Friday, July 30, 2010

Ongaku Gatas 2010 Spring live Concert Review Part 3

First off, I just saw that I got a post on International Wota, a really big idol blogroll that I often go to when bored and go "let's read THIS Person's opinions on.... C-ute" and I go from there. Yeah, I do need a job/life. Well, I was VERY VERY flattered by the kind words about my blog; haha, and yes, I do have my issues with Zoku. Don't flame me, though. I think the only thing I especially don't like is the comparison and their Koisuru Angel Heart performance. Little things.

^How I felt when I saw that post on International Wota. Trufax. This picture was also not made by me, but by Allie of Hyperbole and a Half, a blog I enjoy reading quite a bit. Go visit it HERE. But when I read this post today, I realized that this picture fully encapsulated how I felt.

Seriously, it made me happy to get that post, though. I really enjoy writing this blog for myself, but if I'm going to be perfectly honest I'd prefer that people read it too. So yay!

I need to keep working on this Ongaku Gatas concert review! I enjoy it a lot, but writing these long posts gets... tiring. But I love doing it! This is exactly the right concert to review. When I get down to reviewing an H!P concert I care less about, that's when I'll get testy. But Ongaku Gatas are, to me, the perfect Hello!Project unit.

Kara Genki
When I first saw the setlist to Gatas Ryuu back months ago, this performance CONFUSED me. Kara Genki, for anyone not too familiar with the Ongaku Gatas discography, is an album song, originally by Ishikawa Rika, Yoshizawa Hitomi, Satoda Mai and Konno Asami, yet here it's only performed by Rika and Mai.

However, the more I see this song performed by Mai and Rika, I actually prefer it as a duet. I'm no songwriting expert, that's to be sure. But the four person version of the song seems really cluttered as each section has each member sing one line in a row and it feels slightly awkward, especially since there are VERY few parts sung as a group. However, when you have this duet version, the piece moves nicely back and forth between the duet, in a way that works really nice with the two of them. And because of that, while I never really listened to this song as much as my other favorites on the album, this is one of my favorite performances so far. If a performance can make me like a song better, and if I like the performance better than the actual song, I think that makes it a very successful performance.

Satoda Mai putting soul into Kara Genki

For individual performances, both girls were at their top game. Satoda Mai seemed to be really enjoying it, singing the song beautifully and just had a whole lot of fun doing it. There's a little bit of bias here, but I did prefer Rika singing it because of the way she tends to perform things; she performs with so much emotion, digging deep and getting into the song and feeling the lyrics. This is one of the things that initially made me pay attention to Rika and she brings it here, making her a joy to watch.

Oh Jeeesuuuuuuuussss... ;)

All in all, while I did personally prefer the treatment that Rika gave the song, both of them did a wonderful job. I don't have all that much to say on the next MC; I don't speak Japanese too well and it's not something I can use to understand Japanese spoken quickly. It's basically Mai and Rika telling stories to each other and the audience. I'm sure both of them were entertaining, I just don't have much to say about them since I don't understand them.

Shall We Love
The next of the three shuffles is the old Gomattou song "Shall We Love" (that is, the only song they did as the soloist collective). While I personally liked Kara Genki better than the original, the same can't be said for this performance. Now, I like all the members of Ongaku Gatas, and that includes the members who performed this, Konno Asami, Noto Arisa and Sengoku Minami. They're not my absolute favorites, but I like them. They're not the best of vocalists, but all of them are pretty OK. However, Goto Maki, Matsuura Aya and Fujimoto Miki are three of the best H!P vocalists, and it's hard not to compare this version with the original.

~Baby Baby Baby Shall We Love~
I'm sure these girls did their best and I can tell they've worked on it. However, when you inevitably compare the original to this, the original has much stronger vocals and fire in it. Noto Arisa and Sengoku Minami were especially good, but Konno seems to be audibly struggling with the difficult part of Goto Maki. Perhaps another trio would have been better? I'd maybe suggest Renai Sentai Shitsu Ranger, because it's not as vocally challenging and the amount of energy would be really good for Ongaku Gatas.

~Nocchi singing Miki's part~

Granted, my expectations weren't that high to begin with. I often insist that Ayaya is the best vocalist of H!P (well, maybe Inaba Atsuko and Ruru as well), but Goto Maki isn't far behind, and Mikitty isn't bad by a loooong shot. So, when three girls who have never been notable vocalists sing a slower/more difficult song by three of the best, I don't know if anyone really expected too much. So therefore, while I don't rewatch this too much, I attribute it mainly to poor song choice, more than anything else.

Fanservice Galore~ Heavy Rotation PV's been released.

This single, now known by me as "Holy crap Maeda Atsuko's not the center and a member I like a lot more is? WOAHOAHOAHOAH" by AKB48 has had PV previews circling the net, and I don't know if I've seen this much buzz (both positive and negative) about a PV in quite some time. I think it was pretty much a given from the start that this single would have a lot of buzz surrounding it because it's NOT a Maeda Atsuko center and Oshima Yuko's centering/being the focus for the first time. Buuuut.

I have no idea how long this PV is going to last on YouTube given AKB getting taken down left and right. So enjoy while it lasts!!!

No, the real issue is the fanservice involved. A lot of people thought AKB's latest PV to Ponytail to Shushu was a lot of fanservice; before the actual song, the girls were supposedly "naked" while being covered by objects (like a surfboard, locker, etc.), and then they danced in mostly bikinis. But now in the PV to Heavy Rotation they spend half the time in their lingerie, lounging around, having pillow fights, and the other half is in cat type outfits, eating food and kissing around.

I've seen articles in blogs and on websites (Tokyo Hive, mainly) that have addressed this, and there are a LOT of surprising misconceptions. The main one I'd like to address is:


No. This PV really only focuses on 12 girls who made media senbatsu (the upper level) whereas the other 10 or so are just in the background (which makes me happy that my favorite, Oota Aika, is the center of the Undergirls PV as opposed to just dancing in the back of the main PV). Of these twelve girls, only TWO are underage. Watanabe Mayu, who is 16, and Matsui Jurina, who is 13.

Now, you might go "But Serenyty. 13 is VERY young to be in these types of PVs"; actually, I've been happily surprised to find out that Matsui Jurina is actually NOT sexualized. In this PV, there really aren't that many shots of her (and Mayu, really) that aren't either close-ups or very specific non-sexualized shots. I was looking for a picture of her in the lingerie scenes and I'm sure if I looked VERY hard I'd be able to find one; however, the underage girls are really NOT the focus, and the main fanservicey bits are centered around the legal adults.

This is Jurina; the girls who's front and center. I see a lot of people get uppity about both Ponytail to ShuShu AND Heavy Rotation, for the "underage" girls. However, if you look at Jurina's swimsuit for Ponytail to Shushu, that is one of the least revealing swimsuits. It'd only be barely less revealing if it was a one-piece, but even then her shorts here are cut much less revealingly than that. Would you have Jurina wear a parka?

Honestly, while a few scenes in Heavy Rotation made me go "Really? they went there?" (the kissing that went on, the "whipped cream" face of Itano Tomomi who is very much over 18), I don't really get the big fuss. The girls are running around playing sleepover in lingerie that often covers more than their bikinis for Ponytail and the other parts are in cat-type outfits. They're not even really trying to act alluring; it's fun and cute, with the main "issue" being the costume choice.

BTW I really like the PV/song. I used to be very "meh" towards the song, but it's grown on me and is now a VERY addicting song. I much prefer the style of the Undergirls B-side "Namida no Seesaw Game", but this is a pretty solid A-Side.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quick update

I've decided that I'm calling the subgroup Zoku v-u-den just "Zoku." If you read this and think it's a good idea, do that too. Because while I have no issues with the subgroup itself (JunJun and Sayumi are about tied for my second favorite current MM member), connecting them to the true v-u-den is in a way, to me, insulting. I've held this opinion since the Champloo album came out. When I saw their performance of "Koisuru Angel Heart", this completely backed up my position. The one thing that stands out to me about the original v-u-den is the performances of the group. None of them are absolutely stellar vocalists (though I'd argue for Rika's vocal skills any day), but what they might lack in being able to sing super challenging songs they make up in their performances. They're just flat out fun to watch, especially with songs like Koisuru Angel Heart. In every performance I've personally seen, the original v-u-den performs Koisuru with such flair; they all look like they're having a fantastic time, perform with a LOT of energy (which is exactly what the song needs), and just get everyone pumped.

When I heard that Zoku would be performing Koisuru at a concert (mind you this was a while ago), I immediately was slightly concerned. It seems like a fairly obvious choice; it's a proven crowdpleaser and is performed quite often. It's also one of the more simple v-u-den songs to sing; Koi no Nukegara is actually deceptively hard, Kurenai no Kisetsu is very underrated in being a difficult song to pull off, and the rest of them all have their issues to perform. The one easier song would probably be Kacchoiize! Japan. However, what both Koisuru AND Kacchoiize have in the original track (and in their original performances), is ENERGY. You have to be excited, pumped up, and be able to convey that to the crowd if you perform these songs. Now, this isn't a problem for the original v-u-den. Rika is a very dynamic performer (and I'm not just saying that) and obviously gives it her all; she has energy to spare and never looks bored while performing on stage. Yui and Erika followed Rika's lead and I think were great assets to v-u-den. Even though I'm a Rika fan, I always enjoyed watching the two of them perform, which says something about their ability to perform on stage.

However, Zoku's performance of Koisuru just falls flat for me in so many ways. Their dancing is slow and just looks bored, like they don't want to be there. That's how the rest of it is, really. Especially when they're not singing, they look bored and seem to just be going through the motions of the dance and not getting into it. And while most people often hate on the vocals of v-u-den, Zoku is much worse, in my opinion. This is one of the songs where the vocal quality honestly does NOT matter to me at all; the energy is king in any performance of this song. And here, it just falls flat.

This unit isn't bad together; I do like Only You, even though it's not my favorite thing or my favorite group off the album. They just are NOT in any way shape or form v-u-den. While many people accuse v-u-den of being the sexy unit, I'd actually argue that they are the mature H!P unit (and not having mature be a synonym for sexy). v-u-den was classy, especially in the songs/PVs of Koi no Nukegara, Kurenai no Kisetsu and Hitorijime (though the classy image is basically the driving image throughout their first five singles). Really, the two singles that were overwhelmingly sexy were Aisu Kuriimu to My Purin (which I think was supposed to be more humorous than actually sexy, but that might be just me) and Jajauma Paradise.

So, in my opinion, while the "sexy" is what sticks out to most people, v-u-den is to me the adult-type group. Berryz/C-ute are (or at least started as) the kids groups, Morning Musume has always had a younger age group, but v-u-den was formed when they were all in their late teens and went through until (at least Erika and Rika) were in their twenties. And while JunJun and Sayumi are technically older, I really don't think they have the adult-image that the others portrayed. JunJun, MAYBE. But anyone who acts as cutesy as Sayu, even though she's technically an adult, isn't cut out for the mature/classy group. Risako definitely has a sexy image, even though she's the youngest of the Berryz. But then, I think her age is what makes her not suited for the group. Now I've had it pointed out to me that Okada Yui was just a bit older than Risako when she joined, but really not by much. This is true, but Okappai debuted at that age. That's what the difference is. Risako has been around for much longer, since before she was ten. That really makes it hard to see her as adult-like/mature/etc.

This is a long rant that went nowhere, but yes. I'm now calling them Zoku without the v-u-den.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ongaku Gatas 2010 Spring live Concert Review Part 2

Took me too long, but here's part two to my review of the Ongaku Gatas concert, Gatas Ryuu!

Also, Joshi Kashimashi was super annoying to type up. I'm doing a karaoke groupdub of the whole concert right now, and I had to type up the entirety of Joshi Kashimashi's different lyrics; pain in the ass.

MC/Osaki Sunzurei
The first MC is really long, but pretty fun to listen to. I don't speak much Japanese, but I do understand a little bit, so I did understand a little bit. This is the MC that happens at pretty much every concert where each member introduces themselves, and cheers about the concert. Most of it was pretty standard, but as I love all of Gatas, it was pretty interesting. The KonKon fans were really in full force, finding every excuse to shout "KON KONNN." The Rika fans, were present, too, and everyone seemed to enjoy her presence, doing the standard "HAPPY" with her. This is also where Rika introduces herself as being sixteen, which people seem to eat up.

Rika is 16??

Osaki is a pretty standard song off the Ongaku Gatas album, that they've performed at every tour they've done. It's a fun, high energy song, that is hard to get old. I don't have that much to say on it other than that they all look like they're having a great time jumping around stage singing and dancing to this.

Jajaga Jaga

Nocchi and Rika, in particular looked like they were having the most fun dancing around to this, though they all looked happy. These two were very high-energy, and are fun to watch. All the extra lines from the ex-members seemed to go to Nocchi and Sengoku, which is a great change of pace. Often it seemed as if Korenaga didn't get enough to do, but she really did seem to be giving it her all, which is very admirable.

Nocchi and Rika rock out together~

All in all, while this is a really fun performance and it's a joy to watch, especially Nocchi and Rika, it's not one of my personal favorite performances in that nothing really stuck out at me and grabbed me as being extraordinary about it, since they've done this song multiple times before.
Still, it's really fun and enjoyable.

Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart~
When I saw this song on the setlist back when this concert aired, I was immediately really excited. Morning Musume's Otomegumi is one of my favorite H!P groupings, because I love 4th Gen Musume (Rika and Tsuji), Mikitty's one of my favorite H!P girls, Ogawa's my favorite 5th gen member, I have a newfound love for Sayumi, etc. This song fits Ongaku Gatas PERFECTLY; Otomegumi was really the energy/active subgroup of Morning Musume, and Ongaku Gatas is, to me, an energy group as well. So this is a really great song choice.

In case anyone's interested, the lyrics are almost by their original coding, with:

Ishikawa Rika-herself
Yoshizawa Hitomi-Tanaka Reina
Konno Asami- Ogawa Makoto
Satoda Mai- Fujimoto Miki
Sengoku Minami- Tsuji Nozomi
Korenaga Miki- Michishige Sayumi
Noto Arisa - Iida Kaori

So, they cut it in a way that while all the "Main" OG members get most of the lines, the Eggs all get to sing together and each have one line (Korenaga, again, having the least to sing).

~Now Touch My Heart~

This was a great performance! Everyone brought a good deal of energy to the song, and like I said earlier it really fit them as a group. The only casting thing I'd really complain about would be Konno singing as Ogawa; now I know this is probably because of the 5th generation connection thing, but Ogawa sings some high notes and Konno has some real trouble hitting them. These are notes I'm pretty sure others could have made, so it's just kind of confusing.

The dancing in the dance break is really good! I honestly wish this concert had a LITTLE bit more choreography. I appreciate how free and open the whole thing really is, in that each of the members can really interact with each other and the audience; I love watching my favorites whe they can be themselves without having to stick to some kind of choreography. I also appreciate that at this point the members all have careers past being idols and don't necessarily have as much free time to practice as before. However, it just struck me while watching Ai no Sono that they all are really solid dancers, so a little more of that would have been nice.

However, this was a REALLY great performance that I enjoyed a lot. The energy was there, the vocals were there, the singing was there.

Man, I haven't disliked a performance yet! I'm going to stop there, but I can say with confidence that this concert is reaffirming that Ongaku Gatas are my favorite H!P unit, even after they were in H!P.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

AKB48 19th single; wait, senbatsu how?

So, a lot of people have probably heard already that the senbatsu for AKB48's 19th single (a few singles from now) is going to be decided by a giant rock-paper-scissors tournament.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I love this idea.

No longer is senbatsu purely who has the wota with the deepest pockets (though I'm sure if there's any rigging going on it'll be in their favor...?), but it's almost purely chance/luck.

I'm honestly hoping for some big upset; I'd really like a more unknown AKB48 member to become a part of the senbatsu and maybe even make it to be the center of the PV, and I'd like it for a mainstay of AKB48 that gets in EVERY single to only get to Undergirls or something.

This is such a fun idea to think of, and is another reason why I'm getting more and more into AKB48 as of late.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ongaku Gatas 2010 Spring live Concert Review Part 1

So recently the DVD for Ongaku Gatas's first live event in quite a while came out, but only yesterday was I able to find a download for it. I've seen some of the performances on YouTube, but now I can see and review the whole thing, piece by piece.

1. Ready Kick Off
First thoughts; in the intro before the song two things stand out to me:
1. Konno Asami fans are REALLY REALLY REALLY loud. Seriously. In the later MC and from what I can tell from the fan reports I've read, KonKon was probably about second in popularity to Rika fans there, but was still really popular. Yossy is the most popular with women by a long shot, followed by Satoda and Rika, but Konno is popular with men. But I swear, there's some LOUD "KON KONNNN" shouts in the beginning XD.
2. They got the giant flags out! I wanted the giant Gatas Brilhantes H.P flags, and was worried they wouldn't show up, because there's no Sakaero Habatake Gatas Brilhantes H.P performance in this concert. They're being waved (waved? right word) by actual non-OG members. idk, this is impressive somehow.

Now, I LOVE this song. Ready! Kick Off, for those who might not be in the know, is the new OG single that was sold at this concert and was made pretty much JUST for this concert. Ever since I heard radio previews for this song, I've loved it. In my opinion, it's one of the most exciting things to come from the UFA groups of artists related to H!P. EVERYONE sounds great, it's a high energy song, and this performance is not disappointing me in the least since I heard the single. All the members of Ongaku Gatas perform this song well and with high energy, and no one stands out as being too terrible. If I were to single anyone out it'd be JUST BARELY Konno, but even then she doesn't ruin it.

Ongaku Gatas at the start of Ready Kick Off
Here you can also see some of the outfits, and I have to say I think they're fantastic. They're not just regular clothes, but at the same time they're not stupid and not ridiculous like a lot of H!P costumes can be. This is, IMO, a perfect balance, and what concert costumes SHOULD be.

This was a GREAT performance, a wonderful way to get people pumped up (I can imagine being there and just being SO pumped up by the excitement and energy of this performance). The choreography's simple at best, but I don't even care; it doesn't even really need it.

2. Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari
When I first saw the setlist for this concert I was SO excited about a new Joshi Kashimashi. New lyrics for all the OG girls, all right!
The thing is, it's SLIGHTLY too few people to make a really impressionable Joshi Kashimashi. I mean, it's not TOO few, but it's half of the people who were originally in the Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari single, so when it ends it's basically "wait... that's it?"
That's not to say it was bad, but that was just something I noticed.

~Wow Wow Wow Seishun~

While I'm not anywhere near fluent or good enough in Japanese to be able to translate all of this, hearing the gist of this was pretty fun. Yossy sings about going to run a marathon (which she did), Rika sings something about being sexy rather than boyish (a jab at Yossy, maybe? ;)), Satoda I SWEAR combines "baka" and "country musume" to be Bakantori Musume (referencing her appearances on Quiz Hexagon, a game show, maybe?), I think Konno sings about studying or reports (I couldn't translate most of it), Noto Arisa OF COURSE goes into manga and anime (one of her favorite things), Korenaga Miki... I couldn't get most of hers but it's something about a futsal rehearsal, and Sengoku Minami I THINK sings something about becoming the number one member in Gatas.
I just really like this shot for some reason

All in all, I really liked it, for a variety of reasons. First, it's a really fun song, and it's a good look into the personalities of all the members. Second, this song is really the start of the H!P Eggs (or ex-H!P Eggs, as is the case with all of them except Sengoku) to start being there for a purpose that isn't JUST background dancers for the more popular, more experienced members. When I express my love for Ongaku Gatas, most people I talk to think it's mainly because I'm a huge fan of Ishikawa Rika. This is certainly part of it, but I really do love Ongaku Gatas as a group, including the eggs. SO, this concert really seemed to feature them more than I've seen in the past, which is really positive for me.

More to come soon~