Tag Archives: Alphonse Elric

“Rain” – SID

Get ready for my most overzealous review yet.

After their last single “sleep,” which disappointed me greatly, SID has returned with THEIR BEST SONG EVER. Again, they are providing a theme song for Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, but this time it is an opening rather than an ending. An interesting bit of trivia is that SID provided the first ending (Uso) and the final opening for Brotherhood.

Rain has been featured as FMA’s opening theme since early April, which means that I’ve spent a grueling two months waiting for this to drop. The wait has not gone by quickly either! I love this song because when I hear it, I just think of Fullmetal. The opening is sequenced perfectly along with the song. It took me a while to realize this and I understood it even more as the show progressed just how well SID has captured the “it all ends here” feeling that these final few episodes of Brotherhood have given off. I could barrage you with poignant screencaps of how the opening plays upon the ambiguity of rain falling on someone’s face (as in, are they crying, or is that just the rain?) but I won’t since not every one of my readers is as wild about FMA as me and I’m not a fan of torturing people. If you don’t watch FMA, the song is still an amazing listen, but I firmly believe that watching and having knowledge of the anime and its plot accentuates appreciation of the song. Its a little slow before the chorus, but its got a wonderful and epic chorus and is absolutely heart-wrenching. SID hit the nail on the head with this song, and I highly recommend it to anyone! It is one of the best songs I’ve heard this year, and the best anime theme of all time, to me. If you want to watch the PV, click here.

Cut, the b-side, is significantly more energized than Rain and reminds me of a song from a MegaMan game. I know that probably sounds strange, but you’ll just have to listen to it to understand what I mean.

We also get a live version of Chapter 1 an older song by the band. The audio is horribly muffled. Personally, I’d skip this track altogether. But that’s just me.

In Conclusion: Rain is definitely my favorite song right now and probably will be for quite a while. I don’t see this song becoming stale to me anytime soon. Absolutely amazing. Breathtaking. Dare I say “perfection?”

~Alisa~

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“Ray of Light” – Shoko Nakagawa

Part of me knew this song wasn’t going to work out. Shoko’s voice is just too cutesy to work with the mood of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. The instrumentals are great, but I totally wish Nana Mizuki had done this song instead. After all, she was IN the show (Lan Fan, holla!) The chorus doesn’t fit much with the amazing stanzas, but the strings that play throughout suit the “moving forward” kind of vibes you get from Brotherhood.

Not even going to fool with the b-sides.

Sorry if it feels like I put little to no effort into this “review.” I am physically and emotionally exhausted, but I didn’t want to leave you all hanging. Best wishes! Hopefully I can get back into the groove of blogging in a week or so.

~Alisa~

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Filed under Japanese Pop, Sakurayume's Collection

My L’arc Will Go On

Japanese culture in the United States is pretty much hit or miss. Either you love it or you know nothing about it. Not too much gray area. Besides that, a lot of Japanese cultural elements are stripped out of popular anime like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, to Americanize them. Names get changed, the theme songs get replaced with English ones, and really bad ones at that. Thanks a lot, 4Kids. Consider this video:

When you have to change rice balls to sandwiches or donuts or anything BUT rice balls, you are totally ruining the Japanese-ness of the show.

So where does L’arc fit in to this rant?

Listen. If you like anime, you’ll at least know about Fullmetal Alchemist. If you know about Fullmetal Alchemist, you’ll know L’arc. Maybe I’m being disgustingly linear, but for me, L’arc was the band that introduced me to Japanese music through FMA. Shows like Fullmetal and InuYasha were ones that didn’t entirely lose their original themes when they were dubbed and brought to the U.S. Sure, Fullmetal cut down their ending themes to 30 seconds and lost two out of four openings when shown on TV, and InuYasha never had opening music on TV, but at least you got that tiny snippet of Japanese music somewhere. That made all the difference.

An anecdote:

One August day in 2005, I was in my local record shop buying Pocky. I noticed they had a small bin of CDs labeled “anime.” Curiously, I looked through and saw soundtracks from popular shows like DBZ, FLCL, and some others. Then, I spied a copy of L’arc~en~Ciel’s SMILE album (lots of people didn’t like this album, but it is my favorite!) with a big sticker slapped on the front reading “FEATURING ‘READY STEADY GO’ FROM THE HIT ANIME FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST!” I bought it.

My experience with SMILE was gradual. At first, I played “Ready Steady Go” over and over and over again. Then, I eventually accidentally hit the shuffle button instead of repeat, and the song “Revelation” played. I adored it from the first listen. My interest was piqued, and before long I had listened to every track and learned every lyric.

I thought, “hey, this is really good. I bet there is other really great Japanese music out there too!” I began to research popular music and order albums from the big names like Ayu and Utada. Loved ’em. I discovered all kinds of music, even the superindie stuff that I’m so hardcore about these days. All thanks to L’arc.

I can’t call L’arc my favorite group, but I will always credit them as my jumpstart to loving and appreciating not only Japanese music, but international music as a whole.

In this way, L’arc~en~Ciel will always be the most enduring Japanese musical act to me. I also think they will endure because they are everywhere. Besides Fullmetal, they have tie-ins all over the place, and Hyde himself is one of the most recognizable figures in Japanese pop culture.

Maybe this rant makes little sense to my readers, but I wanted to take some time to thank L’arc for bringing their music and culture to a nation where a lot of it is silenced and diluted.

Reader Question: What was your first experience with Japanese music?

~Alisa~

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“Gloria” – YUI

I'm pretty sure this is the closest we're going to get to seeing her smile.

Moody rawk star YUI is back after her wishy-washy double A-side “It’s All Too Much/Never Say Die!” I love this girl to death, but her image annoys the crapzorz out of me. It’s like “seriously! Stop brooding so much and smile, dang it!”

Track 1: Gloria- This song is so cute. I love the “ah ah ah ah ah aaaaaah” parts. YUI’s angelic voice works very nicely and the guitar is very pretty. Its a very pretty and inspirational winter song. I gotta say, I hate winter but I love winter-themed songs,

Track 2: Muffler- What is it with YUI and her B-sides? First we get “Sea” and now this! This song is perfectly cozy, and the guitar strangely reminds me of the kind of music they play on The Weather Channel when the Local Forecast comes on. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, forgive me! (covers head) This is a sweet song and a great complement to “Gloria.”

Track 3: It’s All Too Much (YUI Acoustic Version)- Personally, I found the original version of this song to be mediocre. This version is just a bit better, but still doesn’t evoke any kind of emotion in me.

(the single also contains an instrumental of “Gloria”)

In Conclusion: YUI forever! I think this single was a strong release. Not as strong as “Again” but I’m biased because of the Fullmetal tie-in, lol.

Reader Question!!!! What’s your favorite YUI song? Comment here!

~Alisa~

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Filed under Japanese Pop, Sakurayume's Collection