Monday, February 18, 2013

Exploring the Museum of the Future

Much like Dante emerged from Hell and into a tranquil sea of stars, I shall emerge from the fanservice of Sexy PV Week and into a PV review of the glorious Trinity that is Perfume! Okay, maybe calling Perfume the Trinity is a bit of a exaggeration... especially considering all the backlash their recent single has been getting.

I mean Jesus tap-dancing Christ, the reception for Mirai no Museum has been even more negative than Spending all my time! And unlike SAMT, it doesn't look like Mirai no Museum is growing on a lot of people. I don't even remember songs like Kasuka na Kaori or Voice getting this much poor reception despite being in the same tone and style as Mirai no Museum. So yes, my readers, I'm afraid that we're left with the second bummer song in a row from Perfume... or are we? After all, does Nia, the super-massive overenthusiastic Perfume fangirl, agree with a lot of other people and think this song sucks? Well... I don't mind it. Something I want to make absolutely clear before I delve to far into my review is that Mirai no Museum is not my favorite Perfume song and isn't even close to my favorite song. Hell, I wouldn't even put it in my top 40 Perfume songs. But on the other hand, I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as so many other people are making it out to be. Anyways, fans have known about Mirai no Museum for awhile because back in November, Perfume announced that they would be providing a song for an upcoming movie of the Doraemon franchise.

Who is Doraemon? He's a very popular children's icon, kind of a Mickey Mouse character. Perfume providing a song for the new Doraemon movie was great and all but would it be a good song that still sounded like a Perfume song and not some half-assed tie-in? According to many fans, no it is not. One of the biggest characteristics of Mirai no Museum is that it is light. Like really light. Like lighter-than-JPN light. I thought Perfume couldn't get any lighter than Point but hey, I guess Mirai no Museum proved me wrong! It's also a very cutesy-sounding song, much like Communication only less staccato-sounding but not as flowy as Point. Yes, this song has the lightness of Point and the cuteness of Communication and with those two song styles combined, you get a very lighthearted, idol-y song. Having listened to the full song, Mirai no Museum sounds a lot like Voice to me but I think I like Mirai no Museum a teensy bit better. But I had the same reaction to MnM that I did to Voice; I didn't love either song, but they're both okay songs to me and sound pretty nice, albeit very bland.

I think I'm in the small minority that doesn't actually mind the way this song sounds. In fact, I'm actually really surprised at my lukewarm reaction to this song; I should hate it. I really should. Yes, what baffles me about Mirai no Museum so much is that it should be a song that I dislike. It's an incredibly bland song and you know how I feel about bland songs. It's unimaginative, lacks experimentation and creativity, and honestly sounds more like an idol song than a Perfume song. This should piss me off; this should get me ranting and raging about the creative decline of Perfume music but for some reason, it doesn't. I think the reason why I'm not flipping my shit about the blandness about Mirai no Museum is that... this genre of music isn't new for Perfume. Okay, Mirai no Museum is basically idol music; I could easily switch Perfume out with some run-of-the-mill idol group like Dorothy Little Happy and this song would fit said idol group.

I think that's one of the reasons why so many people dislike this song, especially because Perfume is such a mature group. In fact, most people don't even consider them idol anymore so for them to release such a cute, idol-y song does feel a bit like a cruel mood whiplash and a complete and total 180 on the group's maturation. But something that I keep in mind about Mirai no Museum is that... Perfume's done idol music before. Hell, their indies discography is pretty much idol music; even a few of their first major-label songs were pretty idol-y. It's not like idol music is a completely different direction for Perfume; they've handled it before and knowing that for some reason prevents me from flipping my shit over how idol-y Mirai no Museum sounds. And then there's the other big factor: Doraemon. Mirai no Museum was written for Doraemon. Mirai no Museum wasn't written and recorded and then the Doraemon producers asked to use the song. Much like many of Perfume's commercial tie-ins, Mirai no Museum was written with the content of the tie-in in my mind: a kid's movie. Mirai no Museum is basically a kid's song. It has a very cute and safe melody along with childish vocals and lyrics that fit perfectly with the childish nature of the Doraemon franchise.

Now with that in mind, this song still could have been a good song. There have been plenty of kickass songs made for children's films that still stood out as good songs. I think the fact that this is such a half-assed effort for a childish franchise is why so many people don't like this song. And the one thing I am upset about is that this is a song that squeezes most creativity out of Nakata because he's constrained by the theme of the tie-in. It's like with Kirin promotions all over again. Take Hurly Burly. Awesome as that song was, the lyrics obviously showed it was meant for a tie-in. And there have been a lot of Perfume songs lately written with tie-ins in mind and Mirai no Museum is just one of their less stellar tie-ins. If anything, the only thing that upsets me about this entire fiasco is that Perfume keeps getting tie-ins. I mean, I'm happy that they're successful enough to be offered promotional opportunities but there's a point where you have to throttle back.

Even though I've said many a time how I'm not fond of Spending all my time, that was a Perfume song that had no tie-in and that was very refreshing. I guess what I'm trying to say is I wish that Nakata would just write Perfume songs for the sake of writing good Perfume songs. Nowadays I feel like he puts more time and effort into Kyarypamyupamyu and Perfume is just this side project he throws something to every few months or so. Like Kyary's new song Ninjari Bang Bang? That song kicks ass and I love that it kicks ass but I find it ironic that her song has more flavor and zest to it than Perfume's new song. The contrast in creativity of both songs makes me feel like Nakata's losing his creativity for Perfume songs and throwing it into Kyary's new music. Nothing against Kyary, just a personal feeling of mine. So overall, Mirai no Museum is a bland song, a really cutesy and bland song that fits perfectly with the Doraemon movie. Whilst personally I don't mind it, don't be surprised if you don't like it. It's not Perfume's worst but it sure isn't their best either.

But hey, just because the song is mediocre doesn't mean the PV has to be mediocre too! Perfume always tends to have some really creative PVs, especially some of their more recent PVs! Surely Mirai no Museum has a fun and creative PV to help improve the song right? Right!? Let's check the PV out.

Yeah, I really hope you like Doraemon-style animation because there's a lot of it in this PV.

Our story begins in the home of Doc Brown- I mean P-ta!

So because you can't really follow the PV without knowing what they're saying, I'll put the rough translations at the bottom of each screencap (courtesy to Perfume City's K-10 for translations).

Old P-ta: Why... Why has this happened... 

Old P-ta: My life wasn't supposed to be like this... 

Wait, wait I know this little wire thingies... could this be going where I think it's going?

Old P-ta: With things the way they are, there's no other choice but to go back to the past and change my future!

IT'S PERFUME!!! Glorious, light-up dresses, Spring of Life-era Perfume!!!

So this is what happened to Perfume after their shutdown in Spring of Life...

And now it's up to old P-ta to send Perfume into the past!

Pity he doesn't have a kickass Delorean that can travel through time...

Old P-ta: I'm counting on you, Perfume.

And away they go into the past via some funky sci-fi animation!!!

Yay! I'm happy that we're now looking at live-action Perfume in lieu of animated Perfume!

Young P-ta: Who are you!?

Kashiyuka: We are the humanoid robots Perfume who have come from the future.

Nocchi: You are still missing something important.

A-chan: Now, come to search for it with us!

But before they can begin their journey, Perfume has to go through a costume change!

Because let's be honest, you can't go on an adventure without cute detective outfits!

Narnia may have a magical wardrobe but Perfume has magical stairs that appear from nowhere!

I do like the integration of cartoon scenery and live-action people in this PV. Makes me think of Roger Rabbit in reverse!

So I take it this is the Museum of the Future... but wait a minute, wouldn't it be the Museum of the Past?

Wow, think of all the fans who would kill to be in the same position as P-ta right now...

Not gonna lie, the giant manga-styled eye is kinda creepy...

Young P-ta: Was it there?

Kashiyuka: There's nothing...

I love how the kid's like "GIANT LIPS! RUN AWAY!!!" and A-chan just looks fascinated!

A-chan: Hey, pull yourself together!!

Eye wallpaper? Interesting decor... it feels like I'm in a Scooby-Doo episode!

It even has Scooby-doo trap doors!

That's one long and trippy trap door to fall through...

Oh no! A giant, menacing mummy!

Never fear! A-chan is here to save the day with her... giant arm-rocket? AWESOME!

I guess the Nocchi Stare is now a thing. Sweet!

This is so awesome I shall deem it... the Nocchi Beam!

Oh hey, isn't that some of the hand choreography from Spending all my time...?

Wow! The Spending all my time dance moves can destroy monsters!

Ohhhh shit... that's a big monster.

NOOOOOOO!!! Perfume's been turned into STONE!

Oh come on kid, you have to save Perfume! Grow a pair and defeat that monster!

Young P-ta: What should I do... This is too much for me. I'm scared...

Nocchi: P-ta-kun! Can you hear us?

Kashiyuka: There's a big sword right beside you. 

A-chan: You can do it. You'll be able to save us. 

A-chan: Come on, summon your courage!

By the Power of Gray Skull... YOU HAVE THE POWER!!!

Nice job kid! Maybe you're not such a wimp after all!

Yay! Perfume's alive again!!

A-chan: Thank you, P-ta-kun. We'll be going back now.

Young P-ta: What!? But we still haven't found what we were looking for yet.

Nocchi: No. You've already found it.

Kashiyuka: Nothing is missing at all.

P-ta: Wait a minute!

I guess if I'd just gone on a fantastical adventure with Perfume, I'd snap a pic for the memory too!

Wow! With the help of Perfume future P-ta became a successful person with a hygienic beard!

Nice throwback to the single's cover art!

Speaking of cover art, that's the Limited Edition cover of the single! Does this mean it comes with the comic book!?

Okay, first thing I have to point out: young P-ta looks creepy. I'm sorry but the mask that he wears just looks like something out a horror movie. The frozen expression, the lack of eyes, the unmoving head, it gives me the shivers! He looks fine when he's animated but man the live-action P-ta is going to haunt me in my sleep for tonight! Speaking of P-ta, let's talk about this little guy because he's actually pretty important to the storyline of this PV! So one thing I automatically like about this PV is that it has a storyline; I've found that storylines are rare in PVs, especially idol PVs, so for Perfume to have such a clear, follow-able storyline is nice! Okay, the story's a little bit more difficult to follow if you don't know what the people in it are saying but with a proper translation, I think you'll find it's a pretty simple story. Think of it as like... Back to the Future only with Perfume! This really does have the same core plot of back to the future; someone goes back in time and changes the past. In doing so, the lives of people in the future are improved. Well, when you add more details to both the movie and this PV, the more different they become but they have the same concept!

The story of Mirai no Museum takes place in not-too-distant future next Sunday A.D. and focuses on an old scientist named P-ta who kind of looks like a hobo. He laments over how decrepit and squalid his life has become and realizes that the only way to change his future is to change his past. So out from beneath an old sheet he unveils the Perfume androids from Spring of Life and send them back in time to the past when he was just a little boy. Back in the past, Perfume tells the confused and scared young P-ta that they're here to help him find "something important" that will be the key into making his future better. He embarks with the techno trio on a series of misadventures through a mysterious Museum of the Future in which the girls defend him from monsters and he cowers behind them. Only when Perfume is turned to stone by a giant monster does he finally summon the courage to stand up for himself. He defeats the monster with a giant sword and the girls go back to the future. In the future, a better-looking and more successful P-ta happily reflects on his adventure with Perfume. The end.

 Some story, huh? Overall, the storyline in Mirai no Museum is pretty simple to follow but it does leave me with a few questions. Like why were there so many monsters after young P-ta? And furthermore, how long had those monsters been terrorizing him? Were they the sole factor in making him have such a bad future life? And why did old P-ta have possession of Perfume after Spring of Life? Was he the one who built them and was trying to train them in the Spring of Life PV? When they shut down, did he simply just give up on them for awhile, only to bring them back out to send into the past? Honestly, I would love to see just a little backstory of the time gap between Spring of Life and Mirai no Museum to see just exactly what happened to the Perfume androids! On the subject of Spring of Life, the Mirai no Museum PV not only continues the story of Spring of Life during the beginning but also contains a few small references to Spending all my time's PV! During the scenes where Perfume fights the monsters and defends P-ta, some of the fighting moves they do might seem a little familiar to Perfume fans because they were part of the choreography for Spending all my time!

Yet that bring up another question from me as to where and when the plot of Spending all my time fit into this PV. Was Perfume in that room practicing those dance moves for the sake of fighting monsters? After all, that PV did show them possessing telekinetic powers and it showed them being locked either in or out of a room. Was SAMT Perfume like a prototype of Spring of Life Perfume? Or were the Spring of Life android based on the real Perfume shown in Spending all my time for the sake of duplicating the abilities real Perfume had? Is that why Perfume was shown practicing their powers? Or am I just completely overthinking this and the director just want a few cute little throwbacks to Spring of Life and Spending all my time? That's probably the case... Anyways, I'm kind of iffy on the throwbacks. On one hand, it is kind of cool to have Mirai no Museum tie into SAMT and Spring of Life but was it really necessary? I kind of liked that SAMT and Spring of Life's plotlines and symbolized were tinted with mystery.

As for the rest of the plot of Mirai no Museum, it seems like a very kid-friendly, Doraemon-esque story. It involves time travel, cute animation, monsters that don't look terribly menacing and has a kid-friendly lesson at the end about standing up for yourself. In that sense, the childish tone and feel of Mirai no Museum matches perfectly with the song and matches the feel of the Doraemon franchise. However, just because the PV matches Doraemon doesn't mean that everyone's going to like it. If you're looking for a PV that makes the song sound better, Mirai no Museum isn't really the best PV to do that. With Voice and Spending all my time, those PVs were both so well done that their respective songs just grew on me. With Mirai no Museum's PV, I pretty much have the same lukewarm reaction to it that I did the song. It's cute and everything but honestly not my favorite PV. If anything, the PV reminds me of Love the world because it was shot in black and white and Vitamin Drop because it's a very cartoon-y PV.

By the way, I hope you enjoy the style of the Doraemon animation because the animation in this PV is very childish and in that same Doraemon style. Don't expect Studio Ghibli-levels of quality animation. Still, the animation is simple and childish and I do like that the PV is told like a manga with comic-book sound effects and little speech and thought bubbles. The PV has a clear start and clear ending and seeing Perfume is just enjoyable on its own. Of course, it is a bit of a bummer that Perfume doesn't do any dancing in this PV since they have some really kickass choreography, but I don't really think a dance would successfully fit with the rest of the PV. It'd just feel out of place. So if you like the style of Doraemon and you like animated PVs, I think you'll find Mirai no Museum to be enjoyable. Nothing groundbreaking, but a pretty cute and kid-friendly PV. You know what's ironic? Chiima and I were talking about what the Mirai no Museum was going to look like and she "Oh hey, what if it's a cartoon PV?" and I was like "No way! Perfume said they were shooting the PV so it can't be a cartoon PV!" Well, one extremely cartoon-y PV later I was very, very wrong! Still, Mirai no Museum is a decent PV but not my favorite... just like the song!

Yay! I get to use the traditional Apple Rating System again! And on said system, I will give Mirai no Museum three apples out of five. It's a pretty generous rating but personally, I liked the song and I think the PV was cute. Both match the tone of the Doraemon franchise. However, I hope this tie-in is just a one time thing because Mirai no Museum is an incredibly mediocre and bland song. Again, a lot of people aren't going to like it and you yourself probably won't like this song either. Perfume can and has done much more creative and much more interesting songs. Seriously, I have a whole list of totally awesome Perfume songs. Anyways, I'm actually surprised at how calmly and rationally I'm reacting to Mirai no Museum since I was so upset when Spending all my time came out. Oh well, I'm going to wait for Perfume's next single and/or album and hope that it has more spice than Mirai no Museum!



    Fanboying aside, it's great that you're ok with that song, and I'm ok too since there's that nostalgic feel in the genre; it reminds me of indie days (although I never grew up with those songs :P). Although most hate had come from dislike of the song's lightness, the other end criticised their submission to commercialism (Doraemon; nobody said the same for Hurly Burly; perhaps they were too distracted by the awesome upbeatness to notice).

    I did mention in my earlier comment on your 'Least favourite Perfume Songs' post (if you didn't read it) of the Doraemon references in the PV. Like you said, it's easy to understand and very kid-friendly. The PV is probably the most straightforward out of their other PVs along with the lack of coreography (word has it that they're rehearsing it now :3 ). This is my first time getting a fresh LE copy of any of their singles, so I'll get to watch A~chan's pout on repeat XD.

    1. I KNOW!!! I knew the first thing I reviewed post-Sexy PV Week would TOTALLY be Perfume! Now I just have to wait until the full single comes out to review that too... A-chan's pout is adorable! Then again, she's adorable doing just about anything but aw;egih;awigh her pout is super adorable!

      Mirai no Museum is kind of a nostalgic song and I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as everyone's making it out to be. And it sounds very much like their inde-era music (an era that was before my time as a Perfume fan too). As for commercialism, I do feel like Perfume's been doing way too many tie-ins lately, but like you said, no none complained about Hurly Burly despiting it being a blatant tie-in. But that song was pretty awesome...

      I actually wished I knew a little more about the Doraemon franchise so I could figure out a few more references to it in the PV. From what I can tell it's very Doraemon-esque and even kid friendly with animation and a moral at the end. I'm looking forward to seeing the dance a lot! Oooh, if you're getting LE, let me know if it comes with a comic booklet that they show in the PV!

  2. A nice review! I don't know but I don't think it's that bad of a song - for an anime. It's still pretty cute with an adorable dance (as Perfume always has). Still hoping the next song will be as good as Spice or 575 which I loved.

    1. Thank you! For an anime, song it is pretty decent but Perfume can do better. I can't wait to see the dance though! Perfume's always got awesome dances! I'm hoping that Daijobanai is a 575/Spice style song or just something more serious! But since it's only 3 minutes, I don't want to get my hopes up too much...