PanAm “Japanese Girls”

2002-panam-japanese-girls“Japanese Girls” uses the same trick as Garageland did for their “Gone” video – casting a group of random Auckland Asian extras as Japanese fans of the band. According to NZ On Screen, director Greg Page cast the video via “a notice at an Asian food hall”. Though in the case of this video, the extras do reasonably resemble the sort of young women who’d be fans of the band and who’d leave a video message for PanAm.

That’s the premise of the video – that in a padded pink booth, the titular Japanese girls can leave a message for Flying Nun’s young act. The messages are subtitled, and include such revelations as “I like the drummer”, “My phone number is…” and “Excuse me”. Disappointingly, no one is making like a One Direction fan and claiming that her cat died and wanting Paul to give her consolatory hugz.

While the video fan fest is happening, the band are rocking out in a cool looking warehouse. Except it’s not a real warehouse. As Greg Page explains, “we used a miniature warehouse for the background, made out of balsa and cardboard”. If you look very closely, you can tell the band have been green-screened in, but otherwise it gives the setting a slightly spooky feeling, like maybe the band are ghosts.

Now here’s the thing. When the band are rocking out in their shoebox warehouse, they look really cool. And the song’s a bit saucy with its allusions to BJs and girl-on-girl action. But at the end, when the boys finally get inside the pink video booth with the Japanese girls, they suddenly lose their swagger and become three geeky guys who aren’t quite sure how to act around all these girls, nervously shuffling off at the end. It feels like a really candid moment.

Update: Songlines Across New Zealand talked to Paul from the PanAm about the video. He describes it as the strangest video the band has made, crammed into the video booth with a bunch of non-professionals pulled off the street.

Best bit: that everyone in the video – male and female – pretty much has the same haircut.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

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