Thursday, 27 June 2019

Diving Into The Catch Of The Day! - A Look at 'Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no Uta' by BANZAI JAPAN (Single Review)

*I am but a human, and though I try to check my errors and mistakes, I skip a few from time to time. So if you care to be so kind, please point out the errors of my post. I will be forever grateful. Thank you in advance~

It's time for the catch of a day, and with my reborn interest in reviewing music - not music videos, shock freakin' horror - today I have managed to fish out a little bit of BANZAI JAPAN from the sea for everyone to check out with me!

In their major debut single, BANZAI JAPAN introduce the world to their interesting mix of traditional sounds meet EDM and modern pop, but with this small collection of fun, interesting sounds, will BANZAI JAPAN successfully fish you out of the water and sink a catchy music hook into you, or will you be left flailing for something far more worthwhile?


In one of their biggest leaps since the groups first overseas performances in both France and England in 2018, BANZAI JAPAN are now taking a further step forward with their major debut single, Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no uta, a colourful release that will dazzle their current fans whilst reeling in a few new ones.

And hey, with a cover like Type A has, who wouldn't be intrigued by this group and what they have to offer? It's so entertaining and strange to look at that it seems quite... catchy, if you will. Ahem

Well, it isn't just BANZAI JAPAN's imagery that catches ones attention. From how they dress to the way they sound, there is no denying that BANZAI JAPAN as a group are quite intriguing as a whole. Maybe my own bias is showing here, but in terms of their sound and style, I find the group to be rather vibrant and refreshing, and though their schtick might not be the most original out there, this group has a goal that fans can appreciate, and in turn I appreciate their efforts as both individuals and a group.

Also, before I get into the history part of this opening, can I just say a huge CONGRATULATIONS to BANZAI JAPAN for tapping that #1 Oricon spot on their first day? Cause damn girls, that was something I didn't expect. Kudos to you, and thanks for being such amazing sports and working so damn hard on your major debut. What a damn milestone.

Okay, celebrations aside, let's do some brief diggin':

Made up of 16-members, BANZAI JAPAN was originally formed in May of 2014 as a project which would promote the culture of Japan through music, dance and idols. Auditions began in a month later in June 2014, with the first initial members of the group being revealed between July and August respectively. In November 2014, the first three members - Shinkai Yuna, Minamo Mizu and Hanasaka Saya - held their first live performance. In December that year, BANZAI JAPAN held their first 'real' live performance as a group.

Over the years the group has seen members come and go thanks to the 'revolving door' system that most female Japanese idol groups have adopted, however BANZAI JAPAN's mission has stayed consistent. With a goal to promote Japan's vibrant culture and various prefectures, BANZAI JAPAN aim to scout Evangelists, girls from various prefectures who will promote their hometowns and its charms to their audience. With each member representing their individual prefectures, it has become BANZAI JAPAN's goal to recruit at least one girl from each of japan's 47 prefectures into the group so that they can share Japan's culture with the world. The group also has a sub-unit, ASHIGARU JAPAN, which includes both trainees and full-fledged BANZAI JAPAN members.

There are currently 11 prefectures being represented by an Evangelist, with a total of 21 prefectures being represented in the groups history.

In April 2018, BANZAI JAPAN won the Tokyo Candoll 2018 contest, which allowed the group to travel to France, where a selected amount of members were able to perform at Japan Expo Summer 2018. The group then went on to attend Hyper Japan Winter 2018 in the UK, with 7 members representing the group.

Since the groups inception, BANZAI JAPAN have released 4 singles and one full-length studio album, with Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no uta being the groups first double A-side. As of 2019, the group are under Victoria Beats, a sub-label under Nippon Columbia. BANZAI JAPAN is managed by Cospanic Entertainment, a company which aims to promote the group not only around Japan, but the world, with the official website offering both Japanese and English descriptions. Some members of BANZAI JAPAN also know a decent amount of English.

With an aim to visualise Japan's magnificent culture to the world, BANZAI JAPAN will entertain you with their music and dance performances, which includes a mix of traditional Japanese and modern-era styles, with fan-waving being a key aspect in the groups choreography. Fan participation in fan-waving and para-para is also heavily promoted by the group

And with that, it's time to hook ourselves a catch in the form of BANZAI JAPAN's Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no uta! Are you ready to take the bait and leap into the BANZAI JAPAN fandom? With their catchy music, mesmerising choreography and super sweet personalities, how can you not entertain the idea of being fished by any of them?

It's time to dive in! Shall we? ;)


Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no uta (十人十色 / 金魚の歌)

Release Date: June 25th, 2019
Price: ¥1,111 (aprox. £8/16 / $10.36)

Editions: 5, Types A-E

Track List:
  1. Jūnin to iro (十人十色)
  2. Kingyo no Uta (金魚の歌)
  3. Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime (コノハナサクヤ姫)
  4. Jūnin to iro (Instrumental ver.)
  5. Kingyo no Uta (Instrumental ver.)
  6. Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime (Instrumental ver.)
Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no Uta
- Single Review -

1. Jūnin to iro

Reeling us into the single is Jūnin to iro, the opening track for Types C, D & E, as well as the 'featured' song for the groups first official music video.

Colourful in tone yet soft by nature, Jūnin to iro creates a rather visual effect in its sound thanks to its use of traditional Japanese instruments - is that a Koto, I hear? - mixed with EDM vibes and the tinkling of piano keys in the background. Thanks to this mix of instruments and sound styles, the track we are given creates this odd balance of 'mellowed enthusiasm', allowing us to experience both the softer side of the group as well as the energy that they will undeniably exude during a performance of this track.

With that said, a mellowed yet enthusiastic track is not necessarily a bad thing, per say, in fact it balances out the groups use of tradition and modernism quite well. With the traditional side we are given a more demure, pretty side to the song, and for the modern aspects we are given surges of energy and rising beats, which ultimately creates this intriguing dance-club sound that is perfectly balanced and fits the group far too well.

Jūnin to iro is a track that I honestly find both pleasant and entertaining, though I certainly sway more towards the 'pleasant' side because, let's be real; it's not as powerful or energetic as most of their other songs. Still, it's nice to see the group attempt something as mellow and sweet as this, and it is honestly a really pretty song to listen to. I love how it just mixes everything together and creates such a fun and varied sound.

Also, the title is pretty fitting: Ten people, ten colours. Though 16 people, 16 colours would work in line with the member count, I find it quite fun that the group used a Japanese proverb for the title of their song, especially as it basically means "different strokes for different folks", or "not everybody likes the same things". It works well for the song, especially when you consider how this group balances traditionalism and modernism in not only their looks, but also their sound and choreography.


In the music video that accompanies Jūnin to iro, we see a rather pretty array of patterns and colours thanks to the paper screens behind the members, as well as a few sequences that showcase the members in modern clothing as they explore the outside world that is filtered by a sepia hue. Shadows of the members behind the screens are included, and flashes of their entertaining choreography are shown, as well as some fun para-para that will more than likely be adopted by the fans during the groups performances.

With a mix of traditionalism - the costumes, the fans, the screens and the members being kept behind said screens - and modernism - the modernised outfits, outdoor scenes, colour, lighting, choreography and members being in front of the screens - Jūnin to iro's PV creates a wonderful balance that showcases the beauty of BANZAI JAPAN's appreciation of modern era and traditional Japan. It is colourful and vibrant, but at times subdued and pretty, which allows the piece to feel complete and entertaining, and rather perfect for BANZAI JAPAN's first music video creation.

Together the song and video for Jūnin to iro are a great match, and I like how the energy of the song rises slightly thanks to the video's introduction of the choreography and movements. It's a damn good video, and though I have some issues with it - highly out of focus shots and OTT freehand camera shaking - I think that it is really well done, overall.

As a song, Jūnin to iro is pleasant and fun. Sure, it may not be as energetic as I would have hoped, and it certainly took a few listens before I remembered it, but overall it's a damn good song, and I think that the mix of traditional instruments, piano and EDM create a really unique and interesting song. It's club, but a little more mellow, and it's definitely para para in the most mellow way possibly.

Softly energetic... yeah, that's what it is. Sounds weird, but it's true.

In A Nutshell: Soft and mellow, yet energetic and club-like. This song is one you have to hear in order to understand what the heck I mean.

2. Kingyo no Uta

Opening with a cute 'Kingyo no Uta!' said by a child, the song will then immediately opening with a flute and piano accompaniment, before rolling into a wave of energy and fluctuation of beats mixed with some distorted, overlapping vocals in the background. It's oddly adorable, undeniably energetic and a lot of fun to listen to, especially when wearing headphones.

And yes, this is my favourite song on the track list. I love every darned moment of it.

With its energetic sound, appealing instrumental and fun choreography, there is honestly no wonder as to why fans adore this track. Initially debuted during performances in 2018, Kingyo no Uta has since become a crowd favourite. Fast-paced, easy to sing along to and fun to chant to during performances, this song is an absolute crowd pleaser that perfectly showcases BANZAI JAPAN's fun, cute and energetic side. It encompasses everything about BANZAI JAPAN that I have come to know, and I honestly can't help but smile whenever I hear this song. It is an absolute blast to listen to, and I urge everyone to check it out as and when they can, because it is a true joy to listen to.

The small ad-libs thrown in here and there only seem to enhance the charms of this song, especially during live performances. It's the sort of song that truly brings out the colour and personality of each member, and I love hearing how these ad-libs or lines may differ with each performance. these girls bring. It's a great addition to the song, and only seems to add more personality to the amazing track that is Kingyo no Uta.


I truly believe that this song - which is the track performed on this video, by the way - is the best on this track list here. That said, I may be completely biased towards it thanks to its cuteness, its energy and its catchy nature. It is honestly right up my alley as an idol song, plus I can't shake off the nostalgia vibes it gives me.

Kingyo no Uta is energetic, bright and a lot of fun to listen to, and I just love how happy it makes me as a listener. This is the sort of song that I imagine whenever I think of BANZAI JAPAN, but I guess that's because this was the song that really hooked me on them when I saw them at Hyper Japan last year. Still, I regard this one highly and I love every moment of it. It is so damn wonderful.

In A Nutshell: Just listen to the damn song, it's a gem that you need to reel in and tackle yourself!

3. Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime

Completing this trio songs is the final catch of the day, which comes in the form of Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime, the mellowest of the three tracks given. With its pretty sound that is reminiscent of a calm Spring day, the sole coupling song to BANZAI JAPAN's major debut single is the perfect end note for this promising release.

Encompassing a more traditional sound in its instrumental, Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime stands out against its predecessors for its relaxing tone and elegant approach. With a more dulcet instrumental and slower pace, one would think that this track may stick out like a sore thumb when put against the other two songs, yet it doesn't. Despite the clear differences in sound and style, Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime never feels out of place on this single, and instead helps to balance out the other two club-influenced tracks whilst furthering the listeners understanding of what BANZAI JAPAN's music is all about.

With a variety of instruments - the guitar (or bass, I can't tell), the drums, a flute and perhaps even a koto - this track once again makes use of traditional and modern instruments, allowing BANZAI JAPAN to once again paint their image of Japan's charms in sound once again. Indeed, this track feels far more traditional when compared to its predecessor tracks on this single, but that is the charm of it. Calm, whimsical and soothing, Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime allows us to fall into the more subdued side of BANZAI JAPAN whilst also allowing us to experience the more traditional and tranquil side of Japanese music that we may sometimes miss in this sea of up-beat, energetic and bubblegum-infused Japanese pop we hear today.


This is certainly a more mature track, one that helps to balance out the playfulness of the other two songs, and I can't help but feel thankful that such a track was included on this single. With it's lack of modernism - aside from the instruments used - I truly enjoy what Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime brings to this single. Here, BANZAI JAPAN showcase just how traditional they can go in sound, delivering a a song that is high in vocal quality (I am talking about studio quality, mind) and beautiful in its entirety.

Amidst all of the cute, dance heavy, para para-like tracks that BANZAI JAPAN are more or less known for, Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime exists, and I am so happy that it is now embodied in this single. It was a damn good choice to put this song on here.

A lady-like song that is pretty, a little romantic, mellow and relaxing, Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime showcases a different side to BANZAI JAPAN that you may not be aware of. With its traditional sound and mature feel, this is a great way to round of what began as an upbeat, EDM-savvy single, and even greater way to showcase just how varied BANZAI JAPAN can be in their sound and style.

Incredibly pretty to listen to, this is a song that soothes my soul whenever I listen to it. Okay, so it isn't my favourite track of the three, but I still appreciate all it delivers, and damn, it is a beautiful song overall. I am so glad that this piece was added, and I am so thankful I was able to hear it in all its studio-fied glory.

In A Nutshell: Heavy on the tradition and a little more mature as a song, this track is soothing and pretty and is a great track for showing off the groups vocals and diversity in sound and style.

Conclusion

Going into Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no Uta, I was aware that I would come out of this single liking at least one of the songs because - let's be real - it's BANZAI JAPAN, and I really like their music. With such energetic, fun and cute songs, there was very little doubt in my mind that I would one or two songs entertaining on here. That said, I really wasn't keen in Jūnin to iro itself at first. Upon first listen, it felt dull, unlike the BANZAI JAPAN I had experienced at Hyper japan in November of 2018... but then I got used to the song and came to understand its charms.

That said, of the three songs given I do believe that Jūnin to iro is the weakest, and I wish that it was the song that hadn't received a music video. Still, at least the song matches the video beautifully. That must account for something, right?

Well, whatever, I like the single as a whole and think that it flows really well. From beginning until the end, there is a pretty nice balance, no matter how you listen to it. If Kingyo no Uta is first, then you go from the most energetic to the most mellow track, and if you hear it from Jūnin to iro to Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime, you have a nice mix of sounds with each song. That said, I do think that Jūnin to iro is the perfect middle track on this single - it balances out its EDM and energy with a few slower moments and more traditional sounds, and it feels like the perfect bridge between both Kingyo no Uta and Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime. Kinda like the middle of a sandwich; without this song, the other two songs might not work together as well.

... Yeah, I really hope you're catching my drift here, because I can't explain it any better than this.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that, with the three songs chosen, they all seem to balance each other out well. Where Kingyo no Uta is high in energy and undeniably cute, Ko no Hana Sakuya-hime is calmer, slower in pace and softer in its sound, and sitting nicely in the middle when it comes to sound is Jūnin to iro, which uses both EDM influences as well as traditional, allowing the pacing of the song to feel pretty good against the other two. There is a nice harmony here, and all songs work pretty well together and alone, but as a whole they create an enjoyable and rather memorable single.

Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no Uta is a lot of fun to listen to, and though I have a clear favourite amongst the three songs presented on this single, I do love hearing each song one after the other. It's great to hear these songs in clear, studio quality and to experience BANZAI JAPAN's music all over again in my own home. Sure, I would prefer to watch and listen to them live once more, but until that day comes, I have their music on hand right here, right now.

Overall, I really like this single release and what it has to offer. As a casual follower of BANZAI JAPAN, this single allowed me to understand their music and style a little more, and also made me realise that they really do create a bridge between traditional and modern in their music and choreography, all to showcase both sides of Japan's culture in their live performances. It's pretty incredible to hear the work they put into these songs to make them feel traditional and modern in their instrumentals, and it's amazing to understand that it's all done to promote Japanese culture, history and more to various crowds in order to instil an interest in Japan not only to foreigners, but to those who live in Japan as well.

This is a fun and interesting single to dive into, one that I believe you need to try for yourself to truly understand whether or not BANZAI JAPAN are for you. And hey, even if they aren't, at least you listened to some new music.

Favourite Song: Kingyo no Uta

SINGLE RATING:


Now let's go and catch some fish! ;)

It may be my clear bias showing, but there is something to enjoy in this single. Whether it is something upbeat and cute, mellow and more traditional or a little bit of both, I hope that there is something in BANZAI JAPAN's major debut single that will appeal to you, my dear readers. No matter what you think or feel though, I still like this single. I doubt it will be my favourite single of the year of course, but I enjoy it enough.

But seriously, I do hope that you check it out as well. If you want to find the full studio tracks, you can find them floating around on spotify.

For those who have already listened to BANZAI JAPAN's latest single, what are your thoughts on it and which song happens to be your favourite? And for those who are new to the group, what do you think about their gimmick and does it float your boat? Please do let me know~

And with that this post is over and done with. Thank you all for reading from the beginning until the end, and I hope I didn't bore you too much with my spiel. I just hope that through all of these words you gained a small amount of interest in BANZAI JAPAN. And even if you found no interest in the group towards the end of this review, I still appreciate your time here, so thank you very much. Now, however, it is time for me to bid you all adieu and adios. Until the next time guys, please take care and enjoy all that your idols deliver.

Have a happy week / weekend, and enjoy yourselves. Au revoir and goodbye, y'all!
Chiima~

You can find out more about BANZAI JAPAN through these links:

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