Scandal – The Next Big Thing?

30 10 2008

I thought I’d write a blog about another group which I really like called Scandal. They’re a pop punk group consisting of 4 schoolgirls from Osaka and they’re awesome. I first noticed this group in 2007 due to the buzz that was on the internet from some Western fans who’d heard about them.

Haruna, Tomomi, Mami and Rina make up Scandal who first performed on Osaka’s streets in 2006. Due to the positive reaction by the crowds who grew steadily in size they moved on to perform in various halls in Osaka and Kyoto.  It was during a performance at Shibuya’s Club Asia that they finally hit the jackpot with record label Tower Records snapping them up. In March this year they released their first indie single “Space Ranger” and then another 2 singles in April and May. A mini-album was also released in August.

Scandal took an opportunity to perform abroad for the first time during March which might be seen as a bit risky for such an unknown group outside their native Japan. It was those lucky people in the US that got a taste of Scandal on the Japan Nite US Tour 2008 and during the Sakura-Con anime convention. Naturally they bought the house down in each location they performed and won over a legion of new fans.

I believe it is only a matter of time before Scandal hit the big time. They deserve it as they’ve put the time and effort from the very beginning when they were also studying at school (not easy having to juggle everything in their hectic lifestyle). What I like most about them is they write their own music and play their own instruments – their songs are catchy and infectious and they bring a youthful enthusiasm when they play live. I’d really like to see them live in the future.

Below you’ll find a PV to the first single they released and my favorite song of theirs – Space Ranger

Oogoe Diamond Charts At No.3

29 10 2008

Well done to the AKB48 girls whose newest single Oogoe Diamond came in at No.3 in the Oricon Charts selling nearly 49,000 copies and becoming their biggest selling single so far, nearly double what they usually sell. I must say that the song is a solid good J-pop tune and I really like it. Combined with the recent hand-shaking events that have taken place over the last week or so it really seems to have done the trick. I hope this is only the start and their popularity will really kick in now with the ordinary Japanese public much like the meteoric rise that Perfume have endured over the past 12 months.

The beautiful Noro Kayo

The beautiful Noro Kayo

A belated happy birthday to one of my favorite AKB48 girls Noro Kayo. Nonti turned 25 yesterday and I really hope the same fate that has befallen Meetan won’t happen to her. They’re both the same age so Akimoto could spring another surprise on Nonti pretty soon. I sincerely hope not. Team K wouldn’t be the same without her for me anyway. And as for Meetan, well it looks like her fate is pretty much sealed. I wonder if she’ll graduate the same time as the 5 girls that are leaving Team A?

A Look Back On Saiko Exciting and CNX

26 10 2008

For all those living in the UK who’s into Japanese culture and entertainment cast your minds back to 2002 and in particular the Sci-Fi Channel on Sky. Do you remember the fanfare when a new 2 hour show catering to those people that were nuts about everything Japanese premiered on the channel. Sci-Fi were already showing anime in the midnight hours with respectable figures so they decided to create a programme and schedule it on a Saturday morning thinking that this would reel in the Japanophiles. That show was Saiko Exciting. Hosted by a gorgeous young lady called Seera (Sarah Backhouse) with segments by other presenters such as Jonathan Clements and Emily Newton-Dunn, it featured a mix of J-pop music, gaming, anime, culture and other vignettes designed to show the best of Japan. Unfortunately the buzz that Sci-Fi thought would happen with Saiko Exciting failed to happen and the following year the show was axed. But what went wrong? Why did it do so badly? Considering that the brilliant anime Neon Genesis Evangelion and Martian Successor Nadesico were part of the 2 hour slot you’d have thought this show would be a big hit.

The problem lied with the content of the show itself. It was uneventful and boring. The music PV’s they showed were wrong for a start. Instead of showing the most popular J-pop artists of the day they instead chose to go for those by Cornelius or Pizzicatto 5 for example. Nothing wrong with showing music by either but they could have gone for artists like Ayumi Hamasaki or even Morning Musume. For those not familiar with J-pop music this was a bad move – they should have gone for mainstream artists instead. Another mistake was the attempt at humour which was pretty bad (remember the pathetic segments SORIGAMI and I Think I’m Learning Japanese). I suspect that the majority of viewers tuning in to Saiko Exciting were only watching the anime and couldn’t give a toss for anything else. By the end of it’s run the show’s creators were desperately trying to fill the 2 hour slot with whatever crap they could think of. The axe couldn’t have come quicker in my opinion. You’ve got to give the channel some kudos for trying something different but had they thought things out properly it could have been a big success.

Seera - who hosted Saiko Exciting

Seera - who hosted Saiko Exciting

It certainly had a big effect on the Sci-Fi Channel who cut their anime content drastically and moved them back to after midnight after the failure of Saiko Exciting. In the Summer of 2003 (I think?) they had a season of showing extreme Japanese movies. Battle Royale, the Ring trilogy and Takashi Miike’s movies such as Visitor Q were all shown late on Saturday night and uncut. I remember emailing the channel to congratulate them on their effort and asking for another season. I did get a reply back saying they were considering doing it but the new season failed to appear.

Around the same time as Saiko Exciting’s debut came another channel on Sky called CNX which was targeted for the 12 – 34 audience. Daytime schedules for this channel consisted of shows such as Dragonball Z but what interested me more was the evening schedules. Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star were 2 brilliant animes to be shown at this time on this channel. Also shown during the evening were HK movies in the Triple A block. These movies were usually shown uncut and gave viewers such titles as The Heroic Duo and Burning Paradise. It was a great place to showcase action packed martial arts HK movies that perhaps people hadn’t even heard of before and I was hooked. Every weeknight I’d be glued to CNX. But just as CNX was getting into it’s stride it quickly disappeared and the channel was changed into being Toonami. CNX’s last day of transmission was September 7th 2003. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. Again I’ve no idea why this change happened. Were ratings for the channel extremely poor? 

Since that time other channels have come and gone showing anime in the UK but still this country is lacking in a proper anime channel unlike the US. UK anime fans can only look on with jealously at the amount of great shows they get. You guys don’t realise how lucky you are to have a bountiful supply of anime to watch. Anime Central was the last big hope anime fans in the country had but now that’s only a 2 hour slot from 4am to 6am. Maybe this country still isn’t ready to welcome anime into it’s daytime schedules? It’s not for lack of trying though. Strange though as the UK’s anime and manga industry is growing and we know that kids like their Pokemon and their Yu-Gi-Oh but it’s teenagers and those in their 20’s that want something better. It’s this target audience that sadly there’s nothing for them. As for other forms of Japanese entertainment at least we’ve had the superb Japanorama from Jonathan Ross and even Adam & Joe giving us their take on Japan.

Who knows – in the future we might have another channel that’ll try to give us a combination of anime during the daytime and some Asian movies during the evening. It’ll be up to us to support it and make sure it won’t follow the list of failed channels we’ve already had.

Is Meetan Doomed?

22 10 2008

First week of sales is over for Megumi Ohori’s single and whilst 3,969 CD’s sold isn’t too bad I thought the figure would be slightly higher. I didn’t realise the challenge was to sell 10k over a month (thought it was to sell 10k in a week) but even so I don’t think she can make it. I’m sure she’ll do her best to keep on plugging her CD wherever she is but most fans have bought the single last week. To sell 6,000 CD’s in 3 weeks doesn’t look hard on paper but she’ll struggle to shift them. If she does manage to go over 10k it’ll be a miracle. The question now is will producer Akimoto go ahead in 3 weeks time and graduate her should she fail in the challenge?

EDIT: Do the producers of AKBingo enjoy embarassing the poor girl? On last night’s show they made her go to the small seaside town of Izumizaki to promote her single armed with a hand held tape player which has a microphone attached and a rucksack full of her CD’s. Meetan sang to an old couple near the sea where she was shivering although they bought her single. She then made her way to the shopping district where she camped herself outside a shop and proceeded to sing to the small crowd which had gathered. It didn’t make any impact as absolutely nobody bought her CD so she packed up and trudged off looking a bit downhearted. Future previews of this segment has her singing in front of a banquet and camping outside somewhere in a sleeping bag. Doesn’t look like fun to her at all.

AKB48’s new single Oogoe Diamond is released this week and it’s already doing well after one day as it’s listed as being No.3 in the Oricon Daily Charts. I’m hoping it’ll stay in the top 5 all week.

Here’s the PV accompanying the single for everybody to enjoy:

Yamanote Line Halloween Party 2008?

21 10 2008

Yes, it’s that time of year again when some foreigners who reside in Tokyo take over a carriage on the Yamanote Line train, make a public nuisance of themselves and drink like eejits. Annoucements for this year’s “festivities” have been kept quiet so far, no doubt to keep those crazy 2ch forumites guessing as to whether it’ll happen or not. But many are speculating that it’s this coming Saturday (25th October) from either Shinjuku or Ikebukuro station at 9pm.

It’s not my job to criticise these people but they should spare a thought for those ordinary folks trying to make their way home and having to share a carriage with these drunken obnoxious idiots. It would piss me off anyway having to be with them and whatever some of them might say it does give a bad name to the rest of the foreign population of Tokyo who aren’t even involved. I know the easiest thing to do would be to get off at the next station and go to another carriage.

Could you see this type of thing happening in London or New York? Definitely not, the police would crackdown on this immediately. Don’t they realise they’re guests in Japan and just can’t do anything as they please. If you want to get wrecked then do it in a pub or hire a warehouse but not on a train for God’s sake. And I’m tired of hearing the excuse of “there’s some Japanese people partying too”. True, there’s some Japanese people involved but the majority and the instigators behind this whole event are foreigners.

I hope there won’t be any ugly scenes should this event go ahead or perish the thought any of the 2ch forumites who threatened to stab any foreigners last year turn up and do something terrible. I’d hate to hear of anything bad happening.

For those that accuse me of being a party pooper, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having fun around Halloween. Hell I’m all for it but there are appropriate places to celebrate and enjoy yourselves and a public train is not one of them.

OK, rant over!

Huge News – H!P Elder Club Members To Graduate In March 2009

19 10 2008

This has come out of the blue today for me but when I read that Tsunku had announced that all of H!P’s Elder Club members are graduating in March 2009 I just couldn’t believe it.

The list of those going are as follows:

  1. Morning Musume OG
  2. Atsuko Inaba
  3. Mai Satoda
  4. Melon Kinenbi
  5. Yuki Maeda
  6. Aya Matsuura
  7. Erika and Yui (formerly of v-u-den)
  8. Ongaku Gatas

Most of my favourite H!P members are those in the Elder Club. It makes me wonder why there’s a major cull and for the future of Hello!Project which will effectively only have 3 units namely Morning Musume, C-ute, Berryz Koubou. H!P has been stale now for quite a while and this might be an idea of Tsunku’s to get rid of the old and start something new – a reinvention of H!P perhaps. The final performances for those in the Elder Club will be on 31st January and 1st February. You can bet that fans will be fighting to get a ticket for those 2 dates which will be the ultimate graduation concerts.

What does the future hold for all of those getting fired (because it feels like to me they’re getting fired!). Some like Mari Yaguchi will be fine as apart from MCing concerts hasn’t really done anything significant with H!P for a while and she’ll continue as a variety idol popping up on various TV shows. I’m not worried about Aya Matsuura either as I’m confident she’ll carry on singing with another label. She wanted to move away from being an idol anyway and try other avenues. As for my favorite Miki Fujimoto – maybe her future lies in the theater? She’s been starring in Grease recently and if she wants to be an actress then good on her. It’s the ones like Yuki Maeda and Yui & Erika that this cull will really affect. What will they do?

I really feel for all of them and what about those left behind in Hello!Project – how do they feel about losing their sempais? Will some of them be moving on to new record labels – if they’re not contracted to UFA that is because the announcement made by Tsunku doesn’t really give the indication that they’re leaving UFA altogether. It would certainly leave them free to pursue other interests. Maki Goto did the right thing in leaving H!P when she did and I’m sure some of them are kicking their heels that they should have left at the same time. There’s so many questions that need to be answered and I’m sure Tsunku will explain more in due course but for me this is a sad day. It’ll feel strange to have H!P without some of those that made Morning Musume so popular. I’ll update this post when I have more news on this situation.

Morning Musume 4th Generation

All of these will be going in March 2009 (Maki & Aibon have already left)

Has H!P’s Invasion Of The US Begun?/Meetan Sales Update

18 10 2008

I think this is big news but it seems that Hello Project are doing an experiment to see what potential it has to start selling their CD’s over in the US. The new duo of Hangry & Angry (Yossi and Charmy) and their debut single Kill Me Kiss Me is going to be released simultaenously in Japan and the US on the 19th November. It looks like UFA have got their act together and finally come to their senses that there’s a market out there to target foreign fans. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact the CD will have in the US. How many copies are they expected to sell? If it does well does that mean that further singles and albums from the rest of H!P artists get sold in the US too? Could we be looking in the future at a US tour for maybe Morning Musume? I know a lot of H!P fans are excited about this, something they’ve been wanting to happen for some years. I hope they don’t get too carried away and assume that H!P is going to start selling everything in the US soon. It’s up to them to show the UFA execs that this experiment has paid off so go and buy the CD when it comes out. I’m eagerly awaiting more news on this development.

Hangry & Angry

How is AKB48 member Megumi Ohori doing with sales of her debut solo single Amai Kokanetsu? According to the Oricon daily charts it charted at No.30 on the day of it’s release, dropped down slightly the next day but had moved up to No.22 by Friday. But what does this mean sales wise – how many copies? It’s hard to say but I reckon that 5,000 CD’s has been shifted, maybe slightly more. Is 10,000 copies a bridge too far for her? I still reckon she’ll achieve it in the first week but only just.