Monday, 30 September 2019

KYOKA - The Graduation Appreciation Post

For a lot of people, turning 21 means a turning point in their life. It means becoming an adult, perhaps settling down, or maybe finally figuring things out. For some it is just another day, but for KYOKA of LONDON BLUE it is both a celebration of her age and the day of her graduation.

Today on September 30th 2019, KYOKA stood on the stage as a member of LONDON BLUE for the last time to celebrate with her fans, and though her time with the group was shorter than former member KANA's, KYOKA has made her own impact within the group thanks to her energetic presence and kind persona.

Now she joins the other LONDON BLUE Alumni, but this does not mark the end for KYOKA. Like every graduation, there is a new beginning just around the corner. Whether her new pursuit is acting, singing, dancing or becoming a tarento, KYOKA is sure to continue her journey with an abundance of energy and positivity.

Before I say my goodbye to an Idol who created joy on stage, let's take a moment to appreciate KYOKA for all she has done. Sure, she was with the group for just a year and 3~4 months, but in such a short time she created so many members. So let's appreciate her together one more time as she leaves LONDON BLUE and the sparkling idol stage...

If you want an idol who is full of energy and delight, then look no further - that is KYOKA. The embodiment of joy and cuteness, KYOKA was initially one of the youngest and smallest members of LONDON BLUE back in June of 2018 when she debuted with the group, however she quickly came to be a prominent and treasured member of the group after the sudden graduations of her gen-mates, RINA and RINKA.

Yet still she persevered in showcasing a bright, energetic and bubbly personality to the fans and giving it her all on and off the stage. Whether she was singing and dancing, calling to the crowd or acting on another stage, KYOKA would always give 100% in everything she did. For someone who has a serious work ethic, it is pretty incredibly how easily KYOKA could put on a smile and create such a warm, fun environment for those who witnessed her performance.

She is a great Idol, and I am going to miss the KYOKA that I came to know.

Kenbishi Kunogi - The Graduation Appreciation Post

On September 28th 2019, Kenbishi Kunogi of NECRONOMIDOL celebrated a live show that brought together the joys of her birthday and the sorrow of her graduation. With 9 short months in the group, Kunogi fell into darkness alongside her peers and stunned the audience with her idol-like aura, but now she's ready to start anew with her solo activities and take a new path, one that is supported by her former management and group mates.

Though she only held a short tenure within NECRONOMIDOL, Kunogi had her own trials she faced during her time in NECRONOMIDOL and created lasting memories that she could not have captured if she had not been welcomed into the group earlier this year. Now she will move forwards, and though the decision for Kunogi to graduate was sudden for the fans - I can only guess that it's a different matter behind the scenes - it seems like Kunogi herself is confident in this new venture she is taking, but before her solo activities are fully in motion I want to take a moment to appreciate Kenbishi Kunogi.

Her time with NECROMA was short, but she will continue to be an idol. But for now, let's appreciate the Kenbishi Kunogi I knew, even though she has graduated and moved forward.

It's Graduation Appreciation time once more.

Kunogi is cute as a button, entertaining to watch and someone who has a true idol-aura on the stage, and perhaps a little shyness when she's off of it. A rather bewitching girl, I immediately clicked that Kunogi was the type of member I would like to follow when both she and Michelle joined NECRONOMIDOL back in January of this year, however that feeling flip-flopped a little before I eventually went on to meet the members in-person back in July of this same year when NECRONOMIDOL travelled to the UK. It was then that I realised how much I liked Kunogi and how she was my second favourite member within the group I had come to love since last year.

And then I learned of her graduation with the rest of the world, and I paused.

I saw the news on Twitter, a tweet sent from Kunogi's own account that I translated from Google, of course.

"I won't be able to meet you, and I will continue to do my best in solo and band activities..."

The comments below that told of the fans' sadness, as well as Kunogi's own English message herself apologising for making everyone sad was all I needed to know what this was about: Kunogi would leave NECRONOMIDOL despite still being so new within the group. I would be losing a member that I really liked, someone I wanted to see flourish in a group I adore. More than anything though, I wanted to watch her confidence grow.

So when I read the news, I cried.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The Support Behind 6 Years Of History: "Because It's LONDON BLUE" - An Interview with Kiyoshi Hayashi (Manager of LONDON BLUE) (19/08/2019)

I would like to begin this post with my gratitude towards Kiyoshi Hayashi for agreeing to do this interview with me via e-mail, and for patiently awaiting its translation. I would like to further my thanks towards him for continuing to work alongside me with these kinds of interviews, and also for his continued hard work as the groups producer, manager and also one of their lyricists.

Beginning their activities on September 11th, 2013, LONDON BLUE have been singing cool & cute songs together for 6 years. Now, with KANA graduated and ending  5 year history within the group, LONDON BLUE has transformed and stands with one member who will continue the groups history on her own shoulders until another member joins.

But behind this history there is Kiyoshi Hayashi, the brain behind the group that brings J-pop and British music together. Whether he is acting as their manager, teaching them how to play an instrument or penning lyrics for one of their songs, Kiyoshi is always doing something, and today he has allowed us to have a talk with him.

But first, let's learn a little more about him before we talk.

(Photo courtesy of @londonblue2013)
CEO, manager, producer, guitarist and the occasional lyricist, Kiyoshi Hayashi seems like he has a lot going on, and you are probably right in thinking that. As the creator of LONDON BLUE - the cool & cute girls unit who focus on music that fuses British pop, rock and R&R with Japanese bubblegum pop - Kiyoshi focuses a lot of his time on his project that has spanned 6 years, and can only see them going further now that they have completed their 6th Anniversary One-Man Live.

But with a new member continuing the future of LONDON BLUE, Kiyoshi continues to envision all he can do with LONDON BLUE. Though he may be a busy man, - what with being the CEO of Birdland Music Entertainment and Fine Promotion, Inc. - the passion he holds for LONDON BLUE is burning brightly, and with a new era beginning, I thought that it would be as good a time as any to ask him a few of the questions on my mind regarding LONDON BLUE, their future and whether or not he will teach the new era how to play a few instruments...

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

KANA - The Graduation Appreciation Post

On this day, September 18th 2019, KANA will graduate from LONDON BLUE amidst the celebrations of the groups sixth anniversary. With 5 years under her belt, a leadership that lasted well over a year and a boatload of memories from her time as an idol, KANA has experienced a lot in her time as an idol.

From the indies trials to holding a major debut in 2018, learning how to play the drums and choreographing the groups dances, KANA has fulfilled her time as an idol and created a lot of memories along the way. Now it's time to create her last few memories on the stage before walking behind the curtains and creating new memories with the future of LONDON BLUE. But before she graduates and takes a step back to teach a new generation, let's take a moment to appreciate an idol I adore.

It's time to sit back and talk about KANA, an Idol I appreciate. It's that time again, everyone. Let's appreciate the Idols that we love before they graduate from our world.

Are you ready?

I learned about KANA back in 2016, sometime after discovering LONDON BLUE and asking if I could review their latest album for JaME. At the time I didn't know much about them aside from their names, a little bit of background info and the fact that they were created to promote the joys of both Japanese and British music. By 2017 I was no longer following them.

And then Hyper Japan Festival 2018 happened. When the schedule for who was performing was officially released I recognised a group - LONDON BLUE, except the lineup was different. KANA was now the leader, and three new members would be joining, but that was all it took: One familiar group name and my intrigue was sparked once more, but this time I was in it for the long run. Thanks to Hyper Japan I was able to become a fan of LONDON BLUE.

Now five years after joining LONDON BLUE, KANA is ready to graduate on the groups own 6th anniversary. With this, she will join her fellow graduates and friends on the sidelines, supporting LONDON BLUE in front of the stage she once stood upon.

As a fan I couldn't be prouder.

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...