August was weird. Well, first off, to the left is the red-and-white pinstripe outfit Ayu wore for the month’s Tu-Ka print campaign. Fairly early in the month she filmed a TV commercial that featured “Dearest,” but that ad didn’t end up airing for awhile.
Between August 11th and 18th, she blogged that the rumors were true and she apologized for being a bother, but only big Ayu fans were aware that she was talking about her relationship with TOKIO lead singer Tomoya Nagase.
The truth of that came out to the public during her Kose Visee press conference on August 20th. A member of the press asked about a ring she was wearing on her left hand, and she replied that “I got it from my boyfriend.” She posted a similar “sorry for being a bother” explaining the situation on her official website as a result of that. Given the tendency for Japanese women – including pop singers – to stop working once they have found a suitable partner and married (Japan was STILL reeling from the loss of Momoe Yamaguchi almost 20 years after her retirement under those circumstances), and given Ayu’s effect on her record label’s stock prices, this caused a considerable amount of unease among investors and the media.
On August 21st, the Visee commercial she was promoting aired on TV, featuring another new song.
It bears repeating that at this point, we still have no idea what the song was in the Takanoyuri commercial in June. We know an upcoming single will be called “Dearest,” but we’re not sure if this song is “Dearest” or if the Takanoyuri commercial song is “Dearest” or if “Dearest” is another song altogether – an option that seems downright silly to us at the time.
On August 30th, Ayu explained that she’d originally been aiming for a full album to be released in late September, but she decided she’d like to concentrate on putting together a fashion brand instead. She doesn’t elaborate on the length of the postponement, but we know now that the CM songs were originally intended to be released at the same time as “Dearest,” on an album at the time.
Well, the kerfuffle over Ayu’s relationship status hadn’t ended by the time Ayu got back to Japan after her shoots in Los Angeles, so she released a handwritten note to the press on September 2nd in order to clear everything up once and for all.
To all my fans and everyone involved,
First of all, I offer profound apologies for these matters which have alarmed you and incurred such chaos.
Furthermore, because this has affected the general public even outside the sphere of fans and involved parties, I profoundly apologize to all persons who have been affected by this immense nuisance of a situation.
While it is true that I, Hamasaki Ayumi, am romantically involved with Nagase Tomoya, I have absolutely no plans for either marriage or retirement.
We have every intention of continuing to deliver the best work we can in our respective careers after this, so please continue to support us.
Although this is perhaps opportunistic to say, if you all could give us your blessing, that would make us so happy.
September 2, 2001
September 3rd brought with it a new CM for Morinaga Petit Mont-Blanc/Cheesecake flavored sweets. The seasonal treat had included Ayu in a commercial the preceding year, in which Ayu mistook everything for a chestnut – including an urchin. That confusion has continued this year. The print campaign depicts Ayu getting wrapped up in chestnut/montblanc-colored fabric, lost in a pile of montblanc texture.
Early in September, Ayu’s “Dearest” became the ending theme for the anime Inuyasha.
On September 11th (Japan time), Ayu appeared at a press event for the home video re-release of Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” for which Ayu would be the commercial spokesperson and theme song vocalist. The home video release would include a giveaway for a short music video of Ayu’s version of “Someday My Prince Will Come.” (The 9/11 terror attacks occurred late that night Japan time.) The commercials for Snow white began airing on September 22nd, and included some voice-over commentary from Ayu regarding her respect for the film.
The full comment & “Someday My Prince Will Come” video (the one on the giveaway video release) can be seen here.
The “Dearest” single was released on September 27th, but that wasn’t all. The long-delayed SUPER EUROBEAT presents ayu-ro mix 2 was finally released that same day, as was the new remix album Cyber TRANCE presents ayu trance. Trance wasn’t something that had really taken off yet in Japan, but avex saw opportunity there. Using trance remixes of Ayumi Hamasaki songs, avex launched a trance remix team equivalent to a trance version of SUPER EUROBEAT. The cover art for ayu trance used a screenshot from the Tu-Ka funstyle commercial that aired earlier in the year.
On the 29th, the Tu-Ka CM featuring “Dearest” finally aired.
So now we’re up to 5 singles, 3 remix singles, one best-of album, four remix albums, 8 reissued singles, 4 home video releases, and a partridge in a pear tree.