Favorite PVs of 2005: #7, Viyuden’s “Kacchoii Ze! Japan”… and “Ajisai Ai Ai Monogatari”

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

I had to cheat some on this. Viyuden did two of my favorite songs and PVs this year and I couldn’t choose and I didn’t want them to take up two spots in the Top Ten. So I decided the two Charmy-led PVs would share the same spot.

The "Kacchoii Ze! Japan" PV has the second best lesbian subtext in a year of multiple Hello! Project subtexts, the best always being Ayaya and Mikitty’s secret love. (Please Mikitty, beat up the w-inds guy and claim Ayaya for your own. Everybody’ll be happier for it.)

Taking advantage of three members in Viyuden, we have a love triangle. Erika has won Rika’s affection and Yui is jealous because Rika treats her like shit. Here, we see Rika and Erika run off together, fading right in front of Yui’s eyes. Man, that’s gotta hurt – they can’t even give her the benefit of being opaque while around her.

Here, Yui shows her unrequited love for Rika by clutches onto her leg while singing.

Apparently, that’s not a stunt leg. I really hope they had to go through multiple takes for this and ended up going with the first one anyway, like the scene where the old man gets beaten up in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

The song itself surprised me. I originally didn’t give a damn about Viyuden – I was just glad that Rika was leaving Morning Musume, since she wasn’t a particular favorite of mine. The first single did nothing for me, and I’m not even sure what its PV looked like. But then I found out the second single would be used for the Japanese Tourism board or something like that and was intrigued.

Then I heard the song and quickly learned to love it: it’s dramatic fist-pumping girl pop. The drums get you all worked up, as does the chants of "Kacchoii Ze! Kacchoii Ze!" and the male voices yelling "Yo!" Even lines like"Welcome / Welcome / Welcome to my home!" are catchy as hell, especially since it’s in English.

The singing is also solid from everyone – including Rika, who’s notorious for being one of the less talented voice of H!P. Like fellow fourth gen Tsuji, Rika had learned to work with her weaknesses instead of trying to hide it or pretend it isn’t a weakness. Which is certainly part of the genius behind both W and Viyuden.

Here, Erika tries to console Rika over something. Perhaps Rika is missing her original soulmate, Yossi? But then, Yossi gets to grab her by the waist and speak across her breasts for "Osaka Koi no Uta"…

Having had enough at being the third wheel of this Sapphic bicycle – even flashing dirty looks during their dance sequence – Yui storms off in a huff.

Here, Yui is pondering the unfairness of life.

Or perhaps she’s wondering what the Japanese tourism folks would think if they saw this PV? "Hmmm. Vegas showgirl dresses and lesbian love triangles? Will this encourage visits to Japan?"

Erika, still smiling the way any favored child would, approaches a sullen Yui. I actually love how she’s just this beaming ray of sunshine throughout – she can be nice to everyone because Rika likes her and Yui has no other friends.

I like the acting in this PV, by the way – all broad strokes and pantomime, easy to understand and requiring no nuance. Except for the following bit… 

What this screencap doesn’t show well enough is the reluctance in Rika’s moves. It’s as if she really doesn’t want to accept Yui but does so because Erika’s pushing. You figure she’s just doing this to keep her new squeeze happy. "Okay, Erika, I was nice to Yui. Now let’s go play golf with Mikitty and Ayaya."

I love this sequence because it’s quintessential Charmy… She winks at the camera… 

… and blinks confetti! Only Rika could get away with this. Even Sayumi would need to train another few years before she could get away with this.

One thing that comes out with Viyuden – and never did in Morning Musume – is what a dynamic and persuasive leader Rika can be. One would have never thought it, since she seemed to often be the butt of jokes for her ultra-cutesy Charmy persona. But along with strong comedic chops, she also has a poise and confidence which made her much more likeable. Well, to me at least.

Here Yui seems happier for having Rika at least talk and stay opaque around her. Though perhaps she’s now plotting to kill Erika to make Rika all hers?

Wait a minute, I’m confusing the PV with some Cinemax movie now… 

Special mention should also be given to the actual costumes: they’re really nice! Yes, they’re glitzy and a bit tawdry – but not too much so. It enhances the eye candy – makes them look a little like Vegas showgirls, a little bit like saloon whores from the Wild West. (And I mean both in the nicest way possible.)

And having worked past my irrational initial dislike for her, I can now say this objectively – for the longest while, Rika was the hottest piece of ass in Morning Musume. Really, who else would be a contender?

And she’s got a killer unit with Viyuden. It’s not Rika and Company, it’s an almost-equal partnership…

Which brings us to the single and PV that immediately followed "Kacchoii Ze! Japan," "Ajisai Ai Ai Monogatari".

And I’ll be honest: for me, this is Erika’s PV. It isn’t like she dominates the video or the song, but every time I see her in the PV I’m just captivated. A part of me wishes she did some
time in Morning Musume – in some ways, she seems like such a perfect fit – though she wouldn’t have gotten a chance to shine as she does in Viyuden.

This shot kind of reminds me of Rika’s solo version of "Morning Coffee" where she goes around shopping and… um, that’s all I remember. It’s part of the troubled Rika storyline that gives this PV a  thin thread of narrative… A very thin thread…

Apparently, they’re doing their dance sequence in the lobby of a hotel or something. Of course, if they were dressed in their Kacchoii Ze costumes, they’d be arrested for solicitation or something.

That said, I like the fact that the girls are dressed in everyday wear for this PV. Rika looks lusciously Rika with the pink fuzzy sweater and white. Erika looks nicely butch with her jeans and jacket. And Yui is in some approximation of prep school girl prep – which would usually get me hot and bothered, but it’s Yui and there’s Erika looking butch and all…

I’m not sure what it is about Erika I like so much. There’s the girl-next-door charm, the fact that she seems a serious girl but not too serious. She just seems very… normal… and that’s a good thing. Which is kind of funny, because anytime I look at an idol I try to figure out how deeply the narcissism runs in her. If you want to be an idol, you have to be at least a little self-centered, after all. I’m sure it’s there in Erika, but it’s just not that big a deal in her persona. Which may be part of the plan, but certainly has me sucked in.

While this song doesn’t qualify as a guilty pleasure, the choreography certainly counts as one. 

Viyuden doesn’t have the horrible charades of a Berryz video – a game of lacrosse or curling doesn’t break out in the middle of a Viyuden dance, thank God – but it does have some moves that are just… odd.

"The Clock Song" is what my former co-workers called this PV. It’s now either six o’clock or twelve-thirty.

Rika is in very good voice in this song, in my opinion. That is, she makes it work for her and carry the drama and maturity of the song quite believably.

I’m sure there’s a plot behind the scenes of trouble Rika, but I don’t really care. All we need to know is Rika is unhappy and we should feel bad for her.

Watching Erika shimmy in this video – especially at this part – is probably the sexiest performance from anyone in Hello! Project this year. Now, some may argue that it’s like naming the hottest pair of legs in a convent, but I’d disagree. And what makes Erika’s performance really sexy is that she isn’t trying too hard – she’s dancing, she’s moving her body, and she’s neither too showy nor too self-conscious.

Hello! Project’s answer to the Algonquin Table? Will Erika quip about how if she has another drink (or even a first one) she’ll wind up underneath the unit captain?

Here, we see the troubled Rika subplot sorta resolved, as she has two good friends to talk to and console her.

Yui watches on while Rika and Erika talk. She’s waiting for Erika to drop dead from the poison slipped in her meal back at the restaurant. If you watch the PV closely, Yui’s still not as favored by Rika as Erika. But that may just be me.

The song, by the way, is fucking brilliant. After having something so obvious and aggressive as the last single, they go with something more subtle, complex, and sophisticated with "Ajisai". On the one hand, it has the Chinese-sounding leitmotif, which sticks in your head and has some nice pop variations to contrast against the more forceful orchestration that’s used in the chorus.

The singing is nimble, sometimes working right with the beat of the leitmotif, other times more melodic. This is probably the best harmonizing of the three voices I’ve heard yet, and also the most powerfully dramatic. The contrast of loud versus soft, the urgency of the voices, it all makes you feel the song… It’s a very demanding song in many ways – when I first heard it, it didn’t seem right. Now, it’s hard to pin down any single point which is right because it all fits together perfectly, like a well-told story. I wouldn’t quite put it up there with "First Kiss" but it’s certainly up there as far as the quality of Tsunku’s songwriting. If anything, it’s more adventurous and complex than "First Kiss" – impossible to pin down until you’re in its thrall.

Oh, and as for Yui… I like her, but she places a distant third to Erika and Rika. Maybe if she had "rika" in her name that’d help – at the very least, she’d fit in better with the other girls.

I know a big deal is made about her large boobs, though I don’t see what’s the point. Are they that large, that attractive? They don’t really squeak when they’re squeezed together, do they? Well, she’s a good sport about it, at least.

As a singer, she’s solid and proven herself. It’s just as an idol that I’m not as interested yet. 

With these two PVs, it looked like Viyuden was on a huge role – the first two singles of the year were just plain fucking incredible, and showed range for this new trio. I must admit, I was flabbergasted. I had no intention to like Viyuden at all and they did two of my favorite songs this year!

Unfortunately, the two singles which followed weren’t as memorable. But damn, it’s impossible to ignore a new Viyuden release as a result of these two. Lightning struck twice – one after the other – and you know it’s just a matter of time before it strikes again for this trio.

Next: #6 features even steamier Hello! Project lesbian action.

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7 Responses to “Favorite PVs of 2005: #7, Viyuden’s “Kacchoii Ze! Japan”… and “Ajisai Ai Ai Monogatari””
  1. Chuck says:

    I don’t know about you, but I want to visit Japan RIGHT FREAKING NOW.

  2. niji says:

    There’s a humorous meaning behind every unexplained gesture. You’ve been spending too much time in sabaku.ika’s blog. LOL

  3. Drew says:

    Tsunku didn’t write “Ajisai.” =b Hm, anyway, I think Yui looked really akward in Biyuuden’s first three videos, but from “Hitorijime” on, she’s looked reallyreally cute.

  4. Alice says:

    So the next video… the Melon Kinenbi single?

  5. Beth says:

    the best always being Ayaya and Mikitty’s secret love. (Please Mikitty, beat up the w-inds guy and claim Ayaya for your own. Everybody’ll be happier for it.)

    WHAT!!?? What is this about a w-inds guy?? :3

  6. Chuck:

    So these tourism incentives DO work…

    niji:

    I learn a LOT from The Blog That Will Change Everything (Eventually).

    Drew:

    Thanks for the correction, I fell for the H!P = Tsunku trap there.

    Alice:

    Yeah. I’m obvious, aren’t I?

    Beth:

    Best as I know, Ayaya and that w-inds guy are still together. Though why, I have no idea.

  7. Beth says:

    Oh, I thought that Ayaya and Keita being together was just a rumor. Thanks for the info, though!!