Single review: “Tokohana” by Nagi Yanagi

Nagi Yanagi is a Japanese singer-songwriter from Kansai, Japan and is signed to Geneon. She is known for performing as a guest singer for the band supercell from 2009-2011. Tokohana is her 8th single.

Release date: 4th of June, 2014

Track list:
1. Tokohana
2. Wasurenai Tame ni
3. Crossroad
4. Tokohana (instrumental)
5. Wasurenai Tame ni (instrumental)
6. Cross Road (instrumental)

1. Tokohana
Other-worldly chanting is laid against the background of melancholic strings, forming a sort of eerie veil before this quiet, reflective sadness shatters into pieces with the forceful sound of insistent electric guitar strumming, steady drumming and beautiful violin melodies. As Nagi begins to sing the first verse, I feel quite disappointed to hear that she’s sounding rather monotone, despite her being totally capable of properly conveying the appropriate emotions that this song holds within. The arrangement is stripped down for the pre-chorus in order to maximise the dramatic increase in energy that the chorus presents, beginning with a heavy drop of rock-based instruments, and, unfortunately, more of Nagi’s vocals which lack a certain emotional spark. Don’t get me wrong though, I can acknowledge Nagi’s technical prowess and her ability to hit notes seamlessly, but she does not seem to be invested in this song as much as I’d like her to be. The chorus following the bridge seems to be slightly intensified in nature to function as the climax of the song, but it might have been due to Nagi’s rise in pitch at the end of the bridge that could have created that illusion. Not too sure. To conclude, Tokohana is an example of both great things and missed opportunities, but it contains the flickering sparks of what could have made it better.

2. Wasurenai Tame ni
A slow, simple yet tasteful piano melody begins to play, stopping at intervals to welcome the distant echoes of light, ambient, new age-esque sounds. Nagi begins to sing softly, using her talents to evoke a sense of being delicate and fragile on the exterior, but very much full of promise underneath. Her voice is muffled at times, which contributes a sort of call-and-response effect when juxtaposed and followed with her regular, melodic singing. Once the chorus rolls around, percussion is added to the mix, and Nagi’s vocals are exceptionally touching and sweet, further enhanced by layers of background harmonies. A single synthy line floats along the surface and makes its way across as Nagi begins to sings the second verse, which contains a noteworthy feature of an accompanying marching beat that is oddly still low-key enough to keep the peace. Towards the end of the song, the vocals and arrangement are given equal spotlight; neither are above the other, but rather, they are alongside each other in perfect unison. It is true that Wasurenai Tame ni is somewhat plain of a track, but simplicity can sometimes be quite pleasant.

3. Crossroad
The last track begins with a quick intro of a lively piano melody and acoustic guitar plucking, and with a single breath and a deep rushing sound, Nagi’s familiar vocals enter, sounding slightly airy and gentle in nature. The introduction of percussion allows things to pick up, and suddenly, her vocals become clearer, confident and more pronounced. The simultaneous halt of both the singing and the instrumental during the pre-chorus is interesting in an upbeat song such as this, as listeners might find themselves waiting attentively for just that moment to hear the song continue on. The chorus arrives just before you know it, giving the song a celebratory sort of vibe with its bright, uplifting quality. Honestly, there isn’t much to say about this song besides what has just been mentioned, since much of it screams “average pop song”, even if it’s sung by Nagi.

For the sake of comparison to Nagi’s two other rock-based A-sides, Zoetrope seems to be the perpetual topper, followed by the school food punishment-esque Laterality, and Tokohana in third place at the moment. That being said, the A-side is still quite good, but it’s lacking in some areas, which stops it from being of the same quality as its predecessors. Wasurenai Tame ni is a simple and decent track and happens to be the better B-side because Crossroad is way too poppy and ordinary for me. This single is a satisfactory effort overall for me, nothing more.

Rating: 3/5

 

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Single review: “Yukitoki” by Nagi Yanagi

Nagi Yanagi is a Japanese singer-songwriter from Kansai, Japan and is signed to Geneon. She is known for performing as a guest singer for the band supercell from 2009-2011. Yukitoki is her fifth single.

Release date: 17th of April, 2013

Track List:
1. Yukitoki
2. Oto no Nai Yume
3. Surrealisme
4. Yukitoki (Instrumental)
5. Oto no Nai Yume (Instrumental)
6. Surrealisme (Instrumental)

1. Yukitoki
Wow, another anime tie-in for Nagi! As a follow-up to the amazing Zoetrope (the AMNESIA opening theme), Nagi releases Yukitoki which is tied as the opening theme for My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU.  This song sounds like a typical anime opening, which is good because that’s exactly what it is, but I just know that some people will say that they’ve heard it all before. It’s a happy pop song and I’m liking it so far. It doesn’t quite top Zoetrope or Laterality in terms of the quality, but it’s a nice effort from Nagi!

2. Oto no Nai Yume
The B-side is kinda like her songs Vidro Moyou and Koibumi mixed together. It’s synthy & light and backed by an interesting arrangement. Oto no Nai Yume is quite relaxing and I like how Nagi sounds in it. Most of the time, her voice sounds airy, which adds to the whole mood of the song. Well, overall, the song is pretty good, but nothing more.

3. Surrealisme
Getting into the third track, Surrealisme is quite bizzare with an even more interesting arrangement than Oto no Nai Yume. This song is… trance-y? I don’t really know how to describe it. It just sounds kinda weird to me. The chorus is a where all the liveliness is, I guess. The rest of the time, it sounds all abstract & fantasy-like. Honestly, it didn’t really leave much of an impression on me other than the fact that it’s just quite bizarre.

Then we have all the instrumentals, and that’s the whole single!

Nagi’s fifth single was overall pretty good, however I was definitely more impressed with Zoetrope and Laterality. Yukitoki is a typical anime opening, with it being a happy pop song and all. I think the A-side is the best song out of the whole single though, which kinda says something, as the following two songs have intresting arrangements. Oto no nai Yume is a nicely done track, which sounds like it mixes two previous songs into one. Oh, but, Surrealisme is just trance-inducing and kinda weird. Maybe I’m just not used to it yet, but it’s the song that brings the single down. Well, good effort from Nagi anyway. I hope a full album is coming soon!

Rating: 3/5