WARNING: This pic-spam review and its accompanying Music Video contain scenes of violence, as well as depictions of death. Images of blood are also featured in the video, so if you are sensitive to these kinds of images, please do not read on or watch the following music video. Thank you in advance.
There are just some games that allow you to have a scream of a time. Right, Acchan..?
Okay, real talk: I did not watch Beginner when it first came out all those years ago, because I was an ignorant baby-wota at the time, one who did not like AKB48 for shallow, unjust reasons. I was a dumb, Hello! Project-biased baby-wota who believed in both groups having an invisible rivalry, and I allowed that ignorance to keep me from watching AKB48's music videos.
Now, 10 years on, I am a little wiser and a lot less prejudiced. I'm still not perfect by any means, but I have since repented and watched what has been considered AKB48's most iconic music video. Yes, it was a bit difficult to find a few years back when I first watched it - it was pulled from public viewing, after all - and whilst I have not watched it as much as others, it stuck in my mind.
Beginner really is as iconic as others made it out to be, and 10 years later it is as powerful as it was back then.
Dramatic, violent and a little bit bloody, AKB48's Beginner is a brutal simulation turned reality piece that is perfect for the Halloween season. With its strong visual presence and dark theme, this is the perfect music video to watch during the month of Spook, or to admire for all of its visual loveliness if you are a fan of music videos. Whatever your reason may be for turning into Beginner, you can be certain that it will entertain you and even run a chill up your spine.
And to reiterate the above warning: Before we head into the heavy pic-spam portion of this review, please be aware that this video contains scenes of violence and depictions of death, as well as images that include blood. If any of these trigger you, please do not read this review, or watch the aforementioned music video. Thank you.
It's time to head into a virtual world that bleeds into reality, but I'm not so sure we are ready to take it on... Everyone: In your position... SET!
Point of the game: Don't freakin' die.
URGH, why so blurry?
Wanna play a game?
Oooh, this set looks quite nice! The wires are a bit of a safety hazard, however. Did you guys take a risk assessment?
The skirts look tacky, but they are cute. I love the see-through shirts, too. So damn chic.
Take a seat, lads. This game is gonna get serious.
Sponsored by Nintendo with their latest product, GAmeKB Advance.
I really do love that set, it's so damn cute and reminds me of lego.
The fact they hardly focus on the dance is a little annoying, but also a God-send. It looks like a giant mess.
This console is so cute, I kinda want one.
Yuko looking so damn pretty, as always.
Please don't die in-game, Yuko ;;
These fast cuts work well with the song, but damn, Editor-san, chill for a second and let me admire those weird-ass leggings, kay?
ARE YER READY, KIDS?
AYE AYE, CAP'N!
Damn, that lighting made Acchan look cool for a second.
YESSS, the real Queen has arrived! Damn, look at her. Our beautiful Queen from the top, Mariko!
"The color is blue"
No, it's gold.
I would say that a little smack to the head isn't a big deal, but if you've had a ball smack itself in your face or on the side of your head, lemme tell you: that shit hurts.
OOF, ball to the face!
... Minds outta the gutter, you lot >_>
Erm... did that cube just slice Mariko's head from her body?
YOU KILLED MARIKO!
I just needed an excuse to make this into a continuous gif. Damn, it looks so good.
Mayu-bot looking lifeless, but trying to save lives.
Wait, Michan? Was her name just thrown into one of the enemy objects so that management didn't have to give her solo shots?
I have a feeling that's actually the case e.e How fuckin' shitty.
Michan: "Bye, bitch!"
Oh shit, this got gruesome fairly quickly! Also, loving the blue blood to reflect on the fact that this is game mode instead of reality.
I just happen to love these shots, it's actually really cool (even if the graphics no longer look that great).
I want to see what minor damage looks like in this game, to be honest.
Also, the hearts floating in the air when a character dies are pretty cute.
I like the simplistic look to the dance shots, it's not that distracting against the rest of the video, aside from the clear mess that is this choreography and the members really not knowing what they are doing.
KojiHaru, ready to avenge her fellow members. Time to kick ass with a traingle hand!
Well, she did fuck all.
Well, she did fuck all.
AHAHAHAHAHAHA, it's a chupa chup with her name on it, kinda xD I love it.
Wait a second, KojiHaru, I think there's something stuck on your face...
Ah, there we go! Got it :3
Seriously though, from Mayu-bot and Kojiharu's in-game deaths alone, I can totally see why this PV was censored and pulled from public viewing.
These lifeless looks really aren't that different from Maeda Atsuko's usual expressions, you know? I applaud the members for truly emulating Acchan's lack of emotions.
I think this is one of the longest dance clips yet, though it's just as fast as the other scenes in terms of editing, and that kinda bothers me.
SHUFFLE FEET, AHHH!
I love their weapon names. So freakin' inspired! Square feels super threatening, you know?
... Oh, shit.
Okay, but lemme just say that I am l o v i n g the makeup in this. Yuko's hair is also divine, and she just looks so damn pretty, even if she is being stabbed by a CGI triangle of DOOM.
Ah, okay. So the Stone Records Triangle of Doom can also Kabedon Acchan to the wall. Got it.
Also, hello? Those boots??? So damn pretty.
She's like a bloody plank of wood.
Ow! Bloody splinters!
My parents always warned me about getting hand cramps from gaming too much. They never mentioned anything about my hand starting to bleed, though...
Yuko: "Ah, sorry Acchan. I just needed a nap... Wait, when did you get a splinter in your hand? There's no wood anywhere!"
Acchan: -just chilling-
The emotional range this girl has is just... -chef's kiss-
Okay, where was that big-ass gun of a Square when you were trying to kill the Triangle of Doom? I understand helping a friend out but GIRL! You were kind of in danger.
That sad, little smile ;;
OH MY GOD, THE EYES TURNED MAD AHAHAHAHA
When you squeeze your burger too hard and the ketchup spurts out from the sides.
Bella Swan: "Ah. Papercut."
Oh, wait. Wrong video.
YOOOOOO, that blue fluid isn't blood?
Cue a long-ass, bloodcurdling scream from Acchan for about 20 seconds because, yes, splinters and hand cramps via gaming fucking hurt.
Also: Emotion! Finally.
I am loving the lack of fucks in-game Acchan has, compared to real-world Acchan who is trying to stop her hand from becoming a fountain.
Why does she look like she should be screaming 'VINDICATIOOOOON!' here?
Raymond Holt, He's, Her's and Non-Binary'ers!
Acchan: "Urgh, real me is giving me a headache."
Ah, looks like she's starting to care.
Why do I have an intense desire to just edit out Acchan's screams and replace it with two pterodactyl screeches?
Acchan: -screeches in Velociraptor-
To be honest, this looks freakin' iconic, and Acchan is stylish as heck as she pulls her arm free from the hand with a splinter.
Also, this reminds me of that one scene where the guy cuts his foot off in a Saw movie.
Wait, this song has a dance shot? I forgot all about it, to be honest...
FUCK YEAH, ACCHAN HAS EXCALIBUR HANDS!
OP as fuck.
Acchan: "Splinter WRATH!!!"
Don't underestimate the power you gain when you finally rid yourself of a pesky splinter.
Yuko: "Ue Kara Oshima Yuko~"
Acchan: "This isn't the time for a fucking karaoke sesh, Yuko! I have a bloody splinter!"
Acchan: "Here, have a splinter, you bitch-ass square."
Ah, look, AKB's saviour is here! Matsui Jurina of SKE48!
Jurina was so damn cute way back when, look at that adorable face as she heads into battle!
Also, side note, but er... please don't dab with that Excalibur arm, Jurina. It might hurt your forehead a little, just so ya know.
Iconic. A true hero. The Mulan we should have had.
So... Jurina and Acchan defeated a giant rubik's cube, is what this scene is telling me? Also, damn, where the fuck is Acchan's effort? She's just stabbing it without effort, whilst Jurina is putting her back into this scene. No wonder Jurina is seen as hard-working and dedicated, yeesh.
I can just hear some early 2000's mother screaming in the background:
"STOP LEAVING YOUR FUCKING GAMEBOYS ON THE FLOOR!"
Urgh, if that had leaked on a carpet, it would have left a stain.
Now that's the real nightmare.
AWWWWWWWW, love! So much love!
All hail our Lord and Saviour, Oshima Yuko!
Yuko's had enough. She can't deal with this shit any more or Acchan's overreaction to a splinter. Peace out, bitches!
How dare you stop this Queen in her tracks. She wants to play a game without all of you watching her!
This is such a well-edited scene, I can not lie. I love it.
Yuko: "I did not consent to this hug, urgh."
Yuko being 100% done with the other members' bullshit.
Welp, you got blood on the GAmeKB Advance and broke it. Are ya happy now, Acchan?
God, this choppy-ass editing still doesn't manage to deflect from the messy choreo. HOW?
There is an odd elegance to this scene, and I just can't help but find it extremely satisfying to watch. It honestly makes me think of an elegant ballet.
Weird, I know.
Make it rain~
Ah, shit, the blue ball is back! AND IT'S ROUND!!!
The best part of this dance shot, and it's at the end. It's also the most synchronised part of the dance, which is funny to me.
And now they have broken the damn screen. For fucks sake, stop breaking everything, Acchan!
Well. Acchan screamed for a damn minute.
In all seriousness, Beginner still holds up, 10 years on. With its iconic imagery and scenes of a graphic nature, the music video does well to stay relevant even though a decade has passed. Yes, the consoles may seem a little outdated and bulky, but the idea of the virtual world trickling into reality is a theme that is still prevalent in modern media, and a growing concern for those who believe that one day we will one day live our daily lives in a simulation, of some form, or rely on technology even more than we already do.
Beginner is an interesting PV in general, one that is perfect not only for idol fans, but fans of gaming, horror themes, futuristic themes and fans of music videos in general. It's such a simple but effective premise and style, one that manages to capture your attention and keep you interested from beginning to end, and makes you want to watch it over and over again to catch a glimpse of little details you may have missed on your first viewing.
I think my favourite aspect of this entire video is that it just looks so minimalistic. Beginner is in no way cluttered or over-consumed by props or backdrops, keeping to a white background that gives focus to the weapons and enemy objects in the video game world, or the members themselves. Even the platforms and wires that are used to demonstrate the girls being plugged into the game are not consuming the set, and still allows us to focus on AKB48 and what they are doing.
The use of a white background is also brilliantly executed, because it allows the colours of the weapons and what the members wear as game characters to really pop and stand out, and the white consoles allow the graphics and the blood from Acchan's hand to really stick in your mind. This is such a great demonstration of set design and direction, and the fact that it is so simple is just incredible. There was a lot of thought put into how Beginner would look, and it really shows in the final product, which why it is such a shame that it was pulled from public viewing, because it is so freakin' beautiful.
Even the dance shot balances out the main scenes within the music video. Though it's a mess in terms of synchronisation, the dark contrast of the dance shot against the bright backdrop of the gaming scenes really sticks in your mind. It's clear that the editor and director want you to focus on the PV's storyline as opposed the dance shot, but I can't help but enjoy just how dark and dingy the dance shot looks compared to the story scenes. It really sets the dark tone of the music video, and breaks up the PV nicely.
That said, it is a mess of a dance shot, but I do like how those skirts feel like they bridge the gap between the virtual world, and the real one.
At the time of its release, Beginner raised eyebrows for the scenes it included and the dark, heavy tone it contained. Of course, other Idol groups have gone on to include darker tones and even gorier scenes in their own videos, but there is no denying that Beginner is one of the most iconic music videos of its time, and that it is still as relevant today as it was back when it was released.
Ten years on and Beginner continues to be an impressive watch. Yes, some aspects of the video are not as great as they would have been back then - the graphics, the messy dancing - but it is still relevant, and continues to raise my eyebrows whenever I watch it. People continue to talk about it even now, and though other idol groups have gone further with their themes and gore than AKB48 did, this is still a wonderful music video to watch, and one that continues to send a chill down my spine.
Beginner is iconic, and it is a great MV to watch during the Halloween season. It's honestly a scream, and Acchan can attest to that.
Even though it looks like the end of the game, Beginner was truly the beginning for AKB48's reign of terror as Japan's #1 Idol group. 10 years later this song and video stay relevant in the mind of Idol fans young and old, and truly marked the beginning of AKBDomination.
Were you a fan of Beginner back when it was released, or did you come to enjoy it a little later on in your fandom? No matter when you watched it, please let me know your thoughts on Beginner, and your favourite scene. For me, I can't help but love when the blood splashed onto the console, or when a member pulled the wire from Yuko's neck. Gross, I know, but I have an odd love for scenes like that. They are visually pleasing, in a weird way.
Happy Halloween, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this review, and I look forward to sharing another post with you soon. Please take care of yourselves, stay safe and well both mentally and physically, social distance where possible and, of course, love your idols.
Until next time, thank you and good night,