Tuesday, October 30, 2018

SunRisa Disbands

In the past couple weeks I have been slowly realizing (thanks to the fact that I can't read Japanese) that one of my all-time favorite idol groups has now broken up.  Or "paused activities" as the translation I read put it.  SunRisa have stopped being active after a September 7, 2018 performance.  It was officially announced by Imamori Manaka on Twitter on October 9, 2018, by Kada Yume on Twitter the same day and on the SunRisa Twitter on October 11, 2018.  The SunRisa website and the second SunRisa YouTube channel have both been deleted.  Manaka is now modeling for a company named CONAMi.  Yume is also modeling as well as being a student.    

For those of you who need a refresher, I was the first to write about SunRisa in English on April 17, 2015.  The original group debuted on April 13, 2014 with five members: Kozai Sakura, Kumada Rena, Matsuo Fuka, Kawasaki Sakura and Shimada Mayuka.  Okamura Minami joined later in June 2014.  Imamori Manaka was originally a candidate (trainee), but joined as a full member on August 22, 2014.  (Many fans assume that Minami was an original member when she wasn't.)  By April 2015 everyone except Fuka, Mayuka, Manaka and Minami had graduated.  In early May Mayuka graduated, followed by Fuka's graduation two weeks later.  SunRisa, now a duo, re-recorded their first two singles, "OVER FLOW" and "Fashionable", making the very limited edition CDs with four members singing instant collector's items.  Of course, by October 2018 all of SunRisa's CD singles and mini-albums are presumably out-of-print.  Minami graduated on October 6, 2016 and later joined Hello! Project.  Kada Yume and another girl named Haruka joined SunRisa in February 2017 only to have Haruka leave by April.  Ever since April 2017 it's been Manaka and Yume, with this duo recording yet another version of "Fashionable" and releasing it on the same-titled mini-album on December 24, 2017.  Now it seems SunRisa have broken up after four-and-a-half years.

I've said a number of Japanese idol groups were my favorites throughout my time as a fan of this music.  Sakura Gakuin, Caramel☆Ribbon, NA-NA, Candy Kiss, PARLISH, amorecarina Osaka and SunRisa have all taken top spots as my favorite group.  My favorite idol has also changed over time, with Miyoshi Ayaka, Fukata Seina, Yamashita Honoka, Wada Yuka, Tsukamoto Ririka and, of course, Imamori Manaka all being personal favorites.  But when I say Manaka has the best voice in all Japanese pop music right now, you better believe I mean it!  If Manaka wants to take a break from performing as an idol, and wants to focus on modeling, that's fine.  But I seriously hope that someday Manaka will return to singing.  This girl has a beautiful voice!  Manaka's voice is one of the reasons why "OVER FLOW" was my favorite idol song of 2015; one of the reasons why "Z.E.N.R.Y.O.K.U. Zenkai ~Hisshi no Patchi~" was my second favorite idol song of 2016*; and one of the reasons why "GAO GAO" was my favorite idol song of 2017.  (*In 2016 I was most impressed with the song "Shooting star ☆" by amorecarina Osaka.) 

The original SunRisa YouTube channel, which thankfully hasn't been deleted yet, mostly has short clips of promos and dance covers, but there is also this wonderful video of Manaka singing a cappella.  

There are also several fan videos of SunRisa to watch, such as this favorite for "GAO GAO".  

I'm a big fan of Manaka's so maybe I'm getting upset over something that may not seem like a big deal to most people, even Japanese idol fans.  But really, I'm reacting like any real fan would react.  My favorite singer and yours may be different, but you'd probably say something similar if one of your favorite singers left the entertainment industry, or one of your favorite groups broke up.  Manaka to me is a real gem of a girl!  Talented, gorgeous and kind, she's what anyone would want in a girl.  I'll be awaiting your return, Manaka-chan!  

Sunday, October 28, 2018

An Idol Halloween

I'm back again with my first blog article in over a year!  This time I'm simply sharing some Japanese idol Halloween photos I found on Twitter and Facebook.  Enjoy!

Tomimoto Airu

Shimizu Rion of Culumi

Kitade Cocoa of MERUCHU

 Little Blossom

Happy Halloween everyone!  Thanks for visiting my blog!  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

More Good Idol Music - My 100th Article!

Yes, it's true.  This is my 100th blog article for "This Is Your Wake Up Call!", the blog that discusses Japanese idols that few, if any, other blogs will write about!

The first thing I want to do is update what I wrote about a couple days ago.  The Japanese news article I linked about Menkoi girls (I guess the second word is lower case) didn't specify which festival they were performing at.  I did a search and it seems it is the Aki Matsuri Japanese Festival.  Now I'm not 100% sure, though.  If it's a different festival I will give an update in a future article.

Also, when I did some research for my article about the group NA-NA reuniting, I didn't research enough.  It seems that since January 2017 Honda Touko of NA-NA has been singing in another idol group.  This group is Colorful Scream, and they have an official video for the song "Sing Bird".
Colorful Scream also have some live videos in which the live sound has been replaced with the studio recording of the song!  I don't know why they did that, though.  Touko's fans should give this one a listen as she seems to be the leader of the group!  That's great!

Another idol group that may have slipped by unnoticed is Dream Catcher.  Dream Catcher's website was created on March 31, 2017, and a radio show with the group debuted on April 24.  But Dream Catcher's live debut was on April 29, 2017.  There are five girls in the group and they sing some pretty cute songs.  My favorite is the first, "Yami Miyagi".  I hope you'll like them!  By the way, please don't get Dream Catcher the Japanese idol group confused with a Korean group that has the same name.  

PARLISH are back too, but with a new lineup.  For the August 3, 2017 performance two members, Deki Hikaru and Tanaka Amo, could not appear.  However, four new members made their debut! The names that I have are Karen, Nanami, Morigami Aiko and Yamamoto Rin.  Aiko was previously a dancer for SunRisa in 2014 and 2015.  I had no idea she had her eye on a PARLISH membership!  I have always liked Aiko so I approve of this!  Here is my favorite song from the group, "Jump". 

Finally I want to share a video for a cute group that's existed for a few years, Twinkle.  A couple years ago, at least, they were Twinkle Angel and there were more members of the group.  Now Twinkle are a trio of girls named Saki, Sakura and Misaki.  This is actually a song they did a video for two years ago, which was sort of a dance practice version.  I think the title is "Twinkle Jungle".  


I hope you all enjoyed these songs!  I do my best to discover some of the best new Japanese idol music and news for those who are looking for groups and music that might normally be overlooked. Thanks again for reading my blog!  All of my readers are terrific!  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Menkoi Girls Are Coming To America!

Menkoi Girls have announced an appearance in the United States in October 2017 in Henderson, Nevada at the Autumn Festival, near Las Vegas!  I discovered this information some time before the announcement last week, but forgot to write about it in my blog.  I was reminded last night while watching Menkoi Girls on SHOWROOM Live.  I said "Hello" to four of the members last night and caught their attention.  Yuki, the leader of Menkoi Girls, was nice enough to speak a little English to me and told me that they were in coming to America in October.  I really wish I was going, but I have constant pain now and standing and walking hurts too much.  But if you live near Henderson, Nevada or can travel to there in October you might wish to see them.  Tell them that read about it in my blog!  Check out the Menkoi Girls Twitter for updates.

Here is a recent video from the subunit MG-Pen Pen (actually Pen squared).  This is the first time that I've noticed that they didn't add special effects.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

NA-NA Is Back!

Just as I was about to go to bed last night I decided to check Twitter one more time.  I'm glad I did. I discovered the best news I have heard as an idol fan in some months.  ESSE Academy's NA-NA is coming back!  It's only for two performances on August 27, 2017 but this is better than nothing!  I guess schedules for all four girls cleared up for the time and they felt the time was right.  I certainly feel the time was right.  With all the break-ups and graduations in the idol scene, depressing news, mediocre new groups, and more of the same stuff from groups that have existed for years, it's about time there was something happy happening.  I have to admit the new hair styles (mostly Kimura Karin dying her hair) surprised me, but I still recognize them as NA-NA. You can see all of NA-NA's tweets on their official Twitter with all the info you may need if you are lucky enough to be in Japan.      

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tokyo Girls a.k.a. Tokyo Idols BBC Edit

Last month I wrote about the new documentary film TOKYO IDOLS which is currently playing film festivals.  I hadn't seen the film then so I could only comment on the trailer and the interviews with director Kiyoko Miyake.  Thanks to someone in a Facebook group I've joined I have seen the 59 minute edit shown on BBC 4, a U.K. TV station.  The version I watched late last night was only in 360p quality and has now been removed.  It seems there is also a 720p HD version also on YouTube and I will watch this as soon as I can.  I will link the video but I cannot guarantee that it will stay on YouTube.  I'm also going to be linking a fan comment on this edit of the movie that perhaps you'll want to watch first.  Apparently there has been some mistranslation of what the Japanese people in the film are saying.  

The first video I'm going to link is Amina du Jean's comment on the BBC edit.  This young African-American woman is living in Japan working as an idol herself!  She seems knowledgeable on the subject of idols and speaks Japanese.  Her video includes photos, some of which aren't used in the documentary.  Amina discusses what she does and doesn't like about the film and what it overlooked, in her opinion.  She doesn't believe (and neither do I) that the Japanese idol scene is represented as fairly and as in depth as it needed to be.  The documentary basically shows the surface of the idol scene and ignores some of the important parts, such as the female aspect of the idol fans.  Also, most of the fans shown in the film are over 30, some over 40 years old.  I've talked with young women (even Amina, although not recently) both on the internet and in person at Idol Matsuri in Silverdale, Washington back in 2014, and I know for a fact that women like this music.  People who are single, married or in some kind of relationship are fans of Japanese idol music.  People in all countries, of different sexual preferences, and from different cultural backgrounds love this music.  Yet, only a few male adult fans are shown in the film.  Amina claims in her video that the amorecarina fan has what he says mistranslated.  The person who made the subtitles for TOKYO IDOLS apparently wrote his comment in a way that implies sexual implication when there isn't.  That's not to say there aren't fans who think of sexual feelings when listening to this music, but that isn't always the case.  

The social commentators interviewed in this film are apparently opposed to all of this music, and
only some of the parents of these girls have something positive to say.  Another thing missing (in my opinion) are interviews with the people behind the scenes.  While some of these people who work at the companies who created the idol groups have the best interests in the idols, there are also a lot of slimy employees that take advantage of the girls.  I've heard rumors that some of the staff members actually coerce a date these teenage girls, while forbidding them to have a boyfriend their own age.  The "punishments" an idol endures whenever she breaks a rule are atrocious!  How these staff members get away with their behavior is a mystery that needs solved.  Now this is a 59 minute version of the movie and not the complete film.  It is possible that some of the comments in favor of this music were edited out of this version.  It's also possible that certain content was unsuitable for British TV.  Unless you have seen the full movie, it's hard to tell if the director, film editor and subtitle creator were truly trying to create a film that is totally biased against this music.  It does appear that way, though. 

I'm going to add some comments which I included on YouTube as a response to Amina's video, with some corrections.   

What bothers me as a fan of the idols whose parents were interviewed is the full names of the girls weren't used and some spellings were incorrect.  I was the first to write about amorecarina in English in my blog This Is Your Wake Up Call!  I have always thought the name of this group was one word spelled with all lower case letters.  And Oda Yuzuha is the full name of the member profiled.  The footage of amorecarina here was filmed in early 2015 and Yuzuha has now left the group.  So have several other girls briefly glimpsed in the clips.  Yuzuha said she wanted amorecarina to perform on a stage like Budokan.  She left the group possibly in 2016, but I was off the internet at the time, so I don't know exactly when.  She was a part of the offshoot group EDMKISS until May 3, 2016.  I'm sorry Yuzuha didn't achieve her dream.  She wasn't my favorite member, but I did like her.  I have the "Monster High" single amorecarina released, and I love it!  

The full name of Amu is Kayama Amu.  Harajuku Monogatari is an offshoot of Millennium Girls.  Note the Millennium Dance Complex shirt worn by a fan in the movie.  Again, Amu wasn't my absolute favorite, but I certainly did notice her in videos.  She was part of the six members of Millennium Girls who sang "Noisy Girl", the only single by Millennium Girls released outside of venues, which I have.  Too bad the single only has one song and an instrumental.  At least the amorecarina single has three songs and three instrumentals.  Both are worth tracking down if you haven't already added them to your collection.  

I'm not familiar with P.IDL so I won't comment on them.  I was not aware of Hiigari Rio prior to this movie.  After reading the subtitled lyrics to "Worship Me" and "Banzai! Banzai!" I am afraid I have been put off by this young woman and the writer / producer responsible for this single.  The song makes me want to do the opposite of worshipping her.  I want to avoid Rio and Hyadain (the songwriter and producer) like the plague!  Rio seemed sincere in the movie and I was starting to sympathize with her, then she makes me vomit as I see her strings being pulled by the puppet master producer.  For having gone along with the recording of this single I have now less than zero respect for her.  

My comments might seem a little harsh in regards to Rio, but this is how I felt after watching the finals few minutes of the movie.  Unfortunately there are a lot of idols who follow down the same path, letting their careers be pulled in whatever direction that the producer wants.  Perhaps this is what Rio and other idols want (and maybe the fans too), but a lot of this songwriting and attitude gets a bit much after a while.  This music is meant to be fun, not egomaniacal and self-important.   

Here is the short version of the documentary.  I hope it stays on YouTube long enough for everyone to watch.  

As always, thank you for reading my blog.  I hope you have a great day.        

Monday, July 24, 2017

New Idol Music I'm Listening To

As I mentioned last month it is hard for me to really dislike music, even though the greatest music groups are now gone and some of the best singers have now left us.  But without music life is very meaningless.  So I decided it was time to share some of the videos for recent idol groups I am interested in.  I won't go into a lot of details, but I feel these groups are among the better indie idols still performing this type of music.  I hope you'll give all of these idols some of your time.

A company by the name of D.O.G. Productions have created a bunch of idol groups under an umbrella name of GIF39s (Gifu Thanks).  My personal favorite is Showa ☆ Tokimeki Gumi.  The group debuted on March 25, 2017 and have a 1980s sound.  The names of the members are Hinata Jyuri, Nakamura Amane and Mio (I don't know her family name).  The second song in this video, "Dancing Hero", is my personal favorite.  I want to thank my friend Tyler Draper for helping me out with researching info and talking with me as I learned about this group.

Menkoi Girls are an idol group that sometimes includes calligraphy in their performances.  The group formed on September 25, 2011 and are based in Tatebayashi City.  The group currently has 14 members, although there were 15 until March of this year.  Hazuki (the group only uses given names) graduated on March 19, 2017 in order to become a teacher.  The oldest member now is Yuki, who is 22.  Menkoi Girls also have three subunits, Menkoi Girls Salad, MG-Wing and MG-Pen Pen (actually Pen squared).  There are so many good songs and performances it's really hard to choose just one video for this group.  I should mention that all of the official videos I've seen have top-notch special effects.

RIOT BABY is a Tokyo-based group that formed in October 2016 by Planet Earth, Inc.  The group consists of young idols who were previously in idol groups formed by Love Mark Stage / Production-I.  They go by their given names only, but I can give you their full names!  Nakahara Aina is a former member of both RABBIT KICK and Campus.  Sisters Sakura Rin and Kae were both in Onigokko.  RIOT BABY released an E.P. on April 12, 2017 named "By My Side", which is also the name of the single.  It seems to be aimed at the skater rock crowd.  Aina even wears a Suicidal Tendencies hat in the video.  If you are looking for some fun rock music, look no further!  


A 13-year-old who only goes by Yuuna these days (her full name is Higaki Yuuna) made her original song debut in January 2017 after a few years of performing covers in groups such as Jewelry☆doll and YU-NA with Luxury dolls.  Not only is this Osaka girl a real cutie, but she sings and plays the guitar.  Her debut single (which may be a venue-only sale item) is "Happy girl!!"  This song is pretty rockin' and I give it my highest recommendation.  If you like it then subscribe to her official YouTube channel and listen to her other performances.  She's pretty awesome!  

Well, I hope everyone likes these videos.  Comments are always welcome.  Thanks everyone for reading and have a great day!