KOTOKO ~ リアル鬼ごっこ

  1. リアル鬼ごっこ (RIARU Onigokko; A Real Game of Tag)
  2. siren
  3. リアル鬼ごっこ -instrumental-
  4. siren -instrumental-

KOTOKO, whose full name is HORIKAWA Kotoko (堀川ことこ), began her career in music as one of the core members of the group I’ve, which derives its name from 愛撫 (aibu; caress) because most of their songs were used in H-games. Though she is still a member of the group, and an indispensible one at that, she has released several albums and singles solo under the Geneon label. She writes the lyrics to all her songs (with rare exceptions), and I’ve writer TAKASE Kazuya (高瀬一矢) writes and arranges most of her songs. She also writes lyrics for and coauthors some I’ve songs that she doesn’t perform vocally.
リアル鬼ごっこ (RIARU Onigokko; A Real Game of Tag) is KOTOKO’s 10th maxi single and was released on December 19, 2007. So far, it has reached 15th on the Oricon Weekly charts. For both songs, the lyrics and vocals are by KOTOKO, and the composition and arrangement are by Takase.

リアル鬼ごっこ (RIARU Onigokko; A Real Game of Tag), which was used as the opening theme for a Japanese movie of the same title, is a very typical KOTOKO song: this long track begins with a lengthy introduction of synth and electric guitar that gradually builds in intensity. The slight distortion of the vocal part in the chorus makes KOTOKO’s voice seem ethereal, as though it is floating on air; this is contrasted by the syncopation in electric bass part. A master lyricist, KOTOKO once again opens the door to a surreal world with obscure Japanese phrases such as 「憐憫の声 哀咽の渦」 (renbin no koe aietsu no uzu; a voice of compassion, a whirlpool of choking pity). To amplify this, she also uses unlikely English words and phrases like “august murder” and “weal” (i.e. wheal). In the chorus, the lines seem to end in exclamation marks because of both the melodic pattern and the culmination of emotions at that point, which is common in KOTOKO songs and part of what makes them so interesting. Although there is sufficient support, it sounds more nonmusical, that is to say largely percussion and electronic. However, I think that this supports the mood of the song well and allows the resonance of KOTOKO’s vocals to be heard as she sings of the contrast of a sense of humanity and emotionless maiming.
Language: Japanese and English
Mood: grave, detached, pitying
Tempo: moderato
Composition: A
Arrangement: B
Overall: A-

siren conveys a similar mood to the A-side. However, it has a more trance sound, even though it uses more “real” instruments, such as piano and acoustic guitar; needless to say, this creates a very curious sound. KOTOKO continues with cryptic and surreal lyrics, this time of estrangement, with lines like 「結末見ぬまま 遠き国のpain」 (ketsumatsu minu mama tooki kuni no pain; without an end in sight for the pain of distant lands) and 「名も無き者の言葉が重なる/本当か嘘かはどうでもいい」(na mo naki mono no kotoba ga kasanaru/hontou ka uso ka wa dou demo ii; the words of nameless people overlap each other/whether truth or lie, it is fine). The worldview illustrated by the lyric of this song could easily be more deeply analyzed, but by someone more proficient in Japanese than I. The song is in a minor key, and the major chord resolutions at some of the cadenzas, especially in the verses, toss a blossoming splash of color and really add to the musicality of the song, and the ever-supporting piano holds the arrangement together.
Language: Japanese
Mood: sad, desolate
Tempo: moderato
Composition: A
Arrangement: A-
Overall: A-

This single from KOTOKO is a relief after her previous two “silly” singles for Hayate no Gotoku. It encompasses a definitive mood, but I believe that the songs sound too similar to be on the same single; they are both in minor keys and have almost the exact same tempo and structure. Nonetheless, it is all still quality work from KOTOKO and Takase.
Overall: A-