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Ai Otsuka – Frienger

Ai Otsuka – Frienger

by eyn on April 30, 2006 · 16 comments · AddThis

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Ai Otsuka Frienger
Frienger PV shooting
Released Date: 2006.04.12
Debut Ranking: #2
Label: avex trax
Product Code: AVCD-30916
Extra: 5 colour CD jacket

“Frienger”, Ai Otsuka’s (or intimately referred to as “Ai-chin” by her hardcore fans) 11th single, was released on April 12, 2006, approximately 7 months after the release of her 10th hit single, “Planetarium“. For those of you who are curious about the title, “Frienger” is a word combining “friend” and “ranger”, which relates how a friend is like a ranger who will always fight for you whenever you’re in trouble.

A preview of “Frienger” was first heard when au mobile MUSIC-HDD W41T used it as a TV commercial song. The B-side of this single, “Amai Kimochi Maru Kajiri”, which translates to “Taste Those Sweet Feelings Boldly”, was also used as the commercial song for music.jp, a popular music download site for Japanese mobile phones.

While many anticipated this single to be one of her best selling singles to date due to the upbeat A-side (her upbeat singles usually sell extremely well, i.e. “Sakuranbo” and “SMILY”), the sales of “Frienger” unfortunately did not meet fans’ expectations and achieved a rather mediocre first week sales figure of 70,414 copies. It seems that not even Ai-chin’s nationwide concert tour, “LOVE COOK [99] Tour”, could help to promote this single too much either.

The cover of “Frienger” features Ai-chin on a scooter. According to what she revealed in an interview, the scooter is too cool and fashionable to be not on the cover! “Frienger” is the first single from Ai Otsuka that does not offer first press special, but instead the CD jacket comes in 5 different colours that represents the 5 rangers from the PV. The CD+DVD package comes with a DVD that shows you a short clip of behind the scenes and the full length “Frienger” PV.


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1. Frienger

This upbeat song was picked to be Ai Otsuka’s spring single this year. While it’s not as wild as her past spring singles such as “Sakuranbo” and “SMILY”, “Frienger” still manages to deliver a very catchy tune accompanied by Ai-chin’s usual funny yet adorable lyrics. This song starts with a very simple electric guitar solo with drumset accompaniment. Just before the vocals come into the whole picture, we get to hear a distinct yet familiar “Fight!” yelled by Ai-chin, which is one of the very important ingredients that was used to tie the whole song together, especially the whole “friend” and “ranger” theme.

For those of you who are familiar with “U-Boat”, a song recorded for Ai-chin’s 3rd album, “LOVE COOK”, “Frienger” does show some shadows of it in terms of arrangement and special effects. However, I believe “Frienger” still stands on its own as proof of how Ai Otsuka is capable of delivering an upbeat spring single that pumps you up to embrace the arrival of a new season. Funny and adorable lyrics such as “stuffing my face with milk bread, I also reach for the chocolate pie” really makes this song a very approachable one, and it doesn’t fail to show us once again how simplicity in lyrics works when it comes from a singer called Ai Otsuka.

iPod iPod version (0 MB)

It is interesting to note that the PV of “Frienger” was shot in Taipei, Taiwan and the whole PV conveys the idea of “ranger” quite well, though not so much on the “friend” part. Still, it is always pleasant to see Ai-chin acting all goofy in front of the camera, and shooting this PV in Taiwan does add a very unique oriental feel to it. I am quite satisfied with the PV and I think it does do the song justice in terms of bringing the image of this song to the audience.

Rating: ★★★★½


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

2. Amai Kimochi Maru Kajiri

The song starts with Ai-chin’s girly vocals accompanied by a very soft acoustic guitar, which brings out the soothing effect of this song. Ai-chin stated that this song was specifically composed to couple with “Frienger”, and personally I think it does flow very well with the A-side, giving this single a more complete feel. The melody is simple and catchy despite being a mid-tempo song, and as a contrast to “Frienger”, the harmony was done in Ai-chin’s voice instead of using male vocals, which really showcases the sweet and feminine feeling of this song. This song also makes use of very well fitted harmonies at several parts, such as my personal favourite, the line where she sings “amai kimochi maru kajiri”. It all adds to the fullness of the melody which would otherwise be very empty due to the limited amount of instruments used in the arrangement. The same line of lyrics that started this song was also used to conclude the song. To me, everything just ended in peaceful harmony and it leaves you feeling a desire for more.

The lyrics speak from a girl’s perspective on how she wishes to become stronger and how she feels thankful for having her lover who always stays beside her and watches over her. Just as how Ai-chin put it, this song is very girly and it blends perfectly with “Frienger”, which is more on the strong and tomboyish side.

Overall, this is definitely one of her best B-sides to date, and it really shows how her composition skills are getting sharper over time since this is one of her latest works in 2006. “Frienger”, on the other hand, was composed 2 years back when she first debuted.

Rating: ★★★★★


Conclusion: Despite the bad single sales for some unknown reason, I really love this and I believe it is yet another quality single from Ai Otsuka that is worth buying for everyone who enjoys upbeat spring songs. If you are one of those people who heard songs from Ai Otsuka before and didn’t really like what you heard, I don’t think this single is groundbreaking enough to change your mind. Still, it does not mean she hasn’t grown musically but rather she continues to do what she does best in. Compared with her other singles similar to this one such as “Sakuranbo”, “Happy Days” and “SMILY”, “Frienger” is a more toned down song that will probably appeal to a wider audience, especially those who just cannot withstand the sheer hyperness in her previous upbeat hit songs. In my opinion, “Frienger” does strike the perfect balance between “absolutely crazy” and “moderately happy”, making it her best executed upbeat single to date.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★


Frienger CD+DVD
CD+DVD cover
Frienger CD only
CD only cover
  1. Frienger
  2. Amai Kimochi Maru Kajiri
  3. Frienger (Instrumental)
  4. Amai Kimochi Maru Kajiri (Instrumental)

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

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About the author

eyn is the geekmaster who spend his free time maintaining this blog, programming WordPress plugins and recruiting new writers who has a passion about J-Pop. His J-Pop goddess is Ai Otsuka but he also enjoys mihimaru GT, YUI and Jay Chou's music.

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Sunday Blog Roundup » Ray Mescallado Archives UNITED STATES
August 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

がんばりますよさん UNITED STATES March 30, 2008 at 10:38 pm

5/5 stars? As expected of Otsuka Ai :)

Thanks for the nice review!


Tim UNITED STATES March 28, 2008 at 6:26 pm

“Crapshoot” means “something (as a business venture) that has an unpredictable outcome” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary…


Stephanie AUSTRALIA June 18, 2007 at 6:38 am

ha, this song is great… apart from the song… I love her shirt..


Mika FINLAND March 7, 2007 at 11:41 pm

Hmm, i wonder if the girl even knows what her shirts says :)


regina PHILIPPINES February 22, 2007 at 9:14 am

Actually, i like all ai otsuka’s songs but i like most is the “frienger”.I also like to watch the “tokyo friends”, all of the girls are beautiful (the most beautiful is ai otsuka as rei).


zsa-zsa September 10, 2006 at 12:46 am

i like ai otsuka’s songs. where did you download the songs from the radio?? i cannot read japanese so i cannot download them…can i have song names if possible?? thank you! your reviews is very informative. thank you! ( ^_^ )V


Yuffs UNITED KINGDOM August 17, 2006 at 12:01 pm

Awesome review, I love Ai-chin and your amazing reviews are great, thank-you very much!


Matt Ramsden UNITED KINGDOM August 2, 2006 at 3:48 pm

These songs have got me into this artist who I never have even heard of before!!

Cool – article keep it up. Keep up the informatice arcticles.



eyn CANADA July 13, 2006 at 10:14 pm

Shinhan, sorry to say this but you have definitely underestimated how well “Sakuranbo’ did on the Oricon chart. So far, around 527,000 copies of “Sakuranbo” have been sold, whereas “Frienger” only sold around 167,000 copies to date. That, is a huge difference (more than 3 times).

fyi, Sakuranbo charted for 73 weeks before it fell out of the top 100 weekly single sales ranking. Here’s the top 4 best selling Ai-chin single to date:

  1. Sakuranbo – 527,000
  2. Planetarium – 315,000
  3. SMILY/Biidama – 310,000
  4. Frienger – 167,000


Shinhan SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO July 12, 2006 at 3:32 pm

I saw the PV first so it was mostly her acting that got me stuck to this song, and now I really like the song itself too.
As for sales, Sakuranbo is not *that* much better than Frienger…


Frost June 11, 2006 at 4:26 am

I really liked this single! Her singles all stand out from each other that’s what make them special! Thanks for the review I’m sorry to hear that the single wasn’t selling too well..


Rinoa May 3, 2006 at 5:41 am

I must say this must probably be your best review yet. It’s really well written and carefully planned out.

I liked Frienger but I must admit I wasn’t excited about it as much as I was with the other singles. It was a pretty good single for Ai with a funny pv but somehow I felt that something was missing.

However I have to agree that the sales were too poor. Lately solo female artists haven’t been selling so well.. hope it won’t turn into a trend.


Aprilis CANADA May 3, 2006 at 3:00 am

So you did managed to get it up by the end of the month! … or did you? =P

I kind of understand the sales for this single. Frienger is a nice song. But unlike some of her other songs (Planetarium and SMILY), it took me awhile to get hook on the song. This might also be the case for other people. Since we don’t live in Japan, we don’t really know how often the radion stations played the song and how often the PV had been shown on TV. But I hope the single will stay on the chart for awhile!
Personally, seeing the PV was the turning point for me. After seeing the PV for the first time, I just couldn’t get enough of the song!

The b-side is okay. It matches with Frienger very well. But as a song by itself, It just didn’t stand out like some of her other b-side (like natsu sora).


Anna May 2, 2006 at 8:47 pm

It’s interesting to read this review, as my own review was almost the complete opposite, as I did not enjoy the single. Very well done review, nevertheless.


Kikaru UNITED STATES May 2, 2006 at 6:13 pm

Lovely review Eyn :)

Friengers is the one song actually really stuck to me, someone who’s not really too fond of her extremely upbeat stuff, and generally disliked her upbeat singles (Happy Days and biidama excluded). I found Friengers really pleasing to listen to, and doesn’t wear me out after a couple of listens.

Her Bside IMO is okay. A very nice ballad, but I just find it not really sticking in my head, and doesn’t really leave an overall impression, but it’s nonetheless composition wise a good song, although I really do fail to see what was so girly about it (maybe I just don’t understand Japanese LOL). But overall, a nice track.

I think this single probably isn’t enough to turn indifferencers and haters to fans, but it’s a good single nonethless.


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