Well, sorry about that – I really didn’t intend for my ‘hiatus’ to go on as long as it did. Personal issues and all, what can I say – these things really are unpredictable. But now that I’m back, here’s my long-promised JOINT review! (Sorry that this one’s shorter than my usual – my reviews can’t always be over 500 words, apparently.)
Mami Kawada (川田まみ) – JOINT (2007, Geneon)
3. JOINT -instrumental-
4. triangle -instrumental-
Well, I’ve’s recent trend towards heavy-metal guitar riffing with electronics left in the background continues strong – but, for once, I can’t really complain. JOINT is a pop-metal gem if I ever heard one, with Mami’s vocal performance energetic but not too cute, some great synthesizers (if you listen for them, of course) and the guitars nicely avoiding the ugliness of a Virgin’s high! while still retaining their edge and just a generally impressive package overall. Tomoyuki Nakazawa’s name is coming to be more and more synonymous with ‘top-quality’ with each new release, and his work with Takeshi Ozaki in arranging JOINT is no exception.
However, while Nakazawa’s track record has been nothing but brilliant lately, poor Kazuya Takase seems to be struggling. Fortunately, his contribution to the single, ‘triangle’, is actually somewhat disarmingly sweet – it has shades of Aozora to Taiyou (B-side from Mami’s Get my way! single), except where Aozora was somewhat sickening in its cuteness, triangle is a more relaxing and ever-so-slightly sad song. It’s certainly neither Takase nor Kawada’s best work, but it’s a great deal better than I was expecting given the somewhat dodgy quality of Takase’s recent work. Triangle is also notable for sounding a whole lot like 2005 – while her A-sides have certainly taken quite the stylistic diversion recently, triangle would be right at home back with songs like Hishoku no Sora or radiance.
Taken together, these two songs accomplish a feat unfortunately rare amongst anime theme songs – they actually portray quite an accurate picture of the anime the songs accompany. Shakugan no Shana may primarily be an action-oriented show (as JOINT, the opening theme for season 2, clearly shows), but there’s also a love story beneath it all and triangle, the second season’s touching end theme, in its own bittersweet way seems to give us a more honest version of the naïve Shana’s infatuation with the show’s protagonist than the actual anime does.