Saturday, 25 July 2020

The Mystery of Houkago Princesses 'Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye' and Its Underwhelming Music Video (Pic Spam Review)

*Please note that this music video review is made up of my opinions, and my opinions alone (unless stated otherwise). Feel free to disagree with me, I am open to discussion over this music video and all that it shows, but please respect all thoughts and opinions given. I am not saying I am right, but please do respect that tastes differ, and what I enjoy may be something you dislike, or what I dislike may be what you enjoy. Thank you for your understanding.

In which Chiima laments over Houkago Princess being transported to a computer generated Egypt...

With just a week before the physical release comes out in stores, Houkago Princess saw fit to finally unveil their much-anticipated music video for the first track, Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye, a song with a heated summer dance sound that fans have been enjoying around the world.

But will the music video have the same effect, or will it fall flatter than a drunk tripping up a curb?

This is what we will be finding out today my dear readers, because in a miraculous twist of fate I have manged to pic spam the crap out of this music video just days after its release! This is also my first music video review / pic spam of 2020, as well as one of my first informal reviews in a while, so it's serving as a nice change of pace from everything else I have been doing lately. And hey, what a PV to come back to in regards to pic spams and informal posts, because damn, I couldn't have been formal with Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye even if I tried.

I won't get into the details right now - that's the end of this reviews job, and damn... I kinda went off a bit. You'll see, trust me - but I can't say that I'm mad, because whilst this video is everything that I would have never wanted this MV to be, I have had a lot of fun watching and taking the piss out of it. It's a goldmine of what the heck, and though some may enjoy it, there will definitely be plenty who hate it. Me? Well, I'll leave my thoughts to the end of the post.

So, without further ado, I present my latest PV review, along with a whole lot of nonsense to follow once the pics are over and done with. I hope you all enjoy, and I look forward to the formalities of my single reviews unravel dramatically with, well... this.

Are you ready to travel to Egypt and meet the Queen of the Desert herself, or would you rather fly far, far away from the dusty sand dunes? Let's fine out and read on.

Oh, Unholy Rendered Batman. What is that?

I'll tell you what it is: A decently disintegrating logo, mixed with a poorly constructed CGI cloth piece. Damn, they would have done a better job just using some yellow cloth :S

When the fire effects look better than your poorly rendered backdrop, you know you have a damn problem.

Anyways, just sayin'... this is a damn good silhouette shot of our dear Sasara, and hey! That backdrop also looks pretty damn great when we can't see it in it's full, poorly rendered glory.

And here we see FORZA Records admitting that they think the sun revolves around Maika, and Maika only.

... Well, they're not wrong exactly wrong, are they?

Why am I getting some aggressive Produce48 flashbacks right now...


Seriously, these two gifs are twins. There is no lie.

We STAN a hack job green screen edit in the Okay! Musume Household, y'all.

Sasara visualising the saying 'this song SLAPS' in one scene.

Maika is out in the cartoon desert PRAYING that this PV gets better, and honestly? Same, Maika. Same.

This video needs to come with a warning: flashing imagery, and gravure Nanase.

I love Sasa, but I don't like this outfit on her. It looks tacky, and she deserved better ;;

Well, at least she owns these scenes :>

I don't know who filmed this, or who was head of lighting, but they really went ahead with this piss-poor excuse that they call lighting. It's like they thought that giving the members the Jaundice look was a good shout, when it really wasn't.

And to whomever edited this: why so trigger happy with the lens flare, babe?

It honestly makes me laugh how much this green screen looks like a level on a 2003 PS1 puzzle game.

I really can't get over the fact that FORZA didn't light this video well enough to make the members look more natural against the yellow tones used in the final edit.

With that said... these sequences flow pretty well together, especially the first close-up shot that transitions into a long shot. Noice.

Okay, I have to give them a thumbs up for the framing here. It's pretty good.

They look like they're moving on a conveyer belt...

Yes, this looks totally natural, FORZA >_>

Slowing this gif down because it might be the only Sahochi shot we get in this damn music video.

FORZA, fix your damn priorities, STAT!

Also gotta slow down Nanase a bit, because her scene is literally there one second and gone the next.

Momoka dishing out the looks in her miniscule few seconds of screen time here. You own that camera, Queen Momoka!

HouPri are ready to fly the fuck away from this chroma keyed monstrosity, and so am I.

Hey, at least we have the great dance shot to focus on...

Wait, why are you just giving us Maika hyping up the crowd?

Despite the issues with the music video, Maika's solo shots are gold (in both how she looks gold, and how she dishes out the quality content).

I love the three types of Idols that we get here. Maika, the seasoned performer. Momoka, hamming it up just cause she can. And then sweet, baby Nanase (lol, not a baby), who is concentrating and trying her best not to screw up.

I love them all.

It's nice how synchronised these girls can be!

It won't last, I promise :D

SasaLuv: "Power... UP!!!"

Sasara swinging the lens flare into existence feels reminiscent of an old-school Mahou Shoujo transformation, of sorts.

Also, quick question: Where is her shadow?

When the smoke effect looks a little better than the cartoon background you probably paid ¥500 for off of photobucket.


Maika is serving, and we ain't even mad.

Maika wants you to notice the gems they attached to her undereye area, because those gems cost more than this entire background, I bet.

When I paused this video, I thought that there was a smudge on the corner of my laptop. NOPE! Just so happens that the green screen is glitching out, and no one bothered to fix it :D

If this PV couldn't get any better, just check out this joyful mess of unsynchronised choreography.

It only gets worse the more you watch it, my dears XD

Maika serving us some QUEEN with that Cleopatra.

Screw it, have another Maika gif, my treat! There's plenty to go around :D

Okay, but... why is this close-up shot so damn low? Sasara literally has to crane her neck to even been seen. Just put the tripod up a little high and cut off the tiara a bit, that dead space is annoying to look at :/

Okay, why does it look like none of them give a fuck about this part of the dance shot?

I can just see Nanase's face saying: Urgh, I'm DONE!

Aside from usin an effect that we will never see again, the obvious green screen, lighting and colouring issues, as well as the shitty perspective that has been apparent throughout this poorly rendered music video...

I don't mind this scene.

I don't know where this flickering lines on a video effect came from, but I am thankful that it's distracting me from that terrible background and the cartoonish flame on the floor.

The way the walls flicker due to the light, however, is pretty well done.

The effects are gracing us with their presence, and saving our eyes from that god-awful backdrop. Oh, and thank the Lord, Momona is saving us with her beauty, too! HUZZAH!

Maika: "Ex-fucking-cuse me? I'M the beauty here!!!"

Ah, shit. Maika heard me praise another member. Eep!

Me, randomly pausing the video and finding this, and going What in the FUCK IS THIS?

So, FORZA ARE pretty smart with the hidden messages, huh? Nope. They really aren't, because it basically says 'SUBJECT' but it's upside down.

My friend decoded it :>

This choreography is great, but it can look so stupid as well XD

Nanase: "Bang, bang, bang, bang!"
Momoka: -glares at everyone as she dances-

How is Nanase such a baby, yet she is in her 20s? Wild.

Crappy screenshot, but IT BABY!

Oh, thank you Holy fire, PLEASE burn this shit-show of a backdrop down!

No lie, that was my line of thought when I saw the fire upon my first watch of the video XD

Nanase is adorable, made evident by this scene.

That close-up is pretty oddly framed, there's a fair bit of empty space above Sasara's head, and the focus switches from decent to really heavy between the first and last close-ups...

But damn, I do love those earrings!

Nanase trying to fly or swim away from this cavern of poorly green screened background is so darned cute, and I just can't help but love her more ;;

That quick pan in and pan out was a really nice edit, actually. It fit the beat, even if it did fuck with one of the flames on the fire effect.

God damn, they really gave no fucks about this PV and how bad it looked, huh? Honestly, I didn't notice until I gif'ed it, but on the very last frame the background is further away.

Anyway, I managed to pause it on that specific frame, so here ya go:

Honestly, this whole music video... A masterpiece. Chef's kiss x2!

Sasara be like: Let the flames consume me, bruh.

No matter what, this scene never fails to make me laugh.

It's just so fucking ridiculous and so badly done, I LOVE IT.


The cartoon sand dunes look more realistic than that bloody pyramid. COME ON!

And that sums up this entire PV, tbh.

I love that they hacked this edit because they didn't put the right lip synch to the scene, and decided 'eh, fuck it!' and just botched it further by making one jarring, very obvious cut that feels clunky and bad :>

FORZA, you're making Hello! Project look amazing. Stop it.

When your terrible sandstorm effects looks more like flies swarming.

Or is it the plague of locusts that Moses brought to Egypt...?

The more I look at those earrings, the more I start to crave waffles.

Once again we have some decoding to do, but I don't know what the fuck these are for other than to make the PV a little higher in quality. It's not working, but hey, I appreciate the lack of effort :>

Oh, thank the Holy Lord, they put a bokeh over that God-awful backdrop to repent us from our sins. And hey, I usually find heavy effects like this bloody annoying, so bravah for making me consider it a saving grace!

... Okay, now the bokeh is annoying me. But at least that edit was semi-decent (even though it clipped a bit before zooming out).

Sasara having a blast, because why not? It's a great song, put to a not-so-great PV!

I have no idea what happened to this shot specifically, but WOW, it looks so low in quality... which doesn't say much, given the rest of the PV, but damn, this is not 1280p, this is more like 360p. Yikes.

Moral of the story: Don't make a chroma key heavy music video when you have barely used chroma key before this.

In short: This was not the time to practice, FORZA.

Where do I even begin?

I honestly don't know where to start with this, because whilst I admit my love for this music video in the most ironic way possible, it is hard to deny just how bad Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye is not only from a fans standpoint, but from the perspective of a reviewer as well. Of course I will do my best to try and keep this review as balanced as possible, but I certainly won't be shying away from what makes it so bad, either.

In regards to Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye, I do want to start by saying that, despite how bad it looks, I do understand why FORZA decided to go down this route when it came to their latest music video. With the current state of the world, one of the safest options for filming a music video would be to do it in their own studio. From there, a company can decide whether to keep it simple and design the set however they please, use a green / blue screen, or stay with a white / black backdrop and add a few effects in post-edit. All three options are valid, but in the case of FORZA Records - a company that prefers to shoot on location as opposed to in a studio - the use of a green / blue screen seemed to be the most viable option for their vision, and allowed them to bring Egypt to their studio.

Editing Chiima's Note: As of a few hours before posting this, Zesse Cleopatra's music video was released, and is the exact opposite of this. So now I just think, "damn, maybe FORZA are just lazy and did this music video as a last ditch effort in order to have two PV's", because yeah... that's what it looks like to me. That, or they had an image they wanted to visualise in full, but it just didn't work out as intended, but more on that later. Okay, back to Review Chii.

Now, when it's done right, chroma key can look badass whilst still being a cost-effective use of resources. It can even bring down the cost of a shoot, namely because you no longer have to factor in the location, transport or set design fees. There are less risks involved when using a green screen as well, because weather is no longer an issue (this can be detrimental to filming on-location when outside), you don't have to transport heavy equipment, and it's all in one studio that people are already familiar with. It also cuts down on the risk assessments involved, and the use of a green / blue screen allows the director / editor to conceptualise the scene they want, and to fully flesh it out in post-production.

Basically, the use of a green / blue screen comes with a great deal of creative freedom, something that an on location shoot does not offer. When used effectively, a green / blue screen becomes a tool of endless possibilities, and can create a world that could not have been replicated in the real world.

When a green / blue screen is not used effectively, however, you get this. Or MNL48's Gingham Check, but that's another issue for another day, me thinks.

As I said before this, FORZA are a company that like to film their videos on location. They like their sets, they enjoy decorating them, and honestly? FORZA Records are great at replicating the image of their music and making it look attractive. The few videos that have not had a dedicated location since the Princess series began are: Seifuku Cinderella, Kaguya no Negai wo, Princess no Teigi, and Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye. Of these four videos, only three have utilised a green screen, with Kaguya ni Negai wo being the odd one out because it was set in a studio, but I believe that was done for the sake of fully utilising the lighting effects.

Now, Seifuku Cinderella is a great use of the green / blue screen backdrop in a music video, because whilst it is not realistic by any means, the idea was to transport HouPri into a storybook world. It was also edited very well, and has no technical errors to note. On the other hand, Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye is everything that Seifuku Cinderella isn't, and here is where I finally go into some detail regarding why this PV is bad, and then some.

To put it in the bluntest way possible, Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye is clumsy. It's messy, there are inconsistences when it comes to editing and lighting choices, and it looks so damn cheap in the worst way possible. If it had been released back in 2010, okay... sure. I may have forgiven it. But this is the year of 2020, and whilst it may not be the most promising year, I would have expected something a little more polished from FORZA Records.

It's not even about the background at this point, because whilst it does remind me of those poorly rendered Egyptian puzzle games on a 2003 Playstation game, I can acknowledge that some - some - effort went into the design and creation process of these backdrops. It's not easy to render 3D models of any form, and if their editor or graphic designer has never done this before, I have to give them props. They did their best with what they were given, and they tried.

No. My beef is in the editing, because Jesus Christ it is lazy, and I know that FORZA Records can do better. Hell, even Princess no Teigi wasn't this bad, and I consider that to be Houkago Princesses worst music video so far.

Firstly, what the fuck is with that lighting? Inconsistent does not even cut it. First, we have the use of the flickering fire light in the temples which - let's be real - looks damn good, but then we suddenly have some piss-poor attempts during the 'outdoor' scenes. One second, we have the members looking very yellow, as if they have a hint of jaundice (or they drank too much Sunny D), and then in another scene their skin looks normal. What? I'm confused. Are we going for a sun-kissed, jaundice glow, or not? Pick one, FORZA. PICK ONE!

And then we have the transitions and cuts. Some are pretty good, with a few effects thrown in there to make the transitions look smooth, whilst others are choppy and just bleh. I really can't think of another word, but bleh fits the best at this point. Don't get me wrong, a choppy edit can look good, but when you cut from one shot to another, then transition with a flash of light to another shot, it not only makes the previous edit look messy, but also makes me question why you didn't use the same effect to transition from one shot to another before this.

To back this up, this is the scene in question that made me notice the inconsistency in editing decisions:

Just use the same damn transition style for ALL of these shots, instead of picking and choosing, you asshats.

OH, and there's only one Saho solo shot, which is another low point about this entire music video. Given that every other members gets 5-6 solo shots (or more if you are Maika and Sasara), I really don't understand why Saho lacks screen time, and why the editor couldn't have made a little more room for her. Then again, I believe that FORZA Records has something against her, and that they need to get over themselves and just give her some damn lines and plenty more screen time.

The effects are also in abundance here, and whilst some of them certainly saved this music video, there were many that didn't. The lens flare was thankfully one of the many effects choices that brought this video to life, and gave it that summer feel. It was well executed, and whilst it is used a fair bit, I think that it at least adds something to the video. The bokeh was also pretty nice to see closer to the end of the video, though by the third or fourth shot it became a little too much, and looked less appealing the more I saw it. By the very end of the video, it had just became an eyesore. Ouch.

I did like the fire effect, of course, and whilst some of it looked a little less realistic - the background fire in the sconces, specifically - I do think that it was executed well. I also really enjoyed the use of the word 'SUBJECT' written backwards that you can only see when you watch closely, or pause at the right time. The flickering light transitions were also pretty well done, adding some much needed colour to this yellow-toned music video.

And that's where it ends in terms of what I enjoyed, I believe, because everything else is just questionable or looks lazy. The camera work, how some of the shots are positioned... I just can't get over how poorly constructed this music video is. Heck, there are even some shots where the choreography is badly done, and whilst I do understand that they were making use of the clips they had on hand... why not hide or fix it? I dunno. It just makes the video look amateurish overall, and only worsens the quality.

Okay, much like this music video, this review is getting out of hand, so let's end with this:

At this point I have convinced myself that during the editing process, the person in charge of making this video look good was rat-arsed (drunk) and just didn't care, because there are some questionable decisions thrown into this video. The lighting is wonky, the editing is choppy at best, and whilst this music video serves as a great laugh and is something that I enjoy ironically, I will not deny how piss-poor it is when it comes to the editing decisions made here.

Yes, Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye has a few merits to its name, but it also has a lot of flaws that are undeniable, and far too noticeable even to the untrained eye. It's a mess, the lighting is all over the place, the effects get a little out of hand at times, and there are a few scenes that should have just been cut, as well as those that just make zero sense in regards to the rest of the music video (read: gravure scenes). There are also some really bad close-ups thrown in there, and overall some really poor choices in regards to how the final product was put together. I understand the vision and the struggle in making said vision a reality, I really do, but when you put out a video as poorly edited as this, I am not going to praise it for its quality now, am I?

I enjoy Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye in an ironic sense. It's cheesy and makes me laugh with how serious they try to make it look, and it has this guilty pleasure quality to it, but I will admit that it isn't great. It's got a lot wrong with it, and whilst I can appreciate what they did well - the costumes, the cute sand dune background (I wish they had just made the whole video cartoonish, at this point), some of the effects, etc. - I think that they could have done more instead of putting out what looks like the first edited draft of Shakunetsu no Mystery Eye's music video.

It's pretty bad in regards to a what is usually a good companies product, and I am seriously shocked that FORZA would give us something like this. With that said, I can only guess that they had a specific idea in mind for the music video, a plan that didn't exactly pan out. It happens sometimes, especially when deadlines are looming nearer, and with the up-coming CD release on July 29th, as well as Maika's imminent graduation, my guess is that what they did have was hastily cobbled together in a last-ditch effort to get a video out, and to appease the fans. If this is the case, then it sadly shows, and if it wasn't the case... well, FORZA, I have no words.

And to hammer the last nail into the Sarcophagus, I will leave you with the heavily paraphrased words of my good friend and fellow HouPri fan:

"95% of the money went into the song, and the last 5% was put into the PV."

Damn, that is so bloody true.

FORZA Records cut corners in their editing, and it shows. I am really questioning where their braincells have gone, lately. At the end of the day though, I can only hope (and pray, dream, wish... whatever helps, I guess) that Zesse Cleopatra is given a PV as well, but with FORZA's track record... I doubt it. Thank GOD they released a music video for Zesse Cleopatra some hours prior to me releasing this damn review, now we have something to look forward to!

So, what are your thoughts on the music video? Is it okay, is it genius, or are you as disappointed as the rest of us? Please share your thoughts and let me know.

Until the next post though, thank you for reading and putting up with my rambles, and please enjoy the rest of your day. Please stay happy and healthy, remember to take care of your mental and physical wellbeing, do what you love most, and of course: love your Idols.

Take care and have fun,

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