Maria on CDTV

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

There’s a lot I need to catch up on – ideas I’ve been toying with, screencapped clips I’d been meaning to write about, various experiments with generators, the feasability of transmiyabisation on the site…

So let’s start this week off with Maria’s appearance last month on CDTV. CDTV has always been quite good to Zone, so it’s nice to see the relationship continue with Maria. And, strange as it sounds, I actually prefer this performance clip to their PV. For some reason, I get more of a sense of the group and its individual members, though that may be in part because I’d already seen the PV many times over.

As usual with a CDTV Guest Live, the group makes an introductory statement. Again, we’ve got the symmetry going: up front are vocalists / bassists Maiko and Aika, at the ends are guitarists Ayuka and Sacchin, and in the middle are the cuties, drummer Tattsu and keyboardist Reina.

It’s interesting that Sacchin’s supposed to be the leader of the band but doesn’t take on the spokesperson role. Maiko’s got the edge on her for obvious reasons, but it also makes me wonder if Sacchin’s happy to just focus on the music stuff and let Maiko handle the more idol-y duties. Kind of like how I’m antisocial and let my wife handle pleasant conversations at parties while I play Xbox with the kids.

The second best thing about this intro clip is seeing how short Tattsu is…

The best thing about this clip is seeing Sacchin smile. I also like the fact that she’s let go of her Slash cosplay and opted for what I think is Lenny Kravitz cosplay instead, what with the hair and glasses and ugly shiny clothes. This actually suits her better, perhaps because Lenny Kravitz is really a woman.

The actual performance clip begins with another shot of speakers…

The setting seems to be a rural schoolhouse – something which feels very Zone, and yet the wonderful thing is that it makes Maria’s differences stand out quite clearly.

The musicians behind the front women are all rocking out, best as they can. If anything, they seem much more animated, more dynamic, than Zone when they play.

Maiko puts in a good performance, continuing to bask in the joy of her new band.

Aika seems kind of stiff throughout, even more so than in the PV.

Again, the group’s symmetry on display. They should mix it up sooner or later…

A shot of the schoolhouse set from the outside. I like how the clip takes in the set through various “outdoor” shots, creating a sense of intimacy and peace by emphasizing the, um, Hokkaido-ness (such as it is) of the group.

The camera sweeps in the front door so we can take a look at the girls playing music…

They could’ve gone in tighter for some nice ass shots, but apparently that wasn’t on today’s menu.

I get the sense that if Reina could jump right at the camera and give it a big, wet smooch, she would. She’s so energetic and boppy and cute, it’s a good thing she’s the only one in the group like that – so that actually makes for a nice contrast to the other idol personae, which are more reserved to varying degrees. I have to wonder, though, if it’s just her personality expressing itself or if she was chosen as the baby of the group to be as moe as possible…

Tattsu doesn’t flirt with the camera the way Mizuho did in Zone. I used to love how Mizuho would wink at the camera whil drumming, very playful and yet still in rhythm. Tattsu seems more focused, more intent on rocking out.

I like how this clip, unlike the PV, creates the illusion of narrative with a concrete setting. Never mind the religious mural on the wall or the banks of huge-ass speakers, this seems more of what I expect from Maria in terms of the group persona.

Are they students? Did they need permission to use the school grounds for their practice? The notion of music as a source of aspiration, of dreams to be chased, is more obvious here than in the posturings of the PV. On the one hand, the group seemed too ethereal with the mural shots (a.k.a., sitting in the Vatican porn collection’s lobby) and too cock-rock with the speakers. The only really satisfying shots for Maria qua Maria was when they were on the PV’s stage together.

As the group plays, it’s apparently an afterschool thing…

Because the sun starts to set on them.

It’s a really nice effect. On the one hand, it’s just visually pleasing, seeing the golden rays peek through the windows.

On the other hand, it also subliminally reinforces the notion of the amateur garage band – of a bunch of dedicated musicians finding a place to jam and playing for as long as they can before having to go home and resume their everyday lives.

Of course, that’s a conceit – the stage is apparently a set, the effect is all quite prefab… but this is the idol world, and that kind of manipulation is taken for granted, it’s part of the overall effect and charm of Jpop.

Or is it the idol world? As attractive as the girls are and as accessible as their first single is, are Maria a straight-up band or a bandol like Zone? I’m obviously hoping for a bandol feel to the group, but they seem to resist playing into that.

Part of it is perhaps because the women of Maria are older than Zone when they first started. But also there seems to be some resistance on the part of certain members, and it doesn’t seem like they want to be girl pop more than rockers in their own right. It’s what Zone was slowly heading for, and could have reached in another year or two if they stayed together. Nothing wrong with starting at that point for Maria. 

I’m loving Sacchin more and more, I have to admit. It’d be great if she could be, like, the Joey Santiago of the group, offering only spare statements of gnomic weirdness.

As it is, I hope she continues her rock star cosplay with Angus Young (English schoolboy outfit with cap, imitation epileptic fits) or maybe Kim Thayil (black T-shirt, jeans, gut, huge flowing beard). Maybe even Nigel Tufnel or – I know he’s a bassist, but he’s got such a great look – Derek Smalls.

I love this outside shot, with that trophy brightly illuminated…

… and the camera pulling back. There isn’t a sense of voyeurism with these shots, for some reason – one doesn’t get a sense of peeking on something forbidden, but more of hanging out with the band quietly while they go through their paces. And while I usually prefer the more perverse approach, here that kind of friend-of-the-band vibe seems fitting.

Maiko as de facto leader is no longer astonishing to me, just immensely right. It’s not that she seems happier than she was in Zone – the woman always looks happy, after all – but that a certain confidence beams out of her now. I can trudge out the Rika / Viyuden example again, but if I do I’ll never stop.

The details are great – here the lights are turned on outside, as dusk approaches.

Of all the members, Aika strikes me as the most… boring in this clip. Or bored. It’s like she’s taking it all seriously, not wanting to smile, nor wanting to rock out, but just getting lost in the music with no showmanship to back it up. Maybe it’s just nerves, she was much more animated in the PV.

Is it me, or is Tattsu, like, real sexy? Something about short girls with sticks, I guess.

Here’s Reina again – you just want to give her a hug, or maybe tap her on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.

Ayuka, who as always seems to be really into playing her guitar. She’s got a great smile, and a style that’s uniquely her own. Maybe she could cosplay with Sacchin, though what guitar duos they could be, I have no idea. Beatles would be too obvious, maybe Gwar…?

The odd thing about this clip is I wish there was less of Maiko and more of the other girls – especially Sacchin and Tattsu. Hopefully, as the group’s identity becomes more defined, that’ll be the case.

For me, Maria is finally breaking away from being “the band after Zone” to a group in its own right. All of the band are highly likeable in their own quirky way – not as kawaii as Zone (except for Reina, who’s too kawaii for her own good), but actually more charming for it.

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One Response to “Maria on CDTV”
  1. Johnny says:

    Yeah, Reina is starting to look good to me. Aika, too. ^__^

    I agree with giving the other girls more exposure and PV screentime. Maiko has already felt the warmth of the spotlight with Zone many many times.

    I wonder how Sacchin will look like in their next PV. Maybe she’ll be like that guitarist from Limp Bizkit – a different look every time.