31 July 2013

The Shounen Club 6 July 2008 review

This month is the episodes filmed at NHK Hall Osaka, so it gives us the chance to see what has changed with the Kansai Juniors after about a year.

The episode opens up with the main Kansai Juniors singing Sunrise Nippon. One noticeable group missing is B.A.D. who I can only assume where busy with Gokusen 3 promotions at the time as both were in that drama. But BOYS, OSSaN, ungrouped Kanjuu that will become Veteran later are there.

Then we have a new group, Hey! Say! 7 WEST, which is a four member unit at this time with the members being Nakayama Yuma, Kamiyama Tomohiro, Fujii Ryusei and Takemoto Shinpei. The group will be a seven member unit for a while until Yuma gets his solo push. It will also undergo a name change to become 7WEST and go down to four members again when Shinpei and Shingaki Yuto quit Johnny's later. So out of the four original group members only two remain, Kamiyama and Fujii.

The theme of the episode is SUMMER and we get the usual theme medley to follow its announcement. The medley not only features the Kanjuu groups but also has Nakamaru Yuichi performing with Butokan (minus Yara Tomoyuki). Then Koyama Keiichiro performs to introduce the guests of the episode, Tegomass, to end the medley.

Tegomass then have their MC with the hosts, and you can tell that Koyama and Nakamaru are happy to have them there. Koyama because they are NEWS members and Nakamaru because he is friends with Masuda Takahisa.

The duo then perform their song, Aiaigasa. And the show is still in love with using the fog machine to cover the stage for ballads. And like always I love how close the audience is to the main stage here in Osaka compared to Tokyo. It gives the performances more of a concert feel to me.

HS7WEST get an MC segment then. The four members get to talk about things they think of when it comes to summer. Yuma answers with baseball, Kamiyama goes with the beach, Takemoto wrote down ice cream and Fujii put down first concert.

There is a Nakayama Yuma medley that starts out with Yuma performing solo but then is joined by the rest of HS7WEST. You can see Shigeoka Daiki back dancing in this, which seems so strange considering he is the ace for 7WEST.

Following this it is the game segment. Like with the past game segment we get to see a lot of Kanjuu that are mainly back dancers, which is nice except I do not recognize any of them and can only assume they are no longer with the agency. There are a few of the older Kanjuu participating as well so there are some that I know and are still with Johnny's. Like Hamada Takahiro and Hamanaka Bunichi.

Tegomass are the judges and the two teams compete in different things and they have to decide which side did it better. Massu though gets to join in when one of the challenges involved arm wrestling.

Butokan are then called out to do an MC segment and they are with Yara this time. Of course Bunichi gets some focus, as he is a Kanjuu.

The true highlight of this MC though is Senga Kento though as he is prompted to talk about a documentary he watched about turtles laying eggs. He is then goaded into doing an impression of this that is well worth hunting this episode down to see.

The group then performs C=Normal for the first time with all five group members. I rather like the canes used as props for this performance. It helps make it stand out from their others rather easily and they are actually used to do more then give their hands something to do.

Koyama then performs a solo, Private Hearts, which was a K.K.Kity song that became a NEWS song to become a solo for Koyama. Or more like Koyama liked the song so much he made it into a solo for him.

There is a letter exchange segment and it is actually between two Kanjuu that are still with Johnny's as they are both a part of Veteran now, Muro Ryuta and Yamasaki Kunta. At this point though the two are members of BOYS though I am pretty certain that does not last too much longer as BOYS eventually becomes a duo and both Ryuta and Kunta are dropped from the line up to do so.

BOYS then perform their group song, Battle. It is a nice energetic song and I wish I could remember if it has been given to another Kanjuu group or not since BOYS disbanded. I hope it has or will as I rather like it, though perhaps more as a performance song than anything else.

This then takes us to the end of the episode and all the main Kanjuu since Kanjani8's Osaka Romanesque. It is a rather slow song to end the episode on but being the final song of the episode it can work like that.

This is the episode that I recall watching and taking notice of Nakayama Yuma. Back then I was not really a Kanjuu fan, I just knew Bunichi because of Butokan and B.A.D. because of Gokusen 3, and mainly kept my attention on the Tokyo Juniors. Yuma was a big part in getting me to take notice of the Kanjuu, and I am a bit sad that he now falls under the Tokyo Juniors instead. But thanks to him I ended loving B.A.D., 7WEST and sticking with the Kanjuu to be a fan of Kin Kan and Naniwa Oji. And a part of me will always wish that he could debut with a new Kansai group.

Of course now that I am more of a Kanjuu fan I wish we got to see more of them. There are just so many I am not familiar with, partly because Shounen Club is a big part of how I keep track of Juniors. So I am glad that they now have a regular feature on the program and hopefully we will get to see some not so familiar faces on it.

30 July 2013

Kisumai's Kiseki covered

Playing some catch up with some things I missed while getting adjusted to my move. Figured I would start with the covers that have been revealed for Kis-My-Ft2's upcoming single, Kimi tono Kiseki.

From seeing the previews for the PV for the title track I know that the covers for the LEs and RE are from the set of that. I think when coming up with ways to make a cost efficient CD cover this is a great way to do it, as saving a trip to a photo studio by just using a PV set should save some money. And if anything Johnny's is cheap whenever they can be.

And even though the split is quite evident I do like that they at least look like they are in the same group a bit more with both KiFt and s-My-2 having white as a main color in both their outfits. And from the PV preview s-My-2 are not doing so bad when it comes to screen time compared to PVs like We never give up! and My Resistance ~Tashikanamono~. Which is impressive with all the Juniors the PV will have in it.

The Kisumai Shop version (which can only be purchased by those with a Japanese address) though is lazy photoshop at its worst. Seriously the thing is hideous and I can only hope that the goods that come with it will look much better than that mess.

29 July 2013

Johnny's Under 100: Nikaido Takashi

Nikaido Takashi
Group: Kis-My-Ft2
Birthdate: August 6, 1990

When I was first learning about the members of Kis-My-Ft2 Nikaido’s bratty side was emphasized and ever since I have associated the world “brat” with him. Though I think it is safe to say that he has outgrown some of that brattiness he still seems to have a bit left. Or at least that is the only reason why I can think he seems so clueless when dealing with the situations on Kis-My-Busaiku.

So I am most interested in seeing how he will grow as a person over time, or at least I hope he will.

28 July 2013

Piece Ep. 13 first impressions

And finally I have made it to the end of this drama. I really should have finished up months ago as I did enjoy it.

Once the recapping of the last episode is done we are given a flashback scene with  Nishida Remi (Arai Moe) and Origuchi Haruka (Mizuno Erina). Remi tells Haruka that she hates herself for everything and Haruka tells her that maybe it would be better to forget everything. Remi follows her advice and asks like Haruka's still a stranger to her. In the present day after confessing all of that she breaks into tears, feeling regret for pretending that Haruka meant nothing to her when she was actually a dependable friend in the hardest part of her life.

Suga Mizuho (Honda Tsubasa) then comforts her friend, finally knowing the painful things she went through without ever letting anyone know. After some time passes Narumi Hikaru (Nakayama Yuma) and Maruo (Sakuma Daisuke) show up at Narumi Hiro's (also played by Nakayama Yuma) place.

Hikaru gives his brother the letter from Origuchi to read, finally keeping his promise to her.

There is a flashback to when Hikaru visited Origuchi in the hospital before she died. Origuchi believed that the two bothers were actually closely connected which is why she thought she could trust Hikaru in giving the letter to Hiro.

In the letter Origuchi tells Hiro that she loves him and thanks him for having known him in her life.

In the morning everyone is still around. Mizuho and Remi talk about the guy who got Remi pregnant and Remi feels like she should find him so she can at least end things properly.

Maruo has come to peace over what happened with him and Hiro those years ago and goes so far to tell Hiro that it would be okay for him to visit him.

Hikaru talks to Yanai Takashi (Matsumura Hokuto) and seems to just want to rile the other guy up. He fails though as Yanai has reacted differently to learning the truth than what Hikaru was probably expecting. Mizuho then shows up and Yanai leaves the two to talk.

Mizuho confronts Hikaru about knowing about Origuchi but doing nothing and for waiting so long to give Hiro the letter. Hikaru just acts in his usual aloof manner. As Hikaru walks off Mizuho finally tells him that she does not regret the relationship they had and she is willing to accept him for who he is without getting into his past because she believes in him and the fact that she will see him again. She hugs him then they part to go their separate ways.

I think the only part of the end that I did not care so much about is Mizuho and Hikaru. Probably because Hikaru does not seem to have changed throughout everything. But I guess that is to be expected as it really was Mizuho's journey but Hikaru's future seems rather bleak as he still has no direction and has not really done anything to change himself. But who knows, perhaps it is Mizuho's change that will make him want to do the same now or something. And I am glad they did not end up together immediately for the "perfect" happy ending as again, I don't think Hikaru is at a place at the end that he could give Mizuho the kind of relationship she wants from him.

Overall though I enjoyed this drama and it renewed my faith in this drama block after the lackluster Sprout.

27 July 2013

The Shounen Club 8 June 2008 review

This episode opens up with a song for all the Juniors to sing, this time being the rock version of Naniwa Iroha Bushi. The guest for the month, Yasuda Shota, comes out near the end to sing with them.

With Yasuda on stage the theme of the episode is revealed, ROCK (as in rock 'n roll music), and he with the hosts of the program, Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi, talk a bit about the topic.

The theme medley has a mix of the grouped Juniors and members from Junior groups. And we can see the ever changing Morimoto Shintaro grouping. Of course the usuals are there, Kyomoto Taiga, Anderson Casey, Morita Myuto and Kawashima Noeru but it seems like Uekusa Yuta and Camu Cade are sorta in the group, as they are at least wearing the same outfits as the other five.

This episode has a letter exchange segment with Hamanaka Bunichi and Senga Kento. It is a fun one to watch with the reactions they each get from each other and one that I really wish I had subtitles for.

Of course with Butokan members doing the letter exchange it means that Butokan is up next to perform. The group performs a new song, Sweet Butterfly, which has a bit of a rockish sound to it. But like with all of Butokan's songs it is really the dance that stands out the most for it.

Yasuda then gets his MC segment where he talks about rock 'n roll. They talk about his clothes a bit which leads to talking about what a "rock image" is.

He then performs Kanjani8's Mystical as a solo, with the four younger members of Kis-My-Ft2 providing some back up vocals. The song does not sound quite right without Shibutani Subaru's vocals to me.

There is then the game segment which Yasuda has some use as a judge as this time the game is to act out prompts and Yasuda has to choose which was the better one.

The first prompt is a dog that wants to be fed and it has Nozawa Yuki and Sanada Yuma competing against each other. Both are memorable but for different reasons.

Then it is Miyata Toshiya and Tamamori Yuta up next having to say something lovey-dovey. This is more interesting for me to watch now after watching Kis-My-Busaiku to see how much these two have gotten more comfortable with this kind of thing.

Fujigaya Taisuke and Senga then have to try to do Yamashita Tomohisa's dance for Daite Senorita.

Then finally is is Goseki Koichi and Kawai Fumito to act out coming home. This is prompt that probably needs subtitles to get as the rest are pretty easy to follow along without them.

Up next is a performance by Question? who do a cover of the Otokogumi song Mihari. Mihari is my favorite Otokogumi song but it is thanks to this performance by Question? that I even knew it existed. This is why I enjoy the fact that the Juniors will cover these older songs as I do not see how else I would be able to hear some of them with how hard it is to track down releases from the older Johnny's groups.

We have the Kansai Junior ni Q VTR segment for this episode and the theme is about dreams. The first Kansai Junior up that I know is still with the agency is Fugal Shawn Goku. He talks about studying and the fact that even though his father is from America Fugal only understands English and does not really speak it.

Hamanaka Bunichi is called over in this one and he wrote down training but he does not seem to want to talk. And that is it for this segment.

A.B.C. then have an MC segment and they are asked about who their favorite rock act is. Goseki answers with The Rolling Stones, then Tsukada Ryuichi answers with Aerosmith and Totsuka Shota with The Blue Hearts' front man Komoto Hiroto. When it is Kawai's turn he gets up and has music start so he can do his Matsumoto Jun impersonation. He then answers the question with Okamoto Kenichi.

The group then perform the song Shelter though Nakamaru at first tries to go on stage with them but is called back by Koyama. But he does actually join A.B.C. for the song about halfway through to do his beat boxing.

It is then time to end the episode and the song for that is OH! MY DREAM. As the song seems to be for the older Juniors to perform it is really worth sticking through to see the little cute moments that pop up in the performance.

I kinda feel bad not having a lot to say about the episode, because it is not a bad episode at all, but this is just the era where things just felt solid. There was a good balance between Juniors and debuted Johnny's when it cam to focus and for now not much is changing from month to month. Of course that is bound to change in the second half of the year if memory serves me right though.

In any case the next two episodes are the Osaka episodes for the year and there should be plenty to mention about them.

26 July 2013

NEWS celebrate an anniversary!

It has been announced that NEWS will have a special anniversary event in the Tokyo Dome in September this year to celebrate the group's tenth anniversary.

Oricon Style (Japanese)

Honestly it is always in question when NEWS officially debuted. Even though their first single was released in November of 2003 it was a release that was only sold in 7-11s so there are no sales figures for it. Their first major debut is with the single Kibou ~Yell~, which was released in May of 2004. But it looks like the group is side stepping that issue by instead by using the month the group was formed instead.

I am just glad the group is celebrating an anniversary as this will be the first time they will have done so. Though I would say the tenth anniversary is probably more important than the fifth anyway.

And while I would normally be worried about the group being able to fill up the Tokyo Dome since this is an event and not a concert I think Johnny's must have some idea to make sure there are not going to be a lot of empty seats for it.

25 July 2013

Young and Beautiful! Sexy Zone

I think I am finally realizing that to follow Matsushima So and Yo Marius I am going to have to follow a bit of the group they belong to. So I have some more Sexy Zone news to share.

The group will be supporters for Women's Volleyball again this year and will have a new song for it, Young and Beautiful!. There is no word of a single being released for the song.

Sanspo article (Japanese only, 3rd page has song title)

I have two hopes for this song, one is that it is good first off and the second is that So and Marius get treated like they are a part of SZ and not just the leads for the Junior back dancers. I think the chances of the first hope being met is high as volleyball support songs tend to be songs I like. It is really the second hope that I feel has the greater chance of not being met post-Bad Boys.

If anything at least the group will have something new to perform on Shounen Club and will most likely get another single out before the end of the year. I can only assume that the lack of a single being mentioned means they may be going for another double A-side and we have to wait to learn what the other song/tie-in is.

24 July 2013

The Shounen Club 1 June 2008 review

And we have the Juniors that were missing from the month before back for this episode.

The episode starts off with a song for all the main Juniors to sing, which is Anniversary. And the Takada quintet (which is the MasuRyo quartet with Takada Sho) is now a part of the usual introductions for the program.

The theme of the episode is Toki (time) and like usual the theme medley is up first. There is a mix of the grouped Juniors and members from the Junior groups this time around. Like Tamamori Yuta and Miyata Toshiya joining Yamashita Shoon for a song. And all of A.B.C. with parts of Question? also perform in the medley.

And finally the Junior Boys get on screen name tags when they perform their song for the medley. And I think this was about the time I began to notice them though did not do much to actually follow them as I was pretty focused on Kis-My-Ft2 and TOP3 at the time.

Near the end the guest, Yasuda Shota, for the episode joins the Juniors to sing a Kanjani8 song. And we get the usual ending with everyone singing.

This is followed by an MC segment with TOP3. Each has a board that has a pie chart dividing what they do in an average day. I can only assume that it has to be for a day off as none have school listed. Sanada Yuma seems to spend a lot of his time sleeping and Hashimoto Ryosuke has a rather large block of time dedicated to playing with friends.

TOP3 then perform the Junior song Hanasanai de Ai. The song starts off with just Hasshi singing then the other two come in later with solo lines and even back then it was easy to tell that Sanada and Nozawa Yuki were not strong singers. But with Hasshi with them it all balanced out as he was the lead vocals of the trio.

We get the first Heisei Post segment without any Hey! Say! JUMP members and Nakamaru Yuichi has taken it over. Though it shows signs of what this segment will turn into when Nakamaru brings out Yasuda to help answer the fan postcard asking about what to do about fighting with a friend.

This then directly leads into the MC segment with Yasuda as Koyama Keiichiro comes out to join them. They talk about the song Yasuda will perform as he wrote both the music and lyrics for it and performs it acoustic with him playing a guitar.

The song is called Sorezore no Kimi to. I rather like this song because it has a really nice calming sound to it. And it is nice that the audience is quiet for the song so it feels like you are getting the full impact of it.

The game segment is next and we get Kanjani8 Mania for this episode. Each member of each team get a board to write down their answers to the questions about K8 and Yasuda of course judges. Judging in this case though is just talking about the answers as there are definite answers. They are all in the "Who is the most __?" format with the first being good a cooking, the next about who is moved to tears the easiest, then the final one about who is the best sempai.

Nakamaru gets to have revenge on Koyama for showing his photo from when he joined the agency by pulling out a photo for Koyama from when he joined the agency.

After that there is a Kis-My-Ft2 medley. For the second song of the medley, Ready?, it is the group without Fujigaya Taisuke and Kitayama Hiromitsu, as they have gone offstage to put on their roller skates, and it is interesting to see the two mainly featured in the song are Senga Kento and Nikaido Takashi. It makes me realize that I do not remember when things changed and Tamamori starts to get pushed but I have the feeling it is probably in 2009 or 2010.

The VTR segment is up next and it is a Junior ni Q segment. The theme is about when in time you would go if you had a time machine. And all the Juniors shown are still with the agency. Nikaido is up and he wants to go back a few months to when Takizawa Hideaki was guesting and the judge of the game segment because he says he did not read the atmosphere right and wanted to apologize. I guess he must be talking about when he was answering his questions with Imai Tsubasa's name and I can only assume Tackey gave him a hard time about it.

Then it is Morita Myuto who wants to go to the future when there will be flying cars. He figures that it would be forty years in the future, but I do not share his optimism for that.

Masuda Ryo is brought over next and he wants to go into the future as well. He put down he wanted to go ten years into the future to see his twenty-five year old self. He also mentions Nakamaru but I did not get how that tied in.

Up last is Kitayama who wants to go back to when he was a Fresh Junior to give himself advice. They get to talking about some of the dances they had to do as Fresh Juniors and Koyama brings up that for one concert he had to do a dance without a shirt and we get "dance" moves with it.

Butokan is up next, starting out with an MC segment. Of course we have all five members back again for this month after being down to three in the past month. Yara Tomoyuki gets to show how he spends his days and unsurprisingly it is full of dancing, from lessons to even street dancing.

The group then performs Now and Forever. At this point there does not seem to be a lot to be said about the group performing the song as they are consistent with it. I think I would have liked to have seen the group perform something else as the song is rather generic and it is really the performance that makes it stand out.

And then we are at the end of the show and the song used to close out with is KAT-TUN's PRECIOUS ONE. While it is mainly the older Juniors performing the younger Juniors are around to mainly back dance. That is until near the end when they have some "alas that work surprisingly well in the song.

While K8 is always great to have as a guest individual members do not have as much of an impact if this episode is to go by. It makes sense as K8 shines best with group and member interactions, which you are not going to get when there is only one. And Yasuda seems to be a bit on the quiet side compared to some other members of the group.

But even with that taken into account this was another solid episode of the program. I think at this point it is easy to see that the members of TOP3 are bound to go far though in the end it is not all together. In fact it should only be a couple months or so before Hasshi is added to A.B.C. to make that group A.B.C-Z.