This is the first out of three Seiyuu Digests focused on ELEKITER ROUND 0.
ELEKITER ROUND 0 have had their highs and lows over the course of 7 years together. Satoshi Hino and Shinnosuke Tachibana formed this unit to perform songs for their radio show -『日野聡vs立花慎之介 平成ニッポン・国取り合戦ラジオ!!』(Hino satoshi vs tachibana shinnosuke Heisei Nippon・koku-tori gassen radio) -. Now they are a respected seiyuu unit with several hits under their belts.
The debut –零ERφ
Many seiyuu units try to debut with a more approachable sound, mainly dance pop tracks but ELEKITER ROUND 0 turned things around in 2010, getting away from that “trend” that had installed itself in the seiyuu / music business in Japan.
Their debut mini-album 零ERφ (ZERO), was released in 2010 and caused a stir in the seiyuu unit “universe”. It’s basically nothing you’d expect from a seiyuu, especially from both Satoshi and Tachibana. It’s not pretty in any way whatsoever, and it’s certainly not an easy album to the ears of those who don’t like fast, sometimes aggressive rock.
Yes, it is a one-of-a-kind mini-album. Looking back to it now, although it sounds certainly unconventional, it turned out to set the stage for the unit, a strong and interesting debut choice with high musical value. Whileヰシン志士 (written by Tachibana Shinnosuke) might shock a lot of listeners as the track is enveloped in a rough, strong aura that somehow fit with both seiyuu, the playful punk-rock in影踏み~afterglow~ (written by Shinnosuke Tachibana) and 紲 (written by Satoshi Hino) captivated a lot of love from their fans as the energy, entertainment and slightly less powerful instrumental seem to be much easier to the ears. The cherry on top of this mini-album is without a doubt the mesmerizingly beautiful キセキ (Miracle), written by Shinnosuke Tachibana.
The hit song has been a must have for any ELEKITER ROUND 0 live show as it is a fan favorite. The gentleness in the vocals delivered by Satoshi’s lower notes and Tachibana’s surprising unwavering higher ones, seem to envelop themselves in the simplistic instrumental with melodic guitar solos, piano, slow, emotional drums and the shamisen. A one-of-a-kind gem in ELEKITER ROUND 0’S repertoire penned by none other than the eternal romantic Shinnosuke Tachibana. The mini-album album featured a total of 12 tracks, 2 of them were unit songs while other two were solo tracks. The remaining 8 tracks were solo versions of the unit tracks. This formula in the songs distribution on ELEKITER ROUND 0’s was used a couple of times in their following releases only halting in 2014 – 2015.
Although this album had mixed reviews, in our opinion it was a fantastic choice to kick off what is so far, a strong unit career.
The unit’s hiatus and flopped collaboration
2011 wasn’t that bright of a year for ELEKITER ROUND 0. The unit didn’t release a single or a mini-album in that year, staying almost in the background of the seiyuu unit universe like if they hadn’t debuted in the year before. Many people started to ask themselves if that first mini-album was going to be their only release as things started to calm a bit from all the hype and no news regarding a possible comeback were in the air.
But instead of working on their own project with new releases, ELEKITER ROUND 0 had their sights on another thing: the collaborations. In 2011, the unit collaborated with Mitsuki Saiga’s solo project featuring JUST (ELEKITER ROUND 0’S guitarist as well as collaborator with many other Marine Entertainment units and bands). The project tiled “Divine Chair” was released on 11/05/2011 and was even played live on Marine Super Wave Live but in the end it flopped hard, not only not grabbing everyone’s attention but also not showing any of the good sides of both parties involved.
In the end, like some say, the only good part of that collaboration was the photoshoot for it.
The major hit, DABA and First Live show
The most successful release by ELEKITER ROUND 0 as documented by Oricon Style is MARIA. The second mini-album managed to impress with its heavy, fast-tempo rock title track a breakaway from their first release that was a bit chaotic as a whole.
Penned by Shinnosuke Tachibana this track took the mini-album to the 27th place in the Oricon charts maintaining its position for 4 straight weeks – a record for this unit and their best so far. The promotional video for MARIA featured a stellar seiyuu cast – Project DABA – Led by star seiyuu Daisuke Ono the whole group counts also with Shinnosuke Tachibana, Satoshi Hino, Jun Fukuyama, Junji Majima, Suganuma Hisayoshi and Takayuki Kondo.
In a promotional video that looked more like it was from a mafia movie – gang factions, the flips, the fights and all that blood – the fans not only got addicted to the music, but also to ELEKITER ROUND 0’s big action music video.
MARIA featured a total of 12 tracks in a different system in comparison with零ERφ. All four tracks would be unit SONGS while the remaining 8 would be solo versions of each track.
Shinnosuke Tachibana penned once again the majority of the tracks: MARIA and 小動物的反動形成. 小動物的反動形成 is a fast paced pop-rock track with a catchy chorus but nothing out of the ordinary. On the other side Satoshi Hino penned Love Season, an up-beat pop track with an incredibly bright instrumental and lyrics – on a live setting this track has a choreography, if you haven’t checked this you’re missing out on something incredibly adorable coming out from this duo.
This is their most successful mini-album but after listening to it and comparison with the other releases, it’s far from being their best musically.
Summer Snow – The 3rd mini-album
Still in 2012, the 3rd mini-album “Summer Snow” was released. Showing us a more romantic and sweet side, the title track charted in #51 on the Oricon Charts, staying in that position for only 1 week before retiring itself from the chart. While “Summer Snow” is clearly more melodic than any of their previous releases, the fact that it’s mostly pop-rock and focused on ballads – and of course there were also no stars in the promotional video – made this mini-album and its beautiful title track drift away quickly in the charts despite being the very first time the unit was totally in sync. It was also the first time that they were singing with much more care and thought, the falsettos, the high notes, the lower ones, everything was in motion to make this song one of their best. The truth is, “Summer Snow” is one of their best songs but it was quickly forgotten.
Besides the good impression that “Summer Snow” made for us, there were other tracks really worth our time. 少女と箱の唄is on the top of best solo tracks featured in ER0’s releases. It’s yet another ballad, as many of you should know, that is Tachibana’s natural habitat when writing lyrics, but this time with a total of 7 minutes. It was more than enough time to tell you a beautiful story.
Satoshi Hino penned and presented us with yet another up-beat, jazzy and classy track, 二つの雫-namida-. A complete polar opposite to Tachibana that turned out to balance things well in the mini-album. We find Hino‘s compositions to be more varied and complete. He’s adept of using jazz music to express himself and we can only say that he’s done well so far.
It was a year full of ups and downs but still the unit managed to successfully finish their first “One man live” titled “Heaven of Noise” in the summer of 2012 (04/08/2012). The live show was later featured in the deluxe edition of 2013’s “Forbidden Lover”.
The breakaway from the heavy rock and powerful ballads
2013 was a great year for the duo – Besides their usual presence in the annual Marine Super Wave Live festival, ELEKITER ROUND 0 released their 4th mini-album, their strongest yet. Oddly enough this mini-album failed to surpass “MARIA” ‘s status as ER0’s bestselling mini-album.
“Forbidden Lover” played with everyone’s hearts. It wasn’t a heavy release. Guitars had been long gone. It leaned towards a jazzier route, showcasing a classy and seductive sound better than anything they’d released before. Working with Black Velvet’s multitalented DJ tadd on the lyrics, their promotional track 孤独の太陽 took us by surprise with that incredibly funky and alluring bassline, alongside polished vocal performances – never did Tachibana and Satoshi sound so great and in sync without overshadowing each other before. The balance between them and the instrumental was perfect and made this song shine. “Forbidden Lover” is easily ELEKITER ROUND 0’s finest songs coming from an unexpected mini-album full of surprises.
Loveless Diva, written by Tachibana impressed with its fast paced rock sound and Satoshi’s 月夜の仮面舞踏会～Masquerade～ made our jaws drop in awe. That was the best track he’d written at that time, taking into account the chosen theme (might sound like it’s clichéd but turned out all right), the overall lyrics and arrangement, all of that with an interesting turn of events – give it a listen, it’s a must.
This mini-album is an oddity in their repertoire as it doesn’t have any promotional video attached to promote it. Also it was the last time the unit had exclusive solo tracks featured in a mini-album.
Fans expected to hear more from ELEKITER ROUND 0 in 2013 but were disappointed when they noticed that had to wait more time for another release.
Well, the unit returned… But now with like everyone was expecting.
The side project
Forget everything you know about ELEKITER ROUND 0 or about any of the members. This project is beyond comprehension.
農民一揆 (or in English “Farmers Riot”) is a parody project helmed by ELEKITER ROUND 0. The first two singles for this side project were released on the same day in May. “VIVA la IKKI” and “This is 農民道 〜これがオラの生きる道〜“. These two singles were not how people invisioned them making a comeback.
Just like any Marine Entertainment artist, the duo performed as 農民一揆 as well as ELEKITER ROUND 0.
The delayed double release, masks and the 2nd Live show
During Marine Super Wave Live in 2013, the unit announced that they were going to make a double release in the last quarter of 2013 but the plans managed to go down the drain pretty fast. Both mini-albums needed to be pushed back to 2014 as result of delays in the production.
Reaching 2014 the double releases: 顔無紳士 (Kaonashi Shinshi) and 狂騒輪舞曲 (Kyoso Rondo) were finally presented to the fans. With only one month apart, it was more that clear that this double release would be connected both musically as well as with the music video concept. Tachibana was in charge of penning the lyrics for both title tracks.
As it was announced at that time, Takahiro Sakurai made a cameo for both promotional videos stirring up the seiyuu fandom both in Japan and overseas. This was such a rare cameo that people started to get interested in the music videos even if they didn’t enjoy Elekiter Round 0‘s music.
The expectations were high for this release. “Kaonashi Shinshi” was enough to understand that ER0 were working towards an improved sound and higher quality both in the instrumentals and lyrics. The fact that there had been delays with both releases also added to the high expectations (more time spent working on it = better quality for the end product). Unfortunately what happened was exactly what dethroned them as the best seiyuu unit. ELEKITER ROUND 0 were experiencing an identity crisis.
New looks, new sound, new approach to their lyrics, new everything. Jazz was the master key in the promotional singles for both mini-albums and the theme 顔無紳士 (Faceless Gentleman), hit the group hard with Satoshi himself adopting the role. But what was the origin of that identity crisis?
The 5th mini-album
顔無紳士 Poker Face is the worst effort the unit has made so far in their career. Ballads were nowhere to be found, the instrumentals were a bit overwhelming and overcrowded with plenty of cringe worthy moments. All in all, an interesting mess of a mini-album. Interesting because even in that mess, songs like “Beach- pop!!!” and “World’s end supernova” kind of tried to save the day, pushing away from their identity crisis. But this mini-album was rotten to the core. The lyrics were bland, the instrumentals sounded new with jazz on the helm but something sounded completely wrong with it. A couple of years later we can only say that the song was poorly performed and even with all the delays, it seems like it was rushed. Recorded in one day, mixed and arranged in the other and published two days later. It seemed rushed. No doubt about it.
The title track was fresh, that was unquestionable, but it lacked both power, seductiveness and even their edgy touch from previous releases. While the whole theme behind this mini-album was rather good, its implementation and execution were badly done, resulting in a half assed mini-album.
No one can exactly pinpoint why did Er0 falter with this release. It was great that they were embracing a new music genre for them but the fact that they couldn’t deliver anything interesting – especially the title track – was disappointing.
The 6th mini-album and the life savior
One month after the misstep with “Kaonashi Shinshi”, ELEKITER ROUND 0 were back at full force with the redeemer 狂騒輪舞曲 (Kyoso Rondo). The ballad 白い雪の花, written by Satoshi brought back the unit’s strongest selling point, the gentle, emotional ballads. On the other side 月の砂漠のジプシー won the award of best ELEKITER ROUND 0’s track so far written and composed. Using rasgueado in the acoustic guitars and mixing it with shakuhashi gave the best results. The clash between traditional japanese and spanish influences was incredibly addictive and a breath of fresh air in the middle of a repertoire filled with all sorts of things but no energizing songs like this one. Tachibana and Hino improved their performances, showcasing polished vocals. ”Butterfly Cry” brought also back ER0’s trademark sound from “MARIA” and “Zero”. It was fast, aggressive, addictive and a head banger for sure without sounding crowed or overwhelming.
Putting the classiness aside, this mini-album managed to repair part of the damage done by “Kaonashi Shinshi“. It seems like the duo bit more than they could chew and would have been better off without the troubling and messy “Kaonashi Shinshi“.
2014 was also the year set for ELEKITER ROUND 0’s 2nd live show “Heaven of Noise – Zetsu”.
The live show held at EX Theater Roppongi in July 2014 was a success and the unit showcased not only an improved live chemistry and strong sync between them, something that clearly improved when looking back to the unit’s debut stage on Marine Super Wave Live back in 2011 – shaky and off sync, off key and awkward – but also a powerful charisma from the leader Shinnosuke Tachibana.
Back to basics
Hitting the 5 year mark, ELEKITER ROUND 0 made their comeback with the powerful “RE:QUIEM”, a mini-album that featured a stronger, more aggressive sound, very reminiscing of “Zero” and “Maria”.
Tachibana and Satoshi wrote the lyrics to all tracks, completely shutting down any outsourcing for lyrics. They also worked for the first time with only one composer/arranger for the whole mini-album. One thing we could conclude: this mini-album was going to be personal. A small team working on it, the end to lyrics outsourcing, those were good indicators that ELEKITER ROUND 0 not only wanted to bring back their old sound, but they also wanted to tell their stories in their own ways. It was also the first time the duo was asked to perform songs for a game.
“Re:BIRTHDAY～恋を唄う死神～”, otome game in which the duo was actually voicing two of the main characters, featured the songs 千年恋歌 (A thousand years love song) and “Conflict“. Tachibana wrote the first one whereas Hino wrote the last one. “RE:QUIEM” showed ELEKITER ROUND 0 on their best form ever.
Embracing their rock roots, the experienced duo put away the jazz and funky pop to make way to their trademark rock, ballads and head bangers, all of this with some pop sprinkles courtesy by the lyrics.
With a newlywed Hino and a now successful light novel / manga writer Tachibana, the unit put to use both the romance, experience and versatility and implemented it in their lyrics. The result: RE:QUIEM is one of the best mini-albums released by the duo, on par with “Forbidden Lover”.
From dirty guitar riffs, powerful drums, mesmerizing basslines to tender piano parts and melodic guitars, this mini-album has a little bit of everything. Tachibana’s 千年恋歌 and Reincarnation show a new approach in the writing of the lyrics, sounding way darker than in their previous releases. Satoshi also went in the same direction: darker, sadder lyrics but providing us with tender moments in ひかり, the emotional ballad that grabbed everyone’s attention. On the other side his Conflict is a rough track with an explosive intro and aggressive, highly technical guitar riffs and solos to fit with the lyrics.
A strong, solid mini-album from start to finish that put ELEKITER ROUND 0 on the right track again.
Side project returns
農民一揆 made their comeback as well. In May, the duo returned with their first mini-album “田園歌-End of the war- “. This was the first release that graced fans with a music video.
After a strong release like it was with “RE:QUIEM” the return of 農民一揆 was anticlimatic.
As a way to cleanse the year and close it with a gold key, ELEKITER ROUND 0 released the mini-album “Ano Hi no Akanezora no Shita de“. At that time we reviewed the release and come to following conclusions:
” (…) Solo tracks are back, putting aside the whole group tracks that we got with “Re:Quiem“. This mini-album has an interesting feel and is a good answer to those who kept asking “where are the ballads?” in their last release. So if “Re:Quiem” was a little bit too aggressive for you, you can get its slow paced, overly mellow, romantic and sweet counterpart “Ano Hi no Akanezora no Shita de“.(…)”
They revamped their sound and filled in the gaps that “RE:QUIEM” had left. Overflowing with mellow ballads, this mini-album was the antithesis of the previous one. It was on a sad note that the unit went to hiatus.
Silence enveloped this duo starting from 2016. ELEKITER ROUND 0 were still performing live (the one man live “HEAVEN OF NOISE 2015ツアー ～雪月花～“) but no new music was being released. That has dragged up until now. There’s no signs that the duo will ever release a single again. Shinnosuke Tachibana has just recently got married and given how hectic his schedule usually is when juggling voice acting with singing and a whole lot of things, it seems that ELEKITER ROUND 0 have been put to sleep for a while. Satoshi Hino is extremely busy right now with several anime projects as well so it’ll take long for this duo to ever to make a comeback with new music.
For those lucky enough to live/work in Japan there’s still some ER0 to watch and listen to. The unit hasn’t stopped performing live on Marine Super Wave and, from time to time, they perform one man live shows.
With this we conclude the first out of the three Digests dedicated to this unit and its members. Next Digest to be released in the middle of August. Be on the look out for it.
For more information about ELEKITER ROUND 0 please visit their official website.
Last updated on 27/08/2017.