Unicorn Jr. “Pandora Box” (Review)

unicorn

With a sound completely different from their seniors, Unicorn Jr. has a sound fitter for the dancefloor, where guitars have almost no place and the synths reign undisputed.

unicorn jr
Left to right: Toshiyuki Someya, Shouta Aoi, Chiharu Sawashiro

unicorn jr

Title: Pandora Box
Label: Rejet
Release date: 13/05/15 
Genre: J-Pop

Tracklist:

01.PANDORA BOX 
02.ワガハイはネコである!!! 
03.MIS(S)LEAD 
04.Q 
05.PANDORA BOX -off vocal- 
06.ワガハイはネコである!!! -off vocal- 
07.MIS(S)LEAD -off vocal- 
08.Q -off vocal-

Track by track analysis:

1.PANDORA BOX

Pandora Box impresses with its heavy amount of synths right from the very beginning. Resorting to pads, strong sequences, and see-saw synths the track doesn’t have the slightest hint of guitars and live drums. Well if this isn’t a track fit for the dancefloor what is it?

It’s an upbeat mid-tempo dance pop track that might sound a bit overwhelming and cheesy in its first seconds into the track but quickly the track redeems itself.

The vocals are something incredibly new for everyone as only Shouta Aoi has an active singing career and the others might be a little bit difficult to identify in the track. If you to know who is who, here is a small hint: 1st into the verses – Shouta Aoi / 2nd into the verses – Chiharu Sawashiro / 3rd into the verses – Toshiyuki Sumeya.

With this in mind, we need to point out that both Sawashiro and Someya impress in their own ways in this track.

Chiharu Sawashiro shows that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He follows in the footsteps of his older sister Miyuki Sawashiro when it comes to being an impressive singer. With his mid-toned, slightly rough vocals he impresses with his “suave” approach to the song.

On the other side, we find Toshiyuki Sumeya that impresses with the differences between his “casual” voice – incredibly rough – and his singing voice – which turns out to be slightly higher pitched than expected. Still, the mix between these three voices sounds entertaining and fresh. Energetic way to kick off this single.

2.ワガハイはネコである!!!

The funky bass and brass lead the way as guitars make their first appearance, a brief one to boot.

The instrumental leaves a bit of the overwhelming electronica elements and brings some interesting instruments to the table: the bass and brass come alongside the shakuhachi in the outro.

Well conceived instrumental that only lacks because of the whole “cat” theme. The vocal performances are just ok, nothing amazing but certainly out of our comfort zones – I’m not gonna spoil that part for you, you’ll notice those parts as you listen to the song.

Lacks substance in the lyrics and the instrumental fails to truly amuse us.

3.MIS(S)LEAD

Oh, the good old times when we got a cinematical intro provided by RejetMIS(S)LEAD brought those back, if only for a few seconds.

Synths alongside heavy drums and strong guitar riffs? Yes, please.

The chorus might be one of the best the golden duo Iwasaki/Mikoto has produced so far both lyrics and music-wise. Its build-up from the pre to the chorus (including it) is well executed and the vocal execution of that part is really stellar.

The way all the voices blend in unison and deliver those lyrics in a powerfully emotional way, actually had the ability to put me in awe.

Well done Unicorn Jr.MIS(S)LEAD is the gem of the single. Not only has a strong instrumental but it also has a solid vocal performance by the trio. Full marks.

4.Q

To conclude this debut single, Unicorn Jr. presents us “Q” (Question), a mid-tempo track deviating a bit from the highly danceable pop from Pandora Box and the powerful rock performance in MIS(S)LEAD.

This is a sweet, mid-tempo track resorting to funky guitars, sweeping synth pads, those “snary” drums and the downside – the occasional vocal manipulation.

Instrumental wise this is quite a simple track that had all the elements to be a close one with the previous track but that vocal manipulation really puts you off.

It’s excessive, the vocal track was good enough not to need it but oh well… What can I say?

Besides that part the track not only is entertaining besides its mid to slow tempo in the verses and the vocal performances follow its entertainment with not only gentleness but also energy. A shame that the vocal work was almost ruined with auto-tune.

Final considerations

Unicorn Jr. impresses in their debut single. Between heavy dance pop and rock, the unit shows us that they can deal with both genres delivering befitting performances worthy of putting a smile on our faces.

The mix of Aoi, Sawashiro, and Someya worked well on the first try and we hope the unit grows as well as both Marginal#4 and Lagrange Point have grown.

Once again Daisuke Iwasaki invested in new talents – the big bet is on Chiharu Sawashiro, as he’s the only one that is still a bit “new” to the fans. If he’s nurtured as Yuto Suzuki in Mg#4 then we’re off for a wonderful ride with Unicorn Jr.

On the other side, Shouta sounds, for the very first time, like he has a lower voice tone. It really impressed me as we were expecting him to be struggling to maintain the vocal tones leveled in the choruses – if you don’t recall him struggling to maintain his vocals close to the mid-tone check “Poison Kiss” from Quartet Night -. His vocal growth is noticeable in this single and his experience is quite obvious as well. Last comment about the vocal performances: Sumeya has an interesting singing voice tone but it might prove difficult to level it to the other members as he’s quite often on a higher key than the rest of the unit.

To complete this review I need to mention that Iwasaki and Mikoto brought us completely different music than anything previously done by the other Rejet/Pitagoras units.

Seeing as both of them struggled to make good singles in the “Red Hot Saga“, “Bingo!!!!” period for Marginal#4 sacrificing their quality in comparison with Lagrange Point (that skyrocketed their way into the top of seiyuu units with their 3 perfect straight strikes), I was expecting havoc with three releases in the same month.

Spacing the releases instead of releasing them all at the same time is proving to be less hazardous as way before. So far, so good.

Unicorn Jr. sounds good and is worth checking out! A bright and energetic debut with a solid single.

Pandora Box” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

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

PANDORA BOX
ワガハイはネコである!!!
MIS(S)LEAD
Q

SUMMARY

Rejet's third endeavor in the music business comes by the hand of their most recent brainchild "Unicorn Jr.". This rookie trio consisting of Shouta Aoi, Chiharu Sawashiro and Toshiyuki Someya bring us a new look into the Iwasaki/Mikoto music collaboration as well as showing us brand new faces and voices to add to Rejet's roster. A mix between an already established singer, a rookie seiyuu/singer and a stage actor would prove to be a little bit difficult to imagine working out but - both Marginal#4 and Lagrange Point showed us that theses mixes can and work.

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Rejet's third endeavor in the music business comes by the hand of their most recent brainchild "Unicorn Jr.". This rookie trio consisting of Shouta Aoi, Chiharu Sawashiro and Toshiyuki Someya bring us a new look into the Iwasaki/Mikoto music collaboration as well as showing us brand new faces and voices to add to Rejet's roster. A mix between an already established singer, a rookie seiyuu/singer and a stage actor would prove to be a little bit difficult to imagine working out but - both Marginal#4 and Lagrange Point showed us that theses mixes can and work.Unicorn Jr. "Pandora Box" (Review)