S/mileage and I have a love-hate relationship.
Once upon a time, when they were first formed, it was love at first sight, or at least 3/4 love at first sight. They had taken 3 of my favorite H!P eggs, Yuuka, Kanon and Saki and put them all in a group that made just the kind of music I was missing. Oh and Ayaka was there too but she was mostly ignorable anyway. They put out awesome indies singles, and even their first major single was fantastic, and then it kinda slipped for a bit, with sub-par material until Uchouten Love kicked it back up to where it should have been. And then disaster befell the group as Saki left, new members were added, and then Yuuka left, leaving 2 original members (one of which I didn’t like), and a bunch of misfits. I was going to try and stay a fan, since Please Mini Skirt Post Woman was a really great single, but then after that everything was pretty awful, and even my love for new member Meimi couldn’t keep me interested in the group.
Fast forward to yesterday when I decided to have a listen to S/mileage’s new single, Yattaru-chan, despite not having liked almost anything they have released in a year and a half… And suddenly I like them again. Dammit, S/mileage, would you please be consistent so I can decide if I love you or not? Because I definitely love Yattaru-chan, in a way that I haven’t liked a S/mileage single since Please Mini Skirt Post Woman.
Yattaru-chan has that good old-time S/mileage feel to it – like something that could have been released between Suki-chan and Otona ni Narutte. It’s hyper and cute, but not in a half-assed boring way, like CHOTO MATE KUDASAI or Dot Bikini. This song is genuinely fun, cheery, and makes me like the members again.
Speaking of members, the way they are utilized in this song really worked for me… Kana’s speaking parts were a good way to use her without her vocals hurting my ears. Meimi got to show off how wonderful a vocalist she is becoming, by using a big-girl voice quite impressively (and yet still acting bat-shit insane, just to keep it interesting).
Kanon got some good screentime and sounded great. Akari got a large part in the song and I love the contrast of her lower, rougher voice, which stands out from the others. She reminds me of Haruka from Morning Musume in that way. And then perhaps the best part, Ayaka and Rina did not have very prominent roles, and what they did have didn’t irritate me. Can’t beat that!
The video shows the fun side to these girls wonderfully. This video shows that even with a low budget, with the right energy from the girls, a video can still be a success. I had so much fun just watching these girls be silly that I couldn’t have cared less about the budget. It was a standard set up of dance shots and close-ups, but the silliness spliced in was delightful.
As for downsides to Yattaru-chan, the outfits are rather cheap looking, and some of them were more flattering than others, but I somehow don’t hate them too much. Similarly, the dance to this song is high energy, but feels a bit cheap and awkward at times… Could be worse, and doesn’t ruin anything for me, although I could do without the can-can kicks.
After so many blah singles, I’m really happy to see S/mileage bringing back what I liked about the group in the first place. I loved Yattaru-chan, and now I actually can’t wait to hear the other A-side to this single, and that’s the first time I have been eagerly anticipating a S/mileage song for a long time. I hope the group can keep getting material like this again, because if they do, I’ll be back as an adoring fan and those “blah” days can be put behind them.