First off, thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this disc in for review!
Now this is one of two singles that was released for the song "Antenna of the Heart". Both have the same name, both were released the same month and are from the same record label. The two have vastly different packaging, though, and different contents. This release, often referred to as the "Pichu version", contains a heavier Pokémon focus and is packaged to highlight the pre-evolution form of Pikachu. It contains two songs not found on the other release, which include "Get Fired Up, Spiky-eared Pichu!" and the instrumental version of the Haruomi Hosono mix of "Antenna of the Heart". Alternatively, the other release, Antenna of the Heart (SRCL-7065), also contains a song not found on this release in the form of "Glass Prism". So how does this release stack up, and for that matter compare to the more common version of the single? Well neither is particularly stellar, featuring a mildly unmemorable song from the long standing franchise... although is buoyed by the superior original version.
Now this disc primarily focuses on the title song, "Antenna of the Heart" by Shoko Nakagawa. This song appeared during the end credits of the 12th Pokémon movie, Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009). The song that appeared in the animated film, though, was actually a remix done by Haruomi Hosono. Fittingly, this version is what starts off the single on the Pichu version. With an electronic beat, the song is soothing with an okay medley by Nakagawa. A few effects are added, such as echoes, but there isn't anything too crazy to be found. An instrumental version of the track also concludes the disc. However, Hosono's beat isn't quite strong enough to stand on its own without Nakagawa's lyrics.
Next up is a song called "Ready to Fall in Love", which has a very upbeat background track. However, the lyrics and delivery feel stereotypical for Japanese pop. The same statement can't be said for the next cue, "Get Fired Up, Spiky-eared Pichu!", which takes a much more child friendly approach. It's overly happy, and while Pokémon fans might enjoy all the references to Pichu, it feels like a sugar overload in musical form.
Fourth track on the disc is actually the original version of "Antenna of the Heart". This version is much more upbeat over Hosono's. It feels more epic, and not at all cliched like "Ready to Fall in Love". It manages to have that 'everything but the kitchen sink' vibe as well. The cue even manages to fit in a guitar solo. It's amazing how much more engaging the track is versus the version used in the movie.
In terms of the creative talent behind this release, it's owed to musical artist and voice actress Shoko Nakagawa. While it would be easy to call her an "idol", that label generally is reserved for an individual who dabbles in acting, modeling and music. Nakagawa has actually done all of those, acting briefly in films like The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift , doing modeling shoots and, bringing us to the subject of this review, has a music career as well. However, her talents extend beyond that, being both illustration artist and writer of a ridiculously popular blog, said to have total traffic of over a billion visitors, that talks about everything from makeup to her playing the Pokémon games. So she definitely takes the idea of being a jack of all trades to the next level. Heck, it wouldn't be shocking to hear she was ready to go mobile with 7Sultans online casino and begin other ventures. However, she is undoubtedly tied into the Pokémon franchise, being a recognized fan and the presenter of the variety show Pokémon Sunday. In fact, she continues to lend her voice talent to the movies, and will likely be linked to the series in some way for many years to come.
Now the other talent involved here is Haruomi Hosono. He is doing composing duties for the two songs here that are listed with his name. Hosono has dabbled with electronic music since the 1970's, and the love for that style is represented in his contribution to this disc. Outside of a brief role in Norwegian Wood (2010), Hosono has generally provided background music for other artists, similar to as he does here for Nakagawa.
Overall, nothing too special here. The star track is definitely the original version of "Antenna of the Heart". It's a shame an instrumental version was not included for it, as well. In terms of this release versus the other, the two are pretty similar. "Glass Prism" is a better song than the Pichu one found here. However, this "Pichu" disc contains a bonus instrumental version of the Haruomi Hosono mix. All in all, both are about even. If one is getting this for the Pokémon connection, though, the "Pichu" version is the way to go.