Review Monday: Juice=Juice “Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo”

Happy Review Monday! Today’s topic: the new Juice=Juice PV!

Juice=Juice – Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo

Song: This is the most old-school H!P song I’ve heard in a while. This instantly made me think of stuff like Kiiroi Osora de Boom Boom Boom and Gatamekira. As a fan of H!P’s old-school sound (especially of stuff like T&C Bomber/Taiyou to Ciscomoon), this is a great sound that I want more of in H!P. I’ve really enjoyed the releases from Juice=Juice (especially Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya and Romance no Tochuu) and Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo continues with that musical excellence. This does a great job of being consistent with previous releases (it sounds like a Juice=Juice song should sound like) while also being distinct. It’s catchy and fun.

As always, Juice=Juice has some of the best arrangement in H!P. The piano sections in particular stand out. Not quite as much as the saxophone in their first single, mind you, but I don’t think much will. The lovely piano bits are part of a really solid whole, however; the rest of the arrangement is really nice. Occasionally the background vocals sound a bit too loud, but that could be because I want to hear more of Juice=Juice. Tomoko and Sayubee in particular sound great, but the rest of the girls sound very good. So there’s really no need for overwhelming background vocals unlike, say, early Berryz Koubou. The arrangement strikes a good balance; the girls’ voices are rarely overwhelmed but it doesn’t sound empty like some Hello!Project songs are guilty of.

Aside from the mixing issue of making the background vocals a bit too loud (at least to my taste) this is a well-produced song that continues Juice=Juice’s excellent streak of singles.

PV: Dear Up-Front/Hello!Project,

You can continue putting Ishida Ayumi in everything. I wholeheartedly approve.

Signed, Serenyty

Seriously, though, even though pretty much everyone was skeptical about it, Ayumi fits in very well with Juice=Juice.

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The situation is still a bit awkward, and I imagine that there was extensive discussion on what to do with Karin’s foot injury. However, I think this ended up being a good choice (it’s hard to imagine only four people doing this dance) and Ayumi fits in really well visually and with her dance skills. My friend Dani pointed out that this is a good case for more shuffles, and I agree. The Satoyama/Satoumi units are fine, but I’d love proper summer shuffles again where all of H!P’s shuffled up.

That said, it is a bit strange seeing Karin in part of the PV and Ayumi in the other. It also doesn’t hurt that this isn’t a very interesting PV. There are two sets of close up shots, occasional group shots and the dance shot. It’s very basic and on a basic set.

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I like this a lot in theory. The dark background and the red floor is a cool idea. But the way it was executed makes it look kind of boring and empty. Like they just set up walls and a floor and were like “let’s call it a day!” (which, let’s be real, is probably what they did).

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These sets looked a lot cooler, IMO. Some mirrors, some beads on strings, and it already looks cooler. I like how they emphasized the members’ colors with the lighting but made it fairly subtle. Though every time they had Tomoko sing “I am rose-quartz” I swear she gives the camera this look like “yeah I know why they gave me this line.”

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Those sets are well-lit and nice. The rest of the PV’s lighting is not that great. One of the biggest complaints I’ve seen about this PV is that it’s dark looking. My response is that dark isn’t bad; it’s just the same old boring flat lighting that most H!P PVs are lit at. Look at that screencap up there with Tomoko; she has shadow to her face which adds dimension, and there’s a good contrast between her face and the background. It looks nice. Then let’s look at this screencap with Akari.

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See how little shadow there is on her face? There are tiny amounts of darkness, but for the most part this is completely flat lighting, which means that the light is diffused over the whole thing. Now for the most part you don’t want a ton of shadows unless you want a specific mood (like in The X-Files; some scenes are basically in the dark). However, some shadows add depth, character to a face. Akari’s face here looks like it’s not brightly lit AND it’s super flat, which just makes it look worse.

While a lot of the issues are with the actual lighting setup, they could have done more in the post-production. I took that same screenshot and did a little bit of editing in my freeware photo editor.

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I slightly upped the brightness and I raised the contrast. This looks a lot more dynamic than the flat image presented earlier. Of course, the editing on the video would have had to do just that; upping the contrast on a moving image. However, this took me about 10 seconds to do.

There are even scenes where it’s too bright. I know they wanted to do a lens flare type effect or SOMETHING, but seriously, what were they attempting with this?

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That said, not every shot has awful lighting, so points for that?

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I think this has a lot of potential. I really enjoy the song, the general aesthetic feel of the PV, and the costumes are nice. H!P just didn’t take the time to take this PV further, to make it better. Which is frustrating.

Overall: This is a really nice song, and a decent but extremely flawed PV.

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