I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Perfume -- Monochrome Effect

Well, a few years after discovering that a Pizzicato Five tune got onto an episode of prime time American cartoon, "Futurama", I found recently that another example of J-Pop managed to invade the ears of viewers watching another popular wacky US animated series, "American Dad" by Seth MacFarlane. Now, I've been a big fan of his other long-running series, "Family Guy" so I've often considered "American Dad" the younger brother of sorts. And I've known that MacFarlane: 1) has used pop and jazz over the decades for both shows, and 2) is apparently an anime fan (just from what I've heard over the grapevine).

However, I would never have imagined a Perfume song from long ago making its way into an episode of "American Dad". But apparently "Monochrome Effect" was the song backing a montage in a 2010 ep "May The Best Stan Win". As main character, nutty CIA agent Stan Smith's cyborg doppelganger explained, "It's Japanese funk from the future!"

Well, not so fast, Stan. It's actually Japanese technopop from the past. In fact, "Monochrome Effect" premiered as Perfume's 2nd single under the Bee-Hive label and the trio's 4th single overall (thank you, Wikipedia) all the way back on March 17 2004 which would make it just a little over 10 years old. Good golly! I can hardly believe that Perfume has been around for 13 years. Mind you, they seem to have virtually become permanent residents on the Kohaku Utagassen.

I only found about Perfume through their huge hit, "Polyrhythm" much later in the decade, so it was pretty surprising watching the official video for "Monochrome Effect". I realize that it was a decade ago, but still, I had to really stare at the girls closely to realize who they were; I could only recognize one of them initially. And at that time, the Perfume look and style was still evolving, so seeing Yuka Kashino, Ayaka Nishiwaki and Ayano Omoto in various 60s getups and handling musical instruments without too much dancing was a bit of a revelation. Still, the computers were still in the Yasutaka Nakata/Kinoko(中田ヤスタカ・木の子)-penned song, and I liked the blippity-bloppity chip tune intro. With the sing-songy nature of "Monochrome Effect" and how far back its origins were, I kinda treat it as the toddler example of the Perfume we all know and love today. And to further show how far the group has come since those early 2000s, "Monochrome Effect" charted no higher than 117th place on Oricon.

Apparently, the original single is now out of print according to the Wikipedia article on the song, so "Monochrome Effect" has taken on a bit of a rare collector's-item status, although it can be found on the trio's BEST album from 2006, "Perfume -- Complete Best" and was re-released in 2008. And of course, there is always that episode on "American Dad".


  1. Hi J-Canuck.

    I remember when Monochrome Effect was used in American Dad. Although the fandom was happy about it, many fans thought that the song was very old and not in the same vein as the post-Polyrhythm hits.

    Personally, even though I like the verses and all the electronic blips, the chorus never grew on me. It's like AKB48's unison choral singing style, but in a higher register.

    Like you said, it's interesting to see how they evolved from this cute and childish electronic aidoru act (something like Minimoni) into the classy unit we know about. With almost 15 years of career, they have quite some history. Some Japanese fans, and also international ones, like me, even wanted Perfume to be part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, but A-chan, although honored, said she doesn't know if they're going to stick with Perfume in their 30s. Like I read in another site, as AKB48 will probably be dead in 2020, it's more probable that SMAP or ARASHI performs in the Ceremony instead... and that's not a great thing at all. Let's wait to see.

    1. Hi, Marcos.

      Yeah, now that you mentioned them, "Monochrome Effect" reminded me somewhat of the songs that Mini-Moni sang way back when. I can only imagine what the girls sounded like even before they decided to go into the technopop route.

      As for any potential performances at the 2020 Games, yeah, I'm not quite sure if folks like Perfume or SMAP will be on the invite list at the Opening Ceremonies. Usually the song for the Games comes across as an anthemic ballad which hasn't been Perfume's style. I suspect that a group such as Kobukuro or a new act-yet-to-debut is more likely.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.