Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Crawling Away from AKB48

Would you guys find it hard to believe that I still like AKB48?


I know, right? You'd think the way I bitch left and right in every review and news post regarding the gargantuan group in general, I fucking hate their guts. But no, somehow there is still a small portion of me that still likes them . That same portion is what keeps giving me hope that somehow they'll do something that just won't disappoint me so much. I admitted that I've been on somewhat of a downward spiral regarding AKB48, especially when it comes to their musical output. Combined with the dating scandals left and right, the graduations of members I actually care about, and the rise of girls whose names I can't even remember, nowadays I feel like my opinion in AKB48 as a whole ranges from disinterest to downright irritation. Even now I feel like I write about AKB48 more as an obligation, because I know a lot of readers follow them and they've never really been a group that I've wanted to put on my Review Blacklist. And before you ask about that, it's just a very small list of idol groups that I have no plans on ever talking about and/or reviewing. Back on topic, despite the fact that every time I bring up AKB48 it's either when I'm ranting about their latest single or ranting about their latest dating scandal, I still like AKB48. And that's why it tears me up so much that I've been gaining such a rapid disinterest in their musical output and the group as a whole. I think all the hard work the girls put into the group is what's preventing from completely dropping AKB48 but beyond that, there's not much about AKB48 that lures me in anymore. Their music has been sucking lately, girls have been graduating at the rate Natsuyaki Miyabi changes her hairstyle, and I've found myself to be increasingly disgusted by management. And now as I sit here, typing this and wishing that I didn't have all these conflicting emotions, I have to ask myself "How the hell did I get here?" It's not like I just sat up in bed one day and decided to start being harsh on AKB48.

So how? How on earth did I reach this point where I'm just disgusted and/or irritated by whatever move AKB48 and/or AKS makes? Believe me, I never intended to develop this mindset with AKB48. I've even tried to keep an open mind and give them a chance. I think one of the reasons why I've always tried to give AKB48 a chance is because I know a lot of international fans don't, especially within the H!P fandom. I used to be one of those international fans too. And there's nothing wrong by the way if you personally don't like AKB48, I'm just pointing it out. I even know a lot of idol bloggers who aren't that fond of AKB48. I think knowing that has always made me try really hard to keep an open mind to AKB48 and play the devil's advocate when criticisms of the group arose. After finally getting into them, this was an idol group that I never wanted to dislike. When I first opened the Wonderland, I tried my best to stand by AKB48 and my own opinions about them and for their first few singles, I reviewed things went well. I gave a mixed-to-positive review of Give Me Five! and a pretty positive review of Manatsu no Sounds good! And then everything went downhill with Gingham Check and Maeda Atsuko's graduation. I still find it strange that I've hated how all the post-Acchan singles have sounded... coincidence? Or something more? Whatever it is, all I know is that I've fallen into this rut with AKB48 where I have the unfortunate luck of being an idol blogger that reviews their music in a time where all their music is the epitome of music I hate. You know well what I'm talking about by this point: generic music. Or at least AKB48-style generic music. If there's something that drives me berserk, it's bland songs, songs that sound as though they have no effort put into them. And for the past several months, I feel like that has been literally the only style of music AKB48 has been covering on their A-sides.

I used to think that maybe it wasn't the music that was bad. Maybe it was my own opinions. Maybe I just needed to change my attitude about these "bland songs" I hated so much and get over it and roll with everyone else. But at that moment I realized something else: these bland songs aren't the ones that got me into AKB48. No way were Chance no Juban, Ue Kara Mariko, Gingham Check, Eien Pressure, So Long!, and Sayonara Crawl aren't the kinds of songs that got me into AKB48. Oogoe Diamond, Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou, Beginner, Iiwake Maybe, those are the songs that got me into AKB48. The songs that got me into AKB48 are the ones that had heart, that had clear effort put into them whether it be in the music or the lyrics. These were the songs that stood out on their own, that had such distinct sounds and styles that I would never be able to say "It's a good song but it sounds like this song or that one." And you know what's lacking that? Sayonara Crawl. Eien Pressure. All these songs that I have been bashing with a spiked baseball bat have been bad to my ears because they fail to stand out. There is nothing that makes them interesting, not even effort. It's just one half-assed song after another that's just bland and generic enough that it won't upset anyone. Besides, with a hardcore fanbase, why put effort into your songs when they'll just go ahead and drink the Kool Aid and buy five editions of the single anyways? And I know: AKB48 is an idol group. I'm not supposed to expect mind-blowingly amazing songs from an idol group, especially one that was made for more... visual appeal than the music itself. But does that really mean the songs have to be bland? If I wanted to see the quintessential bland idol group, I'd just listen to Super Girls every day. But what got me into AKB48 was that although yes, they sang cheesy pop songs, their music still had energy. It had life to it that made the songs enjoyable no matter how much bubblegum pop was layered onto it.

So here we are again. Back at another review of another song that I have the same opinion about that I did Gingham Check, UZA, Eien Pressure, So Long... If you want to know my opinion of Sayonara Crawl just copy and paste the text from my review of Eien Pressure but just replace the words "Eien Pressure" with "Sayonara Crawl." Look, I don't even have the fire to rant about how much I can't stand Sayonara Crawl because frankly, I'm tired of doing this. I'm tired of typing up yet another PV review of an AKB48 song that I have the same hateful opinion about. Yes, it can be fun to write a rant-y review of an idol group but to write five consecutive ones? It's not fun. It's repetitive. It's depressing. And I've had enough. I don't see why I should waste my time and laptop charge writing about a group that I'm gradually losing interest in. Yet even though I want to just up and stop reviewing AKB48 content... I can't. Not yet I suppose. Maybe part of me keeps holding out because I can't stop hoping that through some miracle, whatever they release next will actually be good. But part of me knows that at the bland streak the group's been on, I highly doubt it's breaking any time soon. So I've developed a plan: if AKB48 doesn't release a single that impresses me by the end of 2013, they go on the Review Blacklist. I won't review any of their 2014 content, I probably won't even talk about them that much. You've got roughly six months to impress me, Aki-P. And even though I know you probably don't give a shit about some American teenage girl with a laptop, part of me still hopes that you'll magically get your shit together and write a song that doesn't sound like the bland piles of asinine crap you've been cranking out lately. I know you're capable of more because I've heard better from you. Whatever happened to writing songs like 10nen Zakura and Iiwake Maybe? What about Flying Get?

So uh, yeah... I have a review or something to do, right?

Right, Sayonara Crawl. Hoo boy, let me just get warmed up and prepare my usual little rant about bland songs- actually, no. At the rate I'm going I might as well re-name the blog from Nia's Wonderland to Nia's Wonderland Where She Expresses How Much She Hates Bland Songs. I swear, if I start getting some reputation as that Perfume fangirl who really hates bland songs, I'm gonna... Sorry, I'm just procrastinating writing about Sayonara Crawl because in case you haven't figured it out yet, I really hate this song. Like, I hate it more than I did Eien Pressure. But not as much as So Long! although both songs have the same problem: the energy level is dead. So Long! still manages to sound more lifeless but as a summer song, Sayonara Crawl makes summer sound like one of the most dull and unexciting seasons of the year. It lacks the excitement and energy of AKB48's past three summer songs, especially in comparison to Ponytail to Shushu and Everyday Kachuusha. Both those songs are still pretty bland but at least they have energy and distinct melodies. Sayonara Crawl just sounds like a rehash of Eien Pressure; in fact, I even think those two songs are in the same key. I think if I were to compare the past five AKB48 A-sides that I've bashed, it would look like this: UZA>Gingham Check>Eien Pressure>Sayonara Crawl>So Long! So congratulations, Sayonara Crawl. You're one song above from being the worst AKB48 of the five consecutive singles I've been disappointed with so far. I'd get you a prize but that would only encourage Aki-P to write more bland songs. Yeah, I'm not feeling Sayonara Crawl. It's a bland song and as someone who has to repeatedly express how much she hates bland songs, this song is severely out of my line of interest. It's a shame because I think Sayonara Crawl had a lot of potential to be a really awesome summer song. Then again, I felt the same about all the bland songs from AKB48 that I've ranted about. I guess I should stop being so idealistic when it comes to AKB48, huh?

Perhaps there's still hope for Sayonara Crawl though. After all, the woman who directed the Heavy Rotation and Sugar Rush PVs also directed this one. Can she possibly bring some life to this unbearably dull and generic summer song? Well, with her love for eye-popping visuals and bright colors, I sure hoped so. Still, let's see how the end-results turned out.


Now an aquarium is a pretty cool area to open the PV with.


OMG, you're right Yuko! That shark does have the same smile that I do!!


Should I prepare the Jaws theme?


Well hey, so far these aquarium shots have been really neat! Maybe this PV will be kind of-


OH GOD NEVERMIND MY EYES.


I'm sorry but those bikinis are awful. Just... EW. The flowers... the colors... BLEGH!


I just can't get over how the designers could make an effing bikini look tacky and gross.


Well, I'll just have to get over it because we have girl-on-girl fanservice to screencap!


Wow, it's like I'm looking at the Heavy Rotation close-ups.


Except with more flowers and less lingerie.


And if there were ever a Captains smackdown, I guess Sayanee would come out on top! Poor Takamina...


Ah, there's nothing more fun than running across the beach for no reason!


Oh hey, yukatas. That's actually kind of clever for a summer PV...


But who cares because now all your cotton candy are belong to Jurina!


Oh, Paruru, you're so cute when you're trying to show emotion.


Eh, I don't think that's quite how you eat cotton candy...


Well, since those yukatas don't show nearly enough body, the PV cuts back to the dreadful bikinis!


I love how in the PV half the time the girls looks like they're trying not to capsize their floaties.


You know what this PV really needs? More flowers. There clearly aren't enough!


Seriously, I think there are more flowers in Sayonara Crawl than there are in Revolutionary Girl Utena!


Poor Takamina, always getting teased by her fellow teammates!


I wish there were more shots of them swimming...


Let me rephrase that: I wish there were less suggestive shots of them swimming.


You know, the girls don't look like they're having a lot of fun in these shots...


I mean, they're smiling and everything but it looks so forced.


Honestly, these shots are a lot more boring than they should be.


What's this? Random pieces of white furniture placed in a natural setting?


I'm getting Kasuka na Kaori flashbacks!!! God, I wish I was reviewing that now instead of this...


Soon, my apprentice, shall you rule AKB48.


Takamina clearly has no idea what the fuck she's reading and Sayanee's trying to cover up her confusion as well!


Brushing your teeth on the beach? Well, I hope you don't plan on rinsing with saltwater...


Dammit, Paruru why you always gotta be trying to emote!?


Okay, I take it back: those sunglasses are the most atrocious thing in this PV.


Yuck. They look like first-grade arts and crafts projects.


Man, think of all the craft stores the producers had to invade to obtain all these flowers...


The balloons were by far the most expressive idols in the PV.


That's right! Wave goodbye to any chances of breaking Manatsu no Sounds good! sales ever again!!! Mwahahahaha!!!!!!!

My, my, my, that was something. And by "something" I mean it was something that was not good. I'll admit, when I found out that Ninagawa Mika, the woman who did the PVs for Heavy Rotation and Sugar Rush was directing the PV for Sayonara Crawl, I got a little bit of a hope spot. I love both of those PVs for their bright, almost cartoonish imagery, the lush scenery, and the incorporation of a lot of eye-catching visuals. Both those PVs stand out for very different reasons (one being that one PV is ridiculously sexy while the other is not). I also liked the visuals I saw in the director's own movie, Helter Skelter which had that same look Heavy Rotation did but much more twisted and darker. Point is, I was hoping that Ninagawa would be able to put her own unique spin on the tired and done-to-death idol cliche that is the summer PV. Last year the director of Manatsu no Sounds good! managed to do so; surely someone with such a standout style of filmmaking would be able to project that onto Sayonara Crawl's PV. And in that aspect, I suppose the PV did deliver. Sayonara Crawl includes a variety of scenes beyond your simple beach shots and girl doing typical summer activities. It shows a variety of different scenes, not all of them featuring the girls in bikinis. And we'll get to those atrocious pieces of fabric in a minute. The PV also features the girls in yukatas during a nighttime beach scene where they're lighting sparklers and eating cotton candy and various scenes where they're uniform-styled white outfits ranging from close-ups to an aquarium to a daytime beach scene. The rest of the PV is devoted to the bikini shots that show the girls either in this gigantic pool or running on a beach. You kind of know what to expect if you've ever seen an AKB48 summer PV. Sayonara Crawl's PV had a lot of bright colors and felt very in the vein of Ninagawa Mika. So yay, this PV gets an okay from Nia, right? Surely she had to have enjoyed it somewhat, right?

Well, despite everything this PV had, I still found this PV to be rather underwhelming.

When I was watching the PV, I found myself to be surprisingly bored. At first the visuals were interesting but about halfway through the PV, they started to get repetitive. I actually think that's a huge problem with a lot of summer PVs; there's only so much you can do before it starts to get repetitive and cliched. My favorite summer PV from AKB48 is Everyday Kachuusha. By no means is the song too interesting (but it's a helluva lot better than the crap AKB48's been spewing these days) but the PV is what really stood out to me. Yes, it was still a summer PV but it was a summer PV with its own unique spin on it, with homages to AKB48's previous PVs. Combined with some other typical cliches, Everyday Kachuusha was entertaining for fans who enjoyed catching all the little nods and references to their past PVs. Even Manatsu no Sounds good! had a standout summer PV because of the gore and violence in certain scenes combined with the light innocence of the actual bikini scenes. And I'm not saying Manatsu was a good PV because believe me, it had some balancing issues but there were aspects of it that just grabbed me. The PV for Sayonara Crawl never really grabbed me. I think that's why I don't like Sayonara Crawl's PV that much; although it's very bright and colorful, when you boil down to everything, it's just your generic summer PV dressed up in a bunch of tacky flowers. Yeah, the imagery is very colorful and elaborate, but it just feels like a generic summer PV. And a generic summer PV isn't necessarily always bad if the girls in the PV manage to sell it. I'll say what I said in my Koi no Love Sunshine PV review: what I think makes for a good summer PV is one that gets me excited for summer. One way a PV can convey this is through the emotions that the girls express the PV; naturally, if the PV shows idols looking like they're genuinely having fun, then very likely, I'm going to get enthusiastic too. That's why I think NMB48's Nagiichi worked well as a summer PV.

In Sayonara Crawl, the girls flash smiles left and right and they smile and laugh but it doesn't feel genuine. In fact, it feels kind of forced. Of the nine or so girls who actively got a lot of screen time (and yeah, that's another problem this PV has but we'll get to that in a minute as well), only Takamina looked really truly expressive. My least favorite scenes in Sayonara Crawl were the scenes where the girls were floating in the pool because it just felt so fake. But I think I might have an idea as to why: surprisingly, it's not because the camera's focusing on fanservice but because of the floaties. Anyone who has tried to get on one of those buggers can testify how fucking hard it is to stay afloat on one of those, especially when you move around a lot. To look carefree and happy whilst trying to stay afloat on one of those things is a challenge, especially when you're also trying to look appealing. There were moments where the girls looked more strained than happy because of how they were moving around yet still trying to stay on their floaties. I feel like Sayonara Crawl is a PV more focused on the visuals and fanservice than the girls themselves; it's basically style over substance. And frankly, as someone who isn't in the demographic that watches summer PVs for the sex appeal, there's not a lot I really enjoy about this PV. Sure, the visuals are nice but the PV just moves as such a slow and lifeless pace, much like the song it accompanies. In a way, Sayonara Crawl is like a fancy cupcake topped with lavish icing and decorated with decadent sprinkles yet the cupcake itself tastes bland and insubstantial. It's a shame because I wanted Sayonara Crawl to be the kind of summer PV that got me excited about summer, the kind of PV that could even improve the song it's accompanying. But like a lot of AKB48-related things lately, it falls flat.

And don't even get me started on those god-awful flower bikinis. I never thought it was possible to botch a bikini that badly but AKB48 has proved me wrong! I guess they wanted to make the bikinis look unique but the end-result is hideous. The way the bikinis fit on the girls' bodies makes them look clunky and awkward. I know the bikini scenes from Manatsu no Sounds good! were gratuitous and unnecessary but at least the simple white bikinis of that PV actually looked nice. As you can tell from my screencap, there are a lot of flowers in Sayonara Crawl's PV so maybe they wanted to continue that theme with the flower bikinis but I personally think it's just a little too much. I do like the flower crowns though; even though they're very reminiscent of Heavy Rotation, they still look nice. I did catch a few small reference to Heavy Rotation but they're not completely in-your-face. I actually can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I like the PV for Heavy Rotation better than the PV for Sayonara Crawl. You heard me right: I like the PV with the girls prancing around in their underwear, frolicking in bathtubs and making out with each other over the summer PV with a bazillion flowers. 'Tis a strange time in the Wonderland indeed. Something you might also notice about Sayonara Crawl is that of the thirty-something girls in the Senbatsu only about nine or ten of them get a decent amount of screen time. Itano Tomomi and Shimazaki Haruka in particularly got a lot of time, but that makes sense. Tomochin's graduating and Paruru's Aki-P's new pet so I'm not surprised. Besides, Paruru looks pretty adorable in this PV being all emotionless and whatnot. I wish I could see more of Fujie Reina or Kawei Rina but I guess since they're not in regular Senbatsu, that ain't happening any time soon. So if you're favorite is, say, Kikuchi Ayaka, you'll have to look hard to spot her in this PV.


Overall, Sayonara Crawl gets two out of five apples, and believe me, that's a generous rating. The song is generic, but I guess I kind of expected it to be generic at this point. The PV is surprisingly forgettable and dull, especially since it came from the director of Heavy Rotation and Sugar Rush. I suppose if you're a perv looking for something to fap to, Sayonara Crawl's PV will suit you nicely. For me, I'm going to go stare at myself in the mirror and contemplate why I'm even a fan of AKB48 anymore. Happy summer, guys!

13 comments:

  1. Well maybe AKB's rival is making better mu- oh right.

    Maybe you could listen to one of the newer groups like HK- right, their music sucks as well.

    Whatever, this is pretty much the only reason for you to be a fan of AKB48 anymore: http://youtu.be/EfQNP2R2jts

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    1. Ugh, don't even remind me of Nogizaka46 -_-

      At least SKE48 and NMB48 are still fairly interesting, and a few of my favorites are... well... around in the group! Not necessarily in Senbatsu but... around!

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  2. Whut, I beg to differ. I thought this was at least an improvement from So Long. I think after lots of underwhelming PVs my standards had dropped since, but I was entertained by the *ahem* fan service. But if I just speak in musicality, I'd definitely move to shipping NMB48, cus their album actually sounds pretty good.

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    1. Oh I agree, Sayonara Crawl is better than So Long! Only by a little bit though. From a fanservice aspect, Sayonara Crawl's PV is very... ample in that department, and looking back at it again, the PV is decent. Definitely very bright and visually striking! I think I'm with you on NMB48 though; they just seem to get better music.

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  3. Though I don't disagree with most of your opinions of the PV, I must confess to actually liking the song, despite its blandness. Funny fact though is that the single actually DID surpass Manatsu no Sounds Good in both first day and total sales :)

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    1. It's totally cool to like Sayonara Crawl, lovely Anon! I'm still not sure whether to laugh or cry that their best-selling single is a song that I can't stand though... It's pretty amazing that AKB48's still selling so well without Acchan.

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  4. Green day is better than them and oasis dissed and they also dissed many other bands I would like to go out with karen iwata becuase I think that she's american and can fit in here in our school in Wisconsin ladysmith high school

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  5. laughing at "Ah, there's nothing more fun than running across the beach for no reason!" and "Soon, my apprentice, shall you rule AKB48". But i have to agree sayonara crawl is a bit bland and i think that Ikiru koto by team A are way better than the main single itslef

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    1. Aw, thanks! Yeah, this song is absolutely bland. But I thought all the B-sides on Sayonara Crawl were pretty decent, including Team A's song.

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  6. use to be an akb48,ske48,nmb48,hkt48 fans,, but since their clothing and song is more toward erotics, "eroi" .. 清純さがなくなちゃた。。。だからいまは乃木坂46推します。比べたら、乃木坂46さんの製服は清純さがいます、そんなエロいでわありません。

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    1. Okay, I had to use Google Translate to read the second half of your comment, but I'd agree that Nogizaka46 has a more "classical" image than any of the other '48 groups. But I think any idol group's going to veer toward a more erotic image at some point. It's just part of the business.

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