Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Impractically Long Janken Song

NO. I am not typing out that juggernaut of a song title. You can't make me. I call the shots on this blog, and there is no way I am typing out Suzukake no Ki no Michi de "Kimi no Hohoemi wo Yume ni Miru" to Itteshimattara Bokutachi no Kankei wa Dou Kawatteshimau no ka, Bokunari ni Nannichi ka Kangaeta Ue de no Yaya Kihazukashii Ketsuron no You na Mono- DAMMIT.

Seriously, I can't even tag this review with the full song title, because it's too many characters. So as of now, Suzukake no Ki no Michi de- that song will be known as Suzukake Nanchara, its proper and much easier to write abbreviation. Yeah, I think the full title of Suzukake Nanchara is completely pointless and was only written to be another grab for attention. I mean the translation reads like the awkward ramblings of a teenage girl staying up way too late to write- oh wait, that's me! Anyways, stupid title is stupid and I see no reason for it to exist. But I am not one to discriminate solely based on a song's title! After all, Suzukake Nanchara could be a good song- oh wait, it's the Janken song, nevermind! Yep, it's that time of year again when AKB48 releases their last song and I bemoan their lack of originality. Right on schedule is their Janken song which has been scientifically proven to always be their blandest and most generic sounding single of the year! And Suzukake Nanchara has quite the hill to climb considering all of AKB48's singles this year were ridiculously bland! So Long! and Sayonara Crawl in particular; Suzukake Nanchara would have to truly rise to new heights of blandness to out-bland those two bland songs!

Now I could bitch about the bland state of AKB48's music again like I always do, but I've found that coping with humor has given me a much more jovial outlook on my AKB48 reviews! So this Janken single is going to be hilarious bland, so unoriginal you'd think Aki-P would sue himself for copyright infringement! But then again... it may not be. After all, Matsui Jurina does center this year's Janken single. And she's centered many good songs in both SKE48 and AKB48. Of course, usually her best songs are the ones that are joint centers, usually with Matsui Rena. Hell, if Matsui Rena had centered this single, it might have been a pretty awesome song. The PV for it might have also been slightly dark and strange and creepy, but that's just how Matsui Rena-centered songs work! And it doesn't matter anyways because Jurina's center.

Even though I've lowered my expectations lower then the Marianas Trench, I still couldn't help but have a tiny hope spot about Suzukake Nanchara. Maybe, just maybe, this would be a good Janken song. After all, Jurina-centered songs aren't always horrible! And the guy who composed Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara and Hashire! Penguin composed Suzukake Nanchara. Sure, those two songs are also a little generic, but not overly so. Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara is even one of my favorite AKB48 songs! Now does Suzukake Nanchara also stand as a good song? Or does it end up in the pitfalls plaguing every Janken song? Well... I'm not sure. Suzukake Nanchara is a... strange Janken song. The reason I say that is because there are parts of Suzukake Nanchara where it sounds like it's going to be a good song. Like the opening, Aitakatta-style guitar riff was such a strong opening.

But then that was followed up with the generic Janken song musical arrangement that you might have recognized as the one from Chance no Juban, Synchro Tokimeki, just throw some AKB48 songs in a hat, I'm sure you'll draw one that has the same sound as Suzukake Nanchara. And then the chorus was boring and dragged, then it got kind of interesting, and then the song sounded like every other AKB48 song again. It's like this song wanted to sound interesting, but it kept reverting back to many of the musical cliches I've heard in AKB48's music. And as I've stated many, many times before (probably so much that you're tired of hearing it), I CAN'T FUCKING STAND THAT. Eugh, sorry guys, I just have those moments where I start typing in all caps for no reason! Probably some knee-jerk subconscious reaction built up over time. Now where was I? Ah yes, rehashing the same opinion I've had for three years about AKB48's Janken songs! Kind of the same way AKB48's been rehashing the same sound for the past two years! Okay, blah blah blah, the song sucks, blah blah blah, it's generic and bland and [insert synonym for bland here], all right, I'm peacing out, great review!

And yet... Suzukake Nanchara is not as bad as I thought it would be.

I'm not entirely sure if it's because my standards have lowered so much with AKB48's music or if because Suzukake Nanchara isn't a horrible song. Look, I was going into Suzukake Nanchara planning to hate it. I hate every Janken song that has been released, and from what I saw, that pattern wasn't breaking anytime soon. But Suzukake Nanchara... it's not terrible. Let me emphasize though that it's not good either. It's still bland, and I've heard its sound and style dozens of times before (and in better songs). However, compared to Eien Pressure, Ue Kara Mariko, and Chance no Juban, Suzukake Nanchara is effing Beginner. Well... maybe I wouldn't go that far. It's Heavy Rotation. Look, you get what I'm trying to say. I have to admit though Suzukake Nanchara does sound like Gingham Check in some parts... Anyways, what I hated about the first three Janken singles was they all sounded so lifeless. Suzukake Nanchara doesn't sound quite as lifeless. Sure, it's still low in energy, but I think there's a teensy bit of effort put into it. Not much, but that little bit is enough to prevent me from completely hating this song.

So yeah... I went into a Janken song review hoping to rip it apart, but all I can say about Suzukake Nanchara is that it's mildly okay. It will never be my favorite AKB48 song, and it's still boring as an economics class. But compared to some of the stuff AKB48 has released this year, not even Suzukake Nanchara can achieve such levels of awfulness. I don't hate this song, and there are even a few parts I like about this song. In the end though, there's not much that stands out about Suzukake Nanchara, save for the unnecessarily long title. It is simply a mediocre song, the last in a lineup of AKB48's mediocre songs of 2013. Look, I don't know what else to tell you guys. I feel like we've done this dance five times now. I think I'm just tired of writing the same things about every AKB48 song I review. But I don't have creative control over their music (and if I did, I sure as hell wouldn't be releasing songs like this). I am but a simple, disappointed reviewer.

All right, let's get this screencap over with. Who knows, maybe the PV for Suzukake Nanchara adds some flavor to the song! With my rotten luck though, it probably won't though. I think I can bet on there being a rock-paper-scissors reference somewhere in the PV though. Let's see.

Okay, this is some nice silhouetting in the beginning.

Oh boy, I wonder who that is. It's Maeda Atsuko, right?

It's Jurina with bangs! I still haven't gotten used to those bangs on her...

Well, at least this dance shot isn't a rehash of Ue Kara Mariko's! Unlike some Janken PVs.

Of course, the dance isn't exactly fantastic.

Is that a thermos or a time capsule?

Methinks it's a time capsule... is this a sign that I need to start my Time Capsule Reviews back up?

Is this gonna be like Oogoe Diamond where they all learn a dance together?

Oh god, it is going to be like Oogoe Diamond.

Unless there's a fight between Acchan and Sae, I could care less.

Funny enough, the "learn a dance 10 years later" time capsule idea has never caught on in America!

Look at these lovely red curtains!

They're like the pimped-out versions of the curtains from Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke!

Ugh, I know they're popular, but "rehearsal" PVs bore me so much.

What's this? A projection technique? I'm certain I've seen this somewhere before...

Ah! That's right, Cheeky Parade did a much better and interesting projection PV!

Hell, even Fairies has used this technique better! Flipping Fairies!

Then again, this is the only remotely interesting part of the PV.


La la la~ I don't know who any of these people are!!

Except for Fujie Reina. I know her.

And Kitahara Rie. Okay, I lied, I recognize like five of the girls in this PV.

Hahaha, you thought you were going to see an unknown member center this single but you were wrong! It's meeee!!!

Maybe they're pointing to the Heart Electric PV.

And that PV's pointing back! It's a pointing inception!!!

Imagine if this PV had a space theme... that would be so much cooler.

Instead we get a PV with a boring dance and cliched storyline. -sigh-

I mean, take away all these projections and you know what you get?

The dance shot from Heroine ni Narou ka! Come on, I can't be the only one who sees it!

The lack of conflict in this part of the PV is abysmally dull.

Maybe there's conflict in the drama version? Either way, I'm not watching it.

Oh look. More dancing. Very creative.

That's the face I'll make when AKB48 releases something interesting again!

The Janken PVs always kind of depress me when I realize I'll probably never see most of these girls in PVs again.

Except for Jurina of course.

And the PV ends in a wave of blood! I'm just kidding, that would be way too interesting.

I can't believe I'm saying this but... Eien Pressure had a better PV. And I hated that PV. It was cheap and odd and disjointed but at least there was something to talk about with that PV. And it may or may not have been one giant homage to a Japanese horror B-movie. This PV though? What the hell am I supposed to say about it? It's just about as bare-bones as a Hello! Project PV. And AKB48 does not get a free pass from Nia, because unlike H!P, they're managed by a company that is willing to spend money on them. I mean, this is basically the template for an H!P PV: dance shot, alternate dance shot, close-ups, boom, there's a PV. Hell, I've seen better Hello! Project PVs than Suzukake Nanchara. The only thing deviating from the formula are the school shots; I'll deal with those later. I hate comparing AKB48 and Hello! Project, but if AKB48's going to do the H!P-style PV, I kinda have to. The one thing that's prevented some H!P PVs from being a waste of time are the dances. Particularly Morning Musume's. Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke had a pretty standard PV, but the dance was intense and engaging enough to hold the rest of the PV.

Suzukake Nanchara does not have that privilege. AKB48 is not exactly known for their difficult, Perfume-level choreography, especially for their Janken songs. The dance to Koisuru Fortune Cookie was so easy that thousands of fans all over the world were able to learn it! The dance for Suzukake Nanchara makes up about 75% of the PV, but it's a completely boring dance. There's not a single thing that stands out; it's nothing but a variety of hand motions and cutesy idol poses you can find in any other idol PV if you just use Google. Sure, it's not awkward like Heart Electric's dance was, but there's still nothing to the dance for Suzukake Nanchara. Nothing new or exciting or innovative. Considering the dance for Suzukake Nanchara is such a key part of the PV, that's kind of a problem.

The one attempt to bring life to the dance shot is the use of projections. You know, the projection of images onto a blank surface. It's like Microsoft Power Point taken to the most creative extreme. Naturally, this can be a pretty kickass technique. Perfume used it for their Cannes performance, and that was a spectacle to watch even on my computer. I'd wager they'll use that same technology in their Dome Tour too. Even other idol groups have successfully used projection technology, as I pointed out in the screencap. Cheeky Parade's C.P.U. features the clever use of video game imagery into its projections. As much as I don't care about Fairies, even I can admit the technology used to create Hikari no Hate ni is pretty mind-blowing, especially when you see the girls interact with the projections. So yeah, the projection technique can be really-super cool if you do it right. But when you just use it to show a variety of nice-looking images and patterns that in no way add or relate to the accompanying PV... it's not gonna work as well.

Don't get me wrong, these projections are the only lively parts of the PV for Suzukake Nanchara. But what do they even have to do with the PV? Definitely not the "storyline" and I don't think they're related closely to the lyrics. Had these projections not been included, would it have affected the PV at all? Well, it would have made the PV ten times more boring than it already is. Other than that though, these projections feel kind of pointless. They don't even make any references to rock-paper-scissors. Yeah, another thing, there isn't a single Janken reference I could pick up on in the PV for Suzukake Nanchara. Unless there was something in the choreography I didn't pick up on? Normally, I'd be pretty okay with this, but at least a silly little Janken reference would have added something to this PV. Something to mix up the dull combination of dance shots and close-ups. Because there's not a single thing in this PV that stands out; I can't even make fun of how cheap it is, because it's not laughably cheap.

There is the storyline, if you could call it that. Yeah, yeah, I know that the longer, 23-minute drama version of Suzukake Nanchara exists, but I'm not exactly hunting for that. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I don't want to watch a 15+ minute drama that I can't even understand that probably has a really basic and cliched plot. So I have zero interesting in trying to find a subbed version of the drama PV for Suzukake Nanchara. It's probably just going to be the same plot I've seen in every other AKB48 drama PV. But what's the plot of the short PV? Well, the girls are creating a time capsule that they'll open up during their ten-year reunion! No, I'm not describing the plot of 10nen Zakura. What's in that time capsule? A series of dance choreography instructions the girls made themselves! At the ten-year reunion, the girls will open up the time capsule and perform/re-learn the dance. Why no, this is not the plot of Oogoe Diamond either! Whatever would make you think that?

As you can tell, the storyline of Suzukake Nanchara is far from original. Hence I found it to be incredibly boring, especially in the condensed PV. There's no conflict to speak up, no stakes to be raised, and the storyline adds about as much to the PV as those projections do. There's about as much pointless stuff in this PV as there was in the PV for Heart Electric. And there's nothing I can make fun of either! At least in Eien Pressure, I could make fun of the bad effects, Paruru's lack of facial expressions, and the sheer WTF-ery of the entire PV. Suzukake Nanchara's PV is just as generic as the song. There's nothing that stands out about the PV except for the fact that most of the girls in the Senbatsu have never been featured in Senbatsu before. Speaking of that, Jurina has gotten much better center songs. She did find in Suzukake Nanchara, but the song and PV don't do her justice. In my opinion, the only thing worse than a bad PV is a mediocre PV, and Suzukake Nanchara is the most mediocre PV I've seen from AKB48 this year. And this is the year in which Heart Electric and So Long! exist.

So yeah, all in all Suzukake Nanchara is both a mediocre song and a mediocre PV. And a song of such utter mediocrity only deserves two and half apples. I will admit, the song isn't anywhere near as bad as I was thinking it would, but it's still not very interesting. Same goes for the PV. Neither the song or PV is overtly terrible, but neither one stands out either. And if I have to pick a bad song that stands out over a depressingly mediocre song that doesn't stand out, I'm going with the former.


  1. you should also check "Escape" a coupling for this single

    1. I'll look into it! I've already listened to the song, but I haven't watched the entire PV yet...

  2. "And yet... Suzukake Nanchara is not as bad as I thought it would be."

    Thanks for the compliment.

    Also this really is Rina posting and definitely not one of your other readers impersonating me.

    1. Riiiiiight, well "Rina" this ain't my first rodeo around this here Internet, and I am no longer the naive little pigeon I used to be. So unless you can provide some kind of identification to prove your identity, I can only read your claims with skepticism. Rina or not though, thanks for the comment!

  3. *very late comment*
    What do you think about "Party is over"? It seems like that the PV has a deep meaning but I have absolutely no idea on all those stuffs (tomato soup, paintings, printer...???)

    1. Better late than never!

      Personally, I found Party is over to be very, very slow and boring. It has potential to be a good song, but that's squandered by the incredibly slow tempo and generic chorus. The PV, I don't know about, and I don't have the time or desire to delve too far into what it means...