As many of you already know, 2007 was a big year for I’ve – the long-awaited second volume of denpa compilation SHORT CIRCUIT, KOTOKO’s tenth maxi-single, the first Comiket-exclusive I’ve compilation in 2 years and Kaori Utatsuki’s debut single all came out this year, and those are just 3 of the year’s big releases. This is going to be a long post, so to read the rest of it you have to click the ‘read more’ link right there at the bottom of this paragraph.
First order of business; the release list. Excluding eroge soundtracks and the like, here’s the master list of I’ve Sound releases in 2007, reviews linked to where applicable:
KOTOKO – Kirei na Senritsu (March 7)
Love Planet Five – Tenjou wo Kakeru Monotachi (April 4)
Mami Kawada – LIVE & LIFE vol. 1 DVD (April 4)
Mami Kawada – Akai Namida/Beehive (May 9)
KOTOKO – Hayate no Gotoku! (May 23)
KOTOKO – Starlight Symphony DVD (May 23)
MELL – Proof/no vain (May 30)
KOTOKO & Kaori Utatsuki – SHORT CIRCUIT II (June 22)
Kaori Utatsuki – Shining stars bless☆ (August 1)
Mami Kawada – Get my way! (August 8 )
Eiko Shimamiya – Naraku no Hana (August 22)
MELL – Virgin’s high!/kicks! (September 26)
KOTOKO – Shichitenhakki☆Shijoushugi! (October 17)
Mami Kawada – JOINT (October 31)
Kaori Utatsuki – Chasse (November 21)
KOTOKO – Real Onigokko (December 19)
I’ve MANIA Tracks Vol.I/SHORT CIRCUIT II Premium Show IN TOKYO DVD (December 29)
Second, the year in memorable blog posts: this blog hasn’t been around for a full year yet, but I don’t think I’m being egotistical when I say that there have been some pretty damn good posts on here. Now here’s three of my personal favourites:
The first real discussion topic in I’ve Sound Blog’s short history, my snarky dismissal of Virgin’s high! based on a clip some 30 seconds long pretty much set the tone for the blog in general. It’s also worth noting that I was apparently a better writer 6 months ago because instead of going on a diseased, formless rant about cover art before a preview of the single is even released I felt it sufficient to just write 2 paragraphs saying “Virgin’s high! sounds like crap and Sky Girls sucks.” Oh, for it to be early July again…
It was hard gathering information for my I’ve Data File entries and I’m likely going to heavily re-write most of the girls’ pages in the near future, but with Eiko something clicked somehow and I wound up with an actually decent bio. That, and I love the picture of her I found for the article.
Whether or not the title was spelled correctly is anyone’s guess, but I think of my reviews written thus far Shichitenhakki stands out as the best. My definition of ‘denpa’ in the opening isn’t quite as informative as it perhaps could’ve been, but if you’ll allow me a moment to compliment myself I don’t think it’ll be easy for me to top my rant about scene. Good thing Takase redeemed himself a couple singles later, because that song truly was godawful.
And now, the real meat of any year-end review: The Hastily Made-Up Faux Awards Show! The only ‘section’ worthy of having capital letters in its title, apparently. As with every blog’s faux awards-show portion, the categories for the following ‘awards’ are pretty much made up as I go along, but that just means it’s spontaneous! And also possibly unreliable. Actually, probably unreliable. Let’s get to this before I overexplain myself any more.
Biggest surprise of the year:
Kaori Utatsuki – Change of heart
The last thing I expected of Change of heart was for the song to actually be any good. I’d pretty much never liked a Maiko Iuchi song before, and Kaori Utatsuki was never my favourite either. Yet somehow the Iuchi-produced B-side to Chasse turned out to be one of the best songs of the year, so much so that it actually ended up somewhat overwhelming Chasse itself. Without a doubt, Change of heart was the surprise of the year.
Compilation of the year:
KOTOKO & Kaori Utatsuki – SHORT CIRCUIT II
This category was something of a giveaway because there were really only 2 I’ve compilations in 2007, but even with more competition SHORT CIRCUIT II would’ve come out ahead. I mean, with SC2 boasting classics (relatively classic, at least) like Princess Bride! as well as the stunning Double HarmoniZe Shock!! (and a few other fun originals), how could I’ve MANIA Tracks even dream of competing?
Producer of the year:
While pretty much everybody in the I’ve camp did some exceptional work in 2007, nobody was as consistently brilliant as Nakazawa. It’s no surprise, then, that Nakazawa is currently responsible for arrangement and composition for most of Mami Kawada’s Shakugan no Shana themes as well as Eiko Shimamiya’s songs for Higurashi no Naku Koro ni – two of the hottest franchises Geneon has their name on, and both made all that much better through Nakazawa’s contributions.
Single of the year:
Mami Kawada – JOINT
While Shichitenhakki and Naraku no Hana may have been better A-sides, both those singles were marred by unimpressive B-sides. JOINT, however, has no such problem – ‘triangle’, the single’s B-side and Shakugan no Shana season 2’s ending theme, was one of Kazuya Takase’s best songs this year. Of course, next to the glory that is JOINT it’s hard to even remember that the single has another song on it, but it’s there and it’s actually quite sweet for what it is.
Song of the year:
Eiko Shimamiya – Naraku no Hana
I don’t really think there’s much to be said about Naraku no Hana’s sublime brilliance that I didn’t already say in my review, but here goes. In Naraku no Hana, Eiko Shimamiya found the perfect balance between the almost mystical style of her solo albums and the more straightforward rock of songs like Automaton. Both lyrically and musically telling the story of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai in 6 minutes far better than the anime itself managed to do in 24 episodes, the song is a work of subtle beauty rare amongst anime songs and sure to be remembered long after mistakes like Virgin’s high! have been swept under the rug. Which reminds me…
The obligatory anti-award: Disappointment of the year
MELL – Virgin’s high!
Granted, Maiko Iuchi’s name on a song isn’t exactly a guarantee of quality by any means, but that doesn’t mean a song of hers has to be this bad. MELL previously had one of the best track records of all the I’ve girls, not releasing much but hitting it out of the metaphorical park when she did have a new song, but then came Virgin’s high!. I won’t blather on for too long about how bad this song is, but considering the singles that came before it it’s a damn shame that Virgin’s high! was as terrible as it was.
And that’s all, folks! Hope you enjoyed the year-end review, and I hope to be doing this again next year. It was certainly one hell of a year for I’ve, and while things might not be as hot in ’08, only time will tell how things turn out.