Zard did not sell their next two singles well. Its fourth singles, "Nemurenai Yoru o Daite" took a slightly different approach. The rock style had changed to popular while the seemingly dark music videos turned to a relatively brighter image. In fact, half of Zard's official appearance on TV was related to performing this song, which sold 440,000 copies. At that time, Music Station host Kazuyoshi Morita (aka Tamori) asked Sakai what took Zard so long to be on stage. Sakai's reply was that they wanted to make sure this Zard will be an economically viable project and hence did not want to go public prematurely.
The major breakthrough for Zard came with sixth single in 1993, "Makenaide". This song reached #1 in Oricon charts for the first time and went on to sell over 1.8 million copies. She went on to release two more songs that reached #1, "Yureru Omoi" and "Kitto Wasurenai" in the same year. An album titled "Yureru Omoi" featuring both "Makenaide" and "Yureru Omoi" sold two million copies, the first million milestone for Zard in album sales. In fact, Being was very successful from 1990-1994 that it was called Being Boom. (This ended with the arrival of Namie Amuro and Okinawa boom in mid-1990s through 2001.) No one sold more CDs than Zard in this year.
In 1995, Zard sold one more million hit copy, "My Friend". Although her sales fluctuated among six digits in sales for the remainder of the twentieth century, nine of twenty-one singles reached #1, six reached #2. Only two could not break the top four mark. Since "Yureru Omoi" she also sold three one million-hit and one other two-million hit copies. On August 31, 1999, Zard held their first concert aboard cruise ship Pacific Venus, where six hundred people were randomly selected out of a million applicants. The DVD for this concert had a limited production of 300,000 copies, released in January 26, 2000.
Sakai was also a very prolific lyricist. She wrote 150 songs during her 17-year career (except for two songs, and from their first album, Good-bye My Loneliness, which was written by Dariya Kawashima, and released several books of poetry as well. An editorial in Asahi Shimbun writes that the secret to Zard's success was that while the trend in Japan was decrease in number of music programs on television, Zard used late night commercials that aired her voice to advertise her works.
She also wrote songs for other artists, most notably, for J-pop groups Field of View, Wands and Deen, and the late mainland Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng. She also wrote the lyrics for and participated in the collaboration for the single "Hateshinai Yume o" featuring J-pop groups Zard, Zyyg, Rev & Wands. The single also featured famed Japanese baseball hero Shigeo Nagashima. Some of her singles were used in anime, such as Slam Dunk, Dragon Ball GT and Detective Conan. The lyrics of Dan Dan Kokoro Hikareteku by Field of View, the opening theme song of Dragon Ball GT, is by Izumi Sakai. Afterward, Zard covered this song in Today Is Another Day album.
Zard's most successful singles, Makenaide has been used as a theme song for Nippon Television program 24-hour TV, an annual Japanese television programming in which a celebrity host is on screen continually for a whole day. Sakai said that she was honored and looked forward to watching 24-hour TV. She also said that since Makenaide was widely appreciated by the public, she often felt as if that song was not hers to keep.
Zard was also known for being mysterious. This is partially because her record label did not release too much personal information on their artists, and also because she did not make that many personal appearances. She rarely appeared on any live TV music programs (e.g. TV Asahi's Music Station), which the main public relations tool for the record industry in Japan, since 1993 or do any public appearances. Her first concert was in 1999, which was held on a cruise ship for a mere 600 people in her fan club (300 entries x2 among 2 million concert ticket requests). Her first real concert tour, "What A Beautiful Moment Tour", was held in 2004, 13 years after her debut. Almost every single concert was sold out at the time. The tour ended up having 10 concerts spanning 4 months from March to July 2004, with a final concert held in the famed Nippon Budokan.
Zard was the most successful solo female singer in the 1990s (though originally Zard is a group). As of , Zard is #8 for overall total in Japan. She has had 11 singles reach the #1 spot on the Oricon Singles Charts, and 9 albums reach the #1 spot on the Oricon Album Charts. 40 of her singles reached top 10 in Oricon ranking. Zard has released a total of 42 singles and 17 albums.
After hitting the position number one in the Oricon charts. This marks the eleventh time she has done, matching the record held by Dreams Come True for the most number ones by female vocal groups.
We hope that Izumi Sakai, along with her hit songs, will remain in the memory of her fans.
She had planned to release a new album in the fall, as well as her first live tour in three years to show her fans that she was fighting strongly against her illnesses.
Rumors surfaced that the singer committed suicide, which her management strongly denied.
A memorial service for fans was held on June 27 in a funeral hall in Aoyama, Tokyo. On the previous day, a memorial service for the people concerned was held and Maki Ohguro and Tetsuro Oda etc attended at this. At the same time, Tak Matsumoto and Koshi Inaba of B'z, Mai Kuraki and Shigeo Nagashima announced memorial comments for her.
Two compilation albums are planned for release on August 15, one that includes a selection of Sakai's personal favorite songs, the other that includes favorites from her staff. A fan-selected compilation album is also planned for the fall. Two tribute concerts were held—one on September 7 at Osaka Festival Hall, and the other on September 14 at Tokyo Nippon Budokan. The two places were chosen because they were the first and last stops respectively of the What a beautiful moment Tour in 2004—the only tour that band has gone on. The tour was called "What a Beautiful Memory".
In 2007 September Budokan concert, 13,000 audiences participated in the event. There were nine screens set up where many showed previously unseen footages of Izumi Sakai. A first single after she died called Glorious Mind was played. This was a song which Sakai recorded before she hospitalized due to cervical cancer in June 2006. This song will be used for the opening theme song of anime Detective Conan. It was not complete at the time of Sakai's death, but the chorus footage was complete. The extra minutes where she was singing in English was incorporated from a previously unrelated and unreleased song as well.
|#||Title||Release date||Miscellaneous info.||Sold copies|
|1||"Good-bye My Loneliness"||1991-02-10||Rearranged c/w song Ai wa Kurayami no Naka de was the 22nd opening theme of Detective Conan, used 17 years after it was originally recorded.||*,209,460|
|5||"In My Arms Tonight"||1992-09-09||*,321,810|
|6||1993-01-27||Highest-selling single. Covered by Aya Hirano, Emiri Katō, Kaori Fukuhara, and Aya Endo for an ending in the anime Lucky Star||1,645,010|
|14||"Just Believe in Love"||1995-02-01||*,655,960|
|17||1996-01-08||4th Ending theme to Slam Dunk.||1,000,620|
|19||"Don't You See!"||1997-01-06||2nd Ending theme to Dragon Ball GT.||*,602,760|
|24||1998-03-04||2nd opening theme to Cooking Master Boy||*,240,740|
|25||1998-09-17||4th opening theme to Detective Conan & c/w "Shoujo no Koro ni Modotta Mitai ni" is theme song for Detective Conan: The Fourteenth Target||*,247,560|
|32||"Get U're Dream"||2000-09-06||*,241,220|
|33||"Promised You"||2000-11-15||Theme song for TV Asahi's Saturday primetime show||*,115,360|
|35||2003-04-09||17th ending theme for Detective Conan||*,*62,049|
|40||2005-04-20||15th opening theme for Detective Conan / Theme song for Detective Conan: Strategy Above the Depths||*,*79,816|
|41||2006-03-08||24th ending theme for Detective Conan||*,*32,038|
|43||2007-12-12||21st opening theme to Detective Conan||*,*84,027|
|44||2008-04-09||Theme song for Detective Conan: Full Score of Fear / 22nd opening theme to Detective Conan (Rearranged from original song in Good-bye My Loneliness Sngle/Album ,used 17 years after it was originally recorded.)||*,*80,246*|
|1||Good-bye My Loneliness||1991-03-27||*,253,740|
|5||Oh My Love||1994-06-04||2,002,070|
|6||Forever You (フォーエヴァー・ユー)||1995-03-10||1,773,930|
|7||Today Is Another Day||1996-07-08||1,655,430|
|#||Title||Release date||Sold copies|
|1||Zard Blend ~Sun & Stone~||1997-04-23||2,004,699|
|2||Zard Best the Single Collection ~Kiseki~||1999-05-28||3,029,470|
|3||Zard Best ~Requested Memorial~||1999-09-15||1,496,804|
|4||Zard Blend II ~Leaf & Snow~||2001-11-21||*230,758|
|5||Golden Best ~15th Anniversary~||2006-10-25||*,935,610|
|6||Soffio di Vento ~Best of Izumi Sakai Sellection~||2007-08-15||*,127,133|
|7||Brezza di Mare ~Dedicated to Izumi Sakai~||2007-08-15||*,133,589|
|8||Zard Request Best ~Beautiful Memory~||2008-01-23||*,224,625*|
|#||Title||Release date||Sold copies|
|1||What A Beautiful Moment Zard||2005-06-08|| *,159,354|
|2||Le Portfolio 1991-2006 Zard||2006-10-25||*,180,027|
|#||Title||Release date||Sold copies|
|1||Zard Cruising & Live||2000-01-26||*,305,550|