Don’t forget the Welcome ANGERME Project! Submissions close in late September!
“…a message for you is the misty vernal moon.
Only the months and days are sure to come around again”
–Minezaki Koto, Zangetsu (“Morning Moon”)
Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!
How’s your summer so far? It’s been a rather… interesting one so far. Between the whirlwind of change that erupted in H!P and the world being in a state of transition, it can be a trying time.
In regards to H!P, quite a few has happened so far. C-ute disbanded, Tsugunaga Momoko graduated, any group that wasn’t suffixed “Factory” gained new members, and Kobushi Factory lost one when Fujii Rio’s contract was terminated.
In regards to one group, a sense of absence is already awash in the group as Aikawa Maho is (as of this writing) on medical leave for panic disorder (prompting fanproject galore to show support). However, life must go on and the cycle must continue. “The show must go on,” as it is said in show business.
Therefore, let’s dig into ANGERME #23 and see how “the show went on.”
Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai (I Don’t Need Anything But Love)
This is a EDM-influenced pop song with a sophisticated flair, given by the strings and the waltzy bridges to the chorus. The lyrics are full of strength and confidence, powerful and direct. Acknowledging the uncertainties of life and love yet being upfront (no pun intended) with their feelings.
The title initially sparked comparisons to sister group Morning Musume and their song “Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai” (which is “helped” by the “rivalry” both groups have), but this has truly set itself apart. There’s a sense of power, of strength, a room to breathe within this track.
This MV, much like Otome no Gyakushuu and Nana Korobi Ya Oki, is set is a fancy mansion, complete with classy furnishings and architecture. Some scenes have the Crying Angels in a courtyard, illuminated by lights. Some have them in what looks like a chapel, almost like the one seen in the dream-like Peanut Butter Jelly Love.
The lighting is muted in places while illuminated befitting of a mystical mansion, adding to the mystique and elegance.
Elegance… this is what is oozing from this song and the idols singing this. This might as well be (one reason) this is (as of this writing) ANGERME’s best-selling single. This is also a big contender for favorite A-side, tied with Majokko Megu-chan (because I’m a hopeless Magical Girl nut).
That’s not to say the next A-side isn’t bad, it’s just… well, let’s just get into it before we get too distracted.
Namida Iro no Ketsui (Tear-Colored Decision)
This song is a touching ballad with lyrics full of sadness for the subject, yet with hope in that things will return to normalcy. This, combined with ballet-inspired “contemporary dance,” made many think of absent member Aikawa Maho (who is currently being treated for panic disorder, an explanation of which by clinical psychologist Dr. Heather Stone has been wonderfully provided by Zush). “The more you loved your dream, the more you suffered,” indeed.
The song expresses the hope that while Maho (or anyone else) is gone, they’re still in our hearts. While some fans were expressing fears that it was a prelude to a graduation, others brought on a perspective that might not have been considered: that mental illness is something that is still not entirely understood in Japan, not to mention the mental toll a stressful career can take on you. (The discussion regarding it on Newsroom Tokyo in the aftermath of an incident at an ad firm made that immensely clear for me.)
This song became extremely hard to listen to (nearly to the point that this post was delayed) in late July in the wake of Chester Bennington’s death. As I was working on this post (among some others) at the time, “Namida Iro no Ketsui” was one of the first things to come to mind for me. It’s silly, but that’s music for you, especially since Linkin Park was one reason this blog originally existed. (Indeed, if you don’t already know, the “Meteora” in the blog’s title originally referred to their second album.) The most tragic thing about it is that unlike Maho, Chester’s never coming back and the wait (and the “protection of that place”) is neverending.
To go on a bit of a tangent: Please, for the love of all things holy, cherish your idols/rockstars/etc while they are here. Graduations, hiatuses, and scandals sting, but there are always worse things that can happen. Also, take heed in that the stars that shine in our lives are still fragile human beings and it is that quality that makes them appeal to us — and yet makes them every bit as vulnerable as you and I. As of this writing, it hasn’t been six months since Matsuno Rina departed from this world and I need not go into the other idols that “graduated” from the mortal plane (it’s been 18 years last month since we lost Hiromi)….
At least we have the hope that Maho and her grand smile can return — and we’ll be waiting for her as long as it takes.
The MV is filmed in a facility in Nagara, Chiba. The outdoor scenes feature our girls in flowing, flower-like dresses that match the colors of the buildings, the leads (Murota Mizuki, Sasaki Rikako, and Kamikokuryou Moe) in pink and everyone else in yellow. The gowns are just as much a part of the dance as the idols themselves, especially when a small breeze billows through them. The Crying Angels look particulary majestic from above, where they look like flowers (hence why I said they’re “flower-like.” It was like watching my all-time favorite Disney movie again!).
The indoor scenes have theme in their blue promo outfits, befitting the calming (if wistful) tone. The close-up shots also have them in this look, matching its blue background beautifully. These scene also have somewhat blurred lights, very much like the indoor shots, that almost reminds me of a starry sky. (Don’t ask me why, probably because I have shooting stars on the brain. To help with the healing process, I’ve been plugging away at the comic.)
To add one more layer to this, there’s a floating, oversized tear that hovers near the girls. Towards the end, the Crying Angels reach out towards it, almost as if to touch (or hold/embrace in the case of Rikako and Kamiko). Leader Ayaka comes the closest to
popping touching it.
Such beauty… it’s almost magical…. Speaking of magical…
Majokko Megu-chan (Meg the Little Witch)
In contrast to the elegant “Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai” and the beautiful “Namido Iro no Ketsui,” the single takes a playful turn with its final third: a cover of Yoko Maekawa’s “Majokko Megu-chan,” the theme song to the classic 70s Magical Girl anime of the same name. Idols and Magical Girls have been a fact of life from the get-go, dating back to the likes of Creamy Mami (one of my favorite anime as a teen, I might add).
This was the requirement song for the Aidorusai 2017 ~Idol Matsuri~ event that the group is involved in, a role the group fulfilled two years ago with another classic MG anison cover (complete with witchy hijinks). Featuring lyrics that showcases the charms (no pun intended) of our heroine, detailing her ability to charm boys (and the listener) and that it’d be a mistake to doubt her overall abilities, it’s a fun counterpoint to the SRSNSS of the other two A-sides. As one Tweeter put it, it’s about “growing up.” (In the end, isn’t that what–like, I dunno–roughly 90% of Magical Girl fare is about in the end?) The somewhat racy lyrics, crafted from similar stock as Cutie Honey’s (even having the same original singer!), further adds to this sense of “maturity.”
In a way, it’s like the group itself, starting out at the cutie patooties known as S/mileage and evolving like Pokemon into the luscious songstresses as known as ANGERME.
Going with the sense of fun, the MV goes with a magically theatrical theme. The solo shots were originally in a messy room that is magically tidied by the end of the verse. One constant motif with the solo close-ups is having our Crying Angels in front of a mirror. One spotlight scene has our gals in a room with a candlelit room with cards (complete with a close-up shot of our gals at the faces). All through the MV, we see magic dust and funky bursts of colors and shapes, adding to the sheer fun of the MV.
Okay, I know I kept going on about the “sense of fun” that this MV has, but… the song (befitting its origin) has a cheeky playfulness that is well-suited to our Crying Angels (and any idol who tries their hand at performing this piece). Plus, after the seriousness of the past two A-sides, a fun piece is heavily welcomed here.
(I would like to remind people that sometime in Fall 2016, Oricon changed the rules of its reporting so if sales figures look a tad wonky, this is why. This is also why Oricon Rankings are placed in their own subsection as shown below.
All figures reported in this section are from the Hello! Project Wikia with the percentage and average mathematics done by moi.)
The Crying Angel Choir’s latest offering had a “total reported sales figure” of 46,437, 99.35% (46,135) of it from the first month, 97.12% (45,101) from the first week, and 60.65% (28,165) from the first day. It ranked #2 for Daily and #3 Weekly, #7 for June, averaging out to a mean rank of 4.
In Recochoku Music Video Rankings, the single achieved an average Daily Rank of 3 and Weekly Rank of 18. Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai achieved a Daily Rank of 2 and a Weekly Rank of 8. Likewise, Namida Iro no Ketsui’s respective ranks were 4 and 32 while Majokko Megu-chan’s are 3 and 14. The Monthly Rank for Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai is 63 while the ones for the other A-sides are currently unknown.
In “Other Chart Rankings,” the Crying Angel Choir’s mean peak position is 2. The highest position for the SoundScan Japan Single Sales was #2 with 54,590 . Similarly, the highest position on the Billboard JAPAN Top Singles Sales chart was #2 with 62,899. Hallelujah!
This single has been a powerhouse for a variety of reasons. From channeling strong elegance, bittersweet hope, and cheeky playfulness, this ANGERME single has something for everyone (which is much needed during this trying summer). As we head further into the future, let’s keep our loved ones in our hearts for no matter how far we come, let’s not wait to see tomorrow… with them.
Tune in next time as we feel the job hunting sensation with the Camellias… or be capable of ninjitsu with the Magnolias. Shalala! …But can I do it?
Until the Next One!
Don’t forget the Welcome ANGERME Project! Submissions close in late September!
Lovingly dedicated to Chester Bennington. We’ll never forget you.
Even if you’re not with us, we’re with you.