AKB48’s most depressing single to date (in a good way)01 February, 2011 by Chad
AKB48 will be releasing their next single later this month on February 16th. As most can guess by now, it will be yet another Sakura-themed song in time for Spring. My first impression on hearing Sakura no Ki Ni Narou (桜の木になろう/Let’s become a Cherry Tree) was that of a slow sentimental ballad reminiscent of a typical Japanese drama ending theme. Sure enough, the single will be used as the theme to the upcoming new drama series Sakura Kara no Tegami, Sorezore no Sotsugyou Monogatari (Letter from the Cherry Blossom Tree, Individual Graduation Stories) starring AKB48 members.
Despite initial reports that 21 members would be chosen for the single, Sakura no Ki ni Narou will continue to preserve a 16 senbatsu selection of members as in the past two singles. It will be accompanied by an Undergirls B-Side and the return of the MINT/DIVA/Kenkyuusei sub-units for a 3rd version specific track.
For the first time, the new single’s PV will be directed by Koreeda Hirokazu instead. The director is particularly famous for his many depressing movies of which I am familiar with the award winning Wonderful Life and the more recent Air Doll. All of his films pretty much revolve around someone dying. Sakura no Ki ni Narou’s video is no exception.
The context of the PV is immediately apparent. We see the front girls visiting a grave at the start of the video and muted scenes of dead Matsui Jurina. As the video progresses, we see the girls’ memories of Jurina juxtaposed with their daily lives and at some point of time Jurina turns into the famous Sakura tree at Zuiryu Elementary School in Hitachiota, Ibaraki Prefecture.
In some ways Sakura no Ki ni Narou’s video feels like a spiritual continuation to the 10nen Zakura PV. But while 10nen Zakura saw the girls taking a nostalgic look at their childhood days, Sakura no Ki ni Narou takes a more “setsunai” approach by focusing on the lives of the girls in the alternate future. Yuko plays with her now born daughter, Maeda toils away at an office job and Itano zones out while waiting a table at a restaurant in view of the Rainbow Bridge.
Granted Sakura no Ki ni Narou might not be as catchy as 10nen Zakura or Sakura no Hanabiratachi, but it does have a nice tune that is bound to do well with mainstream audiences. Some might also appreciate the fact that Jurina dies in this single or her abundant screen time as a result of it. Some of the peeps have been speculating on how the AKB48 management hides hidden messages in each main promo video. With Osaka’s own upcoming NMB48, could this mark the possible demise of Jurina, and thus SKE48’s popularity?
Covers courtesy of Generasia.Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.
Click here to search CDJapan for Sakura no Ki ni Narou and other related items.
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