Tasuku Hatanaka “not GAME” (Review)

Tasuku Hatanaka

Tasuku Hatanaka‘s game-themed single explores new sonorities while revisiting the sound that his fans are familiar with.

tasuku not GAME
Title: not GAME
Label: Lantis 
Release date: 24/07/2019 
Genre: Dance-pop/Jazz


1 - not GAME
2 - Greatest Loser
3 - Victory Holic
4 - not GAME (Instrumental)
5 - Greatest Loser (Instrumental)
6 - Victory Holic (Instrumental)

Track by track analysis:

1 – not GAME

not GAME brings to the table a new sonority, mixing ethereal dance elements with electrifying guitars and imposing drums. This is one of those songs in which the highlight can be found in the verses as opposed to the well-known “the chorus is the highlight” talk.

Its in the verses that we find the groove, it is the way the verses were arranged and the instruments tweaked that we can feel that this song is fresh.

The groovy bass line and melodic guitar solo, the tasteful synth melodies, all build up to the chorus that lacks a bit in execution.

Too much is going on in the early stages of the chorus – which eases as we get closer to its tie-up with the following verses -, making the chorus sound completely out of place both in sonority, pacing and vibe.

On the vocal end, Hatanaka is his usual self.

His performance is marked by control, consistency and quality, even if it was not showy or excessively technical as past entries of his were.

2 – Greatest Loser

Eerie melodies, dirty synths and rough percussion make an impression on this urban tune. Greatest Loser explores a never-before explored sonority in Hatanaka’s solo career.

Although this song is primarily simple – synths and a powerful snare-bass drums combo -, jazz elements are also brought to the table to give it a unique flair.

Brass, funky guitar riffs and a simple bass line make sure that the listener isn’t completely absorbed by the track’s inherent dark vibe.

The outro is groovy and classy, bringing forth the jazz elements and minimizing the industrial, urban vibe that we get from the verses.

Vocally, Hatanaka showcases his technique, exploring a bit of his range with stunning falsetto parts and clear high notes. Fancy performance in a rather unique song.

3 – Victory Holic

To wrap up this release we have Victory Holic. This song picks up where we left off and brings jazz music to the forefront.

Fancy jazz drums, classy brass and wind instrument melodies, a groovy contrabass and simple guitar riffs complete a track that is exudes a laidback, rich vibe.

Its slow pacing, loungy vibe, fancy instrumentalization and Hatanaka‘s sweet mid-toned vocals make this song a highlight in this single. A showcase of versatility done in the best way imaginable.

Final considerations

Tasuku Hatanaka is back with his intense sound. not GAME is a solid single that dives deep into new sonorities and explores already known territory.

The title track is featured as the opening theme for the summer anime, Naka no Hito Genome.

Due to this, its sound is meant to be a hybrid of groovy with edge melodies, filled with energy and catchy melodies as a way to draw the listener/viewer’s attention to this song.

However, we felt the chorus completely strays away from the song’s vibe, even sounding a bit disruptive in terms of pacing and instrumentalization in comparison with previous dance-pop entries of his.

The chorus is overdone, with too much going on in its first couple of seconds, only progressing on a softer note when it ties up with those fresh piano/synth hybrid melodies that lead to the subsequent verse.

Greatest Loser is such a unique song. It explores urban rhythms while adding some aggressiveness from industrial electronica and even doing the unimaginable and adding some jazz in the mix.

Might sound confusing messy on paper but the end result is a song that makes us want to put on repeat to explore every single bit of it.

Victory Holic completely embraces jazz music and easily ranking as one of the smoothest songs in Hatanaka’s repertoire.

Its slow paced jazz sound, fancy instrumentalization, tasteful outro and the soundscape presented to the listener are something that deserved to be listened to time and time again.

The game-themed not GAME is an interesting entry in Hatanaka‘s repertoire.

He continues to be consistent and naturally technical in his singing which makes any song of his something to look forward to.

Although the title track lacks a bit of consistency, this single as a whole is meant to be treated as a unique experience, exploring new sonorities and breaking new ground for himself as well as showcasing his versatility on the vocal end by adapting to all music genres presented to him. Hatanaka kept things interesting with not GAME.

not GAME is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

not GAME
Greatest Loser
Victory Holic
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Also, the only person managing everything The Hand That Feeds HQ related. In 2011, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).