Form Like Voltron Or A Boring Mess? Wotasphere Weighs In On Mobekimasu and Berikyuu

End-Game Strategies Ritualized as Cultural Display: A Comparative Perspective – J. Popping
Clearly Tsunku Doesn’t Read Happy Disco – Happy Disco
BeriKyuu Graduate – Amazuppai Haru ni Sakurasaku – Okay! Musume Time
Berryz Koubou×C-ute’s “Amazuppai Haru ni Sakurasaku” PV – Selective Hearing

H!P All Stars Revamped? – Not Another K-Blog!!!
Morning Musume’s Noticeable Change – Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku PV Review – Okay! Musume Time
Mobekimasu show off the H!P philosophy – Janakya Mottainai
Mobekimasu- “Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku” Full PV Released – Hello! SayuNii
Mobekimasu – Bikkuri Project
Mobekimasu – Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku PV – Selective Hearing
‘Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku’: Bait & Switch – New School Kaidan

While this weekend has been busy with news of line-up announcements for both AKB48 and Hello! Project, a good portion of the wotasphere has been weighing in slowly about the combined-unit projects of Hello! Project, namely Berikyuu’s “Amazuppai Haru ni Sakurasaku” and Mobekimasu’s “Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku”, who released their full PVs. There were comparisons that had to be addressed, as well as a good deal of though of how these videos – especially Mobekimasu’s – signalled a new direction for Hello! Project as a whole.

First up is the Berikyuu coverage, with its video depicting a color-coded graduation for the girls of Berryz and C-ute.

Sophie of J. Popping looks at the marketing possibilities created by both groups, before focusing on Berikyuu and how the PV’s depiction of graduation doesn’t strike her as being at all believable because the girls simply look too old. She then goes on to mention a Japanese friend who finds that the too-old aspect may actually ring with its own emotional truth about that time of life…

Serenyty of Happy Disco focuses less on the believability of the PV than on its marketability. Specifically, she singles out how the graduation narrative is associated with the springtime and this video is coming out in the autumn. She ties this back to things she had written previously about how AKB have always been smart enough to tie their singles appropriately to the season it’s released and how that may help bring in a more casual audience.

Chiima of Okay! Musume Time has to deal with one of her favorite groups collaborating with one of her least favorite groups, and can’t shake that this song is being used for a horror movie. Alas, it does not deliver on any horror tropes – unless Momoko in pigtails gives you an Orphan vibe, I guess – but finds herself disappointed in the song as well as the video, which she feels does a disservice in how unattractive it makes several girls appear.

At Selective Hearing, Paul starts out by saying he likes the song and doesn’t particularly like the PV, but as he goes along further finds aspects of it he does enjoy – especially Momoko. By the end, he still doesn’t think enough goes on in the video, but his assessment seems to have improved considerably.

Switching gears to Mobekimasu, the issue that the wotasphere seems to come to grips with most is its relationship to Hello! Project All-Stars, which was the last time that a single was released featuring the entirey of H!P.

kjpop of Not Another Kpop Blog!!! is one of several who thinks the song sounds like it would’ve worked as a Berryz single, and finds a mix of the familiar and new in the video. She questions those who compare the project unfavorably to AKB48 or the H!P All-Stars, declaring Mobekimasu an entirely different entity. Which is technically correct, I guess, but the premise REALLY can’t help leading to the All-Stars comparison, for better or worse.

Chiima of Okay! Musume Time finds that the song and video both do a pretty solid job of capturing the spirit of Hello! Project with its frenetic energy and unbridled happiness, making her look forward even more to what Morning Musume’s tenth gen will bring to the game. Her approach to the H!P All-Stars comparisons is that this is the next step forward in the H!P narrative, that fans can note how much has changed from then to now, but that this song ultimately reflects how H!P stands in the present day without the need for nostalgia, that it is a testament to the current group’s strength.

AimxAim of Janakya Mottainai takes a rather different tack which fascinated me to no end: she argues that the Mobekimasu PV is actually the same as the H!P All-Stars PV – at least having many of the same elements, deployed in very much the same manner. I thought it was pretty ballsy of kjpop and Chiima to jettison the nostalgic link with H!P All-Stars, but I’d say that this is even ballsier – and she even takes down the production values of the H!P All-Stars PV a peg or two! (Which she’s correct about, by the way. It’s a fucking cheap video, fueled solely by personalities – but that’s the genius of it, really.) She then goes through the similarities and makes a very compelling case of just how similar they are. It made rewatching the Mobekimasu video a bit more of an eye-opening experience, if only to confirm how the matches play out.

ladylibra92 of Hello! SayuNii goes over the specific kinds of shots used for the video, as well as the line distribution – which as many point out is pretty imbalanced, but which everyone so far agrees is just a case of H!P following its Standard Operating Protocol.

Speaking of which, Bikkuri Project’s Celestia does what she does best, debunking those who whine and complain about that unfair distribution of lines and video screentime, especially the Riho-centrism that struck several bloggers as they watched. It’s become familiar and even comforting, Celestia setting people straight on just how Hello! Project and the idol industry in general works – though I should point out that none of the bloggers listed here have whined in such a manner, if only because we’ve all been to this rodeo too many times and already made our peace with what’s what. Celestia then adds on a broader note about, um, generational entitlement and what may be called the Mister Rogers Syndrome. I agree with her completely on this count, but it does open a whole different can of worms for debate if I go beyond that right now.

Greg of Selective Hearing goes over the general aspects of the video and considers how it would elicit different reactions depending on when you first got into Hello! Project (i.e., before or after All-Stars). He expresses special admiration for the dresses – which seem to have been received pretty favorably overall – as well as the fluidity of the choreography.

Last but by no means least, Dae Lee of New School Kaidan bemoans the way Hello! Project has a way of starting out with something unusual and promising at the beginning, only to go on and deliver the staid old formula people come to expect from them. He applies this to both the Mobekimasu song and video, finding it to be a lost opportunity overall.

While it’s been generally accepted that the reactions to Mobekimasu would depend largely on where you fall on the generational divide of fandoms, it’s worth noting that such a divide DOES exist and is substantial. By this, I don’t mean that we should emphasize the differences of opinion in a negative way but carefully consider the fact that there is now a substantial portion of Hello! Project fandom who came into it through the H!P Kids units – Berryz, C-ute, Buono! – and who have a very different perspective of Morning Musume, coming in right before or during the Stable Eight period.

It would be fascinating to see just how deep the differences lie in terms of what is considered important in H!P historically as well as today, how the membership is perceived – for example, to me Berryz and C-ute still have that sense of a “junior” unit to this day, even though they are on average older than Morning Musume. (Which, in itself, is enough to make a fan’s head explode in wonder and delight.) I would also think that the canon of great songs would also be different along the divide – “Love Machine” probably doesn’t hold up as well for those who haven’t been in as much contact with the Golden Age membership.

And it IS a testament to how much H!P has changed and evolved over the years that these relatively newer fans can see Mobekimasu in such an empowering light for the collective. That said, the changes in the past year – two new gens of Morning Musume, one new gen of S/mileage, several key departures – does make the sense of a new era indisputable and certainly quite welcome. All the turmoil from the end of 2010 to now seems to have paid off with the promise of an exciting 2012, and Mobekimasu is a good way to get that ball rolling. Whether or not H!P will actually deliver the goods and all the excitement it promises? Well, that remains to be seen, of course.