Review | TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! “Recall”

TOKYO COLOR SONIC!!

TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! Recall is the perfect entry point into a franchise all about quality music, unshakable bonds, and performances that will make goosebumps all over you.

TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! "RECALL"
Title: TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! solo songs album -Recall-
Label: eternal voyage
Release date: 23/06/2023
Genre: Rock / Ballad / Pop / EDM / Funk

Tracklist:

1 - NEW DEVIATION (performed by Arashi - CV: Shoya Chiba)
2 - measly (performed by Iori - CV: Soma Saito)
3 - VOICE (performed by Towa - CV: Gakuto Kajiwara)
4 - Don’t back down (performed by Kairi - CV: Shunsuke Takeuchi)
5 - Canvas (performed by Arashi - CV: Shoya Chiba)
6 - irony (performed by Towa - CV: Gakuto Kajiwara)
7 - 一等星 (performed by Tomoe - CV: Yuya Hirose)
8 - Trip on (performed by Kairi - CV: Shunsuke Takeuchi)
9 - daybreak (performed by Iori - CV: Soma Saito)
10 - If -Vocal solo/嵐- (performed by Arashi - CV: Shoya Chiba)
11 - If -Vocal solo/伊織- (performed by Iori - CV: Soma Saito)
12 - If -Vocal solo/永久- (performed by Towa - CV: Gakuto Kajiwara)
13 - If -Vocal solo/海吏- (performed by Kairi - CV: Shunsuke Takeuchi)
14 - If -Vocal solo/巴- (performed by Tomoe - CV: Yuya Hirose)

The “if” solo versions are not reviewed as the only differences are in the singing style of each seiyuu. In the final considerations section of this review, you will find a brief talk about those.

If you want to check the review of “if”, CHECK THIS ARTICLE.

Track by track analysis:

1 – NEW DEVIATION (performed by Arashi – CV: Shoya Chiba)

[As previously reviewed]

Overdriven guitars paint a dreamy soundscape in the intro to “NEW DEVIATION”. The song quickly changes dynamics as it enters its first verse, with the powerful guitar riffs toning down, giving way to the bass and drums to take the spotlight.

The verses are brief, quickly evolving into an explosive, punk-pop-inspired chorus that will have you headbanging along. It has a youthful yet intense vibe that is further enhanced by the charismatic performance by Shoya Chiba.

My only issue with this song lies once again with how low the volume on the vocals is in comparison to the instrumental.

It seems like Chiba is far away at the same time that the guitars are surrounding smothering you and the drums taking center stage. This is an odd mixing and it may take some listens to get used to it. If his vocals were brought up a bit (or the instrumental sound levels toned down), this song would be perfect.

As far as the vocals go, Chiba brought a lot of energy for this track – a must for the fast-paced punk-pop genre – and gave a twist to his vocals, lowering a bit his tone and bringing vibrato into the mix. He delivers each line with confidence and never misses a beat. He was rock solid.

“NEW DEVIATION” will be an exciting track for fans of rock music to enjoy. If you were expecting the solo tracks to go in the same line as “Begin on Buddy”, then this track will come as a surprise (yet a pleasant one if you enjoy good vocals and don’t mind fast-paced guitars and drums).

Straightforward and intense, “NEW DEVIATION” is a good introduction to buddy team 1 and its vocal, Arashi (CV: Shoya Chiba).

2 – measly (performed by Iori – CV: Soma Saito)

[As previously reviewed]

Team 2 makes its big entrance with “measly”. This song has a completely different tone in comparison to the songs released so far however, still exploring rock music.

Drama takes over this song through its distant intro, with guitars and fading synths bringing a twinge of sadness into the instrumental. Slowly, acoustic guitars, bassy drums, and a punchy bassline join in, enhancing the emotional performance on the vocal end.

Everything seems under control, with a simple, minimalistic emotional performance but what expects you is something rather interesting.

The song builds up its tension with forlorn strings carrying you to what is an uncontrolled show of emotions.

Those controlled emotions pour non-stop in the chorus, with the instrumental heightening the drama to the spotlight via loud guitar riffs, powerful splashy drums, and intense strings. The passion and regret are overwhelming and loud, taking over this section in a really interesting and unexpected way.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the chorus will quite possibly catch you off guard as the change in intensity and volume – with the instrumental going really loud –, from the soft verses to the strong chorus, is drastic and not at all expected.

I still find some issues – that have been carrying over on the production/mixing side – in this song. The instrumental is intentionally loud in the chorus and this time around it does make sense.

I reviewed the lossless version of the song (1,411 kbps) which is a high-quality version that should sound incredibly clear while using neutral headphones + a DAC (Digital-to-analog converter) to remove distortion and digital noise (bringing forth more detail from the Hi-res audio) from the recording.

However, the 1st verse still sounds a bit too quiet on the vocal end, with the instrumental covering the performance. Due to the low-quality common of free streaming (128 kbps) and MP3 (~320 kbps) versions, the song may sound a bit murky in that section so be wary of that.

Thankfully that issue is exclusive to the 1st verse. The other verses are much cleaner. The chorus sounds a bit overwhelming at first but given how the song progresses and its lyrics, it was necessary for the instrumental to go loud.

It also helps that Soma Saito (as Iori) has the power in his voice to stand on top of the loud instrumental, making himself heard even when, during the second part of the chorus – the drums go loud in the splash and hi-hats –, it almost gets harder to stand out but he still manages to power his way through. Still, the sound levels in the instrumental could have been lowered just a bit to better fit the sound levels of the vocals.

Saito’s performance is also something worth paying attention to. He’s performing an emotionally draining song and he’s doing a little bit of everything on the vocal end. You can hear him tackling those slow, melancholic notes in the verses, the rise in tension in his voice towards the chorus, and the unrestrained emotion he brings to the chorus that overwhelms you.

He’s also fully embraced vibrato – and he’s sounding much more robust than ever before – something that adds a lot of drama to his performance (especially noticeable in the chorus), and mixes a bit of head voice in his performance. Although the performance sounds like your regular Soma Saito outing, he’s actually put a lot of color into his performance giving it layers and layers of depth.

All in all, “measly” is a strong entry in the Tokyo Color Sonic!! franchise. Emotional and raw at all times and with a dramatic performance filled with depth, the only thing dragging it back is the mixing, a problem that has persisted since the franchise’s theme song “Begin on Buddy”.

3 – VOICE (performed by Towa – CV: Gakuto Kajiwara)

[As previously reviewed]

Dreamy atmospheric synths paint the soundscape in the intro to “VOICE” however, what is waiting there for the listener is something slightly different.

Expect the unexpected because this song is a mixed bag of treats for music fans and, although it can be tagged as “pop”, it has so many music genres mixed that makes it more than just a “pop” song.

“VOICE” kicks off pretty dreamily, giving off the idea that we’d be in for a smooth, laidback tune heavily focused on atmospheric synths. However, funk and hip-hop are actually the two predominant music genres, with Gakuto Kajiwara adding “pop” to the mix with his performance.

With these 3 music genres sharing the stage, what do you get?

A song with funky, mid-tempo verses that bring the good vibes of hip-hop with the beat (those triplets are massive), some marimba details on top – although these may not be that easy to spot -, the chorus brings in guitars and big synths, giving way for a pop climax that is a perfect transition from the quiet, almost laidback vibe in the verses.

The bridge has a beautiful – albeit brief – piano solo that adds another unexpected twist to this song.

As I see it, the song has two halves, most likely illustrating the 2 personalities in the unit (the vocal and the composer buddy team).

The calm and slightly carefree verses illustrate Towa’s personality and the loud, excited synths and guitars in the chorus complement him, thus illustrating Mirai’s personality.

Of course, I’m saying this having prior knowledge that this project has “buddy teams” but if you check the previous entries in this franchise, none of the songs focused on highlighting both members of the buddy team.

One highlighted the composer more so than the vocalist (team 1) the other focused on making the vocalist shine, putting the composer in the background (team 2).

Team 3 highlights both personalities within it although only Towa (CV: Gakuto Kajiwara) performs the song.

This duality is interesting and shows – even without checking any drama tracks – the interesting (clashing) dynamic this buddy team has.

Gakuto Kajiwara’s performance stands out to me because of how refreshing and delicate it sounds.

Knowing the background for Towa I was expecting a quiet performance but not something this delicate. Kajiwara ended up showing everyone he could deliver this type of sweet and emotional performance, which is another plus.

Now, a topic I’ve been talking about for the previous 3 songs released in the franchise is the “mixing”.

Up until Iori’s “Measly”, the mixing created weird dynamics to songs that had the potential to impress. That whole “putting the instrumentals at the same loudness levels as the vocals” gimmick hindered all songs released before this one.

Yes. You read it well.

There are no mixing issues in this song.

“VOICE” has the sound levels well sorted out. It may have been because this song is fairly simple and uncluttered in comparison to previous ones – being much easier to not make any instruments clash with the vocals – or because it was effectively corrected this time around (and hopefully from now on), the mixing will be more balanced or at least, more balanced towards making the vocals shine.

Imagine the mixing in the previous songs on top of Kajiwara’s soft vocals in this song.

Yeah. Thankfully the mixing is good, otherwise, no one could hear loud and clear Kajiwara’s beautiful performance.

All this goes to show that even if a song is fundamentally good and the vocals are outstanding, mixing can make or break a song. Well, mixing can even cover for a “weaker” singer and make them sound like an angel.

When it is balanced, mixing can make the whole composition and vocals shine. When it’s not, it’s an absolute nightmare, with the song ending up tiring everyone.

The little details do matter in music production. Mixing is often overlooked but it is quite possibly the most important task next to mastering. Glad to find that sorted out in this song.

As you can tell, Towa’s “VOICE” is a gentle song with a carefree vibe, a good focus on sounding unique in its composition (everything worked at the end, which is impressive), beautiful vocals, and a balanced mixing.

4 – Don’t back down (performed by Kairi – CV: Shunsuke Takeuchi)

[As previously reviewed] A distant piano melody and a simple beat set the stage for the emotional performance that awaits you in “Don’t back down”.

That sound builds up in tension towards the verses, with power chords on the electric guitar overwhelming you on a first listen. However, the verses are simple, leaving the “talking” to the vocals.

A piano melody delicately paints the dreamy, far and wide-soundscape as Shunsuke Takeuchi carefully tackles this part.

Tension builds up fairly fast to the chorus, exploding in emotion with the guitars going low and loud, the drums shifting from samples to live ones, and the bassline adding a heartbeat to this track. Together, these instruments splatter the soundscape in all kinds of colors as Takeuchi screams his lungs out in an emotive performance that puts his technique to the test.

This chorus is easily the best of the solo tracks in this CD series.

It is dramatic, overflowing emotion and the simplicity of the composition is more than enough it is perfect to make chills run down your spine as Shunsuke Takeuchi powers his way through the song with an interesting mix of vocal tones (tapping into his massive vocal range).

Baritone and faux bass in the verses, and then hinting – however not tapping into – tenor range with those higher notes (not high notes, but higher in tone in comparison with the others within the song) shining in the chorus.

Additionally, Takeuchi brought vibrato and tackled tricky legato sections with ease. If that was not enough, in the bridge he goes for an effortlessly head voice part.

Nice to see what this franchise can do when the mixing is finally sorted out (After units 1 and 2, and even the debut song “begin on buddy” were met with suboptimal mixing that didn’t flatter the vocals).

This is quite exciting to find from a composition standpoint and, as a listener, enjoyable because you now have clear vocals and an equally clear instrumental that doesn’t need to take over the song and suffocate the vocals. Perfect mixing made this song shine. It was intense but clear at all times.

Short and sweet (perhaps even bittersweet), KAIRI’s “Don’t back down” is an impressive entry in the TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise.

5 – Canvas (performed by Arashi – CV: Shoya Chiba)

Arashi (CV: Shoya Chiba) hops on stage with “Canvas“, song that brings an acoustic pop-punk sound to the spotlight.

Now, there are a couple of interesting things going on for this song. For starters, the drums in the intro start oddly. If you pay closer attention to them, you will notice that they are off-tempo in the intro, slowly getting up to the song’s correct tempo before the first verse kicks in.

This transition, of course, was done smoothly but the off-tempo aspect is fairly noticeable and may throw off some listeners, especially on a first listen.

After that, the verses have a comfortable tempo, with the acoustic guitar riffs carefully leading the way for the very first part. The second part brings in strings, bass, and drums to add more life to the performance.

The chorus is all about its acoustic rock sound. The instrumental brings in brass to the acoustic sound, creating a fun section that will have you singing along in no time.

Worth mentioning that this song features a long guitar solo that arrives as a treat in the bridge.

This song feels like listening to Porno Graffiti or SID. It has that fun in rock but it is not afraid to be groovy and play around with brass and a groovier bassline to create a sound that is truly engaging and entertaining to listen to.

When it comes to the vocals, Shoya Chiba makes sure you see yet another facet of his singing. 

This time around you have only clean singing but he plays around with his technique, adding little accents in the endings of sentences, bringing a bit of vibrato to the chorus, all while going for a sweet performance in the verses as well as a subtle falsetto.

Chiba was doing everything and always sounded in control and comfortable performing this song.

While “Canvas” arrives as a completely different style of song for Arashi, it ended up being a pleasant surprise with its focus on acoustic rock and a more centered style of performance.

6 – irony (performed by Towa – CV: Gakuto Kajiwara)

Bassy drums lead the way for the playful “irony“. Its intro brings a fun guitar riff before leaving the stage set for Towa (CV: Gakuto Kajiwara).

And the verses go all jaunty on you, with the piano leading the way, carrying you to the chorus.

And let me tell you that this is a really fun chorus.

The guitars follow the vocals as the piano tiptoes its way through the hi-hat-driven part.

The second verse brings a Rhodes piano joins the mix, being complemented by the tight drums and punchy baseline.

On the vocal end, Gakuto Kajiwara is as steady as ever, comfortably performing this song and providing some jaw-dropping moments. One such moment is in the bridge in which he goes all breathy for a delicate falsetto section that arrives out of nowhere but that you will find yourself wanting more of.

7 – 一等星 (performed by Tomoe – CV: Yuya Hirose)

Ittosei” is the introductory song to Tomoe (CV: Yuya Hirose), new vocalist who only joined the Tokyo Color Sonic!! franchise in 2022. 

The song kicks off with the vocals leading the way alongside an acoustic guitar. Slowly, the song goes an all-out rock tune on you, bringing electric guitars, shuffle-like drums, and a subdued bassline.

While the verses for this song are quite simple the chorus is a completely different story.

Dramatic strings join in the compositing, the acoustic guitar adds a lot of warmth to the composition, and the drums and bassline go all out. 

The tension is raised and leading the way is Yuya Hirose, delivering a powerfully emotional performance that will stand out for its quality. 

His legato is incredibly smooth, his falsetto is a thing of beauty (even if it only appears briefly in the song) and his natural singing tone is powerful and overflowing with emotion, grabbing my attention right from the start.

As far as first impressions go, Tomoe has managed to pique my interest from the get-go. The control and consistency on the vocal end are, yet again, impressive and this semi-acoustic sound suits his vocals really well.

8 – Trip on (performed by Kairi – CV: Shunsuke Takeuchi)

Dirty synths paint the night, trippy soundscape in front of you.

Slow-paced and with plenty of hip-hop influences, “Trip on” makes quite an intense entrance.

The verses bring fancy rapping and clean, low singing, creating quite a fancy dynamic on the vocal end. As far as the composition goes, expect to find trap percussion and slow hi-hats leading the way before the song goes all out with its electronica in the chorus.

Yes, when the chorus arrives the speed picks up and you are taken to the dancefloor to enjoy a powerful EDM tune. At the same time, Shunsuke Takeuchi (as Kairi) takes over on the vocal end, delivering a stylish performance that is less about technique and more about showcasing variety and intensity.

The vocal direction for this song is quite interesting, especially in the second verse in which Takeuchi’s singing takes a more melodic turn while the rapping gets quite intense yet is performed in a high voice tone. 

I welcome you to pay close attention to the differences between Takeuchi’s performance in the 1st and 2nd verses as those are subtle but quite interesting to go into detail.

The bridge welcomes a shredding guitar solo alongside the trap-inspired brass section before delivering you to the dancefloor yet again.

If high-tension EDM tunes and trap music are your thing, you will find a massive performance in this song.

9 – daybreak (performed by Iori – CV: Soma Saito)

A rhodes piano opens the curtains to the funky goodness awaiting you in the verses of “daybreak

Keeping things simple, “daybreak” is all about its intimate tone, with the soundscape quite close to the listener while cranking up the bassline and Rhodes combo for an extra punch of goodness.

When the chorus kicks in, the instrumental brings in dual funky guitar riffs and solo combo, taking this song to a warm, loungy setting.

The drums go fast on the hi-hat while keeping things simple and fun with a clean snare-kick combo.

The bassline goes crazy in this part, being a strong presence from this point on.
Being a sucker for a good bassline as I am, I found myself grooving to the bassline more than paying attention to the song on my first listen. It is that good.

As far as the vocals go, Soma Saito (as Iori) yet again gets a tricky song to tackle on the vocal end. Yet again he is performing lower than his usual singing tone, intentionally adding a growly edge to bring out those mature vibes that this song exudes.
Being lower and growly, especially with an instrumental that is so bass-driven, ends up being tricky as, at times, Saito is audible only with a bit of effort on the listener’s side.

While this could be easily attributed to the instrumental mixing – in a way Saito’s voice could have had the levels raised a bit -, I believe that Saito’s clashing with the instrumental is due to how low – in tone and volume – he is performing, matching the instrumental’s key.
I am curious to see how this song ends up sounding like performed live and if this challenge is only on record or if it remains in a live setting.

Still, technicality aside, Iori’s “daybreak” is an incredibly fun, groovy tune that asks you to join and dance along to it, even sing along to the chorus as you let the good vibes put a smile on your face.

Refreshing tune coming from Iori, who usually gets ridiculously technical songs yet nothing as groovy and mature as “daybreak” is.


Final considerations

The TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise wraps up the two first songs with each vocal in the tight package that is “RECALL”.

One thing that is instantly noticeable in this CD is how the tone of the first and second songs by each vocalist is completely different, with each trying different singing styles or even approaching different music genres to deliver surprising performances.

It is also noticeable how much the franchise itself has improved when it comes to the mixing of their songs (something that was a massive issue in the first season of songs). The mixing is much cleaner and the compositions are no longer cluttered with instruments just for the sake of having those there. As a result, the compositions now feel more cohesive and even have a completely different vibe from the start.

Another thing that has changed is the franchise’s lineup. In 2022, Tomoe (CV: Yuya Hirose) joined the franchise, adding another unique tenor to the lineup as well as another extremely reliable and versatile singer. That has resulted in the ear-catching performance of “Ittosei” which has me waiting excitedly for more music by Tomoe.

As far as the “if” solo versions go, it was interesting to finally have isolated vocals with each singer performing the full song. There are subtle differences between the seiyuu in their approach to the emotions and lyrics.

This makes it so that this song gets 5 different coats of paint, each with its unique twist.

Shots Chiba and Soma Saito are all about delivering powerful emotional performances. Gakuto Kajiwara’s clarity on the vocal end makes it easy to cry in this song. Shinsuke Takeuchi adds a lot of drama to the song while Yuya Hirose’s gentle tenor vocals make this song sound like a lullaby.

It is not easy to choose a favorite out of these 5, performances but I absolutely love Chiba and Saito’s takes on “if” as I am more drawn to overly emotional performances by tenor singers and they both nailed it for me. But believe me when I say that each take has its charm and deserves your full attention.

A good exercise you can do is to listen to all solo versions and try to notice the differences in the ways each seiyuu delivers their performances and how they approach their lyrics, the clarity of their vocals, and even their emotional range. Given how half of the lineup consists of tenors (Shoya Chiba, Soma Saito, and Yuya Hirose), you can even compare how each tenor approaches this song and understand how colorful and varied tenors’ voices can be.

And then check how the high baritone (Gakuto Kajiwara) and bass/low baritone (Shunsuke Takeuchi) tackle this song, especially with how low the verses go low and, in comparison to the tenors -, that may struggle with their volume during those parts -, they can powerfully and easily tackle those.

All in all, if you are trying to get into the TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise, this CD is a perfect entry point, showcasing not only the growth that each vocalist has undergone since their first CD up until the 2nd series of CDs but also how unique and talented each seiyuu is.

From rock to pop, acoustic, ballads, EDM, and hip-hop music, this franchise delivers everything with a high quality and refreshing approach in comparison to other 2D music projects/groups.

This is the perfect entry point into the TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise.

What is “TOKYO COLOR SONIC!!”?

Tokyo Color Sonic!! is the name of the mixed-media franchise created by sprout and featuring character designs by the popular illustrator Ryo Fujiwara.

This franchise includes a star-studded 10 main character cast, with characters split into 5 different “buddy” units of singer + songwriter.

As such, Tokyo Color Sonic counts with a balanced mix of drama CD + music. On vocals, listeners will find Shoya ChibaSoma Saito, Gakuto KajiwaraShunsuke Takeuchi, and Yuya Hirose.

To know more about this project, make sure to check our quick guide to it.


TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! solo songs album -Recall-” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

Tokyo Color Sonic! solo songs album - Recall -! / Komiyama Arashi (CV: Chiba Shoya), Takarada Iori (CV: Saito Soma), Sebumi Towa (CV: Gakuto Takehito), etc.
Komiyama Arashi (CV: Chiba Shoya), Takarada Iori (CV: Saito Soma), Sebumi Towa (CV: Gakuto Takehito), etc.

For media, PR, and business enquiries, please email me at: info@handthatfeedshq.com

Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

NEW DEVIATION
measly
VOICE
Don’t back down
Canvas
irony
一等星
Trip on
daybreak

SUMMARY

If you are trying to get into the TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise, this CD is a perfect entry point, showcasing not only the growth that each vocalist has undergone since their first CD up until the 2nd series of CDs but also how unique and talented each seiyuu is. From rock to pop, acoustic, ballads, EDM, and hip-hop music, this franchise delivers everything with a high quality and refreshing approach in comparison to other 2D music projects/groups. This is the perfect entry point into the TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise.

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If you are trying to get into the TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise, this CD is a perfect entry point, showcasing not only the growth that each vocalist has undergone since their first CD up until the 2nd series of CDs but also how unique and talented each seiyuu is. From rock to pop, acoustic, ballads, EDM, and hip-hop music, this franchise delivers everything with a high quality and refreshing approach in comparison to other 2D music projects/groups. This is the perfect entry point into the TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise.Review | TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! "Recall"