Starshine’s Setlist: To the Beginning – Kalafina

Some of the best and most prestigious J-Pop acts do anime theme songs. Hell, even AKB48 lent their collective voices to the Wreck-It Ralph movie for Sugar Rush’s theme. Some groups, however, are formed specifically to make anime openings and closings. Enter Kalafina, a group of ladies brought together in 2007 in order to perform the theme for Kara no Kyokai. Ever since, they’ve been lending their vocal talents to different animes, increasing their popularity and notoriety.

Let’s listen to to the beginning by Kalafina.

Kalafina-to-the-beginning-cover

Here’s the music video with English lyric translation here:

In terms of the lyrics, it is the typical anime fare, meaning it’s not like much of the mainstream J-Pop. It has grand, sweeping metaphors, filled with tons of beautiful visual references throughout to convey the epic nature of the show (in this case, Fate/Zero). The topic, however, is love, as per usual so there’s few points for originality there.  It’s a song that attempts to be filled with big feelings with even bigger visuals but it just doesn’t get the point across. The lyrics are only done some justice by the vocals of the song, but more of those later. Overall, the lyrics have a lot of empty pomp that leaves much to be desired.

Truly, only the greatest of singers can emote that hard while basically singing about cliches.

Truly, only the greatest of singers can emote that hard while basically singing about cliches.

Since this song is made for an anime, it’s not going to include an expensive music video with a dance and costume changes. This means my rating criteria is going to be a little different this time around — you can’t expect cream puffs to win a cake-baking contest, after all. I will say that the video does lack a little…variety, so to speak. I’ve seen videos for anime themes before and there was at least some action.

There was a lot of stylized posing, which didn’t really do much for me. The costuming is lovely, probably some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. The background is essentially dark buildings or walls with some occasional shots of green, which work well with the costuming though not the theme. I will say though, what the video lacks in narrative or dance, they make up for in cinematography and special effects.

This is one of the better fade effects I've seen in J-Pop videos. I wish I was joking.

This is one of the better fade effects I’ve seen in J-Pop videos. I wish I was joking.

Because one of the members, Keiko Kubota, has a lower range, the harmonies in this song are fuller and richer. As a trio, they sound fantastic, breaking away from the typical high-pitched groups. Not to mention string-heavy portion of the melody is gorgeous, blending into the rock instrumentals. The audio is actually so good, it manages to mask the flaws of the video, or at least keep you hooked enough to ignore the video all together.

In the end, to the beginning is a great song with a mostly lackluster video. For an anime theme, the song does have to portray a lot on its own, and it really manages to work because of the great vocals and instrumentation. It’s worth a listen, though not necessarily a viewing.

Pros:

– Great song overall.

– Strong vocals.

– Great costuming.

Cons:

– Lackluster video.

– Bland lyrics.

Rating: 4.5/5

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Starshine5050

As just a regular, hard-working work, often-stressing, procrastination-mastering history and journalism student, I often turn to the silver and small screens for relief, even though I'm only an average cinema-and-television loving viewer, commenting on what, and does not, makes good entertainment. I love horror everything - book, TV shows, games, movies - even though they frighten me terribly. I'm a long time believer of the old saying "When life gives you lemons, don't take life's lemons! Give the lemons back!" So, onward I go, returning lemons and logging an unhealthy amount of screen time for your enjoyment. So please be sure to read my stuff and let me know what you think, I'm alway looking to improve and be the best, most cynical critic I can be!

Latest posts by Starshine5050 (see all)

Starshine5050

As just a regular, hard-working work, often-stressing, procrastination-mastering history and journalism student, I often turn to the silver and small screens for relief, even though I'm only an average cinema-and-television loving viewer, commenting on what, and does not, makes good entertainment. I love horror everything - book, TV shows, games, movies - even though they frighten me terribly. I'm a long time believer of the old saying "When life gives you lemons, don't take life's lemons! Give the lemons back!" So, onward I go, returning lemons and logging an unhealthy amount of screen time for your enjoyment. So please be sure to read my stuff and let me know what you think, I'm alway looking to improve and be the best, most cynical critic I can be!

One Comment:

  1. Yay, glad you liked the song! Although I don’t watch PVs much, from what I’ve seen, Kalafina’s are pretty ordinary, mostly them standing around in nice-looking costumes. The lyrics… when I bother to look them up, which isn’t often, they don’t really do much for me either. Luckily, the music more than makes up for it. And a good point about Keiko. You don’t see many J-Pop singers who are really comfortable singing deep, so Keiko plays a very important role with her harmonisations.

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