Aki's second single features her hit song for Final Fantasy XII, complete with English and Japanese versions. If you haven't heard it yet, you may as well take the chance now. It's a soulful ballad to be sure, and I am surprised to say that I prefer the English version (track 4).
Now, there have been plenty of Final Fantasy vocal theme songs in the last decade (from Faye Wong's "Eyes On Me" up to the two songs for X-2), and I certainly won't say that Aki's is the best of them. However, Aki's style is something very different from the other vocalists we've heard in the VGM circles. Aki's bilingual background makes her an ideal performer for both sides of the Pacific, and (I'm making the comparison again) her blend of pop and Tori-Amos-like jazz piano makes her something of an underground star for those looking for alternatives to the dominant R&B American culture.
That said, let me point to my favorite song on the single: the B-side "Santa Fé." Written by Aki, performed in English, this song stands on its own two feet and makes Aki shine as a musician. The lyrics have depth and make sense (something few Japanese pop stars can say about their English works), and the music is very catchy. It's a shame the song has no relevance to FFXII, because I myself would've liked it to appear in the game to spice things up a bit.
Those who indulge themselves in the limited edition of this single are treated to the now-standard addition of a bonus DVD with a video. Cutting between scenes of FFXII footage and Aki at the piano, the video isn't anything special, but if you're really in need of this single, you may as well pay the extra money to get the DVD.
Considering this vocal will be included on the 4-disc OST, this single isn't worth purchasing unless you're 1) really impatient or 2) interested in Aki's other songs. I've found myself wowed twice now by Aki's own songs (track 2 on each of her singles), so it may be just the thing for you. If it isn't, no loss, just wait for the OST.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann