The recently released “Tsuzuiteiku STORY (Everlasting Story)” promotional PV does just that: five girls and nothing more. The ballad drips with emotion and signals farewell, thank you, and anxious expectation in one action.
The song “Tsuzuiteiku STORY” outdoes itself in terms of gorgeousness. Acoustic instruments fill the arrangement with a classic ballad sound. The song focuses on the vocals very quickly, and the strings frame the melodies lyrically without getting in the way. Verse melodies perfectly encapsulates the gentle introspective lyrics. The girls run through scenarios where their sense of “self” rub against “others” as they contemplate leaving things behind. By the time Juice=Juice hits you with the chorus lyric “Why am I crying?”, I am tearing up (or outright sobbing)- maybe the songs strikes a familiar chord with my personal life filled with so many departures. As far as the business of idols go, “Tsuzuiteiku STORY” lends the listener the strength to move on to their next phase as the girls seemingly do the same.
Two ways of approaching “Tsuzuiteiku STORY” immediately spring to mind. Given their habit of tightly controlling promotional video budgets, I can (perhaps) fairly say that the PV frugally imagines the otherwise lovely song. Hello! Project didn’t need to spend anything on sets or outfits. Given how much we see the girls providing their own makeup and hair, a stylist probably never graced the set, either (yeah, I doubt that last one, too). The result is Juice=Juice’s disembodied heads singing like Max Headroom sans the 80s day-glo background. So, as the girls play nude against the void, you could cynically say, “H!P, you bastards!”
While I don’t deny the PV pinches pennies, the simplicity works for me. To begin with, “Tsuzuiteiku STORY” does not work in service of a single. The song showcases the group in advance of their “First Squeeze” album. In essence, the video purely promotes a song with very little commercial agenda (albums do not sell in Japan). Frankly, they didn’t need to create this video. Somewhat liberated from the Oricon charts, the need for “wow” and “sparkle” fades into an emotional conveyance of the lyrics and composition.
So, how do you deliver the emotional impact of the “Tsuzuiteiku STORY”? Well, you could just have the girls deliver the song purely, with their souls bared naked. And, nakedness they do with bare shoulders suggesting a body-and-soul return to their natural states. In a way, Juice=Juice created a video that is the closer to a direct heart-to-heart communication than any other idol PV I’ve ever seen. The girls hold eye contact through the LCD screen better than any FaceTime call I’ve ever made. Yuka’s compassionate looks, Tomoko’s sly smiles, Sayuki’s heartfelt delivery, Karin’s pure expressions, and Akari’s playful grins are about as close to a handshake as you can get across the sea. They stretch out to hold hands and sing you gently while your heart flutters indescribably. Whoever you are, Juice=Juice sings directly to you.
The song, the lyrics, and the delivery all work well to convey the emotional impact. Given the nature of the business, I have no doubt “Tsuzuiteiku STORY” will be trotted out for years to come. When one of the girls finally makes her leap, you will hear this song. And, when the song is sung for the last time with all five girls, you won’t need to ask “Why am I crying?”.
You can buy “Tsuzuiteiku STORY” on Juice=Juice’s “First Squeeze” album