Seiyuu Digest #1 – Lagrange Point


seiyuu digest #1 - lagrange point

We finally kick off our newest corner titled “Seiyuu digest“. This month we cover the career of one of the most impactful units in the seiyuu business, 2014’s monster rookies, Lagrange Point.

LAGRANGE

Lagrange Point were formed with not only the purpose of featuring a new seiyuu unit in Marginal#4‘s PSvita game “Idol of Supernova“, but also as the other seiyuu unit brainchild from Japanese otome game enterprise Rejet, known for several hit games like “Diabolik lovers” and “Ken ga Kimi“. Lagrange Point debuted in August 2014 and, like our predictions back in 2014, they took their steps towards a promising and successful run.

Lagrange Point consist on seiyuu/singer Toshiyuki Toyonaga and stage actor/seiyuu Genki Okawa.

As with all Pythagoras Production units, Lagrange Point have behind them the interesting pair: MIKOTO and Daisuke Iwasaki. MIKOTO is a seasoned veteran in the music business having produced/arranged/composed music for several artists and seiyuu (or seiyuu projects) over these past 10 years. Daisuke Iwasaki has shown his talent not only as Rejet‘s CEO but also as a lyricist. Even though his lyrics tend to be a bit nonsensical at times – at least when it comes to the English parts -, he’s managed to write several catchy lyrics over the years. So now that we know the team behind Lagrange Point and the members, let’s take a look at their career.

2014

The debut

LAGRANGE

One of the most anticipated debuts in 2014 was, without a doubt, Lagrange Point’s. With Toshiyuki Toyonaga‘s stunning vocals and Okawa‘s versatility as well as total control of the stage, people couldn’t wait to see them live to listen to their music.

Genki Okawa gives his voice to Lagrange Point‘s Kira Himuro.

lagrange

From left to right – Shy and Kira

img_catastrophe1

Released in August 2014, the unit’s first single “CATASTROPHE” made an impact with addictive lyrics, captivating pop-rock instrumentals and vocal performances that made Marginal#4 run for their money, as well as any other seiyuu unit in the business. We reviewed the album back in 2014 and came to the following conclusion:

What we’re seeing in here is a brand new seiyuu unit full of potential to be explored. Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Genki Okawa show us that they can be on par with Marginal #4 without any problems. Once again we have Rejet opting for choosing mid-toned voices for their seiyuu units. It’s the safest route that will, without a doubt, provide the best results. (…)

(…)The instrumentals are rich in variety and quality. Strings, latin percussion, synths, the rock “triad” (guitar, bass, drums), piano and a whole lot of small elements only audible if listening to the instrumental track only, make this release one that won’t bore the listener. It’s a safe formula not being overwhelming for the listener, choosing wisely the mixes between the instruments. It’s nice for a change for a Rejet seiyuu unit release to have so little synths and, in the end, it turned out to give a slightly rougher edge to Lagrange Point‘s music, a big plus for this unit.(…)

Lagrange Point made a big, pompous debut, a complete opposite of their seniors (but for story purposes, their juniors) Marginal#4 back in 2013. Lagrange Point‘s debut was all well publicized, even presenting the fans with a live performance of their first single – for free -, even though it was only a snippet of the title track that was performed live. This made a lot of people direct their attention towards this unit from the very first minute of their debut. Contrary to Marginal#4 that, at that time, had already performed live at RejetFes 2013, in what had been an exclusive performance, Lagrange Point didn’t shy away and took advantage of everything Rejet‘s marketing team had in store for them. They performed on a special stage a snippet of their debut song “Catastrophe” and it was instantly the talk in town. Their dance moves, singing and everything else about that song captured the fans’ hearts. They were instant favorites.

As if it wasn’t enough, their performance was broadcasted during RejetTV 24h event in August 2014. The event was the first of its kind in Japan. For 24 hours, Rejet broadcasted special videos, promotional videos, drama CDs, Marginal #4‘s songs and Lagrange Point‘s debut single previews. Among those contents there was even time to promote and announce new projects.

In the following video Toyonaga and Genki sit to talk about their debut, their overview of the single, broken things and finally perform the single “CATASTROPHE” live. It was the first look into the unit and their chemistry. [attention: this interview is in Japanese without subs]

Rejet‘s marketing team was betting a lot on that broadcast and thankfully it was successful enough that it has returned every single year ever since.

But let’s not stray away from what we were talking about.

So, Lagrange Point made a stellar debut. At that time we said that:

“(Lagrange Point) [were] a seiyuu unit with good chemistry, a lot of untapped talent and will to grow, Lagrange Point seem to be on the path to become one of the most successful seiyuu units in the music business and show that Rejet’s on a roll with both their seiyuu units doing amazing feats. (…)”

Soon after, it was announced the release of “BLACK SWAN“, their best work to date. The single that solidified their stance as one of the best seiyuu units in the business.

black swan

Black Swan” impressed everyone when it was released in October 2014. After all the hype created around them thanks to the stellar debut with “Catastrophe“, people were expecting a lot from them for their second single. What we all got was something even more impressive. Lagrange Point‘s romantic rock started to take shape with this release. The title track is a refined piece that has in its core Tchaikovsky‘s Swan Lake Op.20-Suite, Iii. Danse Des Petits Cygnes – a beautiful and unexpected addition to the song. The whole ambient during the very first seconds into the song transported listeners to a different setting. The refinement of the XVI century balls was captured flawlessly. But if that wasn’t enough to impress everyone, the rest of the instrumental sure did the trick. Mixing rock with classical music is no easy feat but MIKOTO sure handled this song in the perfect way. The classical vibe blended with the high voltage guitar riffs and powerful drums in what is a throughly exciting performance.

But perhaps their most iconic songs is “Never Sorrow“. The emotional baggage that song carries easily puts that song on the pedestal of best seiyuu unit song. It’s not easy to create a song as complete as this one. If we talk about this song we need to talk about the guitar work and vocal performances. That long guitar lick during the intro was more than enough to let everyone know what they were in for. The solemn pace let every single emotion sink in, making the more powerful than expected. Then the guitar solo sounded like it was crying, longing for someone, adding the finishing touches to the emotional blow. Okawa and Toyonaga‘s vocal performances took this song to greater heights.

Lagrange Point at AGF2014 / Credits: Animate.TV

If there is something that a powerballad needs it’s powerful, emotional performances and both of them went all in with it. Even though Okawa was an okay singer at that time, his performance in “Never Sorrow” caught us by surprise in a good way. Given how high the bar had been raised for them, it was important for Okawa to match it and Toyonaga‘s powerful performances. He nailed it with a consistent, emotional performance that impressed everyone.

Never Sorrow” was an instant favorite, as well as the best song released that year by a seiyuu unit. The rest of the single might not have been as fantastic as the first too songs but thankfully they didn’t completely hinder the experience.

Lagrange Point were now riding on a lot of momentum with two hit singles over their shoulders.

2015

The golden year

Lagrange Point @ Rejet Fes 2015

2015 is, indeed, Lagrange Point‘s year. Making good use of their momentum and adding some more with each new release made during the year, they were simply unstoppable. As much as other units wanted to stand out, it was impossible not to be overshadowed by this talented duo.

愛、独裁-SAMURAI- was released in January and presented a completely revamped sonority. Shamisen and guitars were together for the first time for this Japanese centric release. Lagrange Point‘s sound was fiercer than ever.

The instrumentals were exciting and completely different from what was being released during that year. Edgy guitar riffs and shamesen turned out to be a fantastic mix because the title track was an instant hit. At that time we reviewed the single.

“(…)愛、独裁-SAMURAI- features a clash of timeless titans: the rocking guitars and the traditional Japanese shamisen. An exotic mix that, if used with smarts, will make any song shine way more than your traditional rock track. That is exactly what happens in this track. Mikoto and Daisuke Iwasaki once again deliver us a superb instrumental/lyrics combo. (…)” 

The vocal performances were surprisingly high quality and showcased the versatility within this unit. Perfect harmonies, melodic, energetic performances wowed everyone. Okawa improved a lot in just a couple of months, displaying solid mid-tones and even tackling rap for the title track.

Other highlight in this release was the smooth sounding “Shoot Out“, a song with a completely different vibe. New wave synths took their place for that song, adding an industrial pop-rock vibe to the whole piece.

暁方(あかつきがた)に、消ゆ” was the group’s first jazz incursion. There was still that romantic, longing vibe that is on every single Lagrange Point song but it was a nice change of pace that showed everyone that they could, if they wanted, change their sound and still be as amazing as they were with their trademark pop-rock sound.

A couple of months later, more precisely in April, Lagrange Point released their first ever Best of album “LagJuliet“. The album included all previous singles as well as two new tracks, “LUV EXODUS” and “Nan-Boo-No-Mon-Ja-E“.

LUV EXODUS” showed a different side to their sound. It was sexy and fierce at the same time and it still had their romantic vibe lingering in the lyrics.

“(…) Bringing alternative into Lagrange Point‘s repertoire, LUV EXODUS is breath of fresh air and big surprise in this release. It’s a mid-tempo track more focused in the bass and the synths – the guitars go to the background for the majority of the song only coming forward in the chorus to add even more emotion to the strong vocal performances. If you’re expecting a typical Lagrange Point track you’ll certainly will be surprised – for good or for bad depends on your personal taste regarding refined new wave music -. The vocal performances live up to this new approach to Lagrange‘s sound. (…)”

Nan-Boo-No-Mon-Ja-E” had a 50’s touch that made the song standout in their repertoire. For a change they were performing a fun, upbeat song and they sounded great. On our review we concluded that with “Lag Juliet” anyone could easily hear just how great they were.

” (…) Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Genki Okawa have proven that they can match well with mid-toned vocals and shinning vibrato plus their electrifying romantic pop-rock. It’s a formula that has given some fruits and has maintained their overall quality so far. With some risky mixes with classic pieces in “Black Swan” or the full out mix between Japanese and Occidental styles with  愛、独裁-SAMURAI-, the unit has kept their momentum and didn’t fail to impress with their new elements (best example is the new wave genre shinning in this best of titled LUV EXODUS) and performances. Call them what you want, but this is the strongest seiyuu unit out there right now and this Best of is living proof of that. (…)”

One month later, in June, the group was back at it with yet another single. “Beautiful Phantom was an unexpected release. After the Best Of, fans were expecting another rock-driven release what they got was quiet different.

Beautiful Phantom” had an undeniable French touch that either impressed or put off the listener. The reactions were rather mixed among fans with some praising their change of sound while others wanted their exciting songs back. On our end we found “Beautiful Phantom” not only a laidback romantic title track that was a breath of fresh air for them, but also one step forward to improving their sound and polishing their skills. If the title track wasn’t enough to impress, their performance in “レッドブザービート” made our jaws drop. It was sexy and playful, taking the listener to the classy ambient of a jazz club. Their vocals were put to test and the results were more than satisfying. Okawa and Toyonaga showed everyone their versatile vocals and impressive chemistry in what was one of their best performances. It was also the first time we were dazed with Okawa‘s performance. Up until then he was a steady, talented singing partner for Toyonaga but with this release we started to see him with a different light. He had polished his vocals to the point that he could, with ease, use falsetto and perform his parts in such a melodic and smooth way that made us beg for more.

愛のファタモルガーナ” was an odd ball that brought a sitar, latin percussion and synths into the mix. The song leaned towards a radio friendly sound with it’s danceable instrumental and exotic touches. Toyonaga showcased his smooth, melodic vocals whereas Okawa brought vibrato to the table and polished mid-tones. It was an exciting song that was completely different from anything they had released at that time. For more about this single refer our review.

To end that year in the best fashion, Lagrange Point released the mouthful “愛という言葉を憎む日々が永久に続いてもオレを赦してくれ” (Ai to iu kotoba o nikumu hibi ga towa ni tsudzuite mo ore o yurushite kure). Daisuke Iwasaki‘s naming sense was all over the place with this single’s title and it was even made fun of by Toyonaga when it was announced at Rejet‘s summer event in that same year. Putting aside the horrendous naming sense, the title track was easily one of the best songs released that year and that is because of the sexy bassline and synths that led the way for it. The waltz touch in the pre-chorus was such a nice touch that brought back those “Black Swan” vibes that everyone loved. The dramatic choir was an even better touch to this song and by the time the song came to an end we could only beg for one more listen time and time again.

It was classy, powerful, romantic and emotional, all at the same time. On another note, 六十九夜 (SixNineNight) was a jazzy tune that brought Toyonaga and Okawa‘s melodic vocals to the table. This was an unexpected twist on what was an ecletic release but it was exciting, classy and so much like what we had longed to hear them embrace that we couldn’t ignore it. It was a memorable single that solidified their stance as the best seiyuu unit at that time.

2016

The slump

Rejet Fes 2016 – Marginal #4, Lagrange Point and the Pythagoras Production rookies, Unicorn Jr.

Lagrange Point went on a momentum run for over 2 years until something unexpected happened. The best seiyuu unit was close to being irrelevant thanks to one simple release. “Prisoner” was released in February.

Dirty synths, dubstep melodies (a first for among Pythagoras Production‘s units) and dance beats led the way for this single that lacked the quality and excitement of previous ones. They washed out their sound and almost ditched their guitars for the trendy electronic-pop.

What really happened during this time? Rejet decided to add a new unit to their Pythagoras Production project. Marginal #4 had suffered (the UFO era) from Lagrange Point‘s debut and Lagrange Point suffered with Unicorn Jr.‘s debut. MIKOTO had too much on his hands to compose and arrange and Daisuke Iwasaki wanted his new seiyuu units to impress, which led to lower quality releases for each veteran unit every time a new unit was added. In 2016 Unicorn Jr. were starting to make a name for themselves and Lagrange Point took a blow.

Prisoner” was an uninteresting release with two good tracks in “Last Chance” and “Prisoner” but everything went down the drain, all that momentum was lost when people listened to “Crystal Switch” and “妄想VISIONIST“, this last one being the worst track in their repertoire. “Crystal Switch” was a bland ballad that lacked emotion and “妄想VISIONIST” was a mess.

This was our veredict:

“Darker and sexier, Lagrange Point gives once again something completly different from what they’ve done before. With heavier riffs and dirty synths, the first two tracks lead the pack in an impressive way. But all hell broke down as soon as we reached “Crystal Switch“, the only ballad featured on this single that proved to be subpar with their previous ones (refer to “Message Bottle” and “Never Sorrow“), a track that seemed like it was scrapped from Marginal #4‘s singles. On the other side “妄想VISIONIST” goes back to Lagrange Point‘s trademark rock sound relying on power chords, strong drums and heavy basslines but nothing impressive there since there’s no harmony in the sound and the tempo changes got way too annoying throughout the song. 

This is not the Lagrange Point we know, and we’re afraid that it has finally reach Lagrange Point‘s time to replace [referring to Marginal #4’s slump] Marginal #4. And we’re not saying this in a good way.  (…)

As if it wasn’t enough, Rejet had announced that all units under Pythagoras Production would be shuffled into special units – which downgraded even more the music that was being released.

In the aftermath of the bland “Prisoner“, Lagrange Point‘s second Best Of “LagJuliet II” was released. The Best Of was released in May and was supposed to sum up 2015 and 2016’s releases. “破竹の愛” helmed this release and impressed with it’s explosive instrumental. That song alone made us forget how badly they had performed just a couple of months before.

For more about this release, please refer to our review.

The Shuffle series

Rejet announced on Rejet Fes 2016 that Pythagoras Production units would, for the first time, shuffle and create new, temporary groups. Each new unit would be performing two singles before everyone went back to their original groups.

Toyonaga was to perform with NEBULAS, unit that counted with Naozumi Takahashi (Marginal #4) and Chiharu Sawashiro (Unicorn Jr.). Nebulas gathered Pythagoras / Rejet‘s best singers in one place and what we got was basically a feast for our ears.

With Toyonaga‘s versatility and total control over his vocals, Naozumi‘s daring mid-tones and sexiness plus Chiharu‘s melodic, husky vocals, it’s impossible to not be at awe just at the vocal tracks. The instrumental pieces were rich and whole, standing out without even being annoying.

The unit released the impressive “Hoshi dake ga shiru“ and “Canaria”.

Okawa was shuffled to Wonder Corona!, unit that counted with Toshiki Masuda (Marginal #4) and Shouta Aoi (Unicorn Jr.).

This unit had its highs and lows, their debut single “Viva la chu“, released back in April, was surprisingly good despite the contrasting voice colors between members.

“(…)Shouta Aoi put his sexiness into play on this single, tackling every single line with a hint of suggestiveness. Genki Okawa showed us why he’s often on par with his counterpart in Lagrange Point. His ability to adapt to challenges, be it new music genres or a specific kind of singing, is something worth praising. (…)”

Then they released “Samajera” in July, a single that fell a bit short but was still an entertaining listen. Okawa changed completely his singing style for this song, surprising everyone along the way.

“(…) Vocally AoiOkawa and Masuda improved a lot but Okawa is barely recognizable. His singing quirks are nowhere to be found right now, but it doesn’t mean that he’s sounding awful or anything of the sort, on the contrary. He’s sounding so polished, so melodic, hitting a lower scale, not forcing tones or entonations. From what we’ve heard on this single we can only expect Lagrange Point‘s next release to be mind blowing vocally. (…)”

A Best Of was then released in 2017 with all songs released during 2016.

2017

Reborn from the ashes

@ Rejet Fes 2017

It seems that taking some time off was beneficial for Lagrange Point. With the end of the shuffle units and the announcement of an anime adaptation, it was time for Lagrange Point to make their big comeback. 革命(Revolution)XX marked their comeback after almost one year away from the spotlight. This is one of the most exciting songs to ever grace their repertoire. 革命(Revolution)XX brought all the big guns to the table with a powerful song that really captured the essence of their debut sound – that exciting mix of hardrock and pop that impressed everyone on a first listen. Everything about this song was thrilling and we found Lagrange Point rising from the ashes, ready to dazzle everyone again.


And that’s all for now! Be on the lookout for the next SEIYUU DIGEST.

This digest was updated on 26/08/2017.

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