Another year has passed, and with it another set of exciting music videos from Japan’s biggest returning acts and indie units alike. Japanese music videos are always a hot topic, with people scouring the internet in search for the next PONPONPON or PPAP to fill their next “WTF Japan” post. However, today we’re going to shed some light on the videos that push the medium’s boundaries of story telling, take cinematography and editing to a new level, and bring fresh concepts to life. Here’s our list of 7 of the most outstanding Japanese music videos of 2016.
world’s end girlfriend | Crystal Chrysalis
Beautiful in its simplicity, captivating in its technique. Directed and edited by Yoshiyuki KATAYAMA, Crystal Chrysalis features clips from his 2015 short film Umwelt, a series of elegant time-lapses sees flowers blooming and dying all while insects crawl across them in real time. Though, unlike the original cut, backed by royalty free tunes, world’s end girlfriend adds their blend of eerie, blissful, apocalyptic noise to add depth to an already stunning piece of visual art.
Porter Robinson & Madeon | Shelter
Atlanta, Georgia born DJ, producer and self-proclaimed anime and video games lover Porter Robinson got to tick another dream off the bucket list this year with Shelter. A 6-minute original short film made in collaboration with critically acclaimed animation studio A-1 Pictures (the guys behind Sword Art Online, Space Brothers and many more hit series and films). It’s one of the most emotional stories of the year and if you’re not one of the 9.1 million people who have already watched it, be sure to check it out.
lyrical school | RUN and RUN
Coinciding with the release of their debut single RUN and RUN, hip-hop inspired pop group lyrical school dropped a trippy video for iPhone users earlier this year. Jumping between everyday iOS apps like Twitter and Facebook, they pull of whole “we’re taking over your phone” illusion with great affect, quickly grabbing the attention of sites like The Verge, Tech Times and Digiday upon release. You could watch this on the big screen, but we suggest you watch it on your mobile via the group’s Vimeo account.
amazarashi | Ending Theme
We’ve mentioned this video before, but we’ve got to give credit where credit is due. The world’s first music video to use real time face mapping, Ending Theme shows amazarashi frontman Hiromu Akita playing a version of himself 100 years in the future, laying in a hospital ward reading the last written messages from those who have passed away. It’s dark, gut-wrenching, thought provoking, and all in all a truly unforgettable video.
sakanaction | Tabun, Kaze. (Wind, Maybe.)
Hokkaido art rock team sakanaction are the full package. Not only have they produced some of the hottest dance tunes of the last 10 years, but also some truly awe-inspiring videos. It had been over a year since the release of their last internet smash, but they didn’t disappoint with the video for their 12th single Tabun, Kaze. (Wind, Maybe.). A stylish 5 minutes of top notch cinematography, a pleasing colour pallet, and puzzling plot, with a toe tapping track full of catchy dance hooks, you’re in for the full sakanaction experience.
FEMM | L.C.S.
2016 has been the comeback year for the mannequin duo, with FEMM coming out with their first batch of new material since 2014. Released side by side with their single PoW!, L.C.S. is, as their manager called it, “definite FEMM style”. Bringing glitchy visuals via motion capture with moves from top Japanese choreographer unit Hidali, the video takes a trip on the psychedelic side of the digital age, including classic videogame trademarks such as big head mode and various mesh glitches.
Utada Hikaru | Nijikan Dake no Vacance
It’s been 8 years since we’ve heard from Japan’s multi-time chart topper Utada Hikaru, and earlier this year she made her return her two times platinum studio album Fantome, and with it, the most cinematic music video of the year. Joined by fellow singer songwriter Sheena Ringo, Nijikan Dake no Vacance (2 Hour Vacation) takes us on an interstellar road trip to Saturn with shots which look they we’re pulled straight from a Hollywood production. From circling gas giants to driving across the surface of Mars in a hover car, this is a comeback on an epic scale.
Have a favourite music video of 2016 that’s not on the list? Tell us in the comments below or on the Electric Bloom Webzine Facebook page.