21 September 2014

NEWS 4x9

Catching up with some news for NEWS, but the group is getting a variety program they will be hosting together. It will begin to air in October on Nippon TV and while it is set to only be a special there is no mention on how many episodes it will be.

The program will have the members of NEWS communicating with nine individuals via the internet from the studio to their homes. They will also be having NEWS, in teams of two, go and visit the homes as well.

JE Fandom (English)

Personally I am just really excited to see NEWS get a group variety program finally. The closest they had before was Soukon, but since that was back when the group had six members it really did not count. Of course this is only a special at the moment but I hope it does well enough that it will become a regular program.

And if this does become a regular program than the group will have something else to attached new songs to, which will hopefully lead to at least one more single a year from them. But I am probably getting ahead of myself with that.

17 September 2014

Sort of hiatus

Probably should have made the announcement before I started this but I am at the point that I do feel I am at least on a quasi-hiatus. Not sure how long it will last as it is due to just figuring out how I want to balance everything I am trying to do.

Never Ending Music Power will probably see very little change. I still plan on doing my reviews of Shounen Club and drama reviews for the dramas that star Johnny's for the blog and of course talk about new releases for the groups that I follow. I have been thinking about adding another program or so to my review list. The Gamushara shows are topping that list, but I think I will wait to finally catch up with Shounen Club before doing that. I also need to hunt down all the episodes for them first so I can play catch up with those. But I do want to give Kis-My-Ft2's upcoming program, Office Learning Variety OL Club, which is replacing KisuHama TV, a shot. It will probably depend on how I like the first episode and if it is something I feel comfortable enough with reviewing with my limited Japanese. But until I figure out a new schedule things are just going to be rather sporadic for the blog.

But I am trying to do more in general, especially since I have been doing the whole vlogging thing in earnest. I am enjoying doing it more than I expected but I do realize that I have let it take up most of my free time, which is something I do want to change. So I have some ideas on how to cut back with that and it should give me some of my free time back so I can do more with the blogs I am keeping.

And speaking of blogs I do have one for posting my youtube videos on, Thennary Speaks, for those who do not care for watching them on youtube, or want to follow but do not have a youtube account. I also am setting one up for female idols, Morning Girls On The Run, which I am mainly just re-posting the female-idol related entries from this blog and videos I've done related to female idols right now. There are a couple of new posts mixed in, but I do not plan on having it fully up and running until next month. And even then it will mainly just be cross-posting videos from youtube and talking about upcoming releases of the female idol groups I am following. But I do feel I'm better off keeping that separate from NEMP, as my past attempts to mix the two interests never worked out in the long run.

But that sums up everything I am trying to balance. I do hope to be back on track with NEMP by the start of October. Then hopefully I can push on and finally catch up with Shounen Club, as that will also give me some extra free time when I only have two episodes a month to review.

09 September 2014

Little Tokyo Live! for Johnny's WEST and Hey! Say! JUMP

It has been announced that Johnny's WEST and Hey! Say! JUMP will host a program together called Little Tokyo Live on the TV Tokyo station. This program will be the weekly spin off of the Tokyo Live 22hr that was hosted by various sempai of the two groups.

The program will begin in October and there will be three hosts for each episode, with the three being a mix of members from Johnny's WEST and Hey! Say! JUMP.

Yahoo! NEWS article (Japanese)

I am really happy about this, mainly for JW. It may not be a variety program of their own but it is a start with it at least being a Tokyo program which will give them more exposure. Plus it is always fun to see members from other groups interact and JW should help keep the shows lively.

I just hope at some point we get a little Gokusen 3 reunion with Takaki Yuya, Kiriyama Akito and Nakama Junta. I can already tell that whatever episode gives us this will be my favorite.

07 September 2014

The Shounen Club 15 April 2011 review

We get the second episode post the Tohoku quake and tsunami which continues the trend of stripping the production down to the most basic elements. There is a bit more of a mix of songs performed so the theme is not as unified but again it is hard to critique these episodes considering the time they were filmed.

This episode opens up with Hey! Say! JUMP and the main Juniors of the episode on stage. Arioka Daiki, Kawai Fumito, Kitayama Hiromitsu and Fujigaya Taisuke all get turns speaking as they give a brief run down of what to expect to see in the episode.

The first performance of the episode is HSJ's Dreams come true which is used as an introductory song of sorts as part way through Okamoto Keito gives a message in English and ends it by introducing Kis-My-Ft2 and A.B.C-Z. It always feels a bit off having those two groups sing a HSJ song, but at least they have Yabu Kota and Yaotome Hikaru performing with them as they are the two members of HSJ that have been in Johnny's around the same time as some of the members of those two groups.

Up first for the talk segment is B.I.Shadow, though they are down a member. IIRC, Kochi Yugo broke his collar bone around this time and will be missing from Shounen Club for a few months while it heals. The three present though all get to talk about the disaster and give their thoughts about it. I did catch Matsumura Hokuto talking about wanting to help when he saw the footage of it on TV.

The group then performs Sekai ni Hitotsu dake no Hana, which seems a song that is too easy for the group. But it is a classic hit and they do try to at least make the back dancing for it more complicated than usual.

It is then Kis-My-Ft2's turn to give their thoughts about recent events. Or at least Kitayama, Fujigaya and Tamamori Yuta as the other four just get to stand in the background.

Their following performance starts with Kitayama performing his solo song Rock U before the rest of the group join him on stage to perform their group song 3D Girl. This performance is the biggest break so far from what has been performed so far as it is more like the usual Kisumai performances with them doing newer songs with a cool image to them.

A.B.C-Z then follows with the same pattern of having a talk segment first. Totsuka Shota, Hashimoto Ryosuke and Kawai Fumito all get to talk with the other two members standing in the back.

The group then performs Ashita no Tame ni Boku ga Iru. This is a rather fitting song for this time with its lyrics. Not to mention with the smaller stage to perform on a slower tempo song like this means little in the way of acrobatics so how to fit those in the performance did not have to be an issue.

There is a small break to the pattern so far as NYC do not get a talk segment before their performance. They get a quick introduction as then we see them perform Yume no Tamago. It is a fun upbeat song with a good message so it feels like a good fit for the episode. I just wish they had more Juniors back dancing as they started off with none, got a few then picked up a few more to finally fill the stage a bit but it still looked rather empty until the end when they had more file in. They probably should have had most of them out from the start as there is so little on this stage in general.

The following talk segment has us back with Kisumai as we get the VTR from their concert where they learn of their debut. Even though it has been over three years now since then I still find myself feeling the same way as I did when I first watched this. I was so happy for the guys and I am still so incredibly happy that they debuted.

There is then a Junior medley that starts off with a performance of 1 for YOU, which is basically a Morimoto Shintaro with Hip Hop Jump song. Things switch off for Shintaro to to perform BITTER MOON with Snow Prince Gasshoudan before it goes back to him and HHJ performing 1 for YOU again. So it is basically a Shintaro medley featuring other Juniors.

We get a Junior ni Q segment with the young and fresh Juniors. Again it has the theme about words of encouragement. Haba Yuki is up first and shares some he got from a teacher.

Then it is Inoue Mizuki. He gives a phrase that his mother told him the day before he went to audition for Johnny's.

Kurita Kei gets to talk and his is also from his mother, but it was in regards to him being pitcher on a baseball team. And that wraps up that segment.

We go back to a talk segment to introduce a new letter corner, Junior Youbin, to replace the last one. Honestly I am just glad I can type the title out much easier now. They also introduce the Gekkan! Ki ni Naru J segment.

Hey! Say! JUMP then perform Ai-ing -Aishiteru-, which is just a cute song. Definitely something that is just fluffy and energetic enough to get you into a good mode, especially with the performance to go with it.

The final song is another HSJ song, Memories. It is also another HSJ performance as while they have the Juniors come on stage near the end they do not do anything but take up space on stage really. But with that this episode wraps up.

After this pair of episodes we return to the usual NHK Hall stage with the next month's episodes. IIRC, things slowly start going back to normal, and of course Johnny's needed to promote Kisumai as they were still set to debut. Plus they needed to get ready to debut the next FIVB group, Sexy Zone, as most of the members are finally around.

As much as tragic events like the Tohoku quake derail things at the end of the day life must go on. So like the rest of the Japanese entertainment industry Johnny's has to bounce back while doing what they can to support all needed relief efforts at the time.

03 September 2014

The Shounen Club 8 April 2011 review

As mentioned with the previous review on March 11, 2011 the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan and it had a wide affect for the nation in general. With the need to conserve utilities the programs that did run during this time were cut back to the bare basics, and Shounen Club was no exception. So for the episodes for April 2011 there is a great departure from the norm for the program because of this.

The hosts for the program are now Hey! Say! JUMP and the full group is present for these episodes.  For most of the talk sections of this episodes they are in this room and you quickly get the feeling that they filmed it all there before moving on to the next room where they do the performances for this episode.

After a long beginning talk we get the first performance of the episode, HSJ performing Arigato ~Sekai no Doko ni Itemo~. This performance pretty much shows what to expect for the rest of the performances for these episodes, simple sets that do not use a lot of lighting.

Nakayama Yuma then joins HSJ in the talk part to give his words of encouragement. I guess he works as the guest of the episode, though that is not really mentioned.

With Yuma there it means that we get a NYC performance and it is Yuuki 100%. While the performance starts out with just the three partway through a bunch of younger Juniors show up to back dance. I think the addition of the Juniors made the performance feel more uplifting as they filled all that empty space on the stage that just made things feel barren.

Next up the talk focuses on Yabu Kota as he gets to be the next to give some encouraging words to the fans.

Then on to the next performance, which is a medley of A to Z and Dream ~Itsutsu no Negai~ by A.B.C-Z. It is odd to see the group this low key but their flashier performances would seem out of place and not in the best of taste for an episode like this.

If you felt the 10th anniversary special was too light with the past footage of HSJ members then these episodes should be what you are looking for as this episode gives us a compilation of clips of the members of Hey! Say! BEST during their Junior days.

For the first time in the episode we see someone acting lively as HSJ talk about the clips and joke about their younger selves. This feels like a welcome break from the previous talk segments that were so solemn they were gloomy.

Next Morimoto Shintaro leads the little Juniors in a performance of Sekai ga Hitotsu ni Naru Made. This song seems like a perfect fit for what the episode is going for with trying to be inspirational as well as sensitive to current events.

Working to get all the HSJ members to say something Nakajima Yuto, Inoo Kei and Morimoto Ryutaro each get a turn this time around in giving a message.

Kis-My-Ft2 then get to perform and they perform their group song Inori. Out of their song library it is the song that is probably the most fitting. And the low lighting fits with the song rather well, so a good choice for the group overall.

Hey! Say! 7 get their turn of getting a clip compilation of their time as Juniors, and at the end briefly as newly debuted Johnny's. Like with HSB it is nice to see these performances and segments with clear picture and audio even though they are all cut short.

The following talk has them teasing Okamoto Keito about how stiff he was in one of the few clips he could be seen in. Joining the agency when he did left very little to choose from for him to be shown in this after all. And of course the rest of the talk was about the other members and just how much they have changed.

A new segment, Junior You Bin, is then introduced. It is really just a renaming of the You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment, but I welcome it if just because the new title for the segment is easier to remember. They just go over the information on how to submit the letters for the segment in this episode though.

This is then followed by the mainstay segment, Junior ni Q. Yabu and Hikaru host the segment which was filmed in the room that they have been filming the performances. The focus this time is on the fresh Juniors. In fact I do believe that this is Matsushima So's first appearance on the program as he is the first to talk about the topic for the segment, encouraging words.

Next is Miura Wataru who shares a quote from Nakajima Yuto, which seems to be more something Yuto said to him that encouraged him.

Kanazuru Hideki is next and it is surprising to see him so pushed at this time as he really seemed to disappear about as quickly as he popped up. It always makes me wonder about what happened when those changes occur. That said I noticed that Kishi Yuta seemed to have found a good spot to be sitting in as he can be seen in the background quite a bit in this segment.

Sato Shori of course gets called up as it was clear even then that he was getting a fair amount of pushing from the agency. It is interesting to see how nervous and unsure of himself he is here compared to the confidence he now has on stage.

Then Tanimura Ryuichi gets to talk. I believe he is one of those Juniors that pop up here and there from time to time as there is something familiar about him to me, but I do not think he has ever gotten a real push from the agency.

A face I do not recognize is up next, Taniguchi Yuya. I really feel like I do not know much about the current generation Juniors when I run into Juniors like him, even though I know at this point there are just way too many Juniors to keep track of, especially as Johnny's cannot decide which ones to promote themselves these days.

Then they talk to Okubo Louis, who like Kanazuru got a fair amount of attention at first but faded into the background rather quickly.

The final Junior they speak with is Takahashi Fu who they end up showing off his head spin, which is still something he is asked to show off whenever he can currently as well.

Hikaru gives the last message of the episode, which seems rather fitting as he is from one of the areas that was affected by the disaster.

The episode ends with HSJ doing a medley of their early singles. This is basically just the single medley that was on their debut album. I rather liked how they did that so I enjoyed this performance, especially as it did seem to have a bit more energy than their previous ones this episode.

I find it hard to try to rate these April 2011 episodes as they were done in far less than ideal circumstances. And it is hard to say if the HSJ-heaviness of them is because that is just where the program is going content-wise or they needed to make sure they could fill the time for the episode and a recap like that was just the easiest way to do it.

It is hard to say this was an enjoyable episode, as there is an air of somberness about it. But it should at least be notable for the fact that this is Matsushima So's first appearance on the program.

02 September 2014

Johnny's WEST's Zipangu dream

The second single for the most recent Johnny's group to debut has been announced. The single will be a double A-side featuring the songs used as the theme songs for the drama Again!, which stars Fujii Ryusei. The title of the single is Zipangu Ookini Daisakusen / Yume wo Dakishimete and will be released on October 8th and comes in four versions. Each version has a first press bonus of a clear file, with each version having a different one.

The first limited edition is the basic CD with DVD combo. The CD will have the two title tracks plus their karaoke versions. Then the DVD will have the PV and making of for the song Zipangu Ookini Daisakusen.

The second limited edition is basically the same as the first. The major difference is that the DVD has the PV and making of for the other title track, Yume wo Dakishimete.

The third limited edition is just a CD, but comes with a 20-page bonus booklet. The CD will also contain two bonus songs not included in any other version of the single, WESTERN PARADE and Can't stop.

The regular edition of the single will just be the CD but it will contain two bonus tracks not included in the other versions, SUPERSTAR and for now and forever.

There is also a bundle that CDJapan is offering if you want to make sure you are getting all four versions.

So glad to finally have a new single announcement from the group. It seems a bit late to release a single for the theme songs of a summer drama, but at least they are releasing the songs. And I love that in total we are getting six new songs with this single.

That all said I am surprised by the release date. They are up against Nogizaka 46 and there is just no way they will have good enough sales to beat that group. I guess Johnny's is just not going to care about keeping a number 1 debut streak going for the group. In a way that is not bad as it means that they will be a group that will not be so restricted with release dates as they have nothing to protect.

Honestly I am mostly more interested in actually enjoying the single than where it places, as these days it seems to be more about making sure to release on a date there is little competition than actually simply selling well.