Posted by: 愛撫 | 02/07/09

Single review: Mami Kawada – masterpiece

Second opening theme for To Aru Majutsu no Index (successor to PSI-missing, Kawada’s last single release), ‘masterpiece’ is Mami Kawada’s first single release with a Maiko Iuchi-produced A-side. How does it fare?

Mami Kawada (川田まみ) – masterpiece (2008, Geneon)


1. masterpiece

2. jellyfish

3. masterpiece -instrumental-

4. jellyfish -instrumental-

The review:

Maiko Iuchi, this particular writer’s long-time nemesis, does a good work with her To Aru Majutsu no Index opening theme masterpiece. It pains me to have to admit this, but if I denied throwing the girl a bone when she really deserved it, I’d just be a big old asshole. And we can’t have that, now can we?

Beginning with a suggestion of a truly godawful guitar hook, this latest effort from Mami Kawada and the much-hated Iuchi had all the makings of an utter travesty. Yet, somehow, it actually works. Those guitars are on par with Iuchi’s worst, of course, but the (for lack of a better term) quirky vocal from Kawada fills the song with more personality than anything our good friend KOTOKO’s been up to for the last few years, wavering syllables at the end of the verses lending the song, to borrow a term from Guitar Hero, some serious star power. And Iuchi’s trademark grimy, noisy production lends the song a certain charm as well – it’s still polished to a degree, of course, but the relative dirtiness of the sound helps to create a feeling not too far off from garage-band rawness. Rocks pretty hard, as they say.

But of course, leave it to Tomoyuki Nakazawa to upstage Iuchi and not even seem to be putting any effort in while he’s at it. Fellow I’ve Sound Blog writer mentioned how B-side ‘jellyfish’ seems something like Nakazawa’s attempt at TRILL, a nicely danceable bit of electronic fluff dressed up with enough faux edginess for any three Aya Hirano singles. Like the aforementioned highlight from Kawada’s last album, the song is definitely one of Mami’s better ones, but Golden Boy Nakazawa seems set on cruise control with this track: formula borrowed wholesale from an earlier Takase work, guitars and synthesizers sounding pretty well exactly how they’re supposed to sound and doing it well. All in all, a far better effort than his last autopiloted song (the prepetually disappointing PSI-missing. Seriously, that song was bad), and a worthy addition to an unexpectedly good single.



  1. Nice review. Nakazawa on autopilot sounds better than Iuchi making a concerted effort, and in the end, not a bad single at all. Nothing that screams out “awesome,” though.

  2. wow a short review yet it says it all. Well jellyfish is still the win for this one — but it could’ve been done better.

  3. well, at least this is a good start for both mami and i’ve in 2009. even though rideback is actually the real first song in 2009 since masterpiece is already available since last year. the short version, i mean.

    haha, even aibu can’t criticized masterpiece when it’s maiko’s job. good job for maiko, then =3 but she still has to improve it, of course ;P i like how noisy the song is actually. it works, somehow.

  4. I think Maiko did a quite good job with masterpiece, though it’s not like it makes up for all the blood she’s spilled. It’s not ear-bleeding to listen (unlike most of her stuff) but it’s quite entretaining. Not perfect, but worth listening every now and then.

    jellyfish is the typical I’veness we all love. It’s like some kind of mysterious being formed by the conjunction of RAGE, Spiral , disintegration and newborn masterpiece itself (the guitars). It’s not THE ultimate song, but it’s the Tomoyuki-I’veness we all love.

    I’d give the single a 3.999…/5 — not exactly I’ve’s + Mami Kawada’s magnum opus, but it’s worth a nice place in our playlists.

    (and come on, PSI-missing is not bad. it does follow the usual [intro -> verse1 -> bridge -> verse2 -> chorus1 -> verse3 -> chorus2 -> big bridge -> weird chorus1 -> powered-up chorus2 -> outro] structure, but it’s not TERRIBLE)

  5. “PSI-missing is not bad. it does follow the usual [intro -> verse1 -> bridge -> verse2 -> chorus1 -> verse3 -> chorus2 -> big bridge -> weird chorus1 -> powered-up chorus2 -> outro] structure, but it’s not TERRIBLE”

    You forgot the part where the chorus was one of the worst in I’ve history and the intro seems to have been recorded for a different song altogether.

  6. I believe you’ve mistaken Tsukiyou for masterpiece, Aibu.

  7. Tsukiyou’s chorus was fucking awesome and I don’t care what anyone says.


    Edit – and I was talking about PSI-missing anyways, what the hell Hikaru

  8. ^uuuu sharpness ¬w¬

    Anyway, PSI-missing’s cool! I like it! It’s not perfect, but come on, not everyone hates it. I thinkall the beeps and synths sound awesome, it’s quite intense and the lyrics are cool. It may not fit within Mami’s rock-like-whatever style, but it’s not like it’s the common anime-generic song (while masterpiece kinda is…)

  9. I still like PSI-missing better than masterpiece, somehow….I guess I don’t like this kind of rockish type of music(like how I didn’t like JOINT that much). I mean, it’s alright for listening but I’m not crazy on it.
    Also, the masterpiece PV was very good, until the last bit. I hated that last scene. Although good art direction, but they could’ve filmed it a few more times because that footage of Mami was not totally ideal.
    JELLYFISH ROCKS MY SOCKS OFF!!! I don’t know how come i’m so in love with this song. Tomoyuki’s fast becoming my favourite composer.

  10. @kieyuku: somehow Mami was smiling during her “escape” in masterpiece’s PV, she should have been scared of getting caught, right ?? -_-;; i hate to admit it but that’s the minus point for the PV. i actually like her last scene, however, but she could have looked more sadistic :P

    i don’t know why but i’m not so into ‘jellyfish’. even when all people who have listened to this single told me that ‘jellyfish’ wins over ‘masterpiece’ -_-a

  11. “somehow Mami was smiling during her “escape” in masterpiece’s PV, she should have been scared of getting caught, right ?? -_-;; i hate to admit it but that’s the minus point for the PV.”

    Hey, Kawada got ultra shocked just right after the sadistic Mami got her under the sleeve. ;-D Actually I liked how the PV ended rather the one is PSI-missing but if quality is based, the latter was still much better (same reason as kieyuku).

    And as for kieyuku, well, ever since I heard “Agony”, Tomoyuki Nakazawa has been my favorite composer/arranger of all time that’s when I learned that he (and sometimes w/ Takeshi Ozaki) will do the compositions/arrangement, I get excited 90% of the time. XD

  12. I totally agree with all of you about jellyfish, it is an amazing song, i cant stop playing it again and again XD, recently the B-sides of I’ve girls albums had been overtaken the scene, cant wait for rideback.

  13. Too bad rideback only has a remix and another version T.T”’, let us hope the remix is cool.

    Cool! I though I was the only one who loved jellyfish. It’s weird the first time you listen it, but gets better the more it is listened.

    I personally think masterpiece is a little boring or at least it lacks enough power and magic to make it interesting, though it’s faily nice.

  14. *fairly

  15. Hey! Has anyone detected that some of the background voices from RAGE are in jellyfish? (0:36-0:40) I bet it’s a recycle… but who cares! Both jellyfish and RAGE are VERY cool! They don’t sound that alike anyway.

    Hahahahahaaaaaa! One of Nakazawa’s recycles is better than one of Lady Maiko’s best jobs! xDDDDDD

  16. @NumberXIII- Yep! You’re right about that. They are the same clip. Although imo, RAGE was a MUCH bettter song than jellyfish.

  17. Yeah, it is! But let us remember it was under the flag of HARD STUFF, meaning exactly that: Hard Stuff. Still, jellyfish features the awesome I’veness of the old times, and that’s worth a place in my heart xD

  18. @SAME & NumberXIII: really ?!
    i don’t have the original version of RAGE and you two make me really curious o_0;;

  19. Now that the two mentioned it already, it does resemble the synth on RAGE. Gawd, I also love RAGE! But it was much harder trance than jellyfish, I’d say. But their similarity is that they don’t have much lyrics despite the 7:23 and 4:26 length.

  20. Oh btw, for those who are curious about Super scription of data, here’s a link. I found this one while I was browsing at nicovideo…

    Well I don’t find the song special but it’s just a preview. My perspective of the song will still change in time.

  21. My excuses for changing the topic but I just wanted to express my happiness as for the Mami Kawada “Live & Life” dvd.
    I got it about three days ago and after approximately four times seeing it I’d like to say that…

    …if you’re a fan of this lady… you got to get your own copy!
    because it’s an incredible performance with some details that make it indispensable for any fan.

    What I emphasize:

    -First, this one is a concert rocker so, do not wait very much for trance in the songs because the main sound are the guitars (to tell you the truth, to have the chance to watch TRILL in a rock style is an awesome change).

    -Second, her voice… her voice… her voice is perfect, she is never out of tune in the whole concert, always smiling and dominating the whole stage. You know, I’m very proud of this lady because she improved notably her skills as a singer and artist.
    And I cannot stop mentioning how beautiful that she is, without words.

    -Third, the environment during the whole concert is brilliant, it’s true that it was carried out in a rather small place but that wasn’t something bad because since the beginnig to the end, the concert is full of charm and magic moments.

    Well, you all know that Mami is not my favorite I’ve lady but it’s impossible not to love her and if we talk about live performance I think KOTOKO still the best but this Mami’s live dvd is a fine proof that how she’s grown to turn into a great talented singer and what is more important, with a great charisma that is impossible to stop to pass.

    I repeat, if you are a fan of Mami… get this dvd or you’ll regret it someday.

    Now my fingers will remain crossed in wait of an official news on, I hope, the release of the MELL’s Live Tour dvd.


  22. @pedro: i already regret that Y-Y

    and well, i personally don’t think her voice was perfect in SAVIA live, but she did notably improve alot compared to SEED live where she seemed to be out of stamina faster.

  23. You know, at first I was a little afraid about her voice stamina during the whole concert but after the first two songs you inmediately forget about that because she’s always very self-confident in every aspect of the concert.

    She’s lovely =^_^=.

  24. @Pedropinilla
    Recently Mami is doing very nice, so I will take your advice.

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