Fishmans review


Ethan Weller

Darren’s love for LONG SEASON expands far beyond simply listening to the song. Darren has gotten sick merch of Fishmans in the form of a sticker, which he has put upon his glorious water bottle.

Fishmans have become one of the most well-known underground dream pop bands from Japan. They have released a total of 7 studio albums, 2 EPs, 5 live albums, and 16 singles. Long Season – Live, is believed by many to be their magnum opus, as they extended the track from the original by nearly six minutes and added multiple new effects that are not included in the studio version, and was also their last performance with their frontman, Shinji Sato.

Long Season is the sixth studio album released by Fishmans on October 25th, 1996. The whole album comprises one song with 5 separate parts, and together the length of the song is 35:16. The live version specifically was recorded on December 28th, 1998 with an extended length of 41:31, during the Fishmans last tour in Japan with their bassist, Kashiwabara Yuzuru. The concert itself was meant as a goodbye to Kashiwabara, but ended up serving as a goodbye to the vocalist Shinji Sato as well, as he died only a few months later. The main members of the band are as follows: 

Vocals/Guitar – Shinji Sato

Drums – Kin-ichi Motegi

Bass guitar – Kashiwabara Yuzuru

The live album (98.12.28 男達の別れ, 98.12.28 Otokotachi no wakare) was their last live release. It comprises 14 separate tracks, with Long Season as its finale. Since its release on September 29th, 1999, it’s gained a lot of global attention from fans of Dream-pop and similar genres. All of the following tracks were played:

  1.      Oh Slime
  2.      Night cruising (ナイトクルージング) 
  3.      Nantetta No (なんてったの)
  4.      Thank You
  5.      Shiawase-mono” (幸せ者)
  6.       Tayorinai Tenshi” (頼りない天使;)
  7.       Hikōki” (ひこうき)
  8.       In the Flight
  9.       Walking in the Rhythm
  10.       Smilin’ Days, Summer Holiday
  11.       Melody
  12.       Yurameki in the Air
  13.       Ikareta Baby
  14.       Long Season

Although Long Season – Live is my (Darren) favorite performance/song by them, they do have plenty of other unique dreamy tracks that I would recommend. (Although I will still write about Long Season – Live, of course.)

Just Thing : 6/10

Just thing is a nice dreamy song with a mid 90’s Lo-Fi sound, distorted drums, reggae-esque guitar riffs, and a synthesized horn. Throughout the track there are numerous synthesized guitar riffs, constantly giving the track a new sound. The bass also keeps a steady groove throughout the song, which helps a lot to keep it moving. Near the end of the track, an accordion plays to lead into the ending distorted guitar riff. 

Night Cruising – “ナイトクルージング” (Studio Version) : 6.4/10

Night Cruising “ナイトクルージング” (Studio Version)is another track with an early 90’s Lo-Fi sound. Although I personally prefer the live version, the original has a certain charm that can’t be denied. After a few more listens since I first wrote this review, I’ve developed an even larger appreciation for the song, and have replaced it above Just Thing. 

Blue Summer – Live : 6.5/10

Blue Summer – Live has a lot of unique aspects to it, mixing genres such as Reggae and Dream pop (which is pretty much just Fishmans signature sound). It’s one of their more reggae-oriented tracks, with two separate guitars playing almost the same riff, a steady bass groove, and a simple drum beat to keep the rhythm. Near the halfway mark of the song, a distorted and simple guitar solo comes in which then leads into a new bass rhythm, and then slowly moves back into the original melody. Sato’s vocals mixed with the piano featured about 2/3rds into the song causes it to keep the Fishmans typical dreamy sound. It stays relatively the same throughout the song, but is overall solid.


DAYDREAM is to me one of their more dreamy studio songs, incorporating repetitive vocals, distorted guitar riffs, synthesizers, violin, and some sounds I don’t recognize. Sato’s vocals are even higher than in most of their other songs, which gives the song a much more ethereal sound when matched with all the distorted sounds already present. The song is in a time signature of ¾, which is one of the main reasons the song seems to have a more somber/sad sound to it.  

IN THE FLIGHTLive 7.5/10

IN THE FLIGHTLive is a wonderfully played song and in my opinion superior to the studio recording as it adds multiple new elements to the song yet still keeping the original charm. For one, the guitars sound completely different than in the studio version, both the drums and the bass have a lot more power to them with added echo, and Sato’s vocals seem to be full of more emotion. Nearing the second half of the song, support member Honzi enters a violin solo which lasts for roughly a minute, and keep increasing in pitch before it ends, leading into a newly added part of the song which is only in the live version, a fast-paced bass-driven section with faster drums and distorted guitar riffs. When listening to the full live album, the song leads directly into Walking in the Rhythm.


WALKING IN THE RHYTHM is a 12 minute track with all of the typical aspects of their music. For a large majority of the song it keeps a slow piano playing in the back, playing only a few notes every turn. Even though the main instruments of the songs, and the vocals are very repetitive throughout the song, new sci-fi-esque synthesizer sounds are keeping it feeling new and different, sporadically in the track. Near the middle, a violin comes in and produces sounds of multiple different pitches, accompanied by numerous alien noises (in a good way). After this, numerous vocals accompany Sato’s, and they all have a very lazy (in another good way) sound to them. The song ends with the vocals fading into a radio-like noise, and then away, and the song ends off with the same piano keys from the rest of the track.

Night Cruising “ナイトクルージング” – Live 8.5/10

Night Cruising “ナイトクルージング” – Live is one of my very favorite songs by Fishmans. It starts with an ethereal guitar riff, then Sato’s vocals and the bass guitar, and even the drums come in, all distorted enough to give the feeling of being underwater. It changes multiple things from the original studio version, and at some points almost seems like a completely different song. Similar to the other live tracks on this list, Sato’s vocals have a lot more emotion and power in them. 

ゆらめき (Yurameki) in the Air – Live 9/10

ゆらめき (Yurameki) in the AirLive is a nearly  perfect song for me, and it the second longest song performed by the band. The first minute and 16 seconds is ambient before the drums, guitar, and bass guitar start to make a steady rhythm. The vocals begin a few seconds later, and aren’t necessarily lyrics but rather vocal noises to fill in the spaces of the songs. Throughout a large portion of the song, an ambient-sounding backing track plays to give it a hypnotically dreamy sound. When listening to this song, it never feels like the extensive length that it is because I never fail to get lost in it at some point until it demands my attention again. Honzi, the keyboardist, adds new elements to the song by adding new sound effects. She also plays the violin, which adds a new and more complex layer to it. A portion of this song is hard to describe in terms of how it sounds, with too many ethereal noises happening all at once. Sato’s vocals are unique in this track compared to others, and they have a much more delicate and fragile sound. Near the end, most of the instruments except for the guitar take breaks, and all that can be heard are Honzi’s and one of the male member’s vocals. Before long, the bass kicks back in, supported by the drums and a reggae-guitar rhythm. The reggae rhythm is what leads the song into its ending.  

Long Season – Live : 10/10 

Long Season – Live is pretty much the perfect song for me, and is one of the few songs I don’t complain about being too short, with a length of 41:31. It starts with a fairly ambient-sounding guitar, and is followed closely by a keyboard at 2:13. A few minutes in, the drums bring in the main groove for the song, along with the bass and an alternate guitar melody from the beginning starting at 2:50. Once it gets to the six-minute mark, it already for me is superior to any other song they have performed. A quiet violin along with the repetitive keyboard, bass, and drum track all work together to create one of the most pleasing songs I’ve heard, and it’s still only at six minutes. It continues with the same sound for another few minutes, and then what sounds like children start singing the chorus, along with Sato speaking in Japanese. Once this section of the song ends, Sato sings, “get round in the season,” and not long after Sato stops speaking and starts a guitar feature that lasts from 11:27 until roughly 13:30. Just after, the drummer starts a drum-roll, backed still with the keyboard, and as well as some backing track from the studio version in the background. Next are the chimes, which start at 14:57. It can’t be heard too well on the released recording of the live track, but the drummer, Kin-ichi Motegi, continuously plays the drums throughout this entire section. To hear it in its entirety, I would recommend watching a recorded version of the concert if possible. Even though the audio may not be of as high quality, there are specific parts of the song (and the whole performance in general) that get lost in the mixing. The chimes take a short break at 22:53, and return for a few more seconds at 23:15. It then leads into a new piano section, still backed by the original keyboard part. At 24:36, Sato’s vocals rejoin in the song, and he only sings melodic syllables until 25:18, when he starts singing ‘get round in the season again,’ but with other vocalists joining in in the background. This is also when the drums and bass come back in. Only the keyboard and Sato’s vocals are left after this section, and then following that, Sato starts singing in a soft voice whilst playing a slow guitar rhythm at 29:10. This section ends quickly, and leads back into the keyboard, which is joined by a violin at 30:39, and an electric guitar at 31:21. This section of the song ends at 33:35, where the guitar, bass, and drums come back in at full force with slightly more intensity than before. A second guitar joins and plays the rhythm section. Finally, toward the end of the song, the violin joins again with the rest of the instruments, causing the song to feel much bigger. It ends with Sato letting a few more long notes, clearly full of emotion, and the keyboard plays for a bit longer before it ends in silence, and the track itself ends with an applause from the crowd. Of any songs by this band, this is by far the one I would personally recommend the most.

While there are plenty more songs I could easily write about, these were the most noticeable in my opinion. Although, here are some honorable mentions:

  • WEATHER REPORT (both studio vers. and live vers.) 
  • Nantettano
  • LONG SEASON – studio vers. (still one of my very favorites by them, but I decided to only put the live version)  The original version of Long Season is no less important than the live version, as it is both what enabled the live version, and is on its own a musical experience. 
  • Go Go Round This World!

Here is a playlist compiled of my favorite songs by Fishmans, including the ones I wasn’t able to write about. 



Darren Langstaff is a much more dedicated fan of the Fishmans and I deeply respect his commitment to this band and writing about their songs in such detail. In my professional Ethan Weller opinion, the Fishmans are pretty aight. I listened to all of their albums to create this entirely perfect completely objective ranking of each album right here:

(This ranking is based purely on the studio albums, no live albums or compilations(other than Oh! Mountain, which is live, but too bad you’ll have to deal with it))

  1. Orange (1994) [Best Song: Woofer Girl]
  2. LONG SEASON (1996) [Best Song: LONG SEASON]
  3. Kuuchuu Camp (1996) [Best Song: SUNNY BLUE]
  4. Neo Yankees’ Holiday (1993) [Best Song: Su Pa]
  5. Oh! Mountain (1995) [Best Song: Yoru no Omoi]
  6. Chappie, Don’t Cry (1991) [Best Song: Good Morning]
  7. King Master George (1992) [Best Song: Dareka wo Sagasou]

Orange (1994) is my personal favorite album of the Fishmans. I am of a particular bias because my favorite color is orange. However, I do believe this album truly has merit. It is one of the funkiest (without being too reggae), lively albums of the set. Woofer Girl is a bit of a goofy song and I am a fan of such goofy qualities. Yoru no Omoi also sells this album for me. Other albums in the ranking feature this song but Orange did it first so it takes the credit and I believe that the changes to the song in subsequent albums neither make it better nor worse than the original. 

LONG SEASON takes second place for obvious reasons. Though it only features LONG SEASON and no other songs, LONG SEASON is enough to carry this album very, very far. Darren has expressed the excellence of LONG SEASON and I shall as well, later. 

Kuuchuu Camp (空中キャンプ) goes hard. It features songs that are lively and songs that are more chill. It to me would be one of the most perfect albums for a nice stroll. I vibe with SUNNY BLUE a lot. SUNNY BLUE is definitely a step away from what I believe to be more typical for the Fishmans. SUNNY BLUE is a more techno jam out type of song rather than the more chill reggae that the band produces. It is a super refreshing song from the Fishmans. 

Neo Yankees’ Holiday is an album I can appreciate but not one I am particularly fond of. Su Pa is entertaining and a happy song for a good mood but not exactly one I would myself listen to often. 

Oh! Mountain is on par with Neo Yankees’ Holiday, they are almost the same level. I gave Neo Yankees’ Holiday the higher rank because of Su Pa. Oh! Mountain’s best song is Yoru no Omoi and it is not unique to Oh! Mountain and therefore I think it is ever so slightly inferior. 

Chappy, Don’t Cry is the beginning of albums I do not like. I recognize that there is talent and skill and in no way is the album hard to listen to per se but I quite dislike reggae and I believe Chappy, Don’t Cry to be the most reggae of all of the albums. All of the songs are reggae and I simply do not favor this album. Good Morning is decent, I do like the song, but it does not place it anywhere high on the ranking, but it does put it above King Master George. 

King Master George is trash. Bad. Not a fan at all. It’s not actually that bad but it is necessary to flame the bottom of the ranking. I was irritated listening through this album, I wanted to get past it and to the other albums. I think this one is a flop with little redemption. Dareka wo Sagasou is a decent song. It is worth listening to every once and awhile. 

If anyone disagrees with any of the rankings or thinks my opinions are too harsh, that is valid and probably right. 

Overall I’d say the experience of listening to all the songs was worthwhile. It got confusing at the last stretch of listening because all the albums after LONG SEASON are repeats of older songs. However, Darren was there to point this out for me, so I was able to decipher the albums to assemble the ranking. 

Fishmans is not really the band for me. Personally, I am a huge metalhead and I listen to hardcore songs or anything with a high intensity. The Fishmans are quite the opposite, soothing and chill and relaxing. Excellent background music and whatnot. Knowing this, the fact that I believe the live performance of LONG SEASON to be one of the best performances in the world should be especially compelling. I hope it serves as evidence to the perfection of the song and more of a reason to give it a listen. The sparkles hit different. 

I am currently listening to the live performance of LONG SEASON as I write this. What an experience it is. It is unique to have a song that goes on for so long, it truly is akin to a journey. Me and Darren have listened to this song on end several times. I have amazing memories tied to my first hearing of this song and it will forever have an extremely special place in my heart. 


This is a picture of me, Ethan. On the night of my introduction to Long Season, I decided to run a mile in the rain in my orange outfit. My mile time was 5 minutes and 30 seconds and it was the fastest mile I had ever ran. I also ran the mile immediately after eating a 4×4 at In N Out. Even though it was prior to me hearing Long Season, there is surely a connection to be had.
Me, Ethan, preparing to drive out to Vons to acquire the ingredients for me and Darren’s pizza. Long Season was on a constant loop while on the premises of Darren’s home.
This is me! Prior to the construction of our glorious homemade pizza, we went shopping for the ingredients while I wore my homeless person cosplay consisting of Darren’s random assortment of clothing from his closet. We were surely jamming out to Long Season in the car.
Hello, Ethan here! So technically during the construction of our homemade pizza, it was the “Spider-Man 2: The Game Pizza Time Theme 10 Hours” that was playing but this pizza was otherwise entirely eaten and admired while Long Season played. It was made the night I was introduced to the song.
The pizza had been made. It was glorious, and its introduction into the world was serenaded by The Fishmans via Long Season. The Pizza was incredible, genuinely one of the finest pieces I have ever had.
Me and Darren were accompanied by his lifelong friend, Owen. The bond over Long Season was intense enough for the two of us to get along quite nicely. We both appreciate the incredible nature of Long Season as well as the pizza forged under the song’s guidance.


Here are the timestamps for the notable shifts in the live performance of LONG SEASON. They are unedited because it is funny.

2:13 weird alien noises



2:50 distorted guitar-based sound



4:50 vocals



5:12 drums



prior to 6:20 violin



7:00 bird noises



7:18 accordion



8:00 children singing



11:26 guitar solo



13:30 drum-roll



15:00 GLITTER (As well an extended drum solo being played silently throughout this whole section)



21:28 sparkly drums



24:00 fade away / piano



25:25 get around in the season



29:10 entire tonal shift



30:40 violin new whatever



33:35 kick-ass



39:30 FINALE






41:10 End? No. 



41:20 Applause. The End.