Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Archive for June, 2014

KIMONOS ON MONDAY (Week #7) The “Kimono Girls” of Pokémon

Kimonos on Monday Week #7:  This week something a little different!

If you have ever played Pokémon HeartGold (or SoulSilver), then you know about the “Kimono Girls” story arc.  Let me share a few images of the Kimono Girls as seen in the game, the anime, and the manga.  Each of the Kimono Sisters have their own evolved form of Eevee that they will battle with. 

Oh, I’m a nerd …

Hanako Oku “Tegami” Music Video

Hanako Oku – Tegami

yellow flag

Have you ever missed your chance to tell someone that you loved them? If you could communicate with a loved one from long ago — would you do it? Do you regret not sending a message to someone you loved?  What if you could have another chance?  Could you break out of your everyday life, and make a grand gesture?

It might start with a signal … a message … a note … a letter … tegami.

This is one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite artists.  Here is the official music video to accompany her 2008 release.  This video is not available on YouTube!  Please enjoy on the JPopsuki website.  Zen-like, it will open in a new window by clicking the link below, or the link up here:

http://www.jpopsuki.tv/video/Hanako-Oku—Tegami/e878e4b9edfc5dc18fa9c5fc884257ff

There are a number of nice moments.  You may have your own, but some of mine are at Time 1:10 – the young couple with the infant; Time 1:44 the toddler girl waves (she gets it, it is cute); Time 2:35 both the young and old man wave … the young man concerned, steadies his grandfather; Time 4:44 what an array of lovely flowers, not artificial, they are genuine beauty.

The song always makes me cry … but why?  In the video, nothing happens* … yet it is emotionally compelling when combined with the song.  Absorb the moments.  Find your own moment to live mindfully in …

I greatly appreciate the lyrical translation-interpretation by Vahila-sama.

http://vahliahimelyrics.blogspot.com/2014/06/english-translation-oku-hanako-tegami.html

It took five years for this starlight to reach my world.

* like a Lexus Infinity commercial : )

Image

“A Sense of Responsibility Changes a Woman”

AKB48 music video “Ue Kara Mariko” featuring Mariko Shinoda! … linked here.

It will open in a new window, then you can enlarge it to full screen!   Alternateively you may just link to the JPopsuki site below!

http://www.jpopsuki.tv/video/AKB48—Ue-Kara-Mariko-%2528eng-subbed%2529/290c201022d71531ed66ff67f38abd22

Oh those long Jpopsuki load times … but they have such great fansubs!

If you must use YouTube, here is the video. You can have CC for the song, but the “drama” is not subtitled.

The video is worth the trouble.  This JPopsuki fansub has the complete music video story.  There is an incomplete, un-subbed version on YouTube … but why on Earth would you want to go there?

Mariko Shinoda graduated from AKB in 2013, but she was long one of my favorites.  I was sorry to see her leave AKB, but I wish her well in her new “responsibilities” in the Japanese fashion industry.  Perhaps it was time, to graduate.  Shinoda-san was 27 when she graduated — which is fairly old to be a Japanese Idol.  What a charming beauty she was … and well, still is (see image gallery below).  Shinoda-san had a lot of style and grace.  Her dancing seemed effortless.  Like a cat always landing on her feet, she made it look easy.  She was also a good comedian, and I wish that the group would have taken advantage of her comedic talent.

Today, we will take a look back at this great music video, and also take a look at some of Mariko-san’s activities in the fashion world!

The song was written by Mr. Akimoto-san for Mariko.  It is another “boys perspective” song where the lyrics are about a guy singing to Mariko.  Oddly, Mariko is also singing part of the song.  So … she is singing to herself?  Make sense?

The video takes place at a private school “Aizawa Woman High School”.  Three students are bemoaning their bad luck, after finding out that each club’s leader must take part in a “Janken” (Rock/Paper/Scissors)  tournament, in order to select who will be the student council chairman (chair-girl?) .  Minami Minegishi (aka “Mii-chan”) steals the show here.  She tries to get one of her friends (Fujie and Kabayushi-san) to step forward and try to win the Janken tournament. Their  biology teacher Mariko Shinoda arrives, who they all admire, especially Fujie.  Side note: Mii-chan and Mariko are the same age, but Mii-chan is playing a school-girl and Mariko plays the teacher.  Mariko will mentor the shy, impressionable Fujie.

It is NOT going where you think it might at time 1:30.

It is NOT going where you think it might at time 1:30.

The young women are surprised to find out that Mariko was a “nerd” in high school, yet blossomed into the teacher and professional model she is today.

To say that this music video is “leggy” would be an understatement.

Thanks go out to Musicsoloud.livejournal.com, HoneyRoastedPeanuts@Stage48.net, and Room560@youtube.com for translations and fan subs.  Arigatou gozaimasu!

——————————————————————————–

It took two years  and nine months for this video’s starlight to reach my world.

For more Mariko please visit my Shinoda Pinterest board below!

(1980 joke reference.  “Dutta dutta dut dut — dut dut, dutta dut,  MY SHINODA!!!”)

Hanako Oku: The Lady Loves Her Noodles

Hanako Oku followers are familiar with her webpage and the wonderful personal photos she shares with her fans.  Oku-san often takes photos of her food!  I have created this little collage of random photos from her blog. (Each time you load the page, the order changes.)  Fun as Cup-O-Noodle!   These are just the photos of her eating noodles.  I wanted to make sure that she was in all the photos I post here.  She often posts a photo of just her bowl of noodles.

This lady loves the noodles   : )

http://ameblo.jp/kokoroletter

Kind of getting hungry now …

 

Gallery

KIMONOS ON MONDAY (Week #6)

AKB48 graduate Atsuko Maeda dazzles in kimonos!

Click for wallpaper size!

Click for wallpaper size!

Click a photo to view the slideshow, then view at full size! 

 

Persocom Company Problems?

What the hey?

When will I receive my Paruru Persocom order?

When will I receive my Paruru Persocom order?

I had sent an order to the Persocom Company for one “Haruka Shimazaki” Persocom (Model # Paruru ZX81).

It has been weeks, I still have not received my order.

Anyone else experiencing problems with their Persocom orders?

http://chobits.wikia.com/wiki/Persocom

 

I already miss the Watarirouka Hashiritai 7 !

Watarirouka Hashiritai (渡り廊下走り隊) aka the “Corridor Running Team”. 

Watarirouka Hashiritai 7

Watarirouka Hashiritai 7

I already miss the AKB48 sub-group the Watarirouka Hashiritai 7!  They were my favorite of all the AKB sub-units.  Unfortunately, they announced their disbanding on Christmas 2013, then gave their last performance in spring 2014.  The Watarirouka Hashiritai group was fronted by Mayu Watanabe, and she was the focus of most of their music videos.  The other members were Haruka Nakagawa (also of JKT48), Ayaka Kikuchi, and Aika Oota (of HKT48).  The original quartet was joined by Mika Komori, Kazumi Urano and Iwasa Misaki in 2011-12.  At that point they became the “Watarirouka Hashiritai 7”.  (I plan a future blog dedicated to member Iwasa Misaki aka “Wasamin”, who has had solo success as an Enka-singer.)

The musical style is “bubblegum”, but I would describe it as a power-pop adult bubblegum sound.  Music historians will appreciate the 1960s pop and 1980s new wave elements in the music.  Many of the WH and WH7 are available on YouTube, and I will showcase a few of the cute dance-music ones here.  Video and audio quality are variable.  Some videos have been edited in length.

This first video “Hetappi Wink” showcases Mayu Watanabe.  The girls are shooting a mascara commercial.  They are supposed to make a “wink” at the camera.  The running joke is that Mayu cannot wink just one eye, much to the consternation of the corporate production team.  I love the interaction between the director, the producer, and the company man.  They cannot finish the commercial because of Mayuyu.  You will see that the more she FAILS, the CUTER it gets.  No Japanese language skills are required!  Everything is perfectly understood through body language and context.  I love the WH7’s “Fiesta outfits” they wear here. Did the story turn out the way you thought?  I always laugh every time I see the end.  (Sorry only 360 available.) Note: The “real” mascara ad is tagged on at the end of the story.

“Senpai?”  The quintet-sized WH quintet perform this next one “Gyu”, which gives hope to all of us who were rotund, amorphous, blobs in high school.  At time 2:52, a blob is even KISSED!  Maybe there is hope for all blobs. The “school-girl” idol outfits are great, and they kill me with that “Doki, Doki” refrain.  These girls are TROUBLE!!!  “Watarirouka Hashiritai” translates as  “those who run in the corridors”.   Can you imagine that type of undisciplined behavior happening in American public schools?  Never!  America’s schools would never allow for such lax behavior as seen here.  Running in the hallways … indeed.   My favorite part comes at time 3:07: “Remember that time over at Johnny’s Place?  This chick got up and she slapped Johnny’s face …”  Enjoy (the then) seventeen-year old Mayu and the others in this joyous nostalgia.

The next video has the entire group of seven.  Mayu is center, but I always wait to see even a fleeting glimpse of the great Iwasa Misaki.  The song title translates as “Hope Mountain” (Sorry only 360 available).  They made this one a historical documentary (mock-u-mentary?) that makes it look like Japan in the 1960s.   Here the ladies make a tribute to the great 60s “girl groups”.  Love those mini-skirts, and those boots were made for walkin’.  The video shows that Japan was in transition at this time in history.  Hope-and-Change actually worked in Japan.  Many of the younger generation wanted to rapidly modernize, and make fundamental changes to a peaceful, Japanese society — others wanted to keep traditional ways.  (ex. Time 2:28 Dad can’t understand his kids. )

Of particular interest: We see what looks like the late American actor Patrick Swayze’s Japanese love child sitting at the bar at time 1:10.  Or IS THAT Patrick Swayze?   This video takes place in the same time period as his “Dirty Dancing” movie.  Pop Culture addicts will also wonder why the “Green Hornet’s” limo driver is there.   “Hope Mountain”?  … even the older generation gets it.

The last one I will share (today) begs the question — What if Mayu were the “alien” in Steven Spielberg’s “ET: The Extraterrestrial”?  The title is “Boy to Lie” (direct translation).  Mayu portrays an “alien” who accidentally lands on Earth.  A middle-school boy finds her, and takes her back to his room to nurse her back to health. They make a promise together not to tell anyone.  Of course!  What boy going through puberty would not want to secretly keep an AKB48 member in his bedroom?  (This moment reminded me of the “Thank you God” moment in National Lampoon’s “Animal House” movie.)  He is a “brainy nerd” boy, who is bullied in school.  Of course he can’t prove to anyone that he knows an alien, and must keep it a secret forever.   The alien Mayu  returns to the WH7 mothership.  (Spoiler: The boy grows up to be a famous astro-physicist and astronaut, but meets a tragic end.  Unfortunately, I could not find an English translation of what exactly happens.  I thought it was a let-down, but I could not tell what was being said.  Guess for yourself. )  Still, this is another unique music video.  Mayu is good, as always, but I loved those fleeting seconds when I could see Iwasa Misaki-san in that silver spacesuit.  Nice.

Well, it is too bad that this sub-group is no more.  They were fun.  You may still review the group’s history on their webpage:

UPDATE!! THE OFFICIAL PAGE NO LONGER EXISTS!

Later I will share some live video of the group!  Oh, you wanted to see a bikini photo! …  well I have those too!

Watarirouka Hashiritai 7: Oh, Wasamin!  (far right).

Watarirouka Hashiritai 7 Ski and Swim Team

“Who’s up late polishing the blade?”

Imperial Bedroom

ELVIS COSTELLO: “Man Out Of Time”.   I watched this on the David Letterman show in 1982.  The sound and video quality are TERRIBLE here (only 240 p), but it captures the artist at a wonderfully inspiring moment.  The album “Imperial Bedroom” had just been released.  It was a lyrical masterpiece.  To say that this song is brilliant is an understatement.  What imagery.  What wordplay.

It fell on deaf ears (the American public) of course.  To be fair, this song contains several British expressions, which only Anglophiles would want to appreciate.   That, and the fact that American songwriting and musical tastes at the time were vulgar, uncreative and embarrassing.  Denny was pissed.

LYRICS:

So this is where he came to hide
When he ran from you
In a private detective`s overcoat
And dirty dead man`s shoes

The pretty things of Knightsbridge
Lying for a minister of state
Is a far cry from the nod and wink
Here at traitor`s gate

`Cause the high heel he used to be has been ground down
And he listens for the footsteps that would follow him around

[Chorus:]
To murder my love is a crime
But will you still love
A man out of time

There`s a tuppeny hapenny millionaire
Looking for a fourpenny one
With a tight grip on the short hairs
Of the public imagination

But for his private wife and kids somehow
Real life becomes a rumor
Days of dutch courage
Just three French letters and a German sense of humor

He`s got a mind like a sewer and a heart like a fridge
He stands to be insulted and he pays for the privilege

[Chorus]

The biggest wheels of industry
Retire sharp and short
And the after dinner overtures
Are nothing but an after thought
Somebody`s creeping in the kitchen
There`s a reputation to be made
Whose nerves are always on a knife`s edge
Who`s up late polishing the blade

Love is always scarpering or cowering or fawning
You drink yourself insensitive and hate yourself in the morning

[Chorus]

———————————————————-

Mr. McManus himself comments in the liner notes for the 2002 Rhino records re-release:

“Disgusted, disenchanted, and occasionally in love, “Man Out of Time” was the product of a troubling dialogue with myself that continued through my more regretful moments. I recall looking at my reflection in the frozen window of a Scandinavian tour bus without any idea who the hell I was supposed to be. I was trying to think or feel my way out of a defeated and exhausted frame of mind to something more glorious.

This was resolved in song, one shivering, hungover morning in the manicured gardens of a remote Scottish hotel. The house which we were staying had played a very minor part in one of Britain’s most notorious political scandals, apparently serving briefly as a bolt-hole for one of the disgraced protagonists. I actually delighted at the thought of this sordid history; it suited my mood. I can’t say that the words and ideas that emerged from these experiences were exactly welcome news to some of the band members. Like I could give a damn.”

—————————————————————————-

Gallery

KIMONOS ON MONDAY (Week #5) Watanabe Edition

Mayu Watanabe was selected the most popular member of AKB48 at the annual AKB48 Senbatsu election held at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo on June 7th, 2014.  Congratulations Mayuyu!  You are very deserving of being the #1!  

Please enjoy some Watanabe history in my special gallery of Mayu and friends in kimono, furisode and yukata!  Click image and view larger size!

Fūjin and Raijin and Pokémon

“Fūjin and Raijin and Pokémon”

Fūjin and Raijin

Raijin and Fūjin

Raijin and Fūjin are Japanese legendary deities associated with Thunderstorms and Tornadoes.  Raijin is the god of thunder and storms.  According to Japanese mythology, he is usually depicted as beating on a drum to create thunder.  It is said that he “will descend from the clouds and take children away”.  In Shinto legend, the tornado god Fūjin “was present at the birth of the world”, and “the winds that flew from his bag allowed the sun to shine”.  He’s typically depicted as a demon with green skin. I found these images on Wikipedia while researching Japanese art.  Click the thumbnail below to see the full mural by Japanese artist  Tawaraya Sōtatsu.  It makes a great computer wallpaper!

"Fūjin and Raijin" by Tawaraya Sōtatsu

“Fūjin and Raijin” by Tawaraya Sōtatsu

Why would Raijin “take children away”?  This is my reasoning:  Japan does have a lot of steep topography.  Thunderstorms may form suddenly.  A sudden storm, with heavy rain and the resultant flash flood, could indeed sweep away children.  It would not be surprising for this to become the stuff of legend.  Also noticeable about Raijin is that “halo” around him with the round objects arranged in a circle.  It reminds me of “frontal symbols” on weather maps.  The most severe thunderstorms are indeed associated with the passage of weather fronts.

Why would Fūjin be depicted as green?  This one is tougher to argue.  Japan is a verdant green country, and there is much paddy rice growing during summer when tornadoes are most frequent.  Perhaps the “green skin” is the green debris caught up in the swirling vortex of tornado.   Funnel clouds over rice fields would have a greenish hue to them.  The “bag of wind’ carried by Fūjin could be the rotating bottom of the super-cell thunderstorm, from which tornadoes arise.  There are likely Japanese cultural reasons why he “allows the sun to shine”, however I will defer to more knowledgeable scholars of Japanese culture than myself.

It is also interesting that the Kanji symbols for thunderstorms and tornadoes resemble the deities as well as the atmospheric phenomena.

kanji T & T

The Thunderstorm symbols look like intense rain, and the down-strokes of this calligraphy may resemble lightning bolts.  The Tornado symbols look like a funnel cloud, with a swirl at the base.  The Kanji symbols also bear some resemblance to Thunderous and Tornadus — two legendary sky Pokémon from the Unova Region.   These Pokémon are based on the Raijin and Fūjin legends.  It is interesting that sometimes Pokémon games incorporate aspects of Japanese art and culture.  It would also be understandable if a player would nickname these Pokémon after the Japanese deities.  I taught my Thunderous the moves “Thunderbolt” and “Volt Switch” and “Dark Pulse”.  All moves one could associate with thunderstorms.

Register Tornadus in your Pokedex!

Register Tornadus in your Pokedex!

Oddly, Tornadus has the “Hurricane” move which does not look like a hurricane, in fact it looks like a group of tornadoes.  Next time you play Pokémon Black-and White consider the moves and/or name changes!

pokemon c ards TT

Images from the Pokemon Card Game

The name Fūjin also sounds like “Fujita” as in the late Theodore Fujita, who was THE expert on severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.  The Enhanced Fujita Scale of tornadoes bears his name.

Dr. Theodore Fujita

Professor Fujita in his lab.

If you ever hear of an “F-5” tornado, the F is for Fujita !!!

… or is it  Fūjin?

 

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