I've finally gotten around to compiling the Genvid.com translations of Kitagawa-san's PGSM diary entries into a unified collection, available on this page, which I have dubbed (cleverly enough) "The Kitagawa Diaries". I will be updating them as Genvid translates more. Enjoy!
Big thanks to site visitor Ten who pointed me to Kitagawa-san's new image song, Sakura Fubuki. (I can't link to it, because otherwise the Powers that Be would crush me like a grape, and also I want Kitagawa-san to get some cash for her hard work.)
Note: I am now going to proceed to heap praise on this song. It is NOT because I am a Kitagawa-fan-- I am, believe it or not, going solely on the merits of what I hear.
Upon first listening to this, I was momentarily stunned... after all, this is Hino Rei's image song, yet it was so...
so very... "upbeat". If any of you out there are fans of Dragonball Z I suppose a suitable analogy that you could use to accurately gauge my reaction would be seeing Piccolo-san suddenly getting up and dancing a jig. In a pink frock.
A more Measured Reaction
This song, to my mind, despite its seemingly out-of-character upbeatness (I was expecting something slow and serious), is a good fit for Kitagawa-san's voice, since it seems to rely on the lower-upper middle registers a bit more-- which in turn means she doesn't have to "reach" for notes. (Note my profound use of the technical jargon!)
Compare this to Usagi's image song, where at (an admittedly few) points, Miyuu-san is really pushing to try and make the highs (and to compound the problem, the sound is abruptly faded just as she's reaching-but hasn't quite made it- to the end of a high note). That being said, I do think Usagi's single more fits her persona, however--but more on that admittedly minor, non-technical gripe later.
Solid State Salsa Sound
Sakura Fubuki features what I would call a latin / salsa-esque beat in addition with all the standard synth and electropop sounds that one would normally expect an image song. Overall, it blends together to create a solid sound mix.
Indeed, as someone who has listened to TONS of J-Pop songs (not just anime related), I would venture to say this song is high enough quality to be a mainstream pop song in its own right. At the very least, for PGSM purposes, I would expect something like thisout of "idol" Aino Minako's character. (C'est La Vie is catchy, but it sounds too much like something thrown together with a metronome and some synths) This song has a very balanced, layered-- professional feel to it.
But does "Sakura Fubuki" fit "Rei"?
BEFORE I read the lyrics, which "Poor Japanese" so kindly translated on Genvid's PGSM Forum, this was the reaction I had written for this review, solely based on the BGM, beat and vocal inflections (I did pick up a few words, but not enough to make sense out of the song):
"However, all the good things aside, I can't help but think this would be an ideal image song for Kitagawa Keiko and not Hino Rei... it fits more with the "jolly" persona that Kitagawa-san is described as having, and not the stolid, almost ethereal presence of miko Hino Rei."
AFTER reading the translated lyrics, however, I am forced to somewhat revise my position given the *meaning* of the song. (Yes, I need to learn Japanese. I am suitably ashamed. Thank you.)
In this song, Rei sings of sensing the ethereal, lamenting her own weakness and wishing to go forward and become stronger, yet not become a full adult. It is a "deeper", more profoundly introspective theme that I would indeed associate with the persona of Hino Rei. In that light, the song becomes perfectly suited for its purpose as a somewhat upbeat, cheery insert song for a dorama.
Still, however, to my mind the song still presents a mixed message-- it's simply too cheery to generate the proper angst level needed to effectively convey the theme. It does have "mellow" moments that aspire towards subtly soft sadness, but then the guitars and the chorus engage, and the moments are lost. What results is a song that gives one a superficial glimpse into Rei's psyche without being as "impressive" (or should I say "grave") as it could / should be. It cannot evoke the proper mental state.
Technically, the song is more or less "perfect"-- I've listened to it on repeat for the duration of this whole update and it hasn't grated on me yet-- the sound isn't overpowering, and the tempo and scale are well-suited to the vocalist. It's a perfect vocal vehicle for Kitagawa-san.
Still, I think that even with the meaningful lyrics, the song misses the essence of the character it tries to represent. For the next "Rei" image song, I think if traditional instruments like the Koto and flute were be used in combination with a slower, downtempo (perhaps spoken-word?) vocal mix, an image song that perfectly encapsulates the esoteric, mystical nature of Hino Rei could be created. Kitagawa-san's voice is deep enough to make such a thing effective, I think.
It would be a nice experiment ^_^
Well, that's it for my totally subjective, non-professional opinion of Sakura Fubuki. Thanks for reading!
In other news, Starcat, a visitor over at Suburban Senshi points out that someone is sending out emails from email@example.com that seem to be virus-infected. (How despicable! Sullying the name of Kitagawa-san like that... perhaps it's a Dark Kingdom plot?
At any rate, no matter how big a fan you are, don't open that email! Repeat after me: Kitagawa-san is not actually e-mailing me. It's just a trick. A nasty, slimy, reprehensible trick.
But as Kitagawa-san herself might say, "It looks awful, but simply put that's not a problem at all" [as long as you don't click it].
In site-related news, I've added a link to plenTpak's Kitagawa Keiko Page, which features some very nice images of Kitagawa-san.