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:
X21 – Beautiful X
Ahead of their 2nd album, X21 release the promotional video for “Beautiful X”. The PV completely envelopes the girls in a white cyc (that white stage with no corners), where the girls either perform their choreography or mug lovingly for the rotating camera. The sense of perspective slowly fades as the girls move towards and away from the camera’s viewfinder. Eventually, I didn’t know which way was up anymore. “Beautiful X” really shines when the girls are given their solo close-ups. True to the Bishoujo Contest origins of the group, X21 members are all pretty in a way that outpaces most other idol groups. With soft lighting and a gentle breeze, you’re sure to find a girl that suits your fancy.
It’s difficult for me to find much fault with “Beautiful X”, not that I’m really looking to find fault in these releases (save that for some other reviewers). I can’t really blame them for putting their girls in front like this- they are the real selling point of X21. If I could spotlight anything, I’d hit those lumens on the camera work. The lens moves in ways that tricks the eye while still highlighting the assets of the group.
AOP – Jitensha ni Hana wa Mau
Anime Ouen Project drops a new promotional video today with “Jitensha ni Hana wa Mau”. Shot in gorgeous black and white, AOP present views of a coastal Japanese and the train that connects it. Yes, the bicycles play a part in the PV- my romantic self just fixates a bit on the train. The music doesn’t stray too far from what you would expect from a group that’s literally about anime. The real story here is the inky and expressive depth of the black & white process. Unlike some processes, AOP’s “Jitensha ni Hana wa Mau” doesn’t use the lack of color to produce an antique effect. The film looks completely modern, yet heightened in its sense of texture and expression. With its great editing, great shot selection, and great use of light (and dark), AOP have a real winner on their hands.
I should confess to you right now that the film geek part of me is in love with inky blacks and white. “Jitensha ni Hana wa Mau” looks hyper-realistic to me because of the great use of the monochromatic scheme. I’m also nonplussed by the obscuring of AOP in the shadows; we get enough of their faces in other more traditional shots.
Silent Siren – Fujiyama Disco
Silent Siren’s new single goes on sale on March 1, and you can see the short version of their new promotional video now! “Fujiyama Disco” pushes the group past the bubblegum you might expect to hear from Suu, Hinanchu, Ainyan, and Yukarun. I found the song a bit light on the actual disco, but heavy on the pop-and-slap bass guitar. Seriously, Ainyan beats that dog like nobody’s business on “Fujiyama Disco”. Suu matches her vocal rhythms with each pop of the bass, and this lends the song some nice funk action. With a disco ball clutched at Suu’s chest and Mount Fuji graphics on the background, the theme of the song seems to be there, although I’m here for the grooves more than the visuals.
Well, “Fujiyama Disco” won’t go down as my favorite release from Silent Siren. Not that there’s anything particular wrong with the project; but other than the bass guitar beat down I can’t find anything else in particular to latch onto. Sure, I think Suu-chan is incredibly cute, and I could watch her for hours making oatmeal. Fujiyama Disco doesn’t quite sparkle for me.
Silent Siren Official Links
Web Site | Blog | Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | iTunes
Suu Twitter Line Instagram | Yukarun Twitter Line Instagram
Hinanchu Twitter LineInstagram | Ainyan Twitter LineInstagram
Zenbu Kimi no Sei da – Sophomore Sick Sacrifice
Up on the rooftops, Zenbu Kimi no Sei da rock out on the checkered floors. Down on the ground, ZenKimi wave light light wands like they were sabers as the frolic. Color-keyed gas masks seem to protect the group from the infected air down among the city-dwellers. All the while, the masked band rocks that rooftop. Given the Evangelion-like school uniforms worn by Zenbu Kimi no Sei da, their twisting dances takes the appearance of so many rag dolls. Visually, you can even see the rags strung up like prayer flags. All of this imagery celebrates the damaged and beaten part of society for whom this song is presumably meant. Musically, “Sophomore Sick Sacrifice” keeps things moving with a quick tempo and a guitar-centric arrangement that I quite enjoy. I can imagine it’s a right good time bashing along to this song, and would even more so if I got a hold of one of those gas masks. “Sophomore Sick Sacrifice” releases TODAY, February 15, 2017.
I’ve running hot and cold on Zenbu Kimi no Sei da. I mostly resent (but partly adore) the yami-kawaii aesthetic espoused by the group. I can’t lie and tell you that I don’t find it a little … well, hot. With “Sophomore Sick Sacrifice”, I happen to like the way the instruments work together. Yeah, you could probably just call it the standard punk/rock arrangement, but I think the piano adds something special to the mix. My biggest complaint here is the sprawling nature of the song’s arrangement … just a bit much for me.
Wakita Monari – Boy Friend
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Wakita Monari delivers her second release “Boy Friend”. The song keeps the Reagan Era vibes intact, as expected, but also manages to sound incredibly joyful and almost downright giddy. I swore I was listening to some vintage Erasure on some of those synth leads! Monari trades her disaffected vocals from “In the City” for a trumpet-like deliver that makes me wish she was singing about me. Monari goofs through the kitchen and leafs through Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” with considerable charisma. So if “Boy Friend” doesn’t put Wakita Monari on your list, well then you should probably check your pulse: the charm goes to 11.
This song just gets better and better. You know I was equal parts worried and hopeful when I listened to Monari’s previous single “IN THE CITY”. That song was a great beginning for the singer, but also could have been a tiring sound. “Boy Friend” just lifts one’s spirit with joy. Truly, a great release.
Fleurette – Onegai Patissier
Playing like an episode of Afterschool Tea Time, Fleurette present the youthful and quick-paced “Onegai Patissier” video for your pleasure. The nine girls give the performance of their lives on the school stage in their color-keyed, birdcage skirts. I mean that: the girls look sharp! Their member color cuffs highlight the group’s choreographic synchronicity. Perhaps Fleurette are looking to the national stage as the next step in their idol careers; well I, for one, think they may have what it takes to distinguish themselves. I wish the girls all the luck I can bear as I look forward to more from their group. You can buy Fleurette’s “Onegai Patissier / Setsuna Forever” on April 26, 2017.
This is another place where I might like the song more than one might think. I like the “chocolate, vanilla …” part of the song a lot, so sue me. And, yes I like the completely ridiculous costuming: I’m an idol fan, after all. Really, let this song invade your brain.
Tsubaki Factory – Just Try!
The final PV for Tsubaki Factory’s triple A-side debut release is “Just Try!”. The song unites the group with Tsunku like Dorothy finally holding audience with the Wizard. Set in a darkened parking garage (that’s what it looks like to me) and awash with laser beams, “Just Try!” definitely smells of something futuristic. Though the lasers add the sci-fi touch, they also seem to trap the girls in the subterranean concrete lair. Of course the girls run, perhaps it’s a prison break? Engorged with triplet rhythms and otherworldly sampled voices, Tsunku leaves his fingerprints and every note of “Just Try!”. Admittedly, I’m not as high on this song as I am on “Urawashi no Camellia” and “Hatsukoi Sunrise”, but perhaps the song will tickle you in undiscovered places. You can find “Just Try!” on the group’s debut single (linked below) on February 22, 2017.
Sometimes I think H!P isn’t giving Tsubaki their best and brightest songs. Sometimes I think they have this particular set of girls pegged all wrong. But then I listen to the chorus of “Just Try!” and I forgive some of that animosity. As much as these girls try, I just don’t think they are edgy enough to pull the electronic dance music that gets thrown their way. Also, even I have to admit that these costumes are too much for the girls to handle. Or maybe I should say too little?
Sunmyu – Sakurairo Promise
Sakurairo Promise ignites my interest in Sunmyu. The pure pop sensibilities of the song hooked me on my first listen, and now I look forward to the song on my mp3 playlist. Even though the PV doesn’t really have more than one or two tricks in its hat, they’re good ones! Definitely give this one a play for me.
BiS – gives
The biggest fault of “gives”, the promotional video, is that it overly distracts from “gives”, the song. The song sounds like the kind of affecting song that I would really enjoy, but I have a hard time listening when the random audio clips seems mixed higher than the song. I really hate to gripe about a video this much, but if I can’t hear the song, then what’s the point? On the plus side, I do have a better sense of the new girls in BiS, which is a good thing. So, mixed at best.
Ohara Sakurako – Hirari
I know some people are not the right audience for ballads, so consider this your ballad warning for “Hirari”. Ohara Sakurako possesses a lovely voice that seems custom built for songs like this, so when the strings come in I expect a full-body emotional reaction. Curiously, that didn’t happen. Sakurako sounds like butter going up and down the scales of the chorus. But at least for me, the heart-rending attachment never came.
SCANDAL – FREEDOM FIGHTERS
Listening to the opening guitar riffs of “FREEDOM FIGHTERS”, I was full prepared to throw myself into the arms of another SCANDAL song. But, something happened from there to the chorus. The bottom line on this is that I just didn’t love the chorus of the song. This is a bit of a shame since SCANDAL really flexes the musical muscles they’ve earned over the last few years: Rina’s drum playing leans more toward leads, Mami’s guitar leads have become distinctive and edgy, and Tomomi’s bass, already considerably adept in the early years, continuing to provide a solid foundation. Perhaps the shining part of “FREEDOM FIGHTERS” is just getting to see the girls play a solidly rock song again.
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