I was surprised when I first heard ‘Fly Away’, because it wasn’t anything like what I was expecting.
Well, it was and it wasn’t.
Based on the nails she was sporting, I expected something ridiculously Koda-esque for Goto’s “come-back”: lots of bass and dramatics and thick black eye make-up. And to certain extent that’s what I got when I saw her ‘Unrecorded’ clip.
I love the song ‘Fly Away’ a lot. I loved it instantly.
But let’s talk about the preview-thing VS the actual PV.
(thanks Hello!Online for the links)
I’m going forward based on the assumption that you’ve all seen this, and therefore know what I’m talking about.
My Japanese isn’t the best by any stretch, so forgive me if I’ve misinterpreted anything, etc etc. As far as I know, this thing showed off not only the new song she’s done with ‘SWEETBLACK’ who or whatever that might be, but also what Goto had been up to.
And what has she been up to?
Learning to play piano – or possibly improving her skills.
Eating yummy ramen – and stylishly, I might add.
Getting hella drunk.
Snoozing – quite adorably, I might add.
Making sure her cheeks are still there in between pretty photos.
Laughing. A lot.
Generally being the kind of intimidating beauty we all remember her to be.
What I loved about the preview so much, aside from the general pwn-age of the song, was that there was so much variety.
We have an entire lack of hand-held camera, Asayan-esque stuff nowadays. I don’t think we don’t have a whole lot of opportunities to see our favourites’ backstage lives. A camera set up backstage for the girls to squeal “otsukaresamadeshitayaayetc” at as they run by is NOT THE SAME THING. I don’t even mean the “making-of”s they have on PVs now, where basically the same thing tends to happen.
Admittedly, the glimpses we have of her backstage life are short, mostly show her happily running around like she’s enjoying herself and don’t really give us any sense that she’s struggling through her Avex debut. The Asayan clips could be much more intense, like in the audition videos when they’d zoom on the girls when they were trying to hide their tears of frustration. Even so, it was nice to get a reminder of those sorts of shows, the ones that let you see (just a little) that that person who looks so cool on tv is actually human, just a normal girl at heart.
Or in Goto’s case, woman.
It made me really happy to see her laughing so consistently, to see her both in street clothes and her costumes and even to see her holding up a triumphantly empty glass of beer to the cheers of those around her. It looks like she’s really enjoying everything, despite the pressure that must be all around her. She seems to have gotten some rest at the very least. I loved seeing her outside in the preview, with those overalls and her awesome, awesome short hair (apparently I’m loving the short styles lately). It made me excited because it went so well with the mood of the song.
Lyric Sample I could Pick Out:
“daijoubu yo, hitori ja nai yo ne”
It’s ok. You aren’t alone.
She was looking so comfortable and natural walking around in the open air like that. I was thinking maybe she hasn’t entirely rejected a warmer image in favour of sparkly-claws and raccoon eyes.
I’m being facetious. No matter what she looks like, Goto tends to be gorgeous, even with an edgy kind of image.
That being said, I was a little surprised by the actual PV.
I don’t mean this is a bad sense, necessarily. It’s just totally not what I pictured.
I didn’t even picture a dance and I got moments like these:
(I actually really love this part, or “move” if you will, still…)
(I love capping…)
The dance is growing on me, even as I write this. Things tend to do so. It doesn’t change how jarring it was to see the consistently dark image of the pv compared with the ‘Unrecorded’ preview where she was, if you’ll excuse the cliche, bathed in light. I don’t mean dark as in depressing, I mean literally, it’s fairly dark in colour and lighting.
Admittedly I have precious little understanding of the lyrics and maybe the video will make sense when I do, but most of the time that’s not what tends to happen. Far be it for me to claim to know how to direct a PV at all. I just had a certain mood that the song would bring out in me and it wasn’t something like this.
That being said, let’s look at this pv from the perspective of someone who has spent the last five years writing essays for literature courses: everything could mean something. I’ll do my best to sound intelligent here.
The first images we get are pretty much to be expected: Goto blindfolded on a bed and writhing around dramatically. It’s unclear why she is struggling, but depending on your point of view, she’s either in the midst of something painful or something…uh…not so painful. The blindfold is significant in that we don’t actually see her face at all for a couple of minutes. She’s alternating the masks and either staring directly at you, asking you to see behind it, or blindly looking at the sky, trying to see clearly for herself. To put it another way, this opening makes her look very vulnerable. She’s not so much in control. She’s blind, she’s unable to really move, or doesn’t have the will to move and showing a lot of bare skin. Oddly enough, even though I realize showing skin is part of the sexy-edgy-Avex image she’s going for, I found it rather tasteful.
And then we get another image of Goto, outside of the bed, in a frankly, awesome outfit. This area she’s simply posing and looking cool. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it, aside from how strong and in control she is. The wavy lines reminded me of flames, like she’s in her element in these clothes. Her hair even looks darker and the softness is gone. In contrast to the blindfolded Goto, we get one who has embraced an identity and is not hiding from, but relishing the spotlight. This seems to be the Avex version of Goto – just a little bit darker, but no longer holding back that undercurrent of arrogance that she must have. And hey, rightly so. The woman is talented. She has a right to be proud of what she’s accomplished. She looks like royalty. She doesn’t need to play nice anymore.
(To clarify, I’m not saying she’s a bitch now. At all. All I’m saying is that she doesn’t have to be afraid of stepping on any toes…there’s a sense in Hello Project that one has to be a nice girl. Look at Fujimoto and how she struggled with her bluntness, for example.)
The dance is intense for a song that seemed so flowing and free to me. The outside scenes in the ‘Unrecorded’ clip gave the song a more introspective tone – not that there isn’t plently to consider now that we have the entire song. It’s just a lot more dramatic suddenly. The dance was, like I said, a little jarring. The costume is very sophistocated, very Koda-esque, but somehow distinct. The more I see the dance, the more I get into it. I like that it’s not just Goto in the front the entire time and they switch it up a little. Through out these scenes we still have her in various masks. A part of her hasn’t left this room. There are moments when the tilt of her body makes her seem like a marionette – she’s still blinded and hiding herself. She’s almost in a daze. It’s just a little bit creepy, but I found myself feeling sympathetic. There are times when one would rather be led than think for oneself, times when it seems like the easiest thing to do is just stay still.
And so we come to what is probably the most telling moment in the PV:
I love this image. It’s obvious, so forgive me, but it’s like Goto staring at this new version of herself – she’s discovering a new identity. It’s difficult to read the expressions here: I think the softer Goto is a little bit in awe, while this newer version is remembering her. It’s a moment that is fairly intense, especially when it’s followed by:
The newer Goto staring at us and, we presume, the softer version of herself with that same unwavering confident stare. She’s very poised, almost dangerous.
Then slowly…slowly… the masks start to come off.
She peeks out at us (and btw, that mask is so very creepy that I always get a little jolt when I see it).
And I love this look, when she slowly peels the blindfold off.
This is where the softness enters into the new Goto. In the previous shot where they stare at each other, they eventually fuse together. I’m sorry to continually state obvious things, but it’s an awesome image of that confidence she’s always had blending with the sweetness. She’s still that girl that captured everyones’ hearts back in 2000, but she’s grown up. She’s moving forward. I also get a sense of how lonely being a soloist must have been. She was so young when she debuted and Morning Musume changed a hell of a lot once she did. Then she was quickly made to go solo, most likely before she was even ready. She must have struggled. In those times, on huge stages all by herself, that confident girl inside of her protected the teenager that she was. Confidence seems to have oozed out of her effortlessly, but I doubt that was the case. I doubt she didn’t have moments of extreme anxiety and in those moments had to rely on herself. So the moment where that confident woman in the silver coat finally smiles is almost tender.
It was a quick shot, but before Goto gets off the bed, she gives this smile that is just so…relieved.
I bet you I’m reading far too much into it. I bet you the lyrics will tell some sort of different story. Maybe what I got from it is completely ridiculous. Either way, this pv made me think about a lot of things. It was fun to overanalyze it. It made me appreciate it a hell of a lot more.
I think a lot of people believe that her career can actually start now, that it’s real now, or that Hello Project was great, but was basically practise. I understand that point of view, I just think it’s bad form to treat those years like a joke. It’s terribly ungrateful. If not for the wacky and unpredictable Tsunku, Goto wouldn’t even have had the chance to move to Avex and start all over again. I’m sure she knows this.
H!P so often seems like a joke these days because, using the example of pvs, they don’t trust you to think. They give us the same sort of lyrical situations over and over; they give us costumes that either don’t make sense or are cool, but mostly the same; they give us pvs with no storyline, just a series of shots that may or may not go together because apparently all we want is to see the girls dancing around and being silly. That’s all great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I want to be able to feel a little something more than, “woa, that’s cute/cool/etc”.
This pv seemed more “real” because it shared something about Goto. At least it seemed to for me. It tried to tell a story, make a point…and it did this while including a danceshot and closeups. A big part of the draw towards idols is the sense, however false, that one knows something about the person behind all the glitter. PVs are a good opportunity to show things like that. If one is in the public eye, to survive, one has to hide a little bit – that’s why expressing deeper things about oneself in one’s art must be so freeing, and should be allowed more often. Hopefully, within Avex, she’ll be able to have some say in how they present her. It seems like she already does.
I realize H!P over-worked her, she had very little say, if any, in her career and it must have been intensely embarressing as she got older to be doing the kind of random silly things H!P tends to do. Even so, I’d like to believe she doesn’t regret it. I’d like to think that she’s grateful and this transition she’s making is just that – a new start, rather than “the” start.
If she’d never gotten the audition, she would have never honed the dancing and singing skills we all praise her for. If she’d never done Hello Morning and the like, she might have never developed a personality and gotten used to showing it off.
If Tsunku had never pushed her into that solo career, would she still be as self-reliant as she appears to be now? Would those two selves be as harmonious?
Goto never captured me until now. I’m not sure she’ll ever be my favourite, but I love the music she is making. I hope she’ll keep moving forward until she’s satisfied. I’m excited to see her future. I thought I wanted the softer outdoor image I got in the ‘Unrecorded’ clip; I thought that it was the only way the song could resonate for me, but I was wrong. I think I’m satisfied with this. That softness is still there.
The woman’s got layers.
And I loved seeing them.