I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hikaru Utada -- Beautiful World

A few times at my anime buddy's place, a song popped up during the one hour of anison appreciation which occurs halfway during our biweekly anime session. Of course, I immediately recognized the voice of Hikaru Utada(宇多田ヒカル)but did not know that she had actually recorded an anime theme. I wasn't exactly a fanatic but I did enjoy a number of her songs early in her career but as we all went deeper into the 2000s, I started losing interest in her music.

So my eyes perked up when I heard this gently rolling number, "Beautiful World" by Utada (her 19th single from August 2007 written and composed by her) and my friend informed me that it was the theme song for a cinematic reboot of one of anime's most popular franchises "Evangelion Shingeki Joban: Jo"(ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:序...Evangelion 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone)which came out in September 2007. Not that I was ever a fan myself of "Evangelion" but whenever the title was mentioned, my memory always went back to that amazing theme song, Yoko Takahashi's(高橋洋子)"Zankoku na Tenshi no Tehze"(残酷な天使のテーゼ).

So, on hearing "Beautiful World", I thought that this was a nice mellow alternative to Takahashi's super tune although watching the video of the movie's excerpts above, it looks like there was still a goodly share of strum und drang in the reboot. When I compare the two themes, where "Zankoku na Tenshi no Tehze" is this proud and hopeful anthem of having these robots successfully protect the human race, "Beautiful World" is this just-as-hopeful but more low-key theme which could accompany something as peaceful as a drive into the countryside for a picnic.

"Beautiful World" peaked at No. 2 on Oricon and became the 20th-ranked song for 2007. It was also a track on her 5th album "Heart Station" from March 2008 which hit No. 1 on the album charts and later became the 5th-ranked album of that year, breaking the million barrier in sales.

An even more down-to-earth version came out in June 2009 for the second film in the "Evangelion" series, "Evangelion Shingeki Joban: Ha"(ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:破...Evangelion:2.0 You Can (Not) Advance).

1 comment:

  1. Hi, J-Canuck.

    When it comes to Hikaru Utada, the “HEART STATION” era is surely my favorite. And the ethereal “Beautiful World” is one of the highlights, of course.

    I was never the biggest fan of the R&B sound Hikaru’s songs used to have at the beginning of her career, so I liked how she started incorporating a more light and airy synthpop feel around and after 2006’s “Ultra Blue”.

    Somehow, I feel very nostalgic about the "HEART STATION" era. Maybe it’s a personal thing, since I liked to listen to this particular album at the time I went to college and started living alone. In fact, besides Megumi Hayashibara, I only listened to “HEART STATION” and Perfume’s “GAME”. It was early 2009, and these two albums were hot new releases from 2008. Good times!

    Yesterday, after reading your post, I just had to listen to the "HEART STATION" album... something I had not done in years. The thing is, I almost forgot how much my mother likes Utada, so it was kind of surprising to see her humming songs like "Fight The Blues", "HEART STATION", "Beautiful World" and "Flavor of Live". Overall, it was a nice throwback to 2009~2010, a time I listened to Utada much more than today.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.