Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Unexpected Start of My Photo Collection

I'm sure most of you saw Ray's post on American Wota advertising a few things he's selling. I ended up buying GAM's Thanks Single V from him, and much to my surprise, he not only sent the DVD, but a couple of photos as well! Thanks, Ray!

Free Image Hosting at

I was especially happy about the Ayaya one since I was eyeing those anyway. I had originally planned on waiting a bit before starting to buy the official UFA photos (perhaps until I could figure out a good way to store them and still be able to easily look at them without having to shell out for an official album, if I could even find one...if anyone has any ideas, let me know), but I suppose you could say this is a sign that I should just jump right in. XD

- cfb

People Must Think I'm Crazy

Today at school I was watching episodes of Dokyu in the lobby between classes, and since there were no seats along the wall, I ended up sitting with my back facing the entrance area where those who were going to or from classes could clearly see my screen. I don't know about anyone else, but if I wasn't familiar with H!P and saw a guy at school watching a video of a Japanese girl dressing a puppy up in little clothes on his laptop (kudos to those who know whose Dokyu episode I was watching)...I'd probably be a little weirded out. Which brings me to the point...what do people who are uninitiated to idols think of those wotas who are brave (or perhaps stupid?) enough to bring their fandom out into the world?

As an extreme example, let's take this friend of mine (who will go unnamed). As much as he doesn't like to be labeled (and as much as I hate labeling him), he's one of those straight-edge political punk types, and he can't stand Hello!Project. The second I got into Berryz Koubou, I knew he was a hopeless case because his immediate reaction was to declare me a pedo and get pissy with me whenever I so much as mentioned my favorite group of dancing, singing lolis. So, being a self-declared obnoxious wota, I bothered him with it as much as possible. Now, obviously, by doing this I'm not helping the wota image much...but I figure that anyone closed-minded enough to immediately disregard their friend's interests like that should probably get a little shit for it (please note that I don't hate this person...he just tends to be a little overzealous in his efforts to fix all of mankind's problems through his musical tastes). Plus, it can be pretty fun to mess with him every now and then. Here's a couple conversations pertaining to the matter, to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:

At the time of this conversation, he had already been at college for a few months, so we hadn't talked to each other in a while.
December 10th, 2007
MeatIsMurder: i feel like i haven't seen you fer realz in forev
CatchFiveBats: It's been a while, yeah.
CatchFiveBats: And make up for lost time...
CatchFiveBats: Alright, we're good.

And at a later date, in an exchange between Cal and myself:
December 13, 2008
CatchFiveBats: I got my Berryz poster.
CatchFiveBats: It's awesome.
pootyfrebbles: OooooOOOOoOOooh!?
CatchFiveBats: This poster brings me closer to my plan of making it impossible for [UNNAMED FRIEND] to enter my room.
CatchFiveBats: XD
pootyfrebbles: Hahaha, awesome

As light-hearted as those exchanges seem, he really does harbor a pretty strong hatred towards anything H!P. Now, since this person is pretty close to me (and has been for a long time), he doesn't really fit into the kind of demographic I want to discuss here. To be honest, I just wanted an excuse to talk about him. XD

ANYWAY, the type of person I'm talking about is more along the lines of a random person on the street. Maybe it's someone you work with, or who sees you singing and dancing along to Renai Revolution 21 in your car, or who, in my case, sees you watching Momusu TV appearances during the day at school. Basically, anything beyond an acquaintance wouldn't really qualify. Try, for a little bit, to put yourself in their shoes. Let's use the example of someone who lives in the same dorm as a hardcore H!P wota (we'll say this person even learns the dances, with their door partially open, to make this easy). I can guarantee you that this person will become known by the other people living on their floor as 'that crazy guy/girl who dances around to that weird Chinese music', or something similar, very quickly. And that's not entirely a bad thing. Even if most people think you're crazy, there will be those who find you to be interesting or, at the very least, entertaining. And those are the people that you drag down with you. But for the others, it's unreasonable to expect anything more than a humoring smile and a nod, or maybe a quick laugh, since most Westerners tend to view Japan as this wacky place where everybody buys used panties from vending machines and watches people beat the crap out of each other on live TV for fun. >.< [EDIT: As pointed out by someone in the comments, that last example is a little vague. The 'beat the crap out of each other on live TV' thing is about the ridiculous game shows that G4 and Spike TV have brought stateside, which obviously do nothing to improve Japan's image in the eyes of Westerners.]

I know that when I show someone my H!P collection, they just end up creeped out (needless to say, showing H!P Kids photobooks to people you just met is a terrible idea), with some rare exceptions. I mean, I could tweak the material I show people so as to make it more appealing, but if I did that I'd just be hiding a lot of what I like about H!P anyway. If I can't share all of what I love, I'd honestly rather not share it at all.

The point I'm trying to make here is to remember that Hello!Project tailors to a niche audience, and expecting people outside of that niche to like it is only going to end up in disappointment. As much as some of us may enjoy watching a girl that lives across the world talk to a camera about what food she likes, most people would probably find that to be pretty creepy, and that's something I've learned to accept. Personally, I like having a hobby that most of the people I encounter on a day-to-day basis will probably never fully understand (and, in some cases, may even take offense to), because that makes it uniquely mine. So when you say to someone, "Hey! Check out this sweet music video!", and they respond with "wtf wut r they like 12 gahd thats weird fuck that", just's all the more idol goodness for you.

- cfb

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Souki and I Discuss Kamei's Scandal and the Idol Business, Part 2

This is a continuation of my last post, so make sure to read that before you read this one. Basically, Souki looked over the previous post and wanted to correct a few things.

February 21st, 2008
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: it wasn't that I lost interest, it was that I couldn't pretend to argue with someone who's obviously more versed than I am XD
CatchFiveBats: Ahhhh.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: What I was arguing from the beginning is that I didn't blame any H!P idol for being sneaky about it.
CatchFiveBats: mmm
CatchFiveBats: I get what you're saying.
CatchFiveBats: And, honestly, I really can't either.
CatchFiveBats: But that doesn't change the fact that they're not allowed to.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: The rules ARE the rules, totally.
CatchFiveBats: And that they're out of H!P if they do it.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah, that won't change at all.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I dunno
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I think
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: what it is with me is that I see H!P like Disney
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I shouldn't, totally
CatchFiveBats: Yeahhhhh, not like Disney...
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: but I mean, you have Hannah Montana having a boyfriend and not putting on her seatbelt
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: and she's still very much idolized.
CatchFiveBats: But it's not idolizing in the same sense, really...
CatchFiveBats: I mean, I see what you mean.
CatchFiveBats: And it's a good point.
CatchFiveBats: But Japanese idols play such a severely different role from those that are idolized over here that you can't compare them.
CatchFiveBats: Or even approach them in the same way.
CatchFiveBats: Because then you just end up hating the idol business in Japan.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah, totally.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I guess it's not a slave trade, but it IS rather strict, comparatively.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Since the "idol" thing is kind of a side-effect here in America.
CatchFiveBats: But keep in mind that this is in Japan.
CatchFiveBats: They're a much more hardworking society than us.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah, it keeps them disciplined
CatchFiveBats: Exactly.
CatchFiveBats: It's not that much more strict than pop 'idols' over here, when you take that aspect into account.
CatchFiveBats: I mean, it's more.
CatchFiveBats: But not as much as you would think.
CatchFiveBats: From what I know, anyway.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: No, it definitely is. Idols are a business in Japan.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Here
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Vanessa Hudgens, miss High School Musical, had a nude photo scandal thingamajig.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: And she's still on for the next movie, from what I hear.
CatchFiveBats: Yeah.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Disney's keeping her.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: It's definitely less strict
CatchFiveBats: In Japan, if nude pictures of an idol surface, she's fucked.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: and the "idol" thing is definitely a side-effect. It comes riding on the coattails of the initial success. if that makes sense.
CatchFiveBats: Exactly.
CatchFiveBats: In Japan, idols are that, and only that.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah. Here they're primarily something else.
CatchFiveBats: Over here, it's just idolizing someone famous.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Idols are literally IDOLS in japan. Almost like buddha statues you pray to.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: only not quite like that.
CatchFiveBats: Sort of, yeah.
CatchFiveBats: It's like in Haruka 17.
CatchFiveBats: They give people dreams.
CatchFiveBats: Or, in the case of wotas, something to live for.
CatchFiveBats: Since most of them can't get a real girlfriend anyway.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Lolz, I totally wish wotas didn't see it like gives me lulz. Pitiful lulz, but lulz nonetheless.
CatchFiveBats: They're a different type of otaku, and you know how otakus are viewed over there.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah. They're maybe one step above gaijins XD
CatchFiveBats: Heh.
CatchFiveBats: Something like that.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I dunno the hierarchy. I just know every japo girl's gonna want my black shaft.
CatchFiveBats: XD
CatchFiveBats: Wotas outside of Japan are a different story, though.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah.
CatchFiveBats: They're just into it because they like seeing cute girls do stuff.
CatchFiveBats: And be cute.
CatchFiveBats: And sing and dance.
CatchFiveBats: For most of them, it's not a lifestyle.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah.
CatchFiveBats: In my case...yeah, basically a lifestyle...
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Still...
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I agree that idols are personalities, like you said, besides being pretty faces
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: but some things just ARE scripted...
CatchFiveBats: Yeah, of course.
CatchFiveBats: They're obviously given a lot of direction on how to act and all that.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I mean, god, some things are just too fucking obvious...
CatchFiveBats: Yeah, for sure.
CatchFiveBats: As an example, talking to the camera on the alo-hello DVDs ("I love meetings the fans, blah blah blah, watch my DVD a trillion times")...I'd be very, very surprised if they actually liked most of the wotas that come to handshake events.
CatchFiveBats: >.<
CatchFiveBats: They scare even me.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: That's where I stop thinking an idol is cute. When it becomes so terrifyingly fake. Because I'm not a wota, but I definitely think Kago Ai has wit and Maasa Sudo's too fucking cool.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: But that video you showed me recently....
CatchFiveBats: ...?
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: the one with all the "YAY"s
CatchFiveBats: Heh?
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: There's a girl in the video
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: and she's watching the singer do her thing on a television
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: and then she's mimicking her
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: and stuff
CatchFiveBats: I have no idea what you're talking about.
CatchFiveBats: XD
CatchFiveBats: I've watched a LOT of H!P stuff recently.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: If I could hum it XD
CatchFiveBats: Was it on a talk show?
CatchFiveBats: Or was it like an idol DVD thing?
CatchFiveBats: Or what?
CatchFiveBats: I'll know if you give me more details.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: music video.
CatchFiveBats: hmmmm
CatchFiveBats: Momusu?
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Not momusu.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: It's one girl
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Koharu!
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Right?
CatchFiveBats: OH
CatchFiveBats: OH
CatchFiveBats: XD
CatchFiveBats: Koi Kana is fucking ridiculous.
CatchFiveBats: That's a terrible example.
CatchFiveBats: XD
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: XD
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: yeah, probably
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: but you get what I mean
CatchFiveBats: Koharu is a terrible example.
CatchFiveBats: Yes, I do.
CatchFiveBats: And there are GOOD examples (XD) that would better prove your point.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah, totally, I dunno. Pick any lame momusu vid where they do the peace sign winking thing.
CatchFiveBats: lulz...Reina...
CatchFiveBats: ~.^ V
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: KILL
CatchFiveBats: I think that's cute.
CatchFiveBats: But anyway, as a wota, you learn to deal with the fake, cheesy stuff.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Obviously if you're moe~, but I'd probably value an idol that's more like Maasa or Kago Ai.
CatchFiveBats: Yeah.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Where mostly you do say "damn she's so fucking cool/cute" genuinely
CatchFiveBats: I've never seen Maasa seem fake.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Me either, honestly. She's always kicked ass and taken names.
CatchFiveBats: I think Kago acted more childish than she really was fit into the moe mold...
CatchFiveBats: But yeah, she's a hoot.
CatchFiveBats: Or...was...
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: she left?
CatchFiveBats: Yeah, Kago was expelled.
CatchFiveBats: Remeeeeember???
CatchFiveBats: We talked about this.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: THAT was THE Kago??
CatchFiveBats: YES
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: FUCK NO
CatchFiveBats: Yeah, she's the only Kago.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: AWW KAGO
CatchFiveBats: I know, it sucked.
CatchFiveBats: And was really random.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: What the hell. XD
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: That's where the facade comment comes in, too. You never really know a person. You're just enthralled with the person you see on TV.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: See, I had NO clue that was THE Kago.
CatchFiveBats: Yeah.
CatchFiveBats: She had a really shitty family situation, though.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Really?
CatchFiveBats: Yeah...

From there, I went on to explain Kago's family situation, and that was that. Hopefully this alleviates any issues that could have come about from the previous post.
- cfb

Souki and I Discuss Kamei's Scandal and the Idol Business

Souki has a crappy view of idol agencies. >.<

February 20th, 2008
CatchFiveBats: Kamei...
CatchFiveBats: Scandal...
CatchFiveBats: D'''''':
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Whaaaat?
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: TOO LONG, DID NOT READ
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Paraphrase, ploz.
CatchFiveBats: Just glimpse over it.
CatchFiveBats: Cal got the idea of it from the article.
CatchFiveBats: If he's willing to do it, so can you.
CatchFiveBats: XD
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Heaves the biggest fucking SIGH on earth.
CatchFiveBats: I really am pretty upset about it.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Well, ok.
CatchFiveBats: Hopefully it doesn't go anywhere.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I hope it doesn't either, quite honestly.
CatchFiveBats: It's old news, so it's more likely to blow over than if it had happened recently.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: So...
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: it's not that they had sex
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: but that they went out?
CatchFiveBats: Yeah, she's an idol.
CatchFiveBats: And she was in Momusu at the time.
CatchFiveBats: She had just joined.
CatchFiveBats:'s pretty touchy shit.
CatchFiveBats: But it happened a while ago.
CatchFiveBats: Yeah, Kamei joined in '03.
CatchFiveBats: So it's at least 3 years old.
CatchFiveBats: She hasn't had any trouble since then, so I'm hoping they just count it as a newbie mistake and let it go.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I mean, I honestly expected nothing else.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: 1) noob.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: 2) Really, they suck the fucking soul out of you. I don't blame her for wanting to feel alive.
CatchFiveBats: What?
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I don't blame her for wanting a boyfriend, with how fucking strict H!P is with their purity facade.
CatchFiveBats: Well, girls are expected to know what they're getting into when they become idols.
CatchFiveBats: The so-called purity 'facade' is one of the crucial points of idols.
CatchFiveBats: Without the purity ticket, a lot of them wouldn't be where they are now.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: What, it's NOT a "facade"?
CatchFiveBats: I just don't like that term.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Nor do I but that's exactly what it is. Sadly.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: In any case
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I still expected her to do this.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Just as I expect any teenager growing up to want to take risks and rebel against the Powers That Be.
CatchFiveBats: I don't know how you could have 'expected' this. It's no different from an actress being expected to act well.
CatchFiveBats: From a professionalism point of view.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Except Japan's fucking unreasonably strict with that purity lie they try to feed people. How can they NOT wanna take a risk?
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Shit, They'll never know the other side unless they try it, and I don't blame any of those kids for wanting that.
CatchFiveBats: Desire isn't the issue here.
CatchFiveBats: Idols just aren't supposed to do that.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: So? They're kids.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: They make mistakes like anyone
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: and they want things like anyone.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: So they do em.
CatchFiveBats: Doesn't change anything.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: And fuck the powers that be. Hell, we do it here in America.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Can't blame them for wanting a taste of life.
CatchFiveBats: Idolism is a career, and part of that career is staying out of the dating game. When an idol gets to be in her 20's, then it's usually okay. At least, with H!P, since by that point she's probably in the Elder Club anyway.
CatchFiveBats: See: Iida Kaori, Tsuji Nozomi.
CatchFiveBats: They were old enough that it didn't really affect their image as an idol. By that point they're just personalities.
CatchFiveBats: As much as those rules suck, they're still the rules.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Mmm. I dunno. Even despite that, and despite whatever Japan teaches their kids, I see them wanting to risk it.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: So I honestly couldn't blame Risako if she were texting a guy before a show.
CatchFiveBats: Regardless, I don't blame Kamei. She had just joined, so it's probably just her lacking proper judgement skills.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I don't blame her either, honestly.
CatchFiveBats: I mean, the guy said she texted him about her first concert.
CatchFiveBats: So she had seriously JUST joined.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: She WAS a n00b.
CatchFiveBats: Yeah.
CatchFiveBats: But in cases like Kago, I think it's reasonable to expel, even if I don't like it.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Kago, yeah. She DID mar the reputation far and beyond.
CatchFiveBats: Underage smoking, relations with an older man...and well into your career with the company...
CatchFiveBats: Bad, bad decisions, kago.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Kago, yes, absolutely.
CatchFiveBats: But I think Kamei just didn't understand the severity of what she was doing.
CatchFiveBats: And that obviously clicked with her, cause the relationship ended.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: But if it were Risako or Maasa or one of them just meeting a boy for a movie or such, come the fucking hell on. I can't blame them even if the rules did.
CatchFiveBats: If Risako or Maasa get caught doing something like that, it will NOT end well.
CatchFiveBats: I think that rules are rules.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: That's cause you're too logical about it.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: but for everyone else, they don't mind risking it.
CatchFiveBats: But it's not about that. No matter the person, no matter how bad they want it, they agreed when they took the job to NOT do that.
CatchFiveBats: And if they can't keep that promise, something has to be done.
CatchFiveBats: You can't just let that slide.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Of course you can't, you gotta keep the mirage alive.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I dunno.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Kago was one thing
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: but again, I wouldn't care if rules were rules. I don't blame any one of those girls for wanting to risk it. I've done it, you've done it, Cal's done it, we've all done it, even when rules were rules.
CatchFiveBats: That doesn't change anything.
CatchFiveBats: They still made an agreement upon becoming an idol.
CatchFiveBats: I don't care how human someone is, it's an agreement.
CatchFiveBats: H!P deals harshly with that stuff because they have to make it known that they take their idols seriously.
CatchFiveBats: If they just let their girls do what they wanted all willy-nilly, the whole thing would be shot.
CatchFiveBats: An idol isn't an idol when she's taken.
CatchFiveBats: That's just how the business operates.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Who the fucking fuck would wanna be THAT?
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: the epitome of a walking china doll.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I don't get it.
CatchFiveBats: I know you don't.
CatchFiveBats: You don't have to.
CatchFiveBats: But, regardless, that's how it works.
CatchFiveBats: And they aren't like a walking china doll. It's not all about the looks.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Whaddya mean? It's everything like a china doll. For your viewing pleasure, to never touch, and to just move on when you find the next prettier one.
CatchFiveBats: There's more to it than that. Idol agencies don't just find random pretty girls and say "Okay, you're in!". They find cute girls with interesting/good personalities and play off that.
CatchFiveBats: To the uninitiated, it seems to be all about the pretty girls.
CatchFiveBats: But a girl who's just a pretty face won't make it in the idol world.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Personalities? As if 90% of anything they do isn't scripted.
CatchFiveBats: Honestly, I don't think it's all scripted.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Some things may not be, you're right
CatchFiveBats: I think the agencies give them an idea of how they want them to play off of how they already are, and then they let them run with it.
CatchFiveBats: Which is why H!P has such a long training phase before the girls are actually brought into the public eye.
CatchFiveBats: It gives them time to learn what to do and not do during appearances and such. Also, during this time they learn to sing the songs and do the dances, and the agency has time to get to know what the girl is like, so as to make her an appealing idol without forcing her to be someone she's not.
CatchFiveBats: There's a balance there. It's not all "YOU BE CUTE IN THIS WAY OR ELSE" from the agency.
CatchFiveBats: There's a nurturing part that the agency plays, too.
CatchFiveBats: If they didn't take care of their idols, the average girl wouldn't stick around.
CatchFiveBats: And since H!P is made up almost entirely of regular girls who get in through auditions, it would make sense that they take care of them.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Mmmm

It had become obvious at that point that Souki had lost interest.
- cfb

P.S. If it seems like Souki and I now hate each other or something, read my next post.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Zac and Cal Discuss Ohoyacon, Risako's T-Shirt, and Suzuki Airi

Not much to explain here. I just though it was kind of a funny conversation. XD

December 5th, 2007
CatchFiveBats: Okay, so...I get a paycheck on the 4th.
CatchFiveBats: Of January.
CatchFiveBats: So I'll have to pick it up before we go to Ohayocon.
pootyfrebbles: Okay.
pootyfrebbles: Your work is kind of on the way anyway
CatchFiveBats: But that means that if I save half of both checks before then...and that one...
CatchFiveBats: I'll have at least $500.
CatchFiveBats: I'm going to pick it up that Friday as early as possible, to give the impression that I actually needed Friday off.
CatchFiveBats: XD
CatchFiveBats: I'm so excited.
pootyfrebbles: Yeah
pootyfrebbles: I can't wait
pootyfrebbles: Getting all that stuff at once like that is awesome
CatchFiveBats: You bet.
CatchFiveBats: And I'm sure that at least one booth will have H!P stuff.
CatchFiveBats: And I'm going to buy Momusu...and W...for sure...
CatchFiveBats: And whatever else I can find.
CatchFiveBats: JEEZUS
CatchFiveBats: I want it.
CatchFiveBats: Even if I just frame it...I want it.
pootyfrebbles: XD
CatchFiveBats: Cause it's designed by her.
pootyfrebbles: I'd totally wear it
CatchFiveBats: It'll probably be too small.
CatchFiveBats: NO HURTING
pootyfrebbles: FUCK YOU
CatchFiveBats: Even if they have it, you won't buy it.
pootyfrebbles: Maybe I will
CatchFiveBats: If there's only one...and you buy it...I will kill you.
CatchFiveBats: And steal the shirt.
CatchFiveBats: And your money.
pootyfrebbles: Don't get your hopes up too high for all this stuff
CatchFiveBats: I'm not.
CatchFiveBats: Believe me, I don't think it'll be there.
CatchFiveBats: This is all hypothetical.
CatchFiveBats: But regardless of what's there...I'll find stuff I want to buy.
pootyfrebbles: I WOULD WEAR THE SHIRT
CatchFiveBats: D:
CatchFiveBats: I'd kill you before that could happen.
CatchFiveBats: Souki can wear it, if anybody.
CatchFiveBats: Cause he's scrawny.
pootyfrebbles: I would wear it
CatchFiveBats: Please stop saying that...
CatchFiveBats: The thought of stretching out Risako's shirt makes me sad...
pootyfrebbles: The thought of wearing Risako's shirt makes me awesome
CatchFiveBats: D':
CatchFiveBats: Yeah, I'm definitely saddened by the idea of stretching out Risako's shirt.
CatchFiveBats: Not kidding.
CatchFiveBats: : /
CatchFiveBats: YEAH
pootyfrebbles: *thumbs down*

Cal doesn't like Airi very much...
- cfb

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cafe Buono! & Thoughts On Hello!Project's Future

Just received my copy of Cafe Buono! in the mail and, after listening to the first 7 songs in the shower, I'm happy to say that it lives up to the hype. I don't really feel the need to do an in-depth review, since it's exactly what everyone has been expecting it to be (and there will be plenty of those done by other members of the community), but I do want to make a quick observation.

It's funny to me that the first group in a long time that the H!P community can rally around as a whole isn't even produced by Tsunku, and I think that says a lot about the mass appeal of Buono!. I don't see this as a point against Tsunku (I think his writing style is unusual enough that it couldn't possibly appeal to an entire fanbase at once), but rather as a compliment to whomever it is that's producing Buono! and writing their songs. I don't know how many people there are who feel this way (or if I'm just crazy to think that there are people who associate Buono! with this), but I think some of the community has become concerned about the future of Hello!Project (and mainly Morning Musume), due in part to Buono!'s sudden popularity, and also in part to falling CD sales (although I'm of the opinion that digital distribution is to blame there), but I think that's a bit of a hasty conclusion to jump to.

Now, I'm not going to say that Morning Musume is doing just as well now as they were in the past (obviously, the Golden Age is long gone), but I think their place in the entertainment world has shifted. Near the beginning, Momusu was a truly mainstream artist, with songs that were enjoyed by all age groups and with great success on a so-called 'normal' level within the entertainment world. At this point Morning Musume was about the music, put together by Sharan Q's front man as a way to try a new and interesting idea he had come up with. Once Hello!Project came about, the focus began to shift. It became about promoting personalities through music, rather than just releasing music. By the time the shift was finished, Hello!Project was an idol agency, and Morning Musume the so-called 'front man' of that agency.

At this point, you're probably wondering what this has to do with my original argument, and what I was getting at through that sidebar was that Hello!Project's success is, in my opinion, no longer based on how good the music is. That's not to say that H!P artists could begin releasing terrible songs and do just fine, but I think that people are placing too much weight on the quality of Tsunku's material as a determining factor of Hello!Project's success.

Personally, I don't have a problem with any of Tsunku's releases. I honestly like every Morning Musume, Berryz Koubou, and C-ute song that has been released so far, with the exception of pre-LOVE Machine Momusu (and that's just an issue of unfamiliarity...I know I'll develop a taste for them in due time). I don't even have a problem with the artists I'm not into right now (Melon Kinenbi, Minimoni, v-u-den, Maki Goto), as it's just an issue of their style not appealing to my current tastes, and not one of me thinking their material is bad.

Obviously, the main factor in determining Hello!Project's success is the fans, and there are two types that I've seen for H!P. The first is the kind of fans that H!P would most likely end up with were it to come stateside, and that's teenage girls. These are the ones that watch Kirarin Revolution and think Koharu is the greatest, or who look up to Tanaka Reina as the queen of cool and want to be just like her when they grow up. I honestly don't think this group plays a very large part in the success of H!P, since most of them probably don't have the resources to make much of a difference in sales. The other kind of fan, and what I believe to be the determining factor for Hello!Project's success right now, is the wotas. These are the ones that blow a good portion of each paycheck buying photobooks, posters, CDs, photos, t-shirts, fans, etc, putting money right into UFA's pockets and keeping H!P alive. The wotas are clearly into H!P for the idol aspect, so that's where Hello!Project's focus at the moment lies.

As for Buono!'s position in all this, even though the group consists of idols, the true focus is on the music, and I think that's what the concerned fans view as a potential threat to Hello!Project. In my opinion, since Buono! is not about the idols (that's what Berryz and C-ute are for) and is only borrowing Momoko, Airi, and Miyabi, I don't really see it as a traditional group within H!P, and I don't think it really poses a threat. If anything, it's a way for the girls to try something new and experience a different style of performing than what they're used to. all those who are worried about Hello!Project's future, whether it be because of Buono! or CD sales or quality of music or whatever, just wait a little while before you really let it bother you. I don't see H!P going away anytime soon.

Boy, was that anything but quick...
- cfb

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dschingis Koubou!

Well, after giving Dschingis Khan a few watches, I can officially say that my first impressions of the video were mostly right (I was going to write this a couple days ago, but I kept on running into problems with my approach, so I let it sit over the weekend). This is undoubtedly a step up from BK's previous material, and a massively fun video at that. It's nice to see the Berryz girls really coming out of their shells and having fun with the camera (which is one crucial idol ability that I feel the H!P kids have always been a little lacking in...understandable, since they're so young). Also, after the Risako-fest that was Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi (not to say that I don't like Risako - she's gorgeous - but holy hell UFA, cool it), I find it relieving that Khan divies out the focus more fairly. On a related note, despite not being my favorite members, it's obvious that Maasa and Chinami have much stronger, more-developed personalities than the other girls, and I think this video does an excellent job of giving them the camera time they deserve compared to previous releases (or, at the very least, they stand out more to me in this video than in others).

Point proven:

Another blogger (who it is I don't remember - sorry!) said that they'd like to see an alternate version of this video made entirely of the hallway shots, and I couldn't agree more. As much as I like the whole 'doing a play in front of wota kids' idea, I think it looks kinda lame in comparison to the other half of the video, and I'd probably enjoy this PV more if those scenes weren't there to distract from the awesomeness. Aside from that, I haven't got any complaints. March 12th can't come soon enough.

- cfb

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cal and I Discuss A Comment I Made on Hello!°C-ute's Blog

Okey-doke, new person. Cal is the closest I've got to a friend who likes H!P (and he still only tolerates it XD). We've been very close for a long time, and I talk about H!P with him about as much as I talk to Souki (in fact, Cal and Souki are most likely the only people you'll see more than once on this blog). For those wondering about his H!P tastes: he likes Risako, Takitty, Yossui, and Marippe for members, and The Peace!, Iroppoi Jirettai, Mr. Moonlight, Yeah! Meccha Holiday, and Special Generation for songs (there are others, but those are the ones I can remember right now). Anyway, on to the convo!

January 10th, 2008
CatchFiveBats: Did you read my comment?
pootyfrebbles: Yeah
CatchFiveBats: What did you think?
pootyfrebbles: I think the radio Disney thing is funny.
CatchFiveBats: Well, I've heard a lot of people say that.
CatchFiveBats: I don't like it...but that's how it goes.
pootyfrebbles: Yeah, I pretty much agree. The music is different styles, but the audiences are pretty much the same, at the core.
CatchFiveBats: If H!P was brought over here, that would be where it would shine.
pootyfrebbles: Yeah
pootyfrebbles: With little kids
CatchFiveBats: Yup.
pootyfrebbles: But honestly, I think that the way the Japanese think and the way that they expect to be entertained are way too different from the way Americans do for H!P to be successful over here outside of maybe a few isolated cases, and possibly some Radio Disney-esque situation.
CatchFiveBats: Yup.
CatchFiveBats: It's a sociology issue, not a taste issue.

I may flesh this idea out a bit, but not right now.
- cfb

2008 Year-To-Date H!P Purchases

Alright, last catch-up post for merchandise. In this one is all the stuff I've bought since the beginning of the year.

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  • Maimi 2nd Photobook
  • Risako 3rd Photobook
  • Natsumi & Maimi 16sai no Koi Nante Single
  • Fujimoto Miki 1st Album
  • Buono! Renai Rider LE Single
  • Morning Musume Sakura Gumi Hatsukouen ~Sakura Saku~ DVD
  • Buono! Renai Rider Single V
  • Matsuura Aya Live in Shanghai DVD
So there ya go.
- cfb

Zac Talks to Souki About Forums

While I am talking about forums here, it's really just me getting down to why I made this blog instead of joining a forum.

February 7, 2008

CatchFiveBats: If I could meet people IRL who were into H!P, I'd probably hang out with them. But discussing it online is a definite no-go for me, except in blogs.
CatchFiveBats: Forums are like taking a bunch of people that all like different things within a similar context and throwing them in a room to argue with each other.
CatchFiveBats: In that situation, I always end up walking away from the community, and usually the thing that community is centered around as well.
CatchFiveBats: Which is why, if I get involved in the H!P community, I'll make a blog.
CatchFiveBats: Cause a blog lets you state your opinion with a sense of finality, instead of having to deal with people bitching at you about how their favorite part of that thing is better or whatever.
CatchFiveBats: I mean, there are comments, but it's not as involved as forums, or even close.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: : So you just don't wanna hear people talking to you about it.
CatchFiveBats: I don't want to argue with people about it.
CatchFiveBats: I like hearing others' opinions, and stating my own, but I don't want a clash between those opinions to occur.
CatchFiveBats: I can keep an 'outside' perspective while reading an opposing view in a blog.
CatchFiveBats: Discussing it on a forum, I get aggravated and confused and that never ends well.
CatchFiveBats: The Shiina Ringo community I was involved with being the ultimate example of this.
CatchFiveBats: WIth a blog, whatever you post is the last word.
CatchFiveBats: There's none of that back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, each person deadset in their opinion, determined to turn the other party to their side.
CatchFiveBats: Which, in most internet arguments, neither side will ever win.
CatchFiveBats: Blogs let people express their opinion without feeling the need to win against someone else's opinion.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: : Aaaah
CatchFiveBats: Took me a while to get around to that...
CatchFiveBats: XD
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: : Hahahah
CatchFiveBats: Fangirls/boys can be as biased as they want and nobody gets hurt.
CatchFiveBats: XD
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: : Hahahah
CatchFiveBats: I mean, that's really what it's about.
CatchFiveBats: And that's why the video game console wars are so heated.
CatchFiveBats: People treat the console wars like a forum debate.
CatchFiveBats: It's just a big flame-war.
CatchFiveBats: No side will ever win.
CatchFiveBats: It's just everybody arguing with everybody over nothing.
CatchFiveBats: And it's stupid.
CatchFiveBats: And that's the primary reason that I stay away from forums.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: : Mmmmmm
CatchFiveBats: Except to share files and such.

- cfb

Ohayocon '08 Swag

As mentioned in a previous post, I attended Ohayocon this year and returned with a pretty decent amount of merchandise. I'll only be posting pics of the H!P stuff here, simply because I'm OCD and would rather not throw animu DVDs and Puffy albums in with Morning Musume.

Anyway, everything H!P related fits into one pic:
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  • Matsuura Aya First Kiss
  • Matsuura Aya T.W.O
  • Morning Musume 'Musical LOVE Century' Soundtrack
  • Momusu 4th Ikimasshoi!
  • Momusu No. 5
  • Momusu Best! Morning Musume 2
  • Momusu Ai no Dai 6 Kan
  • Pucchi Best 4
Two things: I'm enjoying the Ayaya albums much, much more than I originally expected to, and if I had known that LOVE Century was a musical, I probably would have put my money into something else. I can read katakana, so there was no reason for me not to know what it was, but I bought all the CDs from a booth that sold mostly v-kei/j-rock, so the person running it was getting tired of me asking about H!P, and I ended up rushing. >.<

For those who care, the rest of my purchases consisted of Puffy's Spike and The Hit Parade albums, the FLCL limited edition uber-box set, and some Strawberry Marshmallow figurines, as well as (late) Christmas presents for my friends. We never left the vendor's room for the 5 1/2 hours we were there, so I really don't have any exciting stories, other than the fact that I spent $450 in a day (please note, that included gas and food expenses as well!).

I'll be making one last merch catch-up post for everything I've bought so far in '08 (excluding what was posted here), and then I'll begin writing these as the stuff shows up.

- cfb

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Zac and Souki Discuss Mikitty's Voice

Each time a new person is introduced, I'm going to go ahead and do a quick profile so the readers will know who I'm talking to. First off is Souki. I've known him for a good while, but only really became close friends with him in the last couple years or so. He is most definitely NOT a Hello! Project fan. He likes some of the songs I've thrown at him (Souda! We're Alive and Mr. Moonlight, as examples), but for the most part, he thinks it's pretty lame (he likes progressive rock, if that says anything). He and I actually spend a pretty decent amount of time discussing H!P and related matters, so there should be a lot of him on here. And about his screen name...I let everyone on here pick their own SNs for confidentiality's sake, and he chose CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT. Whatever, I guess... XD

I'll also be dating any conversations I post, to keep the progression of my H!P fandom in perspective.

In keeping with the spirit of my last post, this is me trying to convince Souki that Mikitty's voice is something special.

January 18th, 2008
CatchFiveBats: Fujimoto Miki's voice is awesome.
CatchFiveBats: Or, rather...I love her voice.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I'm noticing a pattern with J pop singers...
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: With the exception of Utada and Ayu...they sound very same-ish.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: and Yasuko (lead singer of Japanese noisecore group Melt-Banana - why he said this, I don't know)
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: but she doesn't count.
CatchFiveBats: She's got a pretty original voice, in my opinion.
CatchFiveBats: Miki, that is.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I dunno, maybe I'm just not listening to female Jpop enough or something
CatchFiveBats: Well, of course you aren't.
CatchFiveBats: XD
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: but everything that isn't Ayu or Utada sounds very similar to me XD
CatchFiveBats: Miki's voice has a very different quality compared to Ayaya.
CatchFiveBats: For a fact.
CatchFiveBats: Ayaya's is much younger sounding.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: And nasally
CatchFiveBats: That's the only difference I can put into words.
CatchFiveBats: There are others.
CatchFiveBats: Either way, I'm in love with Mikitty right now.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Mikitty?
CatchFiveBats: Fujimoto Miki.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Ah.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: By Ayu, I referred to Ayumi Hamasaki, you know that right?
CatchFiveBats: Yes.
CatchFiveBats: But seriously, I'm infatuated with Mikitty's voice right now.
CatchFiveBats: You can thank Shabondama.
CatchFiveBats: But that songs just owns anyway.
CatchFiveBats: I've just noticed over the last couple days that she's really, really hot when she's singing.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Heh
CatchFiveBats: I think it's the first time I've been turned on by someone's musical ability.
CatchFiveBats: Or...whatever you want to call it.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Hahah
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Usually it turns me on only when it's the one girl in the group full of guys.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Like Maki from HandMC.
CatchFiveBats: Ah.
CatchFiveBats: Yeah.
CatchFiveBats: I dunno, Mikitty is pretty tough to beat right now, in my mind.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Mmmm I'll hear it better tomorrow
CatchFiveBats: Yeah.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: but feels to me as though every Jpop singer has a very very similar voice
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: but
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: one thing's for sure...
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: when we go to Japan, we're going to a Maid cafe.
CatchFiveBats: We need to.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: totally.

A few days later...

January 21st, 2008
CatchFiveBats: vibrato
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: One of the few with vibrato.
CatchFiveBats: Most of the notes she holds out are vibrato.
CatchFiveBats: Her voice is also a little lower than most others.
CatchFiveBats: And it's got a fairly unique timbre, but I doubt anyone would notice it unless they listened to J-Pop a lot.
CatchFiveBats: But the first two are definitely noticeable.
CatchFiveBats: All three of those traits combined = sex for my ears.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Then don't really listen to a lot of's Momusu, Berryz, Matsuura Aya, and W or something or the other that is H!P.
CatchFiveBats: Well, yeah.
CatchFiveBats: I will say it doesn't vary too much musically.
CatchFiveBats: BUT
CatchFiveBats: There's a good variety of voices in all the members.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I'm not gonna pretend I'm a connoisseur or anything, but it just feels to me like her voice isn't that unique, if at all. Even by H!P standards.....
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I dunno
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: it's like
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I can't hear any given one individually for more than two seconds.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: so they all wind up sounding extremely similar.
CatchFiveBats: Well...I will say that generally, within groups, H!P tends to release fairly similar songs in close proximity to each other (time-wise).
CatchFiveBats: But, if you start to separate the singles by 5 or 6, there's definite differences musically.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: yeah, just like with anything
CatchFiveBats: And yeah, if you just listen to the single a-sides, you don't catch much.
CatchFiveBats: Voice-wise.
CatchFiveBats: But on b-sides and album-only tracks, you get a pretty good feel for how each member sounds.
CatchFiveBats: Also, watching the videos and paying attention to who sings what when helps you to identify voices too.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: But if it's gonna be that subtle of a difference, that the only way I can tell it's Miki is by listening to the whole group endlessly....then she's still not all that unique sounding to me...
CatchFiveBats: Well, regardless, I think her voice is fantastic.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: That's fine, I was just clarifying my view
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: XD
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: her voice IS good
CatchFiveBats: Maybe not super-unique, but there's something special about it that I really, really like.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Mmmm
CatchFiveBats: She does have a voice that stands out a little from the rest, though.
CatchFiveBats: If you're familiar with the rest, anyway.
CatchFiveBats: It's like people saying that all asians look the same.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah
CatchFiveBats: You just have to gain a sense of familiarity with the group.
CatchFiveBats: Then you begin to be able to distinguish.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Yeah
CatchFiveBats: Whether it be members of Momusu, or members of the Japanese race.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I dunno, for me, for something to be honest-to-god unique, I have to know what it is from a mile away.
CatchFiveBats: You get my drift.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: at least musically
CatchFiveBats: Yeah.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: yeah
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: Like
CatchFiveBats: I get what you mean.
CatchFiveBats: And I'm not saying I disagree.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I know Akihito Okano ANYWHERE.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: I know Ayu ANYWHERE.
CatchFiveBats: But, for me, right now, her voice is incredibly unique and special.
CantSpellShotaWithoutHOT: But I just can't spot Fujimoto Miki half the time.

Bit of an abrupt end, I know, but from that point the conversation had nothing to do with Miki.
- cfb