Posted by: 愛撫 | 04/22/08

Single review: Eiko Shimamiya – WHEEL OF FORTUNE (Unmei no Wa)

Well, I’m back, and having returned with a rather embarrassingly large backlog of material that needs to be reviewed, I figured it’d be only appropriate to get to actually reviewing some of it (what a thought!). First up on the list is the new Eiko Shimamiya single WHEEL OF FORTUNE (Unmei no Wa), theme song for the live-action Higurashi no Naku Koro ni film and Eiko’s third maxi-single for Frontier Works.

Eiko Shimamiya (島みやえい子) – WHEEL OF FORTUNE (Unmei no Wa) (運命の輪) (2008, Frontier Works)

WHEEL OF FORTUNE (Unmei no Wa) cover image

Tracklisting:

1. WHEEL OF FORTUNE (運命の輪)

2. ディオラマ (Diorama)

3. WHEEL OF FORTUNE (運命の輪) Instrumental

4. ディオラマ Instrumental

The review:

When I first found out that it would be Kazuya Takase rather than series mainstay Tomoyuki Nakazawa composing the theme song for the new Higurashi no Naku Koro ni movie, I was more than a bit worried. After all, Nakazawa’s gorgeous themes for the anime adaptation of the (in)famous mystery-game series ranked with the best work I’ve has ever put out, while Takase’s output over the last few years has been nothing but inconsistent: it seemed like I’ve was making some sort of grave error with this release, trading out a sure thing for someone more than likely to fuck things up on a massive scale. Of course, it was probably Takase himself making the decision – owning your own music production company has some perks, after all – but either way the risk was there. But, luckily for us I’ve fans, the potentially boneheaded move actually paid off. Sort of.

By no means is WHEEL OF FORTUNE a worthy successor to Naraku no Hana, I’ll say that much for starters. But, in many a way, it was never supposed to be. The aforementioned Nakazawa-produced gem was made for a largely bloodless mystery show that just happened to be the sequel to a horror anime: WHEEL OF FORTUNE, however, is meant to be more beastly. A return to the menace and horror of the original Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (theme song and anime both), WHEEL OF FORTUNE is far from the most subtle song Eiko’s ever done but uses its viciousness expertly; Takase’s beloved heavy-metal guitars once again providing a genuine edge to a song instead of merely covering up a particularly uninteresting arrangement as they’d been doing for too long. And Eiko’s vocal performance… That part of the review really writes itself. Shimamiya’s singing never disappoints (note that I said “singing” here. Atashi wa Melon et al. doesn’t count) and her angelic voice guides the listener through the dark forest of Hinamizawa just as ably as it did the last two times, but with a bit more of an edge to it this time around: your guide out of the darkness may not want you to leave.

However, if the A-side doesn’t quite stack up to its predecessors, the B-side makes this single undoubtedly Shimamiya’s best. Tomoyuki Nakazawa’s “Diorama” is one of those rare songs that words seem altogether insufficient to summarize, every second carefully crafted to make the honestly rather good A-side sound really, really dumb and clunky by comparison. Beginning with synthesizers more reminiscent of Shimamiya’s fantastic album “O” than anything she’s done for her anime themes before coming to a brilliant electronic climax (and riding that climax up and down for a thrilling few minutes), Diorama could easily be considered the crown jewel of Nakazawa’s already stunning production portfolio: sounding better in both the slow build-up and the noisy parts than even his work for Mami Kawada on this year’s similarly-brilliant SAVIA, every bit of it sounds like the work of a true master of his craft. And it’s a true solo effort, too: his usually-present production assistant Takeshi Ozaki is nowhere to be found, and it may just be all the better for it: Ozaki’s guitar work may be a load of fun when it’s needed to be, but with a song of such beautiful subtlety such additions could quite effectively ruin it.

All in all, WHEEL OF FORTUNE isn’t the best title track, but its glorious B-side sets it in a class of its own amongst Eiko’s recorded output, and has it keeping company with very few amongst I’ve releases in general. Highly recommended, and probably the last single this good we’re going to hear from Takase & Co. for quite some time.


Responses

  1. This single is perfect! WHEEL OF FORTUNE is one of the creepiest songs in I’ve history. The fact that Eiko included a line from Tooryanse is great, especially since that is a creepy song on it’s own. Diorama gives a feeling of total despair & horror. It’s kinda like a forest full of yokai, oni, yurei, and various other creatures is surrounding you.

  2. You’re entirely right – the claustrophobic background music Nakazawa and Takase provide for Eiko’s Higurashi themes is brilliantly dense (much like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni’s Hinamizawa forest I keep alluding to in my Eiko reviews), with Eiko’s voice like those few rays of light cutting through the treetops.

    And yeah, Tooryanse is brilliantly creepy in any context.

  3. Even at stop lights? Imagine waiting to cross the street when all of a sudden you hear Eiko’s voice hiss “toorianse toorianse…”

    Anyhoo, I loved the single. It’s nice to hear a single that has two satisfying songs. It’s also nice to hear a B-side that doesn’t feel like it has to conform to the structure of a conventional anime/movie/eroge theme. Diorama is beautifully subtle and so bizarre that Wheel of Fortune seemed like Yet Another Anime Theme in comparison.
    Diorama also does simple arranging right. Compare the first two minutes of this to any part of Kanransha and you’ll get the picture, though I think the demons of Diorama would be a bit out of place…

  4. I love Diorama :)

    Haha yeah you see all those anime that features “tooryanse tooryanse” tune at traffic lights; works very effectively for Dennou Coil :)

  5. To 光星: Have you ever heard the story behind Tooryanse? Quite sad. It’s about celebrating if a child lives to the age of 7.

    With this single, I think Takase & Nakazawa were trying to stay away from the typical J-Horror theme song.

  6. Thanks for the review.

    I can’t even remember Kanransha to compare it to Diorama. Not going to listen to it again :)

    The only down side is that Wheel of Fortune is so I’ve-generic. Takase really needs refreshing.

    Btw, Eiko Shimamiya is the 4th google result for wiki tooryanse :P

  7. I LOVE WHEEL OF FORTUNE!!! Whenever I start listening, I can’t stop unless I close my computer or I leave. It’s just on a constant repeat when i start.

    Diorama is really good too. It reminds me of something that Olivia Lufkin would sing to be honest.

    All in all, the single’s really good. I’d buy it if I had the money


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: