Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cherry Blossoms Bloom in Passpo's New Single

Wow, the last time I reviewed anything by Passpo was way back in October! What the hell has happened to them since then? Well... I thought about reviewing the album they released back in November but I was preoccupied with other reviews and posts. Besides, that album fifteen flipping tracks on it; my album review are long enough and that one would have taken forever to review! Still, I wanted to review something by Passpo so I decided to wait until their next single was announced! And lo and behold, January came along and Passpo announced their new Sakura-themed single titled what else? Sakura Komachi! Don't you just love those Sakura-themed singles with the word "sakura" in them? The short PV for the title track was released in late January and when the full PV came out in February, I almost thought about doing a PV review. But after watching the entire PV and concluding that I couldn't generate enough substance to make a PV review, I decided to wait out for the entire single to be released and review that! Besides, reviewing the A-side and B-side of Passpo's newest single can help me get further into them! So enough blabbering about what could have been; let's take a look at Sakura Komachi!


First of all, I really love how Passpo's singles are travel-themed. I mean, like they're literally travel-themed. Instead of having the usual Limited A, Regular A, etc. Passpo's got the First Class Edition, Business Edition, and Economic Edition which is the equivalent of the regular version of the average idol single. The other two contain DVD features like the PV or a different version of said PV or another miscellaneous-type video. I think it's a really creative way to market a single and it helps add to the airplane-theme Passpo's got going on! Of course, the irony is that I think the covers are more plane-themed than Sakura Komachi's actual PV! But I digress. The First Class and Economic Editions have the most obvious plane motifs, particularly First Class. It just shows the girls standing in front of an airplane looking cute and stuff. Then the Economic Edition just has them standing on a plane runway which I admit is a pretty cool effect since the background feels much less constrained than in the other two editions. And then Business Class just shows them posing in front of what looks like air vents... because planes have vents on them? Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out how Business Class relates to airplanes and travel but it still looks nice. 

The only thing I would change about all three covers is that I would remove the gratuitous, multicolored little polka dots. They look really forced and take away from the feel of the covers; if the covers were more... whimsical they might work. But here they look awkward. Now as for the outfits for this song, I really love them. I'm noticing a pattern in Passpo's single costumes in that their outfits consist of a girlish-looking dress cinched at the waist with a fluffy petticoat underneath. They look really good whenever the girls twirl! Even standing still, the outfits still look good and they look flattering on each girl. They're not the most creative outfits in the world but the little touches like the pillbox hats and black bows do give the outfits a nice retro feel. They're not my favorite Passpo outfits but they're pretty cute and let's be honest, I've seen far worse idol costumes to be complaining too much about these!

Sakura Komachi

So you all know what praise I heaped upon Next flight, Natsuzora Hanabi, and Wing aka the three singles that made up The Airline Trilogy. They're a great and diverse collection of songs and the last thing I said about it was that I really hoped Passpo's follow-up was good. I wasn't really expecting it to be as good as Wing or Next flight but maybe something at least half-decent. I was just hoping that whatever single came after Wing didn't suck. As a result, my expectation were pretty low but not terribly low; I still wanted a good song! So Sakura Komachi was announced and upon finding out it was a Sakura-themed single, I was a little hesitant. Sakura-themed songs have always been very hit-or-miss for me, especially the slower-paced songs and ballads. Luckily, a ballad Sakura Komachi is not! Far from a ballad actually! Yep, Sakura Komachi is an upbeat, rock-ish song that continues in that rock-pop style that got me into Passpo! I actually feel like this song has grown on me a lot since I first heard; on my first listen, I thought Sakura Komachi was pretty good but then I promptly forgot about it. But every time I listen to this song, it sticks in my head longer and I've even found myself humming it! I think the biggest positive of Sakura Komachi is the chorus; I love the chorus in this song. Mainly because of the note transition into sharps (I'm talking about sheet music terminology). It's kind of shocking to hear at first because it sounds like such a sharp contrast from the beginning of the chorus but at the same time it's freaking awesome. I love that little transition into sharp; it's got to be my favorite part of the song! And then the rest of the song is pretty nice too; the verses sound good and instrumental has some nice guitar chords. Is Sakura Komachi as good as The Airline Trilogy? Not quite but it comes pretty close and it's a great follow-up to that collection of singles!

There isn't too much to the music video which is why I didn't do a PV review of Sakura Komachi. It consists of your typical dance shot with some nice close-ups thrown in. Funny thing is, for a Sakura single, this song really doesn't use cherry blossoms that much in the PV save for two parts. Scattered throughout the PV are various close-ups of each girl wrapped in a sheet with cherry blossoms falling around her. Nice as the scene looks, it's a bit of contrast to the happy and jumpy dance scenes and upbeat music with the faded pink tinting and wistful expressions on the girl's faces. Again, the shots don't look bad but they just feel a bit shoehorned in to the PV. I think they might be related to the lyrics of the song but until I can find a translation of Sakura Komachi, the only reason I can see that these close-ups were included because they add Sakura-ness to the PV! Other than that, the rest of the PV looks good even if it is your run-of-the-mill idol PV. My favorite aspect of the PV is how Passpo's costumes look when they're dancing; in fact, that's something I've noticed that I really like about their recent PVs. The way their costumes are styled just look really good when they're in motion; they look good standing still too but man, I love watching the dance in this PV. Passpo always has some very good-looking dances mainly because their choreography has this flow to it and the girls always make their dances look so easy, regardless of the actual difficulty. Something else I couldn't help but notice about the area the dance was shot in is that it reminded me of the dance area of Perfume's Glitter PV but it's a pretty simple set so I'm sure it's been done in a lot of PVs. Other than that, the PV's well shot and all the girls look good thanks to flattering angles and a pretty dance. I'm sure some girls got shafted in terms of screen time but I'm not at the stage of Passpo yet where I know who's who and who gets more screen time and who's the black sheep of the group. I can tell Shiori and Ai are leads and Mio's pretty prominent but as for everyone else... I'll get to you eventually! 

I'll give Sakura Komachi 4.5 apples! It's a really nice follow-up to The Airline Trilogy and one of the better Sakura singles released this year. I can't say the same thing for So Long! by AKB48. It's got Passpo's signature pop-rock style to it and a really catchy chorus. The PV is also nice but you can enjoy the song without it. I know I did!

No. 1 Boy

I don't know about Passpo's No. 1 boy but I know who my No. 1 boy is! NOBODY! Unless I can count my dog... I always find idol song titles like this to be ironic considering the no-dating rule and everything but let's not talk about that and look at the actual song! I really don't have too much to say about No. 1 Boy; it's a decent song but I think it was pretty wise to make it a B-side. It follows in the same pop-rock style that Sakura Komachi had but there's not much about this song that struck me as really memorable. The song sounds nice and all but compared to Sakura Komachi, it does kind of pale in comparison. It's still a pretty fun and upbeat song though, and I did enjoy listening to it. It's a little bit cuter-sounding than Sakura Komachi but not by much. Something that does surprise me a bit about No. 1 Boy is that it sounds... softer than Sakura Komachi. I don't know why (maybe it's the file I downloaded) but I think what could have improved this song a lot is if it was louder and had just a little bit more energy. It's plenty energetic but I think just a little bit more would have put this song in completely and totally enjoyable territory. Something I do like about No. 1 Boy is that it's not some brutal mood whiplash from the A-side; I really hate it when singles do that. Like with Perfume's Spring of Life? There was a huge contrast between Spring of Life and Communication and played back-to-back, those songs just don't match! Luckily, Sakura Komachi and No. 1 Boy do blend quite nicely! Other than that, there's not really much to say about No. 1 Boy. It sounds like a lot of other Passpo songs which isn't a bad thing and it's an overall decent song. It's a tad bit forgettable but again, the B-side could have been a whole lot worse! And when I say that I mean the B-side could have been Pink no Parachute. Eugh, that song is annoying.

Unlike Natsuzora Hanabi's B-side, Sakura Komachi's B-side is not annoying and in fact, a very nice-sounding song! However, it's not the best Passpo song I've heard and not the most memorable song either. So I'll give No. 1 Boy 3 apples!

The Verdict

Overall, Sakura Komachi is a good follow-up the kickassery that is The Airline Trilogy! I like that the title track is an upbeat Sakura-themed song that keeps that rockish Passpo sound that got me into the group. No. 1 Boy is good as far as B-sides go, but it's not going to make my year-end list or anything like that. The strongest factor of the single is that both songs are good not only by themselves but as one single. I like that they have the same musical and they compliment each other nicely! Sakura Komachi is definitely one of the better Sakura singles of the season AKB48 I'm looking at you and I like it a lot! I'm highly looking forward to whatever endeavor Passpo pursues on their idol-y jet plane next!

So I will give Sakura Komachi 4 out of 5 apples!

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