Last month, ANGERME took a whole new style with the release of their 19th single, “Nana Korobi Ya Oki / Gashin Shoutan / Mahou Tsukai Sally”. This is the group’s first triple A-side single.
This new ANGERME continues to impress me. With each song they have taken a new image and has displayed improved skills. This group is currently battling with C-ute for my favourite Hello Project group after Morning Musume. Each song has its own unique charm and an interesting music video to complement them.
Nana Korobi Ya Oki (Ups & Downs)
This song is my favourite of the single. It is quite interesting because the title, “Nana Korobi Ya Oki” is actually an old Japanese proverb that roughly translates to the English idiom, “When life knocks you down, you get back up”. The official English title, “Ups & Downs” emanates that.
I am in love with this song. ANGERME is different from S/mileage. They have taken on a darker image, especially with this song. “Nana Korobi Ya Oki” has a lower tone than other songs the group has done in the past. This change showed a whole new side of them that I really liked and it worked really well with the lower pitched singers like Akari and Kana. Meimi, who can rock high and low pitches, killed off this song with her amazing vocals.
The lower register, low toned brass and gentle whispering in the background helped create a dark and tantalizing atmosphere. I especially liked the part where they sang “Wow… life is full of ups and downs”. Their pronunciation was well done and was a soothing contrast to the powerful vocalization earlier in the song.
As I mentioned previously, the lyrics consist of many proverbial statements. Initially, the translation was a bit difficult to understand for a non-Japanese speaker like me, but after doing some research everything fell into place. Despite the somber nature of the song and music video, the lyrics are actually quite optimistic. It encourages listeners to stay on track and keep trying, despite the challenges that knock them down. The song and its title is a really fancy way of saying: “Don’t give up!”
THE MUSIC VIDEO
No, I am not going to complain about the fact that this music video took place in a fabricated closed set. I am a bit tired about complaining about that, and I have gained a new appreciation for these types of videos. I think of them as performance videos rather than videos that tell that describe the lyrics.
In this case, I do not mind the setting at all because of the high-energy and intense choreography within it. However, a part of me wished for a more meaningful video to match the symbolic lyrics, but beggars cannot be choosers.
The video matched the ominous nature of the song. The lights were dimmed with a few sepia-toned scenes; the girls wore neutral colours and serious expressions, and the transitions in the video were sharp and choppy. Normally, I would complain about some of these elements, but they worked well in creating the atmosphere for the song.
The scenes with the dance team integrated well with the singing team. There was an equal amount of camera time for each team. Although they had no singing parts, Kanon, Rina and Rikako, still had a lot of close up shots during the whispering parts and the music breaks. The editing in this video was almost perfect. I wish more Hello Project videos were edited like this.
As I said before, there is a singing team and a dance team. This is the first time such a concept has been used in the group and more recently it has been used in Morning Musume’s upcoming single, “Oh My Wish”, as well. Is the dance team a succeeding concept to the “formation dance”? Only time will tell.
The dance team had a slightly different choreography than the singing team. Rikako and Kanon are excellent dancers and therefore, perfect choices for the dance team. However, I am not too sure why management chose Rina to be part of this team. I believe that Akari and Meimi are much better dancers, but I prefer to hear their voices instead of Rina’s in a song like this. I guess it all makes sense in the end.
The overall choreography of this song is what made this video. It is fast-paced and consists of a lot of grand movements such as falling the floor and bending over. There were also a lot of jumps and sexy movements that added to the intensity of the song.
This is one of those dances that I want to learn but do not have the stamina or energy to actually do it. I really commend these girls for being able to perform this dance, especially while singing on stage.
Gashin Shoutan (Extreme Hardships)
This song is the most preppy of the album. The message within the song is quite similar to “Nana Korobi Ya Oki” where it speaks about hardships, challenges and having the willpower to overcome them. Ironically, although it sounds like a happier song, I find the lyrics of “Gashin Shoutan” a lot harsher than the lyrics for “Nana Korobi Ya Oki”. However, this is still a fun and upbeat song that I enjoy.
This is a funky and bubbly song. It is a bit reminiscent of ANGERME’s old style, but still a bit different. It probably sounds like an old school tune from the late 80’s or 90’s. I was a child during the 90’s and I was more of a “book-reading-playing-with-imaginary friends-kind-of-kid”. I only began developing an interest in music, especially Japanese music, in the 00’s, so what would I know about music back then?
I love the upbeat and carefree character of the song. This is the type of music that made me fall in love with the group in the first place.
I love the brass and the shouting ad-libs heard throughout the song. I have no idea why, but this song makes me feel like I am at a band rally or college football game during the half time. The fact that this music video was filmed in what seems to be a large gymnasium probably aided these feelings.
There is a whole lot of Kanon in this song. Initially, I thought that this was going to be her graduation single, but there have been rumors floating about that another single will be released before then and it may be written by Kanon, herself. I am not sure how true this is, but I will be elated if this happens. Kanon’s voice suited this song so well and surprisingly, also did Rina’s.
THE MUSIC VIDEO
It is a simple music video, but it more or less did its job. The pastel coloured outfits and backgrounds and the smiling faces of all the girls made this into a fun and positive video. Even the bright group settings and fun choreography had a hand to play in setting the atmosphere.
Just by watching this video and listening to this song, I felt my spirits being lifted and I actually felt like I can take on almost any challenge. This song is a great pick-me-up if you are feeling down. It carries the same message as their first A-side single, but the bright and happy music video had a better method of relaying this message.
Can I mention how gorgeous Mizuki, Meimi and Maho look in this video? Yes, I actually gave Maho a compliment. She still is one of the weakest singers in this group, but I must commend her for her improvement. Her singing has gotten better in a short space of time and this type of happy and fun concept fits her well. The triple-M’s ruled this music video!
This choreography looks extremely fun, but taxing. The dance is probably just as high-spirited as the choreography for “Nana Korobi Ya Oki”. The girls utilize almost every body part as they jump, stretch and kick their way through the choreography.
I spotted a few old school dances that I do not know the names for, and I even caught sight of a few instances of “jazz hands”.
During the dance break, the girls had a little dance off where a few members got their turn to shine. I really loved Meimi’s little hopping dance and Rina’s side jumps. A fan actually created a video of Rina’s dance on loop as “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” played in the background. It was the most hilarious thing I have seen. My admiration for Rina increased a bit because of this song.
Mahou Tsukai Sally (Sally The Witch)
This song is a cover from the 60’s anime, “Mahou Tsuki Sally”. Since this is a really old song, I did not have any grand expectations for it. Surprisingly, I liked it. It was a catchy tune that had the 3rd generation as the center. No other members got solo parts except for Ayaka and Kanon for their spoken parts during the bridge.
I read in an article somewhere (I never remember where I find these articles) that the 3rd generation represents the new inexperienced witches that would succeed the older (1st and 2nd generation) witches. This is an interesting concept as this is exactly what the 3rd generation would do in the future.
The thing that I love the most about this song is that you get to hear the vocal talent of the newest generation. Mizuki is an excellent singer. I would be surprised if she does not take Kanon’s place as one of the main vocalists after her graduation. Rikako’s singing has improved drastically since her Kenshuusei days. I am very proud of her. Not only can she dance, but also she can sing and has a bubbly personality that almost everyone loves. I never want her to grow up. She is becoming a perfect idol.
I even have to commend Maho (yes that is twice in one review). Her singing has somewhat improved and I can actually listen to her without cringing. I know it very harsh for me to say, but her voice does not add much to the group, but her funny persona has made vast contributions in the variety world. Hopefully with time her vocals can improve.
THE MUSIC VIDEO
These anime songs tend to have a lot of CGI in their music videos (see Ima Koko Kara). I guess it is done to look like the animated world.
I do not have much to say about the music video. It took place in a set made to look like the night sky in a city. There are scenes of the members flying on a broom in the night sky much like the set seen in the dance shot.
There are also theatrical scenes where the 3rd generation witches learn spells from their seniors. Was it just me or did anyone else see the strings used during these scenes? If you take a close look during Maho’s scene you can see strings turning the pages of the book. It is seen in many other scenes as well. I am not too sure if this was intentional or not, but it still made the video interesting. It is different from the usual performance videos from Hello Project.
The dance was not too memorable for me with the exception of the part where they go on the ground and stick out their leg and the crazy hand-waving dance during the chorus. The dance was mostly repetitive. Rikako’s little dance solo near the end captured my heart.
I felt like little effort was placed in the dance and this music video since it was a cover song. It is my least favourite of the single, but it is still a pretty decent song and video.
I am impressed with this single. I enjoyed every song and almost every video. S/mileage is definitely no more as ANGERME takes over with a new image. It is sad that Kanon will be leaving us soon, but I anticipate the group’s changes. What will their next single be like and how will the group change when the new members of the upcoming 4th generation is added to the group? For now, good job ANGERME!