All thoughts and opinions within this post are completely my own and no one else's. I appreciate that we all have our own thoughts and voices, so please consider my opinions as well. If you do not like what I read or disagree, then that is for you to decide. Thank you.
*Credit to Ryan for stocking me with these photobook scans! It is very much appreciated and this post would not have happened without your help!
*About this Series: [A Week with Sayu] is a week-long series dedicated to Michishige Sayumi on her impending graduation from the group Morning Musume. The intention with this series is to focus on Sayumi as an Idol, personality and member of the group she loves dearly, allowing for me to take a closer look at how she has grown as an Idol since her debut up until her graduation. To do this I will be looking at both past and present forms of work that she has done in her 11 year career, some I have previously loved and some I may have ignored. By the end of this series, I hope to have had a better look at Sayumi as well as seen how she has evolved and progressed as the Idol we know today called Michishige Sayumi. Thank you.
One aspect of Sayumi that has always been evident since the beginnings of her career in Hello! Project is that she is a visual artist. Her presence, though not always shown as much as others, is undeniable, her look is appealing and her charisma is pretty damn high. So, taking all that into account, I realised pretty early on that in this series I would need to take Sayumi's visual aspect into account, rather than her singing. Where Reina was a vocal presence as an Idol, Sayumi is certainly more focused on the visual aspect of being an Idol - no wonder those two worked so well together.
So it seemed the obvious decision to do a Photobook review. I have not done one of these in a while!
(Michishige Sayumi released October 29th 2004)
So peddling all the way back to 2004 once again, we're going to be taking a look at the very first photobook in Sayumi's extensive Idol repertoire! Yes yes I know, we seem to be making a theme out of 2004 here, but can you blame me? 2004 was certainly a year of prosperity and growth for Sayumi despite being the first full year she participated in Idol activities after her debut, and honestly she really does prove to be a capable Idol in that year alone, let alone all those years after.
Plus, doesn't she looked darned cute on that cover? How can I not talk about her very first PB, back when she was at her most adorable stage in her career? So yeah, that's what I'm gonna do; look at and talk about her first photobook, because Sayumi is a visual delight to savour and appreciate, a model, if you will, and I know that when looking at this photobook, I will appreciate most, if not all, aspects of it!
Also keep in mind that this is also my first proper look at her first photobook, too; the element of not knowing much is always wonderful when blogging, I've found, so I'm going in with half a blindfold on!
Now before I get into it I want to say a big thank you to Ryan, who sent the files of the photobook to me! If it wasn't for his help then this review would not be happening, so thanks Ryan! <3 I really appreciate this and you are a saint/hero/miracle worker!
That all said and done it's time to crank up those Sayumi solo tunes (I know I have!) as we get crackin' at our very first look of Michishige Sayumi, the debut photobook of an 11-year Idol. Are you ready for the cuteness to overflow?
Okay this already looks damn promising because how cute is she!? She looks like a little Fairytale Doll from my dreams ;^;
Chayu you complete me and this photobook has barely even begun <3
... Okay, are we going to have a bit of an Alice in Wonderland theme here?
Chayu, is that your grandmama's curtain you borrowed? You made it into a rather cute dress!
Oh shit, it's barely the beginning and already the Queen of Hearts has cut off Chayu's head!
Oh wait, there's the rest of her! You know for a second there I was worried!
Sayumi: "This isn't MTV Cribs..."
Well now I know where that door from Kono Chikyuu was borrowed from...
And where it leads to!
Sayu: "Welcome to my crib~"
Girl, emote! You may be in a bikini but I do like my Idols smiling! Well, unless it's Paruru...
Oh shit, we lost her!
No wait a second, THERE SHE IS!!!
She does not look impressed with me though.
Care to emote, kid?
OOOH, I SPY AN EAR!!!
I love ears!
Okay, now that is effing adorable.
Finally!!! A SMILE!!!
Gert damn, she's a cutie pie.
Aaaand we're back to being a sullen little mite. I know it's cold kid, but can't you just crack a grin for the sake of the reviewer?
Awww yeah, all the smiles! Finally she's indulging me, and playing hide and seek to boot! I'm gonna find you no matter what, Chayu!
Nooo, don't become one with the ocean! COME BACK TO MEEEEEEEE!!!
I actually wish that I looked this cute when I was 15.
But nupe ._.
Chayu: "I declare this beach Chayu Island!"
I have no idea what she's drawing, but I bet its something adorable.
... OOOOOH IT'S A BUNNY!!!
... Wait, isn't that the watch from the beginning!? Wait, why weren't you wearing your Uniform in Wonderland?
Oh whatever, too many questions! I should simply appreciate your cuteness rather than bringing up pointless queries, right?
Oh shit, we've lost half of her again, guys -____-
Found the rest of her! And my gosh, doesn't she look so adorable covered in flowers? Like a Fairy!
Walking with Chayu, Schoolgirl edition! I know I'd take on that privilege!
I'll buy her a crepe and some keychains as well, just to complete the friendship we have, no matter how imaginary said friendship is!
Okay where did you this time, you adorable little thing?
Chayu: "Wanna play a game?"
Well I'm shit useless with monkey bars kid, so I'll sit this one out.
And I think I found a really freakin' adorable picture of Sayu in all her youthful glory! Damn adorable!
Guys, she's going to make me a friendship bracelet and braid my hair!
Yes Chayu, you're doing a good job! But don't pop the balloon, now, we wanna use it later for games!
Wait, why are you telling the balloon ball thing to be quiet? It's inanimate!!!
Oh well whatever, so long as you're having fun you little cutie, you~
Ah, those are some really cute hair ties! Can I have a set?
Chayu: "... No."
Flexibility Level: Chayu
Ooooh, Chayu found her White Rabbit! So cute!!!
And no, I don't mean the rabbit, though that's cute too!
Because tying your hair is fascinating, Sayu.
Kyaaaaa, SMILES!!!! SO EFFIN' ADORABLE!
... Wait Chayu, what is this? Are you leaving me for the Goat!?
BUT I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS!?
Chayu: "Mr Goat-san, do you want a hair tie?"
Guys I've been Goat-Zoned ._.
Okay, well now she's ignoring me at school as well. FFS, that goat... -___________-
... I don't want no barley >____>
... Okay, I have no clue what to make of this scene other than Wow, so cute!!!
And they all fall down!
Chayu: "Waaaaaaaah, they fell down!"
You're too cute, Chayu!
Ooooh, a roller blading play date!? I'm game, just lemme grab my own skates...
Wait, DON'T LEAVE ME!!!
Chayu: "Heehee, catch me if you can~!"
Chayu: "Hmmmmmph, pick up my Hats!!!"
WHOA, HOLY CLOSE-UP BATMAN!!!
... Stop staring at me >___> -blushes-
Chayu, are you secretly the Hulk!?
Also, what's with that face? XD
Wait, don't ride off without me! Chayu, why you leave me stranded? ;^;
Chayu: "Haha, you're so silly~"
I know, but so are you!
Chayu, if you roll around in the grass you'll get it in your hair...
By the way, your stomachs showing.
Wait, we're playing Tag!? NO, wait, let me run before you tag me! That's cheating!!!
Chayu: "Yurushite Nyan?"
Yes Chayu, you are cuter than the cat. The added bonus is that I'm not allergic to you as I am with Nyan-san, thank goodness!
Chayu I don't wanna go in the water, it scares me ;w;
Wait, where did you find the Dolphin? Please don't tell me you stole him... Wait, why are you hitting me with it!? GARGH, CHAYU!!!
Well, I forgive you anyway... just don't do it again, okay?
Chayu: "Heehee, no promises~"
So cruel ;w;
I agree Chayu, sand does feel nice...
That said, I don't like sunbathing, so can't we just build sandcastles?
Oh, hi! Didn't notice you'd found a ring float...
Wait, did you steal that one too!?
... I don't believe you >___>
Chayu: "Watermelon-san, wanna play?"
Chayu, where do you find all these toys? And did you get a belly button piercing!? CHAYU!
Oh wow Chayu, this is so pretty!
But you're even prettier, of course!
Chayu, why do you always look so much happier without me!? I thought we were friends ;^; Can't I join you in the pavillion?
Chayu: "Oh nooo, I'm trapped, Help Me!!! Heehee~"
... Okay, this is your own mess, you gotta untangle yourself this time around girl xD
Ahhh, are we home now? It's time to rest, right? YAY!!! ^^
It's so refreshing to just sit outside on the walkway, doesn't it? Oh and your casual clothes are really cute today, too!
Chayu, I don't think that's how we play cards... but I'll go with whatever you want, as always!
The Ace to my Heart, that you are! A winner in every respect~
Wait, what game are we playing now? Hide and Seek? Cat and Mouse? What are we playing???
Eh, erm... Chayu, I think it's dangerous to sit on the tracks, you know? I mean, there might be a train...
You won't listen though, will you? You never listen!
Chayu: "Ahhh, quit your whining!"
I whine to protect you!!!
Okay I know you're sulking because of the train thing, but why are you hugging the pillar!? I'm your friendling, hug me!!!
Chayu: "You throw too many tantrums..."
Yeah, that is a pretty sunset in the distance, isn't it?
I'm so glad I get to see it with you ^o^ <3
You're not still made at me, are you? ;^; I only whine because you're my friend!!!
Chayu: "... I'm not mad, silly!"
OH THANK GOODNESS!!!
Chayu: "Now, catch me if you can!!!"
Hey, wait a second!!! Get back here!
... Okay, why are looking at me like that!?
Chayu: "I'm just looking..."
Yeah, and that worries me!
Chayu: "Oh, stop worrying already, okay? Let's go home."
Ah, okay then! Shall we get ice cream on the way?
Wait, why are you staring so intently? o-O I find this even more reason for concern...
Oh wow, it is getting late! Come on Chayu, let's run the rest of the way home!
Still, doesn't the sky look so pretty?
Oooooor we could just lie on the ground! Though really, we need to be getting back home...
Still, I do love sky-watching! Ooooh, look, CLOUDS!
Okay okay, enough play time! We have to say goodbye now ;^;
Chayu: "Ah, is that so?"
Yes, it is so.
I don't want today to end Chayu, but it's getting real late and we need our sleep. But we'll play again, right? You'll come back to Wonderland one day won't you?
Chayu: "Yeah, I will. One day..."
I'll miss you ;^; I had fun today, remember that!
Until next time Chayu... BYE BYE!!!!
BONUS PHOTO'S W/O COMMENTARY!!!
God damn, she is a cutie pie!!! How in Hells Bells have I overlooked this photobook until now!? I will never know, but regardless, I'm crazy for it! Argh!
Well, wasn't that enlightening? I know why I don't do Photobook commentaries or reviews much, I seem to really not do it well, but hey! There's always room for improvement and I am all about that~
*** Now before I go on I do want to clarify that, regarding the fact I chose to look at this photobook for my series, I did have my reservations about it before I started this review; I hate looking at Idol PB's when the girls themselves are under the age of 16 for reasons of my own, and I am likely not the only one. This is why I refuse to acknowledge the photobooks of Sayashi Riho and Kudo Haruka from when they were younger than said age simply because it goes against my moral code. That said I chose to take on this photobook review for the reason that I wanted to see how Sayumi captured the essence of being a visual Idol in her very first photobook because that is what she is; a visual idol. I wanted to see if she expressed herself as well as she does now, which is why I am doing this. My reservations for Idol photobooks under the age of 16 are still there and always will be. Thank you.
Given that this is Michishige Sayumi's very first solo photobook, I am really impressed! Generally I expect first PB's to be awkward and stiff, but even in her somber stances that was not the case with Sayu; she's a model, visually appealing and expressive in various ways, a girl who truly knows how to capture the camera and create presence and interesting imagery that is both beautiful and appealing in many ways, from the scenery to how Sayu is portrayed in each photograph.
Whilst I doubt this is her best photobook to date (I still find Sayuminglandoll to be one of her best) I do think that this captures the very essence of Sayu when you take a look at it for the first time, moreso her 15 year old self before she truly became the character she is today. She's sweet and innocent, but mischevious well and you can see that here, and that's what I enjoyed about it; that the atmosphere in each and every image was recognisable. It wasn't stiff or forced, most of the time it didn't seem staged either, but instead felt natural and very much Sayumi and that is what I ultimately liked about the photobook.
Another thing that I liked about the PB is that, surprisingly, it did not feel awkward like I thought it would. As I stated in my little disclaimer up there, I don't generally read the photobooks of U-15 Idols because they make me feel awkward, and generally they look awkward, but that wasn't the case here because Sayu's presence was so natural and quirky. Okay I admit that I am not keen on some of the shots taken, but I choose to ignore them of my own accord, however that does not detract from how I feel about Sayumi and her presence as a whole in her debut PB; she's adorable, she fits the imagery and she has this atmosphere about her that is addictively toxic and very inviting to the viewer. She has a welcoming presence, even when staring you down, and I like that about her.
Michishige Sayumi is a fun photobook, one that was a joy to look at I believe! Sayumi invites you into a world that is exclusively hers in a way and takes you along for a fun ride, whether you see it as a date, a wonderland or a friend showing you where her adventures have taken her; no matter what, it is all about Sayu and the reader, and she truly captures the essence of being a visual idol whilst still keeping her charming personality in tact.
Overall, I do like this photobook. It's adorably charming, and I feel like even when she was still starting out as an idol, Sayumi already knew how to express herself the way she does now. She really is a natural Idol from the get-go!
... Well, sorta. We'll just forget that the Best shot of Do it! NOW captured her in the wrong light for now~
Until next time everyone, take care!