Last Update For 3 Weeks

27 11 2008

Just to say that this’ll be the last post until I’m back from Japan on the 20th December. I’m going to Manchester Airport tomorrow before flying out to Narita on Saturday morning. There’ll be tons of new updates when I return.

See you all when I get back!

Official Confirmation – Meetan’s Fate

27 11 2008

I’ve just watched last night’s edition of AKBingo which was a Megumi Ohori special revolving around the 15th November 2008 when her fate was decided whether she’d stay in AKB48 or not. Although I’d mentioned in a previous post that it looked more than likely that she’d passed her challenge it wasn’t 100% certain.

As it stood on the final day of promotion by Meetan the total was just above 8,500 copies so she’d have to shift another 1,500 and there was a long hug session to do which was taking place in a Music Vox store somewhere in Tokyo. The morning session didn’t look promising – half the room where the hug session took place had empty seats. As the afternoon session was about to begin, something unexpected took place. With the pressure mounting and nerves taking hold Meetan started to cry and hyperventilate badly backstage. Staff on hand took care of her and I was really worried seeing her in that state. The Bad Boys had to go on stage to talk and joke with the fans until Meetan was better. She did come back and managed to complete the session OK.

Then it was time for the final part – the evening session and yet another surprise for Meetan. Some of her colleagues from AKB48 had come down to support her which shocked her as she wasn’t expecting it. Some might call it cheating but what’s wrong with a little help from your friends. They sat down at a desk and put Megumi’s CD in bags for the fans that had bought the single. A big bonus for those that was just expecting a hug from Meetan was they also got a handshake from other AKB48 members. The room for the hug session was full to capacity and I think this gave her confidence. At 9.30pm it was all over but before the announcement is made to her regarding the grand total – like many other Japanese shows they have to prolong the agony by having tearful speeches made by her colleagues.

So what was the total in the end? She managed to sell 1,539 on the day increasing her total to 10,125! Just about scraped over the 10k mark but it was heartwarming to see tears of joy on her face. Bottom line is she stays in the group. After all the humilation and embarassment she’s endured over the past month at least it wasn’t in vain. Way to go Meetan! Please Akimoto don’t even think about trying to do something similar to Nonti!

Kago Ai Continuing Her Education

25 11 2008

It seems that Kago Ai has revealed recently that she’s enrolled at an international school since April. Kago said she wanted to complete her high school education which is a wise decision on her behalf. You must remember that she’s been in the entertainment industry since she was 11 years old. Like many previous idols, the pressure of working and trying to do high school studies is hard so in most cases education gets the old heave-ho from them. Showbizness is fleeting for many of Japan’s idol stars who drop out once they reach their 20’s and go back to normality. Some have nothing to fall back on but in Kago’s case at least she’s thinking of her future which is never a bad thing.

The school she’s enrolled with (Aoyoma International Academy) is a branch of which the HQ is in Connecticut and Kago will be studying by correspondence for 2 years and should she complete everything she’ll have the equivalent of an American high school diploma. Apparently the online course she’s enrolled with is conducted entirely in English and Kago is having lessons in learning the language by a foreign teacher. That’s tough for somebody with a limited grasp of English but if she’s determined enough I can see her doing well.

Kago has hinted that she might try and enter university possibly in the US if she succeeds in completing the current course she’s on. I wish her the very best of luck with her studies and hope she passes with flying colors.


No AKB48 In This Year’s Kohaku

25 11 2008

It was a big honour last year for AKB48 to appear in the New Year’s Eve extravaganza that is Kouhaku Uta Gassen but in the details announced today of who’s been lined up for this year’s edition, AKB48 have been snubbed. But they’re not the only idol group deemed not good enough to appear – Morning Musume who have appeared on the show for the last 10 years have also been ignored. C-ute and Berryz Koubou who debuted last year also have not been invited too. It’s no surprise with Morning Musume as their popularity is on the wane but I really thought that AKB48 had a chance seeing as their last single have done extremely well. But SPEED will be back plus Perfume and Girl Next Door will be making their debut.

The hosts for the bash will be Yukie Nakama (red team) and Masahiro Nakai of SMAP (white team). Who will win this year’s contest?

Here’s a clip of AKB48 performing Aitakatta at last year’s event:

The Talented Mano Erina

24 11 2008

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this talented young girl yet in my blog but there’s no time like the present. 17 year old Mano Erina started out life in H!P as one of the Eggs in 2006 before joining Ongaku Gatas. Tsunku saw the potential in her to leave that group and go it alone as a soloist. So far she’s released 2 indie singles and both have been really good. Her new web blog is being translated into English like many other H!P artists and it gives an insight into what she’s like as a person, what she enjoys doing outside H!P and what she does at work as an artist. She’s very cute, has got a lovely smile this girl and I hope they give her an opportunity soon to release a major single.

The videos I’m putting up are live performances as there’s no official PV’s. Below you’ll find her singing her 1st indie single Mano Piano with some backstage footage too:

This is Mano on the NHK Channel singing a short version of her 2nd indie single Lucky Aura:

Hangry & Angry/Buono! PV’s

22 11 2008

This week saw the release of the goth pop unit Hangry & Angry starring Yossi and Charmy with their debut single Kill Me Kiss Me. With a simultaneous release also in the US I’m wondering how sales are going there during the first couple of days. Are they making any kind of impact at all? As for the PV itself I like the use of brash colors in it and especially the costumes but the fake guitar playing by the duo just looks out of place. Yossi does her best to look tough and threatening but Rika is trying to look cute. It doesn’t matter what type of clothes, hairstyle or makeup they put on Rika she still maintains that cuteness about her. What’s with those odd facial expressions in the PV as well? The song isn’t what I’d usually listen to but I was prepared to give it a go and I enjoyed it.

Buono! have gone all retro in the PV to their 5th single Rottara Rottara which has a 60’s inspired theme to it. Airi, Momo and Miyabi look fantastic in their mini-skirts and knee high white boots and whilst I was unsure of the song when I first heard it, after the 2nd play I started to like it.

Tokyo Trip Yon Ban – Final Itinerary

22 11 2008

At this time a week today (11/29/08) I’ll be getting ready at Manchester Airport to board the plane for the first leg of my journey back to Tokyo. I’m seriously getting excited now and can’t wait to get back to Japan. A pity the currency exchange rate is so poor. When I changed my sterling into yen on Thursday the rate was 132 which is way down on 220 I got last year. I might have to curtail my spending there but I probably won’t. I’m hoping that Saori and myself can get some tickets to see somebody in concert. She couldn’t get through to Ticket Pia for Namie Amuro’s gig in Saitama on the 6th December – damn phone lines were constantly engaged. Is there an English website showing which artists are having gigs in Tokyo? I’m also gutted to be missing Lightopia which starts on the 21st December. I have been thinking of going to see a J-league match on the final day of the season (12/06/08). Might be some tickets left to see the Urawa Reds in Saitama? Over the past few weeks I’ve been busy writing down the places I want to go and this is more or less the final itinerary (depends if Saori is available and not working otherwise things will change):

Day 1 – Shinjuku (familiarisation and getting my bearings back again)

Day 2 – Asakusa

Day 3 – Tokyo/Marunouchi/Kanda

Day 4 – Kamakura/Enoshima

Day 5 – Saitama

Washinomiya Shrine (made famous in the opening title sequence of the anime Lucky Star)

Washinomiya Shrine (made famous in the opening title sequence of the anime Lucky Star)

Day 6 – Nippori/Ueno/Ameyoko/Akihabara

Day 7 – Hakone

Day 8 – Kyoto (including KyoAni HQ site visit)

Day 9 – Ikebukuro/Nakano

Day 10 – Yokohama

Yokohama's Minato Mirai 21 area at night

Yokohama's Minato Mirai 21 area at night

Day 11 – Nikko

Day 12 – Saitama (Lucky Star Pilgrimage)

Day 13 – Kyoto again!

Day 14 – Yoyogi/Harajuku/Shibuya

Day 15 – Shiodome/Roppongi Hills/Ginza

A familiar sight in Akihabara - maids handing out flyers for their cafes

A familiar sight in Akihabara - maids handing out flyers for their cafes

Day 16 – Todoroki Canyon/Odaiba/Ultraman Street

Day 17 – Nara

Day 18 – Chiba

Day 19 – a nice relaxing final day with Saori

I’m sure I’ll be popping over to Akihabara and Nakano Broadway a couple of times during the trip as I love those places. During the evenings if I’m not out with Saori I’ll be around with my camera and tripod taking photos from various places in Tokyo. Some of you may wonder why I’m taking trips to Kyoto and Nara on different days instead of just booking a hotel down in Kyoto and spending 2 or 3 consecutive days around the area. I did consider that but in the end I’d rather get back to Tokyo each night and spend some time with Saori rather than not see her for 3 days. She’s waited long enough for me to come back to Japan so it wouldn’t be fair if I just tell her I’m buggering off for 3 days down South.