All right, I've seen the PV, heard the song, sharpened my kitty claws and I am ready to rip into the full extent of how much I hate AKB48's annual Janken single... or do I?
Now I just wanted to say that before this song was even announced, I was already preparing myself to dislike it. I'd been way to generous with my expectations for last year's Janken single and this year I was determined not to have my hopes sadistically drowned in the swimming pool of Aki-P's money. I'm also a superstitious person (despite trying hard not to be) and I believe in rule of three. In case you're not familiar with that rule, it's essentially the belief that things happen in threes, both good and bad. In the past, AKB48 had two Janken singles that I loathed for being bland and this year they had two regular singles I also thought were rather bland. If Eien Pressure was everything I expected it to be, then it would complete not just one but two threes. I was ready. Now you might be thinking I was jumping to conclusions and preparing myself to hate the Janken song regardless of its actual quality when it did come out. Well... despite all my rationality and building myself up to dislike this song, a teeny, tiny part of me hoped. Oh my god, I hoped I was wrong. I wanted the Janken single to be good; any artist I follow I want good songs for them! For once I wanted to be proved wrong and blown out of the water because hey, the Janken single was actually good for once! I knew my hopes were most likely in vein but agh, that didn't stop me from believing! Then the title of the single itself came out and I casually thought to myself, "Eien Pressure? Meh, maybe it could be kinda awesome because that title does sound slightly cool but no way am I gonna get my hopes up!" Yeah, that resolution went right out the window no matter how hard I tried not to get excited about how this song would sound. I was hoping for a sound similar to Renai Higai Todoke but in the end I was hoping for anything different from an insufferably bland song that would basically be Ue Kara Mariko -2012 Edition-.
Well... in the end, when we finally did hear Eien Pressure, it was just as horribly bland as I predicted it would be. I'm not exaggerating either. This is literally everything I expected the Janken song to be. Only difference from Ue Kara Mariko is this year, I get to actually tear this one apart!
Right from the beginning, the song is weak. Look, when you open a song, what you want to do is pull your audience in so that their interest is peaked and they're compelled to listen to the rest of the song in question. Like Niigaki Risa's sweet cooing in the beginning of Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~ transitioning into an awesomely over-the-top retro style orchestral fantasia! Or the hauntingly ethereal humming being the opening intro to Perfume's poetically upbeat yet melancholic song about dystopia known as Electro World! And how can you forget the energetic shouting of "1! 2! 3! 4!" from Oshima Yuko followed by an equally energetic guitar and chorus to open up Heavy Rotation? Yeah, you aren't going to find any of that in Eien Pressure. This song opens up with a Paruru solo and... here's a little secret guys: I don't think Paruru got into AKB48 for her angelic and mind-blowingly powerful voice rivaling the likes of Mizuki Nana. I mean wow, it's one thing to sound weak live but on the recording of the song? Now that takes effort! Or lack of effort considering Paruru sounds bored out of her mind in her opening solo. I mean seriously, of all the people in AKB48 to get solos in songs, Paruru has got to be one of the worst choices. She sounds completely and totally un-energetic. However, I think a problem I've always had with Janken singles is that no one sounds energetic; all the notes are sung in that some idol monotone that I can't really describe in words. Just believe me when I say it annoys the hell out of me. I always say that even the worst songs can a little bit of favor from me if they have some energy in them and since Eien Pressure has as much energy as a snail crossing the street does, my opinion of the song is low.
Of course, the lack of energy isn't the only thing I dislike about this song! Oh no, nononono, I'd give this song a lukewarm review if that was the case. The biggest problem I have with Eien Pressure is it's blander than the expired vanilla ice cream languishing in my freezer. But honestly, if you read this blog, does that sound so surprising coming from me? Something I always tend to say is... I'm not fond of that "bland song" stereotype that AKB48 always seems to switch to when Aki-P can't think of any other creative or interesting songs. These bland songs often present little to nothing new in terms of music, are incredibly sugary sweet but not so sugary sweet that they sound interesting, and the worst part is they're really, really catchy. It's not just that they're bland; they stick in my head for days so that I can't even forget how bland they are. And usually it's not even the whole song, just parts of it that are on repeat for what seems like an endlessly annoying amount of time. Well, I suppose I should be grateful that I the chorus of Eien Pressure is stuck in my head; for Ue Kara Mariko all I could remember was "UE KARA~ MARIKO!" Seriously, that one line played over and over in my head for days last year. Eugh, I shudder just thinking about it! Another big problem that always seems to be the case with Janken singles it that no one sounds really into the song... It's hard to explain but it just sounds like everyone was half awake when they recorded this song, no energy to speak of! At least Gingham Check had a slightly larger amount of energy. That's right: I just said prefer Gingham Check, the song I ranted about on several different occasions, over Eien Pressure. At least that had Jurina and Mayuyu and my beloved Miichan in it!
So I think the big question is... what kind of PV could they possibly come up with for such a forgetful song? Would it be just as bland? Or dare they put... effort into this one!? Let's find out!
Cute little title drop. Makes me think of a silent movie!
Paruru, I know you're trying but you just can't sing.
Oh hai, Ue Kara Mariko outfits! Fancy seeing you shamefully ripped off for next year's Janken single!
The close-ups are even identical!
Oh hey, it's Yui, that other member of AKB48 who was posed to be the next center... I guess that didn't work out.
Mariko! Thank god you're here! Save this PV with your Mariko-ness!
Pretty painting! Now what does it have to do with the PV?
Ugh, random kanji I will never understand.
Okay, this scene is weird enough but Mariko in a sari just makes it weirder...
Off Paruru goes to steal the center spot from Yuko!
Okay... I'm not sure why there's a random 80s transition effect. I'm not sure if it was meant to look endearingly cheap or just cheap either.
I know! You girls look so indecent! Cover yourselves up and put on some pants!
Just cal Paruru Little... Black Riding Hood! Now who's playing the Big Bad Wolf?
I swear I thought this girl was Takamina when I first saw her!
Wow, Paruru. You look really concerned and nervous about your journey into the mysterious jungle. You should get an Oscar for this performance.
Funny. Paruru strikes me more as the type to daydream about world domination...
Oh hey, you're adorable! You should have been center!
But you're also an evil witch!? Nooooooo!
Ha, it's funny because I can't even PLAY the guitar!
So Witchy has a crystal ball of horrible visual effects!
And now she flipped the direction arrow using the bad effects!? What a devious witch!
Hahaha, now I shall be the new supreme ruler of AKB48!
Oh no, she's being attacked by crappy visual effects! Save her, Mariko!!!
UMECHAN!! Yay, I finally got see Umechan in this PV!
I feel your pain, Paruru, but could someone please tell me what the fuck that thing in the background is.
No! Don't walk away from it! I need answers! ANSWERS!
See what happens when you don't acknowledge strange creatures, Paruru? You fall down a cliff!
Ouch. Well... I'm sure you can still continue your journey despite the many bones you must broken during that fall!
Don't worry, Mariko the Good Witch will save you from your embarrassing failure!
BWAH!!! EVIL WITCH! Now you're using crappy effects on Mariko? Hell no!
You're not gonna fall for this, right Paruru?
Of course not because scissors... beat... PAPER!!!
Take THAT, Witchy!
Whoa, glowing hand-scissors that brutally murder evil witches? That's hardcore O_o
Just throwing in a random Umechan shot because Umechan is awesome.
You know, I get the feeling that Paruru doesn't really give a shit about this long and perilous journey...
Dammit, she actually made it back!? Now I can't be center!
Eheheh, she does realize we weren't serious when we told her "If you go into the forest, we'll buy you a chocolate bar!" right?
What!? No chocolate!? Oh, I will MURDER you people in your sleep.
Tee hee hee, just kidding... look how sweet and demure I am! I couldn't hurt a fly!
Effort! Honest to god effort! Can it be!? Am I not just hallucinating!? All right, maybe it's because my standards have been fantastically lowered when approaching the Janken single but I can't believe they actually tried to make this more than just a cliche music video with a rock-paper-scissors subplot clumsily incorporated into it! I was most definitely surprised that there was a remotely interesting storyline in the PV that actually managed to put the rock-paper-scissors game to clever use! The thing is I never really feel like anything is at stake in this PV. I don't know why the hell Paruru has to go into the forest anyways or why I should care. Is she going to turn into a tree if she doesn't? Is she rescuing Acchan? Hello? Director? Wanna send me the answers via email? Because I have virtually no idea what is happening or why anything is happening, it's a little hard to get really excited or shocked when watching it. I've got that the basic storyline is Paruru has to go through the Enchanted Forest and battle this witch to get to her friends... the same friends that she left before going into the forest. So what, is she going in circles? Okay, maybe she was getting flowers for one of the girls who was sick or cursed by the witch! So... why didn't they all go then? Isn't there more safety in numbers? And more importantly, why the hell is Mariko wearing... agh, nevermind I give up! Well, at least the storyline is ten times more interesting than the dance shot but that's not saying much. Yeah, the dance shot is pretty much exactly like Ue Kara Mariko along with the close-ups. And with this PV the storyline isn't so interesting that I just forget about how much I hate the song like I did with Gingham Check. Yeah, the song is still there. I still hate it. And the sky is still blue! Shocking, right? And then there's Paruru.
Paruru is an... enigma to me. I don't want to say I dislike her but I don't like her either and I don't care about her. To be quite frank, I honestly have no idea how I feel about this girl. Half the time I'm watching this PV, I'm looking at her with this strange, confused expression on my face. Part of me wants to try and figure out what the hell is going through her head and the other part of me wants to run away from her creepy demon smirk! I don't know, creepy smiles always seem to endear themselves to me (just look at how much I love Mayuyu and Ishida Ayumi) and I can see myself getting to a point where I like Paruru in the future. However... I don't want her to be the next center for AKB48. To me, this was her make-it-or-break-it chance to try out being center and I think she failed at that. She just looks very, very awkward probably because she's rocking the same "I don't give a shit" look on her face that Acchan did. I mean, like in the forest scenes you would think that Paruru was just going for an evening stroll instead of a perilous journey from the apathetic and oblivious look on her face! Weird thing was, it worked for Acchan but it just doesn't work the same way for her. Or maybe I miss Acchan more than I thought I did...Well, for what Paruru lacks it is nice to see pretty much equal screen time for the Senbatsu. You pretty much get to see everyone pretty equally! My personal favorites were Mariko the Supreme Ruler of AKB48 when Takamina isn't there and all her Mariko awesomeness! Funny how she shined more in this PV than the one centered around her... Then there was this other girl who played the devious witch/sorceress/whatever and I really liked her! I later found out this girl in question was Kimoto Kanon from SKE48. So it was nice having people like that balance out the awkwardness of Paruru.
I mean, honestly, I wish I could have seen more of the other members in these really quirky and offbeat roles too. Why not you know, go all the way with this journey concept? Like incorporating all the Senbatsu into various parts of Paruru's journey like friends, foes, etc. Oh my god, it could be like the Wizard of Oz only with less wizards and magic shoes! That could have been so much fun to watch; this PV could have had all the quirkiness that Gingham Check had only with a more clear storyline! Man, I get all excited just thinking about what this PV could have had in it. But at the end of the day, that doesn't change that the PV didn't have anything I thought of. I think if the producers had more thoroughly explored all the directions they could have taken with this PV then I think it could have been one my favorite PVs of 2012. However, instead the effort only goes halfway and there are a lot of really awkward moments in the PV. Mainly centered around Paruru but still. They're awkward either way. I think they should have just scrapped the dance shot and focused the whole PV around this odd journey Paruru has to go on to do something that was never really explained in the PV. On the upside, I do think that we'll get a PV like that since this is the short version and there's actually an extended version. What else did you expect? Every freaking PV by AKB48 always has to have an extended version these days! I look forward to seeing what the full version will be like but I probably won't review it. I got things to do and stuff to write about and I don't want to add something I've basically already reviewed to my agenda. I'll definitely watch it and who knows? Maybe. For now, I admire the effort gone into the Eien Pressure PV even if it only came halfway. The storyline gets a little lost at times but for what it is, it's a decent PV. So now I think the only thing left to do is give it some apples and... actually, you know what? I'm not gonna rank Eien Pressure on my typical Apple Rating System. Oh no, I have a much more... suitable ranking for this lackluster song and PV.
Eien Pressure gets a big shiny "you tried" sticker. I can tell that everyone is trying their best to keep the PV going but in the end the song is still just as forgetful and plodding without it. Paruru, I'm sure you're a nice person, but I'm ready to have Mayuyu become the new center of AKB48. Or Jurina. Or both of them!