Berryz Koubo 2006 Haru ~Nyoki Nyoki Champion!~ DVD: The Second Half

Filed in American Wota 1.0

So, where did we leave off? Oh, yeah…

00:46:30 After the VTR, the girls return with “Berry Fields.” Dressed up in girl scout outfits. Girl scout outfits? On the one hand, that’s not my cup o’ fetish tea. On the other hand, seeing the Berry dressed like this, I’m more than open to the suggestion…

00:46:50 Unfortunately, I’m learning to hate the song just as quick. I can’t pin down why exactly. It’s fun and upbeat and has a lot the qualities that make an H!P song distinctive. But the chorus just grates on my nerve, totally ruins the song for me.

00:47:00 Much love for Miyabi’s line here…

00:47:18 … and much love for Yurina’s line, as well.

00:47:26 What’s with the torn shoulders on Chinami’s scout outfit? It’s got an S.E. Hinton kind of vibe to it. I like seeing her butch up.

00:47:36 Maasa surprises with her vocals here! Great!

00:48:00 Saki also does a good job with her line. Unfortunately, all this great singing doesn’t quite save a song which I’m finding annoying. Funny part is, I don’t remember hating it nearly as much on Switch On!

00:48:16 Momoko delivers a strong line. And like Chinami, she decided to go all Pony Boy on us.

00:48:38 I take back what I said last time about a new unit who name-checks themselves like Minimoni did. “Berry nice” this isn’t.

00:49:00 For all the genkiness and the scout outfits and strong singing, I just don’t find myself liking this song…

00:49:32 The salute is great, though!

00:49:38 And so is the closing pose. Now they should build a huge campfire onstage and make s’mores for everyone.

00:49:48 Next up is “Kacchoee” – another song I’m not fond of, starting with the choreography. It’s also not a very good vocal showcase, clearly sounding like a song intended for kids to yell along with.

00:50:10 Maasa’s shouting her lines…

00:50:16 … so is Miyabi…

00:50:21 … and so is Risako. Though in her case, Big Effing Surprise, right?

00:50:40 This is a definite low point to the concert. They’re dancing like a hoedown from spastic hell.

00:50:57 The shouting of lines – necessitated by the nature of the song – has me tempted to shush each girl and tell her to use her “inside voice”…

00:51:16 Really, only the scout outfits save this performance from sucking away at my soul. For some reason, I’m under the impression that a lot of fans like this song. Is it wrong for me not to want as much kawaii from the girls as I can get? Does it make me less of a Berryz fan if I can overdose on their cutesy aspects instead of building an ever-higher tolerance level for it?

00:51:50 The song can’t end fast enough for me. This is a song they’ve already outgrown and they should retire it already.

00:52:14 At last, a song I can enjoy… Berryz’s first single, “Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai” – “I Can’t Live Without You”.

00:52:22 Apparently, Risako and Miyabi were dressed up as hooker wannabes underneath their scout outfits. Which makes me appreciate the whole scout oufit thing even more…

00:52:38 Watching them move to the rhythm of the song, I am amused beyond belief. It’s like a U15 Baudrillardian masterpiece, a simulation of skankiness that exposes itself as such even as it’s performed. The girls writhe and shake and try to act all hot and bothered and maybe even a little horny, but it’s just a simulacra, an elaborate pose with no real libido involved.

00:52:48 They have the mechanics right, but there is no real sense of possession, of these luridly alluring moves being informed by a desire to turn on the audience.

00:52:58 Oddly enough, what ends up being highlighted – to me, at least – is neither the potential skankification of the Berryz or the inherent hotness of these idols, but their innocence.

00:53:16 Risako’s shouting… again…

00:53:26 Miyabi’s actually great here, though. Her high notes send chills through me – she’s becoming the Mikitty of Berryz for me, which is an incredible admission to make.

00:53:40 The contrast of Miyabi’s singing to Risako’s is painfully clear to me – I wonder if it’s as obvious to the audience in the concert?

00:53:54 Yes! Saki dances. Really, Pata has summed up this sequence better than anybody else and I won’t try to approximate what he covered.

00:54:00 Simply incredible… that’s all I can say.

00:54:06 The graffiti is just – too – cute!

00:54:16 If a single performance can make me fall for an idol, this is it. Well, this and Ayappe’s performance in the “Love Machine” PV. In both cases, the idol is building off an established persona instead of trying to re-invent herself; she is simply taking it to a higher level, expressing herself in a more personal, idiosyncratic way that wins us over. No one can look at Saki again and not feel a new level of respect and admiration for her, to expect more from her and know she can deliver it.

00:54:26 Miyabi and Risako join Saki as her backup dancers! The satisfaction of this switch is too deep to convey properly in words.

00:54:34 Saki has proven herself in a huge way here. I hope to God she gets a dance solo for every concert. I want to see the other Berryz step up and deliver the goods, too. This should be the new standard, and it’s one that’s set very high. That’s how it should be with the workshop.

00:54:46 Yurina’s solo performance! And she’s singing “Anshikan”, a highlight from the last concert DVD.

00:55:10 And that skirt! Um… I’ve got mixed feelings on that.

00:55:26 Yurina’s doing well here, but solo she isn’t as good as with the group.

00:55:54 The background pictures are distracting…

00:56:06 Am I hearing more of a strain on her voice?

00:56:12 The song itself is quite nice, and is another track I’ll be listening to more often.

00:56:28 The skirt is just way too bouncy for me. Not that you can see anything underneath, but the movement of it is oddly hypnotic.

00:56:38 After Saki’s performance, it’s kind of disappointing that all Yurina does during the musical interlude is wave at the audience and bounce.

00:56:54 This is a highlight of the second half, but mostly because seeing Yurina solo is just cool in and of itself. It does feel like this concert is for her, primarily. Why this decision to push her, I don’t know. Could it be as simple as her being one of the tallest idols in the collective? Is it that big a deal?

00:57:18 Though to be honest, this is not her best vocal performance of the night and the genkiness is a bit canned. As excited as she seems to be, one also gets a sense of somebody going through the motions of an idol instead of simply being an idol. Again, echoes of echoes in a Baudrillardian chamber of idols still learning to be idols.

00:57:39 Well, um…

00:57:39 The arigato is a nice touch, the humility makes her even more endearing.

00:57:48 Ah, the pink dresses surface! But it’s for “Yume de Doo Wop”.

00:58:00 I wasn’t very fond of this song on Switch On! and I don’t like this song now.

00:58:06 They can’t pull off that overlapping singing with the same beauty as they did on Switch On!. It just requires all the Berryz to get it right.

00:58:26 That said, Momoko is clearly in her element again. As the individual strength of each idol becomes more evident, it becomes clear that Momoko is the next empress of the overly-cute, hyper-feminine, spunky and independent kind of idol style perfected by Matsuura Aya at the start of her career.

00:58:38 After some weak initial harmonizing, it gets better here.

00:59:00 And here I die a little. Blowing kisses to turn on lights? This is like a kilo too much of heroin kawaii-ness for my blood stream…

00:59:10 Or is it? I do like watching Maasa femme it up a bit. She may not be as natural a fit for this kind of idol role as Momoko, but her charm is very much in evidence here.

00:59:10 And if I was in the audience, I admit I’d probably be swooning at the cuteness of kisses that can light up the world. And isn’t that what idols are all about, lighting up the world with their kisses and smiles?

00:59:38 … And wow, Momoko does shine in this number!

00:59:56 Despite my reservations on the blown kisses, from Momoko, it feels more right. Or more wrong. I forget which. But my love for Momoko is renewed yet again.

01:00:12 For the next number, “Koishiterutoki wa Itsumo”, they’re wearing… space outfits?

01:00:34 Vocally, the girls seem spent…

01:00:58 … except for Miyabi…

01:01:08 … and Momoko, which surprises me for some reason. I think it’s because I focus so much on her idol persona that her distinctive vocal delivery is sometimes not acknowledged enough. But she’s been a solid trooper throughout this concert, and her singing style has held up very well. Not as distinctive and as chillingly powerful as Miyabi, but proof that she’s got what it takes for a long-term idol career.

01:01:22 It’s very laid-back, but… oh, I get it now. The fact that it’s a ballad is what’s throwing me off.

01:01:58 This feels very much like the breather before a big finale. Which is what it is, but do they have to be so obvious about it?

01:02:14 There’s more heartfelt kawaii poses.

01:02:40 Really, are the girls up past their bedtimes?

01:02:54 The space outfits may not be as elaborate – or as pink – as the earlier dresses… but maybe they’re wearing hooker clothes underneath these outfits, too?

01:03:10 A big heart-shaped hand move! Who’d’ve expected that?

01:03:20 Well, now I know why the Berryz haven’t attempted a ballad for their singles yet.

01:03:38 Maasa’s line is good here.

01:04:20 The ballad thing is still sinking in… Why haven’t they? Because they’re young at first, but now perhaps they matured enough for such an attempt?

01:04:46 If anything, I think the stronger girls vocally could pull it off solo. Here there’s no drama, not enough skill on display, no energey…

01:05:06 After a break, the girls return in outfits that are… wow. I mean, wow.

01:05:10 Miyabi speaks…

01:05:22 Saki gets a cheer out of the crowd…

01:05:30 … as does Maasa.

01:05:40 Thank God, it’s “Piriri to Yukou”.

01:05:50 As much as I like the more mature-sounding singles, I’d argue that “Piriri” is the best Berryz song yet. The Okinawan flavor of the song sets it apart, while the energy and playfulness of the song – and the sheer catchiness of the chorus – makes it the first song I think of whenever someone mentions Berryz to me. That is, if I’m not already thinking of Berryz at the moment. Which lately is the case.

01:06:00 Apparently, we’ve just entered Midriff City…

01:06:14 The individual lines aren’t very strong…

01:06:36 … But the chorus is what makes the song.

01:06:50 And this is fun. She sounds way off.

01:06:50 Yurina is yelling.

01:07:00 The song shifts to bonus beats with extra Okinawan guitar…

01:07:13 Don’t know if it’s necessarily a good idea, but at least it changes things up and lets the girls dance more…

01:07:24 Because in those outfits, who care about anything else but watching them move?

01:07:29 The girls gyrate to the floor… I think I’ve had daydreams like this.

01:07:46 This has always been a fun song, and the girls are trying, but I get a sense their energy is flagging.

01:08:04 I should feel guilty, I know. I don’t feel guilty, but whatever.

01:08:18 It’s worth watching this a few times to see who acts more “sekshi” in the song. Momoko gets all slinky at one point, which was a pleasant shock… It seems that the outfit invites a heightened sense of their bodies and how damn good they look in it.

01:08:30 From the third single the girls segue into the fourth one, “Happiness ~Kofuku Kangei!~”. I’ll confess this now: I listened to this song a good dozen or so times before I finally realized the first part of the chorus was actually in English.

01:08:38 Chinami introduces the song.

01:08:48 The girls seem to be getting their second wind…

01:09:00 And Risako’s line this time is okay…

01:09:30 Maasa and Yurina together always makes me think of Santos’ reference to them as the Twin Towers of Berryz. Actually, of Hello! Project now.

01:09:38 The limitations of this song and “Piriri” are obvious here, moreso than when they performed it in Switch On!. That does make me wonder if it’s the placement of the songs in each concert – this one towards the end, the earlier concert having the songs much earlier.

01:09:50 Ah, Yurina…

01:10:10 I like this performance… but it doesn’t feel as much of a highlight as it could have been.

01:10:48 Yurina has her legs spread real wide here, I notice… Which just makes me think of how young she is, not yet self-conscious of her body. It also makes me think of how long her legs are compared to the others.

01:10:57 And the girls jump right into “Special Generation”.

01:11:08 Saki shouts encouragement to the audience, like they need it.

01:11:22 And Risako’s worst performance of the night starts. Her voice is really out there, sounding completely untrained and at times practically verging on yodelling…

01:11:30 Momoko’s good, though…

01:11:40 Chinami gets her “shiteru”…

01:11:48 I love the choreography, never tire of it…

01:11:54 And I’m glad they include Chinami’s moves in the front of the line-up!

01:12:00 Yurina looks great…

01:12:16 … and Miyabi’s… wow.

01:12:26 For looking so intensely hot, though, she’s not as good vocally. This may be her worst performance of the night, too, ironically.

01:12:46 If anything, she seems strained, leading to a loss of the fine singing control she’s had throughout the night.

01:13:06 A great dance move from all the girls…

01:13:24 And as long as the song is energetic and competently delivered – which it is, despite the nits I’m picking – this is an enjoyable number. The song itself still holds up very well and the choreography is great, just as it is in the PV.

01:13:44 Funnily enough, it seems that among the girls Momoko is handling herself best vocally this time around, not ever quite dipping to that low voice from last concert.

01:14:08 In contrast, Risako is butchering the song. What’s strange is that she looks really into it, which counts for more than a little.

01:14:30 Yurina’s okay here, but had some off lines as well…

01:14:44 This song is one dance move after another that just makes me swoon…

01:14:58 A great closing pose!

01:15:10 And now it’s time for the thank you’s to the audience…

01:15:20 … as the girls head off the stage.

01:15:38 Leading to the inevitable chant of “En-core-uh”, “En-core-uh”… Isn’t there a Japanese word for “encore”?

01:15:48 The girls run back on stage singing “Yuujou Junjou oh Seishun” and somehow I feel like I’m beaming as much as the audience. The girls are radiating genki-ness and kawaii-ness and look fabulous in their outfits.

01:16:02 Risako thanks the audience.

01:16:12 Miyabi’s back in excellent vocal form…

01:16:14 Momoko’s doing great.

01:16:20 As are Saki…

01:16:23 … and Chinami.

01:16:28 I love the oi’s in this song. Makes me want to hear the girls do some Mighty Mighty Bosstones cover songs…

01:16:40 And I love the jump!

01:16:50 And if we can forgive the hats on Saki and Momoko, these are great outfits on the girls. More typically H!P in design, a cross between Momusu and Def Diva, but very nice for it.

01:17:10 Just how long were the girls off-stage? Did they cut out ten, fifteen minutes of shouts for an encore? Five minutes? This is quite a recovery.

01:17:16 Even Risako’s singing better this time out.

01:17:20 Momoko is solid here…

01:17:46 This song is a great almost-show-closer, it reminds me of “Koko ni Iruzee” a great deal.

01:18:08 The choreography’s simple but fun, used for maximum crowd-pumping effect.

01:18:26 Despite a lot of wonderful eyecandy outfits and some very nice dancing, the second half of the show wasn’t as strong singing-wise for me. This performance more than makes up for it.

01:18:44 This would’ve been a great single, and the PV would’ve been fun.

01:18:58 Oh Saki, your girls did you proud. We now know she’s not only a great captain, but also a solid dancer and a great idol personality.

01:19:04 This is definitely the highlight of the second half. It’s all the proof needed to believe these girls have a bright idol future ahead of them – maybe even enough to supplant the flagship unit. Yeah, I’m not giving upon that just yet.

01:19:10 The chanting and running and fist-pumping is leaving them out of breath, but they seem to be bundles of energy again. Very impressive.

01:19:16 That was great!

01:19:23 Now it’s time to say goodbyes, and Chinami starts. This MC sequence is much better than the one at the start of the concert…

01:19:48 It’s Miyabi’s turn and she’s also doing much better.

01:20:02 Risako’s last and she’s positively beaming. More than enough to forgive the night’s singing, this is what she’s all about somehow.

01:20:16 The closing song is “Arigatou! Tomodachi”, and the girls are glowing.

01:20:32 Though as often happens, the moment is marred by stupid choreography of pointing and whispering.

01:20:50 I hadn’t noticed the lyrics on the screen – except for the VTR – until now. Did they do that for all the numbers? Does the audience really need it, given their enthusiasm for the group?

01:21:00 Miyabi’s great here…

01:21:26 Ah Momoko O Momoko…

01:21:38 Really, where was this energy and spirit earlier? It’s almost a shame for it to end like this, it’s like they can do another six songs.

01:21:45 The hats just make me think of bad New Year’s parties…

01:22:00 I haven’t said enough about these outfits, have I? They may not bare as much as the jaw-dropping outfits from right before the encore, but there’s a clean stylishness to the gold-and-white color combo and the sleek design. Again, I find myself comparing it to something Momusu would wear in concert…

01:22:16 Why they decide to sit down now, I don’t know…

01:22:24 It’s a good show closer, though I could say the same about “Yuujou”…

01:22:38 … and Risako does redeem herself.

01:22:48 It’s odd, but the girls seem much more like a mini-Momusu with this encore.

01:22:56 Way too many la la la’s for me.

01:23:20 Yurina is shining.

01:23:36 Chinami looks wonderful.

01:23:41 Saki is soaked in sweat… and tears?

01:23:55 Why is Saki upset? Does she really cry at anything?

01:24:03 The girls at last wish us good night. And for some reason, this encore sucked me in, made me want to be in the actual audience that much more.

01:24:10 Yurina and Chinami leave.

01:24:18 Next are Momoko and Miyabi, who do a cutesy thing I didn’t like.

01:24:27 And finally, Saki, Risako, and Maasa.

01:24:27 I’m glad – relieved, even – that the concert ended on such a high note..

And why the heck are the closing credits in English?

Overall, this concert was great. I like it better than Switch On! – considerably more, given the strength of the overall performances and the selection of songs. However, some songs were better handled on Switch On! than here. I’m a little peeved at the absence of “Fighting Pose” from this concert, but it didn’t mar the experience or left a big hole in my enjoyment of the show. It’s just that I am singles-oriented, and would have expected all the singles delivered this early in their careers. So looking back, a quick tally of how I saw the concert…

Best Vocals: Miyabi, hands down. I am falling harder and harder for her, and her singing here was consistent, powerful, distinctive, and professional.

Best Personality: Saki, again by a wide margin. Between the skit and her dance, she showed sides of herself we only had hints of before.

Best Utility Player: Momoko, who held her own throughout the show. She didn’t stand out as much as she could have, but on the other hand she was a solid presence throughout.

Best Surprise: A tie between Saki’s dance and Yurina’s special treatment throughout the concert.

Best Song Performance: A tie between “Joshi Basket-bu” and “Yuujou Junjou Oh Seishun”.

Best Outfit: Much as I liked the Jiriri outfit and the encore outfit, I have to vote for the outfits right before the encore, the midriff-baring masterpieces.

It was great to see each of the girls continue to come into their own, to truly develop as idols… Though it must be said, none of them are ready to go solo, not by a long shot. Which isn’t exactly surprising – and not a shame, considering that Miki’s the only one in Momusu who’s ready to go solo. The Berryz rely on each other to look better individually – which is a good thing for a group unit. We’re now at a point where the superstars don’t shine so much that they overwhelm the others, and where the backups aren’t nonentities who can be easily set aside by fans. The same couldn’t have been said even a year ago…

On a hypothetical note, could any of these girls be reasonably considered for a “promotion” into Morning Musume? Assuming we’re not talking about the early stages of Tsunku’s Pygmalion impulses of taking seeming nobodies and trying hard to transform them into superstars – that is, assuming that a Berryz promoted will be chosen for established talent and idol presence – then only Miyabi is prepared. Yurina and perhaps Saki would qualify as well, though that’s arguable.

We’re at a very interesting time for the Berryz. Their newest single is an effervescent slice of pop wonderfulness that has me completely enchanted right now, and the barrage of Berryz-related releases continues unabated. I’m hoping the summer concert series will lead to another DVD – very likely – as it’s exciting to watch the progress of the workshop continue.

The Jpop world is theirs for the taking. The girls just need to grow a little more so that they can reach out and grab it.


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9 Responses to “Berryz Koubo 2006 Haru ~Nyoki Nyoki Champion!~ DVD: The Second Half”
  1. Bobette says:

    Another great review. :’) I’m glad that you think Miyabi has taken on a Miki-esque figure in the group. Also, I love the in-depth costume reviews. 😛

    If you haven’t already, check out the Hello Pro Hour episodes with Miyabi and Risako in them–I think that they’re a nice showcase for what the girls can do, singing-wise. >_>

  2. Craig says:

    I think the sweat hass just gotten into Saki’s eyes and made them water.

  3. pengie says:

    If I wasn’t a fan of Saki before (and I really wasn’t), I am now, after seeing that dance. WOW.

  4. CJ Marsicano says:

    The credits on my MoMusu live DVD from last fall’s tour are in English, too.

    And ROFLMAOPIMP at the Mighty Mighty Bosstones reference.

  5. jpopweasel says:

    lol, i loved this review, you arn’t afraid to say the things that us hardcore fans wouldn’t want to admit (ie risako’s singing, skank outfits…). It really makes the review that much better, and i laughed several times :D.

    momo fan #1!

    jpopgoestheweasel

  6. Garamond says:

    Very nice review Ray! Thanks for the blowing-kisses-to-light-the-lights thing… I hadn’t noticed that, but I saw the concert again today and then I noticed. That’s fucking awesome!
    I also hadn’t noticed before how beautiful Momo’s mouth was until she blew that kiss. 🙂

  7. mon says:

    น่ารักจังเลยค่ะ

  8. Anonymous says:

    i’m juz love risako

  9. Anonymous says:

    Risako totally made my day when i listened to her singing in hellopro hour. I dont think she’s good at singing while dancing vigourously.