Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dammit, Dempagumi.inc

What's this? BiS cameo-ed in another idol group's music video!? How come nobody told me!? And they're releasing a collaboration mini-album with the same idol group whose video they appeared in!? Happy day! I mean, I surprisingly loved the collaboration BiS did with Dorothy Little Happy, so if they can work well with a group as bland as them, I'm sure BiS will do-

Oh. It's Dempagumi.inc.

Well. I guess I can't say I'm surprised BiS would collaborate with a group like Dempagumi.inc. It's less of a curve ball than the Dorothy Little Happy collaboration was anyways. It makes sense because like BiS, Dempagumi.inc has a reputation for being one of those idol groups that marches to the beat of a different drummer. An off-key drummer that's probably snorted some coke but still, a different drummer. Now I'm a blogger that has stated in several posts that what I tend to look for in an idol group is an aspect that distinguishes the group from all the other groups vying for attention in the juggernaut that is the J-pop idol industry. Dempagumi.inc fits this profile; so why haven't I reviewed anything by them? They're not on my Blacklist so I'm clearly not adamant toward reviewing any of their material. I can honestly say I like a lot of aspects of Dempagumi.inc. I think visually, they're one of the most interesting groups on the market right now. I mean, just look at the above picture! How colorful and expressive does that look?

All the PVs I've seen from this group have looked amazing, with very clear themes and ideas that transition well to the screen. And their concepts are so interesting, or the ones I've seen at least. It almost makes me wish I more actively reviewed their PVs because there's a lot talk about in each one. In terms of styling, they get some of the most distinctive and attractive costumes I've ever seen. Hell, want some of the clothes these girls get to wear. I also like that the girls of this group are wotas themselves, and I think that really allows them to connect with their fans. From the few clips and interviews I've seen of them, they show an enthusiasm for what they do, which is always a trait I can admire in idol groups that I don't even like that much. So why haven't I reviewed anything by Dempagumi.inc? Well, what's one aspect of an idol group that I hold above everything else? Don't think too hard about it. What do I always seem to have a criticisms about with anything I review? It starts with an "m" and ends in a "c." Figured it out yet?

I can't stand any of Dempagumi.inc's music. And believe me, I've tried to like it. I've really tried. Dempagumi.inc is about on par with Momoiro Clover Z with their production levels. In fact, the idol group that they most remind me of is Momoiro Clover Z. The only difference I've been able to see is slightly different marketing personas and visuals. But what both groups have with their music is an air of quirkiness. Like MomoClo, Dempagumi.inc's music is very zany and very original, but brimming with poor vocals. From what I've heard of their music, the girls of Dempagumi.inc aren't exactly the strongest singers. In fact, some of their voices sound pretty awful. Like I didn't think any idol group could top MomoClo in shrill, ear-splitting vocals, but voila, Dempagumi.inc has now stolen that title! Gosh, MomoClo, you're gonna have to work hard to reclaim your title as most off-key idol group! For me, I have to have a balance of good vocals and personality in any idol group I follow.

This is why I can tolerate a group like Momoiro Clover Z despite them having weak vocals. In terms of visuals and style, I think they're an idol group that tries to be original. This reasoning is also why I can't get into a group like Fairies. Despite its members being talented, there's nothing about the group that stands out personality-wise. And unfortunately for Dempagumi.inc, what I've found with them is that their vocals are just too grating and high-pitched on my ears. That's another thing I noticed about their music actually: it's really high-pitched. For a Japanese idol group, it's exceptionally high-pitched. As a result, the songs I've heard from them sound kind of annoying. Look, I'm a singer, and I admit I can be a little nitpicky when it comes to vocals in idol groups but... good lord, I have legitimately wondered why Dempagumi.inc's vocals are so poor. So much that I tried to find more about them on Wikipedia. While they had no page on Wikipedia, their name did redirect me to the Wikipedia page about Dempa song. So now I could figure out why Dempagumi.inc's singing was so bad!!

Oh. So that's why.

Well, that explains so much. Regardless, I still feel like I should at least look at Dempagumi.inc's latest single, W.W.D. II. Not W.W.D., although I probably should at least listen to that song too... Whatever, I'm only taking on one Dempagumi.inc song at a time. So a good question to start with is what in the hell does W.W.D. stand for anyways? Through much grueling and time-consuming research, I found that it stands for World Wide Dempa! So I guess W.W.D. II is meant to be a sequel of sorts to World Wide Dempa? The PV for W.W.D. II is a sequel to W.W.D. so I just assumed both song were connected as well. Anyways, how does W.W.D. II sound? Are the vocals as bad as the few other Dempagumi.inc songs I've listened to? Actually, they're not terrible. It's just when the girls chant and/or scream anything in the song that they start grating on me. I will say there's this one chick in the group and I don't know which one but she actually has a pretty decent voice. Everyone else though ranges from subpar to nigh-intolerable. Other than that, I think this song is all right. I can't deny it's energetic which is always a plus in my book.

What I noticed most about W.W.D. II is that the arrangement was very complex, for an idol group at least. It reminded me again of Momoiro Clover Z's musical production with a huge variety of verses and bits. Although it did get to be a little too much at times. W.W.D. II isn't a short song, and there are parts where I can definitely feel its longness. I think maybe with the right editing, this could be a song that I might even enjoy listening to. However, in its original form, W.W.D. II is an all right song. Not unbearable, but it probably won't make any of my Best-of lists this year. Still, since I went in expecting the worst from this song, I'm rather pleasantly surprised that W.W.D. II wasn't absolutely terrible. I makes me wonder if I'll ever review anything else from Dempagumi.inc again. I'll probably review the collaboration single they did with BiS if I could ever get my hands on it, but who knows? Maybe Dempagumi.inc will grow on me in the same way Momoiro Clover Z did. Only time will tell.

For now, I would very much like to look at the PV for W.W.D. II since that's the ones aspect of Dempagumi.inc that I find highly appealing. Besides, what's more fun than than screencapping the glorious Brand-new Idol Society butting heads with another idol group?

Well, I'm getting nostalgia tones from this opening shot.

And these most be the lovely cheerleaders- I mean idols of Dempagumi.inc!

Is that an M&M?

Wow, seven years have sure made the members... different!

Nah, it was all just a dream from poor Pinky, clearly longing for the glory days of Dempagumi.inc!

It looks like Mirin joined one of the most painful careers of all... BUSINESS!

At least she's proactive! Mogantanpe just spends her days languishing in a dump!

I have absolutely no idea what this chick does. Ancient rituals? Theatre? Ancient rituals in theatre?

Well, Risachi does kids' shows now that she's out of Dempagumi.inc!

Despite the kids clearly not taking much interest in her.

And Nemu opened a bar that's probably the least hopping bar in Japan. I guess you could really call it a... One Room Disco. Huehuehue.

I know Pinky's not very happy in her new group but if these guys can sing, I'm a happy camper!

Alas, all the Dempagumi.inc members experience a fervent longing for the olden days.

Wow, even the camera guy notices something's up.

At least everyone can be re-united in the dance shot!

In the shadows of the concert, lurks trouble though... trouble in the form of... BiS.

Aw how sweet, Pinky kept the MacGuffin candy dispenser from the glory days!

But delicious candy won't stop the arrival BiS! And they're gonna fuck. Shit. UP!

Ah, nothing brings people together like kidnappings!

At least they were nice enough to leave a clue behind!

I have to admit, I'm surprised it took BiS this long to kidnap another idol...

Meanwhile, our heroines are reminded of their old, off-key days as a group.

Bottom line is they get back together to save Pinky and reunite Dempagumi.inc!

And now it's time for the ultimate idol smackdown.

Dempagumi.inc vs. the batshit-crazy but awesome Brand-new Idol Society! YEAH!

They all look so cool. So intimidating. So wonderful.

It's a shame they don't get to used their spiked baseball bats for this smackdown though!

And Dempagumi.inc charges forward, beginning the smackdown!!!

And BiS runs towards Dempagumi.inc, bent for blood... well, maybe not but still! VIOLENCE!

So the final confrontation is set with idol group against another when... the PV ends.

Yeah, it ends on that note. Talk about anticlimactic, huh? Someone described the PV and hyped me up to believe that the entire PV revolved around this fight between BiS and Dempagumi.inc when really the major storyline was completely different. So hey, let's go over the general storyline for W.W.D. II! As said before W.W.D. II is a sequel to W.W.D. This PV technically takes place in the year 2020, despite the fact that none of the members have aged at all. By this point the only original member left in Dempagumi.inc is Pinky who longs for the days with her old members. Meanwhile, Mirin has taken up a job as a businesswoman, Mogantanpe is jobless, Nemu has opened a bar, Risachi has joined a kids' show, and Eitaso... well, I'm not sure what Eitaso's doing but it has nothing to do with Dempagumi.inc! So yeah, the whole group is apart and everyone has gone their separate ways. And naturally, everyone is angsting about it.

Anyways, Pinky is performing at another concert with the replacement members of Dempagumi.inc when trouble strikes. A mysterious group of "anti-idols" (which spoiler alert is BiS) emerge from the crowd, storm onto the stage, and kidnap Pinky! Luckily, all the other former members were conveniently watching the concert and saw the entire abduction. Naturally they all rush to the hall only to find Pinky long gone and a scratched and vandalized CD of W.W.D. in her place. With all the members back together, the girls realize that they all miss each other and the crowd encourages them to reunite and save Pinky. They do so because friendship is magic and whatnot and go confront BiS who are all sitting menacingly in a giant warehouse. The anti-idol group stares down Dempagumi.inc before the latter charges and the former gets up and starts charging also. So both sides are running and they finally meet, ready to battle it out and see just which idol group comes out on top. And then... that's it. I have no idea if this was meant to be the cliffhanger for another PV, but knowing idol continuity, we're never going to see a glorious fight scene between these two groups.

I guess I shouldn't be so hung up on one little aspect of the PV, but I was expecting a fight between BiS and Dempagumi.inc. You can't just play with my expectations and not deliver on them! I think a fight scene would have been really cool, especially since there's such a contrast between BiS and Dempagumi.inc. It's kind of why I found Get You to be such an interesting collaboration between BiS and Dorothy Little Happy. All right, I've done enough bitching and moaning about an idol group that isn't even the main focus of this PV. Other than that, how does the PV for W.W.D. II hold up? Well, I think the PV has a very strong storyline to start with. You've got a lot of conflict, and the setup leading to said conflict was done really well. It showed the viewers through visuals just what each member of Dempagumi.inc was feeling, even viewers who can't understand the language. I always have to at least give props for an idol group attempting a story in a PV, especially a cohesive one. W.W.D. II's storyline is very clear and actually somewhat compelling.

I admit, I only watched the PV because I wanted to see BiS in it, but I did get a little wrapped up in what was going to happen to Dempagumi.inc. Even then, the inclusion of another idol group in a PV was still a very interesting idea. I personally like it when idols "cross over" with other idol groups through collaborations and such. And when the idol group crossing over is BiS you can have them just standing around with pom poms and I'd still probably find that at least somewhat entertaining. Yeah, I think the confrontation between the two groups could have been utilized more, but I have to at least acknowledge that it was a creative idea. It does make me wonder what the collaboration between the two groups sound like. I wish that the DenDen Passion Idol single wasn't just sold at concert events but oh well, I guess at some point or another it'll make its way to the web. I'd wager that it's going to be awhile though. For now, BiS' cameo in W.W.D. II is for the most part satisfying, and who knows? Maybe Dempagumi.inc will cameo in one of their PVs!

On the technical side, W.W.D. II was pretty good. There was a really great variety of sets, and they all contributed to the atmosphere of the PV. This PV was supposed to take place in the future, and the settings helped the viewer realize just what kind of future it was for Dempagumi.inc. What I noticed about all the scenes is that they're very dark. Not macabre and creepy kind of dark but literally dark. Dim, actually. It's like there's a big black cloud over every scene, save for the dream sequence Pinky has in the beginning of the PV. I don't know if that was intentional, but it set a very nice mood for the PV. Like the world has turned dark without Dempagumi.inc! I almost want to say the settings felt gritty, but I think that's a little drastic of a term. What I also liked about this PV was that there were a lot of people in it, besides BiS. You've got the people at the concert, the new members of Dempagumi.inc, the businessmen, and that's just to name a few! They added a sense of legitimacy to the world created in this PV, and I think with a storyline like this, you need a lot of people to properly convey it.

The PV for W.W.D. II wasn't as bright or colorful as the few other Dempagumi.inc PVs I've watched, but I think a flashy type of PV would have just killed the mood and the storyline. So visually it might not be the most interesting PV I've watched, but the storyline still kept me interested. All I want is a conclusion to that confrontation between BiS and Dempagumi.inc. Did Dempagumi.inc win? Did they rescue Pinky? We'll probably never know considering idol PVs have the same continuity as the Evil Dead movies... Overall though, I liked the PV for W.W.D. II! It had a very distinct and easy-to-understand storyline along with a lot of memorable side characters, particularly BiS. Visually it was dark but appropriately dark, and each scene blended well with all the other scenes. So... yeah. That was Dempagumi.inc. For my first look at anything by them, W.W.D. II was... pretty decent! I really liked the PV for it at least; the song was all right.

I will collectively give W.W.D. II four out of five apples. The song isn't as terrible as I was expecting it to be, but it's not the best thing I've ever heard ever. The PV was pretty good and it had a compelling storyline and nice visuals, even if it failed to deliver on a few aspects. I have to admit, I never thought I'd review something from Dempagumi.inc. I might keep and eye out for what they do in the future. Who knows? Something else they release might grab my attention!


  1. You pretty much hit the nail on the head with how I feel about Dempagumi, myself. Dempagumi 's vocals encompass everything that I don't like about them. I can't even like these songs that are good songs, because of the horribly bad vocals. It feels like there is so much incredible potential in a lot of these songs, but their singing kills it. And this coming from someone who openly admits to loving even Momoclo's at-times-iffy vocals. It's such a bummer.

    1. Exactly! The songs themselves could sound really good under the right singers, but the way the members of Dempagumi.inc sing is just so grating. Even I'd take MomoClo over this kind of singing.