The time has finally come: Utada Hikaru, singer, songwriter, and one of the most successful Japanese artists ever, is finally back from her six-years long hiatus today, with two new digital singles that instantly topped the iTunes chart. That’s right, we finally have the chance to listen to her new songs Hanataba wo Kimi ni and Manatsu no Tooriame.
I’m not even talking about Hanataba wo Kimi ni that much: I can tell you that the track is nice, but not outstanding either, and that Hikki’s vocals are always on point as you would expect. If you’re a fan, you’re gonna like it in its simplicity. That’s it.
What I definitely want to talk about though, is Manatsu no Tooriame. This track brings back the Hikki I loved in that masterpiece called Sakura Nagashi, and despite not aiming at the same emotional levels of the Evangelion track, it still gets pretty close to it, despite more friendly vocal lines and a generally linear approach. Behind its apparent simplicity, Manatsu no Tooriame is indeed a beautiful melancholic piece and a remarkable comeback for Utada: Most of the track is basically a voice/piano duo that focuses on Hikki’s outstanding interpretation, that evolves towards the end with a dramatic arrangement, in a nice crescendo that gives a good emphasis to the track. What’s most admirable (and it comes as no surprise) is Hikki’s capacity of conveying feelings through her voice: I have no problem in saying I cried listening to this track, despite having no idea of what she was saying. I’m like that.
The track gains even more pathos if paired with its wonderful Music Video, that shows slices of different lives and moments, framed by an impressive care for details and an excellent direction: It pictures the simplest moments and things in a unique and emotional way, with a truly outstanding artistic result.
Utada Hikaru’s comeback is a convincing one: The emotional and beautiful Manatsu no Tooriame makes up for the nice yet unimpressive Hanataba wo Kimi ni, and nothing can be considered bad or disappointing here. The best thing I was happy to notice, is that Hikki is in great shape and more than ready to start a new chapter of her career. And I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us.