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State of the Fangirl

November 19, 2009 3 comments

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?

The one you didn’t see coming.

September 28, 2009 2 comments

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.

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BECK: The Movie. Too bad it doesn’t sound as dramatic as it’ll be.

June 11, 2009 6 comments

I’ve been gone about a month and a half, through no one’s fault but my own. And in fact, this little tidbit is just about a week and a half old too. But what the heck, I adored the BECK anime series when it was still running, and so this warrants a post even as I’m working on the other ones I can’t seem to finish.

BECK: Monogolian Chop Squad ran in 2004, with the manga finishing just a year ago, and featured the packed-with-musical-influences-and-bad-Engrish (mis)adventures of an indies band trying to make it into the big leagues. (The band is originally called BECK, after a dog, but is named “Mongolian Chop Squad” for their American releases because of the trademark by the singer Beck.) Along the way, they obviously run into more than their fair share of troubles, including a rival band with a grudge that does get signed, band spats, and Koyuki running through the problems that plague the average teenager – or is falling in love with the younger sister of your tough band leader not quite an average problem?

You may be wondering what this has to do with Japanese pop – in fact, it has loads. BEAT CRUSADERS took charge of the musical direction, bringing along indies punk band Husking Bee‘s vocalist to provide the singing voice of main character Koyuki. A number of their songs (BEAT CRUSADERS’, that is) were also used in or covered in the series, as well as that of other indie bands. The ending theme, done in series by the supposed rock band-to-end-all-rock bands The Dying Breed, was actually provided by meister, the brainchild of Do As Infinity’s guitarist Owatari Ryo. (The B-side of the single, while never showing up in the series, features Bonnie Pink.) And pop vocalist Sowelu provided the singing voice of Minami Maho, the aforementioned younger sister. There are even two soundtracks – one of the songs as they are, supposedly performed by the bands and characters in the series; the other containing the original songs as done by their indie bands and more new songs. 5 years later, it’s still amongst my favorite anime, and still a source of some fun music.

5 years later, also, we get our tie in to the other half of this blog – actors and Japanese dramas. BECK is now getting turned into a live-action film (a considerably easier adaptation than, say, Yatterman, I’d think. With the exception of the patchwork dogs), starring Mizushima Hiro (Mei-chan no Shitsuji, Hanakimi, Zettai Kareshi) as band leader Minami Ryusuke “Ray”. They also dredged up an all-star cast – as far as manga adaptations go – for the rest of the band, including Sato Takeru (ROOKIES, Mei-chan no Shitsuji, Princess Princess D, BLOODY MONDAY) as vocalist/guitarist Tanaka Yukio “Koyuki”, Nakamura Aoi (Q.E.D., Shinigami no Ballad) as Koyuki’s eventual best friend and the band’s drummer Sakurai Yuji “Saku”, Kiritani Kenta (ROOKIES, Crows ZERO, but probably best known on this blog as the Post-It guy from Ryusei no Kizuna) as the ramen shop worker by day/tough-as-nails-with-an-afro rapper by night Chiba Tsunemi, and Mukai Osamu (Hachimitsu to CLOVER, Mei-chan no Shitsuji, also showed up in Nodame Cantabile, Osen, and Bambi~no!) as the smokingly attractive (look who casted correctly) bleached bassist Taira Yoshiyuki. It will be directed by Tsutsumi Yukihiko, also no stranger to manga/anime adaptations as he directed the Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo season starring Domoto Tsuyoshi and Tomosaka Rie, H2, Psychometer Eiji, and most recently 20th Century Boys. Oh, and for the Arashi fans, he directed PIKANCHI. Nope, no lack of star power here.

While the series focused on Koyuki’s story – there’s even a period where Ryusuke goes missing – the movie will focus on Ryusuke’s side. No word yet on who Minami Maho will be portrayed by, or if she’ll even be a part of the movie, as her role in the series does center on her part as Koyuki’s love interest.

Supposedly 30 original songs are being written for the actors to play after a month of intensive training – not unlike and perhaps even better than the movie adaptations of Nana, for which the vocalists (Nana starring Nakashima Mika and Reira starring Ito Yuna) were the key point.

Also, rather amusingly, this will be the third link between Mizushima Hiro and Sato Takeru, both of who were once Kamen Riders and worked together in Mei-chan no Shitsuji as siblings vying for the love of Eikura Nana’s Mei-chan role. And I suppose if you really wanted to push it, Sato will show up in the fourth episode of MR. BRAIN, Mizushima’s current drama. This aside, though, I’ve already got a movie to see in 2010. How about you?

Sources: Sports Hochi, Tokyograph, Anime News Network (but they all got it from Sports Hochi anyways)

Categories: Anime, J-Dramas

HIMEKA may not have a meaning, but she had a goal

April 22, 2009 Leave a comment

HIMEKA, also known as Catherine St. Onge, is a success story that goes beyond the tales of other “overseas talent breaking into the Japanese music industry” tales.

For one thing, as far as we know, she’s not Japanese. (Everyone else has been raised in Japan – Crystal Kay – or partially East Asian. Even JERO had some of the blood… somewhere.) She’s Canadian. And while we’re on it, her Japanese skills aren’t that great either. She’s admitted as much herself.

For another, she’s 27. I don’t mean to be pointing out her age, but the Japanese business is renowned for the overall younger-is-better attitude they seem to have. Leah Dizon was 20 – or 19 – when she got her contract and moved to Japan.

And last, she wasn’t so much discovered sitting around in Canada with whatever overseas/international auditions were being held; she moved to Japan and won her chance in the Second Annual Animax Anison Grand Prix.

The result of this, a contract with SONY. So between you, me, and at least a hundred others according to her facebook fangroup… yeah, I’d say she’s done pretty well for herself.

Her first single, 明日へのキズナ [Asu he no KIZUNA], isn’t released until May 27th, but you can currently hear it as the opening to the anime series Valkryia Chronicles, or a short clip in the commercial for the single above. You can also find more videos of her performing and singing thanks to the YouTube fan user HIMEKAMediaArchive. While some may denounce her as an anime song artist and less “legit” than someone in the business without the anime tie-ins (Here’s looking at you, Raid!) – it’s what she wanted to do, and she made it. She sounds great doing it, too – her stage moniker, HIMEKA, doesn’t have an actual meaning beyond being the name of a character she once wrote, but you could easily substitute the characters 姫歌 (princess+song) and it wouldn’t be far off from the image she’s got now. Hint, hint to her marketers.

While this is obviously belated – congratulations, Ms. St. Onge! Or HIMEKA, as may be the case now. Girls with a similar dream are no doubt waiting for you to wow the world. You’ve wowed me already, at the least.

Categories: Anime, New Artists, SONY

JPTV Spring 2009 Season

March 29, 2009 1 comment

It’s already that time of year again, when you all whip out your wallets and donate $5 to the cause of Kimi’s Early Christmas.

Okay, okay, I kid. But with April around the corner, it’s already time for a new season of Japanese TV, which also means it’s time for me to name-drop like Armageddon’s here. As always, all summaries from DramaWiki, because I’m a lazy, lazy blogger who can’t be bothered to translate unless absolutely necessary.

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Tell me something I don’t know

February 9, 2009 3 comments

I’ve listened to Japanese music for probably 9/10 years now. They didn’t get the brainwashing in too early, but it’s there all the same.

I’ve actively considered myself a fan of various artists for 6/7 years. It’s a bit of a scary thought.

But there are still some things I can’t wrap my head around.

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JPTV Winter 2008 Season

January 23, 2008 2 comments

I don’t think I even have the right to be making this post, because there’s so much from 2007 that I have yet to finish watching (or start, even). But, whatever, forging on ahead because this post has been sitting on the back burner, but it’ll be overcooked if I leave it too long. (Yes, the lack of food dramas this season has gotten to me.) Here are the highlights of the current winter 2008 season of Japanese dramas and anime for me.