Archive for October, 2013
The October line-up was a fairly strong one. Will November keep up the pace, or will artists hold off until we get closer to the holiday season? Actually, it looks like even though November lacks some of the marquee names like AKB48 and Arashi, the month boasts an even more impressive and diverse line-up than October, especially when it comes to acts with decades-long careers.
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 or at least recognize). 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).
Ieiri Leo – Taiyo no Megami
Momoiro Clover Z – GOUNN
Akanishi Jin – #JUSTJIN (album)
Hottake Band – Sayonara Arigatou
Cute – Tokai no Hitori Gurashi/Aitte Motto Zanshin
SID – Anniversary
Kalafina – Kimi no Gin no Niwa
An Cafe – Hikagyaku Ziprock (album)
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – Mottai Night Land
Kis-My-Ft2 – SNOW DOME no Yakusoku/Luv Sick
Generations from EXILE TRIBE – Generations (album)
Yuzu – Ame Nochi Hallelujah / Mamotte Agetai
IDOLING!!! – SHOUT!!!
Koda Kumi – Dreaming Now!
THE ALFEE – GLORIOUS
LUNA SEA – Ran
Kimura Kaela – Rock (album)
RIP SLYME – SLY
Becky# – New Single (Title TBA)
The top single for the past week was KinKi Kids’ “Mada Namida ni Naranai Kanashimi ga/Koi wa Nioeto Chirinuru wo” (I hope I got that right) which sold 178,348 copies. I think that’s the pair’s best first week result since “Secret Code” in 2008, but I’m missing some information. Anyway, it’s certainly an excellent showing, and continued evidence of KinKi Kids’ phenomenal longevity and consistency.
Apparently EXILE decided to do a re-release of “EXILE PRIDE ~Konna Sekai wo Koisuru Tame~” less than six months after its original release. That boosted it from #105 to #3 as they managed to distribute 52,579 additional copies to bring the single’s total . . . to bring the single’s total to 991,608. Of course, they did this just to annoy me, and I’m not going to take it anymore! They clearly want to force their way to a million seller by whatever means necessary, but this is the last time I’m going to mention this blasted single. Sorry, EXILE fans, but I’m no longer tracking this puppy – I’m going to close my eyes and hum loudly as it crosses into seven digit territory.
At #4, Nishino Kana-san’s “Sayonara” saw 22,820 copies sold.
RADWIMPS‘ “Gogatsu no Hae/Last Virgin” had a very strong second week, taking #6 by selling 10,816 copies to bring its total to 54,110.
Right behind at #7, 2PM’s “Winter Games” now has a two-week total of 119,015.
“Halloween Party” by the collaboration group Halloween Junky Orchestra continued its re-release pop a year after its first release, taking #9 with a new total of 132,451.
When we last left the Numata family in Kazoku Game (家族ゲーム), they were in a pretty desperate state.
And since there’s one episode after this one, it seems unlikely that they’ll get out of their funk in this episode – not if the writers want to keep up their excellent pacing and retain audience interest in the finale.
So, what exactly are we going to get in this episode? The opening is just a montage of the depths the family has reached, and I guess the question that has to go through our minds while watching them go into complete dysfunction instead of, say, being defiant, is whether this family deserves to be saved.
Gotta laugh when Shinichi (Kamiki Ryunosuke), unable to find anything in the fridge, buys some groceries for himself, but labels them all with his name.
At the end of the last episode of 49, and again at the start of this one, Kagami Dan (Sato Shori) – or, more accurately, Dan possessed by his dead father (Possessed Dan, as I will call him, as opposed to Real Dan) – asked the most popular girl in school, Minaduki Mana (Nishino Nanase) to go out with him.
This is much to the dismay of Sawamura Shogo (Teranishi Takuto), who was also aiming to become Mana’s boyfriend. Is this going to be the start of a continuing rivalry between them? Anyway, Shogo seems confident that Mana will turn Dan down.
But Shogo has the whole gym saying “gomennasai” – in other words, rooting for a rejection . . .
We don’t normally get new Shounen Club (ザ少年倶楽部) episodes in the bottom half of the month, but this is a legit new episode. I guess with the Osaka specials on the first two Wednesdays of the month, Johnny’s couldn’t leave us with no Kanto representation at all, so here we are. And honestly, going into this, I have a good feeling about it. Can’t say why – maybe residual goodwill from the solid Kansai episodes. Maybe I just feel that they had to have some good stuff for us, or they wouldn’t have given us this extra.
It seems like we’re going to get a new episode on October 30th, and it’s likely that we could get four new episodes in a row – not totally sure on that yet, though.
Anyway, this episode started off with noon boyz doing the title call and leading the proceedings. Even though we got the horrible graphic opening, there was one change right away – they named the opening medley and put the title in the upper left corner briefly.
The first song was Sexy Zone’s “Lady Diamond”, with all five members of the group performing it in pink outfits that . . . are as good as pink outfits get, I think.
That was followed by KAT-TUN’s “Real Face” performed by Sanada-kun, Anderson Casey-kun, Masuda Ryo-kun (with a new hairstyle that almost made it difficult to recognize him), Teranishi Takuto-kun, and Kishi Takayoshi-kun.
Nozawa-kun sang KinKi Kids’ “Yokubou no Rain” with the Bad Boys guys. Okay for a short version, but I still remember Nakajima Kento-kun’s much more vigorous approach to the song.
Okay, let me just admit it right from the start – I was remiss in not reviewing Kasuka na Kanojo (幽かな彼女) during the Spring season. I was just too busy, and it really wasn’t until this past weekend that I really got a chance to sit down with it properly. As it turned out, I ended up marathoning the series in two days – it was that good. Since I’ve watched the whole thing, it doesn’t seem legit to do episode-by-episode reviews, so let me do something a bit different. Let me just go through and explain why I think it’s the best classroom drama I’ve reviewed (beating out Great Teacher Onizuka), and why you should watch it if you haven’t already.
As usual, though, I’m not going to include any spoilers (except for the fact that the characters survive . . . well, except for Akane, who’s already dead) and you’ll have to watch for yourself to see how the various conflicts get resolved. Oh, I guess I will be revealing that the conflicts do get resolved, but I’d hardly be enthusiastic about a drama otherwise.
We meet a lot of characters very quickly at the start of the series – really all of the main cast within the first four minutes – but the first one I think we get a proper sense of is Kawai-sensei, played by Maeda Atsuko-san. Kawai is totally uninterested in being a teacher, putting on a fake smile, and the students sense that and despise her. One of the highlights of the show is the smooth development of her character from this state into someone who actually cares about the students. It doesn’t happen in a sudden u-turn, but takes easy stages episode-by-episode.
It’s a tricky role for Maeda-san, because for much of the series her character is not likeable at all, but becomes likeable by the end. She manages to pull it off. By the way, the first thing you’ll note about the character is that she wears shorts – totally not what you’d expect a teacher to wear. Don’t worry – the writers have our back on this one, and they use her regular costume to set up one of the best sequences in the series. You’ll have to watch to the end to see it, though.
Our main character is a bit late to the start of school, but we meet another character properly in the meantime – Vice Principal Kirisawa Izumi (Maya Miki). She starts to give a speech, but interrupts herself to deal with a student who is texting – trying to confiscate the phone. Kirisawa is a stickler for the rules and isn’t afraid of the parents. It would have been easy for the writers to make this character extreme in one way or another, but she’s very subtle, and comes off as trying to do her best at her job. Along with Kawai, she’s an important counterbalance to our main character . . .
. . . Kamiyama Akira (Katori Shingo). Kamiyama used to be a passionate teacher, but after failing to help a student he had promised to help, he’s become disillusioned. He still teaches, but can’t really say why. Unlike Kawai, he doesn’t put on a false face when dealing with the students, and nor does he hate them, but he also doesn’t want to go out of his way to deal with their particular problems. This, of course, is going to change very quickly. Basically, Kamiyama is on the fast-track on character development, while Kawai is on a slower track.
At the same time, there are tons of students around, and they all have problems. For the most part, we go through all the major students one-by-one in the usual pattern. I would have been unenthusiastic about the series if this is all we got, but the development in the teachers is what really pulls everything together, creating a unified story.
I love airplanes, and I enjoy watching Horikita Maki-san (as long as it’s not in a romance), so there was no way I could pass on Miss Pilot. That said, except for knowing that Horikita-san is playing a character trying to become a pilot, we’ve got no idea what sort of series this will be. Is it going to be like Beginners? Will they sneak a romantic plot in which ultimately dominates, like in Pin to Kona? Will we really see Horikita-san trying to pilot planes, or will it all be ground-pounding melodrama?
Well, the opening gave me some hope on the last point, as we saw Shinozaki Katsutoyo (Iwaki Koichi) and Kunikida Konosuke (Saito Takumi) in the cockpit. Shinozaki is in charge of trainees, and he asks Kunikida what standards should be used to judge whether a person is fit to be a pilot. He also wonders whether it’s all right to judge a person by instinct.
That was a weird conversation – I sure hope pilots are judged by a bit more than the instinct of the instructor. Their drinking habits, in particular, should be scrutinized. Oh, and what medications they might be on.
Anyway, as Kunikida brushed off the topic and got ready to bring the plane in for its approach to landing, I recalled another side benefit to a series about people who want to be pilots – English is the universal language for air traffic control, so I’m going to understand a bit more than I usually do.
When we meet our main character Tezuka Haru (Horikita Maki), it’s Nov. 21, 2008, and she’s waiting tables at a restaurant. She’s been applying to all sorts of other jobs, but she just ends up getting piles of rejection letters back. I suppose we’re going to find out how she gets from this to being a pilot. For now, at least she seems to have a good memory and a quick mind for math – both important qualities.
She takes literally all the applications she can get her hands on – including ones for a bridal salon and a factory. When the guy at the counter hands her one for All Nippon Airways (ANA), she says she’s already been rejected for cabin attendant, ground staff, and maintenance.