Special Edition Short Review
Performed by: Angela
Used as the first opening theme to Heroic Age
The lyrics can be found here along with an English translation.
Angela, first formed in 1993, consists of only two band members, Atsuko and KATSU; however, it also contains a number of supporting members who provide some of the backing heard in Gravitation. Despite its early beginning, Angela did not enjoy major fame until it was signed by the label Starchild in 2002. In recent times, many of their songs have been used as opening or ending songs by anime studio XEBEC (which produced Heroic Age). This has contributed considerably to their growing fame.
Gravitation opens with a male chorus singing a hymn-like melody backed by strings and some other instruments; slow cymbals contribute to the epic effect. This backing abruptly ends and is instead replaced briefly with sharp piano chords; Atsuko sings the first section of a verse in a clipped, restrained manner. The atmosphere here is expectant and reminiscent of musicals, what with the clipped speech-like singing and minimal piano chords. One can only wonder what is being expected; the answer comes suddenly in the form of heavy percussion and random unidentified instrumental backing.
The rest of the song is backed in a similar manner, apart from a short lull after the bridge, where Atsuko is backed minimally by a chorus of singers that appears in various places throughout the song, most noticeably during the bridge between choruses as well as the bridge between verse and chorus. The song experiences some change in dynamic and backing, but no more drastic than most songs; in fact, the most interesting feature of this song is the mix of techno strange harmonies, unusual lead singer and chorus accompaniment. It is epic yet undeniably popish. A combination like this is not so uncommon in Jpop; for example, Shimatani Hitomi produces songs in the “crossover” genre which are not dissimilar to Gravitation, such as the epic Destiny ~Taiyou no Hana~.
The singer, Atsuko, has a powerful voice but I feel that sometimes she overuses her vibrato. This can be seen in the chorus, especially at the end of the first and third lines where she sings “nara” and “Can’t stop”; the vibrato there sounds somewhat forced and overdone. That been said, for most of the song the vibrato is tastefully done and fits the epic style of the song. Also, as Heroic Age has been described as a “space opera”, it is only logical that the lead singer would have good range, vibrato and power. The chorus of voices backing Atsuko also adds to the operatic effect; I like the call and answer technique employed in the bridge between the verse and chorus where Atsuko and the chorus sing alternate lines. This also happens later on in the bridge between choruses. The chorus where Atsuko is accompanied only by the voices and a few strings, directly following the bridge, is also rather effective as it provides a respite from the driving drum beat and techno backing and also provides a chance for us to hear Atsuko’s voice more clearly.
The backing in this song is the main driving force behind it and it supports Atsuko’s voice very well; it is very rich and detailed while still being brisk and never dragging. The lyrics are suitably epic and speak of the sorrow experienced by a person who wants to “to meet [another certain person] one day”; various references to an epic back story are mentioned, such as the “distant flickering star” and the “story pulled together by a wandering gravitation pulse”. That being said, I really have no idea what the title means; possibly it is some reference to outer space.
Some may find this song slightly overwhelming due to Atsuko’s intense vibrato and the song’s high energy. However, it is really rather catchy after you listen to it for a while and its unusual aspects only make it more unique. My favourite parts are the chorus and the bridge. Atsuko’s voice also appeals to me, as she can sing high easily.
ONLY 700 WORDS. 😄