PLEASE STOP RELEASING DOUBLE A-SIDES. You've written nine for the H!P groups this year, ten if you count Juice=Juice's triple A-side. Look, it's hard enough to do one PV review when I've got so many other groups I need to review. It's hard for me to write a double PV review, okay? So please. Just... stop. For my own sanity and other idol bloggers out there.
But if I'm gonna review one double A-side, it might as well be C-ute's! That way I can make up for not reviewing Kanashiki Amefuri/Adam to Eve no Dilemma. I am serious though, all these double A-sides from Hello! Project are a pain in the butt to review. Like, I can handle one a year, maybe three at the most. But how on earth am I supposed to review nine of them? Even if I count out the Berryz double A-sides, that's still seven! Normally, I'd just do seven PV reviews, but making those singles double A-sides forces me to either do double PV reviews (which take a toll on my already-slipping sanity) or write fourteen PV reviews. Shocking as it may seem, there are PVs besides Hello! Project's that I want to review. And unlike H!P, those other groups all have the common sense not to constantly release double A-sides! Hopefully Tsunku's just having one his phases, and he'll get back to releasing single A-sides for awhile before finding some new fad to throw on all the H!P groups.
For now, I probably won't get around to reviewing all the double A-sides H!P's been cranking out this year. What I'm thinking I might do is just select one A-side from each single, whichever one I prefer more, review that, and just leave the other one unreviewed. That sound like a good plan? That way I get to keep the fragments of my sanity, and I don't have to wrack my brain into writing two reviews in one. Well... except for one review. I do want to review both A-sides of C-ute's latest single, because in my opinion, both are worth talking about. I know, I know, it was practically released a month ago, but all November I've been planning to review it and just haven't gotten around to doing so. What can I say? I got distracted by Perfume, Nogizaka46, and Momoiro Clover Z. Things happen! Still, the sheer quality of the PVs for Tokai no Hitorigurashi and Aitte Motto Zanshin was what merited a double PV review for C-ute. Besides, I haven't done a double PV review since Passpo's Step & Go/Candy Room. I need something to do that'll drive me crazy every few months!
With that in mind... let us proceed with caution.
So let's talk about the first of the two A-sides, Tokai no Hitorigurashi. The last time that I talked about C-ute at all was when I was comparing them to Berryz Koubou. In summary, I thought that currently C-ute was getting better songs and better production than Berryz. Their PVs have been slowly getting better, their sales have been better than ever, and as a group, C-ute just seems to have the best dynamic in Hello! Project. Meanwhile, Berryz has... not. And I'll just leave it at that. Anyways, I referred to C-ute's latest single Tokai no Hitorigurashi/Aitte Motto Zanshin as evidence that their production quality had improved. However, even though I did say display both Tokai no Hitorigurashi and Aitte Motto Zanshin in a positive light, I actually think that both songs aren't the best A-sides from C-ute this year. I mean, thank god neither one is Kono Machi 2.0, but I still think both songs could have been better. But I'll get to the problems with Aitte Motto Zanshin in a moment.
Let's start with Tokai no Hitorigurashi or Living Alone in the City if you want to use UFP's shitty translation. Since Crazy Kanzen na Otona, C-ute has been riding a fairly steady wave of dance tracks, and Tokai no Hitorigurashi follows that trend. However, instead of being a more intensive, serious-sounding song, it's a lot more lighthearted and bouncy. And Tokai no Hitorigurashi heavily borrows the disco-funk sound you might have heard in Mobekimasu's Busu ni Naranai Testugaku or Morning Musume The Matenrou Show or Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun da yo- oh wait, did I say Tokai no Hitorigurashi borrowed that sound? I'm sorry, I meant to say that Tokai no Hitorigurashi basically is the same sound with a slightly different arrangement of what plays where. I'm serious, the first time I heard this, I thought I was listening to a perkier reincarnation of Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun da yo! I swear I have heard this sound done to death in Hello! Project. I'm starting to think it's just the song style Tsunku defaults to when he can't think of anything else to compose.
For that reason, I can't really get into Tokai no Hitorigurashi, because the style has been done to death in Hello! Project, especially in the past two years. I love funky disco, and Tsunku has written some absolutely jamming funky disco. But there is a point where I can have too much of it. When your funky disco songs start sounding like your other funky disco songs, you have a problem. Even though the general sound of Tokai no Hitorigurashi is completely predictable, I don't think it's a totally bad song. As usual, the vocals are what ultimately save the song from being terrible. I've praised C-ute's vocals on more than on occasion, and I will do it here again. However, this isn't really the most vocally challenging idol song to sing. Sure, if this were a Morning Musume song, this would be more-than-okay with me, but this is C-ute. The girls have handled songs with much more difficult compositions than Tokai no Hitorigurashi.
One of the strongest traits about C-ute is that vocally, they're such a strong group. Even Maimai, the weakest singer, still sounds pretty decent. Tokai no Hitorigurashi's vocal arrangement is all right enough. It is a happy song, and considering C-ute has gotten a bunch of serious-sounding songs lately, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. But the arrangement kind of borders on being just a little to safe. You know that Guess the Note game I play with AKB48 songs? Well, I can do it with Tokai no Hitorigurashi too! While vocally, this is happier than some of Tsunku's other funky disco songs, a lot of the notes hit in it are very reminiscent of again, songs like Busu ni Testugaku and Kono Chikyuu yo Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun da yo! Like the last two notes of the chorus for Tokai no Hitorigurashi sound near-identical to the ones in The Matenrou Show It's little similarities like that that make Tokai no Hitorigurashi sound like such a boring song. I've heard this style from a handful of better H!P songs. In the end, Tokai no Hitorigurashi isn't a horrible song; it is merely and okay one, and C-ute can definitely do better.
But Tokai no Hitorigurashi the song isn't necessarily why I wanted to do this review. Oh no, the PV is really what I want to talk about. Why? Because... UFP actually put effort into making it more than just a formulaic dance shot and close-up. No, you are not dreaming, so pinch yourself and join me on a screencap of the PV for Tokai no Hitorigurashi!
The PV opens with Airi thoughtfully adjusting the upcoming title drop for us.
And then things start to get... artsy.
I hope you like bright and colorful edits because this PV has that in droves!
Personally, I like it. The editing gives the PV flair!
I also think it's cool how each member's color is incorporated into their name introduction.
Like Chissa's intro is green...
...Maimai's is yellow... it's a simple but cute little effect!
And the special effects just keep on coming, adding flair to a mere walkway!
Good thing too, since the room this was shot in is a tad bit bland...
Actually, has this area been used in an H!P PV before? It looks familiar.
I guess the girls are cheerleaders now! Give me a C! Give me a dash! Give me a- okay, I'll stop.
Woo-hoo! More colorful effects!
I like the staircase in this shot. Very mod. And Nakky looks lovely!
The dance shot has got to be my favorite part of the PV.
See, UFP? It doesn't hurt to put a little effort into a PV, does it?
Yeah, why not give us more creative PVs like this? We're too awesome not to get any!
To be honest, this probably isn't the best dance I've seen from C-ute, but the visuals make up for it!
I love the comic-style filter on these close-ups. Wow, wouldn't it be cool if C-ute got a completely animated PV? I know, I know, that'd be way too creative for UFP.
Ah, some Magic of Love-style editing here! Nice!
Oho, a doughnut! Is it a sweet doughnut?
Sorry, I'm legally obligated to show a screenshot from Sweet Donuts any time a doughnut appears in a PV.
I'm 99% certain Nakky could walk into a bathroom and wash her hands and somehow make it look hot.
And Maimai is absolute adorable in this PV! I love her hairstyle!
More cute editing!
Who needs subtitles when this PV prints what each part of the song is about in bright, colorful letters?
What snazzy sunglasses! Not sure how you see through those lenses though...
A Nakky center is the best kind of center.
The fact that they used actual locations for this PV brings me tears of joy.
And the effects aren't gratuitously sparkly and pointless.
Okay, maybe the filtering is a little overdone in this final shot.
Still, it's adorable! And Airi's adorable! This whole PV was adorable!
So you all know that I tend to treat Hello! Project PVs with a little more leniency than most of the other idols I review. Because we all know that H!P PVs tend to be a little less... well, good. A typical H!P PV will consist of merely a dance shot, usually filmed on a cheap and obvious-looking set, along with a few close-ups, and if we're lucky, a random shot that was probably just filmed to pad the PV. It is the die-hard Hello! Project PV formula, and I do not believe that UFP will ever be able to break out of it. Over my past two years as an H!P fan, I have desensitized myself to this formula, recognizing that most H!P PVs are lazy and cheap but also that there's nothing I can do about it. Naturally, any H!P PV that comes along and dares to deviate from this formula, is enough to give me a shock. You can only imagine my surprise when the PV for Tokai no Hitorigurashi came out. Luckily it was pleasant surprise instead of say, a PyokoPyoko Ultra surprise.
At its core, Tokai wo Hitorigurashi is still somewhat similar to the formula. There is a dance shot, and there are close-ups. However, the first plus this PV has is that it's shot in an actual location in lieu of a set. And it's a very nice looking place too! In fact, has this been used in a PV before? It looks like the same location used for Berryz Koubou's Nanchuu Koi wa Yatteru You Know? PV, but that PV was shot such a long time ago, it may be a coincidence. Either way, the PV looks so open and airy thanks to the setting. Some of my favorite areas were the staircase Nakky lounged on and Maimi's little room with the mod chair and shelf with magazines in it. For the most part though, these locations were still pretty simple, with bland colors and not a lot that stood out. But for a PV like Tokai no Hitorigurashi, that is an essential thing to have. Why? Because on top of this very simple PV is a myriad of special effects that turn it from your normal Hello! Project into a PV that's actually... good. I'm not talking Hello! Project-standards of good, I'm talking regular idol-standards of good.
Yes, you may have noticed from the screencap that what makes Tokai no Hitorigurashi such a good PV are the visual effects edited into it. Now this could have gone in the opposite direction and been absolute crap. I think we all remember the gaudy, craptastic visual effects gratuitously edited onto Morning Musume's One Two Three and Wakuteka Take a chance PVs. But through what's either a miracle or brilliant marketing, the PV for Tokai no Hitorigurashi has some great, simple effects that give the PV so much flair. What I love especially about these effects are how colorful they are. As I pointed out, the location this was shot mostly has pretty neutral colors. Splashing this neon rainbow of effects into the PV provides for a great contrast, and it makes sure that the blending isn't tacky.
The effects in this PV pop partially thanks to the blandness of the locations. And there's such variety from the bit with sunglasses to the words that pop to just random effects that come and go during the PV. My screencap doesn't even show half the cute little effects in the PV for Tokai no Hitorigurashi. In fact, if you haven't watched the PV already, please watch it. I promise you won't be disappointed! My favorite part has to be the dance shot, where the effects just start popping up everywhere at such a quick rate. Not only are the visuals clean and nice to look at, the editing in this PV is actually pretty good too. This PV does more than just cut to various close-ups and other shots. There are parts where the camera will pan on one girl then turn away and cut back to reveal her with another girl next to hear. And then there are the pan-outs where it'll show some of the girls in a frame then cut out to reveal another girl holding an actual picture frame. It's little effects like that that add a bunch of charm to the PV for Tokai no Hitorigurashi. And that's why I found Tokai no Hitorigurashi to be such a great PV: it's artistic. The effects in it are smooth and colorful and interesting. I can't believe it happened but UFP actually managed to give an H!P group a good PV!
Still, I do have to take into consideration the song. And because of that, Tokai no Hitorigurashi only gets three-and-half out of five apples. What can I say? The song just isn't very interesting or original. Fortunately, the PV makes up for the song exponentially. I absolutely love this PV; it might be one of my favorite H!P PVs this year. Well, that or the next A-side on this single...
So the next A-side is Aitte Motto Zanshin or Love Is More Innovative. I'm not sure how the girls of C-ute would know that, since they can't date anyone but oh well! Willing suspension of disbelief, right? As usual, I had no idea how this song would sound, and I wasn't exactly paying close attention to the release of this song either. Unlike Tokai no Hitorigurashi, Aitte Motto Zanshin has no funky disco in it. I do hear some eurobeat pop in this song though! Not exactly an innovative choice for a C-ute song, but hey, if it's done well, I don't care how it sounds. So the real question is does Aitte Motto Zanshin stand not only as a good song but also as a good double A-side? What I always like to see in good double A-sides are two different songs that in a weird way still complete each other. Tokai no Hitorigurashi is a very fun, happy song whereas Aitte Motto Zanshin is more serious and intense... kind of. What happens with Aitte Motto Zanshin is that you go in thinking it's going to be a Kiss Me Aishiteru-type of song.
The opening instrumental is actually similar to Momoiro Clover Z's Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimitachi-yo, or it is to my ears at least. The verses come in and they're very fast-paced, giving the song a lot of energy. I will admit though there are parts when it sounds like the girls are rushing through the song. I blame them tempo more than the girls themselves though. And I will admit, the fastness of the verses does give Aitte Motto Zanshin this very frantic, urgent kind of sound. Like you could run away from zombies to this song! But if you're doing that, I doubt you're reading this review... At this point in Aitte Motto Zanshin, the verses and the instrumental had been for the most part, pretty decent in my opinion. The energy was solid, and the structure of the verses, while a little chaotic, worked in a very strange, interesting way. The song was lingering a little bit into generic dance song territory, but I think I was just happy that Aitte Motto Zanshin didn't sound like a rehash of The Matenrou Show. Other than that Aitte Motto Zanshin seemed like it would be a pretty neat song.
And then... the chorus came in.
There's nothing like musical whiplash. And when I say that, I mean there's nothing more irritating and frustrating than musical whiplash! Like many other songs I have reviewed, Aitte Motto Zanshin falls plague to the dreaded musical whiplash, a phenomenon where parts of a song sound completely different from each other! I have to say I'm not the biggest fan of musical whiplash. I guess there are times when it can work, but for Aitte Motto Zanshin it doesn't. It tries, but it just doesn't. When the chorus for Aitte Motto Zanshin comes in, what it does it a complete 180 of all the hard edginess in the verses and goes for something... that oddly sounds like a sped-up chorus of Kanashiki Amefuri. And I liked that song all right, but unlike Aitte Motto Zanshin, Kanashiki Amefuri sounded cohesive. The chorus is in my opinion, the key part of a song, basically the core. It's what the rest of the song is built around and usually the most memorable part of the song too.
The chorus for Aitte Motto Zanshin sounds like it was taken from a completely different song, rearranged a little bit, and slapped into this song. Obviously, that isn't true, but every time I get to the chorus for Aitte Motto Zanshin, my mind starts comparing it to other H!P sons. Yeah, the chorus may work in another song, but here it's too... I don't want to say it's too happy but too... optimistic? I guess that's practically the same thing but still. There's a very clear disconnect between the chorus for Aitte Motto Zanshin and the rest of the song. If I had creative control over this song, I'd give it a different chorus. I feel like I'm listening to fragments of two different songs. A cool, edgy song and a slightly happier song to be exact. I want to like Aitte Motto Zanshin, I really do, but it lacks cohesiveness and refinement. I think with the right editing, this could be a really good song though! I do like the instrumental for Aitte Motto Zanshin a lot; all you would need are some changes to the vocal arrangement in the chorus and voila! A good song! Gosh, I should become an idol producer! How hard can it be, right?
Like Tokai no Hitorigurashi, Aitte Motto Zanshin isn't without its strong points. In fact, when I compare the two A-sides, I actually prefer Aitte Motto Zanshin over Tokai no Hitorigurashi. While I take issue with the vocal arrangement of Aitte Motto Zanshin, I think the vocals themselves are top-notch. Unlike Tokai no Hitorigurashi, which wasn't much of a vocal stretch for the girls of C-ute, Aitte Motto Zanshin is much more interesting. With the fast-paced nature of the vocals and the quick-changing octaves and tempos, the vocals in this song delivered in the way that C-ute always delivers. Even Maimai and Nakky, the group's weakest singers, still sound solid. And of course, Airi, Chissa, and Maimi all sound great, especially Airi. I love the high note she hits at the end. It's a strong way to close out the song! And I think the deepness of Chissa's voice worked really nicely for this song. Her voice is always kind of 50/50 on C-ute's cuter songs but more serious songs like Aitte Motto Zanshin are when her voice really shines.
And as I said before, there are parts of Aitte Motto Zanshin that I do like. The energy of the verses and instrumental is enough to get my blood pumping! It's only when the chorus comes in that I know I'll never be able to really get into this song. Still, this isn't the worst song I've ever heard. Come to think of it, neither is Tokai no Hitorigurashi... In fact, both these A-sides aren't horrible songs. I just have criticisms for both songs. Tokai no Hitorigurashi is bogged down by the synth-horned funk that plagues to many other Hello! Project songs, and Aitte Motto Zanshin has a lot of potential that is squandered by an incohesive vocal arrangement. But really neither song is unlistenable. Still, these songs don't make a good case for why I think C-ute gets better music than Berryz Koubou currently. I honestly liked Kanashiki Amefuri and Adam to Eve no Dilemma better than these two A-sides, but it's my fault for being too lazy to review them. All I can say now is that both Tokai no Hitorigurashi and Aitte Motto Zanshin are simply okay.
Luckily though, there is one more characteristic Aitte Motto Zanshin shares with Tokai no Hitorigurashi: UFP actually put effort into this PV too. Either I've finally lost it or UFP has; either way let's take a look at this PV!
While Tokai no Hitorigurashi's PV was colorful, this PV is... darker.
And it takes place in an abandoned warehouse.
Well hello there, serious-looking title drop!
A boiler room! If this were a horror movie, that would be terrifying!
Luckily, it's an idol PV, so these locations are really super cool
When you think about it though, dancing in a warehouse is a little ridiculous. But hey, if Footloose can do it, so can C-ute!
I'm not so sure about the outfits. There's a little too much going on with them.
The girls themselves look great though! They match nicely with the grunge setting!
And if anyone can make camouflage look good, it's Nakky. She could probably make the chicken suits from PyokoPyoko Ultra look good.
I really love the setting used for this PV.
It gives me a lot of Tokaikko Junjou vibes. Except the girls are older and hotter now.
And the dance for this PV is pretty cool, but it isn't without its odd moments.
Like you can interpret this dance move as a motion to prevent the ghosts of the warehouse away from C-ute!
Begone evil spirits!
Nakky's doing the robot now... all right!
So there are parts of this video where it looks like UFP got their hands on some Instagram filters.
And then other parts where it looks like it's going to turn into one of those creepy "found footage" videos!
Uh, I don't think banging your head against that wall is safe or healthy. Think of all the tetanus!
The empty space in this shot is really cool.
All I can think about when I see this is that poor, broken piano just left there to gather dust...
You know what really would have made this PV gritty? Flannel. Lots and lots of flannel.
This is definitely one of the neater formations in the dance.
I like Maimai with short hair. It's a good look for her!
I mean, honestly everyone looks really good in this PV.
Ah, more Instagram filter. UFP sure is fond of those, aren't they?
Oh look, a Sepia tone filter! That's new!
Now it's time for the intense, hardcore dance break! YEAH!
Aw yeah, high kicks! C-ute dances seem to be fond of those, don't they? That and dancing on the floor...
Not even an Instagram filter can take away Nakky's hotness.
And Airi sends us out on a high note. Literally!
Then the girls turn to their Weeping Angel poses. The end!
Just a little PSA for you guys: do not explore an abandoned area without the proper equipment and proper safety precautions. Think you're gonna do what the girls of C-ute did and film a snazzy video of you dancing in some cool-looking abandoned building? Think again. It can be really dangerous, especially if you don't know the area you're exploring in. There could be other people inhabiting the area, wild animals, risks for tetanus and other diseases, unstable parts of the building, and worst of all, evil spirits still haunting the area! Okay, maybe not that last part, but I am being serious about those other warnings. Don't believe me? I explored an abandoned pool by myself and was lucky to return with only a few shallow scratches and my favorite pair of jeans getting ripped. I don't want any of you lovely readers having to experience what I did or worse.
That being said... oh my god, I love urban exploration so much. I think it's just about one of the coolest activities to do, even if there are so many risks taken with it. I find the concept of a building left to the elements from a time period long past to be absolutely intriguing. It's about as close as I can get to time travel. I really mean I enjoy urban exploration. Even if I don't do much of it (barely at all, actually), I do love going online and looking at urbex photography. There are so many abandoned places in the world to explore, and it's nice being able to see them from the somebody's camera lens. Okay, I'm done waxing poetic about the wonders of urban exploration. The only reason I even bring it up is because the PV for Aitte Motto Zanshin was shot in an abandoned warehouse. I assume it was a structurally stable abandoned warehouse that didn't have any people taking refuge in it. Unless UFP is ten times cheaper than I thought they were. I don't think so though, because I think this was also the same warehouse that Tasaki Asahi's Tegami and Morning Musume's Nanchatte Renai PVs were shot in.
Anyways, back to C-ute! The fact that Aitte Motto Zanshin was shot in an abandoned warehouse is enough to make me happy. I always like it when actual locations are used in idol PVs in lieu of green screens or sets, and the location for Aitte Motto Zanshin fits the song well. Even better, I love that a lot of the shots in the warehouse are from a variety of different locations. Like Chissa's surrounded by pipes, Maimai dances near a window, Maimi has all that wide open space, all these really interesting areas in the warehouse. I think the locations was utilized really well in this PV. And it gave me a chance to really see the inside of this place. It looks really cool! I'd love to explore it myself, but I'd probably never have the chance to. I'll just content myself with watching this PV!
What makes Aitte Motto Zanshin such a cool PV is really the location. Had this PV been shot in a studio, I don't think I would have found it anywhere near as interesting as I do. So hey, how about UFP just shoot all H!P PVs in abandoned locations? Trust me, there are plenty of areas in Japan that I've seen on the Internet. I'm sure UFP could find some place! Then again, that might get a little tedious after awhile... Oh well, I still think it would be a neat idea! Aitte Motto Zanshin is primarily a PV consisting of only the dance and close-ups, but the aesthetic helps make said dance and close-ups interesting. As I said, there's a lot of variety in this PV, not only in the locations, but the shots themselves. This PV shows the girls from a bunch of different angles and locations, making it look like the PV is more high-budget than it probably was. I like the fast editing in this PV too; it matches with the pace of the song itself. I think the only thing I would have liked to see a little more of was the PV going all the way with its grittier look. That would mean nixing those outfits. They're a little... odd. I don't know, sometimes when I watch this PV, I like the outfits for Aitte Motto Zanshin, and then there are other times when I think they completely clash with the mood of the location.
That's only a small complaint though and doesn't take away any of my enjoyment of the PV for Aitte Motto Zanshin. I still think this is an awesome PV that takes a simplistic and formulaic concept and makes it into something interesting. The locations of an abandoned warehouse makes for a very visually striking PV. I don't even mind the Instagram filters in this PV! Normally, I'm not a huge fan of them in idol PVs, but I think that they were used sparingly in the PV for Aitte Motto Zanshin helps. And when they are used, it's very brief and makes for kind of a cool effect. Overall, the PV for Aitte Motto Zanshin is just cool. The dance is cool, the location is cool, the atmosphere is cool, I think if you walked into this warehouse, it would automatically make you cool. Trust me, I've taken a science class. The girls themselves also do a great job dancing and looking fierce and badass in this PV. Sure, their outfits are a little iffy, but they still rock them!
You know, for such a simple concept, I'm very pleased with what the producers managed to do with Aitte Motto Zanshin. They made grungy PV in an abandoned warehouse that looks extremely cool. Like with Tokai no Hitorigurashi, I like the PV for Aitte Motto Zanshin better than the song. It's more interesting I don't know what UFP was on when they decided to give both the PVs for this single decent budgets. I was thinking for sure that one PV would get all the money put into it, and the other would get jipped. But no, both the PVs for Tokai no Hitorigurashi and Aitte Motto Zanshin. For this reason, I really wanted to review both PVs for this single, even if the accompanying songs weren't my cup of tea. Each PV is miles above the typical quality of Hello! Project PVs, and I feel like that fact needs to be emphasized. It's rare I get to review such pleasant, interesting PVs from H!P. And even though it's always a trial to finish these double PV reviews, for Tokai no Hitorigurashi and Aitte Motto Zanshin, it was worth it.
And so I bequeath upon Aitte Motto Zanshin four apples. The song could be better, but there are parts of it that are nice. However, the PV is where this song really stands out. It's such a gritty-looking PV with a great location that it thoroughly utilizes to the fullest effect! Just don't go exploring in an abandoned warehouse without proper safety precautions, kids. I'm out to start screencapping Christmas PVs! Festive!