Nanba An and Shibata Ayumi

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

A long while back, I asked about what AV idols people would recommend and Nanba An’s name came up, with the added plus that she bears a striking similarity to Melon Kinenbi’s Shibata Ayumi.

I actually surprised myself when I found myself intrigued over a Shibata look-alike porn star. I love Melon Kinenbi but I’m not particularly a Shibata fan – actually, she’s probably my least favorite of the Melons. Which doesn’t mean I don’t like her, but that I’m much more of an Ohtani Masae fan, and after that I like Megumi because she’s got the cool glasses thing, and then Saito because there’s something goofy and fun about her…

However, Shibata has a kind of beauty that lends itself well to more prurient interests, I guess. Or maybe because she’s not high in my personal H!P pecking order, I was more amenable to considering what it’d be like to watch someone who looks like her fuck. Because honestly, I’m not interested in seeing porn with a Kago Ai look-alike or a Nozomi Tsuji look-alike or a Masae Ohtani look-alike.

(Though if anybody has anything along that line, please send it my way to prove this theory out. )

So anyway, I managed to download a Nanba An video maybe a month ago, perhaps a little longer. I watched bits and pieces of it – the idea of sitting through a whole fucking porn video and watching it like a movie or TV show strikes me as vaguely insane (and ultimately beside the point, given pornography’s function).

(As a total aside, I can’t go shopping for porn with my wife because she’s always looking for something "interesting" but ultimately isn’t much of an erotic experience for me. "Look! This one has vampires!" "Put it down, I’m not buying vampire porn." "Why not?" Shaking my head, "Vampires don’t do anything for me…" "But it looks funny." And I’m shaking my head some more.)

I liked what I saw of the video. I like it a whole lot, actually. An was surprisingly charming and playful, which was a big plus. There’s even a bit of a metafictive quality, as we begin with An apparently discussing the scenes in the script with a guy who’s the point-of-view for the interludes. That way, it’s easier for the viewer to imagine that An is speaking directly to us, I guess. Of course, push comes to shove – or pull comes to pull, as the case may be – she isn’t actually in the room with you… but a good porn star will provide enough of a fantasy that you won’t mind. And An managed that admirably.

I’m not going to get into any lengthy discussion about what I look for in my AV stars, but I’ll say that Nanba An has most everything I’m looking for. She’s very attractive to look at, she’s got great technique, and she manages to nicely balance a sense of fun with a rather vivid horniness.

That last part is crucial. I think the best thing about Nanba An is that she seems so accessible. Not because she fucks for the camera – I can think of porn stars who still seem inaccessible to the viewer despite doing every sexual act imaginable. Rather, she has an onscreen personality that makes you feel at ease – for example, during the interlude she goes out of her way to make "you" (the first-person perspective guy, that is – you can see his feet sticking out in the picture above) feel comfortable and then making you feel turned on.

As for her resemblance to Shibata… well, that seemed beside the point for me, at least. I mean, I didn’t watch this stuff and think, "Wow, imagine if that’s really Shibata and maybe Masae walks in on her and…" If anything, watching Nanba An enough times has differentiated her significantly from Shibata Ayumi for me. In a way, it ended up more like, "If you think Shibata’s hot, then so is Nanba An." Kind of like those Amazon.com recommendations – if you like this book, then maybe you’ll like this book. As opposed to the Monbu Ran cosplay I’ve heard about, which is more like being an Elvis fan and watching an Elvis impersonator do his act.

And let’s not forget that Ayumi-chan’s been engaged in some rather explicit come-ons this year, as well. Explicit for Hello! Project, at least, which really isn’t more than PG-13 or one of Koda Kumi’s tamer videos, but it’s all contextual, isn’t it?

There was the Elegies shuffle group, which featured some MC Hammer-esque squatting dance moves… and then there’s the wankfest that’s the PV for Melon Kinenbi’s only single this year, "Nikutai wa Shoujiki na Eros". It’s an incredible song – one of my favorite of this past year, which only makes me angrier that Melon Kinenbi didn’t release more this year. It managed to be pretty, sexy, and catchy all at once – sophisticated and visceral at the same time, music that both grinds and lets you fall in love.

Melon Kinenbi were apparently asked to tramp it up for their PV. There was a lot of crotch-thrusting in the video, meaningful looks meant to convey I’m really turned on right now or I’m suffering from gas, and shots of the girls taking a shower together behind a semi-concealing glass. Along with Viyuden’s PVs at the start of the year, one was under the impression that somebody at H!P realized "sex sells!" and decided to explore it with some hot lesbian action.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Any excuse for overtly sexual behavior from pretty young ladies is of course welcome by me. But in a way, it seemed… beside the point, I guess. I liked the song so much, I’d have been happier with a video that didn’t distract me from the music and thinking of Mister Happy Pants instead. And yet, the song certainly called for an erotic approach, flawed and silly as it is. So the PV does its job of expanding upon the song conceptually, right?

It’s actually the same dilemma I have for my favorite Koda Kumi song, "Shake It" – I love how sexy and slinky it is, and the video takes it… and makes it even sexier and slinkier and even a bit slutty. Yet I watch the PV and find myself distracted from the music sometimes, which seems unfair to the song in a way. Would I want a different PV in either case, though? Not really. It just points out that the music fan in me has different priorities from the porn fan in me, and having both aspects appealed to by the same product can create odd mind/body splits…

And really, comparing Shibata to Nanba may not be all that unreasonable, I guess. If you look at it from on high, the distinctions between pop, gravure, and AV idols seem to be a matter of degree and not kind. Yes, there are some things AV idols do that the other kinds of idols won’t… but it’s all a marketing of a media self, a kind of persona, meant for pretty much the same audience most of the time.

As fans, we have different expectations for our different idols – and yet, there’s crossover all the time. Oikawa Nao apparently wants to be a pop idol, now that she’s no longer an AV idol. Numerous gravure idols have tried to become pop music idols, and
Hasebe Yu has gone the opposite direction. The big step of being naked and having sex with somebody in front of an audience is indeed a big step – and I’m not going to discount its significance, by any means – but conceptually it’s not that different at all, I think.

Though I could be wrong.

 

I like Nanba An a lot – perhaps more than Shibata. Okay, a lot more than Shibata. And it’s not only because she’s a porn star, I actually like her playfulness more. It’s actually pretty easy to tell the two apart when watching videos of them – Shibata’s more naturally graceful, Nanba less so but has a goofy charm. Shibata seems to take herself moreseriously, and perhaps has reason to. Perhaps.

Which brings us to… 

Bonus Silliness! 

A quick pop quiz on whether or not you can tell the two women apart!

1. Girl in a trenchcoat: Nanba or Shibata?

2. Girl brushing teeth: Nanba or Shibata?

3. Girl drinking juice: Nanba or Shibata?

4. Girl with… oh, what the fuck. This better be Nanba.

5. Girl staring at camera: Nanba or Shibata?

That wasn’t so difficult, was it?

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3 Responses to “Nanba An and Shibata Ayumi”
  1. Alice says:

    If that’s the case, you totally need to get this:
    http://www.jlist.com/PRODUCT/REAL011/TEXT/DVD/DVAL/

  2. niji says:

    Nanba An looks so creepy. That wide smile of hers is weird and annoying.

  3. S says:

    1, 3, 5 = Shibata
    2, 4 = Nanba

    3 was the hardest, because she’s hiding her mouth distinguishing feature (and the one most different from Nanba): her mouth/lips.