Matsui Rena wows with solo photobook

01 April, 2012 by

On the 1st of March, one half of SKE48’s double Matsui combination released her photobook, Kingyo. Transliterated to Goldfish, the photobook is Matsui Rena’s first solo photobook, making it the first one from the SKE48 family. Even at the time of writing this, Kingyo is still in the top 5 of Amazon Japan’s best-seller ranking, nearly a month from its release date. We take a peek…

Behind the camera for Kingyo is Marutani Yoshihisa. A photographer for various advertisements and magazines, Yoshihisa has under his belt works for companies like Epson, Calbee and was also responsible for photos taken to promote the AKB48 single, Namida Surprise. So him being in charge for Rena’s photobook comes as no surprise, nor is the resulting quality of the book.

Starting off the first pages.

When Kingyo was first announced, many fans (including this writer) wondered what kind of book it would be. Matsui Rena, not known for having the most robust of figures, would certainly be an ill-fit for anything that showcased her body. Of course, considering the high bikini content of most idol photobooks, most fans wrote Kingyo off as destined for failure.

One of many shots showcasing her legs.

It turns out that these worries were for naught. While there were still some rather provocative shots in the photobook, frontal shots of Rena were obviously avoided, showing a great deal of awareness on the photographer’s part of Rena’s shortcomings.

Putting Rena in different dresses.

Instead, Yoshihisa took advantage of Rena’s thin stature to showcase a variety of dresses and get-ups, utilizing her as a model to show off cocktail dresses and casual wear not unlike what one might see in everyday Japan.

More from the cover shoot.

The book also contains a few well done 2-page spreads. Most photobooks use such spreads to showcase the model’s full body length, which turns the center binding into very visible distraction of the photo. Kingyo uses spreads to instead showcase landscapes, allowing for wider composition of shots.

Great landscape spreads.

Thematically, this photobook is top-notch. While some may complain of the relative depression of the photobook, much of the book is allegory to Rena’s own existence as an idol. It showcases the happiness one gains from one’s job, and slowly gets darker as the day ends and she retreats to her home after work. The time of day seems to reflect the mood in the photos; the night shots are broody, while the day shots happy and bright.

Close-up shots of Rena in the rain.

All-in-all, Kingyo is a photobook beyond my own expectations. By playing off Rena’s strengths (that lie in her ability to convey emotions) and not forcing the shots (like with unneeded bikini photos), what turns out is a result that would surprise even the Rena fan.

The poster that comes with the photobook.

I would gladly recommend Kingyo to first-time photobook buyers. Its thickness and quality make it a no-brainer purchase, especially at the cheap price point of 1429 yen. Hopefully, this trend continues with other photographers. I for one, would like to see more of Fashion Rena, and less of Swimsuit Rena.

Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.

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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.