31 May 2015

Introducing... Nakayama Yuma

Giving a basic rundown of Johnny's & Associates young solo artist, Nakayama Yuma. His history and what he is currently up to.

The Shounen Club 6 May 2011 review

After promising about getting back to reviewing Shounen Club I have finally found the time/motivation to do so. Right now I am just going to try to review an episode a month, posting on the last day of every month. I may speed up a bit if I am able to work ahead of that schedule but I want to stick with something I feel is rather doable and right now once a month is that.

This episode is the first back at the usual NHK Hall stage for the episode filming after the more subdued episodes of the previous month. The March Tohoku earthquake/tsunami is of course still a fresh subject and the show is affected by it with really pushing an emphasis on being uplifting. This is also the first episode that uses what will be the usual set up for hosts with three members of the group being the hosts.

The show kicks off with one of the three Hey! Say! JUMP hosts, Arioka Daiki, announcing the theme of the episode, Kibou (hope). He then announces that the first song to be performed is Kibou ~Yell~.

Of course being the first song we get introductions to the main Juniors of the show. Starting with B.I.Shadow who are sporting outfits that I recognize from being one of the standards for KAT-TUN back when they were Juniors.

Sanada Yuma and Nozawa Yuki get introduced together. This is definitely around the time they were getting split off from Mis Snow Man but have yet to become the duo, noon boyz.

Then there are the ungrouped Juniors. Of course it will not be too much longer when most Juniors are ungrouped and I know for me it becomes so much harder to try to keep track of them.

Then there is Morimoto Shintaro with the usual tiny Juniors that are paired with him. So basically Snow Prince Gasshoudan though I cannot recall if they are still counted as a group at this point and none of them get their names on the screen even though they are highlighted.

Hip Hop Jump get introduced next while Shintaro is still on stage so there is no good full group shot that I could get of the six. But it does seem to be a sign of Shintaro shifting from being with the tiny Juniors to HHJ.

You can then tell that we are nearing the end of the performance as the senior Junior groups start showing up with A.B.C-Z up first.

And of course to round it out is Kis-My-Ft2 as they are on track to debut at this point, even though it was delayed because of the Tohoku quake. And that finishes the first performance and we launch right into the next afterwards.

The guest for the episode gets a rather impactful introduction by singing the song Kizuna a cappella at the start until the lights reveal that it is of course Kamenashi Kazuya. I love this song so I will rarely complain about a performance of it.

We then finally get to the introductory talk segment where the hosts, Daiki, Yaotome Hikaru and Nakajima Yuto introduce themselves.During the talk Kame asks Hikaru about Sendai (one of the areas hit by the Tohoku quake) as he is originally from that area and thus had family and friends in the area.

This is then followed by the theme medley which starts with a performance of Snow Prince by Shintaro with the usual tiny Juniors. It seems odd now to look back and see how much Shintaro was pushed. I really wonder if the underage smoking scandal of his brother Ryutaro hurt his chances that much.

After the ungrouped Juniors perform Arashi's Kimi no tame ni Boku ga Iru it is B.I.Shadow up. It is interesting to watch the group at this point as it does feel like Nakajima Kento and Kikuchi Fuma are on another level to Kochi Yugo and Matsumura Hokuto at this point but the later two have improved quite a bit since then.

After that we get a bunch of the Fresh Juniors performing Yuuki 100%, including two familiar faces, Matsushima So and Sato Shori. Still waiting for Marius Yo to show up so then all of Sexy Zone will be accounted for in these pre-debut days.

Then things wrap up with Original Smile being performed by just about all the Juniors featured in the medley.

There is the debut of the Junior Youbin corner, which is basically the usual letter corner that has been in the program since the early years of the show. But it has a new name so they still roll it out as something new. Nakaken and Kitayama Hiromitsu are the hosts this time. The first letter is from a fan from Miyagi and the other is from a fan of Yugo.

Another new corner is then introduced, Gekkan! Ki ni naru J, where they spotlight a Junior. For this first one it is Kuramoto Kaoru, who is no longer in the Juniors. He is joined by Yugo to help the segment along.

A.B.C-Z get to perform next and perform their song Dream ~Itsutsu no Negai~. It is a nice ballad for the song. They each give a message around the mid point of the song about hope, to directly tie into the theme of the episode.

The guest interview has the three hosts talking to Kame, mostly about the theme of the episode. But they do also bring up Kame doing sports casting as he just begun to do so around this time.

Kame performs his solo song someday for somebody, which for this has a longer introduction than the CD version. The performance has a nicely worked outfit change in the sense that it does help the performance stand out while being rather low key. I think it helps show that Johnny's is still trying to keep things cost/energy conservative as the nation was still being affected by the after effects of the quake.

Kitayama and Fujigaya Taisuke do the talk segment with the hosts before Kisumai perform for the episode. They mostly stick with the theme for the talk segment until near the end when it switches so they can talk about their debut a bit.

Kisumai perform a medley of two of their Junior songs, Brand New Season and Try Again. I am currently on a renewed Kisumai kick so I loved the performance, especially since both songs are done on roller skates, which I feel the group is already transitioning away from. As gimmicky as they are I do love the cheesiness of them and it was an easy way to let the group stand out.

The Junior ni Q segment is hosted by Kawai Fumito and Fujigaya. The topic is in relation to miso, I believe it is about what food you like to have with it. All the Juniors featured in this one are still around, which I do not think there will be too much more of as Juniors can come and go so easily.

First up is Kikuchi Fuma whose answer is in regards to some kind of meat.

Tanaka Juri's answer seems to be more about a time he likes to have it and not so much another food. They do ask him about his older brother (Tanaka Koki), but he answers that he does not know.

Then it is Nakaken who has a list of foods for his answer, one of them being kimchi.

The final Junior they talk to for the segment is Kyomoto Taiga, who they call over as "Kyo-sama". His answer is sashima which he gets to explain about.

The HSJ trio then get to perform a remixed version of the HSJ song Arigato ~Sekai no Doko ni Itemo~ with question after they read a letter from a fan in Taiwan who expresses their want to help support Japan after the quake. They are also joined by three of the bilingual Juniors to translate messages, with Jesse being the only one still with Johnny's as sadly Casey Anderson recently left the agency.

The shows ends with a performances of Can do! Can go! so it ends on an energetic note. Of course it is also one of those perfect songs to have the younger Juniors perform as it is one of the first songs they learn and it is rather simple.


So the show is returning to form even though it is a different one simply because it has begun a new season so all the changes that come with that are now able to be implemented. But this is now the era of Hey! Say! JUMP hosting and there are three debuts coming up in quick succession of each other, starting with Kisumai's.

Watching this does remind me that I have fallen behind in general with following the Juniors. I think I may need to do some catching up with that, though honestly I just have not been interested in them as a whole for a while outside of a few that I have been a fan of for years. So I am curious if my interest will be renewed or not, though I do know I am getting closer to when SC is more about recently debuted groups than Juniors so who knows.

29 May 2015

From WEST to Z? A re-evaluation of my Johnny's fandom

I have come to the point where I think my interest in Johnny's is definitely shifting quite a bit. And I am on the verge of dropping a group but at the same time possibly picking one up.

The group I am wanting to drop following is Johnny's WEST. I still love some of the members but outside of their debut single I feel their releases have been more on the lackluster side of things. or needless to say I was not overly impressed with their last couple releases and if I cannot like their music on some level then I do find it hard to stick with a group.

And I do not care for them basically being made to be Kanjani8 2.0. If I wanted to follow Kanjani8 I would be following them not Johnny's WEST. I feel it might be better to step away for at least a while and wait and see if JWEST is able to carve their own identity. And maybe get an actual group sound than the mishmash of styles they are getting thrown at them.

On the other hand, despite the fact that I have never been able to really get into the group before I am getting more and more interested in A.B.C-Z. I have always liked Hashimoto Ryosuke from even before he was added to the group and he is a part of the reason I keep any tabs on the group. But I do like Kawai Fumito and Totsuka Shota. There is something adorkable about Tsukada Ryoichi and Goseki Koichi is still just kinda there for me.

I plan on getting their latest album A.B.Sea Market, partly because there are solo songs, and partly because I did go and watch some of their recent music show appearances and enjoyed those. So I hope I enjoy the album as much. I guess I shall see where it goes from there but I hope I am won over finally, as I know they are a fun group and it is nice to see them getting the chance to show that off.

I am still a huge NEWS fan, that does not look like it will change any time soon. I definitely want to focus a bit more on them and catch up with previous releases that I was not able to get from them, which is mainly concert DVD/BDs at this point.

Recently I have felt a resurgence of love for Kis-My-Ft2. Not sure where it came from but like NEWS I want to focus more on this group as I feel like I am rediscovering and falling in love with them all over again. I am really enjoying their newest variety program, Kisumai GAME, which helps too. Like NEWS I need to catch up mainly with their concert DVD/BDs, but that may take a while just because of pricing for those.

Nakayama Yuma is another Johnny's I seem to be renewing my love for. While I have felt he might have been better in a group his solo releases have been overall really solid so I am quite glad where his career has taken him. I am hoping that we get at least another single from him this year though I know in the near future he is going to be busy with a stage play and filming a movie.

When it comes to the Juniors my interest really mostly remains with the members of SixTONES (previously known as the Bakaleya6). Well them and Yasui Kentaro, though I am getting the feeling that he will end up going the acting route like Takada Sho has as I just do not see Johnny's willing to debut an older group right now and unfortunately Yasui's age is working against him with that. But seeing that Ikuta Toma and Kazama Shunsuke have done well going to acting I think he will be just fine. There are other Juniors that I like but in a much more passive manner and those are mostly the ones from that era between Hey! Say! JUMP's debut to Sexy Zone's. That said I am starting to get back to watching Shounen Club and will try to find the time for Gamushara so I'll see if there are not any other Juniors that catch my interest. But I think I have reached the point where I would rather focus on the debuted groups where it is much easier to keep track of people.

I watched Hey! Say! JUMP's debut concert the other day and I truly feel that I have moved on from the group. I was much more excited in watching the Juniors perform than I was HSJ, though I still like Takaki Yuya and Nakajima Yuto. But I just cannot get myself interested in the group anymore and I do not want to force myself to or I will probably end up hating them and that is the last thing I want to do. They still hold a special place in my fandom heart for being the first group that debuted after I got into Johnny's and I really did love them but I just do not care for the direction the group is going.

NEWS - Sayaendo/Hadashi no Cinderella Boy (5th single)

Limited Edition
Between the release of the previous single and this one the group was hit by scandals, both involving underage drinking. Uchi Hiroki's scandal hit first and he was forced to leave both groups he was in, NEWS and Kanjani8, then months later Kusano Hironori was caught and he left NEWS. Both remained with the agency, but at a rank below the Juniors until it was deemed time to give them another chance. With two such scandals with members of NEWS happening within months of each other it was announced that once NEWS finished their already scheduled group activities for 2006 they would be placed on an indefinite hiatus.

As the scandals hit before this release Uchi and Kusano were removed from the single making this the first single for the six member line up. It is disputed if they removed Kusano's vocals from the song, as his scandal hit quite close to the release date of the single but it has never been confirmed or denied officially.

The only difference between the limited and regular editions of the CD is the jacket image. The track Sayaendo was the theme song for the seventh One Piece movie.

It is hard to say if there ever was a standard version for the music video for Sayaendo, the only title track of the single to even get one. What ended up being released as one was a mix of simple animation and live footage of the concert they were finishing up, and thus only having the remaining six members in that footage.

Yet despite the fact the single was not promoted because of the scandals it still kept the number streak alive for the group.

Regular Edition
Release date: 15 March, 2006

Versions: Limited, Regular

Track listing (same for both editions):
1. Sayaendo
2. Hadashi no Cinderella Boy
3. Sayaendo (original karaoke)
4. Hadashi no Cinderella Boy (original karaoke)

Group members: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nishikido Ryo, Koyama Keiichiro, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya

22 May 2015

NEWS - TEPPEN (4th single)

Teppen Limited Edition
The final CD release for the group before the scandals hit and take the group member number down by two. This is the final single to feature Uchi Hiroki and Kusano Hironori as group members.

This is another single that has the title track be tied to a volleyball event, this time the Women's Volleyball World Grand Prix 2005. The group were also named special supporters for the event.

The B-side Yume no Kazu Dake Ai ga Umareru had an a capella version of it as an album track on the group's debut album, Touch.

Teppen Regular Edition
Release date: 13 July, 2005

Versions: Limited, Regular

Limited track listing:
1. Teppen
2. Yume no Kazu Dake Ai ga Umareru
3. NANDEx2 DAME
4. Teppen (original karaoke)

Regular track listing:
1. Teppen
2. Yume no Kazu Dake Ai ga Umareru
3. NANDEx2 DAME
4. FIESTA

Group members: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nishikido Ryo, Uchi Hiroki, Koyama Keiichiro, Kusano Hironori, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya

Last single for Uchi Hiroki and Kusano Hironori.

18 May 2015

NEWS Chumu Chumu

NEWS will be releasing a new single shortly after their tour wraps up in June. The title is Chumu Chumu (or Tyumu Tyumu by CDJapan's romanization of it) and it will be released June 24th. It will come in three editions and there is a bundle available for those who want to get all three. Also the first press bonus this time around is a B2 sized poster, a different one to go with each version of the release.

The first limited edition comes with a DVD. It will only have the title track and a B-side that will be on all other editions of the release on the CD. The DVD will have the PV for the title track plus the making of and will be about 30 minutes long.


The second limited edition is CD only and will have the two tracks on the 1st LE as well as a bonus B-side not on any of the other editions. It will also have a set of four photo cards.


Then the regular edition will have the two tracks the other two versions have plus two bonus B-sides not on either of them. It will also have a karaoke version of the title track.


The bundle this time is just an easy way to order all three editions as it does not come with anything extra for it.



Seeing the break down of the different editions for this release is the same as their previous single, KAGUYA, I am thinking this will most likely be the standard for the group going forward. And that suits me fine as getting five new songs from the group with each single is great and of course it is nice to be getting DVDs with the PV on them for NEWS after going so long before they began doing that.

I pre-ordered my bundle immediately as NEWS is a group that when they have something that is limited it actually is and thankfully I can afford it. I am really excited about the bonus posters as I really love posters and have wanted a NEWS poster for a long time. Now I will have three, though depending on how much I like the designs I may not keep them all. But I am certain with three different versions there will be one I will like at least.

Between this release and Kis-My-Ft2's new album the summer is starting off great for me when it comes to Johnny's.

15 May 2015

Kis-My-World

As I had predicted Kis-My-Ft2 will be releasing their annual album in July this year, specifically July 1st. It will be titled Kis-My-World and will come in three editions (not including the editions only available through the Japanese only online stores), two limited editions and a regular edition.

The first limited edition will come with a DVD and two CDs. The first CD is the main album that will have 15 tracks in total which will include four duet songs with the groupings for it: Kitayama Hiromitsu & Fujigaya Taisuke, Tamamori Yuta & Miyata Toshiya, Nikaido Takashi & Senga Kento and Yokoo Wataru & Fujigaya Taisuke. The second CD will be a live album with audio from their Kis-My-Journey concert tour last year. The DVD will have a music video for a new song plus special footage for the members of the group including documentary footage for the duos.


The second limited edition will also come with a DVD and two CDs. The first CD is the same as the other limited edition. The second CD will be a remix CD of 13 of their songs from past singles, albums and even pre-debut songs. The DVD will have the multi-angle version of the music video, the making of for it and digest footage from a release event and a making of footage for that.


The regular edition will have the same 15 tracks as the limited editions plus two bonus tracks. The first press edition comes with digipak packaging.



I am of course rather excited for this. Even though there are B-sides being included in the track list the inclusion of the bonus CDs feels like they make up for that. In fact I think I will probably go ahead and get all three versions. The limited editions I will pre-order while the regular edition I will probably pick up later when I can afford it.

But I love that Kisumai is getting to try new things with the bonus CDs for the limited editions. And form the pairings for the unit songs it looks like they are throwing in some fanservice as well.

I am surprised that they have not announced a tour to go with the album yet, but I will assume they will soon enough. And with this it does indeed look like Kisumai has moved to albums and touring in the summer, which is usually one of the bigger seasons for concert tours outside of around the New Year.

NEWS - Touch (1st album)

Limited edition
The group's debut album and the only album that has the group at eight members. The album collected the title tracks of all their previous singles from NEWS Nippon to Cherish and came in two editions.

Tthis release is the first CD that has a track on it written by a member of the group. The song Love Song was written, both music and lyrics, by Yamashita Tomohisa.

The album track Yume no Kazu Dake Ai ga Umareru will have the regular version of the song released as a B-side on the group's next single, Teppen. This song is also featured on the DVD that comes with the album's limited edition.

The limited edition came with a DVD that had a few features on it. It is the first DVD bonus that NEWS has for a CD release. Probably the most noteworthy is that each of the members were filmed doing "dates" for fans. Other than that there is some short concert footage and each member has a filmed message about the album.

The regular edition has two bonus tracks which are both remixes, one of their single Cherish and another of the Kibou ~Yell~ B-side Stand Up.

It debuted number 1 on the charts and became the first NEWS album to chart at number 1 for the debut sales week.

Regular edition
Release date: 27 April, 2005

Versions: Limited, Regular

Limited track listing:
1. Kibou ~Yell~
2. Kirameki no Kanata e
3. Akaku Moyuru Taiyou
4. I ZA NA I ZU KI
5. LOVE SONG
6. Zutto
7. High TEN!
8. Koi Yake
9. Shissou! Friday Night
10. Say Hello
11. Cherish
12. Yawarakana Mama de
13. NEWS Nippon
14. Yume no Kazu Dake Ai ga Umareru

DVD:
1. Private
2. Concert (Yume no Kazu Dake Ai ga Umareru performance)
3. Message

Regular track listing:
1. Kibou ~Yell~
2. Kirameki no Kanata e
3. Akaku Moyuru Taiyou
4. I ZA NA I ZU KI
5. LOVE SONG
6. Zutto
7. High TEN!
8. Koi Yake
9. Shissou! Friday Night
10. Say Hello
11. Cherish
12. Yawarakana Mama de
13. NEWS Nippon
14. Yume no Kazu Dake Ai ga Umareru
15. Stand Up (Rock version)
16. Cherish (Ryoji remix)

Group members: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nishikido Ryo, Uchi Hiroki, Koyama Keiichiro, Kusano Hironori, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya

08 May 2015

NEWS - Cherish (3rd single)

Limited edition
The first single that is not a volleyball tie-in. Instead the tie-in is for a commercial that Yamashita Tomohisa was featured in. This is also the final single before the group's debut album.

Yamapi was easily the most popular member of the group while he was in it and it was not uncommon for the group to have tie-ins with his solo work. This single of course is the first for this.

It was released before their summer concert tour in 2005 which not only had the group performing in more cities than they had before but also at Yokohama Arena for the first time since their debut. Previous concerts had them mainly performing in halls and other similar sized venues.

Regular edition
Release date: 16 March, 2005

Versions: Limited, Regular

Limited track listing:
1. Cherish
2. Party Time
3. SHOCK ME
4. Cherish (original karaoke)

Regular track listing:
1. Cherish
2. Party Time
3. Devil or Angel

Group members: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nishikido Ryo, Uchi Hiroki, Koyama Keiichiro, Kusano Hironori, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya

03 May 2015

6tones!!!!!!

In a recent Crea concert it was announced that the six Juniors that made up the unofficial group Bakaleya6 are now an official Junior group, 6tones.

Top row left to right: Juri, Taiga, Yuugo, Hokuto
Bottom row left to right, Jesse, Shintaro
This group for those who may be unfamiliar will consist of Kouchi Yuugo, Kyomoto Taiga, Tanaka Juri, Matsumura Hokuto, Jesse and Morimoto Shintaro. They all were the main male leads in the Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou drama, hence the unofficial name of the Bakaleya6. Since that drama they had some early work with that grouping of six with performances and Junior concerts but it became an off and on thing but it looks like Johnny's must have noticed that they remained popular as an unofficial unit with fans and decided to officially group them.

While this is mostly my own speculation but I think it makes a lot of sense for Johnny's to do that. After a glut of debuts in the past few years it looks like they are slowing things down. In fact with Sexy Zone being the FIVB supporters for this year it looks like we probably will not be getting a new group to debut with that like usual. Unless they plan on creating something out the the Juniors that make up the Sexy Family grouping that also looks to be a part of it. But even that aside it has been years without a strong Junior group for the agency to line up for eventually debut.

Of course it is not like there are no other Junior groups but Johnny's support of those that are still around like Snow Man and Travis Japan has been rather weak. Trying to ramp things up for a debut for them now does not seem like the way they want to go or they would be pushing them more now. And with Snow Man I fear they ended up with bad timing as they had the two most popular members of their group taken out and are at the ages where debut looks difficult. Though at least they have Takizawa Hideaki supporting them, but even that can go so far if the group is not able to expand their presence elsewhere. While Travis Japan is still rather new and it looks like Johnny's is using that to their advantage to take popular members from the group for other projects if they see fit.

6tones though I feel can go the distance and get a good push to a debut in a couple years time. The members of the group have had various individual work, like drama and stage roles, and did still get concerts with the grouping as headliners for Junior concerts, in fact it was at one of those concerts that this announcement was made. Of course they need to be seen more as a group to really get a good following behind them. But they have a head start with the fact that they have kept fans for their grouping over the years. Not to mention that they have all had plenty of time in the agency to get strong individual fan followings, especially as at least half the group have had strong pushes in the past.

Of course if they end up debuting as a group like KAT-TUN and Kis-My-Ft2 before them I am certain it will at least be about two more years before that. One thing that all recent Junior group debuts have had in common is that as older debut groups all the members have been 20 years old or older, so 6tones will have to wait for Shintaro to turn 20 in about two years. So I would guess a 2017 or 2018 debut for the group if it happens.

And it may be for the best as by then I doubt many will recall Morimoto Ryutaro (sadly enough) or at least not in a meaningful way outside of once being in Johnny's and being Shintaro's older brother. And also the scandal surrounding Tanaka Koki hopefully will have died down enough not to be much of a shadow over Juri. (Maybe this will mean Juri will no longer be forced into the "rapper" role, which would personally make me happy.)

Before then there needs to be more signs that Johnny's is serious about this group by promoting them fully. Like having them perform on Shounen Club regularly (with original group songs), and keeping members active with both group and individual work especially getting drama roles. Since Shintaro will be graduating from high school in the coming year, and he's going to Horikoshi anyway, everyone should have rather free schedules, as those attending university still will have more flexible schedules than they did as high school students.

I really do think this group has potential to have a strong debut, I have since they were first grouped together as the Bakaleya6. But the agency has to make sure they pave the road towards it or 6tones will be with the rest of the current Junior groups, mostly neglected.

01 May 2015

NEWS - Akaku Moyuru Taiyo (2nd single)

Limited edition
This is the last single released for the group in 2004. The month after this Kanjani8 made their debut and Nishikido Ryo and Uchi Hiroki debuted for a second time with that group.

Of course the title track is another song used to promote women's volleyball coverage as the FIVB groups get tied to that quite a bit for their early years.

It features a poem that was written by Yamashita Tomohisa. The song itself is based off another song, The Way Home by Phasio, with the same composers working on this one.

Also of note about this single is that the limited edition of the single has a B-side exclusive to it. This song, DREAMS, is a special one as when the group came back from their hiatus to promote their comeback concert DVD release the performance of this song was used as a promotional video. This was probably because it was a rather emotional performance for the group, Koyama Keiichiro breaks into tears at one point.

Regular edition
Release date: 8 November, 2004

Versions: Limited, Regular

Limited track listing:
1. Akaku Moyuru Taiyo
2. Wasurenaisa ~LIFE GOES ON~
3. DREAMS
4. Akaku Moyuru Taiyo (original karaoke)

Regular track listing:
1. Akaku Moyuru Taiyo
2. Wasurenaisa ~LIFE GOES ON~
3. BEACH ANGEL

Group members: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nishikido Ryo, Uchi Hiroki, Koyama Keiichiro, Kusano Hironori, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya