Warning: There will be a LOT of YouTube videos in this series, which may cause some browsers to lag and/or crash. You’ve been warned. If I missed anything, let me know. Also,
obligatory mandatory epilepsy/light warning for the first PV covered here.
Greetings, Magical Meteorites and other Earthlings who happened to drop by!
Welcome to the fifth part of the Precision Past Perspective edition of Ping Pong Pinpoint. In this little post, we cover the year 2013. Shall we blast off?
While 2012 didn’t bring us the so-called Mayan Apocalypse, it might as well be “Haromageddon mk IV” as far as H!P fans are concerned. (I’m sure earthquake-magnitude events have happened as well in the rest of the world, between the graduations of some major league 48ers and such.) Well, with that down, let’s get the Post-Apocalyptic Era to a ROOOOLLING STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAART!
- 23 –
HELP! I need somebody
HELP! Not just anybody
HELP! I need
the Powerpuff GirlsMorning Musume
Remember the best part, guys: We’ve got Divas!
The Morning Girls start off things with the inaugural single for the Makeup-less Diva, Help me!!. The song itself is somewhat hard for me to remember without the PV (as good as it is). Am I a bad fan?!
Anywho, the PV itself shows a lot of effort put into it…s effects. It’s lot less of a hot mess than One Two Three and Take a Chance, but it’s still worthy of an epilepsy warning. You have to admit that in spite of the fact it’s obviously not filmed outside (a major point of contention for fans — I’m not so picky as they complain about the green screen and not filming outside with every PV, no matter what), they put in a lot of effort to make it at least somewhat realistic. =/
- The formation of the deliciously juicy Juice=Juice was announced.
- 06 –
To go with the impending End of H!P Days for ManoEri, a new best-of album was released today. What is it called, you ask? What else? BEST FRIENDS.
Also released on this day was C-ute’s single, Kono Machi. With lovely outfits and shots of towns and the like, it forms a good backdrop to a rarity: a ballad. Name the last time a ballad was an A-side to a single – in H!P. Not a mellow song, a ballad. I must admit that it’s a nice change of pace (nevermind the fact it’s a cover) in the releasestream. *claps* The ballads also show the vocal quality of the group (which ballads are wont to do).
- 23 – The Manocalypse finally happened as Mano Erina graduated from Hello! Project.
- 13 –
The Berryz take us to the disco after the end of the world in Asian Celebration and invite us to have a celebration. As each Berry takes a turn at the turntable, our jockeys spin us a groove that’d make us get down for the funk of it. Free your mind… and your ☆ will follow!
- 20 – Right on time for the end of the Japanese school year (and the ensuing graduations and promotions), S/mileage brings us the news: Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita.
The lyrics certain express that hope, helped much by the “sailor fuku meets Idolita” fashion (in the dance shots). When the girls are sporting white dresses when not engaging in those fanser-worthy outfits.
What’s with H!P and pale rooms and white dresses? I also feel sorta bad for the fact that the chorus’ melody reminds me of an old song most of you younger/newer fans probably wouldn’t even know.
Let’s cheer these girls on in their journey. It’s always hard when your journey begins…
- 03 –
Crazy perfect adults C-ute show off their maturity with their first single of the
Post-Apocalyptic Era2013, Crazy Kanzen na Otona. C-ute’s bringing SexyBack… This video is perfect for the Duke Devlins here. Musically, the song seems to me to be… Kiss me Aishiteru meets Hand made CITY (it’s the questions in the verses).
When the ladies aren’t showing off for the guys, they are applying make up.
The juicy Juice=Juice (their name reminds me of anime for some reason) make their flavorful splash with their indie debut, Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne. I’d hate to trivialize the music again, but I’m now thinking “Soyokaze ni Yorisotte meets Budokai 2” (it’s the sax – the sax also reminds me of the JKM series. In fact, given the time period, I’d be more likely to be thinking of that if anything).
On another note, the Dance Shot Ver. has the distinction of being one of the first PVs to have a very special feature.
- 17 – Reina Tanaka’s final single dropped. A few weeks before the MVs/PVs were shown, we were treated to a special “Loose Shot” version.
The first A-side is Brainstorming (which has the unfortunate distinction of having an unfortunate short version that was the stuff of jokes). There’s not much to say here. I do like the Girls form an “M” after every chorus.
Music-wise… remember when I said the “Wakuteka Take a chance” was the “Revenge of One Two Three”? (Rather, I said “Password is 0” is the revenge of “Take a chance.”) Well, “Brainstorming” is the
true“Revenge of Wakuteka.” Seriously. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, really…. Really….
The second A-side is
2000 People on the Dance FloorKimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai. Once again, we see our Morning Girls in… a set. Their outfits is also reminiscent of Onna ni Sachi Are and Pyoko Pyoco Ultra, but less overdone. The choreography… pay attention to that, guys. It is a foreteller of things to come? What am I talking about? Just a wait a few months…
- 08 –
Juice=Juice heat things up with their crazy sophomore indies single, Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru. A… rocking, funkin’, just idol-riffic ditty in the vien of Livin’ La Vida Bigaku (in a good way). In the PV, we see our Samidare Beauties dance in a black void of stage lights and lanterns (and occasionally pose with umbrellas as petals fall like rain).
- 22 –
The S/mileys unleash good vibrations with their second album, ② Smile Sensation.
- Also on this day, Queen Tanaka graduated from Morning Musume and H!P to pursue full-fledged activities with her band.
- 08 –
Climb to the Sky! Ten Made Nobore! Four days later, on the 12th, the single had a physical release. This would be the second single for the newly rechristened Hello! Pro Kenshuusei and the third indies single for graduates-to-be Juice=Juice. First announced in May, this single is a collaboration between the newly rechristened Kenshuusei and the third indies single for graduates-to-be Juice=Juice.
The PV is simple, but… once you let the feel-goods of this penetrate, you won’t give a care. Submit to the feel-good uplifting of H!P’s Bubbling Stars. (It is these feels that keep me coming back here, in spite of the cheesy music and even cheesier videos.)
Then comes the part where you see the Kenshuusei version and start pitching about the differences between the videos.
- 19 – Berryz’s 32nd single take us all over as they head to Golden Chinatown to say Sayonara Usotsuki no Watashi.
Golden Chinatown. Our Berryz take us to their Golden Chinatown (which is a red set with them in golden threads) and speak, chaina. With feeling, chauna. Only thing missing is Yokohama.
Our Berryz struggle with their real selves in Sayonara Usotsuki no Watashi. Tis a shame they’re all too old to summon their Character Guardians for help. In any case, they plead their case in their luscious red dresses and delicate makeup. Will the Berryz be true to themselves and truly be able to say goodbye to their lying selves? Will they stop looking at themselves in the mirror in pain? Will they get out of their boxes? Time will tell.
Now that we’ve made it this far, let’s get the second half to a ROLLING SLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM! Wait, what?
- 03 –
Just as Berryz said goodbye to their lying selves, S/mileage’s evolution goes further as they declare their new selves in Atarashii Watashi ni Nare! If we were reviewing the Dance Shot, the opening shots would be less controversial.
Fashion-wise, the girls adopt a sexier set of clothes (looking almost like OLs). This change, along with the somewhat confrontational nature of the lyrics, have led to worries about S/mileage’s… image (among other things). After all… for about 3 minutes, they look more like C-ute than S/mileage.
Concept-wise, aside from the girls holding songs featuring lyrics, the Dance Shot, and a few shots of them in a dark warehouse… not much.
The lyrics express a legitimate desire befitting any (wo)man of any age so it’s not like it’s totally out of place. (In fact, this would be right at home in Shugo Chara.)
The S/mileys inspire Japan (and the world) to have a can-do spirit in Yattaruchan, aka the side I wanted to review.
I will shamelessly admit that I played this song to death towards the end of 2013. I also gave my dA watchers the
displeasure of referencing it (among other H!P songs) in my New Year’s journal. (Kudos to anyone who correctly guesses what I was “listening” to when I made the journal.) At one point, I wanted this to be my (among many) theme songs for 2014. Why? The song is so uplifting and genki. I mean, how can you NOT feel motivated and energized after being exposed to this musical radioactivity? Better to be Yattaruchan anytime, right?
As far as the look, while certain parts of the set (namely, the dance shot)has the foily look of another PV (Berryz’ “Dakishimete x2” perhaps?), the rather cheap look is made up for with… Kana speaking into a megaphone and to the public, along with other S/mileys shredding on guitars and dancing in mazes of lights.
- 04 – In honor of their date in gay Paris, C-ute release a special collection for their French fans, Cutie Selection ~A nos Amis de France!~. It also features a track that would later be released as an A-side…
- 05 – It was suddenly announced that Otsuka Aina of Juice=Juice is no longer a member of the group. Why? Family issues, to put it simply. I, like many, had high hopes for her after missing out on MM. (Perhaps it was a good thing she didn’t get in, considering the circumstances.) Despite the vacancy, Tsunku said that Aina would not be replaced, though he left it open as to whether or not there will be any potential lineup changes. (Then again, we should be used to statements like that in light of Berryz Koubou and S/mileage.)
- 10 – On this day, C-ute’s 22nd single hit the streets.
Ooooh, the rain is falling…
Our fashionable C-uties vogue and pose in the most à la mode way, showcasing the latest fashions… all while dealing with very démodé topic of heartbreak in Kanashiki Amefuri. Love is still the same sunshine in the rain… NOT!
As befitting the song, we get some shots with the Cuties in rained-in trenchcoats in the summer rain (all in the name of wota fanservice). (We all know the rain is faked, but w’ever.)
In the name of summer rainstorm fashion, a first weather experience, the C-uties let themselves get rained on! Don’t take a rain check, folks.
Oooh, the fruit are falling…
Houston, we have a problem, Adam to Eve no Dilemma to be exact. Our girls take up to a chain-veined Eden in their figgin’ fig-tastic costumes. How shameful! They continue to act sinful and wonder why they are in the situation they’re in! Repent so you can be saved, C-ute! I know at least one wota is thinking “My motto would be “Love thy neighbor” if I lived next door to her” in terms of at least one of you!
Jokes aside, I admire the concept (as simple as it is).
…and wash away those lonely tears.
- 24 – The news broke about the results of the auditions: it was a dud.
- 28 – One week after my birthday comes Morning Musume’s 54th single. This would end up being Morning Musume’s “final” single as starting January 1st, the numbers in the year would be added to their name (to the confusion of all). What a way to end it, right? (On another note, out of all of the songs of this era, out of all of the singles this year, this is most likely my all-time favorite – with Ai no Gundan being the A-side of choice. Just…
We come to those selfish, easygoing jokers of love themselves, Morning Musume… and those infamous “prisoner” dresses in Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke. Our Morning Girls put on a show in a theatre, although empty. (Would this best a dress rehearsal then or an audience with invisible/ghost wota?)
When not donning their “jail” suits, the ladies trip the lights fantastic with their black Aquarian clothes.
The heart, she hollers for love. However, it’s not dubstep enough.
Attention! Fall in! No time for joking, soldier. We’ve just been drafted into Ai no Gundan. I’ve long wanted to tweet that this song is a high contender for theme song if my project was to be turned into anime. (Those on the inside who know or those familiar enough with it will know why. Darnit MM
14, stop blending so much with my art!)
As you can tell from this tweet, I am in eternal love with this song (so much that I think I retroactively made it among the theme songs of my bday and this year). Like Yattaruchan, I played this song to death (at least, until Egao no Kimi wa Taiyo sa came out and gave this severe competition). It’s a wubsteppy mess, but I don’t care. They’re obviously dancing and laying around on a set instead of a forest, but I. Don’t. Care. It’s a well-crafted video (for H!P standards – and beyond that). The military/sailor-inspired outfits are to die for, along with the choreography (even if some would feel they’re wannabe-goosestepping).
- Tokyo wins the bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Now, what does this have to do with idols, you ask? The implications upon the J-idol and general J-culture fandom. (We’ve gotten word by now that Aki-P is on the Olympic committee, initiating a massive wave of… reactions.)
- 11 – Juice=Juice make a splash with their major debut. It was originally going to be just one A-side, but Otsuka’s sudden departure necessitated some changes. Rather, it necessitated some “memorial edits.” Dearly beloved….
While this is the first single, our love begins here with (as some would say the true A-side) Romance no Tochuu. We begin with a shot of some royal looking jewels.
The contrast between the colorful background and the mostly monochromatic fashion add to the sophisticated look and glamour.
Suddenly, urban outfits! The change is startling, compared to the cosmopolitan, elegant and feel. Was that meant to evoke an air of “modernity”?
And we end it with a shot of the Juicy Angels and the Juicy Jewels.
We return (somewhat) to the beginning with the “Memorial Edit” of Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne. The beginning is edited with a slight remix and there are certain nuances to the music that separate it from the original. The PV is also slightly changed: While it is still dance shots and close-ups, there’s still a lot more going on in terms of the design. There are also close-ups pf the Girls shedding tears on cue (gotta paint those lyrics, eh?), further adding to the difference.
We close out this festa with the third A-side, the “Memorial Edit” of Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru.
After a duo of trumpeters start off this la vida loca fiesta, we head into our Juicy=Fruits. Like Dakishimenakya, the beginning is somewhat altered before heading into the main part.
We see out girls dancing on a stage with the lights shining down on them, in between the shots of the brassy brass players.
As befitting a “Memorial Edit,” the music is altered in some places… all in the name of making a new, buyable major product and prevent a Murakami/Yaguchi/Fujimoto-type situation.
The ending is also made more dynamic as well with some extra horny flairs.
The whole “MEMORIAL EDIT” thing reminds me of “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” and the treatments therein. For example, take a look at
my favorite track from Side Onethe first single released from the album, (The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether, from 1976 and 1987. See if you can spot the differences! (For more fun, take a look at the rest of the album.) …In some ways, this could very well be an honorary H!P song. *shot*
- 25 –
Our Morning Girls end off the year and their MM era with a self-cover best of: The Best! ~Updated Morning Musume~. This was a chance for us to relive the good old days and even check out new line distribution following the departure of key members.
- 02 – The Berryz end their year early with their 33rd single.
We start off this party of loneliness with our main girls in evening wear in front of a night sky (or what appears to be such) in Motto Zutto Issho ni Itakatta. It’s a mellow melancholy of mercantile mercenary melodies. (I will admit it sorta cut me, but for reasons that’ll be explained later.)
We go on the flipside of the A-side with ROCK Erotic. Befitting the style, we are treated to rock (or rather, rock-influenced ele-pop). Between the EGL outfits and the suits of some of the Berryz (cue the Mr. Moonlight nostalgia), we are treated to glamourous display of fantasy their Morning OG, Takarazuka Alum, and general lily lovers would be proud of.
- 06 – The C-ute make their final statement of 2013 with their 23rd single.
We begin our program with a title sequence and a look at our celebrity cast… Let’s take a look at our first program, the series premiere of Tokai no Hitorigurashi.
If you took a look at the English title, you would think it’s another “Woe is me! I’m all alone with no guy in the city!” song. Then you listen to the song and listen to the lyrics… and find it’s about growing up, coming of age.
Funk yeah, adulthood! Raise your hand if you’ve made it!
C-uties take the other A-side to tell us that Ai tte Motto Zanshin. We start off with a ballerina performing ballet in a warehouse. Then we see the C-uties do their thing… in fatigue dresses. (Must be Love’s Marines or something because the position of “Love’s Army” is taken. Either that or they’re different regiment.)
I will admit the the old movie effects during the chorus was a nice touch.
- 04 – Juice=Juice’s second single is a double offering: Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo / Hajimete wo Keikenchuu. This time, there’s little to no lineup-related drama so nothing feels rushed here.
The first A-side is a funky, smooth song with a jazzy vibe. *snaps fingers* Our girls don red and black and sing like the canaries they are. In some scenes, they are among the gems of their choice.
Would you believe that once upon a time, this single was titled “Watashi wa Rose Quartz” (I may be wrong though).
We are the Crystal Gems.
We’ll always save the day.
And if you think we can’t,
We’ll always find a way.
That’s why the people of this world believe in…
I know what you’re thinking. You’re reminded of ManoEri or having perverted thoughts about the title.
This side’s a little more rockish than the other side. In musical terms, it’s almost like “Asu no Date na no ni” if it was a Buono song.
In terms of the PV, we see the girls sit in a room (and notice how the pillow changes color according to member). No, an apartment. Let’s go with that to explain the variety of rooms here. When we’re not in their apartment, we’re watching close-ups in front of a glistening curtain. My guess it’s that it’s made of crystal (rose quartz, perhaps? *shot*).
- 18 – The S/mileys close out the year with their double-sided single.
S/mileys ask an important question in Ee ka!?.
I’m sorry, but I’ve gotta be honest here: It’s a nice song and all, but the fashion… who came up with those skirts?! I know female idols are a bunch of Ms. Fanservice and nevermind standards of femininity across cultural lines (though I doubt the average Japanese man would want a wife that’s nothing but T&A, especially as women are increasingly heading up in the ranks), but this is just obvious. I know S/mileage are known as the “short skirt” girls, but this is ridiculous! Then again, I’m a woman, a Western-born-and-raised woman, so I should have no say in things like this. If I wanted to be a real female idol fan, I should be drooling over the latest Johnny’s cheesecake. Oops, sorry, beefcake.
Okay, let’s get back to this. This urban-influenced A-side with shades of early 90’s (and work well as a new jack swing track) is dangerous thriller jam. I realize now that the main musical influence here is the King of Pop, between the girly “hee-hees” and certain musical licks borrowed from “Jam” (and probably other songs, but I am less qualified to make that call).
By the way, some people may or may not recognize someone here.
The S/mileys weep over an older nice guy, lament a nice but somewhat possessive (older) guy that they are in love with, in “Ii Yatsu”. The outfits are a somewhat more casual than usual… and more akin to Juice=Juice. In fact, I had to remind myself I’m watching S/mileage it’s so… mature. Well, they can’t be singing about booing frustrating beaus with pig noses forever, right?
Tune in next time as we cover the Year of the Comeback! See you at the next transmission, Magical Meteorites!