Single review: “FOOL THE WORLD” by Minori Chihara

Minori Chihara (affectionately referred to as ‘Minorin’ by her fans) is a Japanese singer and seiyuu signed to Lantis. FOOL THE WORLD is her 19th single.

Release date: 26th of February, 2014

1. FOOL THE WORLD
2. Harmonized Chaos
3. Hakanaku mo Itoshiki Sekai no Naka de

1. FOOL THE WORLD
The track begins by swelling into an introduction of a solid beat almost paralleling the impact of songs like X-DAY and IDENTITY, combined with a melodic lead guitar line atop a low, rhythmic guitar sequence. Soon enough, we promptly dive into an enigmatic segment of dramatic piano and riveting accompanying audio effects to induce a feeling of emptiness and desolation, while Minori lies in the center of it all, swaying us with distinct vocal control. The music gains tempo once again for the rest of the verses, and lead vocals are occasionally enhanced by background vocals. The chorus flaunts itself to be the most entertaining component of the song, displaying much power and attitude from both the arrangement and the singer. A typical guitar solo in the middle eight is improved with the presence of strings, shortly leading to a section of piano, audio effects and vocals similarly heard towards the beginning of the track. Unfortunately, Minori couldn’t get through the song without making a few vocal errors, and the one that most stood out to me was in the first line of the alternate chorus following the middle eight, in which she attempts to hold a high note that goes piercingly bad. She does this twice actually, and I openly cringed during both times. Criticisms aside, this is undeniably a strong A-side from Minori, and the force in this was just what I needed after the cheesy material from her latest album.

2. Harmonized Chaos
An extended musical swell guides us into the body of a synth-dominated track that integrates elements of pop, electro and trance. 8-bit sound snippets play against a digital beat for the first few lines of the song, but the sound produced is quite unfulfilling to the ears, even with Minori’s confident, assertive vocals. However, the song tries to rectify this almost instantly as the arrangement gains tempo, and the disharmony of the 8-bit samples transforms into a faster, closer, more cohesive unit of sounds. Unsurprisingly, the song changes up very soon after, firstly with a slower beat, a bouncy, animated string sequence and a supportive bass line, but the beat almost immediately speeds up once again, all underneath significantly expressive vocals coming from Minori. This pattern appears to repeat a second time until the appearance of an eccentric, unconventional bridge. Its first half showcases a whispy, trance-inducing atmosphere along with squeaky, vocaloid-like vocals; the second half is an unusual fusion of rapping and cheerleader-esque chanting. Finally, the song closes with the chorus, bringing home the essence (and title) of the entire song — Harmonized Chaos. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

3. Hakanaku mo Itoshiki Sekai no Naka de
A composition of bells, percussion, and a distinct ethnic-sounding instrument serves as the opening to the second B-side, and the collective plays alongside the song’s repetitive, almost annoying hook to attempt to draw listeners in. A standard strings accompaniment and electric guitar join the mix just before the verse begins, but before anyone could think that this song has the potential to become something impressive, it falls short and starts disappointing during the first verse. Fragments of anything memorable can perhaps be found in the chorus or pre-chorus. And while these two sections make the song sound like a second-rate FOOL THE WORLD, it has at least some of the attitude one would want from this song, as it shows an improvement in the quality of the arrangement. The bridge surprises me though, and I knew that it was clearly the most engaging part of the song as soon as I heard it. Among the conventional stylings of most of the song, the middle eight is characterised by a thrilling mix of dramatic synths/strings, an edgy & powerful electric guitar solo, and a forceful drum performance. The energy from the bridge leads us into the final chorus, as Minori wraps things up with the song’s hook while accompanied by the whole ensemble climaxing into an deep explosion.

What a fascinating single. While FOOL THE WORLD is another outstanding track from Minorin, it’s quite interesting to hear an experimental side in Harmonized Chaos. However, Hakanaku mo Itoshiki Sekai no Naka de was a hit-and-miss kind of track for me, sounding like nothing special yet having a few elements of surprise such as a fantastic bridge to compensate. Overall, this single is definitely still worth a listen despite a number of noticeable flaws.

Rating: 3.5/5

Single review: “Kyoukai no Kanata” by Minori Chihara

Minori Chihara (affectionately referred to as ‘Minorin’ by her fans) is a Japanese singer and seiyuu signed to Lantis. Kyoukai no Kanata is her 18th single.

Release date: 30th of October, 2013

Track list:
1. Kyoukai no Kanata
2. NO LINE
3. Kyoukai no Kanata (Off Vocal) [Anime Edition]
3. Fountain of mind [Regular and Limited Edition]
4. NO LINE (Off Vocal) [Anime Edition]

1. Kyoukai no Kanata
Minori’s final single of the era begins with peaceful, composed vocals alongside a setting of acoustic guitar and piano, before gradually quickening in pace and becoming a positive song full of promise. We are presented with a conventional anison song, possessing similar dynamics as the preceding A-side of this era (namely, Kono Sekai wa Bokura wo Matteita) with the controlled use of drums, as well as moderate string presence. Minori offers a range of vocal qualities in this song, employing a spirited, compelling articulation, or performing the lyrics in a playful, high-pitched manner. The bridge is simply made up of a lively piano tune crossfading into some electric guitar backed by strings, which I think is not enough to match the rest of the song. It is finished off with the same line that started it, as the last syllable is dragged out and another one of her A-sides gains my overall approval.

2. NO LINE
A brief introduction of quick electric guitar chords, filtered vocals and a steady drum beat leads to a forceful and loud instrumental, soon being silenced by Minori over a gentle electric guitar background. Immediately following a few seconds of that, however, we begin to hear the same forceful and loud rock instruments returning with the pounding of the drums. Minori sings with the charisma and confidence required for any bold, brazen rock track, successfully establishing her presence within the song. The arrangement is relentless and unchanging, remaining powerful from start to finish. The middle eight section unfolds with a short sequence of guitar chords, which is followed by a heavily distorted Minori repeating one sentence four times underneath a filtered Minori singing a simple melody. A fierce and daring guitar solo finishes off the middle eight, leading to the final chorus and ending with various chants and that familiar short sequence of electric guitar chords.

This is quite an impressive single from Minori. To the B-side, although it probably is/will be criticised for the vocals, I personally think they are quite fitting for such an intense rock song. The flaws, however, are: I feel like this needs a third song (fulfilled by Fountain of mind in the other editions), and Kyoukai no Kanata just feels a bit too similar in dynamics to Kono Sekai wa Bokura wo Matteita for me (I prefer the latter, by the way). In my humble opinion, this does not transcend her preceding single (which is like a great big YAYYY to me), but, like I said, it is still impressive.

Rating: 4/5