Fantasy!Juuichi is the 11th studio by Morning Musume and was released in commemoration of Kamei Eri, JunJun and LinLin’s graduation in just a week and a half. I wanted to share my thoughts on the songs on this album.
1. Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game (AL Version) – I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t like this song very much in the beginning but the more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it. As usual, the single is very Ai, Reina and Eri heavy but overall it’s very good solid song. In a rare turn of events, this single gives each member at least one solo line. Unfortunately, this means that if your name isn’t Ai, Reina, Risa or Eri, you litterally only get one solo line. It’s a pleasant change. We haven’t heard JunJun or LinLin singing a solo since their debut single Onna ni Sachi Are so it’s nice to hear how much they’ve progressed as singers since their debut. It’s a very synth heavy song but overall, I think it’s going to be a love it or hate it type of song. Or in my case, it’s a hate it and then love it. I had the same experience last year with Kimagure Princess. The AL Version of this song has a string intro before starting into the main portion of the song. 7/10
2. Bravo! — If there was a song that defined the phrase “Spunk in a Can” this is it! It’s a very intense rock song and sounds like something that Buono! would have released but instead, this genki pop-rock tune is giving to Morning Musume. It’s a good sound for them. It’s pairing up the usual suspects like in Genki Pika Pika! and I’m in no form complaining at all. The pairings in both of these songs oddly complement each singer in all the pairings. This is the perfect concert song and I quite this rock influenced song very much. 8/10
3. Fantasy ga Hajimaru — Another synth heavy song on the album. It’s the same synth sound to boot on every single Morning Musume single as of late and it’s getting really old. Old Meme anyone? Also, I can understand using Autotune on Sayumi because of her tonedeaf nature, but throughout the entire song? It’s particularly noticeable in the verses. The song sounds very tinny to me and while it’s an enjoyable song, autotune ruins this song for me. Tsunku you are not T-Pain and your singers can more or less carry a tune without having the autotune. If they’re singing consistently flat or sharp (this is Sayumi to a tee) than I can understand the autotuning. Seriously, autotuning Ai? It’s not even necessary. However, the ad-lib’s in this song are gorgeous and give the song a nice touch. Overall, this song sounds like something you’d hear in a club or on a DDR soundtrack. 6.5/10
4. Onna Gokoro to Nanto Yara — An upbeat rock ballad! It’s very generic sounding though but the girls sound great! It plays up the lower vocal ranges of the girls nicely which can be quite difficult for a soprano but they all pull it off flawlessly. Despite the fact that it’s a generic song, it’s very easy on the ears. None of the girls sound squeaky and the guitar riffs in the background show the hand of a skilled guitarist. Overall, a nice song but not very memorable. 6/10
5. Ai no Honoo — :\ This song sounds nice and everything but it should’ve gone to someone who doesn’t sound like they sing with olives shoved up their nostrils. Sorry to all the Reina fans out there but this song isn’t a good match for her. It’s another upbeat ballad and arguably could’ve gone to someone with better musical chops than Reina. To me, it feels like it’s being sung with feeling whatsoever. Besides, doesn’t Reina have enough solo songs already? This song and Reina just… don’t mesh. I think one of the Panda’s would’ve been a better match for this song. Tsunku’s always said that LinLin has the perfect voice for a ballad and this would’ve been a perfect opportunity to show it off. Too late now I suppose but it’s a damn shame. 5/10
6. I’m Lucky girl — A synth pop song that I can get behind! It’s an up-tempo dance number and I’m quite digging this track. It’s better sounding to my ears than Fantasy ga Hajimaru and once again, it’s in a key that all members can sing in comfortably. I must say though… why is the title in Engrish? It just detracts from the awesome that is this song. Near the end of the song and constantly looping synth in the background, it’s easy to tune out after awhile. It’s a decent enough song though. 7/10
7. Sungoi My Birthday — This songs like something you’d hear in the sixties but aaaaaaah AIKA! :D LINLIN! :D I’m starting to see a big trend with this album. Synth pop, upbeat ballad et ad naseum. The clapping noise I’m hearing in the background though during the instrumental interludes needs to die in a fire. JUNJUN! :D This song stars the singers that don’t get featured that much on the singles and is a great song for the 8th Gen in particular. Sayumi just… doesn’t suit the character of the song. I know, it’s a cute sounding song and therefore, Sayumi must be involved in some way but… Sayumi should just be speaking and I LOVE Sayumi. 7/10
8. Ichi Kara Juu Made Aishite Hoshii — A break in the theme! Wait… no it’s not. It’s another generic synth pop based disaster! This song sounds much too young for the group that’s singing it. This song would sound better sung by Berryz Koubou or C-ute if I’m to be honest. I’m not a fan of this song and I firmly believe that it should’ve gone to another group. It should be noted that I’ve skipped the rest of the song. :\ 3/10
9. Itoshiku Kurushii Kono Yoru ni — It’s upbeat, it’s pleasant sounding and Reina’s removed the Olives from her nose! EXCELLENT! The girls are singing this in a softer voice which gives this piece some beautiful expression and gives it a very mature sound compared to the previous track. This track features Eri very heavily and I’d like to say that she sings her parts amazingly well! Ai as always is flawless in her delivery and everyone is giving this song their best effort. I’m enjoying this song very much. It could do with some more evenly distributed lines throughout the entire song however. 8/10
10. Denwa de ne — First initial reaction upon the second listen? Sounds like something out of Atelier Iris. Here we have another mature sounding ballad that just does nothing for me. It’s bland and… it’s an Ai solo. Of course they’d give her a horrible song. Ai has an amazing range, let her show it off a little bit! Don’t give her these drab sounding blobs of crap. She’s an energetic gal and sounds best when she’s singing energetic music. Not my kind of song I have to admit. 3/10
11. Seishun Collection — First listen of this single? I liked it well enough. Now? I skip it everytime. It outgrew its appeal. It sounds far too much like previous singles (Shoganai Yume Oibito and Nanchatte Renai for example) and doesn’t live up to those previous singles at all. It’s an upbeat, pleasant sounding ballad but it doesn’t live up to its inital charm. If this is the theme song for the play Fashionable… what does that say about the play? It doesn’t really say a lot of good things if you ask me. It has to be one of the badder Morning Musume singles released. 3/10
Overall, Fantasy!Juuichi doesn’t live up to the stadard that was set by the excellence that I heard in every drop of Juu My Me. Where Juu My Me had spunk, charm and tons of character, Fantasy!Juuichi is left with the sloppy seconds that didn’t make the cut for that album. That’s exactly what several songs sound like to me. They’re just sloppy seconds that were slapped onto a new album that overall sounds very rushed and generic. It did manage to sell over 10k in its first week but I don’t think it’s going to sell much more than that. It’s a damn shame because so many of these songs show so much promise. If only they’d been given a little more time to fine tune these songs or give them extra little tweak, this album could’ve been fantastic. Instead, we’re given some very subpar songs and immature songs that no longer fit with the mature image that Morning Musume is trying to project.
Final Rating: 6.5/10