Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Sayaka Akimoto vs AKB48 and the Eastern Stereotype

Sayaka Akimoto

A Team K original member and AKB48 second generation member.

A huge inspiration not only to AKB48 members but to women all over the world.

She's been criticized a bit recently. From anonymous haters on the confessional blogs to forums and even by fellow AKB members for her 'masculine qualities'. In my opinion, this is only compared to other Japanese girls and members of AKB48.

She used to be a senbatsu member but was slowly and silently pushed aside for younger and 'cuter' members. This saddens me, she even fails to appear in B-sides these days and when she is in the song, she'll barely be in the PV. Why? Because AKB management are too focused on their wota or male fanbase? They should be aware of the members that women like the most, and Sayaka is surely one of them.

This post came up on a confession blog lately and it made me so angry I had to write a long spiel about it. Why would you hate on someone who is clearly so different from the rest of the AKB girls? Sayaka is strong, utterly gorgeous and definitely feminine, the fact that she likes fitness and has a deeper voice than that horrid 'cutesy' crap a lot of the idols put on, does not make her masculine or 'manly'.

I have this feeling that it is mainly because in Japan, women are meant to be soft, malleable, weak creatures who bow to the pressures of men and all get married before the age of 30. No feminism culture exists over there except in very small quantities and it's very sad watching women become mocked on television and in the media because they are older. Hearing Megumi Ohori being called 'old' because she was an idol at 25, or hearing Kayo Noro's weight being mentioned...AGAIN. They would never mention these things to men, but because women are not meant to fight back, they'll just laugh along and pretend it's fine, event though it might be hurting them inside.

Recently, I watched a clip (could have been from AKBingo) where a man was dressed as an AKB member and Yuko Oshima said it reminded her of Sayaka. I was shocked. Yuko, Sayaka is meant to be your friend! Why would you say that? It made me angry that even women themselves are mocking and making fun of their fellow women and Yuko even dropped a few places in my rankings purely for that unnecessary comment.

Sayaka, I think, would do well in the Western industry if she ever got a chance. Over here we know that mixed race women are among the most beautiful in the world. She would also do well in the fitness industry, working so hard to become fit and healthy that Japanese magazines airbrush her abs out in bikini shoots. This is unacceptable! Strong women are not to be feared but embraced, I'd love to see Sayaka speak out about women's rights in Japan as I think she would be a good ambassador, but maybe after she's left AKB as it could get her in trouble while she's in it.

I feel that she has the support of the Western fans of AKB48 and I really hope she knows just how much she is appreciated. She has so, so much to offer AKB and to continually get snubbed is affecting her senbatsu position. Last year, if it was the 21 member senbatsu, she would have JUST made it. Not in high undergirls but in low senbatsu. I'm almost certain she will drop again this year due to so many former Team 4 girls being pushed, but she will take it in her stride. Just like everything she does. She is an inspiration to me and I hope we get to see more of her in 2013.

Friday, 21 December 2012

My Love/Hate Affair with Technology [plus poll winners and Idol thoughts]

TechnoMANIA and Me

Yep that's me. Sayaka 2012 poster calendar in the background yooeeh

Ever since I started with Tumblr and got back into using social media eg; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, my creativity has taken such a dive. I feel like if I was living in a time before computers my brain would be as active as Noel Fielding on crack, but being so easily distracted by so many different programs at once turns my mind into a big lump of moosh.

I love talking about idols and Japan, and even just rambling on about fitness, food and other things but I have to try and stay focused. In the new year I'd like to make this blog more personal, there will still be plenty of idol talk but it will also be about me and my thoughts. If I don't put them out there and force myself to write I will turn into another social media zombie just like everyone else, and that'd be damn sad.

Smartphones do not help either. I thought to myself 'I won't get addicted' - but of course I did and now I am just 1/100 people checking their phones on the train instead of reading a book or writing in a diary. This I dislike and would like to start some sort of weaning program in the new year. I love my phone and it is extremely handy but I do not want it to become like a third hand to me or something.

Before I started a writing course I thought writing might be something I want to do in the future, it still is but I need to have free rein over my work and not be bound by assignments forcing me to come up with a topic. This is why what I am actually doing is such a good idea, Commerce and Japanese, one of my friends keeps coming up with commerce as a generic degree but I think he means communications. Either way he doesn't realise that getting tertiary education is so important to me.

At this rate, I will now have two degrees before I turn 30 and then I can maybe start on a Masters or MBA depending on what I want to do. I feel, in my situation, the more education I can get, the better.

Here's to the New Year!

Back to Idols!

The winner of the last release round poll was Gingham Check with 5 votes, second was Kiss Datte Hidarikiki with 4 votes, and Virginity and Hashire! Bicycle both with four. Please vote on the new release round!

Graduations have been happening so much lately and now two beloved members of AKB48, second generation's Yuka Masuda and Tomomi Kasai, are leaving. Yuka got caught up in an apparent 'scandal' but it seemed like maybe she was looking for an exit anyway. I have no idea if DiVA will continue but I hope they do in some way as I really love them as a vocal group.

Tomo~omi announced her graduation at the AKB48 Kouhaku song battle, luckily with hers we are getting a solo single and a photobook, so I think perhaps she has thought about this for a long time. I'm still extremely sad that both of them are leaving, the second generation is looking very sparse these days.

Morning Musume's new single covers have been released and they are atrocious. I could do better photo editing myself and I only have gimp. *cue laughter* hey!

Type B Limited, the only decent one, albeit its simplicity. :/

check them all out here

The only good thing I seem to notice about these covers is that everyone gets a go at being in front, which is nice. Maybe now Reina is leaving they will have the chance to distribute lines better, although lets face it, Hello! Project have never been great at that! This is also the first single where Sakura Oda gets a look in, so hopefully she lifts MM to a new level. The members likeability rate is at a high so I'd love to see them actually getting good songs/designs/costumes once in a while.

The idol boom seems like it may have hit it's peak, now with all the former Team 4/KKS members being pushed in AKB48, 2013 might be a big year for graduations, so prepare yourself if you're a fan of any members who have been there a while. Tokyo Girls Style and FLOWER/E-girls are still going strong though so maybe it's time to switch focus to the newer, fresher and more musically-focused groups. Or just ride the wave like we always do and enjoy it! Idols are more addictive and pumping out more music than ever and there's loads to choose from with a personality for every fan. Let's support our favourite idols in 2013 too!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Ichigogo!

[PS: There will be more giveaways in 2013 :D]

Thursday, 27 September 2012

My Love Affair with SKE48


Recently, SKE48 has overtaken AKB48 as my favourite group. Their freshness, hyper-energy and consistently good songs have completely and utterly won me over in every way possible.

Jurina Matsui is my favourite member for so many reasons. She's amazingly talented at such a young age, she's super pretty and energetic, and she's kind and like a teacher to many members, even those older than her. She absorbs instructions like a sponge and also holds a place in AKB's Team K, currently appearing as the front girl for both AKB and SKE's singles. I do, however, think this puts unfair pressure on her, and hope she is put back just in SKE soon.

Akane Takayanagi's gorgeous vocals and constant smile makes me so happy and pumped. She's also such a gutsy person, she asked Aki-P (aka Yasushi Akimoto, producer of the 48's) if Team KII could have their own original stage...IN FRONT OF EVERYONE at the 2011 elections! Girl is perfect! And he delivered later that year! Guts is rewarded!

Currently making their way up my list is many beautiful and amazing girls of SKE, Manatsu Mukaida, Kumi Yagami, Shiori Ogiso, Yukiko Kinoshita and many, many more. I dislike no one. They are all such amazing, hardworking girls.

Being from Nagoya, such a chilled place, also helps the freshness of SKE48 in my opinion. When I visited there, wearing one of my SKE shirts, everyone was so kind and would speak to me about how much they loved the band. Girls, boys, everyone, even at the airport in Tokyo people would be like 'Ah! You like SKE48?' and I would get into a big fan discussion with many lovely people.

Their A-sides have always been impressive, and even if on first listen they don't get you, rest assured by third or fourth you will be absolutely hooked. My favourite A-side is Pareo wa Emerald. I can't get sick of it, no matter how many times I listen to it!

Always looking so joyous and happy when they perform, and giving you a strong urge to get up and dance. SKE48 inspire me to be my best at life, and isn't that what idols are for anyway?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Rino Sashihara

The scandalous girl that divided fans.


The scandal made me sit up, take notice, and I loved what I saw. I even loved her for the scandal. She sent semi-naked pictures to a potential boyfriend when she was 14. This proves she was just a normal teenager, looking for validation like all of us were.

Then she lied about it, which I love her for, as if you'd tell the truth and just admit it was you straight out!

This girl is an energetic and sincere performer. When she pours her heart out on stage, you can read it all over her face. She seems down at times but when she smiles it lights up your heart. Her smile is gorgeous. HKT48 are very lucky to gain such a respectable and beautiful person.

Seeing her last performance with AKB48's Team A about a month and a half ago, she looks straight into the eyes of her fans as we cheer her on. She is a fantastic idol. The 'girl-next-door' idol, even. Someone you can connect with and really feel excited about their next move.

When she was high-fiving her fans after the show, she grasped my hand tightly and smiled at me, I made a heart shape at her and said 'ganbatte!' (good luck/do your best). She truly has made the best out of the situation. Staying in good stead with fans (there was a LOT of fans at her last performance and one man was wearing a 'SASHIHARA QUALITY' shirt.)and definitely gaining new ones.

Now with Rino and Aika Oota in HKT48 along with the AMAZING energy of the original HKT girls, we can anticipate with baited breath what their first single will sound like. I am hoping it is danceable and super fun, with a youthful sound. Nothing too mature yet.

Rino I love you and I will support you forever!

Friday, 22 June 2012

New Artists I have Listened to Recently

- One Direction Five attractive young men with excellent voices and decent dance skills are given an album with generic pop music to attract as many teenage girls as possible. - Adele Woman who sounds like Duffy reaches top of the charts with two very good and emotional albums but it has all been done before, by Duffy. - Marina and the Diamonds Bitchin' awesome woman creates fantastic songs that listener wants to listen to endlessly and be wrapped up with her amazing voice and presence. - Rino Sashihara Girly girl who emulates Aya Matsuura gets transferred to newest AKB-family group and undoubtingly leaves her solo career behind for a while. - miss A Beautiful and talented K-pop girl group kicks ass all over the place. Popularity ensues. This blog is slowly going to become more just music. Not necessarily just Japanese music but still definitely including it.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Winner of the Underloved Girls poll!

Amina Oshi!

Congratulations Amina Sato!

Winning by only a few votes but a very deserving winner indeed, Amina Sato is the one you all want to see in A-sides. I do too. She is stunning, has a lovely voice and bucketloads of personality. She should be in senbatsu far more often then when she's voted in by fans. Clearly, we want more of her, but nobody is listening. :(

Here's the vote breakdown:

Misaki Iwasa - 13 votes (28%)
Shizuka Oya - 5 votes (11%)
Haruka Katayama - 4 votes (8%)
Haruka Nakagawa - 9 votes (20%)
Chisato Nakata - 2 votes (4%)
Sayaka Nakaya - 3 votes (6%)
Ami Maeda - 6 votes (13%)
Natsumi Matsubara - 5 votes (11%)
Mayumi Uchida - 4 votes (8%)
Ayaka Kikuchi - 6 votes (13%)
Miku Tanabe - 3 votes (6%)
Tomomi Natsutaka - 3 votes (6%)
Moeno Nito - 3 votes (6%)
Misato Nonaka - 4 votes (8%)
Reina Fujie - 13 votes (28%)
Sakiko Matsui - 4 votes (8%)
Haruka Ishida - 5 votes (11%)
Kana Kobayashi - 5 votes (11%)
Mika Komori - 5 votes (11%)
Amina Sato - 15 votes (33%)
Sumire Sato - 12 votes (26%)
Natsuki Sato - 6 votes (13%)
Shihori Suzuki - 5 votes (11%)
Mariya Suzuki - 8 votes (17%)
Rina Chikano - 2 votes (4%) - Poor Chikarina! :(
Miho Miyazaki - 7 votes (15%)

Chikarina got the lowest amount of votes, which I find surprising as I think that girl is just fantastic. You all desperately want more Reina, Sumire and Wasamin, which I hope will be expressed in the next senbatsu elections coming up. Don't forget to vote in the new poll.

How many copies of AKB48's new single are you buying?

Senbatsu has come around again and we all want to vote! So let me know how many of Manatsu no Sounds Good! you are ordering!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

NMB48 'Nagiichi' covers out!

NMB48 'Nagiichi' large covers out!

Type A

Type B

Type C

Theatre Edition

Simple but very cute, also quite similar to 'Everyday Kachuusha' or 'Ponytail to Shushu' - NMB's first bikini-style single. I have ordered Type B but I like all the covers. It looks like Japan has some stellar push-up bikini tops as well. Wow.

I think they all look amazing and I am really looking forward to this single.

[Thanks to H!O for the pictures]

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

NMB48's 'Nagiichi' Previews & more Acchan News

NMB48 - Nagiichi!

So cute it's sickening

NMB48 have been on a three-single roll, with great songs, fantastic B-sides and awesome PV's, NMB have been well managed since the start. CAN their 4th single match up? Here's your opportunity to check out the previews for their new song 'Nagiichi' (short for Nagisa de Ichiban Kawaii Girl, translates to 'cutest girl on the beach' which is sweet, I'm glad Aki-P didn't use the full title and pull a Tsunku >.>)

CM. Cute cheer-team style. Seems to be senbatsu vs undergirls.

Another CM. They all still manage to look amazing while dressed as bowling pins.

Tiny, tiny preview. So just watch it!

From the miniscule snippet we heard there, it sounds classically NMB (with that kind of interesting guitar riff that always seems to pop up, although it is welcome as it's awesome) - Lets face it, we all want a bikini PV to come from this, as we're all massive pervs. (Thanks to AramaTheyDidn't for providing the PV previews and CMs)


Next up:

Translation here.
Atsuko Maeda, with her impending graduation is not participating in the 27th single senbatsu election. This will make the game very interesting, as voters have already been speculating whether this means that Yuko has it in the bag.

I honestly hope she does because I would like to see her head another single, and with Acchan's graduation happening, it could start a slew of grads that I'm sure we'd all rather not see. The top 10 could be very, very different though and we will start to see NMB members voted in as well, and perhaps even more SKE members.

Considering that the senbatsu this year will include only 16 members, with the other 48 as undergirls, I think we are going to see a very different list of people this year. I really, really hope it's shown on a live stream this year!

What are your thoughts on Senbatsu 2012 and NMB48's new single?

Saturday, 31 March 2012

[Review] May J - Secret Diary



May J's 6th studio album was released in January with probably not-enough promotion and behind a bevvy of other more publicized releases. May J's style has changed slightly over the years, from R'n'B queen to ballad princess but I think that this is a very good album. Well worth listening to and more layers are peeled away with each relisten.

The bonus DVD (that is still available on the more expensive edition) is packed with extras and over an hour and a half of footage, including: video clips, concert clips and a mini-documentary. It's a great way to get to know May J if you are new to what she's all about. Only some of the tracks were available to preview on Youtube, but I have put up all that I was able to find.

Track by Track Breakdown

1. Only one - May J's clear voice speaks to you straight from the first beat of this angelic song. With smooth beats and a relaxed take on a catchy ballad, this is a gorgeous opener. May J hits all notes effortlessly and sounds incredible. Listen Here

2. OUR FUTURE - Positive lyrics and hard-to-hit notes make this an especially impressive song. An upbeat track that could definitely be remixed club-style, the music channels the early 2000's in a way that shows off old-school style Jpop. A great track. Listen Here

3. Yozora no Yuki - A classic ballad done in a sort of winter style. Piano and chimes resonate through this track. Giving it a really sweet feel. May J's voice is so strong and so controlled, a feast for the ears, this is the track that will give you the shivers. Fantastic. Listen Here

4. No No No - Awesome! An R'n'B style song with a great beat that you find yourself tapping your feet to. A danceable and faster track that belongs on your gym mp3 player. Incorporating synth and even a touch of dubstep, this is a great modern track. Showing her versatility, May J is sounding badass here. Listen Here

5. I'm proud - Another slower-style song, but May J really has an amazing way of conveying a message that transcends all language barriers. She really does sound proud of something or someone, and even though it is slower, it still could have a dance put to it, as it's beat is still has a certain groove to it. This is also a very singalong type song. Listen Here

6. Kimi ga Afuredasu - A beautiful instrumental with vocals that are softer than usual, this song is an 'anytime' - listen to it anytime and you could always be in the mood for it. A lovely slow track. Listen Here

7. Say "Ah!" - This is your party track, electro-heavy and fast compared to all the other tracks, this is a 'getting ready to go out' kind of song, fun and needs to be pumped LOUD. Sounds great on a stereo! Much better than on the weak computer speakers! Unfortunately, this is absolutely nowhere to be found on youtube or youku, so you may have to search a bit to listen to it, but it's so worth it, it's FAB.

8. Futari - A duet with Jay'ed, this has a few English sentences in it including the lovely "I'm never going to give up on your love, no matter how far away you are". Both May J and Jay'ed sound beautiful together and, though the instrumental is simple, piano and clicks, it works for a vocal-heavy song like this. Listen Here

9. 2 Shooting Stars - A beat-heavy track with May J's vocals flowing through and between the beats effortlessly, I can hear a double bass in this and it's presence is welcome. A mid-tempo track that channels American-style R'n'B with a slicker production value. Wouldn't be out of place on a Beyonce album.

10. SECRET DIARY - The title track of this album is a gentle and flowing song. A simple piano plays in the background, as May J's gorgeous voice once again dominates the foreground. I think a live orchestra version of this would be amazing.

11. The Lifelines - Including Taku Takahashi from m-flo, WISE and Maynard Plant from blanc./Monkey Majik, this is a charity song from English TV show in Japan J-Melo, which usually features very bad singers doing versions of Jpop songs. Everyone has been autotuned on this, which I think was unnecessary but perhaps it was to 'enhance' the electronica feel of the song. The instrumental is an awesome synth-fest though. Listen Here

12. Rainy Day - A quirky instrumental that leads into an interesting head-nodding track. May J's vocals never falter. This song also falls into the 'getting ready' category, it reminds me of everyone putting on their makeup in the bathroom and singing out 'IT'S ALRIGHT!' - a fun track.

13. RAINBOW - A really different track! Synth and music that shows the colours that May J is singing about and a hit of violin just when you think you've heard it all. A fantastic lead up and a really danceable chorus. "I'm dreaming, dreaming forever" - So am I! Get up and dance with this one!

14. Kiseki no Uta - DJ Hasebe Remix - - Featuring Sugar Soul, Zeebra, Ryo the Skywalker and SIMON, I can hear rap and extremely polished vocals, another synth and electro-style track that packs a punch. This is a collaboration that works and I think that a bit of reggae-infused rap wouldn't go astray in some future May J. songs! Listen Here

Favourite track - Say "Ah!"

✰✰✰✰ stars

I really do think that with such a great voice and a beautiful image, she needs to get back into the upbeat songs a bit, as they always sound awesome. Too many ballads can become similar to each other, but, saying this, this would be a great album to play at a classy dinner party. It's got great instrumentals and of course, May J's voice is flawless. She is still an R'n'B girl at heart, but with a vastly different style to Namie Amuro's R'n'B.

Check out this link to see extra information and what is on the DVD. It's really worth the purchase, and for only 3240yen you get a lot of material. Support your favourites if you can! ♥

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Atsuko Maeda to Graduate from AKB48

Acchan announces her graduation!

First generation and most popular member Atsuko Maeda yesterday announced her graduation from AKB48. Since she was 14 years old in 2005, Acchan has been a key member of AKB and a major facet in the ...48 company. Coming 1st in the 2009 and 2011 senbatsu elections; Acchan is popular with wota and non-wota alike.

The exact date has not been announced yet but this is a major shock to all AKB48 fans. Turning on the computer this morning, I was not expecting this at ALL. Will this be a new era for AKB48? Will Acchan be voted 1st one last time? Along with the doubling announcement for members Jurina Matsui (who now is in Team S from SKE48 and Team K from AKB48) and Miyuki Watanabe (Team N from NMB48 and Team B from AKB48) and the new voting system, it seems the rest of 2012 will be a very different year from previous.

I for one will miss Acchan very much and am very sad she is leaving, but considering the work she is doing lately, and mentioning on her blog that she only gets 5 hours sleep per night, it probably shouldn't come as that much of a surprise for bigger fans who perhaps know her routine better. I hope to see her in many drama's in the future and maybe with a few more solo singles. - More information (in Japanese)
[Thanks to H!O for the link]

We will miss you Acchan! AKB48 will never be the same!!