Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Candy Kiss's Sweet "Parfait"!

This is the most original and innovative Japanese idol album of the past few years!  Do I have your attention now?

Here is something unique: a Japanese idol album that actually offers originality in at least two ways.  The first way is that none of the songs on the album have been previously released, either on a CD or as a digital download.  Although a few of the songs have been performed live sometime during the 20 months prior to the album’s release, none of these songs have been available in a studio version until now.  Furthermore, there aren’t any plans to release these songs on a single. The second way this album is original is the format in which the album is set up.   The whole album is made to sound like a Japanese radio broadcast.  It starts off with intro music and then a voice that speaks “FM Candy Kiss…Parfait”.  This is followed by the three members of Candy Kiss, Fukushima Kotoko, Yoshizawa Ruri and Oguchi Ryoka, introducing themselves while the sounds of soft guitar playing and waves hitting the beach are heard in the background.   There is a real summery feel to these “interludes”, as they are labeled on the CD packaging.  The girls talk a bit about the next three songs you are about to hear, mentioning the titles as well.  The next three tracks, of course, are the songs.  Then another “interlude” follows, with the girls continuing their talk, promoting their new album “Parfait”!  Introductions for the next three songs are included, followed by those songs.  This format is repeated a third time.  Finally, the thirteenth track is a wrap up, with the girls thanking the listener.  Outro music is heard with “FM Candy Kiss…Parfait” included, this time being sung rather than spoken.  The music fades and the album is over.

As for the songs themselves, they are all excellent!  The newer Candy Kiss material is more mature than past songs, and the group also has a more mature image now as well.  Highlights for me include track 4, “Hot Summer”, which is primarily sung in English.  Track 7, “Open Arms”, was originally performed live on November 23, 2013, and I had to wait for 20 months for this song to finally make its CD debut!  Interestingly enough, this studio version is 68 seconds longer and somewhat differently mixed.  I think I actually cried when I heard the studio version for the first time.  Track 8, “First Love”, is a sweet love song that was originally performed live by Shimoda Kaede and Yoshizawa Ruri on March 2, 2014.  The studio version is sung by Ruri with Fukushima Kotoko.  Track 10, “Bara no Maho”, is a beautiful flamenco song, something that Candy Kiss has never attempted before.  Tracks 11 and 12, “Kanashimi no Burning Love” and “ to Ai Shita Hito”, both have haunting instrumental openings that actually gave me goose bumps when I first heard them!  I could tell right away that these would be good songs, and they are.    

I’m not sure how unique it is to release a Japanese idol album that contains all new music.  I’m also not sure how rare it is to release an album with no singles or music videos in sight.  (At least on YouTube.  The DVD included with the album does have a music video, for the song “to Ai Shita Hito”, at the end.)  But I’d say it’s very rare, as most groups would not consider doing something like this.  Setting up an album like a radio broadcast also seems pretty unusual for an idol group. Therefore Candy Kiss gets points for trying something rare, or perhaps completely new.  Not many groups would throw caution to the wind and dare to be this different.  Candy Kiss have also made a progression since their first single, the ultra cutesy “Koisuru Candy Kiss”, released over three years ago.  “Parfait” features songs that are much more mature sounding than any other Candy Kiss song of the past.  This is not to say I dislike the older Candy Kiss songs.   Actually, I love them! However, it is nice to see a group progress rather than stay the same for their entire career.  In another unusual move, the credits on the CD packaging, and also the end credits of the DVD, have a special thank you to former members Sakurai Maya and Shimoda Kaede.  It’s pretty rare for an idol company to thank the graduated members of the group in the CD credits.  These are among the reasons why I have lots of respect for Candy Kiss.

Most pop and rock music groups release mere albums.  “Parfait” by Candy Kiss is an unforgettable life-changing experience!  “Parfait” is an genuine album, one that requires your rapt attention from start to finish.  This is not an album that you can listen to as background music, because not focusing on the songs will cause you to miss something good.  The music is excellent, with nine well-written and produced pop songs, and four interludes that tie the album’s concept together nicely.  “Parfait” is not a “concept album” under the generally accepted sense, but the “radio show” format is definitely unique.  While the album is somewhat short (38:45 in length, due to the shortness of some songs), it is something that keeps the listener entertained throughout and holds up to repeat listens.  This is not only the best Japanese idol pop music album of 2015, it is one of the best albums of any genre of music in the world!  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Airu's Fundraiser Is Live!

Tomimoto Airu's Idol Matsuri fundraiser is now at Indiegogo rather than Kickstarter, and it is now live!  For the next 31 days you have the opportunity to help bring this talented young girl to Idol Matsuri for her first performance in the U.S.  All the details are here.  There's some great perks such as digital photos, an autographed cheki (a small instant photo, for the unintiated), an mp3 and even a personalized video message thanking you for bringing her to the U.S.!  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Idol Matsuri Is Bringing Soloist Tomimoto Airu To The U.S.!

There’s exciting news for U.S. fans of Japanese idols as Idol Matsuri, the first Japanese idol convention in the United States, has just announced that their second Japanese guest for 2015 is Tomimoto Airu!

Tomimoto Airu (富本愛琉) is a young soloist who performs many Japanese idol cover songs.  She sometimes works with other indie idols for certain appearances, but primarily works alone.  Airu was born on February 11, 2005 in Hokkaido, Japan.  Her hobbies include singing, dancing, playing the Japanese drums and violin, and ballet.  Airu is signed with Actors Studio Hokkaido, STARGATE School.  She is a children’s fashion model and appeared in the magazine SHO-BOH #29, as well as on the accompanying “making of” DVD.   Airu’s favorite idols include Suzuki Airi of C-ute and the group Prizmmy☆ .

Here is Airu's intro video for Idol Matsuri.  Please turn on the closed captions for English subtitles.

In order for Airu to come to the U.S. she will need your help!  A Kickstarter fundraiser is coming
soon and has some exciting rewards for those who donate.   

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Worst Type Of Idol Fans

I need to talk about something that has been in my mind for several months now.  It's been bugging me a lot lately, and I need to get this off my chest.  I've come across certain people who claim to fans of Japanese idols that seem to be very close-minded.  These people are what I refer to as "elitist mainstream idol fans".

Elitist mainstream idol fans are those who only listen to mainstream groups and nothing but these groups.  They are the ones you'll find that say "I only listen to Hello! Project groups" or "I only listen to the *48 family groups."  Some of these fans may also listen to other mainstream groups such as Momoiro Clover Z or BABYMETAL, but they are ignoring many indie and underground idol groups. Now it might be because they haven't heard of some of these indie and underground groups, or it might be because they have an extremely bad attitude and just plain won't acknowledge them. These fans are some of the most close-minded people who are listening to music.  But it gets even worse sometimes.  I have read comments along the lines of "I wish this girl would leave her current group and join Hello! Project."  Now that is the most horrible type of comment an idol fan can make!  Don't understand why?  Let me explain.

If you say you like a certain idol singer in a indie or underground group, and you really want them to leave this group, then you are wishing this group would not be successful and possibly break up. If you actually got your wish and your favorite singer in an indie group left to join Hello! Project or the *48 family, then the group she was originally in will have a steep decline in popularity and this will anger many of the fans of the group.  They will resent the girl who left and caused this decline in popularity.  If the group breaks up because the most popular girl left, this will cause even more anger in some fans.  Even if some fans follow her to the H!P or *48 group she ends up in, they still might wish she would return to her original group so things will go back to the way they were before she left.

If you really love an indie or underground singer or group, please show it by supporting this singer or group.  Purchase their compact discs or other merchandise, if possible, and tell people how much you love the singer or group and why.  Be a proud fan and tell your friends about this non-mainstream idol you love and share their YouTube videos (or videos on other websites).  Spread the good word about these idols instead of wishing that the most popular member would leave the group to join a mainstream company.  Being an elitist, close-minded and mean-spirited mainstream fan just isn't very smart.            

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Candy Zoo Welcomes A New Member!

Indie idols Candy Zoo officially welcomed new member Katayama Yuara to the group on May 17, 2015, which was one day before their second anniversary.  Yuara actually made an appearance on stage on April 25 for the joint birthday celebration for Candy Zoo members Yamamoto Himiko (who turned 13 on April 19) and Nishisato Rina (who also became 13, but on April 28).  However, she did not perform with the group that day.  Yuara wrote in the Candy Zoo blog for the first time on May 18.  A photo posted on Twitter shows the current lineup of the group.  Yuara is the Green Meerkat of Candy Zoo.    

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sakura Gakuin 2015 President And New Members Announcement!

The announcement of the new Student Council President of Sakura Gakuin and the new members of the group appeared on the Oricon Style website earlier today.  Sakura Gakuin are back to twelve members again!  What makes me even more excited is Isono Rinon is the new President of Sakura Gakuin!  I have been a big fan and supporter of Rinon since she joined Sakura Gakuin, and with the addition of six new members bringing Sakura Gakuin back to form, this could be a very exciting year for the group.

Below are the names of the new members.  Click on a name to go to her official Amuse profile.

Kurosawa Mirena - Born on May 22, 2001 in Tokyo.
Okazaki Momoko - Born on March 3, 2003 in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Aso Maaya - Born on November 4, 2003 in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Hidaka Marin - Born on December 1, 2003 in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Yoshida Soyaka - Born on June 14, 2004 in Osaka.
Fujihara Kano - Born on August 28, 2004 in Chiba Prefecture.

Sakura Gakuin graduated member (and my all-time favorite) Miyoshi Ayaka paid a visit to her former alma mater and shared this awesome photo taken with the new girls on her Instagram.

Although I'm late in reporting this, in other Sakura Gakuin member news, Sugimoto Mariri started a new blog on April 1, 2015.    

Congratulations to Rinon for being selected the fifth Student Coucil President Of Sakura Gakuin, and best wishes to all the new members!  

Friday, April 17, 2015

SunRisa - Overflowing With Talent!

SunRisa is a four member Kansai-based idol group created by SPROUT Entertainment and Dream Girls fashion magazine.  The group debuted on April 13, 2014 with five members.  The name of the group is a play on the Spanish word "sonrisa" which means "smile". While I am not sure about this, I believe the two oldest former members, Kozai Sakura and Kumada Rena were brought in to help the younger members to learn how to dance.  They seem to be working primarily as teen fashion models now.  Imamori Manaka was originally a candidate and then promoted a full member on August 22, 2014.    

When SunRisa performed at an event known as Fanfare on April 4, 2015, the group released two singles.  Live performances of these singles with both former and current members (some of them fan videos) have been on YouTube for a while now.  Today SunRisa released their first studio video for the song "OVER FLOW".  This is the song that caught my attention a few months ago and it sounds pretty good with the current lineup.  I do miss Sakura and Rena, but I am very supportive of all the members!


"Fashionable" (live) 

All links go to their official SPROUT Entertainment profiles. 

Current Members: 
Matsuo Fuka - Born on June 24, 2001; 144 cm  
Shimada Mayuka - Born on September 30, 2002; 146 cm 
Imamori Manaka - Born on July 1, 2003; 140 cm  
Okamura Minami - Born on October 20, 2004; 135 cm 

Morigami Aiko - Born on August 9, 2003; 135 cm  
Hiura Nao - Born on October 15, 2003; 134 cm 
Maia - Born on January 30, 2005  

Former Members: 
Kozai Sakura - Born on April 24, 1999; 155 cm  
Kumada Rena - Born on May 24, 2000; 150 cm  
Kawasaki Sakura 

Fuka's Twitter (Protected) 


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Si☆Stella's First DVD!

Si☆Stella are releasing their first DVD on May 3, 2015.  Fans of these cute young idols will certainly want to get a copy.  

You might also want to pick up "Japan Idol File 2", which features the CD debut of the song "St. Bonapro School" by the group of the same name.  Si☆Stella, of course, are the reorganized version of St. Bonapro School with four former members of that group.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Candy Kiss Release Their Debut Album!

Yesterday on April 12, 2015 Candy Kiss members Sakurai Maya (the leader of the group) and Shimoda Kaede graduated.  The report of this event along with several photos can be found in the last article of Candy Kiss's blog.  No, this does mean the group is breaking up.  It simply means that the group is starting their next chapter as a trio with an all-new blog!  The Candy Kiss Facebook page changed their header and profile photo to reflect the current lineup.  If this isn't enough, just 40 minutes ago from the time I am typing this now the Candy Kiss YouTube channel uploaded a new promo video for their upcoming first album, titled "Parfait"!

According to the info in the description for the video, the album will have thirteen tracks, none of which have been released before!  Even if you have the four singles they have already released you will still be getting an album of all-new songs.  Yes, these include all the songs that Candy Kiss have been performing live for over a year now.  Four tracks are labeled "Interlude-1" to "Interlude-4", and I'm not sure what these might be.  The album will be released on July 29, 2015, so save up your money and be sure to support these girls!  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Even More Bad News

It seems like my blog is nothing but a compilation of reports on idol graduations lately.  What's worse is I have discovered something that has really angered me too, which I'll also discuss.

I completely overlooked in my previous articles on Japanese idol graduations the fact that the entire Smile Gakuen project has been disbanded.  I heard back on February 22, 2015 that the four current (and remaining) Smile Gakuen members would graduate.  There was the question of whether or not the "Tryout Members" would form a new Smile Gakuen, but as it turned out, they were also graduated by the management.  This was confirmed on the Smile Gakuen Facebook Page on March 23.

I first took an interest in this group last year when I went to Idol Matsuri in Silverdale, Washington. My friend Chibineko was selling some CDs he didn't want, including a couple by Smile Gakuen.   Eventually he decided to give away for free a few of them and I picked up the first two Smile Gakuen singles from 2011.  Since then I was trying to catch up with the group, only to discover that there were many lineup changes and subunits formed.  Of all the songs I heard from this group, the subunit Smile Kiss Gumi had the best song.


Peekaboo is one of those idol groups really off most fans' radar, although I listed their song "Kosoku Ihan" as one of my favorite idol songs of 2014.  March 31, 2015 was the graduation concert for two members, the single-named Momoka and Kikuchi Reina.  Here is the official video for the retro-rock "Kosoku Ihan". 


Today I learned of the sad news of three graduations from the group Sakuran Bom Bom, alerted to me by Chibineko.  Miu, Rio and Kii will all graduate on April 26, 2015.  I have been a fan of Sakuran Bom Bom since around January 2014 and I was the first to bring them to the attention of many idol fans outside of Japan.  I have always liked these three girls, and I consider Kii to be one of the best singers in the group.  All three will be sorely missed.  

When I became a fan of Sakuran Bom Bom there were nine members.  Ami, who went "on hiatus" last year to study to be a voice actress, still has not returned.  At this point I doubt she will.  I guess what makes this tough for me personally is that the group will be reduced to four members from now on.  Here is a video edited by Chibineko for the song "Bom Bom World☆".          

Finally, I would like to get something off my chest regarding idol blogging and article writing for idol websites.  I have discovered three examples in a little more than a week of fan-created idol websites, blogs and Facebook pages that have copied and pasted various things I written in my blog.  Actually, this is not the first time I have discovered such examples of plagiarism.  I have been plagiarized for at least four years now by a variety of people, including former friends.  I know I am not the only idol blogger being plagiarized either, because I came across a foreign website that had six of my articles copied and pasted on it as well as several articles about idols written in a variety of other languages!  (I tried to find the website again, but I can't for some reason.  It's possible it's been deleted since I made a complaint against it.)  Now all of the Facebook pages and groups that have copied and pasted what I wrote in the past few years aren't any more "official" than my blog, but if you are going to use information taken from my blogs (I have two currently on the internet), my website Sensational Idols or my Facebook page Young Idol Singers, how about giving me some credit?  I think those people who are doing this are very young and naive and probably don't have a clue what the word "plagiarize" means.  Perhaps some of them are foreigners who have English as a second language and can't write very well in English.  This still does not give you the right to copy and paste me or anyone else.  Real writing involves coming up with your own words and ideas.  If you do not have the intelligence or skills to do this, please stop pretending you are a writer right now.  Apologize to those whose hard work you stole and then delete your website, blog or Facebook page or group.  If you feel the need to say something there are always forums, other people's Facebook groups and YouTube videos that offer places for your comments.  Something tells me, though, that none of the people who are plagiarizing me or other legitimate writers will ever confess that they have done anything wrong.  I have never gotten a sincere apology from anyone who copied my words.         


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

More Graduations...And A Return!

I guess I should get used to all these graduation announcements as they seem to happen every other day.  So I'll just take it like a man and move on, keeping my support for these groups despite the changes.

Two members of the group Hypericum will graduate this month, as reported in the Noir Kids blog. Ando Chiami will be graduating in order to focus on her modeling career.  Tanaka Ayano will be leaving in order to focus on her high school life.  Hypericum is an idol group created in 2013 by Office Noir Modeling and Management, the same company that gave us SpringBell feat. MIKA.  I have always wanted to write about them in my blog, but couldn't find the time or some important news to discuss.  Hypericum have one venue-only single to date and no official music videos.   There are currently seventeen members and two trainees in the group, although this will change after the graduation event.  Tonogawa Haruka, formerly a member of SpringBell, is a member of Hypericum.

                 Ando Chiami                                                        Tanaka Ayano 

Two members of amorecarina have already graduated on March 31, 2015.  Mouri Aimi left in order to focus on high school.  Abe Sara left amorecarina, but will stay with Good Choice Entertainment as an actress and model.  

                   Mouri Aimi                                                                      Abe Sara 

And for those of you who have not heard yet, Kimura Karin has returned to NA-NA!  Karin has completed her high school exams and can now focus on both being a student and an idol.  Which is fantastic news for this NA-NA fan!  


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Idol Matsuri Announces Time And Location

It turned out there were two more surprise graduation announcements since the last time I wrote in my blog.  Including the four members of Sakura Gakuin who are graduating at the end of the month (which I knew about well in advance), that makes a total of nine girls from various idol groups that I am personally following are leaving the idol world sometime between now and May 2, 2015.  But instead of writing more articles that make me depressed to even write them, I decided to wait to write in my blog again until I had some good news.  Thankfully, today I have some.

Idol Matsuri, America's first convention dedicated to Japanese idols, has confirmed an official time and location for 2015.  From August 14 to 16, 2015 Idol Matsuri will be held at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington, which is located in Seattle.  I don't know anything about the venue itself, so I won't pretend to.  However, you can check out the official website for yourself.   

Monday, March 9, 2015

Another Candy Kiss Graduation

For the past three days I have been very depressed.  I feel as if someone shot three bullets directly into my heart.  I also feel as if what I am doing as an idol blogger might be pointless.  Being the first person to write about certain Japanese idols, or to share some kind of news about them, doesn't seem to have much of a point if very few people care about the idols I'm writing about.

Sakurai Maya, the leader of Candy Kiss, has announced her graduation from the group.  This news comes two days after the second oldest member, Shimoda Kaede, announced that she will graduate in April.  Apparently Maya wants to focus on her dancing, and Candy Kiss is a secondary concern to her.  The producers of Candy Kiss have known about this for a long time.  She mentioned something on her blog about a "summer album", but I am not sure if this is a reference to the unreleased CD that was supposed to come out in 2014.  In any case, she will have her graduation event in April, presumably with Kaede.  This will make Candy Kiss a trio after April, with remaining members Oguchi Ryoka, Yoshizawa Ruri and Fukushima Kotoko.

I have been a Candy Kiss fan since around July 2012.  Their first single, "Koisuru Candy Kiss", caught my attention in a good way.  It was a very cute song, and I loved all the girls in the video.  I placed an order for the single and played the CD several times once it arrived.  I eventually bought all four Candy Kiss singles, and I have enjoyed each one.  I was a bit disappointed when Kasahara Mahochi (the almost forgotten original member of Candy Kiss who wore the green dress) left the group in 2012.  When Yamashita Honoka left the group in early 2014, this was an even bigger blow.  Honoka was my favorite member, and she sang lead on all the Candy Kiss songs up to then.  I wasn't too happy that there were remixes and alternate versions of Candy Kiss songs on their third and fourth singles, as I wanted to hear the studio versions of songs such as "Open Arms" and "First Love" instead.  Candy Kiss have also performed the songs "Bara no Maho ~Takan'na Kisetsu~" and "Chotto Dake" live.  So far these songs have not been released on CD. While I think Candy Kiss is a really interesting and fun idol group, they have not enjoyed the success that other local and indie idol groups have.  With so many graduations and unreleased songs it's possible they will never achieve the success I feel they deserve.  It's possible that Candy Kiss does not have the kind of promotion they need or the type of songs idol fans are craving.  I still believe Candy Kiss are better than what some people give them credit for, and as long as they are around I will give them my support.              

I sure hope the next time I write in my blog it will be some sort of good news.  I seriously don't think I can handle another surprise graduation announcement.      

Runa To Graduate From Prism☆Mates And Prism☆Box

Runa, a member of Prizmmy☆'s sister groups Prism☆Mates and Prism☆Box, will graduate from both groups on May 2, 2015, after the current Prism☆Box Live Tour VIRTUAL×REAL.  This was announced on both the Prizmmy☆ Official Website and the Prism☆Mates blog.  Runa has been a member of Prism☆Mates since 2012 and sang on the song "Glory Days" along with Prism☆Mates leader Hina.  She has also been in Prism☆Box since the group formed in 2013, and has sung on all three singles.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Shimoda Kaede To Graduate From Candy Kiss

Shimoda Kaede has written on her blog that she will be graduating from Candy Kiss in April 2015.   Exact details were not given as to why, but she thanked the fans for all of their support for the past two-and-a-half years.  (Candy Kiss formed in February 2012 so it's actually been three years.)   This comes as a real blow to fans of the group as Kaede was one of their more important singers, especially since the departure of Yamashita Honoka in early 2014.  Kaede took over some of Honoka's vocals, along with Candy Kiss's leader Sakurai Maya and member Oguchi Ryoka.  How this will impact Candy Kiss's future is unknown at this point. 

Candy Kiss have performed several original songs live with both Kaede and Honoka that have not been released on compact disc yet.  A video on Vimeo tells of an unreleased album that was due in Autumn 2014.       

Friday, March 6, 2015

Sakura Gakuin "Kimi ni Todoke" CD Covers And Track Listing

The Sakura Gakuin Official Website now has the CD covers for their newest album in News section.  The covers are small, but it's all there is for now.  The track listing is below the covers.   The "Sa" and "Ku" versions feature a DVD; the "Ra" version has a Blu-ray.  Each DVD and Blu-ray have music videos and other content exclusive to that disc.

Regular Edition

"Sa" Edition

"Ku" Edition

"Ra" Edition

01. "Mezase! Superlady -2014-" 
02. "Anima Rhythm"  
03. "Heart no Hoshi"  
04. "Spin in the Wind" - Wrestling Club
05. "Tenshi to Akuma" [Remake] - Twinklestars  
06. "Hirari! Kirakira ☆ Yamiyami Museum" - Minipati 
07. "Piece de Check!" - Purchasing Club 
08. "Takaramono" - Kikuchi Moa, Mizuno Yui, Taguchi Hana and Notsu Yunano 
09. "Gokigen Mr. Toropikalory" 
10. "Aogeba Totoshi" ~from Sakura Gakuin 2014~ 
11. "Sayonara Namida" 
12. "Kimi ni Todoke" 

I'm not sure why we need remakes of both "Mezase! Superlady" (even if it's a version with the newer members) and the old Twinklestars song "Tenshi to Akuma".  On another note, "Takaramono" is also the name of a song by Michinoku Sendai ORI☆HIMETAI, so I hope this is a different song. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sakura Gakuin's Close Encounters!

The preview for the new Sakura Gakuin DVD single, "Aogeba Totoshi", was uploaded two days ago.  In the video the members of Sakura Gakuin appear to have some close encounters with an alien resembling an Ewok from the movie Return of the Jedi, a mecha of some sort and a Japanese rock band in top hats.  In case you missed it, here it is!

Here are the two different DVD covers, each with a different "making of" segment.  

Former Sakura Gakuin member Miyoshi Ayaka is on the cover of the recent issue of "Seventeen" (Japanese version).  Ayaka appears in every issue, but this is her second solo cover.  The first was the September 2014 issue.

And if Japanese fashion magazines for teens interest you, another former Sakura Gakuin member, Sugimoto Mariri, also appears monthly in "Pichi Lemon" magazine.  

Sugimoto Mariri

If Sakura Gakuin and all of its members past and present interest you, make sure you pick up copies of all of these like I am!  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Idol Matsuri 2015

Last year I attended my very first idol event, Idol Matsuri, in Silverdale, Washington.  Despite having never flown on a plane before and being very nervous most of the time, I managed to fly to Washington and back to my home state without any major problems.  I got to see in person Aither, a group featuring one of my all-time favorite idols, Konno Yuuka, as well as RYUTist, plus Western guests such as SHEawase, AllySally and Beri! New Day.  I bought some merchandise for the idols I saw, had some cheki / photos of me taken with the idols and came home with some unforgettable memories.  Those who missed it missed something truly special!  But there is some good news for Japanese idol fans living in the U.S. that you will want to know.  Idol Matsuri 2015 is getting under way!

Right now Idol Matsuri is looking for a good venue in Seattle.  It'll be more convenient than Silverdale.  But in order to get this decent venue donations are needed.  That is where you, the idol fan, comes in.  Once the venue is secured then Bethany Walker, President of Idol Matsuri, can start negotiations to bring Japanese guests to the convention.  Right now no guests are confirmed, but this will change in a matter of weeks.  If seeing Japanese idols perform live in the United States, perhaps every year from now on, interests you, then this is something you will want to be a part of.  Here are all the links you will need.

Idol Matsuri Kickstarter Campaign
Idol Matsuri Facebook Group
Idol Matsuri Facebook Page  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Three amorecarina Graduations

I was informed by a friend a few hours ago that three girls in the group amorecarina graduated on January 31.  It slipped by my attention until now.  The members who graduated are Tozawa Airi, Yamabe Ayu and Mukoyama Aira.  This comes as a surprise to me since amorecarina are releasing their debut single "Monster High" on March 18, 2015, and a live TV performance of this song featuring some of the graduated members aired in October 2014.  How this will affect the plan to split amorecarina into three groups in three cities remains unclear at the moment.

In any case, farewell girls!

   Tozawa Airi

Yamabe Ayu

Mukoyama Aira

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Idol Renaissance's Debut CD!

T-Palette Records have announced the debut EP for the group Idol Renaissance, "YOU".  It will contain four newly recorded vocal songs and four instrumentals.  All the songs are cover songs.   Still no word on whether the venue-only singles will get a wide release or even if Idol Renaissance will record something original for a change.  Hopefully the CD will be sold on all the usual internet stores specializing in Japanese music.      

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Unblocked Idol Videos!

Disappointed that certain idol groups have their videos region blocked on YouTube?  Me too.  The record companies who do this may have legitimate reasons for blocking them, but this only leads some fans to illegally upload the videos to their personal YouTube and Dailymotion channels.   When this is done the fans will find their uploads blocked or their channels deleted by the music companies who own the videos.  So it's not a good idea to do this, no matter what your intentions are.  The good news is some progress has been made for two idol groups I follow.

I already reported that on December 13, 2014 Idol Renaissance was signed to T-Palette Records.   Previously they were with Sony.  Well yesterday I just noticed that all of their YouTube videos were now unblocked!  I'm not sure when this happened, but I'm guessing that as a result of Idol Renaissance changing companies that T-Palette decided to make their videos available for people all around the world to enjoy.  So fans can now rejoice!  If you haven't already become a fan of Idol Renaissance, here are some videos that are personal favorites of mine to hopefully get you interested.

"17 Sai"

"Taiyo to Shinzo"


A group that I was the first person to write about in English way back in late 2010 is Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku, or EbiChu for short.  (Note: I capitalize the C to differentiate it from the anime series Ebichu.)  I was excited, like many others, that EbiChu were being signed to a major label, Sony's DefSTAR Records, in late February 2012, only to be disappointed when Sony decided to region block all of their videos!  In December 2014 a friend of mine on Facebook pointed out that there was now an EbichuVEVO YouTube channel!  Yes, everyone around the world should hopefully be able to see their previously blocked videos.  Having said this, Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku filmed a video for the song "Otona wa Wakatte Kurenai" back in 2012 which still has not appeared on this YouTube channel.  Hopefully it will soon.  Here are some personal picks from the VEVO channel for you to watch.  

"Houkago Getabako Rock'n'Roll MX" 


"Te wo Tsunagou"

"Butterfly Effect" 

I'm not sure if any other idol groups (on Sony or other record labels) have recently had their videos unblocked, but you might want to check YouTube and see for yourself.  


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Prizmmy☆'s "I Just Want To Be With You"

Three days ago the preview versions of the new Prizmmy☆ single, "I Just Wanna Be With You ~Kaso to Shinjtsu no Hazama de~", were uploaded to YouTube.  I've watched these videos multiple times as this is one of the best Prizmmy☆ songs yet!  Prizmmy☆'s usual songwriters, NOBE and michitomo, had nothing to do with this song, and neither did Prizmmy☆'s normal choreographer, SAKI.  Instead, a new composer and choreographer were brought in to give the new single some freshness!  This time the song was written by Tetsuya Komuro and the choreography is by Jessica JJ Rabone, a woman born in Japan to British and Japanese parents.  The CD will feature both the original mix and a "Club Mix".  The DVD will not only include the standard content, regular, Dance Master and TV size versions of the music video, but also a making of segment too. The back dancers are four members of Prism☆Mates, Runa, Yuka, Natsu and Sana, as well as Dairiki Chie, the Grand Prix Winner of Dream Girls Magazine's PriPara idol audition contest.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Aither Members Update

Aither broke up on December 29, 2014, and while this may be the end of the group I loved, the members are still least on Twitter.  Four of the Aither girls now have Twitter accounts, with only Megumi having apparently dropped out of the public eye in order to be a normal high school girl.

Aither's original leader Konno Yuuka continues to tweet messages and share photos of herself on Twitter.  While she seems to be selective in who she follows on Twitter, Yuuka is following former Aither member Sakura, and, surprisingly, also her old group Party Rockets!   

Tsujimura Airi created a Twitter account on December 30, 2014 and has now begun a solo career. She is still signed with Deja Vu.

Misaki created a Twitter account on December 29, 2014 and is also still with Deja Vu.  Misaki aspires to a model.

Sakura is continuing to tweet and share photos on her account, and is the only one following all the former members of Aither on Twitter.

Special thanks to my friend GPBchan for some info. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

JS Idol Spotlight: école☆primaire

If you thought St. Bonapro School being reorganized as Si☆Stella was surprising, the reorganization of Q♥T might be even more so.  Q♥T was a very indie group that formed in March 2014 with three members, and released singles that were extremely limited.  It was said in the group's blog that only 97 copies of each single were available; although I highly suspect that 100 copies were pressed and the three members each got a copy and the rest were sold to fans.   Yano Myuu was later added to Q♥T's lineup, but she left barely two weeks later and announced that she was joining usa☆usa Girls Club.  Then in November Q♥T broke up.  With such a small group and fanbase, it would seem unlikely that a group such as Q♥T would be worth bringing back in some form.  I mean, I like these girls very much, but realistically, they were never meant to be a big, popular group.  But don't tell this to the management of usa☆usa Girls Club.  

On January 1, 2015 it was officially announced on the usa☆usa Girls Club blog that Myuu would be transferred to a new group and the four ex-members of Q♥T would be forming a new group named école☆primaire, or éco☆pri for short.  Yes, that is French for "elementary school", with a star symbol inserted.  The group will debut on January 11, 2015 at an usa☆usa Girls Club live event.  So long live Q♥T, or maybe I should say école☆primaire.

Author's notes: All four girls are now using their full names.  Luna is now referred to as Runa, although I still think of her with her original idol name.  Mio is now Miori, but again, she is still Mio to me.  I thought that Mio's birthday was January 1 (as I mentioned in my original Q♥T blog article), but apparently it is January 17.  I have used both Myu and Myuu in my blog for this cutie's name, but I primarily spell it Myuu.  Old habits die hard, and old idol photos never die!  For example, take this photo of the four member Q♥T.

Here are mostly new photos of all four girls.  Myuu's photo is actually from July 2014.  

Shiraishi Luna

Yano Myuu

            Sanada Miori    

         Ichinose Himari      

Shiraishi Luna (白石るな) - Born on September 16, 2002 
Yano Myuu (矢野みゅう) - Born on December 25, 2003 
Sanada Miori (真田美織) - Born on January 17, 2004 
Ichinose Himari (一ノ瀬ひまり) - Born on December 15, 2004