It’s been a confusing journey up to Kikkawa Yuu’s debut single ‘Kikkake wa Yuu!’. There was the initial confusion between the single and a film of same name about a (fictional?) documentary of Kikkawa Yuu’s debut, and then the confusion I felt when I found out that she was a finalist for 8th generation auditions but didn’t make it(yes, I’m late to the game), only to be in H!P Eggs for a tedious four years until she finally had her first major debut release this year on May 11th.
After having followed Mano Erina in the past year, I didn’t have high expectations for Kikkawa Yuu. Mano Erina has had fleeting glimpses of greatness, only to be buried in mediocre songs. Out of all of Hello!Project’s performers, I felt that the soloist ended up getting the least amount of attention and care in all aspects. So while I’ve harbored little to no optimism for Kikkawa Yuu, I can happily say that my preconceptions have been completely wrong.
I am completely smitten with this release. I don’t know if it’s because of Universal J’s involvement, but ‘Kikkake wa YOU!’ released with 4 different b-side songs(one for each version), which is hefty for a H!P single. The song quality has been cranked up to eleven; Her strong vocals and robust instrumentals sound fantastic together across the board. Her smooth and mature singing voice stands perfectly on its own, and is quickly becoming my favorite voice in all of H!P.
The PV has a narrative, albeit a bizarre one. There’s several things going on which seem interesting if you follow all the threads, but none of the follow-throughs really have the satisfying punch that they ought to. The lack of backdrops and the overbearing color palate of saturated yellows give the PV a cramped look, with the only different and spacious set being from a self-reflective “hall of mirrors” scene that I felt looked out of place. That said, Kikkawa Yuu is absolutely captivating. Her performance has such charisma and positive energy that you can’t help but be convinced that this is what she was born to do. The way she presents herself in the dance and close up shots is refreshingly vibrant and exudes confidence in her abilities like a seasoned pro.
This release definitely revived my interest in Hello!Project’s solo division. It’s always a pleasure to find unexpected treasures. What I got from Kikkawa Yuu is confident vocal ability, raw energy, versatility, and quality songs; something I still need to see from Mano Erina’s releases. I hope this release heralds a great new beginning for both of them.
‘Kikkake wa YOU!’
Releases May 11th, 2011