Each of the last two years saw Nakajima Saki get a photobook released around the time of her birthday in February. I’m really hoping for another one this year although none has been announced so far. However this thought got me thinking about her last photobook N20 (and photobooks in general). It’s always great to see one of the less big-hitting members get another release. Especially so when it’s your favourite member. Yet N20 left me feeling kind of underwhelmed.
Most photobooks follow a similar pattern. A sort of “day/holiday with the idol” type of thing. Visit the beach, do some shopping and later there’s the idol dressed up ready for a night out (or is it after a night out? The hotel room shoot is a staple of these books). And that’s all fine. But within that there’s still books that are great and others that are less so. My most common complaint is that often the idols look too serious. Posing in a way that makes them look a bit moody. Like the cameraperson is concentrating on the visuals while forgetting that the idol is marketed as much on their personality as anything else. I’d rather see them smiling. I want it to be a fun holiday! Even in what is just a series of pictures you want the idols personality to shine through. Nacky normally does well in this. Her books generally have some fun poses and expressions in them. As I said though, N20 left me disappointed. Although there were some good photos in it, overall they seemed to lack any vibrancy. First of all an example of some good pics…
Smiling. It’s always good. As is some activity.
As are funny expressions.
A cute pose and expression.
A nice outfit and a sense of movement.
However that last pic is a bit dull in terms of colour and overall with this pb I came away with a feeling of, well…brown…
A beautiful smile but in a brown room.
Autumn colours against dull steps.
Brown clothes against a brown beam in a brown room.
A beautiful woman against a dull-coloured background.
A lot of dark hues.
A nice dress but the angle isn’t that good and that headboard and wall is brown.
It’s a dull day and that water has a greeny-brown look to it.
Also in a lot of pics Nacky didn’t even look like herself. There’s some where I’d have sworn it was Maasa…
Nacky must have been tired as part-way through Sudo Maasa turned up…in a brown room lying on a brown carpet.
Really the colours throughout were dark and that’s not really what I’d want from a pb. I want lighter settings that compliment the idol rather than a feeling that you’ve travelled back to the 1970’s. Some pics like those above would be okay if there were a lot of brighter pics to contrast with but there weren’t really. Nacky’s pb’s are usually better than that so I’m hoping any upcoming pb would be a return to form.
Mind you despite Maasa turning up my favourite pbs often involve the idol looking very different. The two best examples are Nacky’s W Saki and Sayu’s Sayuminglandoll. W Saki is a light and dark affair. A theme throughout of sweet Nacky and naughty Nacky. Introducing a theme gives a chance for interesting outfits and settings and can work really well…
Light angelic and playful Nacky.
Darker devilish and sexy Nacky.
Sayu’s pb went even further into fantasy. In fact into one of the most famous fantasy settings of all time at one stage. Alice in Wonderland…
Sayumi in Wonderland.
Two Sayumi’s. Best photobook ever!
Stunning outfits plus a stunning idol equals perfection. And Sayuminglandoll was all those things…
Twelve Sayumis. See? Best photobook ever!
50’s housewife Sayumi.
Likewise. This time posing with the worlds luckiest stuffed toy (certified by the Morningtime Book of Idol Records).
The other book release type you get these days is the diary. These books are smaller and more personal including as they do pictures of the idol in childhood, personal belongings and so on. They still have plenty of photobook type pics too plus lifestyle tips from the idol. I’d love to see a Nacky book like this sometime…
Sayu’s toy bear collection.
Sayu’s make-up tutorial.
Baby Suzuki Airi!
Then Ai-chan has had her style books. My favourite idol’s style isn’t always her strong point though. >.>
Ai-chan’s style. Hipster!
Overall I think the best pbs either show off the idols personality (like the pb as extension of the idols public persona. Mostly in a setting that isn’t everyday such as Hawaii but which at least gives great background settings and hopefully great weather) or else they take the idol into a fantasy world giving lots of cosplay opportunities and strong visuals throughout.
Photobooks are great to flick through from time to time. Looking through the pictures transports you to another place. A place where your favourite idol is having fun in beautiful settings. The idol’s personality leaps off the page and you get mesmerised by their whole being. To outsiders photobooks can be weird and maybe even creepy. But who cares what outsiders think? It’s really what you think when you are looking that’s important. If you spent your life worrying about others opinions on idol culture you’d have to conform to only ever doing “normal” things such as watching soap operas, listening to Justin Bieber/One Direction/Coldplay (delete depending on age) and dying slowly inside day by day at the crushing mundanity that is life. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with watching soaps or listening to anything you want to but the restriction on you through only liking certain peer-approved things would be soul crushing. It’s best to just go on the idol journey yourself and enjoy where it takes you. I’m hoping my journey will take me to another Nacky pb soon. Fingers crossed!