If there’s one thing I can say about these SatoUmi groups, it’s that they are much better than I expected. After enjoying what DiaLady and MellowQuad had to offer, I went into HI-FIN thinking it would be pretty decent. Then they somehow throw what might be Hello! Project’s best PV of the year so far at me, and coupled it with a lovely song. There is SO much to like about HI-FIN and their song, Kaigan Seisou Danshi (“Beach Cleaning Boy”). Their PV is on UF Licks at their Youtube channel here (starts at 12:32)
I suppose I’ll start with the members – These Sato groups are so reminiscent of the old shuffle groups that in a way that’s all they are. We have members from all over H!P converging in this group: Fukuda Kanon from S/mileage, Ikuta Erina and Ishida Ayumi from Morning Musume, and Nakajima Saki and Hagiwara Mai from C-ute. I like all these members, so that’s a great start, even if I wasn’t sure if they would work well together vocally.
We have a mixed bag of singers, so I wasn’t sure if I would like the vocals in this song. Unfortunately Ayumi and Erina are not what I would call vocally talented on the whole, and I see Mai and Nacky get a lot of internet hate (although for the record, I really like both their voices). Kanon is one of H!P’s very best singers if you ask me, but would she be enough to save it?
Turns out there was no need to worry about whether this song needed to be “saved”, because the entirety of it sounds gorgeous. It’s full of beautiful harmonies and layered vocals, and when it’s solo time, Kanon nails it, serenading us with her vocal perfection (I might be over the top here, but I’m a big Kanon fan and I feel like it has been so long since I’ve seen her shine this brightly!).
The song itself is about a girl who falls for a boy who cleans the garbage off the beach… Not traditionally romantic – or traditionally romantic with a twist? “I enjoy long walks on the beach (so I can pick up trash, with you, my love!)”. I suppose it’s better than crushing on your brother the seaman (oof, that one was right in the Mellowquad).
As is the trend with these SatoUmi groups, the lyrics are not the strong point, but that aside everything is very nice. The song is strong, the members are strong, and the PV was incredibly good!
I’d say it takes some cues from C-ute’s recent Kanashiki Ame Furi in style, where we get all kinds of different scenes, as well as split scenes and cut-outs, a la an old movie. I really enjoyed them, it kept the whole PV interesting to watch. It was so much better than the old formula of alternating between dance shots and close ups.
One thing that really struck me about the PV was how flattering the styling is on all the girls. Every one of them looks positively stunning in this PV. Their makeup, outfits, hair styles, everything on these girls looks really good. It was like every time there was a close up, I’d just think , wow, she is so beautiful… For like every single member. Even ones that I don’t usually say that about, like Erina. She looked gorgeous!
As far as image goes, though, I was most drawn to Nacky in this PV. I’m not sure what did it or when it happened, but something in the past 2 years has made me notice how pretty Saki has gotten. Her expressions and manner with the camera are really nice, and something about all her scenes lately draws my eye to her over other members in the same scenes. Whatever you’re doing, Nacky, keep it up, you have turned me into a fan of yours, when years ago I somehow skimmed right over you.
Really, I had trouble only picking out a few shots to use in this write-up. I feel on one hand like, if I don’t have a good quality version of the PV, and Awkward English Subtitles are going to ruin the shot anyway, it’s pointless to take so many screen caps, but I do like to display what the PV has to show.
So that’s the last of the SatoUmi groups, and what a positive showing for Hello! Project. The lineups seemed so strange, but everything pulled together nicely, especially in HI-FIN’s song here. Watch out, H!P, you’re raising the bar for yourself… :)