Here are my thoughts on the new MV, masterfully directed by the genius mind of Yoshimitsu Sawamoto.
As we can all tell, this MV focuses on the question “What if Nanase never became an idol?” That one small action of whether she “caught the bus” or not determined the rest of her life. If she catches that bus, she just goes to school and continues her life of being a normal high school student who loves art. If she misses the bus, she gets a flyer for the Nogizaka auditions. If she stays a normie, she ends up getting accepted into the Musashino Arts University. If she auditions for the group, she gets accepted into Nogizaka. The director puts us under the premise that Nanase would have succeeded in one way or another. Let’s put that aside for now. The purpose of the MV isn’t to make otakus grateful to Nanase for becoming an idol. The purpose is to deliver a message to us all. The message being that Nanase is glad to have become an idol. Yes, it is very controversial considering how unconfident she was at her debut and the many years to follow. Even today, I would say that Nanase is not exactly an “idol” in the truest sense of the word. The title “Kaerimichi wa Toomawari Shitakunaru” means “I feel like taking the long way home.” This alludes to her graduation obviously.
I’m going to save time by not copying and pasting the actual lyrics to the song nor the translations, but basically the song lyrics revolve around two things: “I feel like taking the long way home.” and “There might be something out there even better than the past we know.” This is some very nice writing by Aki-P. It shows that Nanase is thankful for everything that has happened up until now, but also shows that there is more out there that Nanase wants to do. Taking the long way home means you get to reminisce about the past for a bit, but in the end, it is inevitable that you must arrive at your destination. Then from that destination, you must take the next step forward, without worrying about the past. One line especially in the lyrics says “the past is bright, but the future might be even brighter.” There is no doubt that Nanase’s time in Nogizaka will forever be a part of her. She dedicated her youth to it, whether she enjoyed it 100% of the time or not. It shaped her and made her who she is today. Sure, there can be speculation about management and chara, and all the gray areas about her career. However, it is not for us as fans to point fingers and say “Well Nanase could have done X” or “Well Nanase should have done X.” The whole point of the song is that she chose to become an idol, and she did it from start to finish for seven years.
At the end of the MV, the two Nanases intertwine with each others’ lives. The Nanase in the crowd (as a fan of the group) thanks the one on stage with her sketchbook, showing that she is grateful for the happiness she got from idol Nanase. This symbolizes us, as fans, thanking her for her years of dedication and hard work. Then, the idol Nanase on stage writes in the air with her finger “アリガト” which is just arigatou in katakana, saying thank you back. Katakana implies a non-serious tone, kind of somber in a way. This is her message to us, saying that although it is a sad time for us as fans, she is grateful for us allowing her to graduate to start a new chapter in her life.
Nanase was not the perfect idol. She had controversial things said about her, and I’m sure to a certain extent there are truths behind every dark area in her career. However, the fact that Nishino Nanase, a regular girl from Osaka, was able to be one of the most popular idols in Japan for seven years and graduate properly with a smile is something we should all respect, whether you love or hate her. Nogizaka is going to go through a lot of changes in the next year or two, as we can already tell. Let us never forget those who have paved the way for other idols, and made our lives that much more brighter.
Thank you Nanase.