July 15th —>Happy Birthday Yukirin! (Japan is 12 hours ahead of my zone, so I wanted my favorite neice to receive my birthday wishes on time.)
There is an American expression for when someone turns 29 years old. Since 30 is considered the start of “being older” — at least to young people. Many Americans say that “they stopped celebrating birthdays” usually meaning the last one is at age 29.
Miss Kashiwagi created her own YouTube channel which can link to here:
There has not been a lot to celebrate this year (because of the bio-weapon plague sent to us from China), but I hope to see one more good music video from Yuki before her graduation. Of special note will be the upcoming celebration going out LIVESTREAM on Youtube on July 15:
I was very surprised to hear that you have retired from show business. Not just retiring from singing and idoling … but retired from acting, commercials and endorsements too? As of this writing I have only seen a few news reports:
They all say the same thing (in fact they all appear to be written/copied from the same person). There is little detail. It concerns me that you had to retire for “health” reasons. To me, you look at the pique of health for a 26-year old! You sure look good … er … and I mean that in a complimentary way. If your concern for your health is the reason you have to step away from the entertainment industry, I will respect that. I will not pay attention to rumors.
Mayuyu – if I may be so familiar to call you that – I wish you all the best in your retirement from show business. You definitely deserve a break from entertaining. Perhaps you will return creatively some other year.
You have always been one of my favorite AKB members … no, favorite entertainers … no, favorite people. You are one of the world’s most beautiful women. Much has been written in the fandom about your … um … assets, but I sincerely do not mean that it in a snarky way. You were and still are lovely.
We can be honest with each other here. I know, that you know, that I know that you know.
The early-era of AKB48 is one of the best things in all of popular culture – Japanese or otherwise. You were a big part of it. I don’t think that AKB would have been the same without you. For that matter … I would not be the same if not for you.
Original Kami 7
There was nothing like the original AKB team memberss. No one was ever better than you girls at your peak. I have worn many musical suits in my lifetime. Hard rocker, Heavy Metalist, Punk Rocker, New Wave, Nude Wave, No Wave, Nick & Dave. I have experienced them all. I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die … and yes … I see that I have digressed, my dear girl.
You were a good singer, actress, comedian, model, spokesperson, etc. I would say that you are still at the top of your game. Your solo work is a primer for anyone in the idol-anime culture. More than a decade later, your early material still holds up well! Your work with Watariroka Hashiritai was among the best in pop music history. It was Power Pop that just exploded off the record. It is what idol music is all about!
You girls were better than the Beatles! (I know the Beatles had a lot more records, but you girls at your best were better than the Beatles at their best).
Mayu, you added a lot of beauty and good humor to this world. Know that you will be missed. Have a good life. I hope you raise a big family of little idols someday!
Starlight: Mayu … I love you kid … I wish you all the happiness in this world and any of the multiverses.
Update 2021 — her graduation song MV is finally on Youtube! See it here:
Readers: This is the last single which Mayu centered. Notice that she is wearing my red sweater that I lent her!
From NGT48: Homma Hinata, Yamada Noe, and Mashimo Kaho.
From STU48: Imamura Mitsuki, Oki Yuka, Taniguchi Mahina, Nakamura Mai, Yano Honoka.
I am still a fan, but I have to admit, I really do not know most of the girls in the AKB Family anymore. I recognize some of the faces from the music videos, but it seems I would need to start over again, and learn who is who. It is a lot more difficult in 2020, than in 2012. Where are the AKB Trading Cards? AKBingo is now off the air. I can’t learn the girls personalities if I cannot watch the skits anymore. Also the AKB Cafe is closing. One graduation after another .. Huh. It makes me wonder if Mr. Akimoto-san is planning to disband the groups during some type of announcement at the 2020 Olympics. … er … but I digress …
Starlight: Hopefully some better photographs will be up on social media by now. Most of the girls have Instagram and Twitter accounts, so a lot of cute images should be posted there.
Her time zone is twelve hours ahead of mine, so I wanted to send this out before her birthday cake is shared!
Yuki Kashiwagi (柏木由紀 Kashiwagi Yūki) was born July 15, 1991) in Kagoshima, Japan. Her home city is on the western tip of the island of Kyushu. It is the largest city in the Kagoshima Prefecture. Yukirin grew up in the shadow of the emblematic stratovolcano, Sakurajima. There are not a lot of songs about volcanoes, but Yuki is famous for singing one! (LINK HERE)for her first solo performance. Remember my old Sakurajima postcard?
Enough of the geography lesson. Today is your special day Yukirin. My you have grown more and more beautiful every year young lady.
You have made your Uncle Denny very proud!
Enjoy the day Yukirin. I have to wonder how long you will be an Idol, but that is your decision. Please keep us informed on your Instagram and Facebook! (Makes me wish I had not been banned from Facebook.) See the links below —
It is with some sadness That I have to report the HKT48/AKB48 graduation of Miss Haruka Kodama. Haruppi (her nickname) was always one of my favorite members of the AKB family. She was a fan favorite, and had ranked as high as 9th in the last AKB election she participated in. Together with Sakura Miyawaki, they were HKT48’s power duo!
I am not usually sad about a members graduation, as I always wish them well in their new careers. However, in the case of Kodama-san, she had to graduate because of a medical illness. Her official graduation date is June 9, but there will be no HKT graduation performance or ceremony due to her illness. Haruka has not been performing with HKT48 for about a year now, and there has been a lot of fan speculation about what happened to her. “Was there a scandal?” “Is she pregnant and in hiding?” A lot of rumors were flying around until management announced that she would take a hiatus due to illness. Then more time gone from HKT. She never came back from the extended hiatus.
Some fans thought that Haruka was depressed because Sakura was assigned to go to Korea to be a K-Pop star — and not her too. There was some discussion that she had developed an eating disorder, bulimia and self-image problem. I found this troubling. This was the most common speculation. It may have been leaked by people in the know. My friend Derek and the others on the video-blog 48Talk had also discussed this possibility. But what do I know anyway?
If that is the case, then it really makes me very sad. Haruppi is (I don’t want to say “was”) one of the most beautiful members of the AKB Family – which is another way of saying — she was among the most beautiful women in the world. It tears me up a little to think that this lovely young woman could look in the mirror and see someone unattractive. How could she think that she was not good enough? How could the self-esteem of such a lovely woman fall so much, so fast? But what do I know?
She may have had a low self-image, but there was no reason to feel that way. It is true, she was not among the top singers in AKB, but there is much more to being an Idol than just the singing. She was fine within the larger group of singers of course, but I don’t think that she would have had a solo music career. What do I know — I’ve been out of the Idol loop.
Her main claim to fame was modeling and acting. There was no better fashion model than Haruka Kodama, as some of my past blog posts suggest.
Officially she is graduating to become an actress, and has already landed a major role in a Japanese stage play. She is scheduled to star in the stage play ‘Watashi ni Ai ni Kite‘, which will be performed in Tokyo this September. Read more on this link. That is encouraging.
Some fans speculated about her weight gain and “puffy” face. Everyone knew that something was going on in her most recent performances. I hope it was not bulimia, and my guess it was something else. She did not look like someone gaining weight slowly. She had the look of someone who was prescribed steroids for a medical condition – with the side effects of bloating. I have seen this situation before, where these medicines will deal a harsh blow to a young lady’s looks. Sometimes a medicine saves your life, but then you balloon up.
Haruppi was said to be crying at handshake events when fans asked what happened to her. Which makes ME want to cry.
It pains me to do so, but if you look at one of the last PVs that she did with the group “11 Gatsu no Anklet” (linked here see time 1:57) she looks a lot different. There is the weight, plus she does not seem to have that Happy Haruppi sparkle.
This was when we all started to worry. They kind of have her in the back row of the performance too.
Even with her prolonged illness and appearance change, she is still a beautiful lady. She is still prettier than > 99.9% of all women in this world. Unfortunately, her self-image problems and/or health has ended her career as an idol. I wonder if Sakura had not been reassigned to the K-Pop groups, if that might have made a difference.
If I could tell her … I sure would, but we live on opposite sides of the world, speak different languages, are of a different generation (and may even be different species). I would say …
“We love you Haruppi. You have given us a lot of happiness over the years. You will not be forgotten. You ARE beautiful – and always will be.”
There are more Haruka memories on my old Pinterest account here:
If anyone has an HKT48 playlist, or anything to share, please leave it in the comments below.
Let me choke back my tears and get back to the silly butt jokes I always make … (Denny slaps head, tries to make one of his lame jokes … ) here goes …
Did you know that Haruka and I were once in a commercial? Haruka is not on the thumbnail, but she features prominently in this clip. This was one of my favorite AKB songs, and you will not find it on YouTube. Haruppi plays this beautiful young lady who interacts with her friends on social media. The full video really shows the beauty and innocence of the younger members. Haruppi texts this story of how she met this handsome boy at a bus stop. She sits there at the bus stop shelter — and you can literally see her creaming over this surfer-dude. Thinking about this surfer, and stewing in her own juices — even though she barely moves and does not much to him. This MV was Haruka at her yummiest.
So I was asked to do this foot cream commercial, one thing led to another, then I ended up in an AKB video. I’m the big fat guy in case you can’t tell.
See the video time 2:14 to 2:20 minutes. There is this scene where Haruka is sitting on the couch. Off camera, to the right, there is a shadow which is me saying my lines. It went like this:
WHAT? — DANG IT — THEY CUT MY PART OUT OF THE FULL VIDEO!
Well, all the better because Haruka and the other girls get more time then. As you can see, the movie “BirdMan” stole their final scene from our video. But what do I know?
Starlight: Haruka Kodama (兒玉 遥 Kodama Haruka, born 19 September 1996), joined HKT48 in 2011.
Ahem … what I mean to say is that my new AKB48 Family oshi has had her “Japan Coming of Age Day”. OgiYuka will turn twenty (cough, don’t look at me that way), this year!
Look it up! Japan’s “Coming of Age Day” – Seijin no Hi 成人の日 is the Japanese traditional holiday held in order to congratulate and encourage young adults who have reached, or will reach the “age of majority” between April 2 of last year, and April 1 of this year. Yuka’s 20th birthday will be on February 16.
I am going to try and snag some more AKB Family kimono photos as more are available on the Interwebs. Hopefully, I will be able to post more by next week.
Tell it like it is sweetie …
Starlight: Seijin Shiki 2019.
The moment might be a little tained however. I know that there are some bad rumors around now. What with the assault on Maho Yamaguchi and the NGT management firings. I hope that Yuka-chan, was not involved in any way. Yuka and Maho have had a little tiff. I don’t know what is going on. I hope the truth comes out in the next few days.
Meet my new sweetie! Almost all of my favorite members of AKB48 have graduated. Pretty much the whole team from the “golden era” are long gone. I still like the group, but it is hard for a casual fan to keep up with all the new faces. AKS Management makes it hard to be an overseas fan at all, but that is another story for another day. I have a new favorite now! Her name is Yuka.
Yuka Ogino (Ogina Yuka 荻野由佳 ). She is sometimes called “Ogiyuka” as a fan nickname, or even “Ogi” by those who love her. Yuka-chan is a rising star in the AKB48 Family. She is the favorite of about a million fans, ranking at or near the top of most lists of favorite Idols. Technically, she is in NGT48, but is also an AKB48 family member.
Let me share a few photos from the past couple of years, and tell you a little about her story. It was not always so easy for her. Miss Ogino Yuka had a rocky road as an aspiring Idol. She had auditioned for several Idol groups for years, including AKB, but never passed any of them. After failing two recent AKB48 auditions, she was chosen as a “Baito” or temporary member in 2014, and was eventually drafted for NGT48 in 2015. How did she rank in the Senbatsu election you ask? During the 2016 AKB48 General Election, Ogino ranked 95th . In 2017, she rocketed to 5th! She ranked 4th in 2018!!! Many fans believe that she might be elected to #1 in next year’s election.
I know what you are thinking. She does not have that typical “fashion model” look. She is unique looking – I think that is why she is so popular. The young lady is everything an Idol should be.
(Denny mutters under his breath): Maybe everything a girl should be …
OgiYuka is PURE IDOL MAGIC — and she is riding a rocket right now.
There is a very interesting Music/Story video from NGT48 where Yuka plays a young girl who aspires to be an Idol. It is a nice story video, although the song itself is only about average-to-OK. I mainly like it for the acting. Fortunately, it has ENGLISH SUBTITLES. There is great scene with AKB48 members Yuki Kashiwagi and Rie Kitahara. Yuka meets the two older, experienced idols, who warn the young lady that she would have to give up her youth to become an idol.
Ogiyuka actsSO CUTE in this … Oh … Oh … give me a minute will you … oh … I am so happy for her that she has become so popular. There is another YouTube story video from NGT48, which tells the story of a young Russian woman who aspires to become an idol. I like the song a lot more in this one, but the dialog is in Russian, and there are no English subtitles.
* I was a fan for a while when I noticed that Yuka-chan has a mole. I’m just glad that it is not Russian. Ha. There is a little bit of Slavic-Nippon hugging in the video though.
You know that you are in love with an Idol when you look for her in group performances. A good example is here in The AKB48 single “11gatsu no Anklet” (linked here)which is a Mayu Watanabe centered song, and one of the best recent AKB48 singles. (sighs) I have eyes mainly for Yuka’s dance though. Mayu who?
There she is … Oh … (Denny waves his light-sticks) … my sweetie … my sweetie pie … There she is … Oh … Oh … give me another minute OK?
What will 2019 have in store for the this rising star? I hope AKB/NGT uses her in a variety of singing roles. There are going to be a lot more magazine covers and articles in the next few years. I hope she can handle it. I’m sure she can.
Readers: Would you like to see more galleries of Yuka-chan in 2019?
Bye for now — wish all the nice people a “Merry Christmas” sweetie!
Starlight: Wait, do the math … will January 14, 2019 be Yuka-chan’s Seijin no Hi ?
In my continuing series of blogging posts of “How to write more gooder”, my topic today is a special one!
How to make an anti-Japanese Idol article or blog post, similar to the garbage in The Japan Times or RocketNews.*
Step #1 – Title your article something salacious such as “Japan’s Pervert Culture” or “Weird Japanese Music Fans and the Idols They Worship.”
Step #2 – Broach topics in the opening paragraphs, including elements about the Japanese pornography industry, prostitution, pedophilia, etc.
Step #3 – Important: Conflate these social ills with Japanese Idol singers. Make sure to mention AKB48 or other popular idol groups.
Step #4 – Be harshly critical of Idol music. Link an Idol music video, but not an artistic one. Chose one in which in your narrow mind, you think is the silliest. Then write: “see how terrible it is…” Important: Make sure to not reveal your own vulgar musical tastes. This is especially true if you enjoy violent “thug” performances. If we heard what you actually like, no one would take you seriously.
Step #5 – Insert older photos of AKB48 throughout these steps– you may be able to confuse the readers. Include some of the members interacting with fans, and they will associate the group with pornography and prostitution.
Step #6 – Mention that Yashushi Akimoto is “literally Hitler”. Otherwise dig up older scandals which have long since been debunked. If you repeat the lies enough, then you make them true.
Denny lisping just like a Social Justice Warrior: “Liturali Hitluur”.
Step #7 – Open the article to comments, but then make sure to delete all of Derek Vasconi’s well reasoned comments. If someone gives an alternative opinion– you might not be right!
My lovely daughter* Sakura Miyawaki has had her “Coming of Age Day” on January 8, 2018. (Japan is 12 hours ahead of my time zone.) This means that the mega-talented and incredibly adorable twenty-year old is accepting the responsibilities of being an adult.
According to the AKB Daily website (article linked here), a total of forty members of the AKB48 family participated in this year’s event. This is the largest number of participants in the group’s history.
This large number of participants is not surprising, as there has been a significant amount of expansion of the AKB Family in recent years.
Sakura with the other HKT48 members who have turned twenty this year. Oh I can remember when this group was only knee high to a June bug.
I will try to post more COA day photos/links from the AKB groups as they become available. Also, you can see more of the lovely Miss Miyawaki on her Twitter page linked here.
Look at those sleeves — at first I thought Sakura’s kimono was a tie-dye.
My friends over at 48 Talk also mention the event in their podcast yesterday. I highly recommend their video blog for AKB fans!
*Starlight: You probably figured out that Sakura-tan is NOT REALLY my daughter …
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.
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