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)
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-
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?