Parago. Parago. Parago. Parago… Wait, It Has To Be In Katakana?

Filed in Cult of Pop 1.0

So according to the now-indispensable Idolizing St. Anna, Paradise Go!! Go!! is having a contest to see who’s doing the most grass-roots online promotion for them. Create enough of a presence so that your site comes up high on Google when the girls type in the word “Parago” in katakana, and the girls will visit your site and leave a message or something.

Sounds simple, a nice case of guerilla or viral marketing? Well, maybe not that simple…

The “parago” in katakana part seems more trouble than it’s worth. (Of course, I’m not Japanese so I’ll have this biased opinion.) A quick check on the alternatives, however, show why it’s necessary…

If you Google “parago” in English you get some other companies, including a circus it looks like, as well as Paradise Go!! Go!!

Type in “Paradise Go!! Go!!” and Google pulls up the group initially, but some other interesting vacation-based sites as well.

Be a smart girl and put “Paradise Go!! Go!!” as one phrase in actual parentheses to narrow the search to that exact phrase, and you wind up with a lot of sites discussing the manga…

I didn’t even know there was a Paradise Go Go manga.

All of which shows why the search engine wars are raging all around us.

And this contest being on the internet brings up another question: how will somebody know it’s a real member of Parago leaving behind a message? Any joker can leave a message and sign it Kiyomi or Misaki or Natalie, that’s no guarantee that the person is who she (or more likely, he) claims to be. And I wouldn’t suggest the girls leaving behind their e-mail addresses or phone numbers for the sake of verification…

The only way to make sure is to be able to have a trackback of some sort to one of the group’s two main websites at or name the sites the girls visit on one of these and link to them. (And even then, I’m sure some smartass or two or three will use that as a chance to leave fake messages afterwards.) As far as I’m concerned, an actual link on either site to the winning site(s) will be worth more than a message from one of the members.

The photos I’ve been including here, by the way, have nothing to do with the contest as best as I could tell. It’s just footage for an interview regarding their latest single, “Faraway”. I’m posting up these screencaps mostly because I can’t get enough of those ventilated white T-shirts… especially Misaki’s, though it’d be nice if we saw more of Ayaka and Yuka, as well.

Anyway, being part of the non-Japanese market means there’s a slim-to-zero chance of getting any attention at all, and I’m fine with it. Break out a hit at home first, then worry about overseas. That said, I wish there was more Parago media circulating through the internet – or at least, my favorite haunts on the internet – so I can enjoy this group more fully. I’ve heard “Faraway” and have the MP3 on my iPaq. Next time I go to Hakubundo, I’ll look up the CD single in the hopes of having something more tangible of the band to carry around in a totemistic fashion.

What I want is the group’s PVs in high quality MPEG-1 or AVI. As somebody who derives a good deal of my Jpop enjoyment from the visual aspects, MP3s fall short of the mark. I need to see PVs, live performances on TV shows, something that can be burned to a VCD for later viewing or uploaded to my iPaq so that I can watch it on my commute to work.

I haven’t seen anything of the PV for “Faraway” (which, if they include the outfits on the cover, will be mandatory repeat viewing), only a poor quality WMV snippet of the first single, and a decent quality WMV file of half the PV for second single, “Zettai,” which is screencapped here.

“Zettai” is a pretty good song – perhaps more generic than “Faraway,” but still very catchy and fun. The PV matches the song by creating its own visual riffs, flipping between two sets throughout the clip: an industrial-esque room with steel walls and low lighting, and a happy brightly-lit set with big panels of bright colors. Of course, the girls are dressed differently for each sets: for the steel room, they’re wearing a kind of casual night-on-the-town look – lots of denim with fur linings, bared midriffs, a hint of tough girl attitude; for the shiny happy room, it’s more afterschool and comfortable, with lots of plaid and T-shirts.

Misaki is the lead of the group and, being the youngest, I can’t help but compare her to Goto Maki in Morning Musume’s prime. It’s too early to say if she’s got the talent of Gocchin, but she has a clear command of the camera and a confidence that belies her age. She’s going to be the sweetheart everyone falls for, if Parago becomes the idol superstars they deserve to be.

I’m pretty sure this is Kiyomi dancing… The PV makes an effort to show all the girls dancing solo. Which brings up something else: once again, watching a PV from an Avex girl group – whether it’s Parago, Dream, or especially SweetS – the choreography grabs my attention, adds to the fun of the PV in a way that Morning Musume’s recent PVs simply don’t attempt. Is it possible to even imagine some of the Momusu girls breaking out into dances as spontaneous as this?

If anything, it shows the very different sensibilities between Avex’s stable of talent and Hello! Project’s. And as much as I love H!P, I’m finding myself needing a steady dose of Avex artists as well at this point.

An evocation of the CD cover for “Zettai,” Misaki up front with Kiyomi slightly behind her. I’m not sure what to make of all the labels on her sweater, it creates an odd NASCAR aesthetic to me… I think the fact that several of these girls make plaid look sexy is evidence enough of Parago’s greatness. That said, I’m typing this while I’m sick and under medication, so maybe I’ll take back that last part in the morning.

I’m almost positive this is Ayaka, and it seems to me she’s playing the Nakazawa Yuko part for the group: as the oldest (and the only one even close to legal), she can be more brazen and sexy in her moves without creeping out the folks who don’t want rorikon shoved in their faces.

Having seen little of the band, I’m developing a fondness for Ayaka nonetheless. It took me a while to realize she has a tattoo in the “Faraway” CD cover, a small flower of some sort well below her navel and to the right, peeking out. Nakazawa, God bless her, could never get away with that.

A nice close-up of Kiyomi, who splits screen time and lead vocals with Misaki. I still think she looks like a cross between Takahashi Ai and Fujimoto Miki, though this shot doesn’t make the comparison work. That said, if others agree and thinks she looks like Takitty and Mikitty, why not call her… I don’t know… Kikitty?

Listening to Parago’s last two singles have a way of making me crave upbeat, highly danceable numbers by other groups. Even though it’s been in my iPaq for months now, I’ve found myself listening more to Dream’s most recent single, “Soyokaze no Shirobe,” with increasing frequency in the past couple weeks. The PV is remarkably cute – my fondness for Tachibani Kana grows over time – and if I’m in the right mood, I think it’s as good as any vintage seventies disco you can find. (Which for me, at least, is a compliment.) The other song I consider a good follow-up to a shot of Parago is Morning Musume’s “Manatsu no Kousen,” which also has a strong upbeat disco feel to it.

With three singles now under their belt, maybe it’s time to take a cue from the SweetS playbook and release a mini-album with a bonus DVD. If they include a poster, like SweetS did with their first mini-album, I’d even pay the extra postage for that as well.

Anyway. If any of the Parago girls are reading this: Keep up the great work. You’ll have at least one loyal fan in the United States, though from the boards it looks like there are at least several others.

Now go check out the Irie Saaya pics, like everyone else who visits this blog.