Originally, I was planning to write another “Random Babbles of a Major Nana Mizuki Fan” post like I did with BoA and her release of BEST&USA. Halfway through though I realized I was discussing about Nana going mainstream more than anything so I decided to leave it at that. I even threw away my track-by-track ULTIMATE DIAMOND review and decided to write one that showed that was more genre-focused in order to show where Nana’s at musically in the mainstream and anison worlds. Also as a warning, this post has aboslutely no flow whatsoever.
Starting off with the latest album,”ULTIMATE DIAMOND” is a mixed bag of the mainstream, familiar, old, and the weird. For the mainstream stuff, Nana seems to be heading primilarly towards dance and rock. Her dance stuff isn’t too big of a deviation from her Elements Garden stuff and usually incorporates a heavy orchestra line like “Astrogation” (and its subsequent knock-off “GIMMICK GAME”). However, her rock stuff is and while she’s been heading off towards that direction for a while- “Trickster” and “Etsuraku Camelia” stick out a mile away from the rest of her discography.
Of course, it wouldn’t be smart to turn off her otawota fans so she includes some familiar stuff. “Chinmoku no Kaijitsu” and “Shin Ai” are typical Element Garden songs that are completely in line with Nana’s orchestra-laden “epic” songs like “ETERNAL BLAZE” and “Justice to Believe”. There’s also the cutsey, happy-go-lucky stuff for moetards that Nana’s been doing since the beginning of time like “PERFECT SMILE” and “brand new tops”. Then there’s “Shounen”, a major throwback to Nana’s pre-2004 days that is composed by her old dude composer “Toshiro Yabuki” and subsequently sounds like it belongs in that era. No doubt, it’s a half-hearted attempt to please the old-old fans.
Lastly, there’s the really weird stuff or experimental like “Mr. Bunny!” and “MARIA&JOKER”. The latter is so weird I’m still trying to find a genre to classify under. Nevertheless, it’s a good song and I enjoy it quite a bit. “Mr. Bunny!” is more of a pop song that is still quirky and cute in a tolerable amount. Both seem to be thrown out there purely for reactions and I have a feeling that Nana may do something more in vein of these two in the future.
As everyone knows by know, Nana is the first seiyuu ever to get #1 on Oricon with 74k albums sold and has not only made history but has solidified her career and put some solid backing into her attempt to break in the mainstream market. Obviously, a good deal of these sales came from Akiba and her sales subsequently plummeted as Akiba and online stores (otawota heavens) started going out of stock. Still Nana didn’t have plain sailing. The competition-or shall I say the Black Eyed Peas” isn’t a complete lightweight. While they’re numbers aren’t super high, they still are rather consistent-something that the frontloaded Nana can’t boast about.
Then again, this position indicates that some regular people should be buying the album-the people who’ve been keeping up with MUSIC JAPAN and WEDNESDAY JPOP perhaps. Or the people who’ve read articles discussing about Nana and her chart positions. Or the people who saw the huge bus and train posters go by. But either way, some people-some people that may have no clue what Fate and Nanoha are-are buying the album and that’s a good indication that Nana’s starting to step across the edge into Mainstream Land.
The Bright Side of Mainstream Land:
I’ve been one of the more vocal supporters for Nana to get in the mainstream and here’s my reason: more TV lives. Most “mainstream” artists- aka your Ayus, Kuus, GIRL NEXT DOORs, YUIs, and etc. go on to about 1-4 music shows to promote since their debut. Per single or album. Nana’s only been onto five music shows starting 2008 (remember she debuted in 2000) because she is a seiyuu. Even under the radar artists who sell a lot less than Nana such as Kana Nishino and alan (before RED CLIFF) got onto music programs BEFORE Nana did. So obviously I want to hear more and BETTER TV lives from Nana since really a DVD or two per year isn’t enough for me.
Another obvious reason is sales. Let’s get this straight-mainstream artists make a lot more money. They usually aren’t as horribly frontloaded as seiyuu and other anisong artists and they’re the ones that are in the higher end of the charts (well the A-listers anyways). And of course there’s prestige, fame, and etc.
It’s a risky decision-how many seiyuu have successfully integrated into the mainstream? I’ll give you the number so far-ZERO. Nana has a tricky card to play- she may end up “alienating” her dedicated otawota fanbase if she becomes too “mainstream”. And she can’t just ditch them either. They’re the ones buy 2, 7, or 77 copies. They’re the ones filling the seats at Saitama Super Arena, Budokan, and now that Saitama Dome. If she stays the same, she’ll still have her audience. And the sales that come along with it. Make a single that is too off from their tastes-and she could be abandoned.Yet, Nana may not be “mainstream” enough to please a mainstream audience. If the worst really happens, Nana will be deserted by both the mainstream and otawota crowd.
Not to mention that lots of people don’t want any changes musically. I don’t stalk 2ch or anything, but I imagine even now that some of Nana’s older fans may feel abandoned because of her evolving style. Some of her antis and haters may even be former Nana fans, Nana fans that feel “betrayed” that she’s “selling out” to go mainstream. This is all speculation on my part but I’m pretty sure this is the case for some.
Now for the next section. Yes there’s a next section. Since Nana’s going mainstream, she needs to make some changes…
This is something that a good deal of her hardcore fans acknowledge to be “suck”. There’s one perfect word to describe them-tacky. Her concert costumes are mostly big, overdone, and flashy. Now while Nana certainly isn’t the only one with these problems- Ayu and Kuu both have tacky tour costumes abound and they’re on the top of the fashion lists. However, Nana’s taken a bad habit to start WEARING some of them to TV lives. Major turn-off much? I have no idea who the hell is part of Nana’s wardorbe theme-or if Nana’s personal fashion choices are tacky herself (judging from her everyday outfits, it doesn’t seem like it). Either way, she needs a change and should preferrably start wearing more normal and Earthly clothes at least.
This is what irritates me most. Nana SUCKS at dancing-there’s no other way around it. She’s awkward, stiff, and she can barely even go through the motions -not to mention put some grit and feeling into them. Even worse, she has horrible choreography and horrible back-up dancers that can’t even dance. So what is the girl to do?
The easiest solution is to give up choreographed dancing. At the moment, Nana’s embarassing herself if any rational person picks up her live DVDs. Ditch the headset and carry a microphone in the hand. Nana can sort of “freestyle” or she can at least move to the music spontaneously with a mike in hand. She looks a lot more professional doing that and she seems to have more fun too. So why not do that?
Then again, what if Nana still wants to dance no matter what? Here’s my solution: fire the coreographers, fire the useless backup dancers, replace them with compotent people, practice like hell, and watch good examples of singer-dancers like Namie Amuro and BoA. Of course, this takes a lot of time and effort something that may require Nana to ditch an anime recording or 50. It’ll take a lot of angry feelings and upset fans who are attached to the dancers. But really, if Nana does that, she can go from crap to pretty good just like Koda Kumi.
It looks as if Nana’s going mainstream whether you like it or not. I fully expect her to be on Kohaku by December-she’s been kissing NHK’s ass all year with the lives, the narration job, and this stupid “Anime Wonderland Special” that’s coming up. It also looks as if Nana’s going to be appearing in a lot more TV lives singing a lot more mainstream songs. After all, getting a #1 album isn’t easy. There’s no more reason why Nana “shouldn’t be qualified” to appear on a prestigious program like MUSIC STATION. Nana will still get a lot of flack for being a seiyuu and for going mainstream, but I suspect she’ll trudge on like she usually does. And you know what, she just might succeed.