It’s been 14 years!
Crazy to believe that the Evangelion rebuilds are finally coming to an end, but alas, here we are. With this end comes an end to the collaboration efforts between Utada Hikaru and the series, as well. You may be familiar with Hikki’s works with Kingdom Hearts but if you don’t know about their efforts with Eva… where have you been?! Jokes aside, Utada Hikaru’s work with Eva is one filled with lyrics of love, beauty, and their sound is that of an etherealness that is reminiscent of their works in the mid-00s.
Their final release with the project comes in the form of a mini-album, with one new track, a rehash of an old Eva song, and remasters of all their tie-ins. “One Last Kiss” is the title of the new song and is meant to signify one last effort – but will it be worth it in the end? Is this one last kiss one for the books? Let’s check it out!
“I love you more than you’ll ever know.”
“One Last Kiss” is the last hurrah for Hikki and Evangelion, a combination that began in 2007 and worked its way onward for the last 14 years. There’s a sense of beauty and love here for this last tie-in song, with its lyrics and music video portraying a sort of bittersweet-ness despite the fact that it is all about someone truly in love. It feels like a longing memory, one that goes out with a bang, even though the song itself is subdued. It’s a ballad that has all its emotion in every aspect of its creation, from the ambient electronica, Hikki’s vocal delivery, and writing. It is a beautiful song, one that will just give you chills the moment it ends, with you begging for more, knowing very well you can’t because it is only just one last kiss. ⬛
The only additional new track on the mini-album is “Beautiful World (Da Capo Version)“, which is a combination song of two different vibes for one of Hikki’s Eva tracks. The first entire half of the track is a ballad, driven by an acoustic guitar, that is haunting with Hikki’s vocals harmonizing throughout. I haven’t watched the last rebuild yet, but I imagine this plays somewhere in the movie in a scene that’s heavy on emotion. It’s darkly beautiful. The last half of the song is an upbeat jazz sound that is transitioned into quite nicely, though it does feel like there’s some strange disconnect from the amazing first half. Still, it is a great vibe; perhaps this is how a Da Capo version of a song is like, but I do wish this last half could have just been its own separate track. ⬛
From here onward are 2021 remasters of every tie-in song between Hikki and Evangelion, starting with “Beautiful World -2021 Remastered-“, which tied itself to the first of the Evangelion rebuilds. Each of the remasters themselves are not particularly different than their original counterparts, but revisiting them (I’ll review the originals eventually) gives me goosebumps! These are some of Hikki’s greatest tracks, so there’s a melancholy here when revisiting “Beautiful World”, with its almost futuristic but fantasy-like feel. It’s still a gorgeous song, with its chorus being one that gets you singing along in harmony with Japan’s top soloist. With its piano-driven melody and electronic ambience, “Beautiful World” continues to be a world encompassed by beauty. ⬛
Next us is “Beautiful World (PLANiTb Acoustica Mix) -2021 Remastered-“, which is a handful of a title, but as it describes, this is the acoustic version of Beautiful World, with percussions, guitars, organs, etc. all chiming in rather than the ambient electronica of its original track. It isn’t one of my favorite Eva tie-ins but it certainly has a great feel to it that is different to that of its original. While the original transports you to the future, this one has you feeling like you’re in a field of flowers at the end of summer during a sunset. It’s breezy but still has a power to it, and Hikki continues to impress vocally. PLANiTb has a way with his versions of Hikki’s songs, and while I do pass on this occasionally, I still find myself drawn to its organic instrumental feel. ⬛
Sakura Nagashi -2021 Remastered-
Translation: Flowing Cherry Blossoms -2021 Remastered-
“Sakura Nagashi -2021 Remastered-” remains to be a beautiful ballad, another great tie-in for the Hikki and Eva musical universe. It isn’t one of my favorites of the overall tracks, but the more I listen to it over time, the more I appreciate its hauntingly beautiful melody. Imagining this song playing while cherry blossoms flutter around me is an image that bodes so well, and with it tying-in to the third film, it just seems like the appropriate sort of sound and feel. Its piano melody flutters much like those same cherry blossoms, with Hikki showcasing their ever-respected vocals. “Everybody finds love” and some will find it in this track in the end. ⬛
Lastly on the mini is “Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) (2007 MIX) -2021 Remastered-“, which itself is part of the original Eva series (though sung by Hayashibara Megumi, though correct me if I’m wrong because I also recall it was sung by other singers for other portions). It continues to be a great jam, with this version being very reminiscent of their old R&B tunes. It’s a fantastic ending to the mini-album, especially with the original track being just as great. The old-school 90s R&B feel of the song just has me going back, and if it takes me to the moon… In other words, I’m in love. ⬛
“One Last Kiss” is a fantastic release from Utada Hikaru, hands down. Even if it is inflated with remasters, it feels like a best-album, one that was in the makings for 14 years. It’s beautiful (world), and it continues to show the vast expansion of Utada Hikaru’s sound. Their lyrics for each song have so much love in them, and this last release is one that feels like it was lovingly made for fans of both their and the Evangelion series.
I hope that when I finally watch the movie, it’s a) in a theater, and b) it gives me all the emotions that the tie-in title track has. I want those chills.
MUST-LISTEN: One Last Kiss, Beautiful World -2021 Remastered-, Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) (2007 MIX) -2021 Remastered-
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