30 March 2014

Johnny's WEST covers and colors

So the cover images are out for Johnny's WEST's debut single Ee Ja Nai Ka. And while the information about their member colors have been out for a while the covers help a lot with showing those off so I decided to tie that in.

This is the cover for the regular edition of the single. It is pretty basic but everyone can be seen clearly as well as their member colors, though Kiriyama Akito's orange looks rather yellow to me here.

The the first limited edition is the Naniwa Samurai Edition, which looks like they found a photo from the lives they just did and made it a cover. But honestly complaining about cheap covers for Johnny's is a moot point as it is something that is just not going to change.

Next is the second limited edition which is the NinJani Edition. And hey, it is a still shot from the movie NinJani Sanjo! but only Shigeaki Daiki and Kotaki Nozomu are in it.

The final limited edition is the WEST Edition which is just a basic group shot that would be easily found in the usual magazines that feature Johnny's. But to note this looks to be part of the same photo shoot for the individual covers you can order of the single (the MY BEST CD version) if you live in Japan so the member colors are worked into the outfits.

And of course going with member colors I will start with red, as that is typically given to the member that is either considered the leader of the group or the main face of the group. I am guessing Shigeoka Daiki got it for the latter as I do not see him leading the group with Akito around.

Speaking of Kiriyama Akito, as I mentioned before his member color is orange. And I will be shocked if he is not the actual leader of the group, seeing as he has been the leader of the Kansai Juniors for a while before this.

Nakama Junta is yellow, perhaps because it is close to orange or something. And I just want to mention that I do like how with these casual clothes covers the colors of each member has been worked in. Just enough to be noticed but not too much to make it an eyesore.

Kotaki Nozomu has pink, which is a fairly common color for group members in Johnny's. And it does tend to go members that are bound to be pushed in a group.

Hamada Takahiro is purple, which seems rather fitting as in Kanjani8 Murakami Shingo has the same color (though he calls it eggplant) and I see both having their strengths in MCing.

Fujii Ryusei gets to be blue. I do like the fact one of my favorite members of the group has one of my favorite colors.

Then last but not least Kamiyama Tomohiro has green, though his color is probably the hardest to notice with his outfit.

And again I find myself pumped up for this release. I want my copies of the single in my hands as soon as possible. And I will be wishing I could get a copy of the MY BEST CD version with an Akito or Ryusei cover. (And of course with the two different songs that are exclusive to it.)

27 March 2014

SHARK returns, sorta

The next late night NTV drama has been announced and it will be the first sequel for the time slot. SHARK will get a sequel series titled SHARK ~2nd Season~ and will premiere April 19th.

NTV OHP (Japanese)

The lead this time will be Shigeoka Daiki, who will play a bassist in a rock band called Cloud 5.

The other Johnny's in the cast are fellow Johnny's WEST members, Hamada Takahiro and Kamiyama Tomohiro, and Juniors Yasui Kentaro, Abe Aran, Hagiya Keigo, Iwahashi Genki, Jinguji Yuta, Matsukura Kaito and Negishi Aomi.

It is rather interesting that this time they are going for some of the younger Juniors for this. But I guess Jinguji and company are getting older, though most do not look it. I will be surprised if Hagiya is not the drummer in this. And I would assume Yasui will be given the role of the vocalist of the band. The rest I can only guess as that much information is not up on the site. I am rather curious about Negishi, as I do not recall seeing him before at all. Though with this drama role I am certain that will change.

With the returning members of the cast from the first season, Hamada and Kamiyama, I do wonder how this is to tie in to the first season.

But overall I need to get my laptop back so I can see about catching up with dramas so I can get around to eventually seeing this.

26 March 2014

Fan Status 2014: SMAP

It is hard to ignore SMAP if you consume Japanese media like TV shows. Especially if you follow the shows that feature the other groups in the Iijima Michi faction.

My fan following for SMAP really has not changed much in the past few years. I tend to enjoy what I watch of them but they are usually not the reason for watching what I am. Like with dramas it is usually because I am interested in one of the other cast members of it. Especially if that cast member is from Kis-My-Ft2. In fact because I am a fan of Kisumai I have gotten to see SMAP more and can officially say that I have a favorite member of the group, Nakai Masahiro.

I do hope Nakai continues to work with Kisumai for some time. I really feel this is a good mentor-mentoree relationship, as he gets to do side projects, like Busaiku, and of course he just has so much experience that Kisumai can learn from. And I think coming from a group that did push some members much more than others Nakai understands what Kisumai need to do to get to the same point as SMAP, with the level of popularity spread more evenly with everyone, which is something I believe Kisumai wants. And it is something that will probably help the group sustain themselves over the years if they are not stuck having to rely on the same three members all the time to get work.

Outside of that connection though I do enjoy watching him act and host programs. Nakai is a great host that works well with guests so they are not overshadowed by making sure they are engaged. Whether that means teasing them about something or engaging in conversation with them instead of just asking questions. And I do like that he has no issue with being honest about his lack of singing and dancing talent. Especially since he seems to still try his best in performances from what I have seen.

Other than that though one thing I do have to concede to the group is that they know how to pick songs. While I do not get the vast majority of their releases their single collections and best of albums have become a must, and I am quite happy to have picked up VEST and SMAP AID, as both, especially the latter, get a good amount of play with some of the tracks included. And since they do not release single collections or best of albums all that often I feel safe that they will not be straining my wallet anytime soon.

I guess at best I can consider myself a casual SMAP fan. I do not follow them closely but I do enjoy the group and will not turn down a chance to give a song a listen, watch a program or movie and while the chance may never present itself would never turn down the chance to see them live.

25 March 2014

Fan Status 2014 introduction post

One of the things I want to do is to take some time to reassess where I stand as a fan of the various Johnny's groups. This may be more useful to me than anyone else but with so many Johnny's groups and of course more to eventually come over the future years I feel it is something of a necessity. There is only so much time and money I have to follow Johnny's, not to mention every other interest I have, after all.

So I plan on starting up a series of posts that will go over the Johnny's groups and give my impressions of them and go over why or why not I feel like they are worth following for me. I hope to have one entry per week and I will probably go by debut seniority, starting with SMAP as the Johnny's that debuted before them are rarely active so it is not like I could really follow them.

20 March 2014

Debut Speculations (2014)

With Johnny's WEST set to debut next month it has put the topic on my mind. After the debuts of Kis-My-Ft2, Sexy Zone and A.B.C-Z I knew we were going to get a bit of a break before the next debut though there was a good chance to get one before 2015. That has panned out with JWEST's debut, which has been long overdue in its own right. And I am feeling that this debut has debunked the whole "no debuts until 2020" thing, I am probably going to be right in believing that 2015 will give us the next FIVB group debut as they come every four years.

Of course with FIVB groups it is hard to guess which Juniors will be selected for this group. The best guesses is that it will be some of the younger ones. I think the four that get regularly group: Jinguji Yuta, Iwahashi Genki, Kishi Yuta and Miyachika Kaito, stand a fair chance to be selected. There may not be an official group of four to be broken up by a debut but they seem to be rather stable and seem to fill the position the past couple groups of four, Ya-Ya-Yah and B.I. Shadow, had on the show leading up to being disbanded for members to debut in a FIVB group.

Otherwise just checking to see who among the younger Juniors get pushed a lot during this year and the next. I think it was pretty obvious that Johnny's had plans for Sato Shori with how heavily he was pushed in 2011. Of course there will be at least a member or more that will seem to come out of left field but that is nothing new for these groups.

Outside of this group I do expect that sometime after the FIVB 2015 debut we will get a debut for the older Juniors. Usually one can get an idea of who that will be as it is usually a Junior group but with the Juniors not being put in groups for the most part it looks like it will end up just being a grouping of the older Juniors. Sure there are a few groups but none seem positioned as KAT-TUN, Kis-My-Ft2 or even to the same extent as A.B.C-Z. Instead it will probably be a group put together of the more popular older Juniors or those that the agency has faith in debuting. While some names could be thrown out now for those who could be selected based on who is getting pushed now I think it would be best to wait until after 2015 to start making guesses as a lot can happen between now and then.

In a way it is frustrating not to have the Junior groups like there was before as the groups made it easier to keep track of the more prominent Juniors. The groups also allowed fans to rally around them to help them move on to hopeful debut. Now one just has to hope that the Junior and/or Juniors that you like will be chosen to debut at some point.

14 March 2014

The Shounen Club 9 April 2010 review

So after plenty of delays here is the review for this episode.

Hey! Say! JUMP are front and center as this episode starts off as they start the theme medley. The theme will be Story, so they can play rather loose with what songs fit it. Like having HSJ's song being Dreams come true.

And it looks like M.A.D. (they are introduced by individual names and not the group name but I am pretty sure they are in that group) pop up to do a performance in the medley. It is rare to get the dance umbrella groups on and not just back dancing.

During the following opening talk HSJ go over the fact that they will be joining the program as regulars in the position of special supporters. This will basically mean that they will take over some of the hosting bits from Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi, though those two will remain as the main hosts.

Since the theme medley has already been done this segment is followed up with a performance by B.I. Shadow or their group song Ima Sugu ni. They are still doing the split thing that Ya-Ya-Yah did quite a bit when they went down to four members where the two main start the song with the other two joining in later. And I wonder how in the world I missed all the strange faces Kikuchi Fuma makes when singing. Or maybe I was just not paying attention as Nakajima Kento and Matsumura Hokuto were my favorites of the group and I could have just been focusing on them more.

There is then a surprise guest for this episode, Nakayama Yuma, who is there to perform Yuuki 100% with the rest of the then newly minted NYC. And this shall begin the over performance of this song that I already feel like I am getting tired of already. And it is not like the performance is bad, all the members of the group are quite capable, or the song but it just was performed far too often around this time frame that it got tedious to listen to.

Koyama and Nakamaru come on stage to talk to the group quickly, mainly to allow them to plug the song as it was used as the theme song for a long running anime series.

Then there is a full MC segment but with Yara Tomoyuki. He is asked to tell some stories and he does mainly about Takizawa Hideaki, as at the time he was working with him in a musical. He brings up that they do a love scene in said musical as Tackey plays a female role for a part of it. He then talks about working with Tackey on a PV.

While Butokan was missing from the intro at the start of the episode, yet were in the one for the previous episode, they actually get a turn on stage. Or at least the ones that are present as Hamanaka Bunichi is missing from the line-up. The group performs Now and forever.

The game segment is next and sadly does not involve any of the Juniors. Instead it is just HSJ participating as they play musical chairs. While it is still fun to watch I was bothered that the Juniors were excluded from this segment as I saw no need for it. Plus with the Juniors they start out with a larger number which adds some excitement to the first round that I found lacking with this as going from ten to six is not very drastic.

Koyama and Nakamaru have a talk between themselves which leads to Koyama plugging the latest NEWS single release of the time, Sakura Girl.

Of course we have not seen the last of HSJ as they are then up next to do a "mini live" performance. It is basically a medley based off their SUMMARY concerts the year before. In a way this is beginning to feel like a taste of things to come when the group takes over hosting the program and get a good amount of screen time instead of the Juniors or newly debuted groups.

It is then time for a Gekkan Koyamaru segment. It is Nakamaru's turn to show off pictures and it looks like at this point he has followed Koyama's lead in taking pictures of his group mates. He says that his photos can be titled KAT-TUN Story and shows them off.

Finally we get to see Juniors again as A.B.C-Z and Question? perform the song Shelter. It is especially nice to see Question? as their presence on the programs seems to be slowly diminishing.

The Junior ni Q segment of course in no way matches the theme as it asks about the No. 1 School Lunch for the Juniors. But at least it showcases the Juniors and not the members of HSJ. First up is Morimoto Shintaro who talks about curry and naan.

Then they pull over a couple of the younger Juniors, Miura Wataru and Tanimura Ryuichi. Wataru talks about coffee and milk while Ryuichi talks about ramen.

There is then even younger Juniors brought over to talk, basically the ones that are in Snow Prince Gasshoudan. I definitely recognize Kurita Kei, Haba Yuki, Hashimoto Ryo and Inoue Mizuki as those who are still with the agency featured here.

Matsumura Hokuto then gets a turn as he explains what sakuragohan is. And there is even an information box on the screen to help explain it to a viewer as well.

It is time for Kis-My-Ft2 to get their turn to be featured in the episode. They first get an MC segment where they share some stories, the first from one of their concerts.

They then perform a medley of KAT-TUN songs which Nakamaru joins them in. He is not the only KAT-TUN member to join in as Kamenashi Kazuya shows up to join in on the medley as well.

I guess to try to make sure Koyama is not left out the final songs of the episode are Cherish and Sakura Girl that he gets to lead the older Juniors in performing.

This is a rather guest heavy episode of the show and I really wish they would not have had so much HSJ. I guess I have not quite recovered from the episodes where HSJ are pushed before the Juniors as this episode reminds me of those. But at least with Kisumai's rise in popularity it ensures that they will have their usual MC and performance each episode and A.B.C-Z does well on that front. Plus things should get a little better when JaPAnese Hi!! is introduced as those Juniors should get their push, though that will not happen until the end of 2010.

And the next review will not be for a while as the laptop that has all my Shounen Club episodes is elsewhere, hopefully getting fixed so I can use it again.

It's not good, it's great!

I think I may need to complain on twitter more about the lack of information for upcoming releases. I did so yesterday afternoon and then last night finally some surfaced. I guess if I was in a different timezone I would have been able to stay up late enough for the pre-order links to show up then instead of having to wait until this morning.

I am of course talking about Johnny's WEST debut single that will be released on April 23rd and is titled Eejyanaika. It will have three limited editions plus a regular edition and there is a bundle for all four of them. As a first press bonus for all the CDs there will be a poster included.

The limited editions only differ with jacket cover and DVD content. They all will have the same track list of the title song and a B-side called Banzai Yume Monsai! with karaoke tracks for both of them.

The limited edition type A comes with a DVD that is listed to have about 30 minutes worth of video from their concerts last month in Tokyo. It comes with an 8-page booklet.

The limited edition type B comes with a DVD that will have a talk with the members of the group. It will also have movie off shot footage. This also comes with an 8-page booklet.

The limited edition type C is the one that has the PV for the title track on the DVD. It does also include making of footage for the PV. Like the other limited editions this will also have an 8-page booklet.

The regular edition has the two song tracks that the limited editions have plus two bonus tracks that they do not. It also comes with a 12 page booklet.

Then there is the bundle release which is just all four singles bundled together. So if you want them all this is just an easy way to get them.

There is also another version, the MY BEST CD version that is only available through an online store. You can pick a cover from seven solo jackets (one for each member) then pick from two songs which one you want on the CD. It is limited to two CDs per account and of course you need a Japanese address to even do it.

Since this is the release I've been waiting for to make my next order from CDJapan I have already put in my pre-order. I just went with the LE type C and the RE for this single and I feel so excited for this. I wish I could order the MY BEST CD, and with the number someone can order it looks near impossible to get through other means for overseas fans. But in the end I am mostly just happy things are confirmed for this debut single and cannot wait for my copy to reach me.

11 March 2014

Yuma's High Five

There has been some updates for Nakayama Yuma's upcoming single, High Five, which will be released on April 2nd. Mainly the jacket covers have been released.

Limited type A

Limited type B

Regular edition

I really cannot think of anything else to say about the other than that they are nice. They are not terrible or great but they also leave little to no impact. If anything they seem a bit boring and there does not seem to be any hints of how these tie in to the songs on the single.

Also, it looks like Yuma is moving towards being fully established as a solo artist. While he has yet to get a section on Johnny's-net the Johnny's Entertainment website has given him his own section. You can check it out here. But I think this can be taken as a sign that it probably is only a matter of time before he gets a section on J-net.

08 March 2014

Blog updates and some thanks

I figured I needed to make one of these as I feel like I am ready to get back to doing more blogging again. So I hope to start getting more active again here and be back up to speed again sometime in April.

I would like to be back up to speed before then but I have had a bad run of luck with computers starting last month. Both my laptop and notebook became unusable and while the issue with my notebook has since been fixed I am still waiting on my laptop. The latter is with my older brother who has promised to try to fix it and I will not be able to get it back until early April. I have most of my Shounen Club episodes on my laptop though and only copied a few on to my external hard drive. So after the second April 2010 episode I do not have any episodes but a few from 2011. So I will take a break from those reviews but will work on some of the 2011 ones so when I get to those I can do some catch up then.

Until then I want to try a few different things to bring to this blog to see what I would like to keep. This is so I can avoid having months like the past two that have been rather bereft of new posts.

I want to thank everyone for reading my blog and for the support with recent events. It has meant a lot to me.

I also want to thank everyone who purchased my e-book, Never Kiss a Vampire on the First Date. I hope everyone has enjoyed reading it.

02 March 2014

The Shounen Club 2 April 2010 review

A new season begins with plenty of returning faces.

The episode begins with the Juniors doing a theme medley that also serves to introduce the guests of the episode. Starting with Hey! Say! JUMP, who are officially supporters from the program though they honestly do basically the same thing they would do if they were guests.

And it looks like these five are the line-up of Hip Hop Jump. For some reason I thought Jesse was in it still, but I guess there is still time for things to get changed around. All I know is that when Morimoto Shintaro starts appearing with the group it means that it is almost time for it to be disbanded.

Another thing to note with the introductions is that Butokan will be in this episode. They are missing a member though, Hamanaka Bunichi, most likely because Johnny's did not want to pay for his travel just for a Shounen Club recording. But the group has not faded away quite yet at least.

Things end with a performance of Kizuna which the Juniors performing are joined by the main guest of the episode, Kamenashi Kazuya.

Then we get a crowded stage as Kame remains and HSJ join the hosts to do the usual first talk segment. HSJ are announced to be supporters for the program, which they will remain for the rest of the season, and introduce the theme of the episode. The theme is Tomodachi (friend), which could be guessed from the fact the opening medley was labelled the Tomodachi Medley.

Even though the theme medley has been done we do get another medley to feature the Juniors after the first talk segment. The starting performance is good to show what is going on with Snow Prince Gasshoudan, the taller/older boys of the group are getting pushed as the younger/shorter ones are mainly just back dancing.

Also in the medley there is a sense that the groupings are looking like they could be in a state of flux as we get a mix of the ones that get places with Kyomoto Taiga and Shani (Masuda Ryo) being main performers for the final couple of songs. Though outside of Yasui Kentaro none other than the other two mentioned have as much presence on the show as they did then.

The You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment has been kept and is the next segment for the episode. It looks like B.I.Shadow gets to join A.B.C-Z and Kis-My-Ft2 in having at least one member be included in the segment. The first postcard is a school related matter then they have one that compares Chino Aoi (who is no longer with Johnny's) to a mascot character so they bring him out to show that. Miyata Toshiya then gets compared with a kanji character that of course highlights his big nose.

A.B.C-Z then performs their group song STAR SEEKER then moving onto HIGHER! FLY. Like most of the group's performances there is a strong emphasis on the choreography of the performance, which of course is solid and the highlight of the performance.

Kame gets to get the usual guest MC segment after this. They start off bringing up the fact that it has been a while since Kame was last on the program and Kame brings up that the length of the mics had changed as during rehearsal he ended up hitting the end of his not realizing how long it was. The theme of the episode is then brought up as a topic so Kame talks about friendship.

He then has a solo performance and performs a KAT-TUN B-side, On My Mind. It always seems a bit off when a group song is performed as a solo or vice versa but that is more an issue of just being used to hearing something a certain way. This is one of the few KAT-TUN B-sides I am familiar with and I think it works well as a solo with it being a slower song.

Next up is the game segment of the show. It is another round of the dance game where each member has to do a dance move then add one until someone forgets to do one or how to do one. This time though they are having the four champions of the previous times they have played this game compete. Because of the low number of contestants Nakamaru Yuichi is made to join them as Kame is brought out to be a judge with Koyama Keiichiro.

It is then time for another performance, this time Kis-My-Ft2 have their performance for the episode. They are performing SHOOTING STARS on the show for the first time. This is one of their roller skates songs so there is plenty of energy. But perhaps a bit too much at the start for Kitayama Hiromitsu as he almost falls but miraculously saves himself.

B.I. Shadow get to have an MC segment with the hosts as they talk about the following VTR segment. They were sent off to do a lesson and this time it was juggling.

Juggling is one of those skills that Johnny's seems to always want a few in the agency to be able to do. Though out of those who have debuted only Taguchi Junnosuke and Yaotome Hikaru come to mind for those who have showcased this ability. And despite having this lesson no one from BIS have really taken this talent on as a way to be showcased.

And speaking of Hikaru, the next performance starts out with BIS showing off some juggling to be joined by Hikaru before he takes over the stage to perform his solo song Akogare no Egoist. BIS does show up about halfway through to back dance and provide some back vocals as well at least.

It is then time for the final song of the episode. It is Seishun Amigo, which of course is incredibly fitting for not only the theme of the episode but also the guest. In fact Kame joins the Juniors and HSJ in performing it and with that the episode closes.

It is rather sad to remember that this is the final season of the show with Koyama and Nakamaru as hosts. While I do think it was time for them to move on from the program they really built a place fro themselves on the show.

Outside of that it was a good episode. Even though it could have been easy for the guests to have overshadowed the Juniors there was a good enough balance between them that it was not an issue. Also in some ways these episodes are reflecting the current ones with how A.B.C-Z and B.I.Shadow are moving in to host segments with Kis-My-Ft2. The later may no longer be regulars on the show but seeing as the BIS members that get the chance to host these segments are also the two that debut with Sexy Zone it does make it feel like some things were set in place long before the more current seasons.