Posted by: kiseki gurl | June 12, 2009

Musings on Nana Mizuki’s Fortunes, Attempt to Break in the Mainstream, and etc.

 

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.

ULTIMATE DIAMOND:

 
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.

Sales:

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.

Dangers :

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…

Costumes:

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.

Dancing:

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.

What’s Next:

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.


Responses

  1. Good post.

    But Nana is Nana. She has made it this far on seiyuu brand power, and it remains that she is well produced, can sing, and is interesting enough of a personality that is different enough than others like her before.

    You can’t really expect her to perform at the same level as BoA–they’re just not the same. So I don’t think she’ll desert her old fans. It’s always a risk as an artist evolve musically, but the seiyuu ota will stick around as long as she continues to act.

    That goes towards the live performance bit too. Pure music acts have a lot more time to do TV lives and whatever. That’s going to be a struggle for Nana (and I believe it’s one she’s already got the hang of balancing). I think we might see more appearance if she gets more popular with the mainstream, but I doubt it’ll be a significant amount.

  2. […] swear I was writing a non-Nana post but kiseki gurl finally posted her Nana-going-mainstream draft… which is a really good read.. before I know it my […]

  3. I never realised why exactly sales for Nana’s singles/albums plummeted after the second day….:/

    I guess it’s true, that Nana can’t risk alienating her otaku fans.
    On the other hand, she’s been expanding her musical repertoire ever since SECRET AMBITION – when it was first released, most people went wow at the ‘rock-ness’ when compared to her earlier songs

    “Make a single that is too off from their tastes-and she could be abandoned.”
    Compare the Trickster and STARCAMP EP singles to the innocent starter single. It’s pretty much a 180degree change in musical style, but it also got a warm reception from fans.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I cringe even more at the non-dancing part than the dances. (And I loved her hip-swivel in that video you posted. XD)
    But yeah, the dances need improvement.

    And the outfits… let’s just say that I agree with you.

    There is obviously bias from the mainstream crowd, but Nana has already been singing for almost 10 years now(16 if you count her “Tsugazakura” release), so she isn’t/won’t be just another easily forgotten idol. As a fan, I’d support her going mainstream. It’d be much better than being stuck in obscurity even while getting No.1 compared to mainstream but lower selling acts.

    Thanks for the post.😉

  4. I don’t really mind the costumes. I mean, if you check mainstream, a number of other artists are dressed utterly ridiculous but you can’t say they don’t sell (case in point, Arashi live).

    And yeah, she’s a bit stiff, true😛 She can’t act that well when it’s not voice acting either, which is strange if you ask me.

    But I share your concert about her songs starting to shift towards mainstream and I can’t say I’m pleased. Sure her usual fans may have embraced even these songs but I kinda doubt they’d do that if it were a totally mainstream album. I mean, much of the reason for this surge of support the first day was that it was her 7th album.

    Let’s pray she’ll never get mainstream😛 I’m not handing Nana over to the ignorant mainstream crowd >_>

  5. […] read from Danie’s blog that kiseki gurl has posted up her article about Nana going mainstream. My interest piqued, I skimmed through the article before realizing […]

  6. LOL I honestly didn’t expect anyone to read this post or take it seriously. But since everyone is, let me try to respond as fairly as I can. And I’ll try to respond to danie~ and the NK-DS dude too.

    First off, my personal bias is that yes I think Nana will make into the mainstream business. The “Nana is Nana” comment is a weak justification for me but she does have amazing vocals, well-produced singles, and etc. I didn’t focus too much on this because I wanted to seem unbiased (besides I fangirl over Nana way too much) but yeah here you guys go.

    Also, I am part of what some here may call “the ignorant mainstream crowd”. Just a note so while I’ll always see Nana from a “mainstream perspective”, I’ve exaggerated it in this article too.

    As far as the dancing goes, I DON’T expect Nana to be as good as BoA. Fact is, as far as singer-dancers go (not real dancers technique like Stephanie from Tenjo Chiki), BoA’s THE top in Japan. I expect Nana to be competent-like Koda Kumi, not amazing. And Nana’s currently at the level where she looks like a stumbling third grader, sad to say. And here’s something important:

    WHEN YOU PUT ON A HEADSET AND START TO DO SOME COREOGRAPHY, PEOPLE WILL HAVE EXPECTATIONS. Again, if she held a mike in her hand, it might have been excusable but the fact that she’s dressing like a pro but dancing like a third grader leaves a sour note.

    Also just as a note, I’ve shown that LIVE FIGHTER performance to a number of IRL people. None of them were dancers or especially critical (like me) but all remarked on how much “she sucked at dancing”. Just a note to think about. And as far as the “she’s not hip-hop” comment, she doesn’t need to be. All she needs is a good POP coreography which is something she currently lacks. Dancing in The Velvet Moon, for example, should have had pop coreography that incorporated salsa and other different Latin dance movements. There’s a number of other songs that could’ve had good POP routines too though there are others that should’ve never had coreography in the first place.

    “Compare the Trickster and STARCAMP EP singles to the innocent starter single. It’s pretty much a 180degree change in musical style, but it also got a warm reception from fans.”

    Trickster and Astrogation are both more mainstream songs but they’re not COMPLETELY OFF from her Elements Garden styles. She’s been slowly transitioning into rock and dance like I’ve said before so they won’t completely give an electric jolt. What I mean by “180 degree style change” is something like an R&B jam (“Eien” by BoA, or “Kiss Kiss Kiss” by BENI are good examples). I also think the chance of this happening is completely zero- I just like to think hypothetically. While Nana’s willing to experiment, she’s been smart enough so far to not to be too radical.

    Good discussion everybody. I’ve gotta say most people’s brain cells here are working faster than mine so I apologize in advance.

  7. Considering that UD is easily my favorite Nana album of the four I own so far, I can safely say that if ‘going mainstream’ means more songs like ‘Etsuraku Camelia’ and ‘MARIA&JOKER’, I’m all for it.🙂 And considering that someone like Ayu can put out songs like ‘Mirrorcle World’ or (back in the stone age) ‘Evolution’ and ‘Unite’, I don’t think Nana has to say goodbye to the ‘epic’ songs completely if and when she goes mainstream…

    Nana deserves a wide audience – she’s insanely talented as a singer, but, yeah, the odds are against her.:/ Much as I like them, I agree that the costumes might have to go (or rather, be toned down – more of Formula’s blue dress, less of Fighter’s uniform), and the dancing definitely needs something done about it. Personally I’d prefer her to simply not dance, since it impacts her singing negatively, but finding better backing dancers would be a huge leap.

    Once she goes on a music show and ISN’T introduced as a seiyuu/asked to do voiced, I’d say Nana has made it to the mainstream.😉

  8. Ice-nine: if ‘going mainstream’ means more songs like ‘Etsuraku Camelia’ and ‘MARIA&JOKER’

    > no, it means more songs like ‘PERFECT SMILE’ and ‘ray of change’, if you want example from UD.

  9. @danie~ Eh… wait… so according to you… I’d WANT Nana to go mainstream? Cause ray of change is the best song on the album and PERFECT SMILE is not bad either.😛

  10. My little 2 cents here:

    MARIA&JOKER is a JAZZY song… You gotta look beyond pop/rock/electro. There are other genres out there, jazz being one of them. I’m not saying MARIA&JOKER is a full, blown out, jazz song (jazz music is generally nice, for one thing >_>) but it has some jazzy elements, and the fact that we keep mentioning the whole bondesque theme is proof of that. I’m surprised no one’s bothered remembering that when searching for a spot to place MARIA&JOKER in… So yeah, stop giving Agematsu more credit than he deserves :p As much as I like him, he’s obviously way below the point where he could create his own new genre.

    Now, about Dancing in the velvet moon… Have you listened to Nana’s commentary on the Formula DVD? “The Cherry Boys kept commenting that it looked as if I were belly dancing”. It doesn’t take an Arab to say that was not belly dancing, but it’s definitely closer to it than what my parents used to make me dance as a kid. So forget the latin/salsa whatever choreography and just give Nana something similar to what she herself does unconsciously (I’m obviously not talking about proper belly dance movements here XP Just something that she herself could perceive as similar). I’d say that’s the best solution to the whole being stiff/uncomfortable with the dances. Oh, and no more MASSIVE WONDERS choreography… I swear she looks like she’s gonna give the finger towards the end of it -_-;

    What else… Oh yeah, keep the dancers. Even if they suck, we’ve grown attached to them :p And so has Nana :p Just fire the choreographer and be more strict with the dress designer (’cause Nana does have some decent dresses, so her designer isn’t a complete lost case). You can’t just go firing everyone off like that, so starting with this would probably be good :p

    I think I should write a proper post in response too… But no time >,<

    *goes back to studying* T_T

  11. Re-Hikari>>>”MARIA&JOKER is a JAZZY song… You gotta look beyond pop/rock/electro. There are other genres out there, jazz being one of them.”

    And so? MARIA&JOKER is still pop with a jazz influence in the end and is thus something Nana hasn’t done often. The genre is still pop with a jazz influence-my brain was just not working when I wrote that. But Nana has never done a full jazz song as like JUJU has and she probably never will. Nana’s a pop artist first and foremost and while her pop may have influences from other music styles, she’ll still be pop.

    “Now, about Dancing in the velvet moon… Have you listened to Nana’s commentary on the Formula DVD? “The Cherry Boys kept commenting that it looked as if I were belly dancing….”

    But Nana’s dancing was still awful in the song “belly dancing” or not. The Latin stuff was just a suggestion but if she ever wants to improve she better focus on improving HERSELF first. The firing of choreographers + dancers are the second step even though the chance is pretty slim. Also, I appreciate your attempts to learn belly dancing, but you can’t use yourself as an example-you’re not a professional.

  12. No no, I wasn’t learning :p I’m Arab you know, Arab parents like to see their kids “belly dance” :p I’m just saying she’s a bit better than the whole 3rd grade spot you keep placing her at :p Not much better, but it’s something lol And I didn’t find it that bad in Formula >_> Better than the crappy choreography they gave her for it in Animelo at least >_> Point is, Nana’s better off improving what she herself already does (whether that includes more (and better) free dancing or choreography that matches her style is something else), instead of being given awkward choreography that would make anyone go “wtf is this”. I mean, I’m pretty sure even the best of dancers would look rather silly dancing to some of Nana’s choreography XP *MASSIVE WONDERS comes to mind*… *shivers*

    As for the MARIA&JOKER thing… Pop with Jazzy elements, whatever floats your boat (I did say it’s not a full blown out jazz song after all :p). It doesn’t change the fact that it’s not as unique as everyone’s making it seem😄 It’s different than Nana’s usual style, obviously. It’s not what you’d hear from most pop singers (or from most singers for that matter). Same goes for Etsuraku Camellia though :p But anyway, I personally don’t mind all the experimentation in UD, most of it worked fine. She even managed to make me forgive M&J with her live performance, so all is good, all is good =3

  13. I do agree that Nana-chan’s dancing suck, so what, at least she tried her best…it’s a moe-element for otawotas. ;P

    Anyway, I do agree that the choreography is pretty awful. I always find Hello! Project dances pretty simple, yet not look stupid. Nana just ditch the dancing…but it’s still interesting to see how hard she tries to concentrate to push out the right notes and ‘trying’ to dance.

    About Nana’s costume, her costumes looks really decent on paper, like seen in the makings of the concerts. Nana has a very average face, also pretty short. She’s not the type of person that would make clothes look better, she needs clothes that makes HER look better. The designer should have designed clothes that matches Nana. She usually matches normal everyday clothing, shirts/blazer and Kimono. FOIL does not look good, for example live universe and animelo 2007. Sometimes, I think the designer is on crack. But it’s almost like an in-joke between Nanatards, that Nana wears…weird clothes in concerts. We’re all pretty much used to it.

    UD has really random songs in it, they sometimes don’t feel to flow into each other. They’re fine as individual songs, but do sound a little odd together on one album.

    What is 2ch opinion on Nana’s new album? I mean they’re the one who boosts her sales.

  14. Nana should really abandon her dancing. She does much better without her dance. But its still good to try something new, but once u fail stop it…

    Her costumes should really be change, suddenly with the army and suddenly some orange gloves which makes me feel weird.

    Its either Hell or Heaven to me tough. If she succeed, everyone in the anison world will be proud of her. No matter who singer-seiyuu or plain singer will be. She might be honour as a new light to the anison world. If she fails, i would still support her no matter wad since shes wad motivated to achieve my goals. But wad abt in Japan?! I duno abt wad the Otakus will be thinking there its like ” U tried to betray us by going mainstream. Now u fail and wanna come back?! FUCK OFF!” If tts the case, all is gone. Its 50/50.

    But i really wanna know how will Japanese fan react if shes fails in mainstream and wanna return to anison😀.

    We cant be selfish and say ” No nana, u cannot go mainstream, u belong to us anison world!!!” Everyone has his/her route in life to take, if tts wad she chooses non of us can stop her anyway.

  15. I think her earlier albums were the best. With tracks like Power Gate, Eternal Blaze, Wild Eyes, etc. She seems to be trying to recapture the special sound she had back then.

  16. well in the end she choose both path😄 both as a singer n voice actor/anison ^^ but this year she been working too hard…T_T


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