Tasuku Hatanaka “FIGHTER” (Review)

Tasuku Hatanaka released FIGHTER, album overflowing with songs capable of being hits and exuding a maturity that his repertoire up until now lacked.

Regular
Title: FIGHTER
Label: Lantis
Release date: 27/03/2019 
Genre: Dance-pop/Acoustic pop-rock

Tracklist:

01.Let's get ready to rumble!(Instrumental)
02.Fighting for...
03.イッサイガッサイ
04.虹
05.Addicted 
06.STAND UP
07.DO IT
08.真夏BEAT
09.オド☆リバ~MUSIC IS MAGIC!~
10.プラマイプラス
11.あの日の約束 [lyrics by Tasuku Hatanaka]
12.look back, look forward(Instrumental)

Track by track analysis:

01.Let’s get ready to rumble!(Instrumental)

Fancy, progressive intro makes way for this energetic release. The instrumental does its job of opening / amp up the listener with its tasteful beat and melodies.

02.Fighting for…

Fighting for… follows the same energy and sound as the intro. Old-school synths, crystal clear piano melodies and a slow-paced progressive beat set the stage for this imposing and addictive song. The build up to the chorus and the chorus itself stand out in this song for its fancy progression, the subtle transition and then the delivery, the addictive melodies and stunning performance in the chorus.

On the vocal end, Hatanaka ups the ante from previous releases’ title tracks, and delivers a powerful performance filled with flair. From his falsetto to vibrato and other flourishes, he made sure for this song to leave a mark. And it did. Best song on this album. 5/5

03.イッサイガッサイ

Funky guitar riffs and a slap bass line lead the way for this up-tempo pop-rock tune. The instrumental is overflowing with energy and, for the most part, is fast paced however, to make things interesting, there are some sections or brief intermissions that introduce quieter, slower parts. Jazzy pianos and an exciting guitar solo seal the deal for this song.

There is a lot of falsetto going on in Hatanaka’s performance. As it is usual, he keeps showing his control and talent by tackling and / or incorporating flourishes or tricky sections in his performances and he makes it all look easy. Stellar performance in yet another energizer. 5/5

04.虹

Niji has a low-fi feel to it. Distorted, gated synths, distant piano melodies, minimalistic atmospheric synths and an 808 beat complete this unique instrumental. The song creates an ethereal, old and unapproachable soundscape. It is an original approach that fits well with the other songs on this album as well as introduces a different sonority in Hatanaka’s solo career.

As far as vocals go, Hatanaka’s have some manipulation on it to give it a distant, melancholic tone. Although this isn’t a highly technical song as the previous one, Hatanaka’s performance is one that will impress you. It is not every day that you listen to him performing a song as unique as this one. A nice break from all the up-tempo, highly energetic songs we’ve had since the start of the album. 5/5

05.Addicted

Addicted is a feel good electro-pop tune. Washy, dream-like synths, a mid-tempo progressive, snare-driven beat and a simple bass line take the listener to a summer-inspired soundscape.

This is a laidback dance tune that is captures the essence of summer and, to top it all, it has a sweet performance by Hatanaka, that mixed clean singing with manipulated vocals and rap. 5/5

06.STAND UP

[As previously reviewed] Progressive saw synths and a dreamy piano melody lead this summery tune. The beat alone is infectious, it has as many retro has it has contemporary dance music influences. You’ll start tapping your feet to the music as soon as press play. The bright lyrics and upbeat mood will certainly make you get up from your seat and put a smile on your face. When all of that is already checked, “STAND UP” manages to deliver a low-key impressive progressive dance pop song with addictive funky guitar riffs to take you to the dancefloor. The instrumental is made for this season, it’s exciting and groovy.

Now onto the vocal performance. Fancy falsetto? Well, it seems that Hatanaka has an impressive one that he doesn’t shy away from showcasing. But if that is not what you’re looking for then his gentle energetic vocals and control will certainly impress you. He shows a well rounded performance on top of an engaging and well crafted dance instrumental. 5/5

07.DO IT

After revisiting his debut song, we’re back to the new additions. DO IT brings back powerful electronica with polyphonic synths and an exciting beat to top it. This is a song ready for the dancefloor. The pacing is comfortable, there is no up-tempo sections although the song might sound fast in some instances due to the progression or the build ups. The chorus is overflowing with energy and is extremely catchy, almost begging for the listener to pitch and participate in the chants.

As for the vocals, Hatanaka gives his best to make this performance shine. His vocals, at times, are manipulated, fitting well with the song’s theme and vibe. Manipulation is not overdone so it gives a nice touch to this performance. The clean vocals are as expected: crystal clear, with a bit of growl and rawness on them and all that skill to back up his powerful falsetto and vibrato. 5/5

08.真夏BEAT

[As previously reviewed] A high tension synth lead opens the way for “Manatsu BEAT“. Relying heavily on synths to create its dreamy soundscape, “Manatsu BEAT” is an interesting summer dance tune. Among the several interesting bits in this instrumental, we have the tempo changes. This instrumental has more than its fair share of tempo changes. The verses are initially slow paced, however, the build up made into the chorus is so well done that the listener barely notices the smooth increase of tempo. Soothing synth pads and a groovy bass line were pivotal for that smoothness. Then we have the verses, clearly faster paced than the chorus and packing a whole lot of tension that culminates in its high tension synth lead and catchy beat. In the chorus I found the washy drums, especially the cymbals, to be rather overbearing. When the chorus kicks in, all you can listen are those cymbals that completely take away the focus from the vocals. Aside from this, the instrumental is catchy and creates a comfortable loungy vibe that makes this song incredibly enjoyable to listen to.

On the vocal end it’s a pity that Hatanaka didn’t show more. He certainly is a solid singer, demonstrating that with this groovy performance, however, aside from a quick falsetto, nothing interesting happened. Even with its issues, “Manatsu BEAT” is a solid tune. 4.5/5

09.オド☆リバ~MUSIC IS MAGIC!~

Disco music finds its way into this release to add some spice to it. Funky guitar riffs, groovy bass line, playful brass create a laidback and classic summery soundscape. From the addictive beat to the dreamy synths in the outro to the stunning guitar solo, this song doesn’t fail to impress.

Hatanaka’s vocals fit perfectly with this music genre, delivering a playful and melodic performance. 5/5

10.プラマイプラス

Gears change and we’re back with an upbeat electro-pop tune however, it sounds completely different from the album’s overall vibe, much brighter and youthful. This song serves as an intermission in an album full of powerful dancefloor tunes exuding a dark, mature vibe.

Hatanaka’s performance was fun and upbeat, adding an extra spark to this entertaining song. 4.5/5

11.あの日の約束

Hatanaka’s lyricist debut is finally here. Ano hi no yakusoku is a sweet acoustic pop-rock ballad. It kicks off softly with simple acoustic guitar riffs, atmospheric synths and ethereal strings. Slowly, melancholic piano melodies, simple drums and electric guitars make their entrance to reinforce the emotions overflowing in this song. This song builds up in a way that the dynamic is constantly evolving, the best example being how the song kicks off quietly and gradually gets more eventful, growing in scope and emotion until it reaches the climax in the guitar solo featured in the outro. The vocals make all the emotions in the instrumental flourish beautifully. 5/5

12.look back, look forward(Instrumental)

A delicate, quiet piano melody ties up this album in melancholic fashion. It follows the same melody featured in Ano hi no yakusoku and expands on it with electronica and grand piano melodies.

Final rating:

There is good pop music and bad pop music. Then, there is Tasuku Hatanaka. Clichéd, right? However, there is no other way around when talking about this album.

Tasuku Hatanaka released FIGHTER, album overflowing with songs capable of being hits and exuding a maturity that his repertoire up until now lacked.

If it is not noticeable by now – especially if you read this review from start to finish while listening to the album at the same time -, we’ve just experienced what might be the best full-length album (by a male seiyuu) released in 2019.

Consistency was really key in this release. The tempo, the beats, the progressions, the intro and ending instrumentals, all contributed for this album to sound like a complete, satisfying release without any loose ends left to tie. To add to this, the choice of instruments and the vocals are tasteful. If that wasn’t enough, all songs exude a “hit song” vibe. From what I felt while listening to this album, any song could have been used as a title track and it would still be a fantastic greeting card to this release.

This might be a bold statement but while it is still early to say for sure that Tasuku Hatanaka is the best male seiyuu solo pop artist of his generation (90s), he is certainly paving his way for what seems will be a great solo career. He might, with time, consistency and a bit of luck, sit on the throne of best male seiyuu pop artist of his generation.

Now, let me stray away a bit. I find it extremely exciting to watch and / or listen to this new generation of talents. No other generation – among male seiyuu – has had this massive amount of talent in the music department as the 90s generation has. Some might argue that older generations did not have the opportunities that this generation has and that there are seiyuu from those generations that are fabulous singers (true), but we can all agree that this generation has way too many things on their hands that already go beyond voice acting, plus, the seiyuu industry is in a ridiculous point of competitiveness that music is being used as a platform to make each seiyuu sound and look unique. The 90s generation of male seiyuu solo artists includes Toshiki Masuda (1990), Soma Saito (1991), Yuma Uchida (1992) and Tasuku Hatanaka (1994). There’s no need to enter in detail on how talented each of these men are, especially if you happen to listen to their music or happen to check our reviews out of curiosity. So, to sum it all up in this brief rant, This generation is overflowing with talent and Hatanaka is making a big name for himself in a slowly, steady way.

Back to this review: if this album is any indication, we can only expect more quality in upcoming releases. FIGHTER is a shockingly good album, a firm candidate for album of the year.

FIGHTER is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

This review was possible thanks to our sponsor, reina.
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Author: midorin

The Hand That Feeds HQ founder. Currently based in Macau SAR. Passionate music reviewer that has been writing about Japanese music since 2010. Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" was the catalyst to completely dedicate herself to writing about male seiyuu music.

3 thoughts

  1. Thank you so much for the review! I’m so glad you find his first album very good that you consider it as a candidate for best album of the year! He really has a lot of potential as a singer and this album showcased that!

    He is already good at singing in my opinion but he has so much room for improvement, for more technique and styles. His singing is that good and versatile. I hope his future releases will be a reflection of those improvement and that it will keep surprising us with something new.

    Hatanaka is definitely one of the male seiyuu artists to look forward to when it comes to singing!

    Like

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