I imagine Sakamoto fans are all smiles today, the release date of Sakamoto Maaya's third single collection, Mitsubachi. It may seem odd to purchase a single collection if you already own the actual singles that the compiled tracks were taken from. Or it may not, because why would someone who adores Sakamoto not want to have a copy of yet another of the singer's milestones? And then there's the other reason: that this particular collection includes a previously-spoken-about track, "April Fool," and a brand new track composed by (yes!) Kanno Yoko, "Nekoze." I happen to have purchased this single collection for both of those reasons.
First off, I want to say that it makes me smile just seeing the title of the collection - Mitsubachi. I actually named my Fender bass guitar "Mitsubachi" after another Sakamoto Maaya song, "Mitsubachi to Kagakusha." It translates to "honeybee" which, while I am completely scared of the fuzzballs, are still cute, bright little insects.
Anyway, I won't be going into detail on all of the tracks featured in this single collection, but rather the two new tracks specifically, as well as an old favorite (so it seems - there are quite a few versions of it by now) that was remixed specifically for this collection.
I purchased this album for roughly $30 from CDJapan, a company that I am continually impressed by in terms of how fast they ship out orders. Yes, I received my copy of the album today, the actual release date. There is also an LE version of this album that includes a collection of PV videos and retails for more than twice the price of the regular edition, but I did not purchase that because of financial matters (and it turns out the videos were only being released in Blu ray format for this edition, which I have no player for).
|LEFT: Front of the album cover.|
RIGHT: Back of the album cover.
The album cover is pretty simple for this collection: it includes a profile picture of Sakamoto decorated with colorful shapes and flowers and fit into a postage stamp. This theme of mail is continued on the back of the album, where the tracks, information, and the same profile picture of Sakamoto are all featured in their own postage stamp frames. There is also a little "delivery stamp" at the bottom right of the back cover with the name of the collection.
Here is another picture of the album cover's front and back sides. The information on the back of the cover, including the track list, is a bit clearer in this picture:
|LEFT: Front of the album cover.|
RIGHT: Back of the album cover.
The inside of the album cover - where the back of the lyric/information booklet and CD are - continues the mail theme as well. The CD itself is completely reflective (you can make out my hand reflected on its right side) except for the white-outlined, lime green postage stamp in the center, where the album info is printed. I like the fresh colors in this packaging, though it feels like spring should be right around the corner when I look at all the pastels!
A poster was included with all edition orders of Mitsubachi while supplies lasted as an external bonus. They are already out for the regular edition, but it seems that the limited edition still has the poster available. It's small compared to other posters I've received (I can't say if it's because I purchased the regular edition since I don't know if the limited edition poster is the same size) and feels more paper-y, but simply put it's the cover of the single collection. And yes, I do love getting these posters, so regardless of size I am excited to hang it up SOMEWHERE in my room, hah. :)
|The external bonus poster held down by (clockwise starting from top left) my portable mirror, my phone, the CD cover, and my camera case...lol.|
Mitsubachi consists of 17 tracks, with 2 being brand new and 1 being a remix of a previously released song.
02. Magic Number
03. DOWN TOWN
05. Saigo no Kajitsu
08. Yasashisa Ni Tsutsumareta Nara
09. Ame Ga Furu
11. Private Sky
12. Kazemachi Jet (mitsubachi edition)
13. More Than Words
16. April Fool (Tomita Lab feat. Sakamoto Maaya)
The tracks in red are the brand new tracks, and the track in blue is the remix.
Because this is a single collection, there is no theme running through the tracks. For the most part, they are all the primary tracks in her past singles (the main of the two included songs), with the exception of her single Down Town, where instead of one track being included, there are two ("DOWN TOWN" and "Yasashisa Ni Tsutsumareta Nara").
Maybe it's because I am more familiar with these songs and purchased them as they were released, but I especially love this single collection because I am fond of a lot of the tracks it features, including "Buddy," "Private Sky," "More Than Words," and "Okaerinasai." And I love the three new tracks. I'll talk about those now, in the order that they appear on the CD.
"Kazemachi Jet" (mitsubachi edition)
"Kazemachi Jet" was released on the single Kazemachi Jet, which is represented in this collection by the track "Spica." But "Kazemachi Jet" has since then reappeared remixed in her album Kazeyomi, live as an LE bonus in the single Okaerinasai, and now remixed again for Mitsubachi. The remix for Kazeyomi is for the most part the same as the original, but it begins and ends differently and feels a bit cleaner. I've liked this one more than the original, to be honest. But the remix for this single collection is a good contender: the vocals sound simpler and for some reason my first impression was that it had an almost acoustic feel to it.
I actually appreciate having several versions of this song. It isn't one of my favorites by Sakamoto, but it's nice to hear how her voice has changed over the years when comparing the different recordings to one another.
"April Fool" (Tomita Lab feat. Sakamoto Maaya)
As implied by the title, "April Fool" features Sakamoto, and is actually a track better known as Tomita Lab's. I am not familiar with Tomita Lab, but I love this song. I heard about it months ago but never saw any mention of the album it would be released on. I couldn't even find a clip of it on YouTube! So you can imagine how happy I was to see it would be on this single collection.
And I'm not disappointed at all. The song says it features Sakamoto, and so I thought for a moment that perhaps she would be splitting the vocals with someone else, but for the most part she sings the entire song herself. The only time other vocals are involved is during the chorus.
This song is extremely calming and for some reason it makes me think of two things: my trip to California and the upcoming holidays. It's just so...peaceful. It's my favorite of the new tracks, by far.
This is one of those tracks old-time Sakamoto fans wait patiently for: a collaboration with Kanno Yoko. The two have been working together at a decent pace, in my opinion, considering the fact that her most recent single, More Than Words, was a full-on collaboration with Kanno. It's nice to get tracks featuring the two more than once a year. :)
"Nekoze" is a very quiet, soothing kind of song. The set up - simple vocals and piano that are soon joined by strings - reminds me a lot of "A HAPPY NEW YEAR," the secondary track on her single Okaerinasai. That song didn't stand out a lot to me, but "Nekoze" really does. I don't like it more than "April Fool" but that can change as I listen to the two more. After all, today is only day 1.
I love Sakamoto Maaya, so why wouldn't I recommend this album? But I do have persuasive reasons. :)
For one, if you've never listened to Sakamoto Maaya but enjoy J-pop and are interested in checking her out, this single collection is a great way to do so. It shows the various styles of music Sakamoto can sing with and is sure to have a track for everyone.
As for those who are already Sakamoto fans - even if you have all the singles and could care less about having a 'collection' of them - yes, the tracks "April Fool" and "Nekoze" alone are worth purchasing this collection for.
And for those of you like me who have loved Sakamoto more than any other singer for more than half of their lives, aside from those two tracks, it's something to have a single song - in this case, "Kazemachi Jet" - that's been released multiple times over the course of a few years to see how Sakamoto has progressed in her career.
I hope this review was helpful and thank you for stopping by! 'Til next time! ('<>')>