30 October 2015

Johnny's WEST - Zundoko Paradise RE single review

Artist: Johnny's WEST
Title: Zundoko Paradise
Release date: 02 February 2015
Type: single
Version: RE

Packaging: Being on a Johnny's label the regular edition packaging is pretty basic. In fact outside of two pages, which include the cover, they are all plain white. The cover plus one more picture, which is of the guys in the same outfits they are wearing on the cover, are all the graphics spared for this. And coming in a slim CD jewel case there is no back cover just the front that doubles as the booklet and the CD itself.


1. ズンドコ パラダイス(Zundoko Paradise)
This is basically Ee Jyanai ka 2.0. Or like if the remixed the music for that song a little and put it to different lyrics. I can barely get through listening to the song as all I hear is Ee Jyanai ka and my mind keeps trying to put the lyrics for that song to it.And it just does not seem to bode well for the group if the are already rehashing songs with their third single.

2. SAKURA ~旅立ちのうた~ (SAKURA ~Tabidachi no Uta~)
A nice ballad that does much to wash out the disappointment from the title track. That while it is pleasant to listen to it does not stand out much, outside of the fact that in the chorus the word 'sakura' seems to be repeated quite a bit. Other than that pretty forgettable but nice to have playing in the background if you are like me and listen to music near constantly.

3. 青春ウォーーー!! (Seishun Wao---!!)
My favorite song on the CD. It has good energy and is catchy. In fact I would much rather have had this song be the A-side as at least it is not a complete rip off of another song the group has released before. I love the breakdown in the song past the halfway mark and at the end, it really helps the song stand out and stop it from getting too repetitive. I can picture this being a fun performance of the group to watch easily and think the live version for that reason would be more enjoyable.

4. Time goes by
Not a bad song but sounds rather generic for a Johnny's pop song. In fact I could easily see it as a song Tegomass, NEWS or Kanjani8 would have as a B-side or album track. That said it does lean on the more forgettable side with that though it has a couple of moments that sound like they could have moved onto some more interesting or fresh sounds for the song but instead it slips back to the well established Johnny's sound.

Overall: The B-sides are the saving grace of this release. That is unless you really want another song that sounds just like Ee Jyanai ka. That said I just found myself disappointed with this release. It really shows the flaws of the group, or at least with how it is being managed to be a rehash of what has come before but with less originality used.

I was truly excited for the group when it was announced that they would debut and still do love their debut single. But sadly everything after that does not quite measure up though its not all bad. It is just not good enough for me to keep following them as I originally planned to.

26 October 2015

Kisumai GAME 01 September 2015 episode review

And we have another episode with the magician game. Hopefully it will at least be at the same level as the previous one.

 Returning guest, lawyer Kikuchi Yukio and the magician calls himself Dr. Reon. He has a rather striking look and comes off as a seasoned pro.

What is nice about this episode is that Dr. Reon has some ways that he pulls off the tricks that we have not seen yet so it is more than simple slight of hand stuff.

Also with this episode to show how tricks are done they have the cameraman film the trick from a different angle that allows those viewing to see how it is done. It may be a minor thing but every little bit helps with adding something of possible interest to this game.

Senga Kento is the most interesting member this episode from just how done he looks with this game. I am so on the same page as him, though I am sure he is more frustrated with never being able to figure out the correct answers.

I am already pretty sick and tired of this game even though this is another one that comes off better than some of the others. Thankfully there will be a break with the next episode, though it is the word search game so it is not like that is much better. In fact it is the one game that can turn out worse. Either way I am getting close to the finish for the series so I am compelled to keep going to the end.

23 October 2015

NEWS - Kaguya LE A/LE B/RE single review

limited edition a

Artist: NEWS
Release date:  07 JAN 2015
Type: single
Version: limited edition a, limited edition b, regular edition

limited edition b
Packaging: As I pre-ordered all three versions I got the bonus items that came with them, a clear file for each edition. The clear files just feature the cover photo on it but at nice little bonuses if you want a bigger version of those.

The limited edition A has the simplest packaging as with both limited editions it just has images of the top of the parasols for the back cover. The booklet is plain with it just opening to the lyrics of the two songs included on its CD. Though it at least makes use of images from the PV/jacket shooting so there is something on the front and back of it.

The limited edition B has by far the nicest of the booklets. It incorporates images of the group and members on all the pages with the solo images being two pages as they have to share with the lyrics and production credits in it. This version also has a special bonus with four cards, which are about as tall as the booklet, that feature each member of the group.

The booklet for the regular edition is nice, with it being a step above what one usually gets with a RE booklet. It has a gate fold that features another image of all the members on it before opening up to the usual lyrics for the songs included on the CD. Other than that it is the usual basic RE packaging with a slimmer jewel case so there is no back cover.

Overall I love the images and those alone make this look like a gorgeous looking release. 

regular edition
1. KAGUYA - This was a song that grew on me over time and I have come to really love it. I have found myself humming the chorus of the song from time to time and I do not have to think twice to remember how the song sounds so it falls well into the catchy and memorable category for me. The song is based off the popular Japanese folktale about Princess Kaguya and thus has a neo-Japanesque sound to it mixed in with the electronic pop. It has a nice beat that runs through it and the electronically overlay used at times works well as it never feels overused.

2. バタフライ (Butterfly) - A much slower song which works well to be paired up with the title track as it is the only B-side on all three versions of the single. After the simple verses the chorus comes in like a swell of music with a very uplifting sound to it. Near the end it keeps the uplifting sound when it makes a break from the usual style to have a short guitar solo before launching into the chorus one last time to wrap it up. It is a pleasant track but NEWS does have some similar songs to this in style and tone that stand out better.

3. TRAVeLiNG - This is the track that is exclusive to the limited edition type B version of the single. I love the use of the horns in this song and they help keep it all together. The versus build well to the chorus which a fun bouncy portion of the song and I just love the music that starts off the song and comes up at the end of the chorus. The change up near the end is a great break from the usual verse to chorus formula as this is a song that could get really repetitive sounding but a switch up like that helps avoid it. The song stands as a solid B-side track as the only thing it lacks is the catchiness of the A-side.

3. 勿忘草 (Wasurenagusa) - The first of the two song tracks exclusive to the regular edition. While being a very short track with it clocking in a little over two minutes it works for the song. It is a ballad that starts off softly with just a piano and adds some strings as it goes. It has no shared lines with it all being solos starting with Masuda Takahisa to Kato Shigeaki, Koyama Keiichiro then endign with Tegoshi Yuya who covers the climax of the song. Even though it feels like it could have been made longer after all the other tracks from this single that all end up with powerful moments with their music having a song like Wasurenagusa makes it really stand out and feels like a nice break from all those.

4. TOP OF THE WORLD - This song fits well with their other tracks like WORLD QUEST in its sound with it being electronic pop with a driving beat that runs through it. It is the kind of song that sounds uplifting and is meant to pump the listener up. It is really hard not to compare it to the sports songs they have done recently and it just does not seem to reach the same level as them, though it is still an enjoyable song. So it at least works as a B-side and if you need another song to add to your playlist to get you motivated it would not be a bad pick.

The regular edition also has the karaoke version of the title track.

I love this PV. And not just because of how great I think everyone looks in it but the look of it overall is just top notch. I think Ninagama Mika's background in photography really helps in making her PVs pop with the fantastic use of colors. It gives them a strong impact and KAGUYA is no different. The outfits and backgrounds are all eye catching and just seem to be so lush with color.

The PV can be broken down into the dance shot then a variety of solo shots. The dance shot does well to show off the more interesting moves of the choreography, especially anything to do with the props of the umbrellas. In fact if they made one I would have loved to have seen a dance version of this PV.

The variety of the solo shots help a lot with keeping from feeling repetitive, as the guys get different backgrounds and they are not always looking into the camera. Yet they are also held together by having something crossover for each member, such as the cherry blossom branches with Kato Shigeaki. Noticing those things is something that makes rewatching the PV payoff.

She also seems to have a good grasp of what kind of fanservice works well with target audiences as I do not think anyone complained about getting wet and mostly half-naked NEWS in this. And there is plenty of eye candy moments in this for fans to enjoy.

Johnny's seems to be willing to bank of the fact they have a director that has name recognition with this PV as they actually show Ninagawa working with the members of the group with the making of. Usually the staff is mostly in the background working so this is pretty stand out.

While the making of the PV is the main focus there is some time given to the photo shoot for the jacket images. Of course Ninagawa is the photographer for that. So we get to see the guys pose around and give some early thoughts as they are asked to answer some questions in regards to the theme and such.

The dance portion of the PV gets the most time but it is worth it as it has the most group interactions. The guys seem to be able to mix work and play well as can be seen with them trying to get the move of them all peeking out from behind Masuda Takahisa right. But anytime the cameras are off or they reach a part that they know will not end up in the final cut the are willing to have some fun which ends up being entertaining to watch.

The solo shots do not get as much attention but does give the guys a chance to talk individually about the PV and song. There is a break where the four just stand and talk which is a fun watch as you really get the sense that the group gets along well together with all the joking. Of course of all the solo shots the ones in the pool get highlighted the most.

Overall: One of my favorite single releases from the group for a while. Not that I did not enjoy the rest but all the little things with this one really made it stand out to me. Having Ninagawa being both the photographer and video director really helped with the synergy of the release so there is no part that does not feel like it does not fit. And her style is rather attention grabbing with the use of vivid colors in her work.

I enjoy all the songs even though not all are favorites but the title track has become one. But none are the kind I would want to skip and a couple really only suffer because of the fact that NEWS has other songs that are similar that I just happen to like more. The title track though is really solid and a song I hope they keep on their concert set list for some time.

This is a strong single from the group and a good addition to the group's discography. It also helps show their sound as a group, which is nice with so many Johnny's groups out there now and having something more than just the names and faces of the group being different from the rest.

20 October 2015

Kisumai GAME 25 August 2015 episode review

And it is back to magic episodes for most of the final episodes for Kisumai GAME. In fact outside of one episode the five episodes after are all this game.

The guest for this episode is talento Chris Matsumura. He ends up being one of the brighter spots of the episode with his skepticism playing off well with the magic tricks.

The magician this time, K-SUKE, though has quite an accomplished background so he is one of the magicians more interesting to watch as he has solid showmanship.

His chosen object for his tricks are squishable balls and the object is more to guess how many he places with the guys than if there is one or not. This allows him a little more room with what he can do but it does up the difficulty level for the guys.

The first round is with the usual jackets then the second gets to be a literal hat trick then the third has the final two actually hold the balls in their hands and they just have to guess how many it is.

I still have no idea how they pick who has to do the punishment game at the end other than the fact the guest is always exempt from it. But this is one of the more fun ones to watch members react to getting "zapped" by touching a spot on the magician's hand.

Next episode is another magic episode, hopefully it will be one of the better ones like this one was. As between having a magician that is good at stage presence and a good guest with Chris Matsumura it was one of the easier ones to get through without getting too bored.

And now that a couple episodes of Kisumai Magic is out it looks like the main change to the program is the name. If that is so and it proves to be much more than magic episodes I may go ahead and do reviews for that as well. But until I make my decision I will keep my eye on it.

17 October 2015

Johnny's lists more artists

Johnny's net has updated its lists of talents/artists on the webpage to include more non-idol career Johnny's. Now Kazama Shunsuke, Yara Tomoyuki, Hasegawa Jun and Sano Mizuki have their own pages.

Honestly Sano's seems long overdue as he easily beats just about everyone else on the soloist side of the artist listing. He was known as the oldest Junior for a long time but now that Johnny's is willing to recognize talents that are aiming for something other than an idol debut it only makes sense for him to be moved into those ranks. His stage career has been pretty vast and is probably a good reason why a lot of people are not too familiar with who he is.

With the success Kazama has had with his acting career having him join Ikuta Toma as a undebuted non-Junior Johnny's feels like it would be just a matter of time. Having Hasegawa as well is not too surprising as he may not have the success of the others but he is still working more as an actor than anything else these days. Though with Yamashita Tomohisa on the same list it kinda feels a bit like a 4TOPS reunion of sorts.

And I am happy to see Yara be given this kind of recognition. Unfortunately the dance group he was apart of is basically defunct now but he is still active with the agency both in front and behind the scenes from what I can tell.

I am a bit disappointed not to see Takada Sho not get a page as well, but I am certain it is probably just too early in his career for that. At some point I am sure he will get one as he has already stopped showing up on Junior programs for the most part and is active with his acting work.

It would not surprise me that when he does get his page years down the road it will be with a couple other Juniors that will end up going that acting route. I can see Sanada Yuma being there and if Johnny's does not debut Yasui Kentaro I think he stands a good chance to be switched over to that track so they can keep him in the agency.

Overall I am just glad Johnny's is willing to branch out from idols a bit as it gives Juniors something else to aim for if they are not able to debut as an idol.

16 October 2015

On Johnny's reviews

With my history of NEWS project done now and Kisumai Game only having a few more episodes to go before I complete my reviews for that, I have decided to launch a new (kinda) feature for the blog. Last year I decided to do reviews for the year of everything released that year and I wanted to do the same for this year. But this time instead of waiting for the end of the year I will be starting now and once I am done with reviewing all the 2015 releases I have I do plan on going back and review older releases as well. Provided that I own them of course.

I will try to have a new review each week, though the albums may take longer.

I will be adding a page link to the top of the blog for where I will keep a list of what I plan to review. Until then here is a list of what I have picked up/pre-ordered in 2015 and will kick off the reviews.

Releases scheduled to be reviewed:

NEWS - KAGUYA LE A/LE B/ RE single (07JAN2015)
Johnny's WEST - Zundoko Paradise RE single (04FEB2015)
NEWS - White LE/RE album (25FEB2015)
Busaiku - Yachatta!! RE single (08MAR2015)
Kis-My-Ft2 - Kiss Damashi RE single (25MAR2015)
Johnny's WEST - Paripipo RE album (22APR2015)
Nakayama Yuma - YOLO moment LE B/RE single (22APR2015)
A.B.C-Z - A.B.Sea Market RE album (13MAY2015)
NEWS - Chumu Chumu LE A/LE B/ RE single (24JUN2015)
Kis-My-Ft2 - Kis-My-World LE A/LE B/RE album (01JUL2015)
Nakayama Yuma - Tokoton Got It LE A/LE B/RE single (15JUL2015)
A.B.C-Z - Moonlight Walker LE C/RE single (30SEP2015)
Kis-My-Ft2 - AAO RE single (14OCT2015)
TOKIO - Tokyo Drive RE single (28OCT2015)
Kis-My-Ft2 - Saigo mo Yappari Kimi RE single (11NOV2015)
NEWS - Yonjushi LE/RE DVD single (25NOV2015)

15 October 2015

NEWS' DVD single debut

Johnny's seems to love the DVD single as now NEWS is the latest group to release one. This will be released November 25th and is titled Yonjushi. The title song is from their latest tie-in as the theme song for the anime series Kindachi Case Files R.

The limited edition will come with the DVD that has both the music video of the title song and the making of feature. It also comes with a CD that will have the A-side and a still untitled B-side on it.

The regular edition also comes with a DVD but will only have the music video on it. The CD it comes with though has the two tracks that the limited edition has plus two bonus tracks titled, Eien and SPEAKER.

There is a bundle of the two listed but it just seems to be an easier way to get them both as nothing is being offered as a bonus for selecting it.

Honestly I am hoping there is more to the release than what has been listed. The price tag would demand it as the LE is basically the same thing you get with the usual CD single LE but costs over 1000 yen more. So there better be some topnotch packaging to come with it. And honestly if I was not a huge NEWS fan I doubt I would have gotten both versions because of the higher price points for this release without anything really being different from the usual CD single release from the group. So hopefully we will get an extra long MV and/or making of footage to make it feel worth it.

That said I am also disappointed that there seems to be no first press bonuses like there has been with previous releases. Of course there is still some time to change that and I am certain if they do not get the pre-order numbers they want they will add an incentive like that.

That said I feel pretty safe in assuming one of the reasons Johnny's went with the DVD single route with this is because November has a lot of heavy hitters when it comes to sales releasing singles. That November 25th release date alone has two AKS groups releasing singles that day. With December being a usual release heavy month they have little choice of when to release to make the most of the tie-in with the series currently airing and using the song. NEWS still has the number one streak for all their singles since debut so making this a DVD single instead of a CD single means they can keep that safe. In fact if the DVD releases for that date are not strong competition then they have a good chance of getting number one on that chart.

Worth noting their song Sirius, which was used as a CM song for a bra commercial, is not on this single. So that is probably be saved for the next studio album. I am going to guess that will come out in the first half of next year like their most recent ones have. That is unless they want to get another single out but so far two singles then an album has been the trend since the group last changed membership.

I am happy to get more NEWS but I just wish I felt I was getting my money's worth as the purse strings for me need to tighten as the holiday season arrives and I need to buy gifts. Hopefully any more Johnny's releases for this year are a little more friendlier to my wallet.

12 October 2015

Kisumai GAME 18 August 2015 episode review

And the show progresses towards the end by boring the audience to death with another search engine challenge episode.

The guests for this episode are comedian duo Savanna. They end up being the MVPs of the episode as well when it comes to actually being able to figure out the keywords they need to hit.

There is very little that has been changed for this episode from the first time they did this. The only one I can think of is that they give hints after a try or two so the guys have an actual chance of figuring out the words they need to use.

That and the running gag of the assistant director being used to show the item that they need to find and identify.

There was really nothing that stood out to me for being entertaining. It was pretty by the numbers and this challenge was not all that interesting the first time them did it. But unlike last time there is no novelty aspect to it as this is the second time.

And then there is another magic episode to follow this one up with. I am not going to enjoy the final run of episodes for this program.

09 October 2015

NEWS - Chumu Chumu (18th single)

The release pattern of KAGUYA becomes more established with this release as it follows the same format. Three versions, two limited and one regular were released for this single. The first limited edition is the standard CD with DVD release that has the music video and making of footage included. The second limited edition has a bonus B-side, the best quality booklet and a set of cards with a solo shot of each member. The regular edition like always has bonus B-sides to help set it apart from the other editions.

The title of the single is supposed to be from Hindu and the imagery for the release is all based around the theme of India.

Release date: 24 June 2015

Versions: Limited type A, Limited type B, Regular

Limited type A track listing:
1. Chumu Chumu
2. Nichi wa Mata Noboru

DVD track listing:

1. Chumu Chumu music video
2. Chumu Chumu making of video

Limited type B track listing:
1. Chumu Chumu
2. Nichi wa Mata Noboru
3. Megalomania

Regular track listing:
1. Chumu Chumu
2. Nichi wa Mata Noboru
3. Sweet Martini
4. Sasabune
5. Chumu Chumu (original karaoke)

Group members: Koyama Keiichiro, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya

06 October 2015

Kis-My-upcoming single update

Finally all the information about the upcoming singles for Kis-My-Ft2 is out. It felt like they were waiting until the last moment to start promoting for them. But both singles are only two versions, three if you count the Kisumai Store versions which are only available to those that have a Japanese address. But there is a campaign for those who buy both singles that they can apply to attend a fan event, which is probably partly why there are not so many versions for the singles.

Going over the information released for the second single to be released for the consecutive two month releases, Saigo no Yappari Kimi.

Regular edition cover
The limited edition comes with a DVD with the usual music video and making of footage. The CD has the title track as well as one B-side, Last Lover.

The regular edition has two B-side songs, On Your Mark and Kimi no Iru Machi, that are not included in the LE as well as a bonus track titled KIS-MY-TALK. The other single, AAO, also has a KIS-MY-TALK for a bonus track so with that release,

The bundle for the single comes with a bonus poster and the AAO single has the same deal for it, though that information was a bit delayed from when the pre-orders opened for that one.

I get the sense that Johnny's is hoping that with so few versions they can get more fans to buy all of them. Especially with so little time between the two single release dates. Of course having that application that needs the purchase of both regular editions should help with that a bit.

Personally I am sticking with just getting the regular editions for these releases. Next year will be the group's 5th anniversary since debut so I expect plenty of releases to cash in on that so I'll probably end up splurging on the group that year.

05 October 2015

Kisumai GAME 11 August 2015 episode review

The return of the magician episodes start with this, and unfortunately it looks like most of the rest of the episodes left in this series are these.

The guest for this episode is Takei Sou. They have the magician wear a mask for the episode. That is basically the greatest change from previous episodes and I don't think it is hardly enough to make this episode any more interesting than the ones before.

The rounds work as they have in the previous episodes for this game where it starts with four for the first round then goes to three then two for the other two rounds. It is all handkerchief based tricks like usual as well with members having to guess who has it after each round. Some easier to guess for than others.

While not the most interesting moment of the episode I cannot help but feel that Senga Kento's expression here basically sums up my feelings for this game.

Nikaido Takashi had one of the highlight moments of the episode with one of his reactions. Tamamori Yuta had a good one too at the end and that was about it for being actually entertained.

The next episode brings back the only game on the same level of boring as the magic ones, the Yahoo search game. Unfortunately these two games look to be the only ones that the show does until they end the program which is pretty frustrating. I have to wonder if they ran out of budget which is why they had to resort to these for the last ones. I guess at least I am near the end though there are seven more episodes to go through.

02 October 2015

NEWS - White (6th album)

Limited edition
With this album it is back to the usual two versions for the group when it comes to album releases. The limited edition comes with a DVD that has a special short movie that member Kato Shigeaki wrote. The regular edition has the solo songs for the members of the group as the bonus tracks for that edition.

As with the previous album there were only two singles released before it. Both A-sides are on the album as well as one of the B-sides while all the other songs are original album tracks. The song NYARO though was used before the release of the album in a bra commercial. The song Ai Kotoba was written by all the members of the group together.

Regular edition
Release date: 25 Feb, 2015

Versions: Limited, Regular

Limited track listing:
5. Weather NEWS
6. SuperSONIC
7. Black Jack -Inter.-
9. ONE -for the win-
10. White Love Story
11. Ai Kotoba

Regular track listing:
5. Weather NEWS
6. SuperSONIC
7. Black Jack -Inter.-
9. ONE -for the win-
10. White Love Story
11. Ai Kotoba
12. Romeo 2015 (Koyama Keiichiro solo)
13. Skye Beautiful (Masuda Takahisa solo)
14. Anata (Tegoshi Yuya solo)
15. ESCORT (Kato Shigeaki solo)

Group members: Koyama Keiichiro, Kato Shigeaki, Masuda Takahisa, Tegoshi Yuya