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[Herald Review] Twice’s ‘Seize the Lights’ shows girl group as genuine as can be

"Twicelights" (JYP Entertainment)
Last year, Twice embarked on the girl group’s most monumental journey since debuting -- their first world tour: “Twicelights.”

It was their longest tour yet, spanning almost a whole year, kicking off in Seoul on May 25, 2019, going around Southeast Asia and North America and closing in Japan just a couple of months ago. Their finale shows initially scheduled to be held in March at Tokyo Dome and KSPO Dome in Seoul were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This isn’t the first time the nine-piece act has pulled together such an impressive feat. They are known to set records and break them all over again with each album release. But it was the first time their coup was captured on camera each step of the way and made into a documentary series on YouTube.

“Twice: Seize the Light,” intended to capture their globe-trotting tour, gives a rare peek inside the group and at the individual members. From episode No. 1 to No. 8, we learn about their childhoods, first day as trainees at label JYP Entertainment, first day of being Twice and how they perceive themselves while the band prepares for the tour and performs city to city.

What surprises the viewer is the intensity of the tour.

Sure, I expected it to be strenuous, but I didn’t know their tours abroad were scheduled only a few days apart. Especially during their North American tour, the band had to perform right after landing and then hop on the plane and perform all over again, on repeat. Nayeon explained it was to minimize any risks such as local food not fitting their taste palate. But they do this while preparing, practicing and perfecting a different choreography for each stage to give fans (affectionately called “Once”) a unique concert experience.

The girl group also puts a lot of pressure on themselves. While they certainly enjoy being on stage and seeing Once, the group is also eager to put on the best act and repeat how they have to be flawless for their fans. Eventually Mina cries backstage from the psychological burden and temporarily drops out of the tour.

The show does a fine job addressing Mina’s absence, which had garnered concern among fans. Though we don’t get an explicit explanation of what happened, bandmates reveal they had convened every night discussing what they should do. Mina also shares some of the fears she felt during the time -- of being left behind forever -- and how she overcame them thanks to other members constantly checking in, expressing her faith that they would always be there for her. To our joy, she joins the tour in September through the force of sisterhood, and we see her ease into the routine again.

Interviews of Twice’s vocal trainers and J.Y. Park, chairman of JYP Entertainment, also shed some light on the band. It was particularly striking when Park said, “If you like Twice, you are liking them for who they are. You’re not being tricked. The Twice that you think they are is the real Twice.” He seemed aware of criticisms the K-pop industry receives for manufacturing artists instead of cultivating them, and directly refutes that. The whole show highlights the human side of these women, which we often forget with iconic celebrities, with snippets of them looking downright exhausted or acting like children around their parents.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the show, even tearing up a couple of moments with the bandmates, I wished it was longer with more episodes. From episode five, when the band goes to Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities, everything happens too fast and it feels like a blur, as if the director crammed the footage in to fit the short running time. The purpose of the series was to showcase the group’s first world tour, but we barely get any behind-the-scenes moments in North America, which made “Twicelights” significant in the first place. I also hoped to hear a bit from the band’s families, since J.Y. Park could only know or reveal so much as their producer.

The first two 15-minute episodes have been released on Twice’s YouTube channel, while the remaining six will be released every Wednesday at 11 p.m. over the following weeks. For premium YouTube members, the whole package is available to watch now.

By Kwon Yae-rim (kyr@heraldcorp.com)
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