All thoughts and opinions within this post are my own. If you do not agree with what is said, then so be it; that is your issue, not mine. Just respect what I say, thank you.
*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.
The parting of Michishige Sayumi will soon be here, and whilst I have been looking back, the Idol we all love so dearly has also been looking back as well. So of course, it is fitting to look at her final appearance in a Music Video with the group she has loved so dearly these past 11 years, even if she isn't necessarily a part of the song itself...
There is no denying it; Michishige Sayumi has made a big impact on Morning Musume as a whole, especially in her last few years as the groups leader. Not only has she brought the group back up from the ground once the Platinum era was over and the Colourful era began, but she has also managed to nurture and care for the girls and allowed them to become the Morning Musume '14 that we know today. She helped to reinvent them, allowed for them to stand on their own two feet as a group vastly different from the Morning Musume she knew and loved when she joined. In time, she has allowed the group to begin their very own era, one that will begin after her graduation.
It really is no wonder that, for her impending departure from one of Japan's oldest Idol groups, Michishige Sayumi has quite possibly been given one of the best send offs we have seen in years. It may not be a parade or a throne, but when it comes to Sayumi, hearing the group that she loves so dearly say goodbye to her is quite possibly the departure she deserved to have.
I present to you Mikaeri Bijin, the tale of A Looking Back Beauty who finally stopped looking back...
Mikaeri Bijin, the song based on a painting!
And no, I am not kidding.
Sayu: "Dear Morning Musume '14,
None of you are cuter than me. Stop wishing you were.
Ichiban Kawaii, Michishige Sayumi."
The look of contemplation on how her life will be after graduation. I sense a lot of time spent with Kamei, her sister and making friends with pill bugs...
Sayu: "Dear Fans,
If you forget me be sure of this: I will find you, and I will kill you.
Your Worst Nightmare."
A first look at Morning Musume '14 sans Michishige Sayumi; it looks pretty good, but you can't help but feel that twinge of pain in the kokoro... gah!
Okay, is this choreography reminiscent of Shouganai Yume Oibitio, or is it just me?
The swan-like arm waves are familiar, is all.
Also, it seems their stylist keeps getting better and better. It's a nice little nod to the past colours of the graduated members as well, and the short-lived chocolate colour owned by Harunan in the boots ;w;
Sayu: "Kids better appreciate the effort I put into writing these damn letters... *internal grumbling*"
Even when she isn't present in the song itself at all, Sayumi manages to rack up a total of the most solo shots in this entire MV xD
Holy-moly, those coloured envelopes *^* Excuse me whilst I fangirl over stationary...
Dayshi is looking a tad tired, but exceptionally pretty in this; she keeps improving in my ranks.
... Her improvement scares me, guys o-O
Actually, aside from being a bit like Shouganai Yume Oibito in elegance, it also reminds me of an army march sometimes.
Morning Musume '15 Army, MARCH!!!
Good grief, Harunan is a picture here as well! I swear, they're all getting prettier with each MV, and soon we're going to bubble over with beauty...
Even Bland-Almighty is looking exceptionally lovely in this, and her blandness works in this song too! Elegance + Fukuhime = Good pairing!
Actually, is this her mansion that the MV was shot in? I bet it is!!!
Speaking of the setting, yes, I love it. It seems a bit empty though, but whatevs.
Okay, this is a pretty shot. Riho arm is also quite nice to look at, weirdly enough.
For the Arm Fetishists, this is your screencap!!!
The lovely Shige, not even looking at us ;2; SHIGE-SAAAAN!!!
MoMusu '14: "Bye, bitch, bye~"
Oh look, she's finally paying attention to her little minions! Wave hullo, kids!
Holy shit, it's a POV shot! HELL YESH!!!
I am loving this POV shot so much right now, I can't even begin to explain!!!
Harunan smile <3 Zukkini smirk <3 Fukuhime eyeing up Zukkini's bewbs with jealousy... There is so much going on in this image, I just had to screencap it!
MoMusu '14: "We want... YOU!!! Recruiting now, Morning Musume '14, Ready for Battle! Are YOU strong enough?"
MoMusu '14, looking damn good at 9 members! Their quality as performers has really advanced thanks to Sayu...
Once again, Queen Shige is ignoring the Lesser-Knowns. Ouch.
I actually wonder what the heck Masakins is doing here, but whatever xD It looks cute and feels like she is reaching out for her Senpai ;w;
Masakins: "Senpai... notice me..."
The bewbs of MoMusu, together.
Joint PB, anyone? XD
MoMusu '14, are you all bowing to your Madam of the House!?
Yep, they totally are~ Why else would they bow when she was just coming down the stairs?
... Okay, my heart is brekaing ;^; Duu is looking so sad in this, and it sets my eyes to Overflow setting in the tear department!
That said, though not looking sad, Eripon is very pretty in this. Not the most beautiful, but damn, she looking good!
And Baby Predator is looking fine! This girl will be a killer Shark in looks soon enough~
... Okay, remember what I said about beauty bubbling over earlier? Well Masaki just scratched that statement, because god damn, that hairstyle is not cute.
In fact, she's starting to look more and more like Reina recently, and no that is not a good thing for me. It's like a little Winky 2.0 is being made! ARRRGH!
Still, thank the Heavens for Harunan's beauty, saving the day one screenshot at a time! Hello, beautiful~
Zukkini staring us all down, because gosh, she is a looker! Superior to us all, that she is!
ZUKKINI!!! <3 <3
I actually wish that I had Zukkini's hair ;w;
And yet another unfortunate hairstyle on poor Sakuranbo's part. Urgh, please don't let her suffer the Aika treatment ;w;
I really don't know if I want to cry or scream at how unforgiving Masaki's hairstyle is to her. Just... ew.
Well, at least Riho's looking cute and pretty! She's going to be a dynamite girl at some point in the future, and I suppose I need to prepare myself for that!
MoMusu '14: "But it ain't no lie, Baby bye bye bye..."
Waving to their Queen ;w; Bye bye~
And of course, she is looking so elegant and beautiful as she leaves! Oh gosh, the feels... the feels!!!
... Okay, Harunan and Duu look like they want to cry, which in turn makes me want to cry! Girls, don't worry, I'm here for you!!! ;^;
... She looked back!!! Sayu... don't leave them behind, please! DUU NEEDS YOU!!!
Oh shit, they found the letters. NOOO!!!
You're going to leave them, aren't you? You're going to leave us all... -cries-
Duu, don't open it baby, please... I don't want to see you cry...
Fukuhime, lead MoMusu with kindness and strength... ; A; Don't let them see you cry!
It'll be okay, Eripon...
Harunan, don't cry! I know how much you adored Shige...
MoMusu '14: "Goodbye, Looking Back Beauty..."
The feels, guys, the feels...
Oh good Lord, THE FEELS!!! Harunan!
Ayumi, even your sad smile is graceful in a predatory way! Thank you for breaking up this teary scene!
Someone has the emotional range of a teaspoon in this PV, I swear.
Even Sakuranbo can smile through all the sadness, but she still looks like she wants to cry ;^;
The Looking Back Beauty, looking back one last time.
The part of choreography that I do really adore, where they look at each other as if to confirm they are all okay... it's so sweet!
Dayashi: "I am one step closer to becoming the Leader, now."
Dayashi still looks smug, but a bittersweet kind of smugness. Or maybe she's just tired?
The most heart-breaking scene in this entire MV, and my screencaps do it no justice ;^;
My poor baby!!!
Sayu: "You'll be okay, everyone."
No, don't walk back! Why are you walking back!?
MoMusu '14: "Sayu..."
Oh shit, it's real...
... Okay guys, get your tissues out, she's never looking back ;^;
I think Harunan's heartbroken, guys...
But somehow, our Baby Predator manages to smile through her sadness.
Duu isn't as strong to keep her tears from flowing however, or does that make her the strongest?
Sakuranbo looks like she's ready to breakdown any second now though. Sakuraaa!!!!
The final scene, where our Looking Back Beauty never looks back again.
"To My Fans,
I am so glad that my fans were my fans.
I started off this review's picture spam with my typical snarky, brash outlook that I take on with my PV reviews, but as it went on I became more emotional and aware of the PV itself, and how I wrote changed to fit my mood. That's because Mikaeri Bijin is emotional, heart-wrenching and saddening in every aspect - it's a bittersweet video, one that shows the strengths of the new Morning Musume we will come to see at the beginning of next year, but one that also allows us to see the departure of Michishige Sayumi and the effect it has on Morning Musume as a whole.
When I first watched this music video, I cried. The emotion was very evident from the beginning, and the more you watch Mikaeri Bijin the more you realise just how many of the girls are affected by not only the letters, but also the song, its meaning and the fact that this is the final recording they would possibly have with Michishige Sayumi together. It's sad and yet one of the most perfect send-offs for Sayumi as a leader and one of Morning Musume's most important members to date; this is a song where the members she loves are waving goodbye to her, all coming together as a new era, but an era that is waving off the old one that she was a part of once upon a time.
It is a beautiful PV, one of the best I have seen from Morning Musume in a while I believe. The scenes are shot so well, the placement of the imagery is also really well done - I love how each scene has meaning and how the placement creates a story, interacts with the members and Sayumi to show how they co-exist together despite never really being together. Whoever directed this video did well, constantly relating the girls to Sayumi and Sayumi to Morning Musume, such as when Sayumi looks over the balcony and then we are shown a point of view shot of Morning Musume dancing, as if we're directly seeing what Sayumi sees herself, or when the girls hold out their hands as Sayumi walks away from them. It is shots like this that makes this very video emotional to watch; it allows us to see the effect of emotion and importance through imagery, giving us a clearer view of how Morning Musume see Sayumi, and how she sees the group that she leaves behind.
Watching Mikaeri Bijin more and more, I have come to realise that this really is the beginning of a new era, but also it allows me to see how important Sayumi was to the group - no other member has been given a send off like this one, where there is a song and music video dedicated to the departure of a long-standing member despite the fact that the said member is not even a part of the song herself. She doesn't sing in it, but she participates in a different way, as if she is a background character in how it was constructed but she is still the main character. Through this we begin to see that there is a lot of gratitude from the members and staff for Sayumi and her presence in Morning Musume after 11 years and this, a song created around her and an era that has passed, shows that gratitude and love, thus crafting a perfect send-off for a beauty who looks back, but then realises she only needs to look towards the future.
It is overwhelming, to see that Sayumi has been given such a gift as one her last goodbye's to Morning Musume, but also overwhelming to see how the group has grown and how wonderful they look together even without her participating in the choreography or song. Sayumi has allowed Morning Musume to become a stronger group, one that has found itself again and are ready to begin a new era without her aid. But even though they are strong, you can see how this song has affected them all and how her letters to the individual members struck them from her words. They look strong, but there is no denying that they will miss Sayumi, constantly remembering what she has done for them and Morning Musume as a whole. Her presence for both the members and for the fans will be missed, but it is a future we ourselves have to look forward to, much like Michishige Sayumi looks forward to that future as well as she watches from behind the scenes after she graduates.
Mikaeri Bijin as both a song and video is beautiful. We see so much from it, from the overwhelming sadness of the other members to how strong the group is now even when Sayumi is no longer a part of it. It has a message in both image and lyric that makes me feel sad, I want to cry when I hear it, but that is what makes it so great; it is overflowing with feeling and love, and it allows us to see a preview of the Morning Musume to come in the near future. For this song, I am glad that Tsunku decided to allow Ishihara Shin'ichi to write the lyrics and Gen Tetsuya to compose it, because you can hear how different, how personal the song sounds, something that I don't think even Tsunku could have accomplished; this is a song that will mean so much to the members and fans for years to come I believe, and even if it did not get a Number One spot on the Oricon, it will always be Number One in our hearts.
The Tale of A Looking Back Beauty has ended, because now she no longer looks back, but instead looks forward to the future of the group she has now left behind...
Michishige Sayumi, you will be missed.