As the major debut from I’ve’s newest unit, Larval Stage Planning, as well as the first official I’ve release on their new label, Kimi + Nazo + Watashi de JUMP!! has a lot to live up to. Is this a promising debut, or does it seem like maybe I’ve would have been better off sticking with Geneon? Read on to find out!
Larval Stage Planning – 君＋謎＋私でJUMP!! (Kimi + Nazo + Watashi de JUMP!!) (2011, Lantis)
3. 君＋謎＋私でJUMP!! (Instrumental)
4. Dreamroid (Instrumental)
Since the formation of the 7-member I’ve Special Unit back in the mid-’00s, the I’ve Sound lineup had remained more or less solid – SHIHO and MOMO left, leaving 5 out of the 7 still with the group, yet for a good half-decade there were no new additions or subtractions to speak of. The fact that the group was so well-defined before is what has made the last two years so bizarre for I’ve fans; with founding member MELL dropping out for health reasons, the return of seemingly long-departed member MAKO, and the formation of an entirely new special unit in Larval Stage Planning, the once-solid roster seems to have become fluid again.
Making their debut with the third SHORT CIRCUIT album, the three girls of Larval Stage Planning – Airi Kirishima, Nami Maisaki and Rin Asami – have been finding a hard time carving out a niche for themselves, with the style of the songs they’ve been given invariably referencing the sounds of that famous compilation series. It might seem cruel to say, but finding distinct personalities in their music has proven quite difficult thus far; whether or not it’s intentional, Takase has made very little of a push to try and get LSP out of the shadow of their more well-known contemporaries.
In this way, KimiNazo represents a continuation of a trend. It’s a good song, as fun and catchy as anything on SHORT CIRCUIT, but if LSP’s main problem has been finding individual voices for themselves it can only be considered a lateral move. The Kazuya Takase production plays things safe, relying on the same kind of stylistic quirks he’s been using to mixed effect for the last decade, and the song sounds could have come from just about any point in his career as a consequence. It’s cute, certainly, and it’s hard not to hope for Larval Stage Planning to find their footing and break away from the KOTOKO mold just as KOTOKO’s SHORT CIRCUIT partner Kaori Utatsuki has done (to some degree, at least), but this is an area where they’ll need more support from their producer than they’re getting here.
B-side Dreamroid is no less generic, but at least finds Takase taking the girls outside of the SHORT CIRCUIT sound briefly. It’s something that would fit in well on just about any I’ve compilation release, and more like it in the future would be nice, but if the girls’ voices indeed do have any particularly unique charms they’re certainly not being used here. The singing on Dreamroid is distinctly passable, not enough to make much of a lasting impression but certainly not unpleasant to hear.
As a debut, KimiNazo is acceptable – after all, many of the I’ve girls got started out with less-than-impressive releases, yet if they’re going to truly be proven as worthwhile additions to the I’ve roster, Takase needs to stop playing things so damn safe. Here’s hoping that their next single takes a few more chances, and that this isn’t going to be indicative of the general direction for the Lantis era of I’ve’s history.