At first you may not be sure exactly what you are watching and truth be told, you may not shake that feeling upon viewing filmmaker Atsushi Funahashi’s colourful film ‘Raise Your Arms and Twist, Documentary of NMB48. Funahashi’s cameras follow the fame hungry young women of NMB48, an all girl pop super group out of Osaka, Japan and their male dominated fan base who help determine how successful the girls will be individually and within the group.
The motivations of these talented singers and dancers differ as greatly as their personalities. Some seek pop idol superstardom, or think pop idol status is a gateway to their next profession while others seek fortune to secure a better life for themselves and their families,
The competition is stiff, each girl constantly vying to be more popular than the next. The ultimate goal – rising through the ranks to be chosen as a member of a prestigious Senbatsu team whom record music videos that could lead to greater popularity at hand shake events, endorsement deals, and could culminate in being one of the top 80 idols in all of Japan through the bizarre and climactic ‘general election’.
Funahashi’s film is fun and captivating but it never quite becomes the philosophical musing it wishes to be. The film doesn’t delve into the intriguing relationship between the idols and their male dominated fans and management teams, even when the behaviour of one of the idols is called into question. Instead, the film focuses on what is essentially a popularity contest where cute smiles and bubbly personalities are sometimes more important that the singing/dancing. Pop super stardom has never been more unusual, but this film is definitely entertaining.
- Directed by: Atsushi Funahashi