Sunday Blog Roundup: Unexpected Math Equations, Scandalous Fun, and When Politics Meets Pop

Filed in American Wota 1.0

How much should one reveal about oneself when blogging? Equally important, how should one reveal? I actually don’t think there’s a rule of thumb: a unique point of view always has unique things to say, and the pleasure of writing (and reading) is discovering the perfect mix of perspective, style, and subject matter. Sometimes it’s all about self-revelation, sometimes it doesn’t factor in at all. With all that in mind, Craig of Your Opinion Doesn’t Count gives an incredibly personal review of the Risako photobook that brought out a flurry of reactions in me. Here’s a choice sample, some of you may want to avert your eyes:

One thing I didn’t do while looking at the book was masturbate. In fact most of the time my penis wasn’t even erect. I would estimate I had 3 erections. 4 if you count the 2 semi-erections as one.

This, by the way, is not the most intimate detail in the review – don’t say you weren’t warned. At first I was delighted by the shock factor of such an assessment, then I was mildly aghast, and then I settled down and realized there was something… uniquely appropriate… about Craig writing this way for this particular photobook in such a frank manner. For those who’ve been following his blogging, he’s been conflicted about his relationship to Jpop, especially the U15 acts, and having tried different voices to express this – apologetic, confessional, defiant, ironic – this seems like a kind of culmination, a step forward. The tone isn’t snarky, or embarassed, or ironic – it’s brutally clinical, which is much of the power conveyed. And yet, that makes it far from comfortable to read – which is the other part of the equation, the controlled audacity which either repulses or attracts, depending on your temperament. While I’m not sure if Craig will go back to this mode in any future reviews – or if he should (how long would the novelty last? what if he starts using a rating system with little phallic icons?) – it’s exciting to see him develop his writerly voice and entertain us along the way.

Oh, and I really like the mathematics of erections, but maybe that’s just me.

On a wholly different note – but still exemplifying great writing – another favorite post this week is pengie of unchained taking a detailed look at recent pop scandals. The one about Utada Hikaru’s mother caught me by surprise, but then I’m not a Hikki fan. Her own takes on the AAA / Yukari and KAT-TUN / Chinami were entertaining in their own right, and the playful tone suits the circus-like atmosphere of geinou life, especially the part of that life caught in the searing magnifying glass of media. One last piece struck me this week as especially noteworthy: miyounghee of !rice_box stirs my critical nerves and aesthetic pleasure centers yet again with “Pop in the time of war”, an examination of Bi’s latest performance and the militaristic overtones, taken in the larger context of international politics in Korea and the pop culture industry. Again, it’s breathtaking writing, well-informed and stylish and thoughtful in a way that transcends the subject matter. I especially love this line describing Bi’s demeanor onstage: “The angry grimace and the bitter grimace. You can tell them apart from the sardonic twist of the lips.”

The big news in the Jpop blogosphere is that Japanese Broadcasters have finally paid attention to YouTube and got 30,000 videos removed from its archives, something noted by Shay of SparkPlugged and Go of jrocknyc, who ends with a pragmatic note of the likeliest endgame. Johnny of The Mind got hit particularly hard by this development, sharing his thoughts on this and other matters.

Meanwhile, Craig’s fellow magnificent bastards of Your Opinion Doesn’t Count devote their week to Niigaki Risa, who finally turns eighteen. Their celebration include clips of her singing “Furusato”, “Popcorn Love”, “Koi no Hana”,“Koe”, “Indigo Blue Love” (with Reina and Eri), as well as interacting with Mikitty. And to cut through all that icky Gaki-ness (no, I’m not a fan of hers), Langdon Alger thankfully provides some sweaty pictures of Sayumi, a truly talented Momusu whose eighteenth birthday we all anticipate… On his solo blog Tsuji no Uchi, Tsuji has grown enamored with Viyuden’s “Issai Gassai” because of the Wonderful Hearts Land DVD. In another nod to W’s roots, CJ Marsicano of Stuck in a Pagoda with Motoko Aoyama gives us a video from one of my other favorite Jpop duos, Wink (I prefer their version of “Sabashii Nettaigyo” and their PV more than W’s), while Béné of Meganekko continues to shower love on bespectacled Tsunku protege Tokito Ami.

Zaeleus of Luna Tech has the latest list of H!P releases for October and November. Ikimasshoi notes interest in the Japanese press about a kiss in commercials for GAM’s “Melodies” PV that hasn’t appeared in the actual video. They also cover news of Reina being Friday’d… but not really. This is one of the tidbits covered by Kd in her new regular feature, “AruAru Iru Yo!”, looking at freshly gained insights she makes about the world of H!P. Kd has also discovered a love for three things: Hello Pro Hour, Ayaya’s song “Watarasebashi”, and… cowbell. No, that last one was actually Berryz’s Momoko, and the three all combined in a delightful way recently. wu-san of Kakko-ii.com considers the fan factor and what it means to be a fanboy of Jpop, especially H!P. It’s another great thought piece from him, making Kakko-ii.com an exciting group blog in its own right.

On the Avex Trax front, Thea of Made in Paradise is concerned about rumors that Hinochi is cancelling their upcoming single, a confusion helped none by a strange hint from Hinochi’s Hikaru that they’re recording – but not for the next single. Um… they’re too young to do pre-recorded heavy breathing stuff for 1-900 numbers, right? Right? Santos of Idolizing St. Anna reports that Avex won’t have a Fourth X’mas and that Irie Saaya’s musical trio Chase’s first single debuts in November. About the former, Béné of Meganekko focuses on the bright side, a Best X’mas compilation collecting the first three years. Santos also notes that Yukari’s absence from the current AAA hasn’t effected most of the fanbase – Santos excepted, of course. He’s not the only one, though, as Thea is giving up on her AAA otaku status, just being a regular fan.

In other pop news, Ikimasshoi begins a nicely detailed history of SMAP, “Japan’s Perennial Boyband” – hope to see more of the history very soon. And at Meganekko, Béné decides that Harenchi Punch definitively rocks – and makes a very compelling case for the group’s first DVD. I found her review personally helpful, mostly because I keep wanting to like the girlgroup trio more than I actually do. On a more alternative tangent, Swifty of The Great Swifty Speaketh writes a profile on Japanese jazz group Ego-Wrappin’, while Shay of SparkPlugged has a behind-the-scenes documentary of the Back Horn.

On the rock front, Go of jrocknyc gives a glowing review of D’s Tafel Anatomie, enjoying how D continues to “straddle the divide between visual and metal with enviable skill”. Meanwhile, Aural Candy is just happy that YesAsia is delivering her copy of the album after some hassles. Aural Candy reviews alice nine’s “Blue Planet” and looks at the preview for Kagrra’s next PV for single “Utakata”. And while Gail of the impressive Himitsu has been busy with work, she still finds time to fangirl over her latest Jrock magazine acquisitions. Last on the rock front, at Channel-Ai, Celsius005 has a very nice overview of Bump of Chicken’s career – a band name which may seem silly but at least doesn’t sound as disturbing as Mr. Children…

On the pop art front, Pata of Irresponsible Pictures breaks news that Blue’s Clues will be hooking up with Hello Kitty to break into the Japanese market. In more consequential news, Pata does a remarkable – and I mean remarkable! – piece on how to publish manga on the internet, and what it means for comics in general. It’s a great piece of comics-related writing, well thought-out and covering as many angles as it can. On the fine art front, Go of jrocknyc looks at a new book studying four centuries of graphic sex in Japan. And Holy Simulacra! Invoking Baudrillard, Santos of Idolizing St. Anna visits the Yokohama Museum of Art exhibition devoted to idols, which includes pieces from Kirarin Revolution, Koharu’s show.

usagi of the usagi incidents continues her usual impressive barrage of reviews, including the first four episodes of Heroes, the new Coppola movie Marie Antoinette, and an intriguing new anime, Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto. Speaking of Coppola, Zush of the indispensable Kakko-ii.com takes a loving look at one of his favorite movies (and I’m sure a favorite of others here), Lost in Translation. WEBmikey reviews the Sukeban Deka movie… which, if all goes well, I’ll be seeing tonight at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

Akiramike of the mighty HamsapSukebe looks at more episodes of My Boss My Hero, beginning with, “There’s only one word that can capture the dazzling radiance that is Aragaki Yui and that word is moe!” Ahh… careful there, Akiramike, you don’t want to cross YODC’s Tsuji Eriku! Akiramike also looks at Nodame Cantabile, which he praises highly. At MySpace, JJ looks at a couple of dramas: the Densha Otoko special and the ever-popular 1 Litre of Tears. And in video games, Jarret of I’m bad at naming things is excited at the January 2007 release of iDOLM@STER for the Japanese Xbox 360.

Mick of Hello Non-Pro Hour makes the Cult of Pop – American Wota connection. I’ll finally admit: I’m thinking I was perhaps too clever by half with that whole, silly “Cult of Pop is dead” thing, I should have just told everyone I was moving along. But I’m glad to see it’s motivating Mick to keep blogging himself! And closing as we began – on a note of highly personal confession – at Tsuji no Uchi, Tsuji also writes about two strange dreams he had recently. He answers one question I had (“No, there were no nocturnal emissions”) but what I really want to know is exactly what kind of “rough kinky sex” with a friend he dreamt about. Positions, durations, things like that. Okay, okay… I don’t really want to know. But hey, some of you are now thinking the same thing now, right? So mission accomplished.

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9 Responses to “Sunday Blog Roundup: Unexpected Math Equations, Scandalous Fun, and When Politics Meets Pop”
  1. Shay says:

    Indeed, the Japanese – YouTube request is big news. A friend of mine who isn’t really even into Japanese entertainment even came to me and asked me if I knew about.

  2. Tsuji_Eriku says:

    that kiss between Ayaya & Mikitty….wowsers just thought of it gives me the heebie jeebies & the willie nillies. I don’t know what that means.

    Akiramike, in regards to Aragaki Yui….yes she is hot & spoken for. =)
    You should peep out Craig’s solo blog for a super duper kawaii pocky cm featuring the lovely & lovely Aragaki Yui.

    JJ, 1 litre of Tears is kick ass & as of right now that dorama is a close second in my book to Sekai no chushin de Ai wo Sakebu (tv version) . The reason why it’s second is because I only cried during 1 litre of tears but during Sekai no Chushin de I sobbed uncontrollably. I challenge any of you to not sob during an episode of Sekai no Chushin de.

  3. Kd says:

    AruAru Iru Yo!’s got the wrong linky. 🙂 That aside, thanks for the roundup.

  4. Ray Mescallado says:

    Kd:

    Thanks for the head’s up, it’s fixed!

  5. Craig says:

    (Besides Risako) I was inspired by Tsuji’s “fully erect penis”… that he sometimes uses on his blog to rate things 😛

  6. Craig says:

    Did u mean to comment here Niji?

  7. niji says:

    Nope. That comment was on the right entry. I was referring to you crying out praises of the Wota Heiress as a comment for an unrelated topic.

  8. Craig says:

    Oh I c

  9. Julia says:

    Ha, the Cult of Pop thing. That scared the crap out of me until I found the link to American Wota. I’d been waiting all vacation to get home and read new entries, and I was about to die if there weren’t any. Thank god I thought to look up, to check the forum, and found that link.