[Disclaimer: I wrote most of this before the earthquake and tsunami happened in Japan. This was the post I planned for -obviously- my 100th post here at Itsumo Genki. While I am still saddened and unsure of how to best begin posting as normal again, I choose to follow the example of other blogs and just move forward as best I can. Once again, donating is ongoing. Please do what you can, if you can. ~Isilie]
I can’t believe I made it!!! One hundred posts!!
Why am I making a such a big deal? Well, every time I have an actual anniversary, I forget it until three days later. Every year, for three years now. Yes, this place has been alive for three years now and I’ve missed its little anniversary three times.
Poor blog. This place means a lot to me. It’s really the only place I can express my fan-gurl feelings without bothering anyone. I started it back when I had no idea how to start or what to write about. I just wanted to talk about H!P somehow. I honestly didn’t think anyone but my brother and I would read it. That was good though because I just wrote without worrying about anything – that was the point. I developed my own style and started to really love it. Then, somehow people took an interest and now I have people who voluntarily read this. I wanted to thank you guys. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, or just stopping by. I love being a fan and I’m so glad I have a place in which to do it. ❤
And now that my dorking is over, here is an intro post about the other thing (person) I’ve been neglecting – NACCHI!!! (warning: this may be long and picspam-y and slightly stream-of-consciousness. ^_^’ )
Abe Natsumi!!! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!
I keep saying that I will talk about her at some point and then Yossy is amazing somehow, or they come out with another awesome new single, or I start thinking about something else H!P related and Nacchi is yet again pushed aside. I even found myself agreeing with the bloggers who commented that the presence of the OGs completely overshadowed current Momusu in the last year.
But you know what? Why shouldn’t they? I agree that the current girls need better and more consistent promotion, but our original members forged the way. They took what was a consolation prize, when they were all hoping to be soloists, and made it into what you see today. And now it is dear to them all. I realize Tsunku or UpFront or whomever is the one pulling the strings, but there would still be no life without these girls. They are given work and they are the ones who have to make it interesting. And they do. This is not to say that the new members are irrelevant – rather they all make up the colourful and varied history of this group.
I realize it is more fashionable to like one of the lesser known original five, or to claim that Nacchi was over-promoted and therefore wasn’t really as good as she was made out to be, but I would be lying if I wrote that I believed that. I really love Nacchi as a performer. She is talented, extremely well-rounded in terms of what she can accomplish and has the right amount of kindness and competitiveness. She was like a cool big sister, or a mother once the ages got really young. She has that bright eternally sixteen smile, adorable giggle and, most importantly, the pipes. Her singing developed even when the emphasis shifted so heavily to idol.
That (and because she isn’t as popular as before, obviously) is why now you only see concerts where she is singing in a smaller venue with a band, mostly mid-tempo songs that feature this voice. Matsuura is doing something similar, trying out new styles and working on singing, rather than simply an image. I’m not trying to say that this is better than being an idol. I love idols; if I didn’t I wouldn’t spend so much time talking about them. My point is that Nacchi always wanted to be a solo singer. Her career path made her a member of an idol group and she eased into it smoothly as though that was the plan all along. I love her as an idol, but that doesn’t overshadow her as a singer.
Her solo catalogue has a lot of poppy-idol tunes, of course. She does them extremely well, not to mention her first four singles (and album) were written by Tsunku. It’s funny but those songs make me think that that sort of sound is his image of her, rather than her image of herself. In my opinion, Koi no Hana, written by someone named BULGE (sometimes, random English is a fail), is her quintessential song. Everything about it sparkles, just like her. The vocals are beautiful, the song is bubbly and the pv is just… Nacchi.
But then, that is MY image of her. And if we’re talking about images, we’re talking about idols.
So there goes that thesis.
Well, I didn’t write this to debate myself as to whether Nacchi is an idol or a singer, or to discuss whether those two things are completely different. I just wanted to talk about her and how much I love her solo work. Her Momusu days are important, they are what shaped her, but even so, I noticed her solo work first.
Isn’t that funny? That is how powerful Yossy is, ladies and gents. She overshadowed everyone for awhile. It was a while before I could watch any Momusu thing before Happy Summer Wedding. Then one day, I forget how, I stumbled across Datte Ikite Kanakucha.
Presenting: The Nacchi PV Series: Episode 1 – Datte Ikite kana Kucha
You might be wondering why I began with her second (since I am not counting her duet with her “mother”) solo single, rather than her first. I will go back to her first (I intend to look at all of her pvs up-close), but this one is probably the one I will always love the most. I have so many memories attached to it – not just the pv, but the song. I love everything about this song.
This was probably the first non-Momusu video that I saw, not counting Pucchi or Mini Moni. I don’t remember quite what it was that struck me about it. I don’t remember if it was the visuals first or the song itself. And I do love the visuals. I was only vaguely familiar with Nacchi, but I loved her voice. For some reason, I listened to it, watched the pv endlessly until it drove me so crazy that I had to also look up the lyrics. This was the first H!P song I ever learned to sing all the way through, the first one I took the time to sit and figure out. This is before I even knew the translation, when I barely knew two words of Japanese. I sat there, reading the lyrics over and over, trying to sound them out. I still am not sure why.
Are you familiar with this pv, guys?
This is back when their pvs had some semblance of budget and creativity (oooh burn!):
The girl on the stairs, we’ll call her Abe, is having an odd out-of-body experience. It’s unclear if she’s meant to be dreaming or suffering. Either way, there are two of her somehow.
There are a lot of shots of her on the stairs, or floor, but she eventually gets up and wanders around this club, completely disoriented. It alternates between the full club and this empty space that seems to confuse her.
Oh. The angst!
There are a lot of shots like this. Abe bumps into herself, rather roughly, on the stairs. It’s a little creepy and cool at the same time. You aren’t sure if it is herself she bumped into or the other patrons on the stairs. This preoccupation with multiples of herself happens more often than you’d think. I noticed it a while ago.
One thing I love is the way they blend the shots together. There are a lot of hand shots, whether its someone blocking the camera or Nacchi passing her hands over her face (because of all the angst, remember). Even though some of these shots are a little odd, I like the way they are layered and Nacchi gives us some pretty awesome expressions (or, depending on your outlook, a lot of variations of the ‘Nacchi face’. You know the one I’m talking about).
I love LOVE this one. When Takahashi does this, there is this weepy sense about it, but Nacchi makes it a little more aggressive. We all love us some bad-ass Nacchi.
Speaking of, we’ll call the girl onstage Nacchi.
I’m pretty sure that is Country Musume and Ayaka, because Tsunku never knew what to do with them, so they are the gorgeous backup dancers for our disembodied Nacchi. The gold just works. They twirl and writhe around her as she sings, constantly reaching out and pulling back.
I love these shots of Abe, in the crowd, staring at her twin onstage. She sits down and just watches, looking lost. She looks small, in awe and confused at the same time.
Then there is this moment, where Nacchi is apparently still singing onstage, but yet another version of her gives Abe something. Another odd, slightly creepy moment that is somehow beautiful. What does this say exactly, that Abe trusts only herself, or that she is a little frightened and unsure of herself?
More hand porn as we see that Nacchi has given her Abe-self a key to a locker (if you like hands, this video might be too much for you to handle…*rimshot*). Seriously though, there are too many instances of hands covering the screen, grasping and pulling, most often when Abe clutches at her face or hair.
Summer is testing that lost girl again…/ Is fate really fate? Doesn’t it change some times? (Translation by Kiwi Musume)
No one notices her as she pushes through to the lockers. She is still small, lost and searching.
Nacchi = gorgeous confidence and mystery.
Not to get off the story again, but she has some of the best expressions while she’s dancing. I like the edge to her in this video. One thing you can always count on from Nacchi is that edge. It’s subtle, but that is what gives her the versatility. She can be cute or sweet and still turn around and glare you back into your place.
From the dance-shot. Tell me that is not fierce. I WON’T BELIEVE YOU!
“I gotta keep on living / That’s right, dawn will come eventually / If you’re true to yourself, there’s nothing to be scared of…/ Gotta keep on living /That’s right, cause everyone is desperate / It’s always easy to just give up…/ Gotta love myself a little more / Not for someone else, but a love for myself / All my life…” (Translation from Project Hello)
Beautiful layered shot: Nacchi reaching out as her Abe-self opens the locker.
One of the coolest shots: we see what Nacchi was leading to.
“It’s…it’s the dress she is wearing!”
Abe wonders if she could ever actually wear it. Who gave her the key anyway? Isn’t she already up there onstage? Is that someone else and she was just seeing herself as a performer when she’s really just insignificant? Does she have the confidence to put on this dress and start shining?
…Or maybe she’s just wondering if the dress fits.
Either way, it’s a damn beautiful pv.
Her pvs have this common thread of Nacchi giving herself something, or staring herself down in some way. I don’t really get it, but I keep seeing it. I’m wondering if I will come to any conclusions during this series about what that might signify. There is a sense that Nacchi’s number one rival is herself. I think it’s a common idol thing: sure, there are rivals everywhere, but the one you always face in the end is yourself. If you fail, if you succeed, ultimately, isn’t it all you? You are the one who has to get herself up every morning and smile for the cameras. No one is going to overcome things for you: insecurity, irritation, the sense that it would be easier to just run.
This song says, I need to keep living. Everyone is desperate and struggling so I need to hang on and try and love myself a little bit. Even if the translations I got are slightly off (doubt it, but you never know), this is the message I took from this song. It remains my favourite Nacchi song and the one closest to my heart.
As we go through this series I will be flailing and overanalyzing as is my way. I love Nacchi very much as a soloist, whether we classify her as strictly an idol or a singer.
I really think she is the best of both worlds.
Here’s to 100 more posts!