The Twilight Zone

October 7, 2010

After hearing about everything Atron and David experienced in Japan, it definitely sounds like a surreal experience.  I’ve always wondered what it would be like visiting Japan ever since I’ve grown to like their media, specifically when I witnessed Japan’s girl group AKB48 skyrocket in terms of popularity.

A place where AKB48 posters are regularly hung on the sides of buildings and singles can be bought in any music establishment?  A place that has an official store where I can buy goods directly without an expensive middle-man?  Where their magazines and photobooks are casually lain about in a 7-11?  It’s definitely not the world I live in.  Even throw-away fliers for various merchandise baring the sacred ‘AKB48’ logo feel like they have some sort of value simply because they don’t exist outside of Japan.

While I have to scour and look for whatever media my favorite idols appear in through the internet, all I would need to do in Japan is turn on the television.

Such thoughts were even more punctuated when I came across this Japanese commercial for the XBox 360’s ‘Kinect’.

It’s a pretty funny commercial, parodying old ads from the 70’s and 80’s, complete with antiqued audio, questionable dubbing and a grainy-bleached aesthetic; but the casual inclusion of SKE48’s Matsui Jurina and Matsui Rena had me doing a double-take.  Was that really them?  In a ‘Kinect’ ad?  I bet the general public didn’t think much of it, but that’s what’s so funny; how the ordinary becomes extraordinary just because I live across the ocean.


Singing vs Dancing

September 13, 2010

I was watching Momoiro Clover perform at the Tokyo Idol Festival singing with live mics, and all I could think while watching was: Why?

Their physical routine proved to be a hindrance for the vocals they were trying to achieve, and the overall performance suffered for it.  What confused me even more was that they were singing WITH the voice-over track on, making solo lines sound like two people singing.

So what was the point?  If they can’t do it, make them lipsync; don’t compromise everything by meeting halfway.  Tone down the running around if you want them to showcase vocals, or let them lip-sync and focus on dancing.  I enjoyed the performance but it was plenty rough around the edges.

By the time they get to their final song, KoKo-Natsu, they’re completely cashed.  The vocals were barely there, riddled with gaps simply because they didn’t have any breath.  thankfully the voice-overs were there to fill those gaps and help keep the vocals in tune.  Still, it’s amazing that they were able to give out as much energy as they did and pull out a fun performance.

New things I realized from this event:

-I like Momoka Ariyasu’s(green) voice.

-Shiori Tamai(yellow) is prettier than I initially thought.

One thing that this show confirmed for me:


getting older is sometimes a good thing

September 6, 2010

in the show-biz where youth is romanticized, an idol who is in their late teens or twenties will inevitably be compared to her younger(and usually cuter) self.  but i would argue that the current akb girls never looked better; especially the original members from 2005-2007.

three examples:  watanabe mayu, itano tomomi, and shinoda mariko.


Toughest Job in The World

July 7, 2010

One of the toughest jobs has to be a Producer of an Idol Group. How some of these Producers get everyone to play nice is beyond me. Like any group or team, there is always ego involved.

In just the case of something like a sports team, there are superstars who want to get paid more. Maybe they want more of the spotlight. The don’t share the ball, take too many shots, always try to be the hero. Often times those situations fall apart and trades are made. Teams are restructured and new faces come forth.

In the world of JPop Idols, I’m not so sure that’s a possible course of action. We’ll never know the truth behind scandals, boyfriends, and graduations but it’s always that could be an explanation behind those occurences. But after covering those rare occasions, how else do these Idol groups get along?

If there’s one thing about the Idol industry I’m sure of, it’s all about appearance. Managing your image and maintaining a sort of prestige is of the utmost importance. It’s one of the cornerstones of Japanese Culture.

Luckily enough, women/females, are the most adept at this skill. While a man is straightforward and simple minded, women are extremely cryptic. A person could walk away from a conversation completely oblivious that this girl hates their guts. More so, women are also always at each others throats. Maybe it’s ingrained in their biology but they’re always in competition with each other. To put it simply, the better looking specimen gets the better mate.

So how does this all fit in to Idols? One Question. How do all these girl Idols get along? I find it hard to believe that even group like AKB48 is filled with all non-confrontational angel women. The realist in me won’t let me believe that. So then how does a group with so many girls who are put in a position to compete with each other over the hearts of millions of adoring fans go through daily activities with out a nuclear meltdown? It’s beyond me.

Maybe it’s the case of all the girls basically being slaves. It’s completely regulated through contracts and makes them subjugated human beings. Maybe they care so much about their careers that they’ll put everything else on hold. Or maybe the Producers have found a way to get them to hash out their differences. Like each week they sit down and have a session to hammer out the dents. Whatever it is, there’s no doubt that an Idol Producer is the modern day lion tamer. How he is able to get those lions to perform tricks with out being eaten, is nothing short of amazing.