Preface: There’s going to be a lot of embedded content in this post.
Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!
It’s hard to believe we’ve reached this point. Between the backlog of posts involving their juniors (namely Country Girls, ANGERME, and Juice=Juice) and their imminent demise, it’s hard to believe we’ve come to this point in time.
So with the true final single on the way, let’s close off February by digging into C-ute #30!
Mugen Climax (Dreamlike Climax)
The song is a dark piece of Gothic elegance. It was noted that the lyrics contain secret references to C-ute’s past and present members.
In addition, the song also references Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (though I will admit I was reminded of Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 at times, particularly during the last piano flair during the final portion of the section bridging the verses) and the melody makes me recall Johannes Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance #5.” Then again, this entire composition was giving me Romantic vibes, very befitting of the “Gothic elegance” the song is going for. (However, before any music eggheads scream at me, I know that the inclusion of the harpsichord is a relic of the Baroque period rather than the Romantic period, which is noted for its “atmospheric,” folklore/fairytale-like qualities. The fact that a nationality is included in the name (as is the case with the aforementioned Liszt and Brahms pieces) is another sign as the Romantic period was noted for its nationalistic (or nation-inspired) leanings, owing to it coming along in the backdrop of nationalist movements and revolutions that established a lot of the (Western) world we see today.)
…What were we talking about again? Oh, Mugen Climax! Powerfully elegant number that (100%!) references a Beethoven piece and has hidden references to C-ute’s membership. (Why do I have a feeling my little tangent may end up being the topic of a post someday?)
To go back to Beethoven for a sec, the fact it references the Moonlight Sonata might not just be a cosmetic choice. Its full “official” title is “Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor ‘Quasi una fantasia’, Op. 27, No. 2” (the first edition was published with this title). The title “Quasi una fantasia” literally means “almost a fantasy” with the “fantasia” referring the free-form fantasia. (This is especially evident in the fact the third movement (which this A-side references) is a lively, almost tumultuous piece that is in stark contrast to the brisk second movement and especially the slower first movement.) Perhaps the “Mugen” in the title (which can not only be translated as “dreamlike,” but also “phantasmagorical” or “fantastical”) is a nod to this.
I must note that while I went on a(n admittedly unnecessary) spiel about the Romantic movement, I must point out that Beethoven is considered a composer that is a a bridge between the structured Classical and elaborate Baroque periods. This sonata, what with its rampant experimentation between its movements, provides a perfect argument for that.
You can watch making-of footage from Upcoming:
Befitting the Gothic tone, the MV is set in a manor with our stars dressed in elegant outfits. Flashing lights signify lightning outside with poltergeist-like effects inside. Floating scarves, stairs standing on end, flickering lights (and C-uties) all add to the spooky atmosphere.
You can see some making-of footage, courtesy of Upcoming:
Ai wa Maru de Seidenki (Love Is Like Static Electricity)
In contrast to the previous A-side, this one is positively adorable. It is a bit jarring at first but it works well to stop as a good contrast to the other A-sides. Some may find it disappointing compared to the powerhouse that is Mugen Climax, but after that, it’s a tough act to follow.
Continuing from the contrast between the dark and gloomy sitting at the previous A-side, this MV is that in a regular house with natural tones. We see the C-uties using various pieces of paper, statically charging various objects onto them. Eventually, the individual pieces of paper spell the word “Arigatou.”
You can see some making-of footage, courtesy of Upcoming:
Singing ~Ano Koro no You ni~ (Singing ~Just Like Back in the Day~)
This is more of an uptempo ballad, speaking of the pride and vulnerability of being a longtime idol. It’s a rather retrospective piece, looking back at a life spent singing and doing it with love, even with its challenges.
The MV is set in a bright environment. (This seems to be a motif in the non-Mugen Climax A-sides.) The main shot is set at a crossroads, a fairly literal representation of the transition C-ute is undergoing. They are at the intersection of youth idol life and the life an adult entertainer — and as of last year, all of them are now legally and symbolically adults.
We also see our C-uties near mirrors, reflecting upon themselves as they sing their song. We see some tender moments between members, but it’s still a reflective moment.
You can see some behind the scenes footage, courtesy of Upcoming:
In regards to the controversial Oricon charts, the single’s Total Reported Sales amount is 61,905. 71.19% (44,072) came from its first day, 94.14% (58,277) from the first week, 98.16% (60,769) in its first month, and 99.05% (61,315) in its first year. Its first day and first week rank was #2, its month rank #8, and year rank #92.
In non-Oricon related charts, the single ranked within the first 10 positions. On the Music Station CD Single Ranking and the Billboard Japan Top Singles Sales, its highest ranking was #2. On the Billboard Japan Hot 100, it ranked #4.
The MVs all ranked within the Top 10 of the Recochoku Music Video Rankings’ Daily Rank: Mugen Climax ranked #4, Ai wa Maru de Seidenki #7, and Singing ~Ano Koro no You ni~ #9. The MVs all got within the first 20 ranks for Weekly with #4, #13, and #18 respectively.
Regardless of Oricon rules, this was the first C-ute single to be certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ). This meant that the single sold over 100,000 copies!
If not for being the penultimate single, this would’ve made for a great send-off for the C-uties.
You can also continue the conversation as its the latest M3 Mystery.
Be sure to participate in the C-ute tributes held by Chuu!Sugoi!Idol and Suzuki Airi France if you haven’t already! M3 will hold a memorial survey for the group after their final single is released (barring any other surprise release announcements).
In addition, the (admittedly comprehensive) poll for the 200th Post is officially open! (If you’re having trouble, use this link.)
Tune in next week as we wrap up the 2016 backlog with the Mothership Connection. Meow, that’s right! 😼
Until the Next One!