If you have followed AKB48, their sister groups, and/or Nogizaka46, you know that several members have their own photobooks. The photobooks consists of several photos of the idol featured, in all sorts of backgrounds and outfits, from the sleek shots in the evening to a day at the beach in a bikini. Members such as Watanabe Miyuki, Kuramochi Asuka, Yokoyama Yui, Miyazaki Miho and Minegishi Minami all have their own photobooks. There are also a few members who have more than one photobook, such as Kojima Haruna, Sashihara Rino and Miyazawa Sae.
Because of the recent flurry of photobooks released the past two months (releases from Yokoyama Yui, Kizaki Yuria, Nishino Nanase, Shiraishi Mai, Miyazawa Sae, Yamamoto Sayaka, and later Kojima Haruna), I decided to take a look at two photobooks I recently purchased of two of them: Nishino Nanase and Kizaki Yuria. Basically I am going to describe them as best as I can without showing any actual pictures (if I show you pictures other than the cover photo, that’s technically spoiling the experience!). I am doing this in order to warrant whether or not the photobook is worth a purchase at CDJapan, Amazon Japan or your local Kinokuniya bookstore.
The first book I’m going to take a look at is Nishino Nanase’s very first photobook, Fudangi. Nishino Nanase is the 3rd member of Nogizaka46 who has her own photobook released, with the other two being Shiraishi Mai and (technically) Matsui Rena. Will Nanase’s photobook experience rival that of Maiyan’s?
The first few shots seem like you are hanging out with Nanase on a date or what not, from walking around the city to sitting and reading manga. Some of these have grey lighting while the glare of the sun provides a more intimate effect. Some shots need two pages to use while others, for some reason, use less than half the page per shot.
Case in point with the bikini shots (yes there are some). A few of them are shots that take less than half the page to cover. Given how rare the bikini gravure shots are (we ARE talking about Nogizaka46 here; they’re known for conservative gravure), it’s a bit of a disappointment how half of the already few bikini shots take up less than half a page.
There are some shots here that have just the right amount of swimsuit gravure: not too conservative yet not too revealing. A few shots are of Nanase in a playground where she is technically wearing a shirt over her bikini. For some odd reason, I really like these shots. It feels like you are hanging out with Nanase in a park only a few steps away from the beach.
Possibly the most fanservice-based shot of the entire photobook is of Nanase lying on the beach in a blue bikini. This takes up two pages to do, and shows a level of sex appeal that only comes with swimsuit gravure photos. But the bikini gravure stops right here; a quarter into the photobook and you’ve had all your bikini fanservice.
Shots switch from black and white to color every now and then, but for some reason it takes away from the ambiance of the photobook. One minute Nanase is standing next to a wall in a grayscale photo, and the next she is licking an ice cream cone in a color shot. The grayscale shots would work if an entire section of the photobook is in grayscale with the next entire section in color, but that is not the case.
There are plenty of shots showcasing Nanase’s legs. She wears pants in like, one or two photos, while the rest are of her in short shorts, a dress, or a bikini. Sometimes you may even see a photo or three of her butt (one shot takes up two whole pages and it is literally of her butt). Another set of photos I like include Nanase in a red dress, shining in the night of the city. I think she looks stunning in this round of photos, and of course, you see how nice her legs are.
However, there are shots that don’t necessarily work, per se. There are some shots where you have to flip the book 90 degrees clockwise to look at properly, and there are some 2-page photos that are hard to see (one of them makes Nanase’s face look strange). I am also not a fan of the constant color to grayscale transitions.
Overall, this is a pretty decent photobook with some fantastic shots of Nanase and just the right amount of fanservice. It is by no means a perfect photobook as there are a handful of problems with the shots and the color transitions, but by all means it is worth a pick up if you support Nishino Nanase and Nogizaka46. It is not better than Shiraishi Mai’s photobook, but it’s still solid for what it’s worth.
Next up is AKB48 member Kizaki Yuria’s first photobook, Peace. This photobook was released on Kizaki Yuria’s 19th birthday, shot all over the beautiful island of Guam.
I do not know about you, but throughout this photobook, it feels as if Kizaki Yuria actually wrote in it. I know that is just printed ink, but I like how it is added so it seems as if Yuria is talking to you as you stroll along the photobook. Like the Nanase photobook, I have this vibe that you are hanging out with Yuria as you look through the book. You have a few shots of her in a school uniform, and then you’re with her helping her decide what bikini she should buy.
From there you are on the beach and Yuria is on a swing. Next thing you know, you are sitting near the tide and Yuria is writing in the sand. Basically, there are plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of beach swimsuit gravure photos. It is definitely a colorful photobook, since Yuria’s bikinis keep changing every 3-4 pages…but the strengths of color are not just found in bikini gravure photos. One of my favorite set of photos includes Yuria in a graffiti-covered skatepark wearing a Dodgers tanktop. This showcases the bright and colorful nature of the photobook without Yuria in a colorful bikini.
This photobook does what the Nanase photobook should have, and that’s utilize the smaller shots that take up less than half a page and put two photos in one page. Nanase’s photobook has these smaller shots but they take up one page and leave you with half a page of white space, whereas Yuria’s photobook puts two of these smaller shots in one page.
I think the fanservice gets a little more, explicit, towards the half of the photobook. You have Yuria not in a bikini, but in lingerie, and it’s enough to give you a nosebleed! Even when there are smaller shots that take up about half the page, the white page blends well with the white of the sun, making Yuria seem like she is some sort of divine angel. There is even a shot of her with her covering her breasts with her back bare. For some odd reason, photos like those get me every time.
Just like the photo found on the cover, why Yuria would pose like that on a weight scale is beyond me…but the beginning of the second half consists of honestly the best Yuria gravure photos I have ever seen in my lifetime. They make her look seductive while being cute at the same time with her round baby face and doll eyes and what now.
There are also shots of her with a friend. I honestly do not know who it is given how her face is never shown, but it looks like Yuria is having fun with this friend of hers. It is good to see that in this photobook because you are literally with Yuria throughout the entire experience, so bringing one of her friends along is pretty cool too.
Like the Nanase photobook, there are some pretty classy photos of Yuria in the night of Guam. They make her look absolutely stunning, and they are not bikini gravure shots, since you may need a break from them every so often.
And yes, you do need a break from the bikini gravure every so often. For starters, the amount of bikini gravure fanservice is a little too high for some people and may turn off the female Kizaki Yuria fans (the Nanase photobook does not necessarily have this problem). The fanservice also can get a little tiresome by the end of the photobook, because you’ve seen Yuria in a bikini so many times that you won’t be taken aback by it anymore.
Overall, this is a photobook that is very bright, colorful, and chock full of fanservice. A least a good 70% of the book is of Yuria in a bikini or lingerie. It is worth a purchase if you’re a fan of Kizaki Yuria or if you find her to be extremely attractive (like I do, at least somewhat). This photobook shows how stunning and cute she is.
If I had to pick a favorite, I would probably go with the Yuria over Nanase. Yeah, the gravure in Yuria’s photobook did get me at times, but I think I have a thing for bright colors, since Yuria’s photobook was full of bright color photos. Nanase’s photobook was great too, but the color to grayscale transitions irked me more times than it should have. Don’t get me wrong; they are both spectacular photobooks and both of them were worth the purchase price. But if I had only enough for one book, I am probably sticking with Yuria on this one.
There are plenty of photobooks I would like to take a look at. Usually I collect group photobooks such as the AKB48 Mizugi Surprise for 2014 and Nogizaka Ha, but I’m starting to look for photobooks of a single member, such as Watanabe Miyuki, Yamamoto Sayaka and Kasai Tomomi. Hopefully I can pick up a few along the way, since I heard Sayanee has a new photobook that makes her look drop dead gorgeous…but that’s a story for another day.
◆ Rin Rigoni