Monday, November 26, 2012

Time Capsule Reviews: Monochrome Effect

Hey, fellow bloggers, do you ever just sometimes sit at your computer and think, "Wow, what in the hell am I supposed to write about?" 

I know I've been doing that for the past few days. I mean, the Eien Pressure PV hasn't been released yet, same goes for Berryz Koubou's Want! PV, my editorial drafts are coming along and there's pretty much nothing else to talk about in terms of new releases. I've already gushed over Perfume's release announcement as much as I can gush over it at the moment but I swear once I write about Perfume I just want to talk more about them. That's pretty much the first symptom of my Perfumania and I know it's going to be some time before we get full details about Mirai no Museum so what was I supposed to do? Then Chiima reviewed Chocolate Disco and Secret Secret and that only made me want to review something by Perfume even more. That was when I realized that hey, just because they hadn't released anything current didn't mean I couldn't review one of their older PVs! I love talking about Perfume and I don't get much of a chance to review their stuff since they don't release music/PVs as frequently as other idol groups I talk about on the website. With nothing to review by them, I can only go back in time and review their older music! That's how I came up with the term "Time Capsule Review" because it's something from the past that I'm reviewing! But the question still was what could I review from Perfume's older music? I couldn't decide so I combined my love of writing with my love of arts and crafts and I wrote down all the names of Perfume PVs I hadn't reviewed on little slips of paper and tossed them into a hat! Then I shook the hat up and with much flare and gusto I drew out Perfume's 2nd single, Monochrome Effect!

And you thought I was joking.

So hop in my DeLorean and we'll drive back to 2004 when Perfume was still a little indie idol group!

Ah, indies Perfume. Honestly, if I wanted to introduce someone to Perfume and get them interested in their music, I wouldn't show them any of their indies material. Okay, I might show them Vitamin Drop but that definitely wouldn't be the first taste of Perfume they received! The problem with Perfume's indies singles is that although they're still techno they're vastly different from the music you'd hear from them today. You'd never hear songs like edge or Fake It from indies!Perfume along with a lot of the experimentation you hear in their post-major label music. Before the group was picked up by a major label, all of their music was essentially idol music with a techno twist. Other than the techno, there's nothing groundbreaking or mind-blowing to hear in these indies singles Does that mean their indies music was bad? Not necessarily but none of Perfume's indies songs hold a candle to songs like 575, Polyrhythm, love the world, Butterfly, etc. The nice thing about listening to Perfume's indies though is that they give you a good idea of how much Perfume has evolved and their transition from idols to artists. Before debuting under a major label, the music of Perfume was sweet and adorable and sometimes that worked and sometimes it really didn't. My biggest problem with Perfume's old indies music is that it can get really... annoying. Look, I'm the kind of person who has a very low tolerance for hyper-cute songs that can sound diabetically sweet and a lot of Perfume's indies music fit that kind of sound to a T. Now there are also some current songs that can get on my nerves too but still. If I'm in the right mood, then I guess I could jam to indies Perfume but they have more interesting and impressive songs that I can spend all my time listening to those! See what I did there with the words and the... anyways.

Now for Monochrome Effect I find it to be one of the better songs from Perfume's indie era but it's still probably my least favorite A-side of the three that were released. A little interesting fact about this song is that this was the first time a Perfume song was used for overseas media. Yep, long before Polyrhythm was blasting in the Cars 2 movie, Monochrome Effect was used in an episode of this Western cartoon called American Dad. As someone who doesn't really give a shit about "adult cartoons" I know absolutely nothing about this show other than the obvious but I did watch the clip featuring Perfume! From what I can gather this lady travels to the future and there's this robot who plays Perfume in his future car and describes the song "Japanese funk from the future." And then they travel around in the future listening to it. So I can't help but wonder how the guy who does that show found such an obscure group but he must have seen something worth of substance in Monochrome Effect! He was probably just looking for weird, cute and futuristic J-pop and that song pretty much embodies weird, cute and futuristic J-pop! My favorite part is probably the 8-bit opening because it's really catchy and fun but after that I feel like the song just goes downhill. It's a cute enough song and it has that techno sound Perfume would have in their future songs but it's really lacking in energy. To me, the chorus kind of drags and verses aren't much better. I think it's one of those songs you have to be in the mood for, because I know that when I'm in the right mood I love listening to this song! Overall, the song is okay but once again, it pales in comparison to their songs released after majorly debuting. I mean honestly Monochrome Effect isn't much to me as a song other than a nostalgic look at the younger Perfume. For that, I can give Perfume a free pass on the mediocrity of this song; if you want to see how older Perfume sounded then, this is definitely one of the better songs to check out!

Speaking of nostalgia, there's nothing more nostalgic than looking at the PV for Monochrome Effect!

Nice to see the logo hasn't changed and I love the little rainbow characters for the title!

Look at them! They're so adorable with their adorable little dance moves and bows and everything!

And wow, look at that crappy CGI. This is bad even by 2004 standards...

Kashiyuka, your driving is crap and you're terrible navigator, Nocchi! Why am I in the back anyways!?

Remember the days when Nocchi had hair that actually went past her ears?

And look at Kashiyuka's forehead! I haven't seen that in ages!

It's a monochrome shot! Get it? Because it's black and... yeah, you got it.

Oh, I love A-chan's hair so much in this shot! It's so retro!

Speaking of retro, I guess Perfume time traveled back to the 70s now!

Wow guys, this is so much fun! But... who's driving the time-traveling fish?

I've always loved this set; the moving skyscrapers in the background just make it so cool and fun!

I don't see much need for a hair change but A-chan's hair looks cute in this shot too so I won't complain!

Agh, I can't get over how adorable they are!


Hee hee, it's funny because we really can't play instruments!

Those teeny little platforms they're standing on are really high up... what'll happen if they fall!?

Okay, who made Kashiyuka the driver? She clearly isn't fit to pilot a time-traveling fish!

Oh, Nocchi, I love you. On the other hand I'm amazed that they haven't crashed yet!

I'm happy, Perfume's happy, Mr. Moon's happy, everyone's happy!

Nocchi and the Supremes - 1964

That's right! Wave to your future thousands of adoring fans, Perfume! They'll be there in just a few years!

#1 Rule of Perfume: don't diss A-chan or she will cut you!

That look on Nocchi's face is priceless! You can tell she's on to Kashiyuka's devious schemes!

So what kind of fish is that anyways? A salmon? A shark? A cross between the two?

Wow, that really is terrible CGI!

I forgot how cute this dance was; I wish Perfume would perform this live again!

So what have I learned from re-watching this PV? A-chan, Nocchi and Kashiyuka are Time Lords.

And the time-traveling fish is their Tardis.

So I think I figured out why Perfume wasn't selling so well back in their indies days! It wasn't due to lack of promotion! It was because they were too busy traveling around as Time Lords in the fish equivalent of a Tardis through space and time trying to save the world! And then they got famous somehow and I guess someone else travels around in the Tardis-Fish now.

Oh man, I got all nostalgic inside from just screencapping this PV. It's just so much fun to look at old Perfume and their low-budget PVs filled with bad CGI! Speaking of that, the CGI was probably the highlight of the video for me! I think it's because I've been spoiled with Pixar and Dream Works but oh my god, sometimes I forget how terrible CGI can be. Just look at that fish! Its eyes look like lifeless orbs ready to suck out your soul! And the water, oh my god, that doesn't even look like water; it looks like a really bad screen saver! This CGI is so terrible and I love it for being so terrible! Bad CGI is always something I can either point and laugh at in good humor or something that will drive me berserk and make me really pissed off. I think the oldness of this PV is what makes me enjoy the bad CGI so much, kind of like that same enjoyment I get from watching really old science fiction B-movies. Besides, this CGI is relevant to the very loose plot of the PV! Despite the bad CGI, you can tell that Perfume is traveling through a sea of clocks indicating that they're traveling through time in a giant pink fish. It doesn't make sense but it still makes for a lot of fun to watch! This is why you get the two retro scenes; in the black and white shot, I'd say Perfume traveled back to the 60s and in the psychedelic and colorful shot, it's pretty obvious the group time-traveled to the 70s! Now why did they do this? I don't know, because time traveling sounds like a lot of fun and if Perfume had the chance to do it they'd go back to the 60s and 70s? I think it would have been cool if the PV showed more shots from different decades but considering the small budget Perfume most likely had being an indie group, I can see why there are so little shots. Besides, the concept of time-traveling alone makes for a fun and nonsensical PV on its own; just look at Doctor Who!

What makes this PV so enjoyable for me is mostly looking at it through nostalgia goggles; it's amazing that Perfume went from being such an obscure group to one of the most influential girl groups in J-pop history. And in the PV you can really tell how much Perfume has changed in terms of style, music, dancing, everything. Speaking of the dance, I'd forgotten how cute it was even if it's not the most elaborate or complex dance from Perfume! Of course, some things have changed for the better like those... interesting hair styles the girls got! Yeah, the outfits aren't the best from Perfume but they've had worse; believe me they'd had worse! Something else that's nice about this PV are the scenes where the girls are just interacting with each other. You can really see the natural chemistry that the three members of Perfume have in this PV, especially when they're traveling around in that giant pink fish. You can tell that the girls like each other and they bounce off one another really well with their emotions and reactions. Something you don't get a lot from Perfume PVs is the girls just being themselves; I'm not saying that's a bad thing but when you do see that, it's really sweet to watch! It's nice seeing that the relationship they had way back in 2004 is just as strong now too. The Monochrome Effect PV doesn't have half the budget of their PVs now and that cheapness shows at times but overall it's an adorable PV with a fun concept of time traveling! It's entertaining because the girls of Perfume are comfortable enough on camera to make it entertaining! And even if this PV isn't really your thing, it still gives you a glimpse of how Perfume used to be and how much they've changed over time!

I'll give it three apples out of five. I have to say I'm glad I drew Monochrome Effect from my magical hat! I haven't really looked at this song since I binged on Perfume back in 2008 and even if the song isn't one of my favorites from Perfume, reviewing it was still a lot of fun!

And what do you know, the minute I finish this review, the PV for Want! pops up on the Berryz channel! See? Perfume always brings about good news! Now away I go to hop on my writing fish and start that review!

No comments:

Post a Comment