Supercell: Today Is a Beautiful Day — Capturing the candor of human experience
Second album by Japanese multimedia project Supercell, Today Is A Beautiful Day would be key in musician ryo finally being able to capture the youthful humanity he’s sought to write about since the beginning of his career. This was in no small part thanks to the inclusion of — then-rookie — yanagi nagi, whose vocal performance added a new layer of nuance to every single experience the album’s lyrics describe, no matter how simple or candid they might seem at first.
Looking back into the album more than a decade after its release, one can’t help but wonder how well does it hold on its own, and how does it connect to a current-day anison scene that, more than ever, heavily borrows and recruits the talents of VocaP’s and faceless singers whose origins might be similar to, or even inspired by, this duo.
Though this album still follows ryo’s formula of having each song portray an experience, frequently from the point of view of the person directly affected by said experience, the main difference between Today Is and Supercell is that, where the project’s Hatsune Miku-led album approached topics in a maximalist way (often finding time to even sneak in trope subversions within the context of each song), yanagi brings a heartfelt sense of duality to every experience she sings about on this second release.
This duality is perhaps what makes the album feel so well-rounded in its humanity, with many songs opening the possibility of either embracing the comfortable warmth of ryo’s compositions or trying to see what themes bring them together. Such is the case of tracks like Perfect Day or Sayonara Memories where the initial rose-tinted nostalgia gradually gives into mournful reflections of times long gone, only to eventually rise back, healed from the pain that often comes with beautiful memories. Even at its more energetic moments, like the bright but vanity-fueled LOVE & ROLL, there seems to be something underlying, almost as if there was a desire to weave each of the emotions portrayed into a more complex narrative.
When tackled as an entire listen, it is possible to say that Today remains memorable (and incredibly heartwarming) because, rather than distancing itself from emotions in an attempt to heal or dismiss the hurt that comes with them, it embraces them with the many ups downs they might have brought along, all without never compromising how big of a deal they might feel like. Even if they happen within intimate vignettes such as walking home from school, getting ready to go out, or even when daydreaming about becoming a manga hero.
More than a decade later, it is hard to deny that this release feels somewhat dated in its sound and thematics, with trends in anime music having gone in ways that one might describe as more haphazard and pessimistic. But the commitment to humanizing and paying respect to the youthful emotions the album focuses on is still its most palpable legacy, and it is probably the thing that allowed it to inspire so many artists after its release.
Standing as one of the first bridges between the niche otaku songwriting of the 00s and more mainstream venues, Today is a beautiful day still stands as a sort of foundational text within contemporary anison. Maybe time and trends have shifted from the candidness that defines most of the album, but its commitment to taking things seriously and to looking into what may lie behind the warmth still hold, and this all still manages to come together into a bigger picture that manages to be -well- beautiful from many different angles.