Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Time Capsule Reviews: GAME

Oh yeah, it's back. Grab your sonic screwdriver, because we are going back in time.

How long has it been since my last Time Capsule Review? A year? Well, I want to bring this back! Why? Because I missed doing this, and I think a few readers missed it too. I will say though that Time Capsule Reviews are going to be a little more different than they were a year ago. For one thing, it's not restricted just to Perfume music videos. Okay, I know that this is a Perfume review, but I will open Time Capsule Reviews to other idols, both active and disbanded. Speaking of which, criteria for monthly Time Capsule Reviews has also changed. Instead of drawing names out of a hat, I've decided to review something that was released the same month I'm doing that Time Capsule Review. For example, Perfume released GAME April 16, 2008, so that's why it's going to be my April Time Capsule Review. That being said, if you have any old releases you'd like me to review that fall within a certain month, just drop it by me via commenting, email, Twitter, etc.! For now though, I'm just gonna have a poll with five or six old releases each month, and you guys can vote on which one you want me to review! I'll keep the poll up for the first half of the month, then close it to start reviewing the release that got the most votes. And if no one votes... I'll just pick then! Yay! Everyone wins!

But I am picking the first new Time Capsule Review. Why? Because it's Perfume's GAME, and a GAME review is long overdue on the Wonderland.

Look at that album cover. Such finesse, such class, such quality. To think that this album was released six years ago. Has time really gone by so quickly? I'm just gonna go ahead and say that I love GAME. It still stands as my favorite Perfume album and one of my favorite albums in general. And a lot of Perfume fans also have GAME as their favorite Perfume album. Why though? What makes GAME such a great album in comparison to Perfume's other three albums? Is it nostalgia or is GAME just a genuinely great album that showcases the best of Perfume? Well considering this blog basically exists because of Perfume, I think it's more than overdue that I pay tribute to their first original album, the one that also happens to be my favorite. As of now, GAME is still Perfume's best-selling album, and I think it rightly deserves to be. There's a great variety of songs on the album, and if you're interested in getting into Perfume, then I enthusiastically recommend listening to GAME. I will warn you, most of this review is just me gushing over Perfume, but it's not like you guys aren't used to that. Enough of this intro, let's play the game. The review game. That sounded a lot more clever in my head...

1. Polyrhythm

Opening the album is the song that started it all. I feel like it's almost pointless to talk about Polyrhythm since it's without a doubt Perfume's most well-known song. I will admit that over the past few years, Polyrhythm can feel a little overplayed. It's what Love Machine was to Morning Musume, so Perfume has a tendency to perform it a lot, along with one other song on this album. But overplaying aside, does that diminish the value of Polyrhythm? ...I don't think so. Because when I sit down and listen to Polyrhythm again, it's still a great song. The buildup into the chorus is great, and the best part of the entire song is that polyrhythmic bridge. I highly recommend watching a live performance of Polyrhythm just so you can see the girls dance to that bridge. Polyrhythm is iconic in Perfume's discography, but still stands the test of time as a great song. And seeing how it was Perfume's first single to make it big, I think it's the perfect song to open GAME.

My Rating:

2. Plastic smile

And immediately the next song on GAME is an album song! I remember first listening to Plastic smile and thinking it was going to be really robotic for some reason. It's actually not; Plastic smile is a very cheerful song. The English in the lyrics is, "Crack a smile, come up smile, flash a smile, plastic smile." They're very catchy! I'm not sure if that was deliberate or Nakata looking for works with the same vowel structure as plastic smile, but hey, very cheerful! Actually, what I like about Plastic smile is the dissonance between the lyrics and the music. Plastic smile is one of the most upbeat songs GAME, but the lyrics are about discontent and stagnancy within a relationship. For such a cute song, the lyrics make Plastic smile kind of depressing! But I still enjoy the song a lot; the chorus in particular is a lot of fun to sing along to! I could actually see this song being used in a commercial, and it may have been. Either way, Plastic smile is a neat song and one of my favorites off of GAME.

My Rating:


Before edge, GAME was Perfume's closest song to having the darker and trancier sound that made edge such a popular song. While edge is my favorite Perfume song, GAME also comes very close to the top of that list. I really like the placement of this track on GAME. Polyrhythm and Plastic smile are both great tracks, but they're also very upbeat songs. GAME on the other hand is an edgy dance song that features much more minimal lyrics than either of those first two songs. The contrast adds a nice variety to GAME. Also, this song makes for one sick live performance. I mean... not that I would know... I just watched the performance from Tokyo Dome online, but from that alone, I could tell that GAME is an awesome song live. And the song itself has such a great buildup into the chorus; I can hear the instrumental just get harder and louder until it reaches the chorus. The chorus of GAME is simple but effective, and overall, GAME (the song) is a powerful listen all the way through.

My Rating:

4. Baby cruising Love

After GAME, Baby cruising Love slows things down. I wouldn't say Baby cruising Love is a ballad, but the tempo is slower than most of the other songs on GAME. I don't know why, but I never know what to say when I talk about Baby cruising Love. Of all the A-sides on GAME, I find it to be one of the weaker ones. Not that it's a bad song, but in comparison to Polyrhythm and Macaroni and Chocolate Disco, Baby cruising Love stands a little bit lower. But it is a very nice song. I think what I like most about Baby cruising Love are the lyrics and the vocals. The lyrics talk about being with someone in this very... cosmic way. The girls mention space, voyages, and long journeys. I don't know how to explain it, but it works! The best part of the Baby cruising Love is the very end when the girls sing separate parts overlapping one another. When I'm in the right mood, Baby cruising Love is a very cool song to listen to, but even when I'm not, it's still a pretty good song.

My Rating:

5. Chocolate Disco

Here's another well-known song from Perfume's discography! Chocolate Disco, one of Perfume's most over-performed concert songs. I wonder, do the girls ever get tired of constantly performing Chocolate Disco and Polyrhythm? I will admit, I do get tired of Chocolate Disco since it's performed so much. But when I don't listen to it for awhile, I find myself enjoying this song all over again! Chocolate Disco is a fun song and not much else. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing! Because Chocolate Disco excels at being a fun song. The chorus is extremely catchy; I can see why Kimura Kaela played the song so much on her radio show. The lyrics to Chocolate Disco are just about the easiest to remember, even to someone who doesn't speak Japanese. So no, it isn't deep or poetic, but it is an extremely happy song. And coming after the hard dance song GAME and slower Baby cruising Love, Chocolate Disco is a nice transition to a peppier sound.

My Rating:

6. Macaroni

And then slowing it down after the party song that was Chocolate Disco is the lounge-y Macaroni. Macaroni definitely isn't a ballad, but it is a very slow, very chill song. Actually, Macaroni is a great song to listen to on a rainy day. Or any day where you're at home relaxing with nothing to do. Even when you're doing stuff. Just listen to this song. I think Macaroni's really grown on me in the past few years. There are very few times when I'm not stressed out, and Macaroni is a good song to listen to when I am under stress. The song is just so calming and slow. I always feel very relaxed after listening to Macaroni. The music video is also really good, and I highly recommend checking it out. I like Macaroni being in the middle of GAME. It's like a calming interlude between the really energetic Chocolate Disco and the more upbeat song following it. Honestly, I'd love to hear more of this side of Perfume in their current music, like with Furikaeru to Iru yo.

My Rating:

7. Ceramic Girl

Ceramic Girl is a funny little song. When I first started listening to it, I thought it was all right. The chorus was cute and I did like the fast nature of the lyrics. But not much about Ceramic Girl really stuck out to me (except for the title). That is... until I got to the bridge. Like Polyrhythm, the best part about Ceramic Girl is the bridge in the middle of the second and last chorus. The second chorus ends with the last word, "girl" being repeated over and over. And then it starts getting faster. And faster. And faster and faster and faster until BAM! All the music drops and then the chorus kicks back in. I loved that part back when I first listened to Ceramic Girl and love it just as much today! I'm actually surprised Nakata never made an extended mix of Ceramic Girl. That bridge is practically remix-bait, and considering his penchant for remixes, you'd think he'd be all over that. Oh well, in its original form, Ceramic Girl is a pretty fun, happy song with a standout bridge followed by more fun and happiness.

My Rating:

8. Take me Take me

This song is definitely the most divisive on GAME. I feel like fans either love it or hate it. I can see why some fans wouldn't like it. It's a repetitive song, and the lyrics are only slightly more creative than the ones in Spending all my time. Personally though, Take me Take me is one of my favorite Perfume songs. So what makes it better than Spending all my time? Well, unlike Spending all my time, Take me Take me has atmosphere. This is a moody, sensual song, and the minimal lyrics work really well in adding to that moodiness. To really get Take me Take me, I highly recommend watching the live from Perfume's GAME Tour. Take me Take me is a mature song (it's very heavily implied the song is about intercourse), and the choreography for Take me Take me highlights both the maturity and sensuality of the song. If you're unsure about Take me Take me, listen to the song a few times to see if it grows on you. For me, the song is like wine; it gets better with time.

My Rating:

9. Secret Secret

Ahhh yes, Secret Secret, one of the best songs on this album and one of the best songs by Perfume in general. Do you ever listen to a song and have this feeling of absolute awe rush over you like a wave? Even after the song is over, you just kind of sit there with this feeling of having listened to something truly incredible. That is what happened when I listened to Secret Secret. Oh god, what is not great about this song? The fake-out opening is classic, the vocal structure is perfect, the instrumental is the right blend of edgy and soft, Secret Secret is just a wonderful, wonderful song that makes me grateful that Amuse kept Perfume around after Perfume ~Complete Best~. I know I sound like I'm gushing, but if you haven't listened to Secret Secret, please do so. Musically, the song is an eargasm, and I love the lyrics to Secret Secret. The song is all about the relationship between a performer and their fan, which only adds even more poignancy to the song. Absolutely my favorite song off of GAME.

My Rating:

10. Butterfly

The biggest complaint I hear about Butterfly is that it's too repetitive. And.. yeah, it is really repetitive. Most the song consists of Perfume singing Butterfly for roughly sixteen counts, then signing a few verses. Rinse and repeat. But... I still really like Butterfly. At first, I did think it was a little too monotonous, but much like Take me Take me, Butterfly has a really great atmosphere. I recommend watching the Budokan clip of Butterfly; I think it adds to the song with some very entrancing visuals. Butterfly took awhile to grow on me, but now I like it a lot. I actually love how long it is. Those long notes the girls hold while singing Butterfly are just so captivating. And the instrumental sounds almost tropical at times. I think had the instrumental of Butterfly been more boring, then I wouldn't like the song as much. But when I listen to Butterfly, I evokes all these trippy, colorful images of butterflies in my head. Butterfly's just kind of a trippy, but cool song. Personally, I like it a lot.

My Rating:

11. Twinkle snow Powdery snow

Okay... I... actually, I think Twinkle snow Powdery snow is the weakest song on the entire album. Now that doesn't mean this song is bad, it's just... kind of underwhelming compared to everything else? My feelings about Twinkle snow Powdery snow are weird. In the late fall and winter, around November through February, I enjoy listening to this song. I think it's a great winter song, especially with that very Christmas-y opening. But when the weather gets warmer, I don't really like listening to this song that much. Twinkle snow Powdery snow is such a distinctively winter song. The lyrics are about snow, the PV is about snow, I don't want to listen to a song about snow when it's 102 degrees outside. Twinkle snow Powdery snow is still a fun, cute song, but if I could choose between it and say, Seventh Heaven to go on GAME, then I'd go with the latter. Ask me about this song again around December and maybe I'll feel differently about it then.

My Rating:

12. Puppy love

One of my favorite Perfume songs EVER! Okay, I've been saying that about a lot of the songs on GAME, but Puppy love is still one of them! I think this song is adorable. It's just so sweet and heartfelt, and oh, I just get warm fuzzies thinking about this song! So a few years ago I actually learned the dance to this song for fun along with the words. In fact, I still know the lyrics to Puppy love. I'm not sure why; I guess they just got stuck in my head easily. Yeah, in case you can't tell yet, I really love this song, and I love that it's the song that closes out GAME. Puppy love is a happy Perfume song, happy in the sweetest way a Perfume song can be. I love the opening of the song too; it reminds me of the intro to Linus and Lucy. And everything after that is just as wonderful! Like with Macaroni, I feel better when I listen to Puppy love. Something about how it's so blithe and happy puts on a smile on my face. I'm even smiling right now as I type this!

My Rating:

The Verdict

Well, there you have it. I love this album so much. In my opinion, GAME is Perfume's best album. Why? Because it shows all the best sides of their music. You want a happy Perfume song? GAME has Plastic smile, Chocolate Disco, Ceramic Girl, and Puppy love. You want a slow Perfume song? GAME has Macaroni. You want a darker Perfume song? GAME has GAME, Take me Take me, and Butterfly. You want an awesome song? GAME has- well, actually all the songs are awesome. The problems that I've had with Perfume's subsequent albums are that they don't have a very good balance of musical styles. JPN was too light and lacking in original content, ⊿ was too heavy on electronic effects, and Level3 had Mirai no Museum. There isn't a single track that I wouldn't want on GAME. Not even Twinkle snow Powdery snow. Although I would have loved if Seventh Heaven had made it to the album. Anyways, the balance of different styles and sounds on this album is near-perfect. A lot of my favorite Perfume songs come from GAME, and for good reason. GAME is just the right amount of fun, happy technopop and dark, edgy technopop and everything else in-between.

But back to the question I proposed: is GAME a great album because of nostalgia or because it stands on its own merits as a great album? I think for me, it's a little bit of both. GAME came out just when I was getting into Perfume. In fact, I remember going on Youtube and listening to the songs because I didn't know how to download an album back then. I remember watching Secret Secret and feeling absolutely blown away by this trio of girls not much older than me dancing to such different music to my ears. When I listen to GAME now, I can't help but have that nostalgia overcome me. But when I listen to GAME, I also realize all over again why I love Perfume so much. For most artists, I'll have phases where I listen to them on heavy rotation, then forget about them for some time before picking them up again. That's not the case with Perfume. When I listen to GAME, it's like listening to a reminder of why I follow and write about (and even gush about) Perfume. I can still play GAME and feel like I'm listening to it for the first time. There isn't a single song I would take off the album; each song on GAME shows just how great Perfume's music can be when Nakata's on a roll. If you want to get into Perfume, then GAME is an album you definitely should listen to.

GAME abso-freaking-lutely gets five apples. There is a reason that GAME is my favorite Perfume album, and I think I just went over that in this review. Now what will next month's Time Capsule Review be? It's up to you! There's a poll with five May releases in it, and as of now, any of them could be the Time Capsule Review! So if you want one to be reviewed, go vote! Or not! It's up to you! But I will ask you guys this: what Perfume album is your favorite? Is it GAME? Not GAME? None of them at all?

Farewell, Poison Tongue

Who didn't see this coming?

What I like about Morning Musume lately, member-wise, is that it's really easy to tell who's going to graduate. Most of the girls are still relatively new to the group, so it's pretty obvious the only real members fans have to worry about graduating are the Platinum Era members. And now the last of the Platinum Era, Michishige Sayumi has finally announced that she too will be graduating at the end of Momusu's fall tour. Depending on who you are, you're either jumping for joy or crying into a pillow. Me personally, I can't say that this announcement took me by surprise. Had the announcement been two years ago, I would have been a lot more surprised. But now, with Sayu being the Morning Musume member with the longest tenure, it's far from surprising. In fact, I feel like lately I've been doing a really good job at expecting graduations. I know that any H!P members graduating are going to be the older ones, and AKB48 has too many members I don't care about that are graduating. All of the younger members aren't going anywhere anytime soon; it's basically all the veterans that are moving on to non-idol pastures. Now if only I could apply that same expectancy to disbanding groups. I still can't believe that BiS is disbanding, and now I have to add Bump.y to the mix.

Back to Sayu, I was either expecting her to graduate in late 2014 or early-to-mid 2015. She's been leader of Morning Musume for 2 years, she's about to be 25, and she can hold a career for herself in variety outside of Momusu. She'll be more than fine outside of the group. What interests me (what always interests me whenever a prominent member graduates) is how Sayu's graduation is going to affect Morning Musume. Obviously, someone else will have to take the leader position, but I'm not sure if it's going to Mizuki or Haruna or if the both of them will be joint leaders. I guess Ikuta Erina for sub-leader isn't happening any time soon. Also, the 12th Generation will be entering into the picture at some point; probably Sayu will introduce them at her graduation concert, and then they'll debut with the group in 2015. I do wonder how that will also affect the group dynamic, if at all. The most interesting thing about Sayumi leaving to me is that her departure marks the last of the Platinum Era members leaving the group. Think about it; after Sayu leaves, all the Momusu music videos from Morning Coffee to Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game will have no current members in them. Watching old music videos will be even weirder now that everyone who's in them up to Maji Desu ka Ska! is gone!

I know that Michishige Sayumi has always been one of the most divisive members in Morning Musume, and Hello! Project in general. It's really weird though, because when I read comments and articles about people who hate her, they really hate her. I can see where that comes from though; Sayu's always been infamous for her "Poison Tongue" personality on TV along with her narcissistic act of being the cutest member in Morning Musume. Actually, she is pretty adorable... and she doesn't even looked like she's aged that much in the past decade... Maybe she's a vampire who doesn't suck blood but sucks youth instead! What was I talking about again? Ah, yes, Sayu's idol personality. I say idol personality, because everyone knows that Sayu's poison tongue/narcissist personality is mostly fabricated. But I do wonder if any of that ever leaked over into her real personality. I mean eleven years is a long time to maintain that persona. Personally, I never really found Sayu to be all that offensive. That's probably because I've never watched much of any Momusu television programs or even Sayu's appearances outside of Momusu in variety shows.

But in Morning Musume singles, I liked Sayu. Once Momusu started getting younger new members, all the old members of the group sort of stuck out. Like you could tell there was a clear gap between the old and new generations. Visually, Sayu seemed to fit in really well with the 9th and 10th Generation, especially once Reina graduated. I don't want to say I won't miss Sayu, because I do like her presence as an older generation member in Morning Musume. But I also think that now is a god time for her to go. I mean, think of all the eras she's been through! Sayu has been a member from Shabondama to now; that's over a decade of different lineups and images. And I'd like to think that she left a mark on Morning Musume. Maybe not as a great singer (lord no) or a great dancer, but as a girl who started out with no talent whatsoever and still found a niche for herself in Morning Musume. Sure, that niche generated a lot of backlash, but if there's one motto in the entertainment world, it's that there's no such thing as bad publicity. I have to admit, I'm surprisingly chill about this graduation announcement. Now if one of the 9th or 10th gen. girls announces graduation, that will take me by surprise. But I get the feeling that's a long ways away. So farewell to Sayumi, may her Poison Tongue grace many variety shows!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Surprisingly Sad Story of a Dandelion

Deeming Nogizaka46's string of good singles not a fluke is a concept that scares me.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I love that Nogizaka46 has finally gotten some decent music and some really good music videos. They're pretty much the only '48 group that I've found interesting lately. But I keep wondering, "Will it last?" Is Nogizaka46 going to reach the same point that AKB48 has and stagnate? Or did they already go through their phase of god-awful songs? Have the producers of Nogizaka46 just finally gotten their shit together and figured out what sound and image works best for Nogizaka46? Around the time of Seifuku no Mannequin, I wasn't sure. At the time, I was half-convinced that song was just a fluke, along with the music video. Kimi no Na wa Kibou was a very pretty, albeit simple song. Then Girl's Rule came along, and that was a fun summer song with a surprisingly pretty, nostalgic music video. And then Barrette broke into a men's club carrying machine guns and became the best '48 release of 2013. Barrette set a pretty high bar for Nogizaka46's next single, musically and visually. I wasn't sure if Nogizaka46 would be able to top that. Now here we are. Kizuitara Kataomoi is, crazily enough, Nogizaka46's eighth single and their first of the chunk of '48 singles we can expect this year. Now how does Kizuitara Kataomoi hold up against AKB, SKE, NMB, and HKT's spring singles?

My verdict? It's the best one so far.

My hope is that Nogizaka46 will release an eve better song this year than Kizuitara Kataomoi, but you know, baby steps. I've found that the easiest thing to do when expecting idol releases is... not to expect them. I'm not saying keep expectations low, just don't hold any. Be prepared for anything to happen, good or bad. That being said... Kizuitara Kataomoi is beautiful. Good god, I could listen to this song all day. Actually, I kind of have. It's one of the idol songs this year I've been playing the most. And it's one of the first singles this year to stick in my head easily. What to say about this song, what to say... well, other than the fact that it's wonderful. I wouldn't say Kizuitara is a ballad, it's too upbeat for that, but there is still a very wistful tone to the song. I actually like that the song isn't a ballad, and you'll see why when I talk about the PV. And there's something about the song structure that's very... different from what I thought it was going to sound like. I mean different in a good way! Like the way the verses are sung very quickly and then the chorus slows down is a strange vocal choice, but it surprisingly works well. In fact, I think that distinct vocal structure (that doesn't sound like every other '48 song) just made Kizuitara Kataomoi stand out even more.

You know what song Kizuitara Kataomoi reminds me most of? Connect by ClariS. Connect is definitely more orchestral but the general sound of both songs is very similar. They're both uplifting songs with pretty piano, light, delicate vocals, and a gorgeous key change at some point. God, I am such a sucker for key changes. Even in terrible songs, I still like the key changes. And the one in Kizuitara Kataomoi is gorgeous. Connect is one of my favorite idol songs, so its similarities to Kizuitara Kataomoi are completely okay with me. I'd rather it be similar to Connect than to other '48 songs. As I said before, this is a very pretty song. The strings in particular struck me as pretty, along with the subtle piano played throughout the song. I just love the entire arrangement of Kizuitara Kataomoi, and it keeps growing on me the more I listen to the song. I mean, I already liked Kizuitara Kataomoi on my first listen, but I feel like each time I replay it, the song sounds better. I guess the song is just like wine and gets better with time.

Something else that I like about Kizuitara Kataomoi are the lyrics. The only time I really pay attention to idol lyrics is when they're good lyrics. A majority of Aki-P's lyrics aren't really worth talking about, but I find Kizuitara Kataomoi's to be surprisingly touching. I guess because I find unrequited love to be a more interesting topic to sing about than the other kind? And there's just something about Kizuitara Kataomoi's lyrics that sounds very, very sad. Reading the translation, I can just hear the desperation and conflicted frustration and bitter acceptance in the lyrics of the song. The lyrics being well-written just make Kizuitara Kataomoi an even better song! I'm serious, this is probably so far my favorite '48 release this year, and considering most groups' outputs, it will probably end up being my favorite overall. Unless another group decides to blow me away again. Which I don't expect happening any time soon. After all, it's not like me using reverse psychology would work, right? Back to Kizuitara Kataomoi, I really do love this song. The song has such a beautiful and memorable tone to it. Kizuitara Kataomoi may even be my favorite Nogizaka46 song. It at least tops Barrette!

But that's just songs. Barrette was an all right song, and there are many '48 songs that are better. The real question is this: can Kizuitara Kataomoi's PV top Barrette? I mean the PV for Barrette was freaking awesome. It would be damn hard for Nogizaka46 to come up with an even better PV than Barrette. So did they? Only one way to find out!

How does Kizuitara Kataomoi begin? With a dandelion, a single little dandelion that will prove very important to this story.

And also there's Nanase, member of Nogizaka46 who will also prove very important to this story!

Mainly because she's dying of an unspecified illness.

It's probably the same one that Matsui Jurina died of in Sakura no Ki ni Narou.

Now since there are captions in this music video, I'm just going to repost the English translations from this subbed video. This one says, "Am I dead?"

"God... I beg you for some more time..."

Well, everything's blurred, there's a bright light, this can only mean one thing...

This is a pretty shot, very ethereal. Which makes sense given the context of the PV.

There is nothing worse than that gut-drop feeling when you're told a loved one has died.

I'm not completely sure what happens in this scene, but Mai's involvement is important.

"The time I can stay on this world, maybe as long as the dandelion still has seeds."

Here's Nanase, looking very much alive!

And even better, she's center of Nogizaka46's next single!

What could possibly go wrong now, am I right?

Let's just hope that little dandelion left in the middle of a field doesn't lose its seeds!

"In this case, time is running out."

Mai obviously understands the gravity of the situation.

"Nanase, you push yourself too much."

Ah, a rooftop, the best place to hold insightful conversations and confess things!

"For me, there is not enough time."

Another attempt by Nanase to lessen awkwardness between herself and Mai...

...unfortunately does not go as well as planned.

Rina properly calls out Mai for her prickly behavior towards Nanase.

"You behave so cold because of jealousy, don't you?"

I actually really like Mai's character in this PV. Usually, that rival/antagonist character is very trite, but Mai's emotions feel very justified.

I mean, she's only acting so cold to distance herself from the knowledge that Nanase can't stick around forever.

"It's not true! It's only because Mai is worried about my health..."

And then... the inevitable happens.

The dandelion starts to wear down and so does Nanase.

But that doesn't stop Mai from rushing out to protect the little dandelion.

How long can she protect before the elements blow it away though?

"I will protect Nanase's life."

I actually feel really sorry for Mai in this PV, you can tell how much Nanase's immutable death is affecting her.

And it makes her hug with Nanase afterward all the more heartwarming.

Actually, this entire part is very, very heartwarming.

"Everybody... Sorry I've kept it as a secret."

Another insightful rooftop conversation with Nanami.

This time Nanase's reflecting on how grateful she is to be able to perform.

And now the members give their all into preparing for the performance!

Despite the dandelions seeds slowly blowing away...

Even though Nanase coughs up seeds (What?), she still perseveres!

Of course they take a picture for memory!

The night of the performance arrives, with Nanase not doing so well.

Nonetheless, she gets on stage and they all dance the night away!

Meanwhile, the dandelion grows smaller and smaller...

...until finally there are no seeds left.

And so Nanase gives one last look to her team members and friends.

Then, with no ties left to this earth, she disappears into a puff of dandelion seeds.

And in my opinion, that makes for a perfect ending to this little story.

I do wonder how the girls explained that to the audience though...

The final shot lingers on the last picture of Nanase, with a dandelion seed (very subtly) fallen over her head, thus concluding our story.

Wow... just... wow. I'm not being facetious, that really was my first reaction when I watched the PV for Kizuitara Kataomoi. And that was before I even knew what the music video was really about! The story for Kizuitara Kataomoi is simple, but I was completely invested watching the entire music video for the first time. Because while Kizuitara Kataomoi story's is simple, it's a good story. To really know what the music video was about though, I did need some more context, which is my way of saying I needed subtitles. Unlike some music videos that have unnecessary subtitles, I highly recommend watching Kizuitara Kataomoi with subtitles if you do not speak Japanese. You can still follow the story without subtitles, but many of the little gaps are filled when you know understand the writing and the dialogue. In fact, here's a video with the subtitles. There, you don't even have to actively search for one now! So what are you waiting for!? Watch it! Love it! Build a shrine to- okay, not that last one. But do enjoy the music video for Kizuitara Kataomoi, because it is a good one. Maybe even better than Barrette...

As you can deduce, I am completely enthralled with Kizuitara Kataomoi. I love the story, the connection to the song, the ending, everything. It actually reminds me very much of a fairy tale told in a contemporary setting. A girl almost dies but is given one more chance to live so long as this one little dandelion keeps its seeds. But nature marches on and the dandelion can only keeps its seeds for so long, and the girl is able to give one final performance as center of Nogizaka46 before dissolving into a bunch of little dandelion seeds. I mean, couldn't you see that as a Hans Christian Anderson story!? Well, maybe without all the religious morals, but still! I like how the story of Kizuitara Kataomoi is simple and doesn't try to explain how a weed is keeping a girl alive or why said girl dissolves into dandelions at the end. It just presents a story and expects the viewer to go along with the strange circumstances the same way the characters in the story do. Just like a fairy tale! And I also love how the story is interwoven with elements of real life and Nogizaka46 itself. That realism combined with fantasy gives the story much more poignancy. It even adds sadness to the PV because you just know how much stress all these girls go through striving for a center position.

To me, Kizuitara Kataomoi is as sad as, maybe even sadder than, Sakura no Ki ni Narou. But it's hard to compare since both are so similar and so good. Both music videos involve the death of a friend along with flowers and- hold on. Is Kizuitara to Nogizaka46 what Sakura no Ki ni Narou was to AKB48? Two beautiful PVs with slight otherworldly themes that involve passing on? I guess if I wanted to explore the rivalry aspect of Nogizaka46 (lord knows I'd do it better than AKS does), I could easily make several comparisons between Kizuitara Kataomoi and Sakura no Ki ni Narou. And they're both spring singles! Wait a minute... does that also make Barrette for Nogizaka46 the same to what Beginner was for AKB48? Of course, not in terms of songs; Barrette as a song can't even compare to Beginner. But as for the music videos... both Beginner and Barrette's PVs were dark and surprisingly violent for their respective idol groups. Is Nogizaka46 turning into a better version of AKB48!? Is their summer single going to feature nods to their previous music videos a la Everyday Kachuusha!? But then they'd have to make a nod to Oide Shampoo... eugh.

Back on subject, Kizuitara Kataomoi's PV is definitely up there with the sad idol music videos I've watched. The PV doesn't have me crying buckets or anything, but when I was watching it, I still felt sad. It was a... bittersweet kind of sad. You know, the kind when you know something's going to happen and you know you can't prevent it, so you just try your best to come to terms with it until it happens. That kind of sad... it kind of sucks. The more I think about it, I don't really see a lot of truly sad idol PVs. Lots of happy ones, serious ones, bright ones, edgy ones, cheap ones, but never any that make me feel sad while watching them. I can maybe count on one hand the number of sad idol PVs that I've watched. Kizuitara Kataomoi invoked a lot of the same emotions from me that Sakura no Ki ni Narou did. There was just the right amount of story and emotion that the PV didn't come as melodramatic or phony. I like also that the PV is only around 10 minutes long as opposed to a full-blown drama PV; I think lengthening the story would just kill the emotional levels of the PV. That's why so many of AKB48's "drama PVs" fail for me. They don't properly raise the stakes, and spend too much time meandering and not doing anything interesting. With Kizuitara Kataomoi, they don't waste much time in telling the story and showing how it effects the girls in the PV.

I think the only thing I may have liked to see more of in Kizuitara Kataomoi is the more magical side of the story. The idea is great and The outdoors shots showing the dandelion are beautiful, and it would have been nice to explore more nature scenes like that. But other than that, I don't really have any other criticisms for this PV. I will admit, initially I didn't really get any connection between the meaning of the song and the PV. The song is about unrequited love between a girl and a boy, and the music video is obviously not. But the more I thought about it, I realized that maybe the unrequited love in the PV is between Nanase and her desire to perform in Nogizaka46. It kind of fits with the story, and I think gives even more poignance to the PV. Even if that's not what the music video is supposed to mean, I still felt like there was a lot of good emotion in this PV. Acting in idol PVs ranges from decent to Z-movie material, and the acting in Kizuitara Kataomoi thankfully falls closer to the former. Again, it's a simple storyline that only requires simple emotions, and I think the girls handled those emotions well.

Overall, I'm impressed with Kizuitara Kataomoi more than I ever thought I would be. After Barrette, I kind of figured that whatever Nogizaka46 released next probably wouldn't be as good, but Kizuitara Kataomoi is amazing. I think at this point I can say that Nogizaka46's string of good singles isn't a fluke anymore. I don't know how, but at some point management got their shit together and started developing a better image and better songs for Nogizaka46. Now I think I finally understand what Nogizaka46's management is going for with them. What I get from watching their music videos is a cleaner, simpler, and more classic image than any of their sister groups. Even the way they dress is very reminiscent of older idol groups such as Onyanko Club. I think Nogizaka46 works better as the "updated" version of an 80s idol group more than they do as "rivals" of AKB48. Although considering the sales of Kizuitara Kataomoi have been their highest yet, Nogizaka46 might be more formidable rivals to AKB48 now than they've ever been in the past. I think Kizuitara Kataomoi is my favorite music video from them. This one or Barrette. The PV for Kizuitara has a wonderful story and a wonderful way of exploring that story, making for a music video that is both enchanting and melancholic.

Yeah, this is a five apples kind of release. I think Kizuitara Kataomoi is Nogizaka46's strongest release yet, and I can only hope that their next single is even stronger. Kizuitara Kataomoi is a beautiful song with a really distinct melody that's refreshing to hear from a '48 group. The music video matches perfectly to video, delivering a wonderfully sweet and even sad story that had me invested the entire time. Whether Nogizaka46's follow-up to this will be good or bad, I can't say, but I'm (tentatively) anticipating it.