J-Note 002: 2AM, Medaka Box Abnormal, and Rina Sumioka


Music you should be listening to!

And we're back with another issue of J-Note, Japanator's new feature that takes an in-depth look into recent anime and Japanese music releases.

This month we've got a couple singles that act as opening/ending themes for various anime series, including the my favorite release this month, feel you by Rina Sumioka. We've also got 2AM with their winter-themed single, and two anime soundtracks including Medaka Box Abnormal and Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!.

Dig in, let us know what you think of these releases if you've heard them, and chime in with your own recent favorites. 

Darenimo Watasenaiyo

Artist(s): 2AM
Release Date: December 5, 2012
Price: 1,100 Yen ($11)
Availability: CD Japan

South Korean boy band 2AM recently broke out into the J-pop scene with their debut album, Voice. This single, their fourth, was released before the album, but still contains some exclusive music.

Released in December, the title track and “Winter gift” (both featured on Voice) feature a warm wintry sound as pop ballads. Not only is the production top notch with some killer bass underneath the moving orchestral work and beautiful vocals in the title track, but I’d never know they weren’t speaking their native language upon listening. “Winter gift” is more upbeat with an electronic bass and wintry bells twinkling in the background.

If you already own Voice, you might be interested in this for the B-side, “Everything,” which is so far exclusive to this single, bringing in tasty pitch-bending synth lines, finger-snapping percussion, sexy electric piano work, and silky-smooth vocals. It’s easily my favorite thing here. There’s also an acoustic version of the title track, but it admittedly lacks the oomph of the original without the electric bass.

I’d say this is worth picking up for “Everything” alone if you’re a fan of 2AM. The limited editions may be worth springing for if you want “Everything” plus a music video, but I generally like to get more out of my limited edition splurges than just a single music video (you’ll also end up forgoing the acoustic version of the title track).

feel you
Artist(s): Rina Sumioka
Release Date: June 20, 2012
Price: 1,200 Yen ($12)
Availability: CD Japan

Hokkaido-based Rina Sumioka is relatively new on the scene, with feel you being her first single. It was selected after the fact to be the ending theme for the Rurouni Kenshin: Shin Kyoto Hen OVA, a testament to her vocal talent and skill on acoustic guitar. I’m already digging her clear and upbeat voice and folksy tunes across the three tracks presented here.

The title track, “feel you,” gets the pop rock thing going with an upbeat melody and a powerful chorus section. Actually, the first thing I thought to myself was, “Wow, she kind of sounds like Angela Aki” (the vocalist of the Final Fantasy XII single, “Kiss me Goodbye”). The first B-side, “Café Au Lait,” channels a more whimsical vibe with whistling and some sway-worthy guitar work. Finally, “grow” takes a slow, lullaby-esque musical approach, although Sumioka’s strong vocals will keep you from dozing off.

This is some fantastic stuff and comes highly recommended. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Love Letter From Nanika?
Artist(s): ecosystem
Release Date: August 22, 2012
Price: 1,165 Yen ($12)
Availability: CD Japan

Meet ecosystem, a relatively new indie rock band out of Osaka. This is their third single featuring the opening theme from Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu Uta Koi. As a series that explores ancient Japan, the track does a great job working in some traditional sounds, although the orchestra-infused rock stylings are mostly typical. There are also a few cringe-worthy moments in terms of out-of-tune vocals that kept me from enjoying this one overall. The first B-side is a little more palatable, taking a slow and mature approach with some nice guitar solos, although the final track, “I dislike” jumps right back into fast-paced rock with some questionable vocal effects.

I’d say buy this only if you’re an established ecosystem fan. This isn’t one to take a gamble on.

Artist(s): Tatsuya Katou
Release Date: December 26, 2012
Price: 3,000 Yen ($31)
Availability: CD Japan

Here comes another season of Medaka Box. With it comes another round of dark orchestral themes that I was about to write off as too broody and not memorable enough to give a second glance. That’s not to say that the mostly-orchestral (and occasionally electronically-tinged) soundtrack doesn’t do its job, it’s just that it didn’t really stand out to me until about midway through when more variety was presented. It’s also not helped by the fact that the tracks tend to be shorter than two minutes in length, not really letting you sink your teeth into anything substantial for a long period of time.

Things get a little more interesting with the infusion of some accordion and flamenco guitar that accompany a siren-like synth choir patch that really made me look up and say, “Wait, what is this? And why haven’t I heard anything like this before now?” The intrigue continues into a bombastic orchestral track accented by synth sweeps and into an epic march that is highly reminiscent of Hitoshi Sakimoto’s work on Final Fantasy XII (hey, I’m a gamer at heart).

The album then launches into energetic and tasteful rock, epic orchestra and choir, a series of spooky piano tracks, and then the obligatory emotional ballads that really nail it. The ballads combine piano and strings to voice touching melodies that will stick with you, and are the highlights of the album.

While Medaka Box Abnormal is admittedly a mixed box, fans of the series should know what they’re getting themselves into. There’s some great music here, and a lot of what seems to be filler. I’d say if you’re not familiar with the series and its music, it might not be worth the price.

Sound of a small love & chu-2 byo story
Artist(s): Nijine
Release Date: January 9, 2013
Price: 3,300 Yen ($32)
Availability: CD Japan

I knew this one would be a lot of fun going in. Composer Nijine (an alias of composer Akito Matsuda brings in a huge variety of material, but all of it centers around a mischievous and fun atmosphere. Even the darker themes are upbeat and playful. The huge variety prevents the album from telling the story of the series, but it’s still a pleasure to listen to. To give you an idea, there’s everything here from jazz and pop to dark organ concert music.

The two-disc album opens more on the lighter side of things, with some heavier and more emotional themes found towards the end. The second disc also houses a number of rock tunes and a number of catchy vocal themes.

In terms of what here’s, I prefer the lighthearted material found on the first disc, including the driving electronic opening theme, “Sparkling Daydream.” Tracks like “Welcome to the Chu-2 byo world!” and “Admiration for the ordinary life” had me thinking of New Super Mario Bros. Wii with their bubbly pop nature, while the swanky “Go get carried away with a smile!” has a distinctly Western sound. “The Dark Hero” is the dark organ track I was referring to earlier, and even it is slightly comical.

The last thing I’ll mention is the surprise arrangements from Neon Genesis Evangelion that really surprised me. Apparently one of the characters references Neon Genesis Evangelion on a few occasions, and the composer took the opportunity to prepare some light arrangements that are a lot of fun.

Overall, this is a very well-produced album. I imagine fans of the series will want to pick it up.

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Jayson Napolitano
Jayson NapolitanoContributor   gamer profile

Jayson Napolitano was Destructoid's Music Editor, specializing in coverage of game music, chiptunes, and more. After driving both friends and family insane by humming his favorite melodies from v... more + disclosures



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