30 September 2013

Johnny's Under 100: Chinen Yuri

Chinen Yuri
Groups: Hey! Say! JUMP, NYC
Birthdate: November 30, 1993

When I first learned about Chinen I discovered his father was an Olympic medalist, he was a huge Ohno Satoshi fan, and that Johnny’s really liked him spinning during performances. Of course he also had one of those strong child singing voices that was used to good effect with Hey! Say! 7’s one shot release.

Since then his voice changed and is no longer the joy to listen to as it once was. He had a rough start with his acting but seems to be getting better at it at least. And he will forever stan Ohno.

29 September 2013

Hey! Say! Slump?

I have been mulling over a few topics in my head for a while and I figured I should share some of them.

The major one is about Hey! Say! JUMP and the frustration I am feeling as a fan of the group. I was a fan of the group since they debuted and while I have enjoyed seeing them grow up and have gone through the ups and downs with them for the past six years I feel like they have gotten stuck as a group somewhere along the way.

I keep wanting to hope that one day that they will go back to having a somewhat normal release schedule that they started with but I just cannot anymore. It has been too many years of barely anything being released for that. I doubt things will change enough that they will stop Kis-My-Ft2 from having more singles and albums than them next year and I do not feel hopeful that Sexy Zone will not eventually pass them as well on that front. And it is not just the fact that these groups will have more than HSJ, but because it is another reminder of how inactive HSJ has been and look to continue to be.

That and now that they are one of the older FIVB groups they cannot rely on having concerts for the school holidays and will have to wait for a CD release like how concerts are planned for the rest of the older groups.

And it looks like HSJ is no longer under Johnny Kitagawa as they are getting separated from SZ and A.B.C-Z, with their hosting role on Shounen Club all but disappearing for now. I will not be surprised that in April there will be no HSJ on the program. And the Johnny's 2020 World cast information does not have a single member of the group in it, so they are out of that production. Since they have been under J-Storm for their record label it only makes sense they would end up in Julie Kitagawa's faction and there have been some signs for that. Yamada Ryosuke being in Ohno Satoshi's NTV 24 hour drama being one, and the fact they starred in the Johnny's Film Festa movie with the other Johnny's in it all being a part of Julie's faction.

I cannot help but think that it may not be a bad thing for this to happen with HSJ. There are little glimmers of hope for them, like the JFF movie, and it does seem like they are getting a bit more active with dramas. Yamada has another drama SP, Chinen Yuri will be in Nishikido Ryo's upcoming drama and Nakajima Yuto did have a role in the massively popular Hanzawa Naoki drama. And it was rumored that Julie gave them the curry CM, as Aiba Masaki had the deal before them, so if they continue to make commercials than perhaps they can be counted on for getting out a single or two a year at least. And since HSJ are not going to get tied up in things like Johnny's World it may give them the chance to do other things, like release a CD single or album.

I guess even if I do feel burned when it comes to getting my hopes up for the group I cannot help it. I do love HSJ and want to see the succeed so badly. I think they still have the potential to do well but the members of the group need to push themselves to pull it out. Maybe getting more chances to be around sempai, especially Arashi, Kanjani8 and TOKIO, will help with that. I hope so as I do not want to see their tenth anniversary come and go as their fifth anniversary did.

28 September 2013

The Shounen Club 1 March 2009 review

And we have Matsumura Hokuto's first appearance on the program with this episode and Mis Snow Man is officially a group.

Of course you would not see either of those things in the introduction as everyone only has their individual names shown on the screen so there are no group names to be seen. And quite frankly I have failed to spot where Hokuto is, if he is anywhere, on stage as a back dancer in this episode. But all the main Juniors perform GOOD DAYS and as you can see the stage at this point is getting rather crowded.

Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi bring up the topic of spring at first but then reveal that the theme of the episode is Omoide (Memories), and Koyama hints that the guest for this episode is one that has not been on for a while.

The theme medley gives us a good hint of who that guest is when Kamenashi Kazuya comes on stage to join Kyomoto Taiga and Uekusa Yuta in singing Kizuna.

But yes, the guest of the episode is KAT-TUN, who we really have not seen on the program for a while now. They are asked about memories about Shounen Club and of course they can talk about when the show was filmed in a studio instead of NHK Hall. And of course since they were in the same generation of Juniors as Koyama it helps create a relaxed atmosphere as they chat.

Except for Akanishi Jin who is silent throughout the MC then "acts up" as the rest of the group goes to take the stage for their performance on the show. Honestly this is when it gets hard to tell if this is a character he is trying to be or if he really does not care.

The group performs two of their songs, One Drop and Rescue. I don't care much for the former but I love the latter. Rescue is one of my favorite KAT-TUN songs so I am overall happy for the performance.

I cannot help but notice that Jin seems to be trying not to do any dancing with this performance. I think it is safe to say that at this point it is clear that he has no passion whatsoever for being in the group. It is a pity as when he puts effort into things he can do well but this seems to be the phase he has been stuck in for some time where he just does not put that effort in.

Up next is a performance by Question? of the song MOMOKO, which sounds rather dated so I am assuming it is a cover though it is not put on the screen who the original performer of the song is. I really do not care for the song as it is really slow and plodding, making want to fall asleep watching it.

Thankfully it is the game segment next to help wake anyone up who may have dozed off. It is a "revenge battle" game which is just doing some of the past games that a team did not do well at the last time and want another go at it. We get to see the chin-up, human wheelbarrow, and team jump rope games again, or basically the same games from only one of the past episodes. But seeing that this is a March episode it does mean that the season is coming to an end so this is month's episodes are the last chances the teams will have to go against each other to figure out which one wins for the season.

And since it is a March episode then the topic of graduations come up which bring Hashimoto Ryosuke and Senga Kento to the front for an MC segment. Hasshi gets to talk about graduating from junior high while Senga was graduating from high school.

The following performance is with two of the newest Junior units of the time, starting with Mis Snow Man, and being officially listed as Mis Snow Man as well. This is the original nine members for the performance which include, Sanada Yuma, Nozawa Yuki, Fukazawa Tatsuya, Sakuma Daisuke, Watanabe Shota, Iwamoto Hikaru, Miyadate Ryota, Abe Ryohei and Onodera Ikki. Technically the unit was formed with the Takizawa Kakumei musical at the start of the year but it took a little time for Shounen Club to catch up.

B.I.Shadow is the other unit that performs, and they get to perform their first unit song Aishiteru, Aishitenai. And it is once again quite obvious that Nakajima Kento and Kikuchi Fuma are the two of the group that are getting the biggest push from management, especially Nakaken who gets the most solo lines and is now in the center position.

Then it is the Junior ni Q corner which talks about memories from school. The first up is Kawashima Noeru who I believe talks about eating dandelions.

Hagiya Keigo gets called over for the first time and is prompted to introduce himself to the camera. He then talks about playing shogi in gym class.

Goseki Koichi is called over but he does not come alone, he brings with him a fresh Junior, Matsumura Hokuto. Koyama prompts Hokuto to introduce himself, and he rushes his name out. He brings up that he is a NEWS fan and says his favorite member is Yamashita Tomohisa but that Koyama is his second favorite. He also tells them that he only joined Johnny's that month. Goseki then does not bother to talk about his answer.

There is then a letter exchange segment between Tamamori Yuta and Kitayama Hiromitsu. I could only get little bits of it with my limited Japanese but it sounds like one it would be best to see about hunting down subs for, especially if you are a Kis-My-Ft2 fan.

Kisumai then perform and start off with an accent dance before doing their latest song, Kis-My-Calling. I am not sure if I have mentioned this before but I love these outfits for the group. And it is with these that the colors associated with the members really are cemented.

This then takes us to the end of the episode with the final song being ANNIVERSARY. Only the older Juniors perform the song, so I am curious if this means the second episode of the month will have the younger Juniors included in the end song.

Well with Hokuto finally showing up then it probably means that next month will be the final month of Takahata Misaki being with Johnny's. This is based off my memory that Hokuto is almost immediately placed in B.I.Shadow and we do get one month at least of the group having four members when Misaki was still around. But as Misaki goes we get to see the final member of BIS, and the Bakaleya6 as well, show up with Kochi Yugo.

And it is nice to see Mis Snow Man finally. It is really starting to feel like I am catching up to the more current episodes, even though it will still probably be at least another year before I actually am.

27 September 2013

BAD BOYS J mid-season impressions

With any luck I'll be done with this series next week and hope that maybe I can actually catch up with my backlog.

It is a bit frustrating watching this drama as there are parts that I do like and enjoy and the ones I do not should not be enough for me to stop that enjoyment but I cannot help but think "mess" when I try to sum up the issue. And it is because I do not believe the pieces of the show really come together well enough to make it feel cohesive. Things come up that are not really explained until the plot needs them to be and then there is the issue of Kiriki Tsukasa (Nakajima Kento) whose goals do not fit in with the gang he is stuck in at all and it feels like a complete stretch to figure out why he is not trying to find a way to get out of his leader role as it looks like he could care less about being the top gang in Hiroshima. Also it is hard to root for that goal as it seems all you get is bragging rights to being the top group which is far from a noble goal. This drama needs a much larger plot to tie it together as without that it is just a mess.

And now that I have all that out for now I will go over the main points of the things that jump out at me. One of the biggest is that Tsukasa still has a characterization that swings all over the place. He is not so much a wimp by mid-season but he goes from haplessly lovelorn to typical shounen hero pretty much whenever a seen calls for it. And even though we got some of his back story there is simply a lot that just does not seem to connect with the character.

Even though there are two episodes given for Beast's introduction there is very little seen of the gang's leader Danno Hidenori (Nikaido Takashi). Like most of the characters in the series he suffers from a lack of characterization so it is hard to guess at Nikaido's acting skills as there is so little he has been asked to do with the role.

Hashimoto Ryosuke on the other hand has fared better with Hiro getting more scenes to show his personality. Or at least proving that he has one. And Hasshi does well with the role, but that is probably because it is a role that he just seems suited for with being able to look cool but having a fun and sometimes goofy side to him as well.

Honestly I would have loved the series if it was about Sato Erika (Triendl Reina)  and how she is the secret number 1 of the entire city. Seriously, she is Boss and steals all the scenes she is in.

So overall I am iffy on the series. There are parts that are truly enjoyable but they get bogged down with how messy the series overall comes over with one dimensional characters and no real sense of a bigger picture everything is connected to that will lead us to whatever the final story arc will be.

26 September 2013

Luv Sick, finally!

Kis-My-Ft2 will be releasing a new single on November 13th. It will be a double A-side, the first A-side is still untitled but will be a tie-in for the 7-11 convenience stores, and the other A-side will see Luv Sick, the theme song for the Kamen Teacher drama, finally be released.

It will have the usual three versions released, the first two being limited editions with each coming with a DVD with the PVs for the title track. Each LE has only one of the two PVs which is the big difference between the two as the CD track listing is the same with just the A-sides being included.

The regular edition is just a CD but with the A-sides it will have a B-side, that is also not titled yet. It will also come with one of three mini photo booklets, which seems to be turning into a standard for the group's releases.

In addition to those three versions there is the usual shop edition, which can only be purchased through Avex online, so you need a Japanese address for that. There will be another version to be sold at 7-11 stores and it will come with B-side track not on the regular edition and a bonus DVD with footage from the making of the 7-11 CM the group will be in, but you have to be in Japan to purchase it.

Happy to see Luv Sick get a CD release, though it seems it is coming out a bit late as the drama will be over for some time by then so it will not get any benefit from that. But I guess with how well Kisumai does with sales such a boost would be rather minimal from a drama like that.

I was afraid this would happen someday and they would release a version of one of their CDs that I could not order through CDJapan. And since the 7-11 version has an extra song on it I really want to get it. I guess I will have to see if I cannot find an independent seller taking orders for it and order it through them. It will probably be the only version of the single I can afford for a while but I have a high rate of liking what I get from Kisumai I am willing to take the chance.

25 September 2013

The Shounen Club 8 February 2009 review

And we have a February episode with the usual Valentines Day mention.

The show opens up with the Juniors singing Love So Sweet as they get their group names or individual names on the screen. Cannot help but notice that Sanada Yuma and Nozawa Yuki are in the same outfits as Junior Boys. I think at this point it is obvious that the two are getting merged with the group in some fashion.

The theme is actually something different from the usual selection for the episode that is the closest to Valentines Day, Sweet.

Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi participate in this theme medley, with each doing a song from their group individually then performing with everyone else for the final song in the medley. It has been a while since they performed in a medley so it is a nice change of pace and it always helps when the debuted Johnny's on the show are performing with the Juniors.

This is followed by a Heisei Post segment with Hey! Say! 7 with Nakamaru in the corner. I believe they were talking about mail, not sure what about other than Chinen Yuri mentioned being shy about it.

HS7 then perform a medley of their unit songs, Wonderland Train, Uruwashi no Bad Girl (a Nakajima Yuto solo), and Kawaii Kimi no Kotodamono. With HS7 it is hard to imagine performing all their unit songs from their early years now as some had a really cute image that does not really fit the unit anymore. That said there are still plenty of their unit songs that would still work and I wish they would end up on a CD at some point.

There is then an MC with the full Hey! Say! JUMP group. Though the only ones that got to talk were Yamada Ryosuke and Yaotome Hikaru.

The group then performs Memories, one of their slow tempo songs. I have always liked the song and so glad it found its way onto one of the group's albums, though it reminds me of how frustrating being a fan of the group was around this time. They had plenty of new songs they performed during 2009 and not getting a single release for any of them was beyond annoying. Especially as there did not seem to be any reason for it.

We have the return of the musical chairs game in this episode. It is as much fun as the first one and has the added bonus of having Question? members mixed in, who are fun to watch as they do not learn the dances for the songs at all and it is fun to see how they deal with that part of the game.

Speaking of Question? they are the ones up next for a talk segment. They are asked about things that that something was sweet, and it looks like they are using the other meaning of the word which is "kind". Of course sadly the only member of the group still with Johnny's is Ishigaki Daisuke now.

The group then performs Midnight Shuffle, which was the B-side to the one single they released when they collaborated with Kondo Masahiko, who originally released the song as one of his early singles.

The Junior ni Q segment is with the Kansai Juniors, and it is the same group as last month. This time the topic is something small they want to boast about. First up is Nakama Junta who talks about whisking, as like for cooking.

Fujii Ryusei is next and shows what a Ohkura Tadayoshi fanboy he is by talking about getting to get a picture taken with the Kanjani8 member.

Shigeoka Daiki is up next and he talks about his pet parakeet.

Kamiyama Tomohiro shows off how he can move his ear all by itself.

Kiriyama Akito quickly set about showing off what he was proud of, which is rising the tension level by himself.

Nakayama Yuma talks about being rewarded a lot of medals for playing baseball.

Kotaki Nozomu's answer is getting the autograph of Junta, which of course prompts some discussion as Junta is surprised he would care that much about it. And that finishes the segment.

Since A.B.C-Z had an MC with new song in the last episode it is no surprise that Kis-My-Ft2 get the same for the second episode of the month. Tamamori Yuta gets the focus of this talk segment and I guess this gives us the start of the new 3/4 split, with the old one just splitting them by age groups. But the worst of the split is nowhere in sight so I will not beat that dead horse here.

The new song is Kis-My-Calling, which is one of the few Junior-era songs of the group's that has not been on released on CD yet. It really is not the greatest song but it is fun and something more for a live performance as what makes it so fun is how energetic and goofy the guys can be in the song. But is Kis-My-LAND was released on CD I do not see why Kis-My-Calling cannot be either.

And that brings us to the end of the program and the final song. The song is a cover of a Kinki Kids song Love is ... ~Itsumo Soko ni Kimi ga Ita kara~, and like usual it is the older Juniors singing this. But we do get Question? without their instruments which is a nice change up there. And I do like how they have the small groupings during the song to mix things up a bit, which is hard when it comes to performing ballads.

So things are plugging along in 2009. There are some shakeups that will happen soon but I think looking back on things instead of experiencing them as they happened does not make it seem like it will be as chaotic as I do know what will happen eventually. But at this point I was well into Junior fandom so it is interesting for me to see what I remember being a part of it when these would be new episodes was like.

TOKIO's Future

Meant to do this post earlier but never got around to it. Figured I should try to have more than just reviews for the blog as I think I am finally finding a balance with it and the other things going on in my life.

But for the actual Johnny's related thing this post is about, TOKIO has announced that they will be releasing a new single on October 30th. It will be a double A-side with the A-sides being Hontotoko and Future.The first being the theme song for the drama Nagase Tomoya will be starring in, Kuro Coach, and the later being a song with a CM tie-in. All songs on the single are being said to be written by members of the group. In fact Nagase penned both A-sides for the single.

There are three editions of the single with the limited editions both coming with a DVD and just having the two A-sides on the CD. The difference between the two is which PV you get as both songs will have one.

The regular edition has the title tracks on the CD as well as two B-sides and all four tracks will have karaoke versions.

I am really happy that TOKIO is releasing something else this year. They are one of the Johnny's groups that have been sporadic with their releases so it is always hard to figure out when they will release something. In fact in 2012 and 2011 they only released one single, though 2012 they at least had an album release as well. But I think with this being the third single for the year for them it is to make sure they will get an album out next year as that will be their 20th debut anniversary year. Of course this makes me hope that it is an original studio album that they are planning and not a simple best of.

Even if they do not release a lot TOKIO usually meets or exceeds my expectations for their releases so I am looking forward to this single.

23 September 2013

Johnny's Under 100: Yokoyama Yu

Yokoyama Yu
Group: Kanjani8
Birthdate: May 9, 1981

Yoko has been my favorite Kanjani8 member for years. I think I just have a thing for hopeless idols as he really does not have any skills that the traditional idol has like good singing or dancing ability. But there was something that attracted my attention to him.

He was great as a supporting host in the very early episodes of Shounen Club and I do enjoy his songs. I admire the love he has for his family and his dedication to his career for sticking with Johnny’s even when he had no work.

21 September 2013

The Shounen Club 1 February 2009 review

This is definitely an episode for B.I.Shadow fans to want to hunt down. Also expect some variations in video quality for a while as this is the time that getting someone to share the episodes got difficult until I believe sometime in the second half of the year.

In the introductions we finally get B.I.Shadow introduced by their group name. I fear though that this signals that Takahata Misaki will be leaving Johnny's soon, but until Matsumura Hokuto shows up it is not a nail in that coffin.

The guest for the episode is Hey! Say! JUMP and they get introduced at the end of the introductions. They stay on stage to introduce the theme of the episode Hiyaku (this has several meanings with a few being; leaping, becoming active, and emerging).

The medley is labeled a Jumping (or Junping going by the text on the screen) Medley which featured HSJ performing their singles with the younger Juniors. I do love that Morimoto Shintaro was in the medley, even though not in the same part of it as his older brother.

There is a letter exchange segment in this episode and it is between Kikuchi Fuma and Nakajima Kento. I believe Fuma mentions them being in the same auditions and of course that he sees Nakaken as his rival (in a friendly way of course).

BIS get to perform afterwards and they cover the KAT-TUN song GLORIA.What is nice about it is that Nakaken and Fuma get a good amount of solo lines so you get a good idea of their vocal levels. I have to say their voices have improved and changed a lot since this.

This ends up being a part of a medley and mostly Hip Hop Jump, Junior Boys, Sanada Yuma and Nozawa Yuki continue on with it. I am now waiting for Mis Snow Man to become an official group with the Junior Boys members being basically the rest of the group and performing so regularly with Sanada and Nozawa.

The first actual MC segment is with Butokan, who has all five members present for this episode. Outside of the usual Yara Tomoyuki doing a good deal of talking Hamanaka Bunichi and Senga Kento are prompted to speak a bit as well.

The song they perform is Yuki no Furu Hi, and again I find myself really drawn to Bunichi's singing. I hope he has a good chance as debuting in a Kansai Junior group, as a group can never have too many solid vocalists.

We get to the game portion of the episode and have Yara Tomoyuki as the guest judge for it. It was the usual act out a prompt game but each team only had three members each so the game went by rather quickly. Kawai Fumito continued to show that he had a greater impersonation range as he did one of Shounentai's Nishikori Kazukiyo.

There is then an MC segment with the members of Hey! Say! BEST who talk about how their unit image differs from Hey! Say! 7. Koyama Keiichiro congratulates Inoo Kei on entering university near the end of the segment.

HSB then do a medley of their unit songs and I find that I completely forgot about their song Switch. I believe this is the only HSB song that has not made it on a CD yet, though the performance is just with Arioka Daiki, Takaki Yuya and Inoo so that might be why it has not. But it would not be hard to get Yabu Kota and Yaotome Hikaru worked into it. As it starts with the letter 's' so it fits in with the rest of their unit songs.

The Junior ni Q segment starts off with a certain trio seemingly taken over for it. Not surprisingly the topic turns out to be about natto, or favorite toppings to put on natto.

After the three talk a bit Koyama and Nakamaru Yuichi come over to take their rightful places of hosts of the segment making the three leave. We then get the usual Junior ni Q segment. Jesse gets brought over to discuss his answer of scrambled eggs and ketchup.

Morita Myuto is called over as well as he has a few different items on his list of toppings.

It is not all younger Juniors as Yokoo Wataru gets to explain his choices, as he also has a few items listed as his answer.

A.B.C-Z are up next for a talk segment. Koyama starts it by congratulating Hashimoto Ryosuke for entering high school. I think it is really easy to forget how young Hasshi is when he is with Ebi, as the rest of the members are so much older than he is.

The group performs InaZuma Venus, which is one of the songs they get post-Hasshi. Of course this means it is not as acrobatic intensive as some of their other songs but the dance moves are still energetic and it is one of the songs from the group that enjoy.

The end theme is Yuuki 100% and this kicks off the recent love Johnny's has for this song. I remember there being a good deal of wank about this as not only was it a cover of a Hikaru Genji song but the one CD release Ya-Ya-Yah had was for this same song. The versions are a bit different as there has been some minor changes to the arrangement but Yax3 fans were still pretty sore, especially as it looked like Yamashita Shoon had left Shounen Club, much like how the remaining members of Four Tops did after NEWS debuted.

Putting that all aside though this was a fun performance to watch as the HSJ members looked to have quite a bit of fun, especially with some of them putting others' on their shoulders at one point. It is a good performance for HSJ fans to watch, and a pity the file for it was not in better quality.

So BIS keeps moving towards its member change up, which should be happening soon as we are quickly approaching Nakayama Yuma's first debut. That should be an interesting span of episodes to watch to see if it really was as confusing as I remembered it being.

There was a rumor around this time about HSJ releasing a single for Yuuki 100%, which I was against. Looking back on things now though I wish it would have happened. It would have given the group a CD release for 2009 and they probably could have gotten out an album before Hitomi no Screen. But there is no changing the past in the end.