The Pretty, the Ugly, and the all so Shiny in 5…
It’s a new year already! Oh, wow, it’s a new year already.
2008 was filled with lots and lots of Johnny’s loving (even the half of the year I disappeared for), so what better way to kick off 2009? Oh, and Arashi was hosting this year’s Countdown too. I know you probably aren’t here to read this opening blurb (if the comments from my post on last year’s Countdown are any indication), so let’s get straight to it.
First, Arashi kicked things off with Step and Go. Aiba and Nino forgot that mics need to be held to their mouths, Ohno just didn’t care, and Jun cared too much. Unfortunately, I cannot really make fun of their outfits because compared to some other ones, they were decent, despite the Crayola shade known as “highlighter yellow” and all. I do question the need for the back of Sho’s vest to have laces (i.e., shoelaces) and in that color, but that’s because I had to mention Sho somewhere in this paragraph.
So Sho announces that Arashi are the hosts of Countdown (cue cheers and bows) and then Jun realizes that despite the awesome year of Arashi that 2008 was, they really ought to be good senpai and share the applause. “Let’s go straight to introducing the participants tonight – first is NEWS!” (Why, yes, I do enjoy capping Jun and his hand in ridiculous poses, thank you for asking.)
By the way, NEWS was the one with a concert in Tokyo Dome pre-Countdown this year, so the roar actually gets louder. The 6 of them come out in color-coded outfits and suit jackets – Pi gets a corsage because he’s the only one who snagged a prom date, and Massu is still rubber ducky yellow with a scarf to emphasize it.
Of course, next is Kanjani8 – Ryo stood pitifully alone at the top of the steps waiting for K8 while the rest of NEWS walked on without him. I rather wish K8 had NOT come out – bathrobes stay at home for a reason, boys. Especially shiny concert-ized robes like yo- OH MY GOD IS MURAKAMI WEARING A LEPOARD PRINT ONE AND WHY?
Ahem. Next is KAT-TUN, wearing stylized military/marching band jackets with too many frills, furs, and laces. I do realize that these are concert costumes and that yes, their album/concert tour for 2008 was “Queen of Pirates” – but Queen or not, I hope they all realize they’re males. Except maybe Kame. Kame and drunken crossdressing rumors are rather fun to hear. Anyways. There is a big white piece of shiny fabric that looks like torn trash bags draped on Junno, supposed to be a cape, but it will eat him alive unless he removes it before Countdown is over.
For whatever reason, Jun is still talking. He lets us know we’ve got live video feeds from Johnny boys who could not be at Countdown. First, Tackey at the auditorium for his coming stageplay. Lacking a Tsubasa, he decided to replace him with ridiculously dressed participants in his stageplay. Like, really. Tackey looks good in shiny white. Even with the weird feather corsage that KinKi was working last year. But his henchmen in red look uncomfortable (or ready to camera whore) and in their fur-lined embroidered red coats. To offset his white, he brings out Shounentai’s leader, Nishikiori Kazukiyo, dressed in a smart black suit. Clearly, the older you are in Johnny’s, the more respect stylists have for the eyes of people looking at you.
From Osaka, we get a feed of the KinKi duo. (Here, we are graced with Sho’s voice, because Jun seriously needs a break so he doesn’t wear out his voice before he has to sing. Again.) Actually, what we got was a feed of the Kyocera Dome, and no KinKi. Nino: “KinKi-san?” Then the camera crew realizes – “Oh, right. They’ve only got two people. We need to zoom in.” KinKi are also in white suits – but if you didn’t realize after last year’s Countdown, I never have a bad word for KinKi and their concert costumes. Also, have some free shots of the ever-lovely Koichi.
TOKIO are on a tour bus heading towards Countdown and had no clue where they were at first. (Before they looked out and realized they were at Aoyama, that is.) I miss Matsuoka’s mohawk, and love Gussan with glasses. Also, my sister and I want more Taichi camwhoring, but hey, we’ll take what we got.
V6 were happily eating noodles being served by Inohara, who backed away from the camera like a proper civilia- wait, he’s Johnny’s too. Right. (Arashi/Nino’s reactions has been exaggerated in the following, not that it wasn’t obvious.)
Nino: “HOLD IT. V6. GUYS. C’MON. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
Nagano: “We’re eating soba!”
Go+Ken: *nikoniko wavewave*
Jun: “Hey, isn’t that strange?”
Nino: “WE’VE GOT A FRIGGIN’ LIVE, IDIOTS. GET OVER HERE.”
Ino: “Oh, really?”
Nino: “WE DO THIS EVERY FRICKIN’ YEAR, YOU KNOW THIS.”
Ino: “What time is it?”
V6: *looks at clock* “OH CRAP. Oh well, we won’t be able to make it, so back to noodles!”
Arashi: “HURRY UP AND GET OVER HERE ALREADY ASSHATS.”
In case you did not know, I really, really, really grew to like V6 in 2008.
Nino is not entirely pleased with his senpai.
So despite the lack of V6 and TOKIO, we started on the requisite Best Hit Medley for Johnny’s in 2008.
First was KAT-TUN on the moving carts with DON’T U EVER STOP, and it seriously lacked energy until we got into the chorus (which was presumably lip-synced). Jin and Kame (whose perm is ridiculous kthxbai) did not realize that the cameras were behind them, the idiots, so they sang with their backs to the camera. Junno tried hard to look important – or as important as you can look when you have an incomplete toga – Ueda was a Japanese schoolgirl, and Nakamaru took advantage of Taichi’s not being there yet to pull some weird camwhoring of his own. Koki eventually realized the cameras were there and showed off his goatee and slicked-back perm that made him look like a cheap imitation of an Italian playboy.
This led into LIPS, and this was when they started throwing out the signboards. Ueda was even more of a Japanese schoolgirl and posed with his signboard before throwing it out so we could blog about it for him. (Do your own work, man. I mean, girl. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own blog, much less doing yours for you.) I admit to being most appreciative that Koki’s rap did not come out. I have no words on the lack of White X’Mas, because I don’t really like KAT-TUN enough to care. Even though they got two paragraphs, this was because Ueda’s girliness deserved a giant screencap of its own.
Because KAT-TUN were dominating the carts, NEWS came from the giant construct on the main stage that was supposed to be a diamond but stopped looking like a diamond and more like a UFO the instant it opened up. (By the way, this same diamond had been opened up before, so, no, I really did not notice it.) This opened up to Taiyou no NAMIDA and zoomed right into SUMMER TIME as they walked down the steps so they could throw the signboards and have them actually land places. I noticed to some horror that they were all wearing bright red sneakers. Well, shoes. That only really worked with Yamapi because he was wearing red. (Yes, it failed with Tegoshi’s white color, too.) For some reason, the backdancers also came out here to dominate the steps, and then we got Happy Birthday. That was a bit boring (until my sister walked in right when the camera was focused on Massu and put me in a stranglehold – but that’s only interesting to you guys, isn’t it?).
Kanjani8 opened up with WAHAHA – and the camera opened up with a shot of Yoko’s (also ugly-permed) mouth agape as he stood in a crane basket. Thankfully, they took off the bathrobes so they were in red sequined concert suits. Surprisingly, Ryo still had signboards to throw. This went into Musekinin HERO (my proposed theme song!), always fun for the random spoken interjections by the Kanjani members. I’m pretty certain Yasuda screamed out his voice going “Ikimasu yooOOOOOOOOOOO!” though. It was during this song that the 3-minute timer to 2009 showed up.
Next was the previously unannounced Hey!Say!JUMP in not-so-virginal red/blue/white fur-lined costumes performing Mayonaka no SHADOW BOY. Yamada Ryosuke did a little head-cock thing that amused me too much, and they completely cut out Hey!Say!BEST’s solo parts in the song (poor Yabu. Years of work with the Jimusho and he gets shunted when he finally debuts.). On the plus side, though, Hey!Say!BEST did not have to suffer so much the fur-lined costumes, whereas Yamada, Chinen (especially Chinen), and Yuto got the sucky end of those. I still can not take Yamada whispering “Shadow” with any sort of seriousness, and this made it worse.
We cut back to Arashi who starts on One Love (Hey guys, what happened to the gem of a title that was Your Seed? We can ignore Dreams Come True), and… huh. Turns out there’s actually a dance to the wedding song. No, really, I just avoided all performances of it since, y’know, I preferred its B-side. But yeah. Flowery hand motions. Nino struts like a model on the catwalk (trust me, I know), and Ohno decides he’s just too gay now, so we get some Ohno+Jun love. Not that Nino minds, he’s pimping Aiba and Sho (the latter of whom’s so glad for this that his hand motions got Nino double-taking).
With less than a minute to go, everyone heads back to the main stage (I have the sinking feeling that Hatsu Uta is going to be making its way into my ears again.) and everyone counts down to the New Year, even in Osaka and Tackey’s empty auditorium. Then the New Year comes, and we get shitloads of silly string, confetti, and balloons.
We get a Happy Happy Greeting by the KinKi duo – as if they didn’t have enough winter and holiday songs – and everyone everywhere joins in at the choruses. Except maybe TOKIO and V6 (still slurping away at that soba).
Nagase did not pick up enough magical powers from his time with Hamasaki to be in two places at once – and since we’ve confirmed that TOKIO are en route to Tokyo Dome for Countdown, no one’s there to kiss Koichi except Tsuyoshi. Tsuyoshi is a special guy who thinks kisses are special too, so instead, he presents us with the most dorktastic school picture of the Hakuba Ouji (read: Domoto Koichi) ever. Also in Tokyo Dome, the screen reads “Koichi-kun HAPPY BIRTHDAY”, but the dorktastic picture takes precedence.
Koichi has problems singing because of the fact that the picture is there and why-is-the-picture-there-it-breaks-his-poor-brain-thank-you-very-much. We love you, you 30-year-old hakuba ossan! Happy happy belated birthday to you, too~
So we shove a giant bouquet of roses into Koichi’s arms, and he announces the Johnny’s 2009 Surprise Hit Medley. I don’t really know what’s supposed to be surprising about it, we get a medley every year (I’ve been properly doing my research, aren’t you proud?), but there you go. It’s the prince speaking, I’m happy.
KinKi kicks it off on their side of Japan with GARASU no Shounen, Koichi still lugging the huge-ass bouquet of roses. In Tokyo, all the pretty boys on stage dance along. Possibly sing along. I don’t know, we TV viewers only got the Osakan music feed. It slips into Aisareru yori Aishitai, also by the same duo, and then we get a taste of KinKi’s first 2009 single, Yakusoku (to be released January 28th, as they very nicely remind us onscreen). It sounds like that serenade from Lady & The Tramp. Bella Notte. Oh dear god, the fangirls are going to love this one. It has a nice little back-and-forth bridge between one Domoto and the other, but any actual review can probably wait until the single is released.
Back in Tokyo, Uchi Hiroki makes his grand re-entrance to Countdown. Oh man, the last time you showed up you were just like Hey! Say! Voltron – still beautifully underage and unable to do jack shit past midnight. Must be nice to be one of the “big boys” now, huh? He comes in to many cheers (Kusano, I’m counting on you to rack just as much) and DAYBREAK, originally by Otokogumi (one of whom happens to be the daddy of a Voltronite. Er. Hey!Say!JUMPer. Voltronite sounds less suicidal.). Then, he gains backup dancers (please don’t ask me to identify Juniors) and breaks into SMAP’s Aoi INAZUMA – which also happens to be a song formerly used by former bandmate Koyama for a concert solo. Oh well. Hey, look, SMAP was off running rampant at Kohaku and still made their mark in Countdown! Also, when he tells everyone “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu” his voice sounds horrible. Throat drops for this boy, stat.
Arashi takes over from the horrible-voiced MC with a Super Hit Medley because hey, it’s their 10th anniversary and they’ll cry if they want to. Wait, that wasn’t completely right. We start with A-RA-SHI (Sho cares less and less each time), they have shiny band jackets that are seriously overburderned with extra touches. You can’t even call it decorative anymore. This goes into Kansha KANGEKI Ame Arashi, with guest vocals by NEWS; and then SAKURA Sake. I love this song perhaps too much – as compared to the one that follows afterwards, Love so sweet (guest vocals from NEWS and KAT-TUN this time). Maybe it was the You&J, maybe it was the fact that I’ve just grown to dislike it – it seemed more off than usual. They had fun though. Jun in particular.
Kanjani8 joins the craziness as they start into Happiness, Yoko, Subaru, and Yasu jumping amok with Sho, Aiba, and Jun; while Nino and Ohno are crazy with Maru (his Singing Brother-in-crime), Ohkura, and Hina. Following this is truth, back on the center stage, and Beautiful days… wait. Is it me, or did we just get through 10 years ridiculously quickly?
Tsubasa refuses to be shown up despite the lack of a Tackey, so he pops up to sing Mezamero! Yasei (originally by MATCHY with QUESTION?) I’m sorry, Tsubasa, but I like you better with the showtunes and the sexy dance songs. I do like the suit, though.
Sho announces it’s the start of the New Year mix-ups, and so Tsubasa starts getting his groove on with KAT-TUN and NEWS. But wait? What’s this? V6 has finally arrived (to the tune of, well, MADE IN JAPAN), and they (and Tsubasa, who declares “It’s gotta be V6 after all”) make sure we know it. Both that they’ve arrived and that they’re made in Japan. Man are they snazzy looking in basic (shiny) black/dark purple-and-white too, except… are those supposed to be ties? Those ruffly white things that hang to their groins? Trust me, guys, a cup is going to give you better protection from the hordes of fangirls out there. Oh, and those white ribbons that you can barely see holding them in place? Not much better. Ino, didn’t your wife have anything to say about this?
This goes into LIGHT IN YOUR HEART, their last single from 2008. I have a very obvious preference out of the 4 songs released from that single, but watching them perform it live wasn’t bad either. They’re all over or almost 30 and still dancing like the kids. (Okay, so maybe Sakamoto’s a little off-timing. Wait. The kids do that too.) Singing better than them, too. (Really. We’re not even going to talk about how bad Arashi’s singing was compared to V6’s.)
The sound of Sorafune kicks up, and you think TOKIO has arrived… wait, no, it’s just K8 and Akanishi making you do a double take. Subaru rushes through the opening lines, leaving Jin pretty dumbfounded. We are saved by the actual appearance of TOKIO though, who – THANK GOD – are not in dazzlingly sparkling concert costumes. That is, they are conert costumes, but the costume designer was smart and used regular clothes for once. One of these days I’ll need to check out a TOKIO concert. Just for this.
This goes into Amagasa, and all of TOKIO look amazingly cool and unconcerned while Nagase tries his hardest to rev up the crowd. It’s sort of telling whose concert was held before the Countdown when K8&A sucked badly at the song but got more cheers. (It’s okay, TOKIO. I love you all still.)
Nagase slams us over to the scene of Tackey’s stageplay, since we apparently don’t love him enough, and Tackey performs his solo single being released with said stageplay, Ai Kakumei. I’m sorry, Tackey fans, I cracked up the instant he started with his monologuing. The random Engrish didn’t help. I guess I have to give him credit for being so serious in an empty auditorium. It sounded a lot better live than the actual track, though. For some reason, the feed went back to a concerned-looking Nagase in the middle of Tackey’s flight, chewing to the beat of the song. This was just amusing. As were the droplets of water Tackey sprinkled on the camera.
We head back to Tokyo Dome where Daite Senorita is kicking up – Pi with Tsubasa, Jun, a dazed punk-prep Akanishi who finally got it together to give a few seconds of Pin fanservice, and the crazy Inocchi. V6 now has pretty suits, based on Ino’s outfit; Tsubasa, cracking up at Ino, is in some weird attempt at Kingdom Hearts cosplay. Pi is not wearing his “I am annoying” jacket, sadly. And Jun is still in the ugly ugly band uniform as he tries to get in on the Akanishi sex. (Hey. You. Matsumoto. In the pink. Get your ass back to the K if you really must have inter-group whoring.)
SUSHI Kuinee! (WHO WOULD NOT EAT SUSHI? Especially when this song was released.), originally by Shibugaki-tai, starts up, and is delivered by the wholesome combination of Nakamaru, Gussan, Junno, Yoko, Aiba, and Ken. (Clearly it’s Ken and Aiba who makes this wholesome. They even sound wholesome singing the stanzas as they hop about together.) It’s a fun song though. Or maybe I just like food too much.
TOKIO’s LOVE YOU ONLY takes its turn with Nagano (easily the happiest of them all), Massu (who is only the second coming of one Nagano Hiroshi), Ohno, and Sho on center stage as the Voltronites who are finally – maybe? – old enough slowly rise to join in. That’s… hold on… Yabu, Yaotome, Inoo, and Takaki. I think. I’m scared that I even know their names.
Next we go back to Tackey’s stageplay so Tackey and… Nikki? Oh dear, Tsubasa, I believe you’ve officially been replaced with Nishikiori, especially according to Ohno. But yes, TxN perform Shounentai’s Kamen Budoukai in that lonely empty auditorium. Tackey’s having the time of his life with his new drunken ossan (I refer you to the tie Nishikiori has around his head) partner, though that auditorium must have been hell to clean up afterwards.
Last spurt! With 14 minutes left, and still the end of year talk, we’re cramming in everything now. It kicks off with KAT-TUN’s Real Face, sung by Shige, Nino, Go, Subaru, and a bouncing, headbanging Maru who crack attempts Koki’s attitude on one cart. He was bouncing. If that doesn’t tell you crack, I don’t know what does.
On the other cart we have NEWS’ weeeek with Aiba and Koki (who needs to be reminded where the camera is), along with Sakamoto in a crane, and Sho and Yasu on the floor punching at the camera. I’m sure Sho had lots of fun with this song. I’m sure Sakamoto didn’t, poor acrophobic man that he is.
This brings us to Kanjani8’s Sukiyanen, Osaka – with a guest shot of the Hey!Say!Kiddies – as sung by Leader (THE leader. Er. Joshima.), Jun, Koyama, and the older Voltronites who are pretty much rubbing it in the younger half’s faces by stealing their camera time too. Taichi finally has his hat and a good suit, and goes behind to give the young’uns a good pinch on the ass. Actually, no, I don’t know if that’s what happened, but they all stood up and stared “WTF?” at him as he walked behind them slightly bent, so it’s a safe assumption. Joshima’s “SUKIYANEEEEEEEEN” isn’t quite as cute as Yoko’s, but nor is it OMGWTF-inducing. Though his face kind of is.
The requisite Seishun AMIGO, led by Shuuji to Akira (Kame and Pi), gained new backup dancers in the form of Okada, Nagase, Nino, and Ryo. Apparently instead of fanservice we get drama pairings. Hi, Tiger and Dragon. Hi, Ryusei no Kizuna. Hi, Kame who looks like he got stripped of any good parts of his clothes. I can see why Pi wants to hang onto his jacket.
V6’s Ai Nanda was delivered to you by the letters M, O, S, U, T, and Y. That is, Matsuoka, Ohkura, Ueda, Tegoshi (this feels like it’s the first time I’ve noticed him all show), and a stone-faced Hina and Ohno. Mabo and Ohkura were technically a drama pairing too (Yasuko to Kenji) and eventual threesome (Hissatsu Shigotonin 2009), so they reenact it, while Ueda and Tegoshi just act as girly as possible. I don’t even know what’s going on with Hina, but Ohno’s always this way.
For whatever reason, they picked MIDNIGHT SHUFFLE (originally by Matchy) as the last “everyone” song, so this is the one where everyone mingles and Aiba runs around with one side of his jacket sliding off. Oh, wait, that’s not supposed to happen? Looks like he couldn’t wait to be rid of the jacket either, I guess. They play around on the revolving multi-tiered center stage, Nino is suspiciously absent from the top tier where Ohno, Jun, and Sho stand (bad Nino! No running off to finish Aiba’s strip show!), Ino and Taichi finally show us some crack love, and actually about a third of them aren’t even singing because they’re too busy cracking up at the others who are taking it way too seriously.
Because V6 and TOKIO got to the Dome after the countdown, the ever-polite Sho finally manages to greet them a Happy New Year. Since TOKIO was actually concerned about getting there on time, we get a normal talk from them, but V6… Oh man, V6. They sent Ino out to talk for them. That alone should tell you everything.
Have some more V6. You know you want it.
We get a shot of the Cow babies (or rather, the “Ushishi 4” – Don’t ever be a real group, please. They already made the Hard Gay jokes.) That’s right, it’s the Year of the Cow (or will be after January 26th), and Ohkura, Koki, Junno, and Pi are turning 24. Ah, this is where Nino and Aiba went. Surprisingly (or maybe it’s just because he’s quiet), Ohkura got the loudest cheer out of the four. Of course, he took this opportunity to promote the new Johnny’s threesome. (If you don’t know what, you weren’t paying attention.)
Following the commercial break (oh, you crazy things), we have a very… uncomfortable Jun. Along with a very comfortable Nagase. I guess he needed a girly boy to molest after all. I love how TOKIO just treats this as normal. Tsubasa, shunted in with TOKIO for the end-of-year talk, does his best to ignore it. (Or ignore how much he wants Tackey there. Your pick.)
Sho’s with NEWS this time (aww, no K8 molestation for him, I guess); except the group doesn’t look very unified. Ryo stands to the side in K8 suit waiting to run for it, and Pi’s still in the hakama. Actually, he looks pretty zen considering his perm. And then he had to talk.
Afterwards comes Nino with V6. Ino’s apparently decided to be pimping. I applaud his choice of whores, even if the whore is more blinged-out than he is and the rest of his group doesn’t exactly approve. V6 is surprisingly still pumped up. Oh, and Tonisen’s got another concert tour coming up. Why does that seem familiar?
Ohno gets to be with the bitch boys, KAT-TUN. Nakamaru is still annoying – except when he stops to talk about KAT-TUN’s activities in 2009. Jin tries to camwhore (except he’s behind, well, everyone), and OH DEAR GOD I WANT TO PUNCH NAKAMARU. Oh, and Ueda is girly, Kame is zoned, Junno’s on crack, and I don’t have a clue about Koki – but who ever does?
Yoko finally gets to be with his best buddy Aiba as animal boy is handling Kanjani8’s end of year speech. Maru just can’t get enough of the camera, Yoko declares “WE WANT TO BECOME ARASHI!” (Aiba: “No, no, you can’t do that!”) and there is lots of jumping in their smiley-faced suit jackets. Ryo, again, stands off to the side. I think he wants to be Arashi too.
Heading off to Tackey and Nikki in their stageplay, there are more juniors crowding for screentime. Then off to Kyocera Dome for KinKi, where… there’s not even KinKi crowding for screentime. Actually, no, they were just continuing their concert and were about to kick off Secret Code. Unfortunately for us, Jun figures they need to continue things off at Tokyo Dome too, so what we get is…
Hatsu Uta. Oh, joy. Actually, there is no beaning of anyone with signboards this year, but TOKIO saw fit to give us some fun too. Gussan and Taichi, at least. Tackey and his junior cohorts are crazy, and Nikki starts looking uncomfortable.
Arashi needs their own little talk too, Ohno doesn’t break out the 2009 glasses. Awww. Aiba screws up, NEWS messes with KAT-TUN and Uchi, Yoko gives the crowd dandy looks, and Tackey gives us one last round of insanity as Jun closes it all up.
To be honest, this wasn’t quite as stunning as last year’s. Between an overall lack of songs (especially with the focus on the coming songs of 2009), less inter-group craziness, and also perhaps the fact that it really isn’t as new to me anymore. This doesn’t mean I’ve given up on Johnny’s, but I hope it isn’t a sign of lackluster things to come in 2009. Then again, Higashiyama in 2009. All will be well.
…and if not, Ino will make sure it happens.