Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Top 15 Favorite Videos From the Guinness World Record Holding SKE48 Album "Kono hi no Chime wo Wasurenai"

63 short music videos that were released for the first time were included in the first nonstage album of SKE48, "Kono hi no Chime wo Wasurenai". A few days after my copy arrived (although I preordered it before its release, I had it shipped with a bunch of other CDs that awaited release), it gets awarded a Guinness World Record as the album containing the most music videos.

Theoretically, it should be a record that isn't difficult to beat, but I don't think SKE even thought about going for the record when the thing was conceptualized. As the first nonstage album of SKE48, they probably wanted to come up with something innovative and probably thought each member should get an original music video considering they already have so many songs, with stage songs and singles releases, even if the music videos would just be around two minutes each. With SKE48 having 63 members at the time of its release, getting 63 music videos in their first nonstage album was a great deal! And these are original, never previously released music videos. The best thing about it? Many of them were really good! I really enjoyed watching the DVD for the first time and still continue to rewatch it; it's very entertaining. It's so good, I wouldn't be embarrassed to show it to my friends (although it wouldn't be that hard to show videos of cute girls regardless). I don't mind playing my selection or just running Play All; it helps that SKE has a lot of really great songs. I wanted to talk about so many of the 63 videos, but I need to restrict myself, ultimately limiting myself to discuss my top 15 favorites. But don't get me wrong, my top 15 aren't the only good videos, much more than fifteen of the videos were great, I am just unable to discuss them all, I just need to limit myself since if I don't, I might end up ranking all of them!

SKE has been getting more and more fans. The first official franchise of AKB48 based in Nagoya has been around for a few years now, and I've been a fan since their first year. With the recent teams reshuffle of AKB, many fans, such as myself, have been having a harder time following AKB. The cohesion of the teams in AKB was more evident before the first shuffle, but after the first shuffle in Budokan, the way I remember which member is with which team is by remembering what stage unit the member performs, but since we don't have new stages yet, and since each team in AKB now has more than 16 members (as Team 4 was absorbed by Teams A, K and B), what that means is likely some of the girls will act as understudies of the more popular members, meaning each stage unit will have first unit and second units (similar to Himawari-gumi but not really) and it's going to be more difficult to remember which girl performs which unit and is at which Team considering some girls do not perform a song as regularly or as fixed as before. As I said before, the concept of having a Team A, Team K and Team B is becoming less and less important (unless you actually get to frequent their theater or tours), as they are becoming only one group that needs to get divided every so often due to practical reasons, so this isn't necessarily all bad, it's just more confusing and harder to remember. I still love AKB, but with this, fans such as myself have appreciated SKE even more as they have been quite stable (no shuffles, just some graduations and promotions). I love SKE regardless, even before the first AKB shuffle, but now if I want Team cohesion (and I love seeing a Team whose members have a relationship with each other that has been grounded for years), I get my fix at SKE. Regardless of SKE's connection with AKB, it also helps that SKE is actually really good.

You might be thinking my favorite videos would simply be the ones that contain my favorite members, but if you've been reading my blog for some time now, you know I'm not overly biased, so many of my favorites won't even get mentioned at all in this post. For example, my favorite SKE member is Jurina Matsui, but I wasn't super happy with her video. Sure, three Jurinas is better than one, but other than her cute poses during the instrumental part of "'Glory Days", there wasn't much concept. Then again, why should it matter to her when she was the first SKE member to be featured prominently as a center of AKB itself.

I also really like Rumi Kato's performance in "Dareka no Sei ni wa Shinai". They could have removed certain rough portions of the video though and just focused on serious Rumi as she was portraying her character very well. Funny enough, although Rumi portrays serious very well, this cute girl is actually quite funny when she gets the chance to be, but make no mistake, she may look short and sweet, but she's a tough girl (as can be seen in the July 10, 2011 episode of Itte Koi 48, where she unnecessarily decided to put a really huge snake back where it came from). I liked Rumi's solo rendition of the song. I like Rumi's voice and I think this was a good song choice for her. The song is an accompanying track in their single Banzai Venus, by the way.

I thought Akari Suda's "Doubt!" was quite elegant, although I feel it would have been better if there were just a few more shots with a little more concept. Akarin's ballet was really nice though.

Same goes with Mai Takeuchi's "Papa wa Kirai." I thought it was rather well-made and some of the visuals were quite stunning; it just needed a little more shots with a little more concept to push it over the edge. I liked Mai's portrayal though. I also liked the ending where Mai said "Papa, dai suki", even though it's not part of the lyrics. ("Papa wa Kirai" means "Papa, I hate you", and is a dark accompanying song to the single "Pareo wa Emerald". "Papa, dai suki" means "Papa, I love you.")

Some of the videos were also quite funny, but I think are funnier to SKE fans as they understand certain references, as was Mizuki Kuwabara's "Onna no ko no Dairokkan." Mizuki is pretty funny, but the jokes are funnier when you recognize where that fish came from, for example. (It's from a role she portrayed in the SKE comedy-suspense-mystery TV series "Mousou Deka" where she played a very prominent role.) My second favorite KII girl, Akane Takayanagi's video "Omatase Setlist" is harder to appreciate unless you knew beforehand that Churi is a bird-lover, and it is a huge part of her character. Yumana Takagi's "Seishun wa Hazukashi" is funnier if you understand the lyrics; the irony of old people in the video when the song is about youth (the title means "Shy Youth")

Many of the videos were really pretty, and when you think sticking a pretty girl in a music video should be enough, no, there are actually good concepts. Some of the old AKB songs from stages that got revived by SKE Teams got chosen and I enjoyed them so much, I was glad these AKB songs finally got a music video, and I wanted AKB to make their own music videos of these old stage songs as well. Hopefully AKB releases an album with this concept too. It would break SKE's record, but at that point, I wouldn't mind.

Since the videos had to fit in one DVD, which already consumes 7 Gigabytes, each video was around 2 minutes only, cutting the songs to about half, pretty much the same with what they do in their concerts so they can perform more songs. What's great about it is that some of the videos fit excellently within just 2 minutes. The concepts probably would need more if it ran longer, so the time was just right for the videos.

There were a lot of songs that I was surprised no one performed, such as classic team songs and stage unit songs from original SKE stages.

Let's get to my top 15 favorites!

#15 Momona Kito's "Hohoemi no Positive Thinking"

You may think this is a cop out, liking what could pass off as a gravure video, albeit an upbeat, tame gravure video, but seriously, the only thing that was sexy in this video is Momona herself and what she is wearing, which I presume are pajamas, meaning she doesn't do anything sexy, but it gives off the impression that the whole video was sexy. Sure Momona is sexy, but this video is as much sexy as it was cute and pretty, as Momona is. Actually there were more cute shots than what could be considered sexy. And the upbeat song just makes this a great package. I like Momona's voice and this was a good song choice for her, for her vocals and the video itself. I like the shots, I like the two Momona kitties fighting, I liked the wiggly kitty ears... this is just eye candy. One of the newest promoted members of SKE's Team S, Momona is going to get her very pretty self noticed, and she did a great job looking cute and adorable. "Hohoemi no Positive Thinking" is an accompanying track to the single "Okey Dokey." I really like this song.

#14 Kumi Yagami's "Hanabi wa Owaranai"

Speaking of pretty girls, Kumi's rocker image works (see SKE48 no Magical Radio Season 2), although we don't get to see it often. I was surprised no one performed "Wimbledon he Tsureteitte," but Kumi's vocals fit this song. Wimbledon he Tsureteitte is my favorite SKE stage unit and Kumi is the last remaining original member of that unit. Kumi is my second favorite SKE member, and one of my top favorites in AKB as a whole, and it greatly saddened me when she announced her graduation. It was like losing a dear friend. I hope we get to see more of her someday. Hanabi wa Owaranai is an accompanying track to the single "Pareo wa Emerald." I guess it's very fitting that she recorded this song for us as a solo just before she would graduate. Truly, the fireworks never end.

#13 Shiori Takada's "Banzai Venus"

This video was so retarded, it was hilarious! It's so inane that it's funny! Oh, these SKE girls are just a riot! They are very funny, especially the senior members. Shiori also shows off her slim and sexy figure. Banzai Venus is the lead track of SKE's fifth single.

#12 Aya Shibata's "Pareo wa Emerald"

There wasn't really much concept in this video, just a giant emerald and a somewhat creepy giant bunny. I'm not bashing on the video though, what I'm saying is that despite this, Aya made it work. Aya was successful in looking cute the whole video. I found her impressive by just looking cute. Pareo wa Emerald is the lead track of their sixth single.

#11 Airi Furukawa's "Bungee Sengen"

With 63 Japanese music videos, you could guess one of them had to contain anime, and in the end, I hardly cared about the anime, as Airin looked really cute in her superhero costume! Ok, she looks cute in her normal clothes too. I wondered why she chose Bungee Sengen though, considering nobody sang her duet with Shiori Ogiso "Manazashi Sayonara." Bungee Sengen didn't display Airin's beautiful vocals the way Manazashi Sayonara did, but Manazashi Sayonara is a serious song, so I'm guessing Airin went with a cute song instead as anyone who wants to see her perform Manazashi can just watch Team KII's first original stage. Airi performs the serious Manazashi Sayonara well, but I guess she wanted to spotlight the silly, funny, and cute side of her for this opportunity. And she was successful in doing so. Airin looked so cute! This was such a cute video. Bungee Sengen is an accompanying track to the single "Aozora Kataomoi," their second single, but the first to have Undergirls, which she was one of, so I'm thinking maybe this was also for sentimental reasons, or maybe as a statement, as being one of the ten Undergirls then meant you were next in the line after the seven Senbatsus of Aozora Kataomoi.

#10 Madoka Umemoto's "Koe ga Kasureru Kurai"

Who says you need a concept to come up with a good music video? This one basically had none, but it just fit the mood of the song, which is essentially a rock riff. I loved Madoka's vocals and this song was an excellent choice for her voice. I think this is the kind a rocker would appreciate even if they didn't like jpop. I'm glad we got this solo version, I loved it. Koe ga Kasureru Kurai is an accompanying track of the single "Kataomoi Finally."

#9 Yukari Yamashita's "Pajama Drive"

This music video wasn't perfect, but I haven't seen a music video that was shot in reverse done perfectly. This was done in one continuous shot with no special effects, so although not perfect, it's certainly worth showing to friends. Yukari must have put in a lot of hard work practicing not only walking backwards and looking like she's walking naturally forward when played in reverse, but in everything else she did. The video also stayed faithful to the concept of the song, which I appreciated. This is the title song of Team E's first stage, the revival of AKB's Team B's "Pajama Drive"

#8 Kyoka Isohara's "Junjou Shugi"

The second Team E remake of a Team B original in this list so far, the video can be greater appreciated if you understand the lyrics of the song. Junjou Shugi means "Pure-heart Principle", and the song is about someone who made a promise to keep her heart pure, despite being actively tempted by someone she likes. In the video, Kyoka is being tempted and pursued to give up her pure-heart principle (by someone who is actually herself), and I love the imagery in the video. Kyoka is my second favorite member in Team E, and I love the song she chose.

#7 Seira Sato's "Pinocchio Gun"

SKE fans know Seira likes to show off her sexiness as she explicitly stated she wants to be a gravure model, and I think it's smart that she got to do it in her video within a very funny context. She did very well in her video. Very funny! Good job! The song is originally from Team S' second original stage, third overall "Seifuku no Me," which would get rerecorded as an accompanying track to the single "Gomen ne, Summer."

#6 Risako Goto's "Antenna"

This wasn't perfect but I'd blame the digital team for that. Nonetheless, it was very good, and I thought Risako played her part very, very well, and because of that I rank this this high. This was a very interesting one to watch. Pretty cool. Antenna is from Team S' 3rd stage "Seifuku no Me," eventhough Risako is from Team KII.

#5 Kanon Kimoto's "Tenshi no Shippo"

This was just so cute as Kanon is so cute! I know this is originally a Team B song, and Aika Oota performed this song originally, and she performs it very cute too, but if I didn't complain about Pajama Drive earlier, which is originally by Mayu Watanabe, who is my overall favorite AKB member, then I'm just going to enjoy this, and maybe someday Aika will treat us to a Tenshi no Shippo music video too, which I would love to see as well. This video is just cuteness overload. It was kind of weird that so many Team B songs got a Team E music video first, but since Team E had very good videos, I'm not gonna complain. I like how this video was true to the lyrics as well.

#4 Shiori Ogiso's "Kamoku no Tsuki"

Very, very cute video, but mostly because Ogichan was very, very cute! I really like Ogichan's vocals and this was a good song choice for her voice. Boo on the ending credits though, most of the other videos didn't have them, so I didn't appreciate that the ones that made this put them in. (There are credits in the book that came with the album.) Nonetheless, this was a beautiful video, and Ogichan made this very, very cute, as she performed very, very well. I really like this song, and I'm glad she chose this for her solo. Kamoku no Tsuki is an accompanying track to "Kataomoi Finally."

#3 Yuria Kizaki's "Okami to Pride"

Okami to Pride is a duet with Kumi Yagami, and eventhough I shouldn't like this as much without Kumi, I do. Yuria is very, very cute, and she was successful in making a very simple, very cute music video. She knows how to make us gush with her cuteness and she plays it very well. So cute! In case you're wondering what the wolf is about, "Okami to Pride" means "Pride and the Wolf." This song is from Team S' 3rd stage, "Seifuku no Me"

#2 Haruka Futamura's "Chime wa Love Song"

To fully appreciate this video, you should know that the basic Japanese alphabet is composed of what we would consider syllables, not letters, so their letters would be "ka, ki, ku, ke, ko, ba, bi, bu, be, bo..." etc. Apparently, there are 58 of these syllables in the Japanese alphabet, specifically the hiragana. So 58 still shots (or you could say "photos") were taken of Haruka pronouncing each syllable or hiragana holding an object that starts with the hiragana (similar to "a" is for apple, "b" for banana, etc, except for the hiragana "n" where she holds a clay model for the hiragana symbol for "n" since that hiragana can only be used to end a word as anything else would use the hiragana for "na", "ni", "nu", "ne", or "no" instead of "n" only), accompanied by a very cute pose. Basically, a majority of the video would display the hiragana (as my screen cap above) of the lyric being sung, and it just loops between the 58 hiraganas since all Japanese words could be spelled with the 58 hiraganas (called kanas) or syllables. I find the concept very creative as something like this could only be pulled off in a language like Japanese, but more so than the concept, is that the video wouldn't be cute if they did not have a cute model doing many, various cute poses pronouncing the syllable, and Haruka was very cute and was able to make 58 very cute poses! This was an excellent video! Her vocals also fit the song very well, and the upbeat nature of the song also fit the concept of the video very well. If we had charts to learn the Japanese language this cute, it would be easier for me to fully learn the language. They should start making them! Haruka is a Kenkyuusei which I hope will be promoted soon, and the song is from Team S' second stage "Te wo Tsunaginagara"

#1 Anna Ishida's "Usotsuki na Dachou"

I really liked the concept of the video, but again, more so than the concept, is Anyan's execution. This required practice on her part besides the design of the falling lyrics themselves, and I really liked how well Anyan performed her part! Anyan is my favorite member of Team KII, and she centers this song from her Team's first and so far only original stage (third overall) "Ramune no Nomikata", so this is, so far, the Anna Ishida song, and Anyan is so promising that AKB Management decided to stick her in as a member of AKB's Team B while she continues to be part of SKE (the same deal Jurina Matsui got as also being a member of AKB's Team K). She was able to execute her part very well and at the same time look cute and very pretty. In case you're wondering about the ostrich, "Usotsuki no Dachou" means "Lying Ostrich." I certainly would love to show off videos like this to my friends to show that while the 48 family is achieving records, they are doing it with quality stuff!