Favorite PVs of 2005: #6 Melon Kinenbi’s “Nikutai wa Shoujiki na Eros”

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

It took me a while to love Melon Kinenbi, but this PV made me stand up and take notice. "Nikutai wa Shoujiki na Eros" is probably their finest single. (Some days I prefer "Namida no Taiyo", but not that often.) It’s also a PV that practically drags your pants down to your ankles with its sexual innuendo. 

I knew early on that Melon Kinenbi had the odd distinction of being the longest-standing H!P Unit with zero personnel changes. And that was, in its own way, oddly intriguing – especially given the high turnover rates of units like Country Musume and Morning Musume themselves. (I guess second place for stability would now go to W, who’ve been together for almost two years now – but really, putting Tsuji and Kago together in a two-person unit is stacking the deck in your favor.) That said, the first year of my H!P fandom was essentially Musume-centric and so I wasn’t more than mildly curious for a while.

I think part of my reluctance was also Shibata Ayumi. She’s pretty and because of her I’ve become a huge fan of Nanba An, but as the most visible member of the group – thanks to photobooks and her time with Tanpopo – Ayumi didn’t arouse an interest in Melon Kinenbi for me. Megumi or Masae – i.e., the one with the glasses and the one with the freaky hair – would’ve done more to draw me to the group, though I guess that’s a matter of taste more than anything else. If anything, liking Melon Kinenbi has been a case of learning to better appreciate Ayumi, since she seemed to unfairly get more of the spotlight than the others.

That said, there’s a nice sense of distinction between the four idols in the group: the Boss, the Star, the Freaky Haired Girl, and the One With Glasses. Figuring out who’s who was pretty fast work, at least. And PVs like "This Is Unmei" help to cement both their individuality and their cohesian as a group.

Anyway, it’s impossible to screencap this PV without having one semi-smutty shot after another. There’s a uniting motif here: make the girls look horny. First and foremost, there’s the blank background with a camera that hovers over the girls’ bodies as if it was creating some kind of detailed topography map…

"Here’s the breasts… there’s the belly-button… and we’re back to the breasts again… and there’s a hand cupping the breasts… Yeah, we’ll call this Shibata Land."

Then there are the close-ups and extreme close-ups of the girls’ faces, which I liked because they’re a very pretty bunch of young women. That said, they look all hot and bothered and self-involved. No smiles, just lots of serious staring and looking away and looking uncomfortably horny without quite being horny.

And then there’s the naked shower sequences, filtered through with some water effects so that we think they’re really naked and not wearing body suits or something. Though that said, I haven’t seen any Making Of footage that would indicate if they were buck naked or not. I’m just assuming they’re not, same as I assumed the Topless Teen Christmas Pageant of Avex’s 1st Xmas didn’t involve the girls of SweetS, dream, and Fruit Punch being really topless but just creating the illusion of such.

And then there’s the dance sequences – which really doesn’t add up to much more than groping their own breasts, grinding against each other’s crotches, and squatting in a hypothetically sexual fashion.

The extreme close-ups like this one remind me of Marguerite Duras’ Hirsohima Mon Amour, of all things. The opening part of the movie involves bodies in motion, being unable to tell where one body ends and the other begins, just this sense of flesh in movement against each other.

That said, we can plainly see here that it’sMegumi fumbling with her glasses. I don’t know why, but I find that real sexy. But then, Megumi likes to play with her glasses a lot – more than I do with mine, at any rate.

Actually, there’s something a lot more erotic about these extreme close-up shots of the face – the fumbling with fingers, the beads of sweat – than there are in all those topographical look-at-the-boobies shots. It’s still objectifying, but also more intimate and inviting. I couldn’t tell you whose breasts are whose, except by distinguishing between the different costumes. But this is definitely Masae’s mouth, and you can tell when it’s Saitou’s lips, or Shibata’s eyes. Those shots seem somuch more distinctive, I guess.

The song itself is magnificent: a great beat, lots of nice delicate touches mixed into the lush instrumentation, and that one riff which is unabashed grind, repeating throughout the song. I’m not sure what else to say, except it tops even "Ajisai" for its creation of mood and drama – not so much sophisticated as unapologetically mature, which in itself can be a rarity in the H!P stable. It’s a serious song for a seriously romantic mood – not quite Barry White, but certainly better than your average modern R&B ballad.

The singing is gorgeous, dominated by Masae and Ayumi. Masae’s got an absolutely great voice along with a killer sense of coiffure. As with Viyuden’s "Ajisai", they sell you the song and they sell it hard. There’s less of the vocal acrobatics of "Ajisai" but this song doesn’t need it – simple diva crooning from some very polished talents is often more than enough.

And where the three-member Viyuden got a lesbian love triangle, the four-member MK got the lesbian group-humping deal. Which I guess takes more skill: it may be tough singing with a serious face while clutching your unit leader’s thigh… but singing with a serious face while humping somebody’s knee? We should all try that some time.

One thing that struck me about the lesbian vibe of this video – and for that matter, of the other H!P PVs which played around with girl-on-girl action last year – is how unconvincing it is. You don’t really get a sense that these girls are into each other, or into women in general. It’s like a more risque version of the horsing around we’ve seen between Tsuji and Kago for years. It’s all quite suggestive, but not at all smoldering or real.

And hey, what if this is the same blank space that dream inhabits, or Halcali and Rip Slyme? If Rip Slyme showed up, would it become an AV film? I’m sure DJ Fumiya would come up with the funkiest porn music ever, at least.

There are moments of erotic transcendence – Masae’s blue hair is great, and here that tinge of blue at the edge of the screen creates a very nice effect, especially balanced by her lips on the other side of the canvas.

And I think the costumes worn are rather nice. At least, they’re one of the better variations of this kind of H!P costume: there’s a touch of S&M in the black leather strips, a touch of saloon whorehouse in the bustiers, and a strong Vegas touch in the golden skirts – similar to the "Kacchoii Ze" costumes of Viyuden, but more aggressively sensual. And like Viyuden, Melon Kinenbi wear these outfits quite well.

But for me, at least, there’s always been a problem with this PV – or rather, a puzzle behind it. On the one hand, it’s a very sensual song given a very sensual video treatment. On the other hand, there seems to be something so forced about the sensuality of the PV that it invites attention to itself. It all seems quite meta, if you will.

If there’s any message to this PV, it’s "Objectify us! We’re sexy! We’re touching ourselves for your pleasure!" In short, it’s masturbatory in several ways: in the performance of the Melons, in what it invites the viewer to do, and in its seemingly self-congratulatory attitude towards its bold sexy whatever-ness. And it’s that earnestness, that refusal to crack a smile or even a wink, which makes the PV difficult to wrap one’s head around.

Because by playing these different erotic tricks in such a ham-fisted manner, a part of me can’t help but think it’s all quite camp – very much the theory of drag, if not the practical application thereof. And by this I mean it’s a performance of hyper-sexualized femininity, and not femininity itself. Ironically, the "Attention" PV by Lady is more natural in its performances – if I was shown both "Eros" and "Attention" for the first time and told one of these quartets were post-op transexuals, I’d’ve probably picked "Eros" out of pure suspicion.

The video invites us to take it seriously, but its presentation is so out there – at least by H!P standards – that something seems out of synch, it seems too calculated to be accepted at face value. Koda Kumi relishes the winks and nods in her PVs, making them palatable because it’s all in good fun. This doesn’t want to let on to being fun and so suffers under the weight of its own earnestness.

I was hoping that by the time I wrote about this PV, I’d have figured out some intellectually satisfying answer to this bind. I haven’t, though, and I’m wondering if that unease is part of what the PV and the song intends. After all, the song itself is a kind of tease, a slow grind performance of erotic desire. And that’s all about leaving one hot and bothered and unsure of what’s next. If sex is about mystery, then at base this is one very mysterious PV for one very sexy song.

And if I just stop over-thinking the matter, it is a pretty sexy video. If I watch it purely as a rush of arty eyecandy, there’s a lot going for it. Not the way they crotch-thrust each other, but watching them move and sing and letting it all wash over you… There are worse ways to spend four minutes – or forty minutes, if you have the video on repeat. With or without your pants around your ankles.

Melon Kinenbi should definitely do more songs like "Eros". Whether or not they need to continue doing PVs along the same line as this one is debatable to me… This one came close to approaching parody, and another video of slow grinding and faked moaning may turn them into bad Koda Kumi clones.

As it is, the Melons were hosed this year after this single. They need more attention as a music group and I’m hoping praying begging for many more Melon Kinenbi releases this year. This song alone proves they deserve it. 

Next: #5 is the PV I watched the most in 2005.

Feedback

Comments (Comments are closed)

3 Responses to “Favorite PVs of 2005: #6 Melon Kinenbi’s “Nikutai wa Shoujiki na Eros””
  1. Alice says:

    I’m more a fan of This is Unmei myself, mostly after the amazing performance by the whole H!P during the summer concert.

    My guess for the next video… an Amuro one?

  2. niji says:

    My guess for the next video… an Amuro one?

    It’s prolly a Berryz Koubou video.

  3. Alice:

    Unmei’s great, they do an excellent performance of it on the Hello! Pro Party DVD.

    niji:

    As is plain by now, you were right.