Posted by: Leek | March 24, 2016

Music Purchase in Review: Aikatsu! PHOTO on STAGE!! SINGLE SERIES 03: Dramatic Girl

The CD reviews just keep coming, don’t they? This is (luckily) the last one until the end of next month. So at least I have a bit of time to rest my wings until the next wave of music comes with Stars. Again, there’s no confirmation of if I plan to grab those releases yet. But, assuming they follow the same release schedule as the previous series, I will more or less be able to tell you in good enough time.

General Overview
Dramatic Girl is the third and final installment in the first set of Photo on Stage singles, and this time we shift a little bit away from the usual. They decided to not just pack a single pair, but the entirety of both Luminas and Soleil to come together to perform the latest song. While Ruka has had a chance to perform with the STAR☆ANIS bunch due to the movie, this is the first time that the main faces of both STAR☆ANIS and AIKATSU☆STARS! have actually collaborated on the same work. I’ll forever be against mass vocals, but I’m giving this a bit of slack because it’s something that needed to happen eventually.

I would call out this pairing as about as safe as the first single, but, with the news of Mona leaving soon, I feel like the music staff was trying to get as much out of her as they could. There’s still one more single she’ll be a part of (next month), and I get the feeling they realized they better pull this out now before they’re forced to find a replacement vocalist to cover Sumire’s part for her. And who better to write a song for the two groups than the legend himself, Hidekazu Tanaka? Even if I believe Ishihama went on to write more hits than Tanaka in the long run, it’s not a stretch to call Tanaka the true father of Aikatsu music due to the huge impact calendar girl had on audiences. So it is a little nice to hear him cooking up the only collaboration song between the two major groups (even if Sunao has long been gone from STAR☆ANIS).

Due to the somewhat loaded nature of this month’s release, there is actually an additional track so that both participating groups get their own cover song. The CD itself is slightly more expensive than the others so you don’t actually get away with any of that additional value. I guess BandaiNamco isn’t as generous when the releases run through their hands as closely.

Track by Track Breakdown

Dramatic Girl – I don’t think Dramatic Girl is one of the most groundbreaking songs, but I’m willing to respect the choices about it for a lot of reasons. The two groups are very different in terms of vocal profiles, and I feel that Tanaka opted to run the middle ground to ensure that the Luminas girls could keep up with their more energetic Soleil counterparts. The result is something similar to Ishihama’s fashion check in the first season. It’s still an energetic song, but it’s delivered in a way that is still very light on the ears and incredibly cute. And, despite the six vocals that are taking part in the chorus, it never feels too bloated as everybody manages to harmonize fairly well considering the unique lot of vocals among the six. I respect Tanaka for writing a song to work the vocals together, and I believe that all six have come a long way since their respective starts. I don’t think that a song like this would have been possible at the start of all their careers, and it’s a great song to reflect on just how far everyone has come. The only real shame about the song is the lack of Sunao to truly complete the original trio.

diamond happy ~Akari & Sumire & Hinaki Ver.~ – Easily the more interesting of the two covers is the Luminas spin on everybody’s favorite, diamond happy. diamond happy is that song that everybody knows from first season, and it’s the one and only real Soleil patented song. So there is quite a lot of impact of hearing it covered by the Akari generation. In all honesty, I think expecting a cover version to surpass the original at this point is impossible, but it is nice how you can really draw the distinction between the groups from hearing it. There is a distinct vocal power that Waka, Fuuri, and Sunao (at that time) could generate that I just don’t think the AIKATSU☆STARS! girls can match. Ruka is the one real power singer among the three, power is probably the one thing that Mona can’t do well, and I just have never enjoyed when Miki has tried to power vocal because the cute suits her so much better. So when you stack that up against just Waka and Fuuri alone, it’s already no contest. I still enjoy the cover and hearing the difference is actually really fun. But it really goes to show how the original three really set themselves apart.

Good morning my dream ~Ichigo & Aoi & Ran Ver.~ – While I admit that Good morning my dream has grown on me a lot since it’s original release, this is another case of “Why this track”. To be fair, it’s partly the staff’s fault because Luminas was never given a real definitive track like Soleil. And if you look at the history of what Luminas has performed, it comes with an incredibly long line of choices. I just think that the single would have benefited from something a lot more high energy since high energy is something that Soleil has been really affiliated with. I realize they were trying to keep the track selection a little in-house with MONACA, but I would have loved to have seen a Soleil spin on something like Du-Du-Wa DO IT! Regardless, the Soleil cover of Good morning my dream still works well. However, I don’t feel like it’s necessarily a track where the vocal difference between the two groups really comes up too strongly. If I had to point out something, Soleil pulls off the harmony better during the chorus, but there’s really not that much to separate the two versions compared to diamond happy before it.

Dramatic Girl (off vocal) – If there is one thing I miss about Tanaka, it’s the sound variety he uses when it comes to his music. There’s a lot of small parts that pop up in Dramatic Girl that gives it the cute and quirk to stand out. And, if nothing else, there’s always the trademark Tanaka bass line that you can enjoy in the background. Dramatic Girl is far from a complicated song, but I think taking the time to just enjoy all the elements is more than enough reason to rock the backing track from time to time. I only argue against the use of the fade out to end it. I think it would have been really cute if right after the final pause that everything just ended right on the last mini guitar line. Maybe it’s a little predictable, but I think it goes with the adorable nature of the song. But that’s a very minor complaint when I really have no issue with any of the direction of the song otherwise.

Wrap Up
I still feel like nothing beats sentimental berry when it comes to overall value among the first three releases. But if you’ve followed Aikatsu from the beginning to the end, then chances are this single will kind of ride on your conscious. Aikatsu OP/EDs have kind of had this long line of passing the baton on and on, and I feel like this is the real last leg of that relay. I don’t want to sound pessimistic and making it sound like there’s no real future for these stories, but I feel like this is a bit of a last hurrah in more than a few ways. It’s not going to bring out your feelings the same as START DASH SENSATION or Shining Line, but it’s kind of it’s own unique existence that you might want to have around. If nothing else, buy it for that Tanaka bass line.


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