Archive for the Blog Business Category

2009 H!P Top Ten

Posted in Ai Takahashi, Blog Business, Eri Kamei, Hello!Project, Koharu Kusumi, Morning Musume, Risa Niigaki, Yuko Nakazawa on April 15, 2009 by Pex

Top Ten Lists are tricky things.  I love them, because they’re fun to make, and fun to read, but man, sometimes it is tough to choose among so many good possibilities.  Such was most definitely the case when I took part in Paul Thomas’s Hello!Blog Top Ten survey.  A lot of things weighed on my mind.  I would begin the list, then stop, then begin again.  The funniest thing is that I would start with a particular Top Ten “Theme” in mind, and try to select my top ten according to that theme, but by the time I got to five or six, I realized I was picking with different criteria than how I had started and thus, I was forced to begin again.  Eventually, I just went for it, and although many worthy candidates were not included, I am pretty happy with my list as it now stands.  The theme I eventually went with is “When I Think of Hello!Project, I Think Of…”

10 – Yuko Nakazawa – She’s about three or four years older than me, and I think she’s very sexy, but also a very practical woman with a temper that reminds me of me.  Neither one of us are as irritable as we used to be, but like me, I think Yuko still has her moments.  I, of course, want to marry her sometimes, but I think that’s due mostly to our similar age and also pity because she’s always worried about not finding a husband.  I want a wife someday, and so I sometimes daydream about Yuko “settling” for me if she doesn’t find anyone she really likes.  I should be so lucky…

9 – Chisato Okai – The lovable scamp!  I don’t even like Charles Dickens, but she reminds me of one of those Dickensian orphan boys who have had a hard life but aren’t adverse to a bit of mischief.  Plus, she has a very underrated voice.

8 – Asami Konno – I love a good underdog, and if you looked up underdog in the Japanese dictionary, you’d find a picture of Konkon next to it.  Assuming dictionaries have pictures, that is.  I’ve never seen one that did, to be honest.  Anyway, not liking Konno is like not liking children or puppies or rainbows.  If you don’t, you just don’t have a heart.  I could go on and on about how sweet and intelligent she is, but I’d serve her much better by telling you to go watch the “All 13 Together!” Morning Musume Christmas Special.  After watching that, if you don’t like Konno, you not only don’t have a heart, you don’t have a soul, either.

7 – Koharu Kusumi – Koharu, like coffee, is an acquired taste.  You either like them, or you don’t.  Fortunately, I’m rather fond of both of them. I love her Kirarin singing voice, and I like her sugary-sweet dorky personality.  I wouldn’t dream of trying to defend her to her “haters” as I, unlike Koharu, just don’t have the energy or persistence for it.  But she’s cool and don’t let anyone tell you she isn’t, and that’s all I’ll say about her for now.

6 – Junjun – If Angels do walk the Earth, then one of them must be Junjun.  She has a pure kind heart and she really seems to cherish her life on this world like the gift it really is.  Generous, but not in a goody-goody way, she really believes in that kind of sharing (those who have seen the “fake lottery” episode of Haromoni@ will know precisely what I mean here.)  Having said that, she has a great sense of humor, and seems to have a good time doing just about anything.

5 – Eri Kamei – When I was growing up, one of the first comic books I ever bought was Elfquest.  I was intrigued by the fierce, yet otherworldly nature of the Elves in that book, as well as their strange ethereal beauty.  To most people, Eri may be an alien (or Erien, whatever).  To me, though, she will always be a magical elf, full of mischief and surprise, and yes, beauty.  Plus, she looks cute in glasses.

4 – Reina – Reina is a sassy, no-nonsense kind of girl who will someday rule the world.  Or should do so, if there’s any justice.  I think I’m rather more fond of her than I used to be, especially since I found out she likes to watch tv a lot, and it’d be cool to come home and spend the night on the couch next to her, vegging out in front of the television with a bag of chips and watching our favorite shows together.

3. Mari – I wish she were my girlfriend.  She likes comics, anime, and having fun.  Her loud personality might be a bit of a challenge, but she’s sweet and beautiful and just seems like she’d be the most awesome person in the world to hang out with.

2. Risa – Sexy!Awesome is the only way to describe her.  Level-headed but with a sense of fun about her, she is truly one of a kind.

1. Ai – Perfection incarnate.  Sexy, sweet, hard-working, self-depreciating, lovable, huggable, oh-so-snuggle-able Ai-chan.  If Junjun is an Angel, then Ai is the Goddess she works for.  There is nothing about this girl that I don’t like.  Her voice is, quite honestly, the best voice I’ve ever heard sing, and I thank my lucky stars every day that I know of her and her beauty and talent.  Also, if I’m allowed a younger wife instead of Yuko, Ai-chan is, without a doubt, the girl I’d be on bended knee in a heartbeat for.

Well, there you have it, my H!P Top Ten.  Tune in next time when I will be listing a slightly naughtier Top Ten, courtesy of Shirow at Wotaku Now

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Time And Relative iDols In Space

Posted in Blog Business on March 20, 2009 by Pex

Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve loved the British sci-fi series, Doctor Who.  And when I grew up and discovered online fandom, I made a few friends there that are very dear to me.  One of whom is directly responsible for my being a Morning Musume/Hello!Project fan.  Namely Charmy Risuzu of Renai Project.

Today (or yesterday, depending on how the timestamp for this post comes out) celebrates the Second Anniversary of International Wota.  It is because of Charmy and IW that I started a J-Pop blog.  It is not their fault that I don’t update it as often as I should.  That’s down to my own laziness, sadly.  Anyway, in honor of them both, for Cake Day 2009, I present you with a TARDIS cake.  (The TARDIS being the time machine that transports the characters in the show to any time or place in the cosmos).  I often feel that J-Pop does the same thing for me, so anyway, without further adieu, here is the cake!  Itadakemasu!!!

tardiscake2

For the record, I didn’t make this.  I found it online.  But I sure would love to eat it…

Life in the (Renai) Project

Posted in Blog Business on November 12, 2008 by Pex

Just a quick note to let you all know, I’ve been asked to contribute to Renai Project as a staff writer.  This, of course, does not mean that I have abandoned The J-Pex, it just means that I’ll be writing the occasional article for them as well as my entries here on my own blog.  Since we’re on the topic of myself and writing, however, I would like to mention my other blog, Planet Pex.  It’s where I discuss everything non-J-Pop related, although there may be an occasional mention of something on that topic there, as the mood strikes me.

Basically, if you want to know my opinion on J-Pop, read The J-Pex.  If you want to know me, read Planet Pex.  And if you want to read good articles on great J-Pop that were not written by me, go to Renai Project, where I occasionally hang out.

Sons of Japan?

Posted in Blog Business, Misc on September 21, 2008 by Pex

As most Morning Musume fans can probably tell you, the meaning of the group’s name is often said to be “Morning Daughters” or the less literal “Daughters of Japan”.  But I find myself up at 2:21am (when I started writing this, anyways), wondering about the “Sons of Japan”.

I like several genres of music, but in most of them, I find myself listening to male singers more often than female.  This is not male chauvinism, at least not on a conscious level, because I tend to think women have prettier singing voices than men.  But when I list the names of artists/bands I’m interested in on at least a semi-regular basis, the guys almost always seem to outnumber the girls.  I don’t understand that, really.  I like looking at girls, I like hearing their pretty voices, but there are more songs by guys that I like than girls.  Well, it may be equal really, but at this late hour, I honestly can’t think of that many particular names from either gender.  It just seems like I listen to more guys than girls.  Let me be perfectly clear, I don’t think one gender is any better than the other, and most of the time, I don’t think about “which do I listen to more and why?”  If you like, blame it on my insomnia.

What’s really interesting, though, is that when it comes to J-Pop, I’m the exact opposite of that.  With the exception of SOUL’d OUT and m-flo (and that one song by Echiura), I don’t think I’ve heard hardly any male J-Pop.  I like to think I’m not shallow, but at the same time, I do know that as a heterosexual male, for some reason I’ve always had a predilection for Asian girls.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t like girls of other ethnicities, and it doesn’t mean that just any old Asian girl will do, it’s just that I personally find them attractive, in much the same way that my brother has a thing for redheads.  We all have likes and dislikes.  But I digress…

I don’t know why I haven’t noticed that many male J-Pop acts before, but the point is – I’d like to.  So please, if you’re reading this, I’d like you to recommend a male J-artist or group to me, and give me a couple of song titles to look for.  If you do, I’ll try to post my thoughts on what I see/hear in a future blog entry.

I Do Want What I Have Not Got

Posted in Blog Business on September 19, 2008 by Pex

fly to high recently posted an interesting question about J-Pop buying habits, and since I like answering questions when I’m able, here are my thoughts on his question, which was this:

Here’s the question: what CDs do you own? Do you buy all releases that you like? Do you buy some releases that you like? Do you only buy overseas versions? Do you only buy pirated versions? Do you not buy anything at all? And if you do buy a lot of releases – how do you afford it?

Well, for a start, you can see what I own by clicking on the link in the sidebar entitled My J-Pop Collection.  I don’t buy pirated versions (at least, not that I’m aware of) of the music I like.  Most of my collection comes from either YesAsia or pretty reputable eBay sellers.  I don’t really care whether they’re “overseas” versions or not.  Actually, I buy whichever I can find for cheaper that has the bonus stuff I want on it.  If I have to buy the Taiwan or Overseas version, so be it.  I’m American, so it’s all from overseas to me, dude.

No, I don’t buy everything I like, but I plan on doing so sooner or later.  The problem is…as much as I like J-Pop, it’s not my primary fandom.  I grew up loving science fiction and sitcom tv shows and comic books, and those are still the primary drains on my meager income.  So when it comes to J-Pop, I only buy something if I really, really like it, can afford it, and there’s a lull in the DVD release schedules.

I’m proud to support the artists I like, when I can, and there’s a lot I plan on buying eventually when I get the time and money to do so.  I can tell you right now that the list linked to in my sidebar is nowhere near as complete as I’d like it to be.  I’d like to own Mikan, Resonant Blue, Pepper Keibu (when it comes out), Yume Kara Samete, Danna Sama, Shouri no Big Wave, Seishun Love Lunch, the 2003 shuffles single, the Kirarin singles (or maybe the collections), Koi no Jubaku, Dschinghis Khan, Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance, Tokkaiko Junjou, LALALA Shiawase no Uta, Edo no Temari Uta II, Candy Baby, Love Bug, Dopamine, Tekito Lover, the rest of the Heartsdales singles that have English versions of the songs on them, etc.  Not to mention the rest of the BoA, Kumi Koda, and SOUL’d OUT albums I don’t have.  Maybe one day, I’ll have them all.  I certainly hope so.

My real philosophy for buying J-Pop goes like this…if you download something, and you really really like it, you ought to want to be able to hold an actual copy of it in your hands that you pay for with your own money, just to know it’s really yours.  If you really really like it, at some point, you’ll want to pay cash money for it.  So when I can, I do so.  Mind you, getting a physical copy of Yume Kara Samete is going to be more than a little bit difficult…

Survey Says…

Posted in Blog Business on June 29, 2008 by Pex

Another J-Pop music survey, this time from Celestia at Bikkuri Project:

1. You have found a magical J-pop genie who will grant you one J-pop related wish (so no wishing for a million dollars or world peace or anything like that). It can be virtually anything as long as it’s directly related to J-pop, and don’t worry, because this is the nice sort of genie, not the kind who will try to find a loop-hole and screw up your wish. So, what do you wish for???

I want Regionless DVD box sets of Hello!Morning with English subtitles.  If that’s not “directly” related enough to J-pop for you, though…

I want to be able to drive down to my local Wal-Mart or record store and buy any J-pop album or single I want. (In other words, I want worldwide mainstream distribution for J-pop music, so I don’t have to rely on online retailers or kind souls on eBay to supply me with my “fix” of J-pop goodness.)  I love getting packages in the mail, but there’s just something about proudly walking into a “brick and mortar” store and giving them money for Sexy 8 Beat, and walking out again with it tucked away in a little plastic bag that really appeals to me.  Yes, I already have that album, but that’s the first one I’d buy, just to show my support for the genre’s introduction into mainstream American culture.

2. Is there any J-pop artist or group who seriously pisses you off? If yes, who, and why?

Nope.  If I don’t like or care for an artist or group, J-pop or otherwise, I just won’t follow their work.  Life’s too short to waste time hating people or things when I can spend that time on someone or something I enjoy instead.  Seems a bit pointless, if you ask me.

3. Who do you think is the sexiest japanese singer out there?

Kumi Koda, ’nuff said.

4. How about the cutest?

Mari Yaguchi

5. Best personality?

Ai Takahashi

6. If given the opportunity, would you rather date person 3, person 4, or person 5?

I think I’d rather date Mari, she seems like she’d be a lot of fun to hang out with.  Marriage-wise, if it were to lead to that, Aichan would be my pick.

7. You work for a Japanese music magazine, and you have the opportunity to interview your favorite artist or group. What are a couple of the questions you want to ask them?

Hmm, I don’t know.  Probably something generic and uninteresting like “What would you like to say to your foreign fans?”  If it’s one of the three ladies I mentioned earlier, I’d probably ask “Would you go out with me?”  The magazine might fire me immediately afterward, but I’d be a fool not to ask.

8. What’s the best (J-pop) song to listen to when you are really sad?

Tough one.  I don’t really get that sad anymore.  I’m currently in a sort of state of grace when it comes to that sort of thing.  The only time I get sad much these days is when I think about dying.  I’ve always been afraid of it, so songs that tell me to make the most of life while I have it are the songs I like the most at that time.  For that reason, I really really like Mikan by Morning Musume.  It always cheers me up with its positive energy.

9. When you’re really happy?

I have three.  Shanimuni Paradise and Haru Beautiful Everyday by Morning Musume, and Dopamine by m-flo loves Emyli and Diggy-MO’.  SP is like summers off from school when I was a kid, that happy carefree time when I and my brother could play all day long in the kitchen floor with our toys with no worries.  HBE almost feels like a sixties song, simple and beautiful and timeless in its appeal.  Dopamine ’cause it rocks.

10. Do you often sing along to your favorite songs?

I try, but I don’t really know the words to most of them.  That’s only because I haven’t truly set my mind to it yet.  I figure if I can learn the words to Dragostea din tei and the Nations of the World song from Animaniacs, I can learn the words to any song.

11. How about dance?

Um, no.  Hop and skip around my bed as I make it up of a morning?  Sure.  Dance?  I wouldn’t call it that, no.

12. Artistic integrity question!! If someone offerrered to pay you for blogging, but they were allowed to censor some of your opinions or veto some of your blogging ideas, would you do it?

It depends.  All writing done on a professional basis for pay is subject to the whims of your editor and/or the people paying you to write, so they have to have at least some say in the topics you cover and what you’re allowed to say on their behalf (and it would be on their behalf, since they’re paying you).

In my mind, censorship and topic veto don’t come into the realm of “artistic integrity”.  Artistic integrity, as I see it pertaining to “opinion” blogging, is to tell the truth of your own opinions.  They can take out things I’ve said, and it would be censorship, but I wouldn’t be lying.  The words just wouldn’t be there at all.  If they don’t want me to write about a certain topic, I just wouldn’t write about it.  I’d only be lying (and therefore sacrificing my artistic integrity) if I posted something I didn’t believe, which I refuse to do.

George Wendt Eating Bean Paste?

Posted in Blog Business on June 22, 2008 by Pex

I love taking surveys, when it’s of my own volition and people aren’t interrupting my dinner with telephone calls demanding I take them.

So, I see on IntlWota that there are a couple of J-Music surveys doing the rounds on the blogosphere. Sounds like fun, so let’s have a look, shall we?

First up, Cutie Party has a simple ten question quiz designed to direct her toward new J-Music. Her questions (in bold), followed by my answers, are…erm…are as follows (what an awkward turn of phrase…)

1. What was the first Japanese song that you ever listened to?

The theme song from Star Blazers, but as for actual J-Pop, it’d be Kumi Koda’s cover of the theme from Cutie Honey. I was looking up her version of the song from Final Fantasy VII, and found this one first.

2. Did it inspire you to like that group/singer, or did it turn you away?

Oh yes. Despite Kumi’s reputation for being slutty (which I have no objection to and didn’t actually know about at the time anyway), the thing I remember most about the song and PV is the stylish disco-jazzy vibe it exuded. Now while I don’t know all of Kumi’s songs, most of the ones I have heard, I’ve liked, so yeah, I’d say it inspired me to like her.

3. What is the one song that you have been listening to for the longest time?

Probably Cutie Honey. I haven’t listened to it much recently, just when it comes up randomly in Windows Media Player, but it would technically be the longest.

4. What group/singer have you liked the longest?

Again, technically, Kumi Koda. Although I wouldn’t say she’s my favorite. I’ve discovered more since then, but I guess I’ll always have a soft spot for her. If not for her, I wouldn’t have discovered BoA, Heartsdales, SOUL’d OUT, m-flo, and so on. I owe that lady a lot.

5. What is the song with the most plays on your itunes/media player?

Currently, I’d say SOUL’d OUT’s cover of She’s a Bad Mama Jama. I prefer it much more than the original.

6. Is that song your favorite?

No. It’s not even my favorite SOUL’d OUT song, let alone my favorite J-Pop song ever (if it even qualifies as J-Pop, I’m not sure).

7. If not, what is?

SOUL’d OUT – Alive, J-Pop in General – It’s a tie between Egao YES Nude (Morning Musume) and Dopamine (m-flo loves Emyli & Diggy-MO’)

8. Is there any one group that you can listen to all/most of the songs by? If so, who?

Three-way tie between SOUL’d OUT, Heartsdales, and Morning Musume

9. What is your favorite agency?

I don’t really follow agencies, I follow the artists and groups who work at them. I guess UFA, since H!P work there, and Tsunku is a musical genius.

10. What is your favorite group/singer?

Male Group – SOUL’D OUT

Female Group – Morning Musume

Male Singer – Diggy-MO’

Female Singer – Ai Takahashi/BoA (Tie)

Okay, secondly, pengie from unchained wants to know what music is important to me and if there are any strong memories I have of particular songs or artists, and so forth. Brace yourself kiddies, we are going to be leaving the “on-topic” area of this blog for a bit.

Asian music is a recent interest of mine. Like many who grew up without the internet in their lives, my tastes ran to what was available in my neck of the woods, namely the southeastern United States in the late 80s/early 90s. Rather than do an entire essay on what I like, I’ll mention a few memories associated with the music I listened to back then.

  • I lived with my grandparents when I was little, but every Sunday morning, they would take me down to my mother’s house (ten miles into the country), and I’d go to church with my mom and dad. There was a “playlist” of songs I just had to hear every Sunday on the ride down to their house. These included Dixieland Delight by Alabama, and four songs from Hank Williams Jr. – The Pressure Is On – namely A Country Boy Can Survive, The Coalition to Ban Coalitions, Tennessee Stud, and The Ballad of Hank.
  • My Grandmother, the person I loved most on this Earth, used to rock me to sleep as a little boy. She was a big fan of Loretta Lynn, and sang a lot of her songs to me while she would rock me. One of them, See That Mountain, always made me cry. I was always afraid she would die and leave me, and every time she’d sing that song, I knew she was singing to me about that happening one day. And on March 30, 2000, it finally did. I was grown up by then, but it didn’t hurt any less. It hurt exactly as much as I thought it would, and more. (Another musical memory about her, I recited Celine Dion’s Because You Loved Me at her funeral. I’m not perfect, but everything that is good in me today, I attribute to her influence. Anything else, like Jimmy Buffett said, “It’s my own damn fault.”)
  • The first compact disc I ever bought was Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue. I was in the eighth grade at the time. (I’m not saying that I was young and didn’t know any better, I’m just saying that’s when I bought it.)
  • Hotel California by the Eagles is the only album I’ve owned on 8-Track, Audio Cassette, and CD. I kinda hate that I don’t own the vinyl version so I’d have a complete set.
  • I was first exposed to Enya in high school by my art teacher. She wanted us to paint what we felt as we listened to her music. “Anywhere Is” is still one of my favorite songs of all time.
  • My favorite band of all time is Ace of Base. My favorite song of all time is one of their songs, Never Gonna Say I’m Sorry. I understand three of the four have reformed the group and will be making a comeback in the next year or so. I’m cautiously optimistic about this.
  • The band that I owe my love of non-English-language music to is Eiffel 65. Their third album (which was self-titled) had two discs, one in English, one in their native Italian. It was upon listening to both that I decided that music truly is universal, and is good no matter what language it is in, even if I can’t understand what they’re saying when they sing.
  • I tend to have headaches (though not as many as I used to, since I steer clear of caffeine these days), and I like to take a nap and listen to soothing music while I try to recover. My albums of choice for doing so are the first Pure Moods collection, the first four Deep Forest albums (Deep Forest, Boheme, Comparza, and Music Detected), and Maxi Priest’s Best of Me.
  • I owe Charmy of Renai Project an incalculable debt of gratitude for introducing me to the International House of Tsunku (IHOT) a.k.a. Morning Musume/Hello!Project by showing me the PV for Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari. Also, I wouldn’t be writing this blog today, if I weren’t inspired by her own. Arigato gozaimasu, Charmy-chan! 🙂

Hmm, I think that’ll do, for now. Hope this answers a few of your questions, guys. 🙂