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?


.... 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? ;)

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

The Vengeance Of An Idol Wronged - 'scions of the blasted heath' by NECRONOMIDOL (EP Review)

*The following EP was sent for Review purposes. My opinions my own, but my love for NECRONOMIDOL is unwavering. Just so ya know.

**If you see any typos, blips, issues or misspellings seen within this review, please feel free to point them out. I am but a mere mortal, and us mortals make mistakes. Help me to improve this space bit by bit, typo by typo.

With their new EP release - the first to feature the groups 2019 lineup, as well as the debut of the two most recent members - NECRONOMIDOL are set to blacken stages further with scions of the blasted heath, a 5 song EP that will feature songs themed around trauma, entropy and conquest, whilst exploring Lovecraftian influences along the way.

With jacket art drawn by manga artist Jun Hayami, a new collaboration track as well as some returning composers, NECRONOMIDOL's latest in music is sure to intrigue a few new listeners, whilst also bringing the older fans back with even more catchy tunes and invigorating compositions.

Are you ready to delve into the depths of Idol Hell?

(This Review has been cross-posted with Selective Hearing, where you can read a far more condensed version of this post if your eyes cannot handle the sheer amount of letters and mumbo-jumbo)

With the halfway point for 2019 encroaching upon us in swift fashion, it makes sense for NECRONOMIDOL to deliver unto us all some brand-spanking new music. A mid-year release, some fans might find the timing of scions of the blasted heath a little later than usual for a group, however this EP could not have been dropped at a better time, and here's why:

Promotions for the groups latest release will begin just a month shy of NECRONOMIDOL's up-coming July tour, EUROPEAN INQUISITION, which starts in France on July 11th, and will see the group perform in London, Birmingham and Inverness in the United Kingdom, as well as the Netherlands, Germany, Finland and Sweden, with the latter three countries being a first for the group to conquer, performance-wise.

scions of the blasted heath also acts as the official EP debut for newest members Kenbishi Kunogi and Michelle, who both debuted with the group back in January this year.

So whilst the latest NECRONOMIDOL release may be a late edition for some, the timing could not have been better planned, as scions of the blasted heath comes at a point where NECRONOMIDOL will be promoting their European tour a lot more heavily. This EP will also serve as a great starting point for newer fans and listeners who may be attending the up-coming shows for the first time. Likewise, scions of the blasted heath will act as a fuel for the more seasoned listener's excitement, allowing older fans to truly soak in the atmosphere of NECRONOMIDOL right before their tour is set to begin.

Either way, this EP will certainly deliver some much-needed anticipation when it comes to the groups European tour, as well as the overseas stage debut of Kunogi and Michelle.

I feel this group needs little to no more introduction, but if you are curious about the group and what they do, please check out my handy-dandy NECRONOMIDOL Introduction which goes through a bit of their history, as well as the groups releases and music videos. For now though, it's time to take a dive into this EP release and hear exactly what it's all about.

With a little bit of Lovecraft, a dash of trauma and a pinch of light-hearted Idol-ness thrown in there, scions of the blasted heath will drag you into a world of atmospheric beauty. Are you ready to delve into NECRONOMIDOL's intricately-spun web?

It's time to lose ourself in the music.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

A Theme From Spring - A Look at 'Date Datte' by READY TO KISS (Single Review)

*I am human and I make mistakes. So call me out on everything I make a blunder in, and help me correct those typos, misspellings and mis-translations.

Spring may have passed us by, but READY TO KISS keep the season alive in their most recent single, Date Datte. With four new songs accompanied by their instrumental counterparts, READY TO KISS deliver a whisper of both the vibrant and darker tones that Spring can deliver during its reign.

For their first single of 2019, will Date Datte deliver the tone and style the title creates, or will it leave people desiring more when it comes to sound, vocals and more?

Creative outlets, I have plenty, but my creativity does not always manifest itself in the form of the written word. Whether it is crafting, drawing, brainstorming story ideas or writing out a review, I always fall back on something creative when I need it most. Right now writing is my personal therapy, and for the first time in a long while this blog has become Sanctuary, so I will do my best to make use of this desire to write and review whilst I can.

And hey, let's be honest here; it's not like I've been making use of this space as I should be. I can only hope that I get to some PV Reviews before too long, because I really do miss them.

With that semi-emotional spiel spielled, today's review comes in the form of my latest ear-splitting delight, READY TO KISSES Date Datte, released way back in March of this very year (2019). Featuring eight tracks (including instrumentals), 8 editions and a few squeaky, sub-par vocals, Date Datte will surely deliver an array of sounds for all listeners, and perhaps a few earaches along the way. It depends on how much you can handle in terms of vocal capability, or a lack thereof.

Oof, that is very tongue-in-cheek, isn't it?

Before I go on a mini-rant and lose you completely, let's take a quick History check on the group itself, shall we? Here we go:

Debuting in late 2013, READY TO KISS began their activities with as a 5-member unit under GET CRAZY, with former Houkago Princess members Chiba Sakino, Noda Hitomi, Nagafuji Aoi and Kobayashi Rena - as well as newcomer Ichinose Anju - making up the group in its first phase. The group did not release their first single until January 14th, 2015 however, but were already known amongst underground idol fans for their high-energy performances. In July 2015, READY TO KISS made their major debut under Stand-Up! Records, a subsidary to Universal Music Japan which also housed acts such as Iketeru Hearts, Afilia Saga East and others.

READY TO KISS stayed with Stand-Up! Records throughout 2015, however parted ways with the agency after that. In 2017, the group underwent a major lineup and image change, and had their second major debut under King Records with their second major single (third if you include their indies release). Currently, the group has released six singles as well as a mini-album titled reset.

There are currently 7 members in the group: Chiba Sakino, Uehara Ayuko, Kiyokawa Reina, Amau Kisumi, Sasaki Miho, Makino Hiromi and Harukawa Momona.

And with that all written and overviewed, it's time to get to the review itself. Let's take a little listen, spill a bit of ketchup and crank up that volume (but not by much) because it's time to talk about music, and maybe those vocals as well. Let's discuss, dear readers.

Ready, set... GO!

*This gets pretty candid at the end, because I am inconsistent in my tone. Typical.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

The New Era Starts Soon! Houkago Princess Reveal Covers for 'Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi' + Other Updates!

And in others news, I love HouPri.

Oh, wait. That's not news. Oops.

With July quickly swooping upon us, it comes as no surprise to see that Houkago Princess have already begun their usual round of promotional activities and release events in order to showcase their up-coming single, Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi. The first single of the year, this will also act as the official debut single for members Kohinata Nanase, Tani Nobara, Yamamoto Natsumi, Takano HiyoriAoi Mizuki and Sawada Momoka, whilst also being the first single to feature Sekine Sasara as the groups leader. Furthermore, the single will be the 10th Princess-themed release from the group, and will act as a new 'chapter' in the groups story. It is also Houkago Princesses first Princess-themed Double A-side, and will be the first single released within the 'Reiwa' era of Japan.

... That's a lotta firsts, right there.

Set to drop on July 10th 2019, Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi will be available in five editions, and contain four tracks that will be standard for each edition.

Friday, 24 May 2019

The 10-Year Entertainer - A Look at 'Oguma Ayame Full Best Mini Orchestra Album' by Oguma Ayame (Album Review)

*Calling out my mistakes, typo's and spelling errors is appreciated here. Call that shit out, help me a little bit, and make this blog a better place. Thank you.

With 10 years of entertainment under her belt and a desire to perform, Oguma Ayame currently has one physical release to her name, as well as a handful of digital releases. Despite this small pool of songs to her name, Ayame has a dedicated following thanks to her ability to create laughter on and off the stage.

And though we may not have a chance to see her perform, we can instead take a look at her style of music. It's time to experience the tunes of a 10-year entertainer in all her glory. Are you ready to listen to some music?

It has been a while since I yearned to review a single or album this strongly, but ever since receiving Oguma Ayame's first studio mini-album as a gift some months back, I have felt a weird pull and desire to talk about Oguma's music on my blog. Sure, my thoughts regarding her music may not be well-structured when I get to talking about this album in full, but I'm excited to talk about it, nonetheless.

Having owned Oguma Ayame Full Best Mini Orchestra Album for a few months now, I have had my fair share of time to listen to each track more than once, which has in turn allowed me to form a solid opinion of the release in its entirety. And yes, I want to share these very thoughts with you because, dear readers, sharing is caring, and also because I can post what the heck I want on here. So yes, it's another album-esque review, from me to you. Because I can.

And before I spew even more lacey nonsense, let's chitter a little bit about Oguma Ayame herself:

From what has been recorded so far, Oguma Ayame has been active within the entertainment industry for 10 years, starting out as a Maid in Akihabara where she would perform on a small stage for the customers, before deciding that she wanted to take on a live-house stage and act as an idol. In May 2011, Ayame began her idol-career with the group Chocolate☆Whip, where she acted as a 3rd generation member and completed the 4-member lineup. In 2013, Ayame began her solo activities, and in March 2014 went solo full time after Chocolate☆Whip's disbandment.

When she isn't singing live, Ayame also works as an ear-picking and massage specialist, and promotes her work-place to fans on Twitter. Despite holding down a second job, Ayame is serious about performing and not doing anything half-way as an idol, which may be why she has continued going strong for 10 years, despite the set backs she may have faced in her journey as a chika-idol.

And with that short blurb out of the way, it's time to delve into the album itself. It's time to give Oguma Ayame Full Best Mini Orchestra Album a chance, but what will the final verdict be?

Read on and find out~

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Indie, The Idol & The Infamous Live Overview: The London Side

*All images used have been credited to their original owners. Any photos used without credits are my own images
**Any mistakes present in the post, please do feel free to call me out on that shit. We all have things we gotta improve on, and I definitely need to improve on my Typos.

With idol lives becoming a more frequent phenomena within the UK music scene, it seemed like a no-brainer that Orion Live's next step would be to bring along some of Japan's most mesmirising underground performers, where they would show them off in three of the UK's leading music-savvy scenes.

(Promotional Image owned by OrionLive)

Presented by Orion Live and starting off in London on April 20th, heading over to Manchester on April 22nd and rounding things off in Birmingham on April 23rd, three underground solo idols -  DOUBLE AND (Saki), GARUDA (Sakimura Yuffie) and 14th Generation Toilet Hanako-san (Hanako) - embarked on an Easter-weekend and Bank Holiday tour, with Saki leading the way as the Headlining act of the Indie, Idol & Infamous live shows.

And in a surprise twist just days before the event itself, it was revealed that Rukatama of the group MELON BATAKE A GO GO, of which Yuffie is also a member of, would be joining the girls during the tour. Acting as a goods salesperson for the GARUDA stall, as well as a camera-person for all of Yuffie's live performances, Rukatama took the chance to travel to the UK, whilst also promoting herself and MELON BATAKE A GO GO to the foreign fans who had travelled to see these three girls perform on a brand new stage.

Travelling to three cities and performing at three different venues, the warm Bank holiday event proved to be a loud and messy event for all attendees as Saki, Yuffie and Hanako showcased their own unique performance style, their brand and - of course - their voices to a UK audience.

Friday, 12 April 2019

The Little Idol And Her Big Voice - A Look at 'The Theory Of 2&' by 2& (Album Review)

*Pointing out my typos and mistakes is hella helpful, so feel free to call me out on that shit. Thanks.

With 2&'s second expedition to the UK coming ever closer, I say it's high time to finally get my ass into gear and review Saki's first overseas limited album release, and one of my favourite albums of the year 2018.

She's small, she's cute, and her voice is bigger than you would expect. We're finally reviewing The Theory Of 2&, and gosh darn'it, I'm excited to talk about it. Are ya ready?

It has been a good, long while since I wrote a proper album review - a whole year, almost - so, it's high time I remedied this issue I created for myself. And hey, what better album to resurface with than Saki's very own The Theory Of 2&, especially when you consider that we are just shy of a week before her second UK tour this coming April 20th? I mean, hey - it's better now than never. Plus it feels right to come back and review one of my favourite albums from 2018.

Truth be told, I'm quite surprised that I didn't review this sooner. I mean, I love this album (hi, spoiler alert), and it's an album I keep coming back to despite it being almost a year old. I just don't talk about it much, and I really should. This is such a joyful listen, at least to me it is.

Anyways, background check:

For those unaware of 2& / Saki, here is a little bit what she's all about; initially starting her career in December 2011, Saki became one half of a duo alongside Saya, and both debuted in January 2012 as 2& (DOUBLE AND). The girls went on to release their first two singles, Negaposi monster and Real/Dream, on July 17th, 2013, which would subsequently become their last two singles together as a duo unit, due to Saya leaving the group in September that same year. Despite her partners departure, Saki instead took on 2& as her solo project, ultimately rebranding the meaning of the name to 'Saki + You = 2&'.

Since then, Saki has pursued her solo activities both exclusively and alongside other idol activities. In June 2014 Guso Drop was formed, with Saki acting as the centre. Her solo activities lessened during this point, and though she was given various opportunities as a member of Guso Drop, Saki graduated from the group in December 2016 in order to focus on her solo project. From late 2017 until early 2019, Saki self-managed her activities before being signing to a new agency, REDMusic.

Saki's first expedition abroad was during her travels to Taiwan in 2016 in order to perform as both a soloist and a member of Guso Drop before embarking on her second overseas gig which took place in the UK back in June of 2018. One of two opening acts for the esteemed NECRONOMIDOL, the little idol with a big voice made her UK stage debut and introduced us all to her music and performance style. Through this venture, Saki also managed to produce a limited, UK exclusive album to all who attended the three shows that she would be opening for the headliner act, NECRONOMIDOL. Saki has also performed in Shanghai.

Featuring a compilation of various tracks, the songs included range from Saki's older music, as well as a few previously unreleased tracks and songs she has sung during her live shows in Japan.

Okay, gotta shut up now, otherwise this review will never begin, and Saki will have left England already by the time this piece gets published. SO, are you ready to sit down and read some more spiel on why I like music, because I am.

It's time to listen to some 2&. Will you become a part of the 2& Family by the end of this post? Let me know~

Thursday, 11 April 2019

A New Era Begins, By Royal Decree! ~Updates From The HouPri Royal Court~

With an all-new generation and a renewed lineup, Houkago Princess step into the on-coming Era with a few announcements. From new members to their latest single release, it's time to update ourselves with the going-ons within the Royal Court.

By Royal decree...~

It has been a long while since I last created a post like this, so here I go, updating y'all on the HouPri front once again, because they're my beloved idol group after all. And boy, there are quite e a few updates I need to share with you! From new YOUTH members to their up-coming single, there's quite a bit to cover, and given how long I've sat on some of this news... well, it kinda stumps me as to why it took me so long to remember that - hey! - sometimes I create update-type posts like this.

Sadly, I happened to remember I used to do this frequently very randomly, just before I was about to sleep. Oops XD

Anyways, I'm back with an update for HouPri, and I'm ready to talk about a few things! Let's get this news covered and update ourselves with news from the Royal Court. Are you ready to see what the Princess have been up to just lately?

Saturday, 30 March 2019

KAYANO - The Graduation Appreciation Post

Today on March 30th, 2019, KAYANO of LONDON BLUE graduates from the Idol world. Despite only being an idol for a short time, I want to take my time to appreciate KAYANO and her time spent with LONDON BLUE. Despite it being a small tenure of just one year. S, for the idols we adore, let's appreciate them as much as we can before they graduate from our world of idols.

It's time to appreciate KAYANO, my 1-year Idol.

Shall we begin?

It has been a while since I created one of these posts, and because of that it is also a struggle. I do not know what to say, I cannot figure out how to word everything I want to express, and I don't know how to introduce this fandangled post of feels... so, let's start it like this:

Meeting KAYANO is one of my most treasured memories. Even though I have not been her fan for long, I feel blessed that I was able to meet and talk to such a cool, fun idol. I am happy I could see her considerate side and learn about her helpful nature, and I am grateful that, even for a short time, I could witness KAYANO's stage of her life where she acted as an idol.

I love Kominato Kayano as an idol and a performer, and it is no lie when I say that I will miss her so freakin' much now that she is graduating from the world of idols. She was a wonderful idol, and I am happy to know that she cherished her time on stage as a member of LONDON BLUE. In return, I will continue to cherish this beloved memory of her as an idol, and I will look back on my interactions with her fondly. No matter what, KAYANO will continue to stay as an idol in my heart.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

An Alternative to The Conventional Idol: An Introduction to NECRONOMIDOL

Cross-posted with Selective Hearing (once again including a spiffy image gallery, a lot less obnoxious commentary, and fewer videos)

An Introduction To is a series of articles on both Selective Hearing and Okay! Musume Time that aims to introduce readers to various groups and musicians, regardless of their time within the industry. Whether they are indies or major, unknown or even relatively well-known, this series is here to give readers an insight into who is who and what they do.

Today's group is an Alternative to your generic and conventional idol. Say hello to NECRONOMIDOL!

*Please note that I am no expert on NECRONOMIDOL, and do not claim to be. I also want to point out that I may have some facts wrong, though I have done my best to ask other people about various facts regarding the members / group. At the end of the day, this is all for fun and from my own research on various fansites, websites and more. This document will not be perfect, but nothing ever is.

The Origin Story

Though I had been aware of NECRONOMIDOL some time before I eventually became a fan of the group, it was not until early 2018 that I started to take notice of the group. After being tasked to review the album DEATHLESS for JaME UK, I came to appreciate the variety and style of NECRONOMIDOL's music, and eventually found myself booking tickets to see the group for their UK tour in June of that same year. It was a rather risky decision, I suppose, especially as I was so new to the group, but it was a risk I was willing to take. Since then, the rest has been a short piece of history, and I am now somewhat dedicated to the group (as a sideline fan).

Now, shortly after my beginnings as a fan, the group has since changed its lineup after the graduations of Sari and Yotsuyu Hina, and with this change I decided that now would be better than ever to create an introduction post for the group. So, without further ado, let's take a look at NECRONOMIDOL, the wonderful alternative to your everyday idol.

Imagined by Ricky Wilson in early 2014, NECRONOMIDOL was originally advertised as an 'occult and paranormal' themed group in February 2014, and the recruitment process began. Just under a month after advertising for members, Ricky interviewed 30 applicants before finalising the lineup with eight members - Kakizaki Risaki, Henmei Setsuko, Tachibana Ruu, Sari, Kaede, Nagata Kagura, Miyano Aisa, and Maeda Rio - four of whom left the group within two months of the audition process for various reasons. With this, NECRONOMIDOL would officially debut in late June of 2014 with four founding members: Risaki, Setsuko, Ruu and Sari.

With a few lineup changes under their belt, six official singles, four albums (one mini, three full-length) as well as a few collaborations, NECRONOMIDOL have truly evolved in both sound and image. True to their ultra dark idol group inspired by HP Lovecraft and Japanese horror image, NECRONOMIDOL has incorporated various styles into their music from the very beginning, from traditional  folk themes mixed with Black Metal, to Dark Wave and Synthwave music to create a catchy and atmospheric piece. In terms of their visuals, the group began with a traditional Japanese shrine maiden image meets paranormal activity, before delving into the aesthetics of the occult, Japanese and Western horror tropes, as well as the Cthulu Mythos.

Now a five-member unit, NECRONOMIDOL is comprised of members Kakizaki Risaki, Imaizumi Rei, Tsukishiro Himari, Kenbishi Kunogi and Michelle. The group is still self-produced by Manager Ricky - as well as his team members - but despite this, the group has become well-known both in Japan and around the world for their stage performances, otherworldly choreography and concert experience.

Their motto is: 'We are NECRONOMIDOL, and we will choke you to death!'.

And with their fifth year coming up in March 2019, NECRONOMIDOL are currently planning their next moves both with music and tours. Though they already have a set of sponsored lives lined up, as well as plans to tour abroad more - the group has already toured eight countries since their humble beginnings! - the year has only just begun for NECRONOMIDOL, but it promises to be a big one as they head towards their 5th anniversary. But what more can they do when they have already accomplished so much?

That is a bridge we will have to cross once it appears, but for now let's take a look at the members of NECRONOMIDOL and get to know them a little bit. Are you ready to see what this group is all about?

Sunday, 13 January 2019

The Quintet's Revival: NECRONOMIDOL Introduce New Members and Reveal Early 2019 Plans

During the later hours of January 13th, 2019, NECRONOMIDOL returned to its quintet status during their sponsored live show, BEYOND vol. 1, held at Shibuya CYCLONE in Tokyo, Japan. With this show, not only were new members were introduced, but announcements for the first quarter of the year were made, marking a busy but entertaining beginning of the year for Japan's ultra-dark Idol group.

Starting with the first announcement, NECRONOMIDOL finally revealed the identities of the newest members to join the group. After much speculation and anticipation, it was revealed that Kunogi Kenbishi and Michelle had joined NECRONOMIDOL, returning the group to its five member formation.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

The Assault of Yamaguchi Maho

On January 9th, 2019, news outlets reported that NGT48 member Yamaguchi Maho had allegedly been assaulted by two men in their mid-twenties, both of whom had been arrested. Reports included that the men had assaulted the idol and co-captain of NGT48 outside of her home in Niigata Prefecture on December 8th, grabbing the victim's face. The suspects were both released later on without charge.

Further reports from Maho herself include that her attackers had taken her phone so that she could not alert the police. Maho then revealed that during the police investigation, her attackers revealed the name of another member who may have planned the attack and leaked the members' addresses. Maho explained on her SHOWROOM live, held on Tuesday 8th, 2019, that she could have been killed, that she was too scared to even scream out, and that this could have happened to any other member. Maho's SHOWROOM live was promptly cut off during her discussion regarding the incident.

Further police reports have come in claiming that the attackers only covered Maho's mouth because she began screaming, and that they only wanted to talk to her, and have since denied the assault on Yamaguchi Maho. AKS refused to give a comment on the incident.

On January 9th, 2018 during a live performance, Yamaguchi Maho publicly apologised to everyone for speaking out about the assault, and for causing problems for everyone. Fans promptly cried out 'it isn't your fault!' and 'don't apologise!'. Allegedly, one or both of Maho's attackers were standing in the front row of this performance.

News of the assault has been met with outrage within the overseas idol fan community, and fans have been vocal on Twitter and Facebook regarding the incident.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

To Conclude: The Releases Of 2018

Though we have fallen into the realm of 2019, I still want to conclude the year 2018 with my last few posts. So, before I sink into the Year to come and surrender myself to future posts, music and more, let's look back at some of the single and album releases of worth, and even those that are less than worthy from the Year That Was...

Despite already ranking my individual songs of the Year that Was, I did want to take some time out for the Single and Album releases of 2018 as a whole. This means that I will take the full single into consideration - minus the instrumentals - and rank the release as a whole, instead of the just one or two songs, much like I did for the individual rankings.

So, whilst a song might have ranked high or low on the individual songs list - or not at all - means nothing here. I am basing my Single / Album rank on how much I enjoyed the experience of listening to the release, anticipating the next song, etc... as a whole. Likewise, I could still love a song from a certain release but rank the single pretty low or not at all, just because the whole single was a flop in my own eyes.

Basically, the individual rank doesn't matter at this point. All that matters is how much I liked a release in its entirety, start to finish. If it was memorable enough, it will rank, and if it was forgettable... well, that's another part of the list that we will get to quite shortly.

And with that said, it's time to take a look back at the more worthy releases of 2018, at least for my ears. It's time To Conclude: The Releases of 2018. Are you ready to play some music?