This week’s post will feature the Kimono art on postcards from Japanese artist Junichi Nakahara (1913-1988). His drawings often featured young women depicted with big eyes. Some art historians consider these illustrations a forerunner of the “anime style eyes” so often seen in modern animation and manga.
Thank You: I wish to acknowledge information obtained from blogger universotokyo in their post
奥華子 やさしい花 Hanako Oku performs “Yasashii Hana” “Friendly Flower” or “Gentle Flower” I’m not sure which is a better contextual translation. I am very friendly to this song, and it makes me gentle. Like a gentle flower, I am adaptable to growing in compost. In fact, the sign outside my office reads “The Place Where The Gentle Flower Blooms”.
This video clip is part of an older concert — from what I call her “Knotts Berry Farm” period. There are several great videos from this concert posted on YouTube. They are good.
I like that just as she begins the song, she gives a little — well … a SMIRK. I will not call it a “smile.”
You are not fooling anyone with that innocence look Oku-san.
She KNOWS that she is about to play something special. I am thinking that The Little Great One KNOWS that she is about to give another performance that will directly touch my heart. Move, it warm it, then devastate it. My quill pen is empty, but my plume is still quivering …
It is my 2nd favorite song off of her 2006 album “Yasashii Hana no Saku Basho”.
“Shake The Music Live”
I also wish to extend my special appreciation to Tsukiokuhime from the blog Palace behind The Moon , who provided an English translation of the lyrics linked here . Thanks Tuki!
Starlight: It took nearly six years for this performance to reach my world.
WARNING: If you are a parent, the lyrics to this song will make your hair stand on end.
This live performance of “Dear My Teacher” is from the Akihabara Theater circa 2005, soon after the group formed. In those days, they had a hard time filling the seats. They were a group of teenage girls singing songs with risqué lyrics.
Note: I find the “schoolgirl lust” that is so much a part of Japan’s anime/manga/jpop/video game culture saddening. Of course, teenagers dating teenagers is part of school life, but an adult cannot have a relationship with a teenager. That fantasy does not appeal to me. I don’t watch anime with that theme.
In fact, sit down and let me tell you a little story …
In my younger days I was a lot wilder than I am today. You might not recognize me in those younger, carefree, unmarried days. I used to have a sense of humor. I used to go to strip clubs with my friends Frank, Dean and Sammy. We would drink, whoop it up and cheer for the girls as they danced in front of us. We thought it was a gas to stuff dollar bills in the ladies G-strings. Sometimes the girls would choose “theme” outfits to strip in. One would be a Cowgirl, another might be a Nurse (believe me, I would need something for PAIN), another might be a “Drill Sargent”. You get the idea. It so happened that once this chick came out doing the “little girl” routine. She wore a Shirley Temple dress, had her hair in pigtails, and had one of those huge “all day suckers” she used as a prop.
She must have thought I was crazy as I recoiled in horror, and cowered in fear. No! I don’t want a little girl! I know it was just dress-up, and a gag, but I thought the sexualization of a child was a terrible thing. I was retracting like a scared turtle. I hope to Buddha that the young-lady performing for me never had anything like that in her past.
Dean told me I was making too much of it, and said to lighten up. This from the guy that was always lighting up … but I digress.
“Lighten up, Denny .. enjoy the ride”
Sammy told me: “Look Denny … some cats like chicks. Some cats dig kittens. Some chicks dig cats that like kittens. Some chicks like kittens. Some kittens like cats. Some cats dig chicks that like kittens. Dig?”
Sammy makes a lot of sense.
Frank was father to a teenage girl. I knew he would never let anything happen to a teen. I am the same way. If anyone ever hurts a young girl, they are in for a major beating from Denny.
“Denny, kick that guys ass for me” … I am already on it Frank …
Thus, I have mixed feelings about this music video. The song describes a teenage girl’s love note to a teacher she has a crush on. She seeks a sexual relationship. Right there, that would be an illegal relationship. The lyrics indicate that the teacher is NOT a willing participant however. One lyric says: “Why are you just standing there with your arms crossed”. The girl throws everything out at the teacher, “I’m going to do it anyway”, “I won’t tell anyone”, “Mother and Father will never know” etc…
The AKB48 girls are all very young here. Atsuko Maeda looks like a child – not even a teenager yet. You may argue that the girls were TOO YOUNG to be singing a song like this. Is it a turn on? NO.
However, it IS art. Yasuhi Akimoto’s lyrics perfectly describe the psychology and fantasy of the young girl. That should be kept in mind, when viewing ths part of AKB48 History. Akimoto-san is always good at interpreting the hopes, dreams and desires of the young mind, without being overly nostalgic.
It makes me feel better that AKB48 updated the performance almost seven years later. In this video below, the girls are dressed in those same school girl outfits, but the ladies are now in their early twenties. They smirk as they sing this. They know that they were being naughty. The body language is saying, “It’s OK, we turned out alright”.
I only discovered AKb48 starlight in 2011-2012, so the ladies were already more mature by then. They were performing little of the “school girl” material by that time. Still, songs like “High School Days” were fun — but not lecherous … give me a break.
You might argue that a fully-grown woman dressed in a schoolgirl uniform is appealing. I have had several friends of mine that went to private Catholic schools tell me that.
It is one thing if 15 year old Yuko sings it … it is different if 22-year old Yuko sings it? Would it be any better if a 22-year old college student had a crush on her teacher? A 22 year old would not have the same delusions as a 15 year old — or would she? Is it illegal for a college student to throw herself at her teacher? Maybe not, but it is still highly inappropriate.
It seems in Akihabara they enjoy the fantasy.
Oh! Thank you to my readers! I have been pushed up over SIX-THOUSAND VIEWS as of this weekend.
This is exactly what I look like when I watch AKB48 music videos! I know, my cap is a different style, but I groove at the computer just like the actor here (see time 1 minute 45 seconds). This is a very fun and cute music video, and it is an important part of AKB48 History. I think any Pop Music historian would like it.
Sorry only 480 p is available, but you can turn on English translations(!) if you click the CC button.
This one goes all the way back to 2010. Even casual Jpop fans are familiar with AKB48’s hit song “Heavy Rotation”. However, most are not familiar with this song “Namida no See-saw Game” (See-saw Game of Tears), which was the coupling song (B-side) of that hit single. The song is performed by the “UnderGirls” unit. It makes a great B-side, and it was good that the understudies got this chance to shine. Many went on to become members of other AKB teams in the reassignments that would come later.
The clip is an homage to the old musical show “SOUL TRAIN”. I used to listen to it on Saturday afternoons growing up in the 1970s. The song begins with the AKB48 “manager” (not Yasushi Akimoto, oddly) giving the girls a pep-talk before they perform on live TV. They really were at the start of their careers, so the managers words about “this will make your careers” were true. Especially as this was filmed just before “Heavy Rotation” became a big hit, and the AKB juggernaut rocketed to success. “Let’s Go!”
At first I was a little confused with the introduction. The same actor who plays the manager ALSO plays the emcee. He is just wearing different clothes and a wig. He should have deepened his voice a little, in order to make himself sound more like Don Cornelius, the longtime host of Soul Train. They could have hired another actor. I would have imitated Don Cornelius, if they had asked.
There are a lot of great moments as you will see. The girls look super-pretty-cool-retro-great in their 1960s-1970s-styled clothes and hair. Some are even sporting “Afro-style” hairdos! They really are the “epitome of cute” as the emcee says.
Interesting: At time 2:15, the TV performance turns from Black-and-White to color!Who knew — you could change a B&W TV to color just by “slappin’ it upside”?
… and there I was for the entire 60s and 70s watching in B&W, like a big idiot. If only I had known. Also, I do not remember so much Japanese Katakana on American TV back then.
The song itself, owes a lot to the 1960s hit song by The Supremes — “You Can’t Hurry Love” linked here. For Buddha’s sake, listen to it if you have never seen it. It is a very important part of Pop Music History. Mr. Akiomoto-san, I said your song “owes a lot to” — I am not saying you plagiarized it. This music video is a perfect tribute.
“Stop — in the name of Namida See Saw Game”
Another Funny moment: At time 3:30 this guy swoons … and falls in love with AKB48. Then at time 3:33 is immediately smacked by his jealous girlfriend. Yup, know what that’s like.
I always see these swirls “the morning after” in The Big Easy …
Welcome to the Big Easy, site of this week’s Pokémon post. Y’all pull up a bar stool now …
Shuppet: ( カゲボウズKagebouzu in Japanese) is a GHOST-type “puppet” Pokémon. It evolves into the GHOST-type Banette ( ジュペッタJuppeta in Japanese) – the “marionette Pokémon” at level 37.
This description of Banette is from Pokémon Emerald: “An abandoned plush doll became this Pokémon. They are said to live in garbage dumps and wander about in search of the children that threw them away.” … and from Diamond & Pearl : “A doll that became a Pokémon over its grudge from being junked. It seeks the child that disowned it.” Creepy.
I gave one Banette the name Baguette, after these wonderful bread rolls characteristic of New Orleans. They are great for breakfast with a café au lait.
Baguettes are also very appropriate for the Kalos Region (because it’s France), where you can mega-evolve your Banette.
Here in New Orleans, Baguettes are also good bread to make a “Po-boy” (aka “poor boy”) sandwich (i.e. a shrimp sandwich). They are nice and doughy as well — great for absorbing a lot of alcohol. Especially, when you need to get something in your drunken stomach to settle it … and hey … you … look out for that guy … oh no … not here you … go outside .. if you have to … NO!!!
Kids: Learn from your Uncle Denny and always avoid alcohol … but I digress.
I have also named Banette “Orleans” in honor of the city.
Shuppet is a hand puppet. I named a female Shuppet “Dark Doily” after those wonderful doilies that your Grandmother makes. Kids, make your Grandmother feel special by asking her if you can have one of her handmade doilies. She will love you for it, and it will make her happy. I mean, your sweet Grandma, not the other drunken, abusive one … but I digress once again.
Grandma’s Dark Doily: Don’t be afraid, Dearies.
Shuppet almost looks like a hankie. I would hate to think that a Pokemon trainer would make a mistake and blow his nose with Shuppet. Likely it would evolve into Banette and get back at them with some evil dark ghost revenge.
When my Dark Doily evolved, I did not think that it looked like a doily anymore, so I re-named it “Dolly Darko”. “Dolly” as Banette is a doll/puppet Pokemon anyway. Also, this is a reference to the movie “Donnie Darko” which I hated. Yes, all you “edgy” blogger dudes out there creamed-your-jeans over that movie, but I thought that it was just stupid, and I hated it. Illogical, and very bad story telling … , but I digress once more.
I initially thought that Mega-Banette could be called “Zipperhead” — but I think that this name might have negative connotations. Comedian Andrew “Dice” Clay sometimes used the word as a street-level insult against Asian immigrants.
This week I will feature legendary Japanese actress Kyōko Kagawa.
Kyōko Kagawa (香川 京子 Kagawa Kyōko ) has always been one of my favorite Japanese actresses! She is famous for her roles in films such as “Tokyo Story” and “The Crucified Lovers” as well as the landmark Japanese monster movie “Mothra”. Kyoko-san originally wanted to become a ballerina. She was discovered by a film studio after winning a beauty contest and began a career in acting. And she was a beauty (well, still is in her 90s!)
She also appeared in several Akira Kurosawa films, in which she often played the love interest or wife of the Toshiro Mifune characters. Kurosawa used her in “The Bad Sleep Well”, “High and Low” and “Red Beard”. Kagawa married and followed her husband to live in New York City in the 1960s, where she acted in television. She later returned to the cinema, in Kurosawa’s film “Madadayo”. In total, she has appeared in 118 films, the last one in 2009. The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo honored her long career and her contribution to Japanese cinema with an exhibition titled ‘Kyoko Kagawa, Film Actress’ In 2011. (Source: Wikipedia, and my hazy memory)
Kyōko Kagawa in “Tokyo Story”. Actress Setsuko Hara is just to the right of the pillar.
Scene from “the Crucified Lovers”.
Kagawa-san in wedding kimono with Toshiro Mifune in “The Bad Sleep Well”.
Kyōko Kagawa movie poster
Kyōko Kagawa as the Professor’s wife in Kurosawa’s “Madadayo”
Kyōko Kagawa in “Madadayo”
Kyōko Kagawa in a Japanese magazine wearing kimono.
Poster for the Kyōko Kagawa film retrospective 2011.
Denny’s Crazy idea: I loved Kyoko Kagawa in “Mothra”, although she was never part of the same scene with the giant flying moth. Nonetheless, do you think that a “Mothra Pattern” would be good design for a kimono?
Mawile is a dual type STEEL-FAIRY type Pokémon. Prior to Kalos Region, it was a pure STEEL type.
“Mawile” ( in Japanese クチート “Kucheat” ) does not evolve, although it can Mega-evolve into Mawilite.
I nicknamed a Mawile “Maui Wowie” after the famous strawberry-flavored fruit punch mix that is so popular.
OK, you got me – I name it after the very intoxicating variety of marijuana from the Hawaiian Islands. Chuckle, Chuckle.
KIDS: DON’T DO DRUGS. Take it from your Uncle Denny, marijuana is not harmless. I only did it because she (above) used her wiles and said I should. Tried it. HATED it. I regret it now (just like Obama-san does). Stupidest thing I ever did. Only the stupidest mega-a@@holes in our culture think that smoking drugs is cool. True, marijuana does have an important medicinal use. It is good for stimulating the appetites and attitudes of those suffering from cancer, or other related serious illness. Every herb has a purpose, even marijuana. Unfortunately, the legitimate medicinal use of marijuana is being abused by drug addict a@@holes.
Just thinking about how drugs are abused, and how many young people’s lives have been ruined — it sours my sense of humor. I don’t even feel like showing a pretty girl in Pokémon cosplay.
That is actually the rear end of Mayu Watanabe performing in the music video for the AKB48 single “Labrador Retriever”. I know, the single was released months ago, and summer is over. The thing is, the “official” AB48 release of the music video did not come out until August 26th. If you have seen it before, that means that you were watching one of those illegal-copyright-violating posts from an unauthorized user. I know I feel safer now. Of course the organization wanted to squeeze as many sales out of the single as they could before they posted to YouTube – which now makes the video basically a commercial. Well, I LIKE commercials … almost as much as Watanabe-san’s butt.
Also, another great thing about the official release is that you can turn on HD, and you can turn on ENGLISH translations with the CC button. See image below– you would have missed that lyric otherwise.
This single has really grown on me. At first I was so confused by what happens in the video, that I could not enjoy it. Thanks to a lecture I attended by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson however — now I LOVE IT! Also, Thank You again, Mr. Yasushi Akimoto for being a creative genius.
There are some pretty strange juxtapositions in the video. Somehow, Mayu Watanabe is a dog – a Labrador Retriever – even though she is really herself. Note that Mayu’s picture is even on the bag of dog food shown – or is it human adult food? When I first saw the video, I thought the “dog food” opening was just another of those annoying ads on YouTube. Admit it, you did too.
The video opens up a deeply philosophical question: Is Mayu dreaming of being a dog … or is she actually a DOG dreaming of being a human?
There is a lot of great singing and dancing on the beach! The lyrics of the song are about waxing nostalgic about an “old friend.” I have to assume the old friend inferred here is actually a beloved pet – a Labrador.
“The Labrador runs / Along the water’s edge
Bounding through the surf / Inviting us
Chasing him across the sand / Like you did that day
You kick off your sandals / (Laughing)
Shall we / Have our first kiss?”
The girls are having fun, and doing all these things that real dogs too. Although, oddly — no one’s leg is humped. At one point, some of them did have to be hosed off however. We see Jurina Matsui lick her own face. Is that possible? Yes, if you have an alternate reality dog-self to do the licking.
The girls look beautiful of course, and they playfully interact with their “dog selves” as well. I think that maybe the director thought that they would CGI the dogs in later, but ran out of time or budget.
The video sure works for me as is.
Also, something I really like about the “official” music video is that you get the end credits during the instrumental “reprise” part of the song. The credits are arguably as interesting as the dancing. During the end credits, a few of the girls are walking their dogs along the beach, and well, perhaps I should let Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson explain:
“Thanks Denny, love your blog.
In this last part of the video we see what appears to be random motions of the dogs as they walk along with the AKB members. Although the dogs motions may appear to be random, there is an underlying process which explains the overall movement of the dogs as a linear relationship. Although the dogs may zig, and zag, their overall trend is a linear one.
Thus this invisible ‘AKB force’ demonstrated here, is clearly providing a trend.
The previous part of the video – where Mayu is a dog – may also represent the paradoxical and unpredictable nature of quantum physics at the sub-atomic level. Strange happenings are possible for certain sub-atomic particles. A particle may disappear in one part of the atom, and re-appear in another. Get this – sometimes a particle arrives — before it leaves … very similar to the ‘space-time’ distortions of the AKB girls dancing on the beach with their future-selves.
Also, at the nano-scale it is possible for a girl to also be a dog particle. As you zoom in closer and closer to each atom, the defining characteristics of “dog” may flip to “hot girl” and not be just a smaller particle of a dog.
To sum up, these ‘Quantum AKB forces’ present us with a unifying – and satisfying – variable. This effectively fills in the missing term in Albert Einstein’s equation for his ‘theory-of-everything’ … And in a very entertaining manner I might add! ”
You’re not really Dr. Tyson, are you?
Starlight: It took me four months to catch up to the sweetness of this music video. Where is an Astro-physicist when you need one?
I almost NEVER nickname my legendary Pokemon. However, while playing Pokemon Sapphire a few years back, I did create nicknames for the three Legendary Birds of Kanto — the trio of Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.
I thought it might be interesting to name the legendary birds after legendary American “muscle cars” from a bygone era.
I named the Flying/Electric type bird Zapdos (Japanese サンダー for “thunder”) Dodge after a 1970 Dodge Charger R/T with a 426 Hemi engine. Arguably “Charger” would be a good name.
I named the Flying/Ice type bird Articuno ( Japanese フリーザー meaning “freezer”) Plymouth after a 1970 Plymouth RoadRunner SuperBird. Of course “RoadRunner” is a bird, but I think of the desert Road Runner, so it may not match an Ice type.
I named the Flying/Fire type bird Moltres (Japanese ファイヤー for “fire”) Pontiac after a 1970 Pontiac Firebird SuperSport. Yes, “Firebird” would also be a good nickname. “Trans Am” may be good, because these cars had a fire bird emblem covering the hood.
What would be a good names for these legendary birds? Discuss. Discuss.
Likes: Pop Culture, Humor, Japanese Culture, Iwasa Misaki, Hanako Oku, AKB48 History, Kurosawa films, Kimonos, Anime, Lolita fashion, Buddhist philosophy, and finding the perfect nicknames for my Pokemon.
A fansite; for old and new fans of AKB48 and all their domestic and international sister groups: (SKE48, NMB48, HKT48, NGT48, STU48, JKT48, BNK48, MNL48, AKB48 Team SH, SGO48, AKB48 Team TP, and CGM48)
on September 28, 2014