Posted by: Leek | February 9, 2016

Music Purchase in Review: Aikatsu! PHOTO on STAGE!! SINGLE SERIES 01: Chameleon Talk★

I’m getting the feeling you can expect music reviews to start getting put up more often that the radio show from now on. With the recent release of PHOTO on STAGE means a slew of new releases in terms of Aikatsu CDs. I can’t really complain, but you’ll more or less hear my concerns throughout the review I’m sure.

You can expect the review of Wonderful Tour to be up in the next coming days. Just imagine I’ll always put priority on PHOTO on STAGE singles due to their compact nature.

General Overview
So the first single in the PHOTO on STAGE series has arrived and fairly early in the year. I never talked about the announcement of PHOTO on STAGE here since it happened a good amount of time after the first OP/ED single and before any other releases happened otherwise. So in case you haven’t heard, PHOTO on STAGE is Aikatsu’s descent into the idiotic, money grabbing bright world of mobile gaming. On account mobile games rely on a steady release of content, they decided they’d release special music that you’ll most likely only hear in PHOTO on STAGE (versus the usual arcade game/anime combo). This means a new set of CD releases for the sake of PHOTO on STAGE. In other words, it’s best to think of it as a whole different monster that kind of fell off of the larger Aikatsu body.

The first single stood within the realm of the familiar as Kengo Minamida was chosen to lead off the race (the face behind eien no tomoshibi, friend, Du-Du-Wa DO IT!). I think my biggest concern with the PHOTO on STAGE announcement was how harder they would be forced to pull resources for music. If they really plan to turn out songs often, then it can become a heavy strain on their current team and most likely leads to them pulling more names out of a hat to write music. And we all know how uncomfortable I get when I see a name I don’t recognize, especially one that doesn’t belong to onetrap or MONACA. But, for the meantime, they have the first three slated to names we all know and love. So as long as they keep with that I’ll be slightly less hesitant. And as long as there’s no quality drop in the PHOTO on STAGE music and the usual release schedule, I’ll keep my hand down.

With a new type of release comes a new amount of tracks per CD. Like any single series, you shouldn’t be expecting the volume you get out of the usual (or even previous) single releases Aikatsu has had. There’s only three tracks present with the feature song, a special cover of a previous song(s), and the instrumental. In respect of how small time these releases are, I’m leaving out the usual sections and just skipping straight to track by track overview.

Track by Track Breakdown

Chameleon Talk★ – So let’s talk positives first. ”Chameleon Talk” has the upbeat and really high energy nature that has come with the previous two 2wingS songs. It has the fun little back and forth between the two as well as some call and response you can go along with. And, in that respect, I really do enjoy listening to the song. However, I still feel like the song feels a little too safe for my liking. All of Minamida’s contributions to Aikatsu so far have been pretty unique, but I do feel like “Chameleon Talk” just sits itself right in the middle of both 2wingS songs and doesn’t really bother to grab your attention. I think at the end of the day the song leaves me wanting something more. I really can’t put my finger on what that something is, but it really doesn’t leave me completely satisfied.

hirari/hitori/kirari ~Ichigo & Seira Ver.~ – I think my complaint with this track is less with it and more of the selection. I can kind of see the idea. “hirari/hitori/kirari” is a song that gets aided by powerful vocals (both of which Waka and Fuuri provide to STAR☆ANIS), but that seems like a weak reason to select it for their cover. I think if you wanted that, then it would be fun to select something a little out of the box like one of Yurika’s two songs. If not that, then there’s fun things that anime fans would get a kick out of like a cover of “wake up my music”, or something that WM performed. However, I’d take this version of hirari/hitori/kirari over the original just because the two don’t require the remainder of STAR☆ANIS to make it jump. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I’ve never enjoyed mass vocals on any song. So by cover standards it’s great, but nothing I’m going crazy about selection wise.

Chameleon Talk★ OFF VOCAL – I mentioned that “Chameleon Talk” kind of sits in the middle of “friend” and “Sweet Sp!ce”, and I felt as such because of it’s instrumentation and style. The song itself borders closer to the pop/rock nature of “Sweet Sp!ce”, but the instrumentation is what you heard out of “friend”. I think the problem is the horns that are thrown into the song don’t add that much at the end of the day. It does give it a little more power, but I probably would have preferred something else to create the energy without being too obnoxious. And that really is where a lot of my issue with the song lies. The other parts sit perfect in my head, but I can’t wrap my head around the necessity of the horns. It really does feel like a power balance miss at the end of the day, and it’s probably what is keeping me from getting that complete feeling while listening to it. It’s a bit surprising too because balance always felt perfect in all of Minamida’s previous work.

Wrap Up
With PHOTO on STAGE singles on a currently month by month release schedule, I’d be a lot softer in my recommendation to go out and grab it. They are cheaper than the usual releases, but I’d be really surprised if they don’t plan to do a best of collection down the line (probably without the covers if anything). I’ll keep you updated if there’s a must have in the coming months, but I think it’s best to sit on your hands and save your money for the standard releases. With “Wonderful Tour” being out and the third season best of album coming out in March, there’s plenty of other great places to spend your money.


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