In the mood for ramen…Nacchi & Maimichan style!!

Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD singleStill one of the most creative collaborations between two Hello! Project family members and whether you’re in the mood for something lively and upbeat or a graceful ballad, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for with this single release’s two tracks. And while the ever so diverse Tsunku didn’t have a hand in penning either track’s lyrics or music, what we are presented with is quite a different flavor of song with a distinctly different approach.

Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (inner jacket scan) “Juurokusai no koinante” is suuuuuuuch a gem ~* and a catchy song at that!….and it’s even got more hooks than a tackle box does!! The song opens with an infectiously melodic chorus and actually….this song has long reminded me of something quite distinct. Have you ever heard a song and thought that perhaps part of it sounded like another song you know so well? While you’d think that songwriter’s would have already used up every possible note connection the possibilities certainly remain deep and vast as this feeling doesn’t strike too often this pronounced and for me personally is actually quite rare. Okay I’m not talking about a song that uses sampling from another’s or when the arrangement is blatantly similar, for me the most recent for the latter being when I first heard Nishida Hikaru’s “Totsuzen no natsu” which is the very essence of Captain & Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” as they are a splitting image of one another instrumentally in the verse portions although the lyrics’ melody in Hikaruchan’s song is distinctly different. Rather this feeling that I’m referring to here is when there is a substantial similarity in melody but it’s presented in a most subtle way. A previous notable time in which this feeling struck me was when I first listened to Every Little Thing’s “Deatta koro no youni” many years ago and for a few days I just couldn’t figure out the song that part of its melody reminded me of but eventually it hit me as a Zard song came to mind and just now I’ve started that old cycle again as at this moment now I can’t seem to again remember which Zard song it was. (=P!) At least I know it was Zard though. So anyway to finish the story, I’d been humming the chorus section of “Juurokusai no koinante” to myself back then when it first arrived and just a few minutes later it finally came to me! The chorus of “Juurokusaino koinante” has a subtle similarity to Nakayama Miho’s J-Pop classic “Sekaijuu no dare yori kitto.” It’s not a splitting image but there’s just something about their structure that reminds me of one another although towards the end of “Juurokusai no koinante’s” chorus the melody does take a detour of its very own.

Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan1)“Juurokusai no koinante” is a heavily “orchestrated” driven song that wastes no time in reeling you in from the very start with its immediately bouncy intro which goes right into its aforementioned chorus instead of the standard verse first format. A very cute and up front piano enhances the cutely repetitive verse portions which lead up to the nice change of pace pre-chorus arrangement which then lends itself seamlessly into the wonderful chorus. Nacchi & Maimichan present so many possibilities for the producers’ imagination and starting with their vocals which blend so well together and even better than I expected prior to the release, the lyrics also are a custom fit with purpose as portions of it express their different visions of youth and age from each others’ prospective. Moritaka Chisato’s classic “Watashi ga obasan ni natte mo” comes to mind here as well in that lyrical sense and when it comes to Hello! Project I still consider Nacchi’s vocals to be in the upper tier along with Mikitty, Gocchin and Ayaya (those with great vocal character & control) to name just the tip of the iceberg as these definitely aren’t the exclusive ones that I view in this light and with memories of just how much anticipation there was surrounding this release, much of it was to hear just how Maimichan’s strong yet still developing vocals back then would then match up with Nacchi’s much more mature and developed vocals. The results couldn’t have been better as this somewhat odd coupling really did compliment each other vocally and it also drew the perfect line between youth and adulthood as their distinct vocal expressions are representative of just that. Back then too my thinking was that this song would represent a large bucket of water that would then help douse and appease the loudly spoken desire for more upbeat songs versus ballads that many fans were echoing so much at that time during Hello! Project’s reign. Still though with this unique pairing of “senior” H!P member and its youth joining together much of my anticipation then laid in the hopes for both an upbeat song as well as a well written ballad and this release presented just that which I always thought was remarkably well timed~.

Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan2)So to complete this duo of songwriting the coupling with song Watashi no koibito nanoni” answers the question…hmm but can they perform a ballad together? There are beautiful patches of harmonization between Nacchi & Maimichan that give the impression that the two had been paired together for a much longer time as this type of song presents a great vehicle for their vocals to shine in a much more stated manner than what is usually approached in an upbeat song. “Watashi no koibito nanoni” is a wonderful lullaby of a ballad that will have you swaying along with its soft and sweet cotton candy like melody in no time and with it’s understated arrangement the vocals really carry this tune in the forefront. Yup! think fluffy clouds of pink…okay I may be getting carried away there, still just saying! =P

~Nacchi & Maimichan “Watashi no koibito nanoni” mp3~

As you can probably already guessed by my fluffy pink clouds and song reminiscing above and I don’t think i was alone in this as I had then hoped that this pairing would become a nurtured duo for H!P with additional releases to come, sadly though that wasn’t the case as this represents one of H!P true one hit wonders =(. And while this pairing was such a smart one, others that I’d dreamed to see come to life albeit they’d all remained in my imagination were: Nocchi & Manoeri, Kamei & Gakisan, Risakochan & Ayaya, and Nakki & Aichan.

Going back to the time of this release, Momusu’s then upcoming new single had opted for DVD bonuses while dropping the collectible booklet in their B version and that’s when I distinctly recall becoming quite concerned that the days of collectible booklets were perhaps passed us and I was so happy to see that the limited edition of “Juurokusai no koinante” included with a 24 page photo booklet still! Sadly the trend of DVD only extras did manage to become the norm for H!P LE releases eventually as I imagine it was possibly a cost cutting decision which was made at that time.

And remember how Maimichan had grown so tall during her ZYX days?..only later blooming fully as her height and gorgeousness had reached an in sync point and with this single it was so cute to see little Nacchi her elder next to Maimichan in these photo shoots. The styling for all of the cover artwork is elegant and soft and both members look so beautiful!!

And these were the days when H!P’s pv DVD single releases hit shelves typically a week or two after their accompanying CD singles had already been released, a sort of pet peeve I had back then as it was a bit agonizing having to wait that much longer for the accompanying visuals to reach you. Still in some ways I do miss the pv DVD single format albeit the extra cost and waiting time as they’re surely a special part of H!P’s illustrious history and how they managed to shape the idol world buying market back then so completely.

Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan3)Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan4)Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan5)Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan6)Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan7)Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan8)Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan9)Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan10)Abe Natsumi & Yajima Maimi 16sai no koinante LE CD single (LE booklet scan11)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~The pv DVD single~



The overall look of the packaging for the pv DVD single is very similar to the CD releases as the photos used are alternate shots from the same photo shoots and with this particular release relating directly to age and age difference with a touch of love it was really so fitting to have H!P’s most visible “senior” (Nacchi wasn’t old but Tsunku and/or UFA seemed to like the ‘senior’ reference as the Elder’s club would be named eventually :O ) member and H!P’s most prestigious younger groups’ (C-ute) leader collaborate together for such a release. While Rikachan has been noted by other members such as Aichan & Gakisan as being quite motherly to the younger members, Nacchi also possesses this quality in a somewhat more subtle way but none less affectionate. Add to all of this the much more simple aspects of Maimichan’s voice with Nacchi’s well groomed vocals which are both mature and filled with character and you have the ideal analogy to represent the lyrics within the title track as it draws parallels on several levels upon further thought.

“16sai no koinante” has a running time of just over 24 minutes and it includes both the original pv version and “close-up version” and of course an extensive “making of” segment which covers jacket photo shoots, pv making of, and a photo gallery. What was new about this release in terms of content was the addition of a “special end roll” track which included a really extensive list of production and everyone involved under the sun thank you’s and while watching the making of footage I had found a job that I would have loved to have had while on location for the shooting of H!P pvs…I noticed that there’s someone assigned to holding up the camera’s cords and keeping them in order….I wanted that job!!! as it would’ve gotten me closer to my favorite idols with minimum experience requirements!! =P


~Nacchi & Maimichan “16sai no koinante” (music video)~

It had been a bit chilly here on Oahu the night I first laid eyes on the music video (and by chilly I mean ‘chilly’ by Hawaii standards as that would translate into “comfortable” for much of the population elsewhere on earth ) and what an appropriate pv to have been watching as Nacchi & Maimichan wait patiently outside in the cold while waiting to gain entrance into a popular ramen locale. While the entire pv is built around this simple idea, I’ve always rejoiced in seeing H!P venture outdoors for any pv’s production as I had imagined that production costs or other factors for such a venture may have been the cause of so many pvs during this time period being shot indoors in studios with an abundance of blue screen backdrops lending to artificial atmospheres in post production. This makes pvs surrounding this time period such as “Aruiteiru”, “Joshikashimashi monogatari”, and even the simplicity of “Iki wo kasanemashou” to name just a few, a real joy to watch as UFA had then embraced the effectiveness of shooting on location in a real atmosphere for some of their projects and I’m speaking of those years past going way way back of course.

~Nacchi & Maimichan “16sai no koinante” (Close Up Ver. music video)~

While some may have found this pv to be a tad on the dare I say ‘uninteresting’ side due largely to its simplicity I find a purpose in its approach as the song itself had been revealed even more so upon viewing the pv as a conversational piece. It really didn’t dawn on me previous to seeing the pv that the lyrics are really written out in the context of sort of a conversation and this duet relishes in this format and therefore I can see what the director’s vision was and the reason for its simplicity. A “conversation” such as this one would likely occur in one location and the inclusion of various locales if the director had chosen to jump to different scenery during the pv would have only weakened its impact for what it appears to represent…that of course being that I’m not being too much of a “space cadet” here and in that vein reading far too much into it! No not me I ‘never’ read too far into things!! =P I love watching Maimichan’s facial expressions and her overall demeanor as she ventures into the performance of both giddiness and nonchalant in the pv’s footage as she acts out the scene and any H!P fan who’s familiar with Nacchi knows just how energizing her presence can be in just about any given situation, let’s just call it simply “The joy of performance” in which she naturally possesses.

An amusing thing to note is Maimichan’s attire which is comprised of Wintery inspiration complete with cute scarf but also the choice of shorts versus anything warmer! =O Hmmm…my initial thought back then was that the whole chilly scenario could be pure acting on everyone’s part but then upon seeing the filming crew as they are indeed dressed in warm clothing worthy of a most chilly evening, I find it so amusing that Maimichan is dressed in shorts?!!? for this pv!! Furthermore you can see her holding a jacket over her legs in the making of footage when they’re covering the “close-up” version’s footage. =O Another amusing thing to note is Maimichan’s…well I’m strange myself so it’s kind of calling the kettle black here…but she has this “strange” idiosyncrasy where she opens and closes her mouth just before her photograph is taken (watch the jacket making of footage and you’ll really notice it, it actually occurs every time! it’s uncanny) and while lacking for a better description at the moment, it’s kind of fish like when they breathe…but it’s sooooo cute really!!!! I think we all should try this practice the very next time we take a photo (^o^)….yup she’s just so adorable and has perfect facial features!!

On a final note, the “making of” segment also shows evidence of Nacchi & Maimichan’s newly found chemistry while they were working on this project and you can really see the mutual love and respect shared between them throughout the shooting. ^_^ And when it comes to chilly nights and the ideal treat, ramen!!!! is the way to go! Okay it’s actually quite hot here right now even with summer’s ending but anyway for a much cooler day or night here’s my favorite ramen~♥ =D.

my favorite ramen :)




Maimichan nande sono fuku?…samui deshou??























The only version “missing” which I would have loved to have seen from this pv DVD release is a “close-up ramen version”…as we did see them finally gain entrance into the eatery in the “making of” segment! ^^

About MorningBerryz

Lover and free spirit who's interests in Japanese culture and the like are insatiable. I am of pure Japanese/Okinawan descent, love my cats, sleep and am a bit naughty at times :).
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2 Responses to In the mood for ramen…Nacchi & Maimichan style!!

  1. philipleslie says:

    A very enjoyable addition to your amazing Encyclopedia of Jpop. And another item to add to my shopping list! I do have the CD single, but that only has the illustrated lyrics card. I’m certain there are copies of the V disc out there…


    • I was once again reminded of the photo books which H!P used to include with their first pressings…so sad that they’re all but a thing of the past now and for some years now =(. I so loooooooove this single!! Both tracks are equally amazing and the whole pv concept of them waiting outside in the cold waiting to gain entrance into a popular ramen shop is so perfect and just how the ‘dialogue’ of the lyrics lend perfectly to their conversation outside…love that. Just such a cute song that I hadn’t listened to in quite awhile as I continue some reminiscing of older H!P days gone by…..I’m sure you’ll find a copy of the pv DVD single!


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