Thursday, 24 August 2017

Goodbye, Pure-Hearted Ballerina, It's Time To Let Your Dark Wings Unfold... - Houkago Princess 'Sayonara Dualina' [MV Review]

In the cut-throat industry of entertainment, there will always be a dark side to the delicate world that has been crafted for audience consumption. Whether it is in singing, orchestra, acting or ballet, there will be those who do what they can to climb to the top, and when they finally get to the top of that ladder, their true wings begin to unfurl...

What side will you find yourself on? Black, or white?


In their latest re-telling of a classic love story, Houkago Princess take centre stage and pirouette to the sounds of duality and conflict in their very own rendition of the classical ballet, Swan Lake! In this modern approach to the iconic ballet, Sayonara Dualina explores the theme of dual feelings towards love as the members prepare to put on a magnificent performance for their fans.

With each member portraying a form of Odette or Odile, Houkago Princess become royalty who change the colour of their feathers to show off the difficulties of falling in love. Tonight, they will put on a performance that will astound you all as they show their passion on the stage, whilst revealing the true conflict of their heart and mind in the most beautiful way they possibly can. By the end of it all, will you figure out if they are going to be upfront with their feelings, or hide them away behind dark wings?

After waiting so long for its release, finally, I can now reveal Sayonara Dualina and review it for you all! Dedicated to one of the most heart-wrenching love stories of all time, Houkago Princess bring forth another beautiful, mature track that will send chills down your spine. With Maika taking the lead as principal vocalist once again, and a beautiful choreography to show off the groups grace, it's time to fall into a world of duality and love, and see what kind of story the girls of Houkago Princess will paint for us today.

In their first ballet-themed release, Houkago Princess will take to the stage and perform Sayonara Dualina to you all! The curtains are beginning to rise, so please take your seats and don't move! A story of peril and woe is about to begin...

This is A Duet I Dance Alone...


At first I thought Maika was opening this scene, but upon multiple second glances, I can confirm it is indeed Saori! Only Saorin has the talent and grace to pull off ballet (oh, and the experience).


Girls, I don't think that those shoes are appropriate ballet attire... >o>

Also, am I the only one who thinks this scene looks like Christmas? I mean, hello, this looks like they're setting up for The Nutcracker, no Swan Lake.

And with that said... The Nutcracker for your next release?


I swear, whenever their hair is up and they wear the same costumes, I get Maika and Sasara mixed up. It's like playing 'Spot The Difference', Idol edition.

This one's Maika, by the way.


NANANYAN! Wearing white, as one would expect. Also, honey, don't worry about the crown, it'll stay, promise!


Boy, that dressing room is getting crowded! I think HouPri need a bigger one, Universal. Y'all aren't on a shoe string budget like H!P, I'm sure.

Also, damn, I need someone to look at me the way Miran looks at Saorin.


MAYUMIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!

Mayumin in the front makes me so happy ;A;


Saorin: "... And then you slice right down the skin,"
Miran: "Lol, so cool."

Wait, WHAT!? Saorin!


MAYUMIIIIIIN!!!!!!

It's nice to see she actually gets good screen time here. I mean, Himitsu no Tiara to Gelato was piss-poor for solos that included Sahochi and Mayumi.


Curtsey to Queen Maika!!!

Wait, Maika, why are you doing the curtsy? We're meant to curtsy for you!


Mayumin: "Oh, crud muffins, I forgot to pick up the milk."

That look on your face when Sahochi announces her break from HouPri activities (sans irregular performances).



Himarin: "And then we put the gum in Mayumin's hair...~"

OI, USAMIMI! Leave Mayumin-sama's hair alone!!! D8<


Nananyan surrounded by white is quite pretty. Also, whoever did the lighting needs to be slapped o 3o


I like to think that, as Saori does this pose, she is imagining someone's beating heart in her hand ¬o¬

Yes, my mind is fucked up, but to me Saorin is the Evil Queen dressed in white. Purity is simply a mask for her true, dark heart.

Chii-Theory: This song is al about the duality of Saorin. HA!



Nananyan: "... OSHI ME!"

ARRRRGH, NEVEEEER!!!


Sasara wants YOU! (To join HouPri Youth!)


Okay, I dig this choreography, especially when I see that they actually give the colours a proper pattern ¬o¬


DAAAMN, the White / Black / White / Black pattern kills me with delight *^* YASSSS, CHOREOGRAPHERS, YASSS!!!


I just love the little foot thing they do. I am a sucker for pretty dancing, ahaha.


TBH, Maika can pull off the 'I'm a ballerina' image quite nicely. She has grace and poise worthy of the stage!


There's so much freakin' Maika, and she's killin' it!

MAIKA REEL, START!!!


Maika: "Mirror Mirror on the Wall..."

Yes, yes, you're the biggest Diva of them all. We know!


... Nope. Maika Reel has not ended. Sorry, guys :p

Also, this is one of my favourite scenes. I just love how in control Maika is in this entire scene. She's the star, and HouPri are her set pieces.


Nanayan has about as much grace as a combine harvester. This girl looks too damn stiff.

Ah, well. We can't all be as flawless as Maika. -Le Sigh-


Maika: "I'm back for more screen grabs, bitches~"
Mayumin: "Urgh, I left Youth for this?"

Mayumin is the tree. BE THE TREE! Nananyan and Saorin, on the other hand, are flamingos.


PRACTICE! It's time for a behind-the-scenes in the life of a ballerina.

That's a damn dingy looking studio, though. Huh.



TBH, Nana looks so beautiful here. I like this style on her, it's very becoming of Nana.

I like the feathers on them all, actually XD FEATHERS!!!



Sasara: "O-ow..."

AW SHIT, MAN DOWN, MAN DOWN!


Sasarabu: "Yas, they took the bait! Now it's my time to shine!"

Damn, it was all a lie! Oh, well, whatever! Gotta get me some Sasarabu time!


... Wait, that was it? A split second of Sasara, and now more Maika? Gosh darnit, Universal, I wanna see the others, too! D8<

Maika: "Phew, it's so hard being a star and the darling of Universal Music Japan."


HouPri: "Power to the Princess!"

Performing with grace and flare, and a pretty pattern that makes me happy *^*


Miran: "Mhm... Yep. Bewbs still there."


Maika: "Don't worry if you fall again, girl. I can find another Understudy."
Sasarabu: "Yeah, screw you too, Maika."
Nananyan: "Ehehehehe, I'll trip Maika up, next time~"

That troll face is everything, Nananyan XD


Sasarabu: "Sasarabu time~"

Sasarabu is Sasaluvin' ;)

But damn, Saorin, that face XD What'cha doing back there, girl?


A black swan amongst white swans. She may have different feathers, but she still has feelings like the rest of us.


Uh oh, CAT FIGHT! Quick, Nananyan, claw Maika's eyes out so you can become the Top Idol again!


Nananyan: "Pft, I'm too classy to claw her eyes out~ Nyan!"


Maika: "Heh, weak."
Nananyan: "Whatever."

Look at Maika, all smug! She was totally trying to edge a fight out of poor Nananyan! Don't gloat just cause you're the prima, girl! )8<


Sasara is still as modest and graceful as a ever, of course <3 This black swan will surely show her true colours, soon!



And just like that, pure feelings become tainted with the despair and doubts of the heart. A white swans true wings will form when she's been deceived...



And as the white swan is overcome with grief, she slowly unfurls wings of darkness and gives in...


A black swan can still love, though! Don't despair, Himarin! One day, your feathers will become white again!


But just as quickly as a heart can turn black, the love you receive can turn those burnt feathers pure again. All you need is love, trust, and... PIXIE DUUUUST!!!

Oh, and an amazing seamstress. Gawd damn, I love it when they transform like this!


And our black-hearted Saorin will take centre stage, for she is the true Prima Ballerina! Pirouette, my pretty! Pirouette!


WHO'S THAT POKEMON!?


IIIIIIIIIIIIIIT'S MAIKA! 8D

And damn, she's been engulfed by feathers galore!


The liights of the stage get damn hot, y'know. So, get out those fans, and dazzle everyone with your dance whilst cooling yourself off!

Also, damn, girl, me be loving those earrings! I want a pair!


The seriousness on Sasarabu's face, though. And damn, Saorin, why so cute?


Shantay, YOU STAY! You're killin' it, Maika!


That little hip flare is life, you guys. Also, damn, those fans are sassy XD

Those costumes are damn pretty, too, I love the feather motif *^*


WHOSE THAT POKEMON?

Oh, shit, wait, I did that joke already!!!

Well, whatever. It's Nananyan, and her heart's turned black! Oh noooes!



In all seriousness, guys, why are those fans red? Is it to represent the burning hot passion of the love they have, or what? I mean, if it was black or white, it'd fit, but they look weird ahahaha.



I needed this gif for Saori, tbh. She's just too damn cute, regardless of how black-hearted she might be in my mind.

Also, the choreography just looks freakin' pretty, as per usual.



Actually, wait, I do like the fans XD They flow nicely with the choreography, actually, and... wait... I THINK I GET IT!


Maika: "Ohoho, the blogger finally gets it. Took ya long enough~"


Nananyan: "Oh lord, the Blogger understands. Our world shall end as we know it!"

Shurrup, Nananyan XD


Isn't the fan like a mask? The mask of ones feelings, despite the burning passion they have for someone?

They are the feelings that both pure-hearted and heart broken ballerinas will hide as they put on a show, trying to mask the hurt or truth they never want to face...


HouPri: "Let's play Hide n' Go Seek~"

Aw dangit, I always sucked at playing Hide and Go Seek :/


And so our story comes to its end, and our fair princesses begin their descent to the lake.


And once night falls, these beautiful birds will turn back into their human forms, but their feelings will forever remain the same. Even without their mask, their love is more passionate than their graceful dance.


But until their very own Prince comes to break the spell placed upon them, the Princesses of Swan Lake shall sleep, dreaming of a day where their feelings are returned. Until then, those dreams will simply remain as unspoken wishes.


And so ends this story, the tale of a dual-hearted Ballerina...


Even if you say goodbye Princess, your wings will always be there...


.。.:**:.。.:**:.。.:**:.。.

Yet again, I'm typing up a review late at night, because why the heck not? I don't have a life right now, and honestly speaking, I just prefer writing when it's dark. Everyone's asleep, the energy is a lot less severe, and there's no human activity to disrupt me. Ah, it's truly bliss.

Plus, there's just something about Sayonara Dualina that feels perfect in the night. It could be the atmosphere of the music video itself, or the lullaby quality the instrumental has thanks to the use of the Swan Theme in the beginning and end of the track. For me, there is something about this track that just makes me want to play it at night. It's not a day theme for me in the slightest.

I really like this video. At first, I was a little peeved that it wasn't exclusively Swan Lake themed, but after a second watch, I got over myself and realised I do love it. I don't think it's the best MV this group has, but I like it's little homage and nod to the classical ballet that is Swan Lake. I like that they are on-stage, backstage, and in the dressing rooms at various stages of the PV. I also love that their costumes directly represent the Swan Lake characters of Odette and Odile, whilst also bringing their own spin to the story by crafting the motif of conflicting feelings and a dual-sided way of interpreting their love. It's a little like yin and yang, if you will.

And I know, I know; there's probably some similarities to the 2010 Black Swan movie. I've never seen it, mind, but I can see where the comparisons might derive from; it's a modern interpretation of an age-old ballet, where the characters' personalities and mental state are represented by the black / white persona of the 'swan' character. For me, though, I am trying to piece together the similarities between the original ballet and HouPri's modernised version. That's what I'm interested in.

It actually took me a while, but finally, I feel like I have figured out how HouPri's management and lyricists have made this relevant to the Swan Lake tale. Though Sayonara Dualina isn't a carbon-copy or near replication of the tale like other releases have been close to achieving, Houkago Princess have definitely taken inspiration from the story, despite certain aspects being quite subtle. Of course, the most glaringly obvious aspect has to be the costume, based off of the ballet's leading character and her antagonistic doppelgĂ€nger. The transformation from white to black, or black to white, further enhances the groups homage to Swan Lake, because aside from being a pretty piece of transformation, the change in feathers is a nice little nod to the fact that Odette and Odile are traditionally played by the same principle dancer.

There is also the exploration into the idea of feelings being 'black or white' throughout the music video which, if you look a little more deeply into it, could be HouPri's own portrayal of Odette's love for Siegfried throughout Act Two (white), versus the betrayal she feels when he proclaims Odile will become his wife in Act Three (black). Furthermore, the theme of 'black and white' also expresses the princesses hiding their feelings versus actually showing them, with one line of the lyrics stating that they 'hide behind black clothes' so that their feelings are no longer transparent. This could be the lyricists own way of showing that, after being betrayed, Odette hid her own feelings so that she could never be hurt or lied to again, which is another interesting take on the play's storyline.

Even the subtle rivalry between Nana and Maika throughout the MV is a nice little nod to the play itself, with both girls seemingly going out for the lead in a performance of Swan Lake. Whilst we see everyone performing here, it's very apparent that Maika is the Prima Ballerina in this Act, and as the PV progresses, Nana's feelings become more and more frustrated when the realisation dawns on her that she won't be playing the lead. Given their colours, I like to think of Maika as the Odile, whilst Nana is the Odette, and the part they are both trying out for is their 'love'. It's the object of their desires, and only one of them can truly have it. Because she has lost it, however, Nana feels a sense of betrayal, whilst Maika is smug and delighted.

So, yes, the stage / part of Odette is their Siegfried. Go figure XD

We also have the fans, which clearly represent the 'mask' the members wear in order to disguise their feelings and true selves. There's a chance the fans could also represent the members' dual personalities as both a human and a swan, of course, but I think the fans connect more to the lyrics, than the ballet itself. Regardless of what we think they mean, they're a nice little addition, and add a touch of further duality in the choreography.

... I think I've talked long enough, so to wrap this up;

Sayonara Dualina is a beautiful music video, and I enjoy everything about it. It may not be the most extravagant PV Universal have put out, but it does showcase the theme of Swan Lake quite nicely. It's a concept works well to translate the idea of Swan Lake into a more modern viewpoint, whilst keeping the undertones of the original well and truly there. I like how it deals with duality and this idea of betrayal throughout, even if it never explicitly shows it.

The tone of the video is also quite beautiful. It feels so much more melancholy than previous music videos from the group, though its vibe is similar to that of Manatsu no Yoru no Yume. It's not a light, airy release like Junpaku Anotinette, Seishun Mermaid and Himitsu no Tiara to Gelato, nor is it rich and vibrant like Lychee Red no Unmei. Instead, Sayonara Dualina is distinct, bleak and cold throughout most of the music video. Aside from the few shots where we see the members in the dressing room, everything else is cool toned and serious, leaving little room for emotions to run high or cheerful smiles to pass their faces.

Thankfully, the song also matches the tone of the music video perfectly, showing off a more serious, poised side to the group that I don't typically see. It's a great song, too, showcasing yet another style of sound that HouPri haven't tackled yet. And once again, Maika takes lead as the principal vocalist for this release, showing off the surprising height of her vocal ability in some of the highest notes she has ever reached. It's quite astounding, actually, and I can't help but listen and watch in awe whenever I hear her sing those lines. I knew she was a great singer, but damn, she's freakin' epic, here!

This is an impressive performance, and yet another beautiful release from Houkago Princess! I really do enjoy it, and as per usual, I think it's one of their best song releases yet. They keep on impressing me, so of course, I can only look forward to what they create next. Which Princess will they transform into next time, I wonder?


After the curtain falls and the final Act closes, will you run to your Idols and dedicate yourself to them, or you will pledge your devotion to another group instead?

Once the act of betrayal begins, her pure white heart heart begins to turn black with woe...

Until next time, everyone. Please remember to love your Idols, and please don't let them down. Let's allow them to rise like beautiful swans instead.

Take care,
Chiima~


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