Restarting the Old Rusty Engine
(For the 2nd Time too)


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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dohhh UP!

A lesson learned today - Open your eyes wide, look around and you will see it.

Just saw an image at the bottom of Hello! Project official site.


Dohhh UP!

What a name. It is described as video contents streaming site. I have no idea what this is, but it seems to contain many streaming videos, probably related to Up Front Group projects. There are music, drama, variety, theater, sports and life & culture. As usual, at the bottom of the page, there's the "licensed by JASRAC" disclaimer, like all other Up Front sites.

All I know is that I see lots of streaming videos that are not uploaded on other video streaming sites e.g. Youtube.com and Google Video. The theater videos seems interesting to watch. There's also the "Fuamiresu Ojigi 30 dou" clips, starring Takahashi Ai, Michishige Sayumi, Kamei Eri and Tanaka Reina.

Don't know how long this has been up. But will definitely watch them all before it gets taken down (if that ever happens). However, seems to be a little bit slow to stream. Or was it because of the Taiwan earthquake issue?

Does anyone else know what this is?
>> Read the rest of this article

Friday, December 29, 2006

Morning Musume 10th Anniversary Single - Title and Jacket

Note: This post has been long overdue, but due to the recent earthquake have damaged our network connections in East Asia, and I have been unable to go online without experiencing slowness or zero connectivity. So right now, I will be having difficulty updating my blogs until the connection has been fully restored. I hope the earthquake victims are doing OK...

The official title of Morning Musume 10th Anniversary Celebration Single is:

僕らが生きる MY ASIA
Bokura ga ikiru MY ASIA ( Literally meaning "We're Alive My Asia" or "My Asia, Where We Live" )

Here are the jacket images:



The positioning are as follows:
Niigaki Risa, Goto Maki, Abe Natsumi, Kusumi Koharu, Iida Kaori

I must say that the whole image of the group is fantastic. The blue theme, long flowing hair...etc. Delighted to see Niigaki Risa finally getting to share the spotlight in a shuffle with other big stars of Hello! Project.


Tsunku has mentioned before, after the selection of the new 8th member in Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition, and after the setup of his new company TNX, that he aims for Asia as next market. And with what I see in the single's jacket photo, I think it's pretty good so far. Heh, the motivation for world domination has always been in the hearts of any ambitious Japanese, eh?

There were many speculations on how this team was formed. As recently highlighted by commenter it is to represent the original 5 Momusu members, by matching the age.

Abe Natsumi / Iida Kaori ===> Nakazawa Yuko
Goto Maki ===> Ishiguro Aya
Kusumi Koharu ===> Fukuda Asuka
Niigaki Risa ===> Abe Natsumi / Iida Kaori

Back to basics? Reintroducing Morning Musume to the world?

[ Will update this portion later. ]



I am definitely looking forward for this single, and see how it turns out. If in fact, it is going back to the basics and following the style of the original members, I'm expecting some harmonizing bits. The jacket photo suggests that it may be an fast-tempo song, but then again, it may turn out to be another "Aruiteru", where the photos and the song doesn't have to relate.

So, we'll just wait and see...


Related Posts:
Morning Musume 10th Anniversary Team Lineup... Bleh~~
Morning Musume 10th Anniversary Celebration... but what about Aibon?

Sources:
Up Front Works
Witch Hunting Girlscouts
tvstation.jp
>> Read the rest of this article

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings!

I'm going back to my hometown over the weekend, for Christmas. Need time to rest and to nurse my headache. (For those who interested to know, can read about it in my personal blog.)

In the meantime, I have changed the banner to suit the seasonal period until New Year. To all those who have been reading this relatively new blog, regularly or not, a very big Thank You!..... and Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings and a Merry Christmas!

Pucchi Moni sends their greetings too... (meant to transpose this and play on guitar but I couldn't make the time, with all the headache and stuff)



... and Viyuuden...


... and C-ute as well.


Airi says "Byee~~~!"

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Aruiteru by Morning Musume .... or Kim Jo Han?

A buddy in Youtube pointed this video out... noting some similarities of Morning Musume's single "Aruiteru" and a song by Korean crooner, Kim Jo Han.


Video Link

Tsunku guilty of plagiarism? Did he copy it or was it just a coincidence?

---

In our long history of pop music, we've heard (and written) so many songs, it's not surprising to hear some identical tunes. Especially when some songs are written specifically for the mainstream listeners. Also when the same chord structure, riffs and jingles are re-used over and over again. (It's happened to me before)

Are modern musicians running out of ideas?

Actually, "copy" is too strong for a word to describe this. I haven't heard the song by Kim Jo Han before. So it's too early to call it plagiarism, by just comparing a few short jingles.

Does anyone have the song for listening?
>> Read the rest of this article

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bold but Hopeless Prediction of Kago Ai's return

10th February 2007

That's exactly one year from the date of the suspension of W(DoubleU) and Kago Ai. The only logical, rounded period that I can conclude. It's baseless though, but when I think of the date which is 3 days before Valentine's Day and 3 days after Kago Ai's birthday, it sounded like a nice time.


Here's something I have noticed lately, which triggered the writing of this post:

We all know Tsuji Nozomi's personal craze over ribbons, and she had wearing her famous "Mickey Mouse"-like double high pigtails so she can tie ribbons on it. A while after Kago Ai's and W's suspension, she had only 1 pigtail, as seen on her current appearances and her internet-only programme "Curious Nono".
Possibly signifying the absence of Nono's partner? Nono's way of personal protest on the suspension?

However, since the 1st of December this month, Nono had reverted back to double pigtails again on her show.
A sign of things to come? The return of Aibon? Does Nono know something we don't...?

I looked this as a premonition of sorts. Yeah, it's a little weak. But at this point, I accept signs of any sort. (Forget about the single pigtail that Nono wore on this week's Hello! Morning show. The timeline may not be true, and the recording may have taken place many weeks before.)

In other news,...rumours have been flying around about UFA preparing the re-release of W's third album, with the possible return of Kago Ai next year. Sounds like the Nara dinner show rumour, but at least something is better than nothing.

Another thing. That link in Hello! Project official site is bugging the hell outta me. It's still lingering there, and I still do not believe it's a housekeeping error made by the webmaster.

---

I know this may seem funny to some of you guys reading this. Sounds hopeless, but it's the way I can keep my hopes up. The time may come, where my prediction is off-target, and I'm staring at this post in dismay. But at least, I've done something. I have put up a countdown timer on the sidebar, to see if I'm right.... or if I'm wrong. (Yup, I've definitely lost my mind! ^_^)

In the meantime, will continue to regularly traverse the Japanese sites, patrol the net, and checking the Japanese news press sites for any sort of info. Have assigned a ... err... "informant" in Japan (my sis) to keep things in check as well. So we'll see what happens...

If any of you guys hear or found anything, please do not hesitate to leave a comment here on your findings.

Now, all we have to do is keep praying...

Peace ^_^
jin
>> Read the rest of this article

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Way Out for Yoshizawa Hitomi

Is there life after Morning Musume for Yoshizawa Hitomi?

Graduation is inevitable. Some day Yossie will have to break away from Morning Musume and start a solo career of her own, depending on UFA's plans of course. Right now, with so many kaisans and graduations happening this year, UFA is literally hugging her legs, begging her not to leave. But naturally, when it is her time to go, we have to start wondering if she can do fine by herself.

Currently, the thing that the media and the fans are concerned about Hitomi Yoshizawa is her tremendous weight loss, to a point that she looked too skinny and anorexic. Also concerned if Yossie can find a place in the entertainment biz other than celebrity sports, namely futsal. Ikimasshoi had covered this article.



I meant to write something about this long time ago, but I have nothing to counter with, except with my undying love and support for Yoshizawa Hitomi of the Golden Age 4th Gen Morning Musume. But now I do have some ideas, and it will be explained below.

In summary, Yoshizawa Hitomi or Yossie has been a favourite among fans. While she is not commended for her singing and dance, she was favoured for her outgoing personality and humorous character, and is admired especially by female fans. Within the Hello! Project, she is also most popular among the girls, which many have cited that if Yossie was a boy, "she" would be the perfect partner.

Yossie had gone through many transformation from childhood to adolescent, and from her debut in entertainement biz with Morning musume till now.

However, the sudden departure of Yaguchi Mari, the responsibility of a leader have fallen upon the shoulders of Yossie, and many have wondered if she was up to the task. I find that she took up the job rather well, cos' soon the fans forgotten about Yaguchi's scandal, and looked forward to young breed of Momusu under her leadership.

Time went by, with her active and grueling schedule of juggling between futsal and Momusu, Yossie had lost so much weight people are starting to worry for her. Tabloids had speculated all kinds of reasons for it. Health problem(anorexia), break-up with boyfriend, eating-disorder, over-worked... etc.

The news article mentioned above speculates that after our Yoshizawa Hitomi's graduation from Morning Musume, she has no where to turn to, other than futsal or any sports related work.

I think that's just a bit too narrow-minded. There are many possible ways Yossie can branch out other than sports.





Music Career
Skinny is not necessarily anorexic... in fact it's a body I know many girls would die for. "Skinny girls" or "Anorexic girls" can make it just fine in the mass media of Japan. If UFA can establish the right contacts, make the right strategies, Yossie can still perform as a recording artiste.

Take Hayami Kishimoto for example


I cannot help but notice the similarities between the two, not only the skinny arms and bony shoulders... it's the overall look. I swear, if Yossie goes Jpop, this would be a good preview on how she would probably look like.

Of course, Kishimoto is nothing like Yossie in person, but that's where Yossie can differentiate herself. I find that the one-time best friend and partner of Goto Maki can do well, if opportunities are given.

By the way, if you like Hayami Kishimoto, Japtard has two posts for your enjoyment here and here.

If Jpop is not Yossie's cup of tea, then there's always Hip Pop. And the best example would be Amuro Namie, Japan's self proclaimed Queen of Hip Pop.
Cannot picture Yoshizawa Hitomi in Hip Pop style? Here's a vid of Amuro in "Momusu Wonderful Hearts Land 2006"-like costume...

Video link here
There's also Pop Rock too. Otherwise, sticking to Jpop is just fine.

Another example would be Hitoto Yo, skinny too, but excellent voice and singing. Yossie cannot match with her of course, but if UFA is willing to invest their time and effort, she'll get somewhere close. Even, cutie-voiced Matsuura Aya is able to take a 180 degree turn to a mature-type singing and style now. So why not?

As you can see it's not impossible to be skinny, and yet be appealing to the mainstream at the same time. With the right song selection, packaging and promotion, she'll make it.




Acting Career
Yossie is not known for her acting, and had not been assigned to any major soap dramas before. Other than the time where she was casted as the lead role in a mini-drama, and another where she was casted as a receptionist. (Can't remember the titles now...) However, she is well known by all for her hilarious characters in Haromoni Skits. (Especially love that John Travolta and Ganko Itetsu ^_^) But Yoshizawa Hitomi has the looks of a jouyuu or actress. I especially loved how she looked with long hair during the Rainbow 7 time. This boyish and tomboy girl is deceivingly lady-like and beautiful.

With this kind of look, I think she can play some good J-Dramas.



Theater
If all else fails, there's always Takarazuka Revue.

I was SO mesmerized by Yossie's performance in Morning Musume's Ribbon no Kishi musical. I never knew that her vocal range can be so wide, and yet so solid when hitting the high notes.
I don't have the article clip with me now, but I remember reading that the reviewers were very impressed and praised Yossie and Miki's performance on the musical, especially their duet scene, adding that it was one of the highlights of the show. I get goosebumps everytime I recall that scene in my head. Mikitty is being Mikitty, her voice and style didn't change in Ribbon. But Yossie's different, and her portrayal of the Prime Minister character was great. (Her lower jaw still shifts to the right when she sings though ^_^)

Behold the next star of Takarazuka Revue...


We all know Takahashi Ai loves Takarazuka, theater and broadway. But she lacks the height. Limiting the type of roles that she can play, But Yossie on the other hand is different. Other than height, with her poise, confidence and singing she can be big in the theater scene. Probably it doesnn't suit her personal preference, I don't know. She probably would find the harsh world of theater too much for her to take, but we know she loves challenges and enjoys role playing, so it might work. She is the type that when put under a costume or guise, her mind warps into character. I think that Yossie can play any otokoyaku(man-role) in Takarazuka theater convincingly. Plus it is well known that Takarazuka actresses are popular and admired by the female fans, so Yossie may just fit right in.



To sum it up, Yoshizawa Hitomi can potentially have a great solo career after she graduates (Unless UFA messes it up). But for now, let's just enjoy watching her as the big mommy (or big daddy , if you will) of Morning Musume.
>> Read the rest of this article

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition - The Analysis

It's that question again - Why?

It's been many days since Mitsui Aika was chosen as the lucky intake in the Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition. So has the anger of the fans died down yet? Some of us probably haven't gotten over the addition of Kusumi Koharu during the 7th Audition. From all the forums and blogs I read, most are still optimistic and supportive of Mitsui. So we'll see what happens...

Now I am attempting to analyze why, out of the six girls comprising of Mitsui Aika, Satou Sumire, Kikkawa Yuu, Hanada Natsumi, and Okumura Minami (Masuda Ayami not included because she have withdrawn from the final audition on the last day), Miss "Face with Braces" was chosen, based on the Hello! Morning broadcasts of the audition episodes that I have watched. Lots of guesses and speculations, and made many references. Have lots of my personal observation of the girls' character, judging from their behaviour, body language, and speech. So please do not take this as gospel.



First of all, Morning Musume auditions is not American Idol or any other talent contest where the viewers can submit their votes. One vote is enough, and it is Tsunku's. I'm sure that if the fans were allowed to vote, either Satou or Masuda will be the winner (If not both).

After watching the Hello! Morning broadcasting of the audition, I realised that my previous ratings for each of the girls have changed, now that we are able to see bit the girls' informal behaviors.


After watching, I have tonnes of questions in my head, among them:
1) Was Mitsui already chosen before the final audition day? If so, was that Haromoni show last week edited to show minimum mistakes and blunders displayed by Mitsui?
2) Was that Haromoni also re-edited to showcase some emotional moments, for the sake of television?
3) Did Tsunku have someone else in mind? Did Tsunku favour Masuda Ayami, but have to switch to Mitsui since she took off?
4) Was Masuda's departure a sabotage attempt made by Avex?
5) What was Tsunku's criteria for choosing the 8th gen member? Or any Morning Musume intake as a whole?

Will discuss it below.

--------

Hanada Natsumi


The one with the least confidence, poor in singing and dancing ability, and low self-esteem. She had the desire and adapts well. From what I see during the boot camp, after the dance lesson crash course, her dancing is better on the second day. However, she cannot perform under pressure, and did horribly during the recording sessions and live performance. Definitely the most quiet of the lot, and doesn't interact well with the others. Her screen-time is so limited. Not surprised that she didn't make it.

Okumura Minami


This is a grown-up girl with lots of pride. Judging from her blog entries and the Purikura (Print Club) pictures that she displays regularly, she is one typical Harajuku gal. (Not that I've met one in my life, but she definitely fits the stereotyped image). I think Okumura's got problems with authority and superiors, avoided looking at the voice coach in the eye as he is lecturing her during the vocal drills. The funny scene is during the stayover night, when she was ranting with Masuda Ayami, citing "Singing is about yourself, while dancing is about teamwork", probably upset with the voice coach and dance instructor. Seems like Okumura lacks work ethics, and underestimated the entertainment biz. If you cannot carry your own weight (with singing and dancing), don't expect others in your team to work with you, because you'll bring them down with you. I think Okumura is definitely the one of the best dancing performance - solo wise. She cannot work in a team.
Overall, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. If she is chosen, she will be handful to control, and may land herself (and the people around her) into loads of trouble later on.
Side note: Reading Okumura's recent blog entries, it seems that after her dropout she was clearly devastated, and became really emotional. Later on, she said that she felt better, glad that she had given her best, and expressed her thanks to those who offered their support through email. She also added although she was dissapointed that she didn't win, she was happy that "Mitsui-chan" whom she was closest with, made the audition. We all know that she is a big fan of Morning Musume, and I wonder how all this had affected her...

Satou Sumire


This is a big lady in a little girl's body. Full of confidence, friendly, plenty of energy and good leadership quality. Had dance lessons before. Zero mistakes, a well all-rounder. We saw her getting friendly with the other girls, and practically leading her team in a short dance practice in their dorm room. Makes me forget that this girl is only 12 years old. Not sure if it's a good idea for her to act alpha-female despite being the youngest of the six. Her constant bobbing around while singing is cute, and is well noted by all. But I find that she doesn't bounce to the beat. (She is just bouncing for the sake of it) During the sing and dance group performance, Sumire's team was asked to show a simple dance steps for him. So they did some two-steps, half-box...etc. Afterwards, he singled Sumire out, brought in the other team to join her and did dance steps again. Tsunku didn't explain why. Sumire seemed puzzled. But I think Tsunku probably acknowledged her dancing skills, and used her to compare with the other three. So Tsunku knows that she is good, but just not the girl he wanted. Dang...


Kikkawa Yuu


The one who did the least homework before joining the final audition. As a result she is most self-conscious after comparing herself with the others. She tries hard to keep up, and hates being left behind. The voice coach notes that she has no sense of tempo, but I think she's just nervous. Overall, She has the spirit, and works hard when being pushed. The BBS' however, notes the size of her boobs, despite her being only 14. :) I like how she looked on performance day, absolutely pretty and cute. Presentation bland, but did a good job singing. I love to see a hard-working, high-spirited girl joining Morning Musume but her ability lies somewhere in the middle - not too bad, but not too good.

Mitsui Aika


Tsunku was right, Mitsui Aika did not give her all. At "62% output" as he puts it, she has not shown everything she's got. She hesitates when she dances, but on dance performance day, it is visible that she can do well if she wants to. Her casual interaction with the elder Okumura, shows that she can be outgoing. She learns by watching, obedient, willing to learn, and adapts quickly. A teacher's pet, the type that any tutor would love to teach and train. Obviously she was already chosen before the final audition episode was aired, which is why I felt that the episode have been re-edited to display minimal mistakes made by her, and tries to show her good sides. One thing I noticed, during the finalists' first meeting with Tsunku, on dance performance day, while all other 5 girls stood with their feet together, only Mitsui's feet are standing apart. My observation (and experience) from this body language, shows that Mitsui is the most eager of the rest and is not 100% intimidated by Tsunku. She knows what she wants and knows (how to take charge of) her own future. Just like Ishikawa Rika. In other words, she has a hidden character and spirit that is stronger than you think, unlike her shy and timid outlook.
But these are not the only reasons Tsunku chose her. Will explain later...
[Edited last few sentences on 19-12-2006]

Masuda Ayami


This is one starlet with the highest potential. She is probably better off in Avex, where they notice your talents and put them to good use. The way she handles the mic, making full use of the free hand (that is not holding the mic), taking small rhythmic steps while singing so as to not cause vibration to the singing voice, eye contact... man, she's got skillz and she is professional material. (She HAD taken dance and singing lessons before) Obviously, she displays influence from R&B divas, judging from her gestures. She can be a huge star, but she lacks the height. In contrast to what people say about her over-confidence, she is still a plain, young 13 year old girl. From the way she happily wept over the voice coach's compliments, and the way she asks Mitsui if she "can snuggle next to her because she felt lonely" during the lights-off. In my opinion, Morning Musume could use a girl like her. With her, she can draw some younger audience that share the modern musical tastes that she have.
Side note: After referring to various sources, I am not sure of the timeline of her auditioning for Avex. It is said that she took part in the Avex 2006 audition and Momusuu 8th Gen at the same time (hence the same T-shirt). When she heard that she wasn't chosen for Avex, she continued on to the final audition round for Momusu. Then later, Avex called her in, and she went off. I sense a sabotage, an apparent act to deny potential talent to UFA, ... but I'm not sure. But I know that the Avex 2006 audition is not only for singers, but for dancers, actors/actress, TV talents, models... and not specifically for finding backup dancers for Koda Kumi as many people believed - Avex can always refer to their professionally trained dancer troupe for that.


So now comes the million dollar question:
Why? Tsunku, why?
From Tsunku's comment on his official website, he mentions that while this audition saw a high degree of talent participating, he is looking for a girl that is "raw but gets your attention, because of her languidness (slow-paced, weak-like, lack of enthusiasm)" ... gosh, this reminds me of Konno Asami. Furthermore, he adds that he is attracted about "the voice. High treble-like, but can find resonance in (the listener's) heart. However, to be honest, her dancing is bad.".... Is this "Konkon 2"? Then he adds that this means that Morning Musume needs more of the fans' love and attention.

So now, you know...

In conclusion, I still feel Satou Sumire or Masuda Ayami should be chosen into Morning Musume as well. It's a terrible feeling to watch good talents gone to waste. There have been rumours on the Japanese BBS that the producers of AKB48 have been luring the Momusu 8th Gen dropouts under their wing. Honestly, I don't know to happy about it or not. But I hope to see more of Masuda in the future.

Tsunku also mentions in Hello! Morning and in his website comment, that he will be targeting Asia as Morning Musume's future direction. I have high expectations for this ambitious plan, and hope that they can achieve what they announced.

Thanks for reading long post. Peace ^_^
>> Read the rest of this article

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Listed in Feed of Pop

H!P Hello Non-Pro Hour is now listed in Feed of Pop! Many, many thanks to Ray of AmericanWota.com.

Feed of Pop is a feed aggregate, for many blogs and sites in English. Though most are about Jpop, Japanese music and Japanese culture, there are other blog genres there as well. Like anime, reviews and stuff.

Be sure to check it out! ^_^
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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition Blues 3 - Finale

Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition Blues 3 - Finale
Episode 3: Shin menba keitei!

Alrighty then... Morning Musume 8th Generation intake has been finally been decided. It's ...

*drumroll*

Mitsui Aika!



.... and that's it.

*cymbals dropping* *snare drums rolling down the stage.*
(Deja vu? Sounds like I typed this before. ^_^)

Yup... That's it. Only one. Hitori dake. Zhi you yi wei. Hanya seorang sahaja. Nur ein. Solamente uno......

I think I am the least surprised among my buddies who heard the news. However, wherever I turn, I see angry, disappointed and upset fans over this decision made by Tsunku. They had hope for more than only one chosen for this intake. But as I mentioned before, with reference to the 8th generation audition posters that we have been looking at for a long time - Tsunku pick was only ONE.
.
Also, this audition had only 128 girls making it past the first round to choose from. It's only fair that Tsunku choose only one. Having more will only downgrade the worth for each girl. Plus, Tsunku had said before that he didn't want to add too many members Morning Musume anymore (back when the total had come to 15 or so).

Overall, I AM happy that Mitsui Aika gets chosen. I knew many weeks earlier since the first round elimination, that her chances were high, but I didn't know she'd make it.

Strange that at this time, Hello! Project official site had not updated its site about this. I thought they'd be the first to announce it... :)

My first impression on Mitsui Aika since the first round audition is strong. She had the weirdest voice, but the most bashful smile and cute look about her. Man, she still had her braces and still dared to audition. Tsunku remembers her alright, his comment on her hair was too funny.

Anyhow, I think it's a good decision. And we all should be happy about it. I had my doubts about Kusumi Koharu when she made the 7th audition last time. I'm still not a Koharu fan, but I think she's doing pretty well. I hope for the same for Mitsui, and hope that she can help bring Morning Musume back into the "in" group again. Well done and congratulations, Mitsui Aika!

The only question that is circling my head: Is it true that Mitsui was already chosen during the final 6? I find that to be quite true. Observe the picture below:

Yup... The only finalist where the interview took place in a recording studio.

At this point, I am quizzed by the timeline of the footages that the Haromoni show wants us to believe... hmm...

EDIT:
Guess who skipped the final day of the 8th gen audition, and turned up at the Avex 2006 audition?
Masuda Ayami

Heck, she even wore the same T-shirt when she auditioned for Momusu 8th gen. Lucky T-shirt huh? BUt... deja vu? I remember back when Koda Kumi auditioned for the 4th Gen, then went over to Avex too. The difference is that Koda did not make it to the final round. Could we be seeing another Koda Kumi vs Golden Age Morning Musume in the making...?
>> Read the rest of this article

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition Blues 2

Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition Blues 2
Episode 2: So, Ya wanna be an idol?

Last week's Haromoni was enjoyable. All the previous Haromoni traditions are back: the games, the rivalries, funny faces, crazy antics, Nakazawa Yuko, and Tsuji Nozomi's close-ups and gags. I'm guessing everyone has watched them already, so I'm skipping straight to the auditions part.

And so the game begins. The H!P reality show is back.



And so Tsunku sent the six girls to a mini boot camp, where they will train for the final performance. There Tsunku will pick his 8th Audition winner(s), after reviewing their overall performance, plus their attitude and character. By now, the mini boot camp has ended already, and the results will be revealed this coming weekend, which is a day away. I also think the decision has ALREADY been made. Have patrolled the BBS and found some interesting spoiler info. Are they only speculations? Or reliable information? I don't know, but the outcome may not be what you expect, methinks. I'm rooting for the younger four of the six finalists.

On topic, Tsunku's words echoed mine -> "Wants to see if (the girls) have what it takes to join a group like Morning Musume and the entertainment biz. Wants to see how much they can show/express themselves within the rules."


Do our future 8th gen intake have the guts? The passion? The desire? All for the hope of being in Morning Musume?

Actually, is that even what Momusu currently stands for? Don't mind me saying that the current Momusu has lots of privileges. Sure, they still have to work hard, but not as hard as the first and second gens, I think. Compared to before, now everything is systematic, and catered for. You don't have to be the one doing the hard work, the thinking and planning is mostly left to the producers, managers, PRs and promoters.

Being an idol is not a walk in the park. Thinking back at the recent kaisans and graduation that we have seen over the year -> The graduation of Konno Asami and Ogawa Makoto for studies. The graduation of Asami and Miuna of Country Musume to find their future. Murakami Megumi's leaving because she wants to get back to her school life, Kago Ai and Mari Yaguchi's scandal... etc.

Really, I think the girls have finally opened their eyes to what the entertainment business is all about. Fierce competition, rivalries, hard work, hectic schedules, straineous traveling, pressure from friends and family, minimal social life, minimal freedom, and of course rules, rules, rules. It's a game of "survival of the fittest".

On receiving the privilege of being a national idol, comes with the huge responsibility maintaining one's own image, working within the rules and regulations, yet trying to make it big in the biz. Amidst the glitter and glamour, there are lots of things to cry for and fight for. Being bullied is a small part of the initiation. Even Reggie Miller had being played the fool in his rookie year - was forced to pick up basketballs that his senpais deliberately kicked to the audience stands. Remember how Kusumi Koharu had to face off with all members of the Morning Musume in a series of Haromoni games in one show. She took her licking but has done it all with a smile. Now that's what I call having a huge heart to stay in the game.

So do our 6 finalist have that same heart? That same desire? Don't get me wrong. It's okay to cry, but what you do after that counts. It's part of life.




I know a local artiste that worked so hard, suffer so bad, entered so many talent competitions just to get his talent noticed and geting a wee bit of consideration by a recording label. He practically camped outside the building just to get that spark of attention from the producers to listen to his demo. Now he is so well known in Taiwan and the Mando-pop world because of his commitment and hard work.

Our always unpredictable Tsunku has high expectations. So we'll see what happens.


I mentioned that I wasn't too hopeful about this intake. But I have been utterly wrong before. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Who knows? Some good may come out of it.




Oh, and the spoilers? The announcement will be made only 1 day away. Pointless for me to say anything now. But here's little of what I found, that we can use for our guessing game - apparently, only TWO will be chosen this time. Observe the images below:

Satou Sumire, Hanada Natsumi, Kikkawa Yu


Masuda Ayami, Mitsui Aika, Okumura Minami


.... and pick one from each group.

I have to sleep now... Bye! \(^o^)/
>> Read the rest of this article

Morning Musume 10th Anniversary Team Lineup.... Bleh~~

[ UPDATED 09-12-2006 3:27AM ]
The lineup for the Morning Musume 10th Anniversary Special Unit for 24th January 2007 has been announced a few days ago. And they are :

*drumroll*
Iida Kaori
Abe Natsumi
Goto Maki
Kusumi Koharu

..... and that's it.
*twang* *blappp* (cymbals cracks and snare drum breaks)

I was going "WHAT??" over the announcement. Only four of them? Why?

If it was the Ace Team, .... OK, so Nacchi was the first Momusu Ace, and then came second gen ace Gocchin, and third gen ace Koharu... then why Kaorin is in?

If it was Good Singers Team ... Kaorin rocks anytime, Nacchi goes without saying, Gocchin is OK.... then why Koharu is in?

Plus, 3 of them are graduated members. What? Ai-chan not good enough as an Ace? What about Mikitty? And Golden Age girl, and now-leader Yossie?

I seriously don't get why the lineup is such. Though I can understand why they didn't want to have the whole Momusu army (past and present) to form the unit. (Because they have already done that in last year's Kohaku show, and mentioned that it was supposed to be the once-in-a-lifetime event)

Apologies to all Koharu fans, but I really don't see why she should be in that group. It's reminds me of DEF DIVA, supposedly an elite songstress unit, comprising of nice singing divas. So we have Matsuura Aya, Goto Maki, Abe Natsumi... but Ishikawa Rika?
I just don't see how Koharu can cope with the other 3 legends, in terms of singing.

I'm sorry but I'm totally disappointed. The fact I don't get to see Ishiguro Aya or Ichii Sayaka come back. And the fact that lineup does not comprise of Momusu girls that have defined, supported and built the Momusu legacy that we know. It's the 10th anniversary, shouldn't the group be something commemorable? Why does UFA have to build another popularity crutch for Koharu again?

OK, if UFA won't do it, then I will pick my own ultimate 10th anniversary team for myself here:

One from every generation -
Abe Natsumi, Mari Yaguchi, Goto Maki, Yoshizawa Hitomi, Takahashi Ai, Fujimoto Miki. OK, Kusumi Koharu also.

NOW that's better, yes? Ayappe and Ka-san is not in it, but it's better than the 4.


*sigh*

Source Here
Source from Ikimasshoi

=======================

EDIT:

Just found out, that apparently Niigaki Risa is added to the 10th Anniversary Team Lineup. Source from Neowing and WHG. However... Oricon didn't say anything about that. I'm so confused... are they going to keep adding members to it every week, until all members are in? Double Bleh~~~! This is not going to end...
>> Read the rest of this article

Friday, December 08, 2006

What if Aibon does not want to come back?

OK, here we go. Another blog post about Aibon. This blog should really be sub-described as a Kago Ai fansite. ^_^

Faramir pointed out an interesting take on Kago Ai's suspension case in his recent comment.

(I'm guessing your other nick is Faraithi?)
http://www.kakko-ii.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=136&p=17
http://forum.jphip.com/showpost.php?s=bf22846a441bd0d4511d422e697aaacc&p=233807&postcount=20
http://forum.jphip.com/showpost.php?p=252015&postcount=36

It's something worth discussing about. Forgive me that I did not participate in the forums and respond there, I just don't have the time to do so. And Faramir, please do not misunderstood that I'm having a go at ya, apologies in advance if you feel offended. Peace ^_^

In summary, from the entries at JPH!P Forums and Kakko-II Forum, some of the guys there are starting to feel that Kago Ai may not want to come back after all. And that it's fine even if Aibon decides to be stay-at-home homemaker. If she is happy the way she is, they will be happy too. Faraithi in particular, thinks that Aibon won't be back next year, at least not before Aibon turns 20. They have furthermore recalled on Aibon's other pursuit in songwriting. Don't mind me saying that while some of them guys there are hopeful, some already given up waiting, or being more pessimistic on Aibon's case. Ah, it's come to that phase already, has it? :)

Before anyone starts jumping and shouting "What?! But we want her BACK! Pronto!" or "Well, of course she wants to back!", it's fair to think that such thing may happen. So what if Aibon doesn't want to come back, that she is tired of the music industry, and that she may enjoy staying at home and helping out with family chores? It's perfectly fine by me, really. If we are to be a true fan of Aibon, we should respect whatever decision she makes, so long that she is happy with it and we should support her too. (What's really annoying to me is that we have close to zero news about her current status.)

The part about being tired of the music industry, I will discuss in a separate post.

I don't know if our Kago-chan wants to quit the entertainment biz. But what's certain that she is still affiliated with Hello! Project, though not active. And there are many points of suspicion.

Now, suppose that Aibon does not want to come back and that she is content the way she is now, she would have come to an agreement with UFA and leave with immediate effect. It's possible to do that. Why wait till almost a year? The fact that her profile is still in Hello! Project official site, possibly suggests that Aibon is still holding back on her decision and may want to come back later. Suspensions costs UFA money. Even if it's about her contract, I'm sure they will find ways to remove her legally if they want to. Just my personal opinion... ^_^

Coming back won't harm Aibon's career, really. In fact, having a scandal in your resume can be another form of self PR and can be sort of a "colourful trivia". Take Inagaki Goro of SMAP for instance, his arrest in 2001 for turning a vehicle parking violation into a hit-and-run incident, was all the news in all the fan's mouths. After his public apology, his crime became nothing but a simple trivia in his profile.

While waiting for any development news on Kago Ai's situation, why not go stroll around the Berryz Koubou, C-ute and other Hello! Project factions. It's a good time to start noticing the other girls,... before they start leaving. :)

So what do you think? Do you think Aibon does not want to come back after all?
>> Read the rest of this article

Breaking the "Miracle" formulae

Here's the score now: Both Kusumi Koharu's "Balalaika" and Morning Musume's "Aruiteru" CD sales have surpassed the 50k mark. Definitely, one of the most impressive outcome in Hello! Project track record this year.

I'm also looking at the fact that a new and young idol Koharu-chan being able to go head-to-head with Morning Musume as a whole in terms of sales. Let's not forget the impressive Koi*Kana also. I especially enjoyed the Balalaika B-side single "Mizuiro Melody".

Why is Koharu so successful? Honestly, she's not one of my favourites. I still cannot bring myself to listen to her singing. Compared to Abe Natsumi and Goto Maki, Koharu level is still far from being an "ace" as Tsunku has branded her. Her vocal range still lies somewhere within the low mid-key. She can't even beat Takahashi Ai's superb singing, showmanship and poise.

The only charm I find in her is her straightforwardness, young energy, enthusiasm and those cutesy little things that she do. I admire her heart, on how she is able to hang on in Momusu, despite being the youngest and having no peers/companion of her age in the current lineup. It is one of the reasons Fukuda Asuka felt disheartened and left Momusu in the first place.

So after 2 years of grooming, in spite of how low I rate her in the beginning, she has become a fine, pretty idol and befitting of Morning Musume. (She still needs to work on her singing, though)

But now, I'm a breaking down the "Miracle" mystery and see what makes Kusumi Koharu.

-----

Kusumi Koharu is very privileged. Compared to even Goto Maki, who have had her share of low points during her tenure with Momusu, Koharu is always getting all the candies and goodies of opportunities, since the day she joined Momusu. (Maybe Tsunku just wants to prove his point and his trophy pick?)

I would attribute to Koharu's success to Santos's statement about The Law of One Piece. If you have read Santos' impressive write-up, it describes a phenomenon where NEW artistes would enjoy immense success when associated with the anime world, like singing the anime soundtrack. But that success will only last a short period, and the subsequent works could not bounce back to meet the previous record. Perhaps even giving the artiste a black spot in their portfolio.

The good thing is that the artiste would get an instant (but temporary) boost in CD sales. But as a result the artistes' name is welded to the anime, and people will hardly remember him/her unless you mention the anime title. For example, when I asked my friends if they have heard of the duo Rhythem, and they said that they don't know. But I say, that they were the ones who sang the ending them for Naruto "Harmonia", only then they realised who they were.

In Koharu's case, she did more. Not only she sang the soundtrack of Kirarin Revolution,(an anime about the tribulations of character who is also a new young idol) she provided the voice for the character as well. She is doing fine now. But if UFA don't think of something new for her, she will also suffer the fate of dipping sales, never bouncing back ever again. She can't be Kirarin forever.

Another thing - when an artiste sings the soundtrack of an anime or a video game, and released the single, people will flock the stores to get the CD. It's not necessarily because of the artiste, but because they liked the soundtrack. Remember that the fans that bought the Balalaika and Koi*Kana single are not all Momusu fans. They are the anime/gaming fans, and is outside of the Momusu fanbase. If UFA thinks that this will expand the Momusu fanbase, they should be concerned, because that has never worked. Not in the past, not now, not in future.

So the next time, before you start celebrating the "Miracle", and claim that Koharu is truly a saviour of Morning Musume, remember that a spark of light never last forever.

---

If we want to learn from another example to turn the tables, so that Koharu-chan can get out of her fated predicament, then take the sexy R&B sensation - Koda Kumi.

Koda Kumi was very successful back when she sang the Final Fantasy soundtrack "Real Emotion". However, everything she did after that was nothing but flops. But Avex did a great job following up with the "Ero Kakkoi" vogue and Koda's popularity managed to stay afloat. Even though her CD sales dipped a little, after moving on to the R&B genre her presense is still felt and also highly acclaimed. (But then again, it could be because of her parading of her boobs)

In conclusion, if UFA do not come up with more new ideas, the Koharu buzz will slow down soon, and instead of Kusumi "Miracle" Koharu being a saviour, she will eventually become a "Burden".


Just my humble opinion. Thanks for reading.
Peace ^_^
>> Read the rest of this article

Monday, December 04, 2006

SEXY BOY ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~ - Fanvid

Found this on Youtube. QueenSagara(the girl in the video) decided to showcase her dancing with SEXY BOY ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~. And looks great doing it. (Try and beat this one, Craig~~ :D )

QS did a good job doing the video editing, obviously she had a nice composition planned out beforehand when filming the video. Intro, multi-shots, flashes, cut-outs... etc. Love the part where she did Tanaka Reina's finger pistol pose.

The fact that she only used Windows Movie Maker to do this even amazes me. This gave me new ideas, and I'll never look at that simple video editor the same again.


Video Link

Ya know... after watching it, I'm starting to wonder if UFA may have used Movie Maker too! :P
>> Read the rest of this article

Matsu wa 待つわ - Internet Duet 2

Just when you think he's done, he came up with another one. This time it's way better than before. watercolour edited this vid PV style. Methinks he's got plans to go pro!

Song: Matsu wa 待つわ by W(DoubleU)

Performed by:
watercolour (Romania) - Guitar
Luna (USA) - Vocals

Editing by watercolour



Luna (the girl in the video) has a nice voice. Saw another video of hers, where she sings "I Wish" in acapella style. Wish she could do more...

I'm so envious~~~! I could never find the time to do vids like watercolour did. Already my current otaku activities have dominated most of my time/life... ^_^
>> Read the rest of this article

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ikimasshoi needs writers

Forgot to post this up. Ikimasshoi needs writers. Click here to view the details on how you can add your creativity and knowledge to extend the already impressive writing crew of one of the most popular Jpop news site today. The link to the signup form seems to be down, but I think it will be restored soon.

But then again, I think most people who read this blog probably read Ikimasshoi anyways. ^_^

Here, I just want to express humbly, why I did not respond to Ikimasshoi's public requestto join the writer's crew.

Firstly, all the other writers seemed to be exceptionally great, and swift to report. I'm not saying that I am too good for Ikimasshoi. Rather, I'm just relatively new to the writing world, and I am half a step too slow at times. Like the Morning Musume 8th Gen intake news. If you are interested to know, I've been dragged by my fiance today to do some Christmas shopping, and I spent the entire day doing it. God, we've been walking so much that I barely have feeling on both my feet now. :)

Juggling between my work, family, fiance and weblog is hectic enough, and I wish not to jeopardize Ikimasshoi's reputation by being the slow poke among the rest. Plus, all I write about are only analysis after analysis (which I hope have entertained one or two readers of this blog) and mostly concentrate on Hello! Project only. So I'm not sure that it is the kind of material that Ikimasshoi writing crew needs. Anyways, I recognised some of the guys who responded and joined up. They are all good writers and I'm sure Ikimasshoi will do just fine. Please give your best support to Ikimasshoi.




One day, I may regret of not responding to the call, but meanwhile, I think I'll just keep doing my stuff. And in time, if Ikimasshoi makes another call again, I will join up. (If they accept me, of course ^_^)

Until then... kore kara mo, dozo yoroshiku onegai shimasu~~!


EDIT:
Apparently, it was an invitation-only call. I feel so embarassed...
I have moved this post from 10th Dec to 3rd Dec... :P

>> Read the rest of this article

Friday, December 01, 2006

Morning Musume 10th Anniversary Celebration... but what about Aibon?

Ikimasshoi reported that on 24th January 2007, Morning Musume will release a “10th Anniversary Party Single” to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Morning Musume, and Hello! Project too. This was reported by their source Centuryland that on Tower Records page, all Morning Musume past and present will be back to record it.... including Kago Ai!
Source here.

The statement goes like this:

To celebrate their 10 year anniversary MM, is releasing a single. The former generations are coming together for a massive unit. Ai Kago will return from her long hiatus for this single. There are plans for a 2nd and 3rd release with this unit and this unit has plans for a concert. Keep your eyes wide open for Morning Musume in 2007!


モーニング娘。結成10周年記念ユニットの第一弾シングル。歴代メンバーが集結する文字通りのスペシャルユニット。活動休止中の加護亜依もこの作品から復帰する。第2弾3弾のリリースも予定されており、このユニットでのコンサートも行われる予定。
2007年はモーニング娘。から目が離せない。


Is it true? Aibon is coming back??

I'm skeptical, once again. Yes, UFA is well known to release news about their activity months before the actual release date. (Rival companies always make use of this to counter UFA strategies)

However, there are 3 points of doubt:
1) That statement was made by a user (allegedly, going by the name "zetima"), who commented on the user review section of the Morning Musume 32nd Single product page. It could very well be just anybody.
2) If it was true, the Japanese BBS and Kago Ai fansites will be in absolute havoc over this information. But they are absolutely quiet. Some are hopeful about it, but still skeptical. They know what's going on.
3) Future projects and shows still do not include Kago Ai as a performer. Like the Morning Musume Secret Festa . The campaign ends 31st December 2006, and the show begins on 11th March 2007.

It is well known, about the accuracy of information posted on Tower Records product reviews and comments. But that user comment was removed now. Be hopeful, guys. Make your guesses, but don't take it as official news ..... yet. ^_^

Aibon's case aside, this is an interesting project. Imagine, all members past and present coming back together. Well, actually, we already saw that in last year's Kouhaku New Year show. All old and new Momusu members came back together, which was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime performance of "Love Machine". This time the member list will be:

Nakazawa Yuko
Abe Natsumi
Iida Kaori

Yaguchi Mari
Yasuda Kei

Goto Maki

Tsuji Nozomi
Yoshizawa Hitomi
Ishikawa Rika

Niigaki Risa
Takahashi Ai

Fujimoto Miki
Kamei Eri
Tanaka Reina
Michishige Sayumi

Kusumi Koharu

[8th Gen member]

Who else' missing? Will that include Kago Ai? What about Ishiguro Aya, Ichii Sayaka, and Fukuda Asuka? And of course, Konno Asami and Ogawa Makoto?

Pengie is already half-right about:
There will be another H!P-wide single (like "One For All...")


Good lordy, some other voodoo predictions that she made may ring true once again. :)

Start praying, peoples...^_^
>> Read the rest of this article

Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition Blues

Morning Musume Happy 8 Audition is drawing to a close and we have new addition(s) to the Momusu family once again.

Although, .... I think Tsunku is choosing only one. Isn't that how the posters are like?
.
Which is why I'm so worried. (I worry a lot, no?) Because I consider the following equation:

Number of members recruited = number of years before Momusu disbands.

Been having this thought for a long time. It's the 10th anniversary of Hello! Project next year. And as i mentioned, that would be one of the best times to disband, and still leave with plenty of memories and legacy... and lots of sales. Makes sense to give the incoming member(s) a year or so to adapt with Momusu, and let the Momusu brand attach to their profile before they disband.

Pengie of Unchained thinks otherwise - 3 girls older than Koharu and 1 younger. Actually it's good idea, so that you have girls filling the age gap between Tanaka Reina(17) and Koharu(14). Since Pengie can see the future and has been right about "Cuntry Musume", I really really really hope she is right again. :D She can gloat about it all year if she wants. ^_^)

*Ahem*... back on topic...
If you want to be hopeful, then use this equation instead:

17 - (Age of youngest NEW member) = number of years before Momusu disbands.

I think being at 17 years old, Tsunku is capable of grooming the new member(s) to a certain extent that they can expand even after Momusu disbands. But that's my opinion. So I'm rooting for the younger finalists. Maybe he'll team the new girl with Koharu Kusumi to form another duo unit.


On the 6 finalists, Pengie has provided a good take on the girls, so go read hers. I'll cut mine short and go straight to the producer's mind, while guessing whom he will take in:

The Tsunku Mind
1) Tsunku likes to groom: Potential is the key, talent don't matter.
2) Tsunku likes small girls: Look at Mini Moni, Niigaki Risa and Takahashi Ai.
3) Tsunku likes good characters: Momusu is about character and personality, not singing. Whomever intrigues him the most, gave him a lasting impression.
4) Tsunku likes plain looking girls: This is Momusu's tradition, girls-next-door kind of look, yet making an idol out of them.
5) Tsunku looks for potential: With the potential growth in mind. He likes girls with character that he can build on
6) Tsunku is never right about girls: ALL men are never right about girls really. Tsunku thought wrong about "Naturally Cute" Yoshizawa Hitomi when she turned boyish, and he failed to get Takahashi Ai to keep her accent... etc.
7) Tsunku looks at age: Tsunku may choose based on age, normally does not choose the next additions where the age is higher that the youngest at the current lineup. With exception on the 5th Gen intake.
8) Best impression given during the final round: During and after the boot camp, it is then Tsunku sees which are the ones impresses him the most, in terms of character, singing, dancing and overall performance

[ EDITED Item 7: 03-12-2006, pointed out by hamada ]


-----

In my opinion, I have no idea who he will choose. I don't know if he realised it, but this batch of audition is really weak. Why?

Only 128 girls are chosen in the first round. And 26 girls in the next, now down to 6 girls, where they will be, as usual, sent to boot camp to prepare them for the final day.
In previous auditions, (with the exception of 2nd Gen of 5000 participants), the number of participants advancing past the first round always break the 5 figure mark, peaking at 25,000 partipants during the Golden Age for the 4th and 5th Gen. We may say it is because that during those times, the auditions are broadcasted in major primetime slots i.e.. ASAYAN and muSix. But the 7th Gen audition had 20,000 particpants even though it was broadcasted on Hello! Morning only.

This 8th gen audition is also featured on Hello! Morning only, but with a measly number of over a hundred girls made it past the 1st round. This also means the number of girls who took part in the pre-auditions were very little. What happened??

The chances of choosing a better talent out of 20000 girls is definitely better than only 128 girls, yes? (Then again, sometimes Tsunku may have let lots of real talent slip past his judgment during the elimination heat.) Each Momusu member past and present can always boast on how they're chosen from thousands of girls. This time, it may be highlighted as the lowest point in Momusu auditioning history, and the chosen girl(s) will suffer, having the lowest credibility portfolio-wise. But... then again, UFA can always turn the tables by making a star out of the new member(s).

This has got to be the one time where Tsunku is really having the hardest time choosing. Why, I won't be surprised if he decides that no one is qualified in the end.

That said, here are my guesses:

Hanada Natsumi (15 years old, Fukuoka)
Tsunku says: Looks fine even without makeup, makes a good model, great stage presence, the new Nacchi (Abe Natsumi)
Jin says: Absolute raw talent, girl next door look, natural but unpolished voice, plenty of room for grooming. Looks a bit stiff though. Nervous maybe? But she's older than Koharu, so her chances may be slim.
Chances: 55%

Okumura Minami (16 years old, Oita)
Tsunku says: Good character, nice singing, impressed with the Japanese dance, have fine musical sense
Jin says: Reminds me of Koda Kumi's auditioning for Momusu, lots of confidence, great talent and nice singing. Koda Kumi didn't make it because Tsunku's not looking for an ace, this time its different. However, she's already well known through her blog already, there were lots of rumours circulating the Japanese BBS about her. This is paparazzi material. Also, she's older than Koharu. Slim chance, but we'll see.
Chances: 50%

Mitsui Aika (13 years old, Shiga)
Tsunku says: Momusu girls are about showing energy and this girl tries hard. Fresh impression, will be an interesting addition
Jin says: Don't know what Tsunku meant by 'kedarusa'. Aika is adorable and shy, bit weird but cute, one that tries hard, Aika had Tsunku's attention from the start, he likes her attitude. I think he commented on her hairstyle on the first round. (Not sure). Ah, but that can be fixed easily.
Chances: 65%

Satou Sumire (13 years old, Saitama)
Tsunku says: On singing with rhythm, even with training for 1-2 years still not possible. Needs "image training", has good heart, great smile, "babyface Sumire"
Jin says: Really adorable, a fan favourite. Though I think she's better off in Berryz Koubou or C-ute. Great character and performance. However, Tsunku may pick her to be in the Kids section instead of Momusu. May be a bit difficult for Sumire to catch up with the current line-up. And difficult to write songs for Momusu if she joins the group because of her "babyface" image. But there's a very good chance that she gets chosen cos' Tsunku gave her a nickname already.
Chances: 65%

Kikkawa Yuu (14 year old, Tokyo?)
Tsunku says: Good singing, sings with her own personality, a character that Momusu needs.
Jin says: I don't understand the part where Tsunku said about "(Kikkawa) putting her own 'mini *jingle' when she was told to sing in 16 beat", Maybe he means "ad-libbing"? I don't know. Tsunku seems to be impressed with Kikkawa's deliverance of her audition song that blends her own character in it. I like her look, reminds me of Shimizu Saki. She's got good attitube.
Chances: 88%
(* jingles are short snippets of songs, like the ones that you hear in commercials)

Masuda Ayami (13 years old, Tokyo?)
Tsunku says: Nice pace if included in Momusu, short height, uses her entire body as part of performance delivery, fun and "skippy", the next Mini Moni(?)
Jin says: I like small girls, she seems to fit in Momusu the best. I see in her a hidden personality that is just not showing yet. Will be interesting to see how she can catch up with the rest, and if Mini Moni would be revived.
Chances: 75%

Overall... very weak batch, and in the end it's character versus talent.

EDIT: This post is just my point of view, don't use this as a guide. The final pick may be totally unexpected for me. I'm still seeing a possibility that Tsunku will not pick anyone this time. Well,... he's the man, he's got the final say.

Once again - we'll wait and see. If Tsunku picks from this audition, Pengie better be at least half-right about her prediction... ^_^
>> Read the rest of this article

Thursday, November 30, 2006

How I got into Hello! Project.... better late than never

Lately, have read other blogger's post about how they got into Jpop or Hello! Project. These are two of them:

Pengie (Unchained)
http://unchained.vox.com/library/post/my-descent-into-jpop-madness-part-1-of-3.html
http://unchained.vox.com/library/post/my-descent-into-jpop-madness-part-2-of-3.html

Paul Thomas (HelloBlog.co.uk)
http://www.helloblog.co.uk/comment.php?commentID=30&month=

Then I realised I haven't exlained mine. I think I have told some of it in forums and such, but never on my blogs. I'll start now, as a pre-cursor to next year's 10th year aniversary of Hello! Project, and to close the circle of starting a webblog.

--------------

I got into Jpop first before I got into Hello! Project. But I'll just talk about the Hello! Project part here (since this is a H!P blog), the Jpop part will be in my personal blog.

I was into J-Drama during the late 90's (Damn, I feel so old!). And J-Drama was in massive boom in Asia at that time, it was so big that people even searched for older J-Dramas ever produced. I'm into music, and always looked forward to listening to all the J-Drama soundtracks. So I went to the store and found some compilations discs that compiled recent and new soundtracks together, and also picked up a J-Pop compilation double disc set consisting of singles that topped the Oricon charts during that time. Everyone was there - Glay, SMAP, L'Arc En Ciel, Kinki Kids, Okamoto Mayo, B'z... etc. And there it was - the first Hello! Project produced song I have ever heard --> "Love Machine" by Morning Musume.

My first impression was, "Oh they're okay.. The song is catchy and nice." I have heard of Morning Musume before, but never gave them any real attention thinking that "Ah, just another girl-group". Plus I was into MAX at that time, so I made comparisons between them. Some of the voices in Momusu (I didn't find out their names that time) were too young, raw, and unpolished, and I'm real particular about those things.

But there was something there that made me play song no.4 of Disc 1, over and over again for the entire day. I was just starting out on my first job, and I played it on the PC the whole day and really annoyed my colleagues. The intro, Kaori's "DEAAARRR~~!", the orchestra-attack effect, the solid running bass, the chorus, the "Fuu Fuu~~" and "Wow wow wow wow~~"... everything just blended so nicely. It's a perfect pop song, the type that appeals audiences from age 8 to 80.

This is proof that Morning Musume is not a marketing tool, I was intrigued by the carefully written and arranged composition, with the right hooks and samplings. I haven't even see them perform yet.

My internet access at that time was limited. Real limited. The cyber cafe's were always full of gamers, and my primitive office was running on Windows 3.1 and only had a manual dialer modem (mainly for email). I depended on local entertainment magazines to know about Morning Musume. They certainly don't have the greatest look, and looked like regular girls-next-door compared to MAX. Nakazawa Yuko, being the eldest in the group really made me wonder "What the heck is she still doing there?" (But now, I hoped that she's still there...)

Later, nearing the end of the year, I flicked around the TV channels and saw the Kouhaku TV programme, Japan's New Year celebration TV show special. There they were again, Morning Musume in cute dresses and funny antics. Well, actually it was only Yaguchi Mari being the funny and restless one, while the others are well composed. They were playing some Japanese tongue-twister game of some sort. That was the first time I saw Morning Musume on TV.

I didn't look further about Morning Musume, but I didn't know that it was the mark of the beginning of Morning Musume's "Golden Age". It was so crazy, every issue of all magazines had at least one article about them. Even the Comic Weekly magazine that I subscribe to (Our equivalent of Japan's Shonen Jump! magazine), have them on the first few full-coloured feature column every week. It was there I got to read about their bio in full.

The ones that caught my eye visually were 3 girls -> Mari Yaguchi, Kago Ai and Tsuji Nozomi. Yep, all members of the Mini Moni in Momusu. Small-size girls always appeal to me. There were others that interested me, like the boyish Yoshizawa Hitomi (believe or not, I knew she was the perfect boyish character when I first saw her pics during her debut year ^_^) But of course, it is only until years later that I found out that the columnist didn't do his homework well, and had mistakes on his articles, such as pointing out Matsuura Aya being one of the Momusu members. Ishiguro Aya and Ichii Sayaka had left the group already, but I didn't really notice nor miss them at that time. It is only until last year that I get to see them in action on Youtube, that I wished that they stuck around. Fukuda Asuka? Nah... She should leave, really. She lacks the professionalism of an pop idol, but that's another story.

Minus singles like "Manatsu no Kousen", "Memory Seishun no Hikari", "Summer Night Town" and "Ai no Tane". I managed to get listened to all singles up till "The Peace". I found out about the subgroups "Pucchi Moni", "Tanpopo" and "Mini Moni", and really loved the songs, especially "Chokotto Love". It was a great experience. All feel-good songs that I can play all day.

Then I took a break from them. For whatever reason, I don't remember. Maybe it's because all I get to do is listen to their songs and looking at their still photos in posters and CD covers. Not being able to see them on TV or video has decreased my interest in them. I didn't use Kazaa or any p2p softwares, because the tragedy stories that I hear from my friends after using it freaked me out. But then again, that was the beginning of my era of J-Idols and Gravure Idols craze. Read more here.

During the break, I would regularly hear and read news about them - the graduation of Yuko Nakazawa, Yasuda Kei and Goto Maki, the incoming 5th and 6th gen members, the songs reviews...etc but never catching up. (Which reminds me, I should go back to my hometown and see if I still keep those mags)

Then I came back from the break, because finally, I got my own broadband net access, and now able to download and view Morning Musume in action. And the first song I heard was "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari", which was perfect for me to get introduced to the members that joined the group "during my absence".^_^ I remember myself squealing in delight when I saw a google video of Kago Ai responding so cutely when sneaked up from behind by Ayaka in her English show (link here). I was going "Aww, that's just so CUTE~~! Is that really her voice or what?" :D

Sadly, after searching around, I realised that I have missed A LOT over the years. SO,.... armed with my super 1Mbps broadband connection and with all my technical skills and internet contacts that I have attained to date, I sworn in to the MM otaku military and embarked on a frenzy mission, commencing a wide-scale "search, scavenge, buy and download" of all Morning Musume related information and items.

Morning Musume only? Not really. I'm a big fan of Melon Kinenbi too, don't have much of their material, they don't release a lot of merchandise anyway. I like Saito "Boss" Hitomi for her sexiness and daringness (Is this a legit word? The spell checker seems to be ok with it...). I listen to them when I need some mature stuff. "Akai Freesia" was my fav.

Beginning of this year, I got into the Kids section, mainly because of I started to notice them when they were doing backup for W(DoubleU). Berryz Koubou was my focus. Not really into C-ute. They still need lots of polishing, more practice and lessons, Though Mai Hagiwara, Suzuki Airi, and Murakami Megumi stood out character-wise. I don't know about the H!P Eggs, UFA doesn't seem to find anything for them to work on.

I really couldn't pick a favourite among the Berryz, I like them all, but Tsugunaga Momoko, Shimizu Saki, and Chinami Tokunaga always had my attention. Momoko reminds me a lot of Ishikawa Rika, while Saki and Chinami are plainly my type - small, cute and have short hair (I love girls with short hair). Lots of people do not understand my liking of the U-15 category, and have outright branded me a pedophile and a hentai. These pilgrims still have a lot to learn. ^_^

As for the solo acts... I'll start another topic on this one.

So here I am today, with a simple blog about Hello! Project, my hard disk occupied with lots of MM stuff... etc. They say "absence makes the heart grow fonder", I find that this saying is true. How about you?
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Monday, November 27, 2006

To Tab or Not to Tab, that is the question... the JASRAC issue

Been getting requests for tablatures for the transposed songs that I played and posted in this blog and youtube.

I have this question circling my head for some time - Do I tab my transpositions or do I not? Now, I can play the songs from memory, but in time I may forget them. watercolour had encouraged me to write them down, but I don't know. While it's a good idea to write them down so I don't forget, I would need lots of motivation (which is another way of saying that I'm lazy ^_^)

Have asked around for suggestions of notations software that I can use for writing down them songs in scoresheets (Cos Doing it in pen and paper is just too painful for me).

I used to use Magix Notation, but the installation CD is lost. Have experimented with other softwares that tabs the song while I play, but that requires a REALLY quiet environment.

Transposing the chords is not a problem. It's tabbing the songs which requires time and effort. Since it's in classical version, so I'm dealing with scoresheets and the black bean sprouts (the musical notes). Don't intend to tab it in numbers and frets, that will be too much. (and I can't read those). That's when notations softwares come in handy, because some of them automatically tab it for you.

===============

Now, when I think about it carefully, it's probably NOT a good idea to tab my works because that may bring me trouble - I'm worried that JASRAC would come breathing fire down the back of my neck. JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) was established in 1939 as a non-profit making organization, and is the largest musical copyright administration society in Japan. Lately they've been cracking down materials in Youtube and arresting people in Japan that uses copyrighted material without permission.

Santos pointed out a case before. Though I must say Santos exaggerated it just a little bit. Firstly, you need to pay the entertainment tax in order to perform in your own pub, because it involves public performance. If that doesn't cover the copyright issue, then an extra application is needed, (namely registering with JASRAC) and it's all for formality's sake. Probably that pub owner didn't do either. But my point is, I don't want to draw attention to myself more than I needed to.

Back on topic, there's this guy at Youtube given a warning by JASRAC, and Youtube admins subsequently removed his video from his account, just because he posted a video of himself playing a JPop song on his piano. Apparently public performance is not permitted and is considered as copyright infringement. On that note - Do my playing of Momusu songs here mean that I have trespassed the copyright law as well? If not, then I don't want to give JASRAC something extra for them to bite on me by tabbing my works.

Sure, I can write down my transpositions, and I should be OK as long as I do not distribute it publicly. Also, I can always justify myself with the reason of "fair use" as my lawful defense, saying that my videos are just for hobby, educational reference and tutorial purpose. Or I can say that my playings are by-ear interpretations and therefore not subjected to copyright law, because it is not taken directly from the scoresheets of the original compositions. But after looking at the fate of major guitar-tabbing websites like GuitarTabs.com in the USA, still fighting a lawsuit with the copyrighters and facing a possible shutdown by their service provider, I grew more worried.

Now, I only wonder... will the activities of us bloggers showing vidcaps, blogging, reviews and sharing audio/videos of Hello! Project materials amongst ourselves, count as copyright infringement?

In conclusion, I don't want them JASRAC dudes cracking down my Youtube account nor asking Blogger to close down this blog. So.... after some long thinking, I'm afraid the answer to the question on topic is -->
Nope, sorry guys, I cannot tab my transposed songs.
:(


...unless you got some ideas that can convince me otherwise...
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Manatsu no Kousen on Classical Guitar

Manatsu no Kousen (Ray of Light in Midsummer) by Morning Musume, played slow and ballady, much like the Hawaiian version in "Hawaiian de Kiku Morning Musume Single Collection" album. I haven't heard the Hawaiian version in full, only snippets here and there. It was performed by Coconuts Musume, Fujimoto Miki and Ishii Rika.

Manatsu no Kousen is listed by Music Station as one of top 111 summer songs of all time in Japan. Every time I hear this song, it certainly puts a smile to my face. An absolute "summer of love" kind of feel.

So here's what I got...


Video link

Lyrics and Romaji | Translation
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Monday, November 20, 2006

Otaku Intermission...

It's tough being an otaku. Seriously. The health problems that comes with it is not a matter to be joked with. Gotta give props to those otaku dudes in Japan for being able to stay fit while committing in a such a unstable lifestyle.

So I took a break from songwriting, crawling and writing for a few days, to make sure I can drive to work safely. My headache is confirmed to be caused by hypertension and high blood pressure. It's inherited from my family, plus the lack of sleep and caffeine. It's not serious yet, but I'm under some medication now.

Don't wanna blab too much here, will talk more on my personal blog later on.

I got some articles drafted out, will be published once I've done with the editing. Basically, it's some news about Aibon, Nono, Biyuuden, and the doujin parody of Momusu. So stay tuned! :)

Been thinking lately, that I've spent too much time blogging about Momusu and the gang. I should start blogging something about Berryz Koubou. This blog is supposed to cover Hello!Project after all...

Thanks, Love and Peace ^_^
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