Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song- Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song-


Roundtable discussion

Vivy -Fluorite Eye's Song-
Roundtable discussion 3

Music Composer: Satoru Kosaki (MONACA)
Music Producer: Masaharu Yamanouchi
— The original anime show, Vivy -Fluorite Eye's Song - has been airing since April and is now up to its fourth episode. And in Episode 4, we finally got to hear the opening theme, “Sing My Pleasure.” Can you tell us how this song came to be written?
YAMANOUCHI  Actually, we had written another song for the opening theme at the time.

KOSAKI  Apparently, the first song I wrote wasn't exactly what they were looking for. But there was another scene that matched perfectly with that song, so it was used for that scene, which was also great.

YAMANOUCHI  When we received the demo for that song, I thought, “This is it! This is the signature Kosaki sound!” and I was so excited that I called up the MONACA staff. (laughs)

KOSAKI  That's when we talked about writing a different song for the opening theme.
— “Sing My Pleasure” certainly is an epic-sounding song, right from the chorus at the beginning.
KOSAKI  There's a sci-fi vibe to the song, but there's a rawness to it, like she's a machine, but not a machine at the same time. It's very uptempo and has an extremely wide melodic range…which was intentional on my part, but out of all my songs, I think this one has the most difficult melody to sing.

YAMANOUCHI  I'm surprised Ms. Yagi was able to sing it.

KOSAKI  I'm amazed she pulled it off… (Laughs)

YAMANOUCHI  If you were to sing this song at karaoke, it would be insanely challenging, but you would probably feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you finished singing it. (Laughs)
— So this song opened your eyes to Ms. Yagi's talent as a singer?
KOSAKI  I would say so, yes.
— What was it like working with a budding talent like Kairi Yagi?
KOSAKI  The first song we recorded was a ballad called “My Code,” which you can hear just a brief snippet of in Episode 1. From that recording session, I could tell that she was an immensely talented kid. She was just so good. She didn't have much time to learn the song, but she really made it her own.
— That was the first time you'd ever met Ms. Yagi, wasn't it?
KOSAKI  I met her for the first time during that recording session. They sent me information about her beforehand, but since she'd mostly been singing covers and playing the guitar, I didn’t know how she would be able to sing original material until that session. When I heard her, I thought, “She's got so much potential.” I knew that she'd be able to tackle a more technical song, so I wrote “Sing My Pleasure.”

YAMANOUCHI  The opening theme was the third song she sang while recording Vivy's songs. I think it was at the beginning of this year. She first sang “My Code” and then “A Tender Moon Tempo”….

KOSAKI  And then finally, the long-awaited “Sing My Pleasure.”

YAMANOUCHI  The sequence of the recording also followed the timeline of the story.
— Can you tell us about “My Code”?
YAMANOUCHI  That one was one of songs we had in mind for the main theme. It was the first song we'd commissioned for the pilot film we made to show in-house.

KOSAKI  That's right. A lot of the songs we were considering for the show's main theme ended up appearing later as insert songs.

YAMANOUCHI  It may not have been what we had in mind for the main theme, but since it was such a great song, we knew we could definitely use it somewhere else, so we kept it.

KOSAKI  I completely changed the chorus. I left the verse and the bridge untouched, but changed the chorus so it had more momentum.
— Was “A Tender Moon Tempo” written and arranged by Keita Inoue, with Mr. Kosaki handling the brass arrangements?
KOSAKI  The brass part was featured heavily in the demo version, so I arranged it for a live recording. Keita doesn't have a lot of experience recording yet, and this was his first time recording with a live band.

YAMANOUCHI  He seemed really nervous in the studio.

KOSAKI  But thanks to the musicians, we ended up with an amazing track. We were certainly blessed with great musicians for this project.
— Compared to “My Code” in Episode 1, Vivy's vocals in Episode 3 sound slightly more emotional.
YAMANOUCHI  In the story, she has a slightly bigger audience now.

KOSAKI  Her audience is reacting to her in a more positive way.
— Did you give any vocal direction to Ms. Yagi?
YAMANOUCHI  It's not as though I told her, “Let's make Vivy sound like she's improved a little bit,” or anything like that. When she first started, she was so nervous that she was trembling, but after the second time, that was a lot less of an issue.

KOSAKI  We were able to witness Ms. Yagi growing as a singer before our eyes. You could call it growth, or you could say that she was just getting used to recording more.

YAMANOUCHI  It's as if we captured that once-in-a-lifetime moment, and vacuum sealed it into the music.

KOSAKI  I'm sure she has a long career ahead of her, but those vocals were something that could only happen in that moment. It gave me goosebumps.
— You can hear Ms. Yagi's growth as you listen to the songs in Vivy. When you listen to “Sing My Pleasure,” with its soaring melodies, you can hear Ms. Yagi's shifting emotions.
KOSAKI  That's right. And yet there's a calmness in her voice, too.
— Ms. Yagi will also be singing some insert songs in the upcoming episodes, which we're looking forward to hearing. There are also a number of insert songs besides “My Code.” First, there's “Happy Together,” which we can hear at the beginning of Episode 1, and just like its title implies, it's a happy song, but…
KOSAKI  But the way it's being used is odd, right? (Laughs)
— Who would've thought you'd use it in a gruesome scene like that? (Laughs) That happy sound was actually very creepy.
YAMANOUCHI  In terms of direction, we wanted to go with a straightforward EDM sound for that track.

KOSAKI  Right. It's what you'd call a symbolic idol song.

YAMANOUCHI  After consulting with the MONACA team, we decided that it would be best to have Kakeru Ishihama write the song. In terms of the lyrics, this was the first song that Natsumi Tadano worked on for Vivy. The image we had for the song was something that would be preinstalled by default into a so-called general-purpose songstress AI. I did a lot of brainstorming with Ms. Tadano on video calls and we also discussed this in person, but we decided that we needed a song that's not great but also not a song that everyone will hate. In the end, we decided to have her write lyrics that would fit the template of a typical pop song.
— So you intentionally had her write simple lyrics in order to use the song for that scene.
YAMANOUCHI  For example, we wanted lyrics that would sound like, “If I had wings, I'd fly straight to you,” or “Hold me tight.” (Laughs) So Ms. Tadano came up with a very euphoric sounding song title, “Happy Together” and wrote the lyrics.

KOSAKI  There's actually something very dark to it.

YAMANOUCHI  I wanted lyrics that would paradoxically exude a sense of insanity, and I got more than I bargained for. It's terrifying to hear the lyrics “Let's all be happy together” while people are being calmly massacred by AIs.
— Natsumi Tadano, who wrote the lyrics for all the songs in this series, including this one, is an incredible lyricist. What are your thoughts on her lyrics?
YAMANOUCHI  It was the MONACA team who recommended Ms. Tadano to me, but initially, I was looking for someone who could write lyrics with the kind of universal appeal that you would find in pop songs that are sung for generations. I needed somebody who actually lived through the golden age of Japanese pop and had those sensibilities, so I'm really grateful to have been able to work with Ms. Tadano. Also, in an earlier interview, Mr. Kosaki mentioned that her lyrics were like an autobiographical novel.

KOSAKI  I did say that.

YAMANOUCHI  The theme of the music was to create songs with a universal appeal that would be handed down from generation to generation during the one hundred-year span of this story. But when you try to express that kind of universality or the expansive world of this story, it becomes too epic and the lyrics end up lacking focus. In the beginning we weren't sure what we wanted, so we had to ask Ms. Tadano to rewrite the lyrics several times. Ultimately, we decided that we wanted lyrics that would express how Vivy would feel if she were human, rather than an AI or machine. That became the guideline for the lyrics.

KOSAKI  I'm sure there were a lot of things that happened that I wasn't aware of. It must have been extremely difficult to figure out the perspective to write the lyrics from.

YAMANOUCHI  And I ended up making things difficult for Ms. Tadano, but when Mr. Kosaki said, “It's like reading an autobiographical novel,” it hit me that this was the direction we needed for the lyrics.

KOSAKI  It's all “My (AI's) Story.” I admire her professionalism in tackling this project.
— Another insert song is “Ensemble for Polaris,” from Episodes 3 and 4, a touching ballad by Estella and Elizabeth.
KOSAKI  I had this idea to combine elements from Celtic music with orchestral sounds. Ryuichi Takada is brilliant at that, so I asked him to write the music. It's amazing, isn't it?

YAMANOUCHI  It's unbelievable!

KOSAKI  When I heard it, I was like, “Yes! Sci-fi! Outer space! Celtic music! This is exactly what I wanted!” Not to mention, it meshes so perfectly with the visuals.
— The Episode 4 climax was so poignant. Can you share your thoughts on the lyrics?
YAMANOUCHI  In the initial version of the songs, the lyrics reflected the personal emotions of the characters in relation to the scenes in the story. But then I realized that the purpose of this song wasn't to express what they were feeling at the time. This song was pre-installed on Estella, and it was written without any prior knowledge of those scenes. I think the idea was that it was a song to be used as background music when the space hotel's roof was opened up, making the guests feel as if they were in a planetarium, so I asked for references to stars to be scattered throughout the lyrics.
— Aside from the insert songs, Mr. Kosaki, was also the main composer for the score as well. What was it like composing music for a time period spanning one hundred years?
KOSAKI  It's pretty hard to show the passage of time through music. All it takes is for one character to say, “It's been a couple of decades.” On the other hand, even if some time has gone by, there are times when not much has really changed, or the world has only been showing gradual change. So I did what I could, keeping all that in mind.
— So when you're dealing with a long stretch of time, there are complexities and different ways of projecting emotions through music?
KOSAKI  Also, the series doesn't really explain what's going on in each scene; rather, it focuses more on explaining the emotions of the characters to create drama. So during the recording sessions, I could see that how frequently you heard the songs playing also affected the way we were perceiving the changes that were happening in the world. Especially in the second half, there is an indescribable feeling of sadness in the story that makes you think, “So this is what it means for time to pass.”
— In that sense, it makes you anticipate how the music is going to evolve and where it's going to lead by the end of the story.
KOSAKI  There's so much coming up. As we head towards the story's climax, I think that both the songs and the score, combined with the visuals, will be very impactful for the viewers. Personally, as a composer, I was able to create music that I want everyone to listen to.
— So you could say that all of Mr. Kosaki's experience as a composer has been reflected in these melodies and sounds?
YAMANOUCHI  There are songs that Mr. Kosaki composed very quickly in one take, and songs that took him a long time to complete after endless tweaking and agonizing over them. All of it's in there.

KOSAKI  There were songs that I came up with quickly. There's one song that you'll be hearing in an upcoming episode that took me only a single day to get the demo version done. I think it might be one of my absolute favorites.

YAMANOUCHI  Since he had to compose the music under a really tight schedule, there were times when he'd send us demos of unfinished songs. I'd listen to them, and if there were any songs that I thought were keepers, I'd tell him, “Keep doing what you’re doing on this song!”

KOSAKI  He'd tell me, “This is fine the way it is, so don't touch the melody!” But I would end up tweaking it, and he'd say, “The original version was better.” (Laughs)

YAMANOUCHI  Or I'd tell him, “The melody needs a little more punch to it!”

KOSAKI  We went through a lot of different stages to complete the project.
— The more I listen to you gentlemen speak, the more it seems to me that it's not just Vivy or Ms. Yagi's history, but also Mr. Kosaki's history being reflected in the music. So maybe it's also your own hundred-year story, Mr. Kosaki?
KOSAKI  For me, it's just a one-year story. (Laughs) Looking back on the process, it was quite a ride.
— After Episode 4 aired, the music from Vivy was available for digital download and streaming. It’s rare for an anime series to release music so quickly in digital format.
YAMANOUCHI  This was the first time we released the music including streaming, while the series is still being broadcasted. It was a bold challenge for Aniplex, and also a kind of experiment. The Sony Music Labels were the first to shift from marketing for physical releases to digital marketing. They've been charging ahead in that direction like an amphibious assault team, and I think it's working. In terms of marketing the anime, I initially thought there might be a more optimal time to release the music, but in the end, we released it at the perfect time. We'll be utilizing all the accumulated knowledge from Sony Music to help us figure out the best timing to release music for anime titles in the future.
— The CD for the opening theme, “Sing My Pleasure,” will be released on May 26, and fans will be able to enjoy the song in the format of their choice. It's a very innovative way of releasing music, and it shows us how anisongs can be released in the 2020s. I think we're going to see more of that in the future.
YAMANOUCHI  It's probably the right direction to go in. For me, it's beyond rewarding to get to be the first one to take on this challenge with a composer like Satoru Kosaki, who's been in the industry for over twenty years. It's very fulfilling on a personal level too.
— So now seems like the perfect time to enjoy both the story and the music of Vivy
KOSAKI  I'd really like our audience to come along for the ride. We have a lot more exciting things coming up ahead.

YAMANOUCHI  With this being an original series, we have a bunch of tricks up our sleeves that people won't be expecting, so please keep an eye out for that.
— In other words, it's still not too late to start watching this show.
KOSAKI  Right. We just concluded the first part of the story, so the timing should be just right.

YAMANOUCHI  First, try to watch the first four episodes. The story is going to kick into high gear from there.

KOSAKI  We didn't compromise when it came to recording not only the vocals but also the live instruments, so I hope people get to listen to that.

YAMANOUCHI  The overall sound is very dense. That's also true of the structure of the music, which is why it all has such a rich texture to it. I'm sure that the more you listen to the music, the more you’ll be discovering new things. So I hope that everyone takes the music with them and listens to it over and over again.
— All right, last but not least, can you give the viewers a message?
YAMANOUCHI  Since the story and music are completely interconnected, I think you'll experience the visuals and music differently than in other shows. So I hope that everyone gets to experience the show in real time.

KOSAKI  In terms of making the music, I got the chance to do what I really wanted to do, and I'm really happy with how the music turned out, so I hope everyone gets a chance to listen. For me it was a labor of love, since it's filled with all of my favorite musical elements. There was a lot of mutual respect between the people working on this show. I just want everybody to listen to it and watch it. Of course, I'm sure you'll all have different reactions to it, but for starters, I'd like you to experience the show.

YAMANOUCHI  If you're a fan of Mr. Kosaki's most popular works, like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Monogatari Series, and Wake Up, Girls!, then you definitely don't want to miss this show.

KOSAKI  Especially WUG! And don't forget The IDOLM@STER.

YAMANOUCHI  I'm just going to say that if any of Mr. Kosaki's music from the past twenty years has moved you in any way, you can't miss this show.

KOSAKI  If I were going to release my own commemorative fortieth anniversary album, I'd want to include every single song from this show, that's how strongly I feel about them. Also, in the future, when Kairi Yagi becomes a big star, I want to say, “I was the one who took her under my wing.” (Laughs) Seriously, this show wouldn't be what it is without Kairi, so please be sure to check her out.