Review: This Armor

Among ancient Chinese philosophies is an idea known as yin and yang. Very simply put, this looks like a kind of dualism: everything in the world is a mixture of yin qi (an element of shadier side of the universe) and yang qi (an element of brighter side of the world). For example, the sun is yang and the moon, yin. This philosophy is deep-rooted in the Japanese culture: the Japanese word for the sun is taiyo, whose latter half share the same Chinese character (or kanji) with yang, and tai-in, the old Japanese name for the moon ends with yin.

It seems to me that This Armor represents the yang side of Chihiro while INSOMNIA exhibited her yin side. Despite the inclusion of darker tunes, This Armor as a whole sounds more or less warm and bright. Garnished with images of armor, a shield, arrows, and role playing (ROLLIN'), this album is easier to approach but has less punch compared with other two albums.


Suddenly this album opens with a pop, lighthearted guitar. I got confused when I first heard it because I was expecting a sequel to INSOMNIA. It seems as if Chihiro laughed off the serious view of the world she had had earlier.

The feathers scattered on the ground
Would be sufficient to warm me
I don't care if you don't believe me

So she pretends to be tough. It's funny that she doesn't smile at all in the promotion video included in the PRINCESS BELIEVER DVD.

2. Ibara no Umi

The words are hard to make out. One moment after you think you grasped the meaning, it just slips away. It's one of this kind of songs, all too common to Chihiro's works. It seems to be a song of relief resulting from resignation. It sounds like an enka song.

3. Shadow

A typical Oni song that share the same atmosphere with INSOMNIA. This is incorrigibly gloomy.

After all it's me who have been going back on myself all along
I'm waiting for somebody to give me the
coup de grâce with something

4. everything, in my hands

Something is wrong with this number. The large-sized string section lacks richness and Chihiro's voice doesn't sound attractive. It was conceived as a medium tempo piece but changed to faster one during the arrangement stage. It should have been better.

5. Our Song

This one is unusually quiet and peaceful for her song. Since Nestlé is a major company in Japan, too, its commercial that used this number was aired so many times. (Chihiro didn't appear on the scene.) And the English lyrics are much better than in other songs. (Excuse me, Chii-chan!) I like the sequence starting from this number onward.

6. Ryuseigun

This is definitely a masterpiece, a twin to "infection".

If you can't touch me, then I'm no use to you
If I can't touch you, then I'm no use to you

Incidentally, the word "meteor" or "star" appears only once in these lyrics.

Give me your heart
Your handmade one will do
If only I have a place where I can cry
I can do very well without the sight of stars

This is an authentic ballad that showcases her vocal charm. And this song is memorable for me in that this is my very first Chihiro song. When I first heard it on television, I assumed that it was sung by a much older woman.


This has a totally different feel from the single version. Just like "BACK DOOR", this album version is simple, clean and mostly accompanied by the piano, as opposed to the louder single version. For this song, I like the single version better. In the promotion video, which uses the single version, Chihiro sings all in smiles, which in turn makes me smile, too.

8. Arrow of Pain

A song about disappointment in love that was originally included in the "Gekko" CD single. This track was added to here because "it has a taste for this album". Remixed for This Armor, it sounds better balanced than the original.

It's simply because it was you who were beside me
I say to myself that this is nothing
In an attempt to paralyze myself

Though the arrow I shot didn't hit you
My fragile strength is now on the verge of crumbling into pieces

This is my favorite but it's much, much better when sung live. You can enjoy its live version on the CRADLE ON MY NOISE DVD.

9. infection

And the climax of this album. I'm overwhelmed by the grandeur of this song every time I listen to it. Chihiro always says she wants to overwhelm the audience by the power of her singing. She proves to be successful in doing so with this work. And the video clip in PRINCESS BELIEVER, shot in England, is probably the best of her promotion videos. It fascinates so many people.

10. CROW

This is virtually the title tune.

Look at me who is pampered
Look at me who can turn everything into a shield
Look at me in a frantic search for darkness
And love me

This armor is too heavy for me
I hate to fall down before I can get even my tender feelings across
Nobody will attempt to attack you any more
Take off that stuff right now

Here are Chihiro's words about the title of this album:

We all have different kinds of armor, for example, lies, affectation, makeup, and business suits. Although the lyrics of "CROW" goes something like "Get out of your armor", I don't mean to say it's not good to wear armor. All I wanted to say is that it does exists between us.

Despite the somewhat commonplace arrangement, this song rounds off the album with positive, heavenly tones. At this point, This Armor closes the yin-yang circle to achieve equilibrium, and to announce Chihiro's departure for a new horizon.

(All quotations are given from respective works listed above. Original text copyrighted by Chihiro Onitsuka. Translated and quoted by Folia in compliance with the Japanese Copyright Act. The above translations may be superficial rather than deliberate, and are intended for your information only.)



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