23 October 2015

NEWS - Kaguya LE A/LE B/RE single review

limited edition a

Artist: NEWS
Release date:  07 JAN 2015
Type: single
Version: limited edition a, limited edition b, regular edition

limited edition b
Packaging: As I pre-ordered all three versions I got the bonus items that came with them, a clear file for each edition. The clear files just feature the cover photo on it but at nice little bonuses if you want a bigger version of those.

The limited edition A has the simplest packaging as with both limited editions it just has images of the top of the parasols for the back cover. The booklet is plain with it just opening to the lyrics of the two songs included on its CD. Though it at least makes use of images from the PV/jacket shooting so there is something on the front and back of it.

The limited edition B has by far the nicest of the booklets. It incorporates images of the group and members on all the pages with the solo images being two pages as they have to share with the lyrics and production credits in it. This version also has a special bonus with four cards, which are about as tall as the booklet, that feature each member of the group.

The booklet for the regular edition is nice, with it being a step above what one usually gets with a RE booklet. It has a gate fold that features another image of all the members on it before opening up to the usual lyrics for the songs included on the CD. Other than that it is the usual basic RE packaging with a slimmer jewel case so there is no back cover.

Overall I love the images and those alone make this look like a gorgeous looking release. 

regular edition
1. KAGUYA - This was a song that grew on me over time and I have come to really love it. I have found myself humming the chorus of the song from time to time and I do not have to think twice to remember how the song sounds so it falls well into the catchy and memorable category for me. The song is based off the popular Japanese folktale about Princess Kaguya and thus has a neo-Japanesque sound to it mixed in with the electronic pop. It has a nice beat that runs through it and the electronically overlay used at times works well as it never feels overused.

2. バタフライ (Butterfly) - A much slower song which works well to be paired up with the title track as it is the only B-side on all three versions of the single. After the simple verses the chorus comes in like a swell of music with a very uplifting sound to it. Near the end it keeps the uplifting sound when it makes a break from the usual style to have a short guitar solo before launching into the chorus one last time to wrap it up. It is a pleasant track but NEWS does have some similar songs to this in style and tone that stand out better.

3. TRAVeLiNG - This is the track that is exclusive to the limited edition type B version of the single. I love the use of the horns in this song and they help keep it all together. The versus build well to the chorus which a fun bouncy portion of the song and I just love the music that starts off the song and comes up at the end of the chorus. The change up near the end is a great break from the usual verse to chorus formula as this is a song that could get really repetitive sounding but a switch up like that helps avoid it. The song stands as a solid B-side track as the only thing it lacks is the catchiness of the A-side.

3. 勿忘草 (Wasurenagusa) - The first of the two song tracks exclusive to the regular edition. While being a very short track with it clocking in a little over two minutes it works for the song. It is a ballad that starts off softly with just a piano and adds some strings as it goes. It has no shared lines with it all being solos starting with Masuda Takahisa to Kato Shigeaki, Koyama Keiichiro then endign with Tegoshi Yuya who covers the climax of the song. Even though it feels like it could have been made longer after all the other tracks from this single that all end up with powerful moments with their music having a song like Wasurenagusa makes it really stand out and feels like a nice break from all those.

4. TOP OF THE WORLD - This song fits well with their other tracks like WORLD QUEST in its sound with it being electronic pop with a driving beat that runs through it. It is the kind of song that sounds uplifting and is meant to pump the listener up. It is really hard not to compare it to the sports songs they have done recently and it just does not seem to reach the same level as them, though it is still an enjoyable song. So it at least works as a B-side and if you need another song to add to your playlist to get you motivated it would not be a bad pick.

The regular edition also has the karaoke version of the title track.

I love this PV. And not just because of how great I think everyone looks in it but the look of it overall is just top notch. I think Ninagama Mika's background in photography really helps in making her PVs pop with the fantastic use of colors. It gives them a strong impact and KAGUYA is no different. The outfits and backgrounds are all eye catching and just seem to be so lush with color.

The PV can be broken down into the dance shot then a variety of solo shots. The dance shot does well to show off the more interesting moves of the choreography, especially anything to do with the props of the umbrellas. In fact if they made one I would have loved to have seen a dance version of this PV.

The variety of the solo shots help a lot with keeping from feeling repetitive, as the guys get different backgrounds and they are not always looking into the camera. Yet they are also held together by having something crossover for each member, such as the cherry blossom branches with Kato Shigeaki. Noticing those things is something that makes rewatching the PV payoff.

She also seems to have a good grasp of what kind of fanservice works well with target audiences as I do not think anyone complained about getting wet and mostly half-naked NEWS in this. And there is plenty of eye candy moments in this for fans to enjoy.

Johnny's seems to be willing to bank of the fact they have a director that has name recognition with this PV as they actually show Ninagawa working with the members of the group with the making of. Usually the staff is mostly in the background working so this is pretty stand out.

While the making of the PV is the main focus there is some time given to the photo shoot for the jacket images. Of course Ninagawa is the photographer for that. So we get to see the guys pose around and give some early thoughts as they are asked to answer some questions in regards to the theme and such.

The dance portion of the PV gets the most time but it is worth it as it has the most group interactions. The guys seem to be able to mix work and play well as can be seen with them trying to get the move of them all peeking out from behind Masuda Takahisa right. But anytime the cameras are off or they reach a part that they know will not end up in the final cut the are willing to have some fun which ends up being entertaining to watch.

The solo shots do not get as much attention but does give the guys a chance to talk individually about the PV and song. There is a break where the four just stand and talk which is a fun watch as you really get the sense that the group gets along well together with all the joking. Of course of all the solo shots the ones in the pool get highlighted the most.

Overall: One of my favorite single releases from the group for a while. Not that I did not enjoy the rest but all the little things with this one really made it stand out to me. Having Ninagawa being both the photographer and video director really helped with the synergy of the release so there is no part that does not feel like it does not fit. And her style is rather attention grabbing with the use of vivid colors in her work.

I enjoy all the songs even though not all are favorites but the title track has become one. But none are the kind I would want to skip and a couple really only suffer because of the fact that NEWS has other songs that are similar that I just happen to like more. The title track though is really solid and a song I hope they keep on their concert set list for some time.

This is a strong single from the group and a good addition to the group's discography. It also helps show their sound as a group, which is nice with so many Johnny's groups out there now and having something more than just the names and faces of the group being different from the rest.

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