It's been a long hiatus, but the Senbatsu of MNL48 are back with their seventh single, 'No Way Man.' When the world locked down thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, artists were among the hardest-hit groups. This was especially true of large idol groups like MNL48. Even though they operate in teams, most restrictions kept even the 16-member Senbatsus from being in the same space, so it's no surprise that it took MNL48 a full 15 months after their 'River' music video to stage their comeback. The good news is that, after their third general election, the new Senbatsu is here and stronger than ever. The longest awaited and most anticipated comeback in P-Pop doesn't disappoint. Let's find out more.
Redefining a Legacy
It's part of their Filipina heritage, and we love to see it.
The music video for MNL48's 'No Way Man' builds on the legacy of the original MV, which was first released by AKB48 in 2018. The similarities are there, from the overall feeling of overcoming obstacles to the use of their signature Seifuku (uniforms). It's MNL48's additions that make this version of the single something special. Their additions included extra costumes, dynamic story-telling sections and sets, and crisp, strong choreography.
Starting with the track itself, MNL48 pays homage to the original Japanese song with techno-electronic music backing up multi-part harmonies. The differences begin once the lyrics are translated into Filipino, and this empowering song becomes way more fierce. MNL48's assertive edge sets them apart from all six sister groups. It's part of their Filipina heritage, and we love to see it. That fierce persona doesn't stop at the lyrics either; it spills onto the dance sequences and adds an edge to their moves.
An Anthem of Empowerment
We see the girls clearly on the outside, but they hide something different, new, and unexpected inside.
That choreo is one of the stars of the MV. Seamless transitions complement the complex dance moves, and the positions are well-distributed between the smaller subunits in the Senbatsu. They move between different costumes and characters to celebrate their feminine strength while keeping softness. It's something many P-Pop girl groups are focusing on right now – themes of empowerment for a new age. Of course, softness doesn't mean a lack of the occasional sharp kick.
The wardrobe was one of MBNL48's other biggest changes from the original. While they continued in the tradition of AKB48's Seifuku outfits, they've also added alternating scenes that intersperse and then later come to a high point - the girls are in individualized costumes that add a magic dream quality to the music video. Senbatsu Center Abby plays the role of a high priestess/wizard that brings them all to the best place possible. The contrast is evident as the video weaves between the outside shots and the indoor set. We see the girls clearly on the outside, but they hide something different, new, and unexpected inside.
Of course, our favorite thing to make MNL48 unique is their choice to give each girl of the Senbatsu equal video time and extra focus on the subunits. It's not just all on the center and large sweeps of the entire group. Each individual has her own time to shine.
What’s Next for the Senbatsu?
They have proven, yet again, that they can go beyond the cutesy personas and expected pretty faces to highlight clean, synchronized dance moves.
If we have one bone to pick with this music video, it's that the sheer number of voices affects the clarity, but it's more than made up by the beautiful harmonies the girls create. Given all the positives in the video? We are willing to make a trade-off, but subtitles (maybe even in Filipino and English) would close the gap and let us understand them better. Their vocal strength and agility more than make up for it.
If there's anything MNL48 reminds us of with 'No Way Man,' it is that they're serious artists. They have proven, yet again, that they can go beyond the cutesy personas and expected pretty faces to highlight clean, synchronized dance moves. None of this is easy for a large group, and their vocal harmonies can rival a choir. MNL48's status as one of the top OG P-Pop groups is kept firmly in hand. Our only request? That we don't wait another 15 months for their next single.