Tag Archives: InuYasha

“SHIVER” – The GazettE


My second contribution to Visual Kei Heaven!

Hey everybody! I apologize for the inactivity and lack of drive lately. My fiancé has been working quite a bit in the last week, and while this shouldn’t affect me, I became a little catatonic from missing him so much. Seriously, I could write, direct, and produce an entire Lifetime movie from my sob stories. Anyway, in an attempt to shove some dedication down my throat, I turned off my modem to write this review. Don’t get me wrong, I love tweeting with everyone but it can seriously distract me. (BTW, Badymaru, when are we going to start our rush for new gacktpause fan club members?)

SHIVER is the latest single by The GazettE. First off, what is up with that cover? I feel ready for some sort of underground exploration by looking at it.

SHIVER wastes no time getting started. I don’t really like or dislike this song, truthfully. The melody is just average. I don’t know, I think for a song called SHIVER I expected it to be a little more chilling and harsh.

Next we have HESITATING MEANS DEATH. Yes, this title is also in all caps. I’m not just screaming at you via text for my own benefit. This song had that air of brutality that I was yearning for in the previous song. There is also a wicked instrumental break near the 2:30 mark. This song just made me want to kick something over. Not a tripod, though. D’espairs already did that. Maybe I could kick over a vacuum cleaner. Yes. Because that makes perfect sense. Let’s just hope I don’t hesitate before I do so because, you know, that means death.

When I saw the name of the final track was Naraku, I flinched just a little because of some painful memories. If anybody reading this is or was an InuYasha fan, Naraku was the name of the antagonist who JUST WOULDN’T DIE. I personally liked the arrangement of this song. It’s kind of spacey and elegant but still tense. The balance is pulled off really well and it’s an above average tune. That’s the most I can say about this track.

In Conclusion: This single didn’t necessarily blow me away, because I always think it’s unfortunate when the other songs outshine the titular track. I can still respect the single entirely because it was average. I like to always have my Visual Kei glass half full.



Filed under Japanese Rock, 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?



Filed under Sakurayume's Collection, Special Articles

“Diamond/Over the Clouds” – alan

Admit it. She's hawt.

Since crossing over to Japanese music, Chinese native alan has drastically changed her sound and style of music. She has gone from a prim and proper, highly conservative songstress delivering sweeping ballads (RED CLIFF OMG!!!) that stop your heart to becoming the next Ayumi Hamasaki. I figure her Japanese managers use this formula: Hot women + Great voices = lots of yen! A word of warning: If you like alan’s more traditional music then be wary!  Review time!

By the way, there is another great review of this single over at Aesthetic Rhapsody, one of my personal favorite blogs out there. Click the link in my blogroll or go here: http://aestheticrhapsody.wordpress.com/

Track 1: Diamond- This song is currently being used as the ending theme for InuYasha: The Final Act. To go a bit off-topic for a second, I love InuYasha but at the same time it bores me terribly. This song sounds a lot, stylistically, like the ending themes from the original InuYasha anime. This is winterpop at its finest. Rather boring, but pretty upbeat for the most part. I am very much reminded of Ayumi Hamasaki’s song “M’ and this, to me, is just a watered down version of that song. The vocals do not get much of a chance to shine, and if you have heard any of the so-called “wailing” from alan’s earlier work then you too will be yearning for the powerful and controlled voice that she’s got buried underneath this mainstream pop sound. I won’t be playing “Diamond” too much but the next song is a different story.

Track 2: Over the Clouds- Phew! This other a-side saved this single for me! It starts out with an aggressive dance beat and alan’s voice is autotuned briefly. You read that right. She gets the T-Pain treatment, so to speak. Hard to believe considering the way she started out her career. I love the overall progression of this song. Its a great beat to dance to or to blast while cruising about town in your car. Its a feel-good, dancetacular song and has some mean strings. Highly recommended!

(the single also contains instrumentals of both tracks)

In Conclusion- Skip Diamond and put Over the Clouds on repeat. I have to say that I miss alan’s soaring ballads like Red Cliff and Kuon no Kawa but I am glad to see that she is trying out other styles. I do hope that this is not a permanent thing though…

Hey, if anybody has a different opinion of this single of something you’d like to add, leave a comment! I would love to know your thoughts!



Filed under Japanese Pop, Sakurayume's Collection