Tetsuya Kakihara “Tokonatsu Wave” (Review)

“Tokonatsu Wave” hiccups its way into Tetsuya Kakihara‘s discography. It’s a single that had a lot of potential to be one of his best, unfortunately it lost its way at the close of the curtains.

Title: トコナツウェーブ (Tokunatsu Wave) 
Label: Kiramune 
Release date: 10/05/2017 
Genre: Dance/Pop/Rock

Tracklist:

1. トコナツウェーブ 
2. 君はどう思ってるの 
3. オジー自慢のオリオンビール

Track by track analysis:

1. トコナツウェーブ

Tokunatsu Wave” brings good vibes with its mix of acoustic guitars, bright piano melody and delicate strings. But if you think this will yet another trademark tacky Kiramune bright track, worry no more. This song is bright without being overwhelming or cheesy. The instrumental has a good balance between the bright elements (piano, strings, some synths bits in the background) and the atypical/unexpected ones. Kakihara raps his way to the chorus with the help of heavy guitar riffs and a deep bassline, that special break in the pre-chorus caught us off guard but it was such a good treat, especially for those that love that side of him. The laidback vibe grabs you from start to finish and his vocal performance was just the cherry on top of the cake for us. He managed to avoid any cringy elements and presented us a rich song with a bright and youthful performance that fits like a glove. 4.5/5

2. 君はどう思ってるの

Kakihara‘s smooth vocals lead the way in this sweet pop-rock song. 君はどう思ってるの starts off sounding like we’ll be in for a ballad but the tone changes as soon as the laidback acoustic-driven instrumental takes over. The instrumental’s highlight is definitely held by the bass. The bassline easily takes the spotlight away from the other instruments, giving life and depth to this song. Are you in need of a vocal performance that can impress you? Something that will leave you in awe perhaps? If yes, then this performance is right up your alley. Kakihara shows that he hasn’t stopped improving his singing skills, dazzling everyone in the chorus with his polished falsetto or with his high notes in the verses. 君はどう思ってるの is a fantastic addition to this release, a sweet, simple tune that will leave a smile on your face. 5/5

3. オジー自慢のオリオンビール
The lead notes into オジー自慢のオリオンビール are provided by a shamisen. The instrumental might be the most energetic in this release but that really doesn’t mean it’s the best, in fact, it’s far from it. And although we have this clear traditional Japanese touch in the song, we can’t even get 10 seconds into it without getting annoyed. We can guess from the instrumental that this song aimed for a festive sound but everything about it is far from being of the quality Kakihara has made a trademark for him in the past 3 years. Yes, this song sounds festive and yes, it sounds like one of those upbeat tunes you’d hear on a matsuri but it’s too much to handle. Overcrowded, ridiculous at times and repetitive, オジー自慢のオリオンビール lacks everything we love about Kakihara‘s music, even when his vocal performance has nothing wrong to point out. 3/5

Final rating:

Tokunatsu Wave” was taylored to make everyone that listens to it, feel good – at least a major part of the release.
For a change we’re presented with a bright single, distancing a bit from his previous releases. If you thought that “summer” was an just a loose idea, you’ll be surprised to find that the whole release has a summery vibe.
If you think of summer a couple of things come to mind, especially in the music department. Either we’re all in for dance songs or we’re all in for loungy, “feel good” songs.
In this particular case we’re showered with laidback tunes in which only good vibes are allowed. But that’s until we listen to the festive オジー自慢のオリオンビール, a song that we were hoping would close this single in the best way, instead it managed to shake this whole release and hinder its consistency.
While we know that Kakihara had the whole summery feel going on for this single, we still think that this song is so unlike him that, not only it caught us by surprise but it also left a bitter taste when we found out what was really going on on it. It’s been a while since he released such an underwhelming song in which too much is happening but nothing much is impressive enough to pique our interest. It’s unfortunate that a release that had everything to be yet another top one, could be dragged a couple of steps back because of such a song. It’s even more unfortunate when we take into consideration that Kakihara did more than we could have expected from him in the vocal department. It seems that he’s determined to improve his vocals even further. The effort he is making to improve his singing technique is commendable. We can hear just how much he’s changed especially when we’re faced with his stunning high notes or rock solid falsetto that managed to leave us in awe. A shame that it almost went to waste.

Tokonatsu Wave” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

Author: midorin

The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. After a 6 month stint in Macau SAR, I am back to being based in Cascais, Portugal. Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" was the catalyst to completely focus on writing about male seiyuu music.