The commentary in this post reflects the opinions of Hiro (and Hiro only), and does not represent the thoughts and opinions of the other members of the Selective Hearing staff.

The term “PV” means “Promotional Video”. PVs are used as a tool to sell a musical act’s forthcoming release. Personally, I am able to treat the PV separate from the musical release. There are many songs where I am not a fan of the PV, and many a PV where I am not so crazy about the song, but I love the PV. With that in mind, here are my favorite Japanese PVs for 2011. As with my year-end singles list, my favorite PV is listed first with the rest in no particular order.

Sakura no Ki ni Narou – AKB48

As stated in my singles recap, this is the song that made me a fan of AKB48. While I love the song, I cannot say enough about the PV. There are two versions, a 6-minute+ version and a 12-minute+ theatrical version. The 12-minute version is basically a mini-movie following director Koreeda Hirokazu’s common cinematic themes, including death, coping with a loss of a loved-one, and the memories attached to that person. As he does in his films such as After Life and Still Walking, Koreeda is able to reel the viewer in and tug at their heart strings. When all is done, you’ve forgotten that you have watched a PV for an idol group, but rather you feel as if you watched an award-winning short feature at a film festival.

If you are a fan of this song, seek out the English-subtitled version of the 12-minute version. It will be worth the effort and a keeper for your collection.

Smile – BUMP OF CHICKEN


The PV consists of images drawn by famous manga artist Inoue Takehiko (Slam Dunk) shown over the song track. The images are of various Japanese faces – faces of all ages and genders. In each of these somewhat abstract drawings, the subject is smiling or grinning. The simple message is conveyed through these smiles: Keep smiling to keep hope alive. The sales of “Smile” were donated towards the Japanese disaster relief effort.

Shoujotachi yo – AKB48

AKB48 – Shoujo tachi yo MusicVideo from akb48 factory on Vimeo.

“Shoujotachi yo” was the end theme song for DOCUMENTARY of AKB48 to be continued. The PV is exactly what was shown as the documentary credits were running. It’s a splicing of behind the scenes footage showing the girls goofing around, the in-studio recording of the song, eating, and catching naps whenever (and wherever) they can. This simple concept was a perfect end to a great documentary, and is a very enjoyable watch for fans of AKB48.

Each Other’s Way ~Tabi no Tochu~ – EXILE


This PV has everything one would expect from a top-flight group like EXILE in terms of costuming, sets, and visuals. What I especially like is there is a good deal of focus on members other than ATSUSHI and TAKAHIRO, which gives viewers a chance to see some great individual dance moves.

Banzai Venus – SKE48


Unfortunately, I cannot find any links to the “Banzai Venus” PV due to the copyright police removing them from your regularly surfed websites. You’ll all have to settle for a poor screenshot. Hopefully, many of you have been able to watch this great SKE48 PV. What sticks out in my mind after watching this PV is the flash mob dance in the Nagoya marketplace. It’s excessive, it’s energetic, and it’s why I love the PV.

Hetappi Wink – Watarirouka Hashiritai 7

It is important to note that although I am a fan of the Watarirouka Hashiritai 7 members (especially Nakagawa Haruka, Komori Mika, and Watanabe Mayu), I am not a fan of their music mostly because I’m a little too old for the group’s high-pitched kiddie-sound. Fortunately, I can overlook that when watching the PV for “Hetappi Wink”. The humorous storyline of Mayuyu constantly being unable to wink for the commercial she is filming, while her fellow members can wink easily, is full of win. Mayuyu and her facial expressions just carry this. The one thing everyone should get out of this PV is that love is a winku!

Valentine Kiss – Watarirouka Hashiritai 7

I have never really liked this song, be it the Kokusho Sayuri w/Onyanko Club version or this version. It’s one of those things where the Japanese American in me refuses to be true to my roots and drink the Valentine Kiss Kool-Aid that all of Japan has – not once, but twice. However, I absolutely love the PV.

Every time I watch it, I am subject to die from a kawaii overload. So, while I will never understand why the original won The Best Single Of The Year Award at the Japan Golden Disc Awards, I completely understand why the male fans of today made the WH7 version a 100k seller. Hey, I’m not saying WH7 doesn’t have female fans, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of their fans are male – males who are drawn to the addictive sugary sweetness that is Watarirouka Hashiritai 7.

So there you have my favorite PVs of 2011. Unfortunately, I was only able to come up with seven that I was passionate enough to write a few sentences about, instead of the ten choices I was hoping to post. The good thing is that is three fewer PVs that readers will disagree with me about.

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