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Off to Anime Expo 2010! June 29, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in AKB48, Anime Expo, Hello! Project, Jpop, Mano Erina.
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So, tomorrow morning I’ll be heading off to the Los Angeles Convention Center for Day 0 of Anime Expo. I’ll be leaving at 9PM with one of my good friends with the express hopes of getting a decent seat to see AKB48. I’ll also scout out the location of Club Nokia so I can find out where to wait for Thursday after I get my badge and concert tickets. I’ll document each day of Anime Expo and Club Nokia for you guys, so expect plenty of images of queuing tomorrow!

Happy 24th Birthday Matsuura Aya! June 25, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in ayaya, Hello! Project, Jpop, Matsuura Aya.
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Nothing fancy here, I just wanted to wish Ayaya a happy 24th birthday. I really only realized that today was her birthday, well today, well more specifically a couple of hours ago. If I would have realized earlier I would have prepared a proper pic-spam or something of the like. Though, as it stands now, I’ll just have to make due with getting the sentiments out on the correct date while I can.  So, without further ado:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AYAYA!!


Here’s Aya enjoying some cake with Country Musume on her 20th birthday during her 2006 Haru ~Otona no Namida~ concert tour.

In which I write about Kumai Yurina’s shorts June 22, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Berryz Kobo, Hello! Project, Jpop, kumai yurina.
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I know I haven’t mentioned Berryz Kobo or really any other of the H!P kids groups in my blog, and that’s frankly because I don’t follow them all that closely. Which, honestly, is a shame. I’ve actually really liked everything that Berryz has released since Dakishimete Dakishimete, Buono! has always been really solid (save for Take it Easy!, which while not awful, didn’t seem to fit), and let’s just say while C-ute may not be my favorite, they are certainly far from being bad.

But this post isn’t about them. It’s about Kumai Yurina. And her shorts.

Kumai Yurina is easily my favorite of the Berryz, and that’s mostly just because of her awesome height.

Motorboat'n

It doesn't hurt that she's rather pretty too.

I imagine that her imposing height compared to some of the other girls poses some problems to the costume designers of how to keep the girl’s looks all uniform. I say this because I noticed something rather funny in Berryz Kobo’s performance of Seishun Bus Guide during the Hello Champloo concert from the Summer of ’09:

That something was frankly the amount of leg that Kumai was showing, or more precisely, lack of leg. A girl of her stature would be sure to have longer legs than those much shorter than her one would naturally assume. This troubled me slightly through their entire performance as I had never noticed her to have legs so out of proportion in comparison to the rest of her body, but this mystery was very quickly solved because in the following MC we get a close up of both Kumai and Chinami’s costumes:

Here we can see that Kumai’s shorts are significantly longer than Chinami’s, I would go as far as to say by two or three inches. Now, two or three inches in short length may seem insignificant to some, but let’s look at the deeper ramifications here: the costume is effectively hiding my favorite Berryz from me, and also helping negate her most striking positive physical feature, her height. Make no mistake, by giving her longer shorts they are depriving me of seeing more of her legs, which is a huge negative in my eyes (or to them for that matter =P).

More seriously though, Kumai’s greatest physical feature is her height, which also means she’s going to have longer legs, and by negating this feature of hers they are essentially holding her back in front of the other girls, which really is a shame. I understand the reasoning behind wanting to make all the girls look uniform in their costumes, but I still can’t help but be despondent that it happened at Kumai’s expense.

Helpful sites for those who are new to Hello!Project June 13, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Matsuura Aya, Morning Musume.
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So, earlier this morning I finally finished all of my finals for the quarter, thus starting my summer break, and since it looks like I’m going to be temporarily unemployed for the next three and a half months or so I’m going to have plenty of free time to update. I hope to have a new entry up every three or four days, but I know I’ll probably fall a little short…

So, like the title of this article says I want to talk about a couple of websites that I think would be beneficial to know about for those that are new to the whole Hello!Project phenomenon. I remember when I got started the whole thing seemed quite intimidating, but if you take it slowly and don’t worry about understanding everything overnight its actually not so bad at all.

Hello!Online

For myself Hello!Online is really the cornerstone of my Hello!Project information feed, and it’s a great starting point for beginners (heck, it could even be your end-all as well if you wanted). Their Twitter and newsfeeds are fantastic tools for staying up-to-date with what’s currently going on, and the picboard is a great resource for checking out new official photos, magazine scans, and other images of your favorite member. Their tracker is also great for downloading TV appearances in glorious high-definition for your viewing pleasure. You can also find album, single, DVD and other rips on their as well to wet your appetite (Please though, don’t rely on the tracker to supply all of their releases. After all, Hello!Project and UpFront are in the business of making money, and if their product isn’t selling, what incentive would they have to make more?).

The forums are also a great place to meet like minded fans, and generally everybody there is quite friendly. Like any large internet forum there are a few trolls and other miscreants here and there, but for the most part the forums are a fantastic place to share your opinions with others in a civil manner.
It was really the discovery of Hello!Online that led me into becoming such a huge Hello!Project fan. When I was just beginning to get into Matsuura Aya I had relative difficulty in finding her material, or even current information on her activities in English; Hello!Online completely remedied that situation and opened the gates to a much deeper level of fandom.

The Matsuurian

The Matsuurian is Mattthecat’s digital shrine to all that is Matsuura Aya, and what a shrine it is. The Matsuurian is actually made up of two components: The Matsuurian Forum, and The Matsuurian Archives. The Matsuurian Forum is really just what it sounds like, a forum dedicated to Matsuura Aya. While this may not sound particularly exciting (to who, I can’t imagine), I must say it is probably my favorite forum to participate in. Mattthecat has added many encyclopedic posts documenting all of her major releases (singles, albums, DVD’s), but also TV appearances, and even more recent official photos. Additionally, since the forum has a relatively small number of regular posters, the atmosphere is extremely friendly and completely devoid of those that would “spoil the fun.”

The Matsuurian Archives on the other hand, is a mind-numbingly complete collection of direct download links for all media that has any association with Matsuura Aya whatsoever. It’s complete not only with major single and album releases, but obscure 20 second TV appearances as well. There is literally nothing related to Matsuura Aya that I’ve ever seen that is not included in the archives. As of now, it stands at almost a half a terabyte of media. Impressive really doesn’t even begin to describe it.

So, in short, if you like, nay even remotely heard of, Matsuura Aya check it out, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Musume-Central

Now, I’m ashamed to admit it, but the only reason that I registered with Musume-Central was their direct download library of the complete set of releases from Hello-Fansubs and Hyakupa fansubs, two of the leading Hello!Project English fansubbing groups. If you’re new to Hello!Project you are DEFINITELY going to want to check out their archive of work, and Musume-Central just happens to be a fantastic place to find it.
Now, I can’t say too much about their forums (as I’ve never participated there) but it seems quite friendly, and might be more suitable for those that might be slightly off-put by the size of the forums on Hello!Online.

Now, there are other major English Hello!Project sites and forums out there, such as JPHiP and JPM, but I personally believe that the ones I mentioned above would be a little more noob friendly. Another little piece of advice for new fans is to just have fun. Don’t worry about learning every member’s name, or the name of every song they’ve ever sung. That kind of stuff will come with time if you want it, so just go at your own pace and try and enjoy yourself.

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As a little side-note I want to congratulate Morning Musume on their new single Seishun Collection and it’s #1 ranking on the Oricon on its release date. Also, a reminder for all you guys out there that have yet to pick it up, what are you waiting for? ;D

A Very Quick Look at Q.E.D. June 1, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Morning Musume, Takahashi Ai.
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Now, I’m going to admit right off the bat that I’ve never read a page of the actual manga that this drama was based off of, so I have no idea how it compares to the original material. I’m also going to admit that I watched this series for a single reason only, and that reason was…

I dunno about you, but she seems like a pretty good reason to me.

So, what exactly is Q.E.D.? It’s a detective series about a genius student from MIT, Sou Touma, returning to a regular Japanese high school and solving mysteries with the outgoing and athletic Kana Mizuhara. Also, these mysteries are pretty varied, ranging from murders to who messed up club rooms before the school festival.

So, how did it fare?

Not bad, not bad at all. Now, I’ve only ever seen three Japanese dramas: Aijo Ippon!, Densha Otoko, and Q.E.D., so I can hardly say that I’m well versed, but it stood up pretty well against those two. In comparison to those series, I found Q.E.D. to be significantly more consistently entertaining than those other two series. For example, I found Densha Otoko to be generally great, but marred by a few awful sequences, and I thought that Aijo Ippon! to be generally mediocre, but was saved by a handful of fantastic scenes. Q.E.D. on the other hand was pretty even handed, and I can’t really say that I found any episode to significantly better or worse than another, even when I “technically” (based on my personal merits for watching: More Ai-chan = more good) should have. For example, episode eight focuses mostly on Kana’s (Ai-chan’s character) father, and the suspect for a particular case, and despite the fact that there is significantly less Ai-chan in this episode than any of the others, the scenes where Kana coerces free deserts from several of the other characters is not only a fantastic example of her character, but entertaining to watch as well. Even episode six where Kana managed to travel back in time to 1934 via a long abandoned time machine was quite entertaining despite its undeniably outrageous main plot elements, which is actually a pretty nice example of how the series rather seamlessly transitions from more serious to lighthearted subject matter.

So what about Ai-chan herself? While I don’t think she’ll be up for any Oscars for this performance, her portrayal of Kana is a delight to watch. Kana is a very upbeat, outgoing girl, and Ai-chan’s vision of her is undeniably cute. It’s this “cute” that she pulls off best (not to say her more serious emotions aren’t very good, its just that they’re overshadowed). She’ll bust out a huge ear to ear smile, tilt her head slightly back, and wiggle it a little from side to side. It sounds really stupid to describe, but it’s a total killer, you really have to see it for yourself =D

Additionally, the relationship between Kana and Sou is handled reasonably well. It’s very understated, but it’s apparent that the two are quite fond of each other, even if it takes Sou quite a while to realize it. I actually found Sou’s aloofness to be a little annoying at times, but I imagine that that is just a quirk of the character.

So, my final verdict is that if you’re an Ai-chan fan this is a definite must watch, no doubt. If you’re a fan of more light-hearted mysteries, I also think that this could definitely be something you really enjoy. For all else, while I won’t make any guarantees, I would recommend checking it out a little bit before completely writing it off, as I think it definitely has the ability to please.

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I want to apologize a bit for not writing for so long, my work has picked up the pace so I’ve been at a loss for free time. The same will probably be true again through the end of next week as I have finals for classes at the university. After next week though, I will be all kinds of free so posts should come far more often. Also, if you check out my Youtube channel you’ll notice that I’ve started to upload Matsuura Aya’s b-sides, so expect that series to start soon. Also, I really want to talk about the PV for the new Morning Musume single Seishun Collection, but I’ll wait until a decent copy of it is available so that I can make some presentable caps (despite the fact that I hate capping =P)…

Later Days!