This Week’s Goodies: SweetS’ “Hi MA’AM” Photobook

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

Yesterday, finally got around to getting the final SweetS photobook, Hi MA’AM. I don’t know, I’m still not quite feeling the break-up of SweetS. There’s now Delicious to look forward to, and I’m still waiting impatiently for news of what Haruna will do next… For some reason, for me at least SweetS seems more in a state of limbo than at a final end.

It’s denial, I know.

Steve and I have matching paw prints! I also have Aya, if I’m reading the signature correct. And my hand isn’t that much significantly larger than Aya’s…

To my surprise, I was getting a strong second gen Tanpopo vibe from many of the pictures, this one included. A little bit of first gen Morning Musume, too.

And for some reason, I found myself gravitating a great deal to Mai’s pictures. Hers were the most fun, the most playful. My long-standing suspicions of the Nabokovan bloom are pretty much confirmed with shots like this. 1971 was probably the year one of her parents was born… (And two years after I was born.)

And the bikini photos in the book are fantastic! Luckily, they took the shots from the beach of Pattaya and not poolside, since the beach sequence was much better than the poolside in Precious Memories. Haruna looks great here, just absolutely stellar.

Aki was the one I looked forward to seeing in a bikini – and while she looks very good, unfortunately this photobook didn’t serve her as well as the others.

Miori chose the sexiest bikini and pulled it off. I guess I should say something lascivious here, but I’ll confess: these shots don’t stir my loins as much as fill me with a strangely protective pride. Not paternal, especially since I now know what paternal sorta-kinda feels like. But it’s looking at the girls and saying, “You did great these three years. You look great. I am so frikkin’ proud of you.”

Aya was the star of the swimsuits, as far as I was concerned. The old-fashioned skirt bottom was a great choice, she looks fresh and classy and I really can’t wait for her to return to the idol world…

Mai’s got the sportiest look, and she wears it great. The baby of the group definitely grew up well, though it’s also gratifying to see the childish aspects pop up in many shots.

The girls all together on the beach.

Needed to include a shot of Miori’s T-shirt. Little Miss Hollywood indeed…

At last! You can’t go to Thailand without some shots of elephants, and here we’ve got it. Again, Mai looking like a kid having fun…

Contrasted against Mai looking more mature here. She should be continuing on the idol track with no break, just like Haruna should.

This smile Miori’s got – kinda lopsided, kind of ironic – is something of a secret weapon. Every time she deploys it I just melt. I’m not sure how closely I’ll follow her as a model and actress, but I’m hoping she does well there.

The black-and-white glamour shots of the girls are another great idea that’s carried off effortlessly in this book.

I’ll admit – as self-aware and commanding as the girls were when they started, they probably wouldn’t have been as good at these kinds of shots. The maturity the girls now show shines through these shots especially, a sense of having grown some and learned some and being ready to move forward.

A shot from a concert. I’m not sure if it’s their final show together or if they’re just crying at the end of the show out of habit.

The girls backstage, looking considerably happier.

And these shots definitely have that Tanpopo vibe I mentioned earlier. This has the same composition and feel of shots from second gen Tanpopo’s first single, “Otome Pasta” something something.

Aya looking incredible. This photobook – especially this sequence and the black-and-white sequence – feel like a subtle goodbye. I think part of my resistance to SweetS breaking up is that they aren’t making as big a deal of it as they could. It’s been surprisingly subtle, no big looks back on their career and no loud fanfare about this being their last work together.

The closing page of the book. Ironically, the best shot of Aki is in here – she vamps it up just a little, and makes it work. Actually, it’s a little Kumi-esque, isn’t it?

And not wanting to descend into pointless perversity, I’ll say that I do not get at all the whole toothbrush fetish manifesting itself throughout these final SweetS products.

The back cover, a great shot.

Well, the long goodbye’s going to continue. I don’t know, it disturbs me just a little that my reaction to SweetS breaking up is so different from Zone. The tears aren’t as frequent, the sense of a satisfised closure is much, much stronger. I’m not saying the breakup was meant to be, but I definitely respect that the girls have decided to go out in style, not with a bang but a very fond whisper. Ironically, though, it’s that mature way of saying farewell that makes it so hard to believe…

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One Response to “This Week’s Goodies: SweetS’ “Hi MA’AM” Photobook”
  1. Steve/Japonaliya says:

    I got Aya’s hand print/siggy too. Now I could kill myself for not ordering 2 Hi Ma’am’s from amazon. I bet the firts preses are all gone….
    The PB is great, though i would have liked a few “nostalgia” pages of thir career. The PB (like the Prcious Memories DVD) was to much like the former PB and DVD. They could have done SO much more…but..Aya’s DNA in my book makes up for all that….