By the time you read this, ℃-ute have played their last performance on June 12, 2017. In order to commemorate the event, here’s a look at every single promotional video released by the group. Now you can marvel at the transition from Hello! Project Kids to one of the best loved idol groups. Awkward to beautiful, ℃-ute to sexy, here’s everything every music video by ℃-ute.
1st Indie Single- Massara Blue Jeans
The debut song from “Berryz Koubou leftovers” clearly looks like the budget could have fit in my inside left pocket. Of course blue jeans are hanging up on the clothesline, and of course the skirts and tube top (while looking a bit too racy) are in shades of blue. And, the tube tops arent’ the only thing that turns heads: can we even talk about the hip thrust choreography? With both the aviator sunglasses on Maimai and the beanpole Erika, the group didn’t seem to necessarily belong together by appearances. Even though C-ute changed a lot from this first incarnation, the fire of being the “also rans” to Berryz Koubou never left the group.
2nd Indie Single- Soku Dakishimete
With basketball uniforms in yellow, C-ute looks more put together. As expected from an early PV, the girls get an introduction courtesy of some slam dunk action. Maimai in shades, Maimi still over dancing, and Megumi hits the game winner with a second left on the clock like the ace of the group (which seems a bit misplaced knowing how things will turn out). All of this makes me wonder, if C-ute wins the game 10-9 against “Enemy”, who exactly was Enemy?
3rd Indie Single- Ooki na Ai de Motenashite
This is one of my favorites from the early C-ute discography. Bubbly and charming, the girls are dressed in pink which feels more age appropriate, even if the group still looks like a hodgepodge of girls. “Ookina Ai de Motenashite” also seems to be the moment when Hello! Project realized that Suzuki Airi is going to “face” the group for the next 15 years.
4th Indie Single- Wakkyanai (Z)
The last indie singe for the girls also marks the end of its first lineup. Murakami Megumi departs from the group soon after the single. “Wakkyanai (Z)” is another cute song, which seemed to indicate that the group would be heading in that direction: cute. “Wakkayanai (Z)” also marks the first time Maimai appears in a PV without her sunglasses. The PV is a live shot, so it seems like H!P is saving up money for the group’s eventual major label debut!
1st Single- Sakura Chirari
Sakura Chirari is an adorable line dance of a song. By this point it seems like C-ute are really going to live up the cute in their name. With all those fresh faces right in the camera, how do you not get charmed? The girls are also starting to look more like their eventual adult selves. Thinking about it now, maybe this was the work of a stylist wisely trying to develop identities for the new group. Shot entirely on a soundstage, the eerie depiction of a lack of gravity still plays tricks with my eyes. Then again, who needs gravity when you have C-ute?
2nd Single- Meguru Koi no Kisetsu
Here’s your chance to remark on how cheap H!P makes their promotional videos. Those performance outfits look a shade better than some of the fan-made t-shirts I’ve seen. As cheap as things may be, I find the painted background sets like they came from the local elementary school’s fall play rich with innocence. So you might arge that “Meguru Koi no Kisetsu” could be the purest of all C-ute PVs to this point. I’d also like to highlight how the choreography really gels for the group: just compare this PV to “Soku Dakishimete” for proof!
3rd Single- Tokaikko Junjou
From the cute back to the cool, C-ute prowl the loading docks like a gang of stylishly dressed ruffians. “Tokkaiko Junjou” was the first song where the intensity that would mark the group for the rest of its life would first appear. I saw “Tokkaiko Junjou”‘s dance shot version before this actual PV, and to tell the truth I still prefer that version just because the choreography and execution is breathtaking.
4th Single- LALALA Shiawase no Uta
Back to cute songs now. The pastel C-ute ably provide the idol charm here, although after “Tokaikko Junjou”, “LALALA Shiawase no Uta” feels a bit like the girls are wearing some other group’s clothes. I don’t mean to sound like this is a bad song: it’s a really fun song! But like their act in the PV, the girls seem to be trying on different costumes to see which would fit them perfectly.
Koero! Rakuten Eagles
It’s a bit hard to really include “Koreo! Rakuten Eagles” with the C-ute discography, but here it is. The cheer song isn’t bad by any means. You get the pleasure of seeing the girls do their thing in baseball uniforms with their caps clipped to their belts.
5th Single- Namida no Iro
This is where I officially enter the story. Although I was already a fan of Morning Musume by this point, I hadn’t really delved into the rest of Hello! Project until “Namida no Iro”. At the time I felt there was something a bit misguided yet endearing about a group of teenage Japanese singing a song with clear Spanish influence. I also didn’t think anything particularly about the PV that now looks like corners were cut everywhere. But, MAN that styling department went overtime on the girls. Saki wears the ski cap, Erika dons the fedora, and Airi puts on those hot pants. It’s crazy good.
6th Single- Edo no Temari Uta II
Interested yet inexperienced in C-ute, the next single didn’t look or sound odd to me. Only later did I find out how incongruent “Edo no Temari no Uta II” was. That said, I love the costuming- stylish kimono influences in clear color keys always works. I also love the sets, back dancers, and neon solo close ups. This PV let the girls shine in those close ups and this made it easier for me to learn the girls. Maimi’s solo at the end? Priceless.
7th Single- FOREVER LOVE
OK, first of all you get C-ute wearing stylish ikemen suits, which is a plus. You also get some of the intense choreography that you expect from the group. But, the big drawback here is that “FOREVER LOVE” sets up like a two-girl show with Maimi and Airi taking about 90% of the leads. Here’s a case of “too much of a good thing”. It’s also important to note that Okai Chisato hasn’t emerged as a star vocalist for the group by this point. That’s gonna change.
8th Single- Bye Bye Bye!
The joke if you remember was C-ute saying “Bye Bye Bye” to Arihara Kanna. I never liked that too much: Kanna was pretty much my favorite at this point. Putting that aside, the metallic outfits with pink accents met with my approval at the time. The Maimi / Airi focus remains, as it does to this day (mostly). Choreography-wise, the girls perform some very goofy looking moves especially in the chorus. With this single, I think we’re officially in the doldrums of the group’s career. Nothing is particularly bad, but then there aren’t too many stand outs. Not surprisingly, this is all happening as the structure of the group undergoes huge transformations.
9th Single- Shochuu Omimai Moushiagamasu
Honestly, I have nothing but good things to say about this song. “Shochuu Omimai Moushiagamasu” was a brilliant light for the ℃-ute during this stage of their career. I remember this came out right around summer time, and the images of the girls enjoying themselves at the beach with that watermelon set the mood for a great vacation. I love the red and white outfits- eye-catching and cute. The end bit with the girls delivering letters to mail box was thought to be the girls sending messages to Arihara Kanna, currently taking a medical leave for bunions. Well, that was a nice thought but we all know how Kanna’s leave turned out …
10th Single- EVERYDAY Zekkouchou!!
We’ve reached the place where we say goodbye to Umeda Erika. “EVERDAY Zekkouchou!!” seems like as logical a place for her to step off as any: the song is cheerful and bright much like Erika’s personality. The platform still shines mirror-like on the rooftop reflecting the clouds and patches of blue for this dance shot. Watching this here now, I’me struck by how great the girls look with these outfits. The choreography also looks much sharper than I remember. This last single for Erika never became one of my favorites, although I don’t dislike it.
11th Single- SHOCK!
To me, “SHOCK! ” mainly stands out as the first release under the group’s final lineup of girls. Listening to it now, “SHOCK!” really sounds like it should have been credited as “Suzuki Airi featuring ℃-ute” Or maybe, “SHOCK! We gave all of your lines to Airi!” Well, no use in complaining now: the song ultimately proves itself forgettable.
This album track from “Shocking 5” probably doesn’t win many awards. I’m sure we’ve all seen album track PVs with more creativity and production that “Shigatsu Sengen”. To be honest, the ugly gray walls combined with the outfits makes the group look a bit like zoo keepers behind the lion attraction just before park opening. At least the song is a pleasant listen.
12th Single- Campus Life ~Umarete Kite Yokatta~
When I was preparing for this article, I found myself looking forward to seeing “Campus Life ~Umarete Kite Yokatta”. I think this release puts the group solidly into their transitional phase. For the first time, ℃-ute performs a song more adult in theme and they actually look like they fit the bill, more or less. I’m down with those pink school blazers and ties. I’m down with the scenes o the girls fooling around on campus. I’m down with the tennis court choreography and those Elaine Benes kicks. Charming and catchy, “Campus Life ~Umarete Kite Yokatta” is a great backward glance at ℃-ute.
13th Single- Dance de Bakoon!
Now we’re getting the spicy stuff! The group really finds its balance starting from “Dance de Bakoon!” The choreography may include the awkward “turn around and bend over” move, but I’m not sure many people were complaining by this point. Even thought the vocals mostly distribute like a later day “FOREVER LOVE”, Okai Chisato nails her lines solidly. Couple this with her enormously popular solo dances (Chisato dances “Massara Blue Jeans” in her bedroom!), and you have the third leg of a tripod for group.
14th Single- Aitai Lonely Christmas
The most notable thing I have to say about “Aitai Lonely Christmas” is my memory of hearing this song on repeat during the Morning Musume 9th Generation auditions. Vocally, the song is much more balanced than the previous single with major contributions from all the girls- maybe Up FRONT felt bad about heaping all the lines on Maimi/Airi. Maybe UF realized the group would need to keep all the members engaged if ℃-ute was to last. Whatever happened, I’m glad it did.
15th Single- Kiss me Aishiteru
OK LET’S DO THIS! The gold jackets and purple hot pants? The acres of midriff and hip thrust choreography. “Kiss me Aishiteru” is the first place where ℃-ute really looks like ℃-ute . The choreography kills on so many levels, and the three main vocals of Maimi, Airi, and Chisato gives the group put the group a cut above their peers. Have I mentioned how fun this song is to see live?
16th Single- Momoiro Sparkling
Another favorite of mine (two in a row!). The song is just great fun with the girls in casual wear and squirting water in our faces. I’m not even gonna talk about all the legs (or should I say L-egs?). The levitating trick used in some of the cuts are a nice touch, as are the colored ball drops. I feel like this is one of those songs where I think “if you don’t have even a little bit of love for “Momoiro Sparkling” then do you really like idols?”.
17th Single- Sekaiichi HAPPY na Onna no Ko
“Sekaiichi HAPPY na Onna no Ko” feels like the closing act of the “Kiss Me/Momoiro/Sekaiichi” trilogy of songs. I think the girls were on a real tear with these three releases. The color-keyed mini rooms and flooring? GREAT. The leg pull choreography? INSPIRED. Musically, I’ve always enjoyed listen to the bass guitar parts for this song, but I know not all of you get off on that kind of thing. At this point (2011) I remember thinking “Jeez! ℃-ute just keeps getting better!” Maybe the group stepped up their game because the 9th and 10th generation infused Morning Musume threatened to bury the group into obscurity. Maybe it all just came together for them at this one moment in time. Maybe both. Whatever the reasons, this is the ℃-ute we got and the entire idol world was better for it.
18th Single- Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku
Ballad work from the girls of ℃-ute, “Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku” showcases the group’s vocal abilities greatly. The promotional video was a big gamble … there’s a boy in it! He actually touches Airi! This will shock you at different levels depending on where you fall in the “Love Ban” spectrum. The other memory of “Kimi wa Kitensha…” that doesn’t show up here was the actual release of the song. During the month leading up to the release, ℃-ute released a new version of the PV EVERY DAY. I don’t know where these versions exist now (maybe somewhere on the official YouTube Channel), but maybe I should take a watch one day. This single was the first time in the “modern” Hello! Project era that a group other than Morning Musume crossed the 40K barrier, so CELEBRATE! Your Queens have arrived!
19th Single- Aitai Aitai Aitai na
This is where I made some interesting life choices. I didn’t really listen to this song that much on its release, and I gotta say that this was for no good reason at all. All told, the song is pretty damn powerful with some great choreography and features Saki’s hands in a pretty envious position. I don’t really approve of the floor work, but then I never did like floor work for most choreography. Aside from Saki’s hands, I remember those side kicks the most. OUCH!
20th Single- Kono Machi
Here’s the second ballad of the post. I honestly couldn’t tell you which I like better “Kono Machi” or “Kimi wa Jitensha…”. I’m a pretty offbeat guy, and I can tell because I actually like those mosaic backgrounds that the girls sing in front of. The red outfits with double-breast buttons matched with plaid skirts … I’m not to big on that. So with not much more to say, can I just get a holler for Airi’s “Peace and Love” earrings? Thanks.
21st Single- Crazy Kanzen na Otona
As soon as you see “Crazy” in the title, you expect a party. No doubt about it, this is ℃-ute’s sexiest look yet. Leather jackets, fishnet stockings, red hot pants with straps like bondage gear, and ACRES of midriff. You get the picture. You know what I really like? I love the way Chisato delivers her lines in this song: powerful! Really, I’m watching this PV now and sweating profusely. ℃-ute hit an all time high with “Crazy Kanzen na Otona” selling 47,420 copies on their first week, but they hadn’t peaked yet!
22nd Single(a)- Kanashiki Amefuri
Welcome to the land of double and triple A-side releases. From here on out, Hello! Project weapon of choice became the use of multiple A-sides with “Kanashiki Amefuri” and “Adam to Eve no Dilemma” being the first ℃-ute single to pack ’em in. Also, H!P began their subtitle policy with these PVs, so enjoy reading. Starting with this release, the group really started to look the part of the mature songs they were singing. There’s nothing particularly “loli” about the group any longer. Now, there are three things here that really heighten my appreciation for great rain you see. Firstly, I grew up with a love of Gene Kelly and the great American Movie Musical, and I perceive this as more of “Singing in the Rain” (I know, it’s a reach). Second, Yajima Maimi’s reputation as a rain bringing woman falls in line perfectly with “Kanashiki Amefuri”. Finally, I don’t know if it’s the split screens, the water hose rain drops, or the arrangement of the “oooh, aaah” background vocals but this single always struck me with a 1970s vibe that I kinda dig. Ya dig?
22nd Single(b)- Adam to Eve no Dilemma
In a way, “Adam to Eve no Dilemma” is a redux of “Crazy Kanzen na Otona”: a return of the belly-button assault, more tighty synchronized dances, more adult themes. Since we are talking about Adam and Eve, I love the idea of the chain link barrier as a representation of the Garden of Eden where sure, it’s paradise, but the whole world exists outside the confines. Take that a bit further and you might as well call the entire idol industry a Garden of Eden paradise. The idols who inhabit that sacred place live with so many trappings the outsider would envy: a paradise in its own right. But, the transparent barrier barely separates the idols from outside world and its forbidden pleasures
23rd Single(a)- Tokai no Hitori gurashi
Following with the aesthetics of “Kanashiki Amefuri”, “Tokai no Hitori gurashi” paints the screen with colorful graphics. Looking at the PV today, it looks incredibly sharp with the girls’ outfits looking stylish and flattering. For some reason, I know I slept a bit on this 23rd ℃-ute. I know I was really off-put by the line they gave to Chisa about going on a diet. “How rude!” I thought. But you know, “Tokai no Hitori gurashi” has a great chorus, and its easy for me to forgive with Airi and Maimi looking so fantastic. Seriously, some of the looks Airi gives the camera just melt me.
23rd Single(b)- Aitte Motto Zanshin
You know, I never watch “Aitte Motto Zanshin” that often. I listen to it an awful lot, but I don’t usually watch it. At this point, you should all be seeing the pattern of “one cute song, one intense song” per single. OK, the girls all wear caps and camouflage outfits with military inspired patches, the the dance is impossibly synchronized. The best news for me on “Aitte Motto Zanshin” is the killer deliveries from Chisa. When Chisata is on her game, it really makes or breaks ℃-ute.
24th Single(a)- Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemtia
Here’s another on of those songs that I’ll take with me to my grave. Yes, I like it that much. I love the mannequin ℃-ute in a shop window, probably because I saw the movie “Mannequin” waaay too many time on cable TV. Also, the striped back drop reminds me of Blondie’s “Parallel Lines” album. None of those references probably make sense to you. I appreciate Hello! Project experimenting with a variety of shots and film treatments, and they do make sense Think of the idol life as life in a shop window and those degraded images are memories from the girls’ experiences before/outside their mannequin transformations … which is basically the plot of “Mannequin”.
24th Single(b)- Love Take it All
I can’t handle all those hip thrusts. I really can’t. “Love take it all” really is just a dance shot in a light filled studio, yet ℃-ute somehow transform this standard set-up into something fantastic. In the hands of lesser groups, this PV is just standard. The way the group handles the camera and their intense execution bring this song to life. I should maybe mention that “Love Take it All” is the intense song from this 24th double A-side, but you probably get that from watching. This is a great place for us to finish up this 7th installment. The successful pattern of the last three releases while averaging an impressive 62K in first week sales started to stale a bit. Starting from the next release, ℃-ute takes some chances.
25th Single(a)- The Power
By most accounts, things get crazy for ℃-ute from this point onwards. At first glance, you might think “The Power” is going to be another intense song in the same vein as “Crazy Kanzen na Otona” with its belly button baring outfits. There are elements of that here, but Tsunku♂ goes on a strange journey with “The Power” with an Indian influenced production. To this day, I’m not sure if it worked, but after a few listens I just went with it in the same way I went with Tsunku♂’s madness on “The Manpower”. At the same moment I will rock out and make that lip-snarling, head bopping face AND exclaim “WTF is Tsunku♂ even thinking?!”
25th Single(b)- Kanashiki Heaven
Remember how “FOREVER LOVE” was a two-person show that I hoped would never return? Well, it did return with this Suzuki Airi / Okai Chisato duet. I think the fact that this is transparently done as a two-woman show made all the difference, though. Well, that and we’re always looking for ways to showcase Chisato. “Kaneshiki Heaven” features the warehouse shots, a gorgeously lit sunset at the docks (recalling Tokkaiko Junjou), and the pole dances from their 2014 Spring “~℃-ute no Honne~” tour. I love the song and the outfits – shout out to Mai’s houndstooth overalls.
26th Single(a)- I miss you
℃-ute get really fancy with “I miss you”. Vocals overlap like a fugue and the subtitles become a mess of lyrics all over the screen. The PV looks like a one shot production where the dining table disappears from the room, but it’s probably more accurate to call this a multi-angle one-performance promotional video. It’s probably the most blatantly artistic performance in a promotional video from H!P that I’ve ever seen. The song leaves the realm of pop music, and the video doesn’t rely on fancy choreography or racy clothing to make its point. “I miss you” is real treasure.
26th Single(b)- THE FUTURE
Back to something a bit more familiar to ℃-ute fans, “THE FUTURE” uses up the scarce extra budget leftover from “I miss you”. So, yes we et a performance video again. We’re rewarded with more revealing outfits and tight choreography, but it really feels a little bit like a let down (to me) after the daring high-wire act of “I miss you”. Which isn’t to say that “THE FUTURE” is bad; the song burns buildings down with its sparking intensity. The smart rhythmic theme heard throughout the song plays mindtricks when you pay attention to it.
27th Single(a)- The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~
℃-ute as sexy office ladies? Sign me up. You know, the girls wear those button collars, pants, and power skirts pretty well. The dance shot is absolutely inspiring with some odd body contortions that the girls make work. The real story with “The Middle Management” is the odd grooves that Tsunku♂ gives the group. I have to admit that when I first heard the song, I was expecting something more accessible, perhaps more like the easy, face slams of “Crazy Kanzen na Otona”. Instead, we get a beat that sounds subversive, like the soul has been sucked from sounds yet it keeps pumping (much like office work, right?). This is one of the things that I love about Hello! Project: they don’t necessarily give you exactly what you want 100% of the time. They give you the things that you didn’t even know you wanted until the moment you pay attention to it: like dirty machine-like sex on the boss’s desk.
27th Single(b)- Gamusha LIFE
Based on just a viewing of the promotional video for “Gamusha LIFE” you might think that this third of the triple A-side got the short straw. It’s true the budget here looks much smaller than either of the two other PVs on the 27th single. BUT, this song is wonderfully sentimental and inward looking. It really feels like ℃-ute are singing about their career, and maybe summing up all that they’ve experienced. Really take a read of those lyrics: your guaranteed to shed a tear if you’ve followed the group for any length of time. “Gamusha LIFE” was probably the first time I felt that the group was getting ready to wind it all down. And, how could I/we not think that? Really, this song works well as a farewell, and I HOPE the girls sing it prominently during the final concert.
27th Single(c)- Tsugi no Kago wo Magare
Here’s another of those great Nakajima Takui songs. Remember what I said about Tsunku♂ giving you what you didn’t know you wanted? Well, Takui doesn’t quite operate on that level. The melodic focus here is a hook large enough to land a Great White. Of all the things I love with “Tsugi no Kado wo Magare”, and there’s a lot I love here, I think the way the verses transitions to the chorus like the turn of a page (or the turn of a corner) best summarizes why this song works. Great performances from the girls in the vocal booth create a rich sound, and the sharp rhythm section keep the dynamo running. It’s REALLY difficult for me to tell you which song of the 27th single is my favorite. And, I didn’t even talk about how great the girls look in their solo close ups!
28th Single(a)- Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~
A song that’s a literal “Thank You”? If the previous single didn’t have you thinking about the eventual end of ℃-ute, this one probably did. As it is, the song worked well enough as a bit of cheer for the Japanese National Wrestling Team, whose training regimen, while more intense that ℃-ute’s, clearly draws parallels to the girls and their work to become a top idol group.
28th Single(b)- Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight
Helicopters? Fire? Wrestlers? OK, I don’t know about this crazy mix of elements. This intense rock song from ℃-ute definitely gets the blood pumping with its quick pace and guitar leads. Yes, like “Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~”, “Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight” is more cheer for the Japanese Wrestling Squad. This doesn’t really excuse the mish-mash of ideas in the PV. Two things: Okai Chisato nails her lines, and WHOAH is that fire coming out the girls’ hands or did the effects department at H!P get overtime pay?
This album track from “℃maj9” (C Major Ninth) follows along the same lines as “Gamusha LIFE”, which should figure since SHOCK EYE is the man behind the composition and songwriting for both songs. You knew the budget for this promotional video was bound to be sparse given the nature of the release. That said, the song is full of good feelings with lyrics that feel as though ℃-ute are singing about ℃-ute. Even though the audio is not live audio (perhaps a pet peeve for some people), we get a look at a ℃-ute while they are at the top of their game. Energetic and full of smiles and with a minimum of choreography, “Iron Heart” feels like getting closer to the group than many of their showier songs.
29th Single(a)- Naze Hito wa Arasoundarou?
Sparkling dresses and long gloves, ℃-ute never looked more elegant than in “Naze Hito wa Arasoundarou?”. The song is a bit out of the comfort zone for the girls, yet they look right at home in front of the microphone stands like a 1960’s girl group. The peaceful message and gospel background singers may sound on paper like a slice of Velveeta, but I think the song is a nice change for the group. And, why not a throw back to the golden age of girl groups? You know how much Tsunku♂ adores the 60’s!
29th Single(b)- Summer Wind
I think this is one of the crowning achievements of ℃-ute and Tsunku♂. Now, this isn’t one of those barn-burners that we’re accustomed to from ℃-ute. “Summer Wind” ‘s blissful melodies and sounds seem to float along with the breeze over a set of sounds that are familiar yet strange. I love the way the chorus descends and descends until it decidees to lift itself up again like a bird riding the thermals. The girls look brilliant in their black and white dresses with small details of colors breaking up the visual plane. I’m always impressed when groups can keep their choreography together on songs where the pulse of the music isn’t a punch in the face. Along those same lines, did I mention how much I love the sounds in this arrangement? I wanna shake the hands of the programmer who put this song together. I also want to walk barefoot with ℃-ute on the beach wearing my Sunday clothes … and only one of those wishes has a chance of coming true.
29th Single(c)- Jisei wa STEP!
Keeping with the unfamiliar, ℃-ute work this jazzy number into their repertoire. With leggy choreograhpy and vocals filled with blue notes, I can only imagine how foreign this song (and “Naze Hito wa Arasoundarou?”) must have felt to girls who grew up listening to J-pop and making their trade from J-pop. As alien as the song feels amid the rest of the girls’ catalog, I like how this released pushed the girls out of their comfort zones. Maybe predictably, ℃-ute saw a little dip in sales with their 29th single. But, if you can’t experiment with your sound, then what’s the point … and that’s my philosophy.
30th Single(a)- Mugen Climax
Before starting here, you should know that I am a huge fanboy of Oomori Seiko, the composer and songwriter for “Mugen Climax”. In fact, there is nothing about this song and promotional video that I find disagreeable. The costumes, those military inspired backs and rag dresses appear appropriately surreal. Then the choreography! The girls get plenty of opportunity for individual skills and solo appeal, while the group choreography fills itself with ripple upon ripple. The old European elegance of the set feels dreamlike to me living in sunny California- familiar, yet foreign. Put this one on the short list of idol classics. It’s absolutely brilliant!
30th Single(b) – Ai wa Maru de Seidenki
To be honest, with the absolute genius of “Mugen Climax”, I found difficulty concentrating on the other A-sides from this release. ℃-ute go back into cute mode with “Love is like Static Electricity”. The song definitely feels lighter, with a fluffy melody that plays along with the quick tempo. Like everyone else (probably), I love seeing the girls find their static electricity with their fuzzy sweaters and experiment with hair-raising gravity. Naturally the ending message the girls put together brings a tear to the eye.
30th Single(c) – Singing ~Ano Koro no You ni!
℃-ute wax nostalgic as they recall their journey as idols in this introspective song. Tsunku♂ really had the girls in mind as he penned these lyrics; they read like they came from the girls’ blogs! “Singing ~Ano Koro no You ni!” doesn’t slug you in the face with its beats, nor are you beaten into submission with the girls’ cute antics. In this respect, the song feels like it comes from a very pure place- a place where the love of music and the act of singing is reward enough for the sacrifice.
31st Single(a) – To Tomorrow
If ℃-ute are going to go, then I want it to be a sunrise more than a sunset. I think this is what we get with “To Tomorrow”. Seeing the girls on a hilltop in their white dresses, surrounded by the elements and bathed in the morning sun seems like the best way to go. Famously, this ℃-ute PV is intercut with dance shots of the group with leaders and subleaders of every current group as well as the latest and last crop of Kenshuusei trainees to tour with the group. I loved this idea: ℃-ute didn’t exist in a vacuum; they shaped and influenced Hello! Project as much as they were shaped by the forces within the Projects. “To Tomorrow” refers to not only the morning after for the girls of ℃-ute , but also the morning of their legacy within Hello! Project.
31st Single(b) – Final Squall
Did you realize that Yajima Maimi is a well-documented rain bringer? Rather than lamenting, ℃-ute celebrate the rain with this wonderful song that uses the metaphor of the rain and storms to great advantage. The main shot is a performance in the round surrounded members of the ℃-ute fan club. The rain starts, and for the second time we get wet ℃-ute who by the way look gorgeous. Honestly, I can’t separate my feelings of seeing this song performed live this past April: an ebullition of emotion at seeing and hearing such an honest expression of joy, tribulation, and triumph brought a tear to my eye as I jumped and waved my King Blade like a madman. Only the best songs will do that to you. I have to give major credit to SHOCK EYE who created lyrics that perfectly encapsulate the feelings and emotions of the girls and a composition filled with drama and excitement that takes the listener on a real voyage. The naked strings that close the arrangement really sounds like the sun piercing the clouds after the rain purifies the earth. Beautiful.
31st Single(c) – The Curtain Rises
The last time ℃-ute burns for you is “The Curtain Rises”. The group keeps the intensity level at 11 all the way through to end. In their detailed blacks, the girls dance through the exposed scaffolding of a set that looks like it could be the backside of the stage at their last performance. I hate to leave things with this note, but I honestly wanted something with more bombast than what we got here. Not to say “The Curtain Rises” is a terrible concept. The choreography is as sharp as ever and the girls smolder in their close ups. Perhaps the tracking shots with the girls riding the dolly for that Hitchcock zoom effect will be the most memorable thing about this PV. Perhaps like I mentioned in “The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~”, Tsunku♂ is one step ahead of me and I’ll only realize the true genius of “The Curtain Rises” long after ℃-ute passes into legend. It’s a shrewd sentiment, but after this long and memorable ride it feels only appropriate to say that doors are not closing, sunset is not upon us, and the drapes are not closing; the Grand Curtain is rising.
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