it’s the best, Shichitenhakki☆Shijoushuji! is undoubtedly the most entertaining A-side I’ve has put out in the 3 years they’ve been with Geneon. And it would have been a brilliant single, oh it would have. But see, then there’s scene.
Apparently Kazuya Takase was listening when I called Virgin’s high! the ugliest piece of artless garbage ever shat out by the usually-competent I’ve Sound producers; while admittedly not as initially nauseating as Maiko Iuchi’s misguided mash of power chords on the aforementioned Sky Girls OP, scene seems to be trying its very hardest to ruin I’ve’s credibility and boy does it show. Poorly-constructed from the get-go with a fragment of a drum break cutting away to a KOTOKO-on-autopilot vocal so lifeless one wonders if Takase didn’t secretly replace her with a VOCALOID for the recording, it only takes some 20 seconds to get to the fantastically flaccid ‘rock’ guitars.
And boy are they ever bad, those guitars. Boy are they ever. Not only do they lend the track all the hard edge and rebellious spirit of your average number from High School Musical, but they also help to give the listener the (admittedly misleading) impression that Kazuya Takase is utterly incapable of crafting a piece of music. They just come out of nowhere, chug along blandly, bugger off for a bit and then come back again for the chorus, adding nothing of value to the song at any point.
The laziness in the song’s construction could possibly be forgiven if any of the individual elements were impressive in the slightest, but KOTOKO’s vocals are at best a half-assed repeat of the chorus on last year’s infinitely-superior UZU-MAKI and at worst utterly devoid of life or personality. The power-chord-heavy guitar riffing is similarly lacking, production softening the recording until the name ‘power chord’ seems like a sick joke at best, and the synthesized backing for the rest of the song is so unremarkable you couldn’t recognize a hummed bar even if you had to listen to this song 500 times on loop.
Takase can do, and has done, much better than this. Which begs the question of “why?“, above all else. In Shichitenhakki☆Shijoushuji, I’ve had its most instantly infectious single since 2004’s Re-sublimity – but where Re-sublimity was bundled with the equally impressive ‘agony’ and fantastic ‘Suppuration -core-‘, Shichitenhakki gets to keep company with a song so terrible its presence alone makes Virgin’s high! tolerable in retrospect. Don’t the people at Geneon realize what a supremely bad idea this is? Why did this happen?
Uggh, I hate asking rhetorical questions. Geneon’s been going down real fast, and with boneheaded moves like this it’s really no surprise. Way to drop the ball, guys.