avex, this isn’t the oasis I was searching for.
Even AAA isn’t above laughing at themselves, at least. Except Chiaki. She’s under contract to be adorable for the camera 24/7.
It wasn’t until I visited the official AAA site and watched the loading screen that it hit me. MIRAGE will be the 17th single. Already?
Granted, the 17th single won’t be released until 2008, but it really hits home the fact that AAA has been releasing ridiculously. Most people, at just over two years into their careers, have 7~10 singles. If we take into account Izayuke Wakataka Gundan 2007, Climax Jump (still their highest selling single despite not making it to their AROUND album), the digital boys-only release, and maybe consider alohAAA! a ridiculously expensive single with a shitload of extra stuff (because all it had was one new song that I can’t even remember the melody too, for avex’s sake); AAA’s rocketed past that. Hell, they’ve rocketed past it even without the stuff avex doesn’t include in their official discography.
I only recovered from my burnout and got around to checking out the video last week. (But I’m still fawning over my 2008 calendar, so I can safely say it’s not because of mental Arashi-dominance.) I don’t have much to say about it – Raid can attest to that – but if there’s one thing I do like, it’s seeing costumes. Unless they don’t work so well with the members. So let’s go over that, shall we? [WARNING. This post becomes ridiculously long, and the screencaps despite the lack of actual PV reviewing don’t help. If reading gives you seizures, stop now and go lock yourself away with the TV, pathetic fool.]
The single has an Arabian theme to it. It’s dominant in the music, in the video (I have to wonder if the director and crew know what the words in Arabic script really mean? Not to say that I do, but I’m rather curious to know.), in the girls’ moves for the dance, in the cover design (tell me what else other than a flying carpet that could possibly be up there), and in the costumes. Do not argue this or the Sultan’s guards will be sent to behead you, and no, I don’t care what you think, that dingy oil lamp does not contain a genie to rescue you.
This one aspect – the theme – would garner my love so much except the bridge and chorus decided to pop up in the song, and it reverted to being just regular fast-paced dance pop. Catchy, yes, I have the hook in my head already. But not Arabian, not something new, and I suppose my problem isn’t so much with the song as it is with the failed promise the song brought. DAMN YOU, AVEX. Would it have killed your overflowing funds to get Imai Daisuke (Koda Kumi’s Candy feat. Mr. Blistah) or Ueno Keishi (Shimatani Hitomi’s SHANTI) for this track?
Okay, back to the outfits. I’m amused at the color choices. For a January thing, this is pretty dark on the color palette – the main colors on the costume are in the darker hues of blue, the background is a fading black to indicate a night sky… Did they use up all their saccharine brightness filters on Get CHU!, or did someone on the avex staff watch Aladdin one too many times?
Speaking of Aladdin, let’s start with Nissy. To be honest, I’m kind of freaked out to see his feet – it might be the shadows from his pose, but his toes look abnormally long. They gave him gold shoes in the PV so he could dance. Was it really so hard to give them to him here too? (Let’s not mention how the foot he’s balancing on seems to be cut off oddly – it’s not the poor boy’s fault.)
I’m also completely unused to his fully-black hair – sure, it’s his natural color, but it’s the first time in the history of AAA that we’ve seen him with black hair. Even going back to that original 6-person video of Friday Party and his stints as Suzuki Ami’s
buttkisser backdancer, he’d had highlighted, slightly bleached hair. Congratulations, you just made it harder for everyone to tell between you and Shin. Wait, not really, we just need to put you both on HEY! HEY! HEY! and see who screams like an idiot first.
But the most important part about the black hair and feet? It makes Nissy channel Aladdin. That red band around his waist doesn’t help, and the heroic-looking poses he strikes on every version of the single’s cover makes me think he watched Aladdin too much as well.
Oh, Urata. Let me do my obligatory squealing for a second. Your arms, your biceps, the tattoo on your wrist, the way your fingers are posed… I love you far too much and feel that we don’t get to see your arms surprisingly enough, sexy boy. Less Cap-kun and Blanket-san, more arm love, thank you. Get into watches and bracelets or something.
Okay, that’s done. Tsk, tsk. What’s with the animal paw glued to your chin? I don’t understand this concept of spreading trends throughout the AAA group members. First Hidaka owned the artsy goatee. Then almost two years later Shuuta gave us the almost ridiculously shady semi-stache that looked like it was ripped off the guy who deals drugs in back alleys. (Granted, I think he managed it well, but I’m biased.) Now Ura and the homeless hobo scruff. Shin and Nissy will never dare attempt this, of course, it would ruin their images as bishounen, but it just doesn’t suit Urata. He’s 25 and he looks like he’s trying to pass himself off as a wannabe-gang member in the brighter areas of Japan whose expensive sunglasses got punched off his face. That they dyed it light brown doesn’t help, because first in blends into his face, and then you see it and you can’t avoid missing it anymore every time he shoves his discolored chin at the camera in the video.
Also, what he’s wearing. For all that it’s blue and gold and shiny, it basically amounts to a glorified tracksuit. (I’m in a “torn” and oshare-punk loose attachments phase with my fashion choices though, so I like the raggedy black things that are in place of the sleeves.) And the baggy pants make him look squat. (Yes, I know his knees aren’t bent. It’s an adjective, too. Look it up.) I appreciate the open chest, I do not appreciate that thick gold chain that really makes you look like a gangster imitator. It would’ve been fine if you weren’t baring your chest, but now you look like you’ll head into a bar and hit on girls from 6PM to 3AM while drunk on cheap liquor. With the cheesiest pick up lines known to mankind.
Please save them all for me.
…you know how they distinguished between guys and girls this time? With the poofy sleeves. If you got a poofy sleeve with an attached armband, you’re a girl. (Welcome to the Estrogen Club, Nissy and Shin. Chiaki’s sleeves aren’t see-through and are barely puffed, but they still have the armband that’s comes along with a puffed sleeve.) But if you get to bare your arms, you’re a man’s man. Or you’re my favorite three members. Same thing.
So instead of baring her arms, Misako got to bare a leg. Misa-misa, your legs? I approve. They are slim, toned, sexy, and the world should revel in them. Your stomach? Not so much. Showing off your belly piercing, fine. I think that’s awesome actually, I wouldn’t have the guts to do that. Your stomach’s more defined than Chiaki’s, and I think that’s good too. What I don’t like is the fact that I can see the outline of your ribs. (Yes, it’s true.) Were you sucking in your stomach during the photo-taking? That is not sexy, and I don’t care if anorexia is what’s in in Japan. Ribs are for eating, not for sticking out through skin and disturbing me. (Let us conveniently ignore the fact that my own ribs slightly protrude despite the complete lack of definition in my stomach. I’m not showing them off.)
Your entire costume’s an abuse of the gauzy veil fabric, too, but you pull it off, so we’ll drop that. I do love the combination of the dangling hair accessory, the choker, and the rope belt. Accessorize like this more often, please. Or give me the hair thing. It’ll be fun to whip people with, if it doesn’t whip you in the face already during the spinning segments of this dance.
You could say if Nissy channels Aladdin, Misako’s pulling off Jasmine, between the off-the-shoulder puffed sleeves (never mind that Jasmine’s didn’t go all the way to her wrists) and pant leg, revealing midriff, and all the blue and gold (which is Jasmine’s color scheme). Or am I just feeding the NissyxMisako fan frenzy here?
Continuing the Aladdin theme, next we have Hidaka, who really is a “Geeny” (pronounced Genie, as Icy found out at Otakon) now. Hey, hair tied up, blue/gold outfit, arms crossed on every single cover of this single in the dominating and intimidating Genie-out-of-lamp pose… I think I have a point here. To his credit, he makes the look work.
If only he weren’t wearing what looked like the love child of saran wrap and aluminum foil for a shirt. Okay, that’s all I got. Hidaka looks good.
Shinjiro, as the perpetual “other”
masculine girl pretty boy, also makes an attempt at channeling Aladdin, but comes off as more Prince Ali. I attribute it to his not-messy hair and shall ignore the Kung-fu pose he’s pulling off in his profile pic.
I like his jacket a lot better than Nissy’s – it looks sharp, and it draws contrast by having the pattern on only one side while cutting through the blue with a thick line of gold. The way the gold lines connect at the chest when the jacket is pulled together is nice too. And hey, he’s shirtless under there in the photoshoot (though he’s got a blue version of Hidaka’s shirt in the PV) for all you raving fangirls.
Okay, important points covered. So now I’d like to point out – he’s pretty much wearing a fringed skirt. Any questions about an image of masculinity from avex have been thrown out the window.
My boy Shuuta wins best looker for this one. Not a single complaint about his outfit here.
Except maybe that it’s on him instead of off. It’s just the right balance of blue and gold, his straight hair is hot as always, the accessories provide nice focal points without being too distracting, and sure he’s imitating Urata with the open chest, but he doesn’t have the hood on. THANKFULLY.
Yeah, so biggest complaint. Why do you pose so ghei? That is not Arabian, that is “I lost a bet with the director of photography and it was either pose like this to out myself as his boytoy or prance around Shibuya in a decapitated chicken costume.” It’s okay, I love you anyways.
Oh, Chiaki. If Nissy/Misako/Hidaka remind me of Aladdin characters (I protest. Where are Abu and Jafar? I want my monkey and evil vizier, dammit!), you’re giving off… Esmeralda vibes? Wait, wrong Disney movie. But if there was anyone whose costume “is not like the others”, it’d be hers. Ribbed purple on the top, lots of ruffles (albeit gauzy) on the skirt, giant hoop earrings, not a touch of gold to be seen anywhere unless you really want to count the sleeves and the waistband of her skirt, made of the same fabric as Nissy’s jacket.
It’s like they made her costume last and thought they could make up for the lack of gold with arm bangles and neck accessories that got hidden by her hair. Geez, avex, you could’ve at least given her a circlet – that would’ve gotten the Arabian idea much clearer. Besides, her PV skirt had the gold and the gauze, why did that get scrapped for the photoshoot? Yes, it was long and Chiaki has nice legs, but it matched a hell of a lot better than this glorified tablecloth. It doesn’t even match Shin’s pretty skirt, the two of them really need to go shopping together so outfits will be coordinated, dammit. (And Chiaki can have fun crossdressing the poor boy – wait, he’s not quite a boy anymore. Okay, dressing then.)
Okay, so I’ve been listening to and watching the PV throughout this post (and the week or two it took me to type up) and I think I’m finally ready to deliver a verdict. AAA is guilty of not delivering the complete Arabian experience. Max Matsuura is guilty of straying from the variety of genres AAA was supposed to attack over the course of the group’s (surprisingly) short career.
But AAA is still doing their job as a pop/dance group with (sadly) generic singles, and they’re still looking and sounding decent, even if I don’t completely agree with their costumer’s and producer’s choices this time, so I clear them of all charges. (Insert pounding of gavel.) Just… do better on the next one, guys?