My Top 15 PVs of 2013

I was trying to come up with my list of my top 10 favorite PVs of 2013, when I was just stuck with how many PVs I liked. So I expanded my list to 15 this year. There are plenty of great PVs left off this list, but these are just the ones that have stuck with me.

Honorable Mentions:

Marie Antoinette – Suiyoubi no Campanella

My friend sent me this PV via twitter and I love it. The artist isn’t an idol so I don’t think I can really include it on this list, but if I did it would be near the top. There is just SO MUCH personality in here.

Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke / Brainstorming – Morning Musume

2012 started off with arguably the worst PV of the year, Help Me. Morning Musume’s PV output has been not that good in the past couple of years, frankly. So when I saw Brainstorming, I immediately was pleasantly surprised; after starting the year off with an unfortunate PV, that they did some pretty good stuff. Brainstorming and Wagamama aren’t the best of the year, but they do get the prestigious “I’m impressed you actually tried” award.

Tokai no Hitorigurashi – C-ute
C-ute get the prestigious “You did pretty good but sadly this is good by Hello!Project standards which means that you’re just an honorable mention” award.

15. Megitsune – Babymetal

I loved how Babymetal incorporated metal and traditional Japanese music into one with the song Megitsune, and the PV does a fantastic job of reinforcing this. The setting of the PV looks traditionally Japanese, but then there’s the costumes the girls wear and the headbanging people playing shamisen. The PV’s a well-made fusion of elements that reinforces the song perfectly, which is what I look for in a PV.

14. Gomen Nasai no Kissing You – E-Girls

As I mentioned in my top songs of 2013, I didn’t expect to flat out adore an E-Girls song the way I did Gomen Nasai no Kissing You. The same goes for the PV. Which is essentially color saturation city. I feel like they cranked up that color saturation dial during post-production and kind of just left it. This isn’t a terrible thing, not at all! It’s a really fun PV which is suported by just how colorful it is.
The big highlight of the PV is just how many background dancers there are. There are about 30 members of E-Girls, but the PV is just filled to the brim with students from EXPG (the dance school by the group EXILE, of which E-Girls are the sister group). I’m a sucker for PVs with huge numbers of extras, but seeing them all dance just adds a great energy.
The whole thing is choreographed well and fits the fun, high energy Gomen Nasai no Kissing You perfectly.
The only reason that I have this so low is unfortunately due to the dance break. I think it’s a fine idea, but it lasts so long and the solo dances are often kind of underwhelming. It just breaks up the energy that the PV already has, and just generally detracts.
But other than that I really enjoy Gomen Nasai no Kissing You, and it has definitely made me reevaluate E-Girls.

13. Otome! Be Ambitious! – The Possible

Seriously, what is up with The Possible in 2013? They had a really great comeback with one of my favorite songs of the year (Zenryoku Banzai! My Glory) and now they had a PV that really stood out with Otome! Be Ambitious.

This is the girls skydiving. I mean, it’s a “simple” PV in that it’s essentially a dance shot plus the shots of the girls getting ready to skydive and actually skydiving, but the fact that they decided to get the girls skydiving is pretty cool. It actually looks good on the PV and it is also interesting to watch them nervously preparing to go skydiving. It feels like a segment that the girls would have to do if they had their own variety show, but they made it into a PV instead. Since a lot of what makes idols interesting are the

I just think it’s nice when PV producers decide to do something different and fresh, and that’s what they did with Otome! Be Ambitious. It makes the PV stand out a lot. It’s also shot well and the outside dance shot looks nice in comparison to the skydiving scenes.

So props to The Possible for trying something new and for creating a memorable PV with it.

12. Rappa Renshuuchuu – Watanabe Mayu

Mayu isn’t that high up my favorites list in AKB. I like her just fine, but she’s not an idol I particularly follow much. However, it seems like every year she puts out great solo stuff. Hikaru Monotachi was one of my favorite PVs of 2012 and now Rappa Renshuuchuu is one of my favorites of 2013.

This PV just has a really unique aesthetic; the newspaper pattern on a lot of the backgrounds caught my eye. This PV is increadibly stylized in terms of its design, in a way that I can’t say I’ve ever seen in a PV. It’s like a collage, like all the backgrounds were pasted on using paper. And that’s really cool to me.

I think a lot of people complain about heavy uses of greenscreen in PV production, especially with Hello!Project PVs. However, in my opinion, the issue isn’t the use of greenscreen but with creativity and laziness. Rappa Renshuuchuu is a PV that uses a lot of greenscreen. However, it’s used effectively, and has a great visual aesthetic, which is why it’s one of my favorites of the year.

11. Kimi to Deatte Boku wa Kawatta – NMB48

I explained why I really enjoy this PV in my recent review post.
However, this PV is just really nice. The dance shot in front of Osaka castle is beautiful, and probably one of the best dance shots of the year. The cinematography as the girls walk around Osaka is great, and makes me want to visit Osaka in a way I didn’t before I saw the PV. This is just a well-crafted ode to NMB48’s hometown, and one I definitely appreciated.

10. Haste to Waste – BKA48

One PV made a girl shoot up my idol list. Haste to Waste was that PV, and Kawaei Rina was the idol. This is the ode to Kawaei and the other girls who scored lowest on the Mechaike Bakajo test.

Haste to Waste is perhaps not the most interesting PV (though the dance shot background of the poorly graded tests looks pretty good), visually. However, what it does really well is making all of the girls in it do interesting, fun things, endearing you to them. Seeing Kawaei Rina jump for joy at a test (which she was actually a bad score) was cute. The PV does a great job showing off each member and giving them a part to do .

Mostly, though, this is just a fun PV that is made well. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it is something good.

9. GOUNN – Momoiro Clover Z

This is another PV that shows the potential of good greenscreen and visual effects. GOUNN is a well-made artistic look at Buddhism. While I’m still not entirely sure how respectful it is to the religion, it doesn’t change the fact that GOUNN is lush and beautifully done. I especially like the visuals for each member’s individual shots; they’re beautiful, but strangely grotesque (Reni sitting on hair, Ayaka on a tongue, Kanako surrounded by blood).

I expanded on more of this in my GOUNN review. In short, this is a visually stunning PV and one of MomoClo’s best, definitely making it one of the best of the year.

8. Ai no Chikyuusai – Team Syachihoko

I have never done drugs of any sort. I am as straightlaced as they come. This is what I imagine being on something would be like.

This is another PV that I’ve covered elsewhere. But this is weirdness personified and I just love it. It’s taking on various television shows and making it Team Syachihoko’s version of reality before adding on weirdness and weirdness upon more weirdness.

I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I can see this being an incredibly divisive PV (and single.) But if you’re someone who likes PVs strange (like I do) and if you like the hectic/rushed pace of the best Stardust PVs, you can’t go wrong with Ai no Chikyuusai.

7. Mikakunin Chuugakusei X – Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku

This is another PV I reviewed elsewhere, so my thoughts are expanded in this. But as a fan of cheesy things and having a fondness for poorly made, low-budget movies (I may have seen Birdemic: Shock and Terror three times), Mikakunin Chuugakusei X hits all of my buttons. This is silly, goofy fun at its best, with cardboard, hand drawn props. The extras almost outshine Ebichu’s members, as they ham it up and have a good time with the goofy premise. This is super fun, and kind of reinforces why I adore Stardust groups.

6. Koisuru Fortune Cookie – AKB48

As I mentioned in my top songs of the year, KFC will always have a special place in my heart. It was one of my favorite songs of the year, and it still blows my mind how much the fan version just blew up. In general, though, all the various versions always put a smile on my face and, occasionally, make me cry. It’s incredible what Koisuru Fortune Cookie did in 2013, and I think it’ll be remembered as a major song of this wave of idol music.

The PV captures a lot of the energy and fun of those various versions of the dance by sharing the stage with AKB fans. I know some people dislike how it didn’t focus as much on the girls, but KFC in a way became an ode to the power of idols and fun music on regular people. I love that there are average fans dancing in the PV along with AKB48, and my favorite parts are the ones that feature the fans. It, in a way, represents the symbiotic relationship that idols and fans have. Idols need their fans as much as fans need idols, and KFC became a way to thank the fans on a larger scale.

The rest of the PV is, of course, well done. I love the outside dance scenes with tons of extras, and all the girls are in top form. However what makes Koisuru Fortune Cookie stand out isn’t the group itself, but the fans.

5. Girl’s Rule – Nogizaka46

This is one of the best uses of a narrative in a PV of the year. One of the things I don’t like about some of the really long-form PVs (the half hour Suzukake Nanchara PV, for example) is that they feel lazy in their execution. Girl’s Rule is about 7 minutes long (so already pretty long), but uses all that time very well to tell various intersecting stories. The PV reinforces the idea that a silent film is universal; the stories are easy to understand through their silence, but still pack a punch. Matsumura Sayuri in particular really sold her storyline, and I loved the shots taken through the camera.

This PV made me want to have a Nogizaka46 drama with these characters. The stories all felt real and not over exaggerated. It was also filmed really nicely; nothing strange, or exciting, but like it would be a fun drama show to watch.

In a world where way too long drama versions of PVs are starting to become more and more normal, Nogizaka46 tell good stories in just around 7 minutes. The song fits in nicely, and doesn’t detract from the story. This is what story-based PVs should be.

4. Te wo Tsunagou – Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku

Fun fact: This PV makes me cry most times I watch it. I know I’m a fairly sensitive person when it comes to crying at things, but this one just gets to me.

This is a PV that was done in one shot, and it doesn’t hide it. Often you see people running around in the background to get to their next pose or position. The PV also has to cleverly use props and placements instead of effects or different settings. Not all PVs that do this are successful at it. But all the props and costumes have a real charm to them, in addition to the charming simplicity of the PV. Setting this PV up and actually shooting it probably took a lot of work and finagling to get everything just right, but watching it makes it feel seamless and easy.

This PV also effectively uses extras to show small vignettes. It might be saccharine to some, but I love how it involves people of all ages to help tell the story. It’s just sweet. Everything about this PV is just nice, pleasant, and done very well with the single shot they had.

3. Shuto Iten Keikaku – Team Syachihoko

When I first heard the song Shuto Iten Keikaku it honestly took me a couple of listens to get into. However, Shuto Iten Keikaku’s PV was immediately something I knew I liked.

The strength in Shuto Iten Keikaku’s PV is in the transitions. It’s not made in one take, but the transitions are made to look as seamless as possible, using tv screens. Every cut is virtually invisible as the PV moves from scene to scene. If my PV awards went more indepth than “these are my favorite PVs,” Shuto Iten Keikaku would have the best editing category locked down for sure.

Aside from that, it’s a lot of fun seeing how they do all the transitions. Haruna’s rap sequence, for example, when there’s about three Harunas rapping at once looks great. It’s fun seeing the girls interact with the screens, popping in and out of shot. It’s not quite as strange as Ai no Chikyuusai (Syachi’s latest single), but it’s done very well.

This isn’t the most out there PV and the set isn’t the most intricate, but it’s one of the most creative PVs and certainly the best edited PV I can think of.

2. Sansei Kawaii – SKE48

I am honestly stunned that no one seems to be putting this on their top PV lists. Am I the only person who thinks that this is a wonderful PV?

Filmed in Thailand, this is like SKE’s travelogue of their adventures there, much like Ponytail to Shushu was and Kimi to Deatte was. This just has so much more energy and fun, and really shows the fun these girls had. Possibly my favorite element of this PV are the dance shot scenes. Filmed outside and surrounded like people, they feel a lot less sterile than some of the dance shots can feel even in similarly made PVs. The dance shots fit perfectly with the rest of the PV in that they’re shot loosely and surrounded by a crowd. In one of them the girls get sprayed with water from an elephant but they just keep on dancing.

While Shuto Iten Keikaku had the best editing of the year, Sansei Kawaii is a close second. Especially at the call and response section, the editing conveys tons of energy that would have been lost under worse editing.

Sansei Kawaii shows the girls having fun in Thailand, but in doing so shows a lot of personality and charm. Add on some great editing and well shot dance shots, and this became an unlikely favorite of mine.

1. W.W.D II –

This PV, man. I’ve rearranged this list, added and taken off tons of PVs, but W.W.D II has been at the top since I started working on this. This PV manages to be well-made, heartbreaking, hilarious, and everything in between.

The story is that everyone has moved on from, everyone except Pinky (who is in Z 49., a take at Momoiro Clover Z, AKB48 and Morning Musume.). Their new lives are both saddening (Moga, who returns to her real-life history as a hikkikomori) and hilarious (Eitaso becomes a shaman). But when Pinky gets kidnapped by real-life idol group BiS (who make a great cameo), all the members reunite to save their friend.

Everything is made well here. It looks great, is shot well, etc. But the real thing that makes W.W.D II stand out so much is the heart. I care that Moga won’t leave her home anymore. I care that Pinky wants everyone to stay together. The moment where all the fans of Dempa and people from their disparate lives come together with glowsticks and shout “yossha ikuzo” makes me cry just thinking about it. Even with some silliness in the storyline and everything fictionalized, this feels just about as personal as W.W.D (which SHOULD be on this list as well for its PV).

The song is one of my favorites of the year, and W.W.D II not only reinforces how great of a song it is, but adds new dimensions and is a great PV in its own right.