Sunday, November 30, 2014

Time Capsule Reviews: Suki Suki Daisuki

Man oh man oh man, this month's Time Capsule Review poll was close! I think putting it up later didn't help matters; I just didn't have time earlier in the month. For a good portion, four of the five releases under the poll were tied! Then Girls' Generation's Flower Power took the lead, only for Togawa Jun's Suki Suki Daisuki to tie it at the last minute! So then I had to do a Sudden Death tiebreaker which only one person voted on! I think the time limit didn't help; if a tie ever happens again, I swear the Sudden Death round will be longer than twelve hours! Still, we have a winner and that winner is Suki Suki Daisuki!

Let me tell you, I am stoked to review Suki Suki Daisuki. I haven't gotten to talk about Togawa Jun nearly as much as I would like, which is a shame because I am a huge Jun fan. Some of you might be wondering, "Nia, why are you reviewing Togawa Jun? Isn't she not an idol? Have you finally lost that last marble?" It is true; Togawa Jun isn't really technically an idol. However, she way she promoted herself in the early years was vaguely idol-like, if traditional idol groups were insane and sang about insects and getting their periods. I talked about Jun in my unconventional idols editorials. Personally, I see her four solo albums as her "idol" music, with Suki Suki Daisuki, the album of today's Time Capsule Review, being the last of her career as an "idol." I use that word very generously here. With that in mind though, let's step with caution into the frightening world of Togawa Jun and see what terror she served up with Suki Suki Daisuki!

1. Herikutsu Boy

Starting off the album and setting the tone for the rest of Suki Suki Daisuki is the positively cheery Herikutsu Boy. You know those songs that just sound like a product of their time? Herikutsu Boy sounds like it was made in 1984. And yet it also sounds like it took some cues from some of the doo-wop songs of the 60s, especially with the backing vocals. Herikutsu Boy is only two minutes, but it's a really energetic! Compared to Jun's other albums, Herikutsu Boy is definitely one of her most upbeat album openers, not to mention one of her more idol-sounding songs. Herikutsu Boy is fun and upbeat to the point where it's almost silly, but that silliness is endearing! I also like the way Jun sings Herikutsu Boy; her voice sounds totally saccharine but she sings the song with so much energy. Herikutsu Boy is a quick little song, but I love it. It's one of my favorite songs on Suki Suki Daisuki and the over-the-top perkiness matches the tone of the album.

My Rating:

2. Suki Suki Daisuki

Look, this was number one on my list of favorite idol songs. You know this song is my jam. Suki Suki Daisuki is to me, the perfect summation of Togawa Jun's music. The song showcases her over-the-top theatrics, her crazy-varied vocals, and her strange, often disturbing lyrics all with a very catchy chorus. Suki Suki Daisuki starts off deceptively cute, much like a typical idol song. Then the chorus starts and Jun switches her vocals from cute and high-pitched to deep and powerful. And it is awesome. Everything about Suki Suki Daisuki is awesome, but what sells the song is how well Jun delivers the lyrics. Her vocal style is so weird, but it works for her. I also love how Suki Suki Daisuki sounds equal parts cute, flirtatious, seductive, and batshit crazy. The punchline of Suki Suki Daisuki translates to, "Say you love me or I'll kill you!" Deranged and insane? Yes. Crazy and over-the-top? Absolutely. Suki Suki Daisuki isn't for everyone, but I love this song.

My Rating:

3. Angel Baby (Extra Version)

After that three minutes of thirty four seconds of delightful insanity, we slow things down a bit with Angel Baby (Extra Version). Something to note about this song is that it's sung entirely in English! Jun's pretty decent at singing in English, and I can understand just about everything in Angel Baby (Extra Version). Which may be for the worse, because the lyrics to this song are sappy. I think they're supposed to be sappy in a sarcastic way, but with the slow tempo, I think the sarcasm isn't quite as apparent as it needs to be. You know those old 1950s slow dance songs? That's the sound Angel Baby (Extra Version) draws from. Conceptually, I can see that working, but here Angel Baby (Extra Version) sounds very, very slow. And there are parts where Jun's voice gets a little too shrill for my ears. If I'm in the right mood, I enjoy Angel Baby (Extra Version), but usually, I skip this song when it comes up in my shuffle. Luckily, there's better to come!

My Rating:

4. Sayonara wo Oshiete

Anyone heard of Francoise Hardy? If not, Sayonara wo Oshiete is going to sound like a really good Togawa Jun sung. In actuality, Sayonara wo Oshiete is Jun's own Japanese version of Francoise Hardy's French-language Comment te dire adieu? The original French version is pretty cool (and check out MEG's cover of the French original!). Lyrically, Sayonara wo Oshiete is pretty different from Comment te dire adieu? although it still keeps the same general message: bidding farewell to a lover. However, Sayonara wo Oshiete goes a little more supernatural; the singer promises should she die in an accident, she'll come back as a ghost to say goodbye. A very Togawa Jun sentiment, and I like the way she delivers Sayonara wo Oshiete. She uses a deeper voice, which is nice after the high-pitched Angel Baby (Extra Version). Comment te dire adieu? is a seductively melancholic song, and Sayonara wo Oshiete captures that seductive melancholy nicely!

My Rating:

5. Zukei no Koi

Zukei no Koi is a funky little song. It's another song off Suki Suki Daisuki that sounds very much a product of its time. Still, I like Zukei no Koi! It's got a very quirky instrumental, and I love the variety of sounds mixed into the song. The only thing I think could have been done better are the vocals. Jun sounds fine, but... Zukei no Koi isn't quite as energetic as I think it could have been. I mean, this song's by Togawa Jun, so I know she can pull off high levels of energy. She sounds like she was in a completely different place mentally when she was recording this song. I feel like Zukei no Koi would sound better if Jun had sung it the same way she did Herikutsu Boy or Suki Suki Daisuki. The current vocal arrangement is fine enough, but it doesn't match up with the weird energy the instrumental has. I still listen to Zukei no Koi a lot, but listening to it from a more critical standpoint, the song could have been better. It's still a worthwhile listen though!

My Rating:

6. Aurora B

Aurora B is about the closest we get to a ballad on Suki Suki Daisuki. Even then, it's... weird. I'm not quite sure what to categorize Aurora B as. Maybe a rock ballad? Alternative ballad? Alternative rock ballad? Whatever this song is, Aurora B is a very clear change in tone. Coming right after the funky, upbeat, Zukei no Koi, Aurora B definitely has a more melancholic sound. I wish I could find an English translation of Aurora B online, because I'll bet the lyrics would explain a little better what sort of tone the song is going for. There are parts where Jun is ad-libbing, and it sounds like she's crying. In song. Does that makes sense or have I lost everyone? I've never been able to figure out if I like Jun's vocal choices in Aurora B. She sounds a little sappy at times, but then I also like the instrumental a lot along with the melody. Aurora B's not my favorite song on Suki Suki Daisuki, but I think it's an interesting song nonetheless.

My Rating:

7. Koi no Corrida

Picking up the speed after Aurora B is Koi no Corrida which sounds like something out of an opera. Not a serious opera, something like What's Opera, Doc? Koi no Corrida gives Jun a chance to sing more operatically than on previous tracks, again showing how crazy-flexible her vocal styles are. I love hearing Jun sing in opera-style; the style is perfectly over-dramatic for her. And that's how Koi no Corrida. This song is completely over-the-top, with a full-blown orchestra and backing chorus accompanying Jun's vocals. I think it's fun how Koi no Corrida is such a short song; normally operatic songs are long and drawn out, but this one's quick and snappy. I wouldn't have minded Koi no Corrida being maybe a minute longer, just to hear more of that classical-sounding instrumental. Koi no Corrida is the farthest the album gets from pop, and while it may seem like a weird foray, I think it's a refreshing change of pace! Besides, we have one more song to go...

My Rating:

8. Osozaki Girl (Extra Version)

After the operatic Koi no Corrida, we veer back into shiny happy pop territory with a strange twist! Osozaki Girl (Extra Version) is infectiously catchy; repeating the title fifty times accomplishes that! Translating to "Late Blooming Girl" Osozaki Girl is exactly what you think it's about: sex! Or at least getting into a relationship leading to sex for the first time. Osozaki Girl is actually kind of an adorable song. Jun sings it very sweetly, and most of the song sounds like a happy little pop song. Until the middle verse where she goes absolutely crazy. I'm exaggerating, she doesn't go completely crazy. Maybe only 60% crazy. After two minutes of singing in her cute voice, Jun starts singing in an almost guttural voice. It's weird and comes completely out of nowhere, but delightfully weird. Ending on the same general tone as Herikutsu Boy, Osozaki Girl (Extra Version) is a fitting end to Suki Suki Daisuki: equal parts affectionate, and equal parts crazy.

My Rating:

The Verdict

What I love collectively about Jun's solo albums is that each one has a very distinctive genre it borrows from. Tamahime-sama was alternative, Chojiku Korodasutan Ryokoki was electronic, and Kyokuto Ian Shoka was enka. As Jun's last full-length solo album, Suki Suki Daisuki is by far her most pop-sounding one. Which is not a bad thing. In fact, it's kind of amazing. Because Suki Suki Daisuki is pop as handled by Togawa Jun. Suki Suki Daisuki is eight tracks of Togawa Jun playing with pop from every angle imaginable: the saccharine love songs, the catchy, repetitive idol songs, the seductive, mature songs, with the one common thread tying everything being her melodramatic vocals. With all these songs is Jun's biting, sadistic lyrics, ranging from the murderous and deranged Suki Suki Daisuki to the overly sweet Angel Baby (Extra Version). I wish I could find translations to all the songs on Suki Suki Daisuki, because the lyrics I can find are fantastic. Jun's lyrics are insane and weird, but she has a very clear way of expressing herself, as showcased in Suki Suki Daisuki. Combined with her dramatic vocal style, Suki Suki Daisuki delivers a very distinctive collection of songs.

That distinctiveness is what keeps even the weakest tracks on Suki Suki Daisuki from being a failure. However, I will say that I like Suki Suki Daisuki as an entire album than for each individual track. Going through each track on Suki Suki Daisuki, this isn't the strongest Togawa Jun album. Songs like Angel Baby (Extra Version), Zukei no Koi, and Aurora B could be better, and considering this album is only eight tracks, there isn't room for songs of poorer quality. In spite of the lower quality, even those songs still have enough appeal for me to enjoy Suki Suki Daisuki. The best tracks off Suki Suki Daisuki are Herikutsu Boy, Sayonara wo Oshiete, Koi no Corrida, Osozaki Girl (Extra Version), and of course, the titular Suki Suki Daisuki. Those tracks are the highlight of Suki Suki Daisuki. As a whole though, this is one of my favorite idol albums, even technically it may not be an idol album. If you like groups like BiS or Bellring Shoujo Heart, I can't recommend Suki Suki Daisuki enough. And Togawa Jun's work in general.

Even with a few minor pitfalls, Suki Suki Daisuki warrants four and half apples from me. Tamahime-sama is still my favorite solo album of hers, but Suki Suki Daisuki is my second favorite. This album is about the closest to idol pop Jun got, and even then, it's her own warped take on idol pop with tongue-in-cheek lyrics, melodramatic vocals, and a memorable collection of songs. Suki Suki Daisuki is a relatively quick listen but a worthwhile one. So off you go! Listen to it!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sayumi's Squeaky Swan Song

In the many years and many Morning Musume lineups, the group's had a number of divisive idols. Ishikawa Rika, Kusumi Koharu, Mitsui Aika, those are just a few of the easier ones to pick out. And of course how can I forget the ever-disputed Michishige Sayumi? With a narcissistic persona and a tragically tone-deaf voice, Sayu's reputation as a divisive idol more-or-less became her trademark.

So what a better end to Michishige Sayumi's idol career than a song and music video centered all around her?

Eleven years have led up to this.

Oh yeah. I'm reviewing Shabadabadoo~. Maybe a month too late, but I am giving Sayumi the proper farewell she needs in the only way I know how! Besides, what else am I supposed to say about Tiki Bun and Mikaeri Bijin that can't be summed up in two bullet points?

  • I find Tiki Bun not only boring but a dangerous foretelling of Morning Musume's electropop phase growing stale. Also, I feel like the song was improperly titled; "Cheeky Bun" would fit much better.
  • So all the younger members sang a farewell song to Sayumi? How sweet. And dull. At least the PV for Tiki Bun had some distracting lighting effects.

I will say, this is a very Sayumi-centered Morning Musume single. Even putting Shabadabadoo~ to the side, the other two A-sides on this single are varying levels of Sayumi-centric. Mikaeri Bijin, despite not even being sung by her, is basically an ode to Sayumi. Ditto for the music video. Tiki Bun is the most normal of the bunch, but even then, Sayumi gets a fair amount of time to shine. Sayumi's heavily featured on two thirds of the covers for this single too. So I hope ya like Michishige Sayumi! If not... wait until 2015. And the crux of this Sayumi Soiree Single is Shabadabadoo~, A-side #2 and Sayumi's solo graduation single. Giving graduating members a solo song became a precedent with Takahashi Ai and has continued since (except Aika because UFP cares little for Aika). Sayumi getting a little number of her own was expected. But was it wanted? Every Momusu fan knows that Sayumi's never been known for her angelic voice, and her solo songs on past albums very painfully show that. So what could Tsunku possibly do to give Sayumi a solo song without making the ears of listeners bleed!?

Simple: write a song about how Sayumi can't sing then have her sing it!

Shabadabadoo~ is a jokingly self-aware farewell song that is tailored seamlessly to Sayumi's personality, musically and lyrically. Thankfully, Shabadabadoo~ doesn't stray too far into electropop. There's some vocal manipulation done in a few parts of the song, but it's very lightly done. Think MEG's music, if MEG didn't know how to sing. I actually like the instrumental to Shabadabadoo~ a lot. It's fun and quirky and suits Sayumi's style perfectly. Because we all know Sayumi can't deliver powerful ballads or edgy pop rock numbers like some of her fellow Platinum era members. She's cute. She built an entire reputation around her obsessions with cuteness. Shabadabadoo~ plays off that cuteness without sounding saccharine. Likewise, the lyrics are very tongue-in-cheek. Everything about Sayumi is in there: her narcissistic persona, her longevity in Momusu, her arrogance, her bad pitch, her youthful 18-year old looking appearance, everything. Even Fukumura Mizuki and Iikubo Haruna make appearances in the song! Not for too long, both just say "Yes!" then Sayumi continues to sing her heart out. I guess because both were poised to take on future leadership roles in Momusu. Ikuta Erina probably didn't get the memo...

If someone else sang Shabadabadoo~, this song might sound pretty good. Don't get me wrong, Shabadabadoo~ doesn't sound awful. In fact, this song could have sounded so so much worse. I should be thankful Sayumi got a song that fit her vocally. Honestly, I don't find Sayumi's voice unbearably grating. She definitely can't sing, but she's self-aware. I think she tries staying on pitch to some degree, and even if she fails to more often than not, that effort is appreciated. However, four minutes of Sayumi singing alone, even with Autotune, is a long four minutes. I think the people who will most appreciate and enjoy Shabadabadoo~ are the fans of Sayumi. If you never liked Sayumi, Shabadabadoo~ is going to come off as a painful, off-key boost to her ego. I think this song worked a lot better than I thought it would have, and as graduation songs go, it's not bad. There's a definite perkiness to Shabadabadoo~, and it's kind of nice hearing something cheerful in lieu of something emotionally heavy. Maybe not the greatest song ever, but definitely an appropriate send-off song for Sayumi.

Remember how I was saying Shabadabadoo~ was tailored for Sayumi and that fans who didn't care for her would probably loathe the song. Well, that also applies to the music video. Maybe even more so with the music video, because then Sayumi's in her natural habitat: being the center of attention!

When I look into my crystal ball, I see a Sayumi PV with pink. Lots and lots of pink.

And from the look of it, I'd say I was right!

Shall we see just how pink and girlish this PV can get?

My only surprise so far is that Sayumi didn't insist a bigger bouquet.

That being said, this PV is 110% made for Sayumi.

You could give her a paper clip and she'd find some way to make it work.

Why de rien, Sayumi!

Over a decade in Morning Musume and she's barely aged. I blame witchcraft.

Sayumi peaks into her future love life after graduating Morning Musume!

So much of this PV is fluff, but Sayumi is so adorable...

Can my graduation dress be made of these flowers?

Seeing the world through heart-shaped sunglasses, the Michishige Sayumi Way!

Now you better not screw up, Mizuki, you're my last resort!

Solo graduation PVs get some pretty iffy outfits, but Sayumi's outfits are perfect.

Getting good screenshots for some PVs can be a challenge. This PV was a cakewalk.

Sayumi really is cute. The cutest idol ever? Well... she'd be a strong contender.

Definitely the most narcissistic idol ever.

Are those empty chairs for the other Platinum members?

What could Sayumi be reading? The novelized version of my blog perhaps?

Sorry, I think screencapping this PV is making me a little narcissistic.

Now you better not screw this up, Haruna, you're my last last resort!

Those shoes. I need a pair. Someone fly to Japan and buy me a pair.

I know, Sayumi, lollipops can be very startling.

Such sweetness. I'll probably have cavities by the time I'm done screencapping.

Cupcakes! Yum!

The title shows up multiple times in this in case you get amnesia while watching it!

See? I forgot how to spell Shabadabadoo~ while screencapping then it magically popped up and reminded me!

Sayumi looks like a princess in this shot. A fluffy pink princess!

Sayumi goes out with one final pose which is, surprisingly, not the Usa-chan Peace pose.

Well, this PV ends with about as much pink as it began with!

Watching the music video for Shabadabadoo~ made me think Sayumi would make an amazing solo idol if she could sing. Hell, she might even be able to be a solo idol anyways! Sayumi looks so confident on camera. Maybe a little forced at times, but she at least has some grace. I'll take forcibly adorable over forcibly awkward any day. And Sayumi plays up every bit of cuteness she can muster in this music video. All the props, the poses, the facial expressions, this PV is about as sugary and sweet as a sugar rush. Which suits Sayumi perfectly. If you're watching this music video, I hope you like the color pink, because that's 90% of the color palette. Personally, I love the color pink, and I also love girly things. So a music video full of both suits me perfectly. And I think the decor was handled well for Shabadabadoo~. I was a little worried Shabadabadoo~ would look boring and cheap like the PV for Tiki Bun. While the music video has very minimal sets, some good editing, a variety of props, and Sayumi's charismatic onscreen personality make for a very charming, engaging music video. Speaking of Sayumi, her outfits are perfect, and I want them.

The lollipops and bubbly pink edits are window dressing though. Shabadabadoo~ was intended to be a farewell music video celebrating Sayumi's career in Morning Musume. Does it succeed in that regard? I think Shabadabadoo~ perfectly captures Sayumi's idol personality and where she stood in Morning Musume. Sayumi's always been the eye candy, the devilishly charming member who can't sing her way out of a box but can work the camera like it's a mirror. That's the main strength of Shabadabadoo~ and why I highly recommend watching the music video instead of listening to the song alone. This PV is all about Sayumi and how cute Sayumi can get. Maybe it's a little overkill, but this is Michishige Sayumi we're talking about. I'd expect it to be overkill. Of all the graduation PVs I've watched, Shabadabadoo~ is the one that I think captures the graduating member the closest. Nope, not even Tanaka Reina's Rock no Teigi. When I watch this music video, I see Sayumi in a Nutshell, and then I can't help but smile.

Because seeing Sayumi, nearly a decade later and still not looking a day over 18, makes me appreciate just how far she's come in Morning Musume. She started out as the unnecessary 6th Generation member, the self-centered girl who can't sing. She spent so many years playing up that role while still remaining to the back in Morning Musume songs. Now here she is, captain of Morning Musume, going out as the member with the most longevity, and basking in the glory of her own music video. Sayumi devoted over a decade to Morning Musume; I think Shabadabadoo~ is a fitting reward for those eleven years of devotion. And now she's passed the torch on to Mizuki and Haruna; it makes sense they appeared in the music video. Also Ikuta Erina, but we'll just assume Erina was there in spirit. Overall, I like the music video for Shabadabadoo~. I like how well it highlights Sayumi's idol career and gives her an opportunity to shine alone. Maybe she can't sing, and maybe her idol persona could get forced, but at the end of the day, she put a lot of heart into Morning Musume. For that, I wish all the best for her in the future.

You will be missed, Michishige Sayumi. Not just by me, but by other fans. And yet I cannot give Shabadabadoo~ five apples. Just because I'm bittersweet doesn't mean I'm blind. Shabadabadoo~ isn't the best song, as Sayumi solely singing may have indicated. The music video makes up for it though, being the perfect sendoff for Sayumi. So my final verdict? Four apples.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gearing Up for the Perfume Concert

In a few hours, I will be seeing Perfume. Live. In concert.

Even the 11-year old me who discovered Perfume would have never believed that seven years later I would be seeing Perfume in concert. It feels unreal! I'm almost convinced this is one long, elaborate dream, but no, I am really seeing Perfume in concert. So much has changed in my life since I booked the tickets, especially after I started college. But it's November 15th, and right now, people are waiting outside Hammerstein Ballroom for Perfume. The girls are probably getting ready right now. I'm just a few minutes away from going into New York City. This is really happening! I can't believe after years of listening to Perfume and writing about them I finally get to see them in concert! Honestly, I don't have too many expectations for the concert; I just want to have a good time and jam to all the songs I know. And I also want to pick up some merch, but that's more of a personal thing. I'm even feeling pretty chill about whatever's on the setlist; just seeing the girls perform live right in front of my eyes has got me both excited and jittery. What will they do with the audience? How will the concert be set up? I've got so many things I'm curious to see, and I can't emphasize enough how excited I am!

I will definitely write about the experience; I'm just not sure when. As you may have noticed, activity on the Wonderland's trickled down a bit. I haven't had much free time on my hands since October, and I don't have much spare time in these next few weeks. Right now I've got an essay I need to work on, and a lot of stuff for finals is just around the corner. So would anyone be cool if I did a vlog? Like an initial impressions vlog, just something I can whip up really fast while writing a more detailed post later on when I'm not as busy. It would probably be just a short video, and I swear I'll come up with something much more detailed when I have the time! For now though, I'm just excited to get to the concert! I wish everyone else who's going the best of times! This concert going to be crazy and surreal and weird and crowded, but honestly, I am looking forward to every second of it.

I don't know if I have any readers who are going to the concert, but I'll be wearing a fuzzy blue sweater and a gray hat! And if someone says hi and I don't say hi back, I'm really sorry. I think I'm going to be so dazed I'll end up oblivious to everyone around me! Off I go!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Answer is Flower

I must have some Flower fans on this blog. At least enough to get two different requests to review two of their music videos. And then someone else asked me about E-girls... I think I underestimate how many E-girls/Flower/Happiness/Dream fans exist.

I never hear as much news about E-girls as I do Hello! Project or AKS. I suppose because that entire cluster of groups aren't technically idol groups. I could simply be looking in the wrong places for my news. Regardless, another reader asked me to review Flower's next single, Akikaze no Answer, and since I enjoyed Nettaigyo no Namida so much, I thought why not? I am all for reviewing another high-budget music video with amazing choreography.

But first, the song.

Flower's Nettaigyo no Namida was my first acquaintance with the E-girls franchise, and both the song and music video left me impressed. The music video was high budget, the dancing was phenomenal, the vocals were polished and smooth, and Flower as a whole seemed to be compromised of highly trained, skilled members. It's a stark, but refreshing, contrast to groups like AKB48 which emphasize imperfection and the growth of an idol. My favorite thing about Flower was their dancing. The group dynamic of having only three girls sing and everyone else dancing seemed a little strange, but the music video for Nettaigyo no Namida really showcased the dancers of Flower. I hadn't been so blown away by dancing since Perfume.

Ironically, the most unimpressive aspect of Nettaigyo no Namida was the song itself. Reviewing the song at the time, I liked Nettaigyo no Namida quite a bit. Since then though, I've barely listened to it. I still think it's a good song, but Nettaigyo no Namida was a little... whiny. Not enough to be an annoying song overall, but enough that listening to it again, I noticed. Luckily, a good 90% of Nettaigyo no Namida sounds beautiful, but there's a handful of notes that hit a little wrong. I think Washio Reina, who sings most of Nettaigyo no Namida, might be why. While she has a really pretty voice, and most of the time she sounds fine, on a few of the higher notes, Reina sounds like she's singing through her nose. She doesn't sing that way enough for it to annoy me but enough to be noticeable.

As much as I hate to admit, Akikaze no Answer sounds a little whiny too. In fact, Akikaze no Answer sounds a bit whinier than Nettaigyo no Namida. Luckily, not enough to ruin the song, but enough that I can tell. Again, Reina sings a good chunk of Akikaze no Answer, and at parts like the chorus, she sounds like she's forcing the notes out. That's a more of a vocal nitpick, and by no means does it make Akikaze no Answer a bad song. However, Akikaze no Answer is the last single with one of the singers, Muto Chiharu, before she leaves Flower and E-girls to study abroad. So with only two vocalists left in Flower, I'm wondering just how that's going to effect their future songs...

Other than that fraction of the vocals though, I love Akikaze no Answer. It's a beautiful song. What's weird about Flower is that they seem to generally stick to the same sound, but their individual songs vary enough that none of the songs I've heard so far sound like repeats of others. Akikaze no Answer is another mature fast-paced ballad, but the song still has its own memorable sound. I love the piano in the beginning; I wish it came up more in the rest of the song. I also wish I heard the three vocalists sing together more; they sound like they'd blend well together.

I can only give so much mind toward lyrics of Japanese songs, but the lyrics to Akikaze no Answer are just as beautiful as the song. I don't hear a lot of autumn songs in J-pop, so Akikaze no Answer stands out in that regard. The lyrics are very emotional; the song is about falling in love and wanting to be close to the person the singer's fallen in love with. However, the singer herself is too nervous to approach the person of interest. Knowing what the lyrics mean, they match up to the build up the song has into the chorus. Actually, Akikaze no Answer is kind of a sad song... A sad song with a beautiful arrangement and instrumental though. Overall, I am just as impressed with Akikaze no Answer as I was Nettaigyo no Namida. The song has its imperfections, but for the most part, Akikaze no Answer is a well-made ballad.

But that's just the song. I'm more interested to see what the music video for Akikaze no Answer has to offer. Nettaigyo no Namida was summer-themed. Will Akikaze no Answer be autumn-themed? Can you even make an autumn-themed music video? Hold on to your hats, because we're foraying into the land of high-budget music videos and top-level choreography!

Someone made the Nice List this year!

Nia, please don't make the A-chan On the Phone Joke again.

Too late! This joke will never die!

That's not a flower! That's a heart! Get your labels right!

Ah, that's better. A heart made of flowers. Clever!

That... is a lot of flowers. Are you sure this is an autumn PV?

Nevermind, this is an autumn PV. An autumn PV with a gorgeous dance shot.

I take that back. This dance shot is gorgeous.

Nononono wait, this one! This one! All of these dance shots are so pretty!

Oh my god, they're all dancing and connected by a giant ribbon. And dancing.

I wish all the music videos I reviewed has styling this on point.

I'm still not over this. They're all connected and somehow not in a tangled mess. How!?

Can I be in Flower?

I can't contribute anything to the group. I just want to wear pretty dresses and be in glamorous music videos.

I didn't have much appreciation for dance until I watched this video.

Seriously, this dance is so entrancing. I love the lighting effects too.

And I love how the dancers are so flexible they make my joints cringe.

I am equal parts impressed and pained.

So I found out this Ichiki Kyoka girl sings and dances in Flower. That's some mad skills.

I'm not sure which member this is, but she's really pretty. And photogenic!

Reach for the stars! Lucky for you, they're hanging off strings a few feet about you!

More pretty shots. What else is new?

Watching this PV makes me want more autumn-themed PVs. Why don't we have more of those?

Jewels! Still, this PV has lots of flowers, so this isn't a diamond only music video.

Oh right, I found out this girl's graduating from Flower. Pity. She has a nice voice!

Maybe I should just post the screencaps with no commentary... the pictures speak for themselves...

Oh! This member's photogenic too! I really should learn the names of the Flower members...

I just noticed they're all wearing ballet shoes. Does this mean they're all proficient in ballet as well?

Holy shit, they are. At least enough to impress me.

They're doing the thing! The... an arabesque! That's an arabesque, right?

Over already? I guess nice music videos can't last forever...

Oh, that was pretty. That was really really really pretty. I didn't think Flower could top Nettaigyo no Namida... but that was really pretty. I'm kind of curious to what goes into the design process for Flower's promotional material. Because looking at their past videos, these nice, high-budget music videos are a constant. I'm not questioning good quality too much, but I've got to think that Flower must generate some sort of profit, either from E-girls or maybe endorsements. Wherever the money's coming from... that was really pretty.

That's honestly all I can really say about Akikaze no Answer. Well, that's not necessarily true. I can say many things about this music video. I can talk about the gorgeous costumes, the variety of locations, and the amazing choreography. Or I can sum it up in one word: pretty. Flower seems like a group that relies on visuals over storytelling, and luckily, their music videos have some stunning videos to make up for the lack of a story. Even then, I don't think Akikaze no Answer needs a story. I just love looking at the many different visuals put into this video. And believe me, there are many things to look at in Akikaze no Answer.

First and foremost though, the dance. Like with Nettaigyo no Namida, Akikaze no Answer has a huge emphasis on the choreography. And why not? The choreography for Akikaze no Answer blows my mind. First of all, the fact that they used a giant ribbon in the central dance shot and somehow didn't end up tying themselves in knots has me more then impressed. The choreography itself look so delicate and graceful, almost like ballet. Actually, do they dance ballet-style in the choreography? I'm not the expert, so if someone could me in, that would be great. I also love all the different dance sets. My favorite is the one with leaves and the giant quilt hanging overhead. That one and the stage area with the dazzling light effects. What works with Flower's dance shots is that it's never just a dance shot. There's some kind of trick, something outside the dancing that adds to it. Those lighting effects for example. Without them, the dance is still beautiful, but adding them in, they enhance that part of the dance.

The non-dancing shots look just as beautiful. I love how Akikaze no Answer looks like an autumn themed PV through the colors and the set decorations. The color scheme in particular looks very autumn. And all the individual shots look wonderful; I love all the detail put into the sets. I mean, think about many flowers they had to get for this music video. They're everywhere! Not to mention all those presents and wall decorations... I wonder what happens to all the set decorations once they're done shooting. The girls themselves look just as stylish as they did in Nettaigyo no Namida. Whoever styles Flower has really good taste.

Overall, Akikaze no Answer is an amazing music video. There's not a single thing I can nitpick about it. Except maybe that I didn't get to screencap the last few seconds. What amazes me about the music video is the sheer number of different sets. It's like just when I think they've reached the limit, another scene comes in and blows me away. The dancing is just as marvelously showcased as Nettaigyo no Namida, and I love the little effects they used for Akikaze no Answer. Choreography's good, costumes are great, the sets are exquisite... I have nothing else. Oh right, Muto Chiharu. I don't really know much about her, but I think if I were going to leave a group, Akikaze no Answer would be a great music video to go out on. There aren't enough autumn. music videos for me to compare Akikaze no Answer to, but if there were, Akikaze no Answer would be one of my favorite autumn music videos.

Should I just go ahead and start reviewing Flower regularly? They seem like they have consistently beautiful music videos, and their music seems pretty decent too. I also know there are at least a few Flower fans on this blog. They're technically not an idol group, but half the groups I review technically aren't idol groups. I'm still not completely sold on Flower's music, but everything I've heard from them is at least listenable. Besides, when they're playing over those gorgeous music videos, they actually sound a teensy bit better. I'm curious now to see what Flower's going to do for their next music video. Something seasonal? I think they're next single's being released in early 2015 so maybe something wintery? I don't know, but I look forward to whatever it is!

For the moment, I'll give Akikaze no Answer four and half apples. I like most of the song, and I think it's a very pretty ballad. The music video is even prettier. Akikaze no Answer is one of my favorite music video I've reviewed this year, and I can't thank the reader who recommend it to me enough! I only wish that the other idol groups I reviewed got this much budget to make music videos...