Posted by: 愛撫 | 04/13/09

Single review: Eiko Shimamiya – Chikai

Eiko Shimamiya’s latest single is the titular theme song from the film Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Chikai, the second live-action adaptation of popular visual novel Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.

Advance warning: concept review, do not attempt to take at face value.

Eiko Shimamiya (島みやえい子) – 誓い (Chikai) (2009, Frontier Works)

Tracklisting:

1. 誓い

2. OXISOLS

3. 誓い -Instrumental-

4. OXISOLS -Instrumental-

The review:

The first thing I thought when I saw her was that she didn’t look right. Maybe it was her posture that did it. Skinny neck held too far back as if it had something to prove, weak shoulders obviously tensed with her bone structure distressingly visible thanks to her questionable choice of dress. There’s a certain point in a woman’s life when she should stop trying to wear halter tops and white studded belts, and this particular specimen’s time had quite clearly came a good decade or so prior. What this relic was doing in a club where all around her were the young and beautiful, much less why the notoriously selective bouncers let an uncomfortable-looking thirtysomething (or was she in her forties by now?) in, would remain a mystery forever if I didn’t make an attempt at conversation. Maybe she owns the place? I entertained this idea briefly, before recalling an article I’d read in the Times mentioning that this particular establishment was owned by some pretty-boy rock star whose name didn’t warrant remembering. Or maybe she was a VIP of some sort? It seemed unlikely given the fact that she was sitting at the bar instead of at a table, but either way I couldn’t help but realize my own curiosity starting to overwhelm me. I had to know who this woman was, and so that’s what I was going to find out.

Swallowing my pride along with the remainder of an Old Fashioned that cost a few dollars more than it probably should’ve, I walk up to her and try and think of an opener. “Can I get you a drink?”, “do I know you?”, “come here often?”, I mentally sorted through every non-threatening icebreaker I could think of and found them all sorely lacking; this poorly-preserved relic seemed to be worthy of something more despite herself. And, in keeping with a time-honoured tradition of failing to find the right thing to say, I settled on a noncommittal “hey.”

Her silence had me thinking she might not have heard me, not exactly the biggest surprise as the club’s sound system was seemingly designed as a superweapon in anticipation of a war against music-hating aliens, but after a considerably awkward pause she spoke her first words to me, cutting through the white noise the house DJ was spinning with alarming clarity.

“Why don’t you sit down?”

It was shocking to hear her speak, a voice at once both tender and worn-out even when asking something so mundane, and as I sat down beside this mysterious woman my own silence was one of both reverence and puzzlement: had I actually met her before? Sizing me up with her eyes, which were now a particularly unconvincing green thanks to colour contact lenses, she seemed to be asking the same questions of me I had of her.

“Going to say anything?” she asked, cracking the slightest hint of a smile at my smitten speechlessness. Trying my hardest to squeeze out a quick reply, I fumbled and by accident said exactly what I wanted to say. “Let’s get out of here!” I half-shouted over the bass thump that had been quickly growing tiring; I should’ve known better than to visit this particular club when the house DJs were playing.

Skipping the pauses for once, this obscure object of desire decides to accept my invitation, and in the 5 minutes that I’ve gone without saying anything we’ve left the club and are now in a taxicab en route to the hotel I’ve been staying at for the last week or so. The comparitively superior lighting of the taxi’s interior gives me a better look at my companion, and from any objective standpoint the results of further visual examination are not what you’d call ‘pretty’. Too much makeup, too carelessly applied, a platinum blonde wig that wouldn’t fool a blind man, and a tattoo with some chinese character on it whose meaning I neither knew nor wanted to ask, even before getting to how she was dressed it was obvious that she wasn’t holding herself in the highest of esteems. The halter top far too risque for her age, leather microskirt with a wide white belt (with studs throughout, seemingly only to push the questionable fashion statement into the realm of ‘bad’) and wedge platform shoes all worked together to oversell the idea that the wearer was a skank of the worst kind, but something about the unsure way she carried herself, coupled with that voice of hers, got me thinking that there was assuredly more to this girl than appeared on the outside. Granted, her lack of hesitation to leave the club with a strange man she hadn’t even had a proper conversation with would seem a counterpoint to this theory, but either way I was fascinated by her.

As we entered the hotel suite, I popped the question. Figured it was best to get it out of the way, what with the inevitable conclusion of this encounter being even more needlessly sleazy without it.

“What’s your name?” I asked her as she overeagerly loosened the string holding her skimpy top behind her neck, her back turned to me.

“Is it OK if I don’t take off my shoes?”

“Don’t you want to talk first?”

“Like what you see?”

Untying her thong underwear and turning to face me as the skimpy undergarment dropped to the ground, I could see tears starting to form in the corners of her eyes. It was then that I began to understand what had taken place; my anonymous lover-to-be had been used so many times she had come to accept it, even to expect it from people. She dressed younger than she was to escape her reality, but when she took off the garish clothing of a particularly unfashionable teenage skank was when she became truly beautiful.

“If you took off the wig.”

Her hair was a boyish cut, jet black with the ghosts of failed dye jobs past still haunting stray clumps. Far prettier in its authenticity than the bland perfection of the straight-cut blonde wig, her sadness gave way to a bittersweet chuckle as she joked that she was going to buy a different one next week anyways.

Dejectedly, she sits down on the side of the hotel room’s too-small bed (that’s what I get for travelling on a budget, I figure), legs crossed and chin in her hands. Sitting down beside her, I wrap my arm around her shoulders and pull her in close. We stay like this for god only knows how long, and when one of us finally breaks off it’s because she has to use the washroom.

As I sit on the side of the bed awaiting her return, I get to thinking about the tragedy of her insistence on hiding her beauty behind cheap makeup and tacky clothes. I still don’t even know her name, but from the moment I heard her speak it seemed like I knew everything about her. From her teenage years as a notorious late bloomer, to all the times she had seen her friends around her go on to popularity while she languished in obscurity, to a series of unsuccessful marriages, all these things she’d never alluded to seemed like I’d known them forever. And, hearing her ridiculous platform heels clunking around in the bathroom, I knew that this tragic figure uncomfortable in her own skin had already become one of the greatest loves of my life.


Responses

  1. LOL. Oh God. No words. (Except those.)

  2. gawd. Aibu is into writing erotic short stories now. *runs away and hides*

  3. Actually, it’s a review of both the Chikai single and Shimamiya’s career in general. She’s beautiful when she’s allowed to shine through, but the trashy guitars and arrangements clearly meant for artists much younger than her (like Chikai, for instance) just bring attention to the fact that she’s getting older instead of covering it up. And, as is written at the end, she’s had a patchy career at best – her star pupils have all surpassed her in popularity (OK, so aside from Utatsuki) and she’s made some pretty iffy career decisions (the ‘bad marriages’ referred to, mostly talking about doing songs like FLOW or Otome Kokoro+Nekomimi) but throughout it all I still love her for the good and the bad.

    Also, I much preferred the more ‘honest’ OXISOLS to its A-side, with the transition being shown as the character in the story (who represents Eiko even though she isn’t actually Eiko) undresses. OXISOLS seems far less concerned with trying to be edgy, and as such doesn’t ring quite as hollow as the uncharacteristically boring Nakazawa A-side does.

    So you can look at it as an ‘erotic short story’, but as I mentioned in the intro, the review was beneath the surface. (There are other hidden metaphors in the story, but you’ll have to look for those on your own, dear readers)

  4. I kinda got what you’re trying to say through the review and at some points I do agree with you. (I rather liked FLOW, though, but I think I’ve stated that opinion elsewhere so we’ll let that rest).

    As for the single… Yeah you’re pretty much spot-on. As vocalists, Eiko & MELL are (in my opinion) sharing the top spots since they’re consistent with their vocals (in studio recordings and in lives). It’s a shame that the songs she get are pretty mediocre… ahhh her album was such a disappointment, and I was really looking forward to it. I don’t know why there’s a need to throw her into a niche – she can’t do cutesy songs, but other than that I think she’s pretty brilliant. (Oops inner Eiko fanatic out.) Her old songs in I’ve are among the ones I constantly loop.

  5. Oh by the way your “story” is kinda hauntingly sad haha. Was that what you were trying to achieve?

    Oh and yes b-side was better than the a-side. Almost kinda represent the soundtrack of your “story”, essence-wise, not lyrically wise :P

  6. ^

    gotta say the review is cool, aibu =3
    didn’t realize it was really a review, though xP

  7. Me too, when I first heard OXISOLS, I think that was the right thing for her. Soothing, simple yet brilliant. Yes I like Chikai but then I can’t feel the Higurashi spirit within the song unlike Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Naraku no Hana and WHEEL OF FORTUNE. I think of it as an upbeat song and that’s it. Nothing that special.

    Actually, I’m a bit weak when it comes to this but when I read it for the second time, I already knew what Aibu wants to express about the single. Nice review. XD

  8. Beautiful, every single word of it.

  9. After a few hundreds of listens, I actually like Hikarinadeshiko, but only since I decided to listen to it as a New Age album.

    @Aibu-I agree with you there. The IVE composers have a bad habit of giving their vocalists with the most potential songs full of mediocrity. Eiko’s songs would be great if they had better compositions and Kaori would be okay if KOTOKO just stayed the fuck away from a pen, paper, and Kaori herself.

  10. >After a few hundreds of listens, I actually like Hikarinadeshiko, but only since I decided to listen to it as a New Age album.

    I ended up enjoying Hikarinadeshiko quite a bit myself..frankly at the time this Album arrived together with SAVIA I found Shimamiya’s efforts there to be the more fertile listen. While it still holds more enjoyment than O in my view, thing is in case of Hikarinadeshiko that while I wouldn’t really call nor consider it New Age through and through, its content is certainly located on the more soul soothing side of music that isn’t of the kind I find myself listening to as often and easy as it’s the case with other I’ve Vocal Hime stuff (SAVIA for example but also Shimamiya’s fabulous previous Mini-Album efforts that are still ranging amongst my favorite I’ve CD purchases to this very day)..like with good wine, there’s got to be the right time and occasion for that Album.

    >Kaori would be okay if KOTOKO just stayed the fuck away from a pen, paper, and Kaori herself.

    With all due respect I beg to differ on that statement…as KOTOKO’s involvement (moreso the lyric writing of hers which crosses like a red line through almost every song of that girl’s repertoire) brought forth some memorable pieces of Kaorin music through which I’d say she gained that place amongst the womenhood of I’ve vocalists. The problem I see with Kaorin is that they (I’ve/Geneon/whomever to blame for that) don’t let her (as much as some other girls of the collective) go and experiment a little with what other spectra of music got to offer for her and whereat she succeeds (or possible not doing quite as well at). Don’t get me wrong, both Shining stars bless☆ and moreso Chasse been releases I wouldn’t want to miss, but someone who’s in charge of deciding which way the girls head with their music should stop the steretyped thinking, because otherwise I fear that sooner or later either the artist herself will decide that it’s time to call the one-sided nature of her works a quit or fans will decide so and move on. In case of Kaorin less candy pop music once in a while after all must not equate with Utatsuki gone goth-MELL-ish (as “SWAY” showcased).

  11. “Kaori would be okay if KOTOKO just stayed the fuck away from a pen, paper, and Kaori herself.”

    Do lyrics really matter that much? If anything, I always found KOTOKO’s ‘endless stream of words’ lyrical approach to be well-suited to Utatsuki’s vocals (like the chorus to Jet Smash!, for one), and Utatsuki not writing her own lyrics isn’t too much of an issue in general since C.G mix doesn’t write his either… it’s just a matter of people sticking with what they do best, and KOTOKO these days is apparently better-suited to be a lyricist than a singer.

    Speaking of KOTOKO, I’m sure I can’t be the only one hoping that, if she really does split with I’ve, she’ll start composing for herself again. She wrote some brilliant songs in her time, and it’d be great to hear her getting back into a more personal relationship to her music.

    Edit – “Oh by the way your “story” is kinda hauntingly sad haha. Was that what you were trying to achieve?”
    Maybe. I was aiming for a certain degree of melancholy, but ‘haunting’ seems a touch extreme…

  12. “Speaking of KOTOKO, I’m sure I can’t be the only one hoping that, if she really does split with I’ve, she’ll start composing for herself again. She wrote some brilliant songs in her time, and it’d be great to hear her getting back into a more personal relationship to her music”

    I couldn’t have said it better ^^.

  13. “With all due respect I beg to differ on that statement…as KOTOKO’s involvement (moreso the lyric writing of hers which crosses like a red line through almost every song of that girl’s repertoire) brought forth some memorable pieces of Kaorin music through which I’d say she gained that place amongst the womenhood of I’ve vocalists.”

    i think it’s fine if Kaorin didn’t write her own lyrics since KOTOKO is a great lyricist. Kaorin just needs to try some experimental sound. =3

    “Speaking of KOTOKO, I’m sure I can’t be the only one hoping that, if she really does split with I’ve, she’ll start composing for herself again. She wrote some brilliant songs in her time, and it’d be great to hear her getting back into a more personal relationship to her music.”

    you’re right. her album Hane was one of the example how her own composition was actually good.

  14. “Maybe. I was aiming for a certain degree of melancholy, but ‘haunting’ seems a touch extreme…”

    Ah that’s just my penchant for this kind of writing :)

  15. That review is kind of how I felt after hearing Scheherazade and realizing that she’s said “velvet bed” several times. That’s not how Eiko should sound. She’s far too mature for that.
    Atlante and Hikarinadeshiko (the song) are very fitting for her style, which is why the album removed from the shadows of SAVIA and FLOW sounds much better. Oxisols isn’t Higurashi or even Around the Mind. This is authentic Eiko and I hope we hear more of this, though I admit we’ve heard a lot of it without actually noticing.

    On a related note, I had assumed KOTOKO would eventually follow that sort of path, away from the cutesy fluff like U Make Ai Feel So Young and onto more mature songs like perhaps siren, but it doesn’t look that way yet.

  16. ….interesting review….or rather, “review”

    i quite enjoyed chikai from the beginning. i’ve enjoyed alot of songs, to be honest (for instance, the FLOW and PSI-missing that you apparently hate with a burning passion…actually, i think i’ve grown quite obsessed with PSI-missing ever since you’ve expressed your hatred for it. if that made any sense…)

    although i do like OXISOLS as well, it’s just too mellow for my taste. maybe it’s just me, but i thought WHEEL OF FORTUNE was ABSOBLOODYLUTELY AMAZING (…while you thought it was silly at times…i think we might be on some sort of polar opposites when it comes to music? O.o) I do kind of see how her career’s starting to go down. Paranoia was a nice song to listen to as well but it wasn’t as memorable as others (then again, i thought most of the 10th anniversary singles were not very well representations…) and Hikari Nadeshiko, though i quite enjoyed most songs on there (except for Karansha. DIE you boring piece of–), i can see where you get the idea of it being not very well

    i think i might be contradicting myself…i’ma shut up now before i start to confuse myself

    btw, love the new ‘concept review’, though i was quite confused ^w^;;

  17. On the topic of lyric writings skills and moreso in connection with the Vocal Hime focused on within this review, it really should be noted though how awesome of a writer Shimamiya is…I mean sounds and opinions on it may differ more or less greatly, but let’s be honest about that – each of the Higurashi made for themes that Shimamiya contributed so far were equipped with lyrics which inherit an amazing mixture of doing quite well on stand-alone listening an more importantly fitting the project made for quite perfectly neat (having watched the first Higurashi live action flick the other day I noted that while WHEEL OF FORTUNE may not live up to the Anime themes thus far, it was lyric-wise one of the most suitable pieces of theme songs experienced in quite some while).
    So even more a reason to anticipate the arrival of the Chikai Single (despite Superscription of Data being the Shimamiya release I consider the late June release slated for to be cruel act of teasing).

  18. “Do lyrics really matter that much? If anything, I always found KOTOKO’s ‘endless stream of words’ lyrical approach to be well-suited to Utatsuki’s vocals (like the chorus to Jet Smash!, for one), and Utatsuki not writing her own lyrics isn’t too much of an issue in general since C.G mix doesn’t write his either… it’s just a matter of people sticking with what they do best, and KOTOKO these days is apparently better-suited to be a lyricist than a singer.”

    It’s all because we KNOW that she has written lyrics for herself. C.G mix, well I have no idea what his excuse is. I really think that Kaori should leave IVE and just have her songs produced by Yasutaka Nakata.

  19. “I really think that Kaori should leave IVE and just have her songs produced by Yasutaka Nakata.”

    You’re probably the only reader of this blog who thinks that even approaches ‘good idea’ territory.

  20. I probably am, but in the end, does it matter? We all know that it’d NEVER happen and that the IVE crew will continue to be talent wasters like they have been for years.

  21. @Same… “talent wasters”… sadly, the awful truth ¬¬…

    And finally, we have polls!!! ^^

    Congratulations!!!

  22. Yeah, I caved in and made a poll. Expect a different one every 2 weeks or something.

  23. Wow polls!! 8D I’m glad something new came up!! I actually voted for SAVIA. Although I also wanted to vote for Hane and Garasu no Kaze. >>;

  24. Yeah! fred, of course great news ^^.

    I’m a little dissappointed with myself because I wanted to vote for “MELLSCOPE” but I had to be honest with mi opinion and because of that “Hane” was my choice (this album is too much great).

    But this is cool, indeed it is =^_^=!

  25. *lol* vote for SAVIA, but Hane and MELLSCOPE are actually my favorite too x3

  26. I voted for Hane, though I have to give a big nod to SAVIA. If only they used the album mix of Lament and the original version of Kanariya (despite the fact using both would make little sense) and the whole thing would be perfect in my book.

  27. in your life and Hikarinadeshiko both have votes?

    Also, is anyone else able to vote multiple times or is it just some weird admin privilege? I accidentally voted for SAVIA twice, and the poll’s kind of useless if it doesn’t remember who’s voted before…

  28. Apparently Mami will be doing the theme song for CandySoft’s new game Mechamimi. The song doesn’t have a title yet, but Mami is on lyrics, with Maiko on composition & arrangement.

  29. @aibu: i was able to vote twice too…

    @SAME: wow, it’s been a long time since Mami do song for game…
    and Mami-Maiko combi ?? doesn’t hurt to expect this song will sound like seduce or masterpiece, does it ?? or if it’s ballad then return to that place or melty snow x3

  30. sorry for double posting, but i just read this in I’ve Sound Explorer.

    MELL and KOTOKO were announced to be guests in C.G mix’s Live…

  31. @aibu & yuki-chan>> o_o I wasn’t able to vote twice.

    @SAME>> Yeah I also read it somewhere. And seeing the website, I’m hunching it’ll be a denpa or something cutesy song.

  32. well.. i am still able to vote now… don’t know what actually happen -_-;;


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