A-Pop Wrap-Up: Finland-Idol Sings J-Pop For Audition, New S/mileage & Berryz PVs, Majisuka Gakuen, more

Finnish Cutie Laura Vanamo Sings Koharu’s Koi Kana
Yes, it was back around June 2009 but I’m just getting to it =P I was surfing the now-defunct American Wota and came across the name and did some hunting. The YouTube feed below tells you pretty much all you need to know, but it’s nice to see someone in another non-J country enjoying the music — and quite a cutie at that :3

Finland Idol: Laura Vanamo sings Koi Kana

Original Koi Kana by Kusumi Koharu + Making-Of

Mini-Review for S/mileage’s new PV:
Otona ni Narutte Muzukashii!!!

One of the best things about Asian pop music videos (or promotional videos, in J-land) is getting quality, hi-def closeups of your favorite singer — but we don’t get much of that here. Instead it’s more often grainy, jerky, stop-motion-like, paper cut-outs of our favorites and we don’t really get a good, realistic look at them it seems like — the same problem we had with Morning Musume’s 3, 2, 1 Breakin Out and I didn’t particularly enjoy it then either. The song is itself is suitably cutsie and fun and would have been alright without the irritating flip-book style. There are a bunch of good close-ups, varying outfits, and bits of decent choreography — I just can’t get a really good look at them for very long.

One notable thing though, is that my wota-fancy the two “other girls,” Fukuda Kanon and Ogawa Saki (whereas formerly suggesting Maeda Yuuka and Wada Ayaka were the only one’s looking at much and clumping the other two together) has increased considerably by this PV, and Kanon is now allowed into the non-other fold. Saki isn’t terrible by any means, and comes in at a really-close 2nd place to the 3-way 1st place tie that would have otherwise been a 4-way tie for best if not hard-pressed to decide a truer ranking =P Kanon looked a lot like the unstoppably youthful Tsuji Nozomi in this one (who is now married, has a kid, and can still pull off the cutsie teen J-idol look on occasion), and therefore won some wota-points from me =D

Incidentally, S/mileage is also doing a 10,000-smile campaign and is requesting pictures from people all over the world to submit smiling pictures of themselves to be glued in the near future to a giant wall-poster-thing (and each of them, all 10k, glued on by members personally, so your smiling wota mug gets touched by at least one of them ~_^). There’s an article on Hello-Online about how to submit your photo to the Japanese-language-only site with translations of what different options mean on the page. Deadline is March 31st!

Almost Double-Release of Berryz PVs Again
Berryz Koubou has gone and released two PVs nearly back-to-back again, and at this moment, I’m about to watch them for my true first impressions. The first one is Tomodachi wa Tomodachi Nanda!. Surprisingly, I give it a 4.5 out of 5 star rating (if I could do that on a YT rating) with the only demerit being that it incorporated a big-band-ish (or more ska, perhaps) feel in the background that I don’t think mixes well with J-pop that I am opposed to as my foremost criticism of MoMusu’s Mr Moonlight. I think music of that nature is best left un-sung-against, that is, as an instrumental. But that narrow view aside, the PV was pretty good, and I was really impressed by the ending scene’s artsy design on the wall that looks exactly like something I would do — and may try to make my own version of later. The tune itself was upbeat and catchy, the outfits were a bit irregular but had a friendly personality, and the set design was not terribly impressive in scope, but appropriate. I would genuinely consider this among my most favorite PVs so far.

Onto my first viewing of the second PV, Otakebi Boy WAO!.. Total change of pace. Aside from style of music, it seems they’ve perhaps taken cues from Book of Heavy Metal for this slightly over-the-top, completely green-screen PV. Off the bat, I give it a 3.5 out of 5. It’s not hideous, but it seems a bit strange — which wouldn’t be terribly unusual considering my suspicion that Tsunku has relinquished design lead over Berryz (and perhaps C-ute with its incessant Airi showcasing) to some retarded third-cousin of his. The lyrics are kinda ^_^;;-inducing, kinda feeling embarrassed that they had to sing that weirdness, but again, that isn’t atypical per se. To me this is definitely a B-side song even though they’re marketing the single as a double A-side. Former fave Risako goes even weirder with some low-falsetto voice that sounds just a little scary. Worth a watch perhaps, but this would definitely rank in the lower 50% of favorite Berryz videos. At least it isn’t flip-book style or big band! ~_^

Japanese Quasi-Drama: Majisuka Gakuen
Going on it’s 2nd month or so of weekly episodes, Majisuka Gakuen‘s cast is almost entirely members of AKB48 and associates (such as the school teacher who yells at them from the Iiwake Maybe PV) and although seemingly mostly-serious, there are bits where a corny line is thrown in or something wrecks the mood with a slapstick punch. There’s a good bit of mystery in the story, coupled with seeing what kinds of characters your favorites get to play (mine are all top gang leaders). It’s pretty much about one particular school that is almost entirely formed into gangs, wanting to eventually take top control and always by hand-to-hand and rarely if ever by blunt objects, and never by firearms. There are miniboss fights, vague politics, and some genuinely decent acting. I’m going totally from fan-subtitled offerings, which have only put out about 5 episodes apart from the 8-ish total as of this post. I definite recommend ^_^

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