Thursday, October 25, 2012

Who the Hell Is Kitagawa Kenji?

Kitagawa Kenji... how do I even begin to describe Kitagawa Kenji? Seriously, how? I've never met the guy nor do I know who he is. Well, I may not know but apparently he's so awesome that he gets an entire NMB48 single devoted to him! So hey, he's got to be a pretty cool dude, right?

Actually, I do know who Kitagawa Kenji is. He's a producer for AKS! More specifically, he produces the video visuals for AKS groups, along with a variety of other 48-related media events such as the third season of Majisuka Gakuen 3 and the AKB48 documentaries. So the real question is what the hell did he do to get a song written about him? Was Aki-P just sitting in his hot tub of money one day when he all the sudden hopped up and exclaimed, "You know who I need to write a song about? Kitagawa Kenji. If there's any person that needs a serenade by a bunch of idols, it's that guy!" And of course since a song about a specific person would deviate from the cliched formula of AKB48's single releases, he just decided to give the song to NMB48! Yeah, I'm sure that's exactly what happened! So NMB48 has been around for over a year now, and with the creation of Nogifail46, no longer are they the new AKS group on the block! Kitagawa Kenji will be the group's sixth single and probably their final single of 2012 I'd imagine. I have to admit, over 2011 and 2012, NMB48 has had some very hit-or-miss A-sides. Their debut single rocked but Oh My God! was disappointing. Then Junjou U-19 was good but Nagiichi was your run-of-the-mill bland summer single from AKS. Virginity was a pretty cool song, and lyrically the group's most risque song. But through these last five singles, I think a very clear style from NMB48 has emerged. You know how SKE48 has the image of being typically a very cute and adorable group, with bright, youthful songs and childishly charming PVs? Well, I think NMB48 is sort of going the opposite direction. To me, they seem like the more mature group that gets the sexier costumes and more mature songs and PVs. Like SKE48 though, I think every now and then they'll deviate from this style, as seen with Oh My God! A real surprise song for NMB48 would be a really fun and girly song that sounds like something you'd hear from SKE48! You know, a really idol-y song, with cliche lyrics and a really cliche sound you can find in a lot of idol pop songs! Wouldn't that just take everyone by surprise? Now how does Kitagawa Kenji sound?

Oh yeah. Kitagawa Kenji is a fluffy idol pop song.

I don't want to say I was surprised by the sound of Kitagawa Kenji but- okay, I'll admit it! I was surprised. But only because NMB48 had been riding on the style I mentioned in the last paragraph. Kitagawa Kenji was quite the 180 from their last song, especially. Did Aki-P switch up his songs and accidentally give Kitagawa Kenji to NMB48 instead of SKE48 and Kataomoi Finally to SKE48 instead of NMB48? Even if this is a rather new style of an NMB48 A-side, that doesn't necessarily mean that's a bad thing! I think it's good for an idol group to have versatile music and the willingness to try out other styles of pop music. After all, just doing one style of pop music for every single you have gets really stagnant and dull after awhile, with a few exceptions. The real question with Kitagawa Kenji is whether the song is good or not. And as I have stated numerous times in my AKB48 reviews (or rants) this year that I have a deep, burning hatred for bland songs. And I'm referring to the AKB archetype of blandness; other groups have other types of "bland" songs that I could spend a whole different post delving into. Think every Janken song that AKB48 has ever released, including their upcoming Janken song that we haven't even heard yet! Okay, I'm digressing from the song at hand. Kitagawa Kenji is a song that comes very, very close to sounding like a bland song. Like it's right at the border between adorably tolerable and intolerably bland. I think what keeps Kitagawa Kenji from sounding like an absolutely forgettable song is that unlike a lot of Aki-P's bland songs he's written, this one has a little more energy. This is mainly thanks to the girls of NMB48 who do actually sound very perky and cheerful in this song. They don't sound forced or uninterested when they sing. Does that make Kitagawa Kenji an amazing song? Not really. It's an okay song, but I've heard better happy songs from SKE48. I can appreciate that NMB48 tried a new style and the concept of serenading someone in AKS is really cool, but I think I'll just wait and see what their next single sounds like.

But for now, I definitely want to see what the PV for Kitagawa Kenji looks like! Does it feature the mysterious Kitagawa Kenji? Is it just as sweet-sounding as the song? Going off the covers for this single, it probably is but let's take a look and see!

Ew, math. Well. This PV's off to a bad start!

But Sayanee looks snazzy in glasses!

X = fish? That sounds right, I'll write that!

Is that Kitagawa Kenji?

I can concur with Nana that not only is math soul-crushingly hard, it can also be boring!

I spy with my idol eye... math problems! Ew!

Egads, Milky is living any high school student's nightmare!

Uh... Milky? Earth to Milky???

Of course! X = AC = Kitagawa Kenji! That's how math works, right?

Oh look, this PV's turning into a cartoon! Sweet!

It's doing more than that it's transporting everyone into a world of... frilly bright things.

Oh god... so much pink... so much pastel... I feel like I'm back in 7th grade cotillion.

I mean, these costumes are so sugary sweet I'm probably going to get a cavity just watching this PV.

Oh my god, it's a tree! We created life! LIFE!!!

It's not an idol PV until someone balances a pencil on their lips!

Wow, that's a pretty cool stunt. NMB48 seems to like their stunt dances, don't they?

And I admit, the desk dancing is pretty neat too.

Our love is blocked by a beam! Now we can never be together!

When I count to three, you will fall into a deep sleep...

Everyone's having such a gosh-darn good time in this PV! I wish my school was like this!

Although I could do without the overly girlish costumes.

That is a really big mop they're standing on...

Since I can't date a real boy, this mop is now my boyfriend.

Oh god! The real world has melded with the sugary world! They crossed the streams, didn't they.

Or did they?

Strike a pose! (not the Vogue kind)

All the oversize furniture gives a very childlike/doll-like atmosphere to this PV.

I don't know how Kitagawa Kenji feels about this, but I think being serenaded by a group of idol would be both awkward and cool at the same time!

But glitter's always a plus in my book!

And so with his students being turned into idols, Kitagawa Kenji quit his teaching job to become an idol producer!

Well, the only thing I have to say about this PV is that Kitagawa Kenji isn't a half-bad looking guy! Like seriously, I always pictured AKS producers to be middle-aged and kind of pudgy and stuff, but this guy looks nice! How old is he, like late 20s? Early 30s? I'll look him up later. Nonetheless, an attractive-looking man isn't enough to distract me from the matter at hand! Nor will it impediment my overall judgement regarding how good of a PV Kitagawa Kenji is! Speaking of which, is this a good PV in my eyes? Well... it has a very distinct, er, style. I might as well get it out of the way: I don't like the outfits for this PV at all. Not the school uniforms, those are fine, you know which outfits I'm talking about. Those frilly, pastel, overly decorated costumes that look like something out of a Candyland game. It's like a little kid grabbed a bunch of candy and decided to make a dress out of it. Of course, I do need to acknowledge that this little gripe is a matter of my own tastes. For some people, I'm sure these costumes look perfectly fine and are the right level of adorable. Sure, I think they're so sweet looking they can give you diabetes, but some people might be totally into this look. I am not. I have nothing against cute things; in fact, I own a lot of cute things. But there's a point where I have my limit on just how cute something is. And these outfits ran a marathon past this limit. Matching the level of cuteness of the outfits is the overall setting of the "alternate" classroom of the PV for Kitagawa Kenji. It's cute. Really super cute. Like I think this set is cuter than any of the SKE48 A-sides I've seen. Hell, this set is reaching Mini Moni levels of cuteness (but not Mini Moni levels of sheer insanity). And the set is naturally filled with all kind of cute things like a cute chalkboard, cute oversize furniture, cute... evergreen trees. All right, yeah I don't really get what that's supposed to be, but the point is it's still cute! I almost want to use the word "kawaii" to describe the PV for Kitagawa Kenji, because really I think that's the only word that really truly describes just what levels of cuteness this PV reaches.

However, even though I've expressed disdain for overtly cute PVs, I actually do like the PV for Kitagawa Kenji. Why? Because it balances the cuteness. The school scenes showing the girls either bored or confused at math is both entertaining and relatable. And I think it was really cool that they got the actual Kitagawa Kenji guy to appear in this PV. It makes for a very amusing PV. My favorite parts are when he's trying to teach and every time he turns around, the girls have switched into their cuter, happier costumes and personas. Then he looks back at them and woosh! They're back to their normal, uniform glad selves. There were a lot of amusing little moments like that in this PV, like when steam blew out of Milky's ears during the opening bit or the final scene of the PV where glitter started raining down on Kitagawa Kenji. It added a layer of charm to the PV, and didn't just make it one long stream of annoyingly adorable shots. Speaking of those, I'd like to think of the cute scenes as the universally imagined world that everyone in the classroom daydreamed themselves into to get away from the painfulness that is math class. I also like that Yokoyama Yui was in this PV! I don't know if she's going to stay in NMB48 or not, but if she is, I'd be perfectly okay with that! She gets a lot more attention in NMB48's Senbatsu than AKB48's Senbatsu. Objectively speaking anyways; it's still great Yuihan's a Senbatsu regular but she's not as heavily featured as Oshima Yuko or Watanabe Mayu. But in the PV for Kitagawa Kenji, she's right up next to Sayanee and Milky! And what I also liked about this PV was that the girls all look like they're having a lot of fun, especially during the dance. It's a fun, bouncy dance with a few nice stunts here and there that seem to have become a staple in NMB48's dances. Overall, Kitagawa Kenji is a PV that has a lot of character and charm. That's what ultimately keeps the cutesy-ness from being too saccharine. Sure, it's not the best -48 PV I've seen this year, but it was still entertaining and creative enough! So yeah, I have to give NMB48 props for pulling off such a cute PV pretty well!

I'll give Kitagawa Kenji (the song and PV, not the guy!) 3.5 out of 5 apples. It's not my favorite song NMB48 has released later, but I don't think it was necessarily a bad song either. It was kind of fun, even if it was about as idol-y as you get. The PV, while a little too girlishly frilly for my tastes, still had some pretty fun concepts, and I liked the inclusion of Kitagawa Kenji himself in the PV as a math teacher.

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