Morning Musume – Nanchatte Renai

This is the long delayed review for Morning Musume’s 40th single titled Nanchatte Renai (In English something like “Fake love”). The review was mostly delayed because I ordered from two sites in 3 different shipments, and one of those shipments was damaged (more on that later), so I had to wait until they sent a replacement (2 weeks waiting for confirmation then another week until it arrived).

But finally here it is! This is the first time I have bought all 4 versions of an H!P single (this and Kimagure Princess are one of the few times I can predict I will do it), and I bought them primarily to support Morning Musume and get them in a high spot on Oricon, and even though it didn’t happen they still managed to remain really close to the queen of Jpop Ayumi, something which made me really happy as a fan.

I decided to not take a picture of the packages, mainly because I got them mixed up (I wanted to take a picture of all of the H!P things I have together and unfortunately getting 12 CD’s, a DVD and a PB into their respective packages for protection is hard to do once you mix the bags). So the only thing I have to set up for the pictures is that two packages are from CDJapan and one from HMV, the one’s in bubble wrap sleeves are from CDJapan and the other is the Normal edition that had to be replaced from HMV.

So let’s start!

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Here are the packages, the one in the cardboard box is the Normal Edition from HMV, the one on the top right includes the Limited A and Limited B, and the one on the bottom is the Commemorative edition.

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A closer look at the Limited A, B and Commemorative Editions in the bubble sleeves. Now on to the cardboard box, and one of the main reasons why I left the box is to show you how well HMV protects replacement CDs.

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Basically when I received the single I got it in an envelope with bubble wrap inside it, and when I checked the single it had a crack on the back and front. And it wasn’t HMV’s fault at all, I can’t stress this enough, it was probably due to the post office who didn’t do a great job of taking care of the package.

HMV sent the single and because it’s a normal edition single it is half the size of the Limited Editions and because of that it was more likely to crack. Thankfully HMV replaced the single, but it took me a while to get the replacement since I had to go to the site and tell them that I got a damaged single, then confirm that I wanted a new single, then wait for a few weeks until I received a confirmation letter that they had sent the package.

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Here is the letter they sent, it looks like a pretty standard “apology” letter, but at least they sent one by e-mail and in paper under the CD in the package.

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Here is a picture of the first CD they sent from the front, if you can notice there is a noticeable crack on the front, which I am almost certain was caused by the post office so I am not blaming HMV on anything at all.

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And here it is in the back, it looks a bit more noticeable, but thankfully the CD wasn’t affected. But still, it made me trust my post office a bit less and now I make sure to have someone home to sign for my packages to avoid the long trip over there and the disappointment when I find out they don’t take care of the packages right.

But overall I really liked how HMV managed the whole thing, they paid for shipping and the single, so I wasn’t disappointed with them and I will surely go again to their site to buy more. Now on to the replacement package:

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The single was in bubble wrap and inside a cardboard box that really protected the CD well. I have to ask myself why HMV doesn’t send all thin CD’s with this box since it really protects it, but continuing on, the box contained the single which is pictured below in its bubble sleeve.

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And a picture of the three packages together. Now to take them out of the bubble wrap:

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I had to check which was which but here they are the four editions of Nanchatte Renai:

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Normal Edition on the top left…

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Limited A on the top right…

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Limited B on the bottom left…

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And Commemorative edition on the bottom right. So like all reviews let’s start with the edition that most people have:

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The Normal edition, which has a really great looking cover with all of the girls standing in a row. The only small problem I have with the cover is that Lin Lin and Jun Jun are on the sides, but apart from that they still managed to come out looking great. The costumes are goth loli and they look impressing on the girls, and I really like the small hats which added a somewhat playful look to the costumes.

My favorites on this cover would have to be Sayu, Koha and Ai-chan, who look really impressive because of the poses they have. Niigaki looks great, but the pose looks like she had just kicked a ball at the camera man, and Reina looks like she got pushed by Koha while they were taking the photo. It is a shame that Kamei got obscured in the back, she does stand out with her brown hair, but I would have liked to see her a bit more in front.

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After inspecting the cover I took of the wrapping and noticed that Lin Lin and Jun Jun really got cut off from the cover. It would have been great if the camera man could have gone some two steps back and taken a better picture, but I guess that is how most of the covers have been since the 8th generation joined, at least they got a better position on the Kimagure Princess cover.

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Here is the clear back cover with the really pink Nanchatte Renai CD, which looked great since it gives potential buyers an idea of what the CD looks like. And depending on the buyers favorite color (and if they are male or female)  it would either help or slightly harm the choice.

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After opening the CD this is what I found: an application card included in First Press, the lyrics sheet and the CD. I was really lucky to find first press after the release date but even though it is nice to have it isn’t worth much to me from where I live, but still it is great to have.

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Here is the lyrics sheet which is also the CD cover, nothing that impressing here, you can find the lyrics in any site now so I didn’t focus much on it.

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And here is the application card with the CD, since the CD is reversed here is how it looks like when you open it. It is a slight disadvantage since people who want to take out the CD run the risk of getting it dirty, but it looks great on the outside so I can’t complain.

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Here it is in the position it should have been, and you can notice how really pink and reflective it is….so I couldn’t take a good photo with the bad lighting I had, but you can get a good idea of what it looks like.

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Here is a picture of everything in the single, with the lyrics sheet opened up in a really great looking lineup picture of the girls. And even though I am biased toward Niigaki and Sayu I have to admit that all of the girls look impressive in the picture. I liked the idea of having them use red strings to hold on to since it gives the picture more of a different look than just having them stand and awkwardly face the picture.

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Now on to the Limited A version CD which include a DVD. The cover has all of the girls sitting down in strategic positions, and by this I mean that we can notice who is singing and how much they appear on the PV. The front row include Reina, Ai-chan and Koha, and it has been like this for some time so it wasn’t that strange to seem them there. Koha doesn’t sing a lot but at the moment she was still popular because of Kirarin so she was one of the front runners of the group.

The middle row has Gaki-san, Sayu and Kamei who are the ones who do chorus and have some solo lines sometimes, they also appear slightly less than the front row but more than the back row. And finally the back row with Lin Lin, Aika, and Jun Jun who are placed standing up and who rarely get solo lines or prominent PV appearances.

This isn’t always true since sometimes the 8th gen gets a little more appearance, but overall this is how the singles are laid out and I don’t expect much to change soon until there are newer members, which will probably come next year or sometime after that according to Tsunku.

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Here is the back of the single, I tried to move the application card but I just made it worse and I didn’t want to risk doing something to the CD so I left it like this. There is a clearer picture further on so for the time being here is how it is packaged.

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Here is the CD with the wrap off and the spine cover on the side, and thankfully no one was cut from the picture, except for a bit of the shoes of everyone who is in the front.

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Here is the CD, and if you notice it looks a lot like the normal edition, but with a cover on the back of the CD.

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Here is the CD, equally pink to the normal edition but with some other text on the CD, so it is safe to say that there is almost no difference with the CDs.

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A close-up of the CD and one of the better pictures I took, the CD has the tracklist so if you ever mix the CDs you can know which is which. Here we have “Nanchatte Renai” as the first track, “Aki Urara” as the second and the instrumental for “Nanchatte Renai” as the third track.

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Here is the DVD that was included with the Dance Shot, and from what I can tell it looks really impressive. The black really combines with the pink and it just looks really cool.

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The DVD, application card (after taking it out of the back) and the lyric sheet which has the girls in the same formation but with different poses. And since UFA isn’t expecting too many people too buy more than one CD it was kind of expected to see a somewhat similar formation, but I am glad that they changed the poses at least.

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I also took an extra photo with the pink audio CD with the application card and lyric sheet, mainly to see which looked better (they both looked great).

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Here is a clearer, application card-free, picture of the back where all of the girls are in the same formation as the cover but in different poses.

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Here is a close-up of the back with the tracklist, nothing that impressive but still useful on any CD.

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Next is the Limited B edition, which is usually my favorite because it includes the Close-Up shot PV. The cover is also my 2nd favorite since it has all of the members standing up and posing for the camera. The hat touching might be a bit overdone (from what I can tell 6 members do it), but I still like how everyone looks here.

I also liked how the title looks on the bottom, since it makes it easier to see what single you got and because the slight red tint looks better than having a solid dark red bar on top.

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Here is the back, and if you noticed I managed to move the application card by shaking the single a bit, so the picture looks better. There is a better picture of the back later on, but so far it looks like a photo friends would take where everyone is in a single row and looking at the camera awkwardly.

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Here is the cover with the spine cover on the side, and even though Lin Lin’s right hand got a bit cut off she still manages to impress with her great looking hair and her cute (but confused) look.

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Here is the inside of the CD, exactly alike to the front of the Limited A version, but still looks great.

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The same CD that is included in the Limited A edition, but it’s great to see that UFA isn’t changing things too much from version to version so all fans get the same chance to get a Limited Edition single without that much difference.

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The DVD is also exactly alike, the only thing that changes is the text on it which has “Close-Up Ver” instead of “Dance Shot Ver”.

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The formation on the lyrics sheet is the same but with different poses like the other singles, and I like how the poses looked on this one since they seem to look right at you instead of looking from the side while hugging some (lucky) red curtain.

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The pink CD looks like the others so there isn’t that much difference, but I still appreciate the difference in poses.

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The back cover looks great, but the poses Koha and Aichan have look somewhat strange, and in my opinion it would have been better to have Koha with a position like Sayu’s while Reina does the “raised-leg-to-the-left” position to make the center focus look a bit better, but still it turned out great.

Niigaki looked a bit like she was posing for a sports team group picture but still she looks really cute, and Sayu’s pose really stood out for me, she looks directly at the camera (like Kamei and Reina) but adds a cute pose to make sure the attention is one her.

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Here is the tracklist to the single, nothing different apart from the “Close-Up Ver BLACK” on the DVD tracklist.

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On to the 40th commemorative edition, which is easily tied with the Limited A cover for my favorite cover. The color is brighter and the general theme seems to be “celebration” since the girls are in a close group formation where everyone puts on a pose and smiles (or looks happier than the other covers) at the camera.

I really liked how Sayu looked, cute but not overdoing it, and although Niigaki’s pose is somewhat…excessive, it still looks great. I would have liked to see Lin Lin a bit closer to Ai-chan and the rest of the girls or in the gap between Niigaki and Koha, but she looks a bit scared to touch Ai-chan (probably because Ai-chan is really, really close to Koha).

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With this single I succeeded on putting the application card on its side, therefore covering most of the girls, but there is a better picture of the back cover a bit later.

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The spine cover on the side and the single which looks great with the red tinted Nanchatte Renai title on it, and the yellow glowing egg with wings and “40th Commemorative” on it.

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Here is the inside of the single, which pretty much has the same position like the other singles, application card on top of single and lyrics sheet on the side.

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The inside of the CD looks different than the other mainly because of the great looking white CD.

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I really liked how the pink and white look together, and since this single had a brighter CD cover it was kind of natural to have the white. They also included the pink-winged egg from the cover to make sure those who have it know that it is the 40th single.

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The tracklist is different because there is obviously another single on it, “Subete wa Ai no Chikara”, and apart from that tracklist difference, white theme and golden egg there isn’t much else that is different.

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Like the other singles it has a lyrics sheet which like all of the previous singles has the same formation with different poses. And even though Niigaki looks like she got her hat stuck on the top of the curtains or like she really likes curtains (lucky curtains), the girls all look great especially Sayu, Ai-chan, and Koha’s seductive looks.

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The back cover looked a bit like the “after” of the picture from the cover, since all of the girls look really tired, especially Gaki-san who looks like she is holding her back in pain after holding the sexy pose on the cover. Sayu, Lin Lin, Kamei, Ai-chan and Reina look really really annoyed at having to pose so long, and Aika, Jun Jun and Koha seem to be faking being happy.

A slight disappointment since there is a great contrast from the happiness on the front with the tired but mature look on the back.

Overall I was really impressed at how the singles looked, UFA really surpassed themselves with the cover, and even though there isn’t any fancy golden monkey bars or backgrounds they managed to make really them fit the mood of the song and Momusu’s new mature image.

Now on to the review of the songs and PV’s included on the singles. Like all reviews I write them while I listen to the song two times so that I can give you an impression as the song progresses instead of relying on memory, so there might be some parts which seem to not follow the train of thought, so I apologize beforehand of that happens.

At the end of listening to the song I write my overall impression, so pretty much it is a thorough review. So without any further ado let’s start:

CD

1. Nanchatte Renai

In a few words I would describe the song as “an incredible ballad”, mainly because the song manages to conserve a steady catchy rhythm with a slow ballad. The song is one of the best I have heard from them in a while since they mix a normal ballad with some rap, which results in an interesting song.

The violins add a great touch the overall sing since they make the lyrics more believable, and the other instruments do a great job of making the song seem more dramatic and full. The voices of the girls are incredible to say the least, especially Takahashi who seems to be getting some of her acting skills and putting them to use to make us believe what she is singing about.

Tanaka has a great voice for the song, which combines well with other member’s voices. Niigaki has a great soft voice suited for the song and I am glad that she is features more in this single instead of having to do chorus for the main three members. Kusumi on the other hand has a unique voice, which is great to hear, but somehow didn’t fit the song since it was slightly too high pitched.

It was somewhat of a waste to only have Lin Lin and Jun Jun as chorus and rappers since they have the potential to sing the solo lines incredibly well, especially Lin Lin. Sayu still is using her cute voice which sounds good, but it somehow was a bit overdone and she seems to be struggling a bit to reach those high notes. Mitsui rapped well, but she does have potential to sing during the lines where high voices are needed, such as the last chorus which has many members singing at once.

The song was incredible, and I am impressed at what Tsunku managed to do with the song. The member choice was a bit obvious since anyone can rap and he had some of the younger members do the rapping since their voices didn’t quite fit with the song. The classical, yet modern ballad is in my top ten favorite Momusu songs, and hopefully Tsunku continues to use the same technique, but with a slightly different sound that doesn’t resemble Shouganai Yume Oibito.

2. Aki Urara

Aki Urara starts with a great guitar sound mixed with some hard beats, which results in a completely different style of song for Morning Musume (I would call it R&B with ballad sounds). The sound is somewhat serious and mature so it is great to see that they are taking the new Morning Musume image seriously.

Takahashi is the first to sing which isn’t that much of a surprise since she manages to set the tone of the song, and she does that incredibly well. Tanaka is a great followup to Takahashi and I really like how she sounds throughout the song, not too high but just right to match the feeling of the song.

Niigaki and Kamei are a great duo when they sing since Gaki-san’s soft voice mixes well with Kamei’s. I like how they managed to include Jun Jun and Lin Lin a lot since they have incredible voices, especially Lin Lin. If they manage to promote them more they could become popular members very fast.

Sayu does an incredibly good job of singing in a whisper, and I really loved her solo lines after Koha and Mitsui sing their duet part. Takahashi singing the last line of the song was an incredibly good choice since she has the ability to leave listeners with the overall feeling of the lyrics.

The sound is hard to describe, since it has a sort of slow ballad sound mixed with aggressive beats, which sort of follow the feeling of the song. From the lyrics I can notice that Mitsui and Koharu are the only ones that don’t have solo lines, which might have to do with them being the youngest and the song having a mature feeling to it.

This song is a great departure from their ballad type songs and their happy songs, but I liked it, and even though the song has an R&B feeling to it I managed to like the overall feeling each member put into their lines, especially Takahashi who manages to do that incredibly well.

3. Subete wa Ai no Chikara

The words that would best describe this song are “happy ballad”, mainly because the song feels like a celebration song which seems to go at a set pace, not too fast or too slow, but it has a feeling of accomplishment or happiness which mixes well with the lyrics. Jun Jun and Lin Lin singing the line before the instrumental at the beginning of the song is a great way to leave listeners with a strong impression since Lin Lin has an incredibly powerful voice which mixes well with Jun Jun’s soft voice.

Tanaka and Sayu sing the second chorus before the instrumental and they do an incredible job since Tanaka’s slightly higher pitched voice mixes well with Sayu’s cute voice.  Takahashi and Niigaki seem to be focused mostly on the actual song and not the chorus with the rest of the members, but they do a great job of following along and giving the song more feeling.

Koha and Mitsui do the third chorus before the bridge starts, and I really like how they sing, but I would have liked for Koha to sing a bit lower pitched since she sings well, but sometimes she stresses her voice a bit too much. Mitsui still has a slightly high voice but with some extra voice training she can gradually become better at singing with the feeling of the song like Ai-chan.

The instrumental of the song feels like a happy love song, and I am actually surprised that the song sounds great. The “hara kana” parts sound a bit rushed but overall they follow the song well.

This song sounds great as a b-side, mostly because the song isn’t something which resembles the Morning Musume image they are trying to get, although it does manage to appear a bit mixed with the happy ballad. I really like the slow but steady happy sound that the song has, and the instruments really help in expressing the feeling of the lyrics better.

The voices of everyone on the song were impressing since they manage to follow well with the songs slow beat. Although I wouldn’t say it is their best song I wouldn’t classify it as a bad song either, it had potential but it somehow lacked something.

DVD

Limited A – Dance Shot Ver

The Dance shot was in short impressive since every fan has to see the full dance to appreciate what the song is about, and this dance shot manages to do that and more. The song is dramatic and so is the dance which mixes some modern moves with ballet and other graceful movements.

I really loved the beginning which has members passing in front of the camera while casually looking at it, when three members slowly approach from the back. The movements looked a lot like it borrowed heavily from ballet, which is a great choice for the song. The only problem I had is that after the singing had passed and the violins played the members rushed around, similar to the beginning, which slightly looked a bit disorganized since I think I saw some members almost collide with each other.

Sayumi and Niigaki are in the middle at the start of the song, and many times during the song which is a great improvement from Resonant Blue where they were in the back, I am glad to see that the choreography team realized their potential and that the solo lines helped them get those spots next to Ai-chan. Although Sayumi did fix her hair during 3:49 it wasn’t that noticeable (too me yes because I stared primarily at Sayu and Gaki) and overall II would have to say that her dancing improved a lot.

Tanaka looked like she was hurrying a bit the steps, especially when everyone lifted their hands then slowly lowered them, she seemed to lift it up fast then almost drop it down when she was singing. Kamei gets a lot of time in the middle, which is great since she is an incredible singer and dancer, and I really liked how she managed to stay most of the time there. Takahashi by far is the star of the PV since her moves are graceful, probably due to her ballet skills, and she also manages to express the words through her movements which looks incredible, such as when she looks at Sayu near 2:15 when she finishes singing her lines and it is Sayu’s turn.

Jun Jun and Lin Lin stayed most of the time in the back or on the sides, and when it was their turn to rap they just darted up in the front, threw a rapping sign, then quickly returned to their position, which seems to be somewhat of a disappointment since they both are great dancers. Mitsui spend most of the time on the opposite position from Koha, and she manages to mix her moves gracefully, although she does need a bit of work on some moves.

Kusumi strongly emphasized the moves she was doing, which is somewhat natural of her since she joined, but it somewhat distracted me during the 4 times I saw the PV, so I would have liked to see her try and smooth out her moves a bit. The formation during 3:30 was amazing since it follows the violins, and it also gives the people watching a good look at all the members since the front row gets down low, and the middle row midway, which lets us see the last row clearly.

The graceful moves which made the song seem more dramatic, and the many formation changes that made sure that each member at least got a chance to get close to the camera make an incredible PV. This version of the PV was amazing and I am amazed at how the dance looked, it really was a step up from some previous dances.

Limited B – Close Up Ver BLACK

The close-up versions are my favorites since we can see what kind of facial expressions the girls are adding to the lyrics, and usually they are impressive.

Tanaka is the first and the last member to appear in the PV, and I think they made a great choice since Tanaka does a good job of making great facial expressions when the camera is on her. Jun Jun also managed to get a decent amount of time on camera even though she mostly did chorus and rap, and I have to admit she looks great, and I really like the ear-ring she is using.

Kusumi is the next member to appear, and from the PV she also places some emphasis on some of the moves when she is singing, even when she is sitting down. Apart from that she looks great, although she seems to be squinting a bit when she looks at the camera, which might be the result of a strong light or being tired after shooting the PV for so long.

Lin Lin looked impressive, I really liked how she looked and when it was her turn to sing she really tried her best. Ai-chan spent most of the time posing dramatically on the pillar, which looked great during some parts, but it was somewhat exaggerated after she did it for most of her time on camera, in spite of that she looked incredible and the light breeze really helped her look more impressive.

Niigaki was next, and even though I didn’t like her haircut that much I still think she did a great job of singing with emotion and trying her best when it was her turn. Sayu was among the members that stood out for me, mostly because her shots were full of emotion (her line after Ai-chan when the camera is pointing and she whispers “aiso warai” was impressive) and she did her best to look at the camera and make the viewer feel the song.

Mitsui looked great also, but she needs to work a bit on practicing her expressions since she looked a bit confused sometimes. Kamei looked incredible, her light hair really made her stand out when I saw her, and even though she didn’t get as many solo lines as Ai-chan or Tanaka she really looked like she deserves it because she has great singing power and tried her best at acting out the feeling of the song.

The Close-Up version was impressive, and in my opinion both the Dance Shot version and this version are necessary to see as a fan since they provide us with a more deeper sense of what the song is about. The expressions and dance moves of the girls are most of what made this song impressive since they manage to express a song of broken love in a credible way.

Overall

The singles were amazing, since they manage to combine Morning Musume’s new mature sound and image into an upbeat ballad. The costumes reflect the feeling of the song really well since they have an almost playful joker look to them, and the white costumes are one of my favorites since they make the girls look elegant and almost like goddesses.

The PV has a mix of shots of the girls in an empty warehouse, which fits the slow theme of the song and the goth loli costumes. The mix of dark and light colors really impressed me, and hopefully the producer of the PV learned a few techniques to use in future PVs.

The songs are really impressive and even though I prefer happy upbeat songs I still think they should release songs similar to Nanchatte Renai once in a while since it has a perfect combination of “mature” and “young love” themes in it. If I had to choose which of Momusu’s songs I like most I would definitely have Nanchatte Renai in the top 10 because of the classical, but modern ballad feeling it has.

Hopefully Tsunku learned something from the singles and tries something similar, but he might want to stray a bit from the Shouganai Yume Oibito sound and try something different but with the same feeling. UFA did an incredible job on this single, and I strongly encourage them to try a song style similar to this one on another single.

One response

4 09 2010
Maya

You’re tottaly right with this :O Let me tell you, I find it really interesting when you review the dances. (shouganai yume oibito especialy) I think you describe them really well.

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