“Nothing Fishy Going On Here”
Well, maybe a little fishy. Here is AKB48’s music video for their 31st single “Sayonara Crawl” released in May 2013. It is notable that this was the last music video filmed with both Tomomi Itano and Mariko Shinoda before they graduated. You can watch it on YouTube in 720 HD.
Here, the AKB48 girls are on a tour of Okinawa. In this first part, the girls are visiting the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. It is a pretty cool place! It is the world’s second largest aquarium.
Side Note: Here is another YouTube video about the Okinawa aquarium. This looks very cool in the available HD. Don’t worry, this is not a Jpop music video, it is more of an information video for tourists. You may like this even better than the AKB48 music video.
… but I digress …
The AKB video starts out with the girls touring the “underwater” walk-through portion of the aquarium. The girls are all “ooh-ing” and “aww-ing” at the great underwater view. Some of the members are embracing, and holding hands with each other as they gaze upon the fishy wonders. There is nothing fishy about the young women holding hands with each other however.
Please understand that this is not an expression of, nor an endorsement of “homosexuality” by the group. Americans/Westerners traveling overseas are sometimes surprised to see that people of the same sex may hold hands in public. There is nothing “gay” about it. (Americans, sad to say, can be a very homophobic people.) Men holding hands is very common throughout the traditional areas of Asia and Africa. It is most often merely an expression of friendship and loyalty.
A Ghanese-African graduate student I knew told me an interesting story. He went home to Ghana after living for many years in the US – he was standing in an outdoor village market when his brother took him by the hand and held it. Of course my Ghanese friend leaped out of his shoes – WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!??!!! he exclaimed. There is ten years of western conditioning for you! In America, men — even close family members — simply do not hold hands in public.
So, do not be taken aback with the AKB girls and all their hand holding, giggling and cooing. They are not trying to be titillating, they are expressing friendship.
The video? Most of the music video is just of the girls posing and cutting up on the beach or in the swimming pool. They are wearing these flower bikinis and floating around in inner tubes. Mostly just a lot of “mugging” for the camera; there really is no “story” in this one. Maybe it answers the question: “Does Jurina look good in a bikini …even with strategically-placed flowers?”. The ladies are floating on inner tubes, diving, wrestling each other on couches and hammocks, stealing cotton candy out of each other’s mouths with their teeth, feeding each other dango sticks, etc. There is this great shot of Taka-Mina and Sayaka Yamamoto reading the “Betty Crocker Cookbook”. Just the girls being their wonderful selves. The dancing on the beach is very entertaining I will admit. Nothing out-of-line. No, no, no.
A lot of fans said that they did not care for this single when it came out, but that it grew on them. I will admit that it took me a couple of listens before I could appreciate the song, but now I LOVE it. It is a great driving song. I wait for those “WHOA!” parts on my commute.
My favorite part of the video is toward the middle, at night, where the girls are dressed in “summer kimonos” aka “yukata” kimonos, carrying those “Geisha” type umbrellas, and eating the local food at the festival in Okinawa. Nothing like dango-on-a-stick!
Also, and I say this in all seriousness, there is nothing more beautiful than the AKB48 girls in kimono. Lovely – but then again I subscribe to kimono-design pages. Hard to believe: I actually prefer the AKB48 girls in their “kimono photos” as opposed to the “bikini photos”. The kimono shots are more expressive of Japanese art and culture. Plus, kimono shots are a lot safer than the bikinis.
Of even less interesting note, I actually BOUGHT a CD-single for “Sayonara Crawl” on Amazon , used, for only 99 cents. Incredible. It came with a six-song CD, including the karaoke version of the title track. It also came with a DVD with the music video, a few other AKB48 music videos and a “The Making Of” documentary. Actually the “making of” might be more informative than the actual music video. It also came with a lyric book, and a photo book of the girls in the Sayonora Crawl bikinis (strategically-placed flowers again.) All for 99 cents, which included SHIPPING FROM JAPAN! Usually the AKB stuff on Amazon is prohibitively expensive. I wonder if the seller made a mistake — maybe it was supposed to be 99 dollars, not 99 cents. (99 yen is about 99 cents). Maybe this CD-single was part of a package that included a “Handshake ticket”, “Theater photos” and/or other items, like an “election card.” Some fans probably bought several copies, just to get the Election Ticket, handshake tickets or theater photos, … Can’t say for sure, but it sure was the best 99 cents I ever spent!
Oh, What is a “Handshake Event”? If you are an AKB48 fan you already know. Sometimes the AKB company holds these events where fans will line up and wait hours on end to get to meet the girls. Each girl has a tent, and with the handshake ticket you get 30 seconds to shake hands and say hello. You go in the tent, Haruka-chan shakes your hand and says something like: “Congratulations, how does it feel to be an All-American? …” To which Forest Gump replies “I gotta pee …”
This starlight took only two months to reach my world.