Christmas Came A Little Late, Or Very Very Early…

Filed in American Wota 1.0

I went to pick up my reserved copy of the “Munasawagi Scarlet” Single V at my local Japanese bookstore today, and was looking forward to finally giving this song and video a chance. However, there was another order also waiting for me that eclipsed what was already the highlight of a long, grueling work week…

It turns out my copy of dream’s 7th Anniversary Best CD-DVD also arrived! Wow. When I saw this, I could not believe my luck and the rest of a somewhat demanding day lightened considerably when I thought of this particular boon from the Jpop gods. (I even showed it to my Japanese coworker, who’d never heard of dream but wasn’t encouraged when I noted, “Unfortunately, they tend to dress up like hookers.”) I thought I had to wait until January 1st for this! Or to be exact, January 5th, since the bookstore was closed from New Year’s to the fourth.

Anyway… Since there’s more H!P fans than dream fans reading this, let’s get that one out of the way: the Berryz Single V is a nice package. I’m still not sure what the tennis outfits have to do with anything, but I don’t particularly care. Look at Chinami! Wow, is it me or is she getting taller? At least her legs aren’t as Haruna of SweetS stick-skinny as it was on the second album’s photos.

Here’s the inside of the jewel case, which unfortunately scanned quite blurry. That said, it’s beautifully designed and you should all go out and buy the Single V to see for yourself.

I’m going to save my particular opinions on the song and video for later, but I’ll just say this: I’m having a harder time getting into “Scarlet” than with the other two Berryz singles of this year. The single makes me feel like I’m committed to the group more than their actual releases – that is, the Berryz as idols supersedes the innate appeal of the music. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – after all, that connection is part and parcel of being a wota. However, I didn’t feel that sense of obligation, of an almost blind loyalty, with “Jiriri” or “Boyfriend”. I loved those songs right out of the gate – waiting for “Scarlet” to grow on me isn’t encouraging, I guess.

The insert has a really nice picture of the girls – click on the above for a larger version. Having said all that about “Scarlet”, though, I should add that Berryz remain the most exciting unit in Hello! Project by an embarrassingly wide stretch – moreso since Megukami got the boot from C-Ute. The new generation of H!P has definitely asserted themselves this past year, and it’s time we all accepted our new kawaii Jpop overlords and start writing poetry for Momoko on a daily basis.

Now back to dream… Here’s the cover to the insert booklet.

I guess it’s good that I got it a few days early, since I first heard about a Best Of CD / DVD with all their PVs at the end of 2005 and I’ve been waiting for it since. The format – 2 CDs and a DVD with a comprehensive PV selection – has been done for SweetS and Koda Kumi… it’d be nice to see them attempt it for others, like Otsuka Ai and Amuro Namie, maybe even jump the gun a little and do this with misono. As expensive as the package is, it nevertheless feels like a bargain.

Here’s one of the images inside the jewel case, again too blurry to share but what the heck.

I know what I like and what I’m willing to dish out huge bucks for, and a comprehensive one-disc videography of a favorite group or performer tops that list for me. In a way, the appeal of such a product overshadows the CDs – I watched the Koda Kumi Best DVD a few times, but have never played the CDs. (And I’m still sore that the DVD doesn’t have Ku-chin’s best song and PV, “Shake It”.)

And here’s another image from the other side of the jewel case.

Here’s the back of the CD case.

Here’s the bonus card I got. I wish it was Kana instead of some second gen girl… Okay, that was purposely snotty of me. But for me, the definitive dream remains 3-nin with Mai, not the H!P-ized version with Kana and Yu playing mother hens to all these lesser lights. Though to be fair, even a quick listen / viewing of the material showed that the second gen aren’t all that lacking in talent or eyecandy-liciousness.

Here are the photos from the booklet insert, click for bigger versions… I also have to admit, the best of new dream is actually as good as 3-nin dream’s best, though in very different ways. While “Night of Fire” and “Solve” remain the group’s peaks for me, I fell in love all over again with “Soyokaze no Shirabe” this morning on the way to work, was pleased to discover “Kono Natsu ga Owaru Mae ni” has actually improved with time, and admitted yet again that it’s difficult to ever resist “I Love Dream World”.

One thing that sunk in real quick when I looked over the packaging and what was on each disc – the first CD covers the 3-nin years, the second CD the new dream years – is that 3-nin was much more prolific over a shorter period of time. That said, it could be argued that they weren’t struggling to find a clear identity or sound the way new dream apparently seem to have…

New dream also has more visually interesting PVs, with plots and costumes and other neat stuff like that. Though at their best, 3-nin dream’s PVs didn’t need anything more than Mai, Kana, and Yu singing at you and doing their dance moves to keep you riveted.

A seven year anniversary may not seem a lot with Morning Musume’s tenth anniversary and SMAP being around even longer… but considering that the group never really clicked the way they were expected to (the idea of a new Speed certainly must have been on Avex’s collective mind when they did their talent search) and went through a radical transformation after Mai left, the fact that they’re still around is indeed impressive. Consider all the other acts similar to dream that have come and gone in the past seven years: Folder 5, SweetS, Paradise Go!! Go!!… and I’m willing to bet that at this point, dream’ll outlast others currently on the girlpop landscape. As long as Kana and Yu are still in the group, there’ll be a core of talent and beauty – as well as a very respectable history of musical accomplishment – that will carry them forward.

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4 Responses to “Christmas Came A Little Late, Or Very Very Early…”
  1. siaoliao says:

    I’d never noticed it till today (maybe because I hardly notice her ^^;), but Maasa looks really good in that photoshoot. One of the best I’ve seen of her so far actually.

    Love the image of the dream girls hands together. Their nails are lovely. XD

  2. Anonymous says:

    where do you buy your cds/dvds at? i live in hawaii too lol.

  3. Ray Mescallado says:

    My main sources are Hakubundo, the Book Off in Shirokiya at the Ala Moana Mall, and the Nippon Video across from Daiei. If you know of any other places worth checking out, please tell me! Actually, there’s a post about wota shopping in Honolulu on the forum here.

  4. Kon says:

    yay, another Maasa fan! She really does look gorgeous in those pics.