31 December 2013

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 8

And finally finishing this up. So one last thank you for everyone who left me a question to answer for this.

This question comes from nanu b: the scense or the main point of the shounen club used to be the presentation or introduction of the jrs, and between the jrs you could easyly spot the main jrs that would make it(debut) sooner or later , right? 
nowadays shokura is just a program were you can see 3 or 2 debut groups plus a guest
(who is obviously another debut sempai) and see games where the participants are also debut sempais! 3 years of this and I don´t have a clue about who are the main Jrs! they push the baka team then split the baka team , then for months you see Taiga and Juri at front then Hoku and Jessy, then noon boys then snow man then jrs all over the place (just backdancing ) but no one is clearly a main Jr!
I love HSJ, ABCZ and Sexy boys are cute and everything but what about the jrs?
my question is : What are your thoughts about Shokura, the Jrs of this "era" and the debuted sempais that are still in the show?
I´m sorry for the intro of the question
No need to apologize. Honestly the amount of focus on debuted groups on Shounen Club in the past couple of years has bothered me as well. I would say it has gotten better with the longer length of the program as they can fit in another performance on the show and it seems to be going to the Juniors. But I would rather see more Juniors and less of the debuted Johnny's. Though it looks like there is a good chance the Hey! Say! JUMP members will be leaving the program when the new season begins in April, as they seem to be sidelined by Sexy Zone and A.B.C-Z nowadays and do not seem to serve much of a purpose on the show.

I would love it if SZ and Ebi get less of a presence on the show as well, maybe never give them more than one performance each for an episode and no longer have them participate in the Junior game segment. I think that should strike an okay balance for now, though Ebi should probably start moving towards leaving the program now that they are getting their own shows to be in.

They have made it hard to figure out which Juniors to follow if you want to focus on those most likely to debut. I think the best way to figure that out now is to look at which ones get work outside of the program. But I think Jesse and Matsumura Hokuto would be safe bets as they do seem to get steady focus when it comes to the older Juniors.

I think the four of the Sexy Boyz grouping are definitely Juniors to watch as well. Johnny's seems to have a thing about putting Juniors they seem to have plans for in groups of four, like Four Tops, Ya-Ya-Yah and B.I.Shadow. Of course not all of the SB four will debut, I would put money on Jinguji Yuta and Iwahashi Genki having the best shots at a debut though.

In fact with the Johnny's WEST 4 debut announcement I think it is safe to say that there are going to be debuts between now and 2020, so I am anticipating the next debut after JW4 to be a FIVB group for 2015. I can definitely see Jinguji and Genki being placed in that group seeing as I do not believe they have been attached to Twenty Twenty. And of course they will need to have some other Juniors debut with them so SC is not useless for trying to find who will debut next yet.

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 7

There is no way I am going into the new year without finishing this up. So here is the first of the last two questions I still have to answer and I will get out the second before midnight.

This question was asked by an anonymous commenter: Johnny-san isn't getting any younger. I am sure plans are being made about what to do with Johnny's Entertainment after he retires or dies. Do you think the Organization is in for major changes once that happens, or will everything be business as usual? And will Takizawa H. have any role to play? Thanks.

I doubt there will be any major changes for Johnny's & Associates once Johnny Kitagawa hands the company over. Sure there will be some eventually but I expect it to be a gradual change. I doubt there will be the major schism some fans fear when a successor is chosen from either Julie Kitagawa or Iijima Michi.

Japanese companies are notorious for having the president position actually having little power with most of the activity coming from those in line for that position as they fight over it. This is what we are currently seeing with the factions but once there is a winner things will settle down as these things tend to do.

Also Johnny's in general seems to go for the "if it isn't broke then don't fix it" kind of approach so there is little drive for the agency to break away from what they are already doing.

I think Tackey is well on his way to getting himself in on the management side of things with Johnny's for the long run. But for him his focus seem to be mainly with the Juniors and I do not see that changing for him. I see him having a position similar to Higashiyama Noriyuki, who also is both a talent for the agency as well is one the other side of things. When it comes to what it going on at the top I do not think he will have much to say in the matter though he is one of the few talents that does not seem to have to pick sides in it.

Johnny's WEST 4 debut!

It was announced at Johnny's Countdown (which I sadly missed because of work) that we are indeed getting a Kansai Junior debut in 2014. The group will be called Johnny's WEST 4 and will have four members, Kiriyama Akito, Nakama Junta, Shigeoka Daiki and Kotaki Nozomu. No date has been given for their CD debut but it will most likely be in the first half of the year to go with the initial announcement for a Kansai group debuting from about a month or so ago.

I first off want to say that I am beyond happy that we are finally getting a Kanjuu debut. It has been about ten years since Kanjani8 debuted so this debut feels like it is long overdue. Especially for Akito and Junta who have been around for so long as Juniors. I am not surprised that Shigeoka made the cut, and with how he has been pushed recently Kotaki makes sense.

I am curious to how the group will shape up. As it is there is a large age gap between the eldest member, Junta, and the youngest, Kotaki, of nine years. But Kotaki will be turning eighteen in 2014 so the gap should not be too bad as they are all around adulthood, in fact Kotaki is the only under 20 member of the group.

Of course I see Akito as the leader of the group with Shigeoka as the face, though I would not be surprised if Kotaki eventually replaces him for that. But then again with only four members it probably will not matter too much as it is not like a member can be easily overshadowed when there are so few.

I just hope Akito and Junta are the lead vocals, as the other two are not nearly as song as vocalists. But I do expect this group to have all four members get solo lines, if partly because of size and partly because the younger members are probably going to be used a lot to bring in fans.

Now after getting the flailing out and hopes I will admit that this news was bittersweet. I really hoped that there would be more Kanjuu debuting with this, like the rest of 7WEST and perhaps also Hamada Takahiro and Hamanaka Bunichi. There are just so many Kanjuu that I feel are ready for debut and while I love the four that are getting this chance I just wish there were more with them.

A part of me hopes that maybe the CD debut is actually a one shot thing and they will have a career debut with other Kanjuu added onto the group afterwards, but I am filing that under "fool's dreams" for now.

I can only assume that perhaps with the smaller number of members for this group that perhaps Johnny's wanted to make sure this group would be seen as different than Kanjani8. And it would be nice to have a group that will not be able to shaft members when it comes to screen time and being on the jackets for the group's releases among the newer groups. I am just going to feel divided about this for some time.

But in the end I am still really happy, especially for Akito and Junta finally debuting, and together no less. So you expect me to be a Johnny's WEST 4 fan.

27 December 2013

The Shounen Club 8 December 2009 review

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone! I know it's late but I never seem to be able to get anything out on time these days.

The episode starts off with Takaki Yuya and Nakajima Yuto leading a performance of Yuuki 100%. This pretty much confirms we will have Hey! Say! JUMP members continuing to be support hosts for the program for the rest of the year. Or at least should with this being the second month of this.

The rest of the beginning performances are short versions of singles that debut groups released that year with it ending with Kanjani8's Kyu Jyu Show with the guests of the episode, Yasuda Shota and Ohkura Tadayoshi leading that song.

The starting talk brings Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi on stage so they can go over what the theme will be. Being the final month of the year the theme of the episode is 2009, so it should focus on looking back on what happened during that year.

Since they already went through the major 2009 single releases the next performance is a B.I. Shadow performance instead of a medley. BIS perform Dial Up, and while it is not bad I much prefer the 7WEST or NYC boys version as they have some stronger sounding vocals, as right now Nakajima Kento and Kikuchi Fuma do not seem to be quite there yet.

Up next is a Gekkan KoyaMaru segment with Nakamaru sharing this time. He strayed from his usual subjects and actually took a picture of his group mates. It is a bit sad to see Tanaka Koki and it also seem strange to hear them talk about Akanishi Jin as a member of the group. It has only been a few years since this yet so much has changed for KAT-TUN.

The next performance starts with Question? performing their song HOLY HEAVEN. It segues into Takaki's solo song Michishirube that Yuto joins in with the band on the drums. I really wish HSJ would release solo songs for the members of the group as I want all of Takaki's solos at CD quality one day.

After a drumming intermission A.B.C-Z then joins the band on stage to perform a song called Naked. I am glad to see Ebi back after being missing from the show last month. They bring so much fun and energy and this song is no exception.

There is a You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment hosted by Fujigaya Taisuke featuring BIS. Nakaken gets to show off his beat boxing skills as Fuma raps a bit. I had completely forgotten that Nakaken could beat box as he had not done any for so long. I wonder if he is still in practice or not. Kochi Yugo gets a fan letter read from a fan from Texas which makes him incredibly happy. And of course Matsumura Hokuto then gets a chance to talk so all the members are covered.

There is then a Junior special medley starting with A Ha Ha with Kyomoto Taiga and company which consists of Yasui Kentaro, Anderson Casey and Kawashima Noeru. Then Masuda Ryo gets to lead with his grouping of Juniors with Mou Tomaranai. Then it is Mis Snow Man with Genkai Meter. There is then a Seigi no Mikata wa Ateninaranai cover by Hip Hop Jump, which in this episode Tanaka Juri, Hagiya Keigo and Jesse. Then of course it is Snow Prince Gasshoudan with the usual performance of Bitter Moon, which is the performance that finishes off the medley.

Following this is the game corner which brings out Yasuda and Ohkura to be judges for a prompt battle. Basically the Juniors, plus Yuto and Takaki, are divided up in two teams and one member from each team must act out a prompt that Yasu and Ohkura judge which is better. This is one of those games where it helps to know some Japanese to help figure out what the prompts are.

There is finally an MC with the guests and of course they are asked about what they did in 2009. This leads to promotion to the drama that they were both in, ROMES.

The two then perform a medley of Kanjani8 songs together. It looks weird to just have the two of them but it is nice to be able to better match the voices with members as they really cannot hide behind other members with just the two of them.

Then it is time for the Junior ni Q segment which asks the Juniors to talk about things that happened to them in 2009. The first up is Haba Yuki, who I am pretty sure is still around, and Hashimoto Ryo, who I know is still around. Being their first time being called over they get to introduce themselves first.

Fujigaya Taisuke is up next. He starts off talking about Haba and Ryo before moving on to actually talk about his answer. Unfortunately I could not really follow what he was saying then.

Matsumura Hokuto is called over and of course he talks about joining the agency that year as well as getting his CD debut soon after.

Then it is Senga Kento and he gets to complain about being called gorilla, which was the running gag with him throughout the year. And that ends the segment.

Kis-My-Ft2 then get an MC where they get to talk about their solo concerts and thank the fans that came to see them.

It has been a long time since Kisumai has done a cover song but since it is a Hikaru Genji, Kaze no Naka no Shounen, song it seems fitting. Especially as they break out the roller skates for it. And I will always be impressed that they can do so much in the skates without falling over most of the time.

With that it is time to wrap up the episode and the closing song for it is Days, which starts off with EbiKisu leading with the vocals. They are later joined by some of the older Juniors, so the ending song with the younger Juniors will be in the next episode.

A great episode when it comes to focusing on the Juniors. I really wish the current Shounen Club episodes would move towards more of that. I mean even with the extra debuted Johnny's in this episode they did not seem to overwhelm it with their presence and it allowed a good amount of Juniors some time in the spotlight. Or basically what I expect out of the program.

22 December 2013

The Shounen Club 8 November 2009 review

And we continue to see Hey! Say! JUMP slowly return to the program as regulars with this episode.

This episode opens up with Takaki Yuya and Nakajima Yuto doing the intro at the very start. Like Arioka Daiki in the previous episode they are "helpers" for Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi for hosting the program.

With the introductions Hip Hop Jump still looks to be in flux with its members as only three are present. Unfortunately we do not get a good look at them all but Tanaka Juri and Hagiya Keigo are definites.

Like with the previous episode we are introduced to the guest at the beginning and Yamashita Tomohisa is back on the program. This is around the time his solo activities were picking up as he had his first solo concerts. The theme of the episode is Yuuki (courage).

There is an actual theme medley for this episode though the medley is more a chance to show off the younger Juniors as many get to show off other skills than the usual singing and dancing as they pull out soccer and basketballs and even have roller blades and a trick bicycle being used at one point.

The following MC is with Yamapi and the talk is about his solo work, especially his solo concerts. But he brings up the differences between doing something solo compared to being in a group.

He then performs Loveless. I like the song, in fact I do like Yamapi's early solo singles in general, I did find the performance underwhelming. Most of it coming from the fact that he just stands in place for most of it and while he does hand movements it seems lacking without a dance of some kind to go with it. In fact if he even just had a couple of Juniors back dancing on stage it probably would have helped liven the performance.

Up next is the Gekkan KoyaMaru segment with Koyama as the one with a picture to share. Tegoshi Yuya is the NEWS member in the picture this time around and Koyama talks about how it came about.

Question? then performs Beast Soul, and just the one song so we get to hear more of it than last time. This performance just makes me miss the members of the band that have left. It is a real pity they ended up in Johnny's when the agency had pretty much given up on bands.

Following this we have the game segment and it is one with various games with the participating Juniors being paired off into groups of two to compete. This is a pretty fun game segment to watch as the games are easy to follow and Kitayama Hiromitsu does quite a bit to bring some added humor like pointing out that his partner, Nozawa Yuki, looks like the outfit he is wearing is something a "hotelman" would wear. And the fact that they have Juniors that normally do not participate in this is also a plus.

There is then an MC segment with Yuto and a few Juniors: Masuda Ryo, Sanada Yuma and Kyomoto Taiga. MasuRyo talks about trying manzai for SUMMARY, and Sanada said something about ghosts I believe. I was not able to catch what Taiga talked about but I do marvel at how much he seems to have grown since I last noticed him. His voice is noticeably cracking too, so the cute tiny Taiga is quickly disappearing.

There is then a Junior medley that kicks off with MasuRyo singing You & I ~Sono Hi no Tame ni~. Then it is Mis Snow Man with Genkai Meter, followed by Taiga singing Shunkashuto solo. Then it is Mou Tomaranai with MasuRyo and the usual Juniors he is grouped with. MasuRyo is always an interesting Junior to look at when it comes to how flaky seeming promotion can be for Juniors. He gets this huge push around this time to disappear for a while before getting pushed again more recently. It feels like Johnny's is not sure what to do with him, as they do not seem to be able to think of anything more than pushing him based on his singing.

Some Juniors Johnny's seemed to have much more definite plans for, Nakajima Kento, Kikuchi Fuma and Tanaka Juri, are up next for an MC segment. They do not talk for long as they are mainly there to introduce a VTR segment they did for this episode, Junior Kagai Jyugyo.

The trio are to learn about speaking to help them when they have to do so on programs and at concerts. They have a NHK announcer to give them some tips on the subject that they get to try out. They go over some Japanese grammar, and honestly unless you know some basic Japanese and are interested in learning a bit more about the language this may be a good segment to skip as it is just the boys listening and answering questions.

We go back to a letter exchange with Senga Kento and Miyata Toshiya. While the split with Kis-My-Ft2 is there these little things like having those of the back four get to do something like this where they are in the spotlight made it bearable. It is partly why I hope Busaiku continues past the one single as it is giving s-My-2 that something.

One would not think this based on which songs have been released on CD from their Junior days, but Tamamori Yuta does actually have solo songs. He performs his first one, Tsong1 ~CAN TRY~, and while he hardly has one of my favorite voices he is far from one the worst. If anything it is on the thin side so it lacks power behind it so it is better suited to be mixed with a stronger voice like it usually is with the group songs.

Kisumai does come on to perform a group song, Hair. And if there needs to be a sign that this group is on the rise the fact that they perform the full song and not just a portion of it right after Tamamori did his solo is a good one. The group is easily getting the most screen time and that should not change for some time as they get closer and closer to debut.

With that over there is only the final song to perform to wrap up the November episodes. I am sure since it was announced that the theme of the episode was Yuuki that readers may be wondering when Yuuki 100% was going to be performed. Wonder no more as here it is at the end and they do make sure to have all the younger Juniors in this, which means this was taped out of order. They also seem to have cleaned up the audio quite a bit as you can barely hear the audience in it.

This is a solid episode though it does seem off to have A.B.C-Z missing and I am interested in learning some more Japanese. It is nice to have things mixed up a bit though. After watching so many episodes it is nice to see things being changed up a bit at this point as it was getting a bit stale.

And with this only two more episodes before I reach 2010, as there is no Christmas special for 2009.

20 December 2013

Ai-ai can't believe HSJ is releasing a new single

I think I am still in shock about this but Hey! Say! JUMP is already lined up to release a new single before their latest one, Ride With Me, is released. On February 5th of next year they will release a double A-side single titled AinoArika/Aisureba Motto Happy Life. The track AinoArika will be the theme song for the drama Dark System Koi no Oza Ketteisen, which Yaotome Hikaru and Inoo Kei will be in.

The single comes in four different editions, three limited editions and one regular edition. There is also a bundle of all four singles.

The first limited edition will come with a DVD with the PV for the song AinoArika and the making of feature for it. The CD will only have the two title tracks on it.

The second limited edition will also have a DVD and will have the PV for the song Aisureba Motto Happy Life as well as its making of feature. It will have the same contents on the CD as the first limited edition.

The third limited edition is only a CD that will have the title tracks plus two new songs for the group. It will also have karaoke tracks for all four songs.

The regular edition also has the two title tracks as well as unit songs for Hey! Say! BEST and Hey! Say! 7. It will also have karaoke tracks for all songs on the CD.

And of course there is the bundle of all four editions, which seems to be the popular thing for releases from Johnny's these days.

I am still pretty shocked about this news. I had hoped that we would get a new HSJ single in the first half of 2014 and hopefully a new album but I would not have expected one so soon. But I am quite happy as it is about time HSJ did something to make up for their weird release schedule. I do hope this means that my wish for a new album this year will happen, and honestly with this release being a double A-side they could release an album after this. And if they have a tour in the summer it would be perfect. But I feel like I am getting ahead of myself here. I think for now I will just bask in the joy that HSJ may release more than one single for two years in a row.

19 December 2013

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 6

Despite falling so horribly behind with these I have not forgotten them. I do plan on getting as many out this week so I can finish this off. Sorry for those I have made wait so long.

With that done here is the next question by an Anonymous reader: any thoughts on why jticket international has been inactive in ticket request? do you think it has something to do with management shake-up? I mean, the ohp has gone bilingual(some jnet movies are even subtitled) yet no means to get tickets from the overseas end, not even for stage plays. its not like we visit japan all year round, one unhappy fan!

I noticed the lack of tickets this year too, though honestly I cannot say what the actual reason for it is. That is something only the management knows and we all know how tight lipped they can be for just about anything.

My only guess could be was that it may not have been used much by international fans, or that it proved too be too much of a hassle to do. I do recall that there were additional steps to the process that seemed like a pain. Or perhaps a mix of both and Johnny's just did not see why they should continue. If this is the case the best thing to do is to contact Johnny's and request for the service to return. I am sure if they get enough requests they may open it again.

18 December 2013

The Shounen Club 1 November 2009 review

And it looks like we finally have the members of Snow Prince Gasshoudan gathered as a news group of tiny Juniors come in.

Like the previous episode this one has some of the usual things changed up. The first of these is that Arioka Daiki is there at the start of the program to introduce all the Juniors and the hosts while performing the opening song, Can do! Can go!

We get a glimpse of the Snow Prince Gasshoudan line up with all the tiny Juniors in it, which means pretty much all the Juniors older than Morimoto Shintaro are out.

And instead of going into the standard episode introduction and reveal about the theme of the episode the guest of the episode, Takizawa Hideaki, is introduced and he performs a song, Hikari Hitotsu. Since A.B.C-Z is missing for the episode he has Mis Snow Man and Kis-My-Ft2 back dance for him in this performance.

We then get that usual introduction talk and Kitayama Hiromitsu gets to introduce the theme of the episode, Color. He asks Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi about their image colors and Koyama brings up his is purple and Nakamaru avoids answering.

This is followed by B.I.Shadow performing NYC and Lalalila. The group is really coming along now, especially since Kochi Yugo is much more comfortable on stage and is showing signs of improvement from how he was even just a month ago. No surprise there though as they had been performing quite a lot to promote the NYC boys single.

The following MC is with a few Juniors, though only two of the three are still with Johnny's. Shintaro of course gets the main focus as he has a movie that he is starring in to promote, Snow Prince. Arioka gets a turn to talk and he brings up that Hey! Say! JUMP do not have image colors but since they need to be able to tell their mics apart during concerts they janken for which member gets what color. They do ask which colors the little Juniors like and Shintaro answers with black and Tanaka Juri with yellow (which was the image color for his brother Tanaka Koki).

The next performance is introduced as a Morimoto Shintaro medley. We do get a new song Shintaro has not performed yet on Shounen Club, STAY HOPEFUL. It's lack of performances is probably for the best unless you like the vocaloid sound. But there is another song, Chou, which is a more cool song, like in the lines of Bitter Moon, which helps make up for that first song. I would like to see this song performed again, if not by Shintaro I would be happy with any of the Juniors. And the medley is closed out with Bitter Moon.

Butokan is still around for this episode, though they are missing a couple of members. They talk about image colors and Yara Tomoyuki picks grey. Senga Kento brings up gold while Yamamoto Ryota is told by Yara he would fit silver.

The group performs C=Normal after a long dance introduction and honestly it feels off to me. Hamanaka Bunichi's vocals are sorely missed as Yara just does not fill that spot in the group well but being the lead of the group he is the one made to pick up on the vocals with Bunichi gone and for this performance is basically the sole vocals as Senga only has a head mic and Yamamoto none at all.

The You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment is next and is hosted by Fujigaya Taisuke, Kitayama, Tamamori Yuta, Nakajima Kento and Yugo. Or Kitayama and Fujigaya do most of the hosting while the others help answer the questions in the letters they read.

Kis-My-Ft2 are up to perform next and they do what was a new song for the show back then, Tension. This was also the song and performance they did when they got to go on Music Station in the same year. It really puts their roller skating front and center. While they were fine for their MS performance Tamamori manages to mess up here. I would blame the head dress they made him wear for this.

This is followed up by the game segment and this time around the game they are playing is Introdon, which is where they are given only a few seconds of the start of a song and they have to guess the song title as well as who sings it. You just have to be a Johnny's fan to be able to play along with this one.

Then it is the Junior ni Q segment with the topic actually tying into the theme of the episode as the Juniors are asked about their favorite color. Yugo is up first to talk about his answer of green.

Takada Sho is up next with his answer of orange. He explains that he likes the color because it is a one that looks lively. And if I understood the rest he mentioned being in orange for his first main performance on SC.

Kyomoto Taiga then gets to be brought over to discuss his answer of purple. He explains that the color brings up his tension levels.

And finally we have someone from Mis Snow Man get some camera time for this segment with Miyadate Ryota getting called over. He put down red as his favorite color and shows off some bracelets that he always wears that have red in them.

We finally get an MC segment with the guest for the episode, Tackey. Since he already discussed colors at the start of the episode the topic was instead mainly about his musicals and the work he puts into them.

He then has his second performance for the episode with a medley starting off with Ai Kakumei then moving into Sha la la.

This leads us to the end of the program. The final song performed is Hitomi o Tojite and it is just the older Juniors performing. Arioka does join them part way in but the stage looks oddly empty without A.B.C-Z around.

I cannot recall why A.B.C-Z is missing from this recording. I am sure they were either busy with back dancing for concerts or were doing a play. I do not think they had their own concerts this year, but I could be wrong about that.

I am pretty certain Arioka helping with the hosting for this episode was a part of the plans of having members of HSJ eventually take over as MCs for the program. When the new season for the show begins in April 2010 they will have an official place as helpers along side Koyama and Nakamaru, which will be the final season those two are the MCs on the program. Looking back the transitions from hosts to hosts for the program do tend to have some easing into the new status quo. This is why if for the April 2014 episodes we no longer have HSJ members as hosts and it is just Sexy Zone and A.B.C-Z doing the hosting duties I would not be surprised in the least.