Earlier this month newly reformed group, ANGERME, released their 18th single, “Taiki Bansei/ Otome no Gyaukushuu”. This single is the debut of the 3rd generation and their first single after their name change. The point of this reformation was to create a new image for the group and to bring in additional talent that will help the group succeed and carry on even after the 1st generation’s departure. I was very excited to see how the group has changed and what the new members brought to the table. After listening to the single and watching the music videos and live performances of both songs, I can say that I had a bittersweet reaction to this comeback.
Taiki Bansei is my favorite out of the two songs of this single. It is spunky, happy and upbeat. This song brings about a lot of cheerful and positive emotions. It is a much different style than the usual Hello Project songs. This may be due to the fact that the song was originally made for another artist who sold over the rights of the song to ANGERME. It was nice to hear something completely different for a change. I am in love with the bass of the song and it seems to be the favorite part of the song for many of the fans. It was addicting and really made the song much more pleasing.
The promotion video was also enjoyable to watch. Just like the song, it was bright and festive. Everyone was smiling and dancing along to the song in the solo shots and the fast-paced choreography was just as fun and reminiscent of the disco era with the quick arm and leg movements and body waves. It really contributed to the atmosphere of the video. The dance is a little less repetitive than the usual Hello Project dances but the fact that the main group was spilt into smaller dance groups, made the choreography a lot more interesting. Each sub-group were performing different steps and moves and it maintained my interest in the video because there was always something different going. It added spontaneity to the concept. Almost everyone executed the choreography excellently, with the exception of Maho who looked lost, stiff and very awkward throughout the whole video. I can only hope that she gets more open and comfortable with time.
Speaking of the members, the one that really impressed me for this music video was Mizuki. I was not a huge fan of Mizuki while she was in the Hello Pro Kenshuusei, so I was not aware of her true talent, but seeing her perform this song really made me aware of her aptitude and potential. Her dance moves were sharp, she had an amazing smile and demeanor and her powerful voice amazed me. In her debut single, she was the only one in her generation to receive solo lines for both songs and she totally deserved it. I can see her being one of Hello Project’s aces alongside Airi, Riho and Karin in the future.
Dawa stood out to me as well during this video. Actually, I saw a live performance of this song before the music video was released and I was stunned at how Dawa rocked the stage. She wore a bright and beautiful smile and looked like she was having tons of fun performing the song. It was the same when I saw the music video. Her attitude towards the concept and live performances was the best promotion for the song and made me love it even more. On the other hand, during the live performance and for some parts of the music video Kanon seemed a bit unenthusiastic and her smiles seemed forced. This just may be my observation and I really do not like making assumptions, but I would not be surprised if she graduates soon. She just looked generally fed up and unhappy to me. Although I have yet to see this, many fans are speculating that Meimi also seems to lack enthusiasm and does not smile as much as she used to. Before we all jump to conclusions, we should probably keep in mind that these girls may be very tired and are also maturing. They do not stay young forever. Kanon is almost 20 years old, while Meimi will be turning 17 years old. Also, a lot of work went into this single and its promotions. It has seen much success being their highest selling single of all time. The girls must be tired after all the promotion and practice.
Otome no Gyakushuu
Moving on to the 2nd A-side of this single, Otome no Gyakushuu is another song not written by Tsunku, but by Kodama Ameko, a female lyricist that is pretty much the same age as me (this information blew me away). The lyrics of the song I did not mind much, but it took me a while to get used to the song itself. This song is the definition of creepy. It follows a vampire theme and is a complete contrast to Taiki Bansei.
The video appropriately followed this concept with a dark and spooky set within a church. The girls looked really mystical and their smiling faces from the first video turned into serious and sullen countenances. Although the concept and set was very dark, they wore white dresses that were a stark contrast that really drew me into the video and made me really want to stare at the girls. However, I think I would have liked the video even more if there were more dramatic and ghostly scenes of the girls that added to the overall concept and underlying storyline rather than just close ups and a dance shot.
On the other hand, the choreography in the video made me cringe. It fits the vampire theme with the vampire/raven-like claw shape they make with their hands throughout the whole dance. But that along with their unusual body movements and hunching made me uncomfortable watching the video. It was really unnerving and awkward to watch Maho that is not a great dancer make the choreography a lot more awkward, even during her classical ballet solo. I was also disappointed that I did not get to hear Maho’s voice in any of the songs. I have no idea what she sounds like or if she is a good singer or not. I really anticipated hearing her for this single, but it seems I have to wait for their next single later this year.
Yet again, Mizuki blew me away with her amazing vocals. I am going to keep a close eye on her performance in the future. She is a top-star in the making. Kana’s vocal ability has also really improved throughout the years. When she initially joined the group, she could not keep up with the dances and her vocals were very weak. Now, her singing has improved a lot and she is a mentor to the younger generation. I really liked her parts where she harmonizes with Akari and Meimi right after the chorus.
I really loved Taiki Bansei, but it took me a while to warm up to Otome no Gyakushuu. It is a really bittersweet single for me. However, this single received a great response from fans and that is a great sign. The changes brought to the group have led them on the pathway to success and I am looking forward to seem what they have for all of us in the future.