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The Unthinkable: Morning Musume and AKB48 Performing Side by Side August 28, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in AKB48, Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume.
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That’s right, you just witnessed AKB48, Becky, Morisanchu, Morning Musume, Ohashi Nozomi and S/mileage all collaborate on Ghibli song medley for 24HOUR TV (a 24 hour charity program). A little crazy, no?

Just wait though, it get’s better, here’s Morning Musume, AKB48 and S/mileage all performing together on a rendition of Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru:


AKB48 singing a Morning Musume song, along with Morning Musume and S/mileage? I really would have thought that kind of idea would be nothing short of crazy talk if anyone would have even suggested it. Now to be fair, there has been a rendition of Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru performed every year (examples here and here) so it really wasn’t too much of a surprise to see it performed again this year and AKB48 just happened to be serving as hosts for this year’s event. Still crazy stuff.

Over on dreamtiny’s blog I had mentioned how I thought that just the two groups appearing together on the Music Japan Idol Special would be the closest they would ever get to doing a collaboration. What a way to eat one’s own words, huh? Still, if this can somehow promote a better relationship between the two fan groups, then heck, eating my words isn’t so bad after all. 😀

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Real Pictures from a Real Magazine August 25, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Mano Erina.
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You read that right. These pictures are actually from the October issue of the magazine Eiga Hiho promoting the Japanese release of Manoeri’s horror movie.

I’m actually having a hard time discerning whether these are possibly some of the greatest promotional pictures ever shot with their avant-garde take on traditional horror themes or if they are just incredibly goofy.

I really like this last one. It’s a fair more normal composition than the others, and that just makes it all the more bizarre, really.

Also, the idea of Manoeri doing a movie (or at least a short) with a cheerful demonic girl following her around actually seems like a pretty nifty idea right about now.

The Other Side of Aya: Machiawase (待ち合わせ) August 22, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Matsuura Aya.
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First off I would like to apologize for the lack of recent updates. I wish that I had an awesome excuse such as taming the wilds of the Amazon, bringing democracy to China, or just eating a really epic sandwich. Unfortunately I don’t. Sorry. ><

So this is the start of a series of posts that I’ll make showcasing the B-sides of all of Matsuura Aya’s singles, something I’ve wanted to do since all the way back in May. I really want to promote these songs since I imagine a great deal of people have never heard them before, which really is a shame because there really are some amazing songs in that collection. If I can make just a few people realize the greatness that is Matsuura Aya with these hidden gems then I’ll consider this series a success =D

So, without further ado, I present Machiawase:

houkago wa itsumo no omise de
machiawasete iru kara
eki mae no chotto shibui omise
hotondo otona no kyaku
sore ga nanda ka oshare desho

watashi ga saki ni kuru hi no hou ga ooi
sonna hi wa itsumo BURUMAN yo

naze ka me no mae ni iru anata no hanashi
kyou wa hotondo mimi wo sudoori ne
kinou no denwa anata ga kyuu ni
kondo kiss shite ii ka dou ka kiku kara
Ah~ sono koto ga ki ni naru

mise wo deru AAKEEDO ga aru
hankagai urouro shite

yuugurete yuusen ga hibiku
hayari no kyoku kuchizusamu
anata nanda ka sukoshi chigau

ude wo kunde iru watashi mo nanda ka
mune no kodou ga kikoete kuru

naze ka eki to wa chigau hou e anata wa
aruite yuku wa masaka masaka Woo
nando ka kaerou tte iou to shita no
dakedo kotoba ni narazu ni anata no ude
Ah~ tsuyoku nigirishimete

naze ka…
naze ka eki to wa chigau hou e anata wa
aruite yuku wa masaka masaka Woo
nando ka kaerou tte iou to shita no
dakedo kotoba ni narazu ni anata no ude
Ah~ tsuyoku nigirishimete

SHA LALA…

Ah~ tsuyoku nigirishimete
Ah~ kuchizuke wo shimashita

Romaji lyrics from ProjectHello

I find this song to be a really nice pairing for Dokki Doki! Love Mail, a very genki title track having a mellow b-side. That is actually the best word I can think of to describe this song: mellow, as I actually find it really relaxing to listen to. The “mellowness” also carries over into the fact that the song really wasn’t that demanding of her voice at that time, and because of that I think the song actually compares a little better to her more recent works than Dokki Doki! Love Mail, where I actually much prefer her more recent renditions to the original recording.

As a side-effect of that mellowness comes the unfortunate fact that the song is slightly forgettable. It lacks a hook to bring you in, or force you to take notice and as such it just fades into the background a bit. Overall, I would say Machiawase is a bit of an odd duck. It’s certainly slow and pretty, but it lacks the force or emotion of a proper ballad, but also lacks any of genkiness that made many of her early upbeat singles famous. Still, it’s certainly an enjoyable song to listen to, and it still holds up extremely well today considering it’s from her first release.

A Pleasant Distraction August 12, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in ayaya, Hello! Project, Jpop, Mano Erina, Matsuura Aya.
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So, there’s no getting around the fact I’m still upset about the graduation, but I’d rather talk about something a little upbeat for a change.

And what’s a better way to cheer up than some good old Ayaya?

A little while ago one of my good friends got back from about a month or so of taking a couple of classes in Japan. He knew that I was a big Aya fan so he managed to pick me up a couple of posters.

One of them was the promotional poster for her Best 1 album:

I always thought she looked absolutely gorgeous in the cover art for that release, and in this case, bigger is certainly better!

The other two were a set of ad’s from her campaign for Gogo no Kocha:

There’s no getting around the fact that they are an absolutely gorgeous set of posters. I know he occasionally reads this blog, so I’d just like to thank him again. They’re awesome =D

On a marginally related note, I’ve also put my autographed Manoeri visual book into a frame. I was rather pleased that I could find a frame to fit it so closely. Of course, I can’t actually open the visual book anymore, but oh well, you win some, you lose some. =]

What the heck Tsunku? – Part 2 August 9, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume.
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So, I’ve been able to sit on this news for a little while now and my initial anger has thankfully died down quite a bit. That’s not necessarily a good thing as I’ve replaced that anger with sadness. I feel sad for both Eri and the pandas, but for different reasons.

They tell us that Eri is graduating because of her atopic dermatitis, for those that don’t know (which included me), is a type of eczema. The horrible thing about her disease is that there exists no cure. She can merely hope to try and prevent it from flaring up again, and when it does, to try and treat the symptoms. When I was in high school I knew a girl whose mother had eczema, and I heard countless horror stories about how bad it could be. Now, I don’t remember which kind of eczema she had, and there is really no way to know how Eri’s condition compares, but I still find it heartbreaking that she has been, and will have to go through that kind of pain.

At least this is a legitimate reason to graduate. As Tsunku even mentioned, I’m sure that applying make-up and quick costume changes are probably nearly unbearable when it’s acting up. She’ll have been a member for over seven years when she graduates this December, and while I certainly would have liked to see her go for a couple more, I don’t think anyone could say she hasn’t had a career to be proud of.

Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same thing about Junjun and Linlin. It seems that just recently that those girls really seem to come into their own, which is exactly why Tsunku says he wants to get rid of them. No, really. This is from Tsunku’s statement from their Official Myspace:

…while being skilled singers and entertainers, they also greatly improved their japanese proficiency and they are now grown-up women. This is why I took the decision to graduate both of them at the same time as Eri Kamei on the last day of the Morning Musume。

So he’s just using Eri’s wishes to graduate as an excuse to dump the Chinese girls. That is soooo not cool on so many levels. I mean really, they drag those poor girls over from China into a country where they don’t understand the language and then put them through fairly rigorous dance and vocal training, and now that they’ve become accustomed to the language and proficient in song and dance they decide to send them back. Classy.

gaa_fee on Hello!Online took the courtesy of translating Linlin’s blog post on her graduation:

Today at the Concert, we announced that Junjun, Kamei-san and I would be graduating.
How should I express my feelings? I don’t know.
At first, when it was said to me, it felt completely unreal. I thought to myself, “maybe when I wake up, it should all just be a dream?”
When I heard the news from Tsunku-san on stage, in front of everyone, I realized it was not changing, that this was real, and the realness of the announcement suddenly hit me.

I can’t express my feeling in words.

To all the people we’ve worked with together, the staff, the manager, and my most favorite (suki, suki, daisuki) members and fans of morning musume, I really, really don’t want to leave all of you.
When I finally got used to Japan, when I finally got used to group activities, when I finally got a lot of friends, when I finally got to met all of you….

Now that I look back, when I came to Japan and joined morning musume at 16, my mom and dad was not here, when it was lonely,
you guys were always there for me, supporting me every step of the way.
everyone made it a warm and comfortable home for me in Japan.

Really, really, thank you.
I really, really love you all.

From now on, I will have to travel alone. Even though the path I’ll take will be completely different from before, Linlin will not be afraid.
Because, wherever I am, the friendship that tie us together will never change.

I’ve always thought of myself as a strong girl, but the tears just won’t stop, even when I try…
But I don’t want any of you to cry for me. Because your smiles are linlin’s biggest happiness.

be well, be glad, be happy every single day.

Sleep tight… Linlin.

I mean, my god, that just hurts to read. Those are not the words of someone who wants to leave. I know I said that I really wasn’t angry anymore, but screw that, I’ve just made myself angry again. >:[

Heck, while I’m at this, let’s just throw some more fuel on the fire! Here are the official comments from the girls, again from their official myspace:

Eri Kamei
As Tsunku♂ said, I will graduate on the last day of the Autumn 2010 Tour from the Morning Musume。 to focus on my health. It is my decision but let me reassure you, my condition is not that serious. I just wanted to focus on my recovery for a while because lately, I was thinking a lot about how I could become a pretty woman. I took this decision with that in mind.
But I really love to do concerts so today and until the Autumn Tour, I am counting on you to sing, dance and have fun with me.
Thank you for your continued support.

Jun Jun
Since I came to Japan, I did and I learned so many things. Thank you so much.
But what really made me happy was to meet all of you, I am so thankful for this.
With this emotion in my heart, I want to make more and more happy memories with you. Until my graduation at the end of Morning Musume。 Autumn Tour, I intend to sing with all my heart.
Thank you for your support until the very last day. Thank you all.

Lin Lin
Since I first joined the Hello! Project Egg and then the Morning Musume。, I was so happy every single day. Of course, I sometimes missed my home but thanks to everyone around me and all of your support, I now feel that Japan and the Hello! Project is like my home.
During the Autumn Tour, I intend to sing with everything I got so I count on your support and I hope to see you there.
Wo Ai Ni.

Again, poor Eri wants out because of her condition, and the pandas are just being strong-armed.

Reading the official comments really hammer home just how heartfelt Linlin’s blog entry is. Of course her “official statement” has to be all cheery and up-beat, but if you look at her blog it’s really nothing but unbearable sadness. According to gaa_fee apparently it’s even worse in the original Japanese. The girl simply doesn’t want to leave, and frankly I don’t want her to either =(

Hello!Fansubs took the liberty of translating a news report about the graduation. You can see Risa trying to fight back from crying before Tsunku even starts saying their names. As sad as it sounds I actually find it a little painful to watch. Seeing those three’s faces just kills me.

I originally wanted to write this post to put my mind at ease a little bit. That really didn’t work out too well… =\

Edit: Thanks to Hello!Online’s klay we know have an English translation of Junjun’s blog post on the graduation:

Junjun’s here now..
I’ve worried everybody..

In yesterday’s concert.. Teacher Tsunku announced the news about Junjun, Linlin and Kamei-senpai’s 3 person graduation.
This sudden news must have given everyone a shock..
Sorry.. For making everybody so heartbroken.. For making everybody cry..

On the day that Kusumi-senpai graduated.. Junjun was thinking.. If mine’s about to come soon..
After all I’m already 22 years old.. And a transfer student..
University transfer students also stay for four years right..

Even though I had some mental preparation.. This day came so suddenly…
Junjun is still unable to cope with it.

Am I really leaving?…
Leaving the members that I’ve been with for four years..
Leaving you all that have been taking care of Junjun..
Leaving my manager and the staff who have been helping Junjun out during work..
Leaving the stage that I’ve sung and danced with you all..
……

I’m reluctant. I’ll really miss it…
Junjun doesn’t know what words to use to describe her feelings now..

I remember the Junjun that first came to Japan..
Coming to this foreign country..
Without knowing one Japanese sentence at all..
The words that the people beside me were saying.. The things that they were laughing at..
I didn’t know.. I didn’t know anything..
Junjun is not that type of people that easily mixes around with others..
That’s why when I first started out and faced other people and other matters.. Junjun was very closed up.. Very cold..

Slowly.. I’ve familiarized.. I’ve understood.. I’ve liked it.. I’ve been mixed in..
And I’m leaving…

Maybe this is what fate arranged for me..
So many people in the world.. To be able to meet is destiny..
Separation is also for another meeting..
Junjun cherishes this meeting a lot..

The day that I was at Yoshizawa-senpai’s concert only seemed like yesterday..

The tears that came after that.. The smiles.. They all are in Junjun’s memories..
I can’t forget them.. And I’m unable to forget them..

Maybe if I leave first.. It will make it more relaxing and smooth for Junjun (laugh)
After experiencing the graduation of Kusumi-senpai..
Compared to sending other members off.. I rather be the one that’s sent off..
Sorry.. For having these kind of feelings..

As for my future.. It’s still undecided..
But one thing that is for sure.. Junjun will definitely face the future..
Just like that time that I was selected to come to Japan.. My own future.. My own choice..
Junjun decided that she won’t give up..
I will start everything anew..
Even it it’s tough.. Even if it’s difficult, Junjun will endure it…
It’s different.. The Junjun now has all of you by her side..
Junjun said before.. You all are Junjun’s family..
A family that’s all over the world is still a family.. Right?..
That’s why Junjun will be brave..

The things I’ve learned during the four years in Morning Musume is the most precious experience..
No matter what I do from now on.. I believe that it’ll help Junjun become better..

There’s still four months left..

I hope that everyone will stay by 8-nin Morning Musume’s side. And walk with us until the end..
I also hope that everyone will increase their support for Morning Musume.

Again, this stuff is just hard to read, and again, you can tell she doesn’t want to leave just the same as Linlin. Heck, the more I keep thinking about it the more preposterous the whole thing seems. This whole business of graduating nearly half the current line-up has to be a joke, right?

Too bad it isn’t funny.

What the heck Tsunku? August 8, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume.
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I am rather unhappy right now. Actually that is kind of an understatement. Apparently, Tsunku has decided to graduate Kamei Eri, Junjun, and Linlin. Sure, there is going to be a ninth generation, but frankly I really don’t care all that much right now.

I’m darned sad to see Eri go, but she’s been there for quite a while (in Morning Musume terms), and I don’t think anyone could say that she hasn’t had a good run. What I’m really angry about is seeing Junjun and Linlin going so quick. The poor girls haven’t had a line to themselves in a single since their debut in Onna ni Sachi Are. They better as hell get a damned lead spot in their next single this October.

I really don’t care about being eloquent or insightful right now. I’m frankly just upset. I was actually fully intending to write about Matsuura Aya’s Machiawase, but there’s no way I could concentrate on that right now.

Also, I’ve just finished the last of my beer. Gaaaah. =(

Edit: Also, apparently poor Eri is graduating because she has a type of eczema. That’s even more fantastic, because now I feel even worse. I can’t just feel bad that she’s being thrown out of the group that she’s been a member of for nearly seven years, but she also has to live with a painful chronic skin condition?

hoo-ray.

AKB48’s Heavy Rotation PV: Is there such a thing as too much fan service? August 1, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in AKB48, Jpop.
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Now, as an idol fan I’m no stranger to fan service. For example GAM’s Melodies comes immediately to mind. Even AKB48’s last PV for Ponytail to Chouchou laid on the fan service pretty thick with their bikinis (and opening scene), but Heavy Rotation takes it quite a bit farther…

(Triple Edit: Replaced embedded video as AKB48 now as an official Youtube channel with PV’s.) I have taken the liberty of capping what I thought to be some of the most offending scenes in my opinion:

So, we start off the PV with you, the viewer, playing the role of a peeping tom watching her undress. Classy.

From which we segue into a lingerie pillow fight. A little better.

This cap isn’t that significant save for the fact that you have a fantastic shot of the girl who you were just peeping on’s derriere.

Classic up-skirt shot. Nothing too shocking here.

Blurry cap is blurry. >< The other "provocative" outfit the girls wear in this PV is sort of a mix between a maid's uniform and a cat suit. Where in the lingerie the theme seemed to center around the bedroom, the catsuits seem to be connected with a dining room sort of setting.

That must be really good. I’ll take whatever she’s having.

I mean, really? With all the sales that this group gets you think the management could spring to buy enough cupcakes for all the girls? What cheapskates!

Maybe it is time that AKB48 repeal their “no boyfriend” rule, just look what it is making these poor girls do!

Wow, okay, maybe I could understand that the reason their management didn’t buy a whole bunch of cupcakes was because they didn’t want the girls to gorge themselves on them. That seems reasonable. But not supplying enough bathtubs? That’s some seriously greedy penny pinching!

Okay, I take it back, let the “no boyfriend” rule stand… =D

Now, honestly, I don’t have much of a problem with all the examples that I’ve provided above. While I think it’s a little much that they all can be found in a single PV, they can all be pretty much labeled as done in good fun. The next example, not so much.

Very briefly around 2:41 you get to see who I believe to be Tomomi Itano with a little bit of whip cream on her face. Observe:

Now, I know that is whip cream on her face, but that is certainly not what it looks like to me. Now, it might just be that I have a perverse mind, but when that little shot of her is shown during the PV it doesn’t make me think, “Oh silly girl! You are oh so messy when you eat cupcakes!,” but rather how she makes a mess during other activities. You never get to see her take a big bite out of a cupcake or cookie or what-have-you. No, you just she her there, on her hands and knees giving you a mischievous smile with white stuff all over her face.

Now, this whole thing could just be my imagination, but that sure as heck doesn’t mean I have to like what it could be implying. I understand that idols are a big sex symbol, I mean the whole Alo-Hello! series is nothing more than a thinly veiled facade to watch your favorite Hello! Project idol running around Hawaiian beaches in a skimpy bikini, but there is a difference, and that difference is restraint. The Alo-Hello! series, and even the bikini frolicking of Ponytail to Chouchou, are all done with a healthy does a playfulness that leaves quite a bit to the imagination. Honestly, this is one of the main reasons that I enjoy Japanese idols. While I wouldn’t call it any less sexual than the popular music and personalities we have here in the United States, it certainly is a different type of sexuality.

Now, I honestly hope that what I believe that scene looks like wasn’t intentional by the director, and that I am horribly off base in my ranting. I really truly do, because if it really was intentional, then I must say I’m rather disgusted. For idols who are so prized on their pureness to be displayed in such a manner is almost insulting. I’m moderately upset about this, and the only thing I know about that girl is that she announced her 19th birthday at AX. If this were Aya, or Risa, or Ai, I couldn’t even imagine how upset I would feel. Then again, I might just be a perverted minded Puritan.