Sunday, March 31, 2013

Time Capsule Reviews: Vitamin Drop

Ah, there's no better way to end the month than with another Time Capsule Review, that one review of the month in which I review an old PV by Perfume! And when I say old PV, I mean an old Perfume PV! Unlike Spice, which was fairly young, the PV I'm reviewing this month is way back from 2004! You know what that means! We're hopping in the time-traveling fish and going back to indies Perfume! Sing it with me guys! Vi-ta-mi-n Do-ro-pu!!

All right, I'm just gonna flat-out say this before I get into my review: for a long time, I disliked Vitamin Drop. I don't want to say I hated it (honestly, there's not Perfume song that I really hate) but Vitamin Drop used to be one of the least played songs on my iPod. So what led to me having a more favorable opinion of it? We'll get to that in a moment. First, a little history lesson on Vitamin Drop! Back in 2003 when Perfume was much more obscure, they spent their early days as a group releasing indies songs before finally switching over to a major label in 2005. In their time as an independent group, Perfume released only three indie singles: Sweet Donuts, Monochrome Effect and finally, Vitamin Drop. Of course, there's also the Omajinai Perori and Kareshi Boshuuchuu singles but those were released before Perfume starting working with Nakata. Anyways, a little fun fact about Vitamin Drop was that the A-side was used for a Nintendo Game Boy Advance Game called Densetsu no Stafy 3. I have absolutely no idea what the game was about but apparently the song's tie-in to it didn't help the single sell any better!

Anyways, I said earlier that I used to not like Vitamin Drop very much. I think that was partially because of the time in which I got in to Perfume. They'd long passed the released of their indies singles and had just released Game when I started following the group. I remember when I was binging on their music, I was never a huge fan of any of their indie music. It wasn't like I outright dislike it but compared to some of their other songs I listened to (like Electro World and Secret Secret), songs like Monochrome Effect and Oishii Recipe didn't get a lot of plays. Even today, some of those songs still don't get a lot of plays. I even put Elevator, Oishii Recipe and Secret Message on my list of my least favorite Perfume songs! So amongst the pile of indie songs that I paid little to no attention to, Vitamin Drop kind of got caught in that mix. Indies Perfume is an era that I'm not terribly fond of so I pretty much had the same opinion of Vitamin Drop that I had of songs like Elevator and Secret Message: not worth my time. For several years, I barely ever listened to Vitamin Drop and rarely did I ever play the full song. I just never thought it was a song I needed to listen to!

Well, one day that changed. I don't know what I did or what catalyst made my opinion change, but one day I played Vitamin Drop in its entirety. I think I was re-downloading Perfume's Complete Best album and I always like to listen to the songs to make sure I didn't get any dud mp3's. Subsequently, that meant I had to listen to Vitamin Drop. And when I listened to that song in its entirety, it was like all the right gears clicked into place that made me like the song. I don't even know how to describe it. It was like at one point I was thinking "Dammit, I gotta listen to Vitamin Drop," and then "Oh my god, this song is AWESOME!" My change in opinion was so fast and such a 180 that I'm still not sure what triggered it or why. But my change in opinion towards the song made me realize that Vitamin Drop is the best song of Perfume's indie era. I'd always contemplated what song from Perfume's indie singles was the most enjoyable to listen to and I can safely say that Vitamin Drop blows all the other songs out of the water. Is it the best Perfume song overall? Hell no, there are like 30 songs ahead of Vitamin Drop. But for an indie release, a time when Perfume's music was much more idol-y and unpolished, it's a pretty solid song. Hell, I even think Vitamin Drop is even better than Mirai no Museum! But that's a completely different discussion.

What I really enjoy about Vitamin Drop is that it has this very... retro sound to it. I mean, it's still a techno song but it sounds like something you'd hear out of The Jetsons or an old advertisement from the 50s about technology of the future or something of that nature! The song has this very perky and bouncy rhythm to it and I always find myself bobbing my head when I listen to it! What I also like about Vitamin Drop that Monochrome Effect and Sweet Donuts lacked is that it has a more techno edge than those two songs did. The vocal editing is much smoother and the girls sound much more like the way they'll sound in later releases. It gets a tad bit monotone at times but I actually think that works for the song! I think the instrumental has this very... surreal sound to it, like something you'd hear out of a futuristic fantasy! And no, I am not talking about a Mirai no Museum like fantasy. Vitamin Drop just has this delightfully retro sound that I think is a lot of fun; I regret that I used to be so dismissive of this song! It really is the best of Perfume's indie discography and I highly recommend checking it out!

I made a reference to Vitamin Drop in my PV review of Mirai no Museum but I didn't elaborate much on it beyond saying that both PVs had similar animation styles. Well, I'm actually kind of excited that I get to show you more of the one other Perfume music video that was animated! Now let us go forth into the fantastical and animated world of Vitamin Drop!

I've always found it kind of sweet that Perfume's kept the same logo since their indie days!

As you can tell, this PV doesn't exactly have an amazing budget...

But the adorableness of indies!Perfume makes up for that!

But enough of crappy green-screens; we're going to Cartoon Perfume Land!

Can you tell why I drew parallels between Mirai no Museum and Vitamin Drop now?

Hello, future dance move that will be used in Electro World!

Oh no! A sinister looking castle! This can't be good!

I don't know why but I've always found that effect idol PVs use to project a shape onto the eyes to be really creepy...

Poor A-chan! Not only has she been trapped, she's been turned into a blonde!

And she was trapped by... a cow? Huh. I always knew I could never trust cows!

I really like the earrings the girls wear in this PV! They're cute and chunky!

What time is it? PERFUME TIME!

Remember when Perfume's dances were really easy to do?

Help me Nocchi and Kashiyuka! You're my only hope!

So that's what a Vitamin Drop looks like! Funny, it looks more like candy!

But hey, if it provides magical hair growth, I'll take a Vitamin Drop!

I'll bet that's how the real-life Kashiyuka got her hair to be so long!

Meanwhile, back at the Sinister Cave of Doom, our villain is... doing aerobics?

A-chan! YUM!

You know your green screen is cheap when the one from Help me!! looks sleeker than yours.

Funny how A-chan doesn't look too different today than from the way she did back in this PV...

But for the better, Nocchi's definitely grown up from the time this PV was shot!

Poor bear must have a bad case of Grammatical Error-itis!

Damn, that Vitamin Drop solves everything!

I just love how cute the girls look in this PV!

Okay, did the animator really have to include panty shots?

I think now's a great time to pull out one of those Vitamin Drops...

I hope that Vitamin Drop does something else besides make A-chan's hair grow! Otherwise, she's stuck in that cage!

Now a Vitamin Drop gives you superhuman strength? Gosh what's in those Vitamin Drops!?

What, can they cure procrastination too? If so, I'll take one!

I think I like the cartoon Perfume in this PV better than Mirai no Museum! They've got sparkles in this PV!

So the cow... was a guy... and he turned back... with the Vitamin Drops?

Who cares? They all lived happily ever after!

And then indies!Perfume went major label and everyone became a fan of them. The end!

See? Mirai no Museum wasn't the first cartoon PV Perfume had handled, not at all! I'm actually really happy that I got to screen cap Vitamin Drop's PV a month or so after I reviewed Mirai no Museum PV; it gives you good idea of just what I was talking about! Yeah, I always think of Vitamin Drop when I watch Mirai no Museum because in my opinion, I think both PVs have very similarly styled animation. I think Vitamin Drop has slightly less detailed and cartoonish animation; in comparison to Vitamin Drop, Mirai no Museum looks a lot more detailed and has a much more distinct style to it that matches Doraemon. I'm not sure what style of animation Vitamin Drop covers other than... Flash Animation! A big part of this PV is the animated shots and believe me, they're much more interesting than the live-action shots! Nothing against live-action Perfume but the green screen used in the dance shots is pretty obvious and cheap looking and the dance isn't very interesting either. Then again, this is indies Perfume and their dances weren't quite as advanced as the Perfume we know and love today! Still, it is kind of funny to look at this PV's dance and then look at one of their more recent PVs to see just how far they've come. Even the girlish dresses they wear in the PV show just how young and inexperienced Perfume was as a group and how far they've come since they started.

In that sense, Vitamin Drop is a pretty nostalgic PV but I really think all of the indie PVs are. They show an era in which Perfume was just starting out and only beginning to experiment with a techno sound. So if you're new to Perfume and want an idea of how they used to sound and look in their early days, Vitamin Drop is a pretty good PV to look at. It's definitely the most interesting of the four indies-era PVs Perfume released because unlike the other three it has a clear and defined plot. The visuals are also more interesting thanks to the contrast between live-action and the animation. Even if that green screen is hilariously outdated and Perfume looks so much younger and more inexperienced than they do today, Vitamin Drop's PV is like a nice little look into the past!

Now let's look at a huge aspect of this PV: the story. You heard me right, this PV has a storyline! I always find it to be such a pleasant surprise when Perfume PVs get storylines, especially in their older PVs! I feel like lately we fans have been getting spoiled with PVs like Spring of Life and Mirai no Museum with their obvious storylines! Vitamin Drop has a nice and fun little story that's really easy to follow, even for someone like me who doesn't speak Japanese! The basic plot of the story is that Kashiyuka and Nocchi are on a quest to save Princess A-chan from a giant cow monster living in a creepy castle. Along the way, they run into cute little animals with problems that need to be solved and with their trusty Vitamin Drops, are able to do so! They then get to the castle where they rescue Princess A-chan and turn the cow monster back into an ordinary guy and everyone lives happily ever after! See what I mean? You can summarize the story up in a few sentences!

So while the storyline in this PV isn't the most creative story I've ever seen and you can definitely predict where it's going and what's going to happen, it's still fun to watch in action! Again, I enjoy animated PVs when they're done well; while this isn't the best animated PV I've ever seen, it's not terrible either! At least it's not as bad as the god-awful CGI from Tokyo Girls' Style's Lolita Strawberry in Summer PV. And at least it's not as horrifying as The Wall! But that's a completely different topic! I think that because Vitamin Drop was being used as a tie-in to that Nintendo game, the producers wanted a PV that would reflect the cartoon-y and fun nature of the game! Actually, I wonder what Densetsu no Stafy 3 looks like and if the stories from that game and this PV are similar at all! Oh well, on its own Vitamin Drop is a pretty engaging PV that has a plot that moves forward smoothly for such a short span of time! I think kids would like this PV a lot since it has a nice combination of colorful animation and a bunch of action to keep them entertained! Vitamin Drop succeeds well in using animation to tell a story, even better than Mirai no Museum in my opinion! Although I don't watch this PV that much, when I do, I always find myself enjoying it!

So I'll give Vitamin Drop four out of five apples! The song is without a doubt my favorite from the indies era and a pretty fun and catchy song overall! The PV is also my favorite from the era also for its use of storytelling through animation and a storyline that both kids and adults can follow! I highly recommend checking out Vitamin Drop if you're interested in listening to some of the indies-era Perfume music!

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