27 November 2013

The Shounen Club 9 August 2009 review

And we have the second Osaka episode for 2009.

The introduction is the basic dance introductions. One group I did not highlight with the review for last episode that has been in the introductions is Little Gangs. Honestly I do not know much about them other than some of the ones in this group were placed in a group called Gang Stars so I think Little Gangs is a bit like the Kansai Junior version of Junior Boys, a group that is more a grouping of Juniors until they can be sorted out in a group or fall back into the sea of other back dancers.

BOYS are the Juniors that get to introduce the theme of the episode, Natsu (Summer). Hamada Takahiro is the only one from this duo still with Johnny's. He seems to be the more awkward of the two when it comes to stage presence, or at least the more quiet of the two.

There is the usual theme medley and like with the previous episode there is a good mix of the Kanjuu performing in it. But what was the real highlight for me was the fact that for one of the songs the members of B.A.D. went to the second floor to sing from it. I love it when they break away from the stage from time to time.

We have four more Fresh Juniors introduced and again I do not recognize any of them. I was really hoping we would get Kaneuchi Toma introduced as a Fresh Junior in this episode after spotting him in the previous one. Then there would be at least one Kanjuu I know in one of these.

Butokan is here for the episode though they are missing a member, Hamanaka Bunichi, which is oddly the one Kanjuu member the group has. I can only assume he and the other older Juniors that are missing are busy with something else for the taping of these episodes. Butokan perform Sweet Butterfly and Bunichi's missing vocals are rather noticeable.

The group then get an MC talk with Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi. They talk about the theme and Tsukada Ryoichi brings up being a part of the KAT-TUN concerts that summer. He ends up mainly talking to Nakamaru about it before Yamamoto Ryota is given a turn to talk. His talk about the ocean prompts Senga Kento to pull out the impersonation of a sea turtle laying eggs but he is saved from doing the whole thing.

There is then a special performance of some of the older Juniors, mainly B.A.D. and BOYS as they do a band version of the song Blow out. I like this song because of the energy it has and it is a rock-ish sounding song so the band version is a perfect for it.

As Koyama is certain to take pictures of his fellow group members for the Gekkan KoyaMaru segment Nakamaru can be counted on taking pictures of random stuff and scenery. This month it is out of season Christmas trees and shoes.

It is then the game segment and it has the Kanjuu in pairs and having to do a series of challenges until one pair remains. Like always the Kanjuu bring a lot of fun to any game they play and Nakama Junta is probably the highlight of this game segment.

This is followed by a Takizawa Hideaki medley performed by the Kanjuu. It seems like a rather random performance for the episode but I will not complain if it means more Kanjuu.

There is then Junior ni Q with the theme "now I can say this..." The first up of the Kanjuu still with Johnny's is Kiriyama Akito to complain about something Hamada did. Hamada does not seem very apologetic about it though.

Then it is Fujii Ryusei with a story about performing in a unit corner at a concert and something Yamasaki Kunta (who I am still sad about recently leaving the agency) did during it.

There is then a letter exchange segment between Shigeoka Daiki and Nakayama Yuma. I do miss Yuma being with other Kanjuu, he always seemed more comfortable with them than with anyone else from Johnny's.

Yuma and 7WEST perform a medley of songs, which includes Dial Up. Dial Up was originally a unit song for them until it was made into one of the B-sides for the Nakayama Yuma w/B.I.Shadow and NYC Boys single.

This then brings us to the end of the program with the final song being Natsu no Ousama. I can only assume they performed the ending songs early in the recording as there are the younger Juniors in this one as well as with the previous episode. And Butokan join them for this performance.

I always feel bad that I do not know more about the Kanjuu than I do. Of course I have come to learn the current main Kanjuu recently and I do love them but it seems to hard to find information about the rest. Of course it does not help that only a handful of them really get promoted these days, but if we do get a Kanjuu debut soon I am sure that will change as they will need to start building up the next generation of Kanjuu.

That aside I am enjoying going back and watching these episodes as I know I was not much of a fan back when they originally came out. So I am getting so much more out of them this time around.

25 November 2013

Johnny's Under 100: Inoo Kei

Inoo Kei
Group: Hey! Say! JUMP
Birthdate: June 22, 1990

Guess Inoo can be considered the “smart” member of Hey! Say! JUMP, being the only one to graduate from university, with a degree in architecture, so far. But he also holds the spot of the most neglected member of HSJ. Perhaps that is set to change as he will be making his drama debut soon.

He is an interesting character once you do hunt down information about him. And being one of the more pushed Juniors when he was young he has strong ties to the rest of Hey! Say! BEST.

23 November 2013

The Shounen Club 2 August 2009 review

And we are back to Osaka this month. This time around I am happy to see that I actually recognize more of the Kansai Juniors than I do not. Unfortunately the video quality is not so great with this file as 2009 was a year of varying quality for the Shounen Club rips.

The episode starts off with introductions as the main Kansai Juniors perform Naniwa Iroha Basho. It is rather noticeable that Nakayama Yuma is going to be pushed a lot in this episode from the get go as he is in charge of the introductions.

Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi are there as the main hosts like usual. And this month we are back to having themes again. Yuma with B.A.D. introduce the theme for the episode Yume (Dream).

We get the usual theme medley and get to see the main Juniors of the month's episodes perform. It is a good mix of the more established and the newer ones. Among the newer Kanjuu is someone who should be a familiar face to current Kanjuu fans, Kaneuchi Toma.

We have the Fresh Junior introductions in the theme song but I do not recognize any of them. But they get the usual MC talk after the medley. Kiriyama Akito is the Junior MC for the segment.

Yuma then performs Akuma na Koi with the members of 7WEST basically filling in for B.I.Shadow. They also perform NYC boys' NYC, which I liked better as some of the members of 7WEST actually got solo lines with that.

This is followed up with an MC with the group, as they are currently Nakayama Yuma w/ Hey! Say! 7WEST, but I will just continue to refer to Yuma on his own and HS7W as 7WEST as I do not think we will be seeing them enough as this version of the group. But in the MC it becomes clear that Shigeoka Daiki is moving up, if not in popularity but at least at being pushed, as he gets to talk quite a bit.

There is then a KAT-TUN/NEWS medley, which is the Kanjuu covering a song from each group and Nakamaru and Koyama joining them for the song that belongs to their respective groups. This works well as the Kanjuu performing are the lesser known so it gives them a bit more screen time instead of just the small handful of Kanjuu that tend to get it.

Up next is the game segment and five of the eight Juniors featured I recognize as still being with Johnny's, which I think is a record right now. The eight are divided into two teams of four and they individually have to go up on a platform to act out a prompt. For each prompt there is a winner chosen and which ever team has the most wins at the end of course wins the game. This is one of those games that it helps a lot to know enough Japanese to tell what the prompts are as not many can be guessed at by what the boys do.

BOYS, which is now a duo with Hamada Takahiro being half of it, then perform a song called Stay Gold. I rather love how they start out in the audience for the song and I like the song as well. I hope it is still performed even though the group does not exist anymore and only Hamada is still with the agency.

There is the return of the Dengonban segment but it is with the Kanjuu. Still dislike this and the Kanjuu really do not add or take away anything from it compared to the Tokyo Juniors. It still feels like a segment that is just there and I cannot wait for it to be dropped from the program.

The Kanjuu also get to do the You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment, and like with the Tokyo Juniors they host the segment themselves. It is B.A.D., BOYS and Yuma for the segment and even back then the members of B.A.D. and BOYS seem to be natural MCs. The first topic is about food so the guys have much to say about the subject.The others are about summer vacation and making yourself feel energetic.

B.A.D. do a medley so they do both a unit song and solos though they start off with covering Oretachi no Seishun, which was the song Takaki Yuya sang as a solo for Gokusen 3's insert song. Of course the duo performed it quite a bit with him so it does feel like it is a song for that trio especially as B.A.D. were in the same drama.

This then brings us to the end of the program. The final song is UME Goin On! which current Kanjuu fans should recognize as it has become one of the standard songs for the Kanjuu to sing all together. It has plenty of energy to end the show on a high note.

So we are getting closer to having the current roster of Kanjuu present on the program. We are just mainly missing the Kin Kan and Naniwa Oji members but with this episode we have one more member of Kin Kan around.

So these episodes are pretty bitter sweet to watch now with still so many of the Kanjuu featured in them gone. Especially since recently it was discovered another member of Veteran, Yamasaki Kunta, has left. I really hope that the Kanjuu debut for next year pans out as I think they need it or will have to face losing even more of the better known Kanjuu.

22 November 2013

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 5

And on to the next question so I can catch up with the list soon. If you want to add a question to the list you may do so in this post.

This question come from nanu b: I remember that Kisumai and ABCZ had their own songs since 2006 but nowadays the only ones that has own songs are kanjus! Snow man are a group since 2010 maybe early but they don´t have songs! I know that they want to debut but I see them only as backdancers ( really good ones indeed) but what is bother me is that not even the popular jrs has songs! maybe the 20-20 thing is true (no debut before 2020)
what do you think?

I think a lot of it is about the fact that Juniors are not being put into groups as they once were. Original Junior songs tend to be given to stable Junior groups and in the past few years there have been very few created to replace the ones that have been broken up.

Snow Man I think has the songs from when they were Mis Snow Man, but since they so rarely perform as a group these days it is hard to tell.

I think a big part of why the Kanjuu are getting songs are one, they do have stable groups so those get their own original songs, and two, they seem to be getting primed for a debut. But the first one is the big one as most Junior songs come from the stable Junior groups and as I have mentioned there have not been many of those recently.

I fully believe the Kanjuu debut will happen so the "no other debut until 2020" thing is not sticking. If anything things are probably going to slow down with debuts as Johnny's has plenty of groups that have debuted and the three most recent debuts all happened in less than a year's time. My guess is that 2014 will give us the new Kanjuu debut, 2015 will have the next FIVB group (i.e. the groups like Hey! Say! JUMP and Sexy Zone) then we will get one more group between that and 2020, but probably not more than that.

The older Juniors that are getting promoted are going to need to be debuted before 2020 as they will probably be too old for the Twenty Twenty group but they would be perfect for a group of 20+ year old members, like KAT-TUN and Kis-My-Ft2 were, between 2015 and 2020. Of course this is just my speculation but I think this would be the best way to get Juniors debuted without too much over saturation.

21 November 2013

The Shounen Club 14 July 2009 review

I decided to try to go back to two Shounen Club reviews a week again. I really want to reach the 2010 episodes by the end of the year.

This episode begins with a quick dance introduction of the main performers of the show, starting with Nakayama Yuma w/B.I.Shadow. Then each member of Hey! Say! JUMP gets an individual introduction as these two groups are basically all they have left with the rest of the main Juniors dancing at a KAT-TUN concert that day.

As with the previous episode there is no theme for this one. Instead we launch into a HSJ hit medley. It is basically just their four singles that they had released thus far, so nothing all too exciting. Though when the do end it with Ultra Music Power they do a rock version of the song so they can have Okamoto Keito play guitar.

This is followed by a You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment that features Yuma. The conversation leads to talking about the drama Yuma was starring in at the time, Koishite Akuma, and of course Morimoto Shintaro, who had a supporting role in it, is brought up.

We have YuBIS performing the theme song for that drama, Akuma na Koi, then. It is a slow tempo song so not much in the way of energy for the performance, but it was probably for the best as Kochi Yugo is still rather lost looking on stage.

Hey, there are other Juniors around! This time we get to have Yara Tomoyuki be included in the Otegami segment. The letter talks about dancing of course as that is Yara's expertise.

Since the other members of Butokan are not there Yara performs with the dance unit They Budo. He performs a song called Jonetsu no Ichiya with They Budo backdancing and down back vocals. The dance of course is the highlight of the performance.

There is then the game segment of the program and this time we have a mix of HSJ and Juniors to participate. The game is the one where an item is in a box and the boys have to touch it without looking then guess what it is. This is usually pretty fun as most of the time the boys freak out whenever they manage to touch what is inside. Yuma is especially bad about it as he manages to freak out before even getting his hand in the box. This is also one of those games that you really do not need to know any Japanese to follow along with.

HSJ then perform Endless Dream, a song that ended up being put on their debut album. I am glad it did end up on a CD as it was one of my favorite songs from this era. That and there are just so many of their songs that have never been put on a CD that I wish they would start doing that again for the B-sides to their singles.

We then have the continuation of the ~ ni Q segment from the previous episode, this time focusing on the members of Hey! Say! BEST and what they are most afraid of. It starts off with Arioka Daiki who had put down bugs for his answer. Inoo Kei said he was afraid of sewing machines. Takaki Yuya had his answer be ghosts. I believe Yabu Kota wrote about a bug as long as his foot. Yaotome Hikaru wrote cats but everyone leaves the room as he begins to talk about it. But Koyama Keiichiro does come back to finish off the segment.

The next Otegami segment has most of HSB to read the letter and discuss the topic it brings up. It is nice to see Inoo and Arioka getting some screen time as they are the members of HSB that have not gotten so much so far in these episodes.

Yabu and Hikaru do an acoustic version of STAR TIME with Question? backing them up. I think I would have preferred to have had Question? perform on their own, but at least they got to perform once for the month.

For the end song we get a blast from the past with Koyama getting to lead a song with all the 16+ main performers and it is Nami, which was a Four Tops song. It is a nice slow song that works well as an end song.

While these two episodes were fun I look forward to returning to the norm again with the focus on the Juniors again.

I am reminded about how frustrated I was with the lack of releases from HSJ back then with this episode. Honestly Jounetsu Jump could have easily been a single with Endless Dream as a B-side. The former was a volley ball support song so it would have had a tie-in and since they were doing the theme songs for the Nintama Rantaro anime they could have had those songs on the single as well for added promotion. Instead we got a one-off single release with only two members of the group which left a bit of a sting for the HSJ fans waiting for the group to release something. I do not know what their management was thinking back then but 2009 was one big misstep for the group and they do not seem to have been really able to recover from it.

18 November 2013

Johnny's Under 100: Morimoto Shintaro

Morimoto Shintaro
Group: n/a
Birthdate: July 15, 1997

Shintaro really was only on my radar during his early days because he was Morimoto Ryutaro’s younger brother. That did not remain for too long as he began getting pushed more than his brother not long after Hey! Say! JUMP debuted and proved himself worth noticing.

I think he still retains a lot of promise and seems to have a rather good head on his shoulders despite having so much success earlier in his career. I think the fact that he is no longer one of the most pushed Juniors now will only help him in the long run.

17 November 2013

Q&A Month! (2012): Question 4

Even if it kills me I will get myself back on schedule like I want to be with this week. So here is the next question for my Q&A Month.

If you want to leave me a question to be answered this month please do so in this post. I may not see it if you post it elsewhere.

This next question comes from Angi: Since you always seem to have many informations I wanted to aks if you know anything new about the new JE band that is supposed to debut at the beginning of next year. I heard it is supposed to be a kanju group but after that never read any other news of it anymore! T-T
Do you may know some more info?

Honestly there has not been a lot of talk, pretty none, about the Kansai group that was said to be in the works not too long ago. And I do expect much to come out until Johnny's is ready to set a date for the debut CD. What is known from the initial announcement that if this debut goes through it will be in early 2014 and the group would be seven to eight members large.

Even though things have been quiet about it since this announcement I have not given up hope. This debut announcement seems to be following the pattern of A.B.C-Z's where it gets announced that the group will debut at some point in the nearish future and a few things are said about it that is up in the air, with Ebi it was an addition of two members and a changing of name to A.B.C-xyZ, and then we get silence about it for a while. Of course in the time from that announcement for Ebi and their actual debut we had the debut of Sexy Zone and the idea of adding members to the group was dropped, but again when we did get that update it was for when the debut release would come out. I fully expect this is going to be the same pattern we will see with this Kansai group debut and we probably will not hear any new until early next year when they have decided on a date, as well of course who the new members of the group will be.

Of course with Yamasaki Kunta recently quitting the agency it makes me wonder if they are solidifying who will be debuting. For the older Kansai Juniors like he was this group will probably the last shot they have at debuting and if they do not think that they have gotten signs that they are in the running to be in the group I can see them deciding to go ahead and quit now and see if they can create a career for themselves elsewhere, but this is mainly my speculation here.

The Shounen Club 5 July 2009 review

Ah the July 2009 episodes. These I have a special place in my heart for as I was at the taping for the episodes, as I was in Japan at the time and knew I had to see a Shounen Club filming at least once while I was there. For those curious I did write a filming report for it back in 2009, though be prepared for quite a few misspelled words.

Most of the Juniors are missing for this month as they were at the KAT-TUN concert that was going on the same day as this filming. So like in times past it is one of the newer debuted groups that make up the bulk of the episode and in this case that would be Hey! Say! JUMP.

They start the episode by performing Jounetsu JUMP and we do get to see the Juniors that are around to be featured in the episode, Nakayama Yuma w/B.I.Shadow. And BIS now has its final line-up of Nakajima Kento, Kikuchi Fuma, Matsumura Hokuto and Kochi Yugo.

Of course with a KAT-TUN concert going on we only have Koyama Keiichiro around as the host of the program. Yabu Kota and Yaotome Hikaru step up to help assist him with hosting duties.

After there is the usual talk at the start of the episode we have a Hey! Say! JUMP solo medley. Only four members of the group, Yamada Ryosuke, Chinen Yuri, Takaki Yuya and Nakajima Yuto perform in the medley with their respective solo songs at the time. At the end though they all finish off Yuto's solo together.

This is followed by the You no Otegami Yumitai Desu! segment which Okamoto Keito, Morimoto Ryutaro and Yuto take part in. Keito got to read the letter than each took turns answering the question of which member of HSJ they thought was the kindest.

It is then a performance by NYC boys next, of course singing their debut song NYC. Watching this episode does remind me of how confusing things were at this time about the YuBIS and NYC boys thing. Watching it now I can just enjoy it for what it is, but I would be lying if there was not some conflicting feelings still as having the gap for CD releases for HSJ made the NYC boys unit hard to take.

The group right after the performance then get to explain their name to the audience, as they were just recently announced so they were still in full swing for the group promotions.

There are actually guests for this episode like a normal episode would have. For this month it is Tegomass and they show up to join Koyama in the Gekkan KoyaMaru segment. Koyama shares a photo of them and Kato Shigeaki. I honestly forgot NEWS was not just those four yet rewatching this. It surprised me to realize that but the remaining four tended to do quite a bit together back the group was six, which did make it easier to take the recent member loss than some of the others.

Tegomass then perform Tanabata Matsuri, which was the single that was released around that time for the duo. It is fun song though it took some getting used to as the style is a folksy-country which is not a usual style found in J-pop.

The game segment of this episode is Hey! Say! BEST o Abake, and it is one of the better o Abake segments for the show. And I am not being completely biased as the members are ready to have fun with it and it gets crashed by Tegomass showing up to tease Yabu and Hikaru.

HSB then perform their unit song School Days. It is far from my favorite song for them but it is always nice to see the members of HSB get some spotlight, even back then.

With the lack of Juniors we get a HSJ version of the regular Junior ni Q segment. Being the summer it is the season of freight in Japan so the question for them to answer is what they are most afraid of. They focus on the members of Hey! Say! 7 for this. Yamada's answer is high places. Keito gives his dog, Paboro, as his answer. Chinen answered with eggplant then Yuto just put down scary things. Ryutaro is up last and put down his mother.

There is a final You no Otegami Yumitai Desu! that prompts Yamada to do a lot of talking with the others there having to push their way in to the talk.

And we do get one Junior only performance this episode as BIS get to perform their group song Lalarila for the first time on the program. It can already be seen that Nakaken and Fuma will be the main two of the group with them having the most solo lines, but it makes a lot of sense as the other two have not been in Johnny's for long and Yugo seems to struggle to keep up with the performance.

It is then time to wrap up the episode and we get a HSJ performance to do that with. They perform Bouken Rider and they do have YuBIS join them part way through the song. Also if you pay attention you can see Takaki deciding to randomly zip up the jacket of his outfit to later unzip it. But Inoo Kei zips his up too, you just do not see it on screen like with Takaki.

Overall a good episode for HSJ fans. Junior fans may want to skip over it though unless B.I.Shadow was one of your favorite groups or you love Yuma.

It is always interesting for me to watch something that I did see live myself to try to see how much I can still remember. But looking back I realize as a HSJ fan how lucky I was to be able to see them live in 2009 as that was the first year the group went without releasing any CDs. Being able to see them live made the wait more bearable as a fan but in a way its own kind of frustrating as you knew they had plenty of songs they could have released as a single or to fill an album that you enjoyed hearing live but for whatever reason they did not.