Friday, May 31, 2013

Step & Go into the Candy Room

Every time I swear I'm never gonna do another double PV review BAM! I decide to do another double PV review! Why? Because I must love to torture myself with a doubled workload for one post, that's why! Yeah, yeah, I'm the bloke writing this; I'll just suck it up and deal with it! Anyways, let's talk about Passpo.

Ah, Passpo, the airplane-themed idol group that somehow makes traveling look appealing. You know, just a week ago, I traveled to New Jersey via airplane! My flight left at 6 in the morning and I had to sit next to a guy who was three times my size! Yeah, somehow I didn't get the same happy-go-lucky vibes that Passpo seems to generate in their travel-themed PVs. Speaking of travel themes, you all might remember that around this time of year was when Passpo started their Airline Trilogy, a series of three singles each revolving around traveling to a different area of the world and showcasing a style of music from it. For 2013, Passpo is embarking on a similar type of trilogy, only this one isn't about traveling around the world but about the evolution of the group itself. Each single in this new trilogy is meant to display how much the group has grown from its inception way back in 2010! So the first single in this series was released on May 22nd, a double A-side titled Step & Go/Candy Room. I believe this is the first double A-side to come from Passpo, am I wrong? Some of you may remember that the first Passpo material I ever reviewed was the Airline Trilogy! That amazing collection of singles was what got me into the group on the first place! So I am curious to see how this following trilogy will hold up in comparison. At least this time around I won't have to take on three PV reviews in pne post! Eugh, that review was a nightmare to finish... Then again, a double PV review is no walk in the park either and yet here I am writing another one! You'd think I'd have learned my lesson after my Brainstorming/Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai double PV review but nope! I guess I just can't resist the idea of giving myself twice the workload for one post! Well, I might as well make this the best damn double PV review since... my last one! Guys, fasten your seatbelts, store all carry-on possessions in the compartment above, and turn off all your electronics because Review Airlines is taking off!!!

...Okay, I promise I'll try and keep my airplane puns to a minimum.

Let's start with Step & Go, shall we? I have to admit, I really didn't know just what the hell I was supposed to expect for this song. The theme of "group evolution" doesn't exactly leave me brimming with ideas about how that's going to unfold in terms of music. Well, I listened to Step & Go. I actually had to listen to this song several times before I could form a fleshed-out opinion of it beyond just a few words. Yeah... it's one of those songs. Let me just go ahead and say the Step & Go is not a bad song. Believe me, I would take it over some of the generic crap I've covered on the Wonderland. But by Passpo standards, Step & Go is an okay song. My initial reaction the hearing the entire song was, "Eh? It's okay I guess." To put in in perspective, if Step & Go did not exist as a song, then I would not be depressed. Not even a little bit. Maybe if it were Next flight or even ViVi Natsu but nope. Step & Go is a song that just... exists. I don't even mind that it exists; Step & Go simply doesn't impress me that much. I almost want to say it's... it's like the Passpo equivalent of a generic song. Am I making sense? In the time that I've been following Passpo, I've noticed that they kind of have this one type of music that they seem to revert to when they're not trying to branch out into any different music styles. You know how I'm always bitching about that generic sound Aki-P reverts to when making certain AKB48 songs, such as Chance no Juban, Gingham Check, and Eien Pressure? And how the reason I hate those songs so much is because they all sound the same? Well, generic Passpo songs kind of fall into that same rut, only it doesn't make my blood boil as much. I think that may be because I don't hate the more generic-sounding Passpo songs. In fact, they're pretty enjoyable to listen to despite bringing nothing new to the table. But nonetheless, they are still generic songs that I easily forget and probably wouldn't miss if they were to just magically disappear one day.

What sound am I talking about? Well, much like several other Passpo songs I have listened to, Step & Go is a blend of idol pop and idol rock. It's upbeat but not too upbeat and energetic but not too energetic. Think Scandal, only a little bit more idol-y. Actually, it kind of reminds me of a Silent Siren song. It's basically your typical pop-rock Passpo song that any fan of the group is very familiar with, okay? In that sense, Step & Go is a pretty underwhelming song. It has energy and the beat is decent, but I feel like this is going to be one of those A-sides this year that I'm just going to forget about by the time I finish typing this review. I will admit I don't mind Passpo's generic song style over some of the other generic idol sounds out there (i.e. AKB48's generic song style, Super Girls' entire discography). Again, I really do like Step & Go; it's a fine song. I just don't love it. And when you put it up to Next flight, the first A-side of the Airline Trilogy, Step & Go really pales in comparison, especially as an A-side to kick off this year's singles trilogy. Luckily, there's another A-side, and in a few paragraphs we'll see how that one holds up. But back to Step & Go. I just don't think this is a song that really shows and "evolution" for Passpo; it's not like I expect groundbreaking material from idol groups, but come on, Passpo's done better than this! Eh, maybe I'm expecting too much. Or maybe this whole "evolution" trilogy is going to show Passpo improving with each A-side they release! Step & Go could be starting the trilogy as a normal Passpo song, then the next A-side will branch, and then the final A-side of the trilogy will have a sound that's still in the vein of Passpo songs but stands out and shows how much the group has changed! After all, Truly, their next A-side is coming out in June, and from what I've heard of that song, it's pretty cool! Well, I don't know where Passpo's flying right now with their music, but for now, Step & Go is an all right song. I'll cross my fingers and wait for something better from Passpo though!

But hey, you know what's great about uninteresting songs? When they get PVs that magically bring them to life! Such is the case with Step & Go! I hope you like CGI because the PV for this song has got it in boatloads. See what I did there? 'Cause the PV's got boats in it and... and... fine, I'll get to the screencap!

Wow! Passpo's such a famous idol group they get their own satellite? Can I get a satellite too?

I know, guys. The technology used in this PV is groundbreaking. Totally beats Life of Pi.

Off we go to... MIDDLE EARTH!

So I think I'm really starting to like Mio... mainly because I'm starting to recognize her the most in Passpo's PVs...

Hahaha, I have no idea where I'm going! Seriously, am I going the right way?

What!? Sayonara Crawl got #1 on the charts and we didn't!? IMPOSSIBLE!

See, this is what happens when you let airplane-themed idols drive a boat.

Can our heroine save the day? With blatant CGI... YES... SHE... CAN!!!

So is the backup band now a staple in every Passpo PV?

FINALLY! An airplane in a Passpo PV! I don't think we've seen one since Next flight!

Is this PV just composed entirely of green screens?

How much you wanna bet they're just playing Go Fish?

Oooh, nice magical playing cards, Passpo.

Did Tokyo Girls' Style loan some to you?

What do you get when you combine playing cards and magic tricks...?

...dragons! Poorly rendered CGI dragons! Huh. Can't say I expected that.

When I was first watching this PV, I seriously thought my .mp4 file was glitching in this part.

But nope! It's just Passpo going 8-bit! Pretty cool, huh?

Maybe they can meet up with 8-bit zombie!MEG!

Just putting this out there, but I would totally go for a Passpo-themed video game.

Oh hi C3PO! I mean Passpo-bot! Yeah, who the hell are you supposed to be anyways?

Despite running for her life, Shiori still wears a smile on her face! That's the idol spirit!

What a brave and noble robot to give his life for Shiori! He should be knighted!

You know what would be cool? If Passpo got Scandal to be their backup band. Man, I'd totally watch a PV like that!

These 8-bit scenes are so cute! I kind of wish there were more of them in this PV!

This shot could use some Storm Troopers chasing the girls...

Do the wave, Passpo!

By the power of Passpo...


The force is strong in these idols.

So did they make it to their destination or not?

I guess so! Now Passpo can begin their battle with Momoiro Clover Z of conquering THE GALAXY!

Oh, so this whole thing was a flashback? Way to make that clear, PV!

And how exactly does Mr. Robot fit into all this anyways? Was he stalking the girls or something?

Oh well, the PV's over! Too late to find out now!

Something you might have already noticed from the shots of the PV seen in the screencap is... Step & Go isn't exactly a high-budget PV. In fact, it's got rather shoddy special effects. Yeah, this is a CG heavy PV, and not the Pixar-quality CG either. When I start thinking about how this PV was filmed, I actually find it very amusing that most of it was probably spent tell the girls where to stand and what to do in a bunch of different green screens. So yeah, almost all the scenes in Step & Go look highly unrealistic and you can pretty clearly tell the girls aren't driving a boat or surfing through a forest or running through the ruins of a sweeping castle. If you're gonna watch this PV, you have to do it with at least some level of willing suspension of disbelief. I mean, I've definitely seen worse special effects (-cough- Birdemic) but the money for the technology used in Step & Go clearly wasn't that excessive. But even though the effects suck in this PV, I've got to at least give the director props for trying. This PV could have been a whole lot lazier and a whole lot more uninspired; then again, Passpo isn't under Hello! Project so it looks like they skirted that unfortunate ailment! What saves Step & Go from being a PV that just has a lot of CGI is the sheer variety the PV has. There are a lot of different scenes in Step & Go and to be honest, they're all pretty entertaining. From the boat scenes to the 8-bit shots to showing the girls flying on dragons and surfing through forests, I always felt like Step & Go was surprising me with a new idea of scene with each different transition. One the subject of that, I like how there are nice transitions into each different setting too! One of my favorite transitions was when some of the girls were playing cards and a dragon flew out of one of the cards only to have the next scene showing the girls riding said dragon! I also like how in the end of the PV, the audience sees the robot looking through pictures of all the adventures Passpo went on in the PV. It gives a nice sense of connection between the scenes and doesn't make them just a collection of random shots.

Speaking of connections... could it be that the PV for Step & Go has a plot? Well, when I first watched the entire PV, I wasn't sure! I could tell there was something going on with the robot and his stalking of the girls of Passpo. I just couldn't figure out what because it was so vague! Was he their protector? The operator of the boat? A visual representation of the Passpo's fanbase? No idea! He just showed up in a few scenes and we never got any explanation whatsoever about what his purpose was! Well, anyways, after screencapping the PV, I think the PV for Step & Go isn't about a general story but more a... series of stories. What I noticed is each scene in the PV had something happen, then the PV moved on to another scene. If an obstacle was presented in said scene, such as trying to avoid falling off a waterfall or outrunning a boulder, the problem was solved and then the PV would simply move on to the next scene. There's also the inclusion of 8-bit Passpo to take into consideration. That's when I started thinking... is Step & Go meant to be a visual representation of a video game? I mean, it makes sense the more I think about it. Each different scene represents the next level of the game! And then the end shot showing all the members along with some of the other characters from other scenes shows that they've reached the end of the game! Maybe the girls were in a series of mini-games that they had to navigate their way out of to get back to the real world! Well... maybe the plot isn't that complicated but I think it's highly plausible that Step & Go is themed around video games! That's what I chose to believe. The fact that Step & Go has a theme and its execution was decent is what I think makes it stand out as a PV! I like that despite the special effects are iffy, this PV still has a lot going on and still manages to keep my attention. The PV doesn't have pointless scenes or a lack of variety unlike some of the other idol groups I've reviewed. Step & Go really is a quite refreshing adventure PV!

Something I also thought was interesting about Step & Go was that Masui Mio, the chick in the pigtails, designed the outfits for this PV! And while at times they make the girls look like adorable McDonald's workers, I think that's pretty cool she was able to contribute something visual to the PV beyond her performance! Speaking of Mio, I think I'm starting to like her! She just always seems very enthusiastic and into what she's doing in all the PVs I've seen her in. I'm even starting to recognize her face! Yeah, unfortunately, I'm still at that stage with Passpo where I'm struggling to place names with faces. I can recognize a few girls at times (like Mio, Ai and Shiori) but everyone else... is a challenge. I am trying though! I followed a Passpo blog on Tumblr and I'm hoping that if I see enough pictures of each girl, I'll start to recognize them! I really wish I did know who was who though because I feel like each girl in Step & Go got her own little moment to shine! Like there was the girl who got to drive, the girl who pulled out the sword, the girls manning the controls in the boat, there was such a nice varieties of activities you could see each girl doing! I don't know if everyone got equal screen time per say (again, knowing who's who would probably help in figuring that out) but I still feel like I got to see everyone doing a lot of stuff in this PV! I always like when an idol PV both visually engaging and also shows a lot of personality from the idols themselves. I've noticed Passpo does a pretty good job at creating that balance of visuals and personality. Overall, I think the PV for Step & Go outshines the song and makes the song a lot more fun and energetic than when I listen to it alone! Is the CGI cheesy as hell? Absolutely but it doesn't take away from the entertainment value of the PV! You know... technically can Step & Go be considered a summer PV? I mean, it's got water and a boat in it... Oh hell, it's my blog and I'm gonna classify it as a summer PV! It's the only summer PV I've reviewed so far that I've actually liked anyways.

I'll give the first A-side off Passpo's trilogy four out of five apples! Step & Go is an enjoyable song, albeit pretty unremarkable and approaching no new territory for Passpo. The PV is much more interesting to watch even if the special effects are hilariously bad. It showcases the girls in a lot of different scenes, and I found it to be very entertaining. Overall, an all right song and a nicely-done PV!


Don't any of you dare start closing the window on your browser to this review! I worked too hard and wracked my brain too much trying to write this blasted double PV review to have you guys only read half of it! We still have one more song and PV to cover! Well, after stepping out of reviewing that A-side, let's go into what the next A-side is on this double A-side! See what I did there? Much like Step & Go, I didn't have much of an inkling as to how Candy Room. I guess I had a vague idea that it would be a pretty perky song since the song titles mentions the word "candy" but for the most part, I was clueless and open to whatever Passpo's producers came up with. Just as I suspected, Candy Room is the peppier of the two A-sides on this Passpo single. It's highly upbeat, highly energetic, and personally, I really enjoy this song! I admit, I didn't really think much of it the first time I listened to the entire song; I actually was a bit worried it was going to be on of those songs that started annoying me after awhile. But nope, I think it's gone in the other direction for me! Candy Room definitely grew on me from my first listen. Candy Room is a very catchy song and I think that's partially thanks to the tempo of the song along with the repetitive words in the instrumental chorus. Not to mention there's a lot of English scattered around in this song, only adding to the perpetual catchiness. I can't help but hum parts of Candy Room, even when I don't intend to! It's just one of those songs that latches onto your brain whether you want it to or not! Not that I really mind; Candy Room is catchy in the best way possible! I think this is a really fun song, the kind of song that I can bob my head to! I actually like that Candy Room has more of a pop sound than rock sound; I think that sets it apart from Step & Go! In fact, you know what the sound of Candy Room reminds me of? Well... oh god, you guys are going to shoot me if I make this comparison but... I just have to! It fits, okay!?

Candy Room... kinda sounds... like an Avril Lavigne song.

WHAT!? I was in middle school and she was really popular at the time! Don't deny you listened to Girlfriend with all your seventh grade friends too! So yes, as much as I hate to mention it out of embarrassment for the time in which I was in middle school, Candy Room kind of sounds like a song style that Avril Lavigne would take on. At least I think it does. Is she still doing that whole "pop-punk" schtick? I don't know but none theless, I think Candy Room is a surprisingly rocking song to listen to! The enthusiasm of the song just... I don't know, it grows on me! What also adds to my enjoyment of Candy Room is that it's a song that's just bursting over the top with energy. The fast tempo helps but the girls themselves also sound really enthusiastic in this song, especially when they get to the chorus. The verses are a little toned down but not too much and the breaks between the verses and chorus are my favorite parts! Candy Room is a song that has the ability to put me in an enthusiastic mood by listening to it, and I think that's thanks to the energy it has! I have to say, overall Candy Room is a pretty awesome song! It's catchy, has a nice beat, the chorus rocks, and I like that the sound is a little more pop than rock! In fact, I think Candy Room is a stronger A-side than Step & Go is. It has a more distinct sound and manages to have a hook and a really catchy beat, two things that Step & Go was kind of lacking in. Honestly, I could see myself listening to Candy Room in the future more than I could Step & Go too. Again, I don't think that song is bad but musically speaking, I've heard that pop-rock sound a lot from Passpo. Candy Room does take a more pop-friendly and idol-y route in terms of music but it's handled so well that the song leaves a good impression with me. I really am surprised at how much I enjoyed Candy Room since I honestly thought it was going to be the weaker of the two A-sides but nope! It's a fun song and I highly recommend checking it out!

But I do wonder... just what is a Candy Room supposed to be anyways? Is it like a room filled with Candy? Like the scenes used in AKB48's Sugar Rush PV? I don't know, but I think screencapping the PV for Candy Room will give me the answers I seek!

So this is the Candy Room? Funny, I expected it to have more candy in it...

An accurate representation of how it feels to get through flight security.

A wild male species appears!


See, this is what happens when idols can't date! One guy walks in and BAM! Huge party!

A friendly reminder from the PV producers that yes, Passpo has legs! Thank you!

Is that supposed to be an F or a P?

I guess it's an F! After all, F is for Friends who do stuff together! Like throwing wild parties!

Agh, I love this set so much! It looks so colorful and fun!

Can you guys see why I'm starting to like Mio?

Remind me to call Passpo if I ever want to throw a wild and destructive sleepover!

You know, I'm not one to notice legs very much but Passpo has some very nice legs.

It's not a sleepover without your friends force-feeding you greasy pizza!

STEP ASIDE! I'm gonna audition for Scandal!

Heeheehee, little does she know I put HOT SAUCE on this marshmallow!!!

I think those sunglasses are a keeper, Ai.

Ah, there's always that one friend who gets really tired really fast and wants to sleep early...

Shiori, just what exactly are you planning to do with Mr. Hot Guy?

Let the epic and violent battle for Mr. Hot Guy BEGIN! HUZZAH!

Shall I play the Scooby Dooby doors music?

See, this is why no boys our allowed at sleepover! Girls just get crazy possessive!

The things I would do to have such a cool vanity stand...

Hello? Is this the Hot Guy Hotline???

No, this is A-chan and it's three in the morning. Get the hell off my phone line or I'm sending Kyary to your party.

You know, if we were in the PV for Heavy Rotation, I could totally wear this!

Ready... aim...


I would totally take this pool scene over the one from Sayonara Crawl any day!

I hope you like hair, because I'm giving you a lock of mine!!

HOW DARE YOU! That's what we were gonna give him!


Oh come on, like you didn't see that coming? You were totally baiting yourself for getting pushed into the pool!

You know what I love most about this scene? Everyone looks like they're having fun!

Seriously, best sleepover PV EVER!

Join ussss...

And then he dissolved into sea foam because no way were the producers letting the idols hang out with a real guy.

All right, I'm gonna go ahead and say it: I think Candy Room got a better PV than Step & Go did. Yeah, I know, the variety of different scenes and references are entertaining but come on. Candy Room got a real set. And it's not just some lame backdrop with a few props scattered around; the sets used in this PV are made up well. Something that will always catch my attention in an idol PV is a well-done set, and I love the look of the various rooms used for Candy Room from the hotel room to the bedroom to the hallway to the pool scene! I love how the camera focused not only on the girls but also spared a few shots just showing the area they were in and how the girls interacted with the sets as well. There was so much to look at when I was watching the PV; I kind of had the same reaction when I was watching the PV to AKB48's Heavy Rotation as well! So the main concept I got from the PV for Candy Room was that the girls were throwing a sleepover along with chasing a hot guy around, ending with them all falling into a pool outside. It's a simple concept that's been explored in many an idol PV, but something about the way it's done in Passpo's PV really sold me. The PV for Candy Room actually reminded me of the PV for Suika Baby by AKB48 subgroup Not yet. Both PVs feature idols throwing a sleepover and trashing a room, and both PVs even have the same kind of... atmosphere? Is that the right word to describe it? Of course, the girls of Passpo end up in a pool instead of posing for mugshots so the PVs clearly aren't 100% similar. But the basic concept of idols throwing a wild and destructive party is present in both PVs. I have to say, I think Passpo pulled it off wonderfully with Candy Room! I don't know if it's because of the great sets, the entertainment the girls themselves bring to the table, or the colorful insanity the PV projects but Candy Room was a PV that I enjoyed screencapping. I loved picking apart this PV through each shot I screencapped since I think it gave me an even better idea of just how much fun this PV is!

You know something? I... I can't believe I'm making this comparison but I think Candy Room is like a more toned-down and less fanservice-y version of Heavy Rotation. I mean, both PVs have a pretty similar concept of idols having fun in a very lush and colorful environment. Both PVs heavily rely on the imagery of the set to be visually appealing. Both PVs showcase their respective idols in innocent and carefree manners (despite the girls of AKB48 wearing lingerie). Can you see where I'm coming from now? I actually like that the PV for Candy Room didn't got in a more fanservice route, and focused more on the very loose story. Don't get me wrong there were a few leg shots and the outfits worn in the dance shot were very flattering on the girls. Speaking of those dance shot outfits, you guys recognize them? They're the promotional outfits used for Passpo's compilation album released back in March! That really has nothing to do with the PV for Candy Room but I thought that was interesting! The other outfits worn in the PV are pajamas but man, are they cute pajamas! I'd totally wear them if I could find where to buy them! They looked adorable on the girls and I liked that each outfit stood out! Something I wish I saw less of in Passpo's PVs is the uniformity of their outfits, even though I know it's part of their whole schtick. It's just nice being able to tell each girl apart more easily! The best part about the PV for Candy Room is the girls themselves. I love how they look like they're having so much fun shooting this video! Every shot just shows them going crazy, laughing, dancing, and just doing all the crazy things that girls do at sleepovers! It felt very genuine and brought me back to the days when I had enough of a social life to actually hold sleepovers. Just seeing how much fun the girls of Passpo are having is enough to make Candy Room an engaging PV, because it makes the viewer feel the same way the idols do. Candy Room is a PV that makes sleepovers look fun thanks to all the vivid sets and scenery along with the way the girls acted in this PV!

Candy Room gets four and half out of five apples from me! The song is extremely enjoyable, with an energetic pop sound combined with catchy vocals! The PV only adds to the fun that the song projects with a hilarious story, visually appealing sets, and the bubbly personalities the girls of Passpo project! I don't know what lies in store for Truly, the next single in Passpo's latest trilogy, but I'm looking forward to it! As long as it's not a double A-side... Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go collapse onto the couch and work up my writing juices again!

No comments:

Post a Comment