Sunday Blog Roundup: What I Like To Read, Some Sweet Jpop Aloha, and a Taste of Real Literature

Filed in American Wota 1.0

With the lateness of this regular feature, I’m thinking of calling it the Someday Blog Roundup… but don’t worry, it’ll still show up every week! Some of you expect it and look forward to it, apparently… and even anticipate my reactions? See, my favorite post this past week is from wu-san at the indispensable Kakko-ii.com, who tells us “All I want for Christmas is Sayu”, beginning:

An apology goes out to Ray Mescallado of the excellent American Wota. The subject of this blog is certainly less than profound. Ray Mescallado, as I’m sure you know, goes through the painstaking task of reading and rating most of the notable jpop/rock blogs currently out there. I can’t say he’d be too moved by a discussion on Sayu.

It isn’t the reference to me which leaves me tickled. Rather, it’s his complete misapprehension of what I like in the Jpop blogs I read. I suspect more than a dash of irony is involved here, a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor at my reputation as a rather intense critic. But really, what’s next? “I’ve got more photos of Shinya in Hepburn drag, but that’s not the kind of thing Ray likes so I’m keeping them to myself.” How about, “I’ve got a review on Maria Ozawa’s debut as a pop idol but I know that’s the kind of thing Ray frowns upon.” Or, “The American Wota guy hates seeing clips of Chisato teaching Airi how to french kiss properly, but we’re posting it anyway!” (That last one will likely be a YODC exclusive, if ever it surfaces.)

Anyways, wu-san writes another great essay that combines personal experience with observations on Jpop – in this case, his evolving opinion of my favorite current Musume, Michishige Sayumi (Michishige – what’s so hard about pronouncing that?). If you ignore the first paragraph, it’s really a very enjoyable – even adventurous – bit of writing, though the hand-wringing over nasty thoughts about unattainable idols was done better by Craig (back before he mortgaged and re-financed his soul to the devil, that is). Much more of this kind of writing – thoughtful, personal, and critically balanced – will always make me happy. Profundity is overrated – it’s passion and honesty and a strong personal vision that makes for the best Jpop blogging out there.

And really, no blogger should care what I think. Unless that hypothetical Chisato / Airi tongue lesson clip is in their possession, that is. In which case, I care very very much.

So where were we? Also at Kakko-ii.com, Angela wonders about the value of fanservice, providing this line I could not resist: “Fanservice is there purely for one reason: To make the fangirls squeal and faint, and to make the wota want to whip it out.” So the first to whip out a comment (could I resist?) is Craig, who makes a nice point about modernism and postmodernism… Personally, I think fanservice is a bit more complicated as it’s not only an (arguably) necessary marketing tool but also is a crucial part of reinforcing the aura that surrounds idols of all kinds.

And since it’s the season: Mele Kalikimaka, Motherfuckers! I chose the specifically Hawaiian greeting because Santos of Idolizing St. Anna passes along the news flash that Anna Santos has Hawaiian roots. What a wonderful gift to my home state, to have yet another hapa hottie to count as our own! Santos also notes that AAA is planning for their first Hawaii tour. No word on whether or not Yukari will be making surprising performances at La Femme Nu or Rock-Za – which would certainly be a gift that keeps on giving – though I’d be surprised if I don’t see some of the AAA guys at Angles… At Ikimasshoi it’s more like auld lang syne, as a look at the Oricon charts for 2006 make clear that it was the year of Johnny’s (especially KAT-TUN) and Koda Kumi, and the actual rundown of the year is equally illuminating.

Feeling quite generous in the holiday season, CJ Marsicano of Stuck in a Pagoda with Motoko Aoyama shares a section of his novel-in-progress Play It All Night Long, which was a sheer joy to read. CJ also reviews the new Morning Musume mini-album, finding it a “very strong EP that will greatly tide ofer MomMusu fans for quite awhile”, and has a nicely eclectic list for his top ten albums of the year. And wanting all of us to avoid a coal in our Jrock stockings, Aural Candy hates the first release from the latest UPC band, hurts, concluding, “Dissonance to the infinity power just isn’t my type of music”. Being a fan of early Sonic Youth and the Branca guitar orchestras, this description intrigued me – but it isn’t really all that dissonant, just annoyingly persistent with small bits of noise.

Setting aside the cheesey (or fruitcakey?) holiday motif, at Ikimasshoi Maki Kanatsu also does a song-by-song review of the new Morning Musume mini-album, Shaoran notes that Berryz’s new single is their second best ever first week sales (right behind “Special Generation”), and Martin declares Koharu’s “Balalaika” the #1 single from H!P this year, showing more long-term staying power than others which debuted higher. At Sakuranbo!, the ubiquitous Angela pimps her new offshoot blog Momoaji!, which features translated interviews. The first offering on the site is part one of a Goto Maki interview with Oricon.

Kd of Iroiro Aru Sa! is confused by what seems to be the costume choices for Momusu’s next single cover. As long as Sayu looks beautiful – and how can she not? – I ain’t got complaints. And Yossi definitely has a hot, young Elvis vibe with her look… Kd also does her second look back on H!P 2006, this time focusing on the sexier presentations by the different units. And on a semi-related note, at Your Opinion Doesn’t Count, magnificent bastard Craig explains the trouble with Blogger templates. The comments section match Craig for sheer fucked-upness, which I say with the greatest of fondness for these fellas. Meanwhile, Langdon chose the live performance of “Odore Morning Curry” for the J-Music Clip of the Week. Tsuji Eriku cuts to the chase with his comment about the video…

At Hello!Blog, Tom eloquently explains why he likes Tsuji’s photobooks – including the latest one. I like the part about his girlfriend telling Tsujikago apart from their nails. But wait! Does that mean Kago has bad nails? Tom also asks a really interesting question about Berryz Koubo and their new PV and muses again on the too-long suspension of Kago. Others who can’t wait for the return of Aibon are Radicalpatriot at Ikimasshoi, who focuses on the energy W brought to H!P, and a rather optimistic prediction by Jinryuichi of Hello Non-Pro Hour. Also at Hello Non-Pro Hour, Jinryuichi asks “Why? Tsunku, why?” about his controversial decision for eighth gen. Personally speaking, I figured at this point you either have to trust that Tsunku knows what he’s doing or go crazy trying to second-guess the crazy bastard. At MySpace, JJ is among those who were hoping more than one new member would be added with eighth gen. On the H!P Kids front, Julia of Satsumaimo anticipates the then-upcoming appearance of Berryz on Music Fighter – but if Saki doesn’t burst into traumatized tears, can it really be good as the one at the start of the year? Wait – Maasa shows some leg… I change my mind. And Ikimasshoi announces C-ute’s first official single – so what were the first three or four? Practice runs?

Zaeleus of Luna Tech provides a nicely comprehensive look at recent and upcoming releases from H!P. At The Mind, Johnny spices up his new PSP case with bikini shots of Kon-Kon and Charmy. Where’s the Chisato love, Johnny? Where. Is. The. Chisato. Love? Johnny also shares more photos from Rika’s new photobook and I have to say it still leaves me unimpressed… That said, Justin at The Great Swifty Speaketh! makes a very persuasive argument for Rika being the best thing about the Sukeban Deka movie, though overall he wasn’t as pleased with the film as he wanted to be. At Yossittelua, long-running fanfic comic strip “This Love Continues to Grow” gets downright steamy again.

On the Avex Trax front, Thea of Made in Paradise has the details for Hinoi Team’s next single, “Dancin’ Baby” and passes succinct judgment on AAA’s new album: “This is so wtf lol. Even the DVD is a joke =_=”. And at last! Amuro Namie’s next release has been announced. And if you’re looking for more Namie, Karakui happily reports she’s available at the U.S. iTunes store along with Hamasaki Ayumi, BoA, Otsuka Ai, and others! LovelyMermaid of Ikimasshoi is amazed by Koda Kumi’s new album Black Cherry while Gail of the impressive Himitsu is left less than impressed.

At Meganekko, Béné insists that Harenchi Punch is not dead. I did not realize that was even an option just yet… Heaven has a short review of Tommy’s “I Love Xmas”, comparing it to her Brilliant Green days. J-Pop CD Cover Art’s HANABI.1984 presents the debut single from Jyongri, who at least looks really really cute with the pouty lips and pretty eyes and stylish hair, so that’s more than enough for me. 74x passes along a great Japan Times article about SMAP’s Kimtaku and his attempt at a serious acting career – the insights to how Johnny’s work and how it becomes a crutch for many idols in the stable is especially intriguing. And speaking of boy bands, Kimitsu of let it beat! finds herself reviewing Domoto Koichi’s solo album, much as she tried to resist.

YODC’s Tsuji Eriku does a quintuple PV blowout fest with Bonnie Pink, My Little Lover, and Do As Infinity… and yeah, that’s only three, but he’s apparently making a point to his fellow magnificent bastards. Which he also does here, while at the same time maintaining excellent dental hygiene. And to help prime us for the upcoming New Year, Tsuji Eriku also provides some clips from past Kouhaku performances – Orange Range’s “Locolotion” is particularly fun. (Love the glasses!) On the rap front, HALCALI day by day’s jariten is disappointed in Halcali’s new single (wondering if the A and B sides were switched) as well as the do-nuts (and I reallu can’t blame him for that one).

On the rock front, Gail of the impressive Himitsu has scans from the latest issue of Neo Genesis, while Aural Candy examines why Kagrra bassist Nao is the prettiest face in J-rock. Go of jrocknyc reviews mucc’s Gokusai and a hilariously screencapped look at exist+trace’s “Judea” PV – the opening volley (“This PV is so cheap I think they might’ve actually MADE money making it!”) sets the tone for all that follows.

On the classic gaming meets pomo literature front, at The Great Swifty Speaketh Justin reviews D.B. Weiss’ Lucky Wander Boy, which I read when it first came out but cannot remember a whit of it now, unless that’s the novel with the set-piece at the Atari E.T. grave site. Personally, I preferred (and remember more of) the nonfiction Masters of Doom… On the current gaming tip, Tsuji looks at various Xbox 360 games, including the Japan-only Idolm@ster. *sigh* Pata continues his scrumptious eyecandy-rich 25 Days of Bishoujo with Ichikawa Yui, a beautifully rendered Yurie Hitotsubashi (I’m anime!), the girls of Idolm@ster (double *sigh*), Nakagawa Shoko in maid cosplay (*sigh* yet again), Ringo Noyamano of Air Gear, Ueno Juri of Nodame Cantabile, and Yasuna Kaiizumi of Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl~.

On the drama front, Akiramike of the mighty HamsapSukebe is disappointed in the direction Sailor Fuku to Kikanju chose to take and he’s got a great point. It’s screaming out comedy! Or is there some real-life schoolgirl-led yakuza gang I’m not aware of? He also watches Mitsuya Yoko’s gravure video and decides she’s hotter in dramas. Meanwhile, Japan Probe has a thoughtful article on the depiction of non-Japanese in Japanese media. Langdon tries to make up for the pedo-loli-fication of YODC by posting some pictures of a girl with large boobs. If that doesn’t make you click on that link right away, you’re a stronger person than I’ll ever be. And let’s all welcome a new blog to our fold, J-MuNet! It’s a group blog with a wide range of taste in Jpop – including Hello! Project (and Younha!) – and some interesting insights. Definitely worth a look.

A couple of forum notes before I end this entry: Kd is trying to pull together a Blogger Kashimashi Monogatari – if you’re a member of the forum, you can read more of it here. And we’re up to Round Two in the Morning Musume PV Challenge, if you’re interested in voting. How “Hyokkori Hyoutanjima” made it this far, I have no idea.

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7 Responses to “Sunday Blog Roundup: What I Like To Read, Some Sweet Jpop Aloha, and a Taste of Real Literature”
  1. Kd says:

    ^_^ And to think that the Sunday Roundup’s the only thing that’s kept you blogging… I know never to expect it on an actual Sunday, especially due to time zone difference, but I still check anyway. 😮

  2. Shinji says:

    yep I check often to 😛 it’s ok though Ray we know you must get busy huh.

    was wu-san joking about the Sayu thing at the beggining? maybe he was having a friendly poke at you, or maybe he did not know you love Sayu LOL. maybe we find out on his next blog???

    Ikimasshoi keep up to date as always, some of the annual sales figures suprised me a bit. I won’t say who I thought got stupidly high sales compared to some.

    Craig’s writing as always, in your face, but great X)that belly button is scary, any belly button would be that close up.

    other blogs good read to. just saying once again, enjoyed the blogs this week.

    cheers bloggers

  3. Hey thanks for linking to us at J-MuNet! We hope everyone can enjoy the blog and enjoy a wide range of japanese music, so stay tuned and visit often : )

  4. Craig says:

    Berryz new Music Fighter appearance wasn’t really that great because it wasn’t a proper interview. I think to top their 1st appearance the lead male presenter will have to in future seriously flirt with one of the Berryz and she will have to play it up too. If she could touch his inside leg that would be awesome as well LOL 😉

    Welcome J-MuNet! More Loli-Pop please XD

  5. paul.thomas says:

    I always check here on a Sunday, it’s a really good read and good break down of all the other sites.

    …it’s not that kago has bad nails, just that tsuji has the worlds most awesome nails

  6. Kon (J-MuNet Admin #2) says:

    heheh Younha!!!