Archive for July, 2013
While not quite as packed with interesting releases as July, there’s plenty in August keep the Oricon numbers interesting every week.
This list has selected single and album releases for the month, not all of them (i.e. releases from groups that I’m interested in tracking). My apologies if I missed a significant release – please mention the artist and title in a comment and I’ll update the list.
More complete listings are available on merchant websites (I use CD Japan’s list).
Southern All Stars – Peace & Hi-lite
Akanishi Jin – Hey What’s Up?
Acid Black Cherry – Greed Greed Greed
Nishino Kana – Namida Iro
IDOLING!!! – Summer Lion
Yusuke – Tomorokoshi/Earth Child
Kis-My-Ft2 – Kimi tono Kiseki
UVERworld – Fight for Liberty/Wizard CLUB
Dream5 – We are Dreamer
SCANDAL – Kagen no Tsuki
The Second from EXILE – Survivors feat. DJ MAKIDAI
An Cafe – ROMAN-Let’s make precious love
SONAR POCKET – Senko Hanabi – 8 Gatsu no Yakusoku
In the May 27th episode of Kis-My-BUSAIKU (キスマイ ブサイク), the members of the idol group Kis-My-Ft2 had to purchase underwear for a pretend girlfriend and have their approach and choice critiqued by a panel of 100 female judges around their age. That was a pretty good episode, though I couldn’t assess their efforts independently and I griped about what amounted to two underwear advertisements during the show.
The reason I mention that episode is because this one is very similar – except this time they have to pick out swimsuits for their pretend girlfriends. Is it perhaps too soon to try such a similar situation? Well, I’ll let that one pass for now in favor of a different question – will their experiences with the underwear lead them to better results with the swimsuits?
We once again get the same sort of icon in the bottom left corner as we had in the underwear iteration:
The guest was Nanao-san (菜々緒). She’s the least familiar/famous guest who has been on so far, but there’s a good reason for her to be on for this episode in particular. You see, she’s a fashion model who would certainly be up on the latest trends and be able to critique their approaches. And I’ll just say up front that she was very good about talking about how they did, commenting avidly during the videos.
As usual, they revealed the rankings in 3-2-4-5-6-1-7 order, but I’ll go through the members in alphabetical order to avoid giving the results away.
At the end of the last episode of Kamen Teacher (仮面ティーチャー), Kusanagi Keigo (Jesse) hinted that he knew that Araki Gota (Fujigaya Taisuke) was the Kamen Teacher, but he didn’t make it conclusive. With the continuation of that conversation at the start of this half-hour, there’s some reason to believe Kusanagi will only state what he knows if he finds some clear advantage in it – perhaps to blackmail Araki. You see, if a Kamen Teacher’s identity is exposed, that’s the end of their role in the program – they’re basically fired.
That’s not the only problem on Araki’s mind. Last time, we thought he had set Kotaro (Maeda Goki) straight, but it might have been too straight, since Kotaro now doesn’t fight back when his former followers beat him up. Those followers certainly have a reason to be unhappy after what Kotaro did to them, but why doesn’t he fight back?
In the staff room, there’s no indication at all that Kotaro is being assaulted by fellow students – the teachers simply say that the Kamen Teacher is taking care of Kotaro. Have I mentioned that Araki has to do something to fix this faculty, too?
Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) is an hour-long variety show that features Arashi and famous guests from a range of backgrounds who share their expertise with the five hosts. And this time, the show did not begin with the Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment (hallelujah!), jumping right into the action with the main guest.
However, judging from this graphic at the start of the show, I started to doubt whether this would be my kind of episode:
That’s . . . a lot of hearts. From the looks of it, the soccer player guest is something of a heart-throb whose relationships are avidly tracked. Unfortunately, I’m not particularly interested in another guy’s relationships, so . . . yeah. At least the Arashi guys are looking cool in black:
They start off talking about how hot it is (well, then black is the wrong color to wear, right?), which really struck home because it’s been painfully hot around here as well. In fact, I spotted a story that SMAP’s Nakai-san was filming in California recently and got caught in one of our blistering heatwaves. I don’t know which one because it’s impossible to tell when one heat wave ends and the next one starts – it’s like one day when the temperature is finally less than a 90 degree (Fahrenheit) high, then it goes right back into the triple digits.
But I digress. Here’s the guest – soccer player Uchida Atsuto-san (内田 篤人).
I don’t know if his soccer play justifies this kind of reception – he’s a right back with one goal in sixty games in his international record. Tough to say with a defenseman, though.
Pin to Kona (ぴんとこな) is a drama about kabuki and the rivalries and romances that can develop in its very particular, very traditional world. That alone was enough to get me excited, since it’s not every season that we get a drama about kabuki (as opposed to, say, school delinquents) and it’s bound to add another dimension to what would otherwise be a standard storyline. Better than that, though, is the list of actors in it that I’ve already covered in other dramas: Tamamori Yuta from Nobunaga no Chef, Nakayama Yuma from Piece, Kawashima Umika from Papadol!, Matsumura Hokuto and Jesse both from Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou and two other dramas each, Yoshikura Aoi from Shinryochu, Yamamoto Koji from Naniwa Shonen Tanteidan, and Takashima Masahiro from Last Hope. So yeah, it’s sort of a “gang’s all here” kind of thing – I’ve never covered a drama in which I’m familiar with so many of the actors involved – and my anticipation level is high.
Naturally, we begin in a kabuki performance where Kawamura Kyonosuke (Tamamori Yuta) is performing and Chiba Ayame (Kawashima Umika) watches the show with disdain on her face. The ladies nearby gush over Kyonosuke, but Chiba shushes them.
In the back, you just know Sawayama Ichiya (Nakayama Yuma) is going to be Kyonosuke’s rival by the way he’s standing with arms crossed: (Note: Sawayama is the stage name adopted by all those who are part of that kabuki school – as opposed to part of a noble kabuki family – so there’ll be plenty of Sawayamas in this, and they’re not related).
After the show, Kyonosuke tries his best to avoid his father, perhaps sensing that there’s going to be some displeasure about his performance. You see, Kyonosuke is part of a kabuki family, and simply carrying on the tradition. In most arts, talented people are adopted into the family, but there seems to be an unusual amount of emphasis on biology in this view of kabuki. I’m not sure if it is really like this, or if the writers did it this way for dramatic purposes. Surely, there’s bound to be a kabuki master who does pressure his biological son to take up the art.
Ichiya was not born into such a family, and one component of the rivalry is a class rivalry between those who were fortunate by birth to have a primrose path onto the kabuki stage and those who are kept from leading roles despite working hard for them.
In Aiba Manabu (相葉マナブ), Arashi member Aiba Masaki-kun explores a different side of what makes Japan special every week. Well, except that there’s one side that they like to return to repeatedly – the historical shopping districts of Tokyo. This is the third episode on that theme, and the reason they don’t mind doing sequels of it is simple – each shopping district is different, with unique treasures hidden inside. But is that really enough to make this episode feel fresh?
The district featured this time is in Shinagawa, and this photo confirms that it is, indeed, quite old:
And this map confirms that, just like all the other shopping districts we’ve seen, you might miss its existence entirely if you didn’t already know that it was there – it’s got plenty of competition nearby, including two big supermarkets.
Aiba-kun’s pals for this one are Watabe Ken-san and Sawabe Yuu-san . . . again. We had the same pair on June 30th and July 7th, but got a break from them last week. Well, they’re back.