坂本 真綾 ~ さいごの果実

  1. さいごの果実 (Saigo no Kajitsu; The Last Fruit)
  2. ミツバチと科学者 (Mitsubachi to Kagakusha; The Honeybee and the Scientist)
  3. さいごの果実 (w/o maaya)
  4. ミツバチと科学者 (w/o maaya)
  5. さいごの果実 (short size)

SAKAMOTO Maaya (坂本 真綾), a well-known singer-seiyuu in anime fandom, began her career at the young age of 16, while she was still in high school. She voiced the female lead for the anime Escaflowne and also performed her first song, 約束はいらない (Yakusoku wa Iranai; No Need to Promise), which was the anime’s opening theme. For many years, she collaborated with renowned composer KANNO Youko, singing many of the songs she wrote.
Saigo no Kajitsu is Sakamoto’s 14th single, as well as the first one she has released since her latest album, 30minutes night flight. The single, released on November 21, 2007, reached 19th place on the Oricon Weekly.

さいごの果実 (Saigo no Kajitsu; The Last Fruit) was used as the ending theme for the anime OVA Tsubasa Tokyo Revelations. The word “kajitsu” can also mean “beautiful day” or “summer day” in addition to “fruit,” depending on the kanji; I believe the double meaning here is intentional. The slightly unusual cover goes very well with the lyrics of the opening verse. The rhythm feels a little lulling but continues to move, and the arrangement is well-rounded throughout the whole song. The vocal part harmonizes throughout the chorus, and in octaves at the peak of the chorus, which adds rich dimension to the sound of the song of as a whole. The bridge is full of emotion and energy with a lush strings, shimmers, and harmonizing vocal arrangement, but there are some silly precussion instruments (like a gong) that seem out of place and don’t add anything to arrangement; if anything, they detract from it. After the period of high energy, the music goes to a sudden mezzopiano; it’s a technique fairly common in j-pop, but always effective. This emotionally loaded song resonates with a superb arrangement that includes electric guitar power chords, omnipresent strings, and (for the most part) well-placed percussion.
Language: Japanese
Mood: longing, frustration, resignation
Tempo: andante moderato
Composition: A
Arrangement: A-
Overall: A-

The B-side, ミツバチと科学者 (Mitsubachi to Kagakusha; The Honeybee and the Scientist), is a lighthearted song in the key of D major; the music is a summery contrast on this winter single. The acoustic Spanish guitar, persistent throughout the song, is pleasant to the ear, especially combined with Sakamoto’s voice. The presence of synth sounds is subtle, but just there enough for the ear to subconsciously perceive and digest it. The chorus is definitely the most engaging part of the song; background vocals add some much-needed support, Sakamoto hits the highest notes of the song (which is to be expected), and the vocal part jumps up and down repeatedly a fourth. The bridge offers interesting syncopation, and the unsion vocal part and electric guitar jump between speakers (on a stereo setting), so it sounds almost as though there are two people singing. I still don’t understand the relation of “the honeybee and the scientist” (my Japanese is far from perfect), but the lyrics of devotion are nice nonetheless, though the A-side’s a more profound. Although the song it relatively short at 3:50, it is presented well and is a worthy B-side.
Language: Japanese
Mood: cheerfully anticipative
Tempo: moderato
Composition: A-
Arrangement: A-
Overall: A-

This is a well-rounded, good quality single from SAKAMOTO Maaya. The B-side is better than many Japanese and American artists’ A-sides, in large part due to the exceptional arrangements.
Overall: A-

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