Sunday, June 22, 2014

10 Years of Berryz Koubou

Wow, ten years. That's a long time. There are prison sentences that are shorter than ten years. Okay, that's probably not the best comparison to make to Berryz Koubou. But it's true!

Ten years is one hell of a milestone for an idol group. In an industry where girls are about as disposable as tissues when they hit their expiration date, I might even call an idol group that's stuck around for a decade a miracle. Yes, whether we like it or not, Berryz Koubou is a ten-year idol group and possible miracle. And they don't look like they're going anywhere anytime soon. To commemorate this milestone, Berryz released another double A-side (because Tsunku gets high off double A-sides), one of those A-sides being Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? In English, this title translates to, "Normally, You Wouldn't Be an Idol for 10 Years, Right!?" Good to know that Tsunku's just as baffled as I am that Berryz has lasted for 10 years! Yeah... Berryz Koubou hasn't exactly been in good standing with me for a long time. Some point after Cha Cha Sing, their stuff started getting... weird. They've always been the quirky H!P group, but from WANT! onward, UFP got convinced that they needed a sexier, more mature image. The results were... mixed. Long story short, I've been gradually losing interest in them. Still, ten years is a big milestone, and Berryz released a song about that! I figured it was at least worth looking at! So...

...oh right, I suppose I should mention the other A-side. Right. Here's my abridged opinion of Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni:

  • I think it's a good song. No really, I do! It sounds like a very intense marching band song. And the styling team came up with some good outfits! The best I've seen for Berryz Koubou since Cha Cha Sing...

I did consider reviewing Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni. However, of the two A-sides, there's more to Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? for me to talk about than Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni. Again, good song, but that's all I really have to say about it. I did at least want to bring up that A-side. Tsunku's been doing this thing lately with H!P's double A-sides. He writes one A-side as the darker, more serious-sounding song. Often of the two songs, this song is the one that gets more attention. Then he has the other A-side which sounds happier and sometimes blander. Generally, nobody cares about this other A-side. Well... I don't care about the other A-side. Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni is clearly the more serious A-side, Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? being the happier one. Fortunately, Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? is by no means bland. Actually, it's very much in the vein of Berryz Koubou's happier, quirkier songs like Gag 100kaibun Aishite Kudasai or Madayade. The instrumental's got come funky stuff going on in it, like horse noises. Said horse noises confused me very much until I realized that Berryz Koubou's 10th anniversary takes place in the Year of the Horse. I'm not sure if that makes the horse sounds in the song stupid or clever.

Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? reminds me a bit of Crayon Pop's Bar Bar Bar. Not so much the vocals; Bar Bar Bar is 50 times catchier. Honestly, I think the weakest aspect of Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? is the vocal arrangement. I listened to the instrumental vs. the original, and surprisingly, I like the song without the vocals better. I could do without some sounds (again the horse sounds just come off as silly), and at parts, Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? sounds like it belongs at a hoedown. In comparison though, the instrumentals sounds so fun and weird, but the vocals sound flat and kind of half-assed. But the music itself isn't the most interesting part of Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? What grabbed most fans' attention (and my own) are the lyrics. Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? is about being an idol for 10 years and all the ups and downs that come with it. Now I think this is a really cool topic to write a song about, and listening to Berryz Koubou sing about being an idol was very refreshing. They're practically lampshading all the time they've spent as idols for Hello! Project, and I like that.

There is one tiny problem though: Berryz didn't write any of this.

A 44 year-old man did. Now it's common knowledge that Tsunku is an idol trapped in the body of a middle-aged man (that is common knowledge, right?). But he is not a member of Berryz Koubou. Yes, he produces all their music, and of course he'd produce Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? But knowing that he wrote the lyrics to this song kind of takes away some of the sentiment. I wish that the girls themselves had written the lyrics to this song. Their own personal input into Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? would have made this song much more genuine. Because I don't know if this is how any of the members of Berryz Koubou feel. Maybe they hate being idols for a decade, maybe they would have all rather joined a gang, I have no idea! If Tsunku's lyrics matched the feelings of the members of Berryz Koubou, then great, but I don't know that. It's so rare that you hear idols honestly talk about what it's like being an idol, and Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? would have been a great opportunity for Berryz to do so. Even a glossed over version of how the girls feel about being idols would have at least been interesting. Having someone who hasn't been an idol for ten years write Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? cheapens any emotional impact for me.

I get what Tsunku was going for with Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? And on some level, it works. But every time I listen to the song or read the lyrics, I can't help but think, "Berryz didn't write any of this." Who knows? Maybe Tsunku consulted with the members about their personal feelings about being idols for a decade. I'd like to think that's what happened. But I don't know, and as long as I don't, I'll continue to have mixed feelings for Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? Overall, this song is better than some of the other A-sides Berryz has gotten these past two years. And I do think the theme behind Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? is an interesting one even if I'd have preferred a different execution. One last thing I wonder about Berryz Koubou is where they're going from here. Will they try and hit the 20-year idol mark? Or are they close to disbandment? Whatever lies in store for Berryz, they've had a bunch of different-sounding songs over the past 10 years. If Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? is meant to be their swan song then... well, it's not the best swan song I've ever heard. But it has a lot of the quirkiness that Berryz's past few songs have been missing.

Well, that's the song, how does the music video turn out? Another reason why I didn't want to review Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni is because the music video was kinda dull. So is Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? not dull? Well... let's see.

The PV starts off with pictures of Berryz in their younger days.

It's pretty much the same thing they did for Takahashi Ai's Jishin Motte Yume Motte Tobitatsu Kara.

It's cute though! Like looking at a scrapbook.

Oh, if only the styling for Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? could have been as good as Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni.

But hey, at least Momoko lost the pigtails for both A-sides! That's a miracle!

Seriously, why is Risako the only dressed up like she's going to be in West Side Story?

I like how each close-up has pictures of one specific member. Again, very scrapbook-y.

The dance is okay I guess. Lots of punching the air.

Miyabi looks pretty good as a blonde!

Everyone look away from the camera! Except for Chinami!

Ah, reminiscing about the olden days, when Berryz wore monkey costumes...

...and Saki was the shortest member.

I'm not sure what the stylists were going for with Maasa's outfit, but it doesn't work too well.

Same for Yurina's outfit.

You might think pointing was part of the choreography but there was really a giant bug on the ceiling!

Oh yay, another awkward dance move. Love screencapping those!

Did anyone spot a picture with Maiha in it? I think that would have been nice...

Or they could have had a little cardboard cutout of Maiha off to the side!

Saki looks cute in this PV. It's crazy to think she started being an idol at age 12.

I mean, they've all been doing this for a decade.

Ten years of dance shots... and close-ups... and recycled sets...

Seriously, I know those curtains must be recycled from some other music video.

You know what this PV could really use in this dance break? A clipshow!

Something similar to the clipshow in Final Dance would be great. Just saying.

This isn't Monty Python and the Holy Grail, stop riding imaginary horses!

Seeing how much everyone's changed in ten years is kind of neat. And surreal.

I'm pretty sure Risako's dyed her hair once for every year.

They're really playing up this Year of the Horse thing, aren't they?

Three fingers, one for each member of Buono! How sweet!

So many pictures! I kind of just want to look through all of them instead...

This move kind of reminds of the one they did in the dance for Special Generation!

And we go out with one final pose and one final horse noise!

This PV seriously needed a clipshow. I know UFP is cheap as dirt, but how hard would that have been? Hell, I can do it with Windows Movie Maker. No really, I could literally take clips from other Berryz PVs and edit them into Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? That's how easy it is. Hell, I might just do that for fun since I've got all the time on my hands this summer. First of all, I like the inclusion of all the pictures of Berryz Koubou through the years. I think that was a nice, nostalgic touch. Seeing all those pictures really shows how far Berryz has come since their days as backup dancers for W. I wish that more time could have been devoted to going through all those pictures and not just using them as a backdrop for a dance shot I've seen twenty something times already. Because that's the strongest angle of this A-side. Berryz Koubou has been an idol group for ten years, so why not emphasize the hell out of that? I'm not saying that the PV should have been a replica of Kyarypamyupamyu's Yume no Hajima Ring Ring (although that would be pretty awesome). But personally, I would have liked to see a little more of showing how much Berryz has grown over the past ten years. Then again, it's UFP... the fact that they included the pictures is already a stretch...

The PV for Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? falls again to the pitfalls of a cheap Hello! Project PV. You've got your dance shot, your close-ups and a few miscellaneous shots. Rinse and repeat. I think there was enough to look at in this PV that the formula wasn't as irritating as it's been with some other H!P PVs. But again, I really would have liked to see more in this PV. I mentioned the BiS's Final Dance in my screencap. The best part of that PV (other than the idol summer PV satire) were the clips interspersed throughout the PV of previous BiS music videos and concert performances. Something like that (well okay, no the satire) would have been so cool for this PV. But oh well, that didn't happen. So in its current form, what does stand out about Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? Um... other than the pictures... Risako's outfit is really cool? And out of place? Yeah, the outfits for this song were hit-or-miss. Saki, Miyabi, Chinami, and Momoko all got decent outfits, but I have no idea what the inspirations behind Risako, Maasa, and Yurina's were. They all looked like they were from different decades, and not in the hip, retro way.

Other than the pictures, you pretty much know what to expect from Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? if you've been following H!P for several years. Cheap PV formula with pictures. You know... I just thought of another PV that would have worked well for Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? Tomodachi wa Tomodachi Nanda! That was such a cute Berryz PV! The pictures, going on the beach, everyone being together. I think the PV for Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? could have used a shot where all the girls were together beyond just the dance shot. A shot showing them interacting and being friendly with one another. That would have been so sweet. But again, that didn't happen. I've really got to stop coming up with imaginary music videos that would have worked better than the actual music video. The actual music video for Futsuu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!? is simply okay. The dance is weird, the outfits are iffy, and the best part is seeing all the pictures of Berryz Koubou. If you're a big fan of Berryz, then you'll probably like this PV more than I do. As for myself, I don't think I'll be reviewing Berryz regularly anytime soon. Nonetheless, I think it's impressive how long they've been around, and I wish them prosperity and better styling in the future!

Berryz Koubou's 10-year idol song gets three and half apples from me. It's decent, but I think both the song and the PV have wasted potential. Still, I think it was nice Tsunku wrote a song commemorating the 10-year milestone for Berryz Koubou! Also, I think I should get a medal of honor for not making a single Miyabi horse joke throughout this entire review.


  1. Oh, Tsunku and his irony. Writing a highly personal song for idols... It's an OK single, anyways. Better than all singles since Asian Celebration, at least.

    They really could do a nice PV for Berryz's 10 years, even I could do one! I guess that all the profit they made is being spent on Momusu promoting... All that fuss about the single and they get this? I hope that at least °C-ute gets something better. I hope that they get to the 10-year mark...

    In my opinion, they are tired. Of being idols, or getting the standard H!P management. Only Momoko showed some emotion, the other ones had those bored faces almost all the time. Maasa's having this face since Dakishimete Dakishimete! OK, maybe I am seeing too much... but they're being idols for 10 years, without having a really bad period! It's something to celebrate and being happy about it.

    1. Oh yeah, I absolutely agree. This single is the first one since Cha Cha Sing that's actually been decent.

      But yeah, it is frustratingly easy to make a nice little commemoration PV for Berryz's 10 years as an idol group. I mean, Momusu's been getting better PVs lately, so why not Berryz too? Oh well, I hope C-ute makes it to 10 years too! I've got to think they're close now.

      I think you're right. Just seeing Berryz now, they all look tired. I don't think we'll ever really know how Berryz feels about being idols this long though. So maybe they just look tired on screen but still love being idols! Still, keeping up at something for 10 years is exhausting. I wouldn't be surprised if the girls felt a little fatigued from being in the group for so long.