Utada Hikaru Returns (Briefly) with Evangelion Theme Song, “Sakura Nagashi”

Although it’s only been two years since Utada Hikaru announced a hiatus from music, her absence from the industry has already been made achingly apparent. Mercifully, out of nowhere, she’s returned to us–if only for a brief moment.

“Sakura Nagashi” is Utada’s official contribution to the latest installment in the Evangelion anime series, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Re-Do. (In the past, Utada’s contributed “Beautiful World” as the theme to 2007’s Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone and “Beautiful World (PLANiTb Acoustic Mix)” to 2009’s Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance.)

The gorgeous ballad, somewhat similar to 2004’s “Dareka no negai ga kanau koro,” finds the songstress sadly looking back on lost love and moving forward: “If you could see me now, I wonder what you would think/Me, living without you,” she croons on the piano-led lumber (that’s the English translation, thanks to Utada herself.)

The final moments of the song are especially stunning, as a striding drum beat comes pounding into the speakers: “However great the fear, I will not look away/If at the end of everything, there is love,” she painfully declares above soaring strings. It’s truly a beautiful song, with just the right mixture of sadness and hope.

And as with everything else Hikki’s ever done, she hits home. Hard.

The song was released today on iTunes Japan, and according to Utada herself, will be made available to the rest of the world shortly. But according to the official website, the new theme does not signal an official return just yet:

Although Utada is currently focusing her energies on her “human activities,” she agreed to create this song, thanks to the fervent requests made by the movie production staff and the deep appreciation for Evangelion held by Utada herself, who also created the movie theme songs for the two prior Evangelion movies.
Unlike the theme songs for 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone and 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, the latest song is sentimental and beautiful; it is a requiem for life full of literary elegance.

Regardless, it makes my heart happy to finally hear her voice again.

“Sakura Nagashi” was released on November 17. (iTunes Japan)

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