Posted by: Leek | October 25, 2014

Music Purchase in Review: Aikatsu! OP/ED Single 5 – Du-Du-Wa DO IT!|Good morning my dream

While the new season has been running for awhile, it’s finally time for the OP/ED single to come out. It’s hard to believe we finally reached a fifth one already. Though if this were some Shounen Jump series (or any other anime for that matter) we’d probably be on OP/ED single twenty by now, so thank god we’re not. I also used a different scanner this time around (try to not worry about it too much).

General Overview
Du-Du-Wa DO IT!|Good morning my dream marks the first release in the new season of Aikatsu! and the start of a whole new year of music releases. Excited? You bet I am. While there’s nothing shocking to really say about it, it does mark a few new partings from the previous four singles we’ve gotten thus far.

For starters, with the start of the new season comes a new group of girls. And since they seemed to not want to pack more girls into STAR☆ANIS (hooray?) they decided to put the new girls into a new group, AIKATSU☆STARS! The members should be pretty familiar if you’ve followed the names thus far and both Ruka and Mona were generally filed under the STAR☆ANIS unit last season. The only actual newcomer is Miki (Hinaki’s stage voice) and it’s generally a mystery whether she’s considered a member of STAR☆ANIS or solely grouped into the new AIKATSU☆STARS! unit. If that is the case though, then I’d feel a little bad since she’s the only girl left out of the party.

The other important point to address is this is the first single in awhile where the team of Kakeru Ishihama and Hidekazu Tanaka wasn’t preserved. Ever since the first single (where NARASAKI wrote Signalize), the two had been given charge of the OP/ED single, so it is a little sad to see the old team broken up. Instead, Ishihama’s position is filled in by Kengo Minamida who, while no stranger to the Aikatsu! music library, comes from outside of MONACA. With this in mind it looks like the new season of Aikatsu! is once again going to be handled by a team effort between MONACA and one trap. There is a part of me that wants Ishihama to return for the inevitable sixth OP/ED single simply because his style has created countless iconic pieces for the franchise.

This time around the single contains not just four but six, count em’, six songs. Naturally three of them are instrumentals but at least you get one more song for your buck. And that’s never a a bad thing.

Design
So there is much of the “it’s the same” feel in the design section this time around. Just like the, you know, past four singles we’ve still managed to keep the standard. I have waited and asked for Akari to be on a CD cover for quite a few reviews so it’s nice to finally have my dream realized. Go figure I’d just have to wait for a third season, huh?

Other than that, gasp gasp, we have more Aikatsu! trivia coming your way that you never asked for. Just like the very first single of the series which featured STAR☆ANIS on the back, this single in turn features the three girls from AIKATSU☆STARS! It’s not the most extravagant thing ever but it’s nice to see that we’re really, and I mean really, starting back at the first step.

And for whatever reason they decided it’d be hip and cool Japanese style by having Du Du Wa DO IT!! read right to left. This CD has a lot of freshness to it but I don’t think this idea does much for it other than seem kind of silly.

Music/Track Progression Musical Overview
I feel like I’ve mentioned that the key to starting the new Aikatsu! season would be to give it a really lively, fresh new face. Outside of maybe the third track, the new OP/ED single appears to have answered the challenge I issued. The sound of the songs not only brings a bit of new things to the table but it also brings back the lively and upbeat pace that I felt was missing from the previous single. “Du-Du-Wa DO IT!” takes up the position as the really light-hearted opening song while “Good morning my dream” does a good job of slowing the pace down so it’s not a single that solely removes you from your seat. In that sense the single provides more of a balance that the previous singles didn’t necessarily have. If you wanted a one word description for the entire single I’d probably say “cute”. All the songs off the single aren’t dramatic by any means and reflect a real lighthearted innocence.

In general, it’s the same high quality music you could come to expect from Aikatsu! at this point. And, most importantly, it doesn’t fall too much into a single style. Instrumental utilization and combination is stretched yet again and, for the most part, the OP/ED contain styles that somehow haven’t squeezed their way into the dozens of other songs the series has had thus far. The extra track just really adds to it because, even if it’s not a new sound, it’s a spruced up return to the old. It’s the icing at the end of the cake saying, “Yes, this is a new Aikatsu! but it’s still Aikatsu!”, and I can’t think of a better time to enforce that fact musically than the first single.

Track by Track Breakdown

Du-Du-Wa DO IT! – I remember when “Diamond Happy” first played during the first season it really blew a lot of minds. It was this really brisk, fun, and enjoyable experience that you most likely weren’t ready for. And while I really enjoyed the second season openings they just didn’t have that same effect. Skip to the present day where we’re talking about “Du-Du-Wa DO IT!”. I’d say that my experience was the same as “Diamond Happy” and maybe even above it. “Du-Du-Wa DO IT!” is just a damn fun song to listen to. From the intro to the end, you’re supposed to have fun, laugh, and get up on your feet and enjoy it. And where “Diamond Happy” utilized a big band in a more modern sense, “Du-Du-Wa DO IT!” takes it back several years to a more classic swing style. While it’s not completely classic Broadway, it still retains enough of the flavor to put the image in your mind. It’s really a song where I have no real complaint to file. It doesn’t try to do anything recklessly out of the ordinary to impress you and that’s not a bad thing. It keeps it simple and fun, and that’s all you need for a song like this.

Good morning my dream – “Good morning my dream” is one of those Aikatsu! songs that comes out every so often and leaves me with really mixed opinions. I love Hidekazu Tanaka and he’s contributed the most legendary songs to the Aikatsu! library that I’m not going to easily forget. So what bothers me about “Good morning my dream”? I think the idea for the vocals from intro to verses are amazing and it makes me want to love the song. But something about the chorus just drives me nuts. I don’t necessarily hate it but it feels like it takes the song in a different direction for a short moment. The transition back to the second verse is really smooth too, so it’s not as if it’s not a well thought out direction. It’s just not to my taste and I don’t think I even have an answer as to what I want to hear in it’s place. I think there’s just a part of me that thinks “Yeah, this is catchy” but that’s not enough to completely satisfy me. So it turns out as that itch you just can’t scratch. But, let me be honest here, “Good morning my dream” buries a lot of music that’s done for most idol series despite the flaws I find with it.

Let’s Aikatsu! – In all my talk about the CD this far I feel like I’ve kept putting “Let’s Aikatsu!” at the back of the room and refusing to talk about it. And it has nothing to do with it being a bad song, I just wanted to make sure I left enough things to say about it here. Being the guy that wrote “idol katsudou!”, Hidekazu Tanaka was again left in charge with this song as the “idol katsudou!” of the new season. In fact, you’ll find a ton of resemblances in the styles if you listen to the two side by side. Is it pretty much stereotypical idol pop that you’d expect to get? Yeah. Is it at least really good quality idol pop that screams Aikatsu? Of course. Like I had said in the general overview, this is the song that is meant to take you back two years to when Aikatsu! first started out. And it’s really a cute gesture when you think about it. The song has it’s individual meaning but the most meaning comes out of it’s existence in the Aikatsu! timeline. And it beats them being lazy and just releasing “idol katsudou! ~2014~” or something silly like that.

Du-Du-Wa DO IT! OFF VOCAL – “Du-Du-Wa DO IT!” is a prime example of why I love Aikatsu! music so much. You have the normal song and it’s a ton of fun to listen to. You take off the vocals? It’s still a ton of fun to listen to. It doesn’t matter if you’re using it do karaoke, whistle along, or try and re-create your own version of the scene from “Risky Business”, you’re bound to have a good time. The vocals do have a ton of impact when you listen to the complete version so I think it’s easy to miss out on the small details going in the back that just blend in. So it’s a good way to really appreciate every point of the song and take it all in. While there is that empty hole in my heart that Kakeru Ishihama isn’t filling by writing the opening, I feel like he has some great competition in Minamida. But if there’s anything that Aikatsu! taught us it’s that competition is a good thing, right?

Good morning my dream OFF VOCAL – I have to admit the one thing I hands down love about “Good morning my dream” is the intro and lead in to the second verse. Hidekazu Tanaka has this really great knack for capturing the theme of a song really well in his writing. All the ticking, ringing, and clock imagery that squeezes it’s way into this song is really charming. Otherwise, “Good morning my dream” is really simple at it’s core and generally relies a lot on it’s vocals. So I can’t say it’s as thrilling to listen to as “Du-Du-Wa DO IT!” in that respect but it does really indicate how much the chorus bothers me. Even during the OFF VOCAL the itch still comes back to haunt me.

Let’s Aikatsu! OFF VOCAL – If you really want to compare “Let’s Aikatsu!” and “idol katsudou!”, listening to the instrumentals side by side is actually a really great way to do it. The instruments utilized, the guitar backing, the overall flow, it just all snaps together like a jigsaw puzzle. And what you get at the end is a really nice picture of the rookie Aikatsu! image: the simple, clean, energetic fun. There will be a point when they can start breaking the characters out into their personal images and give them distinct songs, but the starting point is really important. And I’m generally glad they went in the direction they did to really make you get those flashbacks.

Wrap Up
Thinking back to the old pattern, I feel like there’s a part of me that feels I bought another OP/ED CD for a single track. If we were to leave “Let’s Aikatsu!” off the CD, then I feel that it’s another case where one track feels incredibly strong while the other suffers a few flaws here and there that make me push it away a bit. But overall, I still feel it’s a really strong single on account my issues with “Good morning my dream” aren’t so much related to it being a bad song. There’s just that weird bone in my system as a composer that wants to try and mentally deny and fix sections of songs that don’t appeal completely to me. The real point is that Du-Du-Wa DO IT!|Good morning my dream easily achieves what it wanted to do as a single. It brings a new light to the Aikatsu! library while retaining enough elements to keep old fans really happy. I’m not sure if it was all intentional but it’s definitely the vibe it left with me at the end of the day.

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