It Starts Now

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Ohai Riho!

Greetings and Happy New Year, Citizens of the Universe!

How has the beginning of 2016 treated you? Well, I spent my last week of 2015 with a cold. I attribute it to stress brought about via stress, along with the long period of burn out I’ve experienced since the fall.

However, I’ve had lots of time to recharge (even if most of said time was dedicated to convalescence) and I’m ready to tackle 2016. For more about my projects for the year, read this post from M3’s new Facebook page.

As we all know, Hello! Project didn’t give us a break. However, that is not what this post is about. This is about the end of a chapter in a mothership connection’s existence in the form of a triple A-side.

So let’s get to it! It starts now!

Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi (The Cold Wind and Lonely Love)

The Song

The song is a mid-tempo pop ballad with funk influences and EDM elements. It is rather haunting in tone, the bass line underscoring the passionate sorrow. The lyrics speak of a painful love, a desire to be noticed by the object of their desire. One way of looking at it is (as one blogger put it) is the love object being Morning Musume itself or the fandom.

This interpretation works especially with the knowledge that this was supposed to be Riho’s solo song. The desire to be noticed and loved, the heartbreak of separation, both are things that would be especially relevant to a graduating idol and her mother group.

As far as grad songs go, this is among the most somber in recent memories. This is actually more in line with the likes of “Never Forget” and “Dekiru Onna” in tone.

(As this is released in the midst of winter, which is in full swing here in New Jersey, the titular “cold wind” is especially felt tangible to me. On another note, the “Ice Fairy” imagery associated with Riho’s generation feels… weird for some reason.)

The PV

The Hello! Project Station Edit was showcased on the 148th installment, posted on December 16, 2015. The full MV was uploaded to the Morning Musume YouTube channel on December 18, 2015.

The MV takes place in a white manor, a similar setting to MVs like Wonderful World. It’s simple yet elaborate, like the song and its message. After all, the focus here is the ladies and the feylike siren who is departing from Morningland.

With their gauzen outfits, the Morning Girls dance their bittersweet melody. The ladies all move wonderfully with the solidness that attracts people of all walks of life. A legacy of the Lunate Elf that will fly away from the Neverland of Morning? You decide. (Perhaps it is. It helps that the individual members, even the Golden Girls have built up their skills up to this point.)

In certain shots, we see out ladies around the White Angel Mansion. Some are against windows, some are against walls. Some are near doors, some are near each other. Regardless, the light hits them at the right places to illustrate the “cold wind” and the “loneliness” this “love” has wrought upon them.

This is Morning Musume 15’s December, their tree. This is them pretending this is all they need!

Between the verses, the Ice Fairy Ace unleashes her terpsichorean Spell Cards upon us Shrine Maidens and Ordinary Magicians. At certain times, she changes her outfit to further her Perfect Freezes, even with different scenes. Each section has a more dramatic instance of Icicle Fall than the last, making us unable to graze her bullets for her Survival Card.

Riho, you’ve won the Fairy Wars… for now.

ENDLESS SKY

The Song

In contrast to “Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi,” “ENDLESS SKY” is a more upbeat mid-tempo ballad. The EDM influences are stronger here, adding to the warmth. (I think MM15 is one big reason I’ve been listening to Eiffel 65/Bloom 06 in recent months.)

The lyrics talk about reaching the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. To put it another way, it’s about moving towards your dream, flying away towards the titular sky.

To further put it another way, it’s a message and a comment on the growth of an idol. How they all have dreams and are destined to move on to other things. (Remember what I said about enjoying idols while they’re here?) It’s like the titular heroine of Kiki’s Delivery Service (who ironically is the namesake of an H!P member), leaving home for Koriko on her broomstick with both excitement and nervousness. We call their departures “graduations” for a reason, because they learn the ropes and explore their dreams here before they take off to greener pastures.

One can look at it as continuing the themes from “Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki.” For the most part, one can look at this as the sequel to its preceding single as it touched on these themes. (This single expands on them big time.) …It barely helps the MV appears to be set in a similar setting.

Either way, where Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi was meant to be Riho’s send-off to the group, ENDLESS SKY is undoubtedly Morning Musume’s send-off to Riho. (I omitted the number to highlight the fact that this is MM as an entity. The number system is akin to edition/issue numbers in comic books.) Riho’s solo is in there (made all the more heartbreaking in live performances), but this is a song for the other Morning Girls to join in on.

The PV

The Hello! Project Edit was showcased in the 147th installment on Dec 9, 2015. The full MV was uploaded to the channel on Dec 14, 2015.

The PV is set in a light room, filled with linen… and light. Notice that light is a motif in this single’s MVs. The solo shots also have a mirror-inspired look: some are positioned in mirror-like doorways and group solo shots have them back-to-back like reflections.

This is not unlike the reflective nature of this song, giving a special “Venus Illusion” that is a treat on the eyes. Idols are idols because they are unattainable, worshipped “objects” that we put on a pedestal. Morning Musume, with their breakfast-inspired moniker, represent various facets of the gem of femininity. They are all various Venuses that reflect the dreams and aspirations of young girls (including the girls themselves).

One other motif (one John Woo might give a thumbs up to) is the use of falling feathers. Many idols have spread their wings and flew off into the endless sky. Their previous single even spoke of such imagery. How appropriate that Riho would cover Takahashi Ai’s song, which also spoke of flight!

Who will be the next fledgeling to grow their full plumage? …I’d rather not fathom it now.

One more scene has them gathered in a circle, as if in one final slumber party. Unfortunately, I only have fantasy and pop culture to go for in those regards personally. I’ve had one sleepover or two as a child, but they weren’t much of the things you see on TV (or you’ve experienced perhaps). As Riho is set to depart during a night concert, one can look at it as Morning Musume having one last sleepover.

It’s a shame they (and we as a fandom) couldn’t have “morning coffee” together one more time, Riho. We love you, we love you forever.

One and Only

The Song

The song is an energetic rocker full of energy and pep. In contrast to the other A-sides, the song is more cheerful and happy with the girls belting out their love for their “one and only girl.” To some, it refers to Morning Musume itself. To some, it’s a metaphor for the fandoms. (Remember that H!P has a sizable female fandom, which has been growing in recent years.)

In the spirit of the song, Riho was referred to their “one and only.”

On another note, I’m reminded of “3,2,1 BREAKIN’OUT!” in terms of genre and tone. It barely helps that it’s virtually the theme song of Morning Musume’s current internationalization efforts, with plans to perform the song at their upcoming appearance in Houston.

You probably wouldn’t know it from reading this, but out of the three, this is my favorite of the A-side. No, it’s not simply because it’s in English (though it is a bonus). It’s the sheer amount of positively it oozes, screaming out every reason I love and will continue to love Morning Musume.

Riho found the perfect single to depart with if it contains a song like this.

The PV

After countless peeks with the Girls Live clip being passed around the Net for weeks, the full MV was uploaded to the official channel on Dec 21, 2015. Hehe, in a sense, Christmas came early.

The MV take places on a bare stage, a massive green screen-laden stage at that. However, like “Egao no Kimi wa Taiyou sa,” it works and enhances the theme of the song. This song’s purpose is to take a mallet to one of Morning Musume’s largest barriers (language) and follow’s Ronald Reagan’s words: “Tear down this wall.” Our Morning Girls dance on a massive map of the world, a globe of a disco ball as they speak of their love.

The solo shots have our ladies in colorful fields with white lights filling in the space graciously. It’s simple, but it works perfectly to compliment the song and the focus girl.

If you can read Japanese, there is an extra treat. It’s almost a reverse of the typical experience (especially if you’re an Anglophone non-Japanese fan), the non-English lyrics being the “foreign” lyrics. It’s actually taken a step further by not only having the typical subs, but have the lyrics be an integral part of the video itself. It does take getting used to (it did for me), but I can’t imagine the MV without it. It’d seem empty without it.

In Conclusion

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Goodbye, Riho….

A landmark 60th single marking a special occasion and featuring some milestones, Morning Musume ’15 ends the year on a massive note. Their 61st will be a bit of a tough act to follow, but Morning Musume ’16 will tackle that reverse numbered challenge head on with the courage of waterfowl.

Yes, the Ice Fairy Ace has let us go, but let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered her (or us) anyway, tears be darned. The lonely love showcased the chill before the endless sky thawed us to achieve that one and only true warmth.

The current M3 Mystery is your feelings about the graduation, along with your hopes for the year ahead. The latter is especially relevant in light of recent news.

Until the Next One!
Magi-Kat

Remember to vote for your favorite Ice Fairy Oshi and costume of yore!
Don’t also forget that submissions are being accepted for a Tamura Meimi tribute project.

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4 Responses to It Starts Now

  1. […] Here’s something interesting: a friend I showed this to compared all of this imagery to snow. In light of the song’s message and tone, it’s mildly akin to Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi and we all know how much I drilled the “Ice Fairy” imagery into the ground. […]

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  2. […] began with a review of the final single of Morning Musume ’15, followed by news of the (first) 13th Gen auditions (how are those going by the way). The next […]

    Like

  3. […] Nonaka Miki – Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi […]

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