Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fish and Tears

Hey guys, who wants to review a new group? No one? Well too bad, I'm reviewing a new group, and there is nothing you can do to stop me. Say hi to Flower, guys!

I know nothing about Flower.

Okay... after some research, I know like three things about Flower. Thank Generasia for that. You see, one of my lovely readers requested I review Flower's latest music video, and I had to oblige! Anyone who takes the time and courage to request something deserves at least acknowledgement and thanks! Luckily, Flower fits the mold of J-pop groups that I like to review on the Wonderland: they're a girl group that's not really considered an idol group! They'll fit right in with Perfume, Tokyo Girls' Style, Kyarypamyupamyu, Scandal, and 9nine! Anyways, I knew Flower as one of the Avex groups that make up E-girls which from what I understand is the female version of Exile. Flower was actually formed in 2009 as a backup dance unit for Exile, consisting of four girls. Then in 2011, Sony Music Japan formed E-girls, and in that same year, Flower got added both singers and dancers to the lineup. That's the thing about Flower. Even though there are eight members in the group, only three of them actually sing. The rest are dancers. Which I'll be honest, comes off as kind of a strange concept, but I read that E-girls and Exile are set up the same way. From what I can tell, all those groups place a huge emphasis on dancing with sharp, complex routines, so at least the dancers aren't just relegated to backup dancing.

But what about Flower's music? Of their music I've perused through, I get the impression that Flower sings more serious, ballad-y songs in comparison to E-girls. And let me say that they have some pretty music videos. The sets are always so artistic and the costuming matches perfectly. And for a dance unit, the music videos put a really strong emphasis on the dancing. Which is good because hot damn, are there some good dancers in Flower. They're all so graceful and fluid. Makes me bemoan my two left feet. Anyways, I'm not getting paid to talk about Flower's choreography! I'm not getting paid at all, so let's talk about Nettaigyo no Namida. Nettaigyo no Namida is Flower's most recent A-side, and the one I was requested to review. Nettaigyo no Namida is another ballad-y song with a faster tempo, which I always prefer over the slower ballads (with a few exceptions). I actually really like the way this song opens. There's the sound of rain, which is always soothing, and then these very nice strings. They give the song this kind-of oriental vibe. It's cool! I think what I like most about Nettaigyo no Namida is that overall, it's a very calming song.

I actually really like the dynamics of Nettaigyo no Namida. It starts out as a very soft song then the chorus grows much louder and more powerful before trickling back down to that softer and more delicate sound. It's kind of like being in the ocean. Which I suppose makes sense considering the title of Nettaigyo no Namida translates to, "Tears of a Tropical Fish." What I think carries the song though are the vocals. There are only three girls singing this song, but at times it sounds like a much larger group is singing. That's probably thanks to some good vocal editing. I got very curious about who sings what in Nettaigyo no Namida, so I pulled up the color-coded lyrics to it. Turns out, most of Nettaigyo no Namida is sung by this one chick named Washio Reina, while the other two girls, Muto Chiharu and Ichiki Kyoka, do more harmonizing and backup-singing. I don't know why, but I'm surprisingly okay with this arrangement. I think because this Washio Reina chick has a very nice voice. All three of these girls do, so I wouldn't mind if the line distribution was a little more equal. But I don't really need to complain about that. The imbalanced solos don't take away my enjoyment of Nettaigyo no Namida at all. Besides, I said before that I think the lead singer Reina has a really nice voice. It's soft and delicate then loud and resonant at all the right parts.

Overall, as the first song by Flower that I've ever listened to, Nettaigyo no Namida left a really good impression with me. I listen to so much technopop and idol pop and pop rock and alternative psychedelic idol songs that it's very refreshing to cover something that sounds a little more mature. When I was looking into Flower, I was surprised to find that the members are actually very young. I thought they were all in their early to late 20s, especially when I watched the music video and heard them sing. But some of the girls in Flower are even younger than I am! Like that lead singer Washio Reina? She and Momota Kanako are the same age. I guess it just goes to show the wonders of different producers and groups. Despite the surprisingly young age range of Flower, Nettaigyo no Namida sounds like a very mature song. I got that vibe from their other A-sides I listened to as well. Something else I also noticed from their other A-sides is that Nettaigyo no Namida sounds very similar to a few of them. That doesn't mean I don't like Nettaigyo no Namida any less. Still, it's an observation. On its own, I think Nettaigyo no Namida is a pretty good song, and I'm happy that I got the opportunity to listen to it! Thanks, random reader who happens to be a Flower fan!

But it's not over yet! You see, I got a request to review the music video for Nettaigyo no Namida. The best part was that an HD version was available on Youtube! Gosh, my life gets so much easier when HD music videos are available on Youtube. Perfume's management could learn something from Flower's. Anyways, let's check out the PV for Nettaigyo no Namida!

Paper lanterns. Pretty!

The titular tropical fish. Also very pretty!

Anything's possible when you put your heads together and think!

There are so many colors in this PV, and they're all so vibrant!

Let me guess: those are the three vocalists?

So do the dancers just stare off dramatically when the vocals are going on...?

...or they dramatically embrace each other! I guess that works too!

Ooh, what a pretty dance set! And it kind of reminds me of the Earth Kingdom.

Also, the dance is really good, but it is a pain trying to screencap it.

Just watch the video on Youtube! You'll see what I mean!

Oh yay, they did that formation-thingy! I love the formation-thingy!

Dammit, that fish tank has gotten more action than I've gotten in two years.

I really like how the dancers get a lot of individual dance solos. It's very considerate!

Ouch. I think my spine just cracked.

They're all such good dancers. I'll bet they're super flexible too!

Man, this chick's been staring wistfully so much her eyes are gonna fall out.

There, there, we'll get more solos in the next single.

That's a little harsh. What did she ever do to you?

I've yet to see a single fish cry in this PV. I want my money back!

Wow, I didn't know Miyamoto Karin had an older sister!

A very sad older sister.

In fact, everyone in this PV needs to lighten up!

They're just fish! Happy little fishies with very tiny brains!

God forbid any of you ever go to an aquarium.

Time's up!

Are all of Flower's PVs this pretty? I've only watched Taiyou to Himawari, Shirayukihime, and Sakura Regret, but they were also very, very pretty. And so is Nettaigyo no Namida! Hell, this might even be the prettiest PV I've had the pleasure of screencapping this year! This or Juujika. And maybe Toki wo Kore Sora wo Koe. But Nettaigyo no Namida is definitely the most colorful! I think that's what I love most about this PV: the color spectrum. Everything looks so bright and vibrant, from the blues to the reds to the purples to every other color of the rainbow that wriggled itself into this PV. Together though, all the colors in Nettaigyo no Namida give the music video a very tropical look. The tropical fish also help. In fact... technically, think this is a summer PV. Obviously, not an idol summer PV, but still a summer PV. I mean, Nettaigyo no Namida's lyrics do revolve around summer (and heartbreak!). As a summer PV, it's definitely more striking than what I usually review. I think the closest summer PV I could compare it too is SKE48's Utsukushii Inazuma. And even then, Nettaigyo no Namida is a lot more polished whereas Utsukushii Inazuma is much more unrestrained and wild.

It took me several watches to notice this, but I noticed that really, Nettaigyo no Namida is really just a dance shot and a bunch of close ups. It's a very simple, straightforward formula that many a group I review uses copiously. There's not really any story to Nettaigyo no Namida. There's a tease of a story between two members bumping into each other, along with that one member breaking down in front of the fish tank. I think those both have more to do with the lyrical content of Nettaigyo no Namida. At its core though, this music video is a very well-done series of dance shots and close-ups. I bring this up because I think Nettaigyo no Namida is a good PV that shows that this music video formula doesn't always have to be a blunder. Because the dance shots and close-ups in this PV are beautiful. There are all these different locations from the bright, sunny rainforest to the dark, moody mirrors to the happy little fish tank. And the set for the dance shot is so impressive that you forget how formulaic this PV is. But (and I can't emphasize this enough) tropes aren't always bad. Why do you think they're still around? Nettaigyo no Namida is a PV that excels in creating visually memorable close-ups combined with a very good group of dancers.

Speaking of which, the dance in Nettaigyo no Namida is great. I think what I like so much about Flower's dancing is that it's very graceful. Nettaigyo no Namida is a flowing type of song, so the choreography needed to match that flowiness. I personally think it succeeded. All the motions look so effortless and clean; one movement just flows into the next smooth as a river. Watching the members of Flower dance is captivating, and I can tell that they're all really skilled dancers. And the PV makes no qualms about showing that! There are a lot of great shots with the girls dancing solo or in small groups. I guess that's how they compensate for the fact that there are only three vocalists in the 8-member group? Even outside of those dancing shots, the PV still shows the dancers in a lot of other miscellaneous closeups. Maybe not quite as much as the singers, but you know, it's better than I thought it would be. I almost wish I could match names with faces, because I am curious as to who some of these girls are. Like the short-haired chick was cool. And the chick who had the hourglass at the end; she looked like an idol whose identity I can't pinpoint. Now that I think about it, Reina looked like another idol I also can't pinpoint. She looked a little bit like Oda Sakura only older and better at working the camera. But I digress.

I have to say, Nettaigyo no Namida was a pleasant surprise to review! I'd only ever vaguely paid attention to Flower, so I didn't really know what I was going into when I got this request. But what I've learned today is that their production team is really good at making captivating music video. Nettaigyo no Namida won't win any awards for storytelling, but visually, it is sooooooo pretty. So much that I needed those extra o's to emphasize how pretty it is. Seriously, if a music video is pretty enough, I don't even need a story. Because then I can just stare at it with this glazed look in my eyes. Nettaigyo no Namida has a great variety of gorgeous shots, along with a very strong dance. I'm actually kind of surprised that Flower isn't as popular as E-girls. I know that E-girls the big giant group with all the little groups in it, so naturally they'd be more popular. But if all of Flower's music videos look as distinctive as Nettaigyo no Namida's, I'd think they'd get more attention. Ah well, maybe they have really good digital sales or something! My final impression: I think Nettaigyo no Namida's is gorgeous. It is eye porn as simple as that. But oh, it is orgasmically wonderful eye porn.

Overall, my verdict of Flower's Nettaigyo no Namida is four and half apples. Will I review anything else by Flower in the future? I did also get a request to review their Taiyou to Himawari music video, so I will try and tackle that when I have the time. For future releases, who knows? I do like their stuff, I just don't know how much I can review before I start sounding redundant. I mean, I can only say, "This PV's sooooooo pretty!!" in so many different ways!


  1. The dance for this song is choreographed by the girls themselves w/ the exception of the two vocalists, Reina and Chiharu. The same thing for Taiyou to Himawari and Sakura Regret :D
    They are getting more popular though. Their first album sold around 100k which is good XD

    P/S There is an english translation for this song in the description of the youtube video.

    1. Oh wow, that's so cool! They all seem very professional, especially for their ages. And yay, I'm glad they're doing well album-wise! Maybe one day their singles will catch up to E-girls.

      Oh yes, I found an English translation elsewhere. Thanks for the second link though!

  2. E-girls consists of 4 sub-groups which is Dream, Happiness, Flower and Bunny. Sometimes they group together as mega group E-girls to release a single, they will also release singles and albums individually.
    When E-girls release a single, their label Rhythm Zone will pick around 3-5 members from all the sub-groups to sing the whole song. I can see the company is giving a big push on Reina, not only she is dominating in Flower, she also gets a bunch of lines in every A-side of E-girls, the other two don't get that... (Chiharu got some lines in the earlier singles of E-girls though)

    1. Ahhh so that's how E-girls works. When you put it that way, E-girls kind of reminds me of H!P All Stars. I was wondering how the vocals were split. So Reina's not just getting a push in Flower. Hrm... well, I think she's a good singer! I suspect all the vocalists in E-girls are. That's kind of weird having such a smaller number of a large group sing, but I guess they just do a lot of dancing to make up for it.

  3. Avex's music always sound mature, especially when you hear more idol songs...

    Still, it's a good song for Flower, and a good change for the happier E-girls sound. Oh, will you start to review the other E-girls groups?

    1. Wait, is Flower under Avex? I thought they were under Sony Music Japan? Or is E-girls under Avex?

      Yeah, every E-girls song I've listened to is awfully chipper. I probably won't review the E-girls groups regularly; maybe I'll put a release or two under the Time Capsule Review polls.

    2. E-girls is a group from rhythm zone, which is a sub-company under the Avex label.
      As for Flower, Sony Music is responsible for the distribution of their musical products (distribute for retail sales), but it is still produced and composed by rhythm zone.

    3. Okay, I understand now. Thanks!

  4. the member with short hair and break down on a fish tank is Bando Nozomi, the one who is holding a sand timer in the end is Fujii Shuuka.

    1. Thanks for the info! I'll try and match names with faces should I review Flower's next music video!