Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!
The summer’s been a rather… chaotic one. As mentioned in a previous post, practically every group in H!P had a lineup change by mid-July. Well, all except one: Tsubaki Factory. Yeah, Asakura Kiki’s on medical leave for her lumbar herniation, but the group’s pretty much unchanged otherwise. In the midst of all of these changes, it’s nice to see some form of stability. (Of course, this may be helped by the fact that they were in the middle of doing single promo work.)
So without further ado, let’s dig into Tsubaki Factory #2 (or #5 if you count the indies) and see where the Camellias have gone from here!
Shuukatsu Sensation (Job Hunting Sensation)
It’s a headbopping funkfest (a given since Nakajima Takui wrote and composed the song with DANCE*MAN doing the arrangement) whose subject matter is exactly what it says on the tin: job hunting. It’s quite a unique subject matter, especially among idols (though I hear the 48s thrive on doing subtle social commentary-type songs of this variety).
To show how the song’s topic and motif has caused a discussion, look no further than the following quotes:
“They should be dressed in school uniforms, they’re just kids! 14 years old singing about job hunting :D. Why are they trying to rob them of their youth?
I hate seeing these kids being forced into acting like adults.”
(In regards to the above, I would like to point out that the sole 14-year-old in the group at the time of the single’s release turned 15 just days afterward. Also, a little over half of the group is 17-18 years old at the time of said single release.)
“…they should make a song about school, not about work”
“They are just wearing costumes to match the theme of the song… calm yourself…
How would wearing suits for one single rob them of their youth?”
“You do realize that being an idol is a job so they are already in the workforce.”
True to the theme of the song, the MV illustrates Tsubaki Factory on the hunt. The video has a muted, almost bleak look to match the subject matter and the “feeling” it brings. It’s corporate, plain, and not flashy at all. While some complained about how “bland” and “dreary” it is, many more have pointed out that it’s part of the point: when going for a job (especially an office job), it’s not going to be sparkly. C’est la vie !
I must also be obligated to point out that some of the more nostalgic among us were reminded of Berryz Kobo’s “MADAYADE” MV, due to the similar office setting.
Going back to the Camellias for a bit…. Watching this MV, I couldn’t help but reminded of the many stories I heard on Newsroom Tokyo about Japan’s labor shortage. (I can see you tilting your head and raising your eyebrows because of the buttloads of idols on the market–and ex-idols “contributing to the population”–and I can see your view, but hear me out.) You see, due to the country’s low birth rate and shrinking population, this has created some real issues on the companies’ end. This combined with Japan’s “famously” lifelong corporate culture, made the task of finding hires all the more important. Some have turned to AI and even the international community to help fill in the gaps.
(I really wish I can provide some links to those stories, but the most I can find are the “main stories” of the program and… the topics vary a lot.)
…Don’t get your hopes up for a possible “Coconut Girls.” While the J-idol world is reflective of Japan as a whole (for the most part), there’s a reason our little scene is somewhat insulated (especially outside Japan).
I also can’t help but remember my own experiences with job hunting. Wearing sheen leggings and full-inch heels (I rarely go over half or one inch myself) in November (in New Jersey aka the Northeastern United States!)… Fun times! On top of that, add having to come home from rejection after rejection… moving on! Come on, everypony! Smile, smile, smile!
The song is an electronically influenced tune with an uplifting message for our troubled times. Life will throw you “rotten chocolate” and you are filled with pressure to be perfect. However, it’s important to keep your spirits up and not become too jaded.
I’m almost reminded of a piece I made for a zine last year. (I also needed to hear this song. It’s… strangely healing, in light of recent events.)
This MV… is a tad hard to describe. “Avant garde”? Artistic? Creative? 80s chic?
Actually, all of those can describe the MV. The camera effects, the scenes…. everything has this delightful weirdness to it that highlights the song.
Two YouTube comments hit the nail on the head better than I could:
“Wonderful. The MV looks like something from a classic Talking Heads or New Order clip from the 80’s. The song has a great message of smiling through the rough times and having hope. Risamaru, Kishimon and Maopin shine here, but then they all do. Tsubaki is nailing it right now.”
“As confused as I was about the video’s meaning, the MV was very aesthetically pleasing. If it was trying to portray modern art, I think it did a good job. The song was very good and it did show a very good message.”
Hana Moyou (The Flower Pattern)
This song is an EDM-influenced J-pop song that is along the vein of Hatsukoi Sunrise and Seishun Manmannaka. It’s pulsing with energy, but also full of a elegant lightness. The lyris speak of a girl who has a major crush, but is having trouble believing in that love. As a result, she turns to the classic “He loves me, he loves me not” game.
In some ways, given some of the lyrics, one can look at it as a follow-up of sorts to the aforementioned Hatsukoi Sunrise (what with saying the world is in “slow motion”) and Hitorijime (what with the line of “want[ing] you all to myself”). Tsubaki Factory’s songs in general speak to a blossoming girl whose heart is becoming in bloom. At the same time, she shows her innocence by playing flower games (something that is illustrated in the MV).
The MV is set in a white locale (that is giving me strange flashbacks to a Morning Musume ’15 vid as I look at it in recent days). I know you guys are far beyond sick of this whiteness. However, this actually helps the MV in making the standout object (the flowers) stand out. Okay, we have our girls in solo shots in various locations, holding flowers (and being surrounded by them! It is to the Camellias’ misfortune that I had watched–and finished–a legendary anime that is crammed with floral motifs. Heaven help us all if any of them end up wearing Rose Seal Rings).
On another note, said shots with flowers are possibly the most colorful parts of the MV. The dance shot has a cool lighting scheme that give them a natural yet washed out look. Granted, the dance shot is clearer than the hazy solo shots with the colors, but it’s very distinct. I didn’t even get into the monochromatic shots where the girls are deliberately deprived of color, causing our eyes to focus just as much on the colorful flowers (if not, more than) as the pensively pokerfaced idols.
Flowers are just a motif here, beginning and ending the MV. Heck, even the final pose the Camellias take is a flower! Zettai… Unmei… Mokushiroku!
(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.)
This single is in an interesting situation: it’s still charting! (It’s a given since it was released in late July, just days after the Haromageddon 2002 post went up.)
You know what that means… buy it now! Shut up and let UFA take your money!
As of August 6, the single had a total reported sales figure of 34,744 with Daily Figures being currently unknown. Its first-day Daily Rank and first-week Weekly Rank were #5 and the Monthly Ranking for the month of July is currently unknown.
In regards to Recochoku Music Video Rankings, the single achieved an average Daily Rank of 15.67 and Weekly Rank of 50.67 as of August 6. Shuukatsu Sensation achieved a Daily Rank of 13 and a Weekly Rank of 32, Waratte a Daily Rank of 19 and a Weekly Rank of 57, and Hana Moyou a Daily Rank of 15 and 63. The Monthly Rank is currently unknown.
In regards to “Other Chart Rankings,” the single achieved an average peak rank of 4.5 as of August 6. The single peaked at #4 on the SoundScan Japan Single Sales (with a figure of 55,042) and #5 on the Billboard JAPAN Top Singles Sales (with 59,280).
After their strong debut, the Camellias are off to a good start with their sophomore debut. In the midst of sweeping changes in H!P, Tsubaki Factory has provided fan with a oasis of stability and a triangle of amazing songs. (Of course, there’s the fact that Asakura Kiki is on medical leave, but still….) Since the single is still charting, we can only hope that the success will continue (which it may well be — for those who care about it, about 90% of a single’s sales come from the first week. There’s also fan engagement, which has been quite high).
Tune in next time as …we explore an unexpected duet from over the well.
Until the Next One!