I’ve been yearning for another Maeda Atsuko release since her pleasantly understated yet powerful ‘Flower‘. Now it’s finally here with ‘Kimi wa Boku da’ nearly a year later, and it’s been more than worth the wait.
A key feature that defines a successful solo song is if it supplements and enhances the character of the singer, and it’s something that both of Maeda’s singles deliver in spades. ‘Kimi wa Boku da’ instantly became a strong contender for my feel-good song of the year. It’s so different from ‘Flower’, yet still distinctly a Maeda Atsuko song. The instrumentals are rustic and charming, perfectly complimenting the smooth melody. It shares a few beats of bittersweet tones with ‘Flower’, but overall it’s a far more energetic and bouncy song. It has a much wider appeal than ‘Flower’ does by doing this, and I think it was a smart second release.
I’ll admit that my first reaction to this PV wasn’t very strong. I often get in the habit of breaking down PVs into their basic, technical components. But I remembered that this PV, like ‘Flower’, isn’t necessarily meant to be broken down like that. As a cinematic PV, I should be looking at it as it was intended to be: as a cinematic experience. It was then that I realized what was being played in front of me was a really touching story with impeccable imagery.
The PV, like ‘Flower’, plays like a short film. It’s got a supporting cast, narrative, and a message to give within the time frame of a music video, and while I loved ‘Flower’, ‘Kimi wa Boku da’ proved itself to be even better. It’s leaner on the story, but much more complex and subtle in delivery. The PV starts with a man thinking back on his youth when he was aspiring to be a comedy duo with a young woman, who is portrayed by Maeda Atsuko. The song begins, and we’re treated to a flashback showing slices of their shared, out-casted life: living in a cramped apartment together, practicing their skits, and going after tournaments, all while having an ambiguous relationship.
He reflects on their odd mutual existence and wonders how to even describe their status. Not lovers, not friends, and not strangers. So who were they? ‘Kimi wa Boku da’: ‘You are Me’. If we are to believe the title and lyrics of the song, they were simply each other; cut from the same cloth and sharing a deep sense of understanding. There were definitely moments when they could have evolved their relationship, but it just didn’t happen. As he finishes reminiscing, he finds himself in an unexpected reunion with his ex-comedy partner and share a final touching moment. I won’t try to explain the various subtle things that happen in that last conversation, but it was incredibly moving in an unexpected way. Strangely enough, this PV resonates a lot with Maeda Atsuko as a celebrity as well.
To say that Maeda Atsuko is a complicated person would be a understatement. That comes with its own set of pros and cons. I wouldn’t say that she’s is the best ace in the history of idol aces, but I would agree that she is a strong contender for the most fascinating. Her charm isn’t something that one can easily point to and say, “Look at this here! You get it now?!”, but I would say that it has to do with her humanity. You never know what Atsuko you’re going to see in any given appearance; will she be tired? Apathetic? Bubbly? Totally crazy? Her consistent inconsistencies paint me a portrait of an earnest person, and I dig it.
Now, should everyone do that? Probably not; it’s a fairly uncommon and unpopular trait, especially in entertainment. But I find it kind of crazy that she pulls it off, considering her fame. Her personality is what most people would call ‘niche appeal’, contrary to the aces who often double as active and dynamic leaders, but she was placed front and center… and it worked! And just when you think you can categorize her, she goes off and genuinely surprises you. You just don’t come across people like her in entertainment often.
I’m nowhere near the biggest Atsuko fan but I’ve really grown to respect her in the past couple years, and I will miss her presence when she graduates this fall. You remember when Shrek described himself as an onion? It’s all about the layers. Maeda is a great big onion, and the singles so far have been using it to her advantage. I feel that each song defines the different layers of Maeda, and I eagerly await her next one.
‘Kimi wa Boku da’
Releases June 20th, 2012