Whether you have been nervously anticipating or utterly dreading the moment, the time has finally come for Morning Musume‘s latest PV release for their 48th single “Pyoko Pyoko Ultra“! Take a deep breath in and let it out nice and slowly. Everything will be alright, folks.
Ever since 2010 or whenever I decided to start re-blogging here, I made a vow to remain as objective with my editorials as possible. Really, that’s quite a daunting task, especially when one is trying to cater to a wide variety of fans with all sorts of backgrounds and personal preferences. Hopefully I haven’t honest-to-god offended a soul out there so blatantly that it would stop them from coming here to give me a penny for their thoughts and whatnot, but I probably have and I would like to sincerely apologize, but you really, really cannot save this PV nor the song. But before you automatically assume that I’ve thrown in the towel and rage-quit this fandom, guess again. Gently place those torches and pitchforks slowly to the ground…yeah, that’s it. And walk slowly away.
From the moment the track was released and the outfits were unveiled, all hell just broke loose. Certain fans were bitching left and right about how this was the end of the fandom as they knew it; others were complaining about how the group has regressed from the cool and mature image they had had for several singles; and then there were those select few that just had nothing positive to say, and even fewer fans that chose to staunchly support the single like it was a freakin’ gift from the high heavens. I chose to wait it out before I came to any concrete conclusions, and I hope I made the correct decision. One thing’s for sure: it doesn’t make writing this any easier.
The single undoubtedly keeps the typical jpop idol flavor, but takes it down several notches to an almost childish quality, like something off a soundtrack for a children’s cartoon show you often see on weekends or some such. There’s quite a bit of auto-tune used in the single, which makes it rather difficult to distinguish different members’ voices. I honestly had to watch the PV to determine who was singing when, and by the looks of things, the line distribution was more or less fair. Reina and Riho had quiet a few lines (as expected) but neither totally dominated the vocals altogether. I’m not too crazy about the instrumentals, and personally speaking, it’s this part of the song that kind of turns me off from it. There’s just something about the composition and how it was presented that just makes it even more childish than it already seems. The vocals and how those were done indeed have a childish quality about them, but I think the instrumentals just highlighted that quality even more than necessary…if that made any sense at all.
As for the dance, well it’s not Resonant Blue that’s for sure. There’s nothing too painfully intricate about it and it generally seems rather simple. Coming from someone as uncoordinated as myself, I can say that I’ve already managed to memorize the dancing portions that were featured in the PV and if I was asked, I would probably be able to dance it on a whim. I’m sure Ayumi and Riho (the newbie members that are often noted for their sharp dance moves and skills) were bored out of their whits learning the song, but who am I to say such a thing, right? Actually, the dance routines for the group’s previous double A-side singles weren’t exactly difficult either. And to be completely honest, as simple as the routines were for all three songs, the girls did seem like they were at least having fun performing impromptu flapping of their feathers and hopping about.
I suppose I should address the costumes. Well…Big Bird called. He wants his costume back. Thanks. But seriously, I believe that this single portion of the PV was what turned off a significant amount of fans. Even before the release of the full single, once the costumes were unveiled, that was the final straw for a select few of fans…which is kind of unfortunate, but can you honestly blame them? I mean, just look at these costumes. LOOK. AT. THEM. The older members have freakin’ fuzzy garter things for christ’ sake!!! A friend and I had been joking around when some behind the scene shots were released for the PV on HPT as well as the member profile pictures were unveiled for the single. We were just wondering how much the older members (this is including 10th gen member Haruna) were silently hating themselves wearing the outfits. Mind you, this is just a joking opinion and is a personally conversations that shouldn’t be taken seriously, but I would like to throw out some food for thought before I somehow get stabbed via the internet: If you were a 20-something or a late teen like Haruna, would you be able to swallow any sense of your pride and dignity and put on that chicken/bird/canary/whatever outfit proudly? Just think about that seriously.
The PV itself wasn’t horrendous, or as horrendous as some people make it out to be. It was actually quite cute and adorable, but admittedly, some portions made me cringe. Due to time constraints, I can’t provide screenshots for now, but maybe if I have time in the near future I will edit the post and get some up. No promises though. So we’ve got the general PV formula of a group dance shot, close up shots, and group shots. The director(s) did think out of the box, quite literally I might add. Outside the tree trunk tv set where we see the girls doing their group dance shots, the members walk out and are featured in a pop-up story book sort of scenario. My single beef with the entire PV direction is directed to the videographer that doesn’t know how to properly combine videos and use his effects effectively. When the members are walking out of the tree trunk TV set and onto the outside set, there’s a really horrible video effect used on the girls as they walk out that makes them look incredibly washed out, horribly blended, and hyper-saturated in contrast to the set. It’s painfully horrible.
So what does it all mean? Is this really the end of the Morning Musume world as we know it? I’ll also ask you if Santa Claus is real. Short answer: no. For a group like Morning Musume, a group that has quite an extensive history, it’s easy to forget the whole concept behind them, especially after the stand-still that was what some fans dubbed the “Shouga-nine” era. With hardly so much as a member addition and maybe Koharu‘s sudden departure from the group, the line-up remained generally stable and unchanged for some time. Fans were assimilating to a mature sound and image, which matched nicely to the age-range of the members. But what some fans have forgotten along the way was that the purpose of the group was change. UFA had made a mistake, in my opinion, by keeping such a constant for too long a time period and now they are paying the price with graduating members back-to-back, and holding auditions for new generations. This was the formula before that stand-still period, and we’re rolling right back into it.
Admittedly, change is a difficult thing to deal with. This is particularly evident with the large amounts of harsh criticisms floating around the online community regarding this single. Do I dislike the fact that this single is painfully childish in its look and sound? I would be lying if I said no. Yes, the group has had a few singles that had genki themes, but definitely nothing close to childish. Maybe Hyokkori Hyoutanjima, but at least that had more direction than this single. There’s a distinct and fine line between genki and childish, and I would say that that line has been crossed. Had the single been given more direction and less of a blatant push towards the childish side, it would have worked.
There are some people in the fandom the enjoy stating the obvious. For example, “EVERYONE IS SO YOUNG NOW OMGOSH!!! WHY IS EVERYONE LIKE 11?” or something along those lines. Well thanks for the newsflash, I would never have honestly guessed. But seriously, don’t preach to me and bitch about how young some of the new members are. Don’t act like your favorite wasn’t in their same situation once, or was that age a few years ago. Get over it. Personally, I believe that the whole “age” argument just came out full swing because of the childish tone of this song. It just made EVERYONE look childish, and that obviously just highlights how some of the members are barely even considered teenagers. As I said before, if the single wasn’t formulated to sound and look so childish, I’m sure the UFA would have gotten away with it, but they chose instead to just make the sheer childishness of it all as the thing to be highlighted and flaunted.
Maybe it’s just that whole negative vibe that’s floating around that’s turning people off. What with the sudden influx of new, young members, as well as the constant wondering and worrying revolving around who’s graduating next, it’s easy to lose any sense of appreciation. But before we cry over Gaki‘s upcoming graduation and complain about how childish the new members are, we need to remember that this is just part of the process. It’s about evolution and a metamorphosis if you will. Pardon my science geek coming out, but if we decide to quit now, we won’t see what will happen next. And for all we know, what happens next just might be the single most wonderful thing on the freakin’ planet, but we would never know because we chose to rage-quit the fandom because some freakin’ KFC-promoting chicken costumes turned us off. I say that’s your loss.
That being said, I do believe I’ve made myself clear in that I will not, by any means, “rage-quit” the fandom. I’ll be sticking around long enough to see how this goes. I might not like the single, and I might believe that it won’t sell very well at all, but I’ll stick around. Personal feelings up front, however, if the next single follows this trend of childishness, I just might peace-out and hit up retirement earlier than I expected. That is of course, unless the direction is more toward the genki and less geared towards Sesame Street or something along those lines.
One last thing before you throw all your garbage at my face or give me a pat on the back (either is fine), I try to make my articles as accessible as possible by posting them on facebook, twitter, H!O, JPH!P, etc. but if you want even faster access to my stuff, feel free to follow this blog or “like” posts and whatnot. Yes, yes. Shameless plugging on my part, but I’m just trying to reach out to everyone! I promise I don’t bite!
EDIT: If any single thing helped win me over this single it was this video. It’s the introductory sequence to the Hello Project girls’ latest drama that started airing today, “Suugaku Joshi Gakuen.” Conveniently enough, this single is featured as the intro song for the drama, so be sure to enjoy it! But seriously, how adorable is this intro?
As always, be sure to support our girls by purchasing the single off of iTunes and by purchasing the hard copies on CDJapan and YesAsia!