dream’s “Kono Natsu ga Owaru Maeni” – It’s a Date! (July 27, 2005, to be exact.)

Filed in Cult of Pop 1.0

“After one year let’s meet at the place.”

So begins dream’s new PV for “Kono Natsu ga Owaru Maeni” (“Before the Summer Ends”) and I’m excited as I watch it the first time. In the past few months I’ve learned to love the new version of dream – enough so that I won’t even capitalize the “d” at the start of their name anymore (much as it galls the grammarian in me) – and want something just as good as their last single, the excellent but underrated “Soyokaze no Shirabe.” As I watch this PV, though, I’m first puzzled, then upset… then, just plain confused.

But I quickly get over all that. Mostly.

The strangest part about this video is the time-fixated conceit of this plot: a star-struck couple of Hasebe Yu and some random guy agree to meet one year after their last encounter… and the day falls on the exact same day that dream’s new mini-album Natsuiro is released, July 27, 2005.

Really, shouldn’t Yu be busy promoting the album on this day? Is dream so secure that they don’t need their biggest idol to help push their product? This is just the first of many puzzles offered by the PV.

Let’s take a look at the guy. He’s a real looker, isn’t he? But we’re dealt a blow right away, as we see him slowly fall off the screen…

He looks damn familiar, I must say. Maybe it’s the beautiful symmetry of his almost-scowling face. I’m not sure. But even my wife commented on how good looking he is, and she usually doesn’t bother to comment on the PVs I watch. So that says something.

The good news is, we can assume he was intending to meet Yu. So he’s a man of his word – and a natty dresser with a nice, big, clunky watch. The bad news is, he’s not going to be making the meeting after all. He’s been stabbed in the back by two thugs while he’s walking down an alley.

I can appreciate that we don’t have any false drama to this PV’s plot, no “will they meet or won’t they?”. They most certainly won’t. (Though perhaps… perhaps…) The rest of the video, then, becomes a story of how fate had done them both wrong, laying out the rest of the tableau to make their love heartbreaking in its failure to conquer all. (Or at least, conquer a butterfly knife through the back.)

The video not only plays with dates, it also plays with time. There are several cuts from the guy’s watch to Yu’s watch, or vice-versa. It’s looking like they agreed to meet at one PM on July 27, 2005. I can’t help but think of the beginning to Monty Python’s Life of Brian

dream diva slash gravure idol Hasebe Yu is looking beautiful as ever, but as the video progresses there’s a sinking feeling… Where’s Tachibana Kana? Where’s Aya? Where’s Sayaka? At this point, I can’t come up with any other names, unfortunately. But the important thing is: where is the rest of dream, for Christ’s sake? I like Hasebe Yu a lot, but dream is a girl group – and if I can’t have the trio of Yu Kana Mai (too much to ask for, I know) then at least give me the new group of Yu Kana Aya Sayaka et cetera et cetera.

That said, I realize something else: maybe they’re off promoting their new mini-album, Natsuiro, since it comes out on the very day this PV takes place, July 27, 2005.

At this point, we flashback to a year earlier. July 23, 2004 – when the dream mini-album Natsuiro probably wasn’t even a gleam in some Avex executive’s eye. Who is this girl that Yu is talking to in one scene? Is she a member of dream? I’m not sure, but one thing is clear: she’s not Tachibana Kana. And I find that’s all I care about: I want to see my favorite current member, Kana. If she was the one talking to Yu, it’d at least have been something – I wouldn’t feel so slighted.

So really, as long as Kana and Yu are in the video, I’d’ve been happy. With all respect to the remaining members of dream – and I do respect them, even if I don’t know their names yet – the core of the group is the two founding members, neither of whom seems intent on leaving (thank God).

Though, really, the girl in the PV is very very cute – just look at the shot of her! It’s just that she isn’t Kana, and a dream video without Kana is just not acceptable.

On its own terms – that is, if this was a Hasebe Yu solo PV and not a dream PV – this is actually nicely handled, as long as you accept the melodramatic overkill. That said, the video bears some careful watching to make full sense of it. I made a couple of stupid assumptions that made the video less than comprehensible, though a careful couple of viewings and some narrative leaps of intuition paid off in clearing up those misunderstandings.

Here’s the chronology, best as I can piece it together:

  • 2005-7-20 – Yu talks with a female friend who is not Tachibana Kana; the guy is packing or unpacking or something, and a Polaroid of he and Yu slips out.
  • 2004-7-23 Yu and the guy pass each other at some stairs, and she snubs him.
  • 2004-7-25 She looks lonely and pained; he writes her a letter.
  • 2004-7-26 He delivers the letter.
  • 2004-7-27 She stares at the letter while he’s off in some garage; she opens it and finds the Polaroid, leading to an undated flashback of when the Polaroid was taken. We can assume the message he wrote to her included the one that begins the PV.
  • 2005-7-27 She goes to the place in the Polaroid; he doesn’t quite get there. Oh, and dream’s mini-album Natsuiro is released.

Simple enough, right? Except when I first saw the PV, I assumed for some reason that the meeting at the staircase was when they first met and became a couple – not that they had already broken up and she snubbed him. Why is that? Because I assumed, with all the flashbacks involved, we’d get the story of the whole relationship, beginning to end. That was foolish.

That also meant that on July 20, 2004, when Yu is talking to somebody who is not Tachibana Kana but should be, she’s probably looking upset because she broke up with the guy, and not because she was just lonely and needed a new man in her life.

My second wrong assumption is a bit trickier. I assumed that they were meeting one year after the Polaroid was taken. There is no date to this flashback within a flashback, and a lazy initial viewing could easily make one think that, yeah, this was taken on the day that was last listed – July 27, 2004 (exactly one year before the release of dream’s new mini-album, Natsuiro!). After all, the beginning message of the PV seems to indicate just that assumption – they they met at the place a year before their present-day meeting, not that they agreed by a letter written one year before to meet at the place where they’d been more than a year before.

See what I mean?

And why don’t we get a date to the flashback within a flashback? Could it have been taken – oh, I don’t know… on July 27, 2003? (A whole two years before the release of dream’s mini-album Natsuiro?)

Would that have been too much to ask for? Or at least a date? Just because it’s a flashback within a flashback doesn’t mean it should be slighted of the same historical exactituded as the rest of the PV.

For some reason, this is the one shot that makes me cry a little during the PV. All they do is hold hands and yet it’s done slowly, even subtly (well, as subtle as a close-up of their hands could be). This is the part where I want them to be happy and together and so on, instead of wondering how fucking heavy that watch is on the guy’s increasingly blooded wrist.

So back in the present, the guy continues to lie in the dark alley, bleeding to death. Though, really, the guy is dying in the future as I watch the PV now, since July 27, 2005 is a good week away…

Maybe – just maybe – the Polaroid photo was taken in the future as well? Can we spin a rather strange sci-fi angle from this PV? Since we’re watching the future in this PV, maybe we can make a metafictive time-travel leap? Perhaps find out the guy is saved from dying in the alley and recovers his health, though it takes a long time – almost a whole year – and Hasebe Yu is there by his side the entire team, realizing she hadn’t been abandoned. And finally, on July 27, 2006 – a full year after the release of dream’s mini-album Natsuiro – he’s his old self again and they go to that place and take a Polaroid together. They then send the Polaroid back in time two years and slip it into the guy’s belongings. His 2004 self finds it and realizes he doesn’t remember taking the picture, though he does somehow recognize the setting. And this puzzles him enough that he writes to Yu, telling her that they should meet in one year’s time, which is a year ahead for him but a year behind for the 2006 guy who time-travels back to slip the Polaroid in the 2004 guy’s belongings.

But what they both don’t realize is that by fulfilling this time-travel prophecy, they’ve set in motion a feedback loop of PV continuity where the guy will be stabbed again and again on an ever-repeating July 27, 2005 – just as dream’s new mini-album Natsuiro will be released again and again on that day – much like Groundhog Day, the seminal Bill Murrary film. And so they bring in Mai from the original dream to help set matters right…

Okay, now I’m just being an idiot. It’s probably not sci-fi. Let’s move on.

The beautiful Hasebe Yu waits for a dead man, checking her watch, believing herself spurned.

The PV also doesn’t show what would be a typical consequence of this situation: the person waiting curses out the person who doesn’t show up, blaming him for being thoughtless and toying with her heart. She later finds out he was dying as she cursed him out, and feels so bad that she ends up in therapy for being such a mean and petty-minded person. But since this is Hasebe Yu, we can assume she’s too lovely a person to make such leaps in judgment.

All of this would be heartbreaking… except really, Hasebe Yu should be at a record store or something, pushing the new dream mini-album being released that very day! One can only assume the other members of dream are doing handshakes and autographs, looking at their own watches and wondering where Yu is, while Yu is looking at her watch and wondering where the guy is, while the guy is… um… not looking at his watch, because he’s dead or dying.


Before I forget to mention this crucial fact, the song itself is great. It seems more rock than dance, but the vocals are handled beautifully and the song itself has a real nice kick to it with a memorable enoug hook. It’s a different enough beast from “Soyokaze no Shirabe” that I resist making comparisons between the two. And the song has a dramatic urgency reminiscent of one of my favorite old dream songs, “Solve,” as opposed to the airy lightness of “I Love World” and “Soyokaze.” If this is a new direction for dream, I hope they pursue it with songs equal to this one.

So support dream – they’re too good a group to ignore, even if Mai is no longer part of the team and Kana doesn’t appear in this PV though some other girl does. Their new mini-album Natsuiro is coming out real soon, this track will be featured, and you can get the CD with a DVD.

But… what day does Natsuiro come out again? I can’t remember.