Friday, 11 January 2008


Turns out Comiket 73 wasn't a total bust from I've Sound after all. They did end up releasing "I've MANIA Tracks Vol. 1" a weak and unimpressive compilation of obscure, "hard-to-find" and mostly remixed songs that no one asked for. Well, I never heard KOTOKO's "Crossed Destiny" before, but it certainly isn't one of her best songs, since, you know, I would have heard it otherwise. On the other hand, they also released a very solid DVD featuring the first and only SHORT CIRCUIT live show that took place on July 21 2007 in Tokyo.

I realize that for my readers' sake (millions of them) I should be writing a SHORT CIRCUIT article before reviewing the DVD, but that's just how unorganized I am. Let's just say that SHORT CIRCUIT a) has nothing to do with the radical '80s movies and b) is I've's collection series of mostly-denpa songs. Most will argue that KOTOKO and I've (possibly) came up with the first denpa song with 恋愛CHU! Eventually I will cover the series, but for now let's just take a closer look at the first show...

First things first, you will notice that the video and sound quality are as good as they can get! You'll get a thrill from hearing the crowd shouting at the top of their lungs and watching them shake their light sticks in unison. My major complaint about the camera work is that, while the number of angles provided is more than sufficient, I would have appreciated more closeups of the musicians and on-stage performers. I find it amazing that they managed to capture what are essentially electronically-created songs and transform them into a much more natural and musical format. We barely ever see the drummer, the performer which I find myself staring at more than the singer when attending concerts. However, I don't think he's the same one that accompanied KOTOKO when she played Toronto and Dallas in 2006. Either way, talented folks, the lot of them. Let's rip into the songs.

めぃぷるシロップ: Great choice for a first track, as it sets the pace for the 2 hours to follow! KOTOKO is surrounded by 10 energetic cheerleaders while she dons a purple dress and puffy skirt. Unfortunately, she is slightly out of tune, as if she hadn't practiced prior to the concert or is simply nervous in front of the capacity crowd. The latter of which obviously doesn't mind as everyone is ecstatic and responds to the song with great synchronization.

はじめまして、恋。: NOW WE'RE TALKING! This is easily my favorite song from Short Circuit II, and having shook off what little nervousness she previously possessed, KOTOKO marvelously performs this one. The cheerleaders get the boot as they are replaced with KOTOKO's "sexy dancers" (as she described them on YTV Canada). It's almost a good thing I wasn't there or I would have been kicked out from stage dive attempts! Notice how no security guards or bouncers are to be found even though we're talking about a major event. She briefly pauses to welcome everyone to the premium event and to introduce the lovely Utatsuki Kaori who joins her on stage to perform...

恋愛CHU!: As previously noted, this is probably one of the "first" denpa songs made famous. Kaori wears the same sort of frilly dress, but a pink one. For whatever reason, she doesn't look very comfortable on stage as she is constantly arching forward, possibly from the embarrassing platform shoes that she had to wear. The two girls make very little movement and KOTOKO gradually leaves the stage.

消えない想い: I don't remember this song being a part of the Short Circuit series, and I don't remember hearing it before. It sounds like it features backing vocals by KOTOKO but she is nowhere to be seen. This one is mellow, but in an annoying way. I actually can't stand it, so allow me to move to the next one.

I'm home : Wow, 2 smooth ones in a row? What is Kaori trying to do and who is she kidding with that out-of-tune singing? I'm sure that song has its hardcore fans but they'd be hypocrites if they weren't cringing like I was.

レモネード: Strike three, you're OUT! By now I've had my fill of Kaori's boring songs, let's just hope the next one isn't as sleep-inducing.

Pure Heart ~世界で一番アナタが好き~: Not bad, not bad. 4 dancers get on stage and try their best to light up the crowd after three downers.

アナタだけのAngel☆: Much better, I love the fast palm muting on this one, but of course, they won't show the guitar player. This isn't bad, but I want KOTOKO back. Kaori still can't her tone down perfectly and it just ruins an otherwise fine song.

Do you know the magic?: I remember the first time I heard this on Collective (aka I've Collection 6), I instantly fell in love with the guitar licks and I really wish I was there on stage performing it. Being surrounded with so many cheerleaders would only sweeten the deal, of course. The crowd really lights up for this one and provides the backing vocals for what would normally be echoes of Kaori-chan's voice.

Cream + Mint: KOTOKO is FINALLY back but, sadly, is performing one of her least memorable songs. At least she changed into a nice black robe which, dare I say, gives her a bit of a gothic lolita look, Yousei Teikoku-style. She chats up the crowd just a bit then goes into...

さくらんぼキッス ~爆発だも~ん~: This powerful denpa number really, really brings me back into a happy mood. KOTOKO is alone on stage for this one, but moves along admirably considering she never goes out of tune and doesn't gasp for air.

きゅるるんKissでジャンボ♪♪: They really kept the best for the end, didn't they? Two great denpa songs in a row is just what the doctor prescribed for that genki feeling. Two sexy maid dancers really help pushing the moé factor as far as possible...

Princess Bride!: This song was previously played live at the 2005 Mutant Dwarf fan event in 2005, and while this new version isn't bad at all, the previous one is much more energetic in comparison. Not to mention the camera angles extensively feature the musicians, which greatly pleases me. But KOTOKO is giving it her all, as usual. She eventually starts to run out of dance moves and goes into an embarrassing little jig, which would even make my moves look good.

ねぇ、…しようよっ!: Here's a great song that usually perks me right up when I'm feeling blue. The odd thing about the performance is that the dancers are brought out wearing the same uniforms they were wearing during the aforementioned 2005 event. For consistency's sake, shouldn't they have come out during Princess Bride? Maybe they weren't ready... you never know what goes on backstage!

Change my Style ~あなた好みの私に~: This is one of my favorites and it was also played at Mutant Dwarf 2005. Again, I'm a little disappointed with the new performance, as the older one featured tons of improvised guitar work that gave it a unique feeling. While still enjoyable, it remains a bit dry. Here's another, older version, that's just as insane. Check out that huge crowd!

夏草の線路: One of my favorite Kaori X KOTOKO songs ever written, it always gives me good vibrations when I hear that intro. The transition from electronic to real instruments is, once again, incredible! Which begs the question, why didn't they just do it that way in the first place? At least Kaori doesn't mess this one up too bad...

ジェットスマッシュ!: Never heard this one before. I don't see the need for bringing out so many cheerleaders on stage for such a bland and average song. Kaori still looks like she's suffering from back pain and KOTOKO is having major problems with her bra strap... those are by far the highlights. Next!

Short Circuit: Some real action on this one, from all fronts! Both girls are loosening up and moving around a lot more naturally. Camera angles cycle between each other at a rapid pace, lots of zoom in/out and of course, the cheerleaders are going nuts! How the hell did they muster so much energy for the whole night? At the end of the song, KOTOKO, Kaori and everyone else get off the stage, leaving the fans screaming for an encore. They quickly show up on mini sportsbikes, much to everyone's enjoyment. Each member of the band, dancers included, gets introduced to the audience. It's pretty obvious what's coming next!

↑青春ロケット↑ : We all knew the show wouldn't end so soon, and it's a nice touch they got them to change outfits so quickly, to really emphasize what a great song this is. Nice show of respect to their fans! You can feel the energy in the club, everyone is just jumping and singing along and it makes for an electric performance.

Double HarmoniZe Shock!!: All good things must come to an end, and what better way to end the night than with arguably one the most powerful Short Circuit II song? I'm running out of compliments here, all I can say is that the performance is stellar and highlights I've as a serious musical force to contend with.

Whew, there you are. When it's all said and done, this DVD comes highly recommended (if you can find it!) despite a number of passable songs and some sub-par performances from Kaori. NOW, how about a MOSAIC.WAV ~first live~ DVD? We all know it's coming, let's just hope it comes sooner than later.


Anonymous said...

"However, I don't think he's the same one that accompanied KOTOKO when she played Toronto and Dallas in 2006."
You're right. Harry Yoshida is the drummer who usually performs at KOTOKO's live shows as well as her North American shows, but here, Kazumi Yagi is credited as the drummer. I much prefer Harry, personally.
I agree that they needed more close-up shots of KOTOKO, Kaori and the band. It's as though the cameras were unmanned, save for the ones directly around the stage.
KOTOKO has enough live experience (Budokan, Yokohama arena, etc.) to not be frightened, but I'm fairly certain she had never sung Maple Syrup or Hajimemashite, koi live, which could have affected her performance. Kaori, on the other hand, looked absolutely terrified.
Thanks for the review!

Nadirah said...

Agree with the close-ups!

You know sometimes I do wonder how these girls could pander to the otaku mass by singing songs like "maple syrup" but one look at Kaori and I know that they're usually not used to it xD Not that I'm disparaging them or anything, but I know I cringed when I saw the frilly dresses the girls had to don with that silly ribbon... the stylist could have at least picked better dresses :P

Kaori does look pretty terrified all the time I've seen this...

ANYWAY. Off topic. I expected to hate this show because I'm not much of a fan of the denpa genre, but I love some of I've's denpa song, the songs from the SHORT CIRCUIT "series" being some among them. Then I read this review and felt compelled to see it, just for the KOTOKO goodness.

You know what? I loved this show! While there are some truths that these girls don't always hit the right notes, I'm still impressed with their singing, and Kaori's not bad at all (it helps that I really some of the songs that she sang, gone are the boring songs such as "Shining Stars Bless" and they brought out I've's best for this show. (I don't know if "Kienai Omoi" was in the SC series but I do remember loving the song - even though I didn't know it was Kaori who performed it.)

I'm still halfway through so I don't know if my raving will turn into hating later on, but all I'm saying is that I'm really looking forward for Double HarmoniZe Shock!! because damn that song is amazing.

I would give all my money to see KOTOKO live, though. (Granted I don't have much.)