29 January 2014

The Shounen Club 7 February 2010 review

Hopefully things will start to get back more on schedule next month. I pray nothing major happens in the near future, unless it is good of course. But with my new job I get weekends off so that should help with that.

The episode kicks off with Nakajima Yuto starting a medley that will work as the introduction for the main Junior groups and individual Juniors.

Morimoto Shintaro is already starting to be separated from the other members of the Snow Prince Gasshoudan group. That group will become one for the young Juniors until it disbands as Shintaro gets to float around a bit until he gets paired up with Hip Hop Jump before the Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou drama gives him a new grouping.

Talking of HHJ, it seems for now the group is a trio of Tanaka Juri, Hagiya Keigo and Jesse. Or at least for Shounen Club. The frustrating thing with this group was trying to figure out who was actually in it as who was on SC was not always the same as the magazines.

The theme for the episode is Love Song, as Valentine's Day was just around the corner. It is just the regular hosts of the episode, Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi, with Yuto to introduce the theme instead of them bringing in a Junior to do it.

NYC boys are introduced as the guests of the episode and this time there are all three NYC members present. They do a medley of their songs starting off with just NYC performing then B.I. Shadow coming on stage to perform with them.

With the following MC though it is just NYC that participate. They talk about Valentine's Day and Nakayama Yuma brings up something about his older sister. His sister is also an idol (at this time she was with H!P under her real name Nakayama Nana, but would quit to audition for NMB48 under the stage name Yamada Nana) and I would love to see the two do something together someday.

Following this we get something new. Nakamura Reia is brought over to do an MC segment as well as show off his skateboarding skills. It is nice to see a younger Junior highlighted like this, especially as Reia is still around and even gets some spotlight in the more recent SC episodes.

Reia gets to introduce the next performance, a Kis-My-Ft2 medley. It starts off with Sennen no Love Song then Kitayama Hiromitsu gets a solo song, covering Domoto Koichi's Deep in your heart.

The final song of he medley is NEWS' Koi no ABO lead by Miyata Toshiya as he plays up his wota-character. Part way through Koyama comes out to "reprimand" him and show's him how the dance is really done. They all finish together for what was a fun performance.

Up next is a You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment with members of A.B.C-Z and Kisumai hosting it. It is a fairly Kisumai focused segment though as they are the ones answering the letters as Totsuka Shota and Kawai Fumito act as the MCs.

Nakamaru then gets to perform in this episode as he does his solo song, WHITE WORLD as well as a solo version of KAT-TUN's song Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki~. The former has a typo with the lyrics that I am pretty sure was not in the booklet of the album the song is off of.

Question? gets the o abake segment treatment with this episode. It seemed a bit awkward with the first question with most centering their answer for Goto Hiromi as being the biggest cry baby. I think it was just the fact that he had not been with the group for long so there was not enough of a feeling of ease between him and the rest. But the second topic about wanting to say something to another member was much more enjoyable as the long time members of the group got to kid around with each other.

The following performance has a mix of Juniors perform Ai no Katamari. Fujigaya Taisuke, Tamamori Yuta, Nakajima Kento, Sanada Yuma, Tottsu, Hashimoto Ryosuke and Ishigaki Daisuke are the Juniors that perform this song while Goto plays the violin for it.

B.I. Shadow get the chance to have their own MC segment next. They talk about learning how to tap dance. Being a regular on a variety program looks to have really helped Yugo Kochi as he speaks quite a bit during it and finally looks comfortable on stage.

This talk leads into the VTR of the episode, which is another learning segment. We get to see B.I. Shadow as they learn about tap dancing. They are told some of the history of the dance form before they move on to learning how to do it.

The group then gets to show off what they learned and are joined by Yuto, who does tap from time to time in his live performances. They sing the song You & You, which I am not sure where it comes from and there is no mention of it being a song from another Johnny's artist.

This then takes us to the final song of the episode. The old ending song, Love Letter, is performed with the main Juniors, both older and younger. The stage is definitely getting crowded with how many Juniors it has to fit when they do this. It is nice to hear this song being performed again though and I wish they would perform more of these SC end songs from time to time.

At this point it is easy to see that Kisumai are on track to their eventual debut. They may still have about a year to go to get the announcement but they have the strongest presence on the show and get highlighted consistently. I know back then I felt that they were being treated as the top Junior group and that was a good indication that they would be debuting eventually. So I am rather happy to have gotten that right.

I do not recall paying much attention to the little Juniors when these episodes came out but I will be now that some of the faces are still around. So I hope we get to see more of them in the coming episodes like we did with Reia in this one.

23 January 2014

The Shounen Club 17 January 2010 review

I figure as long as I do one of these a week I will be okay. Hopefully I will be able to get back to a regular day for them but so much is just up in the air right now. But watching these episodes work as a good distraction for now so I do want to continue trying to do this for that.

That aside the episode starts with the main Juniors groups (or the ones that have their own songs that have been prominent in the show) all get to sing a snippet of a song as the show starts. The other main Juniors come out during a dance break to get their screen time so they can have their name appear on the screen. This serves as the introduction portion.

And we also get the guests of this episode Hey! Say! BEST in it as they sing the final song for it, School Kakumei.

For the opening MC HSB get officially introduced as the guests of the episode. Then Tamamori Yuta is brought over to help introduce the theme of the episode, Kansha (thanks, gratitude).

The following performance is a medley of older Johnny's songs, I believe it was mentioned this is a tribute to those older groups so it ties into the episode theme that way. It does let us see more of the ungrouped Juniors and the groups that usually do not get a lot of screen time though. Like the current grouping Kyomoto Taiga is a part of with Anderson Casey, Kawashima Noeru and Yasui Kentaro.

You can also start seeing Nozawa Yuki and Sanada Yuma being separated from the rest of Mis Snow Man in this medley as they perform a song on their own before the rest of the group come out for the next song.

The following MC is with HSB as they are asked about things they are grateful about with the members of their group. HSB all seem to be in high spirits here and this talk does allow them all to speak. Inoo Kei even gets to speak first, and I do wish he was given more chances to talk in general as he usually has something interesting to say. This time around he talks about some of the teasing he gets back stage from the others.

HSB then perform a medley of songs. They bring back songs from their Junior groups, J.J. Express and Ya-Ya-Yah, respectfully during the medley. Personally I love seeing them sing these songs as I like them both, Back In Time and Stompin. Especially the latter, and it is nice to see that these Junior groups are not getting forgotten even though they are not around any more.

There is a Gekkan Koyamaru segment this episode and it is Koyama Keiichiro's turn. He has a couple of photos and like all of his they involve other Johnny's, mostly his fellow group members. This time around we get this gem that is a photo of Koyama and Kato Shigeaki.

Up next is a performance by frequent visitor Yara Tomoyuki who has They Budo with him. They perform a medley of songs, with of course dance being the major focus of the performance.

This is followed up by the game segment. I usually do not care to see debuted Johnny's in this segment but with how they set it up having the three members of HSB participate as well was not much of an issue for me. This was a dance quiz with four teams of three so there was a decent mix of Juniors, as the HSB members were only one team. This game was made really hard by not only the song choices but the fact that the song had to be guessed from a single dance move.

Kis-My-Ft2 then get to perform their song Tension. While I do not care much for the song itself I do like the performance as the group get to show off their roller skating skills for it. And they change things up a bit for the performance as the guys go backstage and around to go through the audience near the end.

The VTR segment was a learning corner again. This time it is Nakajima Kento, Kikuchi Fuma and Tanaka Juri learning about voice acting. Furukawa Toshio, a prolific voice actor who is the Japanese voice of Piccolo from the Dragon Ball series, is their instructor for the segment.

This is followed by an MC with A.B.C-Z and Yabu Kota. Yabu is there with the group as during this time he was starring in a musical that had four of the five members of Ebi also in it. So they get to promote that.

The performance continues with the six as they do a medley so Ebi and Yabu get their own songs to perform.

And since the whole group was around we have Hey! Say! JUMP performing the final song, Romeo & Juliet. The rest of the main Juniors come out on stage to back dance for the group.

This is a good solid episode of the program and put me in good spirits watching it. While I prefer the episodes that focus more on the Juniors I think this had a good mix as the Juniors did not feel like they were being overlooked in favor of the guests.

2010 may not have a lot of excitement for Johnny's I think there were plenty of solid episodes like this to enjoy for the program. For that I cannot wait to move on through the next ones.

An update on the state of things.

My mother passed away last night. She had not been doing so well for the past week or so though so I knew that outside of a miracle this was how it would end eventually.

I still feel like I am in shock at the moment. I really cannot see what life without my mother being alive is going to be like. Even if she was no longer a part of my daily life she was someone I felt I could always count on to just be there.

I want to thank everyone for their support. It meant a lot to me as these past couple of weeks or so have not been easy. So again thank you all.

Will still blog if I feel up to it and have the free time as between the funeral and that I will be moving at the end of the month I have plenty to keep me busy. But right now doing things that stop me from dwelling on this seem to be how my mind wants to cope, so I do not see much changing with how things have been in the recent weeks for the blog.

17 January 2014

Kisumai's light

Since this has been announced for some time it hardly feels like news anymore but the details for Kis-My-Ft2's next single, Hikari no Signal, are out and the single is up for pre-order. Like their usual releases the single will come in three editions, two limited editions and a regular edition. It will be released on March 5th.

The first limited edition comes with a DVD with the PV and making of footage as well as the title track and a still untitled B-side.

The second limited edition also comes with a DVD with a PV with a Doraemon version of the title track and recording footage. It will have the same two tracks on the CD.

Then the regular edition will be just a CD with the two tracks on the LEs as well as a bonus third track. It will also come with one of three types of photo booklets.

Honestly I feel like I have fallen behind with Kisumai despite being caught up with their releases. But right now I think I am more looking forward to their next album, which should not be too long a wait after this.

I am curious to what the Doraemon version of the PV wil be though. I am guessing it will be a PV with footage from the movie that the song is a tie-in for. It is well within Johnny's usual cheapness when it comes to PVs.

12 January 2014

The Shounen Club 10 January 2010 review

And we finally reach the 2010 episodes of the show. Of course I do not recall any major changes happening this year, instead I believe it is mainly just build up to the debuts of 2011.

The episode starts off with NYC boys (minus Nakayama Yuma) singing NYC. During the dance break in the song the main Junior groups show up for their introductions. They join the performance to help finish it off.

For the introduction talk the guest of the episode is brought out, Hey! Say! JUMP. The theme of the episode is JUMP, in honor of them.

The performance that follows this is for the group as they perform Romeo & Juliet, which is a B-side for their single Hitomi no Screen. It is one of their cute songs and they started selling gloves at the Johnny's Store with the group's name on them around this time. In fact the girls on the stage are all wearing them.

HSJ is not done yet as they then have an MC segment after the performance. Each member gets to talk though which is nice, and each get to talk about something that they want to try in the coming year.

Things then switch over to the Juniors as Kis-My-Ft2 perform a medley of Hikaru Genji songs. As both groups had roller skates as their gimmick the performance makes use of that by using the special ramps Kisumai have.

It is then back to HSJ as they do the You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment. Though to the show's credit they do use some of the members of the group that do not get a lot of screen time usually. The first letter asks about who in HSJ is the most stylish.

There are more Juniors after this as Snow Prince Gasshoudan get to perform Snow Prince. It is the basic performance for the song so not much different from the last episode.

It is then time for the game segment, where the only HSJ presence is Yamada Ryosuke and Yaotome Hikaru there as judges. It is the game where a prompt is given and the guys have to try to do it the best they can. The judges then decide on who did it the best. The first prompt is for poses for photos. Then they have to give ideas for a date during winter. Then I believe it is a story that you tell when late coming into work. The last is impersonations but they had to be new ones, so Kawai Fumito could not do his usual.

This is followed by a letter exchange with Question? members Igo Akun and Fujiie Kazuyori. Both are no longer with the agency and I cannot help but feel that things should have gone differently. But they happened as they did and I will just continue to miss this group.

The group then performs Beautiful Mind and I am given another reason to miss the group. Once they added Goto Hiromi to the group they had some of my favorite songs from them. Not to mention a way to stand out from the other band groups.

NYC boys get an MC corner. It is really just Yamada and Chinen Yuri talking during this and the topic is on their Kohaku performance. This was probably an odd MC to film as they would not have done the performance yet as the episodes are filmed a month in advance.

Because Shounen Club and Kohaku Uta Gassen are aired by the same network, NHK, we get treated to some special footage of the preparation of NYC boys' Kohaku performance. Most of the focus is on the NYC members but B.I.Shadow gets some moments as well.

Morimoto Shintaro gets some screen time in this as well with Snow Prince Gasshoudan appearing on Kohaku that year in the special children's corner of the program.

There is then a NYC boys performance for the SC recording after the VTR ends with a medley of songs from their single. It is a bit strange to have Yamada and Chinen perform Akuma na Koi, as that is the one song they are not a part of on the single.

The show then closes out with HSJ performing their debut song, Ultra Music Power. All the Juniors join in with the song, but mostly as back dancers. It was always weird to see EbiKisu back dancing for HSJ, but this is a rather rare occurrence.

It was interesting watching this episode before the first episode of the program for 2014. If only to see that both had Kohaku footage to show. I enjoy that kind of stuff though as I love learning about what happens backstage and these do give little glimpses of that.

Other than that seeing HSJ perform Romeo & Juliet made me happy. Even though it was years ago I still recall the joy I felt when the group finally released their fourth single, which of course featured Romeo & Juliet as a B-side. So this means we are not far off from that release and Hitomi no Screen performances. So while nothing major happens in 2010 there is still all those little things to look forward to.

09 January 2014

The state of things

I was planning on doing this near the first of the year but for various reasons I kept pushing it back. But I think it is time to stop delaying this.

It looks like there will be yet another move for me in the near future. It is not all sorted out yet but it could happen later this month. It will not be far though and should not take me long to get myself set up once it is done.

But the larger issue, and most current, is that on Wednesday night my mother had a heart attack. She has been in the hospital since and the doctors are aiming to do surgery on Monday. I will be heading over there for Monday and Tuesday to help support her and to help out my dad however I can. Needless to say around that time it will be very spotty if I will be doing anything related to fandom. But things have been positive so far and I am expecting my mom to keep recovering. And if I need a distraction from the stress/worry I know I will have my fandoms waiting for me.

I will be cutting back the amount of posts I do for the blog officially. I will only do one Shounen Club episode review a week now and aim to have that done on Saturdays. At the moment that is all I feel that I can commit to though I will try to do a bit more once things settle.

Cutting back a bit on blogging was pretty much bound to happen even without everything else happening. I have been focusing on my writing to do something that I have been thinking about for years: write a book series. I actually have finished the first novella of the series and for those who can buy from Amazon it is up for sale. (It is only in e-book form, but you only need a computer and the Kindle program for it to read it.) I plan to get two of these out a year, which is why I have to cut down on the blogging.

That said I will still be updating when any news about the groups I follow pops up, and have a couple I need to get around to writing when I feel overly productive. So this month will probably be over the place when it comes to updates but hopefully things will settle soon enough and I can figure out what more I can commit to, as I plan on keeping this blog going for years to come.

05 January 2014

Johnny's WEST 4 or Johnny's WEST

 There is a news article out that helps shed some light on the upcoming debut of Johnny's WEST 4, though it does make one thing more confusing.

But according to the article the group will debut in April. As a lead up to that the group will be performing at Tokyo's Nissay theatre in February. The performances are to be a mix of songs and comedy (which I think means comedy sketches). Fans will get the chance to vote for which song they want the group to have as their debut single. (No word on how this will be done but I will assume this may be for the fans who attend the lives.)

It also mentions Johnny's Entertainment being the record label for the group.

Daily Sports Online (Japanese)

In the article though the 4 is dropped from the name though and it only lists them as Johnny's WEST. I will hold off from dropping it myself from the group. I assume when the lives start next month there will be something in the press and I guess in March we will get the date for the release with pre-order information. What name is used for those, especially for the pre-order is what I will go with. I actually would not mind going with Johnny's WEST over Johnny's WEST 4, as the former is less of a mouthful to say.

Of course if this group is under Johnny's Entertainment for their record label then it means they will be with Julie Kitagawa and her faction of groups. This will probably work out well as they will be able to promote with Kanjani8, who should be a good match for them. I cannot wait to see the two groups interact.

There is also a mention that more Kansai Juniors could debut but I am not holding my breath on that one as it is Johnny Kitagawa getting quoted and what he says in these kinds of articles do not always happen. Plus he mentioned debuting other Kansai Junior groups so it would not be making additions to this unit.

03 January 2014

The Shounen Club 13 December 2009 review

And we are now at the final episode for 2009 as this year does not have a Christmas special.

As I just mentioned this year does not have a Christmas special episode so as the final episode for the year gets to sorta stand in for it. And we get to see this with the opening medley that Arioka Daiki starts off with Nakayama Yuma w/B.I.Shadow.

The medley is of Christmas related Johnny's songs and acts as the introduction of the main Juniors as they have their names show up on the screen as groups and groupings perform. Hip Hop Jump is back to five members with this episode. Let's see how long that lasts.

Daiki is introduced as the special guest, Santa. While they talk about that I do not believe they actually announced the theme of the episode. Of course the theme is Christmas and it is shown on the screen, not to mention by now it should be pretty obvious.

YuBIS then perform, starting with two songs for the group, I Can Catch the Moon and Akuma na Koi. The former I am not sure where it is from but I do not think we see it performed again on the program.

Then B.I.Shadow leave the stage so Yuma can continue the medley with a couple of songs for him to sing solo, Aoi Kiseki and Jigoroizumu. The first is a B-side off the NYC boys single and a song that was never performed as much as I think it should have been.

In the following MC the main topic discussed is the announcement that NYC boys will be on Kohaku Uta Gassen. I had forgotten that it was NYC boys and not just NYC that went on the program for the first year. I guess this means Nakajima Kento and Kikuchi Fuma have been on Kohaku twice as an act with this previous Kohaku (as I am not counting back dancing) but with Sexy Zone.

To keep the spirit of Christmas alive in the episode Arioka comes on stage, still in the Santa costume, to do some "magic", which is mainly CGI that was added in for the TV broadcast. I cannot imagine it being too impressive to have seen this live.

The following performance is Yara Tomoyuki with TheyBudo singing Yuki no Furu Hi, which of course was a Butokan song originally. And while the performance is not bad I really miss the vocals of the full Butokan group in this one. But as one would expect from Juniors that specialize in dancing everything else was spot on.

There is more of Arioka as Santa as we get a short skit. Matsumura Hokuto and Kochi Yugo make an appearance to pretend to be goats when Arioka!Santa is looking for reindeer.

This is followed by a medley by Kis-My-Ft2, starting with Inori then Fujigaya Taisuke sings his solo Maria. The whole group then finishes it off with Firebeat.

The game segment is an A.B.C-Z versus Kis-My-Ft2 battle. They do four games to determine a winning group starting with one where one member has to spin around then run over to pick up another member and carry them back across the stage. This is followed by a game where one member sits on a pile of cushions while another member has to remove them from under them one at a time.

And at sometime uchiwa have been allowed again for the show's filming as for the third challenge the guys had to borrow some from the audience. Instead of finding one of his own Tamamori Yuta ended up picking up one for Nakamaru Yuichi to use that drew attention from the hosts.

The final game was dancing musical chairs which of course is always a joy to watch. Though I cannot help but think that it was probably a bit unfair to use everyone as Kisumai outnumbers Ebi.

A You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment follows this, so if you felt like you did not get enough EbiKisu from the past segment here is some more. Kawai Fumito gets to do some impersonations near the end, first doing Yamamoto Ryota then Totsuka Shota.

A.B.C-Z then gets to perform and start off with Sayonara Box before moving on to Kodoku no Runaway. Then they finish up with Vanilla. The group remain consistent with their level of performance though I kinda wish we got them moving more during this medley.

Morimoto Shintaro gets an MC segment with the hosts as they discuss his movie and new unit, Snow Prince Gasshoudan. The performance for the song that is the title track for the group's one off single, Snow Prince, is brought up to talk about the sign language used. Koyama Keiichiro gets to talk a bit about this as he had learned some sign language himself recently.

We get another classroom segment for the VTR in this episode. This time it is Morimoto Shintaro and a few of the other Snow Prince Gasshoudan members learning about sign language. Like with the past segment like this if you have decent grasp of Japanese and are interested in the topic than this is probably will be interesting. Otherwise unless you are a big fan of one of the boys in this you can probably skip it.

There is then the stage performance of the song, with of course the sign language used in it. And I totally forgot just how tiny everyone in this group was. This is the final formation for the group and Juniors in it that I know for certain that are still in Johnny's are; Kishimoto Shintaro, Nakamura Reia, Kurita Kei, Haba Yuki, Hashimoto Ryo and Inoue Mizuki.

And by now it is time to wrap up the episode with the final song. This is not a Johnny's song, I am not sure who the original singer was but I know I have heard it covered by non-Johnny's as well. The title of the song is Miagete Goran Yoru no Hoshi o and it is a slow folksy-sounding song.

And with that 2009 closes. It feels weird not to have a Christmas special as it had been tradition until this year. Though it does help with trying to catch up with the program.

This is definitely an episode for EbiKisu fans with how much those two groups are featured. But they do remain fun to watch and the game segment was one of the main highlights of the program. I would not mind seeing all the games played in this episode resurface again in the more current episodes. Though I do hope we get Juniors playing them as well.