Sunday Blog Roundup: Yossi’s Tragedy, Different Kinds of Passion

Filed in American Wota 1.0

The most important news to circulate in the Jpop blogosphere this week is the death of Yoshizawa Hitomi’s brother in a traffic accident – a tragedy that somehow seems even more noteworthy because of the recent announcement of Yossi’s upcoming graduation from Morning Musume. Ikimasshoi has all the basic facts, while Maki Kanatsu covers the Osaka show. Condolences are posted by wu-san at his new solo blog (who also had some interesting thoughts on Yossi’s graduation and Momusu’s future before hearing this news), Béné of Meganekko, Kue-chan of Kue Chans Journey of Discovery, CJ Marsicano of Stuck in a Pagoda with Motoko Aoyama, Tom at Hello!Blog, huntherx17 at Furusato Chronicles, and Frox at Japtard. Jinryuichi of Hello Non-Pro Hour provides the most coverage with an initial translation of the news clipping, the news that Yossi would perform at the January 14 Osaka concert, more news clippings about this decision and finally describes Yossi as the “true professional” Musume.

It’s admirable that some bloggers were willing to share their grief and sympathy for Yossi – however, it’s also worth noting the silence from others on this topic, myself included. There were many more posts when Yossi’s graduation was announced, and a wider array of opinions and expressions. Why were some of us silent at this juncture, or proceeded without comment as we usually do? In my own case: while I felt sad for Yossi and her family, it wasn’t in my own comfort zone to note it with its own blog entry. To do so would have left me grasping for something to say, at least something I’d want to share with others. As a result, though, I find myself thinking about that very inability to articulate, and why that’s the case for me. Celebrity is a strange thing, after all, and the relationship between an idol and her fans assume different levels, play different roles, for people. If anything, idols are supposed to help us escape from the realities of everyday life, and nothing is more real than the inevitability of death. Beyond one’s condolences – and admiration when Yossi decides the show must go on – what else is there to say about the death of a beloved idol’s sibling? In what way does this impact us, except in the way that it impacts Yossi and that she does, indeed, matter to us as someone we care about?

Though not directly related, Julia of Satsumaimo shares a very moving OPV she found honoring those who’ve left Hello! Project. For some reason, that was more moving for me, if only because I’m still upset about Megukami’s untimely departure. And realizing that, I found it odd – and yet, perfectly sensible – that the mere removal of an idol from her job continues to torment me while I am distracted, at best, by what happened to Yossi’s family. In further contrast (and by sheer coincidence), Madara of Madara Blog writes a very touching tribute to author Robert Anton Wilson, whose work has affected him deeply and shaped his life. And it makes me wonder if Wilson’s impact on Madara can be likened to Yossi’s impact on any of us as fans of Morning Musume. It’s strange, trying to measure up the impact of one person’s life versus that of another – there is that impulse to call upon the sanctity of all human life and invoke some sense of equality, that any life lost is a loss for all humanity. And yet, is that how we really measure lives that are so apart – so mediated – from our own?

How deeply did Yossi’s brother influence any of us – or for that matter, how much does Yossi herself influence us? Do the realities of death force us to hit that invisible wall and admit it exists, that dividing line between Yossi as an idol and Yossi as a human being with a private life we’re usually not privy to? If anything, then, it’s the stoic nature of Yossi’s decision to perform after her brother’s death – her refusal to break down that wall between her private life and her role as an idol – that can guide us. She wants that dividing line to remain, and while our sympathy for her is surely appreciated… perhaps that’s as far as it should go. (And for most all of us, especially those living outside of Japan, that’s as far as it can go, after all.) Which isn’t at all meant a criticism of those who have written about the tragedy – Jinryuichi provided a very valuable service with his ongoing coverage, after all – it just shows how we all deal with tragedy and especially death in our own individual ways.

Beyond the news of Yossi and our various reactions to death, the best of the Jpop blogosphere this week was all about passion, though that passion takes on very different forms. Kimitsu of let it beat! writes a great blog entry on adopting fandoms, with this killer paragraph standing out for me:

One of the best things about being in the Japanese music fandom is seeing your favorite performers grow into their roles. Admittedly, this only really works for the ones that have been in the spotlight for at least a year, and even more so for those working through puberty – but seeing them evolve and then going back and looking at them in their past works not only evokes a sense of nostalgia, but also pride. Misplaced, sometimes unwarranted pride, but pride nonetheless.

Wow. I wish I’d written that, not just for the insight but for the sheer stylistic verve and authorial confidence. While a general piece on a phenomenon familiar to most Jpop fans, it’s nice to see the focus planted so squarely on one of the more compelling reasons for Jpop’s appeal. And actually, it may actually help to frame the tragedy in Yossi’s family, as we have seen her grow over the years, know her in a way that creates a sense of intimacy that now seems strangely dissonant and even out-of-place with something as profound as a death in the family. As fans, we care for her – but how each of us cares takes on its own idiosyncrasies, its own boundaries, for each wota.

Speaking of individual boundaries… On a wholly different note, that magnificent bastard Craig of Your Opinion Doesn’t Count shares his lovelorn and pedolicious angst in his own, inimitably intimate manner. I think there’s some exaggeration here and that has to be kept in mind while reading the piece – that is, Craig branding himself a pedophile in this context isn’t exactly within my comfort zone, either. Having a taste for lolicon and actually wanting to sexually abuse children are two very different things – and from what I know of Craig, I’m sure those are very different things for him as well. The concern about misogyny – and how it translates into his taste for pedoliciousness – is intriguing in a therapeutic / psychoanalytic manner, and certainly gives one pause to think. (Why am I so interested in U15 idols? I suspect my own motivations have more to do with a than the desire for dominance that Craig describes in his own psyche. And yet how does the power dynamic figure into U15 as a kind of idol genre? What exactly is that power dynamic, anyway?) Of course, his fellow YODC magnificent bastard Langdon Alger decides to add gasoline to the fire with a SweetS video – and in SAM’s defense, I don’t think he’s ugly. A bit simian, perhaps, but not in a way that makes him look stupid (like, say, Stephen St. Croix). I can see what Namie saw in him. I think.

Last but not least in this week’s passionate and notable posts, Aural Candy deals with a particularly irate reader, tearing apart that reader’s rants and calmly pointing out just how ridiculous this person is in her attacks. It’s amusing, and Aural Candy handles her opponent with her usual wit, logic, and writerly aplomb. Kudos to her for not letting a stupid opinion affect her too harshly.

On the Hello! Project front, Zaeleus of LunaTech provides the January 2007 list of notable H!P releases, while Tom of Hello!Blog wishes Mitsui Aika a Happy 14th Birthday. Despite arriving in rough condition, Tom is also quite pleased with his Odore! Morning Curry DVD, a video that WEBmikey also enjoys. Craig shares a really nice picture of C-ute’s Maimi – and, um, no comment beyond that. Craig also shares pictures of Reina looking all… um… shiny… and feline… Langdon Alger compares compares Ayaya’s Sukeban Deka movie poster with Monbu Ran’s inevitable porno ripoff version. Personally speaking, I think Ahiko Yoshizawa’s porno ripoff of the yo-yo detective is more fun to watch and more wankable, all things considered. Langdon also shares some incredible pictures from Sayu’s new photobook, as does MorningBerryz. I have to say, Sayumi is now far and away my favorite Musume in the current line-up. That said, if the new girl decides to do a bikini book in the next month or two, maybe I’ll reconsider.

Frox of Japtard got himself a copy of Space Venus and shares the story of the game with us. All I can say is, I wish I owned a PS2… Also from the golden age, MorniningBerryz shares Momusu’s Playboy cover (I just have to sigh at the image of Ayappe…), while the LiveJournal gakicons has some very lovely photos from GirlPop Hello! Project Special from 2000. Again, lovely Ayappe features in them, and so do Taiyo & Cisco Moon! MorningBerryz also shares some recent shots of Melon Kinenbi’s Shibata Ayumi from the Pucchi Best 7 DVD. Kue Chans Journey of Discovery has made its way to the second and third generations of Morning Musume, covering Ichii Sayaka, Yasuda Kei, Yaguchi Mari, and the original Miracle Girl herself, Slutty McSlut-Slut. I mean, Goto Maki. And closing on a highly speculative note, Kd of Iroiro Aru Sa! considers alternate variations on H!P history, while Jinryuichi of Hello Non-Pro Hour offers an alternative to my now clearly-discredited Chokkan 2 Curse.

On the Avex Trax front, YODC’s Langdon chooses Amuro Namie’s “Baby Don’t Cry” PV for the J-Music Clip of the Week. Heaven has short reviews of the new singles from Amuro Namie and Aiuchi Rina, while Gail of the impressive Himitsu has an interesting question about the B-side to “Baby Don’t Cry”. Meanwhile, Justin of The Great Swifty Speaketh has a very thoughtful, very ambivalent review of Koda Kumi’s album Black Cherry. At long last, Thea of Made in Paradise notes, Caless graduates Bright finally make their debut. Holy crap! How long was this in the making? And why are they wearing dream’s rejected hooker-wear in the official homepage photo? And Michi Saito fans can rejoice, as she’ll be participating in Strobo’s new single. Thea also has news of a Girl’s Box movie – starring dream’s Hasebe Yu, among others – including Irie Saaya and, yes, the ubiquitous Michi Saito.

Testing the limits of its fandom, AAA will be releasing still more DVDs in coming months. Of course, what fans really want to see is Yukari pursuing her hobby… Or do they? wu-san of My Pleasant Vista continues to voice his admiration for AAA’s hunky Nijishima Takahiro. To which I say: Tim Gunn, Call Me. I’m Waiting For You. See, I’m comfortable in my own manhood, too! And following the tradition of SweetS & the Yomiuri Giants and Def. Diva & the Rakuten Eagles, Santos of Idolizing St. Anna has news that AAA will be singing the theme song for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Speaking of the Penty Five, Julia of Satsumaimo has a very cute story about SweetS making it snow in her part of the world. Rinoa of Channel-Ai wasn’t initially won over by Shimatani Hitomi’s “Pasio” but believes it to be a good showcase for Hitomi’s singing, while Skawt of jankenpyon! hears rumors that BeForU will have its first album from Avex in March.

Also on the pop front, DJ Ozmaapologizes for his Kouhaku act, which strikes me as pointless but what the heck, while Ikimasshoi’s Mark has news that WaT will be releasing solo singles. Gail of Himitsu reviews w-inds’ latest PV, noting how much older the boy band looks. Can we call them a man band now?

On the rock front, Aural Candy is moved by alice nine’s New Year aspirations… well, moved by how horribly they do their calligraphy. Her instructive mood goes considerablty further this week: she also has a very helpful listing of 2006 live reports of Jrock shows and gives a tutorial on how to comment on the Gazette Staff Blog. Speaking of which, Gazette’s upcoming PV already “rocks her socks off”. Shay of SparkPlugged is impressed with a free CD from All Japan Goith that caught his attention while he was in Japan, as did the jam rock band Special Others. And Gail of Himitsu shares her scans from the latest Neo Genesis and Pati Pati. Go of jrocknyc is back in circulation and has set up a podcast for himself. Similarly, Japtard’s Frox has set up his own radio station, for those so interested.

On the rap front, at HALCALI day by day, jariten is puzzled by the lack of Halcali’s new song “Lights, Camera, Action!” on the new anime Getsumen To Heiki Mina, and also notes the duo performed “Tandem” at Rhythm Nation. Halcali’s “Tip Taps Tip” also placed 471 in the 500 best selling singles of 2006 – which is sorta good news, but mostly discouraging since “Twinkle Star” didn’t even place. At My Pleasant Vista, wu-san discusses Nujabes, which he describes as a mix of hip-hop, lounge, jazz, and ambient., while Shay of SparkPlugged discovers Seamo and wonders why he hadn’t heard of him sooner. Ahh, apparently Shay isn’t a Bennie K fan, which is where I first encountered Seamo…

On the drama front, Akiramike of the mighty HamsapSukebe names his Jdorama awards for 2006, and it’s no surprise to regular readers what he thinks the best jdorama of the year is. He also reviews the latest episode of Sailor Fuku to Kikanjuu, finding many flaws but still holding out hope. Thea of Made in Paradise catches up on 2006 – and one 2005 – drama, giving quick reviews of what she viewed. With gaming, WEBmikey gives the top ten reasons he likes the Nintendo DS. Looking at cheesey disaster movies, Swifty of The Great Swifty Speaketh gets worked up over Japan Sinks, which he likens at one point to Snakes on a Plane. usagi incidents is running full speed ahead again, with reviews of many new anime including Venus Versus Virus, Les Miserables: Shoujo Cosette, and Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora.

And closing off with some odds and ends, lolitron has a great article about a college student who submits a CD of kiddie porn to his professor. Shoot, back in my day it had to be the other way around… (Kidding! Just kidding!) Equally strange if not nearly as offensive, Japan Probe has two quirky pieces worth noting: a video of Ronald McDonald kicking convenient store ass and an adorable news piece about a cat being named stationmaster by a local railway. Which only proves that passion can take on many, many, many weird forms – and that’s what makes the world go around.

Well, that and centripetal force.

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3 Responses to “Sunday Blog Roundup: Yossi’s Tragedy, Different Kinds of Passion”
  1. Craig says:

    I just want to sex something dammit LOL

    But yeah, I’m not out to cause any pain & suffering. There’s enough of that as we all know in life already.

    Am I detecting a bit of S&M in you Ray? “Has RayRay been a bad boy?” 😈

  2. pengie says:

    I wanted to say something regarding the death of Yossie’s brother, but I really couldn’t make it past the first sentence without either crying or wanting very badly to cry. Something about the report I heard of her courage on the 14th just left me with the inability to say anything.

  3. jinryuichi says:

    You’ll be fine, Craig… I’m sure of that… ^_^
    Love that article by wu-san too… I hope for the same on the next Utaban / Heyx3…

    On part with Yossie’s family tragedy, graduation and the “invisible wall”… basically, I can relate with Yossie because my own sis had a similar accident in Shinjuku… other than that, it’s the bond that we fans have formed over the years with Momusu… whether it’s idol-fans or fans-fans… it’s fine to remain silent, cos’ being silent does not mean that we don’t care…. it’s the negative ones that I can’t stand…

    I wonder……. which is the most discussed New Year opener news in Japan -> DJ Ozma’s Kouhaku or Yossie’s news….?

    ….or neither…