Gingham Check, the song, is like that beautiful scoop of ice cream atop a cone. But instead of remaining delectable and scrumptious, said ice cream fell off the cone and onto the sidewalk, becoming a gooey, melted mess.
Gingham Check, the PV, is like the friendly ice cream man who witnessed your despair at losing your beloved ice cream so he picked up that messy scoop of ice cream, added sprinkles and chocolate syrup, placed a cherry on top, and gave that new and improved ice cream cone back to you.
I don't think this has ever happened so drastically before. In the past, whenever I find a song to be bad, usually the PV isn't all that good or only marginally better and either way it almost always doesn't improve the song itself. But Gingham Check... this single has been driving me mad. I was ready to pull the switch and call it quits on this even being a halfway decent Senbatsu song until I watched the PV. And for the first time, there's such a contrast between my love for the PV and my hatred for the song that I don't know where to start... I guess the easiest thing to do is sum up my original feelings. So when Gingham Check was first released via live performance I was... underwhelmed to say the least. Frankly, I loathed the song and now I still loathe it just not as much as I used to. Anyways, the problem I had with the song was that it was incredibly dull. I heard the same sound I'd heard from over half of AKB48's discography (think Chance no Juban or Ue Kara Mariko to catch my drift) and the song was more generic than the generic soft drinks at my local Wal-Mart. Call it... Catchy Generica because despite how much I hate these kinds of songs they always, always implant themselves in my head in some way. Usually I find myself humming only the chorus on an endless loop and hating every minute of it. And so this was what happened for Gingham Check. Even now the only reason the chorus isn't stuck on chronic repeat in my head is because I'm blasting Chocolate Disco as I write this.
Gingham Check is currently a contender for worst A-side of 2012 for yours truly along with the future Janken single which I expect to be bad because they're always half-assed. But the thing with Senbatsu songs is I never expect them to be half-assed and I think that's one of the driving reasons why I can't stand this song so much. In the past, every Senbatsu song has had a very distinctive and powerful hook to it. Iiwake Maybe had the rock-ish influences, Heavy Rotation was idol music presented in the best and most energetic way possible, and Flying Get was a badass song with an even more badass PV. But Gingham Check is more vanilla than French Kiss' discography and lacks anything memorable or iconic. If 2011 me heard this song by some weird means of time-travel I would never think "Wow! What a great Senbatsu song this is!" because I wouldn't even think it was one, not even a B-side for the Senbatsu. And that's what makes Gingham Check such a huge slap in the face... It's like Pixar releasing WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 and then releasing Cars 2. That's how I feel about this Senbatsu song. It's not a Senbatsu song, at least not to my ears. So after I'd concluded Gingham Check was a Gingham Mess, I was more than ready to dig my claws into the PV and pretend this single never happened. I'd seen bits and pieces of the PV and had pretty much concluded it would be just as much of a mess as the song was. And then I saw it.
This PV... good lord, this PV... is fucking amazing.
Damn you, Aki-P! Why do you have to hire a good director that gives this crap song a PV that so mind-blowingly amazing I'm left with conflicting feelings!? It would have been so much easier to bash the song, bash the PV, and move on to something else but noooo, you had to get me to love this, didn't you? I loved it so much I screencapped the shit out of it!
Ah, the Tokyo Police HQ, where justice (and donuts!) are served!
Somewhere, in some far off place, an Acchan hater is screaming in joy...
I don't know why but John Steele reminds me of a duck :D
Careful, Acchan! Emote too much and the world will implode on itself and cause a rip in the fabric of space and time!
Off she goes to collaborate with RiDOS so that there combined blandness will cause a rip in the fabric of space and time!
If you're a creepy wota that's convinced Yuko shall harvest your children, just think of this picture and let cruel reality come crashing back down.
At first, I was distracted by the giant "Ultra Party Motorcycle Girls" until I saw the XMXVVX. What the hell does that mean? Are they really complicated Roman numerals?
A ghost show hm? Well, it'd better live up to its name and be a turbo scary ghost show!
A-HA! I KNEW IT! MAYUYU'S A GHOST! That explains why she spend her days in AKB48 creeping around with that Creeper Smile of hers!
It's really fun to read these captions in a cheesy announcer voice! Try it!
Will love find a way? Only if Aki-P lifts the "no dating" rule!
The Motorgirls definitely have the better costumes of the two gangs...
But come on. The Car Devils have Takamina, Miichan, Rena, Umechan, and Mayuyu. Car Devils win the title of Nia's Favorite Gang (I never thought I'd have a favorite gang...)
From now, Yuko shall be called Jill Powers in these shots! By the way, the fact that there's probably a faction of the Yuko fandom ready to stone her for having a fake-relationship in a PV with a guy brings me great amusement :D
A curse? The curse of the Creeper Smile, perhaps?
Oh, don't worry! I'm very terrified of Mayuyu's Creeper Smile already!
I'm a sucker for cheesy love quotes! I'm adding this to my Cheesy Love Quotes Mental Notebook!
I don't really pay attention to dance shot sets, but this one's amazing.
Mayuyu, you adorable little Creeper. I look forward to your inevitable future center position.
Is love in the air for our Fantastic Creeper?
The cartoon hearts do not lie! There is!
Is that Slenderman? What's Slendy doing in AKB48?
Oh god, not the Momochi pose! Run away! Run away!
The cartoon hearts indicate Jill Powers has broken the hearts of her wotas EVERYWHERE!
I have nothing to add to the sheer epicness of this shot.
But holy SHIT, this is amazing! You have no idea how much I love this homage giant monster B-movies! Show more of the Giant Monster Kitty!!! Please!
It's... so... perfect...
Hang on... are they doing the chicken walk?
By Jove, they are! Does the idol industry just have a fetish for chickens or something? I feel like I see chicken moves everywhere in idol dances!
Uh-oh! Jill Powers' jealous wotas have turned on her and are trying to shoot her down for her unfaithfulness D:
Which unspeakable evil? The ghost girl or the Yurushite Nyan PV?
I guess it's the former! Hi there, Kitarie!
Why couldn't Ue Kara Mariko have been like this?
Can I take the giant monster kitty home? I'm gonna name him Chompy!
Oh no! Their love's separated by a wall? Whatever shall they do!?
What, is RiDOS behind that door ready to pump neurotoxin as revenge for all the jabs I've made at her?
I do love the whole "cop-partner romance" plot, not only because it'll piss off hordes of Jill Powers wotas. It's just a lot of fun to watch Jill Powers in action saving the day and kicking ass!
I'd know those locks of hair when I see them! It's my second favorite AKB member Miichan! Glorious, energetic, charismatic Miichan! I'm so glad you weren't shafted like Akimoto Sayaka!
HA! Don't you know the Creeper Smile is a death blocker?
I love how Yukirin and her hubby don't even acknowledge Miichan! They're obviously just not worthy of her presence!
I'll answer that for you: nope. Not with the fandom
Of course they can! With the power of LOVE! And Creeper Smiles :D
I love how the drawing!Mayuyu looks angrier than the real life Mayuyu... Oh, you can't be angry to save your life can you, Mayuyu?
I love the cartoon drawings because do you know what it reminds me of?
Kyarypamyupamyu! WOO HOO FOR TRIPPINESS!
I'm not sure if this shot makes me feel like smiling and going along with it or running out of the room in terror.
I'm not expert in Giant Monster Invasion Survival 101 but wouldn't the smart thing be to run away? Hello? Are you two even paying attention!?
Oh, so NOW you two take my advice? I see how it is.
Cue the West Side Story music!
And now you two hold the record for world's most incompetent cops!
But Mariko holds the record for sexiest robber!
Fairies? I can roll with that since they're Takamina and Umechan!
Is Yukirin a Disney Princess now and are Takamina and Umechan her fairy friends?
If this is what post-Acchan AKB48 will look like... I think I can live with that!
Can love survive for our Fantastic Creeper?
Nope. Because every time she tries there will be Sadako monsters to chase her away. Poor Mayuyu :(
The way Yukirin's so ditzy and oblivious to Chompy the giant monster is really funny in these scenes!
I can tell Mariko and her posse of Jurina, Tomochin, and Sae had a boatload of fun shooting this scene!
Can love stop the Insane Mariko Posse? Of course it can! It's a movie!
So ghosts can hide in my plumbing? How comforting!
I love how fake the green screen looks like the way it does in real-life B-movies!
I feel like these words are all talk and no show for our AKB Gangs...
Besides, the girls in Show Fight actually beat the crap out of each other!
So... are those four girls supposed to be aliens? Race car drivers? Honmayan's sidekicks?
Love... AND COPS! Say it in a dramatic voice and it sounds even better!
EEE! These horror movie homages are like crack to me! Except not deadly and stuff!
Oh look! Sasshi's getting dragged to HKT48!
Bye bye Sasshi!
Yay! Another awesome dance shot! I guess Jill Powers is leader of the Insane Mariko Posse now?
I approve of all these amazing dance shots!
And Sasshi just won for Nia's Favorite Shot in the Whole Freaking PV. Trust me, that title's harder to get than it sounds.
THRILLER! WOO HOO! If only Akimoto Sayaka were in this PV... she loves Michael Jackson
I know Yukirin's center, but I'm more focused on Miichan and
The Sadakos get a dance shot too!? Does this PV get any better!?
CHOMPHY GETS ONE!? My joy is... so uncontainable... that I'm flying atop a rainbow of joy...
Why yes, bullet are flying. And I'm loving every minute of it!
Neither. It's probably Yukirin's ditziness!
Oh, how I love these quirky, hilarious captions!
Wow, this director's quite brave to show Yukirin with another man! He'd better lock his doors and sleep with a gun to escape the wrath of her angry stalker-wotas now!
And so they all lived happily ever after via High School Musical jump!
So... are you guys still here? Because that was a very, very, very, long screencap. I'm serious, the record for longest screencap I've ever done now belongs to Gingham Check with 80 freaking screencaps. But you know why there are so many? Because this has got to be one of the best PVs of 2012. I shit you not, Gingham Check, a song I actively hate, has now earned a place in my cold, unforgiving heart thanks to just how amazing this PV is. Thank you, Joseph Kahn. Thank you for blessing us with such entertainment I can forget about my hatred for this song for 6 minutes and enjoy one of my favorite music videos of 2012.
Something you should know about my preferences when it comes to PVs is I hate cute PVs. With a few exceptions, I just can't stand cute PVs. They're are so sweet I can feel myself getting diabetes. You can show me the most adorable, moe-moe idols prancing around being adorable and cutesy and moe and I won't bat an eye. I think that's boring. What I do love, and I mean really love, are quirky PVs. These are the PVs that take an angle and twist it into something weird and sometimes awkward at times but it works. Think Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai, all of Kyarypamyupamyu's PVs, and even a few Perfume PVs. On Nia's Scale of Quirkiness, the Gingham Check broke the scale, pieced it back together, then sold it on Ebay. For AKB48, the main theme of this PV is what the director described as an homage to Japanese cinema. Throughout the PV you get little shout-outs to Japan like the Sadako-type ghost girls haunting Mayuyu and the Godzilla-esque monster rampaging through a city chasing after Yukirin. Is it a little stereotypical? Maybe, but who fucking cares? Kahn went with a concept and he went all the way with it. You can tell that all the election money from Manatsu no Sounds good! was put into this PV. There are so many different scenes, special effects, stunning costumes, and so. Much. Quirkiness. I loved every bit of it. There were so many different elements thrown together into this PV but it wasn't messy; it worked. It worked so well! The overall tone of the PV was a combination of cheesiness and campiness and all the girls looked like they were having so much fun in the PV! One thing I really loved were all the captions done in perfectly clear English! Not Engrish, pure, grammatically correct English! The captions helped fuel the campy fun of the PV and added to the quirkiness. There are so many scenes from the PV that I loved, it's near impossible to name my favorites (other than Sasshi and her axe) but other things I did enjoy that stuck out to me more than the whole thing were Takamina and Umechan as angels, the Sadako girls, the Thriller dance, Mayuyu's Creeper Smile, and Chompy. I'll miss Chompy :(
A complaint within the fandom is that too much emphasis is put on Yuko and Mayuyu and everyone else got shafted so they could get more screen time. Do I think this is true? Well... yeah. But the thing is, I'm surprisingly okay with it. It might be because I'm a fan of both Yuko and Mayuyu and they have such distinct personalities that they can carry a PV together. Does that mean the other girls don't have personalities? Of course not! And I thought it was cool how everyone sort of got to do their own thing in the PV. Mariko, Jurina, Sae, and Tomochin got to be robbers; Takamina and Umechan were lovely angels/fairies; Sasshi, Tomomi, and Harunyan were horror movie schoolgirls; Yui and Miichan were alien scouts(maybe?), and the top three Senbatsu members each got their own main storyline. Of those three storylines, I think my favorite was the horror movie storyline and not just because Mayuyu's the star. As a fan of horror movies and someone who's seen Ringu, Ju-on, and a few other famous J-horror films, I loved seeing AKB48 do their own little ode to that genre. It was funny and even slightly creepy at times and the captions were amusing and rode along with the campy feel of the entire PV. Another storyline I enjoyed much more than I thought I would was Yukirin's Godzilla storyline. I figured since I'm not much of a Yukirin fan I wouldn't really pay attention but then Chompy came in. I loved the animated giant monster and the ditzy approach Yukirin and her boyfriend took to the whole situation. I even laughed when she was innocently singing into a giant megaphone with the giant monster right behind her! And last but not least (hell, she's number 1) I really enjoyed Yuko's cops-in-love storyline; it was the perfect blend of action and cuteness. I always like the way Yuko acts in PVs; she's really quite a decent actress and can go from silly and playful to serious and dramatic. There's also the surprisingly well-done "gang/fight dance battle extravaganza" between two sides of the Senbatsu. I loved the West Side Story vibes I got from this and I found it blended really smoothly with the rest of the PV, something I wasn't expecting. I seriously didn't want this PV to end; it was just so well-done that I would almost say it was perfect. I literally don't think there was one thing I disliked about it other than the song.
But yep, underneath all that campiness and fun is still that generic song I so willingly struck down several paragraphs ago. One criticism you can make is that the only reason the PV has so much going on is to distract the viewers from the fact that the song itself stinks. But I don't see it that way. I think Gingham Check's PV has added on to the song and given it a new angle, much like Flying Get's PV did. And isn't that what a PV should do? Shouldn't it give you more than just what you listened to, turning the raw audio into a visual spectacle that stays in your mind long after you've heard the song and seen the video. The way I see it is you have songs like Beginner and Spring of Life which are already extremely good and their PVs only add on to the top-notch quality they are. And then you have songs like Gingham Check and Spending all my time which are mediocre songs that are improved when combined with memorable music videos that give substance to something that was once bland and generic. Through this musical metamorphosis, Gingham Check has become more than what I was originally presented with, and I'm astounded by the end result. So in layman's terms... you got me to care about Gingham Check, Aki-P. I hope you're happy in that pool of money you're most likely lounging in right now.
Go watch this. Even if you hate AKB48, go watch it. You might be surprised at what these Akibahara chicks can pull.