Review Monday: Rev. from DVL – Love Arigatou

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been a fan of Rev.from DVL for a while. As such, I’m really excited about their major debut single. In this single, they do songs they have been doing for a while. Do these live up to the hype?

Love Arigatou

Song: This has been Rev.from DVL’s big song for a long time. And honestly, even though the new arrangement is cleaning it up a bit and making it better for an idol fan audience, I prefer the original Rev version. The thing is, this song is a cover of a song that isn’t that much of an idol song. It’s upbeat and happy, but the phrasing doesn’t always sound like a typical idol song. The song involves a lot of sped through lines and has to be sung with a level of jazziness, especially in the section before the third chorus. This new version, while keeping the melody, feels a lot more like a typical idol song than I would have liked. The arrangement is a bit too cutesy for the song, as well. If you read this blog you know that I do not have an aversion to cute idol music, but it feels overdone here.

That said, at its core it’s still Love Arigatou, and Love Arigatou is a favorite idol song of mine. It’s not always a typical song, it has a good melody, and it’s generally well composed. It is the type of song that almost always suits my mood; it has an idol feel to it, but is easy to differentiate from the rest of the idol crowd of music. It’s pretty easy to tell that it’s a cover of a song from a non-idol artist, and I suppose that’s why I like it. It manages to be cute and fun with not sounding completely derivative.

PV: One of the chief complaints I’ve seen about this PV is that it focuses on Kanna too much. Which is understandable, because Kanna is there. A lot. But really, as a Rev fan, it was more exciting just seeing the girls I know and love. Really, it could be worse, is all I’m saying. Every time the focus is on Kanna too long I get distracted by a closeup of other girls I like more. The balance is skewed in Kanna’s favor, by a long shot, but other girls get some spotlight.

lovearigatou2And by spotlight I mean the lighting of this PV, which is way too heavy on the light. It’s almost distracting, how bright everything is. I feel like this should be directed by J.J. Abrams.

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The above image was slightly edited by me. Only slightly. Still, I know what they’re trying to do; they’re trying to make it seem heavenly, that Kanna was sent from heaven to give us handshakes or something. Many PVs try to go heavy on the lighting, washing out the girls, to the point where the lighting is overexaggerated or just boring flat lighting. The rest of the PV is lit fairly competently; the dance shot is a pretty standard flat lighting, and some scenes seem like they’re lit fine but just have unfortunate brightness added in in post.

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Other than the lighting, the PV is fairly basic. It’s a collection of closeups and dance shots, mostly, except for a couple of shots of them meandering through a forest or some trees. It’s the tried and true Hello!Project method of PV creation; it’s not creative, but serviceable. Other than the lighting the elements are all fine; the set looks nice, the scenes are shot well, and the editing, while focusing in on Kanna, works. I’m glad they chose to eschew green screen (the filters make it look fake, but I’m fairly certain they’re actually outside for the outside scenes); it may be simple, but there’s no laughably bad CGI.

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As for the PV introducing the group, it introduces Kanna pretty well. If you’re watching it for Kanna, you will be pleased. If you’re watching for another girl, you will probably see her, but you may have to look out for her. That said, this PV is personally what got me interested in Hashimoto Yukina as an idol, because you can see her at specific instances in the PV.

All in all, aside from some shoddy lighting work, Love Arigatou is a serviceable PV and introduction to Rev. It’s not Rev at its best, but for a major debut it could certainly be worse.

Ai ni Kinshai

Song: Criticizing Love Arigatou, I found that while I love the original song the new arrangement didn’t live up to my hype. However, I have the opposite problem with Ai ni Kinshai. I liked the original song, but it didn’t live up to other Rev songs. However, the new arrangement elevates the original to new heights. The whole song has a lot of energy with a fast paced beat behind it. The vocal mixing has been improved, as well; there’s something with how the vocals sound in the chorus that gives the song a lot more emphasis.

This song is, frankly, a lot more fun. Love Arigatou feels like it takes itself seriously; Ai ni Kinshai is a goofy song that invites people to Fukuoka. The pacing of the song is pretty perfect, and its arrangement doesn’t get bogged down with a slow section like Love Arigatou kind of did.

This song isn’t that unusual of a song, but it’s fast-paced and fun, and a great start for this group.

PV

Even though Love Arigatou is the top billed song on this single, I would rather new fans see the PV of Ai ni Kinshai first. It feels like a much better representation of Rev.

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While Kanna is still the focus, the other girls get a lot of screentime, relatively. There are long, extended sequences where you don’t see any Kanna at all. I like Kanna, but this PV is a lot better for getting to know the other Rev girls. They’re all having a blast with this PV, and it’s fun to see.

kinshai2The lighting and production is a lot better here; everything looks natural. There are still some overlit moments (on the bus, for example), but they’re few and far between. Honestly, this PV seems better produced. There’s a lot more interesting things going on, the lighting’s better, the editing is just as good. It feels like this should be the primary PV for the single.

kinshai3The PV features a lot of different locations and scenes; much more than even big, mainstream groups get. This makes the PV rich and exciting.

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The PV focuses a lot on Fukuoka; understandably, given that that’s the subject of the song. Still, I’m glad they actually got to go places, as well as using some limited green screen technology. It’s a solid advertisement for the city as well as being a great PV.

Ai ni Kinshai might not have much of a storyline (Kanna running late?) but it does a great job of showing off the members individually and a group. The wide variety of scenes make this a really fun one to watch!

 

Idol Thoughts: Rev. From DVL

One of the things I’ve come across lately is discussion about Rev.from DVL that focuses on Kanna. Which is totally fair. I mean, look at this face. One in a thousand year idol indeed.

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But seriously, I understand why this group is being regarded as being overhyped, or, when people review the group, they are just reviewing Kanna. She is really big on her own. However, as the resident Rev.from DVL fan (at least, from what I know of the international idol communitY), I would like to give my case for the group and why I think they’re more than a flash in the pan group.

Before 2ch and Kanna

One of the things that I found out just as I was writing this post is that Rev.from DVL has been around much longer than you guys probably think. The group was originally just named ‘DVL’ and was formed in 2003. Yes, not 2013, 2003. There is one member left from that original lineup, and that’s Rev’s former leader and one of my favorite members, Washio Miki.

But most of the current members have still been around for a long time. There are thirteen members in the group, and nine of them joined before 2011, which is when the group became Rev. from DVL. But still, the fact that this has been an active group for so long is fairly remarkable, and has allowed all the girls to hone their skills (mostly in dancing).

The songs featured on Rev’s recent major debut single, Love Arigatou, are all songs that have been done by Rev for some time. Before this single, Rev actually put out two local only singles, Love Arigatou and Ai ni Kinshai. Love Arigatou in particular was the big signature song for Rev. from DVL, at least since the name change, so it’s notable that they kept this song (even though there is a change in arrangement).


But even though the group has been around for a long time, most of what they did was perform locally, doing lives on the street and doing things for local events. They were supported by their agency, Active Hakata, but they were very indie. In fact, much of their success is traced to self-promotion. I found the group through Miki, because she followed me spontaneously on twitter. While the group has been around for quite some time, the individual members are very active on social media, through blogging and twitter (each member has both a blog and twitter).

In fact, one of the prevailing theories about how Rev blew up online was that the original poster of Kanna was someone from the agency or someone related to the group itself. This is just a wild guess, but it’s an interesting one at that.

Kanna and Rev’s present

Just a recap: Rev from DVL hit the national idol scene when someone posted pictures of Kanna on popular site 2ch. Since then these pictures spread like wildfire and Kanna has gotten a lot of attention, through the news, CM deals, and so forth.

One of the things that I’ve seen people wonder is how the other members view Kanna, since she’s getting all this attention. Which is a fair question. However, I don’t think there’s a lot of animosity. First, Kanna was always the most popular member of the group. She was certainly not known to the degree she’s known now, but Kanna got a lot of attention before hand.

Rev from DVL made an appearance on Hey!Hey!Hey!, and they actually asked something along those lines. The answer the members gave, which is what I was thinking, is that because Kanna blew up, the group was able to get a lot further. They could have a major debut single with a sizable budget and they could perform on national TV. I’d imagine there is some level of jealousy, but I think, almost more than anything else, there’s a feeling of gratitude for Kanna. She became popular, but she chose to stick in Rev from DVL instead of going to another group or even going solo.

In fact, I’m pretty pleased with how much other members are being focused on. Hey!Hey!Hey! specifically allowed for other members to get some focus. This Music Dragon performance gives a lot of close ups to other members. There is a lot of focus on Kanna in the PVs and on these programs, but they make it clear that Kanna isn’t the only member, which is gratifying.

Rev’s Future

So now that Rev from DVL has made their major debut, what’s the future for them? Well, Love Arigatou just came out, so it’s hard to tell. However, they did just receive #3 on the daily Oricon charts, selling 6625 copies. Which isn’t terrible, for an indie group’s major debut with two main versions. There are a few more web versions sold via Chara-ani, so it’ll be interesting to see where the group ends up. I imagine that the total final sales will end up at around 10000, which is a very respectable debut.

Beyond that, while I don’t know if Rev has ability to be the next big group on the level of AKB or MomoClo, but I don’t think that they’re going to go away any time soon. The group has been around for over 10 years; they deserve a bit of time in the spotlight.

My Thoughts

Honestly, it’s hard to describe why I love this group so much. Since the group has been getting a lot of hype, it’s hard to justify it. However, here’s my basic thoughts.

When I found the group, they were very indie. But, for an indie group, they had a very strong performance level. Love Arigatou was a really catchy song to hear from such a tiny group, and I was really impressed by the group’s dancing and singing skills.

This is the first performance I really watched, and I was immediately impressed by the level of performance of this group, and the subsequent performances I’ve seen. The biggest thing that draws me to an idol is a genuine love and excitement for performing, and I got that from all the members of Rev from DVL. They’re all just really excited to be idols, which is what made me happy as a fan. If you pay attention to all the mmebers, you’ll see a lot of enthusiasm,

Yukki

Since their major debut, I’ve continued to be impressed by them. While I prefer the original arrangement of Love Arigatou (I plan on reviewing the two PVs for this single on Monday…), all the things I was impressed by have only magnified. I really enjoyed their appearance on Hey!Hey!Hey! and I hope they get more variety exposure, because that could be a big strength for this group, as shown by that appearance.

While Rev from DVL might seem like a flash in the pan, I see a group that has been around for a long time and is finally achieving success after ten years of growth. I honestly can’t wait to see more from them.

If you are interested in any particular member or aspect of the group, their website (rev.jp.net) has a solid site. Otherwise, feel free to ask me any questions because I love this group!

What Makes an Indie Idol Indie?

Recently, Ray of Idolminded and now Pure Idol Heart posted THIS on Pure Idol Heart. As a fan of Pure Idol Heart in general (having named it my blog of the year at Idolminded) and as a fan of Ray’s writing (at Intl Wota and now Idolminded) I was really interested to hear what he had to say.

A big part of this is because indie idols are near and dear to my heart. While I got into idols (like many people) with Hello!Project, and I have favorite idols in the current Hello!Project (Ishida Ayumi, Tamura Meimi) and in the 48 groups (Watanabe Miyuki, Oota Aika, Natori Wakana) as well as in Momoiro Clover Z (Sasaki Ayaka), if I had to name my favorite idol groups, or the groups I support the most it would be:

Team Syachihoko  (Major)

rev.from DVL (indie)

Rhymeberry (Indie)

Dempagumi.inc (Major)

BABYMETAL (major)

and MMJ (indie)

Notice that next to each group I put their status and they’re fairly evenly split. Rhymeberry, rev.from DVL and MMJ are all technically indie and Babymetal, dempagumi.inc and Team Syachihoko are technically on major labels. However, for me it’s almost hard to differentiate. To me, all of these groups have an independent feel to them, regardless of their actual status as being major or independent. Both Babymetal and Rhymeberry are really interesting in regards to genre-bending. Team Syachihoko still performs primarily locally in Nagoya, and are really local idols like MMJ (Hiroshima) and rev.from DVL (Fukuoka). My most recent favorite, dempagumi.inc, is technically a local group (for Akihabara), and, in my opinion, have done their most interesting stuff recently, after a roster change and spending some time on a major label (including their genre-bending cover of the Beastie Boys classic ‘Sabotage’)

All these groups have a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy, and a lot of excitement, moreso than some of the major acts I’ve encountered. In my head I refer to all of them as indie idols, even though that’s not exactly the case. As Ray mentioned, things aren’t necessarily very cut and dry.

To me, this reminds me a lot about independent films, specifically the current Independent Spirit Awards. As you might imagine, the Independent Spirit Awards is an award that is given out to independent filmmakers. This is something I really appreciate, given the power that the major film studios have. However, last year Silver Linings Playbook got four awards including best film, best leading actress, best director and best screenplay. Now, let me just say that I absolutely adored Silver Linings Playbook; it ended up as one of my favorite films of the year (though Moonrise Kingdom ended up being what I considered to be the best of 2012). However, I would be hard pressed to call it an independent film. It had a budget of over 20 million dollars (which to many films is a very small budget) and was partially produced by and distributed by the Weinstein Company, a major force in awards season films, especially. They distributed The King’s Speech and The Artist, both which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Again, I liked both of these films as well, but it’s hard to define these as independent films. Likewise, there are many films that come out from major studios that are almost designed to have an indie feel and appeal to the audience that likes that sort of thing. Indie, rather than a category for finances, has become almost an aesthetic and stylistic choice more than anything.

I also found what Ray said about pushing boundaries quite interesting. Because out of the six groups I named, the “safest” or most traditional (I’d argue) are MMJ and rev.from DVL, the two indie acts, whereas the major label acts are pretty eccentric. Innovation is happening both in the indies and in the now majors, so it’s exciting stuff.

I don’t know if I have much more to add other than agreement; it’s a tough and somewhat nebulous distinction to make, even if it initially seems cut and dry.