Naruto Shippuuden’s Opening Analysis: Opening #4

Fourth Opening – Closer by Joe Inoue

An overview on the singer and song:

This is an interesting one. For start, Joe Inoue is foreign, yeah, because Joe was obviously a japanese name, he is actually ethnically japanese because his parents were both japanese but based on California rather than, well, Japan, not for nothing he shows perfect english on this song, he learned japanese from mangas, his parents didn’t talked japanese, he didn’t talked japanese, nobody on his environment talked japanese, he learned it by himself.

Another thing that he learned from himself is to play every instrument present on his songs, the keyboard, the guitar, the bass guitar, the drums, everything is 100% recorded by him, plus writing the lyrics and composing every piece of music that he mades, plus directing and editing music videos for people like Diana Garnet and himself, he is probably the single most talented person that i’m going to cover on this entire series of blog posts.

He also has an incredible work ethic, releasing 7 10+ songs albums on the last three years alone, he also has a lot of Youtube channels, for different countries, where he shows his incredible polyglot skills:

Really, this guy is talented as fuck, he is a genius.

However, the core of his sucess is not his solo stuff, but rather his also incredible work rate behind the scenes, a very in-demand music writer and producer, so, yeah, he made quite some waves despite not being incredibly succesful as a solo singer, he released three major label records between 2006 and 2010, this track is from his second album, ME!ME!ME!, the album was one week at #86 on the Oricon charts and dissapeared, the song on particular had a longer shelf-life, spending seven weeks on the charts and peaking at number twenty two, but this song, along with Kaze no Gotoku from Gintama. are his only two hits ever, both around the low points of the top fourty.

An overview on the creators:

So, for one thing, neither Tsuru or Suzuki are on this, the director of the opening was series director’s Hayato Date, let’s see a resumee of his carreer: Naruto. Yeah, he spent most of his life working on Naruto, from 2002 to 2017, that’s whole 15 years of Naruto, he previously did series like Saiyuki, Tokyo Underground and Kaze no Yojimbo, participated as storyboarder on some other Pierrot series such as Flame of Recca and Great Teacher Onizuka, he now spent his days at Pierrot’s subsidary Pierrot Plus doing things like Konbini Kareshi and Gunjou no Magmel, he is a conventional director with not a lot of personality or specially creative, he is more work man-like, rather than any kind of a directorial genius, his works are very bland and pretty boring on the visual side, but he works well for some things, openings aren’t one of them, but we will look at that on a while, the Animation Director was Yumenosuke Tokuda, all he can say about him is that…he is an animator, he sure is! nah, he has over twenty years of experience on the anime medium but he hasn’t made anything noteworthy, again, a more workman-like approach to animation, a lot of cutting corners, polish to compensate for lack of fluidy, etcetera, again, not something you will want on an opening, but we will see that later.

As the Director and the Sakkan suggest, the KA list is made exclusively of Naruto regulars: Seiko Asai, Hiromi Okazaki, Yasuhiko Kanezuka, Yuuki Kinoshita, Chiyuki Tanaka and Genichiro Kouno, with the only ones not being regulars at the time but more like “luxury animators” the duo Hiroyuki Yamashita-Norio Matsumoto, both of whom everyone knows which part they did on this opening, spoiler: is the best.

Analysis Of The Song:

I have not much to say about the song, it’s a fairly standard Pop Rock piece, a lot of loud guitars and synth melodies, a lot of drums playing on the background, in fact, a whole issue that i have with this opening in particular is that the mixing is absolutely awful, Inoue mixed himself this song, and damn, is bad, the loudness is at about 3db, that is VERY loud, and all the instruments, and even Inoue’s voice all mix together on a garrish mix when they get to the chorus, so, for the music, this song is complete trash, i just can’t stand it.

The lyric’s message is pretty well, however, just value what you got and always remember the people that left you, a pretty nice message considering the moment of the series that it was played.

Analysis Of The Video:

Ok. This video is bad. Very very bad.

The designs look a lot clunkier, the colors are very very saturated, and on a constant, it looks very bad and mediocre, including awful CGI animation, bad cutouts of the characters, stiff animation, and on general, lack of any semblance of Tsuru’s brilliance, including the last scene with Naruto running cycling through character cutouts placed over a bad CGI background, oh my god.

There is a semblance of Tsuru’s brilliance though, the Yamashita and Matsumoto scene obviously, that takes up a solid 25 seconds of the opening, but it doesn’t do a whole lot for making it better, and specially because those 25 seconds were already on the second version of the third opening.

In fact, this opening may have one of the most memorable scenes of any Naruto opening: Hidan vs Asuma, animated by Hiroyuki Yamashita, the choreography, the rotating camera, Asuma’s great facial expression when hitted by Hidan, and then, the least, but not lesser, horrified Shikamaru’s expression running to meet his dead master: Determination, then denial, and at the end, desesperation and deception are all shown on Shikamaru’s face on that cut, that on my opinion, might be Seiko Asai’s work on this opening.

After that little piece of genius work, the opening goes back to its mediocre self.