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J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 August 16, 2013

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop.
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Hey everybody, guess who is actually still around? 😉 Yes, the Atlanta write-ups are still coming, just at a pace that would make plate tectonics look like SCCA Can-Am…

A few weeks ago I attended J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2013 in surprisingly cold and dreary San Fransisco. Instead of having mounds of prose to describe the event here are some pictures:

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Here you can see Uozumi Yuki and Miyazawa Marin (along with beat-boxer DAICHI) doing a sound-check on the Peace Plaza stage on the morning of the 27th.

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The 27th was overcast the entire day and actually rather cold. Marin doesn’t look to be enjoying the weather too much.

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LoVendoЯ’s first event of the day was a Q&A session that unfortunately consisted entirely of predetermined questions. It was still enjoyable, and quite nice to see the girls so up close.

Click past the break to see pictures from the rest of the event, including both of LoVendoЯ’s live performances!
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Risa in The Matenrou Show?! September 10, 2012

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Niigaki Risa.
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So there’s a new Hello! Project themed pachinko machine coming out featuring past and present Morning Musume members plus Sotada Mai and Matsuura Aya (yay! Glad to see her doing… something?) as hostesses in Tsunku’s club. Which, to be fair, sounds like an idea that would print money in real-life. Actually, I’m kind of surprised Tsunku hasn’t tried his hand at hostess clubs yet, seeing how he even has his own maid cafe.

All of that is fine and dandy, but what concerns me now is a little clip from that machine’s promotional video showing Risa sing The Matenrou Show alongside Sayu and Reina:*

Wow!

She really sounds great in that song, which is all the more shame that she didn’t get to officially participate in that release. I don’t care if this is released on DVD, CD, cassette, 8-track, or even Edison cylinder, MAKE IT HAPPEN UFA!

* For those who are not aware, Risa graduated from Morning Musume after their 49th single, Renai Hunter. One Two Three / The Matenrou Show, Morning Musume’s 50th single, came out after her graduation, and thus no version of this song containing her vocals was known, or even thought to, exist.

Mano Erina to Graduate From Hello! Project July 22, 2012

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Blog Stuff, Hello! Project, Jpop, Mano Erina.
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As I’m sure you all know by now, Mano Erina is going to graduate from Hello! Project on February 23rd. You can read translations of the official announcements here.

I must say I’m surprised to see that H!P is letting go of their only soloist. Her career seemed pretty solid as her sales were always decent and she still has her youth. Judging by the official comments it seems she just wants out of the idols business and to take a different turn in her career.

Mano has always been a bit of a sore topic for me as I’ve always felt that I’ve wanted more from her. While I won’t deny that she has grown into an impressive performer over the years, she has yet to really bring the whole package together. Her singing never matured to a point that I’d like to see, and I’ve never felt that she has ever really had a “great” song. Sure, she has had some “good” songs, heck, even a few great PV’s but no singular release that I can point to and go, “Yup, that’s why Manoeri is such a great idol.”

The frustrating thing is that I have no doubt she is capable of it. She already has most of the pieces, I just hope by the time of her graduation she can complete the puzzle. It would be a crying shame otherwise.



In more upbeat news: NEW HEADERS! After more than two years of using the same header, Isilie was kind enough to make some new ones for me. I’ll be rotating them every couple of days so keep a look out for them!

Morning Musume’s “One Two Three / The Matenrou Show” Breaks 100,000 Copies Sold! July 10, 2012

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume.
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To help but that in perspective, Momusu hasn’t broken 100k total sales for a single since 2004, and One Two Three has only been on sale for a single week!

Holy cow!

To say that this is an impressive feat is almost an understatement. I mean, this thing is even out-selling Golden Age Morning Musume releases! It’s almost sacrilegious. 😀

It’s a great release, as isilwentari does a fantastic job of showing, so I certainly think it’s deserved. One certainly can’t argue that all the new blood that Morning Musume has recently taken on has significantly freshened the group’s image up a bit.

I’d love to see this awesome momentum keep going, but I can’t help but be a little pessimistic. Nanchatte Renai, (Momusu’s 40th Anniversary single, and talk about a change in style!) also had exaggerated sales compared to those that came before and after it. On the bright side though, despite the drop it did signal a slight uptick in single sales afterwards!

Also, not to mention that Morning Musume’s 50th single also marks 50 consecutive top 10 singles, a record in the Japanese music industry!

A Personal Memory about Niigaki Risa and Mitsui Aika May 18, 2012

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume, Niigaki Risa.
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So that time is finally upon us, that time I’ve been dreading for months now. Risa is really going to graduate in a few hours. I can’t even really believe that it’s going to happen. ><

Well, in the same fashion as I have with all of the other recent graduations I'd like to share a personal memory I have about Risa and Aika from the time when I was able to interact with them at Anime Expo 2009.

At Anime Expo there were two autograph sessions, both of which I was fortunate enough to attend. The first session happened immediately after their very first event, a Q&A session with the fans. I of course attended that Q&A but had less than stellar seats, so this autograph session was really the first time I was able to really see the girls.

So, not only was I up-close to them, but I was actually interacting with them.

It freaked me out pretty bad. A mix of disbelief, shock, awe, happiness and probably a few other superlative emotions all combined to turn me into a grinning fool who could barely squeak out a "Hello," and "Thank you," to these girls.

Risa would have none of that however. As soon as she finished signing my poster she stuck her hand out for a handshake. I could barely believe it. So despite my state of now compound shock, I of course I shook her hand.

That autograph session was pretty relaxed in terms of atmosphere, and all of the girls were shaking hands with the fans, but only when the fans initiated it. Risa was the only one of them to put her hand out and shake with every single fan. Her desire to connect with her fans was something that really impressed me then, and still impresses me now. It's no small secret how much she loves Morning Musume, but after seeing that I really think she cares about the fans just as much.

As for poor Aika, unfortunately I can't say I have a particular story about her. She was upbeat and enthusiastic every time she was with the fans, which was something I certainly appreciated. I also found her to be a bit cuter in person than in photographs or video. She never really mastered being as photogenic as the other members.

It was hard for me to accept Ai leaving the group, but Risa's graduation is on a whole another level. She could sing and dance with the best of them in Morning Musume, but the thing I really loved about her performances was the raw energy she brought to everything. She made it clear as day that she absolutely loved what she was doing, and that kind of transparent happiness is always a joy to behold.

So thank you Risa for helping make these last three years I've been following Morning Musume so enjoyable. I anxiously await your next endeavor 😀

Mitsui Aika to Graduate From Morning Musume May 14, 2012

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume.
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As I’m sure you are all aware of now, Mitsui Aika is going to graduate alongside Niigaki Risa on May 18 at the Morning Musume Concert Tour 2012 Spring ~Ultra Smart~ Niigaki Risa Graduation Special. Apparently Aika’s ankle injury didn’t heal properly and it would pose too great a risk for her to continue performing with the group.

I hate to say it, but I don’t feel Morning Musume is really losing anything of great value here with Aika. For me the girl just never “clicked” into any role in the group. Her singing and dancing were never particularly great (or for that matter bad enough to admonish). Her personality seemed a bit dull, and she didn’t even seem to fit in all that well with the other members in the group. She was always this odd little background member.

One thing that is unique about her graduation is simply the timing of the announcement only two weeks before the event. As far as I’m aware, that’s the shortest span for any member that has left the group in a legitimate (read: non-scandal) manner. To me it almost seems a bit suspicious. While I have little doubt that her ankle injury was legitimate, I feel that there is something that is being left out of the story, because frankly, the reason they are giving about the injury healing improperly hardly seems to justify the rush graduation. Possibly the injury is much worse than they’ve been letting on, or there was some contractual dispute rising from her resent absences?

The kind of funny thing is that around December, one of my friends and I were talking and I was telling him all about how I thought that Aika would be the next to graduate. Even at that time I was starting to feel that her ankle injury was taking a bit too long to heal and she would be forced to leave the group because of that. Well, being half right isn’t too shabby!

All that being said, I do feel a bit bad for the girl regarding the circumstances of her graduation. Seeing how the announcement was only two weeks before the event, I imagine that many of her fans that would have liked to have attended simply won’t have the chance. Then there’s the whole bit about that particular concert already having been named the Niigaki Risa Graduation Special (albeit, as a Risa fan, I can’t say I’ll be losing sleep on that one ;D)

Oh, and yeah, the blog isn’t entirely dead …yet! 😀

Niigaki Risa to Graduate From Morning Musume January 14, 2012

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume, Niigaki Risa.
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Well, I’ve certainly put off writing this post for long enough.

I admit that when I first heard the news of her graduation I wasn’t livid like I had been at the last two graduation announcements. No, frankly, I was broken. Risa is the last member of Morning Musume I really like. When I listen to a Morning Musume song it’s her voice I listen for. When I watch on of their performances, it’s her dancing that I keep an eye on. Sure, I enjoy the work of the other girls, but they aren’t the main attraction for me.

Like Ai’s graduation this certainly wasn’t that big of a surprise. She’s been a member of the group for well over ten years, and frankly after the addition of the last two generations it’s fairly obvious that there is a conscious effort to lower the age of the group.

I am rather relieved that Risa was at least allowed to graduate on her own after Ai (you can read about that, and translated versions of the official statements here). A double graduation of both Ai and Risa would have been really quite traumatic. Risa is the last link the current Morning Musume has to their “Golden Age” so to speak. If the graduation of Ai signified the end of an era, so will Risa’s graduation, albeit a bit more subtly.

I’m also rather glad she was at least allowed to be leader, even if just for these few short months. She always seemed like she would make a perfect leader when she was second-in-command, and combined with the fact that she was charged with breaking-in the brand new tenth gen I am happy that she was given some important tasks to accomplish during her last few months.

I’m not quite so thrilled that she’s graduating on April 1st, though. Since I’ve finally been able to put some money aside I made up my mind that I’d finally make the pilgrimage, so to speak, to Japan this fall. If she was graduating in the Fall I would have gone to that concert. Absolutely no question. But May? There’s no way I can take off that much time so soon.

Also, it’s not like I just wouldn’t mind seeing her stick around a little bit longer, especially considering that PyocoPyoco Ultra (Risa’s probable graduation single) is the first Momusu single in quite a while that I rather dislike. Tsunku has tweeted a few snippets that there might be a new single with a “cool” image, so I certainly hope that that does come to be. Well, comes to be before May that is.

Something else that bothers me a bit is how the leadership of Hello! Project as a whole will shift from Morning Musume to Berryz Kobo, Shimizu Saki to be specific. I have nothing against Shimizu, but it still seems like an odd turn of events. Is MM losing their flagship status in Hello! Project? Or is there so little faith in Sayumi as a leader that they won’t give her that responsibility? That last question would somewhat address the reason as to why the position of sub-leader seemed to be abolished once tradition would have dictated that Sayu would have been given the position.

So after Risa leaves I’m certainly not going to lose interest in Morning Musume. The sixth gen are still enjoyable to watch. The ninth gen is solid, and I’m still looking forward to what the tenth gen can bring to the table. My main draw, Risa’s fierce delivery of nearly everything she did, will be gone though, and I’m not going to lie when I say that I can’t help but imagine that it will diminish my enthusiasm a bit.

Molson Musume? December 29, 2011

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project.
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While reading Isilwentari’s wonderful post about Dream Morning Musume’s new single Shining Butterfly I couldn’t help but think that the costumes that the girls were wearing looked awfully familiar.

Sure, they weren’t anything too crazy, just white with red and blue accents. Then today while idly day dreaming it finally hit me. They resemble giant dancing bottles (or the labels, more specifically) of Molson Canadian Beer:

😐

Yeah, I don’t really know what to think of that…

And on that bombshell, I hope you all have a good new year!

Dokki Doki! Love Mail Covered in an Anime! November 1, 2011

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Matsuura Aya.
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The anime in question seems to be Katte ni Kaizō (do correct me if I’m wrong about that), and well, the title pretty much sets this piece up pretty well. Check it out below!

Sure, halfway through it transitions from nice and sweet to more than a little demented, but I’m too enthralled by all the allusions to the original PV to really care!

Here are a handful of my favorites:

My absolute favorite allusion has to be to the little punching scene at about two minutes into the embedded video:

I love it because it’s just so darn subtle. If you didn’t know to look for it you would completely miss it. The people who made this either really loved the original PV, or just spent a whole heck of a lot of time watching it when making this! 😀

Oh Sayu… October 27, 2011

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Morning Musume.
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That’s an awful, awful cover.

I think they were going for a “bunny” look there with that costume and her hair like that, but to me the whole thing just comes across as goofy. While her hair looks silly like that, I can’t complain too much about the costume as it shows plenty of skin and a bit of cleavage, and well, that’s certainly no different than the bikinis you normally see (albeit fuzzier). What I find truly appalling is that title font and the choice of background. I get that they were going for a kind of “playful sexy,” but how they present it here just doesn’t work for me.

Some previews of the actual contents of the book have surfaced, and luckily they’re quite a bit better than the cover. A lot better actually.

Well, I’ve complained enough about what I think is a bad photobook cover, so how about one that I think is great? I present Fujimoto Miki’s cheri:

Now, those of you familiar with cheri may not recognize that cover, and that’s because I’m actually cheating a little bit. The image most people are familiar with as the cover exists only on the dust jacket, and the image I have above is what’s actually printed on the hardcover of the book.

While being the near polar opposite of Sayuminglandoll in terms of design and presentation, cheri‘s cover is still incredibly sexy while keeping a demure air about it. There’s obviously a lot of exposed skin, but nothing one couldn’t show everyday on the street, it’s just that it is presented in such bold and prominent way with the black and white photography that it carries a significant impact, but what really hammers it home for me though, are Miki’s slightly parted lips. When taken altogether the emphasis is simply on Miki’s beauty, and it’s absolutely stunning.

So how about you guys, what’s your favorite photobook cover?