Posted by: Leek | December 20, 2014

Music Purchase in Review: ”Aikatsu the Movie” Vocal Collection

This is even later than I had planned. Blame getting sick and having to play catch up on a lot of things. And online gambling, I guess.

I don’t really know if I should say things like MOVIE SPOILERS or DON’T READ THIS UNTIL YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE. But I’ll throw that out early just in case you want to keep every little detail about the Aikatsu! movie a secret from yourself. I won’t really spill any details about the movie but the track list alone is pretty much a spoiler of MOST of the music that you’ll hear. So you can expect a few minor details to leak out in that respect, but if you really just want to read this review than you probably don’t care.

General Overview
The Aikatsu Movie Vocal Collection pretty much sums itself up with it’s title. I mean, I could give you some roundabout explanation but that obviously would be wasting your and my time. But in case you’re in the dark somehow, Aikatsu! has a movie (in theaters now!). The movie doesn’t have a whole big exclusive soundtrack but it did get itself some special tracks for all the special stages that happen throughout the movie. And in case you see the movie/plan to see the movie and want the vocal music this would probably be where you should be turning your head.

BUT. It is important to know this single was released on the same day as “Aikatsu! no Ongaku!! 03” which contains a lot of instrumental tracks from the previous and current seasons as well as the movie soundtrack. So if you are looking for the actual movie music (as in not the vocal tracks), then you’ll have to buy yourself the slightly pricier soundtrack instead. While I don’t plan to put a review up of it, I will say that the soundtrack is 100% worth your money and probably my favorite OST of the current Aikatsu! set. So you should buy it anyway.

Since I seem to make a point of it a lot nowadays, I will mention this single does focus primarily on the MONACA staff. While it only has one new song, the tracks that are re-recorded/arranged are all from the early first and second season. So if you were worried that it would have been put into the hands of one trap and that bothers you (for whatever reason), then you can sleep worry free that it is a mainly MONACA experience.

The single itself contains 5 tracks with one of them being the new movie track and another being it’s instrumental. The remaining 3 tracks are essentially arranges and I’ll get to them when I go more in depth on the music aspect.

Design
The CD itself follows what you’d expect nowadays from Aikatsu!, but I did enjoy the classical theme they decided for it. And, of course, the cover art itself really strikes a chord if you’ve followed the series for a long time. It’s been quite a two year span and it’s pretty wild where a series can go in such a short time. And with Ichigo being at the center of everything for those two seasons (and the movie putting her in the focus) it’s only appropriate to have her taking center stage on the cover.

But this combined with the delicate fonts and gold and silver text choices really makes it attractive. Does it exemplify the theme of the series exactly? Nah. But I think it’s meant less to reflect the series itself as much as the main song on the single. I think with all the feeling that you can get out of the main song on the single that it fits perfectly. It’s just that beautiful fairy tale ending that makes you smile at the end of the day.

As for the back cover it has the current members of STAR☆ANIS lined up. It’s probably the only thing that really doesn’t fit with the single design but the event this single covers is a big chapter in the Aikatsu! book. So it’s probably fitting to mark down the current members as they were at this chapter, especially when you think back to the original members back when the series first started.

Music/Track Progression Musical Overview
Essentially, I don’t think I need to do a big overview on this because it’s just music based from the movie which are naturally tied to movie events. And since there is only one new song to talk about, it’s probably better I just leave it to when I talk about it on a track by track basis. But I will admit the single itself is pretty much to reflect the journey up until this point. And with some of the track choices and how they’re performed it’s exactly the feeling you’d want to get.

I really doubted they would make bad track decisions but what they chose was perfection in itself. And the progression itself really takes you down the line of Aikatsu! up until moving forward.

Track by Track Breakdown

kagayaki no etude – The main track of the movie as well as this single. “kagayaki no etude” is that ballad that Ichigo (Waka) has been running away from since Season 1. Well, it’s not like she’s purposely meant to avoid them but it just seemed like ballads drifted to about every character except her. But, let’s be honest. This is a really good stage of the game for a song like this. Would an upbeat song have been a better, more Ichigo thing to do for the movie? I think so but it wouldn’t have the power that “kagayaki no etude” holds. It’s a really sweet touching song and it really is that thank you letter at the end of everything. And even if it does feel like a bit of a reflective song, it does have that hold hands and push on value. At this point it might seem like a bit of a stereotype song to listen to but, in context, it’s probably exactly the type of song the movie demanded.

SHINING LINE* ~Starlight Ver.~ – This entire single is like a giant trip down memory lane. And I honestly feel like SHINING LINE* was the best choice of song, period. I don’t think anybody would claim it as the definitive Aikatsu! opening but it holds a lot of value and definitely the most value lyrics wise. SHINING LINE* represents a lot of the latter season and a lot of the feeling the movie is supposed to create. And after “kagayaki no etude”, I feel this is the next step in the direction the single is after. If we’re moving forward from Ichigo’s solo story this is the tribute to how far every other character has come over the Aikatsu! run.

Let’s Aikatsu! ~Ichigo, Mizuki, Akari Ver.~ – After reflecting, the next and final idea of the movie is to move forward and pass the baton to the new generation. So what better way than to combine all three idol generations into the new theme song of the latest generation? There is no better way. I’m sure some people probably feel that “idol katsudou!” might have been a better choice, but I can’t say I agree with that notion. If we were to really move the viewer forward it’s important to have the song embody the new as well. This track is really like the icing on the cake to me. You went through this slow progression and a song that features the three main idols is something I didn’t expect, but I’m really glad it happened.

Aikatsu! Ending Medley ~PandaBoY Mix~ – PandaBoY to me is one of the most hit and miss composers I’ve ever encountered. The detest I feel towards him is really just rooted in what he did for Sora’s character song. And if you were to give me the ability to deny anyone the right to write/work with music he would be fairly low on my priority list. But when I saw that of all people he was given charge of the Ending Medley (which is kind of an important thing), I was worried. And I mean REALLY worried. What’s the end result? Meh. It’s a medley, but it’s nothing that really screams amazing. I guess I can appreciate that we ended up with a really standard (and kind of boring) medley rather than something way too over the top. If I had to score it you know I’d give it a solid C without question though.

kagayaki no etude OFF VOCAL – Aikatsu! has had more than a few orchestral oriented pieces in the past. But for some reason “kagayaki no etude” still manages to stand out as that definite orchestral ballad. Maybe it’s the slow piano intro or maybe it’s just how the strings are placed in the piece. Either way, there is just something about it that really defines it as something really new in the Aikatsu! library. I won’t go as far to say that it’s a new sound entirely, but “kagayaki no etude” definitely fits well into it’s respective shelf of music. It’s a wonderful listen whether you have the vocals on or not, and I’m really glad it came at the time it did.

Wrap Up
I’m pretty sure if you’re not already a fan of Aikatsu! that you have no business buying this single and probably aren’t reading this article. But, if you are a fan, this is a really great CD to buy from a couple of standpoints. For one, it’s history. This is the first (and probably only) movie for Aikatsu! and it really means a lot to support it. Second, if you’ve enjoyed the music this really holds a lot of value just from track and vocal selection alone. I’ve always had a few issues with Aikatsu! singles here and there, but I think there’s little, if nothing, to complain about this time. It’s really just a great CD to bring on the emotions with.

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