Odds and Ends: Bon Bon Blanco, SweetS, Team Dream, and Murakami Megumi

Filed in Cult of Pop 1.0

So, I spent all weekend trying to make a freelance assignment deadline and falling further and further behind. Right now I’m tired and can’t think clearly on the assignment so I’m going to do some real quick blogging, just bits and pieces of things I’d been meaning to mention and screencap…

I finally saw a Bon Bon Blanco PV – the one for “Bon Voyage” which is apparently a theme for the One Piece anime – and now I know why Santos of Idolizing St. Anna is such a devoted fan of the group. The music is great – vibrant and convincingly ethnic at certain junctures, with all the charm and vigor of Jpop. The PV itself is cute, though one expects the girls’ ship to crash into the one Duran Duran were on for “Rio” twenty-five years ago.

More importantly, there’s the object of Santos’ affection, lead singer Santos Anna. (Anna Santos?)

Not to be crude about it but Holy shit Santos Anna is hot! I mean, I could watch this PV over and over again just to stare at her. The Pittsburgh Pirates T-shirt and white pants are going to be burned into my brain for the foreseeable future, especially the way she moves in that outfit. I get some kind of sense that the other girls in the band are also attractive, but the PV focuses on her at the near-exclusion of the others… but can you blame them? I mean, just look at her!

It’s cool that Santos Anna started a blog of her own recently – yet another piece of vital information from (the other) Santos – though the fact that it’s Japanese makes it useless to me. (And I won’t have my wife translate a blog for me on a regular basis, tempted as I am.) It’d be great if other Jpop idols kept blogs, though I guess the diaries SweetS keeps on their website is virtually the same thing.

At any rate, I’m now very interested in finding more Bon Bon Blanco. The first thing I’ll get will probably be the CD-DVD Limited Edition for the Master Pieces singles collection, even if it’s out of print.

And on a personal note, a friend from Japan will be visiting soon and she’s into Latin music as well. So maybe we can watch B3 videos and she can better understand how I’ve become a Jpop otaku. That or I may end up having to take her to Zanzabar in Waikiki…

Speaking of SweetS, I’ve finally decided that their new single, “Mienai Tsubasa,” is the best non-Bounceback single they’ve had yet. While I still maintain that the best songs have all been by Bounceback, “Mienai Tsubasa” is a powerful showcase for the girls’ vocals and a solid upbeat song. It’s also apparently the theme for some TV show, though I’m not going to bother to look it up to confirm this.

I’ve also realized that the PV for this song fits a Unified Theory of SweetS that I’d been thinking about for a while. After I’m done with the “Why Jpop?” multi-parter I’ll probably take a stab at doing in-depth readings of the PVs for all of SweetS’ singles up to now. If I’m diligent (and I rarely am), I could have it completed in time for the release of SweetS’ new DVD at the end of July. Once I have that out of the way, I’ve got a Unified Theory of Morning Musume PVs that’ll at least take me up to “Mr. Moonlight” in a reasonably logical fashion…

Haruna remains my favorite SweetS member and it’s interesting to see her come across as the alpha female of the group. She photographs the other girls in front of Iolani, takes charge when they meet up with some dancers at a park, and generally come across as the happy and commanding center of this Jpop clique.

The idea of a three-member version of SweetS seems much more convincing – and much more attractive – with her at the lead.

That said, all the other members of SweetS continue to win me over as well. It’s easy to like Aya, since she’s the other lead singer for the group. Also, it’s her turn to wear the short shorts for the PV, a task that’s fallen too often to Haruna. (Though whatever the case, you’ve got skinny stringbean underage legs poking out from shorts that’d be Daisy Dukes on someone past puberty.)

However, there’s something about Mai that’s been compelling from the start… maybe because she comes across as the baby of the group, but it also seems that there’s a certain quality to her that’s hard to pin down. If I was to quote Nabokov’s book, I’d say she has the bloom. Whether or not it’s a clair bloom, I won’t hazard to guess. But I’m betting she’ll be someone to watch as the years pass.

Actually, we’re almost at the point where the average age of SweetS is about the same as the average age of Speed when they first started. For some reason that has me excited and hopeful, as if the group is only beginning on the road to Jpop superstardom. They’re already seasoned professionals but now it looks like the kiddie image can start to be shed…

On to another topic! I’ve been aware of Hello! Project having its own futsal team for a while now but haven’t particularly cared. I mean, it’s great that the girls have another way to channel all their aggression and that Country Musume are given something to do during all their downtime.

However, when I found out Avex had started its own futsal team, Team Dream… and that the members of Dream were involved… and that in their first match against H!P’s Gatas Brilhantes a couple weeks back, they got whupped 5-0…

Well. Finally, I gave a damn. And actually downloaded the H!P-Avex match to watch.

The idea of an H!P-Avex rivalry on a sports field is just irresistable. It’s not the potential for cat fights but the idea of rooting for one team over another and of seeing idols in a very different competitive scenario. I’m hoping that something can be done with C-Ute and Berryz Koubo versus SweetS and Hinoi Team. Even if it’s just basic summer camp track meet stuff, I’d love to see Risako go head-to-head against Haruna, or Miyabi get kicked around by Hinoi Asuka.

Watching the match between H!P and Avex was odd, as I knew beforehand how it’d end. Five to zero. That’s not losing, that’s having your ass handed to you on a silver platter. Clearly, H!P had a better game – and most likely, better players – than Avex. And yet, such a brutal beating makes me sympathize for Team Dream instead of the victors. It’s great to see H!P are so good at futsal, but I’m the type to root for the losing team, to cheer for the underdogs. And Avex were clearly the underdogs here, much as I wished otherwise. At one point, I even thought the score would remain four-zero, conveniently forgetting the fifth goal looming in the near future…

It also helps that I’m finally coming around to liking the new incarnation of Dream and not just damning myself for not having been around for Mai and the old incarnation of Dream. (That said, I’m stil obviously resisting the non-capitalization of the “d” in their name.) While Mai remains my favorite, there’s a great deal to be said for gravure crossover star Hasebe Yu, as well as goalie / futsal captain Tachibana Kana. They remain the center of the group and that’s a strong foundation to build upon.

For music, at least. For futsal, it’s apparently a crap foundation.

That said, the best Dream single so far this year – “Soyokaze no Shirabe” – is much better than the best Morning Musume single so far, “Osaka Koi no Uta” (which is good but hasn’t been a must-listen past its single shelf life). I also look forward more to Dream’s next single than Momusu’s, even if the next Momusu will be Koharu’s debut. (Unfortunately, both groups have been outmatched musically by both of Viyuden’s singles and Berryz Koubo’s “Special Generation”. They seem to have H!P’s support and Tsunku’s best songs now.)

And I’m finally beginning to learn who all those new members of Dream are. At least, member four – Aya – got my attention, as she played hard and seemed very upset at how the match turned out. If there’s anyone who can save the team from total humiliation next time, I’m betting its her. That said, I still wouldn’t be able to pick out her vocals on a song if you gave me a million dollars.

If Team Dream were the underdogs, then Kana was the unfortunate runt of the pack. As captain and goalie, she let H!P score five times off her. For some reason this endeared Kana to me more than anything else. She tried hard, she was into the game, and yet it just didn’t work out. I think she looked very attractive for her effort, though. She was chunky and disheveled in her goalie outfit – unlike the svelte Tsuji for H!P, who even had her hair up in her usual Tsuji style – but that only brought out a natural beauty in her, something more attractive and too rarely seen. Now that Mai’s long gone, maybe Kana will be my new favorite of the group.

I’m hoping Team Dream whups Gatas next time – there’s a tournament in July where they’ll face off again – but if I was being realistic, I’d admit the best I can expect is a lower margin of loss, maybe a goal or two on Team Dream’s part. (Most likely from Aya.)

And while this year’s Hello! Project shuffle CD is finally coming out this Wednesday, my enthusiasm for it has faltered somewhat. I like the three groups, I mostly like the songs themselves… I love seeing Reina look even more mature and I absolutely love seeing the women of H!P have some of the spotlight with Puri Puri Pink. And yet… well, it doesn’t fire me up. If more of H!P were involved in the shuffle, if the mixing and matching didn’t seem so random and insubstantial, I’d feel like there was something worth discussing. As it is, I don’t find myself as engaged as I should be. Maybe I’m becoming more of an Avex fan than an H!P fan. Or maybe it’s just a crap year for shuffles.

That said, there was one very pleasant surprise. It can be described as, Holy crap, Murakami Megumi is cute! I didn’t realize how some make-up and a poufy hairstyle can make her something of a kawaii stunner, but there you go.

Now I’m tired enough to sleep through to morning. Good night to all.