30 March 2013

The Shounen Club 12 November 2006 review

Some Shounen Club goodness to enjoy this weekend.

Nothing outstanding about the usual introductions of the Juniors. Still personally annoyed at not being able to tell what is going on with J.J.Express. I wish I had a couple of magazines from the time frame to see if those would not help a bit.

The producer for the episode is Yamashita Shoon, who is no longer with the agency. His chosen theme was Omoi, which can be translated to thought, feeling, sentiment, desire, etc... So the theme is one that is rather versatile and it would be hard not to find something that could fit under it.

In fact the medley of the episode is a Love Medley, which may seem a bit of a stretch but in the end probably fits just as well. The medley has Kitayama Hiromitsu doing a solo cover of Domoto Koichi's solo song, Deep in your heart. I bought the single for this song back before I got into Johnny's because it was the theme song of an anime series that I liked at the time. Or more I really liked the song, as I remember finding and watching the PV for it and enjoying that as well. But I never followed up on learning more about the artist, mainly because I did not care much for the other A-side on the single. So it ended up being one of the two Johnny's purchases I made before I was even away of the agency. And I just love it when it gets covered as it brings back all those memories.

This medley seems to be another one that focuses on the members of Kitty as all but Inoo Kei  get a solo, which seems to be the norm for this. Instead Inoo has to share with either his group, JJE, or with the rest of Kitty. Which seems a bit odd as Yaotome Hikaru is in his same age group so it is not because he is deemed too young and he gets solos in JJE songs still even though the main vocals in the group have changed.

The first MC has Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi talking to Nakajima Yuto and Yamada Ryosuke about the theme of the show. Shoon seems to be there to just look pretty until the little ones go to stand by and he finally speaks.

Nakajima leads the next performance by first performing the song D.N.A as the main lead then Yamada joins him so they can cover Seishun Amigo together. The latter is a performance I remember watching before back when I was trying to find all the performances that my favorite Juniors at the time, Yamada and Takaki Yuya stood out. Needless to say Yamada was easier to find things for as few as they were.

The next MC has a handful of the lesser known Juniors that get chances to speak on the program, such as Sanada Yuma.

And this is all to preface something I have yet to see repeated again, a massive dance introduction for all the Juniors on the program. It is dressed up as a "dance battle" and smaller groups from each side, red and blue, would come up and dance a bit as they were introduced.

They would try to give some of them special dance styles to attach to them, like Sakuma Daisuke and Iwamoto Hikaru here are supposed to be doing ballet.

Of course sometimes they would not even bother with that. But in any case this was great to figure out who the back dancers of this time period are. And it pretty much confirmed for me that the future members of Mis Snow Man are pretty much all there, but are stuck as mainly back dancers.

This is followed by a letter exchange segment between Kitayama and Totsuka Shota. I think this is one I would be very interested in finding subtitles for as the two of them have both been in the agency for some time and known each other pretty much all that time.

There is then a Question? medley that has all the members up near the front of the stage, a nice change from having the keyboards and drums stuck in the back. The only that would have made the performance better would be if they performed one of their original group songs instead of doing covers.

For the game segment the participating Juniors are the members of A.B.C. and Kis-My-Ft2 that are present, so it is an even ten participants. And there is some picking on Miyata Toshiya as they get ready to start as it looks like he is already in his role for the group.

The game has the ten take on four different challenges. The first being a word game where each member has to say a phrase, which sounded like a bit of a tongue twister, quickly without making a mistake.

The next was having them use the recorder to, I believe, play a series of notes. I could not help but think of the Kisuhama Learning episode that used recorders as well, so I was glad this game was short.

The third game was having the guys "toss" a ball between them so each member got one turn.

The final game each member had to do the typical "love you" saying, but each one had to say something different than what had already been said. Needless to say I enjoyed this segment. Sure you really could not play along but it was still fun to watch the guys face the challenges. Of course it helped that I am a Kisumai fan so I was happy to see more of them, especially with something like this that let all the members be seen.

We then get to the guest of the episode, Tegoshi Yuya. I love that you can see how happy Koyama is to have any of the members of NEWS show up on the program. And we get Tegoshi doing his introduction with gimmick, which is bringing up his hand as the first kanji of his last name is the one for hand.

Tegoshi performs Sunadokei, a Tegomass song, as a solo. I prefer it as a duet, but if Tegoshi has anything going for him is that he is a good vocalist and has no trouble carrying the song on his own.

This is followed by a Junior ni Q segment. This one focuses on the lesser known Juniors of the time, so most are no longer with the agency. But we do have a little Casey Anderson, who wrote his answer to the prompt in English. Koyama and Nakamaru bring him over to translate and it is him wanting to be on T.V. more so the two cannot avoid pointing out that he just managed to do that.

The final MC corner has Shoon doing most of the talking with a host of Juniors behind him. He just goes over why he chose the theme.

Shoon then gets to sing his solo song, BAD NICE. Shoon was one of my early favorite Juniors and honestly he still would be a favorite if he stayed with the agency.

His solo leads into a Ya-Ya-Yah performance of to the Freedom. I think the only thing I like about the song is that it involves all four members more than some of their other songs.

The final song is Sekai ga hitotsu ni naru made, which fittingly enough is lead by Yax3. It is times like this that one is reminded at just how many people can be fit on the stage at NHK Hall.

I do confess I found myself feeling a bit down watching this as I miss Shoon. Sure he still is working on a career in the entertainment industry but it just is not the same. Especially when it comes to finding new information on what he is doing. That and I thought that even though he did not debut he would still have a good career with Johnny's like Kazama Shunsuke or Hasegawa Jun. But I guess what is done is done and I will still support him as Yamashita Sean with his new career path.

27 March 2013

The Shounen Club 5 November 2006 review

I think I can now officially say we are at my favorite time period for Shounen Club and look forward to being able to get a few years worth of episodes worth of it in the coming months.

The only thing to note about the introductions that really stuck out to me is that Kis-My-Ft2 is missing Fujigaya Taisuke for this month.

This episode is produced by Senga Kento and his chosen theme is Chance. I think I forgot how young Senga was back then and he just has that certain youthful energy to him. It is easy to tell that he is happy to finally get a chance like this.

The Chance Medley starts off with the Juniors performing Sorafune. Most of the Juniors in groups, plus Yamada Ryosuke and Nakajima Yuto, perform as duos for a line of the song each.

J.J.Express is one exception of this as they also have a larger group cover a line, probably just to make sure they do not run out of lines to sing for all the Juniors they are featuring. Either way though I think it was a great idea on how to feature so many of the Juniors all in one song and get them all decent screen time.

The first MC break has Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi talking with JJE and Nakajima. As they discuss about the theme Nakamaru talks about taking up beat boxing, Nakajima talks about studying and Inoo Kei talks about love.

JJE with the little Juniors perform the song Carnival Carnival. So it looks like the group is still not completely settled with what Johnny's wants to do with them. It is clear that the little Juniors are not really meant to fit with the group with the different outfits but still they get to perform with the group.

They are not the only Juniors somewhat tacked onto the group as the other Juniors of the same age range as the JJE members are featured a bit for this performance, which means future members of Mis Snow Man sightings as they make up a good chunk of that grouping.

The following MC focuses on Kis-My-Ft2, though the conversation ends all referring to Senga. I am not too certain about what exactly is said other than Kitayama Hiromitsu bringing up that Senga tends to be an airhead so they have many stories about him.

We get to the guest of the episode after this as Taguchi Junnosuke performs his solo song Seishin. I love this song and rather love his outfit for it as it is worked in to be a part of the performance. I really wish KAT-TUN would think of releasing a good chunk of their unreleased solos at some point, as I would be willing to buy a KAT-TUN CD again for that.

After the performance Junno goes over to talk to Koyama and Nakamaru. He gets to introduce his dragon as Ryu-kun, which Koyama spends a good deal of time batting down during the MC. And talks about how he felt that the first time he was given a mic to sing in a performance was a big chance for him. And we get some VTR of him. He then of course is egged on to do a pun and he comes up with one using Ryu-kun.

It is then time for the game segment of the show. We have a new game where the Juniors are split into teams, the Domo-kun and Nanami-chan teams, and each member has a plushie of the mascot character of their team. Koyama and Junno are on a team each and what they have to do is give hints to let their teammate guess a word. If they guess right they remain to go another round and get the plushie of the opposing team.

I think I like this game just based off the fact that this was a good game for me to practice my Japanese with, even though you cannot play along so much as the word they are supposed to be guessing is shown on the screen.

Ya-Ya-Yah perform next, introducing their song Itoshii no Playgirl to the show for the first time. It is a good energetic song and it sounds fitting for them to be singing at their ages as they seem to have finally left the stage where they were a "youth" group, as Nakajima and his fellow little Juniors can cover that now.

For the Junior ni Q segment the theme is "Grabbing your chance" and only one of the Juniors that got to be featured is still with the agency, Yokoo Wataru. The chance he wanted to grab is to not be late. And that was about all I could follow so I am not sure what Nakamaru said that was so funny, though I would like to know.

This is followed by a MC with A.B.C. that get to pull strings to figure out which member will get the chance to be the group's spokesperson to tell everyone of the group's appeal. Tsukada Ryoichi gets the honor but is not allowed to do so in peace.

The performance after began with Totsuka Shota performing a solo song (Domoto Tsuyoshi's Machi) before the rest of the group showed up on stage so they can sing their usual group song.

The Senga gets to talk with Koyama and Nakamaru again and he talks about the theme of the episode. He brings up that being able to dance and sing give him a chance. He also talks about that being in Johnny's he has the chance to be supported by the other Juniors as well as the fans, if I followed that right.

Senga starts off with his solo song, EXIT. It is a bit strange to see him being so pushed for the group as I have gotten used to Tamamori Yuta getting the big push of the younger members by now.

Since Fujigaya is not there Senga gets to sing his lines for the group's performance of Inori. It is strange to see him in Fujigaya's position for this but it does make me wish he at least had more lines for the group's songs newer songs. Not that I think he should replace Fujigaya, as while I like his voice I do not think it is as strong but it blends nicely with both Fujigaya's and Kitayama's and should be able to easily carry a solo line here and there in a song, like with Inori.

It looks like they have given up on having an ending theme now as we get a medley of songs to close out the episode with.

I loved this episode. There was a great balance with the Juniors, I loved the guest, the game was fun, the songs performed were mainly the ones I like, this is something I would consider to be a near perfect SC episode for me. Everyone seemed to be on their game as it was entertaining throughout.

Of course it probably helps that one of my favorite Kisumai members and my favorite KAT-TUN member got a good amount of spotlight in the episode.

26 March 2013

Ataru final impressions

Alright, I actually finished watching this series a couple of weeks ago so it is well beyond time that I wrote my final review of it.

I am so glad I decided to continue watching this series after not being overly impressed with the first episode. I can understand why people would not give the series the benefit of the doubt beyond it but the series ended up being good for the most part. The parts that are not so good are the ones that the series just comes off as trying too hard.

I love that in the end one of the main themes that gets addressed for the series is Ataru's self-agency. I think it is easy to take that away from people like Ataru that are not considered normal for various reasons. And like Inoue Larry those who do that are not trying to be cruel but do believe that they are doing right and giving them a purpose in their life. Of course the mistake with that is often they overlook the fact that they probably need to ask the people they are trying to help what they want to do. And thankfully Ataru gets the chance to let his desires be known by getting to meet Ebina Maiko and Sawa Shunichi.

I loved it when Sawa and Larry finally got to meet as the two played off each other with both holding very different views about Ataru. And of course there was the fact that Sawa suspected Larry of messing with his friend that was snooping around trying to find information about Ataru before Larry thought it more valuable to stop keeping Ebina and Sawa in the dark about him.

The Ebina family is just awesome and while the wrap up to their mystery about the death of the mother of the family is what was overdone I am still glad we saw them get that closure. And I love the ending they gave Maiko, as I can see her being awesome at her new job, or at least much happier.

What I rather liked was that even though this was a murder mystery series it did not shy away from its goofy side. I think that kind of quirkiness in the long run helps is stand out from the other series in the genre. I can see how it could annoy some but for me I felt it was just part of the charm of the series.

Ataru may not be a perfect drama because when it misses it can be lackluster but when it hits it is solid. I do feel the worst of it is when the series tries too hard, such as the first episode and parts of the final episode. When it lets itself just go at a more natural pace and flow it works out well and avoids having things feel forced.

As for the mysteries I found they were more enjoyable when they focused on the people involved. They really were not ones that as a viewer you could figure out before the reveals, or at least not all of them, but instead they were engaging because you would care what happened to the people involved. For me this is fine as while it is best to have both elements having one or the other is good too, as long as it is done well. And the explanations for the mysteries made sense as well so that helped.

I did finish the drama wanting to see more and so glad there is more, even if it is not available subbed yet. But I am willing to wait as long as I need to for more of this series.

25 March 2013

Johnny's Under 100: Takaki Yuya

Mainly sticking to my favorites for now.

Takaki Yuya
Group: Hey! Say! JUMP
Birthdate: March 26, 1990

My favorite Hey! Say! JUMP from the start because I am a sucker for idols that have a gap. As in he looks like he should be the typical “too cool for this” idol but really he is a big kid in an adult’s body.

Even though the future of HSJ looks iffy I still hold onto to hope that Takaki will find something to be recognized for. He has some potential to go the acting route and I hope he keeps being the main vocalist of JUMP Band. But no matter what I will be cheering for him.