Thursday, July 31, 2014

Moon Prism Power, Make Up!

Sailor Mooooooooooon!!!

Admittedly, I did not watch a lot of Sailor Moon as child. Mainly because the English dub aired before I was even born. I do remember watching bits and pieces of the re-runs that aired and loving the outfits and the sparkly transformation sequences of the show! I had no idea what was going on plot-wise, but I liked it! Now years later the reboot's come along, and I finally have the chance to watch the plot of Sailor Moon unfold with new animation, new voice actors, and new music!

Oh yeah, and Momoiro Clover Z is somewhere in the mix.

The Sailor Moon reboot has been common knowledge, as has Momoiro Clover Z's involvement with the reboot. The wacky idol group was selected to do the opening theme for the series way back in 2012. 2012... to think that the news of this reboot has been floating around for over two years. I admire any Sailor Moon fan who waited patiently for it! But I'm not an anime blog, I'm a J-pop blog, and I'm here to evaluate MomoClo's latest single. Said single just so happens to be affiliated with Sailor Moon. The only other single MomoClo's released this year is Naitemo Iin da yo, and I've written already about what a big giant dollop of boring that song is. I'm hoping that with the aide of love and justice, Moon Pride can be a step-up from the dull affair that was Naitemo Iin da yo! So is Moon Pride a worthy Momoiro Clover Z single and furthermore a perfect match with the Sailor Moon of 2014? Or is it a disappoint effort from an idol group slowing losing their quirkiness? I'm hoping it's the former. So brandish your Moon Tiara Boomerang and let's take a look!


What more appropriate outfits for a Sailor Moon theme song than Sailor Moon-inspired outfits? I was downright expecting this! The outfits for Moon Pride showcase the girls as the Sailor Senshi, only with their own member colors incorporated into each outfit. Conceptually, they sound like really cool outfits. But the actual outfits look kind of tacky. The outfits are variations on the actual Sailor Moon outfits, and they look overdone. I mean, the poofy sleeves, the exaggerated seifuku look, it's all a little messy. I think MomoClo would have been better up straight-up cosplaying the Sailor Moon outfits. Other than that, the two covers are both nice. The other one shows the Sailor Moon characters against a giant moon. I actually like the animated version better, but the MomoClo edition shows the girls themselves. It's more appropriate for the review!

Moon Pride

I am not an avid watcher of anime, but of the few shows I have watched, one of the highlights has always been the theme song! Whether it be Rinbu Revolution from Revolutionary Girl Utena or Connect from Puella Magi Madoka Magica or Moonlight Densetsu from the original Sailor Moon, an opening song should get me pumped for the show I'm watching. My favorite anime theme song will always be Tank! from Cowboy Bebop. And just about any of Mizuki Nana's opening songs are a personal favorite of mine as well. Even some of 9nine's anime songs are decent listens! Now Moonlight Densetsu is one hell of a theme song, especially the catchy English version. Honestly, I thought MomoClo was just going to cover that for the new anime. Turns out that was not the case, which is for better or worse. Moonlight Densetsu is a song that I just associate with Sailor Moon. When I think of the song that goes with Sailor Moon, that's the song coming to my head. However, I think having a new song for a reboot with a different edge than the old anime is also a good way to go. Dwelling on nostalgia is an unhealthy activity, and a new anime should have a new song!

If only Moon Pride were an interesting song.

Moon Pride isn't an awful song. I like it better than Naitemo Iin da yo. The song has its strong points. The chorus picks up after the second go-round. Vocally, the girls sound pretty decent too! And the guitar composition by Marty Friedman is a nice addition to Moon Pride. But I'm not feeling it. Moon Pride sounds subdued, dull at times. I don't get a strong impression from Moon Pride, just a vague pleasantness. I thought maybe the song would grow on me after listening to it several times, but I'm not loving Moon Pride. I'm liking it. But that's pretty much it. I think my problem with Moon Pride is that there's no hook. Nothing about the song reels me in. There's a nice melody and a good instrumental, but nothing about Moon Pride reaches out and grabs me. Maybe if a group like 9nine handled Moon Pride, the song would work, but this is Momoiro Clover Z. For a group known for its craziness, their stuff has been so blah. Even their rendition of Moonlight Densetsu had more life than Moon Pride. Overall, Moon Pride leaves me lukewarm, but it's decent as far as anime openings go.

I was hoping the music video for Moon Pride would have the girls dressed as the Sailor Senshi, fighting their way through monsters and mayhem! Turns out, got that music video. What did Momoiro Clover Z get? A lame-ass clip show. The PV for Moon Pride consists of clips from the rebooted Sailor Moon that you've already seen if you watched the first two episodes. Hell, most of the animation comes from the animated opening. I'm all for recycling, but for Momoiro Clover Z, this is such a disappointment. Half of what makes MomoClo so interesting is that they get some cool music videos. Even Naitemo Iin da yo in all its pointless cameos and meandering storyline at least had some cool visuals. And the girls were at least in that music video. MomoClo isn't in the PV for Moon Pride at all. Not even a cameo at the end. I wouldn't have minded if they'd done something cool like make an animated music video. But if you've seen the anime so far, you've seen the music video. It's a downright cop-out. And that leaves me very, very displeased.

So I'll give Moon Pride 3.5 apples. As a Sailor Moon theme song, it pales in comparison to Moonlight Densetsu. As a Momoiro Clover Z song, it pales in comparison to everything off of Battle and Romance. In the end though, Moon Pride is a nice song, and not a bad one for the anime. Still, I can't help but feel the song is lacking.


Featured on Moon Pride is not only the opening, but the ending! Gekkou (which very appropriately translates to Moon Beam) is a slow, melodic kind of ending. The uplifting calm after a wave of action. I'm not a huge fan of MomoClo's slower songs (save for Kimi no Ato), but I think Gekkou works for them. It helps that the girls don't have to screech out any high notes. Even the harmonizing they do in Gekkou isn't half bad. Again, Gekkou is a very calm, tranquil song. There's not much to it, but the pacing and the ambient nature work better than I expected. Yet there's still this underlying epicness to the song highlighted by the strings and the pick-up in energy during the last verse. The instrumental overall is very well-done; it's the right blend of orchestral and mystical. Gekkou is the kind of song that I'd expect to hear from Sailor Moon. The song sounds like it was made to be played during the ending credits. Watching the show, I think Gekkou fits right in with the rest of the episode. I don't think Gekkou is Momoiro Clover Z's best song, but it is a nice song.

Nonetheless, there are a few nitpicks I have with Gekkou. My two problems with Gekkou are the length and the vocals. Gekkou actually isn't much longer than Moon Pride, but after three minutes, it starts to feel longer than it actually is. That's the problem with me and slow songs. They've got to keep my attention, otherwise I'm going to start nodding off. Then again, that may just be because I'm typing this at two in the morning. Nonetheless, Gekkou gets a tad monotonous, which doesn't help with the pace. And as always, the weaker aspect of Momoiro Clover Z are their vocals. With their faster songs, it's a little easier to ignore. But for slow, epic songs like Gekkou, some of that epicness gets pegged down when you hear the squeaky voices of MomoClo. I do think the girls are trying though! And they sound better in this songs than they've sounded in several of their slower songs! Still, I think I'd have given Gekkou to a solo singer with a more resonant voice, maybe one of the female seiyuus acting in the reboot. As it is though, Gekkou works pretty well as an ending. It has that atmospheric slowness of an anime ending and that cosmically epic feel of Sailor Moon.

Gekkou gets 4 apples from me. I think Gekkou works better as an ending than Moon Pride does as an opening. The song still isn't without its flaws, but I like how calm and ambient Gekkou sounds. After twenty-six minutes of sparkles and monsters and Usagi's screeching, Gekkou is a nice song to close out each episode. For Momoiro Clover Z, Gekkou is one of their better attempts at a slow song.

Moon Revenge

This last song is featured on the MomoClo edition only! It's a cover of the ending theme to Sailor Moon R, originally sung by Peach Hips. I'm surprised that Moon Revenge was included on Moon Pride and not Moonlight Densetsu. I thought that was the more popular Sailor Moon theme song, and MomoClo's already covered it. You think their cover will ever get a CD release? Oh well, maybe MomoClo's version of Moon Revenge will be featured in the reboot at some point! I wouldn't mind. I listened to the original version, and I think it's a very fitting song for Sailor Moon. Momoiro Clover Z's version of Moon Revenge isn't much different from the original, beyond the vocals. I will admit, I do like the vocals of the original better. It doesn't help that the original is performed by the seiyuus of the Sailor Senshi. Can you imagine what the reboot would have been like if the members if MomoClo voiced the Senshi? I think that would be downright terrifying! Entertaining, but terrifying! Overall, I think MomoClo's cover of Moon Revenge is done well, but I also don't feel like they really added anything to the original. It's like they basically just made a karaoke version.

Still, it's a very enjoyable song and my favorite track on Moon Pride. Honestly, Moon Revenge gets me more pumped to watch Sailor Moon than Moon Pride. The sound fits well with Momoiro Clover Z. Moon Revenge reminds me a bit of Otome Sensou, but thankfully three minutes shorter. It's nowhere near as crazy as some of MomoClo's other songs, but there's enough bubbliness and energy to Moon Revenge that it works as a MomoClo song. Moon Revenge does sound like a 90s anime song (because well, it is) and that gives the song a nostalgic feel. It's like combining the past with present by having a song sung by the older voice cast get covered by a new generation idol group. Going through the history of Sailor Moon makes me realize just how much of an impact it had on the magical girl genre and what a juggernaut the original franchise is. Moon Revenge is just one of many songs from the original anime; I wonder if MomoClo will cover any of the other Sailor Moon songs! For now, I am happy with Moon Revenge. I think it's the most fun of the three songs on Moon Pride, even if as a cover, it's more-or-less the same as the original.

I've settled on four apples for Moon Revenge. For a cover, it's a pretty good one, and I do like hearing idol groups cover older anime songs. The Peach Gips version may be the one I prefer, but Momoiro Clover Z's cover of Moon Revenge holds up well! It's fun, vibrant, and fits right in with the rest of this single!

The Verdict

Overall, Moon Pride is a Sailor Moon single that embraces Sailor Moon, which is what this single needed to do. You've got the reboot's opening, the ending, and then a cover of an older Sailor Moon song. And the group performing all these songs are wearing Sailor Moon-inspired outfits. And the promotional video for the single is a clip show of the reboot itself. This single might as well be named The Sailor Moon single. I would have been okay with that! If you're a Sailor Moon fan and are looking for a collection of songs from the reboot, Moon Pride is a good single to check out. However, I need to separate Sailor Moon from the songs themselves on this single. In my opinion, the weakest song on Moon Pride is the title song itself. Not that it's an atrocious song, but Moon Pride is such an underwhelming song that lacks a good hook. The two B-sides, Gekkou and Moon Revenge fare better. While Gekkou can get really slow, it's still a nice-sounding slow song. And Moon Revenge is a fun cover of an older Sailor Moon song. I wouldn't have minded if Moon Revenge was the opening theme for the reboot. As things are, Moon Pride makes for a decent opening.

As a Momoiro Clover Z single, Moon Pride is not the best they have done. I don't think Moon Pride is a failure single by any means, but I do feel like it's missing something. I've felt that with a lot of MomoClo's more recent songs. It's like they're all missing a... spark. A spark present in their earlier music. Maybe that's nostalgia clouding my vision. But that doesn't stop me from feeling that Moon Pride is lacking compared to some of MomoClo's other singles. Overall, I do think Moon Pride is better than Naitemo Iin da yo, which I am ever-so-thankful for. And in comparison to some of the other songs I've looked at this year, Moon Pride offers up some good songs. The A-side is the weakest off the single, but the two B-sides are both pretty good. I will say that Moon Pride as a single does have nice variety. You've got the anisong orchestral A-side, the ambient anime ending B-side, and the nostalgic cover of a previous Sailor Moon song. Together, all the songs fit with the Sailor Moon theme but stand alone as different songs. So yes, Moon Pride has its weakness, but the single also has just enough going for it to be a decent collection of songs all revolving around the moon princess herself.

So in the name of the moon, I will bestow upon Moon Pride four apples! I don't think this is a perfect single, but I didn't dislike any of the songs on it. For Momoiro Clover Z, Moon Pride is a step-up from their last single but nowhere near the quality of some of their 5th Dimension and Battle and Romance singles. But as a Sailor Moon single, it's a nice blend of old and new! So are any of my readers following the reboot Sailor Moon? What do you guys think of it so far?

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