single review: Koda Kumi “real Emotion / 1000 no Kotoba”

K, U, M, I in position… it’s showtime, girls!

For a big chunk of indeterminate time, I’ll be reviewing some old Koda Kumi stuff, as if I haven’t already reviewed a huge chunk of her stuff! Joking aside, I have revisited Final Fantasy X-2 recently, mostly because I’ve been on a huge gaming kick, and I recall a time when I would only play that particular game for its opening sequence… because Final Fantasy and J-pop? Who could have ever thought?!

Released by the one and only ero-kakkoii Best Jeans-winner herself, Queen Koda Kumi, “real Emotion / 1000の言葉” is the single that finally put her into the spotlight, and both songs are featured in the game, with the second A-side making its appearance as a cutscene that, yes, helps you get 100% in the game (…it’s a required cutscene, don’t fret). With that said, is the single all it’s chalked up to be, or was wee 10-year-old me just too gay to realize each song’s true quality? Read on!

real Emotion
1000 no Kotoba

real Emotion

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“What can I do for you?”

What can’t Koda Kumi do for us?! You know very well what you get yourself into when you hear that question upon first listen, and “real Emotion” does not hold back. This definitely mid-2000s dance-pop track takes you left and right with its heavy use of organ, its funky techno sounds and guitar, and its subtle clang of drums. It is insanely catchy, an earworm that was largely absent from her discography prior to this. It’s not ero-kakkoii by any means, but it certainly has its sensual appeal; that, itself, is reflected in the game it ties into. If you’re like me and you were exposed to the softer pitch of Sweetbox’s version first, then it’s Koda Kumi’s vocally sultrier tinge that gets you really feeling the emotion.


1000 no Kotoba
Translation: 1000 Words

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Can you hear them? My 1000 words…”

1000 no Kotoba“, which translates to “1000 Words”, is a beautiful track, one that I tend to overlook because, in my nature as someone who enjoys upbeat tracks, it is a ballad. It is an incredibly slow ballad upon first listen, but after several listens (and several years, frankly), I’ve come to really appreciate its power and beauty. There’s something about this ballad that sets itself apart from Kuu’s other ballads, some of which are just total downers. This one has the epic feel to it, with strings, guitars, pianos, drums all subtly joining bit by bit until we’ve reached climax in the chorus. What’s even more amazing is Kuu’s vocals, which carry so much power in them, even when its quiet. It’s that sultry tinge that makes this all the more capturing. She could be singing 1000 words, and I’d still be entranced. A lovely track.

Interestingly, this track does not appear on Spotify, and it could very well be due to licensing. That said, you can always find this track in video formats via YouTube, so definitely give it a listen!


I don’t quite have 1000 words to say about this single, but I do have four to say here: Listen to this single.

It is fantastic! A great tie-in! It saved Koda Kumi’s dwindling career (well, the first chunk, at least). This propelled her to stardom, even if just for some time before she really kicked into high gear, and rightfully so, as each song has a charm that some of her former songs (minus her A-sides, which I’ll get to at some point, but they each have their own great sounds) do not have. Watching these songs play out in the game itself, despite them being the Sweetbox versions (which do not do Kuu’s versions any justice, frankly)… they just match. There’s a little something here for anyone who enjoys J-pop and/or contemporary adult ballads. A great single, a great tie-in, what more could I ask for?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

MUST-LISTEN: real Emotion, 1000の言葉

For more Koda Kumi reviews, visit the archive!

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