Impressions: Natsuzora Hanabi

Anthony and Garry take a look at the PV for PASSPO’S newest single “Natsuzora Hanabi”. After being very positive on past single “Next Flight”, how will “Natsuzora Hanabi” measure up? Read on after the break for their reviews.


I have been super pleased with PASSPO’s releases from this year. “Kimi wa Boku wo Sukinaru” started the year off with a really nice poppy idol song and then went the darker, more powerful route with the alternative rock sounding, “Next Flight”. When friend and community member, monkeyto told me that their new song would have a punk rock sound, I was super stoked. Pop punk is what I grew up listening to and PASSPO’s next single, “Natsuzora Hanabi” did not disappoint.

The PV takes place in front of a temple with a band in the background once again. “Next Flight” featured a band in the back as well but the band members got solo shots in the PV taking screen time away from the members of PASSPO. This did not happen in this PV. I’m really glad that they didn’t feature the band so much because having band members shown in “Next Flight” was pretty weird considering some members of PASSPO had less screen time than the band. The performance shots are really nice. The far shot showing the choreography and the close ups with the members singing by themselves in front of the band with a mic were both great.

PASSPO does it again with the choreography! The choreography for “Natsuzora Hanabi” is fantastic. It incorporates a fan and the jumping choreography during the chorus is really fun to watch and might be one of my favorite dance moves this year! I really like their outfits as well. The navy blue outfit really gives them a throwback flight attendant look.

All the shots were shot well except for the second half where the camera gets very shake happy and doesn’t focus at all and switches cuts while it shakes. Very hard to watch as a person who gets motion sickness very easily. I thought the secondary outfits of the members were a little odd too. They suddenly switch from their flight attendant outfits to “punk rock” outfits that you would be able to buy at your local “Hot Topic” clothing store. I found the shots of the members falling into the pool with those questionable “punk rock” outfits to be odd and misplaced.

I was super hyped to hear the song and when I heard it for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by the authentic Japanese pop punk rock sound that they created. I’m glad that PASSPO is experimenting within the rock genre. The tempo of this song is faster than your typical idol song and is a nice change of pace from the typical idol music you hear where everything is produced on a keyboard(you could argue that most PASSPO songs aren’t your typical songs). The koto fill melody in the chorus feels a tad bit out of place and doesn’t really add to the punk rock tendencies of the song and you can argue that the lead guitar playing that part would have been fine.

The chorus melody is pretty good and I’ll probably have that melody stuck in my head for awhile. As a Negishi Ai fan, I like the amount of solo lines she gets in this song.

Once again, we’re back to square one with my issues with Japanese recordings of instruments. Also, one of my biggest pet peeves in any punk rock music is that when a guitar is playing opening chords, the hi-hat cymbal should always be played open in my book. Japan loves to do half open or closed hi-hat when the guitar is not palm muting. Is this a stupid pet peeve? Yes, but this is what I feel comfortable with from listening to American pop punk rock all my life.

Overall, the song is fantastic with very little issues and the PV could have been better just by omitting the scenes with the secondary outfits and excessive camera shaking and schizophrenic switching of the cuts.





I’m just going to put a disclaimer on the front of this review saying that I really like Passpo and I absolutely love punk rock so this review is probably going to be fairly critical because of that. Look at me, saying that as if all of my reviews aren’t highly critical.

Anyway, so I’m talking about “Natsuzora Hanabi” and I think we’ll just get the song out of the way to start with. I’m pretty happy to see that the rock theme that was started in “Next Flight” got carried over to this song. It can sometimes feel like the idol genre isn’t really trying to do anything new so it’s always nice to see groups trying different things to freshen up their sound. In that regard, this song is a pretty solid win.

However, there are a few things that bug me about the song. There’s no denying that it’s punk influenced so I’m certainly not here to debate that point. The problem is, it’s about as by the book as pop punk comes. Is it an idol group’s place to get incredibly technical and innovative with another genre of music? Perhaps not. Perhaps I’m being overly critical because I listen to so much punk music but the point remains that the instrumentals are pretty standard fare.

One other thing that kinda bothered me was that this is a pretty damn repetitive song. Again, yeah sure it’s an idol group and everything but this song clocks in at over four minutes long. At around the three minute mark, while still enjoying the listening experience I did feel that the song was beginning to overstay its welcome. You could argue that perhaps I wasn’t engaged with the song enough for whatever reason but I do find it a bit worrying that I almost switched off long before the song finished.

I think that’s enough about the song, so let’s talk about the PV a little. Passpo are dancing in front of a temple with a band performing on a stage behind them. It’s a pretty neat concept and thanks to some well directed camera shots it comes off as if more is happening than there actually is. This is what we call good directing kids.

In truth there are a lot of things that I like about the PV. I thought that the choreography was very solid with the fan work in particular being very pleasant to watch, although I’m not entirely sure about that whole hopping from one leg to the other business. Still, very hard to fault the choreography here (hopefully the luggage tossing part doesn’t happen during the live show or the front row will get more than they bargained for).

I also really enjoyed the shots where the girls each took turns to sing lead vocals with the band. It was a great way to actually tie the band into things and not just have them awkwardly performing in the background behind everyone. It was also a very smart way of giving each of the girls some alone time with the camera without it becoming awkward as hell like it usually is in most PVs.

If the PV ended around here it would probably get a four star rating from me. Sadly that’s not the case and I’m left pondering what exactly went through the director’s head to make what happened next seem like a good idea.

Suddenly it’s like the entire camera crew suffer a seizure. The camera is jerking around wildly, things are going in and out of focus and I’m starting to feel rather nauseous. I think they reason that they did it is due to the tempo change in the song but I really can’t say that I agree with the decision. There are better ways to get across the idea of  a song changing gears.

The second half of the PV also features a change of outfits as well as scenery for the girls. Suddenly they’re decked out in rocker attire and skulking  around in a dimly lit backstage area, at least I think that’s where they are. Pretty random but I suppose it somewhat fits the rock theme of the song. Then there’s the part where they all take turns to fall dramatically into a pool in slow motion and I’m completely lost as to where they were going with this PV.

To summarize, the song is perfectly fine although it does have its flaws. The PV loses at least one star for turning into a schizophrenic mess half way through which now that I think about it is probably around the point that I started losing interest.



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