Sunday, 29 December 2019

Of Album Releases and Graduations: Houkago Princess to Release 2nd Album as Three Members Descend The Throne!

On December 22nd 2019, Houkago Princess finally revealed the covers for their second studio-album release. Ttitled My Princess II, the album will act as a sequel to the groups first album, My Princess.

Two editions will be available to purchase, both in a Regular Edition form and a Limited edition release. The Limited version will include a DVD that contains the groups three most recent music videos. Both editions will come with 13 tracks from the groups latest releases, as well as three '2020' renditions of their more popular and recognisable songs.

Left: Regular Edition  |  Right: Limited Edition

Taking on the theme of My Princess, My Hero, My Princess II aims to showcase both the cute and strong sides to a Princess. By creating an expression of strength on both covers, whilst still maintaining the individual cuteness of each girl,  My Princess II is the groups representation of a Princess who will face adversity head-on and become her own type of Hero.

The Regular Edition cover features the groups most recent costumes from their single releases for Abrakatabu Luv!, Kaguya ni Negai wo and Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi. The Limited Edition, on the other hand, includes costumes from the groups major debut release Seifuku Cinderella up until Shin Jidai Princess, with the only costume missing being the outfit for Sayonara Duarena.

This will also be the last release for members Yukino Yuria, Yamamoto Natsumi and Takano Hiyori, who will all be graduating from the group at the end of the release events for My Princess II.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Idols Of Advent: The Sparkling Snow's Illumination - SODA's 'ILLUMINATE☆SNOW' (Quick-Spam Review)

Sometimes it is just nice to watch it snow...


Merry Pic-Spam, and a Giffy New Year!

Corny? Yes, but it had to be done, because this is acting as my Christmas Eve / Christmas Day hybrid post, and also 'cause it includes a few gifs and pics in a smaller quantity than usual. Which leads me to my next bit...

This is a Quick-Spam, a brand new kind of post that I may never return to, because I am a one-off kinda gal with these sorts of posts. With that said, the reason for this being a Quick-Spam kind of post is mostly due to the fact that the PV in question - SODA's ILLUMINATE☆SNOW - is very short at only 1 minute and 40 seconds long. And I will be whizzing through this, so please don't expect a hefty post this time around.

My main reason for choosing such a short music video for review (which I never do) is mostly down to time, but also because I found this one pretty endearing. Sure, it doesn't have that much depth in terms of story line or editing, but it has charm. It's an easy video to watch as well, and the song is darned cute. So, yeah... I chose it because it's cute. What more do I need for Christmas Eve / Day? After all, it's a day that is about fun, spending time with others, eating food and spending stupid amounts of money on sometimes pointless presents.

And before I head into this Quick-Spam Review, SODA is a 3-piece Idol unit that was created for the purpose of singing for and promoting AppFreaks' smartphone game, Idol Girls. Each of the girls are voice actors for the game itself, which will explain their high-pitched, chipper tone of voices. Debuting just this year, ILLUMINATESNOW is the groups second single. They are managed by SubZero.

Now it's time to start the review. In order to celebrate Christmas, let's get into the spirit with something cute, fun and... foody! Are you ready to celebrate Christmas the right way this year by eating plenty of delicious food, just like the SODA girls? Or will you spend it watching Idol videos all day long, singing and dancing to the beat...

It's time to dig in and have a Merry Christmas!

Monday, 23 December 2019

Idols Of Advent: A Memory Of One Snowy Night... - 26ji no Masquerade's 'Snow Memory' (PV Review)

Winter is that one time of the year where everyone is expected to be happy. Eating delicious food, listening to and singing along with festive songs and spending time with those you love are a part of the winter appeal, and throughout the world winter and christmas is broadcasted as a fun, festive season that all can enjoy.

But what if the cold nights and gentle snow fall only bring you sorrow? With memories buried deep beneath a blanket of snow, each snowflake that drifts down from the sky pierces your thoughts until all of the memories you had buried away resurface, as fresh as newly fallen snow...


With time constraints galore, work taking over my life and tiredness engulfing me, I was originally going to forfeit writing any additional posts related to winter, snow and Christmas after posting my review of Nan kini!'s Snow Dome. I am just too tired... BUT! But, but but, I really wanted to review this music video in particular , firstly because it has 'Snow' within the title, and secondly because it's one of my favourite song and PV releases from 26ji no Masquerade.

It was with this strong desire that, despite my lack of sleep since 14:00pm yesterday afternoon and having worked all day, I sat myself down and began screen-grabbing and giffing the heck out of this music video, all with the intent of creating a smaller, more compiled pic spam related post.

Well, that never went to plan, because what we have here is another hefty, 83 piece set of images in one bulky ol' post. Condensing? Don't know her. Whittling down my content for efficiency? Who the heck is that? No matter what, I seem to forget all reasoning when it comes to these types of posts, because in my mind the lengthier it is, the better. After all, my pic spams are created for fun, to showcase the visuals of the PV and to create some weird commentary along the way. These posts were never meant to be about efficient reviewing or elegant script - it's all about the pictures, the commentary and the quick end-of-review that I tack onto the end of it all.

So, yes - this is a hefty post once more, though I managed to do everything in record time in regards to gifs and screen captures of the music video in question. Honestly, I just couldn't help myself; Snow Memory is extremely pretty. It is honestly mesmerising to watch, as well as a great track to listen to. And hey, don't let the gorgeous environment and well-edited shots fool you: This is an indies PV, and a mighty fine one that that!

Yet unlike the previous PV I reviewed - Snow Dome by Nan kini! - Snow Memory stands on the opposite end when it comes to what it portrays and the emotion it sets out to deliver. With a melancholy sound and even sadder story line, 26ji no Masquerade create a beautiful piece that depicts the sadness the snow can bring, as well as the bitter memories you had hoped would fade away in the years gone by.

No matter how much time has passed, no matter how much the snow melts away and the seasons change, these memories will stay with you. And even when you try and stop time to ease the memories you locked away, one way or another, the past will always come back to haunt you...

Times change, but even when you grow older you will always remember that Snow Memory you buried all those years ago...

"Forever, forever..." 


Cue my realisation that whilst this watch reads 2am, it is also a representation of 26 o'clock, or the '26' in the group name.

Because wibbly wobbly, TIMEY WIMEY STUFF! Oh fuck, did I reference Doctor Who by accident?


I love her outfit, just sayin'.


SNOW!


Wait, what are you doing out there at 2am? And without tights on? GIRL, you gonna be cold by the end of this music video! Put some leggings on, yeesh!


God, that lighting is so soft and prety and ahhhhhh I like how they put this clip next to the one where she reaches to the sky to touch the snow.

So damn PRETTY!


Her coat reminds me of bubble waffles. Or phoenix feathers. Or that one really weird episode of Grimm where the birb lady has an egg in her throat.

What, no, I'm not hungry, weird or whatever else. YOU'RE hungry!


This kid looks really uninterested in the snow.

Karin: "Eh, I've seen better."

This is SNOW. Snow is awesome when you're not stuck outside in it!


God, that sweater looks cosy, but... where's her coat?

Kids these days, tch.


Maybe it's just because I'm tired, but these cardigan things really do remind me of dragon egg scales.


Conspiracy Theory confirmed: 26ji no masquerade members are dragon ladies.


Miyu the Ears here reminds me of Suzuki Airi a lot. And Su-Metal.

...

WAIT


Ah, what wonderful memories of Christmases gone by ---

Oh wait, this is a sad PV -dramatically throws watch the ground-


This is 100% Suzuki Airi during her Buono era and you can't tell me otherwise.


Damn, this is a nice little edit here. Simple, pretty... and the watch is at her feet before she chucks it onto the ground because bad memories suck.

I like this. I like how it's basically the same as the next scene, but not.


Aaaaaaand there's another pocket watch gone.

Another one bites the dust~

Seriously though, if that was my pocket watch I would just cry because I treasure what I own and hate to see it break.


Even the choreography is a little bit sad ;;


Leading lady Rin is adorable, though her solo shot counterpart and storyline character are completely different in terms of aura and charisma, and that's pretty damn amazing if you ask me.


And Miharu is just adorable.

I also love that lipstick on her.


So sweet and demure. I love their outfits, the setting and everything about this. The white dresses really pop against the night sky, too.


This is cute, and the filter works well for that memory-like effect the editors were clearly going for.


SCRUNCHY FACE! So farkin' CUTE, ahhhh!


See what I meant about auras? Completely different.


Read it and weep, lads, because we're gonna stan Rin from here on out!


That sweater be lookin' daaaamn cosy there, Aeri.

Where'd ya get it, I want one.


Rin: "Ahaha, erm..."

If this isn't a suspicious twinge, I don't know what is.


What's wrong, Rin? Gotta go back to your real friends? Gotta go home to your parents who you never told your whereabouts to? Gotta head back to the boyfriend?

Rin: "Er..."

Tell us, Rin. TELL US.


Miharu, being the shining star that she is. Such an adorable lil bean of cuteness <3


Look at that smile! it is Paruru levels of awkwardly-cute, and I am here for it!


I just love this move, as well as this angle. Dutch angles are so pretty, and so are the members of 26ji no Masquerade ;;


Is it just me, or do the houses in the background look similar to gingerbread houses? The lights around the edges are clearly the icing, and the windows are chocolate panels.

Conspiracy theory confirmed: 26ji no Masquerade were dancing on a Gingerbread town set.


Airi-Su-Metal has returned to save us all from our sins, and blesses us all with the sight of her ear.

Truly, she is the gift that keeps on giving.


GINGERBREAD HOUSES!


Karin is adorable, I can't help but think she's cute whenever I see her solo shots. Such a pure, cut member who constantly looks bored ;; I love her.


Favourite part of the choreography, fo' sure. I love it, mostly because it looks awkward as heck and like they're all struggling with back pain as they try to stand up from being on the floor too long.


HOW

HOW DOES SHE

HOW IS SHE BABY?

H O W ! ?


This girl goes through an evolutionary period, I swear. First she is scrunchy faced cutie who can act, then she is BABY AURA.

Rin is a Pokemon: Confirmed


Rin is seriously judging the snow right now.

Rin: "2am start time? Feckin' seriously?"


On the other hand, Karin is enjoying the appearance of the snow it seems. No bad memories here, nope nope.


Dragon Egg-Bubble-Waffle wearing Miyu the Airi / Su-Metal clone doesn't seem to mind the snow, either.


This is a nice little scene, because snow brings everyone together, just like Snow Dome taught us...

Oh wait, wrong PV. Snow drives everyone away in this one, right?


It's not that late, guys. Chill for a moment Aeri, kay?


Miharu: -snorts- "And she thinks she can get a man in THAT hat? Pfft~"
Aeri: "Aha... is she judging me?"

The bitch levels in this gif are H I G H and I am living for it. This could be a new reaction gif, I think!


I like to think that the editor forgot to take out the snow effect for the indoors scene, though I am pretty sure it's a shoddy attempt at Karin looking out of the window.

No, it looks like it's snowing indoors, and I love thinking of it as a mini editing fuck-up. Let me keep seeing it this way, please.


Oh, and please stan Karin. She's adorable and I honestly hope that she isn't the member who graduated from the group.


Hiding your face won't stop you resembling Airi and Su-Metal, Miyu dear >:3


The indoor snow effect is BACK, and yes, I see you looking at Karin with judgement there, Miyu.


Snow: It makes friends hate one another, or fuels them with evil thoughts. Who knew?


HOW is she so pretty!? Model levels of cuteness, an abundance of charisma...

And yes, she looks like the mean girl of 26ji no Masquerade. I love it.


That sass!


The editing in this is fun, I like how slow and fast it goes. A nice change of pace from Snow Dome, though not as precise as that PV's editing.


Miharu just being a bundle of joy and enjoying the snow, ahhhhh!


Happier days with friends ;; Snow really can bring you together, huh?


Shalalalalala My oh my, reach your hands to the sky, you gonna GRAB THE SNOW
(WHOA WHOA)


BABY


Adorable Hamachan-esque BABY


Karin is a baby, she's adorable and she must be loved. ALL HAIL KARIN!


This adorable piece of happiness is just so precious and sweet. We must protect at all costs, and keep her away from Miharu. I feel like she'd be corrupted, otherwise.

Oh and bad news: Karin's the member that graduated.

FUUUU-----


This choreography is great. Weird, but great.


Miyu, I found out Karin is the member that graduated ;; hold me, these memories are hurting now ;;


Aeri is dealing with the grief of Karin's graduation news. She understands just how stressful this situation is for me, a casual listener, and is visualising my pain upon finding out that baby Karin is no longer an idol within 26ji no masquerade ;;


Snow Memory really is sad... this song will now forever be the song that made me realise Karin is no longer in this group ;_;


P-Pro... tecc...


Miharu's bitch levels soothe me. Thank you, Miharu, for having the best resting bitch face I have seen on an idol thus far.

Now, compete with Eripon for best resting bitch face! OH, AND PARURU!!!


We need to protecc Rin, too. Her talent must not be wasted!


oh damn, almost 2am huh?

These memories seem to be colliding with the present time rather efficiently, you know... >_>


Oooh, where ya going?

Also: cute shoes!


Miharu's getting a headache from all these blasted memories and the cold snow! Quick, get the paracetamol!


Precious... Rin is so precious. How is someone that precious?


Lonely Night... Snowy Night...

And then they all come together as the snow falls faster.


Miharu is pretty. So damn pretty.


100000000% Suzuki Airi.

And Miharu, stop judging Rin's shoes, ffs.


KARIN ;___________;


Isn't it nice when you spend time with your friends, huh?


Again, this editing: it's nice. I like how sharp it is at times. It really does hit the mark for me.


1 second to 2am...


26ji no masquerade Power.... MAKE---

Erm, where did they go? Rin? Rin, what did ya do to them? >o>


Before the clock strikes 2am, the memories that you hid away start to return to the surface...


And once you uncover that blanket of snow in which you buried your memories, you remember one crucial detail...


You are all alone.


As the snow falls and your memories of once upon a time resurface, you revisit a place of importance at 2am.


But as the clock strikes 26 o'clock and no one else arrives, you realise that only you remember a promise from long ago.


And with that promise broken you take your leave, a broken watch stuck at 2am in hand and a heart full of cold, empty memories.


"During our favourite season, I hope we can meet again someday" You remember everyone saying that snowy day long ago.


And now it is a memory embedded in the snow, one that has been forgotten by all but you. Yes, time has passed, but your memories will continue to stay the same even though you have changed.


Even if you try to stop time, even if try to move forward, these memories will be ingrained in your heart and mind forever, and every winter at 2am you will feel that pang of loneliness and sorrow.

You will never forget.

❅ Eternal Snow Memory

... Well, that took a slight turn for the worse, didn't it? From hyper, weird and nonsensical, to lonely, dark and sad, something i didn't exactly anticipate by, eh, what can ya do? I like how I ended it, even if it is slightly cheesy and warped. I'm a sucker for sadness, and when it comes to this time of the year, I find the sadder the winter PV, the better.

Now don't get me wrong - I love happy, cute Christmas PV's as well. I adore them in fact, however there is something about a sad winter PV that gets me right in the feels. I suppose it has something to do with the dark and the cold, because when you're at your saddest it feels like there's no warmth, and in this video - despite there being an abundance of warmth thanks to the soft lighting and some outfit choices - Snow Memory manages to capture that loneliness in a beautiful way.

The PV is pretty to watch, there's no doubt about that, but what entrances me the most about Snow Memory is the story line. A group of friends who once spent Christmas together have since drifted apart, and despite each of them holding onto these memories and visiting the place they had once visited together, they don't find each other again and only acknowledge loneliness.

And once 2am hits, a time of significance to the friends, the snow begins to fall, another device of sorts that ties the girls together. With memories of spending a snowy evening together and running outfits to enjoy the beauty of the winter, you would think that these girls would look back on their past with fondness. Instead it is tinged with regret, ultimately leading the girls to learn about how cold and unbearable the snow can be when combined with their memories of what once was.

I hope I'm making sense here, because honestly... I don't think I am, but I am going to roll with it for now.

Aside from the story, the loneliness and the use of memories, I want to say that this is a beautiful music video. With soft lighting, beautiful night scenes and a few nice touches here and there to create different tones for various scenes, Snow Memory sets out to create a beautiful picture that is melancholic and lonely at times. I enjoy how the scenes have been differentiated via different filters or clothing and hairstyles, allowing us to recognise which scenes are Idol-based - choreography shots and white dress solo shots - and which of those are set in the past or present.

The use of a slightly warmer hue on the 'past' sequences easily draws us into the story portion of the video, whilst the brighter tone of the outdoor solo shots create a cooler tone and enhance this idea of loneliness compared to the indoor scenes based in their memories, where we see the girls together at all times. The Idol hots seem to be a nice mix of the two, however. The lights in the background from the houses and street lamps are soft and warm, casting a nice hue that is inviting, despite the darkness outside, and the white dresses are a nice symbol of the members' unity here and allow them to stand out against the darkness of their outdoor location.

It's also nice to see that the alternative outfits for the 'present' scenes are also white, tying the costumes together whilst also reminding us of how cold or innocent the shade is. In this instance, white feels a lot colder thanks to the depiction of how the snow brings back sad memories for the girls as they look back on their friendship. The white clothing also acts as a contrast to the warm and cute clothing they wear in the past, with red and beige (or yellow) acting as two of the main colours in these scenes.

The editing is enjoyable, too. I enjoy the slight use of dutch angles in some scenes, and the pacing is pretty good, with the editors mixing slower and faster edits to fit the beat of the song. There are some nice angles and sweeps as well, though it isn't the most complex video out there when it comes to how it has been edited. With that said, my main point of interest in this video comes from its use of lighting and the way everything has been lit up in the dark. It is absolutely breathtaking and allows me to appreciate the beauty of a winter night after you turn on the Christmas lights. That is honestly one of my favourite things about Christmas, and this music video captured it really well in this beautifully sad PV.

26ji no masquerade's Snow Memory is a great PV. Showcasing warmth in what should be a cold PV, the song and video depict a memory that incites loneliness and woe for the members, who are looking back at a friendship that has been lost. Regardless, each girl holds some hope in their hearts that they can return to one another one day, only to realise that they are the only ones who remember a promise they may have kept long ago...

A well-thought PV that is riddled in sadness, Snow Memory is that winter music video you watch for its beauty rather than the fuzzy feels that other idol music videos can give you. It's a sad winter story, one that is less about a long-forgotten romance and more about the loss of a friendship you regret letting go of. It's a tale that hits close to home, and no matter how you look at it, this is a lonely music video with a beautiful location, a gorgeous sound and a melancholic feel, and it will pull at your heart strings no matter how many times you view it.

Unless you're the Grinch, in which case you will just watch it without a care in the world. And to that I say: Go for it~


This review was everywhere, however it is one of my quickest write-ups in forever, with a short 5~6 hour time period between starting the process of screen grabbing and gif-ing the PV itself, to actually writing and commenting on the captions themselves. It was a bit of a whirlwind, somewhat nostalgic and a lot of fun... but now I am well and truly knackered and ready for bed.

Before I run away to bed however, what are your thoughts on the PV? Is there a sad winter song you prefer, or are you more of a cute and happy Christmas Idol fan? Please let me know!

Until next time everyone, thank you all for reading and please enjoy your winter holidays and festivities! And of course: Love your IDOLS!

Take care and Merry Festivities,
Chiima~