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A photobook review : Sugai Yuuka’s “Fiancee”

Nagahama neru success has paved the way for other Keyaki members to release their photobook. With much speculation around, it was Sugai yuuka’s turn to show off her personality through a whopping 140 pages of delightful pictures taken in Paris, France plus a long interview about her. Sugai-sama’s choice is interesting; even though she speaks a lot as Keyaki representative, she is the shy type and doesn’t talk much about her aside from the usual speech : i like my cat, i like my horse…. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about her. 10 pictures comment, and an overall view of the photobook.

It starts well with a picture of Sugai Yuuka in front. Like a post card, she’s looking away with a bright smile. It’s rather cold when she went in paris for shooting (november) so her clothes are warm and common : thanks to that we can focus on her beautiful face. The background is blurry so it also helps on that part. Something that i’ve noticed, i think they played with this angle to show her lean jawline. The contrast between her grey parka and the sun on her visage really makes her look very good looking.

 

What’s interesting here is the opposition of the two picture : the first one gives a casual feeling, a date with your girlfriend enjoying a juicy steak, and the other one it’s more of a refined, mature feeling, where you’re enjoying dinner with your “fiancee”. Nothing change much, as she wears her red dress and it’s the same restaurant, but we should look into the stance. Yuuka is 22 and a full grown up woman, but we don’t see often such maturity. Sipping and enjoying the delicacy of her red wine makes her look adult.

 

I like this set of two picture and the little storytelling behind it : You play hide and seek in the midst of Paris streets, and you find Yuuka. Noticing it, she appears before you saying “surprise!” with open arms. The clothe coordinate is very on point. In winter she wears a long and fluffy cotton coat, that still remain light to wear (and fitted for a girl). But still the cotton coat is open to show her beautiful flower dress. The colors are matching. Salmon with the coat, white and pink for the dress. If you wear the cloat clumsily, it won’t show off your waist. But here, we have the silk belt thighten up to make Yuuka highlight her thin waist. It’s a win!

Aesthetic is one thing, but meaning is another. I like this set of picture because the photographer worked well with contrast between dark and light, setting up and atmosphere. It’s late, but you’re taking a walk with Yuuka. The bright lights catch Yuuka’s interest, and you find toys from skilled craftmanship. Sugai’s smile is beautiful here; it feels like she found a treasure and is excited about it. How she looks at you, to share this moment, warm your heart. The way the lights shine on Yuuka’s cheeks makes her even more loveable. It really feels like a date!

I think that’s the picture that highlight her visage the most. Small face, charming eyes,collarbone, small nose, jawline… still i would focus on her slender black hair. Her long hair makes her elegant, and gives a feeling of aristocracy. Is Yuuka from a Noble family? I’m sure the photographer played that card in many shots. The pictures i enjoyed the most are those who focus on her visage.

This picture is interesting as the photographer is playing with perspective. This is “la butte de montmartre” a famous cultural place of north Paris. You have the imposing church set in the background, giving a feeling of immensity. There’s a lot of people in the background but it’s okay because they are blurred and are not looking at the camera. Thanks to that, we are not disturbed and can focus on Sugai Yuuka’s elegant silhouette. She’s standing tall, wrapped around her silk scarf, conquering the high sight of Paris. Thanks to the set up, she’s really standing out and gives a noble flavor, like dominating the crowd. Last time i praised the atmosphere, but here i praise the technique.

I like the choice of color here : a dominant of white, and layers of purple. We don’t see much of Yuuka so we’re thinking of how luxurious it is. Actually the photobook have been located to only luxurious hotel and Palace. Like a sleeping beauty wrapped in high cost sheets, the white dominant makes you think of paradise.

This one has been released as teaser of the photobook, and caught the eyes of many fans. Like she said herself, the lingerie shoots “were very embarassing” but those also definitively showed another side of her we didn’t know before. In Keyakizaka, they wear large uniform, college outfits at best. Who would have thought Yuuka was so thin? The pink light vest she’s wearing is a great add for Yuuka to look feminine and appealing. Since she’s not looking at us, it’s natural to lead our eyes on the body. Not sure if the light was on purpose enhance even more her thin waist. At this point it’s unecessary i must say, it doesn’t look even human. Even though it’s lingerie, and thanks to the dominant white, it still feels as pure and elegant. Her lingerie shots are quite vertical because Yuuka is tall for japanese standard, and they want to focus on her thinness compared to her non-existant curves. It’s in complete opposition with what’s being done in japanese gravure, where models are very thick and curvy.

Another example of vertical shot. The opened jean is a good idea to make her waist stand out. Many girls recall how they want their jeans to match perfectly with their measurement, so they can show a thin silouhette. Thanks to the light, you can even show her abs, implying a healthy and toned body. This shots is darker, and her hair are messier. We’re looking for something different than the last “heavenly” picture tainted in full white. Perhaps more raw, more streetwear, to give a different flavor. But i would have placed Yuuka’s differently because the light is eating up a part of her waist, unfortunately.

Last but not least. The yellow color coming from floor lamp match well with the idea of a late date in the street of Paris. Yuuka is tall, but here we picture her as playing around with a bright smile, making her look like a child visiting a place he’s never been before. How she waves her arms, it feels like she’s dancing, turning back to look at you. Her winter coat match well with her black boots and dress; sometimes coat are too big for you (you buy them because they are warm) but here this one is long and slender. The lights are reverberating on her coat, she’s shining. Looking at her being happy like that, you can’t feel anything else than happiness yourself.

 

Sugai Yuuka’s “Fiancee” has succeeded in setting up a distinctive world revolving around her : a luxurious, elegant environment for a charming, well mannered japanese girl. There’s swimsuit and lingerie, but they always thought of preserving a fixed image of Yuuka as pure and innocent. It make sense, because the idea of “fiancee” is a girl that you would be proud to introduce to your parents. Someone who’s pleasant to talk to, refined, and with solid background. In that regard, production has been consistent.

I’ve selected all that are interesting to me, but i have to say there was few awkward shots where i believe Yuuka was not showed with her best angle. Some picture had ideas behind them, but some were just eye candy and lacked depth. Overall i liked the idea of showcasing Yuuka in high-end surroundings but aside from the “night date with my lovely girlfriend” they weren’t as creative as i hoped. Not that i would called that a missed opportunity; the aesthetic was there and we find few part of Yuuka we didn’t know. However, i noticed some parts where they show us picture taken by Yuuka herself with her small camera; those are cute with short message explaining what she did. I thought it was a great idea to use, but it didn’t make it into the final cut.

For fans of Sugai sama, this photobook will be perfect for their collection, but for a photobook enthusiasm i can’t put it in top tier category because i felt the photobook as one dimensional. We can end it in a positive note, because you can feel Sugai sama enjoyed her trip and she was genuinely happy when shots were taken.