Why I Say No to Fukubukuro, Japanese "Lucky Bags"

The end of December brings the announcement of lots of retail shop’s Fukubukuro 「福袋」, often called Lucky Bags or Happy Bags. If you are not familiar with the concept, these are bags of goodies that have a set price to them and most of the time you don’t know what you are going to get inside but the price is a LOT cheaper than you would normally pay for items at that store which is an incentive for people who like that particular store. People wake up early on January 1st or January 2nd depending on what the shops open and rush to get these discounted bags of goodies, kind of like Black Friday in the west. Nowadays though, a lot of brands let you pre-order the bags from the comfort of your home and allow you to reserve at the store to reduce the rush of shoppers at the beginning of the year.

I focus on clothes in this post, but stores like Starbucks and Lush also do these types of things as well. Each store has a different type of lucky bag; some stores only tell you how many items are in the bag, some tell you the types of items (like a sweater, dress, top, etc.), some will tell you 1 of the items (like a coat) that you can pick the color but the other items are a secret, and some stores will only tell you the equivalent of what the content would cost at normal price. And the best ones, in my opinion, are the ones that tell you most everything in the bag like a discounted set.

When I first came to Japan I was fascinated with these bags and I bought a bunch the first few years I lived here. I was all about those discounted clothes! But… as the years rolled on I began to notice I wouldn’t even use half of the clothes I got in those bags; I would pick out a few good pieces and the rest would be sitting in packaging over the years. I can’t even remember how many cheap winter coats I got and wore about 1 time before stuffing it into the back of my closet.

Why did this happen? I really did like those brands! Well, the downside to these lucky bags is this is many retailers’ way of getting rid of dead stock and things that didn’t sell through the year or even years previous. One year in particular, this was made VERY clear to me through my favorite brand Noela. In January 2016 I ordered a happy bag from there and when it arrived I opened it only to be disappointed that it was basically ALL clothes that I wouldn’t have worn. I had the epiphany I had spent about ¥11,000 yen (about $110 USD) and not 1 piece was really wearable and I could have used that money to buy just 1 piece from the same brand that I loved and would have used a lot. That was the beginning of not buying happy bags anymore (especially clothes) and I haven’t since then from what I can remember.

Now, if happy bags are in your budget and you like bargain hunting then its a great opportunity! BUT if you are more like me and like to invest in just a few good pieces than happy bags are not the thing for you. So, my recommendation before you buy happy bags is to consider if you want to gamble that money (because its essentially what it is) or make sure to pick happy bags that explain the contents more so that you are sure what you are spending your money on.

Have you bought a happy bag before? Did you get anything good in it? Let me know in the comments below!

Jpop Group "NEWS" Soccer Songs Ranked |nihonchique

Since their comeback in 2012 as 4 members, NEWS has been known for their soccer songs with 7 releases and the 8th for this year’s 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, SUPERSTAR, pending a release date. Every year since 2012 member Tegoshi Yuya is the main caster for the FIFA Club World Cup and NEWS is chosen to do the theme song since, totaling 6 songs with 2 songs for the FIFA World Cup in 2014 (ONE -for the win-) and the FIFA World Cup in 2018 (BLUE). With that introduction out of the way, I present my ranking for NEWS’s soccer songs from highest ranking to lowest.

  1. ANTHEM| FIFA Club World Cup Theme Song 2015-2016

ANTHEM was the 2015 and 2016 FIFA Club World Cup theme song and is the ultimate soccer song for me; it’s upbeat and has a powerful sound worthy of a sports song, making it insanely catchy with the “oh oh oh” chant in the chorus where during a concert EVERYONE belts it out. The changing tempo between the chorus and the verses keeps it interesting and the breakdown rap by Masuda is a perfect lead in to the bridge going back into the chorus towards the end of the song. ANTHEM was released on NEWS’s “Yonjyushi” 「四銃士」DVD single and QUARTETTO album. I was SO happy when they brought this song back during their 2017 NEVERLAND tour and it seems to be one of the more popular soccer songs amongst fans.

  1. BLUE| FIFA World Cup Theme Song 2018

BLUE was the FIFA World Cup 2018 theme song and was a “Samurai Blue” Team Japan-themed song, the first time NEWS released a soccer theme song that was specifically cheering on Japan. It begins with the Samurai Japan chant leading into a very upbeat and airy acoustic guitar sound that was perfect for summer when it came out, leading into the incredibly powerful chorus with a call and response. It also has some elements of Shamisen, a traditional Japanese instrument, and flutes making it a very interesting fusion of sounds and changing tempos in the song (See a theme? I like songs that have a change of tempo throughout the song to keep me interested). Can I also draw attention for a moment to the fact they had GLOWING BLUE SHOES for their costume?? Samurai Blue represent!

Unfortunately, BLUE was kind of swept under the rug with few promotions, despite it being a theme song for the FIFA World Cup and being released as a single, because of a scandal involving 2 of the members at the time. Despite the scarce promotions, it still managed to sell 165,000 copies in the first week and made #1 on the Oricon chart.

  1. ONE -for the Win-|FIFA World Cup Theme Song 2014

ONE -for the win- was the 2014 FIFA World Cup theme song and released as its own single, together with the b-side soccer song SEVEN COLORS. Because the host was Brazil it had an upbeat Latin feel to the song and actually contains all the names of the participating countries. the music video included soccer supporters and it was the most “soccer” out of all the music videos (in my opinion) with many soccer shots. It’s ranked for me #3 because it gets stuck in my head SOO easily and I think its a cool touch that all the country names are in the song.

  1. WORLD QUEST|FIFA Club World Cup 2012 Theme Song

WORLD QUEST was their original soccer song debuting in the 2012 FIFA Soccer Club World Cup and was the opening song for their 10 year anniversary tour in 2013. This is the only one of their Club World Cup songs released as a single, all the others either being released as a B-side or on one of the albums. WORLD QUEST has quite a bit of tempo changes to keep it interesting but its actually on the more mellow of the soccer songs. There is a “remix” version that NEWS released on the ONE -for the win- single that gives a fresh take on the song 2 years after its release.

  1. SEVEN COLORS| FIFA Club World Cup Theme Song 2014

SEVEN COLORS is a REALLY upbeat song with a colorful music video released as a B-side with ONE -for the win- and made for the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup. The theme for the song was the 7 colors of the FIFA Club World Cup representing the 7 teams invited to play. SEVEN COLORS is the only b-side side soccer song that has received a music video and it was only released on a disc you could win in a special lottery when purchasing the ONE -for the win- single. Only 10,000 people got it and I was lucky enough hit for a copy! The song is upbeat and I love the bouncy feeling to it, my best memory of it being the final song of NEWS’s WHITE concert. The tempo stays quite the same throughout the song so that is why it is lower on the ranks for me and is not a song I really go back and listen to a lot because it gets repetitive and there is no part of the song I look forward to like the others before this.

  1. SPIRIT| FIFA Club World Cup 2018 Theme Song

A whimsical and light song with the theme of “freedom” and “flight”, the choreography has a lot of flowing movements to it making it great to see live. I LOVE the violin in the song and the tempo change in-between the chorus and the verses, but the rhythmic military-like beat to it is what turns me off to it at some points and it took me a while to warm up to this song, only remotely liking it when I saw it performed in concert during their EPCOTIA ENCORE concert, then the WORLDISTA tour right after that in the spring of this year. It was released on the WORLDISTA album in the “E-sports” section with BLUE. The costumes for EPCOTIA ENCORE are my favorite costumes out of all the soccer songs with the red white and blue Nike tracksuits my favorite member Masuda Takahisa designed.

  1. KINGDOM| FIFA Club World Cup 2017 Theme Song

KINGDOM was the FIFA Club World Cup theme song for 2017 and did not get a lot of promotion at all, simply being released on the EPCOTIA album in March of 2018 and is a song that really didn’t have a big impact on me. I really only listen to it when I listen through the entire EPCOTIA album. After the EPCOTIA tour, it wasn’t performed again and was archived into NEWS’s library of songs that probably won’t see another performance of.

  1. SUPERSTAR| FIFA Club World Cup 2019 Theme Song

SUPERSTAR is the newest soccer song for this year’s Club World Cup and the most mellow out of all of them. I have only seen 2 performances of it, so I don”t really have a good feel of what the song sounds like it but from what I heard from those 2 performances it will probably be ranked pretty low for the mellow-ness of it. I will say though that one of the collaborations was with a famous DJ, DJ松永(Creepy Nuts), which gave a mellow song a good beat to it. Other than that, I also don’t have much else to say about SUPERSTAR and it will probably be released on NEWS’s album STORY pending release probably sometimes in Spring 2020.

What is your ranking for NEWS soccer songs? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Ways To Survive Winter In Japan From A Native Floridian

Winter in Japan varies where you are visiting, but most of the country gets consistently to 0 degrees celsius or colder during the winter, so it gets pretty cold… at least to me. I went from not knowing anything about how to survive winter, being a native Floridian, to being thrown into the Kyoto cold when I first moved to Japan. Here are 5 tips from a native Floridian on how to survive winter in Japan.

Layering Clothing and UNIQLO Heattech

This may seem obvious for some people, but I was never taught layering or even how to “winter” properly being a native Florida and in fact, I never even owned a “proper” coat until about last year. When I say proper I mean investing in a coat that is thick and made to last years…. I always bought cheap under $100 USD coats that didn’t last very long and weren’t very warm. I now have a coat from my favorite clothing brand NOELA that is a short duffle that doesn’t button but zips up in navy with a fur hood and I am in love with it! It goes with everything and the next coat investment I want to make is a medium size single breasted coat that is a bit more classic, but that will be probably for next winter.

Layering is extremely important to survive the winter here in Japan as when you are outside you want to bundle up but with the harsh heater inside you don’t want to bake and sweat like a pig. I ALWAYS check the weather in the morning and see how cold it will get. I practically live in jeans and sweaters during the winter with the occasional skirt and dress if I feel like dressing up, but in those cases I will make sure I have a thick cardigan and wear UNIQLO Heattech.

In the west we have “long johns”, or undergarments made to keep you warm but in Japan UNIQLO has heattech technology that is similar but so much more light weight and is extremely affordable at around $12 or 1000 yen. They have all different of types, such as tank tops, short sleeve, long sleeve, boat neck, crew neck, turtle neck, everything you can imagine! They have socks and bottoms as well for those who’s legs get cold easily. Another key element for me in winter in Japan is cashmere, which once again I find cheaply at UNIQLO. Cashmere is thick and soft sweater material that keeps you super warm and is quite expensive. UNIQLO has good quality cashmere for a great price, normally 8999 yen (USD $88) and on sale it can get down to 6999 yen ($68 USD). They don’t just have sweaters, but scarfs and other accessories too. I also get cashmere infused socks for 1000 yen for 3 pairs at TUTUANA, a socks and tights store here and they are my favorite socks to wear during the winter.

Kairo Hand Warmers

Hand warmers are a LIFE SAVER and I had no idea they existed until l moved to Japan, as I don’t even think they are a thing in the US (although I didn’t live in a area that got real winter weather… Florida is either hot or HOT HOT…). I don’t like wearing gloves unless I’m outside for a long period of time, which is not on a daily basis for me. BUT my hands get extremely cold and having a hand warmer on me during the winter is a must for me. I buy a huge pack of them at the beginning of the season and normally I use a few a week so a pack of about 24 lasts me for the entire winter season. There are two types: Stick (貼る) and non-stick (貼らない). I always get the non-stick because I like to hold it in my hands, but the stick kind you can stick on your cloths or body under your clothes to keep you warm or stick them inside your shoes. I prefer to control by body temperature through layering my clothes, so I do not use this option usually.

Onsen

Onsen are hot springs in Japan and I cannot survive winter without them! There are so many local onsen around the Kansai area where I live and I like to go on a day trip out there, eat a nice meal and hop into the hot spring, especially the outside ones called Rotenburo「 露天風呂」. I love the contrast between the hot bath and the cool air; I always feel refreshed afterwards! Some places in Kansai I recommend for a day trip are Arima Onsen in Hyogo and Awajishima in Hyogo, they are both day trips and you can find day-trip plans that have food included. One last tip is that to go into these hot springs you will have to go to a hotel or ryokan. There are normally many options in the area for budget and for splurge so I recommend researching a bit before going and book ahead of time for the best trip.

Now and alternative for people who do not like to get naked is foot baths that most of these onsen have as well. Warm up by soaking your feet in the warm hot springs!

Heated Blanket and Kotatsu

Heated blankets aren’t revolutionary either, but in Japan the heater and air conditioning are not central air conditioning so it gets very drafty and cold easily. At night most people do not sleep with the heater on and opt to use a heated blanket instead. I slept with the heater on the first few winters in Japan and it was way too dry and didn’t help at all so I decided to pick up a heated blanked instead. They are easy to find on Amazon or at your local Bic camera/ Yodobashi camera and are normally decently priced at about 5000 yen, or $49 USD and I have had mine for over 5 years now and its going strong.

Another alternative is a kotatsu, basically a heated table with a blanket over it to keep the inside warm and a lot of Japanese people live in them during the winter to save on electricity. I actually prefer the heated blanket to as in my apartment we do not have a lot of space to sit under it even though we have one. If you want to try one out there are actually restaurants that you can sit under a Kotatsu and eat a nice mean, usually nabe!

Take the Underground Passages

If you are in a big city in Japan there are almost always underground passages in the main parts of the city. I live in Osaka and the entirety of Umeda is basically accessible underground, which is perfect when it is a bitter cold day. Shibuya in Tokyo is also another good example of where a lot of main attractions, like Shibuya 109, are all accessible via underground passages. They can be a bit of a maze, but if you read the maps and follow the signs carefully you can successfully navigate almost anywhere, all while staying toasty!

How do you survive winter in Japan or winter where you live? Are there any special things that you do to keep warm? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Realities of Living in Japan as a Foreigner

Living in Japan as a foreigner is such a fulfilling experience. I have been living here for over 7 years now and can’t imagine living anywhere else, but with the good comes the bad and there are some realities of living in Japan as a foreigner that some people might not be aware of before they move here. There are so many realities of living abroad, but the ones I wanted to talk about this time are Japan specific. So let’s take off those rose colored glasses for a few minutes and discuss 5 realities of living in Japan as a foreigner.

1. Life in Japan is NOT an Anime, Manga or J-Drama

Japan is the land of anime and manga, but it is not the reality of daily life here. I grew up watching anime and dramas and reading manga and it taught me a LOT about how life in Japan was, but the reality is that it’s a stretch of the real day-to-day life here. It’s the same as watching Friends or Disney channel movies and shows to learn about the US…. it shows only a snapshot of real life in Japan. In fact, real life is probably more boring and mundane than you think and and not so different from other countries. We all commute to school/ work, go grocery shopping, have friends and family etc. After a while the novelty of the convenience stores wears off (though I still think they are convenient and use them every day), riding on trains with people sleeping on you starts to annoy you and your foreign “charm” wears off on the people around you. So please… don’t expect to come to Japan and think real school life or work life is like in an anime OR that everyone reads the same manga here. If you do want something that is relatable and pretty accurate I highly recommend “Wota Koi” as an AMAZING slice of life anime about adult life as an otaku though!

Speaking of liking anime and manga, there are so many options of entertainment in Japan and everyone has their own preferences here, so not everyone will share your same interest. Of course you will find people with similar interests if you look for them, but please don’t assume everyone likes what is “mainstream” outside of Japan.

2. Foreigners will always be outsiders

Now this one is for the non-asian foreigners in Japan, but I’ve been living in Japan for over 7 years now and am fluent in the language and yet I still get treated as a foreigner… because I AM one and look like one. I know the culture pretty well (though not an expert) and know how to navigate society here decently, but I still get talked to like I don’t understand. I still get spoken to in English a lot when people first talk to me, in which I politely respond to them in Japanese. I will always be asked “foreigner questions” and will always be told “your Japanese is so good!” when they have only heard me say 1 phrase. Yes, I know this is them being polite, but for someone living in Japan for so long it can be disheartening when you have spent so long learning the language and the culture. I am always polite because I know that the Japanese people don’t mean harm but its something to be aware of as a foreigner here.

Something that all foreigners here can Japan can relate to the string of extra paperwork and procedures that you have to go through because you are a foreigner. Some phone companies won’t give you a contract for monthly payments for a phone unless you pay for the price of the phone upfront if your visa is shorter than the contract amount. You will be discriminated for renting places (though in Osaka I have never had that experience) because you are a foreigner and you have to jump through hoops to get a loan from the bank and credit cards from banks are almost impossible to get at times as a foreigner. Unless you get permanent residency you will have to deal with most of this for the entire time you live here in Japan.

Random fact: You can’t actually become Japanese unless you give up your own country’s citizenship because Japan doesn’t allow dual citizenship. Also, something I learned recently that people born to non-Japanese parents (both are foreign not just 1 foreign) are not Japanese citizens. They are given a special “zainichi” visa but not citizenship.

3. Japan will NOT change to accommodate you

Japan has its own unique culture and ways of doing things and just because you are foreign doesn’t mean it will change to accommodate you nor should you force Japan to change itself. Foreigners are still outsiders in their eyes and telling them something is wrong or they should change an aspect of their culture is not respectful. When in Rome, do at the Romans do. There are rules and regulations in place for a reason, so before raising up in arms and try to change it, take a minute to ask why it is in place and to understand why first. Of course there will still be things that make absolutely no sense, but at least you know the reason why. If it is too hard to do this and understand why, then Japan might not be the place for you.

4. Its hard to build deeper relationships with Japanese people (but not impossible)

Japan is a very heterogenous country… only abut 2% of the population are foreigners as of 2017. With this comes the automatic barrier and pride of being Japanese. Now, not all Japanese people are like this, but it’s very common for Japanese people to approach you to “learn English” or have you be the “token foreigner friend”, or just be plain cold to you because you are a foreigner. They will be nice and polite to you, but it will stay at surface level or “drinking buddy” level and rarely go deeper than that. There is also the element of not haven’t known them for very long; In fact A LOT of Japanese people still have relationships with people from when they were in grade school that they still keep up with. There is the final element of that they are just plain busy. Working in a Japanese company means long hours and not much time for rest and days off can be all over the place depending on your job, so Japanese people a good majority of the time can’t meet up because of work obligations sometimes.

Now, its not impossible to make friendships with Japanese people and though most of my close friends here in Japan are not Japanese at all, I do have a handful of Japanese friends that I can ask for advice or contact to hang out with if needed. Also, when you are in a Japanese company your co-workers are decently close to you so you have a support network there most of the time too. In the end though, the reality is that the people I make the most connection with are my foreign friends because they understand what I am going through and I am most comfortable talking to them in my native language.

5. Bureaucracy and following strict procedures are the norm

There is hardly any bending the rules here and you are always filling in tons of paperwork that is inefficient. Foreigners may come from different countries where things are more efficient and the corporate structure is looser, but in Japan when there is a rule set the rule is going to be abided by come hell and high-water. The littlest things are checked down to the most minute detail and corrections are made over and over again until it is perfect. Even if you go to a restaurant it is rare to be able to customize and substitute something in your meal and if you even ask for what is inside of it or to change it you will get a blank stare from the staff and they won’t do it. Banks are a nightmare sometimes with tons and tons of paperwork you have to fill out and very strict guidelines on how to fill it all out or you have to re-write it all over again. Despite being perceived as one of the most technologically advanced nations, they are still mostly living in an era of paperwork and paper money and ancient computer systems.

I say this particular point inside of realities for foreigners because this is a HUGE point for some people for leaving Japan and not staying for the long term, they can’t adapt to these procedures and some of the “ridiculous” bureaucracy and they eventually go back to their own home country. It can be quite annoying when it seems you have to jump over hurtles all the time and I don’t blame people for turning back and heading home. This just serves

All in all, I love living in Japan and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but there are some downsides to living here. What are your thoughts on these? Would these be deal breakers for you to live in Japan? Let me know in the comments below!

Working in a Japanese Company: Part 7 – 5 Mistakes to Avoid Working in a Japanese Company

Adapting to a completely different work culture in another country can be a huge learning curve. I live in Japan and have been working here for almost 5 years at a regular office job as an “OL”, or an “office lady” the term for a woman working in an office here in Japan. Throughout my experience working here I have a few things I have learned to avoid doing while working in a Japanese office, so here are 5 things that you should avoid doing while working in a Japanese company.

Being Late

Being late is a HUGE faux pas in Japan, especially in the workplace. Being “fashionably late” is not a concept here (unless you are the big boss) and in fact, you should be 5-10 minutes early to anything to be prepared. This is the same for when you come into work to begin the workday; I always make sure I am about 10 minutes early to work. My first job actually required me to be to work about 20 minutes early to do radio exercises with everyone and be prepared to start work on time.

Not knowing and practicing “Ho Ren So”

“Spinach??” you might think, but this is a business concept in Japan that stands for “Houkoku, Renraku, Soudan”, which translates to “Report, Inform, and Consult”. This is the basic process on how you interact with your boss/ superior about your tasks in your job that a lot of companies in Japan swear by. Report means to report what you are doing, Inform means to inform all parties involved of the information/ decision from the boss and Consult means to get advice from your boss about your tasks if you are having trouble with something or the boss gives his input into what you are doing. Coming from a western background this concept can seem like you are being babysat by your boss and you cant make your own decisions, but it’s important to know and follow in order to interact with your boss properly in Japan. Not all companies are like this and there are different levels of this depending on how your company is set up, but this is a generally good concept to know so you can understand how these companies operate. Read this article here for more information on this concept!

Not Helping To Clean the Office

Surprise! The workers in the office clean the office, not a janitorial team. You see this often when talking about Japan with the school system, but it actually permeates into the workplace too. Of course, if you are in a huge corporation in a huge building then there might not be cleaning duties, but at a small-medium size company in its own building, you will most likely be required to do some type of cleaning in the office, especially women. More traditional companies will only make the woman rotate cleaning duties, but in more modern companies everyone helps out with the tasks such as taking the trash out, vacuuming, and tidying the break room/ kitchen area etc. So don’t try to wiggle your way out of this! Even try to be the first one to speak up about cleaning duties when you first start at the company as sometimes your Japanese co-workers might not want to bother you as a foreigner. They will really appreciate you helping out!

Not Taking Notes

In my first company in Japan I was CONSTANTLY told to take notes. Now, in school I was the type to not take that many notes and still somehow pass the classes well, so I fought tooth and nail against this but after a while I realized that the co-workers in my first company were in fact correct that I needed to take notes. I ALWAYS forget small things that my boss tells me off handedly to do and having a notebook with me at all times when I talk to him has been a life saver to remember them. On top of this, if you don’t have a notebook and a pen in a meeting it is seen as rude and you are not engaging and absorbing the information presented in the meeting.

Forgetting Proper Greetings

“Aisatsu” or greetings in Japan are essential in all-around in daily life, not just business, so if you do not say the proper greetings throughout the day it can be seen as rude to your co-workers. In the morning when you come into the office you always say “Ohayougozaimasu”, which is “Good morning”, and before you leave for the day you say “osakini shitsureshimasu”, which is a polite way of saying “Excuse me, I’m leaving before you” in combination with “Otsukaresamadesu”, 「お疲れ様です」or “Thank you for the hard work” a phrase that is used in the workplace A LOT. If there is one greeting/ phrase that you NEED to know in a Japanese company it is “Otsukaresamadesu”. It is not only used when you leave for the day but when you greet a co-worker throughout the day or on the phone. For example, when your boss or co-worker calls you on the phone you pick up with Otsukaresamadesu if you know it’s them or after you know who is calling, when you pass a co-worker in the hallway or in the breakroom you say it and when you enter into another part of your office you say it to them as well. You do NOT say it to someone outside of your company, as there is another phrase that you say to a customer or someone outside your company you interact with for work.

What did you think? Do these differ from your country and which ones do you find the strangest? Let me know in the comments below!

Go to Part 6 | Go to Part 8 (Coming soon!)

NEWS – “Topgun/ Love Story” Single Review

Top Gun/ Love Story is Double A-side single released on June 12th, 2019 with a pure love ballad paired together with a passionate, upbeat song about longing after an elite, hard to get woman. On release day, it just scrapped by their 4 member comeback single Chankapana in number of copies sold, making it their best selling single as 4 members. Love Story/ Top Gun sold 121,842 copies and Chankapana sold 121,097 on the first day of sales.

The Songs

Love Story

First let me give a bit of background of this song:
Johnny’s and Associates (NEWS’s management) released a dating simulator game app in March 2018 in collaboration with Gree, a game application developer here in Japan called 「NEWSに恋して」, or “Fall in love with NEWS”. For the 1 year anniversary of the app launch in March 2019, they released a series of commercials, which featured Love Story in it, and was the first time us fans had heard it… or so we thought. NEWS fans were surprised that they actually recognized the tune. It had originally been part of the series of New Year’s concerts “EPCOTIA – encore-” that NEWS held at the beginning of the year where NEWS had the fans hum the melody at one point, recorded it, and then put that recording into the single as a surprise for the fans. When I mean surprised, we really were surprised! During NEWS concerts, to transition between different parts of the show NEWS has the fans do all kinds of things to keep us distracted, such as a quiz game, stomping and clapping to the rhythm of something related to the show theme, etc. So this time they had us do the same thing to help everyone “escape from inside a blackhole”, but to the tune of Love Story. So the fans didn’t suspect a thing!

So, Love Story is actually a love song from NEWS to their fans, but it can be interpreted as a love song in general as well. I love how its a ballad, but has a really nice beat and seriously gets stuck in my head. 12/10 would love another song like this again!

Top Gun「トップガン」

Top Guns is a fun, upbeat song with lots of brass and string sounds and old-school disco-esque guitar, making it have a 70’s sort to feel to it. The first few times I heard this song though I wasn’t impressed with it as I had only heard it as the ending song of the drama …… Even after I saw it during the WORLDISTA tour, I wasn’t a fan of it until I heard the studio version of it. I am a fan of brass sounds combined with other modern elements so as soon as I heard the sounds on the studio version I fell in love with it, and the music video just made me love it even more. My favorite part of the song has to be when Massu raps towards the end in a kind of rap-dubstep breakdown.

The Music Videos

Love Story

The music video for Love Story had 5 different versions; 1 for each member and 1 combined video. Each video was made in 1 cut (with the combined one taking cuts from the individual ones) and the theme was a “date” with them. I like cute, but this really took it to another level but it was very tasteful. It was very well shot and reminded me to Tegomassu’s video “Moshimo Kono Sekai kara ○○ ga nakunatara”. I liked Koyama’s look the the most in this video with his hair and the necklace he wore. It was still sickly sweet and I did squeal at some points, so if you are looking for something overly sweet then this the video for you!

Top Gun「トップガン」

The Top Gun music is a piece of art. I love so much about it I don’t even know where to start. The aesthetic of the boys laying in the flower and the transitions between the dance scenes and the “portrait” flower scenes are phenomenal. Massu’s costumes were really a vital part of the video with the red, black and white combined with the white background. I have to point out that only Massu would make them wear Christian Lou Boutin slightly heeled dress shoes to dance and make it work fantastically. This music video really made me fall in love with the song and has to be one of my favorite NEWS music videos to date, only second to Kaguya. I could watch this video over and over again, that’s how much I love it.

The Verdict

Overall I rank this single as one of my top NEWS singles as 4 members, right next to Ikiro and Kaguya. I like how they have 2 different sounding songs on one single, plus the surprise with Love Story and recording the fans at the concert. Because they released a double A-side single, they will probably only release 1 more single or no more singles before their new album “Story” comes out (production is in process and confirmed by the label) probably sometime in Spring 2020. I highly recommend this single to anyone getting into NEWS, as both singles show different sides of NEWS.

What did you guys think of this single? Did you like Love Story or Top Gun better? Let me know in the comments below!

[Translation] Nishino Kana – Bedtime Story

むかしむかし、あるところに、
不器用な男の子と、少し気の強い女の子がいました。
Once Upon a time in a far away place,
There lived a clumsy boy and a slightly strong-willed girl.

違う世界に住んでいたふたりは、ある日偶然出会い、
恋に落ちました。
They lived in different worlds, met by chance one day and fell in love.

男の子はやさしくて、いつも振りまわされて、
女の子は手紙で、いつも謝りました。
The boy was kind but was always manipulated*,
The girl always apologize by letter.

星が降るある日のこと。
男の子は手をとって、こう言いました。
One day when the stars fell,
The boy took her hand and said:

‘愛してる。誰よりも、君が思うよりも。
いつだって、君のことで心はいっぱいなんだよ。
頼りないかもしれない、でも必ず守るから。
ああ、どうか僕のそばに、
ずっと僕のそばにいてほしい。’

“I love you. More than anyone,  more than you think.
My heart is always filled with your presence.
I might not be reliable, but I will defiantly protect you.
Ahh,  somehow,
I want you to always be by my side. ”

やがて月日は流れて、ふたりは歳をとって、
深い絆ができました。
Time passed, the two became older and they formed a strong bond.

相変わらず男の子は、いつも振りまわされて、
女の子は、やさしさに感謝していました。
As always, the boy was always  manipulated
and the girl was grateful for that kindness.

星が降るあの日と同じように、
男の子は手をとって、こう言いました。
One Day when stars fell just like before,
The boy took her hand and said:

‘愛してる。誰よりも、君が思うよりも。
いつだって、君のことで心はいっぱいなんだよ。
頼りないかもしれない、でも必ず守るから。
ああ、どうか僕のそばに、
ずっと僕のそばにいてほしい。’
“I love you. More than anyone,  more than you think.
My heart is always filled with your presence.
I might not be reliable, but I will defiantly protect you.
Ahh,  somehow,
I want you to always be by my side. ”

それからふたりは、
いばらの道を何度もきり抜けて、時に嵐と戦って、
どんな時だって互いに手をとり合って、
いくつも大きな奇跡を起こしていきました。
After that they cut through thorny paths many times and fought off storms occasionally.
At anytime they would work together and many great miracles happened.

‘愛してる。私も。君に負けないくらい。
いつだって、君のことで心がいっぱいなんだよ。
今までも、これからも、頼りにしてるから。
ねぇ、だから君のそばに、
ずっと君のそばにいさせて。’

” I love you. Me too. So much it won’t be surpassed by yours.
My heart is always filled with your presence.
Up until now, from now on, you have been so reliable to me.
So please,
let me always be by your side.”

そしてふたりは、いつまでも幸せに暮らしました。
And they lived happily ever after.


TRANSLATION NOTE *The Japanese word 「振りまわされて」can mea to abuse one’s power or to manipulate someone but in the case of this song, I took it to mean manipulate means that he always bent to the will of the girl, because she was strong willed, not that she was being manipulative in a bad way to him.

This was my translation of “Bedtime Story”, the theme song for the live action version of “3D彼女リアルガール , 3D Real Girl” Please note that Japanese is my second language and this translation is just my interpretation of the lyrics based on my knowledge of the Japanese and English language. If you have any suggestions to better it, please comment below! Also, I do not own the rights to these song lyrics.