Pushing things to the max, Juice=Juice release a second promotional video for their “First Squeeze” album barely days after “Tsuzuiteiku STORY“. With “CHOICE & CHANCE”, Miyazaki Yuka, Kanazawa Tomoko, Takagi Sayuki, Miyamoto Karin, and Uemura Akari flex their muscles with an aggressive number that maximizes their vocal power. And, like “Tsuzuiteiku STORY”, “CHOICE & CHANCE” seems like a PV that didn’t needed to be made, but I am sure glad it’s around.
The song begins with a grooving guitar lick accented with fist pumping hits. This guitar groove centers the song, and it is echoed in the melodies and keyboard accent that saw through the instrumental tracks. While the song isn’t as funky as the some of latest offerings by ANGERME, the groove is just as persistent. The chorus tweaks the things slightly and adds some tonal progression as the key changes and the melody gains complexity. Well, the more things change the more they stay the same over the deep shaking bass track.
“CHOICE & CHANCE” offers two variations on the same set. Dance shots take the well-used soundstage and paints the walls with contrasting red and white. This palette informs Juice=Juice’s outfits- also in red and white with uniform black contrasts.
Uniform might be the operative word here. The set and all the elements therein- exposed tripod lighting, boxed parcans shooting upward, and an overhead ring scream regularity. 90 degree lines and symmetry rule the set. The only things that break this dogged uniformity is the diagonal sash mini-dresses worn by the Juicers. If we look at dance as a struggle or a conflict, then we see Juice=Juice breaking out of the regularity and expectations of their lives.
The break with conformity comes through in the other notable scenes for “CHOICE & CHANCE”. Like Country Girls’s “Wakatteiru no ni Gomen ne” (which I looked at last week), Juice=Juice offers a modest scene of the Juicers playing Shogi against an unknown opponent. Here again, we have the same images of conformity and regularity. The symmetry we saw in the previous set makes its way to the darkened room. Taunting us with the most symmetric of all shapes, the circular light rig mirrors the circular table beneath it. The five girls sit around the table in a pentagon which is again echoed in the shape of the Shogi pieces. Emotionless and almost catatonic, the Juicers immerse themselves in the globe and the maps that litter the table. They’re looking for a way. Not coincidentally, the way is found in a class game that is a metaphor for warfare: Shogi.
You don’t need to know much about Shogi (it’s a variant of chess) to figure out the situation. Again, the square lines of the game board and the uniformity of the piece movement conflict with a desire for the unconventional. Having lost all of the other pieces the girls find themselves backed into a corner with only their King piece. Akari, the youngest, suggests a lateral move that would prolong the game, but nothing more. Sorry, Aarii. Your move is rejected.
In a move that proves emblematic, center girl Karin flips the King over to reveal a handsomely scripted letter “J”. With this Juice=Juice piece, H!P Jesus and the rest of the girls skewer their invisible opponent (parents? authority? conformity?) with a swift movement across the board. Decisiveness, teamwork, and creativity converge onto the pentagonal apex of the Shogi piece and lead to a categorical success. “Ganbatte”, Juice=Juice. Do your best.
You can buy “CHOICE & CHANCE” on Juice=Juice’s “First Squeeze” album