May 22, 2013
Why do the nations so furiously rage over Mizuki Fukumura’s new photobook?
If you haven’t seen the contents, then surely you’ve already seen the arguments over its contents. It’s the same words and logic that are thrown about whenever a young idol shoots her first photobook: Hmm yummy!, I’ve never seen this side of her before, It’s not right for her to do “those kinds” of poses, She entirely has the right to do whatever kinds of poses she likes, Now she’s just a busty sex object, Well maybe YOU should stop treating her like an object, etc. etc. etc. For further reference please open up any Morning Musume discussion forum and prepare to have your brain melted.
Actually, it’s her hotness that is melting my brain.
But the real issue, I think, lies deeper than simply dredging up buzzwords like “Japanese standards” or “the wota audience” or “age appropriateness” or even (puts on Social Justice Defensive Forcefield) “slut shaming.” People love to argue about high-minded talking points like these, to make themselves sound important and look smart. But there is a unifying principle behind all this:
What are idols, and celebrities in general, for?
That is to say, what is their purpose in life? In YOUR life?
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May 7, 2013
Hmm … where have I heard this one before?
The saviors of humankind???
Newly-minted girl group Juice=Juice has made a dashing first impression, becoming the darlings of J-idol fandom almost as quickly as Stephen Curry has become the darling of NBA basketball. With his pure shooting stroke and legit playmaking skills, Curry has captured the imagination of the hoops nation, not to mention his eyes are prettier than Yuka Miyazaki’s. But I digress. Juice=Juice has all of two singles to their name, both under an indie label (which means no B-side tracks), yet the sheer impact of these songs and the videos accompanying them are inspiring all sorts of buzz among fans. “Better than S/mileage,” some are saying. “The greatest talent Tsunku has ever assembled.” “Hello! Project is finally doing something right.”
After two songs? As in, they don’t even have enough repertoire to fill in between two MC segments at a concert?
While people often say “Don’t be so quick to judge!” in response to something negative, I think the same words of warning apply to positive reactions too.
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April 24, 2013
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – some famous dude
The last year-and-a-bit* has seen Morning Musume shift into the “Electro Musume” [nobody actually uses this nickname] era, with their latest songs being defined by heavy synthesizer riffs, dance-club beats, and more vocal manipulation than the Tuvan throat singers of Siberia. People love it. People hate it. Lasped fans and newcomers are showing up. Longtime fans (definition of LONGTIME: “I remember the beginning of the Platinum era!”) are turning away. Still, the fact that Morning Musume’s new sound is sparking controversy is more important than whether it’s “good” or not. I mean, what is “good” anyway? Everyone has different criteria by which they judge what kind of music they like. But people are talking about it! And talk, positive or negative, is good. Better than being ignored and irrelevant.
*Observant listeners will realize that the seeds of this were actually planted even before that, with random acts of dubstep in “Only You” and “Renai Hunter” that foreshadowed the changes to come.
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March 14, 2013
WARNING: Spoilers follow, reader discretion advised.
In the current season of the AKB0048 anime, we get an inside look at one of the intergalactic idol group’s arcane rituals: the selection of a “successor,” when an idol’s
power of the Force latent idol-ness kicks into overdrive and she takes on the identity of one of AKB48′s renowned members from the early 21st century. Similarly, just a day or two ago, we got to witness one of the Catholic Church’s arcane rituals: the papal conclave, when the Church’s top leaders elect a new pope and the freshly-appointed pontiff takes on a new name to reflect this great change.
There’s a lot of power in names, especially famous names that are linked to powerful organizations with a rich tradition. Okay, so maybe being able to do the MIX (“Tiger! Fire! Cyber! Fiber!…”) isn’t quite as ~traditional~ as being able to say the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father, who art in heaven…”), but let’s roll with the fictionalized world of AKB0048 and assume that future-AKB probably is as powerful as the Church. And let’s suppose that the mention of historic names like Mariko Shinoda, Minami Takahashi, Mayu Watanabe, and so forth might, someday, be held in the same esteem as that of St. Francis of Assisi. To that end, selecting one’s successor name is a very weighty choice. It’s not like you just walk in one day and say “I’m gonna be Acchan!” and BOOM you get to be Acchan after 3-4 years of training and study. It is a very powerful, personal choice that goes far beyond just what happens on stage and in front of the cameras.
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March 6, 2013
At last year’s Anime Expo I was approached by a staffer who was doing, by the looks of it, a little “market research.” It was just your basic customer questionnaire about stuff like “How long have you been going to AX,” “What kind of AX events are you interested in,” “Who were your favorite guests at AX,”
“Who is your favorite Doctor,” actually no they didn’t ask that last one because when I go to an anime con I expect to engage in the hobby of ANIME and not be surrounded by freaking cosplays of DOCTOR WHO. Anyway. Last week I got a follow-up survey where AX is trying to figure out what kind of music acts they should be bringing to this convention.
To be succinct, the survey was asking which music guests, among Anime Expos of the last few years, were of greatest interest TO ME. So like they wanted to know if you like Kalafina or Hatsune Miku or [hold the punchline] Animetal USA. And if they brought back THAT guest, would you be interested in seeing them again.
YES, we could be once again be graced by Yasushi Akimoto’s shit-eating grin.
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