Maeda Atsuko goes to France

29 March, 2012 by

In celebration of her turning 20, Maeda Atsuko’s new photobook has been released. Titled Bukiyou (不器用, Clumsy), the book is Maeda’s fifth since debuting as an AKB48 member. Following a gap of nearly two years since the release of her photobook trilogy, Bukiyou follows Maeda on a trip to Paris. Fashion photographer Nakamura Kazutaka takes the rein for Bukiyou. While he has photographed celebrities like Fujii Rena or Tanaka Rena in the past, much of his experience has been with advertisements and fashion shoots. How does the more street-oriented Bukiyou compare to its predecessors?

Sharing some laughs with locals.

The photobook itself seems to look (and feel) more like a travel diary than it does a simple collection of photos. While this could be intentional, it does give the reader the feeling of being able to see the real Maeda Atsuko interacting with the sights, sounds and people of Paris.

A collage of photos of Maeda eating.

Bukiyou takes advantage of Acchan’s voracious appetite, with many shots of the idol eating and even a collage that consists mostly of photographs of Maeda and food. She has expressed more than once her desire to visit Paris, and Bukiyou captures her delight at being able to walk the streets of the city of light.

A precursor to the more revealing shots.

Of course, it is widely known that many do buy photobooks for the raunchy photos you might get, especially when considering the previous Acchan photobooks. While a photo of a hand-bra had fans up in arms about the inappropriateness, the shots were all tastefully done and showcase Maeda’s versatility as a photography model. Of course, it being Paris means there aren’t any bikini photos in the whole book. Instead, those are substituted with lingerie and not-so-subtle cleavage photos.

While not many, the two page spreads are great.

However, the photobook does have some flaws. While it gains points for sticking to a diary theme and does it well, the same street-photography mantra results in technical issues with many of the photographs. The photobook is rife with photos that are out-of-focus or blurry; there are some where this is justified, the blur showing movement and creating excitement. In others, this just seems to be a case of bad photo choice. As an aside, the cover of the book is not in crisp clear focus either.

It's not our photograph, it's really that blurry.

It was a little disappointing to see that there were not many shots of her in different outfits, or trying out some fashion shots, given the location the shoot is staged in. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is a minor complaint that doesn’t lessen the experience.

A fold-out poster-cum-diary comes with the book.

Thematically, Acchan’s new photobook is great. Fans both new and old will love the candid feel of Bukiyou as they follow her exploits in Paris. The thematic success of the book is marred, however, by the large amounts of blurry photographs within. Nevertheless, it is a good buy, although some might be wary should they want to obtain it for tips on good photography.

Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.

#  #  #

Writer who also doubles as the photographer during event coverage. Mus' interests in Japan lie in the language, literature, popular culture and underground rock bands. Having an academic background in Japan, Mus is also particularly interested in the study of Nihonjinron.