Just in time for a certain mobile game release!

Hello and welcome back to yet another J-Music Exchange/Rate review! In case you are new here and/or not familiar with what this is about: this is a segment I do with my good friend/fellow Japanese music fan Leap250 where we pick out an album from our respective libraries, exchange and listen to them, and later review on our own blogs. It’s a fun thing we’ve been doing for almost three whole years now, as it serves as a good way for both of us to discover new stuff and expand our horizons when it comes to the music of Japan. Plus, we hope that it gives all of you the same opportunity to find an artist or album you might enjoy.

And as always, we base our choices on a specific theme each month. It was Leap’s turn to do so and he came up with a great theme of albums by a “fictional” group/band. Most of the time, people will associate said fictional groups to those from multimedia franchises like Love Live, BanG Dream, and even ones that were featured in specific TV series like K-On’s Ho-kago Tea Time or Walküre from the Macross Δ series. Makes sense since most of these franchises are music-focused, so you’re definitely bound to get full-length releases from a lot of them. So that’s what we’re dealing with this month. And also, given that these types of music were essentially my gateways into regular Japanese music, it’s cool that we’re doing a theme like this.

There were A TON of choices I could’ve chosen for Leap but here are our final choices: he went ahead and gave me We’ll get the next dream!!! by the Love Live Sunshine/Aqours subunit AZALEA, while I tossed over Photon Maiden’s 4 phenomena from the D4DJ project.

Let’s jump right in!

L-R: Matsuura Kanan, Kunikida Hanamaru, Kurosawa Dia

AZALEA is a subunit within the famed Love Live Sunshine series, under the main group of Aqours. Featuring the character trio of Kurosawa Dia, Matsuura Kanan and Kunikida Hanamaru, the group was formed through fans of the franchise, as the member composition and group name were chosen after a series of voting periods in 2016. Later that year in May, AZALEA made their official debut when they released their first single, titled Torikoriko PLEASE!. Compared to the more energetic and dark atmospheres shown from their fellow Aqours subunits, AZALEA takes on a much more ‘patient’ and ‘modest’ image, with their name taking inspiration from the perennial of the same name. Music-wise, AZALEA expresses a heavy electronic sound that pairs well with the trio’s vocals.

As of this post’s publish date, AZALEA have released one album and three singles. Their real-life counterparts/voice actresses (Komiya Arisa, Suwa Nanaka and Takatsuki Kanako) have also performed as the subunit in numerous Aqours-related live events/concerts.

AZALEA – We’ll get the next dream!!!


  1. We’ll get the next dream
  5. Tokimeki Bunruigaku / ときめき分類学
  7. GALAXY HidE and SeeK
  9. Metamorphism / メタモルフィズム
  10. Amazing Travel DNA – REMIX
  11. Amazing Travel DNA
  12. Kuuchuu Renairon / 空中恋愛論
  13. Maze Sekai / メイズセカイ
  14. Sotsugyou Desune / 卒業ですね

Released: 2021.06.23

Leap’s Thoughts on We’ll get the next dream!!!

I don’t think there exists a singular more important release within Aqours’ existing discography (or even throughout the entire history of the Love Live! franchise across all its groups thus far) than AZALEA’s We’ll get the next dream!!!. It sounds weird even saying as much given that this is an album by a *subunit* and not even a main group. However, I say that specifically with regard to *when* the album came out more than anything else. Those who were part of the fandom around this time would know that the album had come out following not just one, not two, but THREE total concert date cancellations for the three-member subunit in the span of a couple of months shy of a year. This is of course due to the fact that all these scheduled live performances were all set to take place in 2020 which, as we all know, was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be around this time too that Aqours/AZALEA member Takatsuki Kanako began to excuse herself from appearing to the public (whether physically or even online) citing mental health reasons, culminating in a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder towards the end of that year. Just a bleak period, both for AZALEA, and really the rest of the world. It was in the midst of these dark times that We’ll get the next dream!!! came out and the message is about as clear as it gets: never give up. This is a special release, and one of the rarer cases too where I personally value the context behind it a great deal more than anything else.

Al’s Thoughts on We’ll get the next dream!!!

1 ► it’s nostalgic but…

I usually start these reviews stating how I’m not too familiar with the artist that Leap suggested to me (which is a good thing, as brand new discoveries are great), but there are the uncommon instances where it’s the opposite. And if you know me well, you’d quickly realize that this is one of those rare instances (lol).

Being a Love Live fan, Aqours having a very big impact on me throughout the last 5-6 years as an anime/idol fan and even running an entire Instagram fanpage revolving around the series’ voice actresses, it is a given that I would know a lot about AZALEA. I still vaguely remember playing all of AZALEA’s songs on the first and now-discontinued School Idol Festival mobile rhythm game and just appreciating the low-key nature of “Tokimeki Bunruigaku”, as well as the memorable/catchy beats in “TORIRIKO PLEASE!!”. While I sure as hell wasn’t good at the game (lol), it was still a great opportunity for me to become more familiar with the subunit music and those two songs in particular were some real standout tracks, even to this day. Plus, the many hours of consuming content from the AZALEA and Aqours voice actresses… watching the shenanigans from Arisha, Suwawa and Kinchan over the years just adds a whole other level of lovableness to this group.

But the weird thing is, and I have told Leap this countless times… I have done a terrible job keeping up with Aqours’ discography. Like, a terrible job. Other than a handful of the solos, Guilty Kiss songs and the bop that is “KU-RU-KU-RU Cruller”, if you asked me to name an Aqours group song after the release of “Mitaiken HORIZON” (which was in 2019), I honestly don’t think I’d be able to do that. It got bad to the point where I genuinely felt lost when I watched the group’s more recent lives since I had no idea what most of the songs were, resulting me not really having the most ideal experience in watching an Aqours concert.

Obviously, that is completely my fault. Me being more of a Nijigasaki fan is a huge factor in that, and I’ve kinda come to accept that Aqours isn’t as appealing to me anymore. That said, Leap suggesting this album to me and sort of reeling me back into the Aqours environment ended up being a pretty interesting thing. No doubt does listening to AZALEA again invoke some nostalgia for me, but it also presented an opportunity to ‘catch up’ with their newer stuff and hear how their music has evolved since the earlier days of their existence.

2 ► blooming like a flower

Flowers can have many meanings and can symbolize numerous ideas, but one could relate the most basic concept to blossoming. A flower blossoming shows its ability to evolve and mature into a fully developed perennial, and many people have connected that idea to general life, as the way one grows overtime in order to reach a better version of themselves is very similar in concept. While not as deep as what I just said, and especially given the group’s name, I think We’ll get the next dream shows Aqours fans how much AZALEA has changed and improved since their debut back in 2016.

I’m talking mostly regarding their music. I guess I didn’t realize when I was younger that AZALEA went towards a more electronic-based style; I literally just listened to their music and enjoyed it in the most general way. But as I started to hear these newer songs that I never listened to before, you can easily tell how much AZALEA’s music producers expanded on the unit’s initial and more amateurish electro sound. Compositions like “We’ll get the next dream!!!” (the first track on the album) and “INNOCENT BIRD” sound A LOT more complex and ‘further produced’, if that makes sense. The beats feel stronger, the melodies sound a lot more sophisticated, more themes and instruments are being implemented in great ways; even a song like “Maze Sekai” legitimately sounds similar to stuff heard in the D4DJ franchise or something from a really experienced EDM producer.

And to go off that last point, I think it’s pretty cool that AZALEA’s music producers made sure to stay up-to-date when it came to dealing with what’s hitting within the electronic/EDM scene. Many of the tracks on this album feel extremely fresh and some even took me by surprise. One song in particular, and one of my favorites off this album, is “PHOENIX DANCE”. Did I expect the likes of Dia, Kanan and Hanamaru to sing alongside a Caribbean, reggaetón-style track? Absolutely not… however it’s absolutely fire and worked really well with the trio’s vocals, and you know… that’s all that really matters.

One also has to consider that electronic/EDM is a genre that was never really present in the Love Live universe, prior to the formation of AZALEA and Aqours. So for them to bring in this very new sound into the discography of the franchise, while probably surprising for many fans, it feels like a really great breath of fresh air, especially when listening to these newer produced songs. And the way they seem more in line with the modern and mainstream electronic music scene, rather than solely feeling like ‘just another song from the Love Live series’, makes these tracks a bit more enjoyable, in my opinion.

3 ► azalea’s intriguing vocals

I’m sure many Aqours fans have their personal opinions about who’s the best vocalist in the group, who’s the best dancer, etc, etc. While I do have certain favorites and the fact that I believe Guilty Kiss’ member composition is the best out of the three subunits, AZALEA’s is actually really good as well.

With them conveying the themes of modesty and patience, I think all of their voices did a good job embodying those ideas throughout this album. Arisha has a very proper and gorgeous voice, as expected from the character she plays; Kinchan’s higher pitched and more cutesy-sounding vocals adds a bit of a lightheartedness; and of course, Suwawa’s voice is incredibly distinct and you don’t even have to think twice to know that’s Kanan singing.

All three of their voices honestly melded together really well, even with the contrast in Suwawa/Kanan’s vocals. Maybe it’s because I’m just used to AZALEA and how they sound together but even with the newer compositions in this album, they did a pretty damn good job performing as one.

Similar to how Leap tried to approach the Aida Rikako album I gave him a few months ago, I did my best to not have nostalgia or bias influence what I thought about this AZALEA record… which surprisingly wasn’t that hard, given that out of the fourteen total songs, I only truly knew the two oldest-released ones so this was essentially all new to me (lol).

Like I said, this was a really fun and fantastic look at AZALEA’s music, how they’ve evolved/improved their craft over the years and just getting to hear more of this lovable trio. While I had some minor gripes such as the two featured remixes kinda falling flat for me, listening to fresh styles and genres under the overall AZALEA vibe was great and definitely made me look at this group in a brand new light. I do believe, though, that my situation of not listening to the Aqours discography for so long helped me enjoy this album much more. My lack of knowledge made me more surprised and impressed about the newer AZALEA songs; whereas someone who’s way more versed in the group’s music may not feel the same, since they’ve most likely listened to the seven songs that were already out prior to this album’s release. But, I may be wrong.

Rating: 8.5/10

Aaaaand that’s all I got for you today!

Hope you enjoyed that review, and I also hope that I gave it justice, as a Love Live/Aqours fan. Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised about AZALEA’s later releases and it honestly makes me wanna see if it’s similar with CYaRon (since I’ve already listened to Guilty Kiss’ album).

Now that you’re done with this post, DEFINITELY go check out Leap’s review for this month where he talked about 4 phenomena by the D4DJ group Photon Maiden. Photon is another group that does electronic/EDM style music and has a fantastic voice cast behind them, so please do check it out!

Thanks for reading!! 😀


Posted by:alfredopasta

A 22-year-old guy who likes to discuss anime, watch baseball and is currently stuck in idol hell.

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