Film Review: We Are Perfume: World Tour 3rd Document

Perfume delivers a gift to fans in their 15th year
Film Review : “Perfume delivers a gift to fans in their 15th year”

Perfume

Fans in Japan are often known for their intense level of fandom. Superfans or ‘Otaku’ as they are called in Japanese (often with negative connotation) are quite prevalent in many genres and mediums. Their consumption of media related to their favourite artist, group or character is passionate and relentless. With this in mind, it’s not a big surprise for a pop girl group to find success in Japan. However in the case of Perfume, maintaining their popularity for over 15 years and breaking out of the Japanese market to do world tours is something rare indeed. To coincide with their 15th year anniversary and their 3rd world tour, “We Are Perfume: World Tour 3rd Document” was made.

The film, making its world premier at the 28th Tokyo International Film Festival comes pretty much as advertised. It’s a behind the scenes look at Japanese electro-pop idols Perfume, following them on their travels for their 3rd world tour. Perfume is made up of a trio of Hiroshima gals, Ayano Omoto (“Nocchi”), Yuka Kashino (“Kashiyuka”), and Ayaka Nishiwaki (“A-chan”). Backing the group, but largely glossed over in the film is Japanese super-producer, Yasutaka Nakata.

While this documentary is nothing revolutionary, both technically or artistically, it does a good job at giving fans an inside look at the group’s recent world tour, which included their first ever shows in America. The term world tour isn’t exactly what you may think of when a band like Paul McCartney or The Rolling Stones do a world tour. For most Japanese groups a world tour is anything that takes them outside of Japan. Perfume’s world tour in question took place from October 31st through November 15th 2014, taking the trio to Taiwan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the USA, playing in both L.A. and New York.

The doc is produced, edited and directed by Taketoshi Sado, who makes his directorial debut with this film. He is previously known for his role as executive producer of Japan’s state run broadcaster NHK. In the past he has produced various music TV programs and even a few smaller docs on Perfume. His style is fairly straightforward. He follows the tour almost chronologically from start to finish. The film is a collection of interviews of the trio, clips of live shows, and candid moments with the girls during their limited free time on tour.

Living in Japan and being a big music fan I can’t help but be familiar with Perfume, however I wouldn’t go as far to say I’m a fan. This doc seems to be preaching to the converted and doesn’t make much effort to welcome those unfamiliar with the group. This is fair however, given the title of the film. It’s not claiming to be a history of the group’s past 15 years or an in depth look at their highs and lows. I think the film might have a hard time reaching an audience outside of fans or the Japanese market, but I’m sure with a limited theatrical run and subsequent DVD/Blu-ray release the film will still make money.

There have a been a few key moments in Perfume’s career that led them to their 3rd world tour like hooking up with hit producer Yasutaka Nakata and meeting their choreographer Mikiko (who joins them on tour). The film doesn’t really touch on these moments other than brief interviews of the girls commenting that they would be nothing if not for their team. A big break towards their expose overseas, which is explored in the film, was their song ‘Polyrhythm’ being featured in the Pixar/Disney film, Cars 2. Perfume was subsequently invited to the Hollywood film premier and were surprised to see they had fans in L.A. despite having no distribution outside Japan (the Internet is a powerful thing). They made a vow after that to play shows in America in the future. They refer to playing in America as a kind of “end boss” in their career.

While the film doesn’t necessarily merit a theatrical release they certainly have enough fans here in Japan to make it worthwhile. They’ve been quoted as saying they see the film as a gift for their 15th anniversary both to their fans and to their team. Viewing the doc as an outsider to the Perfume legion, the film left me longing for a bit more back story. That said, I still enjoyed it and never found myself bored. There’s plenty of scenes of raw emotion and humorous moments on the tour. A scene of the group directly after the London show recalling making blunders of an opening dance routine garnered quite a few laughs. Despite their success the girls display genuine emotion and a gratitude for where their journey has taken them. All 3 in interviews claim they can’t imagine their lives without Perfume and don’t have plans to end the journey any time soon.

So, while I cant see much replay value for non-fans I’m sure even the curious will find the film entertaining and may even inspire some to dig deeper into the Perfume or Yasutaka Nakata back-catalog.

“We Are Perfume: World Tour 3rd Document” scores a 3.6 out of 5 smashes, something fans will eat up and entertaining enough for the casual viewer to enjoy.

*Image copyright 2015 “WE ARE Perfume”Film Partners.

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Text:
James Mallion
james@smashingmag.net

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