Review: Perfume Documentary (2015)



It takes a fandom to another level when you are willing pay money to attend a concert watching a band sing lyrics in a different language. For the fans of Korean pop (Kpop) or Japanese pop (Jpop), this is the absolute level of happiness.

This reviewer is still striding along the Hallyu wave (Hallyu is the the phenomenon of Korean entertainment and popular culture hitting all over the world. At this point, it’s more of a Hallyu ocean). Anime opening and closing sequences were the only contact I’ve experienced with Jpop.  I was familiar with Kanon Wakeshima rocking out the cello thanks to the ending of Vampire Knight. I’ve been adoring the antics of the pop/metal group Lady Baby (The energy of the cross dressing metal vocalist in a maids outfit really reminds of Andrew W.K.). Finally, thanks to the recent coverage of Rurouni Kenshin:The Legend Ends at Eigafest 2015, I still cannot get the haunting and beautiful melody of “Heartache” from One Ok Rock. Overall, I have very minimal exposure to Jpop since I spend most of my waking time riding the Hallyu wave.

Thanks to the The Downtown Independent and distribution company, Live Viewing Japan, fans were treated to the US theatrical premiere of “We are Perfume WORLD TOUR 3rd Document.”  In a small theater, surrounded by devoted fans, was the best way to discover who Perfume was and why they were so popular.

Perfume is a female trio group consisted of A-Chan, Noccio,and Kashiyuka that has been growing in popularity since 2000. For fifteen years, these girls have cultivated a very, very devoted fan base around the world. Just recently, they were able to make a mark in Hollywood by having their song Polyrhythm appear in the Cars 2 movie. Since I am not a huge fan of the Cars franchise, I missed this. I did not miss that Sunday in November 2014 when the traffic around the Palladium made me notice the huge line snaking around it. Apparently that was when Perfume had their first concert in LA.

The documentary is more of a highlight reel of the band than really documenting any real stories of the group. It did do one thing that made me take a second look at this band. This trio, especially A-Chan, is wholeheartedly devoted to their music, their performance, and to their fans. Their two month World Tour (geez TWO MONTHS. I hope they got lots of rest afterwards), took them to Taiwan, Singapore, London, New York, and Los Angles. Two shows before the Los Angeles one, the cameras captured the intense planning of the upcoming show. They’re still icing their feet after their performance and they’re already debating microphone layout for the next show. It was really astounding to realize that most of the  staff that helps them has been there for them since the beginning. That adds another level of endearment to the trio.

The last time they were in Los Angeles, they had walked the red carpet for the Cars 2 premiere in front of the El Capitan theater.  It was then that they decided to come back and perform for the city. Most of their performances up to this point has been centering around Asia and a bit of Europe, so it was no surprise to see how much footage was shown of their performances in New York and Los Angeles. Especially Los Angeles.

It was pretty hilarious to realize that many of the fans featured in the documentary were sitting in the same theater as I was, as indicated by the sudden cheers. As I sat and watched, it made the whole experience even more meaningful surrounded by the fans who wanted to relive the moment. Since Los Angeles is such a hot bed for sparking off trends, the people behind the documentary was sending a pretty clear message to the  big wigs of the city: Perfume is a huge deal; Pay attention.

There were a couple of slight annoyances to the documentary. The transition between the cities became a bit tedious and reminded me of jump scenes in a Final Fantasy game. Although considering this is a Jpop band that relies heavily on the technology and science aesthetic, I would hoped for a bit  more variation. The really big thorn in my side was the huge focus of the groups experience with the In-N-Out chain. So much fuss that the trip actually leads the audience into a CHEESE-BURGER chant. Of all the things to show the world that SoCal is connected with, I cringe that it would be In-N-Out. It is delicious but I would argue that The Habit is better. Seriously, the ladies of Perfume, there is so much to LA that I wish I could show you. So many things beyond Sunset Blvd. On that note, please don’t associate SoCal citizens as obsessive cheeseburger eaters. However, it still made a genuinely hilarious part in the movie.

The documentary does a brief overview of how much work goes behind each show. There was an interesting bit about fans sending in fonts to display the lyrics  in an LED display. A little detail that I would have have never known but goes a long way to once again showcase how devoted this team are to their fans. Every single part of their show is rehearsed meticulously and consistently. No wonder they have amassed such a huge fan base. The fans devote so much love and energy to the group and Perfume reciprocates right back.

By the end of the documentary, I was definitely finding myself a newly made fan of the group. Initially their stoic  faces and drill team moves in their music videos did reach me as an audience. It was getting to know their quirks, their personality, and their energy that added a new perspective. I am also intensely jealous of their fine fashion sense.

The US premieres in New York and Los Angeles have just wrapped up. Stay tuned to their website : to be kept up to date on the next chance to see this documentary.




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