31 May 2014

The Shounen Club 6 August 2010 review

And we get another guest heavy episode of the series.

The episode starts off with the Junior groups, B.I.Shadow and Hip Hop Jump with Juniors Morimoto Shintaro, Masuda Ryo and Sanada Yuma singing Ho! Summer.

At the end of the opening song the main guest of the episode is introduced, Takizawa Hideaki. And he takes over singing the song as the Juniors back dance for him.

It is then time for the opening talk with the show's hosts and supporters. The theme of the episode is of course Natsu (summer).

There is the usual theme medley afterwards but the hosts, Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi perform in it as it covers songs from their groups. Though I am not sure what makes Keep the faith a "summer" song. And Kis-My-Ft2 and A.B.C-Z both get to perform group songs in the medley, which I believe is a first for the two groups.

BIS get the first MC segment with the hosts as they talk about something that they each think of when they think of summer.

The group then gets to perform and all four members are on stage from the start for a change. They perform FIGHT ALL NIGHT, and the rap is easily the weakest part of the performance as none of the members seem to have any talent for it.

Tackey then gets his MC with the hosts. He brings up that for him the summer means concerts. Koyama then brings up having stamina and the conversation turns to picking on Nakamaru a bit before Tackey brings up that he saw KAT-TUN practice for their concerts.

He then goes on to perform one of his solo songs, Kareha no Kage, which is an unreleased solo song that he performed at his Takizawa Kakumei stage shows.

This is followed by a You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment hosted by Kawai Fumito, Nakajima Kento and Kityama Hiromitsu. The first letter asks Nakaken about how to do a love confession and he says that it is best to be direct. The next letter is one that compares Yokoo Wataru to a mascot character as his look-a-like.

The following performance is basically a Junior medley that starts off with just Question? but other Juniors come on stage for the other songs after the first. It gives us a duet with Kyomoto Taiga and Yasui Kentaro. It feels like it has been forever since Kyomoto has done a duet and Yasui is a good partner for him for one.

Yamashita Tomohisa suddenly pops in for an MC segment. When asked about the theme he brings up going to the beach.

Yamapi then performs the title track for one of his solo singles, One in a million. This is around the time I began not to care too much about his solo tracks though I do like the single. I think his debut solo album was where he lost me with his music.

It is then time for the Junior ni Q segment. The topic is basically to let the Juniors talk about something that they think of when they think of summer. The first up is Kurita Kei, who is not seen much these days.

Up next is Tanimura Ryuichi who answered with watermelon. Honestly he does not leave much of an impression with me but I am certain I have seen his name before.

Sanada Yuma has his turn next and his answer was melon. He seems to take a long time with the hosts going over how he eats them.

Senga Kento has an interesting answer of mazuku, which when I looked it up meant clumsy, shoddy or unlucky. He explains that it began back when he was in middle school and he could not play with his friends during the summer. And that finishes the segment.

We are not done with guests yet as we have the return of Hey! Say! JUMP again. They get an MC segment where they mainly talk about their SUMMARY concerts for that year.

The group then performs Shinku, which is the song from their first album that had lyrics written by Yamada Ryosuke. It is also one of the stronger songs from the album, IMHO, so I am happy to see it performed by the group.

It is then the end of the program and we get Tackey performing Sha la la. I would have preferred something with the Juniors singing and not just back dancing for a closing number after so many guests honestly. Especially as it is just Ebikisu on stage back dancing until the end where the rest are shoehorned in.

I wish we could get a break from all the guests on the show for a few episodes at least. Even though there is a decent amount of Junior screen time it just seems like overkill having so many guests on the program for past few episodes.

If anything the episodes for next month should hopefully give that break as they will be the ones filmed in Osaka.

29 May 2014

GTO set to return, again

I know I am a bit late to this news but I figure better late than never. Fuji TV has announced that GTO will be getting another sequel series (after the currently airing GTO Taiwan) GTO 2. It will begin airing on the network in July of this year.

Most of the main adult cast is returning from previous seasons but there is a new cast of students. In that cast are two Johnny's, Kikuchi Fuma and Okamoto Kauan.

Fuji TV OHP (Japanese)

It looks like Kauan is going to have no trouble with getting pushed by Johnny's now. I am curious to how small or large his role will be, as I am certain Fuma will be getting a more prominent character to play as he is more established and of course has debuted.

I just wish Johnny's was not so strict with letting there talents be seen outside of the channels they have already okayed. I say this as GTO Taiwan is actually a drama simulcast for Crunchyroll right now but I doubt Johnny's would let GTO 2 be the same. It is a shame as studies have shown that piracy rates drops when there is legal access to entertainment so if Johnny's wanted to curb that then letting the shows/dramas with their talent in them legally stream overseas would help with that. Not to mention it would help spread the overseas popularity of their talents.

I could probably rant some more about that topic but I will let it drop for now and enjoy what little I can legally now.

28 May 2014

Fan Status 2014: Kis-My-Ft2

Kis-My-Ft2 was one of my top groups before they debuted and nothing has changed that. While their music style has changed and I do not care for the 3/4 split I still like their songs and the split feels like it is lessening slowly. And if anything the Busaiku side group is helping s-My-2 grow in popularity so it should be a matter of time until the split is not so much an issue anymore.

I actually found myself really loving the group's latest single, Hikari no Signal, and it has remained on my iPod playlist since I put it on at the start of the month. I really hope that we start getting announcements for a new song/single soon as the group is due to have a new single this summer, especially with Tamamori Yuta starring in a drama. And of course I am really looking forward to a new album from the group. I skipped on the single collection, as I already have all their singles so outside of the one pre-debut song on it the album is useless for me to have. They really should have had the final Kis-My-Zero disc included in that release to put the rest of the group's pre-debut songs on, as there are very few left at this point.

That all said Kisumai is still a group I feel like I have no problem calling myself a fan of. If I had more time I would definitely be watching their shows and dramas. And I am glad that they do have group shows, as it is nice to see the group dynamic played out.

So Kisumai remains firmly in place on my list of favorite Johnny's groups. While they do release the most compared to the other groups I follow at least they usually stick to a schedule of sorts so it is easy to figure out when to start saving for the next release.

24 May 2014

The Shounen Club 9 July 2010 review

The show gets to juggle having two guest groups, because reasons?

The program opens up with the usual three HSJ supporters performing Jounetsu JUMP, which was a live only song for some time before finally being released on their debut album. Halfway through they do a quick intro for some of the Juniors before moving on to continue the song with A.B.C-Z and Kis-My-Ft2 joining in the performance. And I can remember fans of those two groups complaining about them performing a Hey! Say! JUMP song. So glad the two groups debuted and a lot of the resentment against HSJ went away.

The theme of the episode is HOT, inspired by the fact that it is summertime. During the opening talk Nakajima Yuto gets to bring up the concerts for HSJ, KAT-TUN and Kisumai to give them all a bit of a plug.

The theme medley afterwards starts with Kyomoto Taiga singing Sunadokei a cappella. I really wish he was not shuffled into the mix of older Juniors as he is nowadays as it is rare for any of them to really get a chance to shine like this. And I know he does not have the tone of voice that is generally pleasant to everyone but I like it. Especially when paired with a deeper voice like Jesse's or Masuda Ryo's.

The rest of the medley continues and just about all the Junior groups and groupings that do not get as heavily featured as the rest get a chance to perform something. Even Hip Hop Jump got to perform without Morimoto Shintaro leading them. It is weird to see Tanaka Juri and Hagiya Keigo getting pushed more than Jesse back then. But it is a good reminder that he spent a good amount of time in the back before he got his chance to be in the front.

After that the HSJ supporters start showing up with Juniors performing with them. And honestly I am okay with that. It is only when the debuted Johnny's start taking the Juniors off the stage or shuffling them to the back to merely back dance do I get annoyed by it. And it is interesting to see how little has changed when it comes to some of the Juniors that get pushed on the program.

KAT-TUN are brought out for an MC segment. They mainly talk about their world tour, which honestly would be stretching things calling it an Asian tour as they only went to two Asian countries outside of Japan for it. They bring up that Kis-My-Ft2 will be with them for these concerts.

The following performance is a special stage that starts off with Kisumai performing one of their group songs, Tension, before KAT-TUN take their turn to sing one of their songs. They perform No More Pain, which is the title track of the album that they released around this time.

Then there is a Gekkan Koyamaru segment with Koyama Keiichiro showing pictures he took of members of Hey! Say! BEST backstage.

It's been a while but Question? gets to perform as a group and it is for one of their group songs, Beautiful Mind. I love this song and like always this is a good solid performance from the band. The kind of performance that really makes me miss them.

And just in case there were not enough guests for this episode, Yara Tomoyuki is here and gets an MC segment. At least in Yara's case he is still a Junior, just not a regular on the program. Yara gets to talk about/promote the fact that he is in PLAYZONE with Imai Tsubasa that year.

Then Yara performs with They Budo, one of the Dance Umbrella groups. With They Budo around now it is probably safe to say that Butokan is no more. If mainly because Yamamoto Ryota is a member of They Budo and it is rather rare for Juniors to be in more than one group at a time.

We are not done with the guests yet, though it is starting to feel like it has been a long time since we have seen the Juniors that are program regulars by now. But Hey! Say! JUMP get to talk and mainly promote their first album release.

They then perform a track off the album, TIME. I love this album as the album tracks are all strong and TIME is no exception. And it is always nice to see a non-A-side single track performed by a group. And it is about this time that the height difference in the members starts getting rather apparent. But the camera does try its best not to let it show that much.

While they do not get an MC segment A.B.C-Z are up next to perform. They sing Vanilla but start with Totsuka Shota playing the guitar with Hashimoto Ryosuke dancing. I wish they performed the whole song acoustic instead of just that intro as they go to the usual backing track afterwards for the actual song performance.

It is then time for the Junior ni Q segment and the theme is "things that are currently 'HOT'", if I am not mistaken. Nakajima Kento is called over first as the hosts are curious about his answer of poems.

Next we have two Juniors up with Sanada Yuma and Watanabe Shota talking about skateboarding. Or it is mostly Sanada seen talking.

Anderson Casey gets to talk about Magic, as in magic tricks. He of course gets to show off a trick and he chooses a card trick.

Then Kyomoto Taiga is brought over and he gets to talk about his love for Tegomass, especially Tegoshi Yuya, who is the senpai he most admires. He also gets to do his impersonation of Masuda Takahisa. And that wraps up this segment.

There is then a letter exchange with three Juniors, Sanada, Masuda Ryo and I believe Fukuda Yuta, who I am not sure is with Johnny's anymore or not. He appears and disappears on this program rather quickly, IIRC, but I believe he may still be in the dance groups if he is still around.

The three then perform SMAP's Arigato then Dear WOMAN as a trio for the first song and are joined by other Juniors for the second. In a way the performance would not seem too out of place in a current Shounen Club episode, minus having Fukuda there. But we have definitely entered the time that Masuryo and Sanada really start getting their pushes. Whether or not those will ever lead to a debut is still undetermined.

KAT-TUN then gets to close out the program by performing their song, SMILE. I do not recognize the song so it has to be either a single B-side or album track. But it is a mid-tempo pop tune that could easily be given to any other Johnny's group. Though I do think SMAP when listening to it. Near the end of the song the Juniors file on to stage to backdance.

For an episode with as many guests as it has it did well enough balancing it all out. I do not get why KAT-TUN and HSJ had to be guests in the same episode with KAT-TUN already the guest for the previous episode for the month. I guess they really wanted to promote the group's tour so when the announcement came about Akanishi Jin leaving the group they would not have to worry about fans not wanting to come, even though it was announced already they were doing the tour without him.

Fujii Ryusei in a time warp

It has been announced that Fujii Ryusei will be the lead in the live action adaption of the manga series Again. It will air on TBS starting in July for ten half-hour episodes and not much else is known yet.

Nikkan Sports article (Japanese)

I am really surprised at this news. I did not expect anyone but the main four of Johnny's WEST to get a good amount of work anytime soon. But I do like Ryusei so I was pleasantly surprised at least.

Of course I am curious why he was selected as he does not have much acting experience. Outside of Johnny's produced movies/SPs he only has a supporting role in the Miss Pilot drama series. So I can only assume that perhaps he does have promise as an actor or Johnny's decided to put him in the drama, even though they do have other Johnny's around his age they could have used instead. I guess I should tune in and see which one is the more likely case. Either that or wait for the next late night Johnny's drama is announced and see if that is full of JWEST members.

That said with the episode time length I am assuming this is going to be a late night drama. So it is perfect for new talent to start off with at least.

I do hope Johnny's WEST will get to do the theme song for the drama, then they have a reason to release their next single this summer.

21 May 2014

Fan Status 2014: Nakayama Yuma & Yamashita Tomohisa

Going to get the two soloist out of the way, even though I do actually follow one of them.

I still like Nakayama Yuma though I am still not certain if a solo career is right for him. But Johnny's seems set on that now that they have dumped the NYC group. I have enjoyed his releases so far, though Missing Piece is the stronger single compared with High Five, IMHO. But I still look forward to whatever his next music release will be.

He is one of those Johnny's that I do like to follow when it comes to dramas. Even though I have not cared for all the ones he has done I do think he is one of the more talented actors with Johnny's. I would like to see him play some roles with larger ranges than he has as I believe he is up for the challenge.

Either way Yuma is staying on my radar, and since he does not release things very frequently I can afford to do so.

Yamashita Tomohisa lost me around the time he released his first solo album. I liked his singles before that but the album did not stand out much to me. Then he switched music styles to go with his solo career and I cared even less for that. And the whole Ero-pi thing just feels silly and makes him look like he is just trying way too hard for his persona.

Yamapi was not a favorite of mine when he was in NEWS though so it probably is no surprise that I have come to not follow him now that he is solo. At this point any grudge I may have held against him is gone and nothing I have heard about his solo career has made me interested in him.

20 May 2014


Looks like Johnny's decided to throw a curveball with Kis-My-Ft2 releases, as their next CD release is going to be an album. It will be titled Kis-My-Journey and will be released July 2nd with three editions (technically four with the fourth being only available to those with Japanese addresses).

The only singles that will be on the album will be Hikari no Signal and Busaiku and the listing says there will be solo songs and unit songs, which I assume will be like the past albums with only a couple members will get solos and the rest get their own songs to kinda make up for that. There are two new song titles listed as well, 3.6.5 and Daisuki Desu, which I will assume will be the two songs that will be getting the PVs.

The first limited edition comes with a DVD that will have a PV of a song off the album, the making of, and footage from the album recording session. It will also have thirteen songs in total.

The second limited edition also comes with a DVD with a PV of another song off the album, the making of, and a member talk feature. Its CD track listing is the same as the other LE.

Then the regular edition will just be the CD but it will come with a bonus track that bumps the total number of songs to 14 for it.

As mentioned there is another version, but it is only for those with Japanese addresses as it has to be ordered through Avex's online store for the group. But it will have the same 13 tracks as the LEs and just comes with a clearfile that the other editions will not have.

This is definitely a surprise as I was so certain that if we got an album release from the group it would be much later in the year. But I cannot say I am disappointed, as an album worth of new songs from the group beats a single. Especially since there are only two single tracks on the album there will be plenty of new material.

I do think the solo songs are just going to be for Kitayama Hiromitsu and Fujigaya Taisuke like with the previous albums. Perhaps they may give Tamamori Yuta a solo, but I suspect we will get the same as the other albums and he will just have a track with those other two then one with the other four members of the group. I guess s-My-2 will get their usual song, though I do wonder if they will do it under the Busaiku sub-unit name or just have that for the one song. I will be disappointed if they do not get a new song and Busaiku is used to count as their unit song on this.

I do wonder if there will be a single of what is bound to be the tie-in to Tamamori's summer drama. One of the songs getting a PV could potentially be that song, but with the drama being moved to a Golden Time slot I would think having a single release would be better than an album as it would be much easier to get a casual fan that happens to like the drama and/or the song to pick up a single compared to an album. But there could still be a single release if they wait until August for it and it is not like Kisumai has not had releases that have been released close together like that before.

In any case, once I have the money it looks like I now have the release that I can add to the latest Hey! Say! JUMP album for another order from CDJapan. I have a lot to look forward to this summer.

17 May 2014

The Shounen Club 2 July 2010 review

We get the return of  frequent guests for the program as the season continues on.

The show starts off with the Juniors taking turns performing the KAT-TUN song Real Face and Nakajima Yuto does the introductions for the main ones.

Near the end of the medley the guests for the episode come out, and it is KAT-TUN. We sure seem to be getting a lot of them in recent months. Checking out the events around this time they are still supposed to officially be a sextet but Akanishi Jin is doing his solo concerts which we all know now will lead to him officially leaving the group. So perhaps these frequent appearances are to keep the members of the group busy during this time.

We have the usual opening talk next where the other two members of Hey! Say! JUMP, Arioka Daiki and Takaki Yuya, show up to be introduced as supporters with Yuto. They introduce the theme of the episode, Mokuhyou (objective, target), and start the conversation with that, which is rather easy as KAT-TUN seemed to be more than ready to get into things.

This is followed by a B.I. Shadow medley, which has the group sing both covers and their original songs. If I am not mistaken we have the shortest wait for Matsumura Hokuto and Kochi Yugo to show up on stage after it starts with just Nakajima Kento and Kikuchi Fuma. That is rather nice though I know this pattern is not going to change up until the group is broken up for the latter two to debut.

The following MC is with A.B.C-Z who get to talk about the concerts they got to produce at Theatre Crea. As they talk about them we get to see some VTR footage from the concerts which is nice.

The performance after is a medley for both Mis Snow Man and Ebi. It is nice to see MSM get a chance to perform as a group, even for a short period, as there has been little of that. When Ebi get their turn MSM stay on stage to back dance for them.

Up next is a You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment with Kitayama Hiromitsu, Kawai Fumito, Miyata Toshiya and Nakajima Kento being the MCs this time around. The first letter asks for advice about getting a present. Kento brings up that for his 20th birthday he would like a car. The next letter asks about "call and response", which is when on stage a performer calls something out that the audience responds to. Miyata gets to show off one that Kis-My-Ft2 has. Kawai demonstrates the lack of any he and his group has while he gets to make one up for Kento.

Morimoto Shintaro gets his own medley, and of course he has members of Snow Prince Gasshoudan and Hip Hop Jump backing him up for it. It is a fun and lively medley full of energy and the kind of performance I would like to see more often on the program nowadays.

The game segment is a gesture quiz, where teams of three Juniors compete in guessing the right answer to a prompt that one of them has to mime. This a rather fun game to watch as even though it usually sticks to Johnny's songs like with this game one of the rounds has them having to mime fellow Johnny's.

Kis-My-Ft2 then get to do have the usual one performance an episode. They perform Kis-My-Calling, which is one of those songs that is best enjoyed live. But it is also one of those songs that works as a group introduction as each members gets time in the spotlight and the repetition of the group name in the lyrics.

The Kansai Juniors get a segment with the Kansai Junior ni Q segment. They get to talk about special skills that they have. First up is Kiriyama Akito who claims that talking fast is his special talent, which of course he is asked to prove.

Then Kotaki Nozomu is next for someone still in Johnny's. He put down that he could impersonate fellow Kanjuu Hamanaka Bunichi.

Nakama Junta is called over to talk about his answer which deals with animals in some way. He is not up there long before they move on.

Following him is Shigeoka Daiki. I could not get what he was talking about for his answer though except it mentions something about a tree. And he is the last up for the segment.

Then KAT-TUN get their MC segment with Koyama Keiichiro. They talk about their goals as a group, which leads them to talk about their upcoming world tour, though "world" is quite the stretch to label it as they never went out of Asia.

KAT-TUN finally get their turn to perform and they do a special medley which is of their more recent songs. I forgot this was the era for the group where they abused autotune, which made it hard for me to enjoy their songs.

For the end song Hey! Say! JUMP suddenly appears to perform a medley of their songs. It feels rather off to have a guest come in for just the final performance but other than that it is a solid one. Not only do they do group songs but each of the two sub-units get to perform a song.

A good solid episode until the end where it just was a bit confusing. What is the point of having a debuted group show up just to sing the final song? I can only assume that HSJ will be the guests for the next episode, or this will just continue to baffle me.

But it was nice not to see a good mix of the Juniors with all the performances and the guests did not dominate the episode. It just felt lopsided with most of the guest appearances being all at the end.