Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Halloween Feat! The 48's 'Halloween Night' Music Video Comparison!

There are almost as many videos for AKB48's Halloween Night as there are sister units for Japan's #1 Super Group, and with the holiday this song and video celebrate just around the corner, I thought it would be nice to talk about it a little bit! But, of all versions available, which one should I choose to discuss on my own little blog...?

Considering there are currently about 14 staff' versions available (including both the regular AKB and JKT48 staff versions,the CyberAgent and Samantha Thavasa Staff versions in Japan, and another ten staff versions from various companies in Indonesia, alone), as well as the three official Music Videos from AKB48, JKT48 and the recently cut-off SNH48. There is also a Ladybeard versions floating around (unofficial), and a Dangdut version from JKT48, too.

Basically, there are a lot of Halloween Night's floating around the inter-webs, and whilst it would be a hoot (read: No way in Hell) to talk about every single damn video made for this sub-par song, I really don't have the time or energy for that kind of commitment. So instead, I will be focusing on the three main Music Videos from AKB, JKT and SNH, and pitch them all against one another in this comparison of the 48's Halloween PV's to find the most worthy of the Halloween title.

Sadly, there will be no pictures here (for the sake of not going OTT with this post), and of course it's all my opinion, though take what is said with a grain of salt; you don't have to believe what I say or feel inclined to think as I do. We are human, and we have our own ways of thinking and feeling, so decide for yourself what you prefer, and what you like.

And now... Have at the PV's! Arrr! (... Wait, I'm a Pirate now?)


Given that this was the original, it only feels right to talk about the music video that started it all. Celebrating Sashihara Rino's second Senbatsu Victory, Halloween Night offers a dose of glitter and flare in this discotheque setting, paying homage to the funky disco era of the 70's and 80's. Though the video itself does feature Halloween costumes to give some sort of nod to its title, it can be said that in both sound and visuals this is definitely more of a disco-frenzy than a night of tricks and treats.

So, what exactly makes this a Halloween music video? Well, it is sad to say, but not a great deal; the costumes certainly nod to that theme, and the promise of attending a Halloween party at the start does, too, as well as that 'Time Warp' into another dimension. Everything else, though? No. It screams anything but Halloween, leaving a pretty bitter taste in your mouth after being promised something else. It's kind of like being served tofu when originally, you had asked for chicken.

It's like being told you will get a Barbie at Christmas, only to receive the cheaper equivalent that nobody else in your class would own; Sindy.

Now, whilst this isn't a bad video in what it provides, it is pretty atrocious in what it was supposed to represent, for all the title and costumes might imply. With such a promising idea behind the A-side track, one would hope for something significantly more dedicated to the celebration the song claims to be all about, but alas! The video proved itself to be much less than what you could have desired, in both its sound and visuals in its final form. Really, you can't help but feel a bit duped by it. You probably felt a little lost, too. I know I did.

With Halloween Night, the issue I have for the video is not in how it is made or even the sound of the song, but more about how poorly executed the representation of the annual holiday was. By simply throwing together a handful of costumes and stellar make-up artistry, and insisting it is a Halloween piece, does not make it so, and only lends to the idea that the lyricist and director feel some confusion as to what Halloween is all about. A time warp at the beginning does not justify it any more, either, and for me as a viewer, Halloween Night as a music video feels like it is trying too hard to bring together two vastly different things, both of which do not necessarily mesh well together, in turn creating a rather confusing and brow-raising piece.

That said, what Halloween Night does do is this; it creates an incredible homage to the disco era, and is undeniably enjoyable in its campy glory. Its nod towards the great artists of the disco era, such as MC Hammer and Michael Jackson, allows us to celebrate the past and divulge in what once was. The lyrics, too, fit the video extremely well, and the costumes themselves are beautifully made, but really, you cannot call this a Halloween Music Video; it's too glittering and disco, and in such a nostalgic place, these Halloween costumes that AKB48 had donned only create one giant eyesore for all viewers of the Halloween Night music video.

Featuring more of a faithful interpretation, JKT48's Halloween Night is everything the original should could have been. With the cliché scary woods, transporting people to another world, black and orange colour scheme and its cheesy but fun pantomime background, you can't help but feel that this video celebrates Halloween in all its glory, from head to toe.

Though this video is easily the cheapest of the three - all thanks to its cardboard cutout background and minimalist approach in effects, location and editing style - there is no denying that this video does not slack on spirit or imagination. Where AKB48's version was set on the discotheque era and celebrating the past, JKT48 show off the fun and creative side of the Halloween holiday. Transforming the members into their monster counterparts after midnight strikes in the other realm they have entered, we see the shock and surprise of the members for what they have all become, though they soon celebrate everything Halloween in the dance portion together, and it feels quite fantastic.

(I also find it worth pointing out that, after enjoying their banquet and drinking or eating from it, one could easily assume that eating food from this realm does something to the members in order to turn them into monsters. It has a very Underworld feel, in which you are trapped in a place by eating the food of that realm or other world. That, or it reminds me of Gremlins, when they change into little monsters when eating food after midnight. Some food for thought, if you will.)

JKT48 definitely captured the Halloween vibe in this version, delivering a fantasy-like element with how the members come into such a world, and a reason as to why they are wearing their costumes. Though the pacing of the video is slow and there is little variety in what happens, it's fun to see the members go from innocent, curious girls to monsters of the Halloween variety in this other world. I especially enjoy how in the first portion and then the end, we see their make-up change from clean and polished, to what we would expect of a Halloween costume; it speaks volumes about them and their innocence, before finally turning over completely to the dark side and embracing their monstrous counterparts.

Aside from the use of Halloween costumes, the party flyer, its use of transportation into 'another world', the choreography and the song itself, this music video differs vastly from its predecessor by AKB48. As an ode to the Halloween festivities, it is far more entertaining and faithful as a piece, and quite possibly the best of the three for its dedication and passion towards Hallows Eve. So, whilst a little cheap and a tad slow in pace, Halloween Night by JKT48 is a fun treat for all, thanks to its quintessentially Halloween feel.

Delivering style over substance, SNH48's version of Halloween Night is, of the three, the best in terms of layout and design thanks to management splashing the cash. It looks expensive, feels rich and thought out, and offers the best story line of all versions (even if it is a watered down Alice in Wonderland repeat). This is also the version that feels most like a true Halloween party, thanks to its celebratory ending and stylish costumes. Oh, and it's also the only one to have a pretty decent ending, leading us to believe that there is more to the story than what we see here.

Set in what seems to be a manor, the members of SNH48 find a flyer inviting them to a Halloween party (similar to both the AKB and JKT versions), and are quickly transported through a portal to another world, where they find themselves subject to the owners and their weird ways, and are, ultimately, invited to that party that never seems to play out in the other two videos. Aesthetically, this is the best looking, both in how it is presented and how the cameras work throughout. It's beautiful to watch, and certainly impressive. The setting itself also feels like a nice little nod to the old-school Horror movies.

That said, its overall polished look is a little too perfect, and the video feels more like a fashion show than a Halloween celebration. There is nothing mysterious or scary about the video, despite a few dark overtones in specific scenes, so it reads more like a fairy tale than anything, with the humans one-upping the owners of the manor at the end so that they can find their hunks in capes to dance with. It would have been nice to see more of an attempt to make this darker, however, style has certainly won over spirit in this instance.

I really don't begrudge this video for that, though, because whilst it lacks what JKT48 did so well, it is still a step up from the original's take on Halloween, or lack thereof. Its venue works well for the Halloween vibe, and the party at the end is like something you would see in an American High school movie, of sorts, where all the beautiful and popular people congregate, to bask in their cute and fluffy costumes. Depending on how you view Halloween personally, though, this could probably be your definition of a true Halloween, or a shallow one.

The best in budget and overall appeal, SNH48's Halloween Night shares minor similarities with the other two. Though it lacks in spirit, it is nonetheless a good representation of Halloween as a whole, albeit in a more pop-culture, shiny kind of way. It's cute and cool, but it lacks Halloween cliché's I desire, and that's where my issues with this video lie.


To conclude my thoughts on Halloween Night and the three versions made by AKB48, JKT48 and SNH48, I want to say that, whilst I am not particularly find of the song itself (of which is now stuck in my head, for crying out loud!), the videos all have their own merits, and each one will appeal to different people. For me, the real winner of this comparison is JKT48, who proved their dedication and love of Halloween in their cheesy but fun reenactment of Halloween Night. From their costumes to how the video is set out, I can't help but think it is truly a Halloween celebration from beginning to end, and I enjoy each moment of it. Despite how cheap it feels at times, you still get a sense of Halloween, a feeling that they never let go of until the video ends. It's satisfying, and I'm pleased with how well it matches that spirit of Halloween; A little creepy, but fun nonetheless.

SNH48's version, though lacking in its spirit, is still a solid second thanks to its fitting location and use of the party scene. Again, it feels a little too much like a fashion show or High School Halloween bash to make me feel like it's a true 'Halloween' video, but it does a good job of capturing some sort of vibe to make you feel like it is a song and video to do with Halloween. I just wish it had gone out of its way a bit more to make it a tad spooky, or even given us a cheap thrill.

Of the three, though, the most disappointing is definitely the original. Whilst the costumes are rich and fitting, the video itself just does not much up to the wardrobe choices or the idea behind the song. Whilst the song itself matches up to the video given, the theme behind the title does not, and we are left confused and hoping for more, only to be ignored. By no means does this make it a crap video; it's the perfect homage to disco. In all seriousness, though, this should have been called Disco Night, for the sake of clarity.

Each video is great in its own way, but in terms of which one creates the best in terms of Halloween vibe, it just has to be JKT48. It has the most nods towards traditional Halloween antics and ideas from the past so many years, and celebrates it with great joy and passion. It's a cute little video, and though the budget might put you off, don't let that sway you too much; it's sure to be a little treat in your Cauldron this Halloween.

And, to finish this post off, let's take a look at the 4th (un)official Halloween Night... The LADYBEARD (LDB48, ha!) Special! Are you ready!?

Happy! Happy? Happy Halloween Night!

Take care everyone, and don't let the Vampires bite this Hallows Eve! Grrr~ (And now, I'm a wolf!)

Much Trick 'n' Treatin'!

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