The Evil Mikitty Does: HI MADAM and Sexy Otonajan
The 2005 shuffle single “Onna, Kanashii, Otona” is a beautiful song matched with an equally gorgeous, subtly allusive PV. It speaks volumes about the relationship between idol and idolizer, between Jpop princesses and the wota that worship them.
But let’s face facts: the costume and setting is all about Mikitty peddling underage flesh - namely, Murakami Megumi and Natsuyaki Miyabi’s. Throw in Tanaka Reina and Suzuki Airi and Mikitty could dub her place “The House of Aa!”. That’s right. I’m saying it. And I’m not the first, so why should it be a big deal? This PV is all about Mikitty running a whorehouse.
Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Hello! Pro”, doesn’t it?
So just to get a sense of the timeline: Gomatto was at the end of 2002, “Boogie Train ‘03″ at the start of 2003, “Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart!~” towards the end of 2003, and “Ai Arraba It’s Alright” at the very start of 2004. So her evil was detected and contained pretty rapidly, as far as these Jpop battles against the dark side go.
Besides an allusion to Mikitty’s ability to manipulate others in the first “Joshi Kashimashi”, Mikitty seemed to have been placed under control, her plans of conquering Hello! Project and the world now held in abeyance…
But by summer 2005, things have changed significantly. It turns out Mikitty was just waiting for the right time, and for the right pieces to fall in place. The line-up of Morning Musume had hemorrhaged down from fifteen to ten, Natsumi Abe had gone through her plagiarism scandal, Mari had just gone through her own scandal with that guy she’s no longer dating anymore, and the leadership of Momusu had fallen to Yossi… with Mikitty as the sub-leader.
So how does Mikitty make plain that her evil plans are back in effect, that the world should tremble at her magnificently malevolent Mikitty-liciousness?
Easy: she does a summer shuffles PV involving a cathouse with two H!P Kids.
(Though taking a sidestep back into reality, I have to admire the crackhead who decided this was a great idea for a shuffle group concept. “Let’s take one of our older idols, pair her up with two young teens, and make them look like Left Bank daughters of joy.” “Okay, but we can’t use the four oldest idols in H!P. They’ll be in another shuffle unit where they wear too much pink, sing only harmony so we can’t hear how talented they are individually, and make people fall asleep.”)
In a weird way, it makes sense. She’s proven her feminine wiles with her seduction of Ayaya and then Gocchin, then indoctrinates the H!P Kids in “Boogie Train ‘03″… It was only a matter of time before she realized she could use the Kids as sexual surrogates and pull a tidy profit.
Oh, I’m probably reading this all wrong, you’re probably saying. This video and their costumes don’t necessarily indicate a house of ill repute. They could be performers in some cabaret of some sort, you try to argue..
All I can say is, Wake up! That’s the bossa nova you’re listening to! (That is, if what you’re listening to is the Sexy Otonajan song.) And while we can blame what happens on the bossa nova, we know who’s really behind all this!
There actually isn’t as much plot to this PV as there is in the previous two major examples. We see the three Sexy Otonajans dance and sing together, and then there are individual shots of each of the girls primping, putting on make-up and looking over gifts (tokens of affection?). A wan smile dawns on a girl’s face from time to time, but for the most part they’re quite serious…
My guess is this is the end result of a very, very wrong episode of “Yoroshiku Senpai”. Mikitty took the two girls aside and did her seductive pimp spiel.
“Listen, baby, I know how it is, you know I love you, baby, I wouldn’t ever give that Risako more lines than you, you just stick with me and put on this bustier and you’ll never have to pretend to play basketball in a dance sequence ever again, you know what I’m saying?”
Or words to that effect.
Ironically, when that year’s shuffles first came out, I didn’t like Mikitty much, definitely wasn’t into Berryz Koubo at all, and had an only passing interest in Megukami from her appearance in Goto Maki’s “Yokohama Shinkirou” PV. So as far as shuffle line-ups went, at the time this wasn’t as stellar in my eyes as it is now, when it’s obvious that we’ve got the cream of the H!P crop in this trio. For my money, this is even better than Gomatto, never mind Nochiura Natsumi or Def. Diva.
What a difference a year makes, right? Now, this is as close to an H!P supergroup as I could think of. Certainly more so than Def. Diva or Nochiura Natsumi…
And while this series is all about Mikitty, let’s consider how this song applies to the junior members of the trio.
First off, calling the group Sexy Otanajan and sticking a couple of pre-teens into it is itself a strange notion. Outside of the occasional MySpace community, how many predominantly pre-teen groups out there use “Sexy” in their name?
And it’s not like I totally disagree with the nomenclature - Megumi was my Jpop valentine this year, and Miyabi’s just about my favorite Berryz right now - but it does give one pause.
That said, if you had to choose any of the H!P Kids for this kind of scenario - and singing this kind of song - it’s hard to argue with the choices made. There’s the mildest whiff of Brooke Shields circa Pretty Baby in this whole situation, an intoxicating mix of indolence and indulgence, base exploitation and silent understandings.
Other H!P Kids wouldn’t have fit as well: Airi’s too young, Saki looks too young, Momoko would just be too weird… Maimi could have pulled it off vocally, but her persona strikes me as spunkier than one would expect from such a setting. Less Pretty Baby Brooke Shields than Taxi Driver Jodie Foster, if you will.
Interestingly, all three PVs in the Evil Mikitty series show her in a position of power: as a friend and roommate with a Sapphic alliance, as someone who puts the “loco” back in “in loco parentis”…
And here? Well, I guess she’s boss. Supervisor? Coordinator of Underage Talent?
Anyway. Considering the three major examples of Mikitty’s evil scheming, it’s amazing how great all three songs are - and how much each deviates musically from the tried-and-true H!P formula.
Further, we must give credit where credit is due: Mikitty sings each of these songs exquisitely, matching her vocal talent to the expectations of the genre. She is drama queen desperate in “Shall We Love?”, powerfully upbeat and playful in “Boogie Train ‘O3″… and here…?
Well, here she is quietly melancholy: this is a song about loss, loneliness, and self-awareness.
And consider this: Ayaya can do jazz beautifully, but she never really feels like a jazz singer per se. Rather, the jazz music accompaniment is another adornment for her quintessentially pop delivery. Mikitty, on the other hand, seems much more versatile - much more able to dive into a different genre and take on its contours as a singer.
I could be wrong in my assessment of both young ladies, but it seems to me that Mikitty has shown she has range and style and chops to spare.
Perhaps what’s equally surprising is that the two H!P Kids accompanying her on the song are as perfectly matched to this material as Mikitty herself.
As a unit, the one-adult / several0kids formula has been done before, most notably with Yaguchi Mari leading ZYX - which featured Megukami, of course. In the case of “Iku ZYX Fly High,” the girls were apparently homeless waifs who found a Wim Wenders-esqe redemption by leaping forward into the great unknown.
And there’s the counterpart to ZYX, Aa!. While herself a youngster, Reina was older than Suzuki Airi and Miyabi, so the sense of senpai-kohai was still kind of there. That said, all the girls of Aa! suffered in the “First Kiss” PV was heartache, a thunderstorm, and some questionable choices in hats.
And of course, for the H!P All-Stars CD single, Aa! was re-united with Tanaka, Suzuki, and now Megukami taking Miyabi’s place. The song wasn’t as good as “First Kiss” - there are, in my opinion, only a very small handful of H!P songs as good as “First Kiss” - but the notion of a junior vocal powerhouse unit was cemented with this performance.
So in a sense, both Miyabi and Megumi were primed for something as adult and sophisticated as Sexy Otonajan. And yet, even with the most beneficial reading of this PV, the outfits they’re wearing, the setting they’re in… well, one can only ask, “How did they wind up like this?” More specifically, we have to ask the adult - Mikitty - “How could you let this happen to them, as well as yourself?”
One gets a sense of the tragedy of lost innocence, something of a recurring motif now that the kids are starting to hit puberty. But is growing up really such a tragic experience, is the loss of innocence all that mythic a moment? Perhaps for the audience of these idols, who want their little girls to always remain little girls.
Personally speak, I’ll admit to a twinge of sadness at times when I consider how much my favorite U15 idols have grown - some no longer even being U15 - though this is mixed in with more positive emotions, most notably pride at how much they’ve achieved at such young ages.
The outfits the girls wear are meant to be quietly gaudy, for lack of a better phrase. Part Wild West cathouse, part Moulin Rouge fantasy, the deep maroon bustier and gold lamé skirt (leftovers from Matsuken’s kimono?) is somber but also meant to evoke a rather strange sense of luxury, a low-rent notion of high-rent privilege.
And mention must be made of the beautiful manes of hair worn by the two younger girls. While Mikitty’s hair remains pretty much the way we’re used to seeing it nowadays - thank God the pageboy is gone - the hairdos worn by Megukami and Miyabi are quite different from what we’re used to seeing on them. More adult, certainly, and shaping their faces in a surprisingly pleasing manner.
Megukami’s features are softened considerably. In her everyday look, there is a mild severity to her features, accentuated by her short hairstyle. The result is often gawky - pleasingly gawky, but still gawky. (Her appearance in the first Hello Pro Hour is one example of this.) Here, the hair and make-up takes away the severity - not quite an extreme makeover, but certainly a look at what Megukami can look like once she starts applying the ol’ warpaint on a regular basis.
Miyabi’s look is no less startling, though the change is subtler… but wow, it speaks volumes, considering how prominent she’d become in Berryz by the time this video came out. Not only is her hair thicker-looking, it’s also darker - and I never really thought about whether or not any of the Berryz dyed their hair, but I guess Miyabi and a couple others did.
She never grins in this PV and as a result her “hippo smile” (the term crs used months ago which continues to haunt me to this day) is never seen. If it did, I think it would have diminished the overall effect of the video, made her childishness much more central and thus made the whole l’affaire de PV that much less believable…
I’m not sure if this version of Miyabi’s idol persona - this look, this kind of demeanor, this level of maturity and sophistication - could fly with Berryz. Could any of the other Berryz pull off this kind of look, this kind of demeanor? Momoko perhaps, though I’d argue there’d be a mild self-parody element to it if she tried… And that’s about it. It isn’t just the maturity or the subdued sexiness - it’s also the ability to play into the artifice of the song and what it imagines in the PV, a depth and emotional stillness that Miyabi had reached before with Aa! but has never been asked to provide in her Berryz work.
All of which only proves again how important the molding and marketing of a specific idol persona, of a certain idol image, can be in how one sees a performer. For me, at least, the Sexy Otonajan Miyabi is the perfect solo performer version of Miyabi - but one that would simply outpace and outclass her fellow Berryz. In contrast, the less exotic and more friendly Miyabi that we’re used to has played a vital role in the group’s success. So while I want to see more of this Otonajan Miyabi, there’ll be plenty of time in coming years for her to develop that persona and all that it entails.
As for Mikitty… well, let’s appreciate that she’s already grown in front of our eyes and can look quite the sophisticated young lady now.
As much as I like Mikitty from the start of her career, I have to say she went too long with the tomboy look and that short hair style. She even carried it over from her solo career into her early Momusu days. I’m not sure when exactly she decided to give that up, but she looks much more adult and confident with her hair long.
Despite the oft-attested glamour of the dark side, I doubt Mikitty will ever become the most glamorous of the H!P girls. She doesn’t seem to have that instinct or desire to steer her idol persona in that direction, the way Rika has, or Sayumi, or Melon Kinenbi’s Boss Saito. If anything, she represents that contingent of H!P idols who can look stunning and sensual when called for, but is more comfortable with a low-key, girl-next-door feel. MKB’s Shibata Ayumi is the exemplar of this, as is Viyuden’s Miyoshi Erika. Which makes me think that a kind of persona-balancing does indeed take place within different units…
All that said, a striking aspect about this video is that such a premium is placed on appearances - on making sure they look beautiful… With three girls who haven’t been all that focused on such, either by choice or by age.
Which may help explain why none of these young ladies seem to take much satisfaction in it, but I think there’s more than that at work. There is no appreciation of their achievement, despite the concentration and effort. The time in front of the beauty mirror is a pleasantly distracting chore, but not something needed to boost their self-esteem or bring out an inner light.
Looking gorgeous - and make no mistake, all three of them are gorgeous here -is just a part of their job, it seems. Tools of the trade… whatever that trade may be.
The title of the song is itself highly instructive: “Woman, Sad, Adult”.
This brings to mind “Jiriri Kiteru” to me, if only because they’re both about growing up being all about yearnings that are overpowering but also tragic, about loss being the major awareness one reaches in adulthood.
Why is this? Is growing up so bad? Why is it always the bittersweet epiphanies of adulthood that become the focus of these kinds of songs and PVs in Hello! Project? Where are the videos and songs about fake I.D.s and make-out parties with college boys and playing Playstation all night long without parental supervision? Where are the songs about the exhilarating new freedoms and liberties grabbed as one becomes an adult, like sneaking around with your boyfriend and smoking even though you’re underage or… um… plagiarizing poems…
But I bet Mikitty would have found all that funny!
Can I just sat again how gorgeous Megukami is here? I mean, she’s always been a cutie but here she is alluring and very sophisticated. And hearing her sing so beautifully here is just breathtaking…
As for Natsuyaki-chan… yeah, wow again. Wow squared. She turns fourteen this week, did you know that? We should do something to celebrate…
I recently compared Miyabi’s singing as having a similar effect on me as Mikitty’s. There’s a great variety of distinct voices in Berryz, but Miyabi’s got a certain power and emotional depth that the others are still working towards. It isn’t so much that she has it down pat as it seems that she’s been aware of its importance and been working towards it for longer than the others. She isn’t the precocious Berryz - that’d be Risako - but the most concerned with her craft as an idol.
I think I’ve been playing this song more often than most anything else in recent months - certainly, it had more staying power than I anticipated. It manages to be H!P-ish enough to feed my Jpop jones, but also distinct enough in its bossa nove goodnes to be worth seeking out on my playlist and returning to time and again. It’s up there with the Bounceback SweetS songs (all of them), with “First Kiss” and “Love Machine”, Zone’s “H A N A B I” and Bennie K’s “Dreamland”… Transcendent and emotionally powerful while remaining quintessentially pop.
It is, quite simply, a beautiful song, sung by several beautiful young ladies. And for my wretched wota heart, it can’t get any better than that.
And indeed, one of the best aspects of this song is that Mikitty isn’t in charge of the song, that they’re treated pretty much as equals even with Mikitty as the leader.
It’s like Gomatto, but it’s now Mikitty and not Gocchin who is the first among the equals. Except instead of trying to outshine each other as in Gomatto, the trio here is more demure… the changes in vocal leads isn’t as jarring and at times even goes unnoticed if you’re not paying close enough attention. They want to blend into each other, avoid notice.
It may only be the difference in ages - and development - that makes Mikitty so commanding. However, all the girls have that same quite self-possession in the way they handle themselves in the video: they all seem lost in thought for much of the video, their thoughts a mystery but clearly wishing to be someplace else… which for me, at least, reinforces the tragic bordello scenario.
Oddly, that self-possession - especially in Miyabi - only serves to isolate the girls from each other. Despite being a unit, there is a dramatic sense of emotional distance created by the song, the setting, the way they dance
The choreography of the video is riveting. Again, it’s a variant of the “three girls in a circle taking turns at solo lines” approach epitomized by Gomatto. However, here the sensual beat of the bossa nova means the moves aren’t so much sharp and aggressive as undulating and subtly inviting.
It’s very much dance as a mating ritual. The stretch of arms to accentuate (mostly nonexistent, bustier-enhanced) breasts, the swinging of hips to a shifting rhythm - slow and circling, then a sped-up bootie shake.
When the girls lightly touch each other’s arms and shoulders, it’s not so much intimate as it is an affirmation of enforced sisterhood - that they’re all in the same situation and will need each other to get by.
There is something… dangerous… unsettling, at least… about the extremely laconic performances of All three young women in the video. It matches the languorous bossa nova rhythm of the song, but also allows for an almost meditative attitude towards the minutiae they’re engaged in when in front of their respective mirrors.
Putting on their make-up is an exacting process, and yet handled so casually.
And while faint smiles sometimes appear on their faces - especially on Mikitty, who unsurprisingly seems more self-aware and ironic about this whole affair - for the most part these girls are quiet blase, nonchalant about whatever it is they face in the night.
The voyeurism theme of this PV is evident in the camera and how it’s placed. In the dressing rooms, the cameras are perched off to the side, obscuring part of the view. It is as if one is peeking from a half-opened door, or standing behind a curtain.
The sense of voyeurism is further heightened by the girls’ behavior - so wrapped up in themselves, oblivious to anyone else around them.
During the dance sequences, the voyeuristic view is continued with the long distance shots of the trio.
Lights and candles obscure the view as they perform, sometimes moving into the center of the screen as the camera pans across.
Again, one has the unmistakable sense of trying to remain undetected, of an obscured view signaling a desire (perhaps a need?) to stay hidden.
When Mikitty considers a gift, what does it signify? Is it a sign of hope, of possible connection?
The gifts they pore over - trinkets of value, one assumes - are meant to have great meaning for them. One easily imagines that they were given as tokens of appreciation, perhaps even signs of a deeper affection.
And yet, the girls seem less than thrilled. If anything, these gifts provide no more than a momentary distraction before they resume their chores of beautification.
What would thrill and delight other women leaves them unmoved - if anything, bemused. Why is that? Because such gifts represent an attempt to bond between two people…
… and for these young ladies, such a bond is empty, meaningless. (Which is another reason I find myself more persuaded by the prostitution angle than any other reading of the video.) It is a bleakly existential view of the world, born out of too much false intimacy and no real connection.
(The lyrics indicate a less harsh interpretation of the loneliness - but if that were the case, wouldn’t the gifts be from the loved one out of their reaches, and wouldn’t that provoke delight instead of boredom?)
What does all this add up to, given the possible scenarios behind the PV? What is the significance of being a voyeur of young women who lead a life of exposed intimacies?
That the girls are alone in their dressing rooms is important. After all, it is their relationship with others that is on public display - but the time to themselves, left to their thoughts, is the most private of time for them.
Suppose that this is a house of ill repute. The moments a whore has with her john are the most public in her life - not because everyone sees what is happening, but because everyone already knows what’s going on without having to see it.
Acts which are supposed to be kept secret, kept discrete and unspoken, are the very things negotiated, discussed, and carried out with mercantile efficiency.
On the other hand, let’s say this isn’t Madam Mikitty and Her Hello Pros. Let’s say they’re cabaret performers taking time off between sets. If that’s the case, I’d say a similar - if not completely alike - dynamic is also at work.
In a stylized fashion, their souls are bared when these nightclub chanteuses sing, expressing geelings and wishes not discussed so openly and with such emotional power. (I have to assume that if they’re a cabaret act, they’re a really good one. After all, look who’s in the group!)
But whether it’s whorehouse or cabaret or something in-between - perhaps the girls are in an old-fashioned burlesque? - it’s the time to oneself that is most intimate, not the time catering to the fantasies of others. This is when they’re most exposed.
And what do they feel when they’re alone, what do they think of? In Mikitty’s case, she’s struck by a moment of sadness, or perhaps regret. Maybe it’s just a brief lapse of weakness…
… She reaches out to her reflection, as if unsure of who else can provide solace.
We then get a view of the city as if she was staring out a window instead of her mirror. But why is that?
Is she a simple Hokkaido girl trapped in the urban jungle? Does she seek something better out there? A true prince charming? Her beloved Ayaya, dropping in on a jet-pack to sweep her away?
And is this why Mikitty is such a force of evil and malevolence? A tragically profound sadness that wells up inside her which can only be expressed by… well, lesbian seductions, manic terrorizing of children, and the pimping of talented U15s?
But perhaps Mikitty was just born evil, a bad seed of the classic variety. A very naughty, very hot, very sexy embodiment of the allure of evil…
Meanwhile, we see Miyabi and then Megukami applying lipstick in what may be the most sensual moment of the entire PV…
I have to say, even I felt a lapse of guilt watching Megukami smack her lips after applying a fresh coat.
Which brings up a point that may be obvious but has to be stated: that seduction is itself a power grab, that control of one’s sensual prowess is a fearsome ability.
To this day, a sexually desirable woman is considered a force capable of leading even the strongest men astray. In earlier times, the idea of the “voluptuous” or “wanton” woman was a clear condemnation of immorality that had devastating effects on a person’s reputation.
In other words, sexiness in and of itself was considered evil. And yet, these girls are reveling in their sexuality - and at such a young age.
So perhaps that is also a part of Evil Mikitty’s plan? Not only to rent these girls out, but to make them into her own minions, agents gifted in the sins of the flesh?
And what does it say of the viewer, hiding from this power? Is it strength of will to resist such temptation - or cowardice at not giving in and just admitting that the call of earthly pleasures is worth whatever price we may pay?
The Sexy Otonajan are indeed quite sexy, and in earlier ages this alone would be considered wrong. Moral rectitude dictated a more demure attitude and presentation, lest souls be recklessly endangered.
And perhaps those fears are correct. To dip only slightly into hyperbole, I’d club dozens of baby seals and set fire to thousands of nursing homes if any three of these girls even hinted that such behavior would amuse them. My favorite current Momusu, my current favorite Berryz, and my second favorite C-Ute… really, what wota can resist such a siren call?
The big payoff of the video is when the girls each look into their mirror straight at the camera…
There is a mild sense of surprise, of violation… but no clear demand for the viewer to look away. If anything, the sustained look back at the viewer makes us stare more intently.
It isn’t so much that the voyeurism is welcomed or dismissed, but tolerated as a part of what they must go through.
Once again, the Faustian bargain of the Japanese pop idol’s life is laid bare in the medium that valorizes it. (And let’s be honest, that’s a large reason of what attracts me to these videos in the first place.)
It’s the quid pro quo between wielding beauty as a weapon and being trapped by beauty’s expectations. It is the classic deal with the devil that any girl who decides to become a pop idol - a manufactured figure of beauty and talent - must sign, knowing her artistic impulses (if she has any) will take a back seat to commerce.
As if commerce was itself a bad thing - but then, it is the love of money (and perhaps fame and adulation?) that is the root of all evil…
But there is comfort in this dynamic as well. There will always be those who’ll watch - and perhaps even feel guilty for watching, and believe the guilt makes the act of watching even more precious. And there will always be those who want to be watched, and who may not realize the toll such a life may have on them.
And really, that’s what the idol business relies upon - as do other businesses discussed here. The marketing of desire, set off at a safe emotional distance.
And as if to reinforce this very notion, the lights and props that obscure our view of the dancing Otonajans again appear. We’re being told, “This is how it should be. They will dance for you, but you can never be too close to them.”
The wota as voyeur. Not exactly a new idea, by any means. That said, I don’t think it’s been conveyed this poetically - in this powerfully subtle, emotionally gripping a fashion - before.
Now. To wrap things up: Do I really think Mikitty is evil? Okay, maybe not…
And yet, it’s difficult to deny that these three PVs portray her in a manner that is far from typical. For starters, I can think of only two other instances where an H!P performer could be mistaken for a hooker in her costume for a PV. Kaori in “I WISH”, which is clearly played for laughs, and Melon Kinenbi in “Eros” (released a few months before “Onna”), which was played for pure titillation. Mikitty’s U15 cathouse madam look, however, isn’t so obvious about its intention: yes, it flatters her figure, but it doesn’t objectify her as much as provide a context by which her melancholy performance can be understood.
Though how clear is that context, anyway? Is she feeling regret and pain because she’s a hooker (or cabaret singer), or is she a hooker (or cabaret singer) because she felt that regret and pain in the first place?
Other idols are portrayed in a less-than-flattering light. Tsujikago were portrayed as rambunctious troublemakers with bottomless stomachs, Sayumi and Rika have both been teased mercilessly for their vanity. These quirks help to differentiate the girls, makes them more accessible with a charming flaw.
But has any other idol in the H!P stable been branded so heavily with such negative connotations. Granted, the interpretations can be softened somewhat - “Shall We Love?” is about two concerned friends, not a pair of lesbian seductresses; “Boogie Train ‘03″ is supposed to be wacky fun and not the endangerment of children; “Onna, Kanashii, Otona” is about cabaret performers, not prostitutes. But that’s assuming there is no sexual subtext in these presentations, that the intention behind the Gomatto and Sexy Otanajan in particular was naive and not considering the sexual components in the outfits, the settings, the situations.
Call me cynical, but I can’t believe that is so. H!P sells sex as part of its idol package, in ways both obvious and subtle, conventional and sorta kinky. I’d even say they truck so heavily in sexual innuendo that a naive reading of any of these situations would be a denial that they appeal to the baser instincts among hardcore fans, the exact same instincts that make those wota such dedicated fans in the first place.
Besides, the dirty version of things is always funnier and more enjoyable anyway.
Further, Mikitty’s particular situation is even more difficult to argue away because the evidence is very much stacked to make her look questionable, at best: not only is she the behind-the-scenes berater of her fellow co-workers (i.e., the Kago incident recounted in secret audio), but she’s also the shit-flinging bluebird of Hello! Morning skits, the daughter of the devil in “Ribon no Kishi”, the cleverly manipulative girl of the first “Joshi Kashimashi”…
So consider this: Mikitty is seen as evil because we fans want to see her that way. She’s a welcome respite from the blandly likeable type that is so common in Hello! Project (and among girl group idols in general), her idol persona has much more backbone than the cutesy flaws of a Charmy or Kago or Sayumi (though I’m thinking the first two are formidable personalities in their own right - it’s just the image they wish to project which seems weaker), and it’s often fun to root for the girl who won’t take shit from anyone.
I love Mikitty for being a total bitch sometimes - except it isn’t being a bitch, it’s just being honest about being how she feels. As much as she holds back and bites her tongue, her flashes of anger or annoyance or superiority are satisfying because we sense that really is what she wants to express. I love her for being fiercely competitive in Gatas tournaments (like the glares she threw dream’s Aya during the early matches between those two futsal teams). I like that she’s difficult to please and won’t try as hard to hide her feelings when she’s bored or annoyed.
Our last view of the trio together is a telling one: the dolorous, hazy stares of Megukami and Miyabi - watchful, wary, far from welcoming - are in distinct counterpoint to the beseeching gestures of Mikitty. Here is the give and take of the idol-wota dynamic - desire and distance, mediated emotions which can only work because they are so heavily mediated, marketed, calibrated to the customer’s demands.
As the song ends, we see Mikitty get up and leave her dressing room, making us realize she has other matters to attend to. In effect, she was on a five-minute work break, a chance to catch her breath before she does… well, whatever it is she’s supposed to do. (”Madame Mikitty, we have a threesome with a peanut butter enema at seven PM, followed by a dominatrix session where you make your client squeal like a sliced piggie at nine PM.” Madame Mikitty: “Hold all my calls.”)
There is a sadness, a sense of resignation, in her return to duties. This ain’t no Monster.com commercial - though what the fuck, it’d make a hell of a Monster.com ad, wouldn’t it?
And consider this: the camera stays put even as Mikitty leaves. Symbolically, the viewer - the humble, hidden otaku - has no choice but to wait again for the Madam idol to return to her private moments before we can bask in her beauty again, before we can indulge in the illusion that we know what she thinks, that we can feel what she feels.
Oh, Evil Evil Mikitty… My love for you knows no bounds, or so it sometimes feels to me when I’ve watched this video several times in a row. And if I have to stay hidden in your closet or behind your curtains for hours, days even, I will do so willingly. I am in your thrall, I am completely your bitch and I know I’m not alone in this.
It’s not just your beauty and talent - considerably as both are - but your willingness to take on the burden that other idols refused to consider, to make yourself look “bad” in order to be more interesting, more human, more delightful to watch and root for. Your poo-flinging bird is a phoenix from the ashes; your lesbian seductions and pimping of younger idols is a revelation of the deeper truths about the geinou life… whatever those may be… Your evil is not truly evil, but a different mirror held up to the world, an understanding of harsh realities that we wish to experience with you.
Though if you want to be truly evil, why not ask Megukami to adjust the curtains in your dressing room and see what happens…?