Tuesday, April 8, 2014

With 9nine / With Perfume

Out there in this big, giant world are people who have been to Perfume Fes!! I am not one of those people. There are also people who have performed onstage with Perfume at Perfume Fes!! I am also not one of those people. But the five members of 9nine are!

Of the multitude of artists Perfume's been jamming with at Perfume Fes!! this year, 9nine performed with Perfume on March 20. I'm certain it was truly a site to see: Perfume, the lovely technopop trio, performing together with 9nine, the idol group that does all the anime songs. Now why would Perfume perform with an idol group like 9nine? Probably because Nishiwaki Sayaka, a member of 9nine, just so happens to be A-chan's younger sister! Small world, huh? And I think they really utilized that fact at the concert. Sayaka performed Spice with Nocchi and Kashiyuka, and in turn, A-chan performed Shining Star with the members of 9nine. The two sisters even switched outfits! I'm sure it was quite the amazing experience and I am completely envious of anyone who was able to see it I'm so happy for anyone who was able to see it! For those of you who didn't a bunch of lovely pictures can be found here of 9nine's performance with Perfume. Watching the brief clips of Perfume Fes!! made me once again think to myself, "Gee, I should really put more effort into reviewing 9nine's music." I mean, I liked Evolution No. 9, and even though I didn't get to reviewing Re: I thought that was a good song, even if it fell very much into the category of generic anime opening. The PV was so cheap though...

But enough mucking around! I feel it is my duty as a Perfume fan to review 9nine's latest release, cheap music video or not! And not just because A-chan's sister is in the group, but also because they have some pretty decent music and even some good music videos! Sure, 9nine also has some forgettable songs and some music videos that aren't worth mention, but I think the good outweighs the bad! Besides, vocally, I think they always sound like such a great group. Their voices all resonate nicely in every song I've heard by them, especially in some of their later releases. Speaking of which, 9nine's most recent single is With You / With Me, which I actually thought was a double A-side when I first read the title. I blame all the Hello! Project double A-sides. Anyways, like many of 9nine's other songs, With You / With Me is tied in to an anime! Yes, With You / With Me is the second ending song to the an anime called Magi: The Kingdom of Magic. I have not watched this anime, but I think I can safely assume that the anime is about magic. And kingdoms. According to the Wikipedia summary, it's about Aladdin and there's some kind of magical life force mumbo jumbo, it's magic!

But let's talk about anime songs. Now I am not an avid watcher of anime, but I have listened to a handful of songs written for anime. Some of them are wonderful; Connect by ClariS, opening for Puella Magi Madoka Magica, is one of my favorite idol songs. And 9nine's own song Shining Star was the opening for Star Driver, and that's also a song I really like! And did I mention Shunkan Sentimental and Shoujo S by Scandal, both used for anime openings/endings? Also wonderful songs that you should check out. But then on the opposite end of the spectrum there are also anime songs that sound... well, pretty much just like anime songs. They serve as nice filler music to go over an opening or ending, but beyond that, they don't leave much of an impact when you listen to them again without watching the anime it goes with. They aren't necessarily bad songs; a lot of them even make for very pleasant listens. But they don't have much substance beyond "generic anime opening/ending." They just sound like they were written solely for an anime and nothing else.

Unfortunately, that is what With You / With Me sounds like to my ears. Isn't this like the seventh A-side 9nine's released for an anime? Let's see, Cross Over, Shining Star, Shoujo Traveler, White Wishes, Colorful, Re:, yep, With You / With Me! This song just sounds like a rearranged version of Re: without the high notes. And Re: was a better song! I guess it isn't a terrible song. It sounds like I've heard this sound before. Multiple times in different songs, as though the cosmic forces of the idol industry reincarnated and redistributed it to the world. Which makes sense taking into consideration how anime songs tend to do that thing where they all start sounding similar if you binge-listen to them. I mean, With You / With Me is upbeat, hopeful, and makes you want to run out of your house and save the world. Which is... actually pretty good, the more I think about it, but energy wise, 9nine has songs that invoke those same emotions to a much higher degree. With With You / With Me (eugh, the grammar of that preposition makes me question the English language yet again), the song just kind of... happens. And then it's over, and I think, "I guess that was a nice song?" then get distracted by Perfume.

It's like... watching a generic action movie. Some of the locations are cool, and the fight scenes are fast paced, and the plot is decent, but at the end of the day, did I need to watch that movie? No. Did I need to listen to With You / With Me to get fulfillment out of life? No. I guess on the upside... With You / With Me could have sounded a lot worse? I really don't dislike this song, but I can't find a lot about the song that I like either. The strongest part is once again how all the girls of 9nine sound. I noticed that Sayaka has a lot of solos in this song, along with Kanae. I guess those two are the main singers? It's nice hearing Sayaka sing; clearly she and A-chan both inherited some pipes! And I really like Kanae's voice. And everyone else's voices. They all sound so smooth and harmonious. Maybe the only other thing I can note about With You / With Me is there's a brief technopop break before the last chorus and key change. It's a little bit random, but not completely out of place. It's the only slight deviation from the generic anime song formula. As an anime song, With You / With Me works fine and does its job as an ending. As an idol song in general, it's my favorite from 9nine. Kind of a bummer that this is the second thing I've reviewed from 9nine but oh well.

Maybe the PV's better! Just because Re: was a cheap PV doesn't mean With You / With Me will be! Maybe it'll be like Evolution No. 9 and have a style-over-substance storyline!

Or maybe it'll have pink. Lots... and lots... of pink.

Here the five members of 9nine are all gathered around to summon the forces of darkness- I dance!

Ooh, cute shoes! A little too pastel for my tastes but still cute!

More cute shoes!

And the outfits are pretty cute too. Again, very girly and pink.

Oh look, it's like they're balancing imaginary trays!

If all of 9nine's choreography is like this, I'm sure A-chan had no problem dancing with them.

Hrm... idols staring listlessly at nothing in a fancy pink room...

...haven't I seen this concept before?


Wow, I found more than just Sayaka to relate back to Perfume in this video!

Seriously, just have them dancing on tables and going to an alternate dimension, and the videos will be parallel!

Damn, I think I'm starting to get a Kanae bias. Has she done anything interesting?

Here they all are pushing Sayaka into Perfume!

New theory! The doors behind them lead into the room from Spice!

That's the famous actress in the group, right? Kawashima Umika?

And that's the Arai Hitomi lookalike, correct? (she looks less like Hitomi than the last time I saw her)

I wish they'd show more of this room beyond close-ups. It looks pretty cool!

More saluting to something off in the distance. Probably Perfume.

Whoa there, are we... entering the sphere??


Am I watching a different music video!? What happened to the light, delicate pink set!?

Not that it's bad, it's just so... bright.

Like Weather Girls' Koi no Tenki Yohou. Only brighter. And pinker.

Come to think of it, Re: also had a similar dance break in its dance shot...

Name drop! Blink and you'll miss it!

Back to the pale pink dimension, thank goodness.

Can you imagine how similar Sayaka and A-chan would look if Sayaka wore her hair like A-chan's?

I'm not sure if I find this dance move cute or weird.

The Hitomi lookalike is kind of adorable. Her name's Hirona, right?

Okay, everyone's smiling now, did I miss something?

Did the bubblegum-tinted dance break make everyone feel better?

Away they ascend to a higher plane of existence! Or I assume that's where they're going.

I think I'm gonna have to take an oath to stop relating 9nine back to Perfume on the sole basis that Sayaka and A-chan are sisters. So I will. I solemnly swear to stop talking about Perfume in any further 9nine reviews I write. But for this review, I'm talking about Perfume. Because honestly, the set used in With You / With Me reminds me a lot of Spice. It's like With You / With Me is the refurbished, clean version of the Spice set and the set from Spice is the dingy set of With You / With Me abandoned and left to the elements. That must be why the food all looked expired! And the door at the very end of With You / With Me probably led to that alternate dimension with the fish in it from Spice! And then... somehow over time they shrunk the door and left pieces of delicious candy behind for the girls of Perfume to find. Makes, perfect sense, right? I just love being able to make little connections between various PVs I've watched even if they make absolutely zero sense sometimes. But I seriously do get huge Spice vibes from the main sets used in With You / With Me. The pale pink aesthetic, the girlish details, it all reminds me of Spice. But Spice is one of the best Perfume music videos (or in my opinion it is), so I am completely okay if 9nine wants to use that same style for one of their music videos!

The aesthetic of With You / With Me is the biggest thing the PV has going for itself. Because like the song, there isn't much else to talk about with this PV. I do wish that more shots were spent lingering on the set the girls sit around in, because it is a very nicely dressed set. I think more footage of that set could have made the music video more interesting. It looked like there was a lot of cool stuff in that set to look at, but I didn't have the time too because the PV kept cutting back to the dance shot. And I suppose the dance was okay. Unless it's Perfume (and even then, that's not always the case), I never really have much to say about idol dances. Except for the weird ones. I have lots to say about the weird ones. The dance for With You / With Me is simple but graceful, and just about any teenage girl with a video camera and a Youtube account can duplicate it. I felt like for such a simple dance though, the PV spent too much time focusing on it. I'll admit the set for the dance was very pretty and elegant but so was the set used in those close-ups! Seriously, they could have had the girls doing something else on that close-up set besides staring off into space.

Also, while I'm meandering off-topic, what was up with the teeth in the covers for this single? Were they meant to represent the Big Bad Wolf's teeth? The girls were wearing hooded capes in some of the covers. And if that's true, then why was that incorporated into this single. At what point did the producers think, "You know what this single needs? Fairy tale motifs!!!" I mean, I love fairy tale motifs, but you've gotta do something with them! Speaking of weird things about this single, let's talk about the dance break in the music video. What in the hell was going on in that? It's like 9nine went from dancing in this very sweet, demure little set to something that looks like it came from a Spice Girls music video. It's just so... pink. A different shade of pink, bright pink! That entire green-screened dance break was so bright and didn't match with any of the rest of the PV! And after it's done, they never go back to it! Did the producers just have some extra money that they didn't know what to do with!? Were they sitting in Idol Producers Inc. and saying to themselves:

"You think this music video's too boring?"
"What? The music video's fine, wotas will eat it up-"
"I KNOW! Let's add a hot pink green-screened dance break!"
"I'm not sure that's the best-"

I don't believe these questions will ever be answered, nor do I really need them to be answered. I'm only nitpicking into With You / With Me's PV so much because there's not much else I can say about it. It's not the ugliest or cheapest music video I've ever reviewed, but neither is it the most detailed and elaborate. It rests firmly in middle ground, much like the song. I suppose my final verdict is... mixed to positive? If you're a die-hard 9nine fan, then you've already watched this video. And bought the single. And watched the video several more times. Personally, it does not match up to Perfume, but I wasn't expecting it to. I think there are some nice visual elements to the video for With You / With Me, like the pale pink color palette until the PV takes a plunge into Candyland Hell. The dance is also nice, and all the girls in the group look very pretty and mature. But compared to the last single I reviewed by 9nine, With You / With Me doesn't grab me the same way. The song is all right, and the music video is all right, but neither one is great. Better luck next time I suppose.

And so I bestow upon 9nine three apples, one for each member of Perfume. I definitely want to continue looking at 9nine's future material, but With You / With Me did not impress me that much. The song was a generic anime song, which is the best kind of generic you can find but still generic. And the music video was pretty basic and had several unexplored ideas. And a weird dance break. That is all.


  1. Thank you for a detailed review! Their songs are not that bad (or even better than some of akb's singles) but why no one cares(/comment) about this review :(

    1. You're welcome! Oh yes, 9nine has several songs better than AKB48's! Of course, it's not that hard to have a better song than AKB48 these days. It doesn't really matter how many people care/comment about the review, as long as I know at least one person is reading it :)