Nana Mizuki released her 10th album on April 16th, so I’ll be doing a little review of it. Although I’m hardly a music critic and am obviously quite biased with anything involving Nana, so it will be mostly my own ramblings. I actually already made my predictions when the setlist was announced earlier, and I was right on about half of them. Also, it managed to top the weekly charts with zero competition. Ironically, her actual sales dropped significantly compared to her previous albums, which had to compete with some of the most popular artists, but she still easily picked up the top spot.
1. VIRGIN CODE
The album starts with a very disturbing sound to my ears. I may be the only Nana fan who thinks this but the very first few static noises that are essentially just background noise and ignored by most were very recognizable to me. It reminded me very distinctly of A World Where Nothing Happened from Little Busters! the track which sent chills down my spine when it played during certain scenes which were just so depressing to read. So it was a really bad way to start the album lol. Anyway, afterwards comes a pretty fast paced song, with a beat that almost never relaxes. Fast paced, powerful songs are what I love from Nana, and with this, one of my predictions was correct that this was would be one of the best songs of the album.
This song is sooo catchy with a lot of Engrish. I sort of felt like this was something I’ve heard from BoA but it also has quite a Koda Kumi feel to it. The Engrish may be jarring to some, but I honestly find it just irresistibly catchy. The major downside to this song is it doesn’t even reach 3.5 minutes, at a length of 3:18. That’s pretty rare for Nana songs. As a result, GUILTY ends up being a repeat of Get My Drift? from Rockbound Neighbors – both are incredibly catchy with a lot of Engrish but disappointingly short.
Apassionato is the promotional song of the album, and its PV can be viewed here (thank you King Records for FINALLY making an official Nana youtube channel). I have pretty mixed feelings about this song. I think it isn’t focused enough on one, uh, musical score? Something like that. I enjoy the song a lot, but I question why some things are together in one song. Particularly the Irish-sounding parts which are good but just seem out of place because my initial reaction was “ooo this is neat” but in retrospect, I’m not sure why it’s there. Oh well, less complaining, more enjoying the music!
This is actually not a real Nana song; it is a cover song from DREAMS COME TRUE. And my opinion reflects this as I’d have to say this is one of my least favorite songs on the album, if not the least. Nana sings it well but there’s nothing in it that catches my interest. I wouldn’t say the song is bad, but it certainly isn’t noteworthy.
Nana sings French. Well, very little, but it’s there. If memory serves me right, this was the first song to be leaked (although not the first one I heard…) I like the song a lot but the French…I don’t know. You’d think terrible random Engrish would irk me more but maybe I’ve just been numbed to it from hearing it so much while this new language stands out. Putting that aside, it was a very interesting type of music I did not expect from Nana that still manages to maintain a Nana-esque level of power and singing.
6. Fun Fun People
This song is a cutesy/catchy song, which is pretty standard. Nowhere near as catchy as Guilty, but the intention is surely something fun (heh) and catchy. That said, I got tired of it surprisingly quickly. The song reminds me of Lovely Fruit with its upbeat tempo, and what do you know, I’m not a fan of that either. I’m sure others will like it a lot more than I do as it’s not like the song is bad but it’s just not for me.
This was the song I was most looking forward to hearing. Since Nana as a seiyuu is most equated to the character Fate, and Nana translates to 7, this track was basically the most Nana song a song can get. I was blindly hoping/expecting it would something along the lines of Pray, but unfortunately it was quite the opposite – a rather generic ballad. In fact, musically, this song is very, very simple, albeit a soft and calming song. I do admit the simplicity can be a good thing and I find myself humming it quite often lately. The lyrics also caught my attention. It’s a heartwarming love song, if a bit cliched, but I am extra pleased because I get to pretend Nana is serenading me.
8. Vitalization -Aufwachen Form-
Vitalization is the opening to the second season of Symphogear, and this is the “upgraded” Aufwachen Form version. Anyway, I predicted this would be as bad as its predecessor Synchrogazer -Aufwachen Form- and I was right. For some reason they think it’s a good idea to add in instrumental intros that a) do not go well with the original song and b) have terrible transition to the original. There was even a Nana song poll earlier and the original Synchrogazer was voted far higher than its Aufwachen so it seems they didn’t learn their lesson. So yeah, stick to the original. It’s a great song and Nana’s vocals are amazingly powerful in this song, particularly live.
This was the song I was most curious about prior to release. For the most part, it ended up being as good as whatever I was expecting. It’s definitely different than anything else on the album and while it’s not amazing, it manages to be an interesting song with a good amount of jazz. Also, the piano parts were a nice addition but lacked the grandeur of Crescent Child (granted, the song wasn’t trying to be grand, so the piano fits perfectly).
Another cute/catchy song. It’s uh, nothing special? I admit I was never a fan of Nana’s cute/catchy songs although every now and then I will love one, such as Love Brick. But well, even though I don’t dislike it, it will probably fade into my memory as “one of those uninteresting cute songs.” I’m sorry, I’m just not a fan of this type of music.
So I had the honor of hearing this song performed live (twice!) back in January at her Winter Festa event. At the time, I didn’t think it was all that amazing but definitely interesting. It has a rather dark but cool feeling to it, and is quite unique to Nana’s repertoire, with a touch of rock music. However, honestly, with the lack of songs that I absolutely love in this album, it ended up being one of the songs I like more. Nana has shown she wants to branch out to new types of music, so I hope she heads more in this direction compared to say, Apassionato.
12. Rock you baby!
Another catchy song. I think this is the Happy Go Round from Rockbound Neighbors of this album; however, unlike that song, this really doesn’t get me excited or dancing to the tune. I like the song, but it just feels inferior to the aforementioned one. There are very similar musical parts to the songs but this one just doesn’t click for me. Unfortunate. Also, I really don’t like the opening line. I think Nana should’ve used a much different pitch, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, I don’t like it that much but this is more an issue of her previous work being better rather than actual flaws.
13. Million Ways = One Destination
Having heard a very short preview awhile back, I was hyped about this song. While it did not deliver everything I wanted, its fast paced beat kept my excitement up. It doesn’t have pedal to the metal moments so I was disappointed at that (in contrast, Linkage has nothing but those). While I don’t mind songs that lack that, I did feel like the song was lacking *something.* Perhaps too few instrumentals but it just seems like the song is incomplete. I’ll just attribute it to being a phone game opening thus less budget compared to the relatively absurd amount of money poured into games like Unchained Blades or the Shining series.
Ah, now this was a surprise. I was expecting a slow-ish song to lead into the finale and also because I imagined the title being more like what FATE ended up being about. The song begins with a very nice quick tempo that immediately drew me in. It maintains this energy throughout and even has a few catchy parts. As a whole, it may not be the best of the album, but it is a very good representation of the kind of music I prefer from Nana.
15. 愛の星 -two hearts-
This is a harp only arrangement to the original Ai no Hoshi, the ending theme to the 7th Yamato 2199 movie. I absolutely love the original version to death. I legitimately consider it the most beautiful singing I’ve ever heard. Furthermore, the harpist of this piece is Agematsu Mika, one of Nana’s best friends who often plays at her concerts. So I was very happy to receive this arrangement. That said, it is certainly inferior to the original, which I think can’t be helped because it has been simplified to only one instrument. Also, I was a bit sad that this ended with an already released ballad, as usually there is a new, beautiful ballad to close the album. Regardless, it is a very pretty arrangement to my favorite Nana ballad.
Surprisingly, I have more negative comments than positive. Considering my aforementioned biased, I wonder how poorly non-fans would view some of these songs. Well, I don’t think it is bad, but I think it has a number of songs that are too average (for Nana). The biggest “problem” is actually that she branched out to a lot of different styles that I personally don’t care for. Overall, it is still a good album (or am I just being biased again) but not Nana’s best. Regardless, her summer tour is right around the corner, so hopefully some live performances of these songs will be made shortly and potentially change my opinion.