No, your eyes are not deceiving you; this is yet another installment of my
infrequent rare Japanese song roundup segment. In case you’re not familiar with all this, it is essentially a thing I do where I compile some songs that I’ve been listening to lately and give my thoughts about them in a post.
The main reason why I do this is to show my appreciation for these artists and the stuff they’ve made, as well as provide you all with some great song suggestions. However because I’ve been wanting to write more on this blog and recently found some time on my hands, doing a roundup, sort of, eases me back into writing posts; a warm-up, one could say. It’s been a while since I’ve made a non-album review related post so yeah (in fact, the last song roundup I did that wasn’t based off a specific theme/topic was back in March 2020… oh boy).
I think that’s enough of an intro so let’s jump right in!
“Watashi, Koi Hajimetatteyo! / わたし、恋始めたってよ！” – BATTEN GIRLS
Funny enough, I found out about the BATTEN GIRLS idol group through another idol group that has a direct connection with them, TEAM SHACHI (whom you may remember from the album review I did back in April). I saw Sakamoto Haruna, a member of SHACHI, make a TikTok with one of their popular songs titled “OiSa”, and I later learned that both BATTEN GIRLS and TEAM SHACHI are under the same Stardust Promotion label!
While I could talk about “OiSa” and how incredibly catchy and intriguing of a song it is, I wanted to touch on another track from this particular group; it being “Watashi, Koi Hajimetatteyo!”. This has been on repeat for the last two weeks or so, it is THAT good. Although it has a pretty lively, fast-paced dance beat, there is certainly a sense of sadness that’s also being expressed. Mainly through the electronic-filtered, Perfume-like vocal performances of the BATTEN GIRLS members, as well as the dispirited lyrics about an uncertain romantic relationship. As said in the music video’s description on YouTube, the verses are performed in a way where it sounds like a conversation between someone and their love interest, and you can really feel the melancholic emotion from all six of them.
And similar to TEAM SHACHI, it did not take long for me to become a fan of the BATTEN GIRLS idol group; they’re all really talented, both with their vocals and choreography, and I’m definitely looking forward to a future album release from these girls. (also it blew my mind when I found out two of the members, Aoi Rirua and Yanagi Miyu, are only fifteen years old… impressive how talented they are at their age)
“Sumire / 菫” – Sakamoto Maaya
I’ve been thinking about writing a post about some of the Spring 2022 anime that have been genuine surprises to me, and I will speak more about the opening and ending themes from those shows if I actually make that post, but I had to include this absolutely beautiful song.
“Sumire” by notable voice actress Sakamoto Maaya is the opening theme for the slice-of-life anime Deaimon, and man… what a gorgeous track. Admittedly, I’m not too familiar with Sakamoto Maaya when it comes to her voice roles and music career; the ones I can think of off the top of my head is her voicing Mari from the Evangelion Rebuild series and Jeanne from the Fate franchise. But regardless, just from listening to this song of hers, Sakamoto Maaya’s vocals are unreal. She has such a soft, comforting voice, and really makes this a heart-warming and lovely track to listen to. And I would say that it perfectly fits an anime like Deaimon, given its peaceful atmosphere and family themes.
“MoonWalker” – yama
Ever since I found out about yama like everyone else, it’s been great to see her continue to release banger after banger. She has a fantastic talent in music, ESPECIALLY with her vocals, and while I’ve been doing a bad job following her more often, it’s cool to see how popular yama and her songs have become over the past couple years.
I’ve been listening to yama’s most recent single; it being the March 2022 release, “MoonWalker”. If you’re familiar with yama’s music, you can tell that this one is a little different from her other well-known works, as there is much more of a jazzy pop feel to it. Thanks to the blaring wind instruments in the chorus and the faster pace being led by the prominent piano and percussion, “MoonWalker” is a hell of a bop and it’s interesting to see yama switch it up a bit (one comment I saw said it gave them Cowboy Bebop vibes, which I can agree with). Now I know she released a whole album last year that I have yet to listen to, and I don’t know if she changed up her style in those particular tracks, but from my personal standpoint, that’s how I look at this song. Either way, it’s fantastic.
“Soushou Innocence / 創傷イノセンス” by Uchida Maaya (Cover) – Lyrical Lily
If you’re following me on Instagram, you might know that I’ve recently gotten into the BanG Dream and D4DJ franchises. Because they’re under the Bushiroad entertainment company, both have a great selection of original songs, covers, characters, anime series and for the seiyuu fans, both franchises actually share a lot of the same voice actresses.
Covers are a big part of the Bushiverse, as both BanG Dream and D4DJ have been able to perform and include wildly popular anime/Japanese songs in their mobile rhythm games like the iconic Sailor Moon song “Moonlight Densetsu”, “unravel” from Tokyo Ghoul, and even “Life Will Change” from Persona 5. One cover that caught my eye was from the D4DJ group, Lyrical Lily, who sang “Soushou Innocence”.
Originally performed by seiyuu Uchida Maaya and used as the OP for the 2014 anime Akuma no Riddle; even though I didn’t watch the show it was featured in, “Soushou Innocence” has to be one of my all-time favorite Mayayan tracks. It’s such a hype rock song and definitely shows a different side to Maaya and her talents as a vocal performer. But back to the topic at hand, Lyrical Lily did a pretty damn good performance this song. They did a nice job recreating the energy and atmosphere of the original, even to the point where it was TOO nice. My only minor gripe is that the D4DJ cover sounded a bit ‘one-to-one’ to Maaya’s version, whereas it seems that this franchise prefers to heavily remix covers and put their own twists to them, like how Peaky P-key did their “Pretender” cover or Photon Maiden’s unique arrangement of “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis”. Other than that, this was a super fun one to listen to.
“Fukanzen Dreamer / 不完全ドリーマー” – AIMI
Speaking of BanG Dream and D4DJ, here is one of the seiyuu pillars of the Bushiverse: Aimi!
Apart from her popular roles in the aforementioned multimedia projects, Terakawa Aimi (or what she’s better known as, ‘Aimi / Aimin’) recently revived her solo music career in 2021 and is even set to release a full album this July. One of the songs that’ll be featured on her new AIMI SOUND album is her latest single, “Fukanzen Dreamer”.
When it comes to anime voice actors or actresses pursuing their own path in music, I’ve frequently noticed a sense of ‘genuineness’ whenever I listen to their stuff. I strongly believe that a solo music career allows a lot of these seiyuu to perform the music they want to perform and ultimately express their true selves. In fact, a lot of VAs like Hayami Saori, Amamiya Sora and Kitou Akari have written the lyrics to some of their own songs, rather than the usual procedure of other people more versed in the music scene doing it for them (similar to what we’ve seen in those multimedia franchises). Because of that, it gives off a much more authentic impression, knowing that those lyrics and narratives are being created by the voice actor/actress themselves.
Same applies to Aimin here, as she’s credited for writing the lyrics to “Fukanzen Dreamer”. And I feel like due to her extensive experiences within the BanG Dream franchise, and actually playing guitar in her band Poppin’ Party, I would imagine that she was able to provide some input regarding the musical compositions of her songs. I mean, Aimin’s been playing guitar professionally for about eight or so years now, and is even jamming in the “Fukanzen Dreamer” music video, so it’d definitely make sense for her to give her two cents about some of the compositions on this upcoming album (and songs in general, like in BanG Dream).
“Comedy / 喜劇” – Hoshino Gen
I am sure that everyone has heard this song lol
I was amazed at the fact that the recent hit anime SPY x FAMILY managed to get two of the most popular Japanese artists of today’s industry to provide the opening and ending themes to their show: Official HIGE DANdism and Hoshino Gen. And the fact that both of those songs have quickly exploded in popularity, like… that is actually insane. Not only because they’re featured in a new and highly acclaimed anime series, but it just goes to show how talented and fun HigeDan and Hoshino Gen are as musical artists.
It was really, really, really tough to decide which song to feature here, but I had to go with Hoshino Gen’s “Comedy”. Being someone who has listened to a lot of his other songs, in my opinion, this is such an interesting combination the old and the new Hoshino Gen. While his music has evolved into more of a modern, hip-hop/pop combination with his more recent singles like “Halfway” and “FUSHIGI”, it feels like Hoshino Gen went back to his roots a bit and incorporated that easy-going, mellow stylings (both musically and vocally) that’s heard on his older stuff. To be honest, I’m still trying to get used to Hoshino Gen’s drastic shift in style, which he’s been doing since the release of “Same Thing” and even the POP VIRUS album from 2018, but “Comedy” may help me find some more interest in Mr. Hoshino’s latest and future music.
“Eclair / エクレール” – Genie High
If you’re a Kawatani Enon fan, you probably know about this project/band he’s been a part of called Genie High. Consisting of himself and other notable figures in the music and entertainment scene such as Nakajima Ikkyu of tricot fame; despite having a somewhat strange combination of members, there is no denying that they take music seriously and put out some great stuff.
And throughout Genie High’s discography, Kawatani has consistently found some fantastic guest vocalists to be on some of their songs such as AiNA THE END from the idol group BiSH or South Korean-Japanese rapper CHANMINA… but never in a million years did I expect that Kouno Marika, a seiyuu I know very well, would be featured on a Kawatani-composed track.
Now I know that Kawatani has composed songs for a couple seiyuu artists like Yuki Moeko (who is notably in the Idoly Pride franchise) but Marinka singing in a Genie High track was never in any form of my imagination… however, unsurprisingly, “Eclair” was enjoyable. Certainly different from most of the other songs Genie High has performed, as it has a much more fun and upbeat sound to it. But I think the best part were the vocals. If you listen to some of her voice roles in various anime, Marinka’s voice is naturally high-pitched, and because of that, I feel like Ikkyu did a fantastic job adapting her voice into a more cheery and significantly higher frequency, in order to better accompany Marinka’s vocals. Compared to how she usually sounds with tricot or even the other GH collabs I mentioned earlier where she has a much, much lower register… I think “Eclair” serves as another example of how talented Ikkyu is as a vocalist.
“Mouhitokuchi / もうひとくち” – Kusunoki Tomori
If you really think about it… Kusunoki Tomori is preeeeetty similar to her Love Live character, Setsuna/Nana.
On one hand, Tomoriru excels at portraying the passionate, outgoing otaku idol named Setsuna. Whether it’s through her solo songs or within the anime’s story, she’s done a splendid job displaying Setsuna’s bright personality and talents within the Nijigasaki side of the LL franchise. On the other hand, Tomoriru’s approach towards her own music career is more thoughtful, detailed and has somewhat of a somber tone to it. Not to say that what she does as Setsuna is not ‘thoughtful’ or ‘detailed’, it can be at times, but you can tell that Tomoriru takes her music career seriously and incites a specific, special emotion or drive from her (kinda like Nana and her student council duties!).
…Setsuna comparison being a total reach or not, I think it’s safe to say that Riru is becoming, or maybe even has already become an excellent singer-songwriter when we look at the music she has written the lyrics to and/or composed. “Hamidashimono”, “Romanron”, “Nagamenosora”, “Forced Shutdown” and my personal favorite, “Akatoki”; Tomori has had one heck of a start to her solo music career (my guy Leap would certainly say the same). And her most recent release that came out a few days ago, Yarazunoame, is yet another example of that, with “Mouhitokuchi” being my favorite out of the four tracks on that EP.
It’s cool to see that Riru’s embraced the ‘doujin’ genre of music that’s being expressed a lot nowadays, especially from aspiring/up-and-coming Japanese artists, and I think she’s exceptionally good at creating her own renditions of said musical style. Not only in a composition sense but Riru has been known to be a great songwriter throughout her career. The story of a person having a difficult time expressing their romantic feelings for someone and the interesting similes shown in “Mouhitokuchi”, while I’m not the best at interpreting/understanding lyrics, were pretty nice to read and very much in line with the type of writing she’s done in the past.
Aaaaaand that’s all I got for you today!
I know this was a bit long but given the fact that I don’t do roundups all that often, I had a nice time talking about some superb music. maybe this’ll make me do more of them in the future…
ALSO, in case you want to listen to these songs on Spotify, I made a playlist just for this roundup so click here to check it out!
Hope you enjoyed this post! Definitely let me know in the comments what your favorite track was, any thoughts on anything, and even your own recommendations!
Thanks for reading!! 😀
2 replies on “Infrequent J-Song Roundup #20 – BATTEN GIRLS, Genie High, AIMI (and more!)”
Always happy to see the Infrequent J-Song Roundup whenever it comes 😀
A lot of things to like about that BATTEN GIRLS’s track for sure. I personally really liked the odd time signature of the beat which kinda gave the song a Math-y feel – something I’m always gonna be a fan of, more so for Idol/Alt Idol Music. The repetition in the verses in particular I found emphasized the ‘measured-ness’ so to speak of the overall song structure to great effect. In line with that, I think my favorite part of Watashi, Koi Hajimetatteyo! has to be around the 03:17~ mark when the song transposes its lyrics onto itself, adding yet another layer of complexity to the rhythm. Something to note too is the subtle use of autotune in some of the girls’ singing here which I felt was rather tastefully done and not at all invasive in my opinion. Very nice.
yama has definitely had a meteoric rise over the past year or so and too am happy to see where she’s at now and how she’s situated herself in Japanese mainstream music. MoonWalker is an interesting track in that, apart from brass (also something that’s always gonna get a nod from me) I couldn’t help but think that the hook sounded really familiar. It wasn’t until I listened to it a couple more times that I realized I was thinking about the last potions of ZUTOMAYO’s MILABO, just even livelier, lol
I’m of the belief that in a different world, Aimin would have been a singer-songwriter going the doujin/Youth Pop route (like the aforementioned yama and ZUTOMAYO’s ACAね) in that it does feel as though that the priority for her has always been the music more than anything else. At the very least, she does seem to be cut from the same cloth as them when she goes and does animated MVs. Which is why I think, and to your point as well, that Aimin definitely has some input in the compositions of the songs she sings (taking a look at the song credits for all the songs in her ucoming album, it appears she has written the lyrics for 8 of the 13 tracks on it too)
Speaking of being cut from the same cloth, Tomoriru is also one such artist in that she pretty much almost exclusively writes the lyrics to all of the songs she sings, *even* the anime tie-ups (a fact that will never not be impressive for me, but I might also just be biase-). But it really does show the depth of her creativity and the potential people in the industry see in that, and I’m glad they’re allowing her that. In that regard, I too am of the mind that there exists a duality in Tomoriru as the seiyuu/anison performer and Tomoriru as the artist, in the same manner as you illustrate, wherein the latter has her sing in a more subdued manner compared to the former, more than likely out of preference to her own preferred sound. Mouhitokuchi is also my favorite track off Yarazunoame because of that, and as was my takeaway for Yorimichi, I do honestly thinking this style might actually suit her singing style the best.
As for recommendations from me; these will more than likely make the cut for my own Roundup this month (lol), but I pretty much have been playing Fullkawa Honpo’s latest release since it came out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r6uHf24XUg). Something that I thought you might find interesting (seeing as I had you do a review of “Girlfried from Kyoto” a while back) is that, I noticed Fullkawa has been using the same muse/heroine for his PVs, and after a preliminary search I discovered… that she’s from Kyoto (LOL). I don’t have any other proof that she’s *the* girlfriend from Kyoto, but I thought it would be really neat if she is (XD). Other than that, I’ve also been listening to Suisoh who I only recently discovered (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wRCbTER7ck).
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Appreciate you checking it out!
The specific section you mentioned on the BATTEN GIRLS song was also my favorite part, and I definitely had some similar thoughts. You might’ve remembered that they pretty much did the same thing in “OiSa”, and going by these two songs, I think they executed that lyrical combination really smoothly to make the tracks more engaging. And another thing about the repetition in this song, as well as other BATTEN GIRLS tracks; I can imagine some people finding it to be stale and too one-dimensional but I actually enjoyed the constantly repeated verses/choruses. Like a lot. Obviously it’s insanely catchy as a result but something about the way that this group does it (whether it’s the methods in which they express it or the vocal performances themselves) just make them a fun idol unit to listen to.
Ahhhh yeah… I can totally hear the MILABO similarities lmao. That’s a great observation/coincidence!
Aimin definitely has a good voice for doujin/indie type music. And now that I think about it, I feel like she falls in the same category as Tomoriru, having those dual… personalities when it comes to their work. In fact, it’s almost one-to-one since Aimin’s portrayal of Kasumi in Bandori is a lot more charismatic and happy-go-lucky, compared to her solo music where there are a lot more negative emotions being shown off. That’s why I find it to be impressive that those two can juggle differing personas at the same time, and the fact they do a fantastic job in both areas just proves how talented they really are.
I know Girlfriend from Kyoto came out ten years ago so I’m sure Fullkawa Honpo went through some stylistic changes overtime, but it’s certainly interesting to hear a different side to him and his music. A lot more modern-sounding and while I’m definitely not used to it, I can hear some familiar aspects in that song you suggested. And yeah, that would actually be funny if the woman in his PVs is THE girlfriend 😛 Also kinda compelling to see yet another instance of artists using the same actors/actresses in their music videos; I know SHISHAMO and like you’ve noticed, Kawatani’s bands have done the same thing. I assume it’s to maintain a possible and cohesive storyline, and I just remember SHISHAMO pulling that off despite the two songs/MVs with the same actress being in different albums.
I think I stumbled upon that Suisoh song on Spotify a couple months ago, I really like it as well!
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