Over at New School Kaidan, I write a few words about some of the recently released promotional videos. At times, this is a bit of a grueling task, and all of my thoughts can get a little scattered when multiple PVs are released on the same day. But, I always try to present the promotional videos in the best light possible, and I try to remember that each of these pieces of entertainment for your a me is actually the manifestation of a dream for some young girl or girls out there in Japan. Here then is a collection of those write-ups, with a few words sometimes added after a week+ of viewing.
This week we have Promotional videos from:
Tsubaki Factory – The Magnificent Camellia
Well, I’ll be darned. Tsubaki Factory release the promotional video for “Urawashi no Camelia”, and it’s right up my proverbial ally. Starting with a a bit of ragtime from the Victrola and drenched in a faux sepia process, our girls party like its 1899. And, when the girls wake up to 2017 they still Charleston their way through the school yard like rebellious Meiji era teens. When the girls mug their way through the school corridors they look like they are having the time of their lives! For my part, I don’t think we get to see the Tsubaki Factory girls having this much fun together nearly enough. For its incredible fun and cute blend of new and old, I’m giving “Urawashi no Camellia” a 244 badge of distinction. You can find “Urawashi no Camellia” on the group’s debut single (linked below) on February 22, 2017.
Yes, I’m still over the moon with this song. I cannot wait to get it in my hands and onto my iPod! A refreshing change from the electro-pop that permeates these releases, “Urawashi no Camellia” still manages to sound fresh and youthful even though it mimics the musical styles from over 100 years past. Given their brief history, I don’t think Tsubaki Factory will stay with the retro jams for very long, making this song a jewel in their repertoire. Keep blooming, you magnificent camellia!
HKT48 – Bug tte Iijan
OK, the title is a bit confusing … “Bug tte Iijan”, “Bug & Peace”, and the members leaping Sadako style from LED screens does this mean the girls are bugs? Computer bugs, right? What I do know is that HKT48’s latest release trades in some classic guitar riffage as the girls attempt to fix various “bugs” from their techno lair. Earlier in the day I mused over the HR promotional video and its relatively small budget; I was comparing budgets with this release. Bells and whistles galore! That’s not a fault of HKT48, but I personally get just as much enjoyment from releases with a tenth of this budget. The song is a pleasant bit of pop, and I fet myself really wanting to see and hear more from this release. As it is, I guess we’r lucky to even get a short version … if you can find a way to get around the region block.
Team Syachihoko – START
To whet your appetite for their new album “Owari to Hajimari”, Team Syachihoko offer this promotional video for “START”. The second track from the aforementioned album plays with an anthemic rock arrangement filled with an octave-boosted, sextuplet laden guitar lead. The camera spins around the black-clad group as they lip their lines, and really, everyone looks a tad bit grown-up and even a little sophisticated. When the rabble rousing chorus gives way to bridge, the girls slap the floor to life. And then, BOOM! “START” is a great way to celebrate a new release from this surprisingly versatile group. You can buy “Owari to Hajimari” on February 22 at your favorite retailer (hopefully) linked below.
If I had to pick a song from this week to play with my current band, I would probably pick “START” from Team Syachihoko. It’s definitely not the goofy, fun-time Syachihoko that we usually see. I’m glad Nao gets a song with some rock leanings to suit her personal taste. And, when Syachi slaps the floor near the end of the PV … well, there probably isn’t a more iconic moment in this week’s list.
Fairies – Synchronized ~Shinkuro~
With Fairies’ 14th single about a month away, their new promotional video (short version) hits the internets. “Synchronized” looks optimized to show off the choreography of the group and the girls’ … wait for it … synchronization. Fairies have always been particularly good with their dance, so perhaps “Synchronized” is a bit of gilding on the lily. Personally, I think it’s always a good idea to remind the people what you’re good at, and Fairies serve up just that in spades. The group flash between two different outfits- playful pink and sexier gold-and-black while giving the distinct impression that they’ve outgrown their little girl selves. Mature and confident, Fairies strut into stores with “Synchronized ~Shinkuro~” on March 1, 2017.
Team Syachihoko’s “START” PV was a mature turn, and similarly Fairies takes a turn to the mature in a slightly different way. “Synchronized ~Shinkuro~” is a straight club jam. I just wish I got a full version to bop along with.
Faint★Star – Wonder Trip
For Faint★Star’s second promotional video from their upcoming single, the girls don’t stray far from the studio for “Mafuyu no Tropical Night“. First the girls show us world-wide landmarks (on their “Wonder Trip”), then we get an army of each girl marching in regimented columns (this is prime marching tempo), and then we have the girls grafted into picture frames over shape-shifting wallpaper. Yes, “Wonder Trip” is a bit like “Wonder if they can composite the girls into any other backgrounds”. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with their mid-tempo dance grooves, and that’s a good thing considering the overall production of this release. “Wonder Trip” marches into stores on February 28, 2017.
Well, the jams keep coming this week. I’m a bit higher on this song than I was when I first listened to it for NSK. The PV still feels like they’re throwing all their green screen tricks on the wall just in case anythings sticks.
Faint★Star – Mafuyu no Tropical Night
This light funk number by Faint★Star goes with a concept and sticks with it to the bitter end. For “Mafuyu no Tropical Night”, Hina and Yuria get layer upon layer overlaid thrust upon them. The pastel colored geometric shapes spelling out the duo’s name in the opening frames become colored lights projected onto the duo and animated overlays over the video playback. Colors bleed into each other and become a chaotic geometric fantasy that occasionally overlaps the animated abstraction of the girls’ forms. And, if all this wasn’t messy enough the karaoke lyrics float on top of every frame, with English lyrics rendered using those same semicircles and triangles (honestly I had a difficult time reading the English!). While I personally enjoyed the sounds of “Mafuyu no Tropical Night”, I’d be lying if I didn’t say this promotional video left me a bit cross-eyed. “Mafuyu no Tropical Night”‘s orgy of color goes on sale February 15, 2017.
More jams. I think I’m a bit higher on “Mafuyu no Tropical Night”, but hey that’s just personal taste.
Why@Doll – Kimi wa Steady
Stylishly set in Shibuya, Why@Doll’s latest promotional video takes Chiharu and Haruna out for a night on the town … but separately. The pop sounds of “Kimi wa Steady” are probably my favorite of the day with the lyric “Touch Me Baby” making serious rotation in my head. Utilizing a wide frame format, the screen is often split into two frames to give us a peek at what each girl is up to. I know the post-production team put the color and light through some serious filters to achieve the look of “Kimi wa Steady”, and we all have our opinions about this technique. Perhaps this particular PV could have dialed it down a bit, too. At least they set a mood. You know I wouldn’t mind sitting in a Shibuya cafe sipping champagne with either of these girls. “Kimi wa Steady” makes it way to record stores on February 28, 2017.
It’s pretty amazing how well the Faint★Star songs and Why@Doll’s “Kimi wa Steady” fit together. I had to put my money down, I think I’d rather listen to Why@Doll. Then again, why would I ever need to choose? Just throw these songs on a playlist, put on some pastel colored suits and skinny ties, and party like its 1982!
J☆Dee’Z – Answer
There seems to be a bit of a travel theme developing here with some of these promotional videos this week. J☆Dee’Z goes above and beyond the call by heading over to New York City. In the Big Apple, Nono, Ami, and Momoka hit the arts & craft store, glitter up their persona sign, and head to the streets to busk with the best of them. In what’s basically a guerrilla style PV, J☆Dee’Z plays with the wota desire for their girls to succeed. With a language barrier and a cultural barrier, the girls set up their sign and sing and dance for the people. In this short version of “Answer”, the video cuts right after the emotion pulling live acapella vocals, and if it’s not enough for you then I don’t know what’s your problem: J☆Dee’Z are practically bleeding for you. Give them a listen!
HR – Nihon Hakataka Dai Sakusen
What is it about Fukuoka girls? “Nihon Hakataka Dai Sakusen” had me smiling from begining to end, and not because I was in a ska band for a long time. The ska may not be the most cutting application of the Jamaican music style (at this point), but it does provide a refreshing change from the proliference of EDM and other dance genres. While the choreography isn’t particularly well-excecuted, HR fills the dance with so much enthusiasm and lots of smiles that it didn’t matter to me. In their mechanic overalls, the girls fix up their VW bus and take it on their mission to bring the Hakata idols to the rest of Japan, a grand mission indeed. First stop is a look backwards at their hometown, but I hope that’s the last backwards glance for the group. Let’s go HR!
Star☆T – Congratulation ~Kibo no Kane no Ne~
“One day the 21st century is about to end”. Girls beam down into a future that looks minimally altered from our reality. Not to spoil the promotional video, but those girls are Star☆T sent to the future’s past to bring back hope. Sci-Fi settings aside, “Congratulation ~Kibo no Kane no Ne~”‘s main aesthetic is a series of extreme close shots of the members. The images are produced carefully with every strand of wind-blown hair rendered in detail. You will even notice at least one Star☆T girl with corrective orthodontics. The song arrangement is lined with a measure of rock instruments but is perhaps a bit too sprawling for it’s own good. Although I can admire grandiose aspirations of this release, I think I much prefer the tighter production of Omae wa dare ga sukina no?.I can’t leave without mentioning the contact lenses … this is one area where the extreme close shots did not do anyone any favors. “Congratulation ~Kibo no Kane no Ne~” has a street date of March 8, 2017.
The sci-fi strains that begin this Star☆T build serious tension, which isn’t ultimately sustained through “Congratulation ~Kibo no Kane no Ne~”. I can see the sprawling epic thing the group was striving to communicate with this product … perhaps it was a bit too much for me. Of course I can never fault anyone for being ambitious with their artistic projects. At least I really love the extreme close-up shots in all of their wind swept glory.
243 to Yoshizaki Aya – Koi no Romance
The dramatic tale of “Koi no Romance” begins with Yoshizaki Aya discovering her beau with another woman and running away from the problem (I found myself thinking, “Keep running. Don’t stop.”) Without giving anything away, this sets up a hilarious chase of a chase of a chase that thankfully resolves for our poor girl by the end of the music. This original song carries the feel of the Showa Era while being a newly minted song. I don’t know how you feel about 243 Project, but in mixed company the image of the singer bedecked in a frilly dress with an anime rendered face superimposed on her figure drew more than the usual measure bewilderment. Well, you can’t fault them for keeping things new. Interestingly, the two girls work well together with evenly matched voices and looks. OK, Yoshizaki Aya is really pretty and 243 Project is anime … close enough. “Koi no Romance leaps to life of February 22, 2017.
There’s NOTHING wrong with big fluffy idol dresses. Absolutely nothing. I just wish the plot of “Koi no Romance” didn’t take so long to develop because when everyone starts running, the PV turns into one cinematic masterpiece of nonsense.
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