Countdown! The Top 100 Hello! Project PVs

 

Like I totally don’t have an exam to study for tomorrow.

Actually I don’t. But I should have an exam tomorrow.

In any case, there’s one Friday.

But…

 

65.
Okeisan to Abe Natsumi (Morning Musume。) – Haha to Musume no Duet Song (2003)
Tsunku / Tsunku / Konishi Takao / hachama

This cautionary tale warns us of the dangers of not being on the lookout at all times. In particular, if you find yourself getting carried away with those priceless family-bonding Kodak moments, make sure you have all points of entry to your current location secured. What may appear to you to be harmless dancing on a table actually induces a potential difference (usually of the spiral sink variety) in the psychic substrate of the space-time continuum. In other words, you attract neighbors like a magnet attracts flies.

Good thing they aren’t carnivorous.

What would make this PV a more effective warning to the unbelievers, though, would be replacing the townspeople with an army of zombies dancing Thriller-style.

‘Cause this is thriller … thriller night …

 

64.
Aa! – FIRST KISS (2003)
Tsunku / Tsunku / Suzuki Daichi Hideyuki / PICCOLO TOWN

Intriguing, enigmatic video from back in the day, when Miyabi and Airi were wee toddlers and not the bike-racing, pi-expanding punk rockers they are now.

An impressive metaphorical examination of the nature of psychological space, this video projects the interior of a troubled mind into a barren room with exposed rafters and floorboards, adorned with only a few pieces of furniture. Beyond the room is a nighttime cityscape during a thunderstorm, a stand-in for the external environment that surrounds the distressed mind.

By themselves, the interior of the mind and the world surrounding it convey little of the gravity of the affliction at hand. But where this video draws its power is in its meticulous exploration of the interface between interior and exterior, carefully highlighted by contrasts between light and dark and the symbolism of light sources. Notably, the interior shots always face the outside, and the exterior shots mainly face the inside, a subtle focusing of attention on the meeting of the two realms. It is this study of these points of contact that illuminates the depths of the mind’s condition and its relation to the outside universe.

As central motifs, light and darkness infuse almost every aspect of the video. Yet one cannot clearly delineate one or the other as belonging exclusively to the interior or to the exterior, an ambiguity that gives strength to the video as a whole. The duality itself reinforces a notion of subjectivity: what the outside universe experiences is entirely different from what the interior of the mind sees. While for the majority of the video, the external shots reveal a building at night, the concurrent interior shots in stark contrast bathe the room in a sea of light that appears to pour in from outside. Not only does this contradict the exterior shots, but the viewer’s inability to discern any exterior object in the light conveys a feeling of complete blindness: the mind is shielded from being able to experience its surroundings. Blindness is usually associated with complete darkness, but the unexpected use of completely white light succinctly captures the rift that separates the mind from its exterior.

The nature of light sources also plays into the theme. The video deliberately constructs an antithesis between natural, uncontrollable sources of light, and artificial, controllable ones. In the exterior shots, we see the moon and lightning as natural sources of light, but the only source of light in the interior shots is the sea of whiteness streaming in through the windows. This suggests an effort by the mind to block out the outside forces it cannot control, to maintain a hold on everything that forms its own identity. Interestingly, we observe that the desk lamp remains unlit when seen from the interior but is lit, along with an additional floor lamp, when viewed from outside. Could this be an indication that the mind might feel in control of itself, by turning off its sources of artificial light, while an outsider’s perspective sees it unable to maintain control over them?

Some other articles in the room deserve further scrutiny as well:

  • A set of books is visible next to the desk lamp when seen from outside, standing vertically and positioned in an orderly fashion, but they appear to have reduced in number and moved to the couch closest to the window when seen from inside. As a source of knowledge, they can be seen from the outside as being locked away and stored in a more inaccessible manner, while from the inside, they appear to be more readily accessible and being fewer in number, perhaps easier to take in. Possible commentary on the differing interior and exterior views of the mind’s ability to develop and accumulate knowledge?
  • A silver clock is visible on the wall when seen from outside. From the inside, a circular metallic object is seen hanging from the wall next to the window. If this is indeed the same object, albeit somewhat different in appearance and location, it might be an indication of the contrast between the interior sense of time, which seems to be associated with a view of the outside by the proximity of the clock to the window, and the exterior, objective sense of time.
  • Two metallic spheres in the corner, seen from inside. A symbol of the mind’s ability to reflect its own light from all angles? But their being pushed to the corner suggests a reduction of this ability.
  • A ceiling fan in operation, seen from inside. A symbol of the mind’s internal source of power?
  • An open-ended ceiling pipe that seems to connect to the outside. Very interesting…
  • The emblems on Airi’s and Miyabi’s headwear (two snowflakes and a skull-and-crossbones symbol, respectively). The snowflakes seem to offer an alternate view of the rainfall outside; the skull and crossbones … uh … creepy.
  • That tree thing. A jarring disruption of the interior landscape, this dead-looking tree erupts out of wooden floorboards that themselves once formed part of a tree, encompassing the idea of rebirth, as it bursts into leaves at the end, forming a multi-layered hierarchy of living leaves emerging from a semi-dead trunk emerging from clearly dead floorboards.

The contrast between the exterior and interior shots also illuminates an ambivalent notion of security. While the room may seem to be protected from the elements, lending an increased sense of security, we also observe that the room is not the first floor in the building and is probably on a very high floor, in comparison to the buildings in the distance. So while the room is sheltered from the outside, it is also trapped by the outside, allowing no easy means of escape.

Of course, the central point of the video is the interface between interior and exterior, and having already seen the contrast between the separate views of the two, let us now turn to how these come into contact. This decisive event happens toward the end of the video, when the outside thunderstorm appears to have diminished and stopped pouring rain. The three group members each open a window and peer out, bridging the divide for the first time. And yet this is only visible from the exterior, as the interior perspective still shows nothing but white light streaming in through closed windows. This is perhaps a reflection of the outside world’s willful perception of the mind’s opening up, a therapist choosing to see improvement in a disturbed patient, when from the other side of the picture, the mind sees no true connection to its surroundings. Indeed, if one pays very careful attention (I didn’t notice this the first dozen times I watched the video), the last window (Airi’s) shifts slightly during the last exterior shot of it, suggesting already a closure of the illusory link between exterior and interior.

Finally, the video as a whole frames the depicted events in a way that complements the themes presented. It starts and ends in darkness, but fades into a field of vision flanked on the top and bottom by pure whiteness. The interior of the video itself, then, mirrors the interior of the room. By placing us inside that interior, is the video suggesting that we, the viewers, are likewise trapped and isolated from our surrounding environments? Are we the tormented soul looking out blindly at the whiteness that surrounds us? And must we ultimately force ourselves to confront the gnarled half-dead trees growing in the very centers of our hearts?

 

63.
Baka Tono-sama to Mini Moni-hime。 – Ai~n! Dance no Uta (2002)
Tsunku / Tsunku / Suzuki Daichi Hideyuki / zetima

Bakafying.

 

 

62.
Pucchi Moni – BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT! (2001)
Tsunku / Tsunku / Konishi Takao / zetima

Holy smoldering pineapples, what is this?!!

This video has more drug-related imagery than all the entries in the Super Mario series combined. As if Mario’s routine addiction to magic mushrooms, certain flowers with “fire”-giving abilities, hallucinogenic “stars”, and leaves that allow the consumer to literally get high (not to mention the “tanooki suit”, which causes the wearer to literally get stoned) weren’t enough, Pucchi Moni go a step beyond and…

You know what, nothing I can say will do this justice.

Instead, allow me to quote some choice passages from a couple of classics of children’s literature (ah, they don’t write ‘em like they used to…):

[from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum (1900)]

They walked along listening to the singing of the brightly colored birds and looking at the lovely flowers which now became so thick that the ground was carpeted with them. There were big yellow and white and blue and purple blossoms, besides great clusters of scarlet poppies, which were so brilliant in color they almost dazzled Dorothy’s eyes.

“Aren’t they beautiful?” the girl asked, as she breathed in the spicy scent of the bright flowers.

“I suppose so,” answered the Scarecrow. “When I have brains, I shall probably like them better.”

“If I only had a heart, I should love them,” added the Tin Woodman.

“I always did like flowers,” said the Lion. “They seem so helpless and frail. But there are none in the forest so bright as these.”

They now came upon more and more of the big scarlet poppies, and fewer and fewer of the other flowers; and soon they found themselves in the midst of a great meadow of poppies. Now it is well known that when there are many of these flowers together their odor is so powerful that anyone who breathes it falls asleep, and if the sleeper is not carried away from the scent of the flowers, he sleeps on and on forever. But Dorothy did not know this, nor could she get away from the bright red flowers that were everywhere about; so presently her eyes grew heavy and she felt she must sit down to rest and to sleep.

But the Tin Woodman would not let her do this.

“We must hurry and get back to the road of yellow brick before dark,” he said; and the Scarecrow agreed with him. So they kept walking until Dorothy could stand no longer. Her eyes closed in spite of herself and she forgot where she was and fell among the poppies, fast asleep.

“What shall we do?” asked the Tin Woodman.

“If we leave her here she will die,” said the Lion. “The smell of the flowers is killing us all. I myself can scarcely keep my eyes open, and the dog is asleep already.”

It was true; Toto had fallen down beside his little mistress. But the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, not being made of flesh, were not troubled by the scent of the flowers.

“Run fast,” said the Scarecrow to the Lion, “and get out of this deadly flower bed as soon as you can. We will bring the little girl with us, but if you should fall asleep you are too big to be carried.”

So the Lion aroused himself and bounded forward as fast as he could go. In a moment he was out of sight.

“Let us make a chair with our hands and carry her,” said the Scarecrow. So they picked up Toto and put the dog in Dorothy’s lap, and then they made a chair with their hands for the seat and their arms for the arms and carried the sleeping girl between them through the flowers.

On and on they walked, and it seemed that the great carpet of deadly flowers that surrounded them would never end. They followed the bend of the river, and at last came upon their friend the Lion, lying fast asleep among the poppies. The flowers had been too strong for the huge beast and he had given up at last, and fallen only a short distance from the end of the poppy bed, where the sweet grass spread in beautiful green fields before them.

“We can do nothing for him,” said the Tin Woodman, sadly; “for he is much too heavy to lift. We must leave him here to sleep on forever, and perhaps he will dream that he has found courage at last.”

“I’m sorry,” said the Scarecrow. “The Lion was a very good comrade for one so cowardly. But let us go on.”

[from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (1865)]

She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge of the mushroom, and her eyes immediately met those of a large caterpillar, that was sitting on the top with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah, and taking not the smallest notice of her or of anything else.

CHAPTER V

Advice from a Caterpillar

The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.

‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’

‘What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar sternly. ‘Explain yourself!’

‘I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir’ said Alice, ‘because I’m not myself, you see.’

‘I don’t see,’ said the Caterpillar.

‘I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,’ Alice replied very politely, ‘for I can’t understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.’

‘It isn’t,’ said the Caterpillar.

‘Well, perhaps you haven’t found it so yet,’ said Alice; ‘but when you have to turn into a chrysalis—you will some day, you know—and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you’ll feel it a little queer, won’t you?’

‘Not a bit,’ said the Caterpillar.

‘Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,’ said Alice; ‘all I know is, it would feel very queer to me.’

‘You!’ said the Caterpillar contemptuously. ‘Who are you?’

Which brought them back again to the beginning of the conversation. Alice felt a little irritated at the Caterpillar’s making such very short remarks, and she drew herself up and said, very gravely, ‘I think, you ought to tell me who you are, first.’

‘Why?’ said the Caterpillar.

Here was another puzzling question; and as Alice could not think of any good reason, and as the Caterpillar seemed to be in a very unpleasant state of mind, she turned away.

‘Come back!’ the Caterpillar called after her. ‘I’ve something important to say!’

This sounded promising, certainly: Alice turned and came back again.

‘Keep your temper,’ said the Caterpillar.

‘Is that all?’ said Alice, swallowing down her anger as well as she could.

‘No,’ said the Caterpillar.

Alice thought she might as well wait, as she had nothing else to do, and perhaps after all it might tell her something worth hearing. For some minutes it puffed away without speaking, but at last it unfolded its arms, took the hookah out of its mouth again, and said, ‘So you think you’re changed, do you?’

‘I’m afraid I am, sir,’ said Alice; ‘I can’t remember things as I used—and I don’t keep the same size for ten minutes together!’

‘Can’t remember what things?’ said the Caterpillar.

‘Well, I’ve tried to say “How doth the little busy bee,” but it all came different!’ Alice replied in a very melancholy voice.

‘Repeat, “you are old, Father William,“‘ said the Caterpillar.

Alice folded her hands, and began:—

‘You are old, Father William,’ the young man said,
    ‘And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
    Do you think, at your age, it is right?’

‘In my youth,’ Father William replied to his son,
    ‘I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
    Why, I do it again and again.’

‘You are old,’ said the youth, ‘as I mentioned before,
    And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
    Pray, what is the reason of that?’

‘In my youth,’ said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
    ‘I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box—
    Allow me to sell you a couple?’

‘You are old,’ said the youth, ‘and your jaws are too weak
    For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
    Pray how did you manage to do it?’

‘In my youth,’ said his father, ‘I took to the law,
    And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
    Has lasted the rest of my life.’

‘You are old,’ said the youth, ‘one would hardly suppose
    That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
    What made you so awfully clever?’

‘I have answered three questions, and that is enough,’
    Said his father; ‘don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
    Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs!’

‘That is not said right,’ said the Caterpillar.

‘Not quite right, I’m afraid,’ said Alice, timidly; ‘some of the words have got altered.’

‘It is wrong from beginning to end,’ said the Caterpillar decidedly, and there was silence for some minutes.

The Caterpillar was the first to speak.

‘What size do you want to be?’ it asked.

‘Oh, I’m not particular as to size,’ Alice hastily replied; ‘only one doesn’t like changing so often, you know.’

‘I don’t know,’ said the Caterpillar.

Alice said nothing: she had never been so much contradicted in her life before, and she felt that she was losing her temper.

‘Are you content now?’ said the Caterpillar.

‘Well, I should like to be a little larger, sir, if you wouldn’t mind,’ said Alice: ‘three inches is such a wretched height to be.’

‘It is a very good height indeed!’ said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).

‘But I’m not used to it!’ pleaded poor Alice in a piteous tone. And she thought of herself, ‘I wish the creatures wouldn’t be so easily offended!’

‘You’ll get used to it in time,’ said the Caterpillar; and it put the hookah into its mouth and began smoking again.

This time Alice waited patiently until it chose to speak again. In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and yawned once or twice, and shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away in the grass, merely remarking as it went, ‘One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.’

‘One side of what? The other side of what?’ thought Alice to herself.

‘Of the mushroom,’ said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud; and in another moment it was out of sight.

Caterpillar with a hookah

Caterpillar with a hookah, people.

That is all.

 

61.
Fujimoto Miki – Aenai Nagai Nichiyoubi (2002)
Tsunku / Tsunku / Suzuki Daichi Hideyuki / hachama

Did someone mention trains??!!!

Time Transfixed

René Magritte, Time Transfixed (1938)

I believe so.

Anyway, life as a subway system. Awesome. I’d be inclined to analyze this in greater depth, but “FIRST KISS” has exhausted my energy resources.

So I’ll comment on the interesting use of French instead.

On the one hand, we have a sign reading “CORRESPONDANCE”, which in the context of a train system correctly refers to a connection between trains. On the other hand, we have what looks like a good example of what I call flançais, the francophone equivalent of Engrish:

DOUX
LA FRAISE

An English translation would be

SWEET
THE STRAWBERRY

This doesn’t quite capture the idiosyncrasies of the French original, as “doux” is the masculine form of “sweet” whereas “la fraise” is feminine. In any case, an adjective (“doux”) appearing before a determiner (“la”) is a very awkward construction, in English or French, and the use of a determiner phrase that is both singular and definite is strikingly bizarre. With a literal reading, one would expect a single strawberry that is already in the discourse (though how exactly it gets introduced is unclear … maybe a sign close to the boxes that says “a strawberry is here”), and perhaps distributed over all the boxes shown.

It would make more sense to make the DP plural and indefinite/partitive, with the adjective where it normally belongs (“des fraises douces” or “sweet strawberries”), but hey, the more noticeably out of place, the better, n’est-ce pas?