Toradora will have a new op and ed come January, likely for episode 14. Before then, I wanted to discuss the ed, Vanilla Salt (or rather Banira Saruto). I like the op as well, but I think the ed is better and I don’t feel like discussing both. You’ll notice I didn’t use the official live action music video for the song. This is for several reasons. One, Yui Horie’s voice is far from the main reason I like this song. Second, the dancing or whatever the fuck that is in the video is fucking horrible and makes me want to kill myself. Also she is extremely creepy looking thanks to the obvious extreme surgery she’s had on her face to make her look 20 (she’s 32 by the way.) However, the creepiness of the voice actor neither effects my love of the character nor the song, so there they are above.
Vanilla Salt kicks in with, I believe, four keyboard overlays and Yui Horie chirping ‘ba ni ra, sa ru to de’. These 5 things will be the structure of our song. The drum machine is pretty standard bass-tom strikes consistent throughout the song (unlike a certain song on one of the singles where the drum machines go batshit fucking nuts.) We next have my favorite element of the song, what I feel the need to refer to as the ‘bass’. I can’t tell if it’s one keyboard, one keyboard and an actual bass guitar, or to keyboards, but the rhythm is held up by this ‘bass’ which plays an instantly memorable tune repeatedly throughout. Next we have a keyboard which at times is playing a sort of string of ‘clicking’ sounds and then for the chorus becomes a crescendo of high-pitched techno-ish keystrokes. For the verses there are a ton of extra overlays, including a keyboard sound that that seems to be going along with the vocals and swooshing cinematic synth. The chorus has some added piano and other rhythms going on too. It’s a lot to take in all at once.
That’s where the magic happens. It’s really quite easy to absorb it all. The song is very carefully constructed so that the rhythm, lyrics, and beat are all still well audible and the rest is background so the song is still fun and ‘pop’. All this added stuff, when not being listened for, creates a fulfilling atmosphere that keeps the listener playing the song over and over again. It has that feeling of being unlike anything else, and so it’s a hard song to follow up with listening to something else (this is true for the op too, and it’s actually hard to listen to one after the other.) Striking the balance between ‘fulfilling’ and ‘overwhelming’ is not easy, but the composer here definitely knew what he was doing.
One of my favorite elements of this song is how the music in the verses stops and starts, as right after the starts in the second verse or in the little empty space the rhythm is changed up a little, giving it more little memorable moments. There are also some changes in the drum patters and stuff in the second verse. Honestly, I find it pretty surprising that a pop song has this much going on. Every time I listen I pick out a new noise in there somewhere. Just now I discovered some very faint, almost cicada-sounding chirps in the second chorus iteration.
If I had to make one complaint about this song it would be, uh, Yui Horie. Well, that’s not fair. Her voice works with the song, the lyrics are fun and memorable. Thing is, she can’t fucking sing. She just kind of talks to a rhythm. It’s cute I guess, but when you’ve seen the video it just becomes a little pathetic. In addition, the ‘ba ni ra, sa ru to de’ part is a little annoying and is the only thing that makes the song hard to listen to immediately after itself since it’s at the beginning and end of the song. However, without her there, we wouldn’t have the almost emotional feeling when the music climaxes and we get our last ‘amaiiiiiii’. But then again, any singer could have done that. Maybe this is why the music had to go so far to be good without her.
In any case, Vanilla Salt will definitely be one of the few J-pop anime songs I’ll hold on to and listen to occasionally, and I am interested in whether or not the new op or ed can top it.