Impressions: ‘Otome Sensou’

Momoiro Clover’s upcoming single is just around the corner, and they released their full PV.  Surprisingly, it received the most mixed response I’ve seen from any Momoclo single. While their trademark energy and vigor was fairly polarizing since their inception, the reaction to ‘Otome Sensou’ has been more varied and across the board. We talk about why that is in this collection of reviews after the break.

 

Anthony:

Otome Sensou is a classic case of song and PV not matching in execution. While the PV is well-shot with interesting concepts and visual quality, I can not say the same for the instrumentals of this song.

As usual, Momoclo never fails to keep their PVs interesting. The other part of Momoclo that usually wins is choreography but the choreography for Otome Sensou is lax and unimpressive like the instrumentals of the song. This PV if packed with great close up shots of each member but I can see how people can be turned off by Momoclo’s outfits. If you are a Momoclo fan, I’m sure you’ve come to expect that by now. The homage to the Gundam series mobile suit, Zaku-II is nice and I appreciate that because I grew up worshipping the giant robots of the Gundam world.

The verse is your typical Momoclo verse filled with fast pacing as if they were tongue twister which is always great. Unfortunately, there’s very little build up to the chorus and the chorus itself falls a bit flat in terms of energy and excitement. The melody of the chorus is actually nice and reminds me of classic Japanese pop songs but that’s not really what I expected from a Momoiro Clover Z song. The instrumentals of the song are flat and doesn’t help build on the singing. This may be what the writer had in mind when she wrote it (Yakushimaru Etsuko sang openings for the anime “Arakawa Under the Bridge” and has written songs for SMAP and Yamashita Tomohisa).

I’ve been listening to a lot of 80’s idol music the past couple of weeks so I may have prepared myself to hearing nice melodies with music that falls a bit short of exciting. I thought the song wasn’t very good when I first heard it but after repeated play the melody grew on me. The hype that I built up which is 100% my fault, rained on my Momoclo parade. If you can listen to the pre-chorus and chorus as a throwback or homage to classic Japanese pop songs, I think this song can be very enjoyable but hardly epic like we’d expect from Momoclo. Would have been a solid 5 if not for the underwhelming instrumentals.

Overall, the PV’s epicness and in your face energy usually associated with Momoclo is not captured very well most likely because the song itself is very “safe” compared to previous Momoclo’s releases.

PV:

Song:

 

Dae:

Momoiro Clover’s latest single, ‘Otome Sensou’, brought along great expectations. After all, it’s following the hyper-operatic ‘Moretsu’, and ‘Otome Sensou’ translates to ‘Maiden War‘. Sounds like another epic doesn’t it? Not quite. The song deviates from Momoiro Clover’s usual over-the-top insanity and instead takes a page from the idol songs of old. ‘Otome Sensou’ is a song that takes its time, with a bittersweet, nostalgic melody pushing it forward. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, but it seems that they stayed a little too true to the source material.

That’s not to say there isn’t a trace of Momoiro Clover in it. It’s as schizophrenic as ever, but it sounds half finished because of the bare-bones instrumental track, which may be Momoclo’s most conservative ones to date, and this song’s biggest weakness. It makes the transition between the different styles in this song a lot more smooth, and strangely enough, a lot more jarring and confusing as a result. The mess blends together in a way that makes less of an impact than you feel it should. Also, this song is long, running close to seven minutes long, and it definitely feels its length.

On my first pass of ‘Otome Sensou’, I spent a large chunk of it asking myself, “Is this the chorus of the song? No, this is the chorus… isn’t it? Wait, THIS is the chorus… I think.” Everything slurred together and lacked the focus of their past singles. Now that I’ve listened to it a number of times, I got it down, but that first impression still lingers. It’s not a bad song, but it’s a middling one. Pleasant to listen to, but far from remarkable. I still enjoy the oddball aspects of ‘Otome Sensou’, but when I get the urge to listen to some Momoclo madness, this song will probably sit by the wayside. If the instrumentals were more robust like their previous releases, it would have done absolute wonders.

The PV is similarly unsuccessful. Momoclo’s PVs were always a joy to watch because they were so solid in their concept and execution. We’ve seen them as bandits, Indians, Sentai, kick boxers, drunk salary-men, and pirates who ride bicycles in space. All of them had a unifying theme that influenced nearly every shot of the PV, but with ‘Otome Sensou’, we’ve got a mess.

My biggest complaint about idol PVs in general is lack of variety, but ‘Otome Sensou’ goes way far on the opposite end of the spectrum. There’s too many outfits and locations, and while this sounds like fun mayhem, it falls completely flat when paired with the fairly gentle song, and all you’re left with is a head-splitting case of cognitive dissonance. There’s battle-armored Momoclo, sleek futuristic dance Momoclo, schoolgirl Momoclo, work-out Momoclo, and megane Momoclo, each with their own set of unique locations, none of them having anything to do with each other, and all of them competing for screen-time. It’s like four different PVs mashed together.

It sounds like I really dislike ‘Otome Sensou’, but it’s more like ambivalence. When you isolate each element, there’s a LOT to like. The outfits are all great(which is surprising because I normally find Momoclo’s outfits to be hit-and-miss), the number of unique locations is stunning, it features some great shots, and the dance is more than serviceable. But together, it creates the musical and visual equivalent of a car jam in four-way intersection. But even with the mishmash, Momoiro Clover is as charming as ever, their enthusiasm and charisma palpable throughout, which is really the saving grace of this song and PV. Half-baked Momoclo is still better than most mediocre releases but given their stellar track record, I couldn’t help but feel some disappointment.

PV:

Song:

 

Garry:

Where to even begin with this review. I suppose I’ll start with what I liked and then end on a negative note since that’s what has come to be expected of me at this point. So, starting with the positives; the PV looks really nice. Unlike a lot of non-AKS idol groups there is clearly a considerable budget behind it. Budget isn’t everything though as it still takes a competent director to make use of said budget and thankfully this is the case here. The concept is very much in line with what Momoiro Clover Z are all about; being pretty out there but at the same time things are balanced out with a number of more by the book shots so it doesn’t feel like we’re in the madhouse. That being said, some of the transitions in the PV are rather jarring and one does start to question if things are quite as good as initially thought.

The real sticking point for me with the PV is how flat the choreography looks. Momoiro Clover Z are well known for their high energy, dynamic dance moves and we see very little of this in the PV. I can only assume this is due to the song (which we’ll get to in a bit) or them wanting to try something different but this feels like too much of a swing in the opposite direction for my tastes. I get that seeing the same thing over and over again starts to get boring after a while but you can’t just completely change something that you’ve built your reputation on just like that.

Overall though; pretty solid PV, very nicely shot and probably the nicest looking Momoiro Clover Z PV to date.

I said I was going to end on a negative note and here it is, let’s talk about the song. First of all, I’m reviewing and rating this based on the fact that it’s a Momoiro Clover Z song so bear that in mind. If we look at this as just any other idol song then it’s perfectly serviceable albeit incredibly average. Looking at it as a Momoiro Clover Z song and I can’t help but feel incredibly disappointed. Everything about this song just feels flat and soulless; the complete opposite of what a Momoiro Clover Z song should be. The instrumentals just never feel like they got going which is a pretty impressive accomplishment considering the song is over 7 minutes long. It just feels like really lazy composition, like the composer got a couple of mediocre sections written then decided “Fuck it, I’m going to the bar”.

The vocals are surprisingly boring, to the point of becoming almost monotone in places. The few glimpses we get of the usual Momoiro Clover Z are during the girls’ solo lines which obviously there aren’t enough of to make up for the rest of the song’s short comings. To be fair, the song wasn’t written by Momoiro Clover Z’s usual composer Maeyamada Kenichi. This offering is the work of Yakushimaru Etsuko (who I’ve never personally rated as a musician or composer) so perhaps it’s no surprise that things sound so different or disappointing. Hopefully this is a one off and they get Maeyamada back for the next single.

To summarize, we have a decent PV (albeit a bit scattershot) that is let down horribly by the worst Momoiro Clover Z song to date.

PV:

Song:

 

Tron:

I think most of us are in agreement that when it comes to Momoiro Clover Z they have become one the more consistent idol groups in the business today. Disappointment is a rarity for me when it comes to Momoclo. I have loved many of their singles and their album last year was my album of year during our NSK awards. So going into “Otome Sensou” I had high expectations for this single to be yet another notch in the belt for Momoclo. Even more so after previewing “Push” and enjoying that song a lot. Boy was I in for a surprise….

Within the first 10 seconds of the PV we see rockets being shot left and right on a war zone like setting with the girls decked out in their Card Captor Sakura outfits. Awesome start right? Well, then the actual song starts and we are treated to…..ok, I think it’s confession time; I find it extremely annoying when an idol group has repeating lyrics in their song. I know what you guys are probably thinking; “Tron you love “Coconuts” and it had them repeating cocococococococo!”. You are indeed correct, but I have to say that “Coconuts” is very much an exception to the rule. The energy and instrumentals packed into that single gave the song a catchy and enjoyable listening experience and the same can also be said for “Santa-san” as well. But for “Otome Sensou”, the instrumentals are as flat as a pancake and the arrangement is all over the place.

I can honestly say that this song is probably my least favorite Momoclo release to date. It was really hard for me to find much enjoyment in either the PV or the song. I find the PV to be a scattered mess of 4 or 5 themes meshed together with no sense of direction at any point. With past singles, there was a method to the madness when it came to Momoclo PVs. Although the themes were pretty outrageous for an idol group they had a clear direction in what they wanted to convey in their PV. Whether it be a pool party in someone’s backyard, to drunken salarymen roaming the streets of Tokyo. We always knew what was happening throughout the PV. “Otome Sensou” tries to do too many things at once and as a result we are left with an underwhelming song, and a clusterfuck of a PV.

Probably the worst part of the PV is a particular scene that brings back horrible memories of a certain Momoclo PV from the past….

 

To sum up my thoughts on this single; I have to say that “Otome Sensou” was a huge disappointment for me and it left a sour taste in my mouth. Granted I am judging this single strictly on the basis that I have certain expectations when it comes to Momoiro Clover Z. Since they are such a different idol group compared to what is out today, I tend to critique them very differently than say an AKS or H!P group. Having said that, I still adore this group greatly and will continue to support them for years to come. So here’s hoping that Momoclo get back on track and begin producing more of their signature high energy songs with themes that will continue to leave a lasting mark on the idol industry (I still await my ninja themed Momoclo single).

PV:

Song:

About Dae Lee

-Dae, aka Mizu -Writer, broadcaster, and podcaster on New School Kaidan

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4 comments

  1. I was super excited at the beginning of the PV, the costumes, the settings, that green cannon that Sasaki Ayaka was carrying around like a BOSS…….

    after that though it sort of fell flat, the song is ok, I wasn’t rushing to stuff cotton wool in my ears or anything like that but I can’t help but feel as though it just feels, well a bit flat, dare I say safe?

    There are structure problems too, both in PV and song, now I know Momoclo are never the most structured in their songs but I think there is just to much chopping and changing, alot of it is good but it just made it quite hard to focus on the song, same with the PV, alot was thrown in here and I’m still not fully sure what the whole school outfit thing was really for, especially as main suit was pretty darn good…

    those suits were pretty darn cool too, I mean no other group could get away with wearing them but Momoclo can and it because they can embrace that idea, and will run around with lazer guns and fire off rockets with their big gun(I really hope they make it a prop like the ‘space helmet’ btw) and all that stuff is pretty darn cool but it just feels slightly odd with the other scenes, like in the school, mixed in with it….

    It says alot about Momoclo that were can be critical about this, if it were Morning Musume and perhaps even a xxx48 group we would be saying it was a good PV for them, its because we know how awesome Momoclo PV’s and songs can be, that to, speaks volumes about the group…..

    • I agree with pretty much everything you said, Will. The song really grows on you after repeated play. Give it some time, I think you’ll be loving the song soon.

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