It Blows Me Away . . .
Thirteen is a LOT of names to learn, a lot of personalities to discover, a lot of quirks to get used to... Some members will undoubtedly be left out of the major spolight moments, and I was not surprised to find that issue cropping up here. However, considering that there's only 4min of footage here to get to know these kids in, I managed to do it pretty well. They've thrown in some of the most spectacular choreography of the year and it spins everyone to the front at least once and at least long enough to find a feature to help ID them. Within a week of first seeing this, I knew eleven of their names perfectly. With SuJu, it took me months to learn them. I don't have any idea what people are talking about when they say that Stardom doesn't know how to film thirteen members as well as SM does. SM's film-caps of SuJu are just plain awful, wide shots that manage to include all of the members in a single shot aren't worth anything if the members are so tiny and uniform they can only be picked out by experts. Stardom captured these boy perfectly: in smaller bursts that allow for feature recognition and with some group shots that were packed tight enough to allow that feature recognition to operate.
And even more so, the pre-fabricated sub-groups was a brilliant card to play. Grouping them into Dragon, Lion, Knight, and Wizard, and then giving each group a batch of linked distinctive features helped categorize the members to make for easier learning. If you could ID three lions, but not the fourth, it would be much easier to look him up than if you couldn't ID the last three suit-clad SuJu members. It's a really well-played card and I applaud Stardom's use of it. Installing the idea of subgroups before making them active promotional units makes the idea of learning all of them significantly less intimidating (assurance that it'll get easier can work miracles).
I will admit that the shaky-cam thing bothered me a bit, but it's honestly not that bad. The real rub that bothered me was the odd filter most of it had layered in (especially all of the cuts inside the warehouse). That made it blurry and that is why the shaky-cam bothered me: there wasn't enough fine detail to latch onto while the camera shook.
Going back to explaining the elements I LOVED, the choreography has to be the top of the list. It's dynamic and physical, it utilizes various levels and involves intricate interactions with bandmates (making extraordinarily good use of all 13 of them). It also gives each member distinct styles, like Jenissi's chill swaying in comparison to Xero's sharp angles and spins or Hansol's perfectly on point aggression (and his ridiculously awesome handstand on top of his bandmates hands, which was just plain epic).
Other than that, the MV didn't have a self-contained story with an active plot, so it is barred from getting a full 10 points, but it was still an utterly epic debut and I'm looking forward to what else these boys have to show. Supposedly they're getting ready for another album (mostly self-composed and produced, so that doesn't sound like it's referring to their upcoming repackaged album...). With their follow-up coming out in just a few more days, sub-groups on the table to be utilized at some point here, and the year quickly running out, it'll be interesting to see what they have to show us. I for one am super excited and, depending on what happens before New Year's, Topp Dogg might just make my 2013 Baby Band list.