Wednesday, February 8, 2012

CD review: “K-On! Character Image Song Series” part 2: Ritsu, Tsumugi & Azusa

The second batch of K-On! character singles were released in late August of 2009. The first wave had seen the release of Yui and Mio’s singles, and this second wave upped the simultaneous CD release count to three, with the Ritsu, Tsumugi and Azusa singles all coming out at once.
If you read the first part of this particular review series, you may remember that I’m not particularly fond of anime character image songs in general (if you missed it, you can read my pretentious ramblings here) but came to the conclusion that the first two K-On! character singles had several strong points. The question is, would this continue with these next three outings?
Design wise, there isn’t anything new to describe here. All three releases follow the same design scheme as the first two singles did, as they should. That means stylish-ish artwork of the characters’ faces on their respective covers, with their respective associated colors as backdrops, lyrics and credits printed inside the folded cover inlay with colored balls against black backgrounds throughout and shiny metallic color artwork on the discs.
As before, we’re talking standard clear transparent jewel cases for each disc. Each CD contains six tracks: Two character specific songs, the song “Let’s Go” with that character doing lead vocals, as well as instrumental versions of all three songs.
I’ve said before that Tom-H@ck’s compositions can be either catchy or obnoxious. For me, Ritsu’s first song “Girly Storm Shissou Stick” unfortunately falls into the latter category. It’s not bad, it’s just a little too perky for my taste. It does burrow its way into ones brain, though.
The second track, “Mezase Happy 100%↑↑↑, is not surprisingly also a cheerful and energetic song in keeping with Ritsu’s character. This one composed by Hajime Hyakkoku of K-On! OST fame.
I have mixed feelings about Mugi’s “Dear My Keys ~Kenban no Mahou~”. The tune is pleasant and catchy (and composed by K-On!’s music producer Shigeo Komori), but I feel somewhat annoyed by the generic lyrics. There’s little to be found here that I can recognize as actually having any relation to Mugi’s character. Then again, writing a character song for Mugi must be a pretty difficult task – out of the five main characters, she’s the one that’s seen the least development (especially as of the first season) and on top of that she is somewhat mysterious to begin with.
“Humming Bird” is the second song on the disc, and I can’t help but feel it suffers from the same issue, maybe even more so than “Dear My Keys”. It’s just a pop song with nothing that appears to be specifically about Mugi. Other than that, it’s not a bad song but not particularly memorable either.
For Azusa’s single, every song is a Tom-H@ck composition, and – “Let’s Go” aside – I find these ones a whole lot more enjoyable than his Ritsu song. “Jaja Uma Way To Go” is catchy without being annoying in the least and on top of that, the lyrics are clearly about Azusa’s feelings upon having joined the Light Music Club and even makes reference to a specific moment in the anime. This is a character song done right.
“Watashi wa Watashi no Michi wo Yuku” is not quite as good, but it has a unique sound and is another song that fits Azusa well. All in all, I’d say Azusa’s character single is one of the highlights of the image song series.
Overall, the second batch of character singles was a mixed bag for me. But, there was more to come! In the final part of this review series, I’ll be looking at – and listening to – Ui and Nodoka’s singles. Stay tuned…

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