Monday, May 6, 2013

Kicking Off Summer with Love and Sunshine

Well, May has come and with it summer! Despite the fact that it's 64 degrees and pouring down rain while I'm writing this! Yep, I can just feel summer in the air. Well, I figured that nothing would be better to brighten up my day than to kick back and review a summer PV! And since this is my first summer PV review, I figured why not kick off the summer seasons and review a PV by a group that revolves around the weather itself?

That's right! The first summer PV I'm reviewing is Koi no Love Sunshine by Weather Girls! Hrm, Koi no Tenki Youhou, Koi no Tokimeki Chuuihou, Koi no Love Sunshine, is anyone else sensing a pattern here? What I find funny about Koi no Love Sunshine is that in English it translates to "Love Sunshine of Love." A little redundant, huh? Anyways, you all know that I'm a fan of Weather Girls for their insufferably energetic and catchy music. Is their music that creative? Not really but the overwhelming amount of energy put into each song is pretty irresistible and the group has an image that's slightly more... mature than your typical J-pop idol group. I actually feel like Weather Girls leans towards a more K-pop style of music and image, kind of like what Kara has. But I think Weather Girls has just a little more charm and personality in comparison to Kara! Anyways, although this Taiwanese group has only been around for a few months, I've enjoyed what they've released so far. Koi no Tenki Yohou was one of my favorite singles of 2012 and Koi no Tokimeki Chuuihou was pretty good too, especially the PV. So their third single, Koi no Love Sunshine, is their first summer single and the release date is set for June 5th. Why do I bring that up? Because that's my birthday!! Actually, there are a lot of singles I'm looking forward to that are coming out on my birthday, like Tokyo Girls' Style, MEG... Yeah, that's what happens when your birthday happens to fall on a Wednesday but every time I see an idol group's single release date as June 5th, I just get a little excited inside! But enough about my personal life; now that the full PV for Koi no Love Sunshine is out, I can finally review the entire song and see how it holds up as a summer single! And I can see if it measures up to the levels of insane and hyper energy Koi no Tenki Yohou and Koi no Tokimeki Chuuihou has!

A preview of Koi no Love Sunshine can be heard in the making-of video posted on the Weather Girls official Youtube channel and that was out for some time before I heard the full song. It's not a terribly long snippet; on that little video, all you can hear is the chorus. But what I'd heard so far I liked so I was expecting Koi no Love Sunshine to be another super-upbeat, hyper-pop song in the vein of the group's past two singles. And after hearing the full song... I guess you could say Koi no Love Sunshine is like Koi no Tenki Yohou or Koi no Tokimeki Chuuihou. I mean, they're both pop songs. That counts as similar, right? To my surprise, I am not that jazzed by Koi no Love Sunshine. Is it a bad song? No... but honestly, it's kind of bland. Not as bland as, say, Sayonara Crawl (but I'll rant about that later) but beyond the chorus, not much of Koi no Love Sunshine stands out. It's like that's the only part of the song that tries to be really energetic and full of life. The verses and the instrumentals are much more toned down in energy, almost to the point where it gets predictable. You know that little game I sometimes play, Guess the Note? Where I try to imagine in my head what note/phrase is coming next in a song? Well, Koi no Love Sunshine is one of those songs where you can pretty easily tell what note is coming next! I'm not saying the group's past two songs were innovative but Koi no Love Sunshine just feels more half-assed. Like I said earlier, the only part I really like about the song is the chorus but I feel like that's brought down by the uninteresting verses and energy of the rest of the song. It's really disappointing that Koi no Love Sunshine is such a boring song, especially since I had high hopes for it from my listen to the chorus. Oh well, I guess Weather Girls had to have a flop song eventually; it's just a shame that flop song has to be their summer song too...

I think the biggest criticism I have of Koi no Love Sunshine is not only is it a bland song, it's not a very good summer song either. Well... not to me anyways. I guess it would help if I explained what I look for in a summer song, especially since I'm going to be reviewing so many summer PVs in the coming months. Really, there's only one major aspect that I think makes a "good" summer song: it has to get me excited about summer. As a toiling student, I always look towards summer with hope and excitement because I know it's a time in which I can have fun and just let loose from my regular school environment. The perfect summer song for me is the kind of song that conveys that level of excitement and enthusiasm for summer. It's energetic, just like my outlook towards summer vacation is. One of my favorite summer songs is Go Go Summer! by Kara for that exact reason: because it connects with me on an emotional level. Ponytail to Shushu by AKB48 is another summer song that I like a lot for those same reasons. Even Everyday, Kachuusha which is basically Ponytail to Shushu 2011 Edition is a great summer song in my opinion. Songs like these are also why I have such a negative opinion of Sayonara Crawl like seriously I hate that song so- I'm sorry, am I branching off and ranting about AKB48 in other posts again? How rude of me! I've just got to learn to keep my ranting constrained to the appropriate posts, don't I? When I listen to Koi no Love Sunshine, I don't get excited for summer. I don't get that feeling as though a bunch of energy is going to burst out of my chest. I just listen to the song and it plays. There's not emotional connection I can make with Koi no Love Sunshine because it doesn't have the energy or appeal to be a good summer song. It's not the worst song I've ever heard but not the best either; very likely, Koi no Love Sunshine will just fade away with a myriad of other summer songs I don't give a shit about...

It is a shame that Koi no Love Sunshine isn't a very standout song to me but hey, maybe the PV can redeem it? After all, Weather Girls has gotten some decent PVs in the past! Then again, this is a summer PV so you know what I expect? Fanservice. Lots and lots of fanservice. Let's dive in! Get it? Dive? Eh heh 'cause it's summer and... I think the rain is getting to my head.

Well, the PV starts with a Weather Girl narrating in Japanese accompanied by text that I'll probably never attempt to translate.

And then the video cuts to Nuenue working hard to pay the bills at a snack bar!

Everything changes when a girl whose totally not a member of Weather Girls leaves a mysterious flyer on the front counter.

Dammit, not only did she cut in front of everyone else, she didn't even BUY anything!

We need you... to do what? Defeat giant robots? Are there gonna be giant robots in this PV!?

The city's in peril so there's only one group its citizens can turn to!


Oh hai, doggy!

I like these summer outfits!

But they remind me of the ones Kara wore in Go Go Summer! for some reason...

Ugh, those stupid logos are blocking Hijon's adorable face!

Is the camerman just crouched on the ground kneeling upward to get these shots?

Oh, biking. Definitely never seen that in a summer PV before!


Not at all.

Nuenue, stop making the loser sign and put your hand back on the handlebar before you crash that bike!

All right! The Mystery Machine- I mean the Weathermobile is here!

And I guess they abducted Nuenue?

A squad of scantily dressed sailor girls led by a very short man? Seems legit.

Da hell is this?

Ah, think of all the short jokes I could make with this screencap...

I will say, the visuals are nice in Koi no Love Sunshine. Very typical, pretty summer-type visuals.

Now it's time for fanservice! I mean... training for... uh... something. What are they even doing this for anyways?

-insert Baywatch theme here-

Yikes. Esse must not be cut out for Baywatch running, huh?

Well hey, my motto is there's nothing that brings people together like humiliation!

I guess Esse doesn't agree with me.

Uh... I am screencapping the same PV aren't I? Why the hell is this shot even there? It adds nothing to the PV and only provides for visual whiplash.

HA! Esse's gettin' a verbal smackdown! That's what she gets for denying my awesome assistance!

You know, it might be easier to create dramatic tension if your character wasn't wearing a fetishized sailor outfit.

Hey, Hijon, you think we'll ever get our own subplot in a Weather Girls PV?

So much for attempts at drama. It's party time!

You know what summer PVs need more of? Sweating! How come idols never sweat in summer PVs!?

Oh, that robot monster plot is still relevant? Okay then...

Well, that was wrapped up quickly! The power of teamwork solves everything!

See? Teamwork rules!

I know the L sign is referring to love but I always see it that loser sign I flashed all the time in middle school...

You know what this PV needs? Pirates. Lots and lots of pirates.

And then the PV ends with your typical summer pose. -yawn-

Oh yeah, and the coach guy pops up one more time. But no one really cares about him.

And there you have it, guys! The first summer PV screencap of 2013! YEAH! I'll throw a beach party to celebrate! Anyways, in hindsight, maybe I should have reviewed something I personally liked a little bit more as my first summer PV review of 2013. Ah well, I've planned out my review schedule already and I'm almost done writing this review anyways! So Koi no Love Sunshine is definitely a summer PV; it's got bright colors, beach settings, summer activities and motifs, all that stuff you'd find in your typical summer PV. But does the PV still manage to stand out on its own? Eh... not really. Well, there are definitely parts that do make me scratch my head and wonder why they were included in the video but for the most part, Koi no Love Sunshine is a pretty run-of-the-mill summer PV. It's got fanservice, the ocean, bikes, sunny dance shots, if you're just looking for a PV filled with seven hot girls, then this is your utopia. But for someone like me who has more -adjusts monocle- critical tastes, Koi no Love Sunshine is most definitely not the best summer PV I've ever seen. It's not even close. Before I get into my criticisms though, what did I like about the PV? Koi no Love Sunshine wasn't a terrible PV and I do admit the camera work was actually very well done. I liked that there were a bunch of different shots and scenes and outfits, all of them shot well too. While I don't think some of the scenes necessarily worked as scenes in the PV, I can't deny that there was a lot to look at. The location/scenery shots in particular were very nice to look at. I also liked the color aesthetic used in Koi no Love Sunshine, very summery and happy. It's definitely one of those PVs that you can tell it was filmed to be a summer PV just based on the lighting. Unfortunately, beyond those little bits, I can't point out much else that I really liked about Koi no Love Sunshine's PV.

Now let's dig into the stuff that I didn't like in this PV. Or one thing in particular: the story. The first time I watched Koi no Love Sunshine, I wasn't even sure if there was a story to follow but after screencapping the PV, I think I have an idea of what the director was trying to convey. Bear with me, because I couldn't tell just exactly what the plot of Koi no Love Sunshine was. Okay, the story begins with Nuenue working at a snack bar when a mysterious girl leaves a flyer at her stand talking about love robots or something like that. Nuenue leaves her job and starts biking home when she's picked up by the other members of Weather Girls in their signature retro yellow van. And no, it's not kidnapping. Apparently, Nuenue has been recruited by the very short coach/general/manager of the group to join them and fight against some unspecified evil. Look, it just involves giant robots taking over cities or some comic book plotline of that nature. Anyways, Nuenue dons a skimpy sailor uniform and joins the other Weather Girls in training to fight this evil. As the girls are training through a kinda-sorta montage, they jog through a shallow part of the ocean and Esse trips and falls into the water. Nuenue helps her up but for some reason, Esse shuns her assistance and that somehow makes them enemies now. The coach/general/manager later berates Esse for some reason that I can't read because I don't have time to learn Japanese and she later ponders her decision. Later on, the girls are mapping out some kind of plan to defeat the evil monsters we will never actually see when I think Nuenue offers an idea. Her idea gets good reception from the other girls and she and Esse finally make up. They then crush the model robot on their battle map, frolic around some beach locations, and then the PV just ends.

All right, to be fair, I think one of the reasons that I had such a hard time following this PV was because there was overlaying dialogue that was transcribed into Japanese. As you all know, I have little to no knowledge in the Japanese language, especially regarding the kanji/hiragana writing. But since I'm certain that majority of my readers also have little to no grasp of the language, then we can all just be clueless together, huh? Even if I could understand the captions in the PV, I should have to need them anyways to tell what's going on in the video. I firmly stand by the belief that a good PV can convey a story in a way that transcends language barriers. I had little to no idea what was going on in this PV. I think there was a storyline somewhere in the PV but it got lost amongst the numerous fanservice shots and lush imagery. It's a shame because what I saw of a storyline looked promising. The idea of Weather Girls being this crime-fighting group that has to save the world from hateful robots through love and friendship could make for a captivating story. But in this PV, we don't even get to see that; we just see the girls training for it (and I used the word "training" lightly because apart from a small montage, there's barely any of it in this PV). Most of the PV is just devoted to flattering angles and making the girls look as sexually appealing as possible. And yeah, I know that's pretty much the point of a summer PV but if you're gonna throw in these random story elements, why half-ass them. I feel like if the concepts in this PV were more thoroughly explored this might have been a better and more interesting PV. But instead these ideas are briefly thrown around and not elaborated on that much, making for a very muddle and confusing story. I almost wish that they hadn't been included in the PV and the director had opted for a more straight-up summer PV with no plot.

I think another big problem I found with Koi no Love Sunshine was the lack of expression from the girls themselves. What drew me in to Weather Girls was how expressive the members were and how over-the-top they acted on camera. It was amusing to watch, especially in Koi no Tokimeki Chuuihou. Their acting was partially made that PV so interesting, along with the compelling storyline. Koi no Love Sunshine lacks that earnest charm that the girls displayed in their first two PVs and opts for more... well, fanservice! I know, I know, it's a summer PV. What else did you expect, Nia? Well, I expected Weather Girls to be acting just as crazy and silly as they did in their last two PVs. Don't get me wrong there are a few moments where you get to see some of that (like any scenes with Hijon) and Nuenue is rather amusing a few parts. But mostly, the emphasis on the PV is less on the girls and more on the scenery and the fanservice. There are a lot of pandering shots and those sailor outfits only add to the fanservice aspect of this PV. If you're a fan because you're gung ho about the fanservice, then you'll enjoy this PV. Me, I don't. There's too much going on in this PV and too little of it is actually interesting. Although visually, it does look good, Koi no Love Sunshine doesn't have much else to offer other than the fanservice that you can find in any other summer PV that probably has a better concept and/or storyline. Still, I guess as a summer PV, Koi no Love Sunshine does its job. It has a lot of summer elements coupled with fanservice that has been done in many a summer idol PV. But it lacks charm and personality and also lacks in a strong storyline to drive the PV either. Koi no Love Sunshine is one of the messier summer PVs I've seen; maybe not as messy as S/mileage's Dot Bikini but still pretty cluttered.

Wow. Koi no Love Sunshine was kind of an underwhelming song and PV overall. Underwhelming enough that I only feel like giving it two and half out of five apples. Yeah, this definitely isn't going to be on of the standout summer PVs of 2012 for me. The song isn't energetic enough to stand out for me and the PV only consists of jumbled plotlines and gratuitous fanservice. So yeah, I guess I'm kicking off summer with a negative PV review... great. Well hey, I can get the boring stuff out of the way and save more interesting summer PVs for later, right? Right! There's a whole summer ahead of me and I can't wait to enjoy it!

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