Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Walking Down The Graduation Crosswalk - An Interview with LONDON BLUE (19/08/2019)

I would like to start this post with my gratitude towards LONDON BLUE's manager, Kiyoshi Hayashi - also known as Rin Say - for allowing me this opportunity once again, as well as for allowing me to use images from LONDON BLUE's live shows via their Twitter page. I also want to thank both KANA and KYOKA for their hard work and for answering these questions despite being busy with practice, performances and more.

I would also like to thank ジュンペイさん, ヤウユ and ふしあな for allowing me to use their images in this post. Full credit will be given via each photo used.

Inspired by British music, UK fashion, Japanese pop and a cool n' cute vibe, LONDON BLUE are a J-pop Idol duo filled with energy and packaged in a cute burberry or plaid design. Styling themselves around UK fashion prints, the groups love for Britain - London in particular - is undeniable in both their look and sound, and with each performance the girls will wave a towel of white and blue above their heads with pride.

Created 6 years ago, LONDON BLUE has faced their fair share of hurdles as an indies idol group before finally making their major debut under King Records in 2017. Now that their 6th Anniversary is on the horizon, the group faces their biggest hurdle yet - the graduation of their current lineup, KANA and KYOKA. With this, LONDON BLUE will restart with the introduction of new members, girls who are ready continue the groups legacy whilst finding their own path to walk down.

(Photo courtesy of ジュンペイさん via Twitter)

With their graduations announced back in early August, KANA and KYOKA have since been preparing for their last few performances together before LONDON BLUE's September 18th One Man Live, which will see former members MISAKIKAORURIYOKAYANO and 3510 return to the stage with KANA one last time before she graduates. This special One Man Live will also act as the penultimate performance for KYOKA, who will go on hiatus from the group until her final Birthday Live on September 30th. She will not be participating in any live shows or events with the new members.

Their future's seemingly set in stone - KYOKA potentially walking down the acting path whilst KANA aims to stay behind the scenes as the groups choreographer - both members have an exciting time ahead of them. With the hurdles of the idol world soon behind them, the excitement and the memories that this path has brought them down, it's time to have one final chat with the girls before they go their separate ways and create a new road for themselves.

Before they both take the crosswalk towards a new career, let's talk a little about graduations and instruments, memories and new era's with KANA and KYOKA, the energetic idol duo behind LONDON BLUE...

Sunday, 25 August 2019

The Definition Of A Shoddily Promoted Single - 'Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi' by Houkago Princess (Single Review)

*Any and all mistakes made here are never intentional. If you find any mistakes, please let me know, because I try to own up to my mistakes and fix them if at all possible. Whether they are typos, fragmented sentences or terrible misspellings, any and all mistakes found and brought up are appreciation. Thank you.

**You can find the full single for your listening pleasure on Spotify.

In order to define a story, one must look back at the chapters already written. For Princesses who have come from a long line of royalty before them, it's time to walk down their own path and create their own tales without the help of their Queen, but before they can take those steps they must look back and understand those who stood before them.

With a new leader, a new lineup and a brand new single, Houkago Princess are ready to define their own era. It's time to step forward as we appreciate their past, so get ready for a new kind of magic. Are you ready?


Despite being around for 8 years now, Houkago Princess are ready to re-define themselves in Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi, a single that celebrates their past, present and future in this brand-new era of members!

And boy oh boy, was I excited for this single! After Kaguya ni Negai wo was released I couldn't help but feel ecstatic for what HouPri had up their new billowing sleeves now that a new generation had been introduced. Odagiri Nana is gone, Sekine Sasara is Leader and there are brand-spanking new members, so of course there had to be something amazing ready for the group to properly introduce everyone and showcase what this new lineup had to offer, right?

Right?

.... R.I.G.H.T?



I'm already using gifs. Make of that what you will, dear readers.

Well, I was excited for this single - as stated above - but when promotion didn't happen and a PV was never properly released, my confidence in this single waned considerably. I wanted to hear and experience it, but couldn't due to a lack of anything that wasn't a poorly constructed single cover. I wanted to sing along with the lyrics that were posted to the groups official website, but there were no songs to listen to because snippets weren't released, digital uploads were void and a PV wasn't readily available until weeks after the official single release.

It was getting a little frustrating, to say the least, and I was losing some form of hope until - thank the Lords - my friend managed to obtain her copy of the CD, meaning that I could finally sample the songs from this brand new release until my own versions came in the mail. I could finally listen to the songs for HouPri's new era, but was it all worth it?

A month after the single's official release and many listens later, it's time to finally sit down to listen to Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi, a single that is set to define HouPri's new era as a group. With a new generation, a new leader and a new chapter ready to begin, will this version of Houkago Princess live up to the standards set from past releases, or will it fall as quickly as the hype staff tried to create for this single, only for them to fail miserably with promotion?

Let's define Houkago Princesses latest release and listen to what this new era can deliver. Whether it's good or bad, generic or new, it's time to pass judgement on Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi in sound, style and tune.

So. Let's start~

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Defining A Decade: First Time Idol Lover - The 10-Year Nostalgia Bomb That Is 'Nanchatte Ren'ai' by Morning Musume (Single Review)

*Any and all mistakes within this Review are indeed the error of a human, and therefore I hope to be forgiven. If mistakes are made, if mistakes are seen, please let me know as soon as they are spotted, for then I can erase and correct them. Though I can not erase the errors of my past, please allow me to erase the errors within my post. Thank you.

August 12th, 2009 marked the 40th single release for Morning Musume, and with that release came the birth of a fan. 10 years later a lot has changed, with new faces joining the group and older ones leaving. With all these changes and my own love for the group null and void, has the moving melody of Nanchatte Ren'ai been replaced by the bitter tones of dismay, or will the single hold up and bring me back to a better time?

Taking a leap back in time, let's take a look at the song that birthed my fandom and allowed the Platinum Era of Morning Musume to be recognised for the iconic girls that they are today. With style and maturity, will Nanchatte Ren'ai stand the test of time, or will it be left in the dust of the dilapidated building the group danced in so long ago? 

Let's wipe off the cobwebs, press play and find out.


Morning Musume need no introduction here, mostly because this group provided a lot of my main content back when I started out blogging. In general though, a lot of people know of Morning Musume, and a lot of people are aware of how great the Platinum Era was. In fact, it's the Platinum Era that created a whole host of new fans, people who loved the group for its maturity, their vocals and the interesting sound that Morning Musume had in plenty of their A-sides. They were cool, they didn't have a kiddish or youthful aura, and their music matched that style and tone. It was an interesting time for the group, and though their fans were far and few between at that point in Morning Musume's career, the Platinum Era has to be one of the most recognised lineups of all time.

2009 was the time I became a fan of Morning Musume, and though my love for the group began when it was closer to the tail-end of the Platinum Era, I can't help but recognise 2009 as a key year for me when it comes to the group itself. This was my starting point with idols I guess, even if it was Koharu who brought me to the attention of Morning Musume. But without this group I probably wouldn't have stayed around for too long. At that point in time, I was still heavily invested in anime and manga and only cared for anisong opening and ending tunes.

The Morning Musume of 2009 looked and felt cool, the vocals were mesmerising and the music spoke to me, I suppose. I didn't understand it, but the way it sounded was something that hooked me. I was only 16 at this point in time, so I was very much a moody teenager transitioning from secondary school to college, and seeing this group in their dark but elegant clothing, the way they sang and the prettiness of their choreography spoke to me. I liked it, and I loved how it contrasted with the typical cutesy, annoyingly generic idol songs that I absolutely adored way back when. 

Morning Musume stood out to me. At that time I hadn't experienced such a powerful, moving song like Nanchatte Ren'ai when it came to Japanese music. So it spoke to me, and after that I became hooked.

And with that memory in place I knew that I had to talk about this single. Nanchatte Ren'ai was essentially my gateway into the idol community, and with its 10 year Anniversary comes my own decade-long experience as an idol fan. Even though it feels like the song was released three years ago at most, Nanchatte Ren'ai is already 10 years old and creating its own landmark. It's unbelievable but true, and now I can't help but feel both nostalgic and overwhelmed. How has it been this long since the singles release?

Now it's time to take a look back at Nanchatte Ren'ai, a song that was released a decade ago. For myself and many others this single was a defining moment in our fandoms, and for plenty of us it was the start of something beautiful. So without further ado, let's pull out that dusty CD player and crack open that ancient CD case containing Nanchatte Ren'ai. It's time to see what defined our fandom one decade ago.

Are you ready to fall into a pit of nostalgia?

Thursday, 8 August 2019

An Interview with Miura Ayme at Hyper Japan Festival 2019 (July 14th 2019, Sunday)

The following Interview was conducted at Hyper Japan Festival 2019 at the Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre in London, England.

Acting as a representative of Selective Hearing, I would like to thank Miura Ayme and his translator for giving us their time and answering our questions. I would also like to extend my thanks to the Hyper Japan Team for for making the event itself happen, and I would finally like to extend my thanks towards both Mischa and one of Hyper Japan's own translators for making the opportunity to interview Miura Ayme a reality, and for helping to translate the more difficult questions and answers. Without any of these people this interview would not have happened, so thank you.

*This interview has been cross-posted from Selective Hearing, of which you can find HERE. Though the differences are not that great, I feel as if this interview is a little more raw in its edited form as opposed to Selective Hearing's more precise, tidier version. I have also included some questions / answers that were cut from the SH version.



With its 10th Anniversary weekend underway from July 12th until July 14th 2019, Hyper Japan Festival 2019 opened its doors to fans of Japanese anime, manga, food, film, music, travel and fashion in Kensington, London. With two floors to fill at the Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre, Hyper Japan currently stands as the UK's biggest Japanese Culture convention.

What makes the event itself unique is not its copious amounts of anime, manga, plushies, food and cosplayers, however, but its use of the Hyper Live Stage. Set at one end of the Exhibition Centre, the stage acts as a platform for various performances, cosplay parades and talks throughout the weekend. Yet through the course of Hyper japan's decade-long run, the stage has since become a symbol of opportunity for Japanese artists, groups and performers who aim to make their stage debut in the UK regardless of how big or small they might be.

This year for their 10th Anniversary, Hyper Japan welcomed Visual Kei soloist Miura Ayme back to a bigger stage, two years after his first appearance at the event. Though the singer initially started out on the Hyper Live Street Stage - set on a square patch of cloth on the floor within the Exhibition Centre - 2019 marked a triumphant return for the singer as he stepped out onto the stage to a crowd of excited fans and listeners.



With activities for his solo project beginning on March 21st 2018, Miura Ayme - more commonly known as Ayme (pronunciation: I'm) - is a Visual Kei artist and cosplayer with a penchant for military style jackets. With a music style that leans more towards the rock and synth infused sound, Ayme has been steadily releasing original songs since his re-debut as a solo performer, starting with the track Kamisama Nante. Prior to his solo project, Ayme stood as the vocalist for Visual Kei band, Ecthelion under the stage name Miu. After leaving the group in order to walk down his own path, Ayme continued to perform and make a name for himself within the Western fan community, and made appearances at conventions such as JAPANicon in Poland (2017), JAPAN EXPO in France (2018), and Ani-mode in Taiwan (2019), as well as his first appearance at Hyper Japan Festival in 2017.

Now cutting a sharp figure on the coveted Hyper Live Stage this July, it became clear that Ayme had made it his mission to impress all who watched. Charismatic and stylish, Ayme enraptured his audience with powerful stances, a flare in his step and a moving voice that filled the Exhibition Centre during his Saturday and Sunday performance slots. Undeniably talented, watching Ayme take over the stage and make it his own was an experience in and of itself, and with every smile and each excited step, it became clear that being a performer was Miura's calling, and the happiness he delivered to his listeners only made this realisation a cold-hard fact.

With his final performance on the Sunday, Ayme held one last meet and greet with his fans before joining Selective Hearing for a one-on-one interview to discuss performing at Hyper Japan, music, style and a promise made back in July 2017.

Monday, 29 July 2019

An Interview with NECRONOMIDOL at Hyper Japan Summer Festival 2019 (July 14th, 2019 Sunday)

The following Interview was a part of Group Interview made up of Press from Selective Hearing, NerdOD, Bunkazilla and an independent Journalist, Erin.

On behalf of Selective Hearing, I would like to thank Derek, Ricky and the members of NECRONOMIDOL for giving us their time and answering our questions. I would also like to extend my thanks to the representatives for NerdOD and Bunkazilla, as well as Erin, for sharing their questions and allowing me to include them in this interview. Without their contributions, you would only see two questions on this page.

Finally, I would like to thank the team behind Hyper Japan who made the event itself happen, and I would also like to express my thanks towards Mischa for allowing these interviews to take place. Without her this interview would not have been a reality. Thank you.


Celebrating its 10th Anniversary, Hyper Japan kicked off their first event of the year with their Summer Festival on Friday the 12th of July 2019. Held over the course of three days at the Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre in London, England, Hyper Japan currently stands as the biggest Japanese Culture convention within the UK.

With two floors to fill, Hyper japan goes above and beyond when it comes to dedicating itself to showcasing the joys of Japanese culture. From anime, manga, plushies, snacks, films, tourism and travel booths, alcohol, art and music - as well as a dedicated food area - Japanese paraphernalia line the stalls for all to see. Attendees can also attend a maid cafe, take part in various workshops, watch showcases and even listen to and watch live music performances from Japanese groups and singers on the Hyper Live Stage, or listen to and watch performers and coverists on the Hyper Street Live.


This year, Hyper Japan's Live stage turned black with the appearance of NECRONOMIDOL. With performances held on the Friday and Sunday of Hyper Japan weekend, the group certainly made an intriguing entrance thanks to their chilling aura and Gothic attire, all tied together perfectly by the billow of smoke that encompassed the sides of the stage.



Made up of five members - Kakizaki Risaki, Imaizumi Rei, Tsukishiro Himari, Kenbishi Kunogi and Michelle - NECRONOMIDOL seem sombre upon first appearance, but soon erupt into an enigmatic and upbeat performance once the music begins. With an elaborate story to tell, NECRONOMIDOL create an almost theatrical, undeniably moving performance thanks to their emotive choreography and haunting vocals.

From the ground floor to the balcony above, NECRONOMIDOL lead their listeners into a chorus of chaotic energy song after song, before finally taking time out of their busy schedule to hold a meet and greet. Met with a rather impressive outcome, old and new fans alike came to meet the members of NECRONOMIDOL for a few brief moments before deciding whether or not they would partake in the cheki (Polaroid) shoot with the girls.


On Hyper japan's final day, Selective Hearing - as well as NERDOD, Bunkazilla and a student, Erin - were able to sit down and chat with NECRONOMIDOL before the groups final appearance on the Hyper Japan Live Stage. From their image to performing abroad and more, let's take a deeper look into the minds of those who make up NECRONOMIDOL.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Interview With Chitose Saki of 2& - Selective Hearing Interview

*This Interview has been cross-posted from Selective Hearing.


Back in April of 2019, 2&'s (DOUBLE AND) own Chitose Saki made her way back to the UK for a second round of performances after her previous stint in June of 2018 where she acted as a supporting act for NECRONOMIDOL. This time however, Saki stood centre stage as the headliner act and performed alongside fellow underground idols GARUDA and 14th Generation Toilet Hanako-san.

Since speaking with Saki for the first time back in 2018, 2& has undergone a few small yet significant changes, including Saki's recent change of her moniker from Saki to her full name, Chitose Saki, as well as the announcement that 2& has been signed under the label REDMusic. She has also been learning English since her first stint in the UK.

Now, more than a year after our first interview with talented and greatly adored Chika (underground) solo idol, Selective Hearing have reached out to talk with Saki once more about the April 2019 UK tour, 2&'s latest album released for the UK tour, and a little more.

All answers were written in English by Saki, with help from her English teacher. Thank you Saki for your time, and for answering everything in English!

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Diving Into The Catch Of The Day! - A Look at 'Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no Uta' by BANZAI JAPAN (Single Review)

*I am but a human, and though I try to check my errors and mistakes, I skip a few from time to time. So if you care to be so kind, please point out the errors of my post. I will be forever grateful. Thank you in advance~

It's time for the catch of a day, and with my reborn interest in reviewing music - not music videos, shock freakin' horror - today I have managed to fish out a little bit of BANZAI JAPAN from the sea for everyone to check out with me!

In their major debut single, BANZAI JAPAN introduce the world to their interesting mix of traditional sounds meet EDM and modern pop, but with this small collection of fun, interesting sounds, will BANZAI JAPAN successfully fish you out of the water and sink a catchy music hook into you, or will you be left flailing for something far more worthwhile?


In one of their biggest leaps since the groups first overseas performances in both France and England in 2018, BANZAI JAPAN are now taking a further step forward with their major debut single, Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no uta, a colourful release that will dazzle their current fans whilst reeling in a few new ones.

And hey, with a cover like Type A has, who wouldn't be intrigued by this group and what they have to offer? It's so entertaining and strange to look at that it seems quite... catchy, if you will. Ahem

Well, it isn't just BANZAI JAPAN's imagery that catches ones attention. From how they dress to the way they sound, there is no denying that BANZAI JAPAN as a group are quite intriguing as a whole. Maybe my own bias is showing here, but in terms of their sound and style, I find the group to be rather vibrant and refreshing, and though their schtick might not be the most original out there, this group has a goal that fans can appreciate, and in turn I appreciate their efforts as both individuals and a group.

Also, before I get into the history part of this opening, can I just say a huge CONGRATULATIONS to BANZAI JAPAN for tapping that #1 Oricon spot on their first day? Cause damn girls, that was something I didn't expect. Kudos to you, and thanks for being such amazing sports and working so damn hard on your major debut. What a damn milestone.

Okay, celebrations aside, let's do some brief diggin':

Made up of 16-members, BANZAI JAPAN was originally formed in May of 2014 as a project which would promote the culture of Japan through music, dance and idols. Auditions began in a month later in June 2014, with the first initial members of the group being revealed between July and August respectively. In November 2014, the first three members - Shinkai Yuna, Minamo Mizu and Hanasaka Saya - held their first live performance. In December that year, BANZAI JAPAN held their first 'real' live performance as a group.

Over the years the group has seen members come and go thanks to the 'revolving door' system that most female Japanese idol groups have adopted, however BANZAI JAPAN's mission has stayed consistent. With a goal to promote Japan's vibrant culture and various prefectures, BANZAI JAPAN aim to scout Evangelists, girls from various prefectures who will promote their hometowns and its charms to their audience. With each member representing their individual prefectures, it has become BANZAI JAPAN's goal to recruit at least one girl from each of japan's 47 prefectures into the group so that they can share Japan's culture with the world. The group also has a sub-unit, ASHIGARU JAPAN, which includes both trainees and full-fledged BANZAI JAPAN members.

There are currently 11 prefectures being represented by an Evangelist, with a total of 21 prefectures being represented in the groups history.

In April 2018, BANZAI JAPAN won the Tokyo Candoll 2018 contest, which allowed the group to travel to France, where a selected amount of members were able to perform at Japan Expo Summer 2018. The group then went on to attend Hyper Japan Winter 2018 in the UK, with 7 members representing the group.

Since the groups inception, BANZAI JAPAN have released 4 singles and one full-length studio album, with Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no uta being the groups first double A-side. As of 2019, the group are under Victoria Beats, a sub-label under Nippon Columbia. BANZAI JAPAN is managed by Cospanic Entertainment, a company which aims to promote the group not only around Japan, but the world, with the official website offering both Japanese and English descriptions. Some members of BANZAI JAPAN also know a decent amount of English.

With an aim to visualise Japan's magnificent culture to the world, BANZAI JAPAN will entertain you with their music and dance performances, which includes a mix of traditional Japanese and modern-era styles, with fan-waving being a key aspect in the groups choreography. Fan participation in fan-waving and para-para is also heavily promoted by the group

And with that, it's time to hook ourselves a catch in the form of BANZAI JAPAN's Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no uta! Are you ready to take the bait and leap into the BANZAI JAPAN fandom? With their catchy music, mesmerising choreography and super sweet personalities, how can you not entertain the idea of being fished by any of them?

It's time to dive in! Shall we? ;)