Ai Otsuka – Yumekui

by Rinoa on August 15, 2006 · 26 comments · AddThis

Yumekui promotional image
A promotional image which was linked with Yumekui.
Artist: Ai Otsuka
Product Code: AVCD-31021
Release date: 2006.08.02
Debut Ranking: #4
First Press: Special Packaging
Label: avex trax

After four months of inactivity, Ai Otsuka returned to the music scene by releasing her twelfth single. Her highly anticipated single, “Yumekui” was announced to be released on the second of August, close to the release of “Tokyo Friends The Movie” in theatres. This single was specifically made by Ai-chin to fit the theme of “Tokyo Friends” and consequently it is no surprise that both songs within this single were featured within the series and the movie.

Ai Otsuka radically changed her image from her “Frienger” one where Ai was frequently featured in short hair and cute outfits, suggesting a fun-loving attitude. In August, Ai is seen with longer hair and a more feminine, simple and mature image. Ai is frequently featured in various photoshoots with curly long hair and wearing classy and feminine dresses and skirts.

Unlike most of her other releases, the cover for this single did not feature Ai. Instead both versions of this single featured a surrealistic illustration with a baku, a boy and a purple background. Many of her fans were disappointed with this decision since the cover is quite plain, unpolished and simplistic. However I do feel that it really fits the theme of this single perfectly and gives it an indies feel, which in the end was what Sabakan was. Interesting enough to note that the painting textures within the cover are drawn in a manner which look three dimensional. Following the tradition of releasing a first press extra with most of her singles, “Yumekui” has a special packaging. The special first press packaging was a digipack.

“Yumekui” ranked in the fourth place on the first day of sales on the Oricon charts. In the first week she managed to secure the fifth place and sell 63,428 copies. This was quite a step backwards from most of her previously released singles which usually rank higher and sell more on the first week. However I still feel it ranked quite well, when taking into account that there were a lot of popular artists and bands releasing on the same day.

 

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Yumekui

Ai-chin has this tendency to create interesting and innovative titles for her singles and “Yumekui” was no exception. Although the title is written in Katakana, it is not a transcription of words from foreign language. “yume” can be written as “夢” (means “dream”) while “kui” can be written as “食い” (means “eating”). This basically means “Dream Eater” or “Dream Taster”. Since the drama’s strongest theme is that of the main characters who strive for their dreams, it’s quite a fitting title for the theme song of such a movie.

This song wasn’t exactly new since one could listen to “Yumekui” since the release of the drama series, “Tokyo Friends” in 2005, where it was performed by Sabakan. Ai Otsuka was requested to create a song during the filming of this series and thus many of her fans were extremely anxious to hear the full version of this release along with other songs she performed as the vocalist of Sabakan during the drama. However only “Yumekui” and “tears” got released as a single. The rest of the songs shall be released in the Original Soundtrack (OST) of the movie, which are scheduled to be released on August 23, 2006.

The lyrics seem to have the same trademark simplicity of Ai. They are quite easy to understand and yet they manage to be rather meaningful. It’s quite interesting to note that this song takes a masculine outlook rather than a feminine one. As Ai mentioned in the CUTiE August 2006 interview this is her proposal song which shows how she thinks a man would acknowledge a woman. The message Ai wants to convey is that no matter how old you become, you will always continue to have your dreams and move on. Ai-chin wanted to create a positive song for her listeners and encourage them to move on rather than getting stuck onto the failures of life.

The song starts quite slowly with Ai’s mellow vocals accompanied by a soft guitar creating a surreal atmosphere, as if you’re waking up at dawn, making this song sound extremely soothing to listen to. The melody is extremely beautiful and carries a hopeful and magical feel to it. Personally I find this song really relaxing after a tiring long day. The chorus has a touching tone to it. You can almost feel from her vocals the feeling of hope and dreams that she wants to convey in this song. In the end one cannot help but feel refreshed and cleansed after listening to this song.


iPod iPod version (0 MB)

Ai preferred the clip to be animated and she ended up designing the characters and storyline herself. The promotional video for “Yumekui” is quite bizarre. It’s animated like “Kataomoi Dial” and “Daisukidayo ~LOVE ver.~”. However the style is quite different and Ai is also featured as an animated character. This has stirred up a lot of discussion among the fans. An interesting thing to note is that this promotional clip was connected to her previous promotional videos which was discussed in detail by an observant member zyzzyva.The tapir and baku seen in the pv is a mythical dream-eating creature originated from Asian mythology. They eat the old, worn out dreams of people. This relieves them of these older dreams, allowing them to move forward in life and giving them more courage. Personally I feel that this is a very positive concept expressed by Ai.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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tears

This song starts off really slowly with a piano and Ai’s soothing and mature vocals. This really brings out her vocals, which are clearly portrayed in contrast of the really soft instrumentals used in this song. Simply with the use of the accompaniment of piano and strings, this song manages to capture a lot of emotion within it. In an interview Ai mentioned that “tears” was arranged just like like her debut single, “Momo no Hanabira”, keeping the same mellowness. It is another version of Momo no Hanabira. Momo no Hanabira is in the perception of a woman, while “tears” is in a man’s. They are two different songs but share the same story.

“tears” has a totally different mood from “Yumekui”. It’s more feminine and the vocals are more mature and soothing. The tone is slower and quite sad. I do believe this song does create a sense of finality. The lyrics speak from a girl’s perspective who sings about the person she loves whom she does not want to forget. Despite of its simplicity, “tears” is a beautiful song with an enchanting melody. Personally it’s my favourite b-side song from Ai’s single.

Rating: ★★★★½

 

Conclusion

Despite not selling as much as her fans anticipated, “Yumekui” was certainly one of Ai’s best releases. Both songs were quite strong and had a lot of quality and it was clear to notice that Ai-chin gave a lot of attention and care to every single detail of this single even though she was busy with filming “Tokyo Friends The Movie“. Even if this single didn’t have the fresh quality the other singles would have, it’s definitely a single any Ai-chin or ballad fan should purchase.

I personally do believe that this single fits the end of summer perfectly due the fact that both songs create an atmosphere of serenity and completeness. While listening to this single I really feel like anticipating autumn and what it will bring along with it. While listening to this single I can literally feel the emotions which were conveyed within it. This single will subconsciously cleanse your body and leave you purified, something only heart-warming ballads can do.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

 

Yumekui cover art

  1. Yumekui
  2. tears
  3. Yumekui (Instrumental)
  4. tears (Instrumental)

Purchase this item: YesAsia US | YesAsia Global

 

On a final note I wish to dedicate this review to Celsius005 from Channel-Ai, who has translated countless articles related to the release of “Yumekui”. These translations have led me to understand and appreciate this single so much more. Also I thank eyn for ‘Ai’s Taiwan Official Site News’ translations. Thank you for your hard work.

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About the author

Rinoa enjoys spending her free time writing articles, most particularly reviews, biographies and news articles. Her favourite artist is Ayumi Hamasaki but she enjoys listening to a wide range of musical talents from all over the world.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

jean therese PHILIPPINES August 22, 2008 at 5:58 am

weee you know i like the song friends and yumekui . hihi. ^______ _ _^

Reply

kerushi February 2, 2008 at 12:11 am

The songs are so amazing and powerful because they have such meaning, especially after watching Tokyo Friends.

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JBA January 5, 2008 at 8:25 am

Keep playing songs that can inspired people…

Super Belated Merry X-mass And Super Belated Happy New Year…

more power miss Ai Otsuka…

Aishite iru….

Philippines Loves U!!!!^_^

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jek December 29, 2007 at 4:20 am

can u giv me the chords of “friends”?

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Mandy~ByuhJaa!! UNITED STATES September 15, 2007 at 1:37 pm

I want to ask if anyone can send me guitar tabs or guitar chords for the songs “To Me” and “Tears” if you can?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzuAA8kL8cw

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Lyndell Dobluis May 21, 2007 at 10:40 pm

Hiiiiiiiii Im lyndell Dobluis. Im a newbie here. I really say that your song planetarium is really great and I love it. Would you mind if you send me some chord so that I can play it on my guitar thanks.

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Chihiro FINLAND May 10, 2007 at 1:47 pm

Yumekui is lovely!

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misheda April 8, 2007 at 3:40 am

please give me the lyrics and guitar chords of TO ME…..i really really like it……..and im always watching your TOKYOFRIENDS THE MOVIE…. please please please please

your fan,
misheda

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makee April 6, 2007 at 11:42 pm

OMG i love this song !? I watch the video of this song in Channel V (animated version) and i have to say i love it ^_______^

Some say this song is happy and dreammy…but i think this song is one of the Ai songs that made me cry….

I sooooooooooo love this song….very much ^^

And i also love her Tokyo Friends movie ^^

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jb antazo March 24, 2007 at 8:52 am

Hello , i really like the song of miss ai-otsuka

daisukidayo
kingyo hanabi
tears
cherish
friends
yumekui
chulip
and more thanks for creating a radio of miss ai’s songs but i wish that u put the “to me” song and the theme song of the last part of episode 3.(a man was singing it and i think its cool!!)

^^

Miss ai, pls create more inspiring and encouraging film.

^^

Always Take care of yourself…

oh and ur cute than miss “YUI” hehehehhe…

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alyana March 10, 2007 at 4:09 am

hi i really the song of tears,to me and freiands..can you give me the simple chords of tears, to me and friends.plz..thank you.

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Rinoa February 27, 2007 at 8:41 am

Probably you’re speaking about “to me”. That’s the very first song Ai sang in the dorama.

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onee February 26, 2007 at 12:28 pm

hallo,, i just want to ask what’s the title of the song that Otsuka Ai sung in tokyo friends? the very first one.. =] ty

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john bryan antazo February 23, 2007 at 11:29 am

Hello miss Ai, im john bryan antazo, but you can call me “JB”. Im from the philippines.
i just want to say that you guys are the best and your movie is so inspiring,
thanks to you guys, my life has a color again..hehehehehe

When i 1st saw ur movie i thought its just a common japanese movie but its not , its not like any other japanese movie that i know , its very unique and cool!!!

I wish that you guys creat more episodes of tokyo friends.
So that we can watch u guys again (miss Ai is the cutest among the 4 girls)
Someday, i wish that i could be like you miss Ai to be a great Rockstar! \m/
(miss ai, your songs are great)

well by now.. good luck on your career and always take care and last but not the least creat more beautiful songs ^^

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samgino February 17, 2007 at 9:34 pm

i so in love with u ai hope we meet each other same day

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Kyo-chan UNITED STATES January 30, 2007 at 8:33 pm

Nice work reviewing them…but where can I download Tears?

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GotohMasafumiLover001 UNITED STATES October 12, 2006 at 8:22 am

It’s just music taste:)

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sian October 8, 2006 at 1:43 pm

^ GotohMasafumiLover001, u made it sound like Otsuka Ai’s songs are not well-liked.

Anyway, another well-written review from Rinoa.
Yumekui is one of my favourite songs. listening to it gives me the inspiration to do anything. the animated pv is very “unique” compared to the past PVs and contains a little of something related to the past PVs/singles (im still wondering the meaning behind these). nonetheless, this song certainly deserves 5 out of 5 stars!
tears is one of her best b-side tracks. it has a very beautiful, soothing tune but i find it repetitive. that’s why i still prefer Yumekui.
sadly, the sales number of this single does not reflect how good this single is.

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GotohMasafumiLover001 UNITED STATES October 3, 2006 at 5:26 pm

I think Yumekui is one of her best new songs:) The lyrics are nice too:) And people can stand the song:) But me I can stand almost all her songs:)

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orly August 26, 2006 at 2:23 pm

Good review :D And to Naru: Are you kidding me?! My Sugar Cat is one of Mika’s best songs o.o

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R_Hikki August 26, 2006 at 12:11 am

It’s safe to say 95%. I’m not surprised at the sales though, it just seems to be a safe song. You explained everything about it. Nice.

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Naru UNITED STATES August 20, 2006 at 11:58 pm

She and Mika Nakashima haven’t been selling all that well recently. Well not like they used to. I don’t really know why Otsuka Ai is not. Mika Nakashima is going through a style change right now so that is most likely the cause of her sales not being as high. (and that the song are boring *coughcough* MY SUGAR CAT=snore*)

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Kikaru UNITED STATES August 16, 2006 at 8:17 pm

Nice review =) although I can’t give Yumekui the perfect rating, I think this single is pretty decent. It’s the first Ai single where I preferred a B-side over an A-side. Yumekui is a nice song, and I would like her to continue with this style which will eventually try and replace that old hyper style, but this song to me sounds a little incomplete, although I can’t really describe how.

Tears, however, is really nice. I would actually like a fuller arrangement that didn’t make this song sounds incomplete, but it’s a nice song, better than any of her B-sides (except for Friends~Sakaban ver~).

Overall, good single, I would like her to continue down this road, but in my opinion she could have done better (like not having an animated PV).

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Mark SPAIN August 16, 2006 at 12:29 pm

Nice job Rinoa! You did such a very enjoyable and precise review. Thanks!

My opinion on this single is that “tears” takes all the glory. At least from my point of view. “Yumekui” is a nice song, but sounds too typical. There are many other mid-tempo poprock songs with the same feel. I think that under any other artist, this song would not have had the same repercussion as it had under Ai Otsuka.

On the other hand, as I first pointed out, “tears” does the five stars job in this single. To me, it’s even better than “Planetarium” (it’s not like I have ever liked Planetarium though…). “tears”, despite having a common lyrics about a relationship, breaks the barrier between the song and the listener. It’s not a long one; I think it has the perfect length. You could put on it some x-mas arrangement, and you’d have this year’s big ballad. Definitely one of the best Ai songs, if not the best (at least, to me).

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Celsius005 UNITED STATES August 16, 2006 at 3:41 am

Excellent work, Rinoa! I must agree, this single definitely deserves an overall 5/5! I was quite shocked when I first saw “Yumekui” at the top of the Chaku Uta download chart (as I was unaware that Chaku Uta was a completely legal downloading service at the time), but now that I understand its adequacy, I can appreciate and accept such prominence to reflect Otsuka Ai’s success. I’m very glad to know that her song is getting the attention it rightfully deserves, especially since she worked so hard to substantiate her thoughts and feelings into such melodious songs.

There is much background engraved in these two songs, and from it I sense that this single marks somewhat of a turning point in Otsuka Ai’s career as a singer-songwriter. Ai’s involvement in “Tokyo Friends” has given her the opportunity to sing out to a much larger audience. Male fans must be particularly thrilled with “Yumekui” since it has a distinct, masculine perspective to it. From an older interview, Ai mentioned how her songs are meant to touch the hearts of young girls everywhere–this intention has been altered with the advent of her latest installment, “Yumekui.” “tears” shares a story with one of her other songs, “Momo no Hanabira,” which is something else we have not seen happen until now.

This is a very enlightening read! It makes me happy to know that my work has given you the chance to appreciate this single even more. I could not hope for any better, and seeing how wonderful this review is, it makes translating worthwhile. Thank you very much, I truly enjoyed reading this excellent review!

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eyn CANADA August 15, 2006 at 10:49 pm

Thanks for writing such an informative and detailed review, Ree-chan, once again you overdid yourself! I have a great time reading it and recalling all those interviews I’ve read about this single. There really is a lot to be known about both of these songs, and you can certainly appreciate them more when the singer herself tells you her feelings and concept about them.

I would have given “tears” a 5 star rating but then it will make this single a perfect one? Maybe, because it’s simply wonderful, too bad the sales doesn’t really tell you that. Something interesting to note is that “Yumekui” did extremely well on the Chaku Uta download chart, maybe she’s more of an internet person, seeing “Sakuranbo” is the most downloaded ringtone in Japan at one time, not sure if it still hold this record though.

I love how you used “cleanse” and “purify” to describe this single because that’s exactly what it brings you, well, provided you’re not an emotionless creature and understand the lyrics well enough to appreciate it. :) I love seeing how Ai-chin’s gaining more and more attention and fans as she produces more quality singles like this one, and I think her creativeness such as the animated PV concept will bring in more fresh, different ideas to the otherwise stale J-Pop scene.

Finally, excellent review as usual, I give you 5 out of 5, this is truely a piece of art!

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