By Paco D. Taylor
It's pretty astounding to think that the violent, sexy, and sexually violent Parasite Dolls OVA (original video anime) was released way back in 2003. What's astounding about it? Well, for 13 astounding years now, fans of Kazushi Miyakoda's electronica-powered soundtrack for this anime have been left pretty much in the dark regarding the identity of the vocalist whose soulful, high-octane soprano is heard on "Get On the Beat," the anime's pulsating opening theme, and "Off," its brooding closing song.
That's right, for 13 astounding years.
But then, we should factor in the big, fat, relevant fact that J-pop recording artist Crystal Kay (born 1986) was just a sweet, 16-year-old girl when the very mature-themed Parasite Dolls was released. Easy logic suggests that it was for a calculated reason – possibly a scandal dodging one – that the then-high school student's name was withheld from the anime's closing credits and substituted with a curiosity sparking question mark.
The same pseudo-pseudonym was also used in place of a vocalist credit on the liner notes and packaging for the Parasite Dolls soundtrack, as well as on the CD single release for "Get On the Beat." And because of that, from the time of their release in 2003 up to the present, fans of the two tracks that boast Kay's quite distinctive vocal talents have somehow remained pretty clueless.
Another factor in the confusion, though, is the name Michaelson that appears in the closing credits after the perplexing question mark. One of the main characters in the three-episode anime is Sergeant Reiko Michaelson, a tough as nails detective on the A.D. Police force. But hers is not really the name of the singer featured on "Get On the Beat" and "Off." Nonetheless, on Last.FM, YouTube and other streaming media outposts, the two-dimensional cartoon character still gets credit for vocal performances by the living and breathing Crystal Kay.
When Parasite Dolls was released in 2003, the R&B and J-pop singer had two moderately successful albums notched on her belt. Both were released by Kay’s longtime label Epic Records, the very label that licensed "Get On the Beat" and "Off" to the Parasite Dolls soundtrack. That same year in Japan, Kay charted her first hit album with Almost Seventeen, but it would still be a few more years before her chart topping reach extended to the eardrums of J-pop fans outside Japan. Perhaps another factor that contributed to the astounding lack of recognition of her vocals on the Parasite Dolls soundtrack.
As was apparent at the time, the OVA that inspired Kazushi Miyakoda's compositions, including those with Kay, were not intended for the 'Fullmetal Alchemist' generation. But today, seeing as how this very mature J-pop star is now 'Almost Thirty', it's time to clue in the CK fans about these hidden gems in Crystal Kay's discography. J-pop music bloggers may also want to consider including the "Get On the Beat/Off" CD single as a soundtrack-related addendum to their CK music lists. But maybe after treating themselves to repeat listens first.