misono’s “VS”

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

Oh My God. “VS” has been on high rotation for me since I first downloaded it, second only to the ever-fascinating Sexy Otonajan video… It’s just about everything I want in my Jpop – energetic, fun, goofy, sexy, strange, and cool. I can’t find any fault in it, a part of me already suspects I found my #1 PV of 2006.

misono is the former lead singer for day after tomorrow and the younger sister of Koda Kumi. “VS” is her solo debut and you all need to get this, preferably the CD single with the DVD. It’s too good to pass up.

The premise of the PV is pretty simple: fairy tale princess in the woods, wicked witch who wants to do her harm. Let the two duke it out…

And let misono play both roles. Genius is what it is. Pure, unadulterated genius.
From the opening, where Evil misono and Good misono are holding giant apples and vigorously rocking back and forth with them, I was hooked.

The giant fruit dance looks fucking ridiculous. And misono’s having a great time with it, even striking a rhythmic gymnastic pose with her prop (see above).

So we’ve got the Patty Duke Show split screen hijinks. And the giant fruit dance. And this in the first ten, fifteen seconds. Surely it can’t get any better than this?

No wait! Dance sequences with guys in sweats! I have no idea why she’s pimping the Microsoft Network, though. Or maybe she’s promoting MSNBC and forgot the last two letters?

Here’s Evil misono trying to sneak up on Good misono in her little wood shack in the woods. There’s something very shameless and brazen about the comedy here. Very broad strokes, very obvious. Yet the upbeat music and the lack of pretension keeps it lively and fresh, makes it seem brand new instead of vaudevillian in tone.

Here’s Good misono with her backup dancers, wearing… boxing gloves…

… And here’s weird little puppet stuffed animals that could have posed for the cover of Sonic Youth’s Dirty. It just keeps getting better and better, I tell you. Not only is the fairy tale archetype taken for a strange pomo-lite ride, there are flashes of wouldn’t it be cool if… inventiveness throughout the PV. Why not have giant apples? Why not dance with those apples? Why not have puppet animals?

Well, why not?

Like I said, this whole sneaking up and not getting detected shtick is positively ancient in pop cultural terms…

That said, the constant sneaking peeks and ducking to hide thing works for some reason. But who are we rooting for? Good or evil, the princess or the witch? Do you like your girls pure or naughty?

The weird puppets seem to be tiring of it. But it’s not like they have cable out there…

I also like the strategic use of band-aids by the two misonos – the good one has a band-aid across the bridge of her nose during the story sequences, while the bad one has it across her cheek during the dance sequences.

Sick of sneaking around, Evil misono decides to just knock on the door…

But Good misono doesn’t want to come out! She struggles to keep the door closed.

Does it mean anything? The struggle of different aspects of the self? The never-ending battle between good and evil?

That good must wear metaphorical boxing gloves – that is, the strength of one’s virtues – in order to keep evil at bay?

Ahh, who cares? Watching misono try to hold the door shut is just plain cute and really really sexy in a strange way.

And I love the fact that Evil misono actually sticks her foot on the wall to get some traction. She really threw herself into the role here…

Evil misono has other plans, though, as she pulls out an apple – life-sized this time, not the ginormous Miracle-Gro monstrosities from the beginning.

But her comes Good misono ready to kick some ass!

That’s okay, Evil misono is also spoiling for a few rounds in the ring.

And here’s another welcome surprise – a fighting game graphic between the witch and the princess.

The dancing, by the way, is top notch. Throughout, misono makes great dramatic use of her gloved hands, making them part of the choreography. Instead of being filler between story sequences, the dance sequence were worth watching. If there’s a dance version of this PV, even that’d be worth watching more than most other PVs out there.

I love how misono’s positively beaming throughout the entire PV. You get the sense that she’s really into the whole PV, into the idea, the execution, to playing both roles…

It would’ve been nice to have seen some hits planted, but that doesn’t happen.

Evil misono then switches gears and – hey, where did the boxing gloves suddenly disappear to? – pulls out a garden hose. Because, you know, the forests need watering by humans.

In the dance sequence, both misonos decide to take a running leap off her backup dancers. It’s actually a pretty cool sequence, cutting back and forth between the two as they try to catch some very substantial air.

With the garden hose, it looks like Evil misono is winning…!

The weird puppets watch on, in horror… or agony… or amuseument? Hard to tell with that expression.

And hey, misono is really hot. I mean, a whole lot hotter than her older sister, Koda Kumi. I may be biased because I think funny girls are hotter than glamor girls. The family resemblance is there when they smile, though, which is nice. I’m sure I’d seen photos of misono before… actually, she was on some show with some H!P girls and I just wasn’t interested. Here, though, she’s positively impossible to resist, both as good girl and as bad girl – though bad girl misono seems to be even more on the jubilant, gleeful side than good girl misono. Which may be expected, since villains always have more fun.

Back in the forest, Good misono tries to hold back the stream of water with her hands…

But she’s actually setting up a trap!

Evil misono walks under a bucket of water…

And gets soaked. I like how she’s still grinning in this shot, though. It may be out of character, but it works wonders for the idol persona.

If anything, it seems wise to avoid anything that would carry a whiff of sister Ku-chan’s act or idol persona in this solo debut. Kumi’s done wondrous things with her persona and the marketing of her music and image, but we don’t need a little Ku-chan with misono. As a result, “VS” has a much better chance of standing or falling on its own merits – and I think it has a chance to actually match big sister, if not outdo her.

So it looks like Good misono has won after all…

And so she rubs it into Evil misono’s face with some taunting.

So of course Evil misono starts flinging flour at her!

Again, Good misono tries to run for cover…

I’m pretty sure the puppets are now appalled at all this senseless violence.

Was day after tomorrow anything like this? Had I been missing out? I have no idea, all those three-person female-vocals three-words-in-English Jpop groups blur together to me. day after tomorrow, Do As Infinity, Every Little Thing… I had a friend who was an ELT fan, so I kinda figured out who they were. (That and SMAP did that hilarious parody of them with Nakai as the singer.)

Anyway, Good misono again pulls a trick out of her sleeve or up her skirt or whatever, as she has a cream pie…

And again, Evil misono looks more like she’s ready to laugh than cower in fear. I guess shitck has no power over occult forces.

Pow! Right in the kisser! Really, Jpop needs more pie fights. What the hell, Koda Kumi could use more pie fights and less wiggling and shaking. That said, the idea of Koda Kumi with sticky baked goods brings up whole new scenarios, doesn’t it?

Now the puppets are definitely appalled. Perfectly good waste of what was probably a tasty pie.

And in true shticky fashion, the PV even lets the pie plate stick to her face for a second before dropping to reveal Evil misono’s cream-covered visage. [Insert foul, perverse comment here.]

The song, by the way, is great. It’s fast, propulsive in its beats, with a nice skittish guitar riff to start things off and various bits and pieces of noise (computer effects, beeps, some other sonic detritus, though some of it seems PV-specific) throughout to create a compelling layered sound. To me, it’s a solid rock / dance hybrid: I can imagine shaking your head and maybe even moshing to it, but also getting on the dance floor and boogying to this. That said, I haven’t been on a dance floor in years nor a mosh pit in an even longer time, so take that with a grain of salt…

But the song is catchy and immediately likeable, kind of like Harenchi Punch’s “Megaphone” but not as gimmicky. And misono’s voice is shown off to fine form: clear and vibrant and full of dramatic power. I’m not sure I’d call it distinctive, but it’s used wonderfully.

The blue bunny drops off an apple to Good misono… On behalf of all the puppet creatures of the forest, I think he just wants an end to the madness.

The boots are very cool, by the way.

She takes a bite out of it…

And of course, collapses. I’m not sure what the hands stretched out tell us – shouldn’t it just drop to her sides as she passes out?

Evil misono at last has triumphed!

She does a little strutting dance around the cottage before exiting stage right.

Evil has won…?

Not quite. Good misono gets up, spits out a chunk of apple…

And holds up another apple? So is that the apple she was supposed to eat? Then why did she spit up the other apple she bit from?

God, she’s cute. I could stare at her all day. Oh wait, I have been staring at her all day. But a misono photobook would be my idea of idol heaven right now. (Though that same heaven’d also have the Momoko and Haruna solo photobooks on the rack…)

Anyways, Good misono looks like she’s had enough, dramatically throwing her boxing gloves at the camera. Perhaps a comment on the decision to avoid the escalation of violence, the cycle of pain…?

Nah. It’s not the end. Actually, it’s just one quarter’s play in the never-ending arcade of life!

Good misono strikes a killer kawaii pose, then runs off again.

Evil misono tries to chase after her, trying to get her to stop. As with real life, the struggle between good and evil will never truly end. Or is it roadrunner / coyote cartoons?

If misono decides to revisit these characters in her next PV, I’ll be game for it. If she decides to go all diva and make a serious PV with her looking all deep and artistic, I’ll be game for that, too. “VS” is so damn good that she’s earned a whole lot of good will from me as a new fan. Whatever she decides to do next, I’ll be there for the ride.

She’s proven herself worth watching and listening to with this solo debut. I’m not sure if it’ll send me backwards, looking for day after tomorrow CDs and DVDs, but it definitely has me looking forward to whatever’s next on the horizon.


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3 Responses to “misono’s “VS””
  1. Sami says:

    Thanks for calling my attention to this PV. I never bothered with DAT either, and so didn’t bother to pay attention to misono’s solo debut either, despite liking her voice from some trance songs she did for Avex. I just watched the video on YouTube, and the video and the song are just awesome, especially for a debut. I’ll have to find out more now.

    The story of Snow White, Japan-ified and blasted totally out of whack. How unexpectedly wonderful.

  2. Chuck says:

    You know, the song is OK, but Misono makes this video totally rewatchable. Thanks for pointing it out.

    It’s good to see they didn’t take her in the ero-kakkoii direction. I know a lot of people like Kumi, but after watching this video, I say gimme Misono any day.

  3. Miimi says:

    Misono is awesome! n_n Visit my fansite I made =DDD