Meow, Not Right: A Speech Facing Frankness

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

So we’re finally here. The final single of 2016. It’s been a long road, a long month to get to this month.

It’s fitting we’re here at this point now. Today is the 12th anniversary of the CD release of Morning Coffee. In a few weeks, Sato Masaki will officially return from sick leave, the same day as my 12th netiversary. Plus, Morning Musume ’17 has already unleashed their might onto the world and the music charts.

(On another note, the aforementioned netiversary is close to Nattosoup’s birthday and I recommend you watch her videos, especially if you want to learn about watercolors and/or comics.)

Either way, let’s all commerate all the occasions by digging into Morning Musume #62!

Sexy Cat no Enzetsu (Sexy Cat’s Speech)

The Song

The song attracted quite a bit of attention from its title alone. Its title, theme, and subject matter (which isn’t even that suspect) caused quite a stir. If you want a good examination of the A-side’s Western criticism, look no further than Morningtime’s fantastic piece on the matter.

The song in general has a nice jazziness which works with the friskiness that permeates the track, befitting the struggle between the fun innocence of childhood and the seriousness of adulthood that the song speaks of. One thing that permeates throughout the tune is the sax, man. It has the features we’ve come to known with Morning Musume (and H!P) as of late, but the sax, the drum, the brass… *snaps fingers*

Sorry, but I had to continue the hep theme this song is going for, am I right? It’s cool, playful in its musical burlesque starring our adolescent/post-adolescent ladies. Heck, Mizuki turned the big 2-0 later that year and a good chunk of the group’s turned/turning 18 this year. It’s probably not out of the question for the girls themselves to contemplate the hard end of their adolescence, never mind their childhoods. (It’s probably why they picked an older Kenshuusei for the group in addition to the typical mid-teenie — and 15 is on the “older” end of the idol dawn age.)

You can watch making-of footage from Upcoming:

The PV

The full MV was uploaded to the Morning Musume YouTube channel on October 24, 2016.

Expectations are set by the sensual slow shot of black boots in a dark setting. We then see three cats transform into “Mizukitty,” “Harukitty,” and “Sakukitty,” our liminal tricksters Neko Musume who embody the speech-making “Sexy Cat.” Our other Musume are in a large room, busying themselves with Jenga, books, and telephone calls. In between this are dance shots that further the feeling of being on a stage. (By the way, did you know that the MV for Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~ was filmed in this exact same studio? )

All through the way, our girls carry on with their activities, only to be interrupted by the very feline mischief of Jellicle Neko Musume. Eventually, the human Musume join in on the kittenish festivities.

There wasn’t much sexy to be had, the closest coming through the bed scenes or the Jellicle Neko Musume posing against the wall.

As dafuck posited in their comment, the song is more “theatrical” and is reminiscent of the Cats musical.

One thing I found when scrolling the comments was that there was an increasing amount of Japanese comments. That was probably a perception fueled by he fact I was viewing this on my phone and so the view was more compact and concentrated. While there is still a large amount of Japanese comments compared to non-Japanese ones to this day, it isn’t nearly as bad as I remembered.

You can see some making-of footage, courtesy of Upcoming:

Mukidashi de Mukiatte (Confront with Bare Nakedness)

The Song

This is a electro-pop song that has long been a favorite. Many awaited the MV to the “best” song and it’s not hard to hear why. While “Sou ja nai” and “Sexy Cat no Ensetsu” are good in their own right for their own reasons, it was this A-side that crept into my mind whenever I thought of doing this review. Even when I had to do the ANGERME, Juice=Juice, and C-ute reviews, this song kept coming to my mind.

(Either that or my slight bias towards Morning Musume is showing itself… or maybe it’s my desire to have this behind me… barring the backlog of MVs I have from this year! >x<*; Then again, out of the batch, these three were the newest….)

Heading back to this song, it’s a catchy tune about being open with one’s feelings in love and (one on broader level) being honest with oneself. The literal title is “Face it with frankness,” but I can see why it was officially translated as “Confront with Bare Nakedness” (especially given the line about “not giving up on being naked” (translated by projecthello as “being frank”).

You can see some making-of footage, courtesy of Upcoming:

Featuring members Nonaka Miki, Ogata Haruna, Haga Akane, and Sato Masaki.

Featuring members Ikuta Erina, Kudo Haruka, Iikubo Haruna, and Ishida Ayumi.

The PV

The first thing you notice while viewing is color and divisive effects. We see our Morning Girls in either black or white sets with the scaffolding-like… background pieces, simple and plain. One can say it’s “Minimalist” in presentation, enhancing the themes of the song. The quasi-kaleidoscopic editing effects follow along those lines, dividing and exposing the layers in visual stereotomy.

Despite the monochromatic aspects on display (using black, white, and red, not even bringing up the fact negative effects were used), we see another color scheme: colors. We see a rainbow of colors that goes beyond the typical Color Coded for Your Convenience trope that defines the current J-idol scene. We see splotches of rainbow paint, rainbow lines emanating from members in some scenes, colored lights in dark solo shots, culminating in them literally painting themselves and each other. Granted, we saw glimpses prior, but that’s the point when it’s on display. Now, my Major Art teachers from high school (and maybe some of my old college professors) might find the idea of simultaneously these three distinct color modes blasphemous. However, when used right, it can lead to the enhancement of a complete product. Asymmetry and Contrast are important concepts in art, the Elements and Principles of Design being one of the first (if not, the first) thing art students are taught. (I know it was the first thing studied in my Freshman year at Arts….)

One thing I want to point out is that as part of the theme of “exposure” and “(figurative) nakedness,” we often see our Morning Girls opening up their jackets and exposing their upper bodies. ….Why do I have a feeling I’m going to regret putting it like that?

You can see some making-of footage, courtesy of Upcoming:

Sou ja nai (I’m Not Like That)

The Song

This darkly mellow tune is warm, if a tad standoffish. Of course, this works with the song speaking of wants and denials. Wanting a dizzying swooning love, wanting to be excited, shooing away condescending opinions and loneliness…. It’s of wants and desires, not wanting to let things get in their way… yet feeling a yearning that isn’t satisfied.

Ah, adolescence. Ah, life in general as that desire never ceases when you grow into adulthood. (Am I right, fellow adults?)

At least Makino faithful had their desires satiated for Maria-chan was in the lead, keeping a constant speed throughout the song. Ave Maria, gratia plena…

I’m sure some are wondering what I meant by “darkly mellow.” In contrast to the fun nighttime cabaret feel of “Sexy Cat no Ensetsu” and the bright energy of “Mukidashi de Mukiatte,” the song has a slower feel. This is one of the moments where I feel a better grounding in music theory would be great because I can just… feel it’s in the minor key. The minor key (which is where a good number of songs fall actually) is known for having a “darker” sound.

(For a good illustration on what a difference the major/minor keys make, take a listen to Mannheim Steamroller’s “Carol of the Bells.” In arranging this version, Chip Davis set part of the famous carol in the major key to help “brighten” the song. Personally, this somewhat had the opposite effect, the contrast bringing a more “heroic” sound (and MS already makes their versions epic) and highlighting the “darkness.”)

Going back to Sou ja nai, the “dark warmth” works with the general “nightclub” feel. You get the sense that being alone is no fun and you’re looking for the thrill. Don’t say a prayer now, but save it for the morning after. It’s perfect for getting down with the lights off, preferably in your own room for extra effect.

You can see some making-of footage, courtesy of Upcoming:

Featuring members Makino Maria, Fukumura Mizuki, and Oda Sakura.

The PV

The beginning is worth noting. We start with a blue liquid ball formed from nothing that forms into Makino Maria. Stepping forward a bit, the other Morning Girls emerge. However, they are still. Then the music starts.

The main bulk starts with our girls being more lively. The dance shots and close- ups feature more life (and light) than the “story” shot established in the opening portion of the MV. We see an alternate dance shot with a different light source.

In regards to the story shot, we see Maria looking at her showroom dummies of band mates, eventually singing with the song. Ultimately, Maria has enough and practically curls up before they start showing more signs of life beyond singing. At the end, they all walk off, followed by Maria bookending the MV with another slow walk.

I didn’t even get into the shots that had the girls faces with lines and effects on them. Hmm… reminds me of something, but this is not the end. This not the beginning…

On another note, the futuristic aspects of the MV remind me not only on the Terminator franchise, but of another MV, one from a legendary performer from one of Japan’s neighbors: Faye Wong’s “Jiang Ai” (To Love).

(On that note, I really ought to take a look at that wonderful list Brian provided in response to my “Confession of a Strayed C-pop Fan.” With the Asia-centric Olympics on the way (not to mention my wonderful readers from the region. Hi~!), now’s a good time as any to take a look at the rest of Asia. Again.)

You can see some behind the scenes footage, courtesy of Upcoming:

In Conclusion

Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaales

Oricon-related Rankings

The single had a total reported sales figure of 105,412. 60.95% (64,522) came from the first day, where the single ranked #1. (Given the new rules that have been in effect for over two months at this point, this was quite a feat.) 92.41% (97,818) of the “TRS” came from the first week, where it also ranked #1. Strangely, despite the Daily & Weekly Rankings showing figures beyond that amount, that exact figure was given as the amount for the month, where the single had a Month Rank of #5.

In the end, it didn’t even matter that much (what’s with me and referencing that? I thought my LP days were over! I already referenced a song from A Thousand Suns in the previous section!) 98.11% (103,853) came from the first year where it had a Year Rank of #58.

Non-Oricon Rankings

In non-Oricon ranks, the single hit #1 on SoundScan Japan Single Sales, Tower Records All Stores Weekly Singles Chart, Billboard Japan Top Single Sales, and CDTV Weekly Single Ranking. It hit #2 on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 and #3 on the Music Station CD Single Ranking, but hit #14 in the iTunes Top 100 Albums.

The individual A-sides also made a splash on other iTunes Top 100 charts, all hitting within the Top 10 bracket for Music Videos and Top 30 bracket for Top 100 Songs. Sexy Cat, Mukidashi de, and Sou ja nai all ranked #4, #2, and #6 respectively for Music Videos. For Songs, the respective A-sides all ranked #24, #22, and #28.

On the Recochoku Music Video Rankings, the A-sides had achieved positions within the Top 10 brackets for Daily Rank, the Top 20 positions for Weekly Rank, and the Top 50 for Monthly Rank. Sexy Cat ranked #3 for Daily, #5 for Weekly, and #17 for Monthly. Mukidashi de ranked #4 for Daily, #9 for Weekly, and #21 for Monthly. Sou ja nai ranked #6 for Daily, #12 for Weekly, and #31 for Monthly.

Closing Thoughts

mm16-soujanai-groupshot-20161021

Wow… I never thought I’d make it to this point. (Well, I did, but I thought it’d take longer.) The final single of 2016, the final single of the 2016 Backlog (not counting the Kobushi Factory MV made to promote their album. I’ll get to it eventually), the final single for this lineup (what with the then-impending announcement of the 13th Gen), the last review of the 100s. Thank you so much for sticking with me and giving me a reason to keep doing this.

And thank you, Morning Musume, for enriching my life for almost 14 years and enriching others’ lives for roughly 20. Happy anniversary and may we continue to drink “Morning Coffee” together for another decade.

You can also continue the conversation as its the latest M3 Mystery.

Tune in next time as we celebrate the blog’s 200th post, which yo can help decide by voting in the following (admittedly comprehensive) poll. (If you’re having trouble, use this link.)

Until the Next One!
Magi-Kat


Sources:

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2 Responses to Meow, Not Right: A Speech Facing Frankness

  1. […] 23: Sexy Cat no Enzetsu / Mukidashi de Mukiatte / Sou ja nai – Morning Musume […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] in a lab. On paper, those two things wouldn’t work together. However, as I mentioned in the previous Morning Musume ’16 review, sometimes two contrasting elements can create a perfect […]

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