倉木麻衣 - Mai Kuraki
mai kuraki is the singer of a lot (27 as of today) of detective conan's openings, endings, and movie ed songs. she's been working for the show since she was 18, and has been a guinness world record holder for singing the most theme songs in a single anime series. she's affectionately nicknamed "conan's older sister" by fans.
she started as young as 18, with the absolutely iconic title secret of my heart, in 2000. it was only used as an ending, but it was insane enough to get her to come back for more songs later. it's also one of my favorite songs from her.
she's published an album of her 21 biggest conan hits that's available on spotify, and contains (indeed) her biggest hits related to detective conan. call me a fake fan, but i've never really listened to any of her unrelated songs, though i don't imagine they're that different from the ones she makes for the show, considering she's always dabbled in a lot of different styles.
she's appeared in the actual show, as herself (but anime), multiple times. she has an official conan design that's often used for her special conan albums, or even sometimes within the endings/openings themselves.
you can tell mai kuraki's a genuinely talented singer, because even during her live shows, she easily sings extremely high notes without making any mistakes. she does use autotune every now and then, but it's usually purely to give the song a specific vibe. she obviously loves what she does, and does it very right. i would probably kill to see one of her shows live, but that dream might be a little unattainable for now....
i'm a huge fan of her style: her songs can be cheerful, melancholic, romantic, slow or fast-paced, and yet they never sound off, forced or rushed. her lyrics are pretty much what you'd expect from an anime song, but the rhythms are always catchy. as a result, she's terribly popular in japan, and was one of the only female artists in 2009 to have all of her singles reach the oricon top 10 in a consecutive manner since the beginning of her career(so about 30 songs in a row). that's insanely impressive, but also attests of the fact that she's definitely a huge name in the country, not only as a singer for detective conan, but a j-pop singer in general.
it wouldn't be surprising if she had ill feelings towards conan for kind of 'forcing her' into a box. some artists can't stand to have their names being associated with only a single show/song for more than a few years, after all. however, mai kuraki said it herself: she felt as though conan had somewhat saved her and her passion for singing. it'd be easy to assume she'd be annoyed having to be 'the face' of conan, but when listening to her songs, it becomes clear she's never restricted to singing a specific type of song (the way lisa would be, for example). instead, working for the show helps her try out many different styles, challenge herself to do new things, and gives her the budget to do it as freely as she wants, too. it helped her become as known as she is now, helped her stay relevant, and experiment with her own singing.
personally, it was love at first sight (uh, first listen?) with secret of my heart. actually, i could say mai kuraki's songs were a big part of why i even got the motivation to start watching detective conan in the first place. back when i was only thinking of starting the show, i wasn't feeling very up to the task, considering the show was nearing its 1000th episode and i was historically terrible at watching shows that are longer than 24 episodes. however, i listened to some of the openings, and absolutely fell for one of the most recent ones (of the time). it was titled barairo no jinsei, 'rose-colored life', and is still one of my biggest faves from mai kuraki.
barairo no jinsei is an iconic song (and the only mai kuraki album i own physically). it's the opening of the scarlet school trip arc. the thing that makes this arc terribly important and iconic as hell is the fact that it's the arc that contains the first (and, to my knowledge, only) kiss between shinichi and ran, as well as their first time hanging out together properly since they started dating, like 500 episodes ago. i remember the absolutely chaos of witnessing long-time conan fans find out it was happening at all in 2018. that's why barairo no jinsei had to stepup: mai kuraki needed to make a song that would celebrate the insanity of the arc, as well as reflect the fans' feelings about it.
here's the angle she took: a cheerful, upbeat song with lyrics supposedly from ran's point of view, that references an absurd amount of mai kuraki's past conan titles. it resulted in one of the most fun songs ever!!!!! paired with the adorable and colorful visuals, it certainly made for one of the best songs i've ever heard. not only is it fun, but it gives me so much motivation! makes me want to work hard even in difficult times. just like ran!