Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Perfume's Spring of Life and Death

Warning: Copious amounts of fangirling are in this review.

I've been waiting for this.

I mean... isn't it obvious? My wallpaper is the Spring of Life promo. For the past few months (actually... pretty much ever since I started this blog) I've been stating over and over again that I think Perfume is in a rut. As much as I adore the group, their music hasn't exactly been... so mind-blowingly super that I've felt the urge to swim across the pacific ocean and buy their music myself. Or something like that. Don't me wrong, their music's still been pretty awesome! Fake It, Fushizen na Girl, and 575 are some of my favorite Perfume songs! But it just feels like there isn't nearly as much... quirkiness in their music nowadays. It's still fun and very techno but it's also much more marketable, something that I think is bringing down their creativity. I don't want to say everything sounds the same because it totally doesn't but there's nothing that really stand out to me. Gone are the days of 8 minute songs of hardcore techno like edge and closest thing we've gotten to a "different" song is Toki no Hari from JPN but that's not the kind of different I had in mind... It just doesn't have the same kind of "life" it used to have back in the GAME era. Something about the overall energy and feel behind the music just seems tired out and almost... lifeless. Anyways, with the release of JPN I really did enjoy the album but Triangle and GAME still trump that and by this point I was getting a little ready for something with a little more energy to it.

Then Perfume switched labels. And from then on I think things have started to get progressively better! Not only did Perfume get a global website (in English!!) they also released JPN in over 50 countries on iTunes (including the USA!!) and there's even been a few hints at performing somewhere outside of Japan! How cool would that be? I'm not really getting my hopes up for that last one but I've definitely felt like there's been a general change in Perfume's promotion! With Tokuma they felt more cut-off; I couldn't buy their songs on iTunes and it was pretty accepted that they'd pretty much stay in Japan. But with talks of doing something more global it makes me excited! I think the move to Universal Music Japan has been a smart move in their career and I'm hoping their new music will have a little more life in it, if you know what I mean... which brings me to their first single under UMJ: Spring of Life. And dammit, the title fits perfectly for this song; I think this is the most energy I've heard in a Perfume song in a long time. Even when the opening starts I can just feel a lot more effort behind it! That's what makes this song such a strong debut for Perfume under UMJ: it's like it symbolizes the "rebirth" of Perfume (which explains the Spring of Life title) and matches the feelings most of Perfume's fans had when the group switched labels: joy. The most prominent emotion in this song is the sheer joy behind the instrumentals and the vocals. The bridge is my favorite part of the song because of how we get a brief taste of edgy-Perfume then transition right back into the joyful tone of the song! The chorus is amazing, the verses provide a nice contrasts, and overall the song left me feeling fantastic that would hear more awesome music from Perfume under UMJ!

But the best part about Perfume other than their music, personalities, and outfits is their music videos. So let's gush over the 40+ screencaps I did of the PV!!

Start us off futuristic robot thingy!

I swear they're like little dolls of perfection!!

In the making of, it's really neat how these were hooked on and made their clothes light up!

Oh cool! A shout-out to their new global website!

How To Make A Nocchi-Bot 101!

And a K-1000!

The more I look at these shots, they look very... painful.

Nocchi Stare!

She did that in Secret Secret too!!

These light-up clothes are awesome. I can't begin to describe how much I love these outfits!

And I love the dance too because it has all the signature Perfume moves but still distinguishes itself from the others!

This a fun move to watch in motion... I'd be lying if I said I didn't do it with them...

Wouldn't it be great if all idol groups danced like Perfume? Actually the more I think about it no. Perfume is Perfume. Only they can pull this off.

And only they could pull off light up dresses without it coming off as tacky or annoying!

With no sheep to imitate all Nocchi can do is stare off into space...

Basic Table Etiquette with A-chan!

I love this set; it's like a distopia and the brightness of Kashiyuka contrasts with it!

I get it! It's a "life in a bubble" concept! By the way those light-up nails are really awesome. I want those too.

What happened to the light up nails?

Aww, don't be sad Nocchi! You have lots of international fans!

I wonder if Target would ever sell light-up dresses. Pretty please?

A-chan discovers the mysterious thing called love...

I wish my computer pulled up error messages like that! How awesome would that be!?

All you need is love! All you need is love, love!

Weird edits... but cool!

Remember: Kashiyuka is watching you. 

Love the lighting in this shot, I wished they used it more!

One day the Perfume Robot Dance is going to catch on! I just know it!

I think I just found a new background for my desktop...

Perfume supports teamwork and light-up dresses? Aren't they amazing?

The things I'd do for a phone call from Perfume...

Kashiyuka! You don't need lipstick! You look pretty already!

"YES! We finally escaped from Tokuma!"

Could I get one of these to do my right so it doesn't look like a kindergarten art project?

Nocchi's such a boss she has robots do nails for her!

Off they go to take over the world with laser beams and light-up dresses! I'm all for it!

Classic Perfume dance move.

A-chan seems a little nervous to what exactly Nocchi's doing behind her...

Nocchi unplugged the power!? Bad Nocchi!

No power!?


Did they just... die!?

I'll talk about the symbolic death later because we have much more symbolic symbolism to tackle first! My favorite part about this PV is that it matches the song well and still manages to be a lot of fun! You can definitely see a prominent "life/death" or "humanity/artificiality" theme throughout the PV especially in the way Perfume moves throughout the shots. The beginning shots are very stiff and robotic, portraying the group like little robots/androids. They're connected to what I assume is giving them power through a series of wires hooked up to their backs. The wires are also what make their clothes light up with "energy" which by the way is the coolest effect I have ever seen from Perfume and makes the dance shot one of the best moments in the PV. So Perfume dances around slowly learning to perform the functions of everyday humans. But as they do that a change comes over them. They start to discover what humans feel like love (the hearts that frequently appear throughout the PV), sadness (the single tear down Nocchi's cheek), happiness (A-chan animatedly talking on the phone), beauty (Kashiyuka applying makeup) etc. As this happens, there movements become more fluid and human-like to the point that these Perfume androids have almost become real people. But the wires connecting them to power are a cruel reminder that everything is only ruse for them to hide behind. However, they don't realize that and as they skip happily through the place of their creation, Nocchi unplugs A-chan resulting in their formerly luminescent clothes going dark and the girls going still. The screen shuts off and the viewer is left with nothing but the emptiness that although the little Perfume-bots tried to embrace humanity their efforts only lead to their deaths.

Well. That's a little morbid.

But that's what makes this PV so amazing!! After a lot of thinking (and reading a lot of interpretations on Perfume City) I think this is meant to symbolize Perfume's role in the music industry and their restriction on creativity because of how much fame they've achieved. A common thing you see in the music industry is when an artist starts to get famous, they usually try to keep the public appeal but in doing so, fans complain "they've gone too mainstream" or "their new music is nothing compared to when they weren't so famous". In my opinion, I think Perfume's music is still pretty amazing but I have come across fans who've lamented what they call their "commercial decline." I think the PV captures perfectly their position as a techno group and what their management expects from them: to make money. By keeping with their old style represented by them as robots, it shows how Perfume is stuck in the rut I frequently mention. But when they become increasingly human and break out of the system they were trained to keep up with, it shows their transition to dabble a little in something more creative. However, in the end their attempts at being individual with their music lead to nothing when they lose power which brings up a question: is this all Perfume can ever be? These beautiful singers restricted to the robotic patterns that sell so well? And would trying something a bit riskier only lead in them "shutting down?" Who knows? But I love this PV. Some more technical elements I enjoy are the light-up outfits and I always look forward to the Perfume dances and their simple yet complicated choreography. The lighting is also nice and there's some great acting from A-chan, Nocchi, and Kashiyuka!

Seriously. Watch it. Or Polyrhythm. Or Electro World. Or leave right now before I get too fan-girly...


  1. I love that song and the video were so great, maybe that sad Nocchi with the tear in her cheek made me a bit sad, lol ><
    I couldn't have thought that about the pv, I really find very interesting your interpretation about it, and now that i think about what you said i can only agree with it.
    I read before in some article that the director of the video wanted to reflect his view of Perfume with the robotic theme just as you said... despite of the marketing and those thing I think that there are more of them beyond Perfume, let's see how they surprise us in the future :)

    1. I adore the Spring of Life video! It's so sad and the effects are amazing and the theme itself is so poignant and well-explored!