31 July 2008

An explanation of the sudden hiatus.

Just a short entry to explain what's going on. There will be a much longer entry later tonight full of JE goodness.

As I mentioned before I was going to be moving my room in the house. At first I didn't see it being too problematic in regards to keeping the normal daily entry schedule of this blog that I've been trying to keep. Like almost everything in life though things aren't going nearly as smoothly as I planned. I keep getting pulled away to help with the other room moves that need to be done which ends up taking up most of my time. Plus I'm having trouble getting my desktop to work again, which baffles me as a trip up two flights of stairs should not have done anything to it.

To add to the moving that's been sucking up my time, for the second time in two weeks the internet went down with no reason for 24 hours. This annoys me greatly as I would think the provider would be courteous enough to give its customers some information about what is going on when something like that happens. I really hope it doesn't happen again or I think it'd be time to switch internet companies.

So these have been the reasons why I haven't updated in the past few days. Instead of double posting I'm just going to make entries whenever I can for the next week or so with whatever I find relevant.

28 July 2008

SUMMARY 2008 information update

Well the moving has begun but I'm going to have more free time for a while so this should hopefully be the last of the quick posts. And it looks like I should be able to get my desktop up and running shortly but I think I'll catch up on episode summaries this week as I realize I haven't done this month's Shounen Club and next Saturday will be the first August episode airing.

Unfortunately with all the moving I haven't had time to really prepare anything for this entry. And it probably doesn't help that I banged the back of my hand against something today and it has swollen a bit which makes using the computer more difficult than usual.

I did manage a trip over to Seattle today though. I'm glad I did as it looks like the Kinokuniya over there just got their shipment of JE magazines in. I picked up the August issues for Duet and Wink Up, which tend to be my favorites.

Something a bit interesting about the Wink Up is that the fold out poster is more of a SUMMARY promotion than the standard new single promotion. Hey! Say! JUMP is on one side with Nakayama Yuma, B.A.D., A.B.C. and Kis-My-Ft2 on the other side which advertises for SUMMARY alone. I knew of the Kansai Juniors B.A.D. was participating but I did not realize until then that Nakayama would be featured in it as well. In a way he kinda reminds of Ryo Nishikido, with the whole Kansai Junior that JE seems to be in love with vibe. I honestly think the only things that could keep Nakayama from debuting are either, him quitting for some reason or a scandal. And he really impressed me in this month's Shounen Club episodes so I don't mind that at all.

26 July 2008

Ryo - Angel SC11NOV2001

I've been wanting to share this ever since I saw it, as Ryo looks so adorable. You can tell he's finally growing by this time but still has all the cuteness from his chibi days. Usually I don't like it all when JE boys dye their hair blond but I think it's Ryo's cute factor that makes me not mind it much at all.

His voice throws me off though as I'm so used to his voice post-puberty as it's so distinct. But then again so does the fact that he's utterly adorable as a child as I'm so used to seeing him as the 'Sexy Osaka Man.'

Another small thing I found a bit amusing to see in this performance was how many members of KAT-TUN were his backup singers.

Tokio's 41st single

I ended up being much more busy today than I thought I would be so I didn't really have time to prepare something for this second entry for today. Thankfully the new release information for Tokio's next single came out so I'll just be posting that information.

Amagasa / Akireru Kurai Bokura wa Negao [Regular Edition] / TOKIO

Amagasa / Akireru Kurai Bokura wa Negao [w/ DVD, Limited Edition / Type 1] / TOKIO

Amagasa / Akireru Kurai Bokura wa Negao [w/ DVD, Limited Edition / Type 2] / TOKIO

Tomorrow looks like another busy day for me but I'll upload a video real quick in the morning. It's a performance from one of the 2001 Shounen Club episodes that I have been able to find.

25 July 2008

Hey! Say! JUMP - Your Seed/Bouken Rider review

Your Seed/Bouken Rider is Hey! Say! JUMP's 3rd single and first double A-side. Though after listening to the two songs on the cd for a while I think it probably should have been kept a single A-side as it was first solicitated out to be.

The covers probably aren't the most incredible things ever, but they aren't the usually group photo shot and it looks like they tried to be a bit creative with them. I kinda find it cute that they had a panda plush toy on the covers as their way of showing that the single is tied in to the Kung-Fu Panda movie.

Your Seed is definitely the stronger of the two songs, as well as the one that diverges the most from what HSJ has released so far. From the small preview we first got of it back when the single was first announced I thought it sounded like a song I would like and it is probably one of my favorite HSJ songs now. As it uses the lower ranges more than HSJ's other songs it doesn't sound so much like it is a song sung by young boys so much, which at first threw me off. But I think it's hardly a bad thing as the boys are growing up fast and beginning to reach the point where most voices have deepened since their debut. I think overall Your Seed is a good song to release as I noticed that haven't liked any of HSJ's previous songs say that they like Your Seed, so it's helping bringing in a new group of people that may not have enjoyed the volleyball songs of the first two singles so much.

The second A-side, Bouken Rider, is more like the typical sound that HSJ has so far. It's a light pop song and not nearly as catchy as Your Seed, IMHO. I'm sure I would not have been sold on this single much at all if Bouken Rider was released as a single itself. I think it makes a good B-side though.

The DVD is set up to be in three parts. The actual promotional video for Your Seed, viewing HSJ in their dance lessons for the PV and the making of portion of the PV.

The PV has been out for a while so I'm not going to spend too much time on it. It's dancing from the beginning to the end on the same stage, though that can be forgiven as they use a giant LED screen behind them to change the background and the dance is remarkable. As I mentioned in an earlier post I think this is the first dance that really uses the fact that there is ten members to the group to it's advantage. I don't think I could see a smaller group repeating it and having it work out so well.

Next portion has clips of the boys learning the dance moves for the PV. It actually took me the third viewing to realize that Takaki isn't with the other nine members for the dance lessons, but was on his own learning the dance moves. This is kinda explained in the making of portion as Takaki mentions that because of his work schedule he hadn't had the same amount of time to practice the dance as the rest of the group so he was finding it difficult. All of this portion is dubbed over by Your Seed so there isn't too much to say about it but I do find it a bit interesting to see them learning the dance and see some of the mistakes they make.

The making of portion is shorter than the two past HSJ singles but seems to have gone for quality over quantity as it's the most enjoyable. Even though at first I found myself indifferent to him when HSJ first debuted this making of and the one for Dreams come true has made really like Hikaru. He's easily one of the more enjoyable member of the group to watch as he's just so energetic and goofy. I found the fact that where ever he was Inoo would be nearby and vice-versa rather amusing and I think it really does prove that those two have become good friends. Yuto as a 'reporter' was cute and I might be biased because of the amount of screen time Daiki got because of it. Yuto's English was pretty fail, and I love how Keito seemed pretty interested in what he was going to try to say. Even though Takaki seemed a bit tired he also looked very happy to be with the rest of the group this time. I really felt this was too short and I hope we get a bit more with their next making of if it'll be as entertaining as this one.

24 July 2008

Otokogumi - Rollin' in the Dark

For some reason, still unknown to me, the internet cut out yesterday which is why I didn't make a post. It really annoys me as I don't like missing a day. I do plan on doing a make-up post tomorrow, so there should be one in the morning and then the usual evening post.

For today though I found another rarity to share, an Otokogumi performance on Music Station from 1988. I think out of all the daisenpai groups I like Otokogumi the most. And not just because Okamoto Kenichi is Okamoto Keito's dad. Unlike the other groups I don't cringe at their dated sound and actually enjoy their music.

Like all the daisenpai groups it's near impossible to find any information about them in English so I really don't know too much about the members. In fact if Kenichi wasn't Keito's dad I really would know anything about him. Of course it makes me a bit curious if I'm not the only one who has gotten into Otokogumi because they were Hey! Say! JUMP fans.

Enough of my rambling now. Here's the clip of Otokogumi performing Rollin' in the Dark on Music Station, with random camera filter thrown in.

22 July 2008

Chotto Taimu Chapter 3 + other tidbits.

As promised in yesterday's post I scanned the next chapter of Chotto Taimu by Kato Kan of the Juniors. I was happy to see that there was at least a couple of people interested in these scans which is all I need to continue on with sharing them.

I think right now my favorite Japanese holiday is Umi no Hi (Marine Day). It was celebrated this past Monday the 21st of July and is most likely the reason I got my copies of Hey! Say! JUMP's Your Seed single today, a full day before its street date. It's a rather new holiday too, as it was only stated as a National Japanese holiday in 1997. In a way I think it's rather appropriate for HSJ to release something the same week as a holiday created in the Heisei era. For reason's stated in this earlier entry I have left the RE edition unopened, but as I opened the LE I have a couple of scans to share from that. I do hope someone else scans the RE booklet as it seems to have more photos of the boys, unlike the LE where they're only on the cover.

One thing I noticed is that when you look at the two covers you can almost tell a story about them. It's easy to see that it's the same place they're in for both covers with some changes here and there. The thing that really ties them together is the tree, as it's a sapling being watered by Yamada in the LE has grown into a tree on the RE that Yamada sits on a swing tied to one of it's branches.

Also in drama news, Ryo from News/Kanjani8 and Ninomiya from Arashi will be in a drama together in the Fall season. The name of the drama is Ryuusei no Kizuna. The synopsis given is that three siblings, Ryo and Nino play the two brothers and Toda Erika plays the sister, have their parents murdered. They swear on a meteor to get revenge which the brothers finally after fourteen years find the murderer but it looks like their sister will get in the way. The official Japanese news article can be found here.

Just a blip.

This week doesn't seem to be getting off to a great start. Like the past few days I've just been very tired and I'm going to skimp a bit with this entry. I'll make sure to have the next chapter of Chotto Taimu scanned and ready for upload tomorrow though.

In Junior news, Johnny's net is listing Hashimoto Ryosuke and Sanada Yuma to be appearing in the July issue of Popolo. When it comes to Juniors Ikuta Toma and Kis-My-Ft2 are the only ones to be in Popolo so this could be a big thing for Hashimoto and Sanada. I will say I'm disappointed that Nozawa Yuki isn't listed with them, but until the list for who's in the August issue I'll assume they using an old photo shoot before it was finally decided that Nozawa would be part of the Hashimoto-trio.

I just noticed watching the 18JUL2008 Music Station performance that the ones that get a good deal of camera time outside of the usual two, Yamada and Takaki, are the three that were in the Sensei wa Erai SP, Nakajima, Chinen and Arioka. Which reminded me of the fact that in the filming of the August Shounen Club it was the four from the Sensei wa Erai SP that were called in to help fill the void with the lack of Juniors. They even sing the ending theme of the SP Namida-kun Sayonara on it. I don't think there are any rumors about this yet, and I can't seem to find the ratings for the SP, but I'm wondering if the SP did well enough to be made into a full season drama. As that would explain why there seems to be a bit of attention on those four. Or it could be that they are also the other members of the original Hey! Say! 7 line-up so they want to continue to focus on them as they were the ones that were a part of JE's biggest selling Junior group. I guess only time will tell which it is.


It looks like SMAP wants to remind everyone that 'yes, they do still release music' and have a new single coming out on 13AUG2008. It's being used as the theme song to the TBS Beijing Olympic 2008 program. And unlike other JE releases it will only come in one version. cdjapan only has information about the title track but with the price it's being sold at there should be at least one B-side track for this single.

Kono Toki, Kitto Yume ja Nai / SMAP

21 July 2008

Utaban 17JUL2008 Hey! Say! JUMP talk

I went over to Seattle today, and while I enjoy going across the water and visiting the International District, the heat of the summer makes me feel so lethargic. It's hard for me to find the motivation to do a post today but my goal is to have some kind of update for a post everyday. I'm someone who gets distracted a lot and lets things slip so I need to work on my resolve.

This is the talk segment for the 17JUL2008 Utaban that had Hey! Say! JUMP as guests. I think this was the highlight of the episode as I didn't care for the game they had them play. While saying the names of the subgroups Nakai called 7 nana (one of the Japanese ways of saying 7) instead of seven, which HSJ quickly corrects. Then they show the problem BEST has with 7, which is the fact there are so many tall members of 7 that if they stand in front of BEST they block people's view of them.

19 July 2008

Johnny's A GO GO 1999

My time for this half of July looks like it's going to mainly be taken up by helping out around the house as my parents are re-doing the upstairs. When they are done I'll be moving up to one of the rooms and out of the basement. This will effect my blogging a bit in the fact I'm not sure how many days I'll be busy with moving, I collect things like there's no tomorrow so my days are bound to be busy with just sorting through my things. Before I have to move my desktop computer I'm going to be a bit spammy with video streams and scans as I'm not sure how long it will be to get it all back online again once it's upstairs. So you'll probably be able to tell when I'm making my move as there will be quite a few text heavy, and most likely short entries during that time.

Like I mentioned in a post earlier in the month, I mentioned I would be sharing a couple of more clips from the Sugao 2 that tackey-tsubasa.net is sharing with other hard to find Junior concerts/events. This is the opening song of the concert so it has a lot of the introductions of the Juniors. It also has Tackey in a cowboy outfit that looks like it's being eaten by the tassels on it. I mean I understand that one of the reasons the outfits that Johnny's wear is for visibility so even the people in the back rows can see what's going on stage and tell who's who but sometimes they seem to just go completely overboard.

18 July 2008

JE news round up

After almost an entire year since their last single Kinki Kids is releasing a new single. It's called Secret Code and the title track is the theme song for Tsuyoshi's Summer drama, 33pun Tantei. This is their 27th single and I'm sure JE is going to make sure like all their singles this debuts at #1 so they can keep their Guinness Book of World Records of most singles that debuted at #1 consecutively since their debut.

Secret Code [Limited Edition] / KinKi Kids

Secret Code [Regular Edition] / KinKi Kids

Every week Oricon, the Japanese cd sales chart, does a poll of 400 of it's subscribers for interest in the releases of the upcoming week. While the numbers don't reflect actual sales it tends to be mostly accurate for how things will rank. This is what the NINKI numbers are, so if you see them around remember they are not sale predictions in any way, which is a common misconception people have about NINKI. The NINKI numbers are out for next week and Hey! Say! JUMP is on top with 181.7 out of 400. Their closest competition is Aiko whose NINKI numbers are 91.1 out of 400, so it looks like they'll easily get the weekly #1 next week.

There's also a rumor going around that Okamoto Keito will be in a drama this Fall. There doesn't seem to be any thing to confirm this and it's a bit early for announcements for next seasons dramas, though not too early to begin hearing rumors for them so it'll probably be a while before this rumor to be proved true or false.

Chotto Taimu Chapter 2 scans

I forget if I mentioned this in an earlier blog, and as I'm making this post this late today I decided not to take the time to read past entries, but I'm going to share scans to the story Kato Kan, one of the Juniors is getting published in the Shogaku Yonensei magazine. I picked up the May issue of Shogaku Yonensei a couple of months ago, mainly for the bonus item, and found that it was the magazine this story was being published in. Unfortunately the April issue was no longer available so I wasn't able to get the first chapter. I'm hoping it eventually gets collected in a book or I somehow get incredible lucky and find that missing issue so I can get the first chapter. I do plan on picking up this magazine regularly so I'll share the scans on a somewhat regular basis. Though some of the pages are a little wavy as I want to keep the magazine with the pages intact it's all still readable.

The title of the story is, ちょっと大夢 (read: Chotto Taimu), which is a bit of a pun. That isn't very surprising as the Japanese love puns. The kanji for 'taimu' are 大 which means 'big' and 夢 which means 'dream; but it's usually read as 'oomu' or 'daimu'. 'Tai' is an alternative reading for 大 and in katakana 'taimu' means time. So it has two translations Just A Little Big Dream and Just A Little Time.

I honestly haven't tried yet to give it a throughly read through, as even though the furigana helps a lot I lack quite a bit of vocab and grammar knowledge for Japanese. But from what I can get from the scans it's your typical light high school comedy.

16 July 2008

Hyakushiki-Ou 24JUN2008 Roads

Because I'm falling quite behind on episodes for Hyakushiki I've figured it was time to catch up. I initially skipped this one as the next two episodes had my favorite things, aka Fujigaya & Shoon in Tokyo Disneyland. ♥

But to get to that I'm suffering through this episode. And yes, suffering is a bit strong but even cute boys can't make this subject entertaining in any way. I kinda wonder who chooses these topics that they cover on the show and how they choose them. Because I can't see how anyone would think 'roads' could be an interesting topic to cover. So I'm going to keep this short and screen cap light.

They got through the usual trivia and then we see that Fujigaya and Keito are the ones that have been sent out on location. They meet up with a Road Specialist and they start walking and are shown various things things about the road they are walking next to. Maybe it's because I find the subject so boring I can't help but think the boys can't be nearly as excited about the subject as they are acting to be.

They return to the classroom and Fujigaya and Shoon make sure they get their moments to shine by speaking out as much as possible. Keito and Takada get to speak a little bit too. Then it's back to more trivia about roads and my brain kinda shut off.

This last segment is pretty much the highlight of the episode as the boys get to banter with Inohara. They also pull out some amusing signs, a not cheating sign for the class and a no sleeping sign for Inohara.

It's then a preview for the next episode, which is the first part of the two episodes where they cover a much more exciting topic, Tokyo Disneyland. And a short clip from the current episode to end it on.

15 July 2008

The Return of Tegoshi and His Half Bald Head.

Sometimes it's not so bad living on the West Coast of the United States. Sure we have to wait three hours after the East Coast to see programs that are 'filmed live', sports being the only exception to this. And we're one of the last timezones that the day ends on, thus one of the last to celebrate the New Year. But that can have it's upside too. Like the fact as the evening begins here it's already well into the morning in Japan for the next day. So to catch morning news in Japan I don't have to worry about staying up late as it may not even be dark yet outside where I am.

And what does that have to do with Johnny's? Not much really except for me being happy to be awake to get news about the Johnny's boys fresh off the press, like this.

Sanspo, one of the online Japanese news sites has just put up an article saying that Tegoshi Yuya will be starring in another Shabake series. The first 'series', which I use loosely as it really was only a SP as it was only a single episode. They're saying this will be a sequel series called Usouso and will air this winter as the first SP did rather well getting 14.4% ratings. For drama ratings that is a good rating as anything less than 10% is bad and above 20% is considered high.

You can view the original article in Japanese by following the hyperlink.

Until more information comes out to contradict me, I'm taking that this will actually be another SP, so another single episode, not an actual full length drama.

I know the hopeless Takaki fangirl in me wants him to be in this special as well as he was in the first one, but I have a feeling that won't happen. His character can be written out rather easily and I think after Gokusen 3 JE probably wants to keep him in bigger roles. But I'm curious if they'll cast another Johnny's in a part like they did Takaki. I know I'd be grateful to see more of Hey! Say! JUMP in drama roles of any kind as besides Takaki and Yamada the rest haven't done much drama-wise since debut. But in any case winter is still a ways away so I'll save speculation until more information is known about this.

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Hashimoto Ryosuke! You still look like you should be turning 17 at least, not 15, but I guess you're still closer to looking your age than when you were 14. ^__^;;

14 July 2008

Johnny's Generations

One of the things I love about Johnny's groups is the interaction between them. With the Junior system many have known each other since they were kids and it's nice to see the friendships cross over from the different groups. Especially at events like the Countdown concerts. Of course with the passage of time some groups tend to interact with other groups with members their age or those that debuted about the same time. I've come to think of those breaks along the lines of "generations" of the Johnny's groups.

SMAP (1991)

SMAP to me feels like it belongs on the end of the generation of Johnny's artists and groups that have since disbanded or already retired from releasing music. Maybe it's because they don't really release much of anything or perform concerts anymore. Even though they are undoubtedly solid fixtures in Japanese entertainment with their variety programs and drama roles.

Tokio (1994)
V6 (1995)
Kinki Kids (1997)

It's easy to notice how well these groups all get along together, especially when they are all on stage together. It's great to watch grown men act like little kids together on stage. Most of the them are the same age and from interviews and the message board in the Wink Up magazine they like to spend their free time together.

Arashi (1999)

Poor Arashi doesn't seem to fit with the other groups so I've decided to make them their own generation as there is quite a difference in time between the debut before them and the next one. Of course that's not to say they don't interact with members of other groups as there are interviews that say otherwise. Age wise they're a bit spread with Ohno being the same age as V6's Okada and the rest of the group being closer to the ages of the groups that came after them. I think in a way I kinda see them as taking SMAP's place once that group retires with Japanese programs and dramas.

Tackey & Tsubasa (2002)
News (2003)
Kanjani∞ (2004)
KAT-TUN (2006)

I wasn't quite sure if I should place Tackey & Tsubasa in this group or not. But after thinking about who they usually interact with, all the answers pointing towards Juniors, I figured that they fit better with these groups, especially as Takki was the one to give Yamapi his nickname and all. News and Kanjani8 are pretty much no brainers to put together as they share a member between them. The members of News and KAT-TUN are all about the same age so it only makes sense to put them together as well.

Hey! Say! JUMP (2007)

It's not hard to see Hey! Say! JUMP in their own generation with the age differences between their members and the other groups. I think it'll be interesting to see who comes after them, as it'll seem weird to put them in this generation if they end up around the same ages as the members of the previous generation, which is pretty much almost all the current older Junior groups.

Of course there's cross generation interactment, like when any of the group's end up on Nakai's (SMAP) Utaban program or they are in TV shows, dramas, plays and musicals together. Chinen's fan boy love for Ohno got him a chance to spend some time with his idol when one of the idol magazines had them do a cross talk and photo shoot together. Which was one of the cutest things to read as Chinen was so obviously nervous around him. And there's various J-web entries about senior Johnny's taking out the younger ones out to dinner to treat them or giving them birthday gifts.

It all gives off the warm feeling that Johnny's is kinda like a big family. Of course I'm sure not everyone gets along, but it's nice to see when they do.

13 July 2008

Yasuko to Kenji first impressions

For anyone who knows about Johnny's Jimusho it quickly comes apparent that drama roles are an important role in promoting their talent. There isn't a season that goes by without dramas with JE boys in the star or co-star role. And it probably isn't too surprising to see that the ones that get the most screen time and work in dramas tend to be the most popular members of their groups.

Personally I can't stand serious dramas most of the time. I prefer light and fun for my dramas as I get annoyed easily at watching characters get into bad situations that could easily be avoided by doing something simple like just telling the truth. Kinda why I don't like a lot of shoujo manga. So a lot of the dramas that come out aren't to my tastes. This season the only one that looked like that fit the bill was Yasuko to Kenji. So I gave it a try.

The drama is based off a shoujo manga series of the same name. The basic story centers around a high school girl, Yasuko, and her older brother, Kenji, who is an ex-bike gang leader. Kenji gave up is gang ways after their parents died and has raised Yasuko on his own since then. He supports them working as a shoujo manga artist and two of his followers from his biker gang days are his assistants. Yasuko isn't too pleased with having Kenji as a brother as he's very strict and of course embarrassing to be around for her. Especially when she falls for the new transfer student Jun. Jun's older sister, Erika, though seems to have a past in a female biker gang but now runs a flower store, but it looks like unlike Yasuko, Jun doesn't know about his older sibling's past.

The casting is wonderful, especially Matsuoka Masahiro, in the lead role as Kenji. He's a delight in every scene he is in. The whole cast comes off as strong and play off each other well. And there's just so much potential that I hope future episodes use well. I'm so glad I gave this drama a shot and by the looks of things it will be the only drama that I will be following this season.

The song Amagasa of course was played and I have to say after listening to it a couple times, even with all the dialog over it, I think I'm beginning to love it. It does have a strong Shiina Ringo sound to it with the jazz influence but I hardly find that as a bad thing. I think this will be one single I'm going to have to pre-order.

I decided to put up the clip that has Amagasa playing in the background. It played near the end in the scene Kenji comes to save Yasuko from some thugs that kidnapped her and her love interest, Jun.

12 July 2008

Tokio joins the Storm.

The news has been out for a while now, I don't follow Tokio closely so I just recently found out it. But Tokio has switched labels once more. They began on the Sony Music label and then switched to Universal Music until this latest switch. This time they've signed on with J-Storm where they join fellow JE groups, Arashi and Hey! Say! JUMP. They don't have their page up yet on the website but there is a pop-up window with some information about their next single that will be the first Tokio release from J-Storm.

Johnny's has also snagged them one of the most interesting choice of songwriter to write their next song, Tokyo Jihen. For those who aren't famliar with this group they are the rock band that Shiina Ringo, a popular J-rock artist, put together after she decided not to continue her solo career. Shiina Ringo is also a bit infamous for having a very unique style to her music. Here's a link to a streaming of Tokyo Jihen performing Koko de Kiss Shite, one of Shiina's most popular songs from her solo career.

The song they are writing for Tokio is called Amagasa which translates to Umbrella. Shiina Ringo is writing the music and lyrics and Tokyo Jihen are credited to be doing the arrangement. It will be used as the theme song for the drama, Yasuko to Kenji, starring Tokio's Matsuoka Masahiro and co-starring Kanjani8's Tadayoshi Ohkura.

I'm rather surprised at this as Shiina Ringo is one of the last J-rock artists I would imagine writing music for a JE artist as she's about as un-idol like as they come. I'm not too surprised that JE decided to use a popular artist to write music for them as they did that with KAT-TUN's debut single Real Face. I'm really curious to how this song will sound though. I have liked the few songs I've heard from Shiina Ringo and I would like to see how she does writing music for others. And I'm sure I'm not the only one as I'm sure J-Storm is trying to make sure the first single they release for Tokio is a hit.

And this makes my dream of one day Utada Hikaru writing a song for a JE group seem a little more possible. Though it's probably just going to remain a dream but I don't want to let go of it as I can only imagine how awesome it would be. *__*

Hey! Say! JUMP 11JUL2008 Music Station

I wanted to post this much earlier but my schedule was thrown off today because of those around me had delays. But I really wanted to do today's post for this and decided that I would be selfishly stubborn and do a late post today. I am leaving out a subject I wanted to talk about, but as it's not Hey! Say! JUMP related I figured that at least could be carried over to tomorrow.

One of the reasons I kept the opening talk was to help show how Takaki seems to have been promoted to spokesperson with him starring in Gokusen 3. I think it's a bit important to note this because Johnny's doesn't just randomly pick the one or two members of a group that get to do the talking on shows like this. It's usually the members that are the most popular or the ones that JE wants to promote. Not to mention that those that end up in the spokesperson role also tend to be the group leaders.

When Hey! Say! JUMP debuted it was Yabu and Yuto that got to be the group spokespeople, which seemed inevitable as Yabu was Ya-Ya-Yah's group leader and Yuto seemed to fill the group leader role for the original Hey! Say! 7 unit. And it remained that way until Gokusen 3 was on air and then it switched over to Takaki and Yamada. I see this as a reflection of the popularity of the group members. There's little doubt that Yamada is the most popular HSJ member as concert reports always talk about the large amount of Yamada uchiwas in the crowd. Takaki had a boost of fame/popularity with Gokusen 3 so I think it's a partial popularity and part pimping that has him taking on the spokesperson role. I think it'll be most interesting to see if they keep these positions. Though I find it hard to think of either as group leaders.

On the performance itself two things really stood out to me. One is the dance as it looks rather impressive and the fact that it was about equal screen time for everyone.

I think if you're going to have a group as large as HSJ, this is the kind of thing to do with them. I don't think a smaller group could really pull off a performance like this as well as it has so many moving parts happening all at once or very close in sequence.

And even though it looked like almost all the group members got equal time in the camera's spotlight it seemed to stay on Yamada and Takaki a bit longer than the rest, IMHO. And I'm not sure if it is because he usually lacks screen time but I felt that Daiki got a bit of the spotlight treatment. Not as much as Takaki and Yamada but I noticed him more in this performance more than usual. Of course it probably helped him that he made up the front row with Takaki and Yamada instead of being shuffled to the back row like usual. I'm rather pleased by that though as Daiki is one of the HSJ members that I really think needs more love and I hope JE gets him in acting roles again soon as I think he's one of the better actors of the group.

Also on another note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kato Shigeaki!

10 July 2008

News tidbits 10JUL2008

Doing another quick round-up of news in the JE world.

Probably the biggest news would be the announcement of Arashi's newest single truth/Kaze no Muko e. truth is the theme song for the drama Maoh that stars Ohno Satoshi and Ikuta Toma and Kaze no Muko e is the theme song for the Olympic broadcast in Japan. With Arashi's current popularity it's no surprise that both LE editions are 'out of print' at cdjapan already. But they could be open for pre-orders again at least once before the sale date.

Here are the links for the singles at cdjapan:

truth / Kaze no Muko e [Regular Edition] / Arashi

truth / Kaze no Muko e [w/ DVD, Limited Edition 1] / Arashi

truth / Kaze no Muko e [w/ DVD, Limited Edition 2] / Arashi

I can't help but think that with there being two different LEs if JE is trying to grab the number one spot for the singles of 2008. At the moment Aoyama Thelma holds that spot and is still selling steady. KAT-TUN is right behind but don't look like they'll be able to catch up let alone pass her sales. Arashi's singles may not be One Love has been as big as a seller as KAT-TUN's singles but it is a steady seller and should easily beat Step and Go and if it keeps selling strong could nab the top spot for the year itself.

The covers for the new NEWS DVD are out now. I kinda like how it seems to be in the same style as the last concert DVDs. The LE is the blue and the RE the pink.

Also Hey! Say! JUMP will be appearing on Music Station tomorrow, the 11th, and that will be the first performance for their new single. Also the preview is out for their PV for Your Seed. The set looks quite cheap but I'm not surprised about that. We should be getting the full PV soon, most likely early next week.

09 July 2008

Beating the Odds.

There's been a topic that's been milling around in my thoughts for a while but only recently become prominent enough that I feel that it's worth it to really look into. And that is simply the odds any Junior in the Johnny's Jimusho has in reaching the treasured goal of debuting. I'm still in mid-thought about it but I wanted to write what I have so far so I wouldn't forget about these points later.

For me I like finding patterns, so I look to the past to try to find my answers for the future. I can't say I am all too familiar with the older JE groups so I am only going off with what information I can find for them. So to help myself out I made a list of all the groups from SMAP onwards and noted which ones were Junior groups before debuting and how many were in the group when they debuted.

SMAP (Junior group debut) (6)
Tokio (Created at debut?) (5)
V6 (Created at debut) (6)
Kinki Kids (Junior group debut) (2)
Arashi (Created at debut) (5)
Tackey & Tsubasa (Created at debut?) (2)
News (Created at debut) (8)
Kanjani∞ (Junior group debut) (6*)
KAT-TUN (Junior group debut) (6)
Hey! Say! JUMP (Created at debut) (10)

From the list the only group I could not find a reference to about whether or not they were a Junior group or not was Tokio. Out of the other nine groups four of them were Junior groups before debuting and four (the volley ball groups) were created for the debut, while Tackey & Tsubasa is an odd one as they were meant to be solo artists but because of Takki and the fans ended up debuting as a duo so I'm not 100% on what to list them as.

I honestly have to confess I originally thought there wouldn't be so many Junior groups that ended up debuting as a unit. Perhaps it's because Hey! Say! JUMP was the most recent debut. But seeing as about half of the current Johnny's acts were together as Juniors before hand, gives me a bit more hope for the current Junior groups to be able to debut together. Of course I don't think they all will do this, but at least it seems more possible than it did before to me.

Looking at the numbers it can be seen that since 1991, out of all the hundreds of Juniors that have come and gone from Johnny's only 56 have managed to debut (two of them twice with Ryo and Uchi debuting with News and Kanjani8), over half of them in just the past five years. Of course there have been a few loses since then, but right know I'm focusing on debuting not what happens after.

For Hey! Say! JUMP's debut concert it was reported that about 200 Juniors participated. I knew I was shocked to learn that there were that many Juniors. It was also then that I began to wonder about what chance does any Junior have to reach the final goal of debut. And it really does seem small even when you look at a large group like HSJ and compare it to those 200 Juniors that participated at their concert. That's 5% of the Juniors of that year (assuming that 200 is the actual total of all the Juniors at that time) of the Juniors that were able to finally debut.

If you estimate that the number of Juniors that actually perform on Shounen Club, as in both singing and dancing, regularly is roughly about 40, that's about 20% of 200. Which leaves 80% of the Juniors as only back dancers, most nameless faces to viewers. Out of that 20% performing on SC are the ones that get picked to debut. Even Keito, who had almost no time as a participating Junior, performed at least once on Shounen Club before HSJ was debuted, so I'm pretty sure this observation holds true. And while people gripe about HSJ having too many members I don't think the Juniors do, as with that debut about 25% of that 20% was taken out of SC, allowing others that were nameless back dancers to move up. And while I don't think we're going to see another huge group like HSJ for some time there's no doubt that the numbers are looking better for some of those 20% on SC. And of course they're all much better off than the other 80% of the Juniors.

Age of course is something that needs to be taken into consideration, so I decided to make the list again, this time listing the age range between the eldest member of a group and the youngest of the groups at the time of their debut.

SMAP (19-14)
Tokio (23-15)
V6 (24-14)
Kinki Kids (18-17)
Arashi (18-16)
Tackey & Tsubasa (20)
News (19-15)
Kanjani∞ (23-17)
KAT-TUN (22-20)
Hey! Say! JUMP (17-12)

Looking at this I wish I could find all those people that kept complaining about there being such a big age gap with HSJ, as their 5 years has nothing on the ten year gap V6 has. In fact a five year age gap seems quite normal, I think it was the ages that really threw people off as it was the first time a preteen debuted.

With the eldest person to debut at 24 most of the older Junior groups are actually okay age-wise for a year or two more. Yara of Butoukan and Yodogawa of Question? are 25 this year though, but I think with the younger members of their groups to balance things out a bit they still have a chance at debuting. But it will have to be soon for all the groups with members nearing 25, as Johnny's seems to like to debut younger than older. So I really wouldn't count the older Junior groups out just yet. Actually by going by age Toma could feasibly still have a chance at debut as he only turns 24 this year. I personally don't see it happening, but I wouldn't put anything past Johnny's.

So while it helps to be a teenager and performing on Shounen Club it hardly ensures that you'll get a debut. But even making it that far is pretty impressive to me as it means the Juniors on SC have been selected out of over a hundred other Juniors to be able to get a taste of a spotlight that they may one day attain. I'd like to think that it's a good deal of hard work that gets them selected, but I'm sure some of it comes down to luck and having the right kind of look/talent/attitude that JE is looking for as well.