Saturday, July 6, 2013

Kanashiki Amefuri PV/Song Review Of Sorts

As per usual with my posts, I'd like to start off by saying that everything in this post is purely my opinion. I have one, yes, as I'm sure whoever reads this does as well, and most likely, our opinions will be different at some point or another and I ask in advance that you keep an open mind. If you find it difficult at any point to do so, I kindly request you refrain from continuing reading, there's no reason for you to read something you don't enjoy, and there's no reason to rage at me for sharing my opinion. And do understand the difference between suggestions for improvement and raging at imperfections. All that being said, I shall continue with my review thing.

A quick explanation of what I'm going to try to do before I do it:  I'm going to try to analyze the PV in a bit more depth comparing the scenes, outfits, possibly even dance moves, etc. with the song's meaning, implications, tone, and/or whatever else I happen to notice. My goal is going to be to try and connect the PV to the song itself, as the fact that H!P is pretty well known for having random videos that don't match the songs whatsoever, while also possibly pointing out deeper meanings (in both the song and the video) that viewers may not have noticed upon first watch. So to sum it up: we're gonna over complicate this shit until you fully understand what it means when they say "ignorance is bliss". LET'S SEE IF I CAN DO THIS!

I do want to start of by saying that Kanashiki Amefuri is by far one of my favorite PVs Hello!Project has released in a long time. The scenes themselves are nothing impressive or creative, but the editing is amazing, with not only actual effort involved, but enough of it to say that they probably worked their asses off in doing so. Not only that, but The PV incorporated  not one, not two, but FOUR different outfits as shown in the photo below that my good friend Sarah made to show the irony in one of the lines that was translated by H!P themselves (I'll get more into the translation vs. meaning later). For the sake of consistancy, I will be referring to these outfits as (in order as they are in the picture below): the raincoats, the summer outfits, the black and white outfits, and the sad outfits.

From here on I will be making references to the meaning of the lyrics, the translation was done by H!P themselves in the PV on their channel, but if you'd like a text version for reference like I like to use, Projecthello transcribed the translation on their site here:

The first thing I want to discuss about the video is simply the title. Kanashiki Amefuri translates to "Sad Rainfall". One thing I want to point out about this title is the implication that there is such a thing as a happy rainfall. If that didn't exist, this title would be incredibly redundant. Now, this may seem like a stupid thing to point out, but think for a second: whenever you see rain in movies or other videos that doesn't involve a full on storm, what's it usually setting the scene for? Usually something sad. Now going a bit past the title to the theme of the song. Overall, the song is from the narration of a girl (or a really feminine guy, there's really no gender cues throughout the song, but since C-ute is all girls, for the sake of this review, we'll say it's from the narration of a girl) who believes she knows her boyfriend is trying to dump her, despite all the things they planned on doing together.

Lets start the PV review itself by looking at the song from a literal point of view. By literal I mean let's imagine that it really is raining when the narrator is in this situation.

Before the video even starts, the opening where it says the name of the song/group has a raining effect to it (a very unconvincing effect if you ask me, but still, with "rainfall" in the title, it's easy to recognize that that's what it's supposed to be). This is kind of like in a movie opening where it'll pan through some rainy scenery before you actually meet the movie's characters. This is done to set the feeling. There are very few people who will watch this 2 seconds with a smile and say/think "hahaha it's raining on the song title!" Most of the time, this prepares viewers for a darker, possibly heavy-hearted song. But I digress, the point is, people have a tenancy to take things that are literal more seriously then things that are hypothetical. Putting a physical "rainfall" so early into the video could be an attempt to force viewers to take this seriously and literally. For example, if the song titled "Sad Rainfall" had no rain in the video whatsoever, no matter what the lyrics mean, it wouldn't make much sense. Not to me anyway. What's so sad about a rainfall that doesn't exist?

Despite the fact there was rain before the video even started, I personally find it odd that the first rain scene after that isn't until the chorus. However, if you look at the lyrics, the song doesn't even mention rain at all until the chorus either. This brings about my suspicion that the rain is most likely to be meant metaphorically more so then literally, but let's continue pretending it's literal for a bit longer, shall we?

First, let's look at the outfit worn in the rain scene. You may get a better view from the picture above with all of the outfits. At first glance it looks to me like a pretty cliche fashionable raincoat. It reminds me of what I would imagine Dr. Holmes wearing, in fact. But the first thing I notice, upon further inspection, is the lack of a hood. Perhaps it's stylish to have a raincoat without a hood, I'm completely fashion ignorant! But it's not very useful if it can't even keep your head dry. Now, let's assume that they wore the raincoats because they knew it was going to rain. The two most likely reasons for wearing a raincoat that doesn't even have a hood would be 1) If you wanted to get drenched, or 2) if you really didn't give a damn anyway. 

Another thing I want to point out is the lack of an umbrella. Remember, we're only referring to the scene where it's literally raining right now! But I would think, if you really wanted to wear a raincoat without a hood, you would take an umbrella too. Heck, even if I had a hood, I'd still take an umbrella just to minimize how much rain actually hit me. 

The last thing I want to point out before moving to the metaphorical sense of the song, is the two girls above. Notice something? No hood is one thing, as is no umbrella, but Nakajima Saki and Suzuki Airi even go as far as having their sleeves rolled up. I do this a lot when I dress for rain, since I live in Florida where it gets really hot really fast, but the thing is, the second it starts raining, I unroll them. Why? Because having them rolled up completely defeats the purpose of wearing a raincoat (though in my case it's just a jacket... But you get the point).

You'll notice that all three other outfits share the same backing. This provides useful for an instance where they used editing to switch out outfits, such as this part: 

This particular part shows Okai Chisato, Yajima Maimi, and Hagiwara Mai in their summer outfits, Suzuki Airi in her sad outfit, and Nakajima Saki in her black and white outfit. Successfully showing all three outfits at the same time.

You'll notice that the couch scene also takes place in the same backing as the dance shot scenes. Now that this consistency has been pointed out, let's think about "why this scene?" Those who are familiar with making of videos, or even photography itself, may be aware of the purpose of those umbrellas in this scene, but for those who don't know, I'll explain their purpose. Those umbrellas aren't normal umbrellas. They're called photographic umbrellas (feel free to correct me if they have a more technical name then that) and from my understanding, what they're made OF varies with which type is used. I'm not familiar enough with them to tell them apart, though, so I won't get into that. Their purpose is to reflect lighting and flashes in photography to spread the light and keep it on the subject. If you know much about the science of light, it's similar to sound in that it bounces off of objects it comes in contact with. I've always seen these umbrellas facing the the subjects from the photographer's side, though, in order to bounce back the light that bounces of the subjects and, I believe, creating a wider span of which the light hits while also creating less dark spots where you'll probably see shadows in normal photos (such as under your cheeks if you're smiling).

Now, back to the why. Just to remind you (in case you didn't get the hint, since I didn't say it directly) we're now moving onto the metaphorical sense of rain. From here on we'll be connecting things that may otherwise seem unrelated. When you think of rain, what's the first thing you think of? I think of an umbrella (or at least right now I do, since I've been talking about them...). So it makes sense that if we're trying to metaphorically link something to a rainfall, using umbrellas is a good place to start. But it's not literally raining, so having actual umbrellas would be stupid and/or just prove the fact it's not raining. So how do you incorporate them? This backing does a good job of doing so buy using umbrellas that serve a totally different purpose... but are still umbrellas. Thinking literally, umbrellas don't make the rain go away (unless you're one of those people who believe having one will make it not rain), but they do shield their user from the rain for the time which they use it. Photographic umbrellas are connected to photo shoots. Thinking figuratively, photo shoots (possibly representing something that you do just for yourself) may not make the "heart's sadness/rain" go away, but it may be an outlet where you can forget about it, even if it's only for a little while.

Now let's look at the slow motion grey scale close-ups.

These seem to be much like the rain at the beginning of the video, their main purpose is to set the mood.

I really don't want to spend too much time on these because of that.

But one thing I do want to mention is how ridiculous these poses are. You would probably never make a pose like them in real life unless you, like they, were either told to do so, or told to do something under such lines.

And one other thing I want to point out about them is how none of the members look very sad in any of these shots. Except maybe Maimi... But editors usually use grey scale  like rain, to set a sad mood, but in this sad mood, the girls are seemingly fine. This could mean multiple things. It could mean they're pretending to be fine through the pain, or it could mean that this whole thing about hurting so much that it's raining in your heart is total BS. I'd like to think it's the earlier of the two :).

And then there's the normal close ups for the black and white outfits. Notice that the background is a brownish gradient that is darker at the part in which you see better (the top). To me, when I look at the girls in front of that background I feel kind of pained. It's a very earthy color, which makes me think of reality, and the black and white outfits on top of them help with that feel. When I see bright colors like the summer outfits, I think of happy things and energy, and even dreams and freedom. But with colors like these, I think of reality, fear, possibly even hopelessness. It's a feeling like when you realize that everything you dreamed can (or will) all be shattered by one little thing. I think it is the perfect setting to express the feeling that we expect the narrator has when she realizes that there may only be seconds left before everything she fought so hard for (possibly?) may just end with a couple words.

Lastly (unless I missed something), we have the close up shots for the sad outfits. These are very lacking in color, since the backgrounds are tainted white. I say tainted because even white itself is a pretty bright color, but you can clearly see it's not pure white, it's grayish and has shadows. This makes me think that it's tainted. White often represents purity or cleanliness, so tainted white makes me think of pain. Perhaps it's just my overactive imagination, but I think of darkness spreading, thinly enough to not come across as black, but enough to be noticeable.

Lastly, I'd liked to go into a bit more meaning with some of the lines in the song. The very first line of the song reminds me of a book. It sets the scene in a literal manner. The narrator is sitting on a bench with (who we find out in the next few lines) is her current boyfriend. The silence mentioned in the next line gives the image that both of them either have nothing to say (unlikely) or have something to say and either don't want, or are afraid to say it. Based on the overall scene described by this part of the song, I imagine that there is even the possibility that the boyfriend has trying to say it already, but wasn't able to come out with it straight forward. 

This line doesn't make much sense as it's written. I don't know the Japanese vocabulary used here enough to conclude if there is a translation issue or not, but what I think of when I read this is more like "I won't be let down gently" or something. Often times people will suggest that when you "break up" with someone, you should do what you can to "let them down gently," so I believe this line is saying that the narrator won't let her boyfriend try to slip past the guilt of it simply because he did it "gently."

This is the major line of the song that implies that the "rainfall" might be completely figurative/metaphorical. It does contradict my theory about the "umbrellas" that was previously mentioned though...

"No clothes to change" (My friends helping me realize this means like a spare set of dry clothes) is a really strong line here. People usually treat clothes as an expression of themselves and their personalities. Referring to the heart metaphor, this could also be talking about the fact that it's not a matter of just accepting the fact what used to be a big part of your life is now gone. You can't just "change" your personality and such like you would change your clothes. It's going to take time to adjust.

This line I would personally translate as "Don't adults even do their own thing" that could just be my dialect though. This line confuses the crap out of me, in all honesty. It sounds independent, while the rest of the song sounds dependent. And considering it's almost midnight I kinda need to wrap this up, because my brain is starting to not even let me hypothesize, so I'll leave possible interpretations of this line to you :D feel free to tell me what you think on it.

EDIT: looking back at this line now that my brain isn't trying to turn itself off, this line is most likely a reference to the line in the first half of the song "We had things we were going to do" or something. It could be saying that even adults, who's lives are typically much busier then kids (which also implies the narrator and her boyfriend aren't yet adults, or don't have adult responsibilities yet) still find time to do the things they need to get done and/or said they would do. This may possibly give a bit of insight into the reason behind the potential break-up might have to do with an excuse like "I don't have time" or a pretty common one from what I've been around "you're too clingy." The tone throughout the song of not wanting to let go may further this theory as well.

I'm not sure if this line is being literal, such as when a person says "I don't know whether to laugh or cry," or if it's basically saying "I don't know how to face others/you after this". Both of which might mean the same basic thing though... My mind works odd and I see a bit of a difference between them, though, if you don't, I understand.

This will be the last line. This line can also mean "Because I won't let go of you, even for a moment." I like my translation more, because it has more of a meaning like "I don't want to just forget about you" and "I will hold on as long as I can". Together with the line before this one ("Please come back to me") it makes a feeling like "Come back, I don't want to be apart from you," even if it's not the literal meaning.

If it weren't so late, I might be able to go on even more. I'm pretty good at over analyzing stuff. But, alas, it's past my bedtime (so says my brain), and I've basically done what I set out to do. If you enjoyed this and would like me to do more of these in the future, please tell me~ In case you haven't noticed, I have a tenancy to lose blogging inspiration very fast, I need something to do regularly to keep me at it... haha Well thanks for reading (if you didn't just look at the pictures like I tend to do when I read blogs), and I hope you enjoyed, and maybe form your own connections. G'night!

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