Morning Musume Sakura Gumi / Hare Ame Nochi Suki : 3 of 5
Since I recently enjoyed checking out the second singles from Morning Musume's subgroups of the past, I decided to take a look at the first singles, too. Sakura Gumi definitely was on the mellow side, since Hare Ame Nochi Suki shares a similar tone with Sakura Mankai (though this first single isn't half as good as that magical second single!). The melody is really nice, and I love the super-high notes at the end of the chorus (which means only the best singers get a shot). The video is totally pink-ified and filled with falling cherry blossom petals (I guess it has to be!), and the minimal dance moves aren't very interesting, but the costumes are kind of cool (as long as you ignore the crazy hairdos that some of them had to endure). This single was released while Natsumi Abe was still in the group, so she looks great during the close-up shots. Yossie looks like an entire different person with much softer features - the difference between then and now is really incredible. My favorite shot in the video is the use of rack focus between three girls standing at different distances, so they come into focus just in time to sing "suki suki suki". The DVD also has a close-up version and a really funny making-of segment, which has lots of goofing around scenes (which are always the best part!). I'll be checking out Otome Gumi's first single soon!