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Friday, April 2, 2010



Shoko Nakagawa "Shoko-tan Cover 3: Anison wa Jinrui o Tsunagu"

Given her image as the ultimate otaku idol — not only a singer, but also a manga artist and occasional anime voice actress — it's tempting to suggest that "Anison wa Jinrui wo Tsunagu," Shoko Nakagawa's third volume of anime song covers, is a better representation of the pop star she is than her own albums.

News photo

On one level, it is little more than the sound of a pretty girl in an Akihabara karaoke box, which, of course, is the greater part of Nakagawa's charm. Her perky smile and twinkling eyes give the media the image of otaku they want to see, living proof that any kind of social dysfunction can be legitimized by the endorsement of an attractive girl.

The material is drawn mostly from the 1990s, when Nakagawa was in elementary school, and offers an interesting window on that more innocent world where anime was largely made for genuine children and young teens, rather than pandering to the locked-down market of dating-simulator enthusiasts, and the more esoteric tastes that entails. As a result, "Anison wa Jinrui wo Tsunagu" shies away from the rigidly enforced code of lolita-esque cuteness one might expect from the cover art. Thanks to the limitations of her backing band, Nakagawa's take on "Sobakasu," from Rurouni Kenshin, sounds plodding compared to the Judy and Mary original, but songs from girls judo anime Yawara! and girls' fantasy series Fushigi Yugi both, for better or worse, capture the sunny sound of the decade well and will have nostalgia freaks drooling.

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