Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Archive for September, 2014

KIMONOS ON MONDAY (Week#20): The kimono art of Junichi Nakahara.

Junichi Nakahara illustration 1942

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.

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Thank You: I wish to acknowledge information obtained from blogger universotokyo in their post

http://universotokyo.com/2013/03/12/531/comment-page-1/#comment-3305

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Hanako Oku and “that smirk” …

that smirk

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”.

hanako oku knotts berry farm period

“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.

I Love AKB48 … I’m just not into schoolgirls.

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"

“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.

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 ...

“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.

Lyrics from Stage48 linkd here.

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.  

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What I look like when I watch AKB48 music videos:

what i look like when watching2

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.

b w undergirls see saw

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”?

bw to color by slapping the tv

… 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.

color undergirls on tv

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 See Saw video image

“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.

If you want to see a LIVE version of the same song, here is a DailyMotion link:

Full lyrics are available from Stage48.net linked here.

Starlight: It took two years for me to receive this incredibly fun music video.

Finally, someone on Jpopsuki posted “Sakura no Ki ni Narou” with POLISH SUBTITLES!!!

sakura_no_ki_ni_narou_full_version_40279

Finally, someone posted “Sakura-no-Ki-ni-Narou” on Jpopsuki!!!  Please watch it on the link HERE.

http://www.jpopsuki.tv/category/video/AKB48—Sakura-no-Ki-ni-Narou-%2528Polish-Subs%2529/486d63d0d3ec36cd03f9060ba2ca03d4/18

Jpopsuki will take a little longer to load than YouTube, but the video is worth the extra few seconds.

Now I can finally share one of my all-time favorite AKB48 songs!  I had previously posted it on my blog back in May.

I invite you to read my original interpretation while you watch the video.  I hope I got it right …

My original review/description of the music video is linked here.

https://dennysinnoh.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/sakura-no-ki-ni-narou-i-will-become-a-cherry-tree-a-graduation-song/

However, Record Industry Wea …. er … I mean “certain bean counters” had every other posting on every other website removed.

Interpreting and analyzing old music videos … that’s what I do …

I’m going to “update my archives” … if that makes any sense?

I’m so happy.  I’m going to take off work.

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Pokémon Nicknames: Shuppet and Banette

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 … duh), 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.

banette mon ami

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.

grandmas dark doily

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.

shuppet-pokemon-hand-puppet

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.

donnie darko scene

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.

“Wudda you lookin’ at … ZIPPERHEAD?”

A great nickname for Banette might be “The Hoople” or alternatively “Mott” after the 1970s “glam rock” music group Mott-The-Hoople.  They are best known for their hit “All the way from Memphis” linked here, however they had a kind of scary-dramatic song called “Marionette”.  Very cool with headphones!

“Oh, God, these wires are so tight …I’m just a marionette …”

Creepy.  … but I think this captures the spirit and theme of a Banette.

Banette_plush_commission_by_YutakaYumi

I named another female Banette “DearPrudence” after the Beatles song (linked here). I just thought it fit. Perhaps they are prune color. “Won’t you come out to play?”

I knew you would ask … “Denny, what about the pretty-girl Pokemon cosplay?”

banette_gijinka_by_girloveslink-d4kcgvb

Am I really becoming all that predictable?

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KIMONOS ON MONDAY (Week #19): Kyōko Kagawa

kyoko kagawa BW kimono2

This week I will feature legendary Japanese actress Kyōko Kagawa.

kyoko kagawa bW kimono1

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!)

kyoko kagawa red kimono

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)

For more (non-kimono) photos of Kyōko Kagawa, please see my Pinterest board for her linked here.

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? 

Mothra_1961

Discuss, discuss.

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