Since February 2017, singer-songwriter Kotringo has been going around Japan to hold a series of concert events commemorating the release of the anime film Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni (In This Corner of the World) original soundtrack CD. Every performance has been filled with fans, and as soon as the tickets went on sale, the response was so great that an additional concert was announced in Tokyo. It was held on 11 April at Mt. Rainier Hall Shibuya Pleasure Pleasure.
The performers on stage were Kotringo and the other four members of the Katasumi Quintet: Naomu Soeda (saxophone, flute, and clarinet), Seigen Tokuzawa (cello), Hisashi Sudou (bass guitar), and Kaoru Suzuki (drums). The same members also joined the recording of the soundtrack.
As soon as the performers came up on stage, Kotringo sat in front of the piano. The concert started out with the first song on the soundtrack, O Come, All Ye Faithful (Kami no Miko wa Koyoishimo). Then, Kotringo sang the movie’s opening theme Kanashikute Yarikirenai (I’m So Sad, I Don’t know What to Do). During the performances, the scenes from the movie in which the songs are used were shown on the stage’s screen in the background, and the audience were able to get absorbed in the movie’s atmosphere with both their eyes and ears. The scenes of 8-year-old Suzu walking down the streets in Nakajima-Honmachi, Hiroshima Prefecture, and the dandelions blooming under the blue sky added to the deep emotion created by the music.
Kotringo mentioned to the fans, ‘Today, we would like to perform almost all the songs from the movie’s soundtrack, and also play some songs from my albums.’ The quintet performed the songs from the soundtrack starting from Hikishio no Umi wo Aruku Kodomo tachi (The Children Walking Along the Shore at Low Tide) then Asa no Oshigoto (Work in the Morning), followed by Kotringo singing Tonari-Gumi (Neighborhood Association). She also sang her two original songs, Mittsu no Namida (The Three Tears) and Tsubame ga Tobu Uta (Song of the Flying Swallow).
Tonari-Gumi with its relaxing rhythm was a great match for Mittsu no Namida‘s Afro-Cuban jazz melody. The songs Kotringo composes are all very smooth and relaxing. Many of them illustrate the ordinary lives of people, which perfectly blends in with the atmosphere of Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni.
The xylophone was used in the songs Ariko-san, which Kotringo referred to as the song used in her second-favorite scene, and Yami-Ichi (Black Market). Kotringo mentioned that she had brought to the concert two out of three xylophones she always keeps at home but hardly ever uses. The xylophone was played by Kotringo and Suzuki in Ariko-san and by Soeda in Yami-Ichi. Yami-Ichi is the background music used in the scene where Suzu goes to the black market for the first time to buy sugar. Kotringo played the melodica (key harmonica) during this cute and comical song. Then came up Kotringo’s piano solo song, Rin-san, and the scenes of the first meeting of the two best friends, Suzu and Rin, were shown on the screen.
Kotringo explained that her favorite scene was where Suzu cooks many meals in the kitchen, including Nankou-meshi (rice that was eaten during wartime in Japan). Because this scene was shown on TV many times in the movie’s trailers, Gohan no Shitaku (Preparing Meals), the background music for this scene, is one of the most popular songs among fans. Many household items were used as instruments in this song’s recording, and during the live concert, drum player Suzuki made a jaunty rhythm using items such as chopsticks, a bowl, and a sieve.
Starting from the song Ano Michi (That Road), which was used in the movie’s turning point, the happy atmosphere started to change into something sad and emotional. By listening to these sorrowful songs, the audience was able to feel the deep message illustrated in the movie. It is very important for a film’s background music to have the power to send such messages to viewers.
Five of Kotringo’s original songs were performed in between, including Konichiwa Mata Ashita (Hello, See You Tomorrow) and Tsukuri-goto (A Fake). Migite no Uta (Song of the Right Hand) and Suzu-san, a song which was used as the movie’s second ending theme illustrating Rin’s story, were performed by the quintet, and the concert came to its first end.
During the encore, the quintet performed the arranged version of New Day, which, in the movie, was the big-band jazz song playing on the radio after the war ended. The second encore song was the movie’s ending theme Tanpopo (Dandelion), which Kotringo referred to as her ‘precious, precious song.’
During this song, the movie’s storyboards were shown on the screen. Each drawing was shown alternately with the actual scenes from the movie. The audience could thus feel the movie’s long history starting from its production to the release of its completed version which has been rated extremely high by fans.
At one point during the concert, Kotringo told her fans, ‘2017 is the tenth anniversary of my debut. Time went by so quickly, and I had no special plans to celebrate. However, I got this opportunity to produce a soundtrack for Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni, and my life got really busy and exciting. Now I feel that this was the best way to commemorate my 10th anniversary.’ The encounter between Kotringo and Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni has made so many people feel happy throughout Japan.
At the very end, Kotringo sang Kodomo no Sekai (The World for Children)’ accompanied by Tokuzawa’s cello. This song was the main theme of Mai Mai Miracle (Mai Mai Shinko to Sennen no Mahou), in which Kotringo got the chance to work with director Katabuchi for the first time.
After the last song, a message from Kotringo was shown on the screen, ‘I hope Suzu will be gently smiling forever in all of your hearts.’
The concerts will continue in a different form; Kotringo will perform solo or with the accompaniment of Tokuzawa’s cello.
Kotringo Official Website: http://kotringo.net/