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)

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Categories: Anime, J-Dramas

She’s more like a lioness, really.

April 29, 2009 2 comments

Kuroki Meisa‘s bedroom eyes should be banned from all countries.

Perhaps her eyes themselves should be banned, period.

You see, a hellcat, according to thefreedictionary.com, is:

hell·cat (hlkt) n. Informal
1a. A woman regarded as bad-tempered and evil.
1b. A woman who practices sorcery; a witch.
2. A person who torments others.

Now, we can’t have that loose on the world, can we? Her eyes are tormenting enough already, what with the lovely bouts of jealousy and lust they incite in others, and so I offer to you the less inciting cover above. Also, I just don’t like an abundance of hair, and she practically had a mane in the other cover that reminded me of Amuro Namie on a frizzy hair day. But if you need something to jack off to, then who am I to deprive?

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Categories: Kuroki Meisa, Music, Reviews, SONY

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

Pardon the dust, we’re not actually revamping.

April 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Since resurfacing at the tail end of 2008, after being missing for much of the aforementioned year, you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been trying to keep at least a weekly schedule, even if the update days are as random as a PMSing woman’s mood swings.

Alas, this week the PMSing woman decided to go off on a spree. Shopping spree, killing spree, I’m not actually sure what. She may have just decided to kick back in a comfy armchair with a Fuzzy Navel or five and watch a marathon of Nathan Fillion shows. (Castle is rather prone to reruns on her screen.)

So in her stead, here is an apology from her browbeaten husband to those of you who – for whatever insane reason – do enjoy my writing. He offers you my two recent articles on Pleasure Principled, Ray’s latest project in the Japanese music blogging world. You can choose from my dislike of pairings – with a nod to the Nissy x Misako pairing in particular – or my perhaps-more-than like of Saitou Ryuusei – though I’ve yet to completely understand the appeal of Hey! Say! VOLTRON JUMP.

And while you’re there, you may find you like the works of the other contributors too. So much that you may forget about the PMSing woman and leave her for less angry pastures – but please don’t. We’ll be back next week. Hopefully.

Categories: Blog-related

I think this title is begging for a spanking joke.

April 10, 2009 2 comments

It’s really quite ironic.

If you don’t know this by now, Raid and I are big fans of Urata Naoya. We were waiting for the release of his solo album, TURN OVER, for ages. Since it was announced that he’d be working on a solo project, at least.

Somewhere along the way, it went totally wrong, and based on the web reactions (for example, Brett over at Kurayami Monogatari and Noah at stylejapan), there are definitely people out there who love it. Us, on the other hand? We’re not entirely impressed. Or maybe that’s just me. Raid’s the one you want for lines like “OMGAH THIS SUCKS”, after all.

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Categories: AAA, avex, Music, Reviews, Urata Naoya

Why Did I Fall In Love With You?

April 1, 2009 3 comments

Something I’ve noticed during my stint in various fandoms is that people are loyal. If they obsessively like something, then they will support anything related to it, no matter how distantly related it is. For example, when the music of ORANGE RANGE’s KIRIKIRIMAI was used in the Fantastic Four movie’s motorbike stunt scene, there was a huge buzz. Never mind that not a second of the vocals showed up, or that it wouldn’t be on the soundtrack. It was in the movie! People went to watch the movie for that reason alone!

Not me. I don’t have the attention span to stick with fandoms to the point of micromanagement. You see, somehow, over the course of the two weeks in which I kept the Music Station episode on which both Arashi and Tohoshinki/DBSK/”SCREW THIS NAMING SCHEME, SM, I GIVE UP” appeared to promote and perform their latest singles, I ended up becoming a definite fan of the latter. There are dreams, there is the knowing of songs without really looking up the lyrics (and this is really harder because the Tohorangers still have accents, and I only listen to their Japanese releases of yet), and there is the looking up of variety appearances.

Honestly, I only have the attention span for one #-member boyband at a time. The instant I became a fan of V6, any consideration for NEWS was immediately shoved out of my head – KAT-TUN was never in the running. Kanjani8 used to not get any love because NEWS was also formerly 8 members, and they still don’t because AAA now also has 7 members. Tackey & Tsubasa don’t have a chance against KinKi, and while I tried to get into SMAP and TOKIO a lot more than I currently am – which is still saying something –  they never could surpass Arashi. (Luckily for w-inds., there are few, if any other, 3-member boybands in Japan.) But somehow, the Tohorangers (perhaps due in part to my nicknaming them the “Tohorangers”) are edging their way in there.

And so it is only appropriate that the single I next review is their 23rd, どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう? [Doushite Kimi wo Suki ni Natte Shimattan darou?] At least they were kind enough to provide a song to help explain my feelings.

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Categories: avex, DBSK/THSK, Music, Reviews

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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