Infrequent J-Music Roundup #13 – Sangatsu no Phantasia, KEYTALK, Kotobuki Minako (and more!)

Hello and welcome to another J-song roundup! I’m a bit under the weather and I found some free time so I just decided to write this post.

If you’re new here, basically the segment consists of me compiling a few Japanese songs that I’ve been listening to recently and essentially giving my two cents about them. I’m definitely not too good at “analyzing” music but I do my best.

This one installment of the song roundups is actually something I haven’t done in a while, it being a roundup full of random songs rather than one where it revolves around a single topic (e.g. Hoshino Gen, YouTube Covers, Seiyuu Idols). It’s been about 9 months since the previous post of this kind so I made sure I included a fantastic list of songs for you today.

Let’s just jump right in!


“Future Strike” – Ogura Yui

If you know me really well (or if you just follow me on Instagram), you would know that popular voice actress/idol Ogura Yui has to be one of my absolute favorite seiyuu personalities, behind greats like Toyosaki Aki and Hayami Saori. And this particular song of hers… I believe it’s one of the best out of all of her discography.

If you know Ogura Yui and what she’s about, I’d say she is an excellent example of what being a Japanese idol is all about: sings pop songs with a high-pitched voice and has a cute, flashy appearance and personality. However with “Future Strike”, she definitely changes up the vibe significantly.

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Used as the opening for action-drama anime ViVid Strike!, it’s very much a more tense and serious song with its fast-paced melody and overall dramatic vibe. But damn, she absolutely nailed singing this song. I felt a ton of passion from her vocal performance and even though we’re so used to her singing about a lovely tea break or high fives, this song just proves that she has the ability to do this kind of serious/tense music. Hell, she’s about to release her new single, “Destiny”, that is much more metal rock-based than pop.

Also, man, even in the music video, she’s no joke (lol). I have never seen Ogura Yui fight (or rather, do theatrical combat) before but I don’t think anybody should mess with her, that’s for sure.


“Fuukasurukyoushitu / 風化する教室” – Kinoko Teikoku

I was first introduced to this band by good friend Leap250 when we did a fun collab and exchanged music albums for us to later review. While I gave him SHISHAMO 3, he tossed over Kinoko Teikoku’s Uzu ni Naru, which despite my terrible analysis on the album, I thought was nice to listen to. Shoegaze was a genre I’ve never even heard of before, so experiencing something new like that was interesting.

Recently, and because I was just randomly reminded of the band’s recent departure, I started listening to some of their other stuff. This song was one that caught my interest the most since it was very calm and chill, and I’m very fond of the alternate rock-pop combo. Uzu ni Naru was pretty much the only Kinoko Teikoku-related thing I listened to beforehand, and while the slow and mysterious vibe was nice, hearing them perform music that’s a bit more louder and pop-y was splendid.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about this band, you should definitely read Leap’s tribute to them on his blog!


“Gin no Spoon: Blend of Memory / 銀のスプーン ~Blend of Memory~” – Mizuki Nana & Minase Inori

Before we start, spoiler alert for the recent OVA of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka??. Just lettin’ you know.

The Gochiusa anime is alright. Not the best moe slice-of-life I’ve seen but it has its funny moments and it sure as hell got a fantastic cast of voice actresses. But I took interest in the most recent OVA that came out since Chino’s mother was to be shown and what do you know, she’s voiced by the wonderful Mizuki Nana. (Inorin must’ve been thrilled lol)

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Because the OVA was called Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka??: Sing for You, the whole episode revolved around music and there were a lot of character songs included. One of them was the ending, where Chino and her mother sang a duet together. And oh man, was this a fantastic song to listen to for the first time. I’m not too familiar with Mizuki Nana’s music discography but she absolutely nails performing in the jazz genre. Her voice fits so well in this kind of song and I honestly got chills listening to the first part. It’s overall a very cheerful track that definitely fits the Gochiusa environment, plus hearing these two talented ladies sing together is amazing.


“Music Hour / ミュージック・アワー” – Porno Graffitti

This music video is so 2000s lol

I actually first heard of this song from popular cover group Goose house, when they did their own rendition. It would take me a while until I’d actually listen to the original but after being so used to the acoustic-style of Goose house’s cover, I was very much surprised at how different the Porno Graffitti version was.

However, it’s still a great song! The combination of pop-rock and 2000s electronic beats made for a fun and fast-paced song to listen to. I can’t really say much else but that it’s very reflective of what 2000s music was like lol

On another note, I was also very surprised at the fact that Bang Dream’s Poppin’ Party covered this song.


“Iyayo Iyayo mo Suki no Uchi / イヤヨイヤヨモスキノウチ!” – Spira Spica

This song by Spira Spica was the opening for an anime that aired last season called Tsuujou Kougeki ga Zentai Kougeki de Ni-kai Kougeki no Okaasan wa Suki Desu ka?, or in English, Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?.

And allow me to say an unpopular opinion: I liked this show (I can imagine the *gasps* and strange looks aimed towards me now). Look, while this anime had a really weird premise, I gave it a chance and I ended up enjoying its weirdness and how it handled the comedy. While there were (surprisingly) a few lewd jokes here and there, there wasn’t any incest or taboo stuff that many people would suspect. It was simply just a funny show about a guy and his mom being transported into and exploring a RPG video game together. It wasn’t the greatest show I’ve ever seen but it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.

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ANYWAYS, now that I got that out of the way, pop-rock band Spira Spica performed the very catchy and fun opening song. I haven’t heard of Spira Spica beforehand (they’ve done an anime opening before, I think) but man, I loved this song and immediately thought they got potential. Their vocalist’s got a great voice that’s perfect for the bright pop music they create, it’s catchy, and I’m just excited to hear more from them. I mean, they even got to perform at the recent Animelo Summer Live, probably the biggest anisong event of the year.


“Traveling / トラベリング” – KEYTALK

I found this song a while back during my times exploring Spotify and its selection of Japanese music, and I still love it ever since. KEYTALK gives off a different vibe to me compared to other similar J-rock bands. Rather than it sounding a bit somber and sad, KEYTALK has that brighter energy and seems to have more fun with their music. And I think that’s the one main thing that drew me to liking this song.

It’s catchy, the vocalist does a pretty nice job and it’s overall a nice track to listen to.


“Take off with Me” – Kotobuki Minako

You’ve probably heard of the name “Kotobuki Minako” if you’re an avid fan of Kyoto Animation’s works, as she has voiced in multiple shows of theirs such as playing Kotobuki Tsumugi in K-On! and Tanaka Asuka in Hibike! Euphonium. She’s also a member of the popular seiyuu pop unit Sphere, alongside greats like Tomatsu Haruka, Takagaki Ayahi, and fellow K-On member Toyosaki Aki.

I love Mina-chan. She’s hella beautiful, funny, and her work in anime has been great to see. Mugi was my favorite Keion member when I first watched the series and hearing Minako voice a soft and lovable character like her was just bliss.

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Other than voice acting, she has a musical career like many other seiyuu. And it’s pretty darn good! I’m so used to her performing music within a group but after listening to her solo stuff like “Take off with Me”, I can’t help but to appreciate her and her talent even more. Her voice pairs very well with this fun, funky, pop song and I gotta say, it was on repeat for a good couple weeks… it was that great lol

Also, this is another instance where the B-side song is better than the A-side. “save my world” is still a nice song but “Take off with Me” is significantly better.


“Pastel Rain / パステルレイン” – Sangatsu no Phantasia

If I can recall correctly, I believe this is what one would call a “bop”.

I mean honestly, the song speaks for itself. The sweet-sounding vocals, that fast-paced melody from an AMAZING grouping of instruments that just mixes so well together… I’ve seen music like this before like Minami or even Yorushika, and I’m wondering if there’s a specific genre that all of those artists can fall into. Also, the animation and music video is just great to look at.

Another reason why I loved this song is because it heavily reminded me of Uchida Maaya’s “Setsuna Ring a Bell”, which is also a really good track.


And that’s all I got for you today!

It was nice to compile a variety of tracks after a long time but I hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to leave your thoughts on these songs in the comments, as well as if you have any suggestions of your own! I’d love to hear them 🙂

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Thanks for reading!! 😀

-al

  1. Flu’s been going around my workplace too so I guess it’s just that time of year, but all the same, hope you get better soon!

    Aaa, good taste (xD). “eureka” is arguably Kinoko Teikoku’s most experimental album across their entire discography as it very much acts as a “crossroads release” featuring a mix of different styles in lieu of the band’s transition from indie to something more mainstream, with ‘Fuukasuru Kyoushitsu’ actually being more or less in line with the genre they ended up settling on in their last couple of years of activity. Speaking of, ayyy, thanks for the shoutout! 🙂

    I find Spira Spica’s current anison run (I believe they’ve sang for at least two other titles) to be very interesting, mostly because I knew of the band back when they operated under a different name a couple of years back. I believe they hadn’t yet signed to a major record label at the time so I wonder if their name change coincides with their recent appearances in anime OPs/EDs, which have all been stellar so far really so good on them.

    Thanks for reminding me to listen to more male vocals with that KEYTALK feature, loljk (xD)

    On the subject of Sangatsu no Phantasia’s similarity to Yorushika; one of Phantasia’s biggest draws is the team of doujin music composers behind its music, of which (among other names) just so happens to include n-buna (!!) so you were definitely on to something there with your comparison of the two, Haha!

    Solid roundup my good man.
    I hope these recommendations repay your good work in turn (xD)

    This band ended up just sweeping me away last month, but since you did mention on here that you’ve been trying out more Kinoko Teikoku stuff, I think “adieu” might be to your liking (https://youtu.be/J1dox5WFMeI) Fun fact: the vocals for “adieu”, Kamishiraishi Moka, is the younger sister of Kamishiraishi Mone.

    As I mentioned earlier, Spira Spica went under a different name before and here’s a song of theirs back when they were called “Snowman” (https://youtu.be/UDdu4A6TSes) (I’m sounding like a hipster here, lol)

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    1. Appreciate it 😀

      Yeah, I noticed that they definitely changed their style between Uzu ni Naru and Eureka, and while I still think the shoegaze/mysterious vibe was great, I think I really prefer their newer stuff. Might just be something that fits my taste better but regardless, they’re a great band. And no problem! I just had to mention your post when it comes to Kinoko Teikoku lol

      Interesting to see Spira Spica’s difference of style/vibe between the song you mentioned and something like Iyayo. Either way, I think they’re destined to do a good amount of songs for anime in the future.

      Ahh, I see! Not only did Sangatsu no Phantasia remind me of Yorushika but even like Eve, all having that particular style of music and art/animation within their music videos… I’m just glad I got into these kinds of artists.

      adieu is really nice, and that’s certainly interesting to know. Haven’t known a lot about Moka other than seeing her in some of Mone’s pictures on Instagram but she’s definitely got a very nice voice as well (also what a hella talented family lol). Speaking of Mone, she released another single a few days ago and it’s beautiful like always 😛

      Also I’ve been meaning to ask you if you took a listen to Kito Akari/Akarin’s new single; it was pretty darn good and her voice and/or vocal style kinda reminded of Minase Inori a bit lol. And it seems like a lot of the LL seiyuu are really getting into their solo musical careers recently!

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      1. Oh yeah, I mean, as much as I laud Kinoko Teikoku’s earlier work for what it was, I’m hard-pressed to deny that their final album “Time Lapse” ended up being their best ever release (which I do highly recommend btw xD)

        I’ve listened to Akarin’s single yeah (xD). I think the thing with her is that she has deceptively good range when it comes to her singing (more so when you think about her naturally low vocal register when she’s speaking) and it really shines across the three tracks. Very promising.

        And I guess on the subject of LL! seiyuu’s debuting as artists recently, I’m totally high on Tomoriru’s original work, and am really excited for what the future holds in store for her.

        That said, I’m still waiting for Aikyan to go all-in on her solo musical career (lol), as I’d pegged her to be the first to do that out of anyone from Aqours. Though I guess, knowing what we know about Aikyan and how much she loves Yohane, it might be that she’s just waiting to close out the final chapters of Aqours’ main run as a group before she starts doing her own thing.

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