[Review] ULTIMATE DIAMOND – Mizuki Nana

Don't mess with my UD >=D

Don't mess with my UD >=D

I finally got my copy of ULTIMATE DIAMOND today, so, as promised, here’s a proper review of it. I tried to keep it as objective as possible, but being the nanamaniac that I am, you’ll understand that it’s a bit hard ^^;




Part1-CD:

Track 1- MARIA&JOKER
Lyrics: Hibiki
Composition: 上松範康(Elements Garden)
Arrangement: 上松範康(Elements Garden)

More like “LOL & WEIRD”, since those are pretty much the two ways in which I can describe this track. At first, I pretty much hated it, but that’s for personal reasons, since I had really high expectations of it because of the combo of Lyricist+Comp/Arrang. My own disappointments aside however, this is actually a rather enjoyable track. It’s not exactly what I’d listen to everyday, since it kinda lacks… “artistic” value, but what can one say after watching Nana singing it live like this? So yeah, you might not end up listening to it much, but watching more live versions of this is definitely welcomed ^^

Music: 4
Lyrics: 8
Vocals: 9


Track 2- 悦楽カメリア (Etsuraku Camellia)
Lyrics: 水樹奈々
Composition: 大西省吾
Arrangement: 大西省吾

This is a somewhat new style of song. I don’t think you can find that many other songs like this one, so it might come off as kinda strange at first. A mixture of metal and traditional japanese (dubbed “wa-metal”), blent nicely with Nana’s strongest vocals and her Engrish-free lyrics, what we have here is what some might call a masterpiece, and what others might call “noise”. I personally don’t like metal, and neither do I like traditional japanese music, but viola, this song managed to get in between my “liked” songs.

Music: 5
Lyrics: 8
Vocals: 10


Track 3- PERFECT SMILE
Lyrics: 伊藤寛之
Composition: 伊藤寛之
Arrangement: 伊藤寛之

A nice, somewhat pop-ish, song to pipe down after the first two stronger songs. The point of this song is to make people feel good. Apparently, there were four versions made before the final one was decided on, all because Nana wanted it to convey its point as clearly as possible. And guess what, it manages to do just that. Personally, whenever I’m listening to this song, I have this smile on my face that sometimes turns into a silly grin even. I also have it as my current alarm sound, and I keep waking up in a really good mood thanks to it.

Music: 7
Lyrics: 10
Vocals: 8


Track 4- Trickster
Lyrics: 水樹奈々
Composition: 上松範康(Elements Garden)
Arrangement: 上松範康(Elements Garden)

If you like bobbing your head, then this is the song for you. With a somewhat rock-ish feel, Trickster manages to give off a cool aura that’s hard to ignore. Most people have already heard this song, so I really don’t have anything useful to say about it… It’s just… cool.

Music: 6
Lyrics: 8
Vocals: 9


Track 5- Mr. Bunny!
Lyrics: SAYURI
Composition: 若林充
Arrangement: 齊藤真也

Most of us went “Okay, where did that come from” when we first saw the title of the song, but really, it’s not as cheesy as the title might make you think. It’s actually quite a consistent song, with cutesy, popsy music and sweet lyrics to accompany it. I suppose you could call it the “baby” track of the album, not because it’s childish, but just… You know that urge you get to pinch a child’s cheek when you see how adorable they are? Something like that :p

Music: 7
Lyrics: 8
Vocals: 8


Track 6- 沈黙の果実 (Chinmoku no Kajitsu)
Lyrics: しほり
Composition: しほり
Arrangement: 天羽蓮花

The true Nana-style that many of us just love. On my list, this is the number 1 track in this album, but since this is supposed to be objective… Let’s see, it’s a powerful song, somewhat like Orchestral Fantasia/Zankou no Gaia, but somehow it just doesn’t quite get there to those two’s level. I’d like to say more nice stuff about it, since it’s a really awesome song, but I can’t shake off the feeling that it’s like a bunch of previous Nana songs put together… Now, depending on your take on that, you might think of it as a good thing, or a bad thing. I leave it up to you to decide. Regardless, it’s definitely a recommended song, whoever you are and whatever your taste in music is.

Music: 8
Lyrics: 8
Vocals: 10


Track 7- Brand New Tops
Lyrics: ゆうまお
Composition: 雅 智弥
Arrangement: 雅 智弥

Some people love this song, some others find it annoying, but let’s put aside the whole “Woo’oo’oo” thing in it and take it as a normal song. It’s not great, but its fun. This track is kinda there to get you hyped up and if you’re not embarrassed of repeating that JAM PROJECT style of singing, then you should be fine with this song :p I myself got used to them after many listens, and I like the song quite a lot now. So yeah, even if you don’t like it on the first listen, just give it some time, you’ll get used to it.

Music: 7
Lyrics: 8
Vocals: 6


Track 8- 少年 (Shounen)
Lyrics: 矢吹俊郎
Composition: 矢吹俊郎
Arrangement: 矢吹俊郎, 大平勉

Let’s get things straight… I hate horns, especially the sax. Ever since I had to go through the trashing they did to Orchestral Fantasia in Nana’s Live Fighter, I just couldn’t stand those instruments anymore. They ruined one of Nana’s most awesome songs ever by putting the violins to the background and placing horns at the front. They were out of place, they sounded wrong, they murdered and ruined the song, and now I’ll never like horns again, no matter how well they’re played. Now, with that out of the way… This is a rather average song. It’s supposed to be kind of like Nana’s older songs, but those beat it by a mile. It’s a boring song, and I’m not saying this only out of my pure hatred for the instruments used in it.

Music: 5
Lyrics: 6
Vocals: 7


Track 9- Gimmick Game
Lyrics: Hibiki
Composition: 藤田淳平(Elements Garden)
Arrangement: 藤田淳平(Elements Garden)

Nana’s first proper electro song. She’s tried singing several “club” songs before, but they all failed in one way or another. However, if Japan were a normal country and Nana a normal singer, you’d definitely be hearing this all over the clubs (and it’d probably be better than at least 95% of the other songs getting played there too). It’s a proper party song, which also means that many Nana fans might not like it. Unfortunately, the stereotype of otakus not being into partying is, for the most part, true. So yeah, I leave it up to you whether you’ll accept it for what it is, or whether you’ll say it’s a fail Astrogation wannabe.

Music: 7
Lyrics: 8
Vocals: 8


Track 10- Dancing in the velvet moon
Lyrics: 水樹奈々
Composition: 上松範康(Elements Garden)
Arrangement: 上松範康, 中山真斗(Elements Garden)

After having to go through the horror of a recording that was the original STARCAMP EP version of this song, any sort of sound improvement is most welcomed. The song finally sounds the way it should; sexy, spicy, etc. We’ve all heard the song a long time ago already, so again, I don’t really have much to say about it. If you didn’t like the original, just give this rerecording a try, you’re bound the feel the difference.

Music: 7
Lyrics: 7
Vocals: 8


Track 11- ray of change
Lyrics: 斉田和典
Composition: 斉田和典
Arrangement: 高橋浩一郎

This is like the buried jewel of the album. Many people are just taking it for a boring song, without giving it a proper listen, but that’s why you’re reading this review, so you won’t have to fall for the same thing. This track is a pure work of greatness. With a melodic chorus and a somewhat nostalgic overall feel, you’re gonna want to be calm and collected when listening to this.

Music: 9
Lyrics: 9
Vocals: 9


Track 12- 深愛 (Shin Ai)
Lyrics: 水樹奈々
Composition: 上松範康(Elements Garden)
Arrangement: 藤間仁(Elements Garden)

One of Nana’s currently most popular songs. Heartfelt lyrics, grand music and many feelings poured into this bittersweet track. While I say that, I personally don’t like it as much as most people seem to, but you supposedly need to give it time to let it grow on you. If you’re a romantic, you’ll probably love it, that’s all I have to say.

Music: 7
Lyrics: 9
Vocals: 7


Track 13- 蒼き光の果て -ULTIMATE MODE- (Aoki Hikari no Hate -ULTIMATE MODE-)
Lyrics: 辻 純更
Composition: 松井俊介
Arrangement: 藤間 仁(Elements Garden)

The track that saved the album from the disaster that COSMIC LOVE would have been. The story behind this is that it’s simply an insert song, placed randomly instead of another one because some idiot had to get his ass handed to jail for sniffing stuff he shouldn’t. As a substitute song, I’d say this is actually rather decent; much better than COSMIC LOVE at least. Personally though, I prefer the original version of the song, but it being an anime character song, I can see why they’d change the arrangement this much. It doesn’t sound bad, but if you pay attention, you’ll realize the music clearly wasn’t made for it. The lyrics are like twice as fast as the music… It just doesn’t balance out right. I might not feel this way about it if I hadn’t heard the original first though…

Music: 7
Lyrics: 8
Vocals: 7


Track 14- Astrogation
Lyrics: Hibiki
Composition: 陶山 隼
Arrangement: 陶山 隼

Jumpy, upbeat, fast-paced, somewhat hyper… Astrogation is definitely the most fun out of all the tracks. On your first hear you might not think much of it, but you gotta listen carefully, pick up all those nice notes and beats here and there. Actually, I believe it’s easier to pick up this song’s potential now with this rerecorded version, but I heard the original release first so I might be kinda outdated :p So yeah, catchy song is catchy. Most definitely recommended to anyone and everyone.

Music: 8
Lyrics: 8
Vocals: 8


Track 15- 夢の続き (Yume no Tsuzuki)
Lyrics: 水樹奈々
Composition: 水樹奈々
Arrangement: 藤田淳平(Elements Garden)

Nana’s fourth self-composed song. You might yawn the first time you hear it, or you might feel like crying instead (*cough*likeme*cough*), it all depends on how much you know and appreciate Mizuki Nana. As a standalone song, it’s a decent ballad, but for those who know about the emotion Nana puts into her music, it’s easy to simply adore the song and it’s “heartfeltness”.

Music: 6
Lyrics: 9
Vocals: 8


And that concludes the CD review. I know many people won’t agree with my views, but we all like what we like. I personally don’t agree with some of the stuff I’ve written there, but as I mentioned before, I tried being as objective as possible. I mean, you know, on a personal level, I’d have given Chinmoku no Kajitsu straight 10’s :p

Overall: 7.5/10


Part2-DVD:

The DVD consists of a short play Nana performed with a few other voice actors last year. It’s really just a comedy theater thing. The acting was lol and the “story” even more so, but that’s the point of it anyway.

Highlights:
-Several anime parodies (like calling Nana “ginga no utahime” or going “open heart”)
-Funny dialogue (“ah, ore no pokemon card!!” or when they make fun of Nana’s height)
-Two awesome enka songs sung by Nana ^^

The only complaint I have is that they should have put the other acts that took place that day in Koma. Originally, Nana also performed songs like Trickster and DISCOTHEQUE there, but alas, we only get the play, which is more than I could have hoped for actually, but it does make me wonder if we’ll ever be able to see those other performances T_T

Anyway, putting aside what wasn’t on the DVD… The actual content had me rofling really hard. I seriously don’t remember the last time I laughed that much and so out loud. However, I do believe you must have at least a bit of love for these actors for you to appreciate it that much.

I’m not gonna say any more about the DVD, ’cause I don’t wanna spoil it for those who haven’t watched it (it’s up on youtube by the way) and since I find it pointless to give this any sort of ranking… I’ll just finally say that if you want a good laugh, and you have at least a minimum level of Japanese understanding, you should definitely give this a watch~


Finishing off this review with some photos of the picture booklet and stuff. If you want proper scans, you can always download LonE’s release. They’ve released the album both in high quality mp3 and in flac, but, uhh… buy the darn thing instead!

Anyway…

They could've done something nicer with the CD artwork...

They could've done something nicer with the CD artwork...

Old bench is old XP

Old bench is old XP

Umbrella LOL

Umbrella LOL

ugh... blurry... must get a proper cam >_>

ugh... blurry... must get a proper cam >_>

Pretty =3

Pretty =3

Oh, and I got the ULTIMATE DIAMOND Instrumental Tracks application card but I think it’s too much of a hassle to bother with it… So I’ll just cross my fingers and hope I can get the thing on Yahoo Auctions eventually~

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4 responses to “[Review] ULTIMATE DIAMOND – Mizuki Nana

  1. Pingback: [Review] ULTIMATE DIAMOND - Mizuki Nana

  2. midge June 9, 2009 at 1:25 am

    love nana,u don’t like the original version of dancing in the velvet moon?i’m the opposite of you..i love it,ah i want this one too..it’s depressing that we don’t have it here,don’t tell me to order online,that’s impossible to me..

  3. vnmoonlily June 9, 2009 at 5:00 am

    Looks like most of the better tracks are towards the end, and that’s pretty much in line with my expectations for this given what I knew of the tracklist. Should be worth a listen!

  4. Anata June 9, 2009 at 6:49 am

    “If you’re a romantic, you’ll probably love it”
    Guess i’m a romantic type then lol

    yeah, ray of change needs more love and i find that MARIA&JOKER is quite addictive now.