I don’t know how long it’s been up for, but according to the filename, it has been up no earlier than February 9.
Of course, I’m not going to settle for that tiny thumbnail, so I looked around to see if anyone has posted something larger since nothing was posted on her blog. Pony Canyon apparently announced the single on February 13 and included the cover art:
I don’t know about you, but I can tell there’s definitely going to be a long-term style change in her music just from this cover.
To give a little criticism, the text is somewhat hard to read. It’s still legible, but white on white doesn’t really work well. I also feel that it lacks “direction” (because I can’t think of the right word): her other covers have a certain “togetherness” that makes it feel like cover art, but this just seems like text slapped on to a photo. However, it does capture the summer theme nicely (natsu / 夏: “summer”).
Going back to the header image, notice the track list:
- Kimi ga Kureta Natsu / 君がくれた夏 (“The Summer You Gave Me”)
- Taisetsu na Mono / 大切なもの (“Valuable Things”)
- Hontou no Sekai / 本当の世界 (“The Real World”)
- Kimi ga Kureta Natsu / 君がくれた夏 (Instrumental)
- Taisetsu na Mono / 大切なもの (Instrumental)
- Hontou no Sekai / 本当の世界 (Instrumental)
(I’m pretty proud of myself: I was able to read all of the characters except setsu / 切. I used an online kanji recognizer for that because I hadn’t found Pony Canyon’s announcement at that time.)
A little note here: taisetsu / 大切 can also mean “important”, but knowing Oku Hanako, “valuable” would probably fit better.
It’s very nice that we get instrumentals for all the songs; however, that tells me that they’re all arranged. I don’t think there’s a hikigatari track on this single. The only one that has a chance of being hikigatari is Hontou no Sekai: according to the Pony Canyon announcement, it’s a song of hers from 1999, and according to this, she performed it at Kichijoji Be Point / 吉祥寺Be Point on May 4, 2000 (unfortunately, the link provided wasn’t archived by the WayBack Machine). It’d be great if it is hikigatari, and if it is, then it has to be really good because there’s an instrumental and she has never released an instrumental for a hikigatari track before. I’m not counting on it, though, but it’s good that she hasn’t forgotten her indies works. She may not be turning them into singles like with Chiisana Hoshi / 小さな星 and Waratte Waratte / 笑って笑って, but she’s been including them in her latest releases. This is at least the fifth unreleased indies song that has appeared in her releases since the 2012 collection album, Oku Hanako BEST -My Letters-.
As for the other songs, we already know what Kimi ga Kureta Natsu sounds like. With Taisetsu na Mono, it’s a tough one to predict, but I think it’s going to be a lighter song, much like Anata to Denwa / あなたと電話 was the light song on Fuyu Hanabi / 冬花火, possibly similar to 10 Nen / 10年 from her current album, Kimi to Boku no Michi / 君と僕の道. On the other hand, it could be very much a surprise like Yuudachi / 夕立 on Yasashii Hana / やさしい花. We’ll just have to wait until March 18 when the single is released.