Japanese original published on OKMusic, 2 March 2021. Yes, that is today—a slightly cut version was included in the free magazine “music UP’s” published on 20 February, and thus I was able to prepare most of the translated text in the leadup to today.
Original title: “[Interview with Kanako Takatsuki] I’m happy if my love for anime music gets across.” Interviewer: Fumiaki Kurebayashi.
The new release from Kanako Takatsuki, who made her long-awaited solo artist debut in October last year with the single “Anti world,” is the anison [anime song] cover single “King of Anison EP1.” Including a ballad cover of “Anti world” along with the opening theme “Platinum” from NHK’s “Cardcaptor Sakura” and the opening theme “unravel” from the TV anime “Tokyo Ghoul” for a total of three songs, the EP is well worth the listen, brimming with her love for anison and her feelings of respect.
I have to sing with respect you can hear
This release features anison covers. You were working part-time at an anison café and singing anime songs there a while back already, right?
Right. I sang anime songs every day. Since then, I’ve had the idea that if I were able to debut as an artist, I’d like to do a release with anison covers. When my artist debut was decided last year, I was able to have some talks and tell that “I want to release an album with covers of anime songs!” Similar to how Shoko Nakagawa released her anison cover album series “Shokotan☆Cover” separately from her own original songs, that’s the vision I had. It took the form of a three-song EP due to how, back when I decided to do such a release, I figured this is how I could deliver it without missing my moment, when I’m still new.
Are you perhaps thinking of also compiling these into an album one day?
An album is one thing I’d like to do, but I’d like to do cover concerts as well. This project originally started with my anison cover concert held at Mynavi BLITZ Akasaka in 2019 (Kanako Takatsuki 1st Cover Live ~King of Anison~). I put “King” in the name for one because of my nickname “Takatsuking” and also because of my intention to “make it a concert with a selection of exemplary [Japanese: 王道, literally king’s road*] anime songs,” and so one of the themes of this anison cover series, too, is picking what’s exemplary in some way each time. For this EP, “Platinum” is truly an exemplary anime song, isn’t it.
Moreover, you’re doing a rather early cover of your own solo debut song “Anti world” here.
Speedy for sure (laughs). I want to also regularly release my own songs with different arrangements as long as they’re anime songs, and “Anti world” is the opening theme to the anime “I’m Standing on 1,000,000 Lives.”
The original song was an intense rock number, but I found that even as a ballad, its coolness remained unchanged.
Thank you. I used to have an unfounded insecurity with regard to singing ballads, maybe partly due to how I always liked energetic songs more than ballads. Furthermore, since I wrote the lyrics to “Anti world” in a way that the rhyme play would fit faster-paced rock, I thought it would probably be difficult to produce the sounds in a more meticulous way and all that as required for a ballad version. So, when I sang it in the key check, I cautiously enquired the recording staff “is this working out?” but I was told “it’s completely fine” and that reassured me. I felt I could get into it even listening to it myself, so one of the big gains this time was learning to like ballads as well.
I’m hearing the second song, “Platinum,” was a recommendation from your staff.
That’s right. “Platinum” is an opening theme to NHK’s “Cardcaptor Sakura,” and while I haven’t sung it in front of an audience at events, it’s a song I love and still sing a lot. Someone requesting it at karaoke makes me really happy, and also now, hearing staff say they’d like to hear me sing it got me really fired up (laughs).
The original was sung by Maaya Sakamoto in 1999, and your cover was even more passionate and bright, very much in your image.
I wasn’t really trying to include any quirks, but when I sing freely those things just happen on their own, so no matter what I sing it always becomes “very Kanako Takatsuki” (laughs). The original arrangement was clear and simple, while my cover has a girl band-style arrangement, so I think that also had an effect.
The arrangement is by Makoto Miyazaki who has also worked on Aqours and AZALEA songs, so an arranger you’re familiar with.
That might have had to do with how right when I heard the arrangement I could imagine myself singing it. That’s how well the arrangement fits my passions.
Did you make a conscious choice to sing “Kanako Takatsuki’s Platinum”?
Of course I did not seek to emulate, but I also did not consciously think I’m singing it my way. I read and sang the lyrics, wanting to cherish the natural product of singing with my soul. So I should say that that kind of a groove came about naturally, as a result of me feeling the sound, without any thought. No matter what song I’m singing, it’s first and foremost fun! Especially with “Platinum,” when seeing the footage of me singing it afterwards, even I took note of how I looked like I was really enjoying it.
With that said, it has to feel different to when you were singing at your part-time job in the anison café.
That is indeed different. Even though the fun comes on its own, when you’re singing as a professional artist, it goes hand in hand with a sense of responsibility. Just having fun like back when I was working part-time doesn’t fly. I think it’s important to soak up the message of the song and be a vessel for conveying it. In order to make it something that fans of the original song can be happy with, I have to sing with respect. To do that, I had to construct the singing delicately, like “this part has this emotion to it, so let’s cut it off here” or “let’s draw this out here,” thinking about how much I can convey as a singer. In that sense, while I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of a reception this release will get, it’s also a bit scary. I’m happy if my love for anime music gets across.
Incidentally, were you around kindergarten age when “Cardcaptor Sakura” aired?
I was in kindergarten or the lower grades of elementary school. At the time, I looked up to Sakura-chan fervently. I was thinking “I want to go to school on roller skates too” (laughs).
Has your impression changed after becoming an adult and watching the anime again?
At the time, I was just paying attention to how cute the characters looked, but when you properly follow the story, there are parts that make your heart ache, but they’re followed by parts that make you feel relieved. When you become an adult, your point of view changes to watching over Sakura-chan’s growth. Besides that, when I read the lyrics again, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before: it’s a song about the feelings of a little girl that you don’t lose even after growing up.
This release truly is “Platinum” in the sense of a crystallization of your unfading feelings for anime music.
It is! (laughs)
I wanted to film my expression going all out singing
The third song was an unexpected cover, the opening theme to “Tokyo Ghoul,” titled “unravel” and sung by TK from Ling tosite sigure in 2014.
I picked this song. At the time Tokyo Ghoul was broadcasted, aside from the anime itself, this song really made an impression on me, and I sang it every time I went to karaoke from then on.
TK’s singing voice is high for a man, but I would think it’s a Herculean task even for women.
I’m singing it in the original key!
I mixed in some falsetto to sing it. It’s a song where you can show off both the delicate and the powerful side, and I’ve always loved this type of emotional rock. Still, I never had the chance to let people hear it in my activities so far. I chose the song because I thought that now that I have the chance, I want everyone to know this side of me as well.
Did it end up being difficult after all?
Since I’ve been singing it at karaoke for a long time, I had the passion down (laughs), but I was pretty nervous having to do it all in one go right then and there. However, since I thought it’s actually the kind of song that is served by being a bit rough on the edges, I didn’t try to sing it in a polished way but rather in a style that left it a bit rough.
And you recorded the singing and the video for these three songs at the same time, correct?
Yes. I sang it at the warmup before the actual recording and held onto the feeling. Then the recording was only two takes. It was basically that the better performance was picked. The video from the recording is included on the Blu-ray that comes with the first press limited edition, so please do watch it.
Were you not distracted by the cameras when singing?
It felt like performing at a concert and getting that recorded, so the cameras didn’t really bother me. Because the regular music video had cute faces and pretty faces, here I specifically wanted to film a different kind of expressions: going all out singing. Because no matter how untidy I’d look, that’d also be proof I’m going all out. Although I’m still a bit iffy myself on how I look when singing seriously (laughs).
What’s your favorite part?
All of them have a different feel to them, but in “Platinum” I undid a button on the front of my outfit and sang while moving around and creating a fun atmosphere, so I think your experience will change when you watch my expression at the same time. I cherished the feeling of conveying what the lyrics say while keeping the atmosphere of each song in mind, singing my heart out in any case, so I hope you can also see that in the video.
I found the balance between these three songs to be good. Is there something more the three songs made you feel?
I noticed the commonality that they are all from anime where the main character is in school, and the lyrics include the word “world.” When I thought of something more that the outlooks of the anime these songs play in share, I thought they’re all stories that teach you about various kinds of pain and kindness. There’s a word I thought of then, and I wrote it on the inside of the package with the CD removed from it in English. Please check which word it is by looking at the actual package.
Are you already thinking of ideas for your next release?
I’m already brainstorming about various songs (laughs). I just want to sing different kinds of anime songs from the 90s or the Showa period for example, regardless of genre. I want to sing more songs that have male vocals, and I’d also like to do playful songs that have a bit of humor to them. Coming up with a theme and selecting songs feels like making my own playlist, so it’s fun.
Do you have further dreams or goals in keeping on singing anison covers?
Another dream related to covering anime songs is that I’d like to perform at an anison festival overseas. At such a festival, rather than singing just my own original songs, singing anime songs that are popular overseas would excite the audience more. The demand for voice actors and anison artists to cover other anime songs is very high in the anison scene. I hope to keep responding to those wishes.
Now, to finish up with the topic of exemplariness, what’s the anime song you like the most?
I get asked this a lot, but it’s a question I really struggle with (laughs). If I had to name one, then “Mizu no hoshi e ai wo komete” [English title: From the Aqueous Star with Love**]. I’m actually a Gundam fan, and singing a theme song for the Gundam franchise one day is another dream I have!
*王道 (ōdō) is difficult to translate. The sense Kinchan is using it in here is “the road most closely following the mainstream” or “the proper way for things to proceed.” I took the liberty of translating this as “exemplary,” but it could also be e.g. “orthodox,” “prototypical,” “authoritative,” or “mainstream.”
**This is the English title listed on both Wikipedia and the Gundam Wiki. If someone knows how official this title is and why it’s translated that way, please let me know. Myself, I’d rather translate the Japanese title as “To the Water Planet, With Love.” (I’m not too familiar with Gundam myself.)