Watarirouka Hashiritai (渡り廊下走り隊) aka the “Corridor Running Team”.
I already miss the AKB48 sub-group the Watarirouka Hashiritai 7! They were my favorite of all the AKB sub-units. Unfortunately, they announced their disbanding on Christmas 2013, then gave their last performance in spring 2014. The Watarirouka Hashiritai group was fronted by Mayu Watanabe, and she was the focus of most of their music videos. The other members were Haruka Nakagawa (also of JKT48), Ayaka Kikuchi, and Aika Oota (of HKT48). The original quartet was joined by Mika Komori, Kazumi Urano and Iwasa Misaki in 2011-12. At that point they became the “Watarirouka Hashiritai 7”. (I plan a future blog dedicated to member Iwasa Misaki aka “Wasamin”, who has had solo success as an Enka-singer.)
The musical style is “bubblegum”, but I would describe it as a power-pop adult bubblegum sound. Music historians will appreciate the 1960s pop and 1980s new wave elements in the music. Many of the WH and WH7 are available on YouTube, and I will showcase a few of the cute dance-music ones here. Video and audio quality are variable. Some videos have been edited in length.
This first video “Hetappi Wink” showcases Mayu Watanabe. The girls are shooting a mascara commercial. They are supposed to make a “wink” at the camera. The running joke is that Mayu cannot wink just one eye, much to the consternation of the corporate production team. I love the interaction between the director, the producer, and the company man. They cannot finish the commercial because of Mayuyu. You will see that the more she FAILS, the CUTER it gets. No Japanese language skills are required! Everything is perfectly understood through body language and context. I love the WH7’s “Fiesta outfits” they wear here. Did the story turn out the way you thought? I always laugh every time I see the end. (Sorry only 360 available.) Note: The “real” mascara ad is tagged on at the end of the story.
“Senpai?” The quintet-sized WH quintet perform this next one “Gyu”, which gives hope to all of us who were rotund, amorphous, blobs in high school. At time 2:52, a blob is even KISSED! Maybe there is hope for all blobs. The “school-girl” idol outfits are great, and they kill me with that “Doki, Doki” refrain. These girls are TROUBLE!!! “Watarirouka Hashiritai” translates as “those who run in the corridors”. Can you imagine that type of undisciplined behavior happening in American public schools? Never! America’s schools would never allow for such lax behavior as seen here. Running in the hallways … indeed. My favorite part comes at time 3:07: “Remember that time over at Johnny’s Place? This chick got up and she slapped Johnny’s face …” Enjoy (the then) seventeen-year old Mayu and the others in this joyous nostalgia.
The next video has the entire group of seven. Mayu is center, but I always wait to see even a fleeting glimpse of the great Iwasa Misaki. The song title translates as “Hope Mountain” (Sorry only 360 available). They made this one a historical documentary (mock-u-mentary?) that makes it look like Japan in the 1960s. Here the ladies make a tribute to the great 60s “girl groups”. Love those mini-skirts, and those boots were made for walkin’. The video shows that Japan was in transition at this time in history. Hope-and-Change actually worked in Japan. Many of the younger generation wanted to rapidly modernize, and make fundamental changes to a peaceful, Japanese society — others wanted to keep traditional ways. (ex. Time 2:28 Dad can’t understand his kids. )
Of particular interest: We see what looks like the late American actor Patrick Swayze’s Japanese love child sitting at the bar at time 1:10. Or IS THAT Patrick Swayze? This video takes place in the same time period as his “Dirty Dancing” movie. Pop Culture addicts will also wonder why the “Green Hornet’s” limo driver is there. “Hope Mountain”? … even the older generation gets it.
The last one I will share (today) begs the question — What if Mayu were the “alien” in Steven Spielberg’s “ET: The Extraterrestrial”? The title is “Boy to Lie” (direct translation). Mayu portrays an “alien” who accidentally lands on Earth. A middle-school boy finds her, and takes her back to his room to nurse her back to health. They make a promise together not to tell anyone. Of course! What boy going through puberty would not want to secretly keep an AKB48 member in his bedroom? (This moment reminded me of the “Thank you God” moment in National Lampoon’s “Animal House” movie.) He is a “brainy nerd” boy, who is bullied in school. Of course he can’t prove to anyone that he knows an alien, and must keep it a secret forever. The alien Mayu returns to the WH7 mothership. (Spoiler: The boy grows up to be a famous astro-physicist and astronaut, but meets a tragic end. Unfortunately, I could not find an English translation of what exactly happens. I thought it was a let-down, but I could not tell what was being said. Guess for yourself. ) Still, this is another unique music video. Mayu is good, as always, but I loved those fleeting seconds when I could see Iwasa Misaki-san in that silver spacesuit. Nice.
Well, it is too bad that this sub-group is no more. They were fun. You may still review the group’s history on their webpage:
UPDATE!! THE OFFICIAL PAGE NO LONGER EXISTS!
Later I will share some live video of the group! Oh, you wanted to see a bikini photo! … well I have those too!