30 November 2012

MSSL line-up announced (Johnny's focused)

Rounding out the major year end music programs in Japan is Music Station Super Live. The program will air on December 21st and has announced their list of performers for it.

MSSL site (Japanese)

Johnny's artists:

Kinki Kids
Hey! Say! JUMP

Other artists I'm looking forward to:

Mr. Children

I am sad to see that NEWS is not on the list but hopefully I will get plenty of them on music programs leading up to their new single being released in December. And I will assume Sexy Zone is missing from the list as not only will they be doing Johnny's World still but have their own winter concert tour that they will need to be ready for around that time.

I feel happy for KAT-TUN to get on this program. They tend to get overshadowed by other groups these days so it is nice to see that they are not completely forgotten. And since they have a new CM tie-in song fans of the group will be able to look forward to a new single from the group in the near future.

And I am quite happy to see most of my favorite J-rock groups will be on the show. Somehow I cannot help but feel this will be a rather epic show with both B'z and Mr. Children performing as they are both top of the top tier when it comes to modern Japanese music artists.

AKS Master Post 007

I was so close, so close to having an AKS Master Post without an announcement about a girl leaving. I guess that teaches me about being lazy and not making one sooner.


We have another AKB48 member leaving, this time by one of the girls that has been with the group for a long time, Masuda Yuka. She joined AKB48 as a 2nd generation KKS and was a member of the sub-unit DiVA. She was caught by the tabloids spending the night over at the apartment of one of her fellow cast members of the musical she is starring in, The Wiz, and has decided that because of the scandal it has caused, even though she denies doing nothing more than talking with him, she will leave AKB48.

aramatheydidnt article (English)

From the sounds of it she may be better off leaving in the long run. She is keeping her lead role in the musical she is currently in and she has not been active in AKB48 because of it. She is also a really talented singer but is not one of the most popular members of the group so she does not get pushed much from what I have seen. I think she would not have many issues continuing with her career solo, whether it is to become a singer or continue with stage productions. So I wish her the best and wish she could have left the group without a "scandal" attached to it.

I think it is safe now to say that DiVA is not coming back. It never was a big seller compared to all the other sub-units and with Yuka now graduating and Miyazawa Sae in China as an exchange member for at least a year it is highly unlikely that it will be continued. Which is a pity as the unit had some of the strongest vocals of AKB48 and I personally loved everything they had released.


AKS must have realized that with the Janken senbatsu just being AKB48 and SKE48 members fans of the other groups may skip on getting the single as each Japanese sister group will be getting a B-side song and PV on one of the versions of the upcoming AKB48 single, Eien Pressure.

For NMB48 the song is title HA! and there is already a PV preview out.

Have to say that I am loving the song so far. I really do not care to get the single for the one song so I will probably see about getting an iTunes Japan card and buy it with that instead.


Fukumoto Aina participated in her first marathon at the 2nd Osaka Marathon. She was running to support charity for the relief efforts in Tohoku after the earthquake in 2010 and not only met her time goal but ended up running the marathon under it.

aramatheydidnt post (English)

Congrats Ainyan for exceeding your goal and of course just for participating in a good cause. It is always great to see idols take on challenges like this, as it will hopefully inspire others to do the same.


And this is just something I want to do from time to time so I have this information easy to find if I want to do a quick check. It is just an age list of the members of NMB48 as it is sometimes easy to forget how old some of the girls are or what the overall age for the group is. I can assume that this list could also be helpful for fans to check on whether or not they should be mentioning how oppai some members are.

NMB48 Age List (as of 30NOV2012)

20 -
Yamada Nana (Team N)

19 -
Fukumoto Aina (Team N)
Yamaguchi Yuuki (Team N)
Yamamoto Sayaka (Team N)
Watanabe Miyuki (Team N)
Shimada Rena (Team M)
Murakami Ayaka (Team M)
Yokoyama Yui (Team undecided/Team A)

18 -
Ogasawara Mayu (Team N)
Kishino Rika (Team N)
Kotani Riho (Team N)
Yoshida Akari (Team N)
Takano Yui (Team M)
Hikawa Ayame (Team M)
Yamagishi Natsumi (Team M)
Kamieda Emika (Team BII)
Kono Saki (Team BII)
Nakagawa Hiromi (Kenkyusei)

17 -
Jonishi Kei (Team N)
Okita Ayaka (Team M)
Kawakami Rena (Team M)
Koyanagi Arisa (Team M)
Tanigawa Airi (Team M)
Mita Mao (Team M)
Ijiri Anna (Team BII)

16 -
Kadowaki Kanako (Team N)
Azuma Yuki (Team M)
Kusaka Konomi (Team BII)
Kobayashi Rikako (Team BII)
Muro Kanako (Team BII)
Ishida Yuumi (Kenkyusei)
Uno Mizuki (Kenkyusei)
Miura Arisa (Kenkyusei)

15 -
Kondo Rina (Team N)
Shinohara Kanna (Team N)
Shiroma Miru (Team N)
Kinoshita Momoka (Team M)
Murase Sae (Team M)
Yagura Fuuko (Team M)
Akazawa Hono (Team BII)
Ishizuka Akari (Team BII)
Katou Yuuka (Team BII)
Sugimoto Kano (Kenkyusei)
Hisada Riko (Kenkyusei)

14 -
Kinoshita Haruna (Team N)
Yamamoto Hitomi (Team M)
Kurokawa Hazuki (Team BII)
Yabushita Shu (Team BII)
Koga Narumi (Kenkyusei)
Sato Sorai (Kenkyusei)
Hayashi Momoka (Kenkyusei)

13 -
Yogi Keira (Team M)
Ueda Mirei (Team BII)
Umehara Mako (Team BII)
Kushiro Rina (Team BII)
Nishizawa Rurina (Kenkyusei)

12 -
Ota Yuuri (Team BII)
Yamauchi Tsubasa (Team BII)
Takayama Riko (Kenkyusei)

And with that done I am going to feel so very old right now.

But besides that it is interesting to look at the age break down of the different teams. Team N has an age range of 20-14, Team M is 19-13 and Team BII is 18-12. The Kenkyusei range from 18-12 but most of them are in the younger range, which should hopefully mean for them that they have a good chance at promotion at some point as long as they stick with the group.

29 November 2012

Other Idols Master Post 002

Hooray! I have a non-Johnny's post that does not have news of group loosing a member! In fact there is much better news than that here.

While I have always remained mostly focused on Japanese idols there are a few Korean groups that have caught my attention over the years, though fewer still that has kept it. One of those groups is the Wonder Girls, who I am quite happy I got to see live when they did their USA tour a couple of years back.

That said the news that surprised fans that was recently announced is that one of the members, Sunye, will be getting married to her boyfriend of two years in late January.

Allkpop article (English)

All I have to say about the news is congrats to Sunye and her soon to be husband and I wish them the best of luck. That and I am happy to hear that she is not going to have to leave the group when she does get married, even though the members are going to focus on solo activities in the coming year. But it is probably for the best, she will get to spend time as a newlywed with her husband as the rest of the girls get to pursue things they would not be able to do as a group. I just hope that Sunye will want to come back when they are all ready to.

On another note, I will say that agencies lifting the dating ban for both their male and female acts is something I see a step above the Japanese idol agencies. Sure it seems to happen for Johnny's unofficially at some point but female idols really only have the choice to date in complete secret or leave the group just to date. And I am personally interested in seeing how things play out for WG with one of their members being married when they get back to group activities at some point, perhaps in the next decade with the usual rate they have been going.


There is a special dance unit created with three members of EXILE, Usa, Tatsuya and Nesmith and singer Crystal Kay. The unit will be called DANCE EARTH PARTY and be produced by member Usa.

Universal Music Japan OHP (Japanese)

They will release their debut single, Inochi Rhythm, on January 16th in two editions. The limited edition has everything the regular edition plus a DVD with the PV and the making of for it.

I have been a fan of Crystal Kay's since about 2004-ish and have followed pretty much liked everything she has released. So I have often found myself disappointed that she has not been doing so well with sales in the past few years, as I think more people should be listening to her. This news has me hoping that this group will get a good deal of promotion and hopefully she will benefit from it.

28 November 2012

The Shounen Club 14 November 2004 review

I feel rather proud to get back to the twice weekly schedule again this week. There is hope yet that I will get through reviewing everything eventually. And it looks like this era of episodes are going to be interesting for me to watch as there are Hey! Say! JUMP members making their Junior debuts as well as getting pushes into the spotlight.

The introductions show that J.J.Express have already changed their membership roster as they are down to four again, but it is Tamamori Yuta out of the group which leaves Nakajima Yuto, Inoo Kei, Arioka Daiki and Asaka Kadoi as the current members of the group.

Tamamori though has not disappeared though as A.B.C. Jr finally gets a proper introduction and the four younger Kis-My-Ft2 members are all in the group.

The theme of this episode is "kodoku" which cane be translated to solitude/loneliness. Even though other Juniors remain on stage only KAT-TUN discuss the theme.

We get the usual medley of the song that has the other Junior groups performing with members of KAT-TUN songs that seem to be a mixed between songs about loneliness and getting over it.

Since I did not mention it with the introductions but Yamashita Shoon is back but Ayukawa Taiyo is missing so Ya-Ya-Yah remains at three members for another episode. I do wonder how their outfits were picked seeing as none of them really match and only kinda sorta have the same coloring.

We get the return of the Ueda no Heya corner, which I honestly forgot even existed. Honestly I fail to see the purpose of this corner as it is just the basic letter reading (This one asking about advice for studying.) and does not really show why this has to be tied to Ueda especially.

The next medley was actually KAT-TUN free. The first part focused on the newest member of J.J.Express, Kadoi and had a familiar face backing him up in the performance.

I do not think I can express how happy I was to finally see Takaki Yuya on the program. He has been my favorite HSJ member since the original HS7 and still remains my favorite of the group. For some reason I always thought he was not in the agency until the next year but I am glad to see that I was wrong. His appearance here is easily the highlight of the episode for me.

The other three from J.J.Express then get to sing a song. Arioka Daiki is so emotionless when he sings it is rather shocking. Probably because I am used to him being the opposite of this, but I guess I can look forward to see how he grows out of being so stiff with the mic to the more energetic performer he eventually becomes.

Kis-My-Ft. get to perform Midnight Shuffle in the medley. It is a bit weird for me to see as it has Kitayama Hiromitsu as the sole lead of the group and I am just so used to having him be double lead with Fujigaya Taisuke.

The VTR of the episode has NEWS using the Shounen Club box to answer questions about the theme of the episode as well as any news about the group. It is easy to see that the members are more at ease with each other and are getting used to being a group. At the end they announce that they will be having a winter concert tour, which seems to be the main reason for them in the segment.

After the VTR KAT-TUN perform their new song I LIKE IT. Still do not care much for the song and hope they get another new song to perform, or go back to one of their older songs.

They have a new game segment, Sagutte Pon, that they use to introduce the guest for this episode, Imai Tsubasa. The only contestants of this game are members of KAT-TUN and they have to agree or disagree with the story they are given about Imai from an anonymous informant (Takizawa Hideaki, who they do a rather poor job trying to hide who he is).

Imai actually is the highlight of the game segment as he reacts to the obvious lies Tackey tells about him. The stories are long though so this ended up taking up a lot of the time for the episode and it just looked like the members of KAT-TUN were in on the joke Tackey was probably playing on Imai with this which made their answers boring because you could tell they knew what their answer would be before the stories were even told.

Imai performs his solo queen of R with the older Juniors back dancing for him. While it is not a song I would listen to regularly it is pretty fun with some energetic dance moves which really helps make this performance an enjoyable one.

Nakamaru Yuichi and Ueda come out in their feudal Japan and fairy costumes to play a game that involves the audience. It is being called Yonde Pon in the episode, though I am not sure if it has kept the name as I know it has been played in latter episodes as well. But basically there is a three syllable word shown on the screen that the players cannot see but the audience can. With NHK Hall having three floors for seating each floor is to yell out one of the three syllables but at the same time as the other floors. The contestants then have to guess what the word is.

I am sure I would have enjoyed this more if not for the fact I was feeling pretty annoyed that there were two game segments in this episode that only had KAT-TUN members participating in.

Since we are hitting the end of the episode it means we get another KAT-TUN performance. This time they are singing a song titled solitude, which I cannot way that I am familiar with. Honestly it was a rather forgettable song.

And we get the end song sung by only KAT-TUN. At this point I was pretty bored but thankfully someone had the idea to having the younger Juniors "decide" to push over KAT-TUN to lead to a lot of play fighting for the rest of the song.

I cannot help but wonder if my feelings towards to KAT-TUN on the program now are like the way non-HSJ fans feel about watching SC these days. But I guess KAT-TUN at least have the excuse that they are still Juniors unlike HSJ.

That said I do not think it would be so bad if other Juniors got to play in the game segments. Because those were pretty KAT-TUN only it really made this feel more like a KAT-TUN program than an all Junior program. In fact the only time there was not even a member of KAT-TUN on the screen was the one medley that focused on the Juniors and the Imai performance. I think that is just way too much presence for any one group to have on a program that they are only supposed to be one part of.

I can only hope that things get better when the new season starts in the 2005 April episodes.

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 8

Decided to take a bit of a break yesterday as I had RL stuff to take care of. I cannot believe this year is almost at the end. Where did it go?

Talking about time passing quickly, only a couple more days before the end of the month and the period for accepting questions end for this Q&A Month. If you want to get a question in for me to answer make sure you do so in this post.

This question is the second one from kawaii:

who are your favourite juniors??

While there are plenty of Juniors that I like I think the place of favorite has to go to the ones that I continuously look forward to seeing. And with the current state of the Juniors those Juniors are conveniently all in one group, the Bakaleya6. Of course before they were grouped together I liked them all and most would have fallen into my favorite Junior list. 

Being a long time Hey! Say! JUMP fan it was hard not to know about Morimoto Shintaro because of his older brother having been in the group until about a year ago. Though I think it was his starring in the Snow Prince movie and his CD release with Snow Prince Gasshodan that made me really start paying attention to him outside of his frequent association with his brother.

Since Kyomoto Taiga was a part of the same grouping as the younger members of HSJ during their Juniors days I knew of him for some time before he really caught my interest. For him though it was his duets with Uekusa Yuta. I know there are those that do like his voice but I enjoy it but I can understand how others may not because it does not have the kind of tone that is typically considered pleasant. 

Matsumura Hokuto was one of the few Juniors I found myself being an immediate fan of. And I have loved to seeing him finally find his niche with his acting after being overshadowed by Nakajima Kento and Kikuchi Fuma when he was in B.I.Shadow.

I have the tendency to like underdogs so Kochi Yugo fits that well. I think he is one of the members that still have a good deal of potential to be discovered and I eagerly await for when he figures out what he can bring to the group. 

I have liked both Tanaka Juri and Lewis Jesse since I learned a bit about them when Hip Hop Jump was first formed. They were both rather adorable back then and it is amazing to see how much they have grown since. Juri seems to have that soft side of him that his older brother has but does not seem to try to hide it as much. And Jesse has a nice voice that is easy to listen to works well to help balance Taiga's. 

And then the members of B.A.D. are probably just high enough to be on the list now as I am really impressed with how they have been dealing with their role as the leaders of the Kansai Juniors. Kiriyama Akito especially. Of course I have had always had a soft spot for them from their roles in Gokusen 3 and it has never completely gone away.

After all that said I also do find that Sanada Yuma kinda hovers close to being on the list as well. And the fresher Juniors are starting to get my attention to but none are quite up there enough to be on my favorite list just yet.

(And to note I am not counting Nakayama Yuma as a Junior because he has debuted so many times I think it is safe to say that one of those has stuck.)

26 November 2012

Kohaku 2012 List (Johnny's focused)

The full list of performers for the 2012 Kohaku New Year's program has been announced. The Johnny's that will be performing are of course the already announced Arashi, who will also be the hosts for the White Team on the program, and Kanjani8, who will be on the program for the first time.

The other Johnny's are all returning acts, SMAP, TOKIO and NYC.

Kohaku OHP (Japanese)

I have to say that I am rather surprised to see NYC returning. I guess they will continue to exist to be a Kohaku group at least. But I had assumed with Kanjani8 being on the show that they would have given up their spot to them. Guess that was not the case in the end. I can only assume they will be performing Haina! for the show, which actually seems to be a fitting song for the program, IMHO.

For the female idols it is no surprise that AKB48 will be there, but their sister group SKE48 will be performing on their own as well instead of tagging along to be back dancers for AKB48. I will expect the other sister groups to be involved as well so that AKS and Johnny's can duke it out for which will have the performance with the most performers on the stage at one time again this year.

It had been rumored that there would be on Korean acts this year and if I am not mistaken that has proved true. At least the usual Korean acts that have had spots on the show are not returning this year, Tohoshinki, KARA and Girl's Generation. I guess this is another sign that the Hallyu wave is on the decline in Japan.

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 7

I have to say I am quite glad I decided to do this again this year, as otherwise I would be lapsing back to being lazy and not posting as much as I feel I should be for this blog. So thank you everyone that has left a question, you have helped keep this blog active this month, and as well as the next.

Only a few more days left until the question period ends. If you want to ask a question please leave it in this post.

This question comes from Kokochan:

What do you think about the ability to be debuted of Bakaleya6?

I think Bakaleya6 could debut. Of course they would need a new group name and I do not think it would be wise to debut them anytime soon, but there is a possibility for it.

There is no doubt that I am a big fan of this group since it is basically most of my favorite Juniors all in one group. Yet even putting that aside the group has a lot of potential to become the next big thing considering who the members are and what they have done so far as Juniors and what Johnny's seems to be lining up for them. But there are also things that need to be worked on for them to debut as a group, like come together more so they have a better group dynamic for example.

So in my opinion they should debut as a group, but a couple of years from now at least, so they could become stronger as a group.

Of course as any Junior fan knows it is difficult if not sometimes impossible to predict what is going to happen. But unless Johnny's actually breaks the group up I will remain hopeful.

24 November 2012

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 6

Since I seem to be getting a new question a day now I figured I should pick up my pace and see about answering a question a day for a while.

If you have a question to add to the growing list you can leave it in this post.

Today's question comes from reader AJ:

Thank you for providing a space for us to ask questions. Homosexuality in Japan seems to have adopted a Western-style prejudice, unlike historical Japan, in which samurai often had young boyfriends as companions in and out of bed. I remember Subaru Shibutani getting in trouble when he agreed to do a gay scene in an early drama (suggested sex only--it was a family drama). Are there now or have there ever been any Johnny's talents who were gay? Would that be a total career ender if one of them ever "came out"?

Want to start out by putting out there that I am definitely no expert in this matter. I do have some knowledge about it from my Asian Studies classes and what I have picked up from reading about the topic in new articles, but I know even then my knowledge is surface at best.

From what I understand pre-modern ideas about homosexuality in Japan was on par with the other major East Asian views on it, it was something someone did but it was not what they were. So if a man had sex with another man it did not make him homosexual, it just meant he did something that was homosexual. And this was tolerated because those samurai would have to marry a girl at some point to have kids with and pass along their family name, which was a very important thing for Japanese families during that time and even today one of the main pressures homosexuals get from their family is to marry and have children.

With the Meiji era the pressure to have a traditional family unit clamped down on tolerance for homosexuality. But with the modern era came the modern idea of homosexuality, it is something that you are, not just something you can do from time to time. This change of definition of the term and what it entails makes it hard to compare how homosexuality was once treated in society compared to the more modern take on it as it is not really the same thing.

So if there is a surfacing of Western style prejudice it is because homosexuality in Japan has taken on a Western style meaning of being something that you are. That and the fact that Japan has been known as a rather conservative nation so new ideas are not always going to be met with acceptance. But there is some hope for the LGBT community in Japan as 2011 saw the first openly gay politician elected into office and there is an openly transgendered politician that was not only elected in 2003 but re-elected in 2007. So there are at least some small victories that one can only hope will lead to larger ones later on.

I do not believe there have been any Johnny's that have been openly gay. There are rumors but nothing that can be proven in anyway. If one of them came out as openly gay it would probably depend on who they are for what it would do for their careers. I think for the older Johnny's it would not be much of an issue as most have long left the heart throb/prince status that the younger groups have. The younger groups may have issues. Maybe if it was one of the less popular members it would not matter much but I doubt that if one of the popular members/front men of a group will get a lot of pushing if they came out, seeing as the fan base for those groups are mostly girls and the appeal of these groups are for them to be boys that they can imagine as potential boyfriend material.

That said I think it would be great if there is any Johnny's that is gay that would come out publicly. Sure they probably will not find it easy to be openly gay and avoid not being stuffed in the stereotypes that most openly gay entertainers in Japan adhere to, but I am sure it would be helpful to the LGBT community at large. Much like how celebrities in the U.S. have come out publicly to give other members of the LGBT a role model to look up to showing that they can be out and proud and still do well in life without being a stereotype I think having a Johnny's come out could have the same affect. Of course like I mentioned it would be best for it to be one of the older ones because they would have a lot more say in how they are treated and want to present themselves compared to the younger ones.

Personally I cannot imagine what it must feel like not being able to be honest and open about your sexuality but I can only assume it is not the most pleasant of experiences. While I doubt their sexuality will change how I feel about any of the members of Johnny's I would want them to be able to live as they wish and not feel like they have to hide a part of them in fear of people hating them for something as innocent as loving someone of their own gender.

The Shounen Club 17 October 2004 review

While I missed my goal of doing two Shounen Club reviews this week I do think that I will manage to succeed this coming week as I am getting this review done sooner than usual. And with this episode I really want to move on to see some of the changes in motion play through.

Something I missed in the introductions of the first episode of the month is that J.J.Express has had yet another membership change. Matsumoto Kouhei is nowhere to be seen, though he could just be absent for the month, and we have new members in Asaka Kodai and Tamamori Yuta. While Tamamori will only be in the group briefly Kodai will stay with the group for a much longer stay, that is if this is his official joining now.

The theme of this episode is Romance, and they have KAT-TUN talk about the theme with the two youngest Junior groups, Ya-Ya-Yah and JJE.

Things kick off with a Romance Medley, which had to be one of the easier ones to put together considering how many love songs there are in the Johnny's song library.

We are given another new corner on the program that pairs Nakajima Yuto up with Nakamaru Yuichi and Tanaka Koki called Naka Naka Ii Jyan. It of course uses the 'naka' in their names to explain why it is them. It is basically another letter reading corner with Yuto being adorable.

After that we get a medley for the Junior groups not called KAT-TUN, starting off with Toshin Yoshikazu & A.B.C. The A.B.C. part of the group all play instruments, which surprised me as I did not realize they all could. This makes me wish they would do this more as a debuted group.

J.J.Express then perform with Kadoi getting a lot of spotlight during the performance.

And then Kis-My-Ft. finally get another chance to actually sing than just back dance. It threw me off when Kitayama Hiromitsu did the rap part for the song, A.Ra.Shi, instead of Fujigaya Taisuke. I guess it is a reminder that this group still has a ways to go before it begins to resemble the Kis-My-Ft2 I know.

For Junior Hai School we get a KAT-TUN versus Kanjani8, sorta. It was mainly KAT-TUN that had to play out giving a love confession with a member of K8 of their choice getting to play the role of the girl. Needless to say the slash fangirls out there would be quite happy with this game.

Even though the "couples" in the game were pretty random.

I personally thought Nakamaru's and Maruyama Ryohei had the best with having to give the confession on the surface of the moon and for Maruyama's reaction.

At the end all of K8 have to give a confession to the camera. My favorite was Shibutani Subaru's incoherent rambling while pointing. He is truly the poet of his generation.

We then get K8's only performance for this episode, which is of course of their debut song, Naniwa Iroha Bushi. This time they do not use as many Juniors, which is nice as Ohkura Tadayoshi can actually be seen in the background on the drum in this performance.

J.J.Express get to do a medley by themselves and midway through we have Yuto, Arioka Daiki and Inoo Kei getting the spotlight, literally. This does seem to be the point where there is a shift in promotion for the members of this group to these three, especially when it comes to Yuto with everything else he is getting to do this episode. This should continue on as it is about half a year away from when Daiki and Yuto have roles in the Kimura Takuya drama Engine, which should mean a lot more pushing of them during that time.

Koki and Kamenashi Kazuya get to go on location to interview Takizawa Hideaki about his lead role in the Taiga drama Yoshitsune. It is a pretty big thing to be in one of these dramas as they run for an entire year and tend to be highly rated. And if this interview is any indication they start filming pretty early before the drama begins to air as Yoshitsune began airing in January 2005 and this interview had to have been done around September 2004.

After the VTR we get Ueda Tatsuya reading a letter at a piano that is covered in red roses.

KAT-TUN then performs Andalasia ni Akogarete, and to be honest I do not care for the arrangement they used on this song. Or the fact that it is performed as a group song and not a duet. I think this song works much better with less performers than more.

It is obvious there was some cutting somewhere when the next number starts up shortly after the end of that with Kanjani8 and KAT-TUN singing SMAP's Yozora no Mukou with KAT-TUN in completely different outfits that were not under the ones they were wearing before.

At this point the only reason I feel watching the end song being performed is for the group interactions. I am getting tired of this song and the fact that it always seems to be KAT-TUN getting the focus with most of the other Junior groups being stuck just back dancing for them.

While this episode remained fun I did not enjoy it as much as the first episode of the month. I think it does not help that I am not a huge KAT-TUN fan yet they are a major part of all the SC episodes at this point. In any case I feel like I am experiencing burn out with them. I am not sure if I look forward to the next year as much as I did initially knowing that they do not debut until early 2006. I guess I can only hope that there is more focus given to the other Juniors before then.

23 November 2012

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 5

The holiday threw me off a bit but I am back and ready to try to get everything back on schedule as I want it to be. And since I keep getting new questions I know the best way to help do that is to get to answering them.

The deadline for questions is of course the end of this month, so if you have something you want me to try to answer make sure you leave it in this post.

This question is the first from kawaii:

i wanna ask about jr life. do you think jr tachi get paid for concert,photo magazine & shokura? or jr tachi must spend fee for dance lesson?? just curious...

When it comes to pay for the Juniors it is a lot of guessing based off of tidbits of information gleaned from various sources. It is considered a fact that they do get paid something for concerts and live performances like that. Though it is said to be a rather small amount, which would make sense business-wise when you are having concerts that use hundreds of Juniors as back dancers.

And I am sure they get the standard pay for things like endorsements and acting as anyone else would in the entertainment industry. Much like with debut Johnny's they get paid a salary but if they have activities like product endorsements or acting they get that pay added on, which is part of how Nakai Masahiro from SMAP earns as much as he does, because he has a lot of work on variety programs and of course his endorsements.

For magazine photo shoots I am unsure about. I do not think I have heard anything either way about that.

I do not think they have to pay for their dance lessons, as it seems like the lessons are more just teaching them the moves for whatever performance they are going to be in, not to become better dancers so much.

Of course this really only relates to the younger Juniors as I believe the older Juniors, like those in the dance umbrella groups and long time Juniors like Sano Mizuki or Kazama Shunsuke get paid on the same salary system as debuted Johnny's. But again that is mostly speculation from going off what little is known about pay in Johnny's.

21 November 2012

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 4

Figured I should get around to answering a few questions now before the month ends as they are beginning to pile up now. That makes me quite happy as I do enjoy answering these.

The deadline for questions is of course the end of this month, so if you have something you want me to try to answer make sure you leave it in this post.

This question comes from an anonymous reader:

What non JE group do you want to listen to but just never have for any reason.

Honestly most of what I want to listen to but have not tend to be older J-pop/rock songs. Like I would love to listen to more of the popular Japanese music of the pre-CD era but of course for those not in Japan it is really hard to find music from that era in a format you can easily listen to.

I am interested in these oldies because I feel like I am missing a part of the greater picture of Japanese popular music by not being very familiar with the artists that many in Japan grew up with or know the songs that are just suspected that you would be familiar with. I think I would come to know and understand J-pop much more and understand their trends, kinda like I can look back and see the trends in music for the U.S. because I am familiar with so much of the music from previous eras just by living in the country.

Piece Ep. 7 first impressions

Found this episode a bit easier to follow, it probably helps that it is rather straight forward with what is covered in this episode that ends up clearing more up than adding much more to the mystery.

Instead of a straight recap of Mizuho's conversation with Sugawara we get part of it being from the scene of last episode with some added parts. One such part is that flashback to a gym class we saw in last week's preview that has Sugawara watching Origuchi stand up for Miyamoto-sensei when some male classmates were badmouthing him.

After the opening we skip to Mizuho telling Yanai and Madoka what she learned from Sugawara and Yanai is shocked and refuses to believe that Origuchi would have a relationship with a teacher. They decide to go visit Miyamoto-sensei even though Yanai does not want to, if mainly because he does not want to believe the lead to be true.

When they get to Miyamoto-sensei's apartment he is not there but then a young boy shows up and is surprised to see them there. Miyamoto then shows up and they end up being invited in. They learn the boy is Miyamoto's son, Akito, and that he is a single father. Akito did not know that Origuchi died so when the topic comes up he is quite upset and it is then they learn that Origuchi came by to look after Akito as a babysitter.

We do not get the full story until things fast forward to everyone gathering at the Origuchi household to clear things up. Akito and Miyamoto explain that Origuchi was earning some extra money by looking after Akito for Miyamoto. (Or at least that is what I got out of it.)

We do learn some key information, like clearing up the person Origuchi was talking to on her cell that Yanai assumed was a boyfriend was just Akito. But the topic of a painting come up and Miyamoto has brought it with him to show everyone. It was something special to Origuchi but I was not able to catch what she said about it in the flashback where she talked to Miyamoto about it.

Spotting the initials on the painting, H. N, Mizuho comes to the same conclusion as I am sure most viewers will as well, this was Narumi Hikaru's painting. She is shocked visibly but shakes off the concern Madoka and Yanai show her when they notice that she is shaken by the painting.

While walking with the painting later Mizuho gets lost in her thoughts were she sees visions of high school and the people she has come in contact with as she has searched to solve the mystery. After seeing them as she saw them when in high school she then sees them as she has come to know them and sees what she had missed about them.

Mizuho ends up showing up at Narumi's house with the painting, most likely to confront him about it. She does not seem exactly up to it from her reaction to him but decides to enter the house when he invites her in.

The preview is pretty vague, so I think it is safe to say that they are making sure the viewers do not get enough to be able to guess what exactly will be covered in the next episode. That said, those waiting for the episode where members of Junior group Snow Man will be in will only have to wait until the next episode, as one of the members is shown in the preview.

We have gone down the list of suspects that we were introduced to in the first episode so there really is no other possibility to explore than Narumi not being completely truthful about his relationship to Origuchi when Mizuho asked him about it. But we should have more than one episode left so I feel like I cannot really speculate how things are going to go. I think it is safe to say though we will get the resolution of Origuchi's mystery with Narumi's now.

I am glad there was a way to make this progression feel natural and even though everything feels like it just circled around everything Mizuho has learned and gone through so far has done so much with investing care towards having this mystery solved with making Origuchi a much more complex character that could be cared for.

And I am so glad that Matsumura Hokuto has his role in this drama. I have been hoping for him to get a role that has him get away from the "cool" type character and surprisingly Yanai is that role. At first glance it did not seem that way but once we got past the surface of his character he has shown quite a bit of emotion and it is roles like this that I think will really help Hokuto grow as an actor at this stage in his career.

Pre-order your Mystery Virgin

The listings for Yamada Ryosuke's Mystery Virgin single are up so you can pre-order over at CDJapan, at least not sure about the other online stores.

There will be three editions for this release and I think longtime Yamada fans are definitely going to want to get all three editions.

The regular edition has the A-side track and two B-sides that will not be on all the other versions. The first exclusive B-side is a song Yamada wrote called, Gin no Sekai ni Negai wo Komete and the other song is a cover of the Kinki Kids song, Ai no Katamari. Knowing that Domoto Koichi was the senpai Yamada looked up to the most and that his mother is a big fan of him I can only imagine that Yamada is quite happy to cover this song. And like most regular editions the karaoke tracks for all the songs on the CD are included. The first press edition of this version will come with a booklet.

The 1st limited edition of course is the basic CD with DVD. The B-side for it is one of Yamada's previous solo songs, Asia no Yoru. The DVD will have the music video for Mystery Virgin as well as the making of clip for the PV.

The 2nd limited edition is more or less set up like the first, a CD and DVD combo. The B-side is another previous solo, Moonlight. The DVD will have a PV for the B-side with a making clip for that.

I know I may not seem it, but I am a Yamada fan. I like to root for the underdogs though which is why I do not say much about him as I just feel like he does not need as much support as other Johnny's I like. But he was one of my favorites since the original Hey! Say! 7 group, right with Takaki Yuya, and while even I have times that I get tired of him getting pushed so much I still like him as I think it is pretty evident that he does work hard to give his best in whatever he is doing.

Needless to say I will be picking up all versions of this single, especially for those previous solo songs finally getting released on CD. I am rather interested in how Asia no Yoru will sound, as I can only remember him doing that song years ago when I do not think his voice had finished changing. But my memory is a bit foggy about that. But I do look forward to having a version I do not feel a bit cringy about since he is now more than old enough to fit the image of the song.

With this release it leaves only one of his solos, that I can remember, that will not be on a CD, his first, Perfume. I would have liked to have had that also be a part of the release but at the same time I feel lucky as a fan to be getting the two, not to mention one getting a PV as well, that we are.

All in all this will be a release I will look forward to. Maybe not as much as if it was a Hey! Say! JUMP single, but as long as we do not get another long stretch with no release from the group as we did between their fourth and fifth single I will be fine.

18 November 2012

Nagase goes from 2D to 3D

Nagase Tomoya is going to be returning to the drama world as the star of the upcoming drama, Nakuna, Hara-chan. He plays a character a mangaka created that somehow comes to life and crosses from the 2D world to the 3D world.

It will air on NTV starting in January.

JE News Daily (English)

This news makes me really happy. I loved Nagase in My Boss, My Hero and the fact that this series shares the same producer gives me hope that this could be a fun series. I also hope it does well as I love seeing him act and would love to see more of him, but I know if the ratings are not there the chances of that are going to be slim.

I also hope these means I can look forward to a new TOKIO single with a tie-in to this drama. I have been loving their album and would never say no to more music from TOKIO.

Also on a slightly different note, Nagase is a good example of a front man that does solo activities, including a single release, and does not break off to go solo. And I am sure a good part of that was that he did not want to go solo because he loves being with his group mates. And I think whether a solo release leads to a solo career really depends if the member wants to push for it and the agency agrees to it.

17 November 2012

The Shounen Club 3 October 2004 review

I think starting next week I will be able to get back to doing two reviews of Shounen Club a week again. Or at least for that week, but I will try to finish up the year with the twice a week schedule, especially since we seem to be getting more SC than expected this year with Osaka SC episodes at the end of the month on top of the usual two Tokyo episodes right now. So I feel like I am falling behind and I know I want to get to 2005 as that is when things start looking like the SC I knew when I began watching the program.

We get an introduction to the groups and with that find that most of Ya-Ya-Yah is back. Yamashita Shoon is missing for some reason, but the other three are there for the group's return to the show after being missing for two months. Another return to note is that Toshin Yoshikazu is back and with A.B.C. once more.

After the introduction we get a talk to introduce the theme of the episode, yuuki (courage). They ask Yabu Kota and Inoo Kei about things they want more courage for. Yabu says he wants more courage to eat tomatoes, which Akanishi Jin mocks. Inoo I believe says he wants more courage to talk to girls.

We get the usual medley for the theme of the episode. Most notable thing is that Yabu's voice has gone through an obvious change since he was last on the program, as it is much deeper and you can tell he is still going through a voice change from how he sounds.

While it is late I guess it is better than never as all of Kanjani8 show up as guests this episode. The episodes for 2004 seem to be a great batch for K8 fans for how frequent members and the group appear in them. Especially since they get to take over some of the hosting duties every time they show up.

They of course perform their debut song Naniwa Iroha Bushi, which sounds better with the full group as Nishikido Ryo and Uchi Hiroki are there for their lines. And I actually do not mind Uchi's vocals in this song that much. Like the past month's performance there are a lot of Juniors used as back dancers which is great as it gives the performance a festival feel to it which goes with the song nicely.

K8 then move directly into a B-side off their debut single, Cool Magic City. Again we get to see that the main vocals of the group being used is Shibutani Subaru, Ryo and Uchi. So they more or less have a front trio for the group starting off.

We then get one of the more fun Junior Hai School! segments as we get three teams that must gain the approval of a "princess" with games. Each team consisted of three members and there were two games, so a team is eliminated with each game. The first game is a bit of an odd three legged race, as the members were tied to be in a row behind each other instead of next to each other.

The next game was that each team was given a bouquet of flowers and had to go down the rows of the audience playing a game of janken with the audience member at the end of each row. If the audience member won they would get one of the flowers. So the team with the most flowers at the end won.

The members of the two losing teams had a batsu game where they had to do one handed push ups while smiling. Some managed to do this better than others.

We get Toshin Yoshikazu & A.B.C. to do a MC segment. It is rather nice since there are members of A.B.C. that get the chance to speak and it is not just Toshin.

After that the group got to do a Shounentai medley. Interestingly enough A.B.C. get to perform some of it without Toshin. I guess you can say I am not quite sold about his return to the group. But we shall see how long this formation lasts.

Following that is the new segment featuring Taguchi Junnosuke and his puns. He reads a letter from a fan who likes A.B.C. and gets courage from watching the Juniors.

Junno then has little time to rush down to the stage to do a tap dancing routine with VTR of his figure in shadow being used as a part of it.

The rest of KAT-TUN go on stage and they perform Never Again. I recently listened to their debut album and this is definitely one of their better songs on it.

We get a Yoko and Hina MC with them wearing outfits that do not appear anywhere else in this episode. It makes me wonder if this is out of order a bit and they are wearing what will be used in the next episode for whatever reason.

Jimmy Mackey gets a performance on this episode, singing the J-Friends version of Next 100 Years. This song is a cover of a Bon Jovi song and I guess producers figured if they have a Japanese version of it they should have him sing that instead of the original English version.

After a short MC KAT-TUN sings Ai no Medley, which is a V6 song. Really nothing all that stand out about the performance. I will then like to say that I feel I must commend Tanaka Koki for being able to always have the top of his outfit undone and showing his torso. In fact it is the easiest way to figure out if KAT-TUN is performing and which one he is by simply spotting the one with the greatest amount of skin showing.

For this episode it seems like everyone from K8 actually learned the end song as they sung it with KAT-TUN. It was actually pretty fun to watch as the two groups interacted. Another reason why K8 makes everything better I guess.

This was pretty much the episode I was expecting last month honestly. But SC is not known for being having the best timing when it comes having performances to promote a release. In any case it was great to have K8 around. They really help make these episodes more enjoyable but I think it is safe to say that the other Juniors are beginning to become much better at showing their personalities and making you want to see more of them as well.

I think what surprises me the most about the episode is that even though the theme is courage Yuuki 100% is not performed once. It is actually a bit refreshing.