An immaculately timed early Christmas present from Band Ja Naimon!, and tribute to everyone’s favourite pounded rice treat, Yakimochi. This track retains the high energy, upbeat tone that we are used to from Banmons previous offerings. However, in contrast to the recent output of rock and electronic music, Yakimochi proudly bares a funk influence, being composed by Sakerock member Kenta Hamano.

This is not only mochi song in recent memory, I am reminded of the rather excellent Mochi Girl from Japan’s premier hive of infidelity Gesu No Kiwami Otome. Being a disgusting cheese consuming foreigner, I’m not quite sure what the qualities it is that the mochi possesses to be so greatly endeared in song, nor do I understand its metaphorical significance (if any). Someone much more cynical than myself, might even suggest that Yakimochi is just an opportunity to tool to shoehorn kimochi into the lyrics in a natural way, such is the wont of idol music.

We have become used to Banmon! representing the better end of the spectrum of idol acts. One misstep notwithstanding there recent output has been far above what idol deems acceptable. Yakimochi takes this one step further however by including more natural sounding instruments and less focus on synthesises, presenting the possibility for the group to perform with live accompaniment. If Banmon! continues on this path, it could go some way to filling the void left by Especia.

The Triad of Band Ja Naimon! Mini Projects Is Complete

We now have a complete set of Banmon! subgroup songs, with a third track and mini-group: Heroes by Cotton Rabbits.

My wish of a track focusing more on the musical talents of the members has been realised, with Yuzu playing guitar and, unsurprisingly, Misako providing the percussion. A minimal effort translation of the description suggests that the song was composed and the lyrics written by Yuzu and Misako respectively. Isn’t it wonderful to think idols may be admired for skills beyond mediocre singing, dancing and masterful application of make-up? How about, for instance, a mathematics idol? Perhaps we are not ready…

The song is in no way unconventional, it is however quite infectious. Both the instrumentation and vocals are very bright and clean sounding. The drums and guitar certainly take centre stage with hints of xylophone and synth accenting the vocals. Rather formulaic, but well executed. We are left with an uplifting and pleasant song, which captures the summery and optimistic mood that one feels was it’s intention.

Also satisfyingly complementary, are the accompanying visuals. The performers wear summer dresses, are seen to ride a Vespa style scooter and appear on the sides of tote bags. Curiously, I am once again reminded of Tomoko Kawase, this time because of the romanticisation of British streets. Misako and Yuzu travel through a catalogue of picturesque locations on their magical scooter, including the Eiffel Tower, a (presumably) Dutch windmill, the pyramids at Giza and, unquestionably most impressive, a British high street complete with pawn shop and Boots chemist! If anyone wishes to visit the United Kingdom, please note that there are many more beautiful places.

The MV also includes lyrics for those inclined to sing along. Or for those like me, to look out for the for the few kana you can recognise (の is easy).

Heroes is a satisfying conclusion to the first round of Banmon! micro-group songs. I say first, as I hope there is more to come. One track of three notwithstanding, the triad of songs have been refreshing. We are reminded that somewhere behind the rabid marketeering, where we are encouraged to buy the same CD twice for the opportunity of two minutes stale conversation, there are talented individuals using idol as a conduit for their creativity.