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That Lingering Feeling

神様のいうとおり (Kami-sama no Iu Toori, As God Dictates)

One of my personally significant ending themes in recent years is a surprise to myself because the meaning is almost entirely based in surrounding meta of the track. As God Dictates is the product of a fascinating culmination of influential artists who break the flavour-of-the-day concept overused in many anime themes. When I noticed the names in the collaboration for this track, I was somewhat amazed. I think many fans instantly noticed Etsuko Yakushimaru, but in the greater scene of music, I feel she carries less weight than Yoshinori Sunahara and Junji Ishiwatari. Etsuko and Soutaiseiriron have been successful outside the realm of anime themes, but given Etsuko’s uncanny vocal quality, it seems an almost natural procession for Etsuko to lend her voice to anime themes and the fanbase which adores her tender notes. She has also greatly appealed my ears with those wonderful Arawaka tunes.

Yoshinori Sunahara is perhaps lesser known to the Western anime fandom, but he rides nicely on the Sony Ki/oon label with many other well-acquainted artists. Sunahara is an electronic artist who came into the spotlight in the mid-90s and I encountered around 2001 through Lovebeat and a later feature of 2300 Hawaii during Cass and Slide’s December Essential Mix on Radio 1. Sunahara’s beat is instantly noticeable in the Tatami Galaxy ED theme, but the vaporous influence of 70s electronica is more hazy. In exemplary fashion, Sunahara revitalizes a period enlightened by Yellow Magic Orchestra, Tomita, and Kraftwerk among others, with present-day style, a sign that his musical ingenuity truly remembers love.

Ishiwatari wasn’t a name I instantly recognized until seeing his connection to Supercar. Supercar was a Japanese band that formed in the mid-90s, within quaint proximity to Sunahara. Yet their mastery was in the fusion of rock and electronica. Many anime fans encountered them through Eureka Seven, in which the track Storywriter was heavily featured. This was the period I discovered them for myself, but Three Out Change!!!, sounding much like a garage album and incomparable to their later works, was instant love. Ishiwatari was the guitarist for Supercar and also wrote the band’s lyrical catalog almost in it’s entirety. And the dangerous words we hear Etsuko sing were not only written by Ishiwatari but also written with Etsuko’s tenure in mind. Such an established overlay atop Sunahara’s melody is remarkable enough, but Etsuko also proves to be a monumental requirement to this haunting composition.

One final fascinating bit about this track comes when considering Tatami Galaxy‘s author, Tomihiko Morimi, and her time at Kyoto University, which served as inspiration for the novel (later adapted into the anime). Morimi was born in ‘79 which would place her university attendance in the late-90s, right around the same time Sunahara and Ishiwatari/Supercar were gaining momentum in their circles, yet it’s unclear whether or not Morimi is actually aware of who these artists are; the romantic in me believes she is quite aware. Having the story influenced by her time at KU also places the setting around the turn of the millenium, the novel was published in 2004, just as Supercar released their final work …what matters is that it all arrives out of the same primordial atmosphere, perhaps loosely coupled, and then there are Ishiwatari’s lyrics. If translation serve’s right, they’re about a woman, Akashi, or perhaps Morimi in another sense. It is eerie and beautiful, both in concept and form, though likely just a dream.

Mating the pieces in my mind, perhaps the context of As God Dictates isn’t simply Tatami Galaxy the anime. What I feel is a connection through the ending, something that haunts us and brings us back to that time when these artists were first blossoming, creating. For myself, it is a reminder of a time I felt a lust for life, through both the vigor and darkness that comes with being enamored.

This was to be published quite some time ago.

Categories: Music.

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