Marginal #4 “Red Hot Saga” (Review)


123Rejet‘s finest, Marginal #4 brings us a new release this year. The electrifying seiyuu unit is back with their 5th single titled “Red Hot Saga“. Naozumi Takahashi, KENN, Toshiki Masuda and Yuto Suzuki are back with their trademark upbeat but ever so slightly seductive sound in a single that promisses us that will, once again, be as catchy as ever, solidifying their position as the top seiyuu unit in Japan.

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Marginal#4 edition

Single: Red Hot Saga
Label: Rejet
Release date: 10/09/14
Genre: J-Pop

Tracklist:

1 - Red Hot Saga
2 - SUPERNOVA - I'm Headliner!!!!-
3 - キミとFARAWAY
4 - My first love

Track by track analysis:

1 – Red Hot Saga

Kicking off this single with the title track, we’re presented with a mid-tempo pop-rock track with lots of electronica elements, not only in the intro but also in between main verses. Red Hot Saga is featured as the opening theme for PSvita game “Marginal#4 – Idol Of Supernova“, scheduled to be released in November. The whole unit makes a solid performance with the vocal track being one of the best things out of the whole product. The fade-ins and fade-outs between the verses (related, of course, to the changes between singers), was an excellent choice to add fluidity to the whole vocal track. The instrumental doesn’t have MIKOTO behind the guitar work instead he worked in the music composition leaving all the other work for other guitarists. On this one we have Yocke taking the wheel and giving a different flavor to this unit’s rock edge. It doesn’t sound like your usual Marginal#4‘s guitar work but it still is catchy, energetic, enriching the overall sound. But with all these changes – be it in the guitars or even in the vocal track with the unit singing way too much as a “unit”, having little solo parts in comparison with previous singles – of course the track’s quality suffered and “Red Hot Saga“, didn’t live up to the high expectations set by the previous singles. It’s entertaining but a bit dull, repetitive and lacks some enthusiasm, especially taking into account that this track was designed to be featured as a opening theme for a game. Weak compared with most of their previous tracks but not that big of a setback in the single. 4/5

2 – SUPERNOVA – I’m Headliner!!!!-

Naozumi Takahashi and Toshiki Masuda headline this rocking track, a complete turn of events in comparison with the previous track. This is the first pair track in this single and what a way to kick off this pair tracks! Something that really goes well in a rock track are piercing vocals and aggressive guitar riffs and this one has it all. On the vocal side it’s a tough track to perform with lots of English and fast changes between the verses, adding to this there are small increases and decreases in speed that make this track all the more to perform but Toshiki Masuda and Naozumi Takahashi fair incredibly well in their performance, managing to make everything sound right from start to finish. On the instrumental track, the song could have been more addictive. The speedy aggressive guitar riffs alongside the unstoppable drums and fierce bass make for the lack of synths, turning out to be way more exciting and engaging than the previous track. Still, it lacked something really new or relevant to make this track take a big step towards a perfect 5. 4.5/5

3 – キミとFARAWAY

KENN and Yuto Suzuki kick off one of the best tracks in this single, what would be best called as one of the best rock ballads presented to us by this fabulous seiyuu unit. Only by taking a good look into the instrumental piece we find a track that has as its main engine, the bass. A bass line like this one makes any bass lover grin like a manic in self satisfaction. It’s a completely well outlined bassline giving an incredibly big amount of depth to the track, ensuring a solid base for the rest of the instruments to join in. The guitar work is also on the same level as the bass work, delivering aggressive guitar riffs, on the other side the drums don’t resort to any tricks and play it simple making this formula the best so far in any Marginal#4 track. These aren’t noisy, splashy drums, these are drums played with care, making each and every small change in the tempo sound assertive and fun to listen to. To add the final touches to this instrumental, we have the piano and synths giving an extra bit of sweetness to the track and enriching the slowest parts in the track that put the guitars, bass and drums completely away, making room for a flawless vocally emotional showdown where the piano and synths fit the best. The vocal track is on a completely different level. There’s something about this particular match up – KENN, Yuto Suzuki – that always makes me think that they’ll be up for some good performance and so far I haven’t failed predicting this. This track features two amazing voices, two singers that perform their best when presented either sweet tracks, pending more for ballads, or those riskier, seductive ones. This track fits the first description completely well and, as expected, their performance is simply mesmerizing. If there’s something better than your typical emotional pop-rock ballad, it’s when the singers perform the track with an incredible amount of emotion, giving the right amount of sadness but also the sweetness needed for this kind of track succeed. If they weren’t melodic singers, this kind of performance would have been impossible to turn out so well. Overall it’s a well structured track that doesn’t fail to impress. 5/5

4 – My first love

Now it’s time for the proper, classic ballad in this single, “My First Love“. Once again we have the whole gang together ready to deliver a chillingly beautiful performance. This is already well known terrain for Marginal#4 that so far have performed a multitude of ballads, ranging from the rockiest ones (like the previous track), to the most emotional, stripped of any aggressiveness ones.

The instrumental track is led by the acoustic guitar, the strings and the piano giving the perfect background for an emotional track with flawlessly sweet lyrics. It’s a beautiful love declaration without a doubt, and the perfect story tellers are ready to deliver each verse as blow to our emotions. Their gentleness handling the verses is unprecedented, making this track, something without comparison to any of their tracks. It might be a close fight for their best ballad especially since their breathtaking もう涙を隠さないで made a lot of people run for some tissues but this one really wins in the end. A simple instrumental always works the best with ballads, especially because you’ve stripped the track out of the electric guitars, in consequence leaving a lot of room to showcase the vocal performance without being overwhelmed by the instrumental piece.

The vocal track is outer worldly performed with a depth and precision that few have, just pay attention to the track, especially to the backing vocals where there are so many high notes performed as if the whole unit consisted of angels. It’s that beautiful of a performance that deserves as much attention as the main vocal track. As previously said in one of our Marginal#4 reviews, this seiyuu unit has some pretty unique traits that really make them unrivaled: be it for the impressive lineup of experienced mid-toned singers or for their versatility and control of their emotions, making them able of switching between the hyper fun tracks to the overly emotional, sad, sweet ones, they have it all. Adding to this mix please also add their looks. These are 4 voices to die for and four names to remember: Naozumi Takahashi, KENN, Toshiki Masuda and Yuto Suzuki, four brilliant stars in the seiyuu music business. The goosebumps that they managed to give to most of the listeners with this performance go beyond anything normal, all singers sound on top of their game in this performance and they really deserve props for it. “My First Love” is, hands down, the best piece that we can take from this single. Leaving a hint here: this track seriously needs to be performed live. 5/5

Final rating: 4.5 stars

There’s a slight drop in quality noticeable in this single. Marginal#4 managed to make a flawless run for 4 singles straight, only to make a 5th single sound a bit off in comparison with the whole Marginal#4 repertoire. It’s nothing too serious but still a bit unexpected when we had a perfect run going on.

But the unit managed to score two of their best tracks to date in this single to compensate the first two tracks that had a lot to offer but stood where they were, not showing nothing really new or adding even the smallest of things to the table. Of course “Red Hot Saga” and “SUPERNOVA – I’m Headliner!!!!-” are two entertaining tracks, but there was clearly something lacking in them. The title track managed to be way too repetitive and dull whereas the second track showed some pretty interesting vocal performance with both Naozumi Takahashi and Toshiki Masuda showing that they were up for the challenge behind the lyrics, but the instrumental made almost no impact besides all that aggressiveness.

Putting that aside there is something that most fans have to agree with: Marginal#4 sound at their best when presented with ballads. Of course the other types of tracks they perform are great, sometimes close to perfection and we like them when they make those sassy, seductive pop-rock tracks but those rarely make chills go down your spine like キミとFARAWAY and “My First Love” managed to make. Both the unit’s members as well as MIKOTO, that was behind the music in both tracks, deserve big props because both parties performed way beyond our expectations, delivering a powerful set of performances in these emotional tracks.

All in all, it is a relevant single with two breathtaking tracks that really make up for the lack of brightness in the first two tracks. A solid release, close to perfection. We keep on supporting this rising seiyuu unit and we can only hope for big things in their next release. Until then we leave you with the snippet video to this single.

Red Hot Saga” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

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