The only release that included all of H!P’s current members since 2004’s ‘All for One & One for All’, ‘Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku’ showcases the full cast of the new generation. When announced, it was a pretty exciting prospect considering that H!P’s releases in the past quarter were better than it’s been in years. But while ‘Tetsugaku’ succeeds in some ways, it falls back into some old habits.
One thing that drove me mad about H!P song releases in the past was the old ‘bait & switch’. There have been so many songs that started out with wildly different and exciting instrumentals which were immediately followed by an all-too-familiar bland tune that deflated all the anticipation and hype. Like a car lemon in a shiny new coat of paint, you know as soon as you start driving it that you’ve been taken for a fool. And while I wouldn’t call this song a lemon, it felt like going into a sportscar and finding out that it was really a Corolla.
The instrumental intro starts off on a high. It sounds fast, attractive and grand—a near-perfect start. But as soon as it ended and the melody began, I was reminded all too soon of Tsunku’s musical comfort zone. The musical breaks always drew me back in and the chorus sounded great, but the rest was largely stuck in mediocrity.
I admit that if this was a Berryz release (and you know it sounds like one) I would be pretty happy about it, so this song definitely isn’t a dud by any means. But for a giant collaboration such as this, I did place my expectations higher. There were multiple sections that sounded rehashed, and the completely underwhelming musical bridge was difficult to ignore. Despite that, the strictly vocal aspect of ‘Tetsugaku’ was successful, as the pairing of various members throughout the different groups made for a unique experience.
The PV largely mirrors how I felt about the song. I loved the initial rush of bold dance moves in the beginning, but it quickly slid back into something rather old-hat. When the camera isn’t statically pointed at the girls dancing around, it’s the girls statically posing while the camera circles around. And let’s not forget the mandatory close up shots with seizure-inducing sparkles to fill the black void they smartly chose as the background.
They pull various ideas from previous H!P PVs, but it seems like they just happened to choose the most overused ones. Much like the song, the most interesting element it had to offer was seeing the different combination of members you wouldn’t normally see together. Aside from the intro and a few nice moments, the choreography is also rehash largely repetitive. The costumes were either too voluminously cumbersome or too garish, and both are outfits that I feel like I’ve seen one too many times.
For me personally, the best part of the PV was Sayashi Riho. While she’s not my favorite Morning Musume member or even my favorite 9th generation member, she was a stand-out and knocked it out of the park. Starting off front and center, she finally stood out as the strong, charismatic powerhouse I knew she could be. From beginning to end, Sayashi showed a level of confidence here that I felt was absent in her past PV appearances, and it gives me confidence that she is a great choice as a central figure.
What I thought could have been grand proved itself to be a mere novelty, and I’m coming to terms with that. ‘Tetsugaku’ is one part new and two parts deja-vu, but it’s enough to keep me listening.
‘Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku’
Hello! Project Mobekimasu
Releases November 16th, 2011