SolidS “Oka Ranman” (Review)

Oka Ranman” delivers a stunning spectacle of oriental melodies coated in high quality melodic vocal performances, in which group harmonies are just an appetizer for something bigger and grandiose, all aiming to impress the listener with a unique, delicate and rustic soundscape.

Title: 桜花爛漫 
Label: Tsukino Production/Movic
Release date:  22/12/2017
Genre: Pop/Ballad

Track analysis:

1 – 桜花爛漫 (Oka Ranman)

TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION gave us a myriad of great songs, be it from SolidS or by the other brother groups within the franchise. “Oka Ranman” was premiered in the first episode of the series, and was quickly pointed out by fans as not sounding like your typical SolidS‘ song. Completely embracing a traditional sound while disregarding the heavy synth and guitar based sound that has marked this unit’s career so far, “Oka Ranman” delivers a stunning spectacle of oriental melodies courtesy of the timeless shamisen and shakuhachi, coated in high quality melodic vocal performances, in which group harmonies are just an appetizer for something bigger and grandiose, all aiming to impress the listener with a unique, delicate and rustic soundscape.

It’s the first time SolidS venture into ballad territory in the way they did with “Oka Ranman“. Most people would argue that this song doesn’t sound like a textbook ballad and would add that, for example, if we’re talking about SolidS‘ ballads, then “Liar Crier” would fit best on that category, others would say that this song is more like a pop take on a traditional sound. We agree partially with both, however, when listening to this song, you can’t help but to feel that there’s a ballad touch in there – even if just a little, enough to shift the whole vibe of this song -, hence our labeling of this song as a ballad.

It’s also the first time SolidS challenge themselves with a core traditional song. We know that traditional Japanese songs – e.g Enka – demand complex and emotional performances to match the urgency or drama of the instrumentals, even if, for the ears of some people that don’t appreciate or understand the genre, it only sounds like someone not putting the effort into their singing. Although this song is far from being categorized as Enka – which it isn’t – the fact that we have a traditional sound ruling over the instrumental demanded the same quality from the vocal performances as you’d expect in Enka. What we got was one of the most unique performances on SolidS‘ repertoire. Everyone in this unit challenged high notes, tricky melodies, group harmonies – something they have been doing extremelly well since the release of “Burny!!!” -, as well as falsetto among other vocal flourishes.

Saito and Hanae lowered their tone to fit the song’s mood – even if during the chorus and some solo parts they were on fire with their trademark high notes -, on the other side Umehara was a perfect fit for the whole vibe of the song making great use of his newfound control over his vocals on both ends, and Eguchi was incredibly comfortable for this performance. A highlight in their performance is undoubtedly the bridge section. Clean, emotion-filled vocals alongside minimalistic instrumentalization build up the tension for what is the last chorus in the song, turning into a thing of beauty.

SolidS put aside their racy, teasing lyrics, adopting a more formal, dramatic and enigmatic approach to those. For those of you that might have not noticed this, the song’s title is actually the idiom 桜花爛漫, that can be read as Oka Ranman, meaning Sakura or Cherry Blossom. The idiom “Oka Ranman” refers to the brilliance of cherry blossoms as well as the splendor and beauty of Japanese cherry trees in full bloom. Beauty and tradition are associated with this idiom, fitting with the imagery of the song as well as with the plot it’s actually tied to.

This is just the second out of 4 unique songs that SolidS released part of the anime series. “Burny!!!” showcased their passionate heart and “Oka Ranman” their delicate and refined side. We still have “Back on Track” and “運命を越える”Venga” to be released that will certainly add more depth to a group that has been growing an improving by leaps and bounds in the past two years.

Oka Ranman” is the second seed in what was a fantastic series of releases tied to the anime adaptation for this unit. SolidS deliver a delicate and classy piece, a contemporary traditional beauty of a song, one we consider to be a must listen for any fan of the group.

Final rating: 

This song is included in the first DVD of TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION. The DVD is available for purchase on CDJAPAN to all overseas fans.