Posted by: 愛撫 | 07/05/10

Single review: KOTOKO – Hekira no Sora he Izanaedo

KOTOKO’s first BLAZBLUE tie-in found her switching to a lower-case name, temporarily dropping the I’ve producers and producing a thoroughly mediocre work barely worth a second glance. So, now that she’s returned to the fighting-game franchise with I’ve mainstay C.G mix by her side, are the results any better? Read on to find out!

KOTOKO – 碧羅の天へ誘えど (Hekira no Sora he Izanaedo) (2010, Geneon Universal)


1. 碧羅の天へ誘えど

2. デジタルスネイル (Digital Snail)

3. 碧羅の天へ誘えど -Instrumental-

4. デジタルスネイル -Instrumental-

The review:

Much to the chagrin of surely one or two devoted contrarians, the ‘kotoko’ experiment has not carried on yet, nor does it seem particularly likely to rear its ugly head in the future. Which is all good, really – as generic and homogenized as KOTOKO’s output with I’ve may have become as of late, replacing Takase and co. with arrangers such as the far-from-venerable Ayumi Miyazaki seemed to be at best a lateral move for the singer, and at worst an invitation to permanent mediocrity at the hands of a constantly-revolving lineup of whatever producers happened to be begging for spare change outside of Geneon’s offices at the moment.

So, now that the girl’s safely back in familiarity’s loving embrace, how do the songs fare?

First of all, the A-side is perfect for the game it’s promoting, and that’s probably why the whole thing is an ugly mess of pure, unadulterated musical ass entirely devoid of aesthetic merit. It’s a song from an unnecessary cash-grab of a sequel to an overrated fighting game from a studio that hit their creative stride a decade ago and has continued to preach to an easily-impressed choir with unnecessary update after unnecessary update, now with the added fun of pay-to-download content ensuring the least bang for the 2D fighting-game enthusiast’s dollar that the company can possibly get away with, and dear lord does it ever sound like it. It’s fun!

Borrowing a few tricks from the T.M Revolution playbook circa 1998, C.G mix’s unfortunately underplayed arrangement for Hekira sounds for all the world like the opening theme for some instantly-forgotten action OVA feature, the kind with a world as random and poorly-thought-out as BLAZBLUE’s – once again, it’s perfect! But, atmospheric perfection in this case means mediocrity, and it’s unquestionably the worst thing that the once-great producer has shat out on disc since the similarly-appropriate Kamen no Maid Guy single “Special Life”. Whether it’s a desire for fidelity to the source material’s tacky assortment of deviantART-caliber character designs and butt-rocking soundtrack that informs mix’s total lack of effort, or if it’s just that the guy doesn’t like to work anymore remains to be seen, but either way Hekira is the kind of theme song that Kannazuki no Miko deserved.

As it stands, though, the aforementioned anime’s too-good theme songs just serve as unfortunate reminders of a bygone time when I’ve cared more than they should have, and made impressive themes for the bottom of the barrel whenever they were called upon to soundtrack some piece of garbage not even worth the animators’ sweatshop pay rates. Now, when they get called on to soundtrack shit, it sounds like shit. Can’t say I blame them, but at the same time the results aren’t terribly fun to listen to.

Things get better when KOTOKO herself composes on the B-side, the oddly-named Digital Snail, but even that song is not without its share of problems. Guest arranger Kenji Arai employs generous use of a vocoder in the quest for attaining a “cyber sound” (in his own words), and while the results should be familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to pop music in the last few years, the whole exercise seems a little futile, like your grandfather trying to prove he’s “hip” by buying an Ed Hardy shirt. Yes, it is what all the kids are doing – but no, that doesn’t make it any less awkward, and the trend will be dead in a few months anyhow so it only just makes the one attempting it look desperate in retrospect.

Still a decent song, but probably could have been better if it were Nakazawa, Takase or maybe even Iuchi instead of the relatively-unfamiliar Arai. See, Geneon?



  1. I prefer Iuchi. End of sentence. :D

  2. Did it get a PV?
    Or a short one like Ao Iconoclast?

  3. does it get a PV ? cos i haven’t heard you mention PV’s yet so….no PV ? (V_V) i is sad. i rly wanna PV.

    • Well, prepare to be “rly” disappointed, as there’s no video for this release. Can’t say I blame Geneon one bit, though, the single doesn’t really deserve one.

  4. This single is then KOTOKO rehashes something from her backcatalogue, tries to do something “different” on b-side with dissapointing results on both ends?

  5. I love your reviews, Aibu. Especially when they’re scathing. I must say that I actually liked the B-side a lot, though.

  6. it’s not doing TOO badly in the daily charts :) i think SCREW done much worse

  7. I thought the B-side was pretty cool until KOTOKO started singing…I’m really becoming fed up with I’ve now…will they ever produce anything worth listening to anymore?

    • Let’s face it, they need new “Sound Creators” – Takase, Mix, Nakazawa (and maybe Iuchi) are running out of freshness.

      • The problem with bringing new producers into the fold is that, the further away from Takase that the music gets, the more arbitrary the “I’ve” label becomes. I’m against it, personally, because albums like LINKAGE and Epsilon no Fune have proven that there’s still plenty of talent left in the production staff – I’ve’s return to greatness could very well just be a matter of finding a way to make them care as much about singles as they do B-sides and album-only tracks.

  8. I don’t see the problem with the light use of the vocoder in Digital Snail. Are we really going to complain about them using voice tricks in I’ve Sound?

    As if everybody in I’ve having those “cool” voice layering tricks every single song is much better than a vocoder.

    Digital Snail is a good song. I’m against all this auto-tune voice trick business too because it’s almost always done with poor taste, Digital Snail used it perfectly.

    • I’ve has shown recently that they can use vocoders quite well to enhance songs, such as on SCREW or parts of LINKAGE, but I found Kenji Arai’s use of the technique somewhat unimpressive. That, and his production on the song in general seemed reminiscent of Shangai Restoration Project’s mediocre work on the not-too-great last MEG album; definitely not a good association to be burdened with, although in Arai’s defense I do like Digital Snail more than most of JOURNEY.

      • D:
        MEG’s JOURNEY is awesome ;__; I bought it.
        Just because it was a lighthearted relaxing album doesn’t make it mediocre.

        *it wasn’t the last MEG album either, she already released another(not with SRP but her usual producer)

        -I see that this doesnt have much relation to the real topic though, so I’ll stop here.-

      • “Just because it was a lighthearted relaxing album doesn’t make it mediocre.”

        No, the fact that it was bland and unimpressive beyond the initial “so I guess she’s easing up on the vocoder a little” novelty factor makes it mediocre.

        “it wasn’t the last MEG album either, she already released another(not with SRP but her usual producer)”


      • I cannot stand these people who keep straying away from gold. Why would you EVER ditch Yasutaka Nakata? Yasutaka makes friggin’ gold and some very solid music, I cannot believe these people are dumb enough to pass up on Yasutaka Nakata and hire these nobodies who cannot write for crap. The guy is awesome.

      • @Alfred

        I love Nakata’s works too!
        But I wouldn’t discount SRP’s works so easily. They are just doing different genres and it’s unfair to compare.

        Besides, MEG didn’t “ditch” Nakata. She was just experimenting with other producers for awhile, and sometimes taking a break from the usual producer is beneficial in that a different group of people can be targeted.

        MEG is back working with Nakata for now, with MAVERICK being released recently, and PASSPORT/PARIS coming up soon.

  9. Rolling Star☆彡 short version


    sorry for posting an off-topic link and I’m sorry for not reacting for too long. But guaranteed, I still visit and read Aibu’s blog. :D About the single, hmm I didn’t like the whole concept but:

    Digital Snail > Hekira

    not totally impressed with Digital Snail but it’s better than Ms. Mix’s works, right?

  10. Oh come on! It’s not that bad. There have been worse, and even because this was not an impressive breakthrough and doesn’t make people cry out of joy, it doesn’t mean it sucks instantly. Yes, I’ve was better in the past, but I have started noticing that some people just listen to the new stuff with scorn in their minds, and with that pre-opinion in mind, it’s obvious the songs will seem awful. It’s like expecting every single movie out there to win ALL of the Oscars.

    I’m not saying these are the best songs ever, they do have their flaws, but come on, they are still pretty enjoyable. Besides, all in all, this is one of the (let’s say) “less bad” singles recently.

  11. Kannazuki No Miko single was masterpiece. But I actually liked the anime itself, you see.

    But anyways, my last favorite KOTOKO single song was Jihad and Gensou No Houseki. And that wasn’t too far in the past.

    I’ve has been overly productive. And when you’re that productive, it can’t be helped that one out of five would end up crap.

  12. off the subject completely here, but has anyone else noticed how the famous Maiku87 hasn’t been active on this blog or on youtube in over 3 months ? or Pinkys20
    both very big youtubers within the youtube I’ve community & huge KOTOKO fans :O LOL

    anyhoot KOTOKO has got #16 this week with her new single in the oricon charts….your opinion on her position ?

    • sry she got #18 with 5,136 sales
      my mistake :(

  13. I think people seem to be getting the idea that I am hating on KOTOKO right now. That is definitely not the case. I enjoyed many of the tracks on Epsilon no Fune, but I have yet to be impressed with any of the recent I’ve Sound songs that have been released. Compounded with my shifting musical tastes, it’s been getting harder for me to be able to appreciate this stuff. Let’s face it, KOTOKO is not the greatest live singer, but it was her ability to (generally) consistently release great songs that always enticed me. Now it just seems that everything I hear is consistently the same (probably due to the increased production output). No, I don’t think that every single one of her songs is going to be the second coming of Re-Sublimity; I’m just trying to be realistic by taking off the rose-coloured glasses I’ve always been wearing when listening to her all this time.

    • Sakuranbo Kiss Live was off the shizzzzzllllee tho!! x3’3

  14. That said, for me, it’s been such a while since we’ve heard anything like “Last Regrets”, “Fuyuzora No Kiseki”, or MAMI’s “Asu E No Namida”. I missed those kinda songs.

    Too many ‘kyun’ songs release over the last few years. Where did those ‘sweet’ songs go?

  15. I think she should define herself as a singer and stop trying different styles.

    I’m so fed up of those kyun, denpa songs.

    • Arguably KOTOKO was the first denpa singer with Ren’ai CHU! and such, so denpa is her style by definition. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your bias, by all means.

  16. Off topic but…!

    I’ve Girls Compilation Vol. 7 has been announced on the official website; pending tracklist. I hope it’s something worth waiting for :D

    In addition to this, MELL has a 2nd Album slated for a late September release. Pending tracklist as well.

    • That’s awesome news! I’m going to have something to look forward to this fall :D I hope MELL’s album is as good as SCOPE, that was a masterpiece.

      • Totally agree

    • Wow can’t wait for MELLS album <3 i hope it's awesome

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