Saturday, February 15, 2014

Partition Infatuation

A Romance Trilogy? Eugh.

Well, today is Valentine's Day, so I could probably write something about idol love songs. At least half of idol music consists of love songs so believe me, finding some would not be that hard. After all, who doesn't love love? Romantic love, platonic love, familial love... and then there's forbidden love. Not only has that been the plot of every YA novel since Twilight, it's also the concept for the first single in Tokyo Girls' Style's Romance Trilogy. Yes, apparently TGS is releasing a Romance Trilogy of three singles all revolving around love. A little silly when they've already released several songs about love but oh well. Personally, I am not a very romantic person. Nothing against romance, I'm simply one of those people who doesn't get warm, sparkly butterflies over the concept of romance. To find that the new three TGS singles revolve around romance was less-than exciting news for me. What was exciting was finding out that the first of these singles was going to be Partition Love!

Partition Love was released as a digital single back in September along with a series of teaser clips from what appeared to be a drama. I liked the song much better than Chiisana Kiseki and expressed a desire for the song to be released as a full single, covers and PV and all that jazz that comes with full singles. And either Avex had been planning on releasing Partition Love as a single or they happened to find my blog and exclaimed, "We must release this song as a single for this poor, American blogger who has no impact whatsoever! We must!" I think it was definitely the latter. What I did not plan on was Partition Love being part of a silly little Romance Trilogy. But it is, and I'll review it either way. As I said before, Partition Love is supposed to represent the forbidden love aspect of romance, you know, two people who for whatever reason cannot be together. That can be a really strong idea what done right, so I was open to the idea. Even the Merriam-Webster definition for partition is, "to divide into parts or shares," so with that in mind, Partition Love makes sense as a forbidden love type of song.

The sound of Partition Love is nothing new if you're a longtime listener of Tokyo Girls' Style. Avex has been using their funky 90s jam sound for TGS since Himawari to Hoshizuku; I don't think they have any plans on letting up anytime soon. After the lighter and more generic sound of Chiisana Kiseki and the pop rock sound of Get the Star, Partition Love is a refreshing return to form for TGS. Not that I'm against branching out into different sounds. It's just after the lackluster Chiisana Kiseki, Partition Love goes back to the sound TGS is strong in. And how it returns with full force. Partition Love has synths, bases, all that funktastic goodness I expect from the typical TGS song. I'm really surprised that I haven't grown tired of the sound TGS has been pulling for awhile. But then again, I'm pretty lenient when it comes to artists sticking to one style, as long as the songs continue to be good. And branching out from that one style is always welcome.

So don't expect anything new going into Partition Love. Well, one new thing is that the song is produced by a band called Base Ball Bear! I had never heard of this band until now, but they sound pretty cool. I can hear a bit of rock woven into Partition Love, a result of production from a band, I suspect. It's nice. It adds a little bit of spice to Partition Love. Vocally, the girls of Tokyo Girls' Style sound consistently good. But that's to be expected from them. I noticed I heard a lot of Yuri in this song. I guess with Ayano's voice getting increasingly unstable, Avex if reeling in Yuri for vocal tag team with Hitomi. What is going on with Ayano's voice anyways? I heard her live and she sounded awful. Is she just straining her voice too much? That's what it sounds like. Whatever it is, I hope she doesn't end up shooting her vocals chords; she has too good of a voice. Anyways, I like Partition Love. Is it my favorite TGS song? No, but it is still very good and sticks to the strengths of Tokyo Girls' Style. Maybe not the ideal song to listen to on Valentine's Day though, unless you're pining away for someone you can't have!

Now you can skip this next part if you want to and go straight to the apple rating. Because the rest of this review just me getting increasingly angry at a music video and the rant that ensued afterward. It's quite ugly to read. But if you must read on, then I recommend you proceed with caution, for I was not a happy Nia while screencapping this PV. You'll see why if you dare to read the rest of the review. Still want to press on? All right. I can't stop you.

Well, the PV opens with a very familiar shot of Hitomi and Mr. Teacher staring off into space.

Then Hitomi says via voice-over, "Hey, teacher, tell me why this wall exists here." I'm not sure why, because the only thing existing in this scene is a tree.

And then the real story begins in a cliche class room...

...with a cliche attractive male teacher that one member of TGS will inevitably get the hots for.

To prevent this PV from completely focusing on Hitomi, there are some moody close-up shots.

But most of the PV is focused on the story, which centers around Hitomi.

So if you were looking forward to say, a PV with lots of Miyu in it... too bad!

We do get to see the teacher play basketball. Because... he's also a basketball coach? I don't know, it just gives the girls a chance to ogle him.

We also get to see dubious and awkward teacher-student romantic tension! Yay! Because that's always such a joy to watch!

Three of these English sentences seem like legit phrases Japanese students would be learning but... I have never ever ever heard an English-speaking person use, "The heart is about to burst."

Oh god, please don't tell me this PV also features Ayano competing for the teacher's affections.

She is, isn't she? And Hitomi's going to get jealous, and stupid catty passive-agressive teenage girl bullshit is going to occur, isn't it? Isn't it?

And why isn't the teacher cluing into any of this? Surely he realizes that a student making lunch for him is more than just a friendly gesture.

Really? You really wanna go this route, PV? Are you fucking kidding-

I'm sorry, I gotta stop the screencap for a moment. I know I don't really do this, but I can't keep going through this without addressing a few things in this PV. Like how much I hate this storyline. Not even just the competing for affections part, where this entire PV is headed. From what I can tell, Partition Love is about Hitomi and Ayano competing for a teacher's affections despite the fact that neither one can actually have them because this entire scenario is veering toward fifty shades of illegal. At least in the US it would be. Maybe that's why I take such issue with this PV. The man (notice I said man not boy) both girls are pining away for is a fully grown man, probably at least ten years older than them, and definitely not within their age group. Ayano is 16, Hitomi is 15. They're both teenagers. I know that teenagers have crushes; I should know, I am one! But there is a line that this PV is inching over between okay and creepy.

I hate the teacher-student romance trope. I think it's disgusting and uncomfortable to watch, because I know that there is no possible way that this can work out without one of both parties getting hurt. And to add on to that is the trope of two girls fighting over a guy, a trope that I flat-out hate. I've seen it play out so many times in so many cliched ways, and I think it sets a bad precedent that girls have to "compete" for a guy's attention. This isn't cute, this isn't sympathetic, this is wrong. Watching this makes me want to stick my head into my computer screen and talk some sense into both Hitomi and Ayano. Actually, I just want to yell at whoever thought this PV would be a good idea. Because there is simply no point in having two girls fight over someone who they can't even be with due to moral standards. And the fact that they don't get that and that the teacher isn't cluing in is driving me up the wall. In the end, this conflict is pointless, and could have been completely avoided if both girls had just realized what they were doing was manipulative and idiotic. Great! I can't wait to watch the rest of this PV!

Okay. I'm cool now. Maybe. Whatever, back to the screencap.

All right, where was I? Ah, yes, a beautiful screencap of Mei being lovely.

Oh yeah, and Hitomi was faking an injury to spend more time with Mr. Teacher. Is this seriously- you know, what I'm just going to let it go.


I honestly don't know who to be more disgusted with: Hitomi for keeping this behavior up or the teacher for not realizing he needs to be responsible and stop said behavior before it escalates.

Whoops, too late! IT'S ESCALATING.

So in a stroke of sheer genius, Hitomi decides to write Mr. Teacher a love letter.

No, Hitomi, he cannot look at you as a sweetheart because it's illegal and will make him lose his job.

Don't mind me, just banging my head against my desk.

How about now, Mr. Teacher? Is this obvious enough for you to realize something's up?

Thankfully, yes, and he lays down the law with Hitomi.

Look at Miyu, judging those two with those eyes...

In fact, I'd like to think of all these close-ups as Hitomi's inner conscience trying to persuade her to back off and realize the situation.

I think that tree's the only thing that hasn't pissed me off in this PV.

The best thing Hitomi can do is just get over this. It may not be easy, but no one gets hurt.

So of course, she goes to his fucking house.

How could this possibly in any way turn out well- you know what, I'm done. I am done with this PV.

...I really hate this music video. You all probably realized that, but I still feel compelled to write that thought down. I hate it so very much. And technically speaking, this isn't even the worst PV I've ever reviewed. The camera work is decent, there's nothing cheap-looking in the PV, and there is a storyline. Only problem is that storyline is trash. No worse, it's the raccoon eating the trash. When I first watched the PV for Partition Love, I felt... wrong watching it. I wasn't repulsed or shocked, I was just overcome with this feeling that there was something very wrong about this PV. And as each second passed by, that feeling of wrongness grew. Then came the final shot with a drenched Hitomi staring at the teacher and... oh god, I can't believe they left it at that. I can't believe anyone thought this entire PV was a good idea.

I know the teacher-student romance trope is a popular one, but personally, I do not like it. And it's mostly my personal preferences that make me loathe this PV so much. I just want to reiterate that: it is my moral views that make me loathe this PV and very likely mine alone. I do not want to come off as thinking that anyone who likes this PV is a horrible person. Because that's probably not true. I, however, as a person, take personal issue with this PV. And I do not think the subject of underage romance, even if it's ambiguous in Partition Love and carried out moreso by the student than the teacher, is something you can take lightly. I believe that is a teacher's job to teach students, not get involved with them, especially if they're underage. Do you have any idea how much that could fuck up a child, or more specifically, a teenage girl with too many hormones and not enough brain cells to know what to do with them? I can't watch a PV like this and just blindly ignore the implications of portraying this subject matter in the light that it did. And maybe the PV was supposed to do that, but that doesn't mean I can enjoy this PV. If anything, that makes it worse, because then I know that this music video was intentionally made to look sleazy and pandering.

"But Nia!" you cry out in indignation (or I assume so) "How it is you're okay with PVs like Heavy Rotation and Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru and not Partition Love!?" Well, reader... to tell you true, I do not know. I don't know what it is about Partition Love that sets me off. I think what it may be is that with PVs like Heavy Rotation, Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru, etc. you know that what you're watching is not morally or visually correct. Heavy Rotation is so over-the-top and obvious in all the fanservice it shows that it's practically tongue-in-cheek. And in Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru, the music video about underage prostitution, none of the girls look very happy prowling the streets of Tokyo for clients. Acchan's face in the last shot looks terrified and numb. When I watch PVs like that, I get the message that what I'm seeing is not okay and I shouldn't think that it's okay. Partition Love is a PV that fails to show the consequences of pursuing someone who is not in the position to be with you. When you're tackling a sticky subject like the blurred boundaries between a teacher and a student, you have to show that there are consequences.

I don't care if Avex just did this PV to pander to wotas, somewhere out there someone's going to watch this and think "Teacher-student relationships are perfectly okay and normal and with no unfortunate moral implications whatsoever!" All throughout this PV, Hitomi is going after her teacher with no one, no friends or even external parental figures to deter her from this pursuit of hers. The other members of TGS could easily have at least tried to say, "Hey, Hitomi, as your friends we don't think it's smart for you to seriously pursue our teacher." But no, they don't. I think it's the fact that absolutely no attempts were made to show that behavior like this is not a good idea, for either party, that makes me hate this PV so much. I know I'm probably the only person who feels this way but... god. I don't think I've ever felt so angry at a music video. Which sounds ridiculous, but oh well, I guess there are just certain buttons you can press to set me off and this music video's become one of them.

That brings me to another thing. The "love" in this PV isn't love. It's infatuation. How can I tell? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of love is, "a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person." Whereas the definition of infatuation is, "a foolish or extravagant love or admiration." When I watch this PV, I don't see two people in love. I don't even see one person in love. I see a teenage girl thinking she's in love too blind to realize she's merely projected an ideal image of her teacher and fallen in love with that. It is completely normal to idolize adult figures such as teachers as long as it doesn't go any further than that. But in this PV, Hitomi's constantly trying to push things further and no one is around to tell her that hey, she might just want to lay off. And the teacher doesn't clue in either, despite some very obvious signs that Hitomi has more than just a childish admiration toward him. It's his job to teach these students, and to not do anything about this infatuation Hitomi's developing toward him is extremely unprofessional and sends a lot of mixed signals towards Hitomi.

What I'm trying to say is both parties are at fault, both are idiots, and I hate this PV. Again, I cannot stand the teacher-student romance trope, even if that romance is unrequited. Maybe it's just the culture I was raised in not being a strong advocate for teacher-student romance, especially the underage kind. Maybe the intention of the PV for Partition Love was to piss off its viewers in the way it pissed me off. If so, it succeeded. Spectacularly. But just because you succeed at something does not make that something a good thing. Partition Love may be attention-grabbing, but in the same way BiS is attention grabbing, only without the self-awareness. I have no idea what in the hell Avex has got planned for Tokyo Girls' Style's next single in their Romance Trilogy, but I pray that it's not as sleazy, pandering, and awful as this PV was. If you liked the PV for Partition Love, that is fine. But I never want to watch this music video again.

Partition Love gets two very generous apples from me. I'd give the PV zero, but luckily, the song itself is good. I hate the PV for Partition Love. I just... hate it. Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Top 10 Perfume Music Videos

Look at that. They're holding paper clips. Actual paper clips. How am I supposed to make any puns when Perfume already made one too perfect for me to top?

This week, technopop trio Perfume is releasing their first music video collection on DVD, aptly titled Perfume Clips. This will make many people happy, myself included. Okay, that's an understatement, I'm ecstatic about the release of Perfume Clips. The DVD features 22 high-definition Perfume PVs from Linear Motor Girl onwards, including alternate version of PVs such as Macaroni, I still love U, and Kasuka na Kaori. The fact that this is the first time Perfume's releasing a DVD consisting solely of music videos excites me so much. Even if I probably won't be able to buy the DVD, just knowing high definition Perfume music videos will exist is enough to make me happy. The release of Perfume Clips naturally got me thinking, "What are my favorite Perfume music videos anyways?" One of the many things I love about Perfume are there music videos. Ranging from cold and robotic to raw and expressive, their music videos are always a spectacle to watch. They've had some great concepts, some killer choreography, and some wonderful costumes. Picking my favorites is one hell of a challenge! But it is one I was willing to take! Besides, I haven't written a Perfume-themed list in awhile, and my top ten Perfume music videos is one that I think is long overdue! Why top ten? Because as of February 2014, Perfume has released thirty-five music videos (not including concert videos like the Butterfly and Handy Man interludes or the 575 Tokyo Dome Special Video Clip). I think ten of thirty-five is just the right number to include in this list! But I do have some honorable mentions. Five to be exact. So I'll just give my abridged opinions about them:

- Nee: The dance was the highlight of this music video, mainly the effect of showing multiple Perfumes in one shot. Special mention also goes to the kickass foot dance.
- Polyrhythm: Dinosaurs, apples, and plants, what do they all have in common? I'm not sure. But they are all in the music video for Polyrhythm! I think this PV's adorable.
- Spice: Interesting plotline, albeit a little hard to get into at first. The transition from faded pastels to more vibrant colors was also neat to watch. And there was table dancing!
- Spending all my time: I had such a hard time figuring out this video, but I don't think I was supposed to. Even then, watching the girls Perfume move objects with their minds was cool!
- Magic of Love: This video was so, so close to making it into the top ten. Magic of Love is spectacularly colorful and vibrant,and another great artsy Perfume music video.

10. Natural ni Koishite

Why can't all advertisements about shopping look like this? Actually, it's probably good that they don't, otherwise I'd be constantly broke. Anyways, Natural ni Koishite is one of the coolest advertisements for clothing that I have ever seen, and it's a three-minute music video.!The entire PV takes place on one set, but that one set is utilized to its fullest. Like a giant, stylishly decorated treadmill, the sidewalk moves with the girls dancing on it, one of the coolest parts about the PV. There are a bunch of other nice little effects too, mainly through some nice editing and clean cuts. The dance is also adorable, and I like how it correlates with the moving sidewalk. And beyond that, who doesn't love a music video about shopping? I think what I love most about Natural ni Koishite is how utterly fun it is. Not many of Perfume's PVs give the girls a chance to act more naturally (see what I did there?), instead opting for more serious, intricate dances and concepts. But in Natural ni Koishite, the girls look so carefree and relaxed. Even when they're dancing in high heels! My favorite part is the very end when the girls all grab their shopping bags and start running down the sidewalk. The camera pans away to reveal the entire set and surrounding studio. Then the girls run off out of the set laughing the entire way. It's this weirdly touching moment to watch and the perfect way to end this PV.

9. Macaroni

Macaroni is probably Perfume's most different music video. There's no dance, no elaborate set or special effects, just a grainy video of the girls wandering around Japan. It's a lot less boring than I'm making it sound. Kasuka na Kaori kind of did the same thing that Macaroni did, but Kasuka na Kaori was much cleaner and lighter, whereas Macaroni has a very gritty, nostalgic feel to it. I think it's mainly because of the camera filters; sure, now they look a little overused what with the rise of Instagram, but I still like the look they give the music video. Like I say, the feel of Macaroni makes me feel like I'm looking into the past, and in a way, I guess I am. This video is six years old now, and the Perfume of the Game era is no the Perfume of today. But that's not the sole reason why I love the music video for Macaroni. I just love the happy, carefree way in which the girls wander around, smiling and running and laughing. The colors and the way the girls act in this PV make Macaroni feel very warm, almost like a bowl of freshly cooked macaroni... I think the sweetest part is when the girls all come together at the very end in that field. And everything before that where they're wandering around individually is also really nice too. What makes Macaroni such a great PV for me is that it's such a stark, refreshing contrast to the polished sleekness of many Perfume PVs. It's wonderfully simple.

8. Electro World

Ah, a PV from the CGI era. For the record, that's not an actual era in Perfume's career; I'm just referring to the three PVs they released around the end of the Complete Best era and beginning of the Game era. Those three PVs being Linear Motor Girl, Electro World, and Twinkle snow Powdery snow. Of those three, my favorite has always been Electro World, partially because of the song. Electro World is about the end of the world (or at least a world after the end of the world). That concept alone practically gift-wraps ideas for a cool music video. While the music video for Electro World doesn't touch on apocalyptic concepts quite as clearly as I thought it would, the PV is still very impressive. What works so well in Electro World's PV is there's this wide scope of emptiness in the PV's environment. Despite the fact that mostly everything is probably green screen, the girls still look very small and dwarfed by this large, hollow shell of an "electro world." In hindsight, I like that this music video didn't blatantly shove down your throats the fact that this PV was about a dead dystopia. And for a PV from Perfume's more obscure days, the PV for Electro World is amazing. Sure, it's all CGI, but there are still some spectacular visuals in this PV, and a variety of green screens and imagery. Electro World remains my favorite music video from Perfume's Complete Best era and the oldest PV on this list!

7. One Room Disco

This is the most fun one room disco I've ever seen! Come to think of it, it's the only one room disco I've ever seen... Still, watching this PV makes me think there should be more of them! This is a fun PV, a really fun PV that perfectly matches the tone of the song. Like Natural ni Koishite, One Room Disco incorporated the use of only one set, but boy, does this PV use it to the fullest extent. The PV for One Room Disco has so many different shots, so many different special effects, but I like that it's all contained in one set. I think that nicely reflects the feeling of isolation in the song! One Room Disco is a very fun PV, this weird hybrid of one-person dance party and mind-screw special effects. The dance for One Room Disco is one of my favorites, and the first Perfume dance that stood out in my mind. That opening dance intro is such fun, and the rest of the dance keeps adding on to that fun! I also loved the special effects in this music video, mainly the changes in size depending on which room the girls were in. I have no idea how that was done, but it looks really cool. Like the apple of many sizes! Yes, the best part about One Room Disco was no doubt the apple. Well... okay, I'm joking (as far as you know). One Room Disco is always one of the first PVs I recommend to newcomers of Perfume, because it encompasses the fun sides of Perfume's songs and PVs so well.

6. Laser Beam

When I say Laser Beam, I'm referring to the full version found on the LE copies of JPN. Not that the shorter version isn't a nice PV to watch, it's just... the last minute of Laser Beam is the best part of this PV. Don't get me wrong, seeing the girls walking around in badass black heels pursuing a mysterious man with a briefcase is extremely cool. I mean, the concept of Laser Beam was female spies, which adds to the coolness factors. And "laser beams" incorporated into the dance shot again pump up the coolness levels. But my favorite part of this PV is the confrontation between Perfume and the masked man. It's ridiculous and insane, but in the most hilarious way possible. It all starts with Kashiyuka firing a laser beam (big shocker, huh?) at the masked. He falls to the ground, and Nocchi grabs the briefcase. But all is not over yet, and while her back is turned, the man gets up and turns into... actually, you know what? I'm not gonna tell you what happens in case you haven't watched the music video. Just... watch the music video all the way through. I swear it's worth it. If you've seen the full music video, you know full well what I'm specifically talking about. The last minute of Laser Beam is over-the-top fun, veering into cheesy 1960s spy drama territory. Of course, the time before that is also pretty awesome to watch, just a little more serious and sultry. Overall though, this PV is awesome.

5. love the world

Yep, Perfume's only black-and-white PV until Mirai no Museum! Personally, I find love the world to be an immensely more interesting music video than Mirai no Museum. Like with One Room Disco, there is a lot going on in this PV, and it's all very fast-paced. I had to watch the PV for love the world several times to catch all the little effects put into this PV. And believe me, there are many! This is another one of Perfume's artistic music videos that relies heavily on visual editing and special effects. What works so well with love the world is the level to which those effects are taken. You've got the girls spinning in rubix cubes, sitting on each others shoulders, crumpling each others faces in paper. It's easier to watch than explain the effects put into this PV. I noticed there's a lot of panning outward and panning inward in this PV. You know, that same effect in Magic of Love only taken to a farther extreme. It's actually very mesmerizing to watch since the effect is repeated so many times. The music video for love the world never goes too far with all the artsy visuals though; there's always this air of fun, especially from the girls. Love the world is a happy song, so why shouldn't the music video be equally happy? I always smile when I watch this music video; there's so many interesting, fun shots in it. I almost wish the effects in love the world actually worked in real life! Especially that rubix cube...

4. Spring of Life

The most recent PV on this list, Spring of Life brings back the robotic/futuristic feel of some of Perfume's older music videos like Linear Motor Girl and Electro World. Personally, I like this. As much as I love Perfume doing artsy videos, I also love when they embrace sci-fi concepts too. And androids is a concept deeply rooted in sci-fi. In the music video for Spring of Life, the girls are androids learning how to function (and possibly love?). Their fate however is a sad one though, as they finally develop the capacity to love, they unplug themselves from their power strips. Little do they know that doing so more-or-less ends their lives. It's probably the bleakest ending for a Perfume music video, even if their fate was revisited in the music video for Mirai no Museum. In my opinion though, that's a pretty lame way to include the dark and ambiguous storyline in Spring of Life. I don't know if this was supposed to be a statement about Perfume's standing as entertainers and how they act as robots trained to sing and dance. Probably not. But they've always been criticized for their overly processed, sometimes robotic vocals. It makes sense to make a music video having them play androids. That's what's so great about Spring of Life's music video; there is so much left open for interpretation, and whether you can take everything in it at face value or not! Me though, I love theorizing about Spring of Life.

3. Fushizen na Girl

Another PV that employs visual trickery! Honestly, I could watch Perfume's artsier PVs all day; they're very entrancing! The most entrancing of them is definitely Fushizen na Girl. This entire PV is a series of clever transitions through the use of shapes and other geographical figures. What I think is amazing about Fushizen na Girl is how fast the transitions flow! They just glide right on top of each other so effortlessly. There's never a dull moment in this music video, but the imagery is never overwhelming. It's just this perfect balance of creative visual effects and dancing. I'd love to see what kind of editing went into making this music video. I think it was also really cool that this PV had backup dancers; it's so rare Perfume PVs have other people in them, especially as many as Fushizen na Girl does! The dancing in this music video overall is just top-notch, both the backup dancer's and Perfume's choreographies. It looks so complicated, but I'm saying that as a person with zero dancing skills. I really love the colors in Fushizen na Girl to. They're all very bright, rich colors that pop against the black background. There's no real plotline to Fushizen na Girl, just artsiness with style. I feel like all the Natural Beauty Basic music videos were really artsy and visually engaging. Even Nee was, even though it didn't make it to the list. Maybe Perfume should do a tie-in for them again!

2. Voice

It's amazing how far apart my love for Voice the song and Voice the PV are. Voice is one of my least favorite Perfume songs; it's not terrible, but I still think it's dull, especially compared to the B-side 575. The music video on the other hand... how do I count the ways in which I love this video? The dance is great, the editing is great, the story is great, the visuals are great, everything about this PV is just great. I was blown out of the water when I first watched the PV for Voice. This music video takes the concept of visual trickery and turns it up to eleven in the cutest, happiest way possible. Every time I think I'm watching one thing, it turns out to be something different thanks to the way the viewer's perception is played with in this PV. But it never goes too far, nor does it ever get annoying. You just kind of sit there thinking, "Wow, I can't believe I thought X was Y, when it's really Z!" The best part is the very end, when that giant set starts to fall forward, and you think for a split-second it's going to land on the girls. But they end up passing through three holes blended into the backdrop! It's a moment that's both frightening and hilarious! And the dance is one of my favorite parts in Voice. I love the way the girls seamlessly pass through each moving set, and the way it's done is so neat to look at. Perfume has involved a lot of visual trickery in their PVs, but for me, Voice is the PV that does it best.

1. Secret Secret

I knew before I even created the draft for this post that Secret Secret would be my #1 music video. It's just... perfect. There isn't a thing I would change about this music video. Sometimes I forget that the music video for Secret Secret was created to be an endorsement for Pino Chocolate. Unlike Natural ni Koishite, which just advertised a brand, Secret Secret goes beyond that, weaving a symbolic story within the promotion of chocolate. Chocolate and symbolism, who doesn't love that!? Secret Secret is an abstract retelling of Perfume's rise to fame, only with a lot more chocolate. The Perfume in this video are mannequins only brought to life by chocolate to perform on television. As time goes on, the costumes get fancier, the sets get bigger, and the group's fame grows. But the price of that fame is the loss of their own identities. Throughout the PV, the girls are shown escaping to a public place where they wander around in normal clothes. The last time they're out in public, they're all wearing shades trying to hide. They've finally achieved success, yet in their last "TV performance" they come off as very wistful, almost sad. Maybe I'm just overly interpreting this music video, but Secret Secret always came off as a visualization of both the joy and sadness Perfume found when they finally became famous. Joy at the achievement of their dreams but also sadness at the price such fame has.

And there you have it! My top 10 Perfume videos as of February 2014! Who knows? Maybe in the future I'll have a few more I'd want to put on this list. But for now, what are your favorite Perfume music videos? Any on this list? None? I made a little poll listing all of Perfume's music videos (both on and off Perfume Clips) so go ahead and vote away!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Changes a-Comin' to AKB48

I may as well just put all this recent AKB48 news into one hodgepodge post. None of them warrant individual posts, and all are upcoming events that I may or may not write further upon in the future.

So let's start with the biggest news: Team 8! Yes, Aki-P has finally decided to complete AKB48 by adding a Team 8. Not only that, this Team 8 will consist of one girl from each of the 47 prefectures in Japan, making it the biggest team in the group. Team 8 will also be sponsored by Toyota, the first team to do so. As with any big AKB48 announcement, this one has been met with mixed opinions. I am honestly not that surprised about Team 8, not as much as I was for Team 4. Besides, didn't Aki-P imply at some point that he had plans to make a Team 8? I think that was before the original Team 4 folded, but I can't remember specifics. But so much has happened since the first formation of Team 4, no wonder I've forgotten about the possibility of Team 8. But now it's coming, and hopefully Team 8 will actually last this time, along with Team 4. Like with Team 4, reactions to creation of a Team 8 have been thoroughly mixed. Honestly, I don't care that much about Team 8.

The problem with AKB48 is that anytime they add new members, it's not a big deal the same way it is in smaller groups. Because we're probably gonna hear about only two of the forty-something girls being added to Team 8, because there is no way in hell every single one of those team members is making it to Senbatsu. In a weird way, AKB48's size is both its defining trait and its weakness, because they'll always be seen as a giant product, never really for the individual members that make up the group. Or maybe that's just me being partial to smaller groups. Either way, I could care less about the new Team 8 or the girls who get into it. What I do think is kind of strange is having a company sponsor the team. Like will Team 8's songs have blatant product placement in them or...? I don't know, very likely the partnership with Toyota is for one thing: MONEY! Money, money, money, it is the reason we exist and the reason Aki-P is going to keep milking every penny (or should I say yen?) out of AKB48 until the general public is absolutely sick of them! Toyota will make money, Team 8 will make money, AKS will make money, wotas will spend more money, everybody wins!

Speaking of lineup changes AKB48 is having another team shuffle later this month, their third one overall. The group's last team shuffle was in August of 2012, putting over a year between that one and the upcoming one. Admittedly, the last one took me by surprise; I wasn't a fan around the time of the 2009 shuffle so the 2012 shuffle was my first. And I recall not being very happy about it, mainly because of the entire surreality of the event. This time though, I am actually... looking forward to the shuffle. I guess because so many members have left that I'm legitimately curious to see who's going to what team. Like will the captains remain the same or will new girls be promoted? Yui was promoted to Team A captain fairly recently, and it seems odd to shove her out of that position so quickly. Same goes for Miichan in Team 4. Then again, Yuko's leaving so Team K will need a captain to fill her void. Actually, AKS might need more than just a captain to fill the void Yuko's leaving behind, but we'll see. Team K does need more Senbatsu members; Yuko's pretty much the only member representing Team K in Senbatsu as of now. Every other popular member either transferred or graduated; it's kind of sad.

I think the lack of recognizable faces in Team K is one of the reasons for this team shuffle. After all, it's much easier for AKS to put already popular members in Team K than actually, pfft, promote members of Team K. That would be way too much effort! But yeah, I think most of the team shuffle is going to be conveniently switching all the popular girls out into different teams to even the Senbatsu representation out. Team A and Team B are getting a little crowded... Even that is the case, I'm still looking forward to the shuffle. Because I'm bored with AKB48. So very bored. And the team shuffle will provide for a blissful distraction from the group's bland music and excessive graduations. Maybe the shuffle will even freshen AKB48 up a bit! It'll at least be interesting to see different members performing the team songs and being in different team PVs.

And then there's Oshima Yuko. The news of Yuko's graduation is old news by now, but AKB48's upcoming Sakura single has been revealed as Yuko's last. Furthermore, she will graduate on March 30 at AKB48's concert in the National Olympic Stadium. Seems pretty appropriate for Yuko. I always expected her to graduate with a bang, and the National Olympic Stadium is just about as banging as an idol concert can get. Mae Shika Mukanee, Yuko's graduation song, also has a decent amount of bang to it, much more than So Long! did at least. In fact, this is the first AKB48 song I've actually enjoyed in... awhile. It isn't amazing, oh no, there are many parts of this song that still need fixing. Like the awkward male background vocals and the subdued chorus, just to name a few. But Mae Shika Mukanee still feels like a song where a little more effort was put into than AKB48's past few A-sides. At least it's energetic! I'll talk more about the song when I actually write a review for the PV. Anyways, I wouldn't have liked to see Yuko go out on a downer of a song; it just wouldn't fit the image she had in AKB48.

To me, Yuko's signature song will always be Heavy Rotation, but Mae Shika Mukanee still suits her nicely. In fact, it has a pretty similar sound to Heavy Rotation; both songs teeter on bland, but have enough spark and energy to avoid boring me. A PV preview has also been released for Mae Shika Mukanee, but who knows when the full PV will actually be released. At least we know it's before the end of the month! From the forty-five second preview on AKB48's Youtube channel, I am not impressed with this PV so far. The background looks way too dark for such a bright, peppy song, and why does it look like a dumpster? It doesn't help the the girls are wearing outfits that look like they were constructed out of Capri Sun juice pouches. I guess they look kind of cool, but I still hope there's more to the PV than just the dance. Preferably not a cliched drama storyline about graduation either. I always wonder why anyone can't get a graduation single like Acchan did for Manatsu no Sounds good! How cool would that be?

So in summary, a graduation is happening, a single is getting released, and a group is getting shuffled. You know, nothing new for AKB48. Or is it? I don't know why, but I get the feeling that this is the year that AKB48 is finally going to start declining. I know I probably said that last year, but something about this year makes me think that it really is going to start happening. By no means do I think their sales will plummet overnight or anything, but I think after Yuko leaves, the fall of AKB48 is going to be a slow one. It'll be slow, subtle, and no one will realize for quite some time that it's happening. And then one day we'll all wake up, as if from a dream, and see that AKB48 is no more. Won't that be surreal? I've never really thought about what the idol industry will be like when AKB48 is no longer around. I haven't thought about that much for any idol groups I follow actually... After all, things can't last forever. There will be a time when all the groups I blog about will be gone. Eugh, what a bleak thought. This was just supposed to be a little news post about random AKB48 stuff, not an existential revelation about the necessity for things to come to an end. Eh... what was I talking about again? Ah yes! Graduations! Singles! Idols! Yeah! Clearly, I need sleep...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Nia's State of the Wonderland - February 2014

So it's February. Yay. On the plus side, that's great because February is when the releases start coming back in at full force, and I have stuff to actually review! But... ugh, it's February. This is my least favorite month of the year for a number of reasons. Mainly because it's still winter and everything is cold and dead. Also February is always the slowest month of the year for me. School isn't going to be over for several more months, and February is the agonizing month before my spring break. But when spring break does come in March, oh, what bliss that will be! Until then, I'm just gonna have to drudge through February. But hey, now I know what college I'm going to! Which is totally awesome because now I can get to registering and applying for dorms and scholarships and all that college-y stuff! Honestly, I'd prefer to just graduate right now, but I can't slack off this last semester, so I just keep telling myself, "I just need this last class to graduate, I just need this last class to graduate..." But enough of my personal life, how are things going for the Wonderland this month? Hopefully better than the last. Last month's was one of my slower months thanks to adjusting to new classes, rehearsals, and... yeah, pretty much classes and rehearsals! Also there wasn't much I could review in January. I did start writing some editorials and list posts which hopefully I'll be able to finish before March! And fortunately, there are more idol releases for me to talk about this month! So here's all the posts I've planned to start working on in February!

For the record, I'm not doing Sexy PV Week this year. Actually, that was probably just a one-time thing. It was a fun one-time thing though!

Count Zero/Runners High Single Review
- I may write this. I'm not sure really since it is a collaboration single between Scandal and TM Revolution. Then again, the songs I've heard from TM Revolution are pretty cool, and the guy's got a great voice. I thought about reviewing the PV for Runners High, but it's a concert PV. It looks nice, but there's not much I can say about it. I also thought about writing a post about why Scandal's Runners High PV works better than Morning Musume's What is Love? PV, but again, I'm not sure how much I could write about that before sounding redundant. As of now, I'm still not sure. I may wind up not doing either post idea!

Front Girls I am Still Okay With
- This one is from last month's State of the Wonderland, and all I can really say is that I'm still diligently working on it! Thing is, I have a lot more front girls in this post that I did the original one! Ironic considering some of the front girls in that post have graduated since then! But there are still some familiar faces from the last post on this one! I should say that I don't plan on doing a Front Girls I am Still Not Okay With post. The only front girls I'm not really okay with are Sayashi Riho and Watanabe Miyuki, so yeah, not much material to write a post with.

Mae Shika Mukanee PV Review
- I may as well review AKB48's latest music video. It's not like I have anything better to do. Well, actually I do. But still, maybe AKS will step up their game and create an actually interesting music video! Surely for Yuko's last single with AKB48 they would, right? I can only hope so. Even if not, I'm reviewing this PV because this is the last time I'll get to screencap Yuko in an AKB48 PV. I think given her impact on AKB48, reviewing her last Senbatsu PV is the honorable thing to do. And... and... I kind of like the song. You did not read that. And even if you did, that doesn't get AKB48 out of the hate corner. Yes, I have a hate corner. No, it isn't real.

My Top 10 Perfume Music Videos
- In honor of Perfume's first DVD collection of music videos being released this month, I figured the best thing to do was write a list of my personal favorite PVs the lovely technopop trio has released over the years! And I've got some great music videos to pick from; narrowing down a top 10 from the thirty-four PVs Perfume has released since their debut definitely won't be an easy task! But part of the fun of Perfume is that they've released some really great music videos ranging from robotic and futuristic to quirky and artistic! I think I pretty much know which Perfume PV is my favorite: Omajinai★Perori! I'm joking, of course. You'll have to wait for the list to find out!

Partition Love PV Review
- I will go ahead and say I hate the music video for Partition Love. I absolutely hate it. Now why do I say this now and spoil the review? Because my reasons for hating it are very specific and personal. The song is different, but since more than half this review deals with the PV, I just think you should all know that as of now, what I have written of this review is incoherent, passive-aggressive ranting. If you liked the music video for Partition Love, then that is perfectly okay. I however, do not like it, but I still feel compelled to talk about why I do not like it. It's just one of those music videos filled with so much rant-bait. Is that even a thing?

Second Spring EP Single Review
- Truth be told, I probably won't be able to review this single until after March 19, its release date, but still!! I'm so excited! Another Curumi Chronicle release! I'll admit, I probably could have reviewed White Sweet Cake, but I was distracted by Christmas and year-end posts. Still, that was a quality song and just the techno Christmas song I was craving! It gives me hope that Curumi's next single is going to be every bit as delightful as her debut album was! I just wish the release date for this EP wasn't so far away... I'll probably have to spend all of February with no new technopop to review save for Kyarypamyupamyu. I can wait though! I'm sure I can!

Unconventional Idols Editorial
- I'll admit, writing this editorial just sort of... happened. I think it started with me getting into Togawa Jun, and from there, the idea just kept blooming. I think as a fan of more unconventional idols, I've wanted to explore their appeal and why I like them for quite some time. I guess this editorial is less and analysis and more of a... justification of why unconventional idols keep popping up in Japanese idol culture. And more importantly, why this archetype still keeps getting fans. I feel like unconventional idols sometimes get a bad rap, so I guess this post is more-or-less a defense of why this type of idol exists and why I personally like it.

With You/With Me PV Review
- I made a promise last year to review something by 9nine, and I intend to hold on that promise! Actually, I've got to peruse through quite a bunch of 9nine's music considering they're performing with Perfume in May! But a good starting point is reviewing their upcoming song. Whether I'll review the single or PV for With You/With Me, I'm not sure yet. At the moment, I'm leaning more toward the PV. But who knows? Maybe the B-side for With You/With Me will be so astounding I'll end up reviewing the single! I do hope the PV's released this month though; I'd think it would be around mid-to-late February since the release date's March 12.

Yume no Hajima Ring Ring PV Review
- Welp, Perfume doesn't look to be releasing a single any time soon, so it's time to turn to Kyarypamyupamyu and see what latest insanity she's dabbling in! Said insanity will very likely consist of the music video for Yume no Hajima Ring Ring. Even though the PV has not been released yet, I can pretty much expect by now that it will feature some degree of adorably creepy weirdness found in every Kyarypamyupamyu music video. After the thoroughly enjoyable PV for Mottai Night Land, I do wonder what direction her next music video will go. Hopefully the PV will maintain the same quality and budget Mottai Night Land's had though!