Okay, so Song for the Date has to be one of my favorite songs of the year and definitely one of the best PVs I've seen in 2012. So for Mano Erina's graduation single, I couldn't figure how this follow-up could possibly top the awesomeness of Song for the Date. And unfortunately, it didn't.
I'm sorry, I get the feeling I'm going to be in the minority on this, but I do not like Mano Erina's graduation song. It just... I think I set the bar too high after Song for the Date was released. Three good A-sides in a row, rule of three, how could I possibly forget that? Next My Self exemplifies everything I disliked about Mano Erina's first singles and the biggest thing that I don't like about it is how lifeless it sounds. What I've loved about her past few singles is that they've sounded much more energetic and emotional but this is a complete 180 from that. To my ears, Mano just doesn't sound invested in the single, like she's got one foot in the recording studio and the other foot out the door already. And because she sounds like that to me that means that I also have little to no emotion toward the song. The song isn't bad; it's bland, even blander than Peaberry's Cabbage Hakusho. Then again, bad songs and bland songs aren't mutually exclusive. The chorus is kinda nice and the entire song has a pretty sound but will I ever listen to it again? No, absolutely not. If I want to listen to a song like this, she has plenty of other songs just like this one that are just as bland and have that same bland sound completely lacking in energy. Actually... maybe that's why this song is her graduation song. Maybe UFP wanted her last song to be a throwback to all the dull and boring songs she released earlier in her soloists career only with less piano and better improved vocals. The only difference between a song like this and one of Mano's earlier songs is that her voice sounds more developed. If you had asked me to chronologically arrange her singles with no prior knowledge of the dates, no way in hell would I put this song as her last single. It's a style of music that I don't enjoy and I feel terrible for being so harsh on this song because it's probably the last thing I'll review from Mano but I just... I can't BS my way through this post and give a glowing review and pretend I'm happy-go-lucky about this being her last song.
I think what bothers me is that this is not the best I've heard from Mano Erina; she can do so much better but since this is her last single, we're never going to hear how much better she can do. This is her last hurrah and I hate that it leaves little to no impression on me. With Ai and Gaki's graduation songs, I felt genuinely sad that they were leaving but here? Nothing. I would have loved to switch this song and Song for the Date around because in my opinion that is a far superior song to this one. I don't know, maybe the lyrics make vague references to her graduating and focusing on herself next instead of being an idol but unless a magical idol god grants me the ability to insta-translate Japanese, I have no idea. And even if the lyrics are deep and meaningful, good lyrics don't always make the song good. True, they can help but in this case the lyrics do squat for Next My Self. I just... this hurts, this really hurts to write such a harsh criticism of Mano's last A-side but I'm not reviewing this as a graduation song; I'm reviewing as a song. Which means I'm looking at it the same way I'd look at it if this wasn't a graduation single. And as a song alone, this does not stand out to me and I think it's an incredible step-back in Mano's music discography. I don't know what's wrong with me; maybe I have the an extra strand of DNA that causes me to loathe songs of this nature no matter how hard I try to like it. I've tried to like it, I really have. I've listened to it several times but no matter what, I can't bring myself to like this song. I wanted a song that would make me feel sad and emotional about Mano graduating, something heartfelt and a memorable last hurrah for the one soloist in Hello! Project. But no, I got this and I'm thoroughly disappointed that this is the last thing I'm probably going to hear from the Mano as we know her.
Well... maybe the PV will be more interesting for me.
Take a good long look at that song title Mano, this is the last impression you're leaving me with.
I'm perfectly okay with that, Nia. Everyone else but you likes this song so quit being a special snowflake and like it already!
Remind me again, is Mano graduating or getting married?
Well hello there, random schoolgirls! It would have been cool if those girls were H!P Kenshuusei as a throwback to Mano's old PVs where she used them as backup dancers.
...As someone brought up on the emphasis of stranger danger, I don't trust that van in the background.
I'll bet those are secret agents for AKB48 trying to find a replacement for Acchan!
Wow, these fans are like stalkers; they pop up everywhere and follow Mano around!
Behold: the last known picture of Mano the Idol.
It's a Mano dance party in the suburbs! Woo hoo!
Or I guess it's a mime party... either one works!
What's that you see? Is it Miyamoto Karin running as fast as her little legs can carry her to swipe your soloist position in H!P?
Nice flannel, Mano. Maybe she's joining a group of hipsters after her graduation!
I don't know why but I find a pair of dancing construction workers to be absolutely hilarious.
So that's how they involved the fan club. Until now, I really thought the backup dancers were the members selected from the fan club...
Notice how there's only one girl you can see in the fan club.
Mano, stop being so adorable! It's easier for me to dislike this song that way!
Don't fight it, Nia. Looooove this song. Loooooove it!
Oh hai, title drop!
By the way, what happened to the lighting? Did someone piss on the closeup halfway through editing?
And there goes everyone to join Miyamoto Karin's fan club.
How in the hell is she running in high heels?
Okay, that is a really cute little effect but I still don't like the song, Mano.
So Mano's next self involves flannel. Okay then!
All right, I'm glad that I decided to take some time off between ranting about the song and screencapping and reviewing the PV. When I first watched the PV, I think I was too underwhelmed and infuriated by the blandness of the song to really watch the PV. Hence my first reaction was that. However, after screencapping and watching the PV, it's endeared itself to me more than before so... eugh, you get points for a sweet PV, Mano. But let me make one thing clear: Song for the Date is still a gazillion times better and more interesting and I still wish that it had been her last single. I can tolerate this though and over time I might even find myself liking it. The PV is definitely one the simpler ones that UFP has released and doesn't have anywhere near as much variety as some of Mano's past singles. Normally, that would work against the video but in place of that variety you get a bunch of different people! The way the PV is done is essentially one continuous shot that consists of Mano dancing to the song with all these people such as schoolgirls, secret agents (no, I refuse to believe they're business people), construction workers, random civilians. I think it's UFP's way of showing that anyone and everyone can like Mano Erina no matter what age, gender, occupation ,etc! I thought that was cute although I really did think those backup dancers were members of her fan club at first... But I liked the random people; they added a quirky and fun element to the PV! Mano herself was also nice to watch in the video. You can also tell that Mano on-screen personality has definitely changed from some of her earlier PVs; she seems a lot more comfortable and genuine in this PV than her earlier ones. It's kind of nice to see Mano just being... Mano! Albeit she's not the most interesting idol out there but her sweet personality really shines in the PV!
There's also the inclusion of the fan club. I was a little curious as to how the fan club would be incorporated into the PV and just how much of the fan club would be in it. When I saw the PV, they pretty much make up the back of the PV and normally a horde of cheering people would have faded into the background for me but here they didn't! I think that was because they were all wearing bright, fire-engine red t-shirts... smart move on UFP's part! My favorite part is at the end where the form a giant sign made up of little signs that spell out the song's title; it was a simple but sweet and affectionate goodbye to Mano Erina! Another thing I liked about the end of this PV was as Mano the Idol, clad in a white fancy-schmancy idol dress ran out of the shot, Mano the Person came in. It was a nice way of showing that Mano was leaving her idol career behind to move on to a life of simply being herself and... enjoying life! It was yet another sweet little element added to the PV; in fact, this entire video came off as a very sweet and heartwarming little goodbye from Mano to her fans. Did it make me cry? Bwahaha, no. It didn't have that much of an impact on me, although watching the PV did make me a little sad that H!P's last soloist is going to be gone in a few months. So... overall for a graduation PV, it works pretty well. However, as a PV... this is pretty nice to watch but like I said, I've seen better. I do still wish they had gone for something a little more interesting like having Mano play the piano she's so known for or maybe some throwbacks to her old PVs but still. This is not a bad PV and it makes the song a little more bearable for me. That doesn't mean I like the song but somewhere in my cold, bitter special snowflake heart maybe I can enjoy this song.
I'll be nice and give this song an extra half-apple for being her last song. The song really isn't interesting to me but the PV is nice enough to watch. It's also a nice little goodbye to all the fans who supported her during her time as an idol. I wish Mano Erina the best in whatever endeavors she embarks on after Hello! Project. Now when the fuck is Miyamoto Karin debuting?