Hi everyone! Here’s my last list for 2016. This is in no particular order and can include covers, it’s just some of my favorite PVs from 2016.
Dempagumi.inc – Star tto Shichauze Harudashine
This PV wins the purely on set and prop design, and for being a whole lot of fun. The entire PV spoofs B movies, with each Dempagumi.inc member having their own set and gimmick, which are all beautifully and uniquely designed. My particular favorites are Mirin’s spaceship set and Nemu’s giant space creature. Everything seems to be physically built practical props, which is fun to see and works really nicely. Each set looks unique and has a different feel to it. However, partly through the PV we start to see members show up in each other’s sets (Mirin joining Nemu riding the giant space dog, for example), and walking through the large collection of sets, further emphasizing how fake it all is (but, in a way, how all these are built). The end is a giant group dance with all the extras and it’s a nice touch. This also has a lot of humor in it (mostly how Pinky can barely move in her giant monster costume), and does a great job of showcasing the group and the song. If you haven’t been following Dempa, this is a good place to start.
Niji no Conquistador – Love Men Koi-Aji Yowame
Why is a song and PV that’s purely a tie-in promotion for cup noodles so good? Love Men Koi-Aji Yowame is 3 minutes of beautiful, absurd bliss, which puts the members of Niji no Conquistador in several completely separate situations like eating bowls and bowls of ramen, doing a quiz show, being woken up on TV, doing TV show antics and so on. They’re all disparate but feel like they’re all familiar things for idol fans, and the details at the end feel pretty legitimate. It’s strange and fun. Plus, they just throw in Hyadain, my favorite songwriter, who didn’t even write this song (and hasn’t written a song for Niji no Conquistador in some time?) It’s just bizarre and fun.
Dream Ami – Lovefool ~Suki datte Itte~
This, much like the Dempagumi.inc PV, succeeds on a production design basis. Every single set, from the band performing during the chorus to the crises around the house, to the basic details, all ooze style. Ami herself plays everything straight, languishing while there is chaos around her, which fits perfectly to the song. Every little detail, edit, set design, is perfect – I don’t have a favorite or #1 PV on this list, but if I had to pick I might give it to Lovefool.
Team Syachihoko – Cherie!
Cherie has two gimmicks in it and both work very well. First off is the QR codes littered throughout the PV, which are honestly kind of genius in that they demand a level of interaction that most PVs don’t interact. It’s so genius, it’s the type of thing I wonder why it hasn’t been done before. I know the night when Cherie came out I got a QR scanner and just scanned as many as I could. Some lead to behind the scenes videos, some lead to brands that are used in the PV. While some of the codes just lead to error messages (where they used to lead to products that are no longer sold at that retailer), looking through these are fun and demands more engagement from the viewer.
The other thing that’s striking is the fashion. Team Syachihoko has never been exactly a fashionable group – most of their costumes in the past have been questionable at best – I say this with love as a fan, but they were often odd, ridiculous. Cherie has fashion and is set in fashionable Harajuku, and all the members have several outfits they wear throughout the shoot, and all of them are pretty cute – even their main member outfits for this are cute too. It’s fun to see the group try on so many outfits, and it’s a really fun gimmick for the PV.
This isn’t to say the basic elements of the PV aren’t good – it’s edited well, it’s shot well, but these two gimmicks make Cherie really memorable.
AKB48 – Love Trip
Look, you should know that I haven’t been great with keeping up with AKB48 – most of my favorite members are long gone, the music is largely uninspiring at best. However, every year I check out a few PVs and singles, just to make sure that I’m not missing some giant resurgence of quality from AKB. Love Trip is, as I mentioned in my honorable mentions for songs, probably the best of the bunch, and the PV is also a lot of fun. Since I’m pretty ignorant to the current state of AKB, I have no idea if the actual premise of the PV is real (i.e., did AKB48 travel around Japan helping people confess their love to their crushes?) or if it’s just acted out. Does that even matter? All I know is that it’s a cute premise for a PV, that AKB goes around to cheer on people in love. It’s kind of weird in a way, that AKB is cheering on love but the members on the group aren’t allowed to date, but it’s a cute premise, it’s shot well, and a genuinely pretty fun and at times moving PV that made me think of it for this list.
Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari) – Party People Alien
Honestly, the fact that this song and PV didn’t get more attention is baffling to me. This is almost designed to grab attention. Set primarily at the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, and features a lot of extras, including some wrestlers, a member of Idol Renaissance and the actual writer of the song. The PV perfectly matches the weirdness and the pace of the song, and is a lot of fun to watch. It’s almost unbelievable that this came from Up-Front, considering the budget that had to have gone into this. Party People Alien is chaotic, hectic, and fits its song perfectly.
The World Standard – Ultra Mirakurukuru Final Ultimate Choco Beam
This has such a strong aesthetic throughout, with paint dripping as the main backdrop of the dance section, the interior set (with paint dripping behind the window), and down to the costumes. These are probably my favorite idol costumes of the year. However, the real draw is the narrative of the song in the PV, which is the RPG game stylized fights with clearly hand-drawn enemies. It adds an interesting flavor to the PV, and made it immediately stand out. Adding to this some surprisingly decent graphics at the end, Wasuta’s debut PV has a ton of heart and character, making it one of the most fun PVs of the year.
Momoiro Clover Z – The Golden History
The Golden History has one of the more interesting concepts for a PV this year, which is the idea that this PV was a complete surprise to MomoClo. Whether this is true or not is up for debate (I have no idea how they wouldn’t hear/notice the crowd for the final section of the PV) but it’s a really fun idea and showcases MomoClo at its most candid and entertaining. MomoClo’s personalities are a big part of their draw, and a PV that fully shows them off is a lot of fun. The PV is also paced pretty perfectly, and the editing near the end as they start performing on the stage in front of fans is just perfect. The Golden History’s PV is one of the more creative ones of the year and is certainly one of the most fun.
Takoyaki Rainbow – Dot JP Japan
Much like the Star tto Shichauze Harudashine, Dot JP Japan features different scenes for each member, this time being a different type of singer. Saki seems to be a Showa era idol singer (judging by the filter on her scenes), and Kurumi is doing her best Lady Gaga. All of these different scenes work really well, and while certain girls start showing up in each other’s scenes I love how separate these all feel and how seriously they’re played – even when Kurumi is posing with a kebab of meat (relating to the lyrics about Japanese food), she plays it serious. That said, since this is such a goofy song Takoyaki Rainbow do play into that. Dot JP Japan, the song and PV, are such a joy to watch that this PV is continuously enjoyable.
Dempagumi.inc – WWDBEST
Dempagumi.inc put out their best of album, also titled WWDBEST, and this is the original song and PV off that album. As noted by the title, this PV is chock full of references to older Dempagumi.inc work, making it almost a love letter to Dempagumi.inc’s previous work. There are clear references to Future Diver, WWD, WWD II, Gida Gida da Zuba Zuba da, Fuyu e to Hashiridasu o, and countless other costumes and references – I’m sure there are several things I’m missing. It’s well made, as to be expected, and it’s a fun love letter to fans and to the group.