I know, I know. I said in the first post that this would be a weekly thing. So it’s best to set an actual day for it to be weekly, no? Because it always annoys me at the end of the year when major releases in Japan are shunted from the usual Wednesday to January 1st, no matter what day it is. I’m odd like that.
o1/ Arashi’s MY GIRL single hits me on so many levels. One, the title song is bland. I’m sure as I watch the drama more, it’ll grow on me, but I don’t know how likely that is considering the source material (again, manga), is much cuter. I am considering continuing it past the first episode just for the little girl. She’s cute, she can act, and she gets Aiba teased. What’s not to like? On the other hand, I haven’t watched 0 Goushitsu no Kyaku, the drama in which Ohno stars in the first arc, but I’m rather enjoying Tokei Jikake no UMBRELLA, its theme song. Well, except for Sho’s rap. It honestly feels like they stuck it in there because Sho wouldn’t really have a rap on this single otherwise. I’m sure the fangirls are enjoying the orgasmic “Uh, mou dame” in the middle. Well, that and the recent news of Kobayashi Mao’s engagement to Ichikawa Ebizo. (Note to self: Avoid the topic of the engagement at the Johnny’s fanmeet on December 6th. Or tonzura koite out of the room if it gets brought up.) The rest of the song returns listeners to the dark dramatic atmosphere that made truth such a hit with fans, though the accordion calls to mind Professor Layton. It’s also a fun song to lip-sync too, since they’re so passionate in it.
But no, the best track is SUPER FRESH, by far. I’m almost sad to say that I love it best because it feels so Western, rather than by default. There’s the club-style beat, so easy to get addicted to. The monotone quick-paced singing, carrying you through the song to the chorus. There is one brass section at the end that throws me back to WISH, but overall Arashi songs are mostly known for their energy, so this is definitely a change of pace. But who’s to say it can’t be a good one?
o2/ Ohitorisama: I’m going to be honest. Like many w-inds. fangirls, I’m watching this for the novelty of seeing one Tachibana Keita act. I only just got through the first episode this past week with my sister (who is watching it for Koike Teppei – looking considerably aged from when we saw him in Shibatora – and Maya Miki). To my surprise, there’s a lot more musical artists in this show than I thought. Of course, heroine Mizuki Arisa is a singer, and Teppei and Keita are part of WaT and w-inds. respectively, along with having their own solo works. Matsushita Nao, another teacher who seems to have plans for Teppei’s character, put out an album earlier this year, but has been around since 2006. And Suzuki Ami – yes, that Suzuki Ami, Nakata Yasutaka fans – shows up as the school nurse. Unfortunately, this also means that some of the acting in this drama kind of sucks. I’m going to stick with it for my sister, though. (To you guys, I suggest you go watch JIN. Tied with MR. BRAIN for the best drama of the year in my opinion.) And because I want to know what the hell Keita’s character does that lets him do what seems to be sit at home and play games all day. Hook a sister up, will you?
o3/ Let’s get ugly. And by ugly I mean self-servicing. In case you don’t know and want to follow me, I have a Twitter. The Twitter, much like myself, is abundant with inanity. If you like my blog, you might like my Twitter, I don’t know. Follow me so I can call you a stalker. But onto the actual subject – having a Twitter means I am a victim of… Twitter operations! On November 17th (in Japan), the person behind the uwasako LiveJournal initiated an attempt to get Japanese pop as a trending topic, after seeing various KPop ones coast up the Twitter Trending Topic Top 10 list.
She chose the fun hastag of #deadfisheyes. It worked, sending them flying to just under New Moon, I think. Hey, I contributed one to the attempt myself. Though admittedly I didn’t actually know what it was for at the time. And now due to the success (or at least latching onto the originality of it in the latter case), two more operations are going on this coming week. On the 24th, Project #eggplant, for Akanishi Jin. (I don’t know why that date.) On the 26th, in honor of Ohno’s birthday, Operations #tsuribaka and #wemakestorm. (Girls, can I say that while I know there are a lot of Arashi fans on Twitter, I suggest PICK ONE AND STICK WITH IT. Or else you’ll end up like the Chinese elections here in New York and get nowhere. I prefer the latter for all Arashi tweets. Just sayin’.)
While I’m sick of seeing Wonder Girls on my Twitter feed – mostly thanks to one person, not saying it’s a bad thing to enjoy fandom, but not being a fan, I’ve had enough – I’m sort of ambivalent about Johnny’s Twitter spam too. Nonetheless, it won’t hurt too many, I think. I’ll get back to you about the murders I’ve committed in reaction to it after the event’s over.
o4/ avex, when will you stop with the underage kiddies? Not that certain people won’t enjoy it. So based off a show called Tensai Terebi MAX, apparently, a new group called Dream5 has been formed. If you’re like me, the first thing you thought of when you saw that name was Folder/5. (Speaking of which, I only recently discovered that it’s HIKARI playing Light’s little sister in the Death Note movie. Also, I’ve only recently watched the Death Note movie. It took an iPod for me to do it. Don’t judge me.) These kids are all younger than any underage group we’ve seen from avex in the past – Folder and SweetS being what come to mind. The youngest is a fourth grader, the eldest two are 7th graders. And the sole guy in the group is in the middle, being a 6th grader. He’s also adorable, but please ignore my pedophilia. They also follow in the path of main singers + backup dancers. I can’t see this one succeeding any longer than SweetS did, especially since their debut single I don’t obey ~Bokura no PRIDE~ is lacking in quality. (Has Togashi Akio lost his touch?) But hey, whatever gets me more cute little boys to fawn over.
In case you’re waiting for a report on Shingo’s Talk Like Singing musical – keep your eyes peeled… actually, don’t. That’s disgusting. But now that the musical has finished its run in NYC and I don’t have to worry about details being spoiler-ish, it’ll be along!
Man, I suck horribly at this blogging thing. A great deal of it could be attributed to my inherent laziness, and another bunch to the fact that I’ve never actually been inclined to spill out my feelings or keep a diary, so having blogs to begin with goes against who I am.
But I guess a few things in my head insisted on kicking themselves out as I mentally prep myself to watch Shingo’s musical Talk Like Singing today.
1) Ninkyo HELPER: I never managed to do a drama post for the Summer season (nor the Fall), but it’s one of the ones that stuck out at me from the beginning as being a winner. Did I ever underestimate that – the final episodes just build up into a crescendo, and then a very satisfying ending. Things are tied up, Yuki Jutta does hand motions that he should never do again, and even if you don’t particularly like the elderly, you will definitely at least feel for the old people on the show. Also, I may have become a pedophile, but Kato Seishiro’s squishable cheeks are entirely worth it. How did that boy EVER get only third place for Best Supporting Actor? I cried while watching this show. I can’t believe I just admitted that on a public forum.
2) Watarirouka Hashiritai‘s 3rd single, also known as Kanpeki Gu~no Ne!, also known as the first (and current) ending to anime Fairy Tail. I have a friend who hates Fairy Tail with possibly every fiber of her being, mostly because – as she says – it’s an imitator of ONE PIECE, and not creator Mashima Hiro’s first try at it, either. Me, I don’t care about the similarities, so I’m still able to enjoy it. The opening theme song, by FUNKIST, is a light pop-rock number in the style of SID. Take that with a grain of salt, I’ve only really listened to two SID songs and one was a live version (Yuukan Collection, in case you’re wondering). But oh, the ending. It is upbeat and catchy and cute as hell, and I was totally fine with it being stuck in my head when I thought it was done by a seiyuu group with Hirano Aya in it. (I sort of imagined the others to include Kugimiya Rie, who also voices a character on the show.) Then I looked it up, and found out Watarirouka Hashiritai was an AKB48 subgroup, composed of mostly Team B girls. And it. Just. Won’t. Leave. My. Head. I’ve listened to it a grand total of four times, and I have the melody completely memorized.
…Susan was right. Fairy Tail is bad for me. LISTEN TO IT. IT WILL EAT YOUR SOUL.
3) Hold Up Down: V6 fans have known about this gem for 4 years now, and if you’re not a V6 fan, there’s no guarantee you’ll enjoy this movie. But essentially, it’s a crack fest. The plot barely exists. The acting is about as much as you can expect from the individual members of V6. Bananaman makes cameo appearances – or one of them does. The other one is a running joke. And as is apparently expected of director Sabu, there are over the top car chases and a spectacularly over-the-top fight scene. But no, there is only one reason you should watch this. To join the Church of Frozen Jesus Homeless Guitar Player Okada Statue. Because as this movie will show you – he is truly awesome.
4) LIAR GAME Season 2: Longtime readers of the blog, if they exist, will remember my hearty approval of LIAR GAME when the show first aired. So season 2 and a movie was announced, and now the former has begun airing. It just isn’t as good. Matsuda Shota has always been prone to overacting for the role of Akiyama Shinichi, but this time his magnificently feminine hair isn’t a distraction. Toda Erika slipped comfortably back into her role as Kanzaki Nao, but the fame of being active these past two years has added a sort of maturity to her image that doesn’t fit the naive Nao. The new dealer, Solario, will haunt you in your nightmares with his bulgy-eyed mask. And now that the show has been lengthened to an hour, it seems like they had no idea how to fill up the time other than to replay “dramatic” moments in triplicate. Of course, there’s always Suzuki Kosuke’s excellent performance as Fukunaga Jun to keep viewers in. But maybe I shouldn’t have read the manga, because the magic’s sort of lost.
5) The DBSK vs. SME lawsuit grows tiresome. It’s also a prime example of why I don’t like stepping out into fandom – it’s a pretty ugly creature. For the people who’ve never cared, or the Tohorangers fans living under rocks on Pluto, basically a couple of months back The Girl, Ultra Mushroom, and Kamen Laser as I’ve identified them (Jaejoong, Yoochun, and Junsu to everyone else), sued SM Entertainment. Apparently they were investing in other ventures and SM wanted a cut of the profits from that, declaring that the ventures were making money from the name of DBSK being attached to it, and SM, being the creator of DBSK, had a right to it. This evolved into a dispute over the clasues in their contracts, and then into overall unfairness (their exclusive contracts are for 13 years). The remaining two, Bondage Ranger (Yunho) and Gi (Changmin), kind of stood off to the side until we were suddenly told they’d taken SM’s side – and what’s more, the three suers had a deadline to return to the group so activities would be continued. The deadline – November 12th, I think – passed, and the three didn’t return, leading SM to announce that the Shenzhen concert was canceled. Throughout all this, fans have mostly been “Pfft, SM, WE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE UP TO YOU BASTARDS.” and started a boycott of SM products to make SM lose more money show their support for DBSK.
Well, it’s probably just me, but though SM was kind of stupid for wanting profits out of the boys’ side investments, they do have a point in saying that DBSK wouldn’t exist without them. Jaechunsu can also make a point in not “returning” to the group, but let’s face it, even if the contract had only been 5 or 7 years, they totally would’ve renewed it to end up being 13 years (or more) anyways. SM is good at creating the image Korea wants, after all. (And JYPYG already has BIG BANG. JYP has 2AM/PM. Thanks to Catherine for enlightening me further on the confusing world of Korean boybands!) As for the fans, if SM’s not making any money off DBSK, what’s to say they’ll keep them? Never mind that the boycott could be costing them money from other artists. So who’s the biggest loser here? Me, for actually reading fans whining and bitching and moaning about this over and over. Can we be done with this already?
6) AAA‘s latest single, Hide-away/Find you/Hide & Seek. On one hand, reusing the composition for all three songs with a different sound each time is supposed to make them comparable to Hamasaki Ayumi (Sunrise/Sunset), I guess. On the other, it’s cheap and makes it really easy to get really tired of the songs really quickly. And mostly, I’m sick of the splits. AAA is 5 guys and 2 girls together, not 5 guys and 2 girls occasionally smashed up in a hot aural orgy that’s cooling by the second. At this rate, 6th Anniversary will be two separate concerts – one girls-only, one guys-only. And neither crowd will be pretty.
7) Johnny’s, Johnny’s, Johnny’s. Earlier this week/last week, a Fuji TV member named Miyakawa Naoki sent out a cry for help through LiveJournal, trying to contact SMAP fans in the US for a story that aired on Monday. Well, that wasn’t the problem – hey, look, they know about LJ. Fuuuun. Well, no, one of the questions was “7. What is your favorite song of Smap’s, and your favorite drama, in which any of Smap members act?” If you can’t see the problem here, here’s a reminder – downloading/torrenting dramas is technically a gray area, but still a no-no. And while for a lot of people it’s easy to say Long Vacation or Hero or any other drama that has been out for years, some people are like me, only recent fans, yeah? And their favorite is quite possibly the amazing amazing MR. BRAIN that aired earlier this summer. Too early for DVDs. Or perhaps there was a mention of SMAPxSMAP or Utaban, the latter which would of course never be on DVDs. People did answer, though, and in the Tokudane clip no mention was made (not that I was really paying attention) of it, so hopefully this doesn’t open up a can of worms. (But but but Johnny’s, if you were to decide the US is a lucrative market, I’d be all up for going into the watching-when-it-airs-concert-attending-shrieking-fangirl business.)
I’m half-considering switching this blog thing up. Rather than having every entry – whenever they appear – focus on a singular topic, a weekly post of everything remotely interesting and related to the main subject of this blog. Perhaps something much like this. A valiant attempt to get back into the spirit of regularly blogging. To my non-existent readers, any non-existent thoughts?
Lately I’ve been indulging in personal bouts of music nostalgia.
Since 2007, when Johnny’s made a permanent mark upon my listening spectrum, I’ve been wrapped up in boybands. If it isn’t catching up with the current releases of Johnny’s, or delving into their storied past, or trying – however grudgingly – to give other boybands a chance… well there hasn’t much of an alternative, actually. Sure, Inoue Joe has made his mark, Miura Daichi is always gold, and I made the perfunctory effort to keep up with other groups I’ve enjoyed in the past, such as AAA (oh, how low I’ve fallen), Micro, or Tamaki Nami. But other than Joe and Daichi, the one constant in my listening habits was a Johnny’s production. Whether this was Arashi, V6, or Domoto Koichi has fluctuated depending on who has had the latest release. This, of course, means it was usually Arashi.
All of this changed about three weeks back after I attended the AKB48 concert, though.
Caught up in the enthusiasm of the wota, I gave the 63 and then some girls more of a listen. Foolishly, I did not follow my own self-laid steps for joining a fandom with this endeavor… or perhaps not-so-foolishly when you consider that 63 girls is still more than all of the members of the currently active Johnny’s groups (that is, from SMAP on – Shonentai being disregarded for focusing on solo activities of late) combined, including former members such as Mori Katsuyuki, Moriuchi Takahiro, and Kusano Hironori. At any rate, I never got past step 1, because I’m still sort of in the denial stage. Perhaps at some point I’ll get around to watching Mendol so I’ll have fulfilled step 2, but that won’t be for a while.
Because being the easily-distracted person that I am, I was clearing out space on my poor abused laptop to make room for AKB48′s discography and came across concerts that I had downloaded, but never actually finished watching because, well, I’m easily distracted.
The first of these was SOUL’d OUT‘s Single Collection at Nihon Budokan. I started watching, trying to comprehend why I wasn’t so engaged by Diggy-MO’ and Bro.Hi performing the songs that I loved. It wasn’t until the fourth song, VOODOO KINGDOM, where the pyrotechnics began that I got starry-eyed, but more to the point, VOODOO KINGDOM was an instant reminder of why I enjoyed both SOUL’d OUT and Diggy-MO’s releases then and now. Now we’re in 2007, folks, with a slight nod to early 2009 for Diggy-MO’s solo album.
Next came I’ve in BUDOKAN 2009. I never actually got past the first disc – Shimamiya Eiko (always my favorite of the I’ve pantheon of singers) singing Ginga no Ko shot me back to, well, 2006. The ethereality of that song has made it a solid favorite of mine. Which is a shame because since Johnny’s, I’ve kept up with I’ve Sound – pun unintended – but haven’t really listened to anything. To be honest, I’m still not really listening to anything new, since my I’ve love paused at 2006.
This year, besides being Arashi’s 10th anniversary, is also the 10th anniversary of a great many other artists. Let’s go over two of them first – Crystal Kay and Kuraki Mai. First was Crystal Kay, who was suddenly gaining immense popularity in KAT-TUN communities because she performed a duet with Akanishi Jin for her 10th anniversary collection album. She’s actually on here a bit unfairly, because I was drawn back to her music before AKB48 by her single featuring CHEMISTRY’s Kawabata Kaname and I’d been listening to the aforementioned album before the concert. Then Kuraki Mai, who had a 10th anniversary live, and everything I’d figured out about the need for shiny during SOUL’d OUT’s concert flew out the window because I was hooked even though Secret of my heart was just the woman singing on stage. A slow song, nonetheless. We’re now in 2005, for you guys keeping track.
Around this time, because of Crystal Kay’s collaboration song with CHEMISTRY, Two As One, I got a bit nostalgic over some of my favorites from them. These have been few, because CHEMISTRY mostly pulls the slow kind of R&B, but every so often something clicks. FLOATIN’ is one such song, harkening back to the startup days of Tofu Records releasing in the US, and the first several times I bought a Japanese pop album. Though the JPOP CD I heard FLOATIN’ on was released back in 2003, the actual song takes us to 2002, now.
Back on the concert track. Before JPOPSUKI switched trackers, some kind soul uploaded the ISO of dream‘s 2001 live. Though I didn’t get into dream until 2003, 3-nin dream is my favorite of the group’s many incarnations. The group just isn’t the same without Matsumuro Mai for me – odd, because when I was first trying to reconcile between 8/7-nin dream and 3-nin dream on the old AnimeLyrics.com forums, I identified Yu and Kana but mistook Mai for Erie, I think. Either way, 3-nin dream, whether because I have a fondness for trios or because the Japanese music of the early 2000s is essentially my starting point, awoke.
Then another 10th anniversary artist, Shimokawa Mikuni. Shimokawa, along with Okui Masami, Ishida Yoko, Takahashi Yoko, and Yonekura Chihiro, is really best known for her anime song – personally, I think she’s up there with the rest of the anison greats, but don’t hold me to that. She’d also released a 10th anniversary album, and while this was a while ago, I gave it a whirl. Big mistake, because she’d sung songs for a lot of shows I watched, and some of her songs are iconic for me. I also had a good amount of Hayashibara Megumi‘s discography sitting around somewhere, along with some Okui Masami albums, and Yonekura Chihiro‘s stuff was popping up on the new JPOPSUKI tracker. Now I was caught up in the dizzying spiral that is anime music.
And then the thing that clinched the deal – anime music ties in inevitably with Dance Dance Revolution for me. In fact, Dance Dance Revolution marks the beginning of the end of my interest in anime, harkening to my ditching meetings of an anime club I helped found in high school to attend the daily meetings of the Dance Dance Revolution club. Already having dj TAKA and Sota Fujimori’s solo efforts from Bemani on my laptop, and a bunch of BeForU as well, I now compounded it by hunting down a number of DDR soundtracks with the pieces that weren’t on the aforemention albums, and also hunting down SMiLE.dk albums for the full versions of such iconic tracks as Butterfly and Dancing All Alone.
So my music player (currently my poor DS Lite), once taken up completely by Johnny’s tracks, is now slowly returning to a state of… well, I was going to say normality, but that isn’t quite right. For the past two years, Johnny’s had become the norm. Perhaps it’s more accurate to call it a state of balance.
What does that mean for this blog? It found its greatest number of viewers when I was just entering the Johnny’s fandom. But the Johnny’s fandom is also horribly time and energy-consuming. There are endless variety shows, dramas, releases, photoshoots, all needing to be caught up with. It begins to feel like a full-time job in itself. So perhaps this the spark of hope that this blog can become more varied again, that maybe it can actually fulfill the functions of a blog, or just be active. Period. I wouldn’t be too sure, seeing as the 2009-2010 Countdown’s coming up, as is Katori Shingo’s Talk Like Singing, but here’s the hope.
Oh, but if you know anyone who’s willing to pay a person to keep up with Johnny’s, let me know.
Well, not unless you follow me on Twitter, that is.
So for you poor unfortunate souls, here it is: I went to the AKB48 concert at Webster Hall about… 7 hours ago as I type this. (That’s right, it’s midnight and a half.)
I know. I haven’t updated in almost 4 months and this is what I come back with? You are in horror. Kimi, you cry, what is this? Where are the Johnny’s we have come to know you for?
Yeeeeeeeah, about that.
It’s a funny thing, going to a concert when you’re not a fan.
Funnier when fans terrify you. No, really. You deal with Arashi fangirls bordering on obsessive-delusional, and then tack on all the stories of how fanatical wota can be. It’s probably a bad idea to go to the concert knowing only one song.
And the situation becomes funniest when you go with a newly-bought copy of Coming Century’s mini-album Hello-Goodbye in your bag. Huh. Lucky the wota didn’t see that.
But for whatever stupid reason, despite not bringing along a notebook/writing utensil, the blogger in me would not let me go and I ended up jotting the setlist into a text message draft on my cell phone in the midst of what had to have ben at least 60 roaring people. So have a concert report from what is probably an interesting perspective! And then some.
Since the airing of ROOM OF KING last fall, I have developed a love for the music of Kimaguren, the duo who pretty much singularly handled the soundtrack, along with releasing the catchy ending theme.
Apparently recently they hooked up and became good buddies with fellow (albeit with a much greater career lengthspan) musical duo Yuzu, after finding a common birthplace, common friends, and probably a common beer or three. They liked each other so much they decided that despite all members being males, they had to make a lovechild.
And so, my friends, I bring to you… well, two友 [two Yuu], the single released by ゆずグレン [Yuzuguren]. The name literally means “Two Friends”, but also sounds like “to you” and Tuyu (both the name of a CM group featuring Johnny’s – TU-YU – and a resort town – fully Mar del Tuyú – on the coast of Argentina). If you know me, you probably know I’d like to milk it for all it’s worth – but I think I just did.
To best describe the song probably requires a description of its creators. Kimaguren songs usually have a very laid back island melody with guitar worked in somehow and combined with a fast beat, which is admittedly the best setting for the sort of vocals ISEKI and KUREI provide. Normally KUREI does a half-spoken, half-sung, occasionally rap stanza – that grows all the more addictive as his voice grows softer and breathier – and then together with ISEKI wails out the chorus or hook with all the energy they can muster. Neither vocalist will charm over listeners by the power of their vocals alone – it’s the whole package Kimaguren makes, with some fun lyrics when the occasion calls for it, that draws fans in.
On the other hand, Yuzu, I am less qualified to talk about. They’ve been around since 1998, but the thing I most identify them with in my head is guitar ballads and folk songs. Which isn’t far off the course, as the two started off as street musicians. Based off this song alone, I’d declare their vocals of the standard Japanese nasally sort. And speaking of which…
Combining these elements into two Yuu creates a soothing and heartwarming song. Even though the stanzas – spoken by KUREI – are almost hypnotizingly lulling, they’re broken up by the song outburts of Yuzu (and possibly ISEKI) and there is a steady guitar strum that leads us through into the heartfelt chorus. The single also features an instrumental and a remix version – the latter of which introduces more instruments and synth effects. No matter which version you listen to, you will come away with a relaxed feeling, and perhaps the thought that these are four men who truly love music and doing what they do.
After all, they wrote this song to you.