Monday, August 15, 2016

Rockin' Those Shades! - Maria - New Age Idols Introduction!!

There are some groups that you can't help but smile about. May it be there cuteness, the type of music they perform or their all around coolness. The one I want to introduce is a group that showcases all three. 

With sunglasses and backpacks in tow, these holy immaculate girls sing mischievous rock. 

They are the playful rock girls!

They are Maria!

The history surrounding Maria is quite a interesting one. The group was started in December 2013 yet the group did not officially begin activities until April 26th, 2014. They are currently signed under Inazuma and their singles and albums are released through File Records. 

Six members passed through the auditions to form this playful group but out of the original lineup only four remain: RinaRina, Minori, Lala, & Aona. 

The two members that left that group happened to do so in 2015, both of them five months apart: Mei left the group February 20th, 2015 due to personal reasons and the same explanation can be applied to former member Seika who decided to withdraw on July 21st, 2015.

During the time between graduations, management decided to hold auditions for new members, labeling them as cadets for the main group. The two cadets came in during the month of May 2015. The two cadets names are Hanami and Tayori. 

According to their Ameblo blogs, they are still labeled as cadets even though they have been in all of their concerts since Seika left and have been in the music videos since.

As of August 2016, the group is back to the original lineup number of six members. On their official website, they do not state the members birth years, just the month and day, so you just might have to guess their ages like I do sometimes.

Birthday: March 19th

Birthday: September 30th

Birthday: October 10th

Birthday: December 25th

Birthday: March 2nd

Birthday: July 11th

When it comes to picking a favorite member, I did it during my first impression of the group. I will leave the video down below of what video I saw her first in, but I chose RinaRina as my favorite. 

So, shoutout to her!

As for their discography, they have covered a couple of songs from the 90's male group, The Gospellers, in their first two singles. One of the songs being Hurricane and the other being Me Gumi no Hito. Me Gumi No Hito has also been covered by Puffy and Koda Kumi. Both artists being well known in the idol community. 

They have released three singles thus far as the most recent one being released in June 2016. 

April 22nd, 2015 - Hurricane / Geba

October 21st. 2015 - Me Gumi No Hito

June 22nd, 2016 - Teppen Girl

As for cover artwork, I have to give credit to whomever did the Me Gumi No Hito one. The style of the CD jacket really pops out to me.

I want to showcase a few or all of their music videos they have released for you to enjoy.

The first video I would like to showcase is their first music video on their YouTube channel, and is from their debut single, which is their self-titled song, MARIA. During this video, you get to take a closer behind the scenes look at the group between the time Mei and Seika left the group.

For some reason, this music video and song really didn't hit me well. In all reality, maybe it is the fact I never really watched it fully through. While writing this, I watched it completely and enjoyed it more, so I'm kind of happy now.

The next video is also from their first single, Hurricane. It is the title track from that disc. The video also contains a special cameo from Gosperats member Yoshio Sato. If you are curious about that group, look them up. You will be surprised.

I absolutely love this song so much. I had never heard of this song until I saw this video and I loved it. The vocals are fantastic and the simplistic design of the music video made it even better. 

The next music video that they released is also from their debut single and is titled Geba. 

This video has a similar feel to it like MARIA. The behind the scenes aspect make it a must watch, especially the fish-eye lens camera. Make sure to catch some special guest appearances in the video as well. 

The next music video they released is from their second single, Me Gumi No Hito and it is the title track of the same name.

This was the first video I saw of this group. I honestly had no idea who this group was at the time of release and this is what started my enjoyment for the group. This is also where I picked Rina "I'll mess your stuff up" Rina as my favorite member. I got so confused at that time when I watched this MV and the one for Hurricane because I didn't know she had long hair then and cut it before this video but her short hair is really cute. This is also the video where Hanami and Tayori make their appearance in the group. As for the song, I really enjoyed this cover more than the others I had seen. I really love to keep listening to this track over and over as it is extremely catchy. Go check out the original by Rats&Stars if you'd like.

The next video is their coupling track on the Me Gumi No Hito single. The song is titled Gecchu. 

This song showcases their cool and cute sides. The choreography is super catchy as well as the song. It grabs your attention from the get go and fun to try to mimic. I really enjoy listening to this song. I used it as a favorite video of the week for one of my favorite YouTube shows that does idol things, that is how much I enjoyed it. 

So overall, I really enjoyed that single you could say.

The last music video I will show y'all is from their latest single Teppen Girl and it is the same track as the single title. 

Now, they released the music video just about a month ago and I have not watched it yet, so for my review, it is on a first impression basis.

For my first look at this video, all I can say is I am really excited for their future. No joke. This video and song is what I would expect to see and hear from such a group whose motto is playful rock girls. I really enjoyed this song top to bottom. A couple of things that stuck out to me was the knife-like choreo at the 2:10 mark of the video that led to the rap part for about 12 seconds from 2:18 - 2:30. I also wonder how many stairs did they run up to the roof of that building. I would have given up about halfway there. 

My overall review of the group goes as follows:

Finding this group last year was like finding a diamond in the rough. Now I may have found them a little bit later into their tenure as a group but since then, I have not forgotten about this group. 

I wait for more material they put out and try my best in order to secure it if I can. 

I wish I could have seen them perform when I was in Tokyo but I completely forgot they were performing then or I had another thing scheduled. So I'm sorry I never got to see you perform in person. I hope to see you next year though, without question. 

Maria is one of those groups that you can hold on to without telling people about and watch them grow and when they hit it big mainstream, you bring out the fact that you have been a fan of them for a while but I just couldn't wait anymore. 

More people need to learn about this group not only in Japan but abroad as well. I hope they come here to the states to perform a time or two if they can.

I can't wait to see what their future holds and if they end up reading this, I just want to let them know, obviously now, that I am a pretty big fan if not the biggest Maria fan in the United States.

Ganbatte Aona, Lala, Minori, RinaRina, Hanami and Tayori and last but not least the staff of Maria!!!

Official Links

You can follow me on Twitter or feel free to leave a comment. I don't mind either way.

*And as always, wherever you are, Have A Fantastic Day

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Oshi Chronicles - Part Two - The HKT Triad

Picking favorite members can be a rough decision as sometimes you can't just pick one.

This is one of those times.

Over the course of the past year and a half, I have been paying a lot of attention to most of the sister groups of AKB48 and not the main one itself. One of the sister groups that has severely drawn my attention is the so-called "loli" group down in Fukuoka, HKT48.

When it comes to choosing a favorite in that group there are plenty to choose from such as the first ever back-to-back winner of the AKB Senbatsu Sousenkyo Sashihara Rino or I could go after one of the other major stars of the group including Kodama Haruka aka Haruppi or even Miyawaki Sakura.

The three that I mentioned above have big, I mean big fan bases around the world. The sad part about that reality is that I got one of my workers to be a fan of Haruppi.

No joke.

The only problem with me choosing one of those three main attractions is their fan base being so large. I honestly did not want to jump on the band wagon and start throwing a ton of support at them.

So, in that case they got disqualified from contention.

When I first started getting to know the Hakata girls, I wanted to do some fair research about each and every member to make sure I could pick a favorite member.

While conducting such strenuous examinations, I couldn't really find a favorite from teams H or KIV, so I dug further into the group and came across the kenkyuusei which is now happily team TII, looking for options of who to throw my Oklahoman support towards with all my strength.

As it would turn out, I found a few diamonds in the rough that I have been throwing my support towards. So with that being said, let me showcase my oshis for contention for my top spot and I hope that you will enjoy my choices and maybe if you like them already, welcome.

The first nominee for contention is Sakamoto Erena.

Courtesy: AKS

Name: Sakamoto Erena (坂本愛玲菜)
Nickname: Eretan (えれたん)
Birthdate: September 12th, 2000
Fun fact: She has a adorably cute parakeet named "Piisuke"

Courtesy: Sakamoto Erena Google+ 

Courtesy: Sakamoto Erena Google+

Why choose Eretan for a oshi spot?

I have many of reasons. I found about about her through Hakata Hyakkaten 3, which is one of the many of shows HKT throws out there. She debuted on episode two in studio and I thought of how adorable she was and it made me want to support her even though I barely knew who she was. She has a somewhat serious side but when she has a chance she can prove to have great comedy. She sometimes has her own radio/video show on her Google+ every now and again with several other members where they talk about random things.  I have supported her since that episode and will continue to. Over the course of time, she has grown into a very confident and charismatic teenager. She did not rank in this years Sousenkyo, which should not be a surprise whatsoever as I have yet to find another fan of her. I hope to find one someday. 

Keep Fighting Eretan!!!

Eretan Links

The next candidate for oshimen is practically the best friend of Sakamoto Erena and the oldest member on my list, Yamashita Emiri.

Courtesy: AKS

Name: Yamashita Emiri (山下 エミリー)
Nickname: Emri (エミリー)
Birthdate: December 19th, 1998
Fun fact: Emiri is half Filipino on her mother's side

Courtesy: Yamashita Emiri Google+
Courtesy: Yamashita Emiri Google+


Why her?

Well to be fair, she kind of popped up recently on my list of favorite HKT members and immediately got put in my top four for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons why I chose her is for her personality. She has a very comical side to her sometimes that just blows my mind, while there are times where it looks like she is bored out of hers. Lately, she has been having a competition with fellow member Matsuoka Hana for the attention of one half of the comedic duo Football Hour, Goto Terumoto who does MC work with Sashihara Rino on HKT48 no Odekake!! Goto seems to like Hana-chan more which really makes Emiri work hard for attention and can be quite classic when she gets screen time. Emiri was not chosen during the Sousenkyo like Eretan wasn't but she was chosen for the senbatsu of the HKTs' sixth single Shekarashika!, which is a fantastic song to listen to if you haven't. Now I am going to be completely honest. I am not a short-haired person but I can suffice with her style because it looks great on her. She has grown into a lovely young lady and I look forward to supporting her more throughout her time at HKT. 

Ganbatte, Emiri!!!!

Emiri Links

Official Profile
Official Google+
Official 755

The next and final spot of my oshi trio, is....

Aramaki Misaki!!!!

Courtesy: AKS

Name: Aramaki Misaki  (荒巻美咲)
Nickname: Mirun (みるん)
Birthdate: January 28th, 2001
Fun fact: She wants to become like Audrey Hepburn and also a tad bit of a easy crier

Courtesy: Aramaki Misaki Google+

Courtesy: Aramaki Misaki Google+

Really, yo?

You must be into lolis.

Actually, no.

I have many a reason for choosing Aramaki-chan for my top three. The first being, just look at her. Is she not just super adorable. Another reason why I chose her is for her personality, The shell that she displays is pretty similar to mine. The shy and quiet type who can get embarrassed quite quickly and blush super fast. I found Mirun through the same episode as Eretan, where Mitz Mangrove gave advice to her about not being confident and then she cried. I knew at that moment that I had to support her. She had longer hair back then and when she cut her hair shorter, it took me by surprise but I found it to be quite fitting. I remember one episode of Odekake where Mirun told Yabuki Nako that she was cute and it was super adorable because they went back and forth and I had a smile the entire time. Aramaki-chan, just like the other two, has yet to rank but due to her age, I hope to see her rank soon. On the 12 Byou single by HKT48, the song Hohoemi Popcorn, was centered by her. I absolutely love that song to this day. I will drop the music video down below for your enjoyment and also a video of Sasshi melting over her a few years ago during a consultation session.

I super love this song and the fact she got to center in it is pretty splendid.

Again, how adorable is she!!

I will continue to support this young lady to the ends of the Earth if I have to. 

Headstrong, Aramaki-chan!!!!

Aramaki Links

As you can see, those are my top three candidates for the spot of HKT oshimen. 

All three seem to be pretty good choices but they may be to young for most people to pick as their favorite.

I will continue to support all three with as much might as I can from here in Oklahoma. I hope to get to meet all three of them someday before they graduate at least. I sadly do not expect big lines for them at handshake events but I probably would be surprised. 

If you made it this far, I really thank you. 

I really hope you enjoyed this article and if you happen to be a fan of one of these three, feel free to leave a comment about what you like about them or if you aren't a fan drop a comment of your favorite member. 

To top it all off, I will share a video of five of the members of the members of Team TII icluding my top three members before the senbatsu sousenkyo. Enjoy the chat and if you are looking for English subs of the episode, go check out BlueMentaiko for them.

You can follow me on Twitter if you'd like and feel free to share with others. I would greatly appreciate it.

*And as always, wherever you are Have A Fantastic Day!!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Oshi Chronicles - Part One - Keyakizaka46s' Own Imaizumi Yui

Courtesy: Hustle Press Japan

Welcome to a new series I will be starting weekly on Saturdays, obviously titled Oshi Chronicles, where I will present you with my favorite member or members of some of the groups I listen to. I hope you enjoy this series as I have been non-awkwardly admiring them.

So, with that aside, the first part is dedicated to my tied for number one spot members from the slightly newly formed sister group of Nogizaka46, Keyakizaka46.

When I first learned of the beginning of a Nogizaka46 sister group, I went sort of nuts. I mean, Aki-P keeps pumping out these groups one after another that I admire him for being a brutally smart marketing genius,

With most groups I write about, I usually pick a first impression oshi or the one that catches my eyes immediately but with this group I kind of had a difficult time trying to pick one. When the group started their variety show debut with Keyaki tte, Kakenai? I knew I had the chance to pick a member to throw all my support to.

During the first couple of episodes they showed the members doing a sort of profile video, where they showcased a talent or just talked about themselves. After those few episodes, I still hadn't picked one as I still wasn't sure who to choose.

I mean, I could have picked the whole group as my favorite right and not chosen a particular member.

At that time, the members finally made their television debut in studio and right off the bat, I locked one in.

That member was none other than Imaizumi Yui.

Most people including members call her Zuumin, but I prefer Yui Yui.

She has a older brother that apparently likes to yell which led to a funny joke so far throughout her time there.

She also is not a good winker as shown in Keyabingo! extra talk, Keyaroom!

Hahaha. Nice Try!!

Born September 30th, 1998 in Kanagawa, as I mentioned earlier she has a older brother that likes to yell but in all reality she has four older brothers and she is the youngest in her family.

Pretty amazing, right?

Also she can play three instruments which are the piano, flute and drums.

She also has a  amazing singing voice. Check out this video from her personal PV from Keyakizaka 46s' second single. 

That beach looks great as well. I would love to walk that beach as well.

It gets better though. She was also in the idol group Smile Gakuen under the name Kashiwagi Yui with the nickname Yuiful. She was a first generation member to be exact in April 2011. 

So, while doing research for this article, I stumble across on YouTube, where else, her Smile Gakuen days and may I say she is adorable then and it looks she has turned even more lovely as time has progressed.

Let's Play: Spot The Yui

If you can find her, you will see what I mean. Also, she did a couple of gravure shoots in those days on you can find them on the Tube as well under her Smile Gakuen name. 

Now admittedly having a favorite member like her does not always end up being so fantastic. I will describe to you how. 

For one, as I am on social media a majority of the time, you end up in her official blog, or lurking on Twitter and Tumblr, even Facebook where you end up saving pictures like nobody's business which takes up space on either : 1. Your Phone 2. Your Computer

Not only that but you are constantly watching variety shows or old videos like the one above to find out more. 

Also, you annoy the living tar out of people by talking about her. 

"She is so cool."

"Take a look at this."

One other option is using magazines such as Hustle Press or BOMB. Hustle Press produces a lot of beautiful pictures so I would check them out. Yui Yui has done two photo shoots on there. I will leave some of my favorites here for you to see. These photos are from her articles that ran in June 2016.

Courtesy: Hustle Press Japan

Courtesy: Hustle Press Japan

Courtesy: Hustle Press Japan

Again, very beautiful and tastefully done. 

Also, here is a off-shoot video for her shoot for B.L.T Magazine to be released in September.

She looks absolutely pretty in that kimono, does she not.

A good thing about having a popular member as your favorite is that you get to find like-minded people of different nationalities and discuss things about her and share photos, which is a time saver.

I have met three or four great people through her fan pages.

Back before my recent trip to Tokyo in May, I had a chance to get handshake tickets and finally have a chance to meet her for approximately 15 or more seconds. That is barely enough time to get out a sentence before you are moved along. Also, those tickets are about $10 USD a pop, so if I were to get some, I would use at least two or three on her and the remainders on some of my other favorite members such as, Kobayashi Yui, Koite Minami, Suzumoto Miyu and even Ozeki Rina (that Ozeki style, though). 

Based on current trends, I would be ever so lucky to get a ticket or tickets for her lane. I would have more chances going to the others combined. At their latest handshake event, she sold out in the 3rd round, which is pretty darn ridiculous compared to the others I mentioned. 

Even then, what do you say to her?

Anyways, I will continue to support her throughout her time here in Keyaki and will be looking forward to more material that she may present through social media sources. 

I will be so happy if she finally gets to center a single. I would buy like a million, not literally, copies of that single.  

If you happen to like Imaizumi Yui, please leave a comment. Even if you don't, leave a comment anyways.

I hope you enjoyed this article and feel free to share this around.

What a dork and how adorable!!!

Official Links

Yui Yuis' Official Profile

You can follow me on Twitter if you'd like. I do not mind.

*And as always, Have A Wonderful Day No Matter Where You Are!!!