Last year, some of you may recall that I posted live performances by May’n and Nakagawa Shoko from NHK’s Music Japan program. Those were actually a part of the third “New Century Anime Song Special”, and just over a week ago on January 16th, the fourth half-hour special was aired. The filming of the live event at NHK Hall actually took place back on November 22nd and featured more songs than were televised; however, of the ones shown, there was a special collaboration between Mizuki Nana and May’n that I caught wind of just a couple of weeks ago. All it took was mention of a rare duet of Macross Frontier’s “Diamond Crevasse” ending theme to get me eagerly anticipating this special, which also featured a bunch of good anime songs from both past and present. This includes the last live performance by Angel Beats’ Girls Dead Monster, where both marina (Iwasawa) and LiSA (Yui) took to the stage together. If you’re like me and enjoy seeing anime songs that you’ve heard from your favorite series performed live, then be sure to check out the videos after the break.

 

[flv:Music_Japan_Anisong_SP4_Piko_Wasurenagusa.mp4 550 310] Piko – Wasurenagusa
Tegami Bachi REVERSE ED1

The first performance featured was by a relatively new artist named Piko, whose singing voice will surprise just about everyone since he’s 100% male. I’ll be the first to admit that when I heard “Wasurenagusa” as the ending theme to Tegami Bachi REVERSE last season, I was completely convinced that I was listening to a female artist. It was only about a month ago when I saw the music video for the song did I realize otherwise. Quite frankly, I’d be hard-pressed to imagine that any unsuspecting listener wouldn’t be fooled by the amazingly feminine voice that he still has at the age of 22 (DOB: 1988-03-11). Impressive would be an understatement whether you care for the androgynous vibe or not, as is the fact Piko got noticed posting covers of songs on the Japanese streaming video site, Nico Nico Douga. It was there that he was dubbed “Ryouseirui” 「両声類」, meaning that he has a singing voice of both sexes. Lately, it’s been pretty clear that the online approach is much more effective than the street performance one, as more and more aspiring singers and composers are making it big through anime (e.g. Supercell and now MARiA).

 

[flv:Music_Japan_Anisong_SP4_Mizuki_Nana_Mayn_ETERNAL_BLAZE.mp4 550 310] Mizuki Nana & May’n – ETERNAL BLAZE
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s OP

In case there’s any doubt, Ono Daisuke did do the narration for this special, and his voice can be heard introducing the special collaboration between Mizuki Nana and May’n. The first song they performed together was Nana’s 2005 hit, ETERNAL BLAZE, which rose to the No. 2 spot on the weekly Oricon charts after it was released. It was her first single to rise so high, before her seventh album Ultimate Diamond in 2009 debuted at No. 1, making her the first voice actress to ever reach the No. 1 position in the weekly album or single charts since Oricon’s inception in 1968. It’s easy to overlook how much Nana’s achieved in her music career when she fits so seamlessly into anime as another seiyuu, but she is without the doubt the pinnacle of female anisong singers. There’s a reason why she’s a mainstay at Animelo Summer Live, the biggest annual anime song concert in Japan. For fans of Lyrical Nanaho, this song will be quickly remembered as the opening theme to Nanoha A’s, a series where Nana co-starred in as Fate Testarossa. May’n is undoubtedly the “junior” by far and large in this special collaboration, but she does an amazing job in this duet with Nana.

 

[flv:Music_Japan_Anisong_SP4_Mizuki_Nana_Mayn_Diamond_Crevasse.mp4 550 310] Mizuki Nana & May’n – Diamond Crevasse
Macross Frontier ED1

As Nana is the pinnacle of female anisong singers, the thought has crossed my mind on what it would be like if she were cast to sing the songs for the franchise that’s all about music — Macross. Her success as an artist and a seiyuu makes it seem like she would’ve been the perfect candidate to play the “Galactic Fairy” Sheryl Nome in Macross Frontier, though I gather casting her in that role would’ve made the universe implode on itself or something. After all, if we’re talking about the Lynn Minmay of the anime world, Nana would probably be it. This short duet of Macross Frontier’s love ballad only went on to reiterate that she’d be a perfect for a lead songstress role, as her voice fits beautifully in this song. Naturally, May’n deserves all the credit in the world, setting the standard that I’m comparing Nana’s rendition to. While a lot of artists perform duets with Nana at the aforementioned Animelo Summer Live, I’m quite amazed by how well this pairing’s voices compliment one another. In the past three years, May’n’s also become a regular at the event, so perhaps we’ll hear their version of “Lion” in the future. No disrespect to Nakajima Megumi who also sings really well, but that would be utterly awesome to see and hear.

 

[flv:Music_Japan_Anisong_SP4_Mayn_Moshi_mo_Kimi_ga_Negau_no_Nara.mp4 550 310] May’n – Moshi mo Kimi ga Negau no Nara
Senjou no Valkyria 3 Theme Song

In hindsight, it’s easy for me to say that I would’ve loved to see a Macross Frontier version with Mizuki Nana, except that would’ve prevented May’n from resparking her music career and becoming a prominent anisong singer of her own in recent years. Since Macross Frontier, this 21-year-old has shown that she can perform with the best of them, and the Macross F Galaxy Tour FINAL concert she performed at Budokan with Megumi was a prime example. I never heard her song “If You So Wish” prior to this special, but I was immediately taken back by how powerful the vocals in it are. It starts off slow, before coming to life and showcasing May’n’s vocal range. I found myself looping this performance over and over again, suggesting that I should really check out her second album “if you…” coming out on February 23rd. As noted, it’s the theme song for the upcoming Senjou no Valkyria 3 (a.k.a. Valkyria Chronicles III) PSP game slated for release on January 27th. While I don’t know how well the song suits the game, I can easily say it suits my ears. This is worth many listens.

 

[flv:Music_Japan_Anisong_SP4_ALI_PROJECT_Seishoujo_Ryouiki.mp4 550 310] ALI PROJECT – Seishoujo Ryouiki
Rozen Maiden ~ traumend OP

If there’s an artist whose music I can’t quite seem to appreciate most of the time, it would be ALI PROJECT’s with their dark and mysterious style. They adopt an unusual Japanese Aristocrat-style and a lot of times their songs aren’t that pleasant to listen to — something that I’m “ignorantly convinced” is entirely on purpose to distinguish their type of music. Be that as it may, there are still a handful of ALI PROJECT songs that I like, and the opening theme to Rozen Maiden ~ traumend is one of them. Their group is actually a mainstay in the anisong sphere as well, and they’ve performed at almost Animelo Summer Live concert since its exception (save the first one). Vocalist Takarano Arika is very capable of singing “normally” much like I’ve heard her during those concerts, which is probably a cakewalk for her compared to the ALI PROJECT songs she sings. If there’s one thing that I can always appreciate about their music, it’s the complexity of it. “Seishoujo Ryouiki” performed here is less so, and that may be why I actually like it.

 

[flv:Music_Japan_Anisong_SP4_JAM_Project_MAXON.mp4 550 310] JAM Project – MAXON
Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector OP

Of course, if we’re going to talk about anime music at all, it’s obligatory to have the very group that has it in their name, Japanese Anisong Makers Project. The group was founded by the very famous and highly-prolific 1970 theme song artist Mizuki Ichirou, and is now comprised of various other big name anime, video game, and “tokusatsu” music artists. Of those, co-founding member Kageyama Hironobu is undoubtedly the most popular, earning the name “Prince of Anime/Tokusatsu Songs” back in the day. He’s really well-known for singing the songs in Dragon Ball Z, namely “Cha La Head Cha La” and “We Gotta Power”, and has flown to various countries around the world to perform them. Even now, JAM Project are the go-to guys for super robot and “sentai” music, which is why you see Endou Masaaki singing parody songs for Mitsudomoe and Fukuyama Yoshiki for Mayoi Neko Overrun, the latter of whom also sang all of Nekki Basara’s songs in Macross 7. In addition to Kitadani Hiroshi, rounding out the regular members is the only woman with the “credentials” to sing with these guys, Okui Masami.

Having sung anime music all her career and serving as a producer for Animelo, Masami in conjunction with JAM Project is synonymous with the big annual summer event and Super Robot Wars’ theme songs. Admittedly, I didn’t think too much of “MAXON” when I heard it as the opening theme to Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector, but I was blown away by this live performance of it. It starts out accappella style and sounds like a choir before they take it to the skies and MAX THE POWER! Those following SRWOG will know that it’s the show if you some testosterone-pumping manliness, and this group of 40-year-olds shows us just why that is. No matter how I look at it, “awesome” is an understatement. (Revolving Stake!)

 

[flv:Music_Japan_Anisong_SP4_Girls_Dead_Monster_Crow_Song.mp4 550 310] Girls Dead Monster (marina/LiSA) – Crow Song
Angel Beats! INS

I originally wasn’t aware that Girls Dead Monster was at this Music Japan special, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw “marina/LiSA” in parentheses after their name. This is also the first time I’ve ever seen marina before, who hasn’t garnered nearly as much attention as LiSA after Yui took over as the vocalist for the band in the series. Along with the all-girls band performing here, LiSA was featured in the music videos for Little Braver and Day Game, and is likely the main vocalist writer/composer Maeda Jun had in mind all along. Or at least, that’s what the surprise announcement by LiSA about her solo debut this spring seems to suggest.

As the last live event for “Gldemo” before they cease activities under that name, it sure didn’t disappoint. A never-before heard duet that we weren’t privy to in the anime, along with a shower of meal tickets to replicate Operation Tornado. The latter almost had the same surreal effect despite the lack of sparkling, plus each of the pieces of paper had “Beef Udon: 300 yen” printed on them to look like actual meal tickets. Personally, I would’ve put “Mapo Tofu” in tribute to Tenshi, but how’s that for attention to detail? In addition to Crow Song, there were performances of Alchemy and Day Game that were unfortunately left out of the televised special. Surprisingly, there was no Thousand Enemies performance either, which I figured would’ve been the most meaningful as the song Iwasawa left behind for Yui.

 

[flv:Music_Japan_Anisong_SP4_Mizuki_Nana_Juujika_no_Spread.mp4 550 310] Mizuki Nana – Juujika no Spread
Shining Force Cross (Arcade ver.) Theme Song

The honors for closing out the concert went to Nana with her performances of two songs, “Juujika no Spread” and “NEXT ARCADIA”. Only the theme song for Sega’s 2009 Shining Force Cross arcade game was included in the television program, but “Juujika no Spread” is notable since it’s the fourth track on her 2010 Phantom Minds single (opening theme to the Nanoha movie). It was her 21st single and the first one to reach No. 1 in the Oricon charts, making Nana the first and only seiyuu to have both an album and a single at No. 1. She really does it all, with the only real downside being that I don’t get to hear her in more anime roles. A powerful voice as always and she has the perfect image and personality to be an anime idol.

Compared to the third Music Japan Anisong Special, there were a lot more songs in this latest one that I was either familiar with or took an instant liking to. The only performance that I didn’t include in this post was Kudou Mayu’s “HeartCatch Paradise”, the ending theme to HeartCatch PreCure. It’s not a song I’m familiar with so I didn’t really have much to say about it. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the other performances as much as I did, along with whatever insight into the artists I was able to provide (if any).

62 Comments

  1. Oh god the duet for GDM was amazing. The crowd doing the backup singing gives me chills each time. Haven’t listened to the Nanoha A’s OP in a long time, but wow. Mizuki’s voice is amazing as ever.

    fall3nbs
  2. I think the thing that I got out of those videos is that the mistakes are much more pronounced when you’re not at a live setting. I suppose that’s because there isn’t a huge crowd atmosphere to get caught up in, so they’re more noticeable. That said, I think the Diamond Crevasse duet is the best of the bunch in terms of expression and generally nailing the song down.

      1. Ah I see the latter two now, but she does a good job to just keep singing. I still disagree on the first one, it’s a short line and she sang all of it.

        Considering the pace of those sections, I’m not surprised either is out of breath. Inhale = when?!

        KumaKaori
  3. A word of advice to everyone who might ever go to a Japanese-related concert.
    Always have two glow sticks handy. If you’re a fan go for more, but never go with just one. You’ll end up feeling like an idiot when you can only wave one hand. +__+

      1. Unfortunately. I got to watch MELL and I didn’t have anything on hand. I was tempted to use my phone as a glowing light, but the lady standing next to me was nice enough to offer her extra glow stick.

        Still, it feels pretty dumb to only have one. Especially when every single person around you has 2+.

    1. ah, now i know what to do on feb 20..*ish still delusional* L0L.. mah, i’m kinda jealous with you,takaii.you’re able to go in a jap concert.. i went in a korean worship concert once though.*shot* ok,that’s totally different. XDD

      keiOnDaisuki
  4. I like Marina better than LiSa live 😀 Lisa’s voice goes up and down without any control so in live she sounds weird, but amazing when it’s not live XD
    But they both sound so different from Angel Beat’s version. Just with their voice, I wouldn’t have recognized it was them.

    Oh and May’n, she sounds amazing *___* She is really talented

    Corn
  5. I was only able to catch around 80 or 90 percent of Music Japan’s Anisong Special 3 on local cable TV (IIRC, it was a little after New Year’s), but I was lucky to see the performances of “Only My Railgun,” “Aoi Haru,” “Ready Go!” and “Cruel Angel’s Thesis,” just to name what I do remember. There were also featurettes on Animelo Summer Live 2010 and Minori Chihara visiting an anime convention in the US (New York City, I think). Also, was it just me, or did Tomokazu Sugita do the narration for Anisong Special 3?

    Anyway, I’m hoping to catch Anisong Special 4 as well. (Considering that there’s always a delay between the Japanese broadcast and international broadcast of Music Japan, chances are good that I might see it. But if I miss it…well, thanks for the heads-up, Divine.)

    Incognito
  6. -Feels different from what i heard in the anime but still amazing o(≧o≦)o. wonder what it feels like to be in a real life concert.
    -Still Macross ED song & Girls Dead Monster – Crow my favorite songs.
    -Oh!! Daisuke Ono. A narrator?! No way. First time hearing him narrate.
    -Hearing “May’n – Moshi mo Kimi ga Negau no Nara Senjou no Valkyria 3 Theme Song” makes me feels sad at first but then when the high tone rose it feels “I will support you” kind of feeling making you think “a this song really is nice”. (you were right divine it was worth hearing). T_T because of this song i really want to play VKIII more.
    -hmmmm. i can’t comment about others performance but from the looks of it, it really took a lot of effort to maintain a good performance. It was like “Wow, if i can do that can i be that popular at once. i rate this 10/10 overall.

    ♕Croosboy♕
  7. Mizuki Nana is awesome as always. I just wish my other favourite singer,composer and song-writer Shikata Akiko would be more well known and not relegated to independent releases mostly.

    Znail
  8. mizuki nana as sheryl? hmm… that’s fine too.. and man, you just mentioned minmei! ah,the nostalgia.. nanoha’s music had faded in my mind actually,but it’s nice hearing it again.XD

    keiOnDaisuki
  9. Where can I watch the full version!?!? I must watch all my favorite anime songs being played out live!! This was quite a treat. You should post more videos up! and do these types of posts.

    exia
    1. As mentioned, this is pretty much all the performances that were shown, except one. If you still want to watch the full thing with all the little introductions by the artists, then check the usual sources.

  10. Sorry Nana fans, but she is no much for May’n, in my opinion.

    Like ice dance, for “technical merit”, I’d give 8 out of 10 to Nana and 9 to May’n; but, for “artistic impression”, I’d give only 4 to Nana and 10 to May’n. The depth of emotions May’n conveys is hard to surpass.

    I seriously doubt that the Sheryl Nome character would be so prominent if May’n weren’t the singer. The director of Macross F says that initially he planned a minor role for Sheryl because he didn’t think he would get a singer deserving the name of “the number-one singer of the galaxy”. Then, when May’n started the singing role for Sheryl, he realized that he got a phenomenal singer, much more than he or anybody expected, and so he decided to expand the role of Sheryl to let May’n sing more. When the TV series started, the audience immediately reacted and began to enquire, “who’s this singer?” Then, even before the TV series ended, a concert tour started where May’n and Megumi sang Macros songs. The end roll of the TV episodes are replaced with one where May’n herself appears, a rare treatment as an animated film. Nana would have done the same? I don’t think so.

    I have nothing against Nana. I just thought it unfair to treat May’n as on the same level as Nana as a singer.

    Ryo
    1. Hmm, I’ll have to beg to differ on that, seeing as May’n (under her full name Nakabayashi May) released three singles between 2005 and 2006 before her music career came to a complete halt. It wasn’t until she was cast to sing as Sheryl Nome that she finally released an album under Victor Entertainment. People have heard her music before, but it didn’t catch on nor was it deemed good enough to continue marketing.

      I agree she’s a good singer, but her popularity was undoubtedly catapulted by Macross Frontier. The same goes for Nana with Nanoha, except she seems to have a good following outside of anime fans.

      1. > seeing as May’n (under her full name Nakabayashi May) released three
        > singles between 2005 and 20seeing as May’n (under her full name Nakabayashi May)
        > released three singles between 2005 and 2006 before her music career
        > came to a complete halt.
        That’s true. Those songs and her singing in them weren’t good enough. I also heard those songs.

        > It wasn’t until she was cast to sing as Sheryl Nome that she finally
        > released an album under Victor Entertainment.
        > People have heard her music before, but it didn’t catch on nor was it
        > deemed good enough to continue marketing.
        That is correct. She somehow transformed herself during her association with Macross F, which led to her success. Simply put, she became much better quickly during that time. I don’t know exactly why and how, but I guess it was because Kanno helped May’n to find her best.

        > I agree she’s a good singer, but her popularity was undoubtedly
        > catapulted by Macross Frontier. The same goes for Nana with Nanoha,
        > except she seems to have a good following outside of anime fans
        That is also true. My only answer to that is that May’n now is a much better singer, regardless of whether she is popular or not. As a singer, the May’n now is far superior to Nana.

        So, I agree that the May’n before Macross F wasn’t a good-enough singer, but the May’n of Macross F and after that is phenomenal, which contributed a lot to the charisma of Sheryl Nome.

        Ryo
    2. Not heard nana outside of the vid but i have heard much of may’n’s stuff duing and after macross frontier.

      The problem with may’n is that she overprojects emotion into her singing. Some songs don’t require that much projection and instead requires technique. To be fair though, there are some singers who have technique and only technique so their songs don’t move people on a empathic level

      Zaku Fan
      1. I think the same, May’n has a tendency to put too much emotions even on songs that shouldn’t have bleeding emotions. A perfect example of this is the Macross christmas album Cosmic Cuune check it out. She kept curling and using her near-crying voice on a song that’s not very dramatic! See Funanori.

        hatsu
      2. Nana is by a very large margin the most famous singer and voice actress combination in Japan. Her hits, best selling albums and sold out tours through the huge arenas in Japan puts her in a class of her own. Now one can argue if she actually deserve all that, but it’s hard to argue with the facts.

        Znail
      3. @hatsu
        Heard Funanori. Yeah its an example of her over doing it. On the other hand her Shinkuu Diamond Crevasse is more emotional than her normal Diamond Crevasse and exactly when the song needs it, bringing Diamond Crevasse to a new height.

        Random Curiosity has a showing of the Sheryl/Ranka concert. Because of May’n, Aimo sounded very very serious giving it a new take on the song that i found enjoyable. The aimo by May’n on the OST cds however, were a big example of over doing it until it sounded off though.

        Zaku Fan
      4. > The problem with may’n is that she overprojects emotion into her
        > singing. Some songs don’t require that much projection and
        > instead requires technique.
        I’m afraid I disagree. I don’t understand the “too much” part. The purpose of all songs is to emotionally move the listener, whatever that emotion is. All songs require emotions.

        A famous actor was dining with a friend at a restaurant. He was asked to perform something on the spot for entertainment. He then began to read the menu! of the restaurant, full of emotions. All the guests of the restaurant were transfixed; some even began to cry. . . .

        Now, does a menu REQUIRE so much emotion in reading it? The point is, a good singer should be able to move the listener, whatever song s/he sings.

        > To be fair though, there are some
        > singers who have technique and only technique so their songs
        > don’t move people on a empathic level
        Yes, that’s Nana, to me.

        Ryo
      5. @hatsu
        > She kept curling and using her near-crying voice on a song that’s
        > not very dramatic! See Funanori.

        Funanori not dramatic! Sorry, but I can’t believe my ears (or eyes). I’m speechless . . .

        Are you really saying that Funanori isn’t a dramatic song and doesn’t require so much emotions? Oh my god.

        Funanori is deeply, deeply, DEEPLY dramatic. Heart rending. It doesn’t have an outburst of emotions like Northern Cross, but the depth of it! Each time I listen to it, I’m transfixed; I’m so much moved; I sometimes cry.

        Of course, it’s impossible to explain. All I can say is this: Do you think that such a musical genius as Kanno would do something so grossly stupid? You are saying that Funanori isn’t so dramatic a song that May’n’s near-crying voice is out of place. Would Kanno say OK to such a recording if it’s not good?

        Ryo
      6. @Znail
        > Nana is by a very large margin the most famous singer
        > and voice actress combination in Japan. Her hits, best
        > selling albums and sold out tours through the huge
        > arenas in Japan puts her in a class of her own.
        > Now one can argue if she actually deserve all that,
        > but it’s hard to argue with the facts.

        You suggest that popularity defines goodness, a theory which I don’t subscribe to.

        The theory is easy to disprove :-). If you hold a concert of Bach’s music, you can’t fill a huge arena with audience. So Bach is not a “popular” composer; but no one doubts he is good.

        I know it’s impossible to prove May’n is by far the better singer in writing like this. If I were standing in front of you with a video projector, I would give sort of lecture(?) comparing the two singers, pointing out how certain ways of expression enhance or detract from music.

        Even after that, you might call it a matter of taste. I admit there is such a possibility, but I don’t think so. Beethoven is a better composer than Liszt and that’s not a matter of taste, although it’s impossible to prove such a thing. All you can say is that as you gain experience in listening to classical music, you will eventually come to KNOW that Beethoven is better.

        Ryo
      7. If in your opinion May’n didn’t overdo it, then fine. As for me, if she sang that song the way she sang some of her other mellow sad songs in Macross F, then it would have been perfect. Tenshi ni Nacchatta and Yousei is equally sad but she sings them just right, hitting the high notes without forcing it too much like she’s about to die. Funanori sounded to me like she had to prove that she can belt and curl notes.

        It’s also true that songs should all have emotion. But sometimes, the singer does overdo belting and curling so much that it’s grating. It’s like an adult who spilled food and cries over it. Like a person who got a paper cut and screams in pain. There’s a right amount of emotion to depict everything.

        hatsu
  11. Lion duet with them… would be awesome. I always thought Mizuki Nana would have done great in a Macross series. Maybe we’ll get an OVA series next year with her… haha. Thanks for posting this up, it is much appreciated.

    DragoZERO
  12. PIKOOOO <3 I've known about him since his Vocaloid song cover days, and I'm really happy to see that he's doing well as a professional. He has the best range of a male singer I've ever heard.

    Am I the only one who doesn't like the GirlDeMo performance? LiSa and marina sounded forced and off-tune, almost as if they're not used to singing live and didn't practice enough. A lot of notes sound strained, especially in the high notes. Don't get me wrong – I'm actually a big fan of GirlDeMo and I have all of their songs to which I've listened to countless times – but this performance was a bit disappointing. The meal tickets were a nice touch, though.

    The duo of Mizuki Nana and May'n was incredible, as was May'n's solo. Their voices are really strong and pretty, so I'd really like to applaud whoever thought up the idea to pair these two together.

    Suzushina Yuriko
  13. Although Nana Mizuki and May’n duet performance is amazing, it seems that Nana-chan is always on top… every time!

    Anyway, I’ll miss Girl’s Dead Monster… Good luck to both singers.

    Benigmatica
    1. Actually Divine, now I listened to your video, I realized this is the full version of the song. Is there any way for me to have a copy of May’n’s VC3 op theme’s video? I right clicked it but I can’t figure out how to save it or anything.

      thenewhorde
  14. Piko – Wasurenagusa, that just killed my mind…

    @Divine
    tad off topic but just wondering if you know the name of the song played during the credits for “Macross Frontier Movie: The False Songstress”. i just can not find it in google or youtube.

    Gundam 00

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