Photoshoot promoting 'Kaihoku'
|Artist: Hitomi Shimatani
Product Code: AVCD-30151
Release Date: 2000.09.27
Debut Ranking: #28
Label: avex trax
Approximately a year after her debut in the music market, Hitomi Shimatani returned with a new single called “Kaihoku”. This single was a definite turning point for Hitomi’s career, as this release was her debut in the J-Pop scene.
After the success of “Osaka no Onna”, avex trax decided that Hitomi was beautiful and talented enough to appeal for a younger generation too. So they decided that it was wiser to attempt to insert her in the J-Pop genre, rather than allow her to sing Enka only. “Kaihoku” was her first single attempting to break into the market and Hitomi never looked back since then.
Hitomi’s image and style were completely transformed. She allowed her hair to grow longer and was given a complete makeover and a new wardrobe. Her new look made her look much younger and fashionable, to appeal for the young generation. Hitomi’s schedule was set to appear and perform on the most popular variety shows to expose her talent to the public. To further promote this single avex gave “Kaihoku” two tie-ins. The first one one was with Kanebo as the “REVUE” commercial song, while the other was as the ending theme of a dorama on NTV called “Yamitsuki”. On the 24th September, Hitomi performed this song in the VenusFort church open space. This event received media attention, Hitomi also held a press conference and took photos with the audience.
The highest rank was at #28, which was a definite improvement from her previous single. However it sold around 4,000 copies less than “Osaka no Onna” and had a shorter chart life. “Kaihoku” sold 44,000 copies and stayed on the charts for nine weeks. Nonetheless it was a modest success for a debut in the pop industry. Despite the fact that it failed to break into the top 20 charts, her fresh and powerful vocals caught the attention of many people.
“Kaihoku” loosely means “Liberated District”. The song was composed by Tetsuro Oda and arranged by Masao Akashi. The lyrics, written by Goro Matsui, reflect an unconditional love, where the woman feels she can overcome any obstacle and insecurity if she has this love within her. Later on this song would be remixed and rearranged in a couple of singles and in her first album. Apart from being her first pop song, it’s also her first attempt at a mid-tempo track.
Personally I find “Kaihoku” one of the most underrated songs amongst Hitomi fans. It has an exhilarative atmosphere within it which the composition of this song seems to bring it alive. This song starts off with an almost ethereal chorus, the kind which you sometimes hear in choirs. Hitomi’s vocals are the focus of the song itself, they are surprisingly polished and powerful. Another highlight within this song is the brilliant guitar solo. Despite of being a typical pop song at that time, it still manages to display her soaring vocals. This can be noticed especially in the chorus, where she manages to hit high notes as if it was no big deal.
The promotional video was filmed on the 1st of September in the metropolitan area. Most of the scenes were shot inside a dark church, where there were many images symbolising and reflecting the Christian religion. Hitomi wears a tank top with wings printed onto it and a feather falls into her hand. It was mentioned that the feather scene had to be repeated five times. The rest of the scenes were recorded on a heliport in Shinjuku. This scene is rather specatular, displaying the high skyscrapers of Tokyo. There were problems to record this scene, since a typhoon occurred making recording virtually impossible and extremely dangerous. This promotion video also features Hitomi’s first attempts at dancing, which are not exactly spectacular but they indicate the direction she takes in her future releases. The clip was released in the DVD Compilation, “8 Colours”.
“Eternity” was another song written by Goro Matsui and arranged by Masao Akashi. It has a rather similar style to “Kaihoku” in many aspects. It has another mellow chorus as backing vocals and is another mid-tempo ballad. The tone is extremely peaceful and soothing. Even Hitomi’s vocals are more mellow and laid-back. Also the style is reminscent of her Enka releases, especially with the choice of instrumentals used within this song.
It starts off in a quite unique manner, with some musical instruments imitating the sound raindrops do. The chorus and the musical instruments seem to be blended together on purpose to create a very serene atmosphere. My sole complaint is that some of the instruments used seems to clash with the mood of the song itself, since they are a bit too harsh to the ear.
This style of music has a rather vintage element within it. It’s quite “outdated” compared with the music released nowadays and isn’t exactly an outstanding single. However I am quite fond of this single, because I simply love it’s simplicity. Everything from the cover art to the promtional clip was simple yet extremely beautiful. Maybe this is because Hitomi is a beautiful artist herself so she seems extremely natural and comfortable with this new image.
It took almost a year for Hitomi to transform herself from a melanchonic Enka artist to a more teen-friendly J-Pop singer. However the wait was simply worth it. In the end it was Hitomi’s dream to become a pop singer and was extremely happy when it was given a tie-in with a commercial. This single’s moderate success, led avex to decide to allow Hitomi to continue releasing pop releases.