Ayu was busy behind the scenes for the first half of May, preparing for DOME TOUR and doing photo shoots for Tu-Ka and Takanoyuri as well as the rehearsal photos ultimately used for the DOME TOUR 2001 tour pamphlet. The Takanoyuri campaign wouldn’t debut until the following month, but Tu-Ka was hitting the public from two directions – the print campaign for May, which featured ayu in a top-knot-esque ponytail and a Union Jack flag decorating her white tank top, and the TV campaign for Tu-Ka’s funstyle line of products. The TV commercial used a remix of M that it called the “funstyle mix,” but which sounded like in instrumental version of the “RANK-M” mix from the M single.
The same day this commercial began airing, the “Endless sorrow” single was released. The single, thankfully, included the Kirari Natsu Ayu remix of “vogue” used in the Visee commercial the previous month, and fans were delighted with the cover art which depicted Ayu as a one-winged angel overlooking the city.
The music video allowed for a very cohesive branding for the single along with that cover art. Ayu herself did NOT appear in the video, which followed a boy trying to communicate in a world where use of one’s voice is forbidden. The video included a cameo from Ayu’s then-famous aibo, Ayubo. (For those too young to remember, aibo were much-coveted robotic dogs. They were state of the art and expensive at the time, but my 10 year old daughter has toys more impressive nowadays!) Home video releases of the “Endless sorrow” video now include a brief appearance from Ayu at the very end, but when it was airing on television, there was no such appearance.
The Morinaga Hi-Chew commercial series with Mr. Ito closed out in two ways. A few commercials were released featuring a still image of Ayu holding up the Hi-Chew package with elevator music playing in the background; and later in May, Mr. Ito tried one last desperate attempt to pitch a commercial concept to Ayu: a group of sentai rangers that he called the “Tabetaingers (Want-to-Eat Rangers).”
On May 22, Ayu received the Bvlgari Brilliant Dreams award at the Italian Embassy in Tokyo in Minato-ku. Honestly I don’t know much about that award, but I do have a ton of magazine clippings showing Ayu’s fashion at the occasion.
Ayu also received the Silver award for “SEASONS” at the 19th annual JASRAC awards on May 23rd.
In the meantime, Ayu’s focus was primarily on DOME TOUR rehearsals, which began May 14th and would continue for the next month. During those rehearsals, she began to notice problems with a distracting pounding sound in her left ear that couldn’t be remedied. This would cause her further distress when DOME TOUR 2001 kicked off in June.