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A photobook review : Nagahama Neru’s “kokokara”

Neru photobook ranked 1st place on the first half of 2018 photobook sales reaching a whopping 170 000 copies sold. Not only it is a major achievement, but also unlocked many opportunities to her, like being the ambassador of her hometown, Nagasaki, or being regular in quizz show like Miracle 9. I realized that i’ve never commented her photobook, despite being of solid quality. For obvious copyright reason, i will not link the whole photobook, but i’m gonna talk about my selection of best picture of the Photobook.

This one doesn’t stand out from his originality, but this mash up of close-up gives you a “boyfriend-girlfriend date” feeling. It helps you picture a privileged moment with neru, who casually eat a champon ramen, which is a specialty of Nagasaki. It’s funny how with only few pictures the photograph manage to create a story : Looking at her, laughing with her, all naturaly. With that the atmosphere of the photobook has been settled. A warm one.

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I remember when i first saw this picture on twitter : i was on the subway, and released a “gasp!” that others noticed. I didn’t expected that. The thing is, the first part of the photobook started with a candid interaction between the boyfriend (the reader) and neru (the girlfriend) however here the momemtum breaks as this picture clearly aim at surprise us. It’s not as much the swimsuit that have people shocked, but more like the move that neru has to lift up her polo to show her wasp curve. At first i was perplexed, however most of the photobook is not like that and probably it was the photograph goal to have one original shots overall. I think he succeeded. This picture does stay in mind!

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It’s proper to the Sakamichi style : you don’t reveal as much as 48group (who are used to do swimsuit MV) and you try to convey a pure, classy image. A photobook is a good opportunity to break the usual image the girls are stuck in. Especially in keyakizaka, the costume are large, and doesn’t show any skin at all. The aim of this picture was to highlight her curves. Butt, but also chest, and not in a vulgar way. You probably wear those outfits when it’s summer and hot. Not sexy (it’s not lingerie) but appealing.

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The devil hides in detail. Maybe i’m speculating, but i believe this photo is daring and sexy. Just because of the move of her hands on her ribbon : It feels like she’s stripping (same as the wasp picture). First seifuku is always source of fantasm for young japanese, but also think the photograph put a slightly tighted shirt on neru to enhance her chest). Illusion or skillfull photo technique, there’s no doubt this picture without neru face (yes because we want to focus on her chest) is arousing.

I think we see the neru we are used to see. Smiling brightly, having fun. It’s not really the outfit that decide the goal of the picture (well a bit) but the model behavior. Here we don’t focus on her curves but on her bright smile. Actually i tend to forget the rest and focus just on neru. It feels like a little sister we want to protect, despite the swimsuit.

I like this picture because it shows a mature side of neru. The photograph wants to show a large panel of emotion : the arousing, the candid, and now the otona (adult) side of neru. Here she’s quite far of the lens of the camera, and she’s looking down on us. Like she’s waiting for us to make a move? She’s wearing a light dress, showing off her slender leg but also focus on her visage once again. Her gaze through us is intense. You know, if she was wearing twintail it would completely break the picture. However here the haircut is perfect.

Probably my favourite shot. Playful neru. Yes we’re showing some cleavage, but it isn’t what remain in our thoughts. It’s the pleasant memory of sweet interaction with neru without worrying about anything that makes this picture amazing. The bubble soap are not innocent : it helps the picture feels like a dream. It’s small, kind, light and fluffy. Also, she’s making bubbles toward you. It’s an invitation to bubble back.

Because i saw “cute” neru countless time on live performance, variety etc that her other side of her marks me the most. “otona” neru is one of them. Here the photograph displays her perfect visage ratio : lips, nose, eyes. Especially her plump pink lips. I think neru gazing at the horizon, almost dreaming, gives a flavor that we don’t see often. Is she thinking of her future? Of Keyakizaka? Or simply thinking of how we’re all mortals and we should enjoy our time on earth? Who knows. Whatever, this shots is sublime.

I think this picture is worth mentioning because it plays well the lights. We use the light of the fireworks to give a glimpse of neru’s silhouette, but not enough to totally show up her face clearly. This blurry feeling gives an atmosphere. Since we can’t see clearly her face, we don’t know what she’s thinking. Not smiling, is she angry? Looking at me, is she thinking about me? This picture want to convey some mystery. Also, she’s just wearing a plain white dress, and this time they don’t try to gimmick on her chest. We want to focus on the atmosphere, not Neru assets. And it’s better this way. There must be balance between fan service and art visual.

Last but not least. I think this one picture neru character the most : A simple, cute, girls next door japanese girl. There’s is absolutely no need to be extravagant to deliver a good photobook; but rather capturing the essence of the model is what makes a photobook successful. Here we had neru on diverse situation, but overall the main storyline focused on how well of a girlfriend she would be. On other photobook, like Maiyan, it has a different flavor: Shiraishi mai looks divine, unreachable, with photoshoots done with expensive clothing and stuff. In korekara, it’s a simple trip to Nagasaki, eating ramen and going to see the seashore. A natural flavor that fits Nagahama neru. Because japanese youth are bunch of romantics, or maybe because they read too much manga, this photobook really appealed to us and set Neru on top of Keyakizaka most popular members.

I want to congratulate Neru for her achievement, but also thank her for opening doors for other keyakizaka members. Can’t wait to see Sugai yuukai photobook. Akane and Risa should be around the corner too.