Follow TV Tropes


Music / Akiko Shikata

Go To
Welcome to her world.

Akiko Shikata (志方 あきこ, born on January 7th - age unknown) is a bit of a UFO in the Japanese musical landscape. At first she started as a music composer by creating an independent label called Vagrancy, but quickly picked up to singing, developing a style that draws from Japanese traditional music, Celtic music, Middle-Eastern music, classical music, rock, religious chanting, and whatever the hell she feels like. And even occasionally in regular Japanese Pop Music. She also released a lot of purely instrumental tracks and albums, often using a music box as her instrument of choice. But what makes her most well known is her contribution to a lot of video game, anime and Visual Novel musics, most famously EXA_PICO, Umineko: When They Cry, the Tales of Symphonia OVAs and Yona of the Dawn. In 2014, she also composed her first (and so far only) soundtrack for an anime, Cross Ange.

Another particularity is her voice; or more accurately, her voices. Not only does she have a remarkable voice range, she can adapt her voice timbre to a variety of moods, and is also known for using multiple parallel voice tracks, creating one-woman choruses or "dialogues" in the songs. Her lyrics − or those of people who write for her − often revolve around the beauty and power of nature, the celebration of life, and mystical tales.

As you can see below, she's an extremely prolific composer who routinely releases two projects a year. Marathoning her discography will keep you busy for a while.

    Akiko Shikata's discography 
  • Instrumental Albums:
    • Petit Fours (2002)
    • horizon blue (2003)
    • Kurenawi (2003)
    • VIRIDIAN (2004)
    • Wisteria (2005)
    • Kalliope~Piano Concert~ (2007)
    • Fluff~Orgel Arrange Mini Album~ (2009)
    • Nijiiro Crayon~Orgel Arrange Mini Album~ (2010)
    • lirica ~Orgel Arrange Mini Album~ (2011)
    • Istoria~Kalliope~Orgel Collection (2012)
    • Hagurumakan no Elude (2013)
    • Ato no Matsuri (2015)
    • Yoimatsuri (2018)
    • otonoAkari (2019)

  • Mini-albums:
    • Midori no Mori de Nemuru Tori (2001)
    • LAYLANIA and LAYLANIA Another Story [moon*birds] (2012)
    • Wokashi (2015)
    • caTra and rosTa (2016)

  • Series related albums:

  • Soundtracks:

  • Other independent albums:
    • Haikyō to Rakuen (2003)
    • Istoria~Musa~ (2007)note 
    • Istoria~Kalliope~ (2011)
    • Ayashi (2018)
    • noAno (2019)note 

  • Studio Albums
    • Navigatoria (2005)
    • RAKA (2006)
    • Harmonia (2009)
    • Turaida (2013)

Tropes found in Akiko Shikata's music:

  • After the End: "Replicare" from Harmonia is about someone wandering in a destroyed world, condemned to relive eternally the fall of mankind in his mind and be tormented by the cries of despair of the dead. Italian chanting narrates the apocalypse between the verses. It's not a very happy song.
  • Album Intro Track: There is usually one in the studio albums, featuring an Ethereal Choir. In Harmonia short sung poems serve as introduction and interludes.
  • Anti-Love Song: "Uzumebi" from Harmonia is probably one of her angriest songs, where the main character shouts their rage at being neglected and betrayed by their lover. It doesn't open the "fire" part of the album for nothing.
  • Color Motif: When the album covers don't feature her posing in a white dress, they often feature a white-dressed female character, with some sort of natural background.
  • Conlang: Occasionally, notably in songs for anime or video games. Most memorably in songs related to EXA_PICO, which are partially or entirely sung in one or several of the multiple conlangs used in that series: Standard Hymmnos, New Testament of Pastalie, Carmena Foreluna, Ar Ciela, Emotional Song Pact and REON-4213. The first, second and last songs of Turaida are in vaguely Italian-sounding conlangs of Akiko's own invention, while she also developed another one for most of her songs in caTra.
  • Concept Album:
    • The mostly instrumental Istoria~Musa~, as its title suggests, is themed after the nine classical muses, each giving their names to one of the 9 tracks. And each track adapts its tone to what the muse of its title represents − the most obvious being "Thaleia" (comedy) which has a wacky instrumentation and funny cartoon-ish noises in the background.
      • Istoria~Kalliope~ from the same series has songs based around Greek myths, with lyrics often in Greek.
    • Harmonia has a distinct Elemental Motif: the wind part (track 1 to 4) focuses on the feelings of traveling and flying in the sky; the fire part (5 to 8) has tense songs with heavy electric instrumentations and dark lyrics; the water part (9 to 12) contrasts it with soothing songs and light instrumentations; the earth part (13 to 15) has a "tribal dance" feel to it. Each part is introduced by a short interlude titled "Chouwa~something~," all four of which form the first verse of "Chouwa~Harmonia~," the penultimate track. "Harmonia~Mihatenu Chi e~" brings all this together in a joyful conclusion.
    • The music box album Hagurumakan no Elude is based around the theme of clockwork and an elegant manor.
    • Wokashi, released in 2015, centers around Japanese folklore and is mostly composed with traditional Japanese instruments mixed with some light electronic beats. The 2018 album Ayashi is a sequel of sorts to it, although it's more diverse in its genre-blending.
    • The entirety of caTra is in Akiko's own conlang (with the exception of the first song, sung in "do-re-mis") and has a steampunk feel.
  • Dark Reprise: "Umineko no Naku Koro ni~Rengoku~" starts very much like the original VN opening, but after the first chorus it gets more chaotic and epic, with the structure getting more complex and electric guitars kicking in, which adds an apocalyptic touch to it. Also, it's sung entirely in Italian this time around (the lyrics are by Wataru Hano though).
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Shikata's voice in her early releases was noticeably more high-pitched, and her first instrumental albums were made with a music box. Her first album Navigatoria also had lighter, more ethereal and more rock-based instrumentations, as well as a few experimental songs (most notably "HOLLOW") that don't quite sound like anything she has done since then. While the bases of her current style were already present in Midori no Mori… and Haikyou to Rakuen, it's her second studio album RAKA that solidified them.
  • Ethereal Choir: Used as a peaceful pendant to the Ominous Latin Chanting, sometimes in the same song. She uses this a lot in RAKA, particularly.
  • Epic Rocking: She has two in Harmonia, with "Replicare" and "Utau Oka~Salavec Rhaplanca~", both 6'30 long. They have a rather similar structure (although Shikata didn't compose the latter): an Ethereal Choir as introduction, softly sung verses and dramatic choruses, with chaotic transitions.
    • There is also "Kasasagi -Ta ennea poulia-" on Istoria ~Kalliope~ (6'), which is much softer than the above two.
    • More generally, it's not unusual for her tracks to span between 5' and 5'30, with long instrumental introductions and conclusions. Almost all of Navigatoria's tracks and a good half of Harmonia's are in this case.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: She takes a rather sensual and whispery voice in "La Corolle" (on Navigatoria). Unfortunately, her "French" is thoroughly unintelligible, but her French fans still appreciate the effort.
  • Evil Laugh: She pulls off an epic one in "Kin'iro no Chōsō ~Uruwashi no Bansan~" (on the Umineko no Naku Koro ni album). It's scary.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Three notable instances.
    • She does this between the intro and first song in Navigatoria and Turaida. In the former the sound of flowing water accompanies the first notes of "Navigatoria"; in the latter, the end of "Toki ni Umoreta Kotoba" is directly followed by the start of "Arcadia"'s chorus.
    • In Harmonia, the two concluding songs have the first part's fade-out segue into the start of the second part.
  • Flowery Elizabethan English: Many of her songs use a few archaic forms for stylistic effect, but some go a bit further.
    • The lyrics of "HOLLOW" from Navigatoria notably use quotes from Shakespeare. Yep, the only time she sings in English, it's Early Modern English.
    • In "Hiraite Sanze" from Turaida (a song about flowers, appropriately enough), Wataru Hano wrote the lyrics in classical Japanese. Thus we get "erabite" instead of "erande", "manekite" instead of "maneite", "itowoshi" instead of "itooshii", the imperative form "-ryanse", etc.
  • Genre-Busting: Her music could probably be considered "neoclassical darkwave" or "world fusion", but it's so idiosyncratic and incorporates so many different types of music that those are pretty loose classifications.
  • Genre Roulette: Harmonia, moreso than her other albums. It goes from a full-on Middle-East flavored song ("Harukanaru Tabiji") to a peppy pop song with energic piano lines ("Kaze to Rashinban") to a dark and angry rock track ("Uzumebi") to a sweet lullaby ("Kuon no Umi") to a J-Pop ballad ("Aoiro Kandzume") to an epic fantasy tale ("Utau Oka~Salavec Rhaplanca~"), among many other things. And yet it somehow manages to stay coherent as an album − the concept is about the harmony of the different elements after all.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Or Greek, or German, or Latin, or French, or Turkish, or Tibetan, or even Ainu… she isn't picky about the language she sings in; although she seems to have a particular fondness for Italian − all of her main albums have at least a couple of songs in that language. However it's not like she's fluent in any of those languages and she still has a heavy Japanese accent, making the lyrics hard to understand even for native speakers…
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Haresugita Sora no Shita de" ("Under an overly clear sky"), from RAKA, is a song about a priestess and her people about to die from thirst because of a drought, and praying desperately for the rain to come. Not what you would expect when listening to the light-hearted beat and flute (though it does have a sadder note in the chorus and at the end).
    • "Suiren" from Navigatoria combines a calm, relaxing melody with rather melancholy lyrics about lost love.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Her Album Intro Tracks are never longer than 1'50, as well as the interludes in Harmonia.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Frequent, random examples including "Haresugita Sora no Shita de," "Uzumebi" or "Byakumu no Mayu~Ricordando il passato~," among others.
  • Offing the Offspring: In "Resshikou-ki ~Raikoku no Tenshi~", from Utau Oka ~Ar=Ciel Ar=Dor~, the emperor of El Duel sacrfices his daughter to ensure victory over his enemy, El Nemesys.
  • Ominous Foreign Language Chanting: She absolutely loves this trope, useful for raising the tension in epic songs.
  • One-Word Title: This is usually how you recognize her studio albums (Navigatoria, RAKA, Harmonia and Turaida), as well as her early instrumental albums (Kurenawi, Viridian, Wisteria).
    • Her concept mini-albums LAYLANIA, Wokashi and caTra are also examples.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Calling it this may be strange considering how diverse she is in general, but Ayashi (a Japanese-themed album) features "Tsukiyo ni Moratorium", a full-on, foot-tapping, finger-snapping jazz track. "Otomegokoro", the tracks that follows it (composed by Minoru Yoshida) also counts to an extent as half of it is pretty much heavy metal.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: RAKA includes a gorgeous arrangement of "Ave Maria."
  • Recurring Riff:
    • The first and third, as well as second and fourth interludes in Harmonia actually use the same melody with a different tempo and tone. The four interludes are fused to form the first verse of the penultimate track.
    • There is also a recurring part of the melody between the various "Utau Oka" songs.
    • Several of the songs in Ayashi (and its bonus CD Yume no Ato) feature a common melody at some point.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: "Hito Keishiki PF Shisourei" from caTra has vocals consisting entirely of singing the names of the musical notes making up the melody (on the do-re-mi scale).
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: A trademark of hers, taken to the extreme in "Utau Oka~Salavec Rhaplanca~." However, she uses noticeably less multitracking in her latest album Turaida. It's still there but not quite as prominent as in Harmonia, and remains mostly limited to simple choirs. She didn't use it that much in Navigatoria either.
  • Sequel Song:
    • "Afezeria HARVESTASYA." is a direct sequel to "Utau Oka~EXEC_HARVESTASYA/.~", and it deals with the love triangle that resulted from Myu choosing to marry Harvestasya instead of going through with the arranged marriage that was already decided for him.
    • "Inori no Hate no Hitofuri no" is the sequel to "Haresugita Sora no Shita de." The little sister of the priestess who prayed for rain in the first song goes to a far away country to meet a princess that can make rain fall. They have similar instrumentations and even occupy the same position in their respective albums (10th track of RAKA and Turaida), but the sequel is noticeably more joyful and hopeful in its lyrics.
  • Signature Style: Mostly characterized by four things − mix of modern and traditional instruments (hand drums, Japanese flutes, bouzoukis, etc.), alternance between a soft, high voice and a deep, more dramatic voice (often giving the impression that there are two different "characters" in the song), a massive use of multi-tracking, and texts revolving around nature, life, or fantasy stories.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Can be heard here. Yes, the person speaking and the person singing are the same.
  • Shrinking Violet: She's purportedly one in real life. At least her live performances are very few and she's obviously not very comfortable on the stage. Not much is known about her either − even her age is a mystery.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Many of her lyrics are rather esoteric and meant to create a general atmosphere rather than tell a precise story.
  • Youkai: Mentioned in her album Wokashi.
    • "Otoshimono" is about a boy who disappeared into a cave with foxes, then was seen again as a youkai.
    • "Hyakkiyakou" is a song that lists several different types of youkai.

Alternative Title(s): Shikata Akiko