The One about Discovering Japanese Music: Kashiwagi Yuki’s “Shortcake”

Originally featured in J!-ENT Feb. 2013:

In Japan, AKB48 member Yuki “Yukirin” Kashiwagi is one of the more popular and highly ranked members of the group.

A member of AKB48 and the side-group French Kiss, Kashiwagi has had solo songs featured on the French Kiss CD singles and also has performed solo acts, had her own concert DVD (1st Solo Live – Netemo Sametemo Yukirin World) and even has her own drama series on television titled “Mierino”. But what she hasn’t had is her own official solo single until now.

Avex gave Kashiwagi her own label titled “YukiRing” and on February 6th, Kashiwagi debuted with “Shortcake” which debuted at #2 on the Oricon charts and also sold over a 104,000 copies its first week, which is an amazing success for an AKB48 solo artist or any music artist in today’s Japanese music industry.

On release day, there were a total of four versions of “Shortcake” released. The first three types were released as limited and regular editions (CD+DVD with each type having different content while regular and limited editions featured a different cover and came with handshake tickets and/or photos) and a theater edition with no DVD.

The version I will be reviewing is the Type-C version of “Shortcake” which features Yuki Kashiwagi looking directly at the camera with a purple bow. The bi-fold features lyrics for the three tracks on one side, while the other side features the main CD cover and production credits. A flyer for “Mielino Kashiwagi” DVD-Box and Blu-ray Box are included.

The first track is “Shortcake” which features a sweet ballad that is about two people who grew up together as children and one reminiscing about how they would argue about who would get the strawberries on the shortcake and would go to school angry and not speaking to each other. But as the two grew older, what was a friendship as childhood friends grew to love. And now as a couple, whenever she felt down, her boyfriend would come and bring her a shortcake to make her happy. And also giving all the strawberries just for her. And now she feels happy that she can say the words “I love you”.

The second track on the single is “Soredemo nakanai” (which translates to “Even So, I Won’t Cry”), a sad ballad which features Yukirin singing along with a piano and light percussion. The song is about a girl who is sad when she turns on her computer and sees photos of her boyfriend. Sad because she feels anxiety when she’s not around her boyfriend. Bu no matter how sad she is, she won’t cry, because she is happy to be in love with him. She realizes how much she loves the guy but knows that love is a strange thing, but not matter what, no matter how sad she is not to be with the guy at that moment, she won’t cry, because she’s happy to be in love.

The third exclusive single on Type-C is titled “Class Kai no Ato De” (which translates to “After the Class Reunion”) and is a mellow pop ballad with a similar style to an ’80’s idol pop ballad in terms of arrangement. The song is about a couple who have grown distant after one moved after graduation. But now years later with the class reunion coming up, memories are starting to rush back and feels like a thorn in her chest. And after the class reunion, she can only feel regret for turning her back on him and wondered how things would have been if she remained honest to him. And now with the memories having been awakened, the pain from the past has returned.

As for the next three songs on the CD, they are the instrumental tracks of the first three songs.

As for the accompanying DVD, the first music video is for “Shortcake” and features Yukirin performing on a stage with a beautiful and creative set and as she sings her song, pictures of couples are seen through window frames. A beautiful first solo music video for Yuki.

The next videos are reminiscent to the “AKB 1/48” or “AKB 1/149” PSP games. Where you go on a date or are together with Yukirin in a variety of situations. There are 10 dating situations (15 minutes worth). Situations include you walking with Yukirin during a cold windy day and she wants to take a picture with you, another scene features you accompanying Yukirin to the playground and she wants you to join her, another scene has Yukirin and you having dinner, you and Yukirin at an aquarium and even one you sleeping next to her. So, there is no doubt that Yukirin fans will go crazy for this version.

It’s important to note that this is a region 2 DVD and will not play on a region 1 player (unless you have a non-region DVD player) but can be played on a MAC or PC using free video playing software such as VLC or Daum PotPlayer.

Overall, Yukirin’s first solo single is a pretty awesome. Her first single and Type-C is ballad driven and a pretty fun DVD for those who are hardcore Yukirin fans (you just don’t find date type videos as the AKB48 PSP/Vita games serve that purpose). But for the most part, it’s an enjoyable CD+DVD release!

If you are a fan of Yuki Kashiwagi, I’m sure that you’ll probably buy all three CD+DVD types for the additional DVD content. But if you need to choose one, while i really enjoy Type-A, Type-C is pretty special for its dating video clips and something that Yukirin fans will probably want more than the other two types.