And our special triple feature (#10 / #11 and #12) will feature none other than ELEKITER ROUND 0 and its members’ respective Digests.
Kicking off this summer digest we present you with ELEKITER ROUND 0, currently one of Japan’s best male seiyuu units. A mix between a tenor and a baritone and some sprinkles of rock, funk and pop and we get a mix that has had their highs and lows but has always managed to live up to their reputation and showed their quality time after time. Who would know that the duo from the 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), would be this great?
This duo consisting of seiyuu Satoshi Hino and Shinnosuke Tachibana has impressed with their abilities be it singing or writing their lyrics (something very few seiyuu do in their solo/unit projects).
Keeping things traditional and simple, ELEKITER ROUND 0 have melted the hearts of many fans and mesmerized a whole lot of others.
With seven mini-albums released so far, the uncrowned kings of seiyuu units are subjects of our next three Seiyuu Digests.
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 instant hit has been a constant feature on ELEKITER ROUND 0’s live shows and is one of the fans favorites. 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.
2011 – 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.
2012 – 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 with a movie flavor to It – with the gang setting, 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 video to go with it.
Putting our focus to the mini-album, MARIA featured a total of 12 tracks in a different system in comparison with零ERφ. All four tracks would be unit tracks 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 out you’re missing out on something incredibly adorable coming out from these two 30 year-olds.
The most successful mini-album by ELEKITER ROUND 0 but one that is 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 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 and displayed at their fullest how beautifully they sing.
Besides the good impression that Summer Snow made, 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 another ballad (Tachibana’s natural habitat when writing lyrics), but this time with a total of 7 minutes – yeah, that much time – 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.
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). Later featured in the deluxe edition of 2013’s “Forbidden Lover”.
2013 – 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 but that failed to top “MARIA” ‘s status as ER0’s bestselling mini-album.
Coming back with a new mini-album, it was expected that the unit kept their already trademark sound but what we got was something completely different from it. “Forbidden Lover” played with everyone’s hearts as it not only isn’t heavy but it also goes towards a more jazzy, classy and seductive sound than anything released before. Working with Black Velvet’s multitalented DJ tadd on the lyrics, their promotional track 孤独の太陽 really impressed with that incredibly funky and seductive bassline alongside the befitting vocal performances – never did Tachibana and Satoshi sound so great and in sync without overshadowing each other before – the perfect balance between them and the instrumental made this track shine. Easily ELEKITER ROUND 0’s finest track coming from one unexpected mini-album full of surprises.
Loveless Diva, written by Tachibana impressed with its fast pace rock sound and Satoshi’s 月夜の仮面舞踏会～Masquerade～ made our jaws drop in awe. That is the best track so far written by himself, taking into account the chosen theme (might sound like it’s clichéd but turned out pretty all right), the overall lyrics and arrangement, all of this 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 a promotional video released to promote it. Also it was the last time the unit had solo tracks featured in a mini-album.
2014 – The delayed double release, masks and the 2nd Live show
With a 2013 that great for them, fans were eager to listen more from them in that year but that’s not what happened. In the beginning of 2013 on Marine Super Wave Live, the unit announced that they were going to make a double release in the last quarter of 2013 but the plans managed to go completely down the drain. Both mini-albums needed to be pushed back to 2014 as result of delays in the production.
Reaching 2014 the double release: 顔無紳士 (Kaonashi Shinshi) and狂騒輪舞曲 (Kyoso Rondo) was finally presented to the fans. With only one month apart both releases, it was more that certain that this double release was connected both in music genre and video concept. Tachibana was in charge of penning the lyrics for both title tracks.
As it was announced Sakurai Takahiro made a cameo for both promotional videos stirring up the seiyuu fandom in Japan and overseas, with such a presence in the PV’s something good might be on its way.
The expectations were high because of the previous mini-album’s improved sound and quality and as a result of the delays for both the 5th and the 6th mini-albums, fans were expecting something completely amazing to compensate the delays. But what stroke all the fans was a completely changed ELEKITER ROUND 0 with 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?
顔無紳士 (Kaonashi Shinshi) – The 5th mini-album
While the mini-album’s sub name “Poker Face” might have stroke a nerve in some people not so fancy with it, the fact is that 顔無紳士 Poker Face might be the worst effort the unit has made so far. Ballads were nowhere to be found, the tracks were a bit overwhelming and overcrowded with some cringe worthy moments. All in all, an interesting mess of a mini-album. Interesting because, even in that mess tracks like “Beach- pop!!!” and “World’s end supernova” kind of saved the day in the middle of this identity crisis. The lyrics were bland, the instrumentals sounded new with jazz on the helm but something sounded completely wrong with it. The title track is fresh, that is unquestionable, but it lacked both power, seductiveness and even the roughness from their earlier releases. While the whole theme was good, its implementation was badly done, resulting in that half assed mini-album.
狂騒輪舞曲 (Kyoso Rondo) – 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 point, the gentle, emotional ballads perfect to showcase both improved vocals. 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 vocal performances were energized and managed well the changes between genres in the 4 tracks. ”Butterfly Cry” brought also back ER0’s trademark sound from “MARIA” and “Zero”. It’s fast, aggressive, addictive and a head banger for sure without sounding crowed or overwhelming.
Putting the classiness aside, this mini-album repaired the damage done by the previous one.
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.
2015 – Back to basics
Hitting the 5 year as a unit 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”, where Tachibana and Satoshi wrote the lyrics to all tracks finishing in this way the outsourcing for lyrics that the previous releases had. Also it was the first time the unit worked with only one composer/arranger for the whole mini-album. With a total of 4 tracks, two of them –千年恋歌 (A thousand years love song), written by Tachibana and Conflict, written by Satoshi – featured as the opening and ending themes of otome game “Re:BIRTHDAY～恋を唄う死神～” – a first one for this unit, “RE:QUIEM” shows ELEKITER ROUND 0 at 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 Satoshi 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.
ELEKITER ROUND o
Shinnouske Tachibana, Hino Satoshi
Rock, Pop, alternative, Jazz
|Mini album title||ORICON CHARTS|
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 lookout for it.