All opinions within this post are strictly my own and do not reflect the opinions of the other Selective Hearing Staff members. If our opinions do happen to coincide, then that is pure coincidence. Thank you.
It is that time again, viewers and readers; the time where Hello! Project release a plethora (or at least a handful) of new music videos unto us all, ultimately burying each and every one of us in a tide of new tunes and fresh visuals, bringing us enjoyment and excitement as we sit and watch it for the first time, hoping that what we see is just as good as what we last saw. Or, we could always hope; after all, not all good things last, and that phrase certainly strikes true for this group today.
In this instance, I will be talking about Juice=Juice’s newest music video to add to their ever-growing collection of PV’s, Black Butterfly. The first of two A-sides for their latest single, this will of course be the song that is heavily promoted and sung the most during live performances, so in a way I as a fan do expect that the PV for the lead song will be visually appealing and entertaining to watch, or at least fit the theme of the song and have some form of structure to it that looks nice. I mean, this is Hello! Project, so I don’t expect anything beyond the four walls of a studio, but I do expect it to at least look a little stylish. So, what do we get?
As a song, Black Butterfly is fine enough I think, though it is definitely a weak link in the Juice=Juice’s discography. It’s the PV that was a huge disappointment for me, and even after a few more views of the video, I still find it to be a rather giant let down despite the fact it has grown a little on me since my first viewing. In fact, despite a few improved feelings concerning the video, I still feel the way I do when I first watched it;
Visually, this PV lacks. I understand that this is a mature song with a bit of a darker tone compared to other Hello! Project songs, thus calling for an eerie setting with little to look at aside from the members and their expressions, but when not even the members of the group performing this song look like they fit with the suggestive tone of the song, or at times look like they aren’t even invested in what they are doing, then the video comes out looking poorly done and rather amateurish, if you ask me.
I actually found this to be one of the biggest problems throughout Black Butterfly, as at least two of the girls look like they don’t fit with the mature theme of the song, which causes issues for me as a viewer. I rather enjoy when the sound of a song fits the image of the performer, but that is not the case here, and so I just sit here, watching the video whilst feeling a tad awkward.
I do think it’s a no-brainer who I am talking about when I say I feel like certain girls don’t fit this type of song, and you could fight with me all you like about it, but when it comes to Karin, seeing her in this type of setting and attempting to look sexy is a rather uncomfortable situation for me as a viewer; she simply does not look like she should be staring into the camera suggestively, her eyes telling us something else, or singing lyrics about how she doesn’t want to reveal her age for whatever reason. Whenever I see Karin perform in this video, I just feel like she’s trying too hard, and it comes off as awkward to me, thus making me feel a little awkward.
Don’t get me wrong; some girls pull off this sort of vibe very well, despite their age, and still look comfortable whilst viewing the camera with a half-lidded, rather enticing look in their eyes. In fact, Uemura Akari does it well. Karin, however, does not. But that is simply my opinion on that matter.
In fact, both Kanazawa Tomoko and Uemura Akari were the saving graces of this PV if you ask me. Tomoko because she has this natural maturity about her, and because she also exudes eroticism (I swear), whilst Akari has a look of pure desire on her face, though I generally find that to be her natural look. They both fit the video well, they seem invested in it at all times and how they look towards the camera feels natural, but also desirable. They fit the tone well, and they just seem to embody the theme behind the song.
There are nights where I cry about how horrible these lyrics are sometimes, actually. I also scream Oh No, too, they’re that bad.
Miyazaki Yuka is also rather problematic for me within this video, but I think that’s purely because she’s rather awkward in general; she’s sweet and does well looking demure, but if she tries to act sexy in any way, it seems to come out wrong and she ends up looking worried or bored during the duration of the video. In a sense, Sayuki’s the same, however when Sayuki dances she looks serious and rather mature, so the appeal is there, but for poor Peach-chan, it’s a little different. Despite being the oldest, she lacks the erotic vibe this song so dearly needs in a performer, a vibe that pretty much only Akari, Tomoko and Sayuki seem to provide throughout the video in one way or another.
Still, she’s adorable much like Karin is, but it can become awkward watching them attempt to pull off that mature look, only for it to fail miserably.
I see they managed to throw in a reference to the Butterfly side of the song. Eventually.
Aside from the performance aspect of the video lacking thanks to certain girls, I just found the entirety of the video unappealing and lack-luster on many levels. The visuals were weak, the choreography was poor and I felt the entire thing lacked substance. Couple these issues I feel the video has with the weak performances from the girls themselves, because I really feel like this video has little to offer in terms of personality either, then you will get a rather bland video.
Thankfully the song is a little more forgiving than the PV, though I will admit that when I first heard it, my immediate thoughts were how Black Butterfly was clinging to the glory that was Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no Kiss. That’s just what I think, but it does feel like this song is following the path of Hadaka far too quickly, making it feel a bit like a cop out.
Not to say this song is terrible, by any means, because I do enjoy it. At first the vocals stunned me, not in the most favorable of ways either, but I’ve become used to the… macho sound of the song, as I like to think of it. It’s very brutal sometimes in how it is sung, but I suppose that’s the charm of it. Actually, I find the song fits KanaTomo very well, Karin too. It surprised me how beautifully Karin fit with the song, despite how I feel towards her visually in the video.
Still, despite how the song is growing on me, I do feel like it is one of the weak links in the groups discography, but what can we expect? Some day, there would be a song that would not be especially strong as the first A-side, and this is it. I know some other fans of Juice=Juice feel the same way as me, though others will disagree, and by no means is this song terrible, but it isn’t amazing either; it’s just okay I think, and being ‘okay’ is never a bad thing, but it could have certainly been better I think.
Overall, Black Butterfly is a rather weak release from my viewpoint; I feel that, whilst Juice=Juice is a strong group within Hello! Project both musically and vocally (we can agree to disagree here) this song and video choice was not their best, showing us a weaker side to the group we have all been rooting for since their debut.
More could have been done for both the song and the video, more for the video than the song of course, given that this is the main A-side that will be promoted the most. I would have liked to have seen a few more references to butterflies for a start, aside from that one weak nod during the choreography and the symbols stitched into their shoes and clothes, and of course something could have been done about that set. Recycling remnants of the Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game PV are fine and dandy by my standards, but I do think the PV would have done better were there more than a few floating chain link fences and fake flowers decorating the place. That, and the personalities within this video aren’t strong enough to hold such a song on their own without the help of something pretty in the background to help me get over just how bland most of the girls here are.
Of course this is all my own speculation, but Black Butterfly as a video did not tickle my taste-buds at all, and even the likes of KanaTomo and Uemuu, who I loved looking at in the video, can not save me from how uninspired the entire thing is in my unwanted, honest opinion.