Single Review: HIMEKA – “果てなき道”

Tracklist:
1. 果てなき道 (Hatenaki Michi; Endless Road)
2. 空は教えてくれる (Sora wa Oshiete Kureru; The Sky Will Let Me Know)
3. 果てなき道 ~Instrumental~
4. 空は教えてくれる~Instrumental~
5. 果てなき道 ~Anime Edit~

HIMEKA’s second single was released on November 25, 2009, and reached #29 on the Oricon Daily Chart. The A-side was used as the ending theme for the television anime series Tegami Bachi.

Hm, a bit of a letdown after 明日へのキズナ. Not only does her smile look totally forced, her complexion looks so washed out. At least put some blush on her or something! T_T

~

Rather than being another generic anime theme, I found 果てなき道 to be a gratifyingly unique song. The first verse, set lightly upon ambient strings and synth, gives way to the second where the beats kick in and begin the setup for the chorus. HIMEKA’s belting technique seems to have improved since her first single, since she makes skillful use of it during the choruses. The arrangement of the song is a blend of rock ballad and electronic – kind of like something KOTOKO would have released four or five years ago – and it really compliments HIMEKA’s sweet but powerful voice. I’d rank this song as a big improvement over her previous A-side.

空は教えてくれる is immediately more dramatic than its predecessor, beginning with cascading piano and rolling drum. The instrumental contains very prominent rock guitars, which is nice, although at times HIMEKA’s voice is a bit soft up against them. But this is easily forgotten when she goes into belt mode, which she knows how to do better than most singers as it always sends chills down my spine. Overall, although I feel this B-side felt a bit rushed, it worked with the general feel of the single and definitely met the standard set by the A-side.

Summary: HIMEKA’s been going through a hard time. I know this, because I’ve read some of her blog entries in which she seemed genuinely depressed. Her fans began to really worry about her, but after this single, things may start to look up. Who knows. Both songs were well-composed and well-executed, and Lord knows HIMEKA’s voice is simply out of this world. I truly do hope HIMEKA doesn’t let the pressure of the anime music industry get to her, because she is genuinely a wonderful addition to my iPod and the iPods of anime/J-Pop fans everywhere.

Single Grade: A

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