On June 1st, Ayu posted on the TeamAyu BBS that she was recording a new song: “UNITE!” She posted a short sample of the lyrics:
自由を右手に愛なら左手に持ち．．．(Holding freedom in the right hand, and love in the left hand…)
That same day, Ayu’s new Takanoyuri CM for their La Stone Therapy service began airing with another brand-new mystery song being played in the background. It was an exotic, sad rock ballad that nobody could yet identify, which was exciting and frustrating.
The campaign (and its contemporary Natsu Body Get print campaign, pictured to the left) included an Ayu-designed bathroom scale that was up for grabs as a special giveaway. Like the A MODEL phone, this was decorated with Ayu’s much-beloved leopard fur pattern.
On June 13th, Ayu released her “evolution” PV on home video. Like the “M” release several months earlier, the VHS version included just the PV and CM, while the DVD version included an “off-shot flash,” or short behind-the-scenes clip. A week later, Ayu’s Countdown Live 2000-2001 show was released on home video as well. The DVD version included multiple angles for her performances of “Trauma” and “teddy bear.”
Ayu and artist Tadashi Ura ended up releasing poster designs based on Ayu’s receipt of the Barbie Award earlier in the year. The pink artwork would also be the basis for the first issue of the TeamAyu official fan club magazine, the first of many covers Ura would illustrate.
On June 22, DOME TOUR 2001 A kicked off at Fukuoka Dome in Ayu’s hometown. Hours before the show, Ayu’s ear problems would cause vertigo, resulting in a three-meter fall off the stage and into a pit where the globe prop was mounted. When a stagehand tried to help her up, he fell into that stage gap as well, and Ayu’s ankle was sprained in the process. She went to the hospital where she was treated for her injury and given painkillers, but she insisted on going ahead with the show despite her injury. The show began late, but it went on as planned. Ayu finished the show with her painkillers already having worn off partway through the performance.
On June 24, Ayu took to the stage for the filming of her “UNITE!” promotional clip (the song would not get a full video, similar to “NEVER EVER”). The next day, Ayu posted on the TeamAyu BBS about her injury the first night of the tour. This would be the first her fans have heard about the injury at all.
The tour continued through July 7th, where it concluded at Tokyo Dome. Total tour attendance topped 300,000 over the course of all 8 shows thanks to the massive capacity of each venue.
In the meantime, promotion for “UNITE!” was already getting started. A new Kirin Supli commercial aired that featured the song. Like the “NEVER EVER” campaign, this one included posters from 7-Eleven stores. The CM for “UNITE!,” using the footage shot on June 24th, began airing in advance of the single release on July 11th.
On July 23rd, Ayu went into the studio to record again. At this point, we still had no idea what the song was in June’s Takanoyuri CM.