I love when I order multiple things online over a period of a few months and somehow they all converge and get delivered on the same day. While a rare occasion, yesterday was one of those days and a bunch of photobooks were dropped off on my doorstep with a minimum of extra customs fees to boot. Instead of dedicating a post to each of them I decided to combine them all in one semi-massive post.
First up we have W Saki, Nakajima Saki’s second photobook.
Unlike the other books mentioned in this post I actually ordered W Saki from HelloStoreUSA as CDJapan didn’t list it for the longest time. While this had the inevitable downside of a greatly increased shipping time, it did come with an unexpected bonus photo (pictured above). I wasn’t really a fan of Saki’s first photobook. I looked at the full scans of it online and just found most shots to be a bit akward and most of the outfits not to my liking and as such I decided against purchasing it. W Saki is much better though. The theme is “black and white” both when it comes to locations and outfits and Saki’s demeanour. You start out super cute with white before slowly making your way over to the sexy, sultry black portion of the photobook. Even the background music on the included making of DVD nicely switches from your typical idol DVD music to sultry jazz at just the right times. This is a definite purchase for any Saki fan or photobook fan in general and I hope we see Saki release more of these in the future. She’s got the modelling bit down pat.
Next up we have S/mileage’s first group photobook, S/mileage 1.
S/mileage 1 is less of a pure photobook and more of a compilation of the groups accomplishments so far. It does include a decent amount of new material but it also has their discography up to Uchouten LOVE, a timeline of their achievements, a Q&A with the four original members, a compilation of some of their best photo’s in the idol magazine UTB and an introduction to the newly joined submembers (including Kosuga Fuyuka who had to leave the group due to failing health). It’s a wonderful tribute to the four original members and a nice intro to the new S/mileage era. This is one is a must buy for all S/mileage fans, whether they are 4nin fans or otherwise.
Up next we have Takahashi Ai’s latest photobook, Ai Ai Ai.
Customs decided to cooperate for once and release this promptly so it could arrive the day she graduated from Morning Musume (that day being the day before this post was put up). Whatever your opinion may be on her graduation, you can’t deny that it and everything leading up to it has been organised flawlessly. The last single including her was epic, she got to graduate at a packed Nippon Budokan, her graduation was coupled with the addition of the 10th generation members and we’ve got a kick-ass 12th album releasing soon. No surprise then that things are very much the same for this photobook. Shot in Los Angeles, it’s a fitting release to come out alongside her graduation. She is without a doubt a stunning woman and all her of physical attributes are wonderfully accentuated in this photobook. I hope that (much like Ishikawa Rika before her) she will release another photobook some time after her graduation. In any case this is one hell of a photobook from the Morning Musume PB Queen. Can’t recommend it enough.
Finally we have not a photobook but a magazine: UTB+ Vol.4
Like some purchases I’ve made in the past, I don’t see myself buying one of these again in the future. I mainly bought it because after having seen so many scans of various issues on the internet, I felt I should get a least one copy and with this being a Hello!-Project centric issue, I couldn’t pass it up. The front cover features Suzuki Airi, Sayashi Riho and Maeda Yuuka (arguably some of the current aces of Hello!-Project) and they have a lovely spread on the first few pages as well as a nice fold-out. The new S/mileage also gets a number of pages as well as previews for their photobook. Yajima Maimi and Mano Erina are also included and have what I believe to be the best section of this UTB. All of this is rounded out with previews of Takahashi Ai’s photobook and her gracing of the back cover. UTB also includes photocards with this issue. When you buy it you have a chance of getting one of three series of five cards. While I got the one series that had only one H!P card (the others had two each) it did turn out to be the highly coveted (at least by myself) Yajima-Mano Card. There’s also a selection of other idols in this UTB, so that’s something to consider if you decide to buy this issue. They all look pretty enough to me though.
All in all a pretty good haul and it will probably be a while before I buy another photobook (the next ones will probably be Michishige Sayumi’s and Yajima Maimi’s upcoming ones or the “unannounced but we all know it’s coming” second PB from Okai Chisato) but these have me covered for a while. I still have Morning Musume’s Alo!Hello 2011 on order as well.
As usual you can get them at CDJapan (Ai/Saki/S/mileage) or HelloStoreUSA (Saki). The issue of UTB is out of print so you’ll probably have to look around on Ebay or Yahoo Auctions Japan to find an issue.