Normally, we don’t give two shits about what relatives of uninteresting celebs do (save for Shirota Yu’s batshit mom) but since AkiP is going all Murdoch on us:
Hey Japanese news-media. I heard you don’t feel like that an AKB48 member’s mom being arrested for being a pedo is news/were paid off not to talk about it so we decided the only thing to do in this situation is to TALK ABOUT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
HIDE YO’ KIDS
Apparently, certain outlets are suspecting that AkiP is threatening withholding of rights to photograph the AKB members in ugly bathing suits to publishers that actually talk about this. And I thought only the mob suppressed gossip!
Cutting out the “JAPAN IS SO WEIRD AND FOREIGN I’M TOTALLY LIVING LOST IN TRANSLATION NOW” bits, Charlie Brooker offers an astonishingly accurate description of Japanese TV:
Generally though, the TV here is surprisingly dull. The vast majority of programmes consist of several seriously overexcited people sitting in an overlit studio decorated like a novelty grotto made from regurgitated Dolly Mixture, endlessly babbling about food.
Seriously, it’s all food, food, food. People eating food, answering questions about food, sometimes even just pointing at food and laughing. It’s as they’ve only just discovered food and are perpetually astonished by its very existence. Imagine watching an endless episode of The One Show with the colour and brightness turned up to 11, where all the guests have been given amphetamines, the screen is peppered with random subtitles, and every 10 seconds it cuts to a close-up shot of a bowl of noodles for no apparent reason. That’s 90% of Japanese TV right there.
For a nation so preposterously hi-tech, it’s a curiously old-fashioned approach to television. People talking in studios. Forever. Like it’s the 50s. And yet it’s insanely agitated: as though the participants are simply too wired to make a proper TV show, and have subsequently just switched the cameras on and started yelping.
As soon as I figure out how to make really goofy, comic sans subtitles pop up whenever I say something criminally unfunny, Veronica and I will make a show where we complain about J-pop culture while eating a variety of food in slow-mo.
If your tastes are dictated by popular opinion, here’s an early look at winter drama ratings.
People love the shit outta: Taira no Kiyomori, Strawberry Night and Lucky Seven.
Hungry! and Dirty Mama seem to be word-of-mouth hits fro the increase in viewership.
Ending Planner was so boring that it bored to death a third of its viewers.
And literally 2 people watched the trainwreck that is known as Suugaku Joshi.
In order from top to bottom: Aibou 10, Strawberry Night, Lucky Seven, Hungry!, Dirty mama!, Risou no Musuko, Ending Planner, Saigo kara nibanme no koi, unmei no hito, Renai NEET, Seinaru kaibutsutachi, hayami-san to yobareru hi, Stepfather Step, 13-sai no hello work, tonbi, mousou sousa, Deka Kurogawa Suzuki, honjitsu taian nari, teen court, konna aidoru ja nain, suugaku joshigakuen.
Can someone please sub the Taira no Kiyomori drama already so we can all talk about it? It’s the only non-snoooring drama this season and is filled with juicy treachery and sexy men. I bet like, 6 groups are pulling at each other’s hair to subs Matsujun’s busted drama.
As usual, we’re probably not going to feature dramas obviously for old people or obviously for children.
Starts: January 16, Monday-9 slot Who’s in it: Matsumoto Jun, Eita, Oizumi Yo, Matsushima Nanako What they say it’s about: The story revolves around a team of seven detectives who work together to solve difficult cases, with Matsumoto playing a rookie named Tokita Shuntaro. The theme is “action”, “laughter”, and “being positive.” Translation: Matsujun is a rookie detective that just cares too much about his clients! He’ll ganbaru until the end! First episode will include a prolonged scene of him crying in the rain. Yao: Dear god TV show makers, when will you stop casting Matsujun as the “earnest rookie (insert profession here)”? Actually, when will you stop casting any Arashi member as the earnest rookie? Probably not until they’re all 50.
Veronica: Things MatsuJun is not particularly good at:
So yeah. Looks promising. If it’s funny I’ll watch and I like Eita, but this is making my Shitty Senses tingle.
Taira no Kiyomori
Starts: January 8, Sundays Who’s in it: Matsuyama Kenichi, Tamaki Hiroshi, Matsuda Shota, Fujiki Naohito What they say it’s about: The 51st NHK Taiga drama recounts the life of Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181), a general of the Heian period, who established the first samurai-based government in Japan. Translation: High-budget jidaigeki with a lot of Matsuyama Kenichi looking rugged. Yao: Not gonna lie, kinda excited about it. The cast is super star studded and the production values must be through the roof. Did I also mention the official website looks awesome?
Veronica: Every guy in this is on my Top Sexy list. I have no clue where I’m going to find the time to watch the fucking taiga drama this year but idk I’ll figure it out.
13-sai no Hello Work
Starts: January 13, Fridays Who’s in it: Matsuoka Masahiro, Yokoyama Yu, What they say it’s about: Matsuoka plays the role of Ogure Teppei, a 35-year-old policeman who dreams of being promoted to the First Investigation Division. One day, he suddenly slips back in time to 22 years earlier, at the height of Japan’s economic bubble. There, he meets his optimistic 13-year-old self (played by Tanaka Taketo). In order to help himself find the job and life that he hoped for, he has his younger self try out different kinds of work. It is said that more than 15 jobs will be presented in the drama. Yokoyama plays a Tokyo University graduate who looks up to Teppei as an older brother. Kiritani plays a college student who works as a special teacher for prep school. Other cast members include Fubuki Jun and Furuta Arata Translation: Ok, what they didn’t mention in that little blurb is that it’s based off a best-selling series for kids. So either they’re gonna make it less Saturday morning cartoons to encourage all these NEETs and perpetual freeters or this is going to be another Japanese Government Sponsored Show for Your Health and Wellbeing. Yao: I am going to be angry if this isn’t hilarious. Who am I kidding I know this is going to be mostly lectures about how it’s important to find a “real job” so your parents don’t have to keep on sending you money well into your 30s. I also doubt future Matsuoka’s gonna be like “Hey kids! You’re about to experience a soul-crushing economic meltdown that the country will take years to recover from!”
Veronica: I’m just excited to see Yokohama Yu try to convince me he’s a Todai grad. BIG CHALLENGE FOR HIM.
Renai NEET~Wasureta Koi no Hajimekata~
Starts: January 20, Friday-10 slot Who’s in it: Nakama Yukie What they say it’s about: Rin works in the sales promotion department at a publisher, though she is treated as unreliable by both her superiors and her subordinates. One day, she and her friend Nanako go their friend Miho’s “divorce ceremony,” where they meet three men: a dentist named Naoya, a flavorist at a major food company named Kota, and a handsome young man named Shunpei. The story focuses on the relationships between these 6 characters. The Tokyograph summary is misleading: Nakama Yukie is a 32-year-old who hasn’t had a boyfriend in 8 years and has essentially forgotten how to “love” and is now hanging out with 5 other people in the same situation. I’m guessing this is a drama approved by the Japanese government to get those pesky singles to settle down with each other! Translation: People liked Watashi ga renai dekinai riyuu, let’s make a somewhat similar show for a different age bracket. Yao: What is up with the garden of eden imagery in the promo pic? Also, I guess now “NEET” is the new trendy word people are going to use for everything damned whether it actually makes sense or not.
Veronica: Divorce Ceremonies are one of those “Weird Japan!!!” things that I cringe at and then forget about. I feel like I hate this already.
Starts: January 10, Tuesdays Who’s in it: Mukai Osamu, Tsukamoto Takashi, Inagaki Goro What they say it’s about: Mukai is taking on the role of Eisuke, a former bassist of a rock band who gave up his music dreams to carry on the tradition of his family’s French restaurant. The show will involve a love triangle as Kuninaka and Takimoto play rivals for Eisuke’s heart. Kuninaka has been cast as Eisuke’s older girlfriend Maria, who works at a bank. She is shocked to learn that Mukai has abandoned his music to devote himself to the restaurant, leading her to uncertainty about their relationship. Takimoto’s character is a 20-year-old college student named Chie who comes from a farming family. Although she initially had a bad impression of Eisuke, she begins to develop feelings for him after tasting his cooking. SMAP’s Inagaki will play Tokio, the owner of a competing French restaurant. In the past, he was fond of the restaurant that Eisuke’s mother ran, but after she passed away, he deceived Eisuke’s father and bought out the restaurant’s chefs and staff. Knowing of Eisuke’s ability as a chef, Tokio views him as a rival. Eisuke’s friends, who were part of his band ROCKHEAD, are being played by Tsukamoto (guitarist) and Miura (vocalist). Both of them help Eisuke with his restaurant. Translation: Yo, I heard everyone has a boner for that Mukai Osamu guy cause he’s hot off the heels of doing Gou. Quick! Put him in an innocuous food drama with just a tiny bit of spice to keep it fresh! Yao: What is this promo video, I don’t even. Were you guys too lazy to actually shoot film?
Veronica: I hate Mukai Osamu. He always has a bad attitude and I don’t know why women find that attractive. Who wants to bet there’s a tie-in album for whatever lame band his character is in within six months?
Starts: December 24, Saturdays Who’s in it: No one I care about. What they say it’s about: “Switch Girl!!” is a manga series by Aida Natsumi that currently runs in Shueisha’s magazine Margaret and has sold close to 5 million copies total. The story revolves around a high school student named Nika (Nishiuchi) who appears to be a stylish and fashionable girl at school, but that’s really a fake persona that she uses when she’s in public. At home, she “switches off” the facade and her returns to her true slovenly nature. Kiriyama Renn (26) plays the good-looking transfer student Arata, who is Nika’s love interest in the story. Translation: Hotaru no Hikari for children teens. Yao: I will watch any series about a girl that is a gross old man/otaku at home and fabulous at school/work. All I want to know is how come they don’t go all out with how gross women in their ‘off’ modes really get? I’ll see how long I can stand this series before I get tired of high school “problems” that really aren’t problems.
Veronica: I’ve read a little bit of Switch Girl and it’s your run of the mill “OMG THIS WOMAN DOESN’T PERFORM FEMININITY THE SAME WAY MOST OF SOCIETY DOES, GROSS!” story. Oh, but in High School so it’s really immature. The girl in that picture has what the internets likes to refer to as “jizz lips”. Put on some cherry Chapstick PUH-LEEZE.
DisHonorable Mentions (aka, shit I care less than normal about): So apparently they’re making a drama about Teen Court, where some high school girl reinvestigates cases so she can use her ~unique perspective~ as a teen to solve vapid mysteries by applying her knowledge about emoji and facebook photos. Everything about this drama makes me want kids to get off my lawn. Speaking of dramas aimed at the under-18 girls and over 40 men, NTV’s trying to make Hello!Project relevant again by making Suugaku♡Joshi Gakuen (yes there is an actual heart mark in the title - indicating it’s Emmy material). Like OMG it’s a math school where the girls all look like HelloPro idols!!!11 I’m sure this will totally address the biases against women in the math and sciences and not just be thinly veiled fap material for nerds. JDrama tries its hand at old people romance with Saigo kara Nibanme no Koi. I’m not even going to go into everything that’s wrong with Risou no Musuko. All you need to know is that it’s essentially about having a massive Oedipal complex and it’s populated with heysaywomp members. Hayami-san to yobareru hi seems so incredibly ryosai kenbo 2012. I guess Yamapi is making a drama where he’s a funeral parlor worker/more detective than actual detectives. I know most of you Yamapi stans will think this is the beautiful, well proportioned baby of Six Feet Under and CSI but I know this is going to be another snooooring pseudo whodunnit show. Seinaru kaibutsu-tachi could potentially be interesting because the premise rests on possible foul play involving big money but I am not tween enough to watch for Okada Masaki and I really have 0 interest in hospital dramas. Ekiben Hitoritabi is one of those shows I have 0 interest in watching (unless of course, they decide at the last minute to cast shirtless Kimutaku. Let’s not think too hard as to why you would need to be shirtless to eat/travel) but 1000% interest in actually doing. I also don’t know why but I feel like I would be more encouraged to watch this if it were an anime. Idk, maybe I am just thoroughly amused that the protagonist looks like your gay bear friend from Portland.
I have had it with allthese motherfucking detective/cop shows on my motherfucking Japanese TV.
Unless someone dies or gets arrested for something hilarious, this is probably it from us for 2011. We’ll still be monitoring comments and Asks but I doubt we’ll post until January (not that we were super active lately anyhow).
I think in the New Year we might take the blog in a less-tabloid-y direction. Who knows.
Yes. Call me a total hypocrite but I had never even considered the possibility that Arashi lipsynced? I mean obviously they do but I guess I just like them so much they are exempt from my normal biting cynicism. Yao and I watched FNS the weekend it came out and we both remarked at how shitty it was that “the Good Singers (Nino and Ohno)’s mics were broken so you could only hear the other three!” Nino’s almost-imperceptible look of shock in the first ten seconds of singing made the whole night for me.
Actor Joe Odagiri has apologized for writing his name as “Kumi Koda” when a fan asked him for his autograph while he was in a restaurant after attending the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea in October. Odagiri, 35, attended the premiere of his new film “My Way,” in which he plays the main character. His autograph was posted on the Internet and picked up by South Korean media which criticized him. Odagiri released a statement to media, apologizing. He said he didn’t mean to belittle the fan or Korean people. Japan Today
I don’t know about you, but this picture makes me really respect them for their opinions on the financial crisis and global politics.
Tell me that AKB is giving out cocaine along with the crack they call music. Another million seller? W-T-F!
Seriously. I am not even living in Japan and I feel overwhelmed and fed up with them. Why doesn’t Japan get sick of pedo-porny girl groups?
Perfectly timed submission, although I would replace ‘cocaine’ with ‘prepubescent non-threatening femininity.’
I’ve been pondering long and hard about how to explain to people why AKB48 may top the Oricon charts but are actually not that appealing beyond a small group of very obsessed neckbeards. Thankfully, Marxy over at Neojaponisme did that for me (all parts of this segment are a highly recommended read). With a shift in consumer buying patterns (and arguably, a new type of consumer culture) in the backdrop, how CDs are marketed and sold creates some heavily skewed sales figures.
Here is a particularly relevant section:
The mass idol group [AKB48] regularly has an “election” (sousenkyo) where fans try to vote their favorite girl to Number One. Buying certain AKB48 CD singles gives the fan a vote in the AKB48 election, which thus incentivizes otaku to buy multiple copies of the CD to increase their “political” power. The CD is thus no longer a means of listening to music but a way to influence the future of AKB48. This has created a legion of fans who buy dozens and hundreds of the same AKB48 CD or even 5500 copies. There are now doubts about that story’s authenticity but it basically was an exaggeration of an existing principle. Regardless, the marketing strategy of AKB48 does encourage the purchase of multiple goods, thus amplifying the buying power of nerds beyond their small numbers. This means as a consumer bloc, the AKB48 otaku fans can rival the non-otaku consumer base.
Basically, more votes for your favorite girl = more shots of her in some lolitaesque bikini looking out at you from some convenience store magazine with her dead fish eyes. Did I mention they ‘re the most photographed/popular pin-up/softcore porn in 2011? In addition to the AKB stans buying more CDs per release, other people are just buying less of everything else. Take a look at the Oricon yearly ranking for 2010: Everyone in the top 10 are either AKB48 or Arashi, and everyone else in the top 25 (save Sakamoto Fuyumi with her old-people tear jerker enka song) are all idols. When the global economy collapses and everyone has no money, the only people still spending their hard earned yen from their 3rd job (or their parents) are people who have another reason for buying CDs of certain acts beyond, “I just like their music.”