NEWS – NEVERLAND Album Review | nihonchique

Who doesn’t want to be a kid forever and go to Neverland? For NEWS’s 2017 album release on March 22nd, 2017, they chose “Neverland” as the theme and made it unique to them, complete with a steampunk feel.

General Overview

The album is a fusion of narration and regular songs. The songs themselves don’t follow a particular pattern or genre, except for the title song “NEVERLAND” and the final song written by GreeeeN “U R not alone”. The narration takes you through NEWS’s NEVERLAND and introduces different parts to it, such as the jobs that the members of NEWS have in NEVERLAND, the 7 elements that make up NEVERLAND, and how to enter into NEVERLAND. The album serves as an introduction to and the base of their 2017 tour NEWS LIVE TOUR 2017 NEVERLAND, in which they continue the theme through.

Editions

First Press Limited Edition

-16 songs
-28 page booklet with special packaging.
-DVD disc containing 「NEVERLAND EPISODE. 0」and the making.
-Key to enter NEVERLAND
-ID for a special NEVERLAND streaming video online. (Limited time available to watch)

Regular Edition

-16 songs from the limited edition +4 member solo songs (Total 20 songs)
-20 page booklet.

Stand-out Songs

NEVERLAND

The title song of the album. This one has a strong impact with the tribal like sounds fused with an almost Arabic like sounds, combined with the tempo changes. The one part that I don’t like is the little children chanting the 7 different elements in the middle of the song, as I think it looses the strong impact but I understand that they probably wanted to speed up and slow down the song a lot and have a variety of that.

Brightest

This was NEWS venturing into a more dance/ club music like genre. I like how it wasn’t really intense, but it had a really catchy beat. Every time I hear this song, I want to get up and dance! Though it was a bit fast, the lyrics were really easy to remember because of the beat of the song.  Both this one and “Silent Love” I could envision being played in a club or being used for dance choreography.

SIlent Love

This has to be my second favorite song on this album besides “U R not alone”. Though I don’t know the genre of this song, it is a genre that has been popular over the past year or so around the world, so it was nice to see NEWS incorporating that into their music. I think it’s the chorus that really makes this song, combined with the light rap by Massu.

U R not alone

Written by GReeeeN for NEWS, I thought this song was one of the most impactful songs on the album. I have a translation of it here on my blog, so if you want to hear more on my thoughts about it, click here! All the feel for this song… all the feels.

Final Thoughts

“NEVERLAND” has been one of my favorite NEWS albums since their “NEWS” album in 2013. 2016’s “QUARTETTO” had a theme going on, but I thought they didn’t quite take it all the way through the album, to the tour, etc. This year with NEVERLAND though, they stepped it up and took the entire theme through the album, to the tour and really immersed the fans into their version of “NEVERLAND”, which turned out to kind of be a combination of Neverland and Wonderland, I thought. (Yes NEWS, there is a difference between Neverland and Wonderland.) Though the theme wasn’t perfect, I liked how the narration on the album told us a story about the world and then fully immersed us into it during the tour. After a while, I stopped listening to the narration parts of the album because I knew them by heart, but for theming purposes I thought it was amazing. Johnny’s always does an amazing job of theming and I hope that NEWS will continue to do themed albums like this every so often!

For the solo songs this year, I wasn’t too impressed overall. Shige’s “Ayame” performance during the tour was amazing, but as just stand alone music none of them really captured my attention like previous years. Tegoshi’s “I’m coming” was a bit of a surprise and the first time I heard it I literally spit my tea out while I was drinking it thinking “So it REALY was THAT meaning….are children really going to come see this live??” (I swear I am not a prude, I was just generally surprised at the different direction that Tegoshi was going in this year.) Massu also took a different direction this year with his cover of “Forever Mine” which was beautiful and really showcased his singing abilities, but I miss his dance songs (as I tend to gravitate towards dance music and more upbeat music naturally… unless its “White Love Story”… I will forever love and cry at that song. No shame.) So, if I had to pick a favorite this year it would be Koyama’s solo “Nyanta” because of the light rock feel to it and the theme of his song, which was hit cat of 19 years, who passed away in December of last year.

What did you all think of this album this year? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Popular Non-Japanese JVloggers You Have To Watch!

YouTube has become a huge platform for people all over the world to share their life and their experiences, and Japan is not an exception! Coming to live in Japan can be an overwhelming experience, and one that many people around would jump at the chance to have, but if you don’t have the resources to yet or want more information before you take the big leap, experiencing Japan through the eyes of someone living there already is the perfect alternative to actually doing it yourself. I watch a lot of YouTube myself, and despite me living in Japan already, I like seeing Japan through the eyes of other people living here every so often. Here are my 5 picks for Non-Japanese JVloggers that you have to watch!

1.Taylor R.

I found Taylor R about a year and a half ago, right after she went through her change from “Cutesy-dolly Tay-Tay” to her current, more quirky self. Her videos are the ones out of all of these JVloggers that I look forward to the most because of her quirky personality and her fearless to trying things that are outside of the box (like copying Kylie Jenner’s instagram feed for a week, walking around Ginza with her DIY designer items, like boots and a Chanel bag, etc.) that sometimes don’t have to do with Japan, but she gives a good look into what it is like for a foreigner living in Tokyo. 

2. Sharla in Japan

Originally from Canada, Sharla has been living in Japan for about 10 years now and has established herself as a prominent JVlogger through that time. She loves anime and Otaku culture (especially Pokemon) and she does a good job introducing life in Japan, as she has done everything from homestay to going to attending a Japanese high school and more. If you want a real look at what life is like in Japan, Sharla is the JVlogger to watch!

3. Micaela

Micaela is another JVlogger from Canada and has also been in Japan for over 10 years. Micalea also attended a Japanese high school when she was younger and then made the decision to move to Japan, eventually attending music school in Fukuoka (Southern Japan). She has done many television appearances and was the former mayor of “Kawaii-ku” in Fukuoka where she has mostly been living. She is very real and recently told her viewers about her experience with Japanese talent agencies and how it wasn’t for her after a while. If you want to experience a different side of Japan besides Tokyo, Micalea is the Jvlogger for you!

4. Rachel and Jun

Rachel and Jun are a American-Japanese married couple who makes videos together all about Japan, intercultural marriages, and  some controversial topics like Homosexuality in Japan, how to date in Japan, etc. They shot up in popularity about 3 or so years ago and they are an adorable couple that covers a wide variety of Japan-related and intercultural topics, so if you are interested in huge range of topics that are well-researched and presented this channel is for you!

5. Texan in Tokyo and Mimei

I couldn’t choose between these last two because they are both good ones to include. Texan in Tokyo (also known as Grace, who is from the U.S.) used to be very active on YouTube, but originally started out as a blogger. She self-published 3 comic books out about life in Japan and intercultural marriages and blogged and video blogged about that and life in Japan and about . About a year ago, she and her Japanese husband decided to leave blogging and YouTube, but hercontent still exist online and are good information on Japan to take a look at!

Mimei is also married to a Japanese man (also a YouTuber, PDRさん), but she doesn’t go into intercultural topics very much from what I know. She calls her followers “Pineapples” and she is more theatrical and artistic about how she makes videos compared to the others. She also does some comedy as well, which is even funnier when her cats and her husband helps and appears! She is very genuine and when you watch her videos it feels like she is talking directly to a friend, so if you want more light watching, she is the YouTuber to watch!

Did the YouTubers you watch make the list? Comment below with who you watch or who you recommend!

Johnny and Associates Case Study- Being Published For the First Time!

Most of you who have read my blog for a while now know that the reason I moved to Japan in the first place was to get my MBA at Doshisha University in their Global MBA program. In order to graduate from the program, writing a thesis is necessary and the topic that I chose was Johnny and Associates.

This was a teaching case on how Johnnys could go international. My initial piece that I wrote was accepted by the school and I graduated in September of 2014. After that, my advisor for the thesis, Tim Craig, put together book of 10 case studies, that included more,  that had to do with the “Cool Japan” initiative, which includes J-pop, Anime, Fashion, Games and more! The book is called “Cool Japan: Case Studies from Japan’s Cultural and Creative Industries” and the chapter that I co-authored, which came from my thesis, is “Johnny & Associates: Japanese Pop Idol Producer Faces a Changing World”. This covers the history of Johnnys, looking into the Idol industry  in Japan and Johnnys business model and explores if Johnnys is able to go abroad or not.

The book is still not published yet, but you can read the online version here. Please feel free to leave comments below! I would love to start a discussion here regarding it.

My Comeback to YouTube

The last time I made a YouTube video was June 2013…. over 3 years ago. I originally started making YouTube videos in 2010 to talk about Johnnys and Associates and my love for Japan. I even made a Weekly Kanjani8 vlog for a while, which ultimately I stopped after going to Kansai Gaidai in 2011. I eventually just made favorites videos and clothing hauls, along with talking about the Johnnys things that I bought when I moved to Japan…. and then it just suddenly stopped. I can’t even pinpoint why I stopped, but it was probably a combination of life and that I lost inspiration… and 3 years passed. I had always wanted to go back to making videos, but there were so many barriers in my head and I didn’t.

I decided to but all of those barriers aside and  bring back my channel a few weeks ago and since then, I have made 2 videos! One was just a bit of a “Hey, I am back!” video and the second one was about my experience interviewing for non-english teaching related jobs.

I will make another blog post soon going a bit more in depth about what I talked about in the Job interview video, but for now check out my welcome back video, if you haven’t yet!

If you have any suggestions on content for the channel and for the blog, please feel free to comment below! I would love your suggestions.

Interview With Multiplatinum Songwriter Jovette Rivera| nihonchique

Most people who follow me on social media and my blog know that I am obsessed with Johnnys. It’s not just the idols themselves I am interested in, but the business behind it as well, which includes the songwriters themselves.

Back in July, I had the opportunity to sit down with multiplatinum Jpop songwriter Jovette Rivera and interview him all about his career and what it is like to work in the Japanese entertainment industry, as he does more than just songwriting. He has written song for some of Japan’s top artists, including Johnnys groups like KAT-TUN, Sexy Zone, Kis-my-ft2 and more. He gave some amazing insight into the Japanese entertainment industry and his whole story was so fascinating to me, especially that he is a  self-taught songwriter.

If you would like more insight into the Japanese entertainment industry and learn about an amazingly talented interview,  head on over to the website I work for Izanau for the two part interview that I conducted with Jovette.

Part 1: https://izanau.com/article/jovette-interview

Part 2: https://izanau.com/article/jovette-interview-2

If you would like to check out more details about Jovette, head on over to his twitter and his company website, Royal Kingdom Music.

24Hour Television 39 – NEWS Showers Japan with Love!

The last weekend of August, Nippon TV hosted their 39th annual 24 Hour Television marathon. This year in particular I was very interested because my favorite Japanese idol group NEWS was the main personality this year! They had hosted the television program back in 2009 when they were 6 members, when Yamashita Tomohisa and Nishikido Ryo were still in the group. While I did not watch the early morning hours of the show, I watched most of it and I was really impressed at how they handled everything. You could really tell how they had grown in the 7 years since they had hosted their first 24Hour TV.

I think the thing that impressed me most was how the entire 24Hour staff, including NEWS, handled the scandal regarding Takahata Yuta. Takahata was chosen as one of the 24Hour TV personalities, and a few days before it started he was arrested for sexual assault of a female hotel employee. Everything with his face on it regarding 24Hour TV with removed in hours, including his appearance in the special 24Hour TV drama “Blind Teacher Yoshinori”, that NEWS member Kato Shigeaki starred in. The next day, it was announced that they would be re-filming the parts that he was in and NEWS member Koyama would be taking his place as the rehab employee. The effort that everyone has put into the refilling and rearranging the schedule really impressed me.

I want to thank NEWS and the staff for putting on an amazing 24Hour Television this year! I was moved and NEWS’s “Member Ai” really showed

Also, if you want to read more about my thoughts on this year’s 24Hour TV, head over to the website I work for Izanau and read this article here!

Why I am a proud “Johnny’s Otaku”

This post is a reaction post to the Otaku post on Tofugu. I know this post mostly covers anime otaku, but I thought it was a good article to describe Otaku culture in general.

A few months back, I was invited out to lunch by a co-worker at the last minute. We mostly talked about happenings in the office and somehow the subject of me going to a concert in Tokyo dome recently came up. I told her “Yes, I am a huge fan of Johnny’s” and I explained how I go to many concerts in the same tour, especially for NEWS. The topic of my MBA thesis also came up from this, which was the business of Johnnys and if/how they could go overseas. I was proud to tell her all of this and at the end she told me “You really do not look like the type that would be into something like Johnny’s”

If you had asked me about this a few years back, I would not have had the same opinion at all. In fact, I used to hate the word “Otaku”, especially “Johnny’s Otaku”. In America, the word “Otaku” comes from being a huge anime fan or loving Japan, and to me it was on the same level as “Weaboo”…. basically “crazy Japan lover”. So, Johnny’s Otaku basically meant “Crazy Johnny’s fan” to me. I don’t dress up for Johnny’s concerts (I prefer to go in regular clothes…. I already stand out being foreign) , I don’t go out to the store and buy the CD’s anymore (once I began my career I began to order the CD’s online because they got to you just as fast as if you went to the store here in Japan and I don’t have to rush out of work), I don’t want to marry any Johnnys guys or even be in a romantic relationship with any of them, and my whole life does not revolve around a concert tour.  What I DO do though is I buy all of NEWS’s CD and DVD releases religiously, I follow all of the information online of all of the Johnnys groups and know basically what is going on in the agency as a whole, I watch the TV shows when I am home, and I go to many different Johnny’s concerts. Even with just simply “Otaku” tacked on as a title, I am not anti-social and I do not just have Johnny’s as my only interest. I also consider myself a part of the fandom, though I support my favorites and the agency as a whole in my own way. I balance my fandom life with my career and my other interests, such as traveling and fashion.

So, why would I still be considered a “Johnny’s Otaku” if I don’t do a lot of the conventional things that I consider being a “Crazy Johnny’s fan?” or “Otaku” in general? Well, I am still involved in the fandom. I might dip my feet in on my own terms, but I still interact with other fans and some of my best friends I have made out of our mutual love for Johnny’s. I also know a lot more information than the conventional person would about the groups and the inter-working of the agency because I am naturally curious about the things that interest me and it was my research/thesis topic for my MBA program. I get told quite a lot “Wow! You know more information about Johnnys than me and I am even Japanese!”. This knowledge of information and interaction in the fandom is what I believe makes me a “Johnny’s Otaku”. You don’t even have to be in the fandom to be an Otaku because fundamentally you can just know a lot of information and still be a fan. There is nothing that says you have to interact with other fans and buy the goods to be an Otaku. In fact, I have heard stories of people actually hiding that they are a Johnny’s fan and do not buy goods or items at all, but still follow everything religiously and go to concerts….They still take possession of what they love and make it into their own.

In the post by Tofugu, they say “Otaku take possession of what they love and make it their own…..this possession is the result of remixing the source material and contributing it to the community” I love Johnny’s and I take possession of that and make it my own by writing an MBA thesis on it, and by choosing what I want to consume. To someone else, this could mean fan fiction, creating cosplay for concerts, making Uchiwas, creating a copy group and more. The post by Tofugu continues on to say, with a quote from Tamaki Saitou“(Otaku are) not just fans, but connoisseurs, critics, and authors themselves. This blurring of the distinction between producer and consumer is another characteristic of the otaku.” I love Johnny’s, but I am also very critical about the agency and it is a reason I chose to research it and made it into my MBA thesis and why I dabble in fandom on my own terms. Everyone has their own way that they do this in and no way is wrong, as long as it is considerate of the unspoken and spoken fan concert manners, as these types of manners all fandoms have.

I suppose to sum it up: To me, being an Otaku means supporting your interest (wether it be anime, video games, boybands etc.) in whatever way suits YOU and YOUR lifestyle best. I am a proud Johnny’s Otaku and I do not see that changing anytime soon.