Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Airline Trilogy

I think I've found a new group.

Okay, correction: I've found an old group that I've known about for awhile now and said group just so happened to peak my interest this year. That group is none other than the stewardess-themed idol group known as Passpo. The group's main schtick is airplanes and travel, a concept that could either be extremely entertaining or so boring you want to bang your head against a chalkboard. The weird thing I really have known about them for a long time now, even since their debut yet I didn't really know them. I know that they are the first (and currently only) idol group to debut at number one on the Oricon charts. I even listened to the debut song but for some reason I can't remember what it sounded like. Maybe it didn't stick out to me. So after that celebration was over, predictably Passpo sort of faded into obscurity for me being overshadowed by bigger groups like AKB48 and even smaller group like Tokyo Girls' Style and BiS. And Perfume. But Perfume overshadows everything. I knew that the group was still around releasing new singles; plenty of blogs wrote glowing reviews about them but I just... forgot about them I suppose. I didn't know many of their singles and barely listened to them; even now I'm still foggy on which girl's which in this group. They were always one of those groups I told myself I'd listen to someday but that "someday" would probably never come around. 

Then the Airline Trilogy came along and everything changed.

Before I start get too deep into my newfound love of Passpo, the Airline Trilogy consists of three singles, each with their own rock-ish style to them, the first being Next flight followed by Natsuzora Hanabi and finally the most recent single, Wing. Way back in June I'd thought about reviewing Next flight but that was around the time I was really busy with school/extracurriculars/summer stuff and didn't get back to blogging until mid-July. By the time I was ready to write about them they'd released another song to add to what I already had to review. I always like to keep my reviews current; if I don't get around to reviewing something in a month, I usually drop it off my to-do list. It prevents me from post-hoarding. So every time I cleaned out my drafts box, Passpo ended up being in the delete pile because I simply had other endeavors I wanted to look at. I did want to look further at them but I also wanted to look at Spending all my time, One Two Three, Gingham Check, you get the picture. Why should I put time into a group I may or may not like? Well, I have finally decided to sit down and give this group the long delayed love I just realized they deserved. Originally, I was going to only review Wing but as I started that review, I realized I really wanted to talk about the other two songs that made up the Airline Trilogy. Hence I have decided to incorporate three reviews into one (which took forever by the way) using my love of incredibly lame puns to jam every single airplane pun I can into these reviews! I'll review the PV and the song like usual only with three times more screencaps and three times more writing. So grab your carry-on and get ready for take-off because we're flying into the world of Passpo!

Stage 1 - Boarding

Before the Airline Trilogy, I did attempt to get into Passpo with their previous single, Kimi wo Boku no Suki ni Naru by attempting a PV review but I just couldn't get through it. The song wasn't bad but I couldn't remember it for the life of me and the accompanying video didn't peak my interest either. Well... the outfits did remind me of the ones Perfume used for their Pepsi Nex commercial but that's beside the point! Eventually, I just gave up and moved on to other things I was more interested, perfectly content to forget about Passpo. I didn't hear much from them until around June when my blogger friend Chiima posted a review of their next song on her own blog. She had positive reception toward the single and from the screen caps, the PV looked fairly interesting so I thought I'd try once again to give this group a go and see if they would fuel my interest. You know, like fueling a plane! Ha. Yeah, I'd better stop making plane jokes and get on with the actual review...

The concept for Next flight was "LA metal" a genre that I was familiar with but didn't actively listen to. It made me think of hard rock but I highly doubted that an idol group like Passpo would do something like that.   Honestly, I had not idea what they were doing in the first place until I saw the PV review... But when I did hear the song, I definitely got a strong vibe of rock. It made me want to make a rock sign and go "ROCK ON AIRPLANES!!!" Except I didn't because I do have a shred of dignity! But this is one of those songs that really makes you want to get up and do stuff, really cool stuff that makes you look like a badass! Like if I were running through a Russian bomb mine carrying the cure for cancer, Alzheimer's, and STDs and I had the chance to pick what song I wanted to run to, it would be Next flight. From the opening note, it felt like all this hidden energy I'd never known I had inside me just burst out! For a little over three minutes, I could feel like the coolest person in the world! Of course then the song ended and all those feelings kind of lingered, still there but not as imminent. Oh well, that lasting impression the song made on me combined with the equally badass PV was what really got me interested in Passpo. The rock sounds in the song were some of the hardest I'd heard that year, so much that it bordered on being actual rock instead of pop. And the vocals actually match really nicely with the hardcore tone of the song! I really like whoever sang in this song, they have really great voices. Everyone sounds really good in the chorus too, very united and determined. I wouldn't be surprised if this was one of those "Do your best!" songs in the vein of River or Beginner by AKB48. Overall, Next flight is a really cool song that sets itself apart from a lot of the other idol songs I've heard this simply because of how well the LA metal style is pulled off. Or LA rock. Whatever style they were going for worked really well for them!

So the song was cool enough for me. But do you know what made it even cooler? The PV.

I like their logo! It's cute and looks like something you'd see for a plane company!

Somehow they managed to make bright pink stewardess outfits look sexy and badass. How!?

The band helps add to the badassery; in fact, aren't they from actual bands? I think I've seen that guitarist in Nine Inch Nails...

HOLY SHIT! Is that... Risako? She's like Risako if she had a good voice and didn't constantly pout! Dreams do come true!!

If only Momoko from Berryz could do pigtails like this. Then I might not want to rip them out so badly... okay, okay back to Passpo!

I love their skirts but the wind blows them everywhere in this PV! It's probably just fanservice but still!

No matter what kind of dance, I always approve of high karate-style kicks!

I found out this is Ai, the group captain!

I never thought pigtails and the color pink together could look sexy. I was wrong.

I have no idea who you are but you look very 50s-ish in this shot so I like you!

Oh hell, since I don't any of the personalities in this group, I like all of them at this point in time!

Stewardess-themed idols UNITE!

Did I mention the dance is awesome? It incorporates flying-plane dances and doesn't make it look stupid or childish! They look polished and badass!

See? Really well done, badass dance move!

I wonder if these band players were just approached by Passpo's managers and asked "Hey, do you mind playing your instruments for this Japanese girl group's music video themed around airplanes?"

I love the stickers on their shirts; I wish I could get a closer look at them!

I think I'm gonna like Risako 2.0. Now I need to figure who she really is so I can stop calling her that...

Wait a minute... is she a front girl? YES! Another front girl I can add to the ones I'm okay with!

I wonder where they shot this and how the hell they obtained so many planes...

Seriously, look at all of those planes! What kind of airport just happens to have ten airplanes lying around not being used!?

Do you know what pointing upward reminds me of?


My love for the color pink has gone up so much thanks to this PV.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's- oh wait, it actually is a plane.

Take a bow, Passpo! You totally deserve applause for this!

Somehow they made the color pink look cool. And not just any shade of pink, Pepto Bismal pink, my least favorite shade of pink! How did they do it!? Wait, I know: with good lighting and camera shots. But this was a surprisingly cool PV considering what little material is in it. Basically, it's nine girls in pink stewardess uniforms dancing under planes accompanied by a band. That sounds even more boring than Team B's discography but I really liked this PV! Enough to catch my attention and look further into the group anyways! What I think worked so well to this video's advantage was the stylizing; whoever made this PV managed to craft the atmosphere the girls were in to match the tone of the song. The PV looks gritty but not too gritty. Mainly it's the band and the scenery that make the PV look gritty! The dusty, barren wasteland-esque background works for the song; it really makes the PV seem very empty and expansive but in a good way! The band itself looks pretty hardcore too but I think I would have liked the PV just a little better if they weren't featured. They look a little awkward in contrast to the adorable, pink-clad idols dancing in the PV. Alone, they look pretty cool but when you put those two different types of artists (idols and rockers) into one video, it's bound to look a little awkward. With the exception of Scandal since they're both idols and rockers! It's not really much of a complaint but I'd probably be a little more peeved if I knew who was who in this group by now! Then I'd probably notice how X member got less screen time than the random guitarist/bassist/drummer and proceed to get spun up about that! Oh, the joys of not being able to figure out who the front girls are yet!

Actually, I think I may have an idea of who's who in this PV, mainly because they got solos. Like Negishi Ai has long, wavy hair and bangs and she's the captain who likes Mizuki Nana! That gets points in my favorites agenda! And there's also this other girl who has this face that makes her look exactly like Risako. It is so eerie because she sounds much better than the screechy Risako! I think that resemblance is what made her stand out for me in this PV, that and her good voice! I don't know much about her yet, but I think I'm going to like her and she appears to be a front girl so yay! I can add her to the front girls I'm okay with! Honestly, everyone looks really, really good in this PV especially considering the outfits. Okay, the outfits really are quite awesome, especially when they're dancing and posing in them; dare I say they look hot? Who would ever think you could make pink stewardess uniforms look hot? But they do! All the girls really seem to know how to work Pepto Bismal pink! Something I can't say for Buono... The PV is essentially a dance PV with a few pretty cool close-ups and band shots thrown in here and there. Luckily, the lack of variety worked well for Passpo because they had a really strong dance to back up the PV. The dance alone was enough to pique my interest in this group! What I noticed is despite the rock, the dance is really fluid and graceful like ballet! Only not... but who needs ballet? I don't! I am completely happy with Passpo's dance, thank you very much! It was filled with kicks and varying formations and badass gestures and it does wonders for those outfits! This PV overall just... oozes coolness. Everything is done with such coolness it makes me envy how cool everyone looks! The PV could have been boring but it totally wasn't! It entertained me and was my first look at Passpo!

I'm gonna give this one five apples out of five! Next!

Stage 2 - Taking Off

Okay, Next flight is a really tough act to follow. Could Passpo's next song in The Airline Trilogy pull it off? I was a little nervous about that; it's always been sort of a habit for me to look at the negative side of things. Like if a really awesome single comes out then I can't help but think "Yeah, it's great but the next one probably won't be anywhere as near as good as this one..." For their next song, Natsuzora Hanabi, the theme was Japanese punk and... what the hell do I know about Japanese punk? The closest thing I can conjure in my mind is Buono! and they're pop-rock at their most hardcore. I have no idea which is probably for the better so I won't compare this song to actual Japanese punk. I was thinking the song would either be so crazy it was awesome or turn out to be one hot mess. Much to my surprise, it was neither but I still like the song a lot! Maybe not as much as Next flight but I still like that it has a distinct sound that separates itself from the first song in the trilogy. When the song first played, what I immediately noticed was the use of more... traditional instrumentals? I don't know how to describe it but... you know who in every movie that features Japan they always have that music? The kind that uses that instrument that sounds like a string instrument I just can't quite put my finger on? Just go watch Kill Bill or something and you'll hear what I'm talking about. But anyways, the song incorporates that kind of music along with a little bit of rock in it too but not anywhere near as much as Next flight did. In fact, Natsuzora Hanabi is probably the most pop-sounding of The Airline Trilogy. It's instrumentals are much more toned down and lighter than the other two songs and the general feel of the song itself is much more lighthearted. I guess that works since it seems like a more summery single to me.

I've read that a lot of people find this song to be the weakest in the trilogy, and I can't say I disagree. But Next flight and Wing both set the bar incredibly high that Natsuzora Hanabi was bound to slump a little. It was a safe, summery song that didn't experiment terribly much. It is my least favorite song in the trilogy but that's like saying Twinkle Snow Powdery Snow is my least favorite track on the Game album. The album is so fucking amazing that even the song that doesn't appeal to me as much as the other is still good. What I think makes me like this song is that it separates itself from Next flight. The genre it lands in may not be new territory for the group but that doesn't mean the song is bad! Do I feel like they could have done more with the Japanese punk theme? Yeah, they definitely could have experimented but for what the end product was, I'm not particularly disappointed. In fact, I've found myself to be enjoying this song very much! I like the high energy of the chorus a lot and once again, the instrumentals stand out to me from the rock sound of Next flight! So maybe it's a little too safe for some people's tastes but I like it because it's still a fun song! I can easily dance and hum to it so it can't be that terrible! Other than that, there's not much you can say about Natsuzora Hanabi other than that but I think you'll either love or hate it. Or just not care about it! Like I said, it's the weakest song in the trilogy but it's really not that bad compared to some of the other idol songs out there. Like Yurushite Nyan.

So how does the PV hold up?

Cute outfits! I like that they're color coded so I can tell who's who!

And I like that they incorporated fans into the dance!

I really love the whole dance in general; it flows so smoothly with the song!

Risako 2.0 is hiding from the real Risako!

Thanks to color coded outfits, I now know that Risako 2.0's real name is Shiori! Mori Shiori to be exact!

I found out Ai is a fan of Mizuki Nana so that gets points for classy taste in my book!

Wow, I completely didn't notice those random guys playing instruments in the background until now!

They've turned into cranes! Cranes!

I was beginning to wonder how they were going to incorporate something airplane-related in the PV. Luggage, of course!

So that's why it takes so long for my luggage to get back to me at the airport!

Oh no! They've been turned into punks! 

Cute pigtails! You must have used a barrel of hairspray to get them that way!

Hardcore Risako 2.0 Miori is awesome.

I have no idea where the hell they are but I'd like to think they're jamming in the cargo port of an airplane!

Wow, that must be a really big stage to fit nine girls with nine wired microphones on it and a band!

Eh... who exactly said falling into a pool with tons of eye makeup on was a good idea again?

Oh well, a long as they're having fun!

Thanks to this PV, I've really become a huge fan of the group. Get it? Fan? Oh, I'm pathetic ._.

And it ends with Okunaka Makoto gesturing you to buy their music!

Okay, this PV wasn't as cool as Next flight... but it wasn't bad! The dance was on the same level of quality as Next flight but I like that this one had more... traditional moves? I'm not sure how it's traditional but it has fans in it! Fans are traditional, right? Kind of? Meh, I don't know but I still liked this dance a lot! What really made it cool was the use of the fans, like I said before! The girls hide behind the fans, wave them around without looking like spazzes, and even fan themselves with them! I also like that the fans were color coded with each member so I can get a better idea of who's who! Like I get the feeling the girl named Matsui Mio has a thing for those funky pigtails that don't look like pigtails; she had them in Next flight too. They're kinda cool, cooler than Momochi's pigtails anyways. Once again, I like the costuming in this PV for the dance shots although they feel more sailor themed than stewardess themed. I guess Passpo doesn't always have to dress up as stewardesses but isn't that kind of their schtick? Oh well, they do get around to throwing in an airplane reference in the PV by throwing luggage...? I guess that's supposed to represent their rejection of the stewardess outfits? Or maybe their luggage got switched at the airport and their throwing it in frustration? I feel like I could make a gazillion airport jokes out of that scene, especially since I live in post-2001 USA. I guess I was just surprised at the lack of airplane related things in this PV but I still liked the area the dance shot was filmed in! It looks like an old Japanese temple or something along those lines, something old and traditional! And they even have another backup band for this PV, albeit they get a lot less focus and I can barely see them in the dance shot. Not that I mind since I would much rather look at the pretty dance!

Now the dance shot isn't the only shot in this PV; this was has a little more variety than Next flight! But I actually don't think it works very well for Natsuzora Hanabi. You see, the other shot has the girls dressed up like punks, jamming in [insert abandoned building here] and then cuts to them falling into pools in slow motion. Yeah. I'm not gonna lie, it feels more like something Brand-new Idol Society would do except they would fall into a pool of BLOOD!!! AND DARKNESS! Oh, I love joking about that group; as for Passpo I feel like these shots don't really work them. For one thing, the song is much more upbeat and... not punkish. I know the song is categorized as Japanese punk but even then I feel like the scenes where they're actually dressed as punks don't work with the PV. It just feels like two different PVs crammed into one instead of one PV with a cohesive theme; that's why Next flight worked so well. The PV didn't have much but it did have a steady concept and look that it stuck too. This PV is kind of all over the place when it comes to that. The dance looks graceful and pretty yet the other shots look gritty and a little awkward. And were they falling into pools anyways? Did the producers just run out of ideas? Don't get me wrong, the girls look like they're having a lot of fun but it's just as random as the punk-shots in general. These shots aren't even bad; they just don't work with the rest of the PV and the song. I wonder if there's a version of the PV with just the dance shot because I think the PV would look better to me! So yeah, unfortunately this PV doesn't draw me in as much as Next flight did but it still has a very well-done dance and a nice song too!

I'll give it four out of five apples. Onward to the final song!

Stage 3 - Flying

German metal? I'll roll with it.

Not that I've ever listened to German metal or German music in general... except for 99 Luftballons! That song is awesome! But it's also irrelevant to the song I'm reviewing; still, it makes for a nice comparison to get a good idea of what German rock is! For Passpo's final single in the Airline Trilogy, Wing, the concept they were taking on was German metal. and you can't deny that's a rather specific and obscure genre! Now I was pretty certain that Passpo wouldn't be doing actual metal since Next flight wasn't anywhere near metal but I did wonder what they would do with Wing. Would it lean toward the darker, more rockish sound of Next flight or the lighter and softer Natsuzora Hanabi? After all, the single was being released in October, the month of darkness. They could take it in all sorts of dark directions! Now this song didn't take me by surprise like the other two; I'd known it was coming out and was actively looking forward to it and hoping it wouldn't disappoint! Once the song was finally released, I unfortunately didn't find myself feeling so strongly about it as the other two... Just kidding, I loved the song! I mean wow, I'm pretty certain this isn't what German metal sounds like but for an idol song it's pretty cool! The song definitely has a dark tone to it with a good deal of percussion instrumentals (do I hear some organs in there?) and the instrumental itself is... smoother than Next flight. That's a good way to put it! It's still on the same level of rock that Next flight has but it still has a distinct sound that separates Wing from Next flight. The big thing is the instrumentals; if Next flight and Wing were instruments, Next flight would be a guitar and Wing would be a piano. Dare I say that I just might like Wing a teensy bit better than Next flight? I shall dare!

What I like about this song is that it's more soft rock than hard rock and easier on my ears. It's still got a lot of rock elements in it but there's a nice balance between the rock instrumental and the vocals of the song. Speaking of vocals, I really love the chorus in this song! It just creeps into your head until you don't realize you've been humming it for the past day! I just wish it was longer... The entire vocal composition matches the instrumental really well and I like the arrangement! The vocals of the girls themselves are nice too! I've noticed with Passpo that on the idol scale of pitches (a scale that ranges from DiVA to Watarirouka 7), Passpo hits right about in the middle and their songs have a variety of pitches that work well with each song. So for a dark song like Wing, their vocals are deeper than usual but not terribly deep. I heard some solos too and I'm really liking Shiori's voice! She's like Risako if she sounded good and didn't constantly pout all the time! And yeah, everyone else who has solos sounds nice too; if only I could figure out who's who... Maybe I'll just give them all nicknames and slowly distinguish them the more I follow them! Well, as long as they can blend nicely to deliver some really strong songs, I'm okay with not knowing! So yeah, I think this song was a great way to end The Airline Trilogy, even if it isn't really German metal. Funny enough, now I have this strange urge to look up German metal just to hear what the hell it sounds like. I imagine it's... interesting to say the least! As for now, Wing is my Halloween jam along with Next flight and Natsuzora Hanabi!

Now this was released in October; you know I was expecting a Halloween PV. Lucky for me, that is exactly what I got!

Gee, fangs in the opening title? I'll bet this PV is about mermaids!

So is this what your average German stewardess would wear?

Ooh, a church! Very Gothic, I like it a lot! So what's Passpo doing in a church, praying for good sales?

Okay! This is Ai, the captain, right? I'm trying to see if I can figure out who's who in this PV. Please correct me if I'm wrong though...

Ring around the Passpo, pockets full of... airplanes?

They really have a thing for circle formations, don't they?

Don't tell me who this girl is! She's... Makita Sako?

Okay, I don't know who the girl next to the girl who may-or-may-not be Makoto but holy crap, she is tall!

All right, this girl is... Matsui Mio? I'm just going by the pigtails.

I swear every dance I see from these girls, I love! They're so graceful!

Hi there, Mr. Vampire Backup Band Member... where are you going?

Stranger danger, Mio! LEARN IT!

Remember kids, if a stranger tries to bite you in a way that doesn't feel right, that's no good!

Why did they hire vampires to be the backup band anyways?

See? If Mio had followed the stranger danger policy, this never would have happened!

Wow, she looks surprisingly okay with having her humanity stolen away from her!

This vampire story is a more compelling than Twilight!

I mean seriously, this is getting sensual!

Finally! Someone who actually looks like she's in pain because biting really hurts.

Okay, really? How is that supposed to be effective!? This is just cannibalism now! IDOL cannibalism!

Hey, wait a minute... isn't that water?

I love Shiori's face in this shot. It's like "Da hell? Why you chompin' on my neck?"

Oh man alive, the look on her face makes me laugh so much!

WEEPING ANGEL! Don'tblinkdon'tblinkdon'tblink...


Okay. This PV just reached awesome for me.

I mean, how could you not love this!? They freaking VAMPIRES! And not the sparkly kind either!

I'd buy this love story more than Edward and Bella's!

Yeah! Throw those capes away because... because... I don't know, it looks cool!

I like that I'm ending October reviewing a Halloween PV! I'm just happy that Passpo released a Halloween themed PV! Well, actually I guess it's a vampire themed PV but what the hell? Vampires are Halloween-y! Yeah, the vampires are pretty much what sold the PV for me! This is a really cool PV, not as cool as Next flight but cool in a different kind of way! I admit the PV can get a little silly at times, especially with some of the strange facials the girls pull (mainly Shiori). There's also the sheer absurdity of the situation: who in the hell would hire a vampire band? It's not like they're hiding their fangs or anything so the girls must have known they were vampires! Did they just assume that because of Twilight, all vampires were sexy, brooding tortured souls in need of love and compassion? Stupid Twilight, skewering the image of vampires. Well, Passpo paid the price! I like that Passpo doesn't take the vampire concept really seriously but everyone looks really good as vampires! I kind of like the messy hair and make-up; it's not often you see that look from clean and polished idols! And the capes, the capes!! I love capes, especially vampire capes! They make anyone look automatically cool! The PV has a very Gothic setting and air about it, with the stained glass church and the sheer vastness of the setting for the dance shot! I wonder if this is how churches look in Germany; surely they do! No matter how German or not German this PV is, I really love it and I'm happy to be ending October reviewing this!

Wing bounces back from Natsuzora Hanabi with five apples out of five!

Stage 4 - Landing

And so that concludes the incredibly lengthy triple-PV review of The Airline Trilogy and oh my god, this took forever to do! But it was worth it because I got something out of it! So what have I gained from this experience? A new idol group to follow. That's always good! Three new songs to enjoy. I really do love each of these three songs; The Airline Trilogy as a whole is just a really, really good series of singles. Each single has its own distinct style that are also unique from what you hear from the typical idol group. I'm really happy that I looked further into this group! I like their theme, their dances, their PVs, and I love the style that The Airline Trilogy had. It was a daring idea and it worked perfectly for Passpo! With that, I can absolutely give The Airline Trilogy five beautiful apples out of five.

I don't know what their follow-up is going to be after this or if it'll even hold a candle to these past three songs but whatever happens, I will be eagerly watching and eagerly waiting. Don't disappoint me, Passpo.