Posted by: Leek | November 1, 2015

Music Purchase in Review: Aikatsu! OP/ED Single 7 – START DASH SENSATION|lucky train!

So this review up a lot later than I would want because I didn’t want it to post on Halloween and overlap with the other post. The only reason it got delayed is because, evidently, the post office wanted to confirm I’m a real person or something. So rather than actually doing their job (my tracking literally told me to come pick up the package), they made me go to them and sign for my package to confirm my existence. Or they just wanted to figure out what creep expects to get both an Aikatsu CD and an eroge delivered to his doorstep on the same day.

General Overview
It’s the first music release of the fourth season, and it’s hard to say in what pattern we’ll be seeing music released this time around. As of right now, there’s only one known track that hasn’t shown up in the show, so it’s hard to say when we’ll be seeing a new list role out. So, as of now, it’s safe to expect the next big release to be the compilation album for the third season, or an actual soundtrack. Either way, I feel they’ll probably just do away the single releases (as in all mini-albums) this year outside of the OP/ED themes.

This single brings back (surprise, surprise) Kakeru Ishihama to write the opening and calls in Ryota Nakano from the onetrap team to write the ending. So, it’s not completely to out of pattern with what we’ve seen from the past Season 3 singles. Admittedly, my only complaint is that Hidekazu Tanaka has been absent for quite awhile in terms of Aikatsu! music. While I wasn’t particularly fond of “Good morning my dream”, I generally don’t think I could go an entire Aikatsu! season without him contributing at least one song to the Aikatsu! library. So whether it be that he returns for the second half of the season to do an ending, or contributes a stage song, I really hope to see his name in the credits eventually.

Like most of the standard OP/ED singles we’re used to, there’s a simple four track composition again (vocal and off vocals). That’s right, there’s no new “idol katsudou!” or “Let’s Aikatsu!” type song to usher in this season. But since it is technically still a part of the Akari generation, I guess it would feel a little rude rebranding it so quickly.

The design team really just went as simple as they could this time around. Outside of the cover art, the booklet is pretty darn blank and just kind of throws in the colors of the rainbow in random places to catch your eye. Heck, they didn’t even seal the pack in card in plastic this time around (rude). I don’t think I really ever expect much nowadays, but it’d be kind of nice to have a little bit more color thrown around rather than just mostly blank white pages inside the booklet every once in awhile. Yeah, I’m just complaining about something incredibly small because I’d have nothing to talk about otherwise.

The back cover is probably the busiest thing in the entire design, and it’s more amusing than anything else. I get the feeling they just had all the members of AIKATSU☆STARS! strike a pose and didn’t really give them any direction. Because it really turned into one of those group photos where nobody knows what to do and just kind of does their own thing. And then you kind of look back and laugh at because nothing going on really makes any sense side by side.

Music/Track Progression Musical Overview
I tried a lot to compare the makeup of the single with the various ones from the past, but I just couldn’t settle on something that really matched it. The problem is that “START DASH SENSATION” borderlines closest to “SHINING LINE*” in terms of sound, and “lucky train!” is closest to “Calendar Girl”. This creates quite a problem because the opposite track for both of those is fairly far from their respective counterpart on the seventh single. But, if I had to pick, I feel it is still closest to the first single. A lot of people have been comparing a lot of the charm of the 4th season in that it feels strangely like the first season again, and I think this single is just another example of it in the works.

It’d still be more fair to say that the single itself is a bit more on the upbeat side. “START DASH SENSATION” isn’t exactly using the heaviest of instruments, but it does lend itself to a more upbeat tempo. And, if nothing else, “lucky train!” is going to get you on your feet. In all, “START DASH SENSATION” is neutral enough to let “lucky train!” kind of take over and set the tempo of the single. So it’s not a completely black and white single, but I still feel the song combination creates just enough of that offset that I always look for.

Track by Track Breakdown

START DASH SENSATION – Ishihama decided to go back to “SHINING LINE*” for his style of sound and opted for the same piano with a little extra orchestral strings added to the mix this time. But, just like “SHINING LINE*”, I do feel it does have very much that anisong kind of feel to it that you’d kind of hear elsewhere. It also has a lot of weight in the lyrics to directly apply to the theme and ideas of the current season. However, I do feel like those added orchestral strings to the song really do help set it’s overall sound land far enough from “SHINING LINE*”. So even if do seem to be indicating it’s almost a direct clone of “SHINING LINE*”, I’m really not. I think the entire impact behind “SHINING LINE*” was that idea of it really closing out a story and connecting it to the next. But “START DASH SENSATION” is really a lot brighter in the sense that it’s really more about the start of someone’s relay rather than the end of someone else’s. And I think that idea is what really brings the song it’s specific strength.

lucky train! – I feel like ever since “Calendar Girl” there has been no one ending in Aikatsu! history that has came even close to trumping it. And even though I did really like “ORIGINAL STAR”, I just felt like it was never meant to be put on the same pedestal for some reason. I really don’t know what it is about “lucky train!” that really makes me have it butt heads with “Calendar Girl” so heavily in my mind. Maybe it’s the bass line, maybe it’s the nature of it, or maybe it’s even the style that it’s performed. Either way, if I had to counter pick a song by AIKATSU☆STARS! to go up against “Calendar Girl”, “lucky train!” would 100% be my first pick. I guess the only real sad thing is that, because of the anime, I’ve grown really adjusted the the Miho and Nanase version of it over the ED version. I really don’t mind the ED version of it, but there is a part of me that kind of wants the Miho and Nanase version of it much sooner than I’m ever going to get it (if ever).

START DASH SENSATION OFF VOCAL – I remember I talked a lot about “SHINING LINE*” in terms of how the piano really was the star of the show and how it really led the entire piece. And “START DASH SENSATION” really starts out like that until you hear the orchestral strings just slowly take control of the song and begin to run away with it. And, when I really think about it, I really feel like there hasn’t been a single Aikatsu! song that has really drawn as much power out of orchestral instruments up until now. And I guess that impact they added is really what makes me enjoy “START DASH SENSATION” as something really new from the library.

lucky train! OFF VOCAL – The one thing that really makes me love “lucky train!” and really lets Nakano set his work far from Tanaka’s, is that it’s all about the strings. Whether it be “Calendar Girl” or “ORIGINAL STAR”, Tanaka loves his horns (and it’s one of the things I love about him). But I think it’s the almost purely string makeup of “lucky train!” that really made me fall in love with it. I won’t lie, “Calendar Girl” will always be my favorite ED just because there’s such a legend behind it. And, if it didn’t exist, I probably never would have kept watching Aikatsu! But I would be lying if I said that I’d listen to “Calendar Girl” over “lucky train!”.

Wrap Up
“START DASH SENSATION|lucky train!” no doubt starts the new season music releases with a bang. I have very little to complain about, and just being able to own the instrumental version of “lucky train!” is good enough in my book. I think the single itself is just a really refreshing step for the new season and, even if nothing is a completely new sound, it brings some new life into slightly familiar areas. I don’t want to force anyone into a purchase, but I think it’s one of the better (if not best) OP/ED singles to have in your Aikatsu! music library.


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