For Dream!

May 24, 2008

Dr. McPouty

Everyone’s favourite perma-pout is back.

Yamashita Tomohisa is set to lead the cast of a new Fuji TV production entitled “Code Blue:Doctor Heli Kinkyu Kyumei“.  The premise of the drama is “special-op” doctors who can reach emergencies quickly by helicopter, a directive that was recently started in Japan.

As well as Yamapi, ther are some other stand out names in the cast: Aragaki Yui, Toda Erika (Hana Yori Dango 2, Death Note 1 &2), Asari Yosuke (Fuurin Kazan) and Terajima Susumu (Moon Child).

I can’t say I’m chomping at the bit for this one, but we’ll wait and see…

It’s Times Like This That I Really Wish I Lived In Japan…

…for the concerts, if nothing else.

This year saw the marking of Avex’s 20th anniversary. As Japan’s biggest record company, you would expect some sort of massive showcase…and you’d be right.

This year’s a-nation line-up is hotter than ever. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area, you have your choice of artists including TRF, Every Little Thing, Koda Kumi, Otsuka Ai, Suzuki Ami, DBSK and AAA. Doing significantly fewer dates are EXILE, SEAMO and mihimaru GT. All concerts take place in July and August.

Of course, the big question is where on Earth is Hamasaki Ayumi? She may not be Avex’s brightest star anymore but she’s still their biggest name. In fact, with the exception of DBSK, she’s their their most bankable ticket-seller. So why isn’t she involved?

Although this is pure specualtion on my part, I suspect her health might be the reason. I don’t think any of us will forget Kohaku 07 in a hurry. There may be concerns over her abilty to carry off such a tour successfully. Now, I’m not really a fan of Ayu, but I can’t deny that she’s the ultimate professional. I think she could handle the strain. It’s what she does. If Avex don’t want to risk damaging her ears any more, that’s one thing. However, if they don’t want to risk their brand at her expense…they’re making a big mistake. One way or another, I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this…

Ticket info can be got at the official site (Japanese):

http://a-nation.net/index.html

Now excuse me while I just DIE from envy….!

May 23, 2008

Well, I’m Certainly Looking Only At Him!

Filed under: k-pop,Review — by Milsean @ 1:52 am
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Well, I’m speechless.

First Wonder Girls surprise me, now it’s that whippersnapper Tae Yang of Big Bang.

His two solo PVs have been released from his album “HOT” and I’m shocked at how good they are. With both Rain and Se7en trying to make waves in America, the market for a Korean-urban-good looking-singing-dancing-too cool for school-bad boy (but in a non-threatening way) is wide open. Tae Yang has certainly staked his claim for this spot. However, Big Bang’s management have confirmed that he will be reeled back in to the fold to promote BB’s upcoming album so this is all we’re getting (for now…)

The first release is “Look Only At Me”. It’s a nice track, not quite as striking as the next one but a top notch pop/RnB song all the same. The video rather special too. For the most part I love it – the dancing is fantastic – an interesting concept that they really pull off. It reminds me of a musical. It’s nice to see the BB boys there – there are a lot of fans who will get a thrill out of that. The video is well casted and well directed. The only criticism I have is the little bit at the beginning in the café where Tae Yang is….”acting”. That’s the only way to describe it, but I’m using the term generously! Still, it’s only a minor flaw, I’m nitpicking. Good song, great video.

The second track is “Prayer”. This is simply stunning…I certainly see the comparisons that have been drawn with Omarion. The dancing in the PV is reminicint of his “Ice Box” PV. Tae Yang looks amazing though, no two ways about it. Wow, look at that toned bod! It’s a much more mature look than Big Bang has…or maybe it’s just put together better. Big Bang sometimes look like they’re trying to hard to be “gangsta”… Here is Tae Yang looking raw and ready. One request though – sort out the hair. Better yet – keep wearing that cap!

No disrespect to Tae Yang, but he never struck me as the one with the most solo potential in Big Bang. I’m certainly reconsidering my position now! It almost seems a shame that he has to return to the group so soon…hopefully the other guys take some pointers from this!

Congratulations Tae Yang, this should shut a lot of people up!

Tae Yang – Look Only At Me

Tae Yang – Prayer feat. Teddy

Note: If the videos are unavailable, let me know. You know what Youtube is like with this sort of thing…

May 22, 2008

So Hot or Not?

Filed under: k-pop,Review — by Milsean @ 5:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I’ll be brutally honest with you.

Since the publicity photos introducing to the Wonder Girls’ new image were released, I’ve been dreading their new song. By all means, the girls look good in the pictures – but it’s just not Wonder Girls!

Or so I thought.

The video for “So Hot” has been revealed and I take it all back. JYP sure knows what he’s doing. The outfits, in the context of the video, now make sense. It’s still a retro style, maybe a little bit more 80’s. The girls still look cute, just not so innocent. And why should they? Any successful artist needs to reinvent themselves (to a certain extent) between each album. You have to keep things fresh, right?

I’ve read other reviews of the video where the girls have been slammed for their new “sex pot” image. People need to grow up. The girls may still be young but their not stupid. How many of us didn’t glam it up when we were in our late teens? Besides, I hardly think acting your age and reflecting the materialistic society we live in today qualifies them as selling out to sexy.

The song itself echoes their previous hits with a retro disco beat. The tongue-in-cheek message of hard it is to be cute and popular is one that every girl is going to be singing on a night out. It’s catchy, the dance is cute – I’m sure it’s heading straight for number one. To be fair, most of the criticism seems to be directed towards the image change, rather than the song.

If you want your girl groups to fake their innocence and milk it for all they can, you can go and listen to SNSD. I’m happy with the Wonder Girls keeping it real. Now where can I get those pink socks like that….?!?!

Wonder Girls – So Hot (English Subbed)

May 21, 2008

“Press Se7en For An Autograph…”

Filed under: k-pop,News — by Milsean @ 8:55 pm
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Now this is what I like to see.

Rain’s flirtation with Stephen Colbert may be amusing, but Se7en (or his management at least) have the right idea. Following on from his recent promotional appearances at various hotspots ahead of the loooooooooong-awaited album release, Popseoul is reporting that Se7en will be making appearances in California Verizon Wireless shops. A sort of meet and greet/autograph signing, I imagine.

While some view this as a step backwards for the Korean superstar, I think it’s exactly what he needs. Let’s face it, as far as the English-language music market goes, Se7en is a nobody. So far. It’s unreasonable to expect the red carpet treatment so early in his Western career. He needs to build up a fan base beyond those that he has carried over from his Asian success.

Who are people more likely to take an interest in – another R’n’B singer pushed by a faceless record label,  or the guy who takes the time to meet people and win them over in person?

It might be tough at the bottom, but it will be worth it if you reach the top. And Se7en has the talent to go all the way.

Au Revoir?

Filed under: j-rock — by Milsean @ 6:38 pm
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Fans of Japanese rockers L’Arc~en~Ciel thought that the current L’7 tour was too good to be true.

They were right.

Rumours have been spreading across the web that this might be their last outing as a group for some time. The source of this story has been tracked down to a newspaper ad for their upcoming release. The feature also referred to “2011 NEXT LIVE 20th L’Anniversary Live.” It’s no surprise that that the mother of all gigs is being planned for the band’s 20th anniversary, but should we expect a three year hiatus in the interim?

Despite my growing love for the band after seeing them at the Paris show, some time off might do them good. A band that has been around for so long can only do so much. L’Arc have a great sound, but it’s not one that contains a MASSIVE amount of variety, thus they are always at risk from over-doing it. Personally, I prefer rarer releases of high quality rather than saturating the market.

Furthermore, the KISS album was supported by heavy publicity and two tours. A surprising large amount of songs have been licensed for use in CMs and video games. HYDE has a new solo project. Tetsu’s getting married. Etc. Etc. Etc. Three years is not a long time. Especially with the promise of some exciting solo releases in the meantime.

And think of how sweet that anniversary would be.

Take a break guys, make us wait.

It’ll be worth it.

http://www.tokyograph.com/news/id-3234

March 16, 2008

Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? No, It’s Super…

Filed under: k-pop — by Milsean @ 3:41 am
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Eunhyuk 

…Junior member Eun Hyuk flying through the sky!

Or….falling off stage on the March 13th edition of M! Countdown. And injuring his wrist. And leaving half-way through the show.

*ouch*

Now, Super Junior collectively may be at thick as a post (“cómh dúr le post” as we say as Gaeilge) and questionable in the talent department, but Eun Hyuk deserves a little more respect than some.

Unlike some of his bandmates he can rap, sing, dance and act. He’s the one that used to be in a group with DBSK‘s Xiah and the TRAX boys.

Further more, Eun Hyuk and I share the same birthday, him being a year older than me.

Get well soon Eun Hyuk oppa!

 This isn’t the first time he’s been gravitationally challenged:

And don’t feel too bad, even the best of us fall off the stage now and then:

Se7en’s White Day Extravaganza: Fail?

Filed under: k-pop — by Milsean @ 2:40 am
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 Se7en1    Se7en2   Se7en3

The girls at PopSeoul are reporting (as are a number of other sources) that Se7en’s hosting of a White Day party in the Hiro Ballroom was not the success that had been hoped for.

Fans (or perhaps anti-fans…) who attended the event in New York have complained that he spoke briefly in English, played (NOT performed) three new English tracks and that poor Se7en oppa is F-A-T.

I’m not sure what exactly they were expecting though.

He was added to the original line-up as a “host” (read: big-name to sell tickets), nobody said anything about a live performance. Se7en’s live debut of his new album will make or break him in America. He’s put nigh on two years work (in theory…) into this – he was never going to place all his bets on some non-event in New York.

As for his much-derided English, or “Engrish”, well…it’s not the worst. He spoke simply, but accurately, the best way to handle any foreign language. Netizens tend to be far to harsh when criticizing K-Popstars’ attempts to speak English. Sometimes I wonder just how linguistically gifted the faces in front of the screens are. Judging from some of the blogs out there the anwser is not very much at all.

Unfortunately Se7en seemed far to comfortable with the “Yo check it out!” type of English that pervades and pollutes the urban music scene. If you want to learn the language oppa, learn to speak it beautifully!

As for the songs (you can hear them on the links below), I like them. I don’t LOVE them, but they’re a step in the right direction. I suspect they would do well if sung by Omarion or Usher. Whether the world at large is ready for K-urban music remains to be seen.

Overall, Se7en’s night doesn’t seem to have been a total failure. Perhaps some people were left disappointed, but really it was only ever going to be a brief appearance, no more.

Se7en is back. He might want to shed a few pounds if he intends to show America the dance moves we know and love but…

…at least he has people talking.

SE7EN HWAITING!!!

Introducing his songs:

His first song:

His third song:

March 15, 2008

But Will Doraemon Provide Ferrero Rocher???

Filed under: japanese culture,Uncategorized — by Milsean @ 4:26 pm
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Doraemon 

Yesterday it was announced that popular robotic-cat thing Doraemon is to be Japan’s first “Anime Ambassador”. The (I suppose…) cute character will receive “official assignments” and promote Japanese culture through a number of specially created videos.

Hmmm….

Everyone knows that I’m not the biggest fan of anime and manga but I can appreciate why an “Anime Ambassador” couldwork. However, most people with access to any kind of media are aware of the huge following animation has in Japan. I would even go so far as to say that it’s a stereotype that does the country no favours. Outside of Japan, it is only a certain (albeit sizable) section of the public who can accept cartoons as mature entertainment for adults. These people are more that likely to be familiar with and a fan of other aspects of Japanese culture. Whether they like Doraemon or not, they don’t need him for this.

On the other hand, are people unfamiliar with anime going to be persuaded that Japan is a modern, vibrant country – by a time-travelling cat?

I doubt it.

I’m trying very hard to be more open minded when it comes to anime and manga, but I fail to see how an “Anime Ambassador” is going to be popular with anybody out of childhood in the West. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys manga, you already know Doraemon. If you’re not that kind of person…poor Japan.

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2008-03-14/doraemon-to-be-japan-first-anime-ambassador

Hatchimisu to Clover ハチミツとクローバー

Filed under: Review — by Milsean @ 4:03 am
Tags: , , , ,

honeyandclover 

I’m halfway through watching this Japanese drama…and, to be honest, looking forward to the end.

It’s not a particularly bad programme. There’s something lacking though.

The cast is certainly not the problem.

Ikuta Toma is as brilliant as ever playing the male lead Takemoto Yuta. He performs to the best of his considerable abilites, owning most of the scenes that he’s in. It’s a slightly unusual role for him to take. Takemota is an older character than he and many of his Johnny’s Entertainment compatriots tend to play and the series relies heavily on introspective shots of forlorn walks narrated by mournful soliloquies. This is, perhaps, Toma’s only weak point. After smaller parts in such big-name dramas as “Hana Yori Dango“, he made his mark on the acting world by upstaging his more prolific co-stars Oguri Shun and Horikita Maki in  “Hanazakari no Kimitachi e“and winning universal praise for his comedic skills. This, however, is underutilised in such a  serious role. While the actor cannot be faulted, the decision to cast him might be questioned.

Opposite Toma is Narumi Rika (from my favourite city of Yokohama!) as Hanamoto Hagumi. This is the first time I have encountered Narumi so I’m not best qualified to speak of her. However, she handles what she is given in “Honey and Clover” with relative competence. Unfortunately, what she is given is hardly worth mentioning. The character of “Hagu-chan” is as unappealing a female lead as I have come across in any drama. This shy, country girl is as dull as they come. Sweet and charming to be sure, but aside from an improbable gift for painting, one is left wondering what it is she offers the eclectic bunch of friends she meets in Tokyo. The answer is definately not humour. Narumi is frequently given “comedic” one-liners, meant to contrast her character’s simple upbringing with her new “zany” life in the city. The overall effect of Hanamoto Hagumi is far to saccharine for my tastes. I’m beginning to hope one of those riddiculously large canvases falls on her head soon…

The supporting cast – the obligatory comedic friends – are all experienced drama actors who easily hold their own in the ensemble. Harada Natsuki (who, along with Toma, is fresh from the success of Hana Kimi), Mukai Osamu (in a totally different role to his most famous appearance in Bambino!) and Narimiya Hiroki are rarely required to exert themselves. Narimiya, in particular, gives consitantly good performances, making this acting lark seem like a breeze (though this “cocky but caring” type role is one he is used to).

The main flaw in Hatchimisu to Clover is, unfortunately the plot itself. The story crawls along with minimal developments – then skips a year – and still nothing has happened. The fillers in each episode are entertaining, but the main plot arc is to underdeveloped at this stage in the season. I don’t particularly care if any or none of the potential couples get together. While the characters have been well-established as individuals, the group dynamic is lacking.

A minor irritant in the series is the theme tune, Hirai Ken’s “Canvas”. It mirrors the drama itself – beautifully crafted, serious, slow paced and very mature.

Perhaps it’s only me, but this is not what I have come to expect from a Japanese drama.

Hatchimisu to Clover is intriging enough that I want to follow it to the conclusion. The big-name cast are the saving grace to a shakey storyline.

But will there be a HtoC2?

I doubt it.

http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Hachimitsu_to_Clover

http://www.mysoju.com/honey-and-clover/

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