I was half-tempted to title this one ‘Junjun in Space’ (I’ll explain why later in the entry), and was really debating between that and the one I ended up using; ultimately I chose “Mikan’s Impact,” because, well, I got thinking about space, you know, asteroids… impact, haha– well, it was funny at the time I realized the unintentional pun. … but anyway.

 Yesterday, the new PV for Mikan surfaced, and I can certainly say it’s nothing like I expected. The adorable cover previews gave me hope for a colorful set and some kind of party-themed PV, with the girls dressed in normal clothes, and– well, basically, another Tokaikko Junjou, except less dancey and ranking higher on the exuberant happiness scale. I certainly got the exuberant happiness I was looking for, but certainly not the party– but nevertheless, I kept seeing something of a repeating pattern here.

I can’t help but thinking this single was released a few months too early. From the party covers, to the sparkly special effects, to the chrome-colored stylish space suits in the PV, to the overall meaning of the song– this entire single just screams “New Year” to me. But alas, we’re in the beginning of November! But no one can really ever tell what’s going on up in Tsunku’s mind, can they? His obsession with his new favorite English word, “chance,” is another pretty intriguing pattern, but I have no idea where may be going with that one, if at all. (9th Chance Auditions, anyone?)

But anyway, time for some more specific reactions to this new PV.

In my last entry about Mikan, I mentioned I really wanted to see lots of Junjun and Linlin in the PV to make up for their lack of lines. Unfortunately, my expectations weren’t really met. The second time I watched it through, I remember wondering WHERE the hell Junjun was. She doesn’t even get a full close-up until the second half of the song, if I remember correctly. So that was a little disappointing, but the PV had many things to make up for it.

First, I absolutely have to mention the baby pictures. Well, not even all the baby pictures– only one of them in particular, because it was probably the first thing to elicit an EXTREME reaction out of me the first time I watched the PV.

Whoever picked THAT particular photo of Aika… is a GENIUS and my new hero.

I am not exaggerating by any means when I say I SCREAMED when I saw that photo. I mean…. COME ON. We’ve got TINY AIKA, and a PUPPY. That one photo combines a couple of my favorite things in the world, so I mean… honestly, this could’ve become one of my favorite MM PVs based solely on that photo.

…. seriously, tell me that isn’t the cutest thing you’ve ever seen! They’ve reached uncharted levels of cuteness never before known to man right there!

Not to say that the other kid photos weren’t cute, too. All of them were adorable, but really, Aika’s just takes the cake.

Another person I want to draw attention to in this PV is Koharu. She absolutely shines in this one, and her center position in many of the shots didn’t seem out of place like it did in ‘Onna ni Sachi Are.’ While ‘Onna’ is definitely a more mature song– and a center position would be more suited to the likes of Takahashi and Junjun, ‘Mikan’ is definitely a song that’s right up Koharu’s alley. Her wacky, lopsided smiles just enhance the cuteness factor of the PV, and she totally owned that dance. You can tell she put a LOT of effort into it, especially at parts during the chorus, where the girls kind of hop around on one foot, raise their knees up, keep their fists in the air, and sort of bounce around– it sounds a lot more bizarre than it looks, but you know the move I’m talking about! (I hope!) Koharu absolutely knows what to do there and moves around confidently even in such an awkward position, while a few of the other girls struggle with it a little and either shift their weight back and forth from foot to foot or just kick a foot out from time to time. But when you watch Koharu just rotating her knee around while balancing on one foot– well, it’s a really impressive sight! And my attention is immediately drawn to her.

Another thing that I liked about Koharu in this PV is she really reminded me of the kind of Koharu I first fell for– the one with the awkward smile and the innocent gaze (as opposed to her usual “I had FIVE BOWLS OF SUGAR FOR BREAKFAST, I AM SO AWESOME!” gaze). Especially in this one particular point near the end– my screencapping capabilities are really limited, so I’ll provide the PV instead.

At -0:33, where Koharu gets a close-up, and she tilts her head back– that LOOK right there at the last second is SO classic-Koharu, and is meaningful to me, personally, because it coincidentally comes right at the time Koharu’s transitioning back into my list of H!P favorites.

Another part that I absolutely loved was when Koharu and Aika teamed up in the shots where the girls are paired up (or in small groups), and sitting/laying down on the… Earth? Sky? Well, whatever it is– the dark, sparkly, moving thing. Aika reaches over and touches Koharu’s hand while Koharu’s staring off into space ( … again with the space!), and Koharu grins in response. It’s just… one of the more touching scenes in the PV for me. (Honestly, honestly, I’m not trying to dish out these awful puns.) I can’t really explain why, though.

It’s certainly not the best screencap in the world– as I mentioned, I’m awful at getting those, but it was a scene worth mentioning.

So many of the girls did absolutely amazing in this PV. Another girl who I want to take a second to focus on is Takahashi. Her confidence level has visibly improved since ‘Onna ni Sachi Are.’ While she had the kind of attitude for ‘Onna,’ that kind of distant, ‘baka ne!’ attitude needed– there was still something a little off with her there. It was, after all, her first single as the new leader, and after Yossie’s graduation and Miki’s scandal and abrupt graduation, I’m sure she was having a little bit of a difficult time trying to fill in the big shoes left behind for her. I remember reading one of Hello! Online’s Young Town Doyoubi Summaries around the time of the Miki scandal, and Takahashi admitted that she didn’t want the position of leader at the time. Takahashi was never really one whose personality commanded attention; she always seemed content to sit in the background and laugh at the other girls on Hello! Mornings and whatnot, though she proved she’s definitely capable of grabbing attention when she tries. (That Utaban episode when ‘Onna ni Sachi Are’ was released– when the hosts shut the door on her, and then she opens it back up and just pops her head through– I could NOT stop laughing!) But now, finally, her presence in ‘Mikan’ shows that she’s not just the mysterious leader– ever-present but somewhat subdued (like I said, she mastered that distant angry look and managed to convey a little bit of an essence of ‘mess with these girls and you DIE’ vibe in ‘Onna’). No, this time, she’s the leader of Morning Musume.

I was browsing a few forums yesterday when Mikan’s PV was released, and I remember someone mentioning that Takahshi must have been “channeling Yossie.” And that’s absolutely it. She’s grabbing other girls by their shoulders and pulling them in, she’s tilting her head back and looking taller than she is. She’s finally feeling more comfortable in her leader role, and it shows.

Sayumi and Linlin are definitely worth mentioning, too. Not only do their voices sound really well together (I’m pretty sure they have at least one line together, and they blend wonderfully on it), but they really shined in this PV. While they got overshadowed a little, I think they still did a fantastic job. Sayumi looks really happy to have some solo lines again– she looks great on her close-ups, and she does a good job with the dance, too. Linlin absolutely amazes me for being so confident in this PV even though she’s still relatively new in the group. She knows exactly what to do– not a sign of awkwardness about her whatsoever. I particularly liked the part near the end of the song where they show Linlin, Reina, and Sayumi in a smaller group shot– where Reina has the spoken “oh yeah, one time!” line. When she’s about to say that, Linlin looks right over at Reina and opens her hand at her like, “Okay guys, Reina’s turn, watch!” It’s absolutely perfect.

And, last but not least, Junjun! I mentioned being upset by her lack of close-ups overall, but when she DID get those close-ups, she absolutely shined. That girl is extraordinarily beautiful, and while they did those effects of having colored lights in little shapes reflected in the girls’ eyes for all of the girls on their close-ups, Junjun just looked the best with them. I can’t wait to see a live performance of this so I can watch Junjun more– they kept her in the back for most of the dance, so she really wasn’t focused on at all. But in her close-ups and small group shots, you can definitely see that Junjun is getting more comfortable as an idol; she’s making cute faces and being absolutely gorgeous at the same time. And, it’s a little off-topic, but for the record, I demand a Junjun PB! The world needs to see more of this beautiful girl!

 

Now for a few more general reactions… I think I would’ve disliked the PV a lot more just because of its complete, er, green-screen-ness, if I didn’t end up liking the PV for so many different reasons. It gives it that ‘cheaper’ sense, but for some reason, it just worked this time around. Everything was just so shiny and distracting. But I actually liked that dark, shiny, Earth/Sky/whatever green-screen background a lot. It’s just the, um, city/roof/dance floor background with intermittent searchlight-like effects shining right in the camera that I wasn’t too fond of.

I’ve really fallen in love with the song. I still love the Koi-ING-esque piano intro, but the song, for some reason I can’t really explain, has had a really strong impact on me overall. This morning, I stumbled out of bed after only about two hours of sleep; I had about a half hour before my first class started, so while I was in the middle of waking up, I turned on my laptop, checked my email, and found myself browsing the Hello! Online tracker, where I saw someone had uploaded an English-subbed version of Mikan– which they fortunately uploaded to Youtube for lazy people like me. So I clicked on the link to watch, and when I was reading the translation and watching the PV– I honestly almost started bawling. I really don’t know why. Kind of the same way I don’t know why I started crying when I watched Koharu performing a solo of ‘Ai Araba IT’S ALL RIGHT.’ It very well could’ve been the fact that I was really sleep-deprived and not 100 percent awake yet, but there was something that felt really, really epic about the PV and the song meaning together. Needless to say, I’m just a huge fan of this single now.

And, as promised, I’ll wrap this up by explaining why ‘Junjun in Space’ was one of the options I considered for a title to this entry. Since I WAS really tired, after attending my morning classes, I had a few hours before my afternoon class, so I decided to take a nap. What did I dream of? Junjun — in — space. She was decked out in her ‘Mikan’ PV space-suit-dress thing, and we were off to save some planets together in a happy, sparkly orange spaceship.

You know, I could analyze that a lot more. Junjun, saving the world. Morning Musume expanding to Asia. The meaning of Mikan being all about “getting a chance,” and living like a “crying baby,” and having a pure heart.

But the life lessons that Morning Musume teaches us/Morning Musume’s potential to save the galaxy shall be stories for another time, since I’ve got to run for now.

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