Interview: Miku Ito Talks Excited Return for Second Plunderer OP

We’ve received another amazing sit-down interview from the team at WebNewtype for Plunderer! This time, we’ll hear from the artist of the series’ opening themes, Miku Ito, and her experience working on Plunderer.

RELATED: Plunderer Voice Actors Talk About the Series’ Next Level

After performing the series first OP, “Plunderer,” Ito was asked to return to perform “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark” for the series’ second batch of episodes. She said the track represents the serious nature and elements of hope present in the series!

Read on for more about her creative process.

Interviewer: “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark” is the opening theme song for the second season of Plunderer. What was your reaction when you heard that you will be singing the opening theme song to this anime again, for the second time after Season One?

Ito: I was frankly quite happy to hear that that I was being offered the opening theme song again. The Plunderer story gets more and more serious as it progresses. I put a lot of thought into how the story would play out in the anime. I hope that the song helps build up the hype for the important second season of Plunderer.

Interviewer: What was your first impression of “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark” when you first heard the music?

Ito: It’s huge, epic, and cool right from the intro, and I think the music really fits the anime. Personally, I was a bit scared, because I haven’t sung this type of song many times before, and I was worried if I could sing such an epic song.

Interviewer: Did you interact with the staff or composer about this music?

Ito: I spoke with the lyricist Kyo-sensei (Eiko Kyo) a few times. She came to the recording too, and she helped make the atmosphere at the recording very comfortable. She brought some truly delicious donuts. Kyo-sensei treats me very nicely, as if I am her daughter. She once got me a very pretty lipstick as a gift (laughs). The lyrics she writes are very delicate and cool, so I was kind of nervous before I met her, but she turned out to be a very gentle and warm person, and I felt healed when I met her. The recording itself was a lot of work though (laughs).

Interviewer: From your point of view, what were the differences between the first opening song, “Plunderer,” and this new one, “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark”? Was there anything new or changed?

Ito: When I sing the first opening theme song “Plunderer,” I made sure to put in the feeling of excitement, speed, and positive outlook that would come with the anticipation that an adventure is about to begin. “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark,” though, is totally different. It has lots of serious words in the lyrics, like “Kokou” (proudly independent) and “Kodoku” (lonely), and the music has a “I see a ray of light, but is it reachable, or is it not?” kind of feel to it. It won’t definitively say “it’s reachable.” It really matches the feeling of the story of the second season. So for this second season, I went into the recording with a heavier mindset.

Interviewer: The lyrics for “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark” invoke images of the “Past” story arc of Plunderer. We’ve been told that you’ve read the original manga too. What parts of this song do you think link up with the Plunderer story, its characters, and their feelings?

Ito: The second chorus of the lyrics is about friends, and how they allow you to keep running forward. I think that syncs up with the student life in the “Past” story arc. I feel that Rihito’s desire to protect his friends is represented here.

Interviewer: Are there any memorable moments from the recording?

Ito: It was a hard song. It’s technically challenging, and also required a difficult mental balance. It’s the opening theme song, so I couldn’t be too gloomy with it. But I also didn’t want to sound too positive and ruin the worldview of the second season. The song itself is about the complicated nature of human emotion. I had to put a lot of thought into how to get the song to flow right. Usually, during recordings, I listen to the click track (the metronome sound used to keep the rhythm), but for this song, I turned the click off and listened to the drums. I really focused on riding the rhythm of the drums.

Interviewer: How did you manage to sing this difficult song?

Ito: The lyrics start with a sad phrase, “Egao no sakeme” (a rip in the smile), so I first thought I should mix in some sadness. But I figured that, instead of shrinking up or closing in, I should be clear and outspoken, since this is the beginning of the opening theme song. So I sang the “Egao no sakeme” words very clearly. There are a lot of heavy phrases, but the song is about finding the light within each of them, so I tried to sing in a way that shows some hope.

Interviewer: After listening to the completed song, were there any parts of the song that left a strong impression?

Ito: I thought the part with the English lyrics, “Three hundred years,” was very interesting. It of course is straight out of the main Plunderer story line, and I put in a lot of force when I sang that part.

Interviewer: What were your impressions of the opening sequence of the second season of the anime?

Ito: It’s a very cool footage. Visual elements like Licht’s mask and everyone flying away give a positive outlook. The visuals really sync up well with the delicate and subtle elements of the music, which made me very happy.

Interviewer: The music video featured you by a misty lake. Your facial expressions were very memorable. Tell us about any memories you have of the shooting for the music video.

Ito: I remember that it was very cold. It was shot by the lake, and in order to visually capture the coldness of the early morning, we started filming right at dawn. I remember freezing at the shooting. I’ve worked with the director before, so he left the facial expressions up to me for the most part, and I really wanted to convey the elements of “loneliness” and “longing for the light.” There’s not a lot of smiling, but I hope I can communicate the story elements through my facial expressions. That said, to be honest, since it was really very cold, I’m afraid “It’s cold…” might have come out too much (laughs). The lakeside view and the cut with the moonlit sky, I think, convey “how huge the world is.”

Interviewer: The B-side song is “Sweet Bitter Sweet Days,” a fun pop tune that gives off the feeling of a girl and a day in her life. What were your own impressions of that song? Were there any parts that you felt emotionally attached to?

Ito: It ended up being a very cute song. I didn’t interact directly with the lyricist, Omori-san (Shoko Omori), but she did send me a message. I think it’s a girl’s song that I’m now able to sing because I’ve reached this age. For example, there’s a phrase “Hiiru ga kitsuku naru juukuji” (7 p.m., these high-heels are getting tight), which makes me think, “so true, high heels can be a pain.” Another phrase, “Ichiban hayai ko wa mou wedding dress” (the earliest girls are already in their wedding dresses), reminds me that there are indeed some girls around me who’ve already gotten married. Overall, the song gives courage, like it’s not easy being a busy girl, but things will turn up.

Interviewer: What was the recording like for this song?

Ito: It was a fun session. The song has a really fun rhythm to it, so I really enjoyed the feeling of putting the words on those fun rhythms. In the previous single, “Plunderer” was a cool song, coupled with “hello new pink,” an adult song. “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark” is a cool dark song, so with this song, I was like, “Now’s my chance to show off my cute side!” (Laughs.) “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark” has fantasy elements to it, while “Sweet Bitter Sweet Days” is more grounded in reality, so I hope you can enjoy both of them.

Interviewer: Now that you’ve provided two songs to it, I’m sure your relationship with Plunderer has deepened. How would you like fans of Plunderer to enjoy these two opening songs (“Plunderer” and “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark”)?

Ito: The opening theme song can really become the “face” of an anime. When you watch the anime, you’re reminded of the song, and when you hear the song, you remember the anime. I think the link is very strong, and it’s very important. Both “Plunderer” and “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark” are songs that I put a lot of effort into.

Personally, I struggle with “showing off coolness.” I’ve been putting a lot of effort into researching how to sound cool with my voice, including singing technique and voice quality. I’m always like, “Let’s do this!” when I sing. Because “Plunderer” and “Kokou no Hikari: Lonely dark” both have many elements of the plot and characters interlaced in the song, it would be great if you could enjoy the song alongside the anime.

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