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!

[Johnnys 101] So You Have Begun to Stan A Johnnys Group – All the basics you need to know

So… you have begun to stan a Johnnys group. Welcome! It’s going to be a very sparkly and emotional ride, but let me give you some tips to help you start out.

This is a new series on my blog called “Johnny’s 101”, where I answer as much in depth about the infamous Japanese boyband agency Johnny’s and associates as I possibly can. As a bit of background, I have been a Johnnys fan for over 10 years now, and have also written my graduate school thesis on the business of Johnny’s. I don’t know everything (as Johnny’s can be mysterious in a lot of ways) but I hope I can give an insight into Johnny’s that you might not know yet.

But first… What is Johnnys?

Johnnys is an all-male talent agency founded in the 1960s by Johnny Kitagawa. The agency is mostly known for training boys (called Johnny’s Juniors) in different parts of the entertainment industry (singing, dancing, acting, etc.) from a young age by having them back dance for the debuted groups, seeing which ones are popular, and then debuting a select few. They aren’t just simply boybands but are involved in many different activities in the entertainment industry in Japan, such as television, movies, fashion, and even novel writing and newscasting. Some of the most popular groups that have come out of Johnnys are SMAP and Arashi.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get to today’s topic which is basics of the agency and the fandom that you should know as a new fan (and maybe a reminder or refresher for those OG fans out there!)

1. Johnny’s is extremely strict (as are the fans) and behind the times

Johnny’s hasn’t digitalized yet (even worse than the rest of Japan… which is saying something) which means there are no YouTube videos or digital music downloads. Hard copies only, my friends! They are super strict with what is uploaded to social media and media sites as well. Around 2014 or so is when they actually put their artist’s pictures on their OWN website and their fan club was super analog until about 2 years ago (hard copy tickets, paying via bank transfer and all) Shocker isn’t it? In my opinion, this is a huge barrier to growth for them, especially internationally. BUT! With that being said recently they have made some huge changes, like Johnny’s official shop goods being sold online within Japan, revamp of the online fan club system, and especially so with the juniors YouTube channel, which is promising. My question though: is it too slow? Let me know what you think!

As for the fans, concert manners and sharing media online is policed pretty strictly. This varies from group to group though, as each fan base has a different “culture” so to speak. An example of this is with my favorite group NEWS, concert spoilers during the tour are kinda a big no-no, as NEWS themselves said a few years back they prefer all the fans to be surprised, so…. you won’t see the set list and hardly any detailed spoilers until after the final show is finished. It’s not to “end game” level, but we protect from spoilers as much as possible. MC is perfectly fine to spoil so bring all the weird things they say!

2. Johnnys is based in Japan and caters mostly to a Japanese audience

Johnny’s is based in Japan and caters to Japanese fans within Japan. I see a lot of fans getting upset that Johnny’s doesn’t do much for international fans and say “Johnny’s hate international fans” but at this point in time with the current stage of the agency, I think these thoughts are misguided. I could make an entirely separate blog post about this (comment below if you want it!), but to sum it up the Japanese music industry is #2 in the world only after the United States. Because of this, Johnny’s can make enough money just within Japan no problem only catering to Japanese fans. Why should they spend the money to expand overseas when they dominate the Japanese market and make enough money anyway? Even fans inside of Japan have a hard time getting concert tickets even when they are in the fan club and the artists only have enough hours in a day, so how can they expand and think of going overseas when they are at capacity inside of Japan? If you think about it that way, you can see why Johnny’s wouldn’t want to cater to foreign fans, as they have their hands full inside of Japan already. Does this mean they shouldn’t share media outside of Japan? No, I think YouTube and social media is essential, but in terms of an international fan club and translating things into many languages, it’s not going to work for a long time and not a good choice business wise. They first need to get the digital infrastructure up and running in Japan first.

3. The Twitter community is probably the strongest to find fan friends (Japanese and foreign)and get the latest information.

Back in the day, LiveJournal used to be the community of choice but in the past 5 years or so that community has pretty much died and everyone is on Twitter. If you want to make fandom friends, make a twitter account and get started by talking with other fans! Japanese fans are also heavy users of Twitter (as Twitter is the dominant social media platform in Japan besides Instagram) so you can get almost any piece of information you need on there. For the most part, us fans are extremely friendly and are more than happy to point you in the direction of what you see looking for. Just be sure to respect the other fans and don’t assume that the way things are done in your country are done that way in Japan and in Johnny’s.

4. No Johnny’s talents have individual Twitter or Instagram accounts or even social media

Okay okay, there is 1 exception that literally happened when I was writing this, which is Yamapi! He was on Weibo, but then on May 16th, he made an Instagram, a Johnny’s first. In general, though, Johnnys do not have social media (including youtube… except the Junior’s channel I mentioned above!) and their “blogs”, called Jwebs, are behind a paywall and are only in Japanese. This poses an interesting dynamic, as the world has moved rapidly towards an era of social media and digital music downloads and streaming, in which Johnnys is pretty archaic. So, if you want to find any information about the group or see their music videos you will have to go on a hunt around the internet.

 

Did I miss anything? What information would you like as a new Johnnys fan or as an OG fan what advice would you give to new fans?

6 Things to Organize and Store Your Johnny’s Goods

Becoming a fan or collector of anything raised the question of how exactly to your organize all of the goods accumulated from said activity. Johnny’s (and other idol groups) have many types of goods to collect with many different high and low end options to help you organize them. Over the years I have collected and used my fair share of these organization items, so here are 6 products to help organize and store your Johnny’s goods.

1. Ticket Holder

Johnnys has now started to go away from the paper ticketing system for some of their artists in favor of digital tickets, but there are still many shows that have paper tickets to collect. A regular photo album to store all of your tickets in is ideal, rather than spending money on an expensive “ticket holder”, and it works just as well. I have another post I wrote a while back where I talk about this particular item, so check it out HERE if you are interested!

2. Uchiwa Storage Box

Now, you might not think that this is revolutionary, but I am telling you that this has changed my storage game for all of my uchiwas – which used to be shoved into a drawer, laying flat and taking up too much space. This particular one is from a series of idol storage/ protective goods that the “3 Coins” shop (or 300 yen shop) produced in Japan a few years back. It was only supposed to be a limited run, but it was so popular that they brought it back permanently and added more to the line. This uchiwa box in particular I wanted because I needed a place to place my slightly too large uchiwa collection I’ve accumulated over the years. It can safely fit about 20 uchiwas inside and though it’s a bit flimsy at times, it does the job for 300 yen ($3 USD) and keeps your uchiwas tucked away together safely in one place.

3. Streamer Holder

Credit to Tower Records Japan

Credit to Tower Records Japan

This is the newest addition to my goods storage and another game changer for me. Over the years I had collected so many streamers from concerts that they also ended up in my “Johnnys goods drawer of doom and chaos”. One day while browsing in Tower Records with a friend, I spotted this and I was mind blown. I bought it right away and now my streamers are organized and the holder itself looks really pretty on my shelf… and also looks like I put effort into storing my Johnnys goods, instead of leaving a pile of them sitting at the back of aforementioned drawer.

You can also find this at the 300 yen store, but the one that I decided to buy was a bit pricer and from Tower Records for just over 1000 yen or $10 USD. It is sturdier than the 3 Coin store one and is magnetic to hold the opening shut.

4. Photo Album for Shop Photos

Shop photos are one of those staple items that all Johnnys fans eventually purchase. Over the years I have accumulated hundreds of photos and have organized them in these photo albums from the 100 yen store. I believe these particular ones are from CanDo, but any photo album of your choice will due! I personally don’t like inviting a ton of money into storage for shop photos, because I have a lot of them, so I just hop on over to the 100 yen store and get mine. LOFT and Tokyu Hands will also have them, but for a higher price point.

I personally organize mine by member and group, so I have individual albums for each member (for NEWS I buy all the photosets at the concert) and then I have a separate album for group photos. Feel free to organize yours however you please!

5. Glass Cup for Showcasing Penlights

Once again, going back that “Johnnys goods drawer of doom”, all of my penlights also used to be in there. After a while, I wanted to proudly display my favorite ones in my room to always look at, but I didn’t have a way to keep them standing up. So, I be-bopped my way over to the 100 yen store (more specifically Daiso) and saw they had so many options for mini cups that are the perfect size to place your penlights inside of them to stand them up. For my larger penlights, I have a bit larger glasses but for the most part they are the smallest glasses I could find there.

6. Binder for storing magazine scans

If you are an idol fan, you are probably buying magazines to read interviews with your favorite entertainers. Some people want to keep their magazines in restive condition, but after you buy them year after year, they start to pile up. After the first time I moved inside of Japan, I realized I had accumulated WAY too magazines over those 2 years and decided to cut them up and take out only the pages that I wanted to keep. It would reduce space in my apartment and make it easier to sift through all of the scans that I wanted. I am still not done, but I have accumulated a large amount of binders filled with magazine scans that I have cut out over the years. The magazines come in all different sizes, so I normally pick a normal size A4 binder with extra pocket refill, as well as an XL wide size binder meant for fashion magazines to make sure all of my bases are covered.  Below is the Rakuten link to the ones that I have bought, but you can also go to any stationary store, like LOFT or Tokyu Hands to buy it. I tend to buy in bulk when I buy them, so its cheaper to buy them on Rakuten. If you are not looking to buy over 1-2 of them, LOFT and Tokyu Hands is probably the best to buy them at. Make sure you don’t forget the re-fills for them! They only come with maybe 10 pockets inside.

A4-S Size Binder

Magazine Binder

This is an amazing way to organize all of your magazines without the extra room and weight attached!


What would you be interested in buying? Are there any other goods that you don’t know how organize or store? Let me know in the comments below!

Translation: “U R not alone” – NEWS

Translation for “U R not alone” by NEWS, on the NEVERLAND album.
Lyrics and music by GReeeeN.

拝啓あの日の僕へ
今はココで立っています
誰かに笑われた夢を
今もココで見続けてます

To the me of that day,
I am standing here now.
The dream that people laughed at,
I am still continuing to reach for.

時に見失いそうになって
時に全てをあきらめて
あせって望んでは傷ついた
僕の中の弱虫笑ってた
それでも(Hey) どこかで明日を
諦めてないから今日もまた
傷だらけ(Hey) のこの足で
なんとか立っている

Sometimes I almost lost sight of it,
Sometimes I gave up completely,
In my flustered desire, I kept getting hurt,
and the weakling inside me laughed.
Even so (hey!) I still haven’t given up that tomorrow,
so with these broken legs (hey) I will somehow keep standing.

例えばこの声が届くならば誰でもいい
聞こえますか 胸張ってさあ叫ぶんだ
全部詰め込んだこの宣誓を
僕は誓うよ 一切引かないし 一切負けない
自分で決めた道のうえ 全てをかけて
笑えるように やり抜くぞ

For example, if this voice could reach, would anyone listen?
I stick out my chest and shout,
and pack everything into this oath
I vow to never back down and never surrender.
I will risk everything for the path I chose.
To accomplish it so I can be able to smile.

あの頃の僕は負けそうに
なると誰かのせいにして逃げて
諦めた言い訳はそりゃ楽で
そうして僕はまた自分に負ける
それでも(Hey) 戦っている
そんな他人(ひと)はきっと他所(ほか)にいる
それでいいの?(Hey) 目指す場所へ
行くと決めたんだろう?

Back in those days when I was about to loose,
I blamed someone else for it and escaped.
It was easier to give excuses and give up,
And thus I kept on loosing to myself.
Even so (hey!) I am still fighting on.
There are surely other people who are like that too.
Is that really okay though? (hey!)
You decided to go that place you aimed for, didn’t you?

確かな答えは 何処にもないから
探すんだ 恐れないでその足で迷っていい
何度も諦めるかって言えばいい
今までの超えた日々が僕らにはあるじゃないか
だからこそココに吹いてる
向かい風にホラ立ち向かう

There is no correct answer anywhere
So you have to search for it. It’s okay to be afraid and get lost on the way
It’s okay to say “I’ll give up” many times
Haven’t we already gone through everyday until now?
Because of this, we will face the headwind that’s blowing here.

あの日つまずいて
しゃがみこんでしまうほどの痛みさえ
わきだして かけだして
助走に変えて いけるように

On that day that I stumbled
The pain that left me doubled over on all fours
Spring up, start running
Change it into an approach run in order to live

ああどうか 力を貸してくれないか
昨日までの僕よ 共に乗り越えてきたじゃないか
僕は誓うよ 一切引かないし 一切負けない
生まれた日から今日までの 僕が見てる
明日もそう
少しずつ前へ not alone

Ah, could you please assist me somehow,
The me up until yesterday? We overcame this together, didn’t we?
I vow to never stand down and never surrender
The me from the day I was born until now is watching
Tomorrow as well
Moving forward bit by bit, not alone


Translators note:

“U R not alone” sung by NEWS from their Neverland album was one of the hardest things that I have translated from Japanese to English because I really wanted to give justice to this song. I don’t think I fully did because of my own language skills and I feel like English doesn’t even come close to being able to convey the meaning of the song, but I wanted to give the fans who can’t understand Japanese just a bit of an idea of the deep meaning the song has. I will always be grateful to  have heard this song live and have heard the rawness of NEWS’s voices when they sang it. It is so relatable to me, and to everyone I think, as everyone struggles with things in their life and want to give up at some point. It made me cry so hard in Sapporo and I had to hold back crying when I saw it in Nagoya with my boyfriend (as I would have been totally embarrassing, right?).

The beginning of the song when it says:

” To the me of that day,
I am standing here now.
The dream that people laughed at,
I am still continuing to reach for.”

I really feel that it’s so true. Sometimes I felt like my dream of moving to Japan and creating a life here was laughed at sometimes, but I’m still here and continuing to live that dream. The oath in the song about not backing down or surrendering is something that after I heard this song, I vowed to myself that I will give everything I have and never give up, even if I am doubled over in pain and want to give up. I hope that everyone that listens to this song will feel the same way and receive that power, just like it did for me.

I am still actively learning Japanese and I am not a professional translator, so if I translated something wrong or want an explanation on why I translated it the way I did, please comment below! 

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.

How To Get Tickets To A Johnny’s Concert As An Overseas Fan

In the past year or so, a lot of people have commented on my post about joining the Johnnys fan club, asking how they could get tickets as a foreign fan and to be honest, I really wasn’t sure how to answer them, as there is no simple way to go about it.

*EDIT OCTOBER 1, 2018*

As a forward to this article, due to the amount of comments I get on this post, I want to emphasize that I am unable to help people to get tickets to Johnny’s concerts personally. I wrote this article as a guide for fans, not as a way to contact me about tickets. I would like you to take this article as a guide on how to find long term success in getting tickets, not as a quick fix. Have fun making long term friendships with other fans! It’s worth it in the end.

*EDIT JANUARY 28th, 2019*

To anyone looking to ballot for Arashi Tickets before their hiatus, please be aware that only fanclub members are allowed to ballot for the remaining shows in 2019 and only can ballot 1 time as the “companion” and 1 time as the “main balloter”, and each person has to be in the Arashi fanclub. This will make it extremely difficult for fans coming from overseas to see the concerts later in 2019.

To put it very simply, it is extremely hard to get tickets as a foreign fan living overseas. Even as a fan living in Japan (Japanese or foreign)  it can be hard to get tickets to a Johnny’s concert, as it is all up to the random balloting system, which no fan has any control over. You get lucky sometimes, and sometimes you don’t.

Though this is the case, not all hope is lost. With the help of other fans, it is totally possible to be able to go to a concert when you are in Japan, though it may take a lot of time and effort to find the tickets.

1. Join the fan club

The first way to get Johnnys tickets is to be living in Japan or have a friend living in Japan who can enter the Johnny’s fan club and properly ballot for you (or to be able to call for play guide tickets if they release tickets to the public, which sometimes they do not depending on the group and the tour). Even then, it is not guaranteed that you will get tickets. I have been living in Japan for almost 4 years, being in the fan club for the same amount of time,  and even when I ballot for tickets through the correct system through the fan club, I do not hit sometimes or only hit for 1 show. If I do not hit, I go to my twitter followers and ask around if people are giving up tickets for certain shows and buy the tickets from them at the regular price.

There is also apparently a “sponsor” program for the fan club, so that a fan that has a fan club in Japan can sponsor a person overseas. I do not know the details of this program, but I’ll save this for a time when I can properly research this and then report back at a later date.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: It is illegal and against the Johnny’s ticket policy to resell your tickets for an increased price. There are auction sites that people sell these tickets on for ridiculous prices, but they are illegal and you could get in trouble if it is found out that you bought from these auction sites, as well as actually getting kicked out of the concert if you make it to your seat and your seat has been blacklisted.  For this reason, I will not be mentioning these auction sites in this post, nor do I recommend to buy tickets for over the resale price.

Hearing all of this can be a bit overwhelming, and can seem a bit negative for foreign fans, but not all hope is lost. The next one is for those who do not live in Japan and who do not have anyone to enter the fan club for them (maybe not yet, at least).

2. Network with other fans

Social media is a powerful tool nowadays, and I also use it for myself when I do not hit for tickets. I have built a network of fans that I can reach out to for tickets when the time calls for it. Most of these fans are Japanese now, but for the foreign fans, a lot of foreigners living in Japan will give their tickets to a foreign fan. The first thing that I do when I have extra tickets is reach out to my foreign fan community first to see if anyone would like the tickets, in the event that I cannot go, because I know it is hard for them to get tickets themselves. With this being said, foreign fans must be aware of the fan manners, so someone that can understand the fan manners is also someone I will prioritize over others.

I advise you to not just become friends with fans that are in the same area, or the same culture as you, though for building a community near you and one that you can relate to with a similar culture, it is perfect. If your goal is to go to a concert, you will need a larger network than just that community. Now, when I say this it does not mean become friends with all of the foreign fans that live in Japan, or fans that have connections to travel to Japan a lot and see concerts a lot,  just for the sake of going to a concert later on. A lot of us fans that live in Japan love to share our experience with other fans coming to Japan or the concerts, but most of us have jobs and live normal lives here and fandom is just one part of that. We want to make real friends we can connect with, not just people wanting to help them get tickets and have no connection beyond that. So my best advice is to find the people you can connect with and stick with them, form a support network and help each other out with all the information that you can get about it. That’s the best way to go about it, I think.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: When a fan gives you their tickets to use, there are certain fan manners attached to the ticket. Personal information is written on the ticket, including name and fan club number, so please do not take a picture of the ticket and upload it to social media. Before I upload any pictures of my tickets to social media, I always hide my personal information in it so that people do not get it. This is also a way to get tickets and a fan club membership blacklisted for possible reselling tickets, so please do not chance it.

All in all, it is not easy to get tickets to a Johnnys concert, but it isn’t impossible. Just ask around and form a network, and though not guaranteed, it is not a 0% chance.

Review: NEWS – KAGUYA

KaguyaKAGUYA is NEWS’s first single of 2015 released on January 7th, and they came out with a bang! The theme of this single was “Princess Kaguya”, which is a famous story in Japan called “Princess Kaguya – The tale of the Bamboo Cutter”. It made it to the #1 spot on the Oricon weekly charts and stayed in the top 3 throughout January. Famous Director Ninagawa Mika directed the Music Video and did the Cover Jacket shooting.

The Songs

KAGUYA

KAGUYA is an “epic love song” that is a perfect combination between modern and ancient; the overall sound is modern with a combination of old sounds and old style lyrics infused into it. I love the echo of “Saga, Saga” in the background of chorus! The lyrics have a poetic feel to them, written in the perspective of the men who loved Princess Kaguya. The song is quite sexy, but in a subtle way, really showing NEWS’s grown up and sensual side. The song follows the story of Princess Kaguya, in which there are 4 princes that are invited to the home of the princess to try and become her husband, and they instantly fall in love with her.

Butterfly 「バタフライ」

The first time I heard this song I thought, “This is very much a NEWS-like song”. The vocals are very sweet and is a typical NEWS-like love song. I love the piano in it combined with the soft guitar. The part Koyama sings before the chorus starting with “Anata” each time is just so heartfelt and sweet and the harmonization of NEWS’s voices when they sing “Butterfly” is just amazing.

“Wasurenagusa” (Forget-me-not) 勿忘草」

The melody of this song, combined with the piano, reminded me of TM Revolution’s “Thunderbird”, which Tegomass had performed together with him on Music Fair before. This song is short, but very heart wrenchingly beautiful. This song surprised me because it sounds more like a Tegomass song than a NEWS song, but the vocals, especially Shige’s, are amazing for this song.

TOP OF THE WORLD

This is a very upbeat, dubstep-electronic like song. It’s not hard-core dub-step like Kanjani 8’s “Sorry Sorry Love”, but it is more of a lighter electronic dub-step song. I was attracted to this song because I love dance like songs, so I hope that this is one of the songs that they perform in concert in their upcoming tour.

TRAVeLiNG

This is a more of a swing like song with elements of their past song “Say Hello” in it. I liked the fun swing sound to it, which is rare in NEWS songs. Based on some feedback online I saw, people really didn’t seem to like this song, but I think it would be a fun song for them to do in concert.

KAGUYA – Music Video

The music video, as mentioned previously, was directed by Ninagawa Mika, who is a famous director and photographer known for a very colorful and sexy style to her works. She has directed AKB48’s “Heavy Rotation” music video and also was the director for the movies “Helter Skelter” and “Sakuran”, a movie about high-level prostitutes in the Edo period of Japan (Please correct me if I am wrong). This music video for Kaguya was no exception, full of color and very sexy, but in a subtle way. There is something very sexy about old-style Japanese clothing and props, like kimonos. It showed a more sensual side to NEWS that we haven’t really seen before. I love the dance when they pull their shirts to the side and show their shoulder slightly and also dancing while holding the Japanese style umbrellas. The set covered with colorful umbrellas and ornaments was outstandingly beautiful as well. I love the old style Japanese feel to the music video, showing them in an array of outfits from traditional kimonos to a more modern style button down shirt during the water scene. Ninagawa Mika did an amazing job with this music video, bringing out NEWS’s sexy side.

Final Thoughts

This is NEWS’s first single that hasn’t had any tie-in to it in a long time, and no soccer song as well. I am in love with this single and think NEWS and their whole team did an amazing job planning it. I think it was sexy and colorful, but still stuck to NEWS’s regular style, which is more “pure”. The B-sides were really good as well, making this one of my favorite NEWS singles in recent times. I really liked this change of pace and I can’t wait to see more from them in the future.

 

What do you think of KAGUYA? What did you think about Ninagawa Mika directing the Music Video? Let me know in the comments below!

Review: KAT-TUN – Dead or Alive

Second Guest Post by my amazing friend Meghan! She is an amazing writer and requested to write about the new single “Dead or Alive” by KAT-TUN! 

Dead-or-AliveA new year has started and KAT-TUN has come out with a killer single. This January KAT-TUN released Dead or Alive. This song was written for Kame’s new movie, Joker Game, which was released on Jan 31st. Jovette and Maiko Rivera, the writers of Dead or Alive, have done a fantastic job with this song and has matched it well with the spy-love theme of the movie, while at the same time still holding true to the style he usually write s for KAT-TUN. Personally I was exhilarated to hear that he had written Dead or Alive and knew from the start that it would not disappoint.

Proving my point, Dead or Alive made it onto the World’s Top 20 Single Awards at number 12, that’s above Maroon 5 and Ariana Grande.

Dead or Alive sadly didn’t get much exposure on the usual programs. Due to the difficult situation at the moment in Islam with the Japanese hostages, KAT-TUN had decided that it would be best to perform their B-side tracks instead out of respect.

Dead or Alive

The first A-side of this year has really outdone itself. The theme of this song was clearly ‘spy’ which I believe really opens itself to a variety of possibilities. Dead or Alive focuses on the secret lifestyle yet also showing that there is someone that they would protect no matter the circumstance. After seeing Joker Game, I understood that the song matched exactly to the movie and really brought out the emotions that Jiro Kato (Kame’s Character) had towards Lyn (Kyoko Fukada).

The arrangement is fantastic; bringing a large range of instruments that is common in Jovette’s style and also reminds me No More Pain. Even with the large presence of string instruments, the guitar is what really catches my attention. The tune is catchy and also elegant; the transitions are smooth and flows throughout the whole song, including a quieter section in the middle of the song which ties it all nicely together without being repetitive at all.

The lyrics continue the whole mysterious spy-love theme with phrases like “I will fly to save you” and “Searching for the meaning to live”. It possesses an almost lost and searching feel with an understanding that love is what you ultimately protect regardless of danger.

Polaris

Polaris is a big contrast to Dead or Alive. The music is light and sweet, a perfect little ballad. This to me I think is common to find on a KAT-TUN B-side. Normally we have a big A-side, very rocky and edgy, and then a sweet and loving ballad to balance it all out.

Polaris is about the stars and love. I want to say it’s about lost love as it possess a melancholic tone but the sweet idea of promises of tomorrow that ends this song makes me think otherwise. Therefore, I would describe this song more as hopeful.

White Lovers

White Lovers, which was sang on TV a few times, is another sweet song in my opinion, almost with the same feeling as Polaris. However White Lovers seems to be more about young lovers. The song is sweet and all about learning about one another. It’s a sweet song with a good beat that’s got a lovely piano playing in it throughout.

I would describe this song as very Junno-like, not only because of his large amount of singing parts in it, but rather because the song reminds me of some of his solo songs. It’s sweet and cute and the blending of all of KAT-TUN’s voices go very well. Whereas Polaris was more hopeful, this song seems more promising and about enjoying the relationship.

You are delicious

You are delicious is more a dance song. It’s energetic and upbeat with a good hook and smooth transitions. The most interesting part of this song is the lyrics I believe.

The lyrics speak a lot about enjoying the night until morning using the analogy of roulette to explain that anything can happen. To anyone who is familiar with the club scene, the song seems to talk about the thrill of the club and about meeting with people and spending a fantastic night with them. As usual, KAT-TUN is dancing on the line with this song, not right out making explicit, but there are enough edgy phrases that make it rather suggestive.

Overall, it’s a great song to bounce along to.

Hanasanaideai (離さないで愛)

To anyone who was following the series of solo songs and the solo music videos that KAT-TUN had recently been doing, you would understand what I meant when I say that Hanasanaideai was nearly a disappointment. This was one of Kame’s first solos and was often performed on Dream Boys. I understand that Kame would want to give live (both on CD and visually) to this solo.

This song is very Kame-like. He portrays it confidently and beautifully, bringing across the insecurity a woman can feel in love. It dances on the edge of desperate and hopeful. Yet still echoes nicely with the music and matches well with the type of songs that Kame usually chooses for his solos.

The music video is intriguing. A lot of loneliness is portrayed in it but also bringing through a lot of hope. The part that I was most interested in was how it seems that Kame has hit the bottom and yet refuses the assistance of a stranger (aka. Junno). Where the song talks a lot about hoping to be never let go, this just seemed a little contrasting to me. Half the video also features Kame dancing. Half of me suspects that this is an echo of his new drama starting February 6th (Second Love).

Dead or Alive – Music Video

Although I love the song, I found the music video a little bit of a disappointment. It’s beautifully shot and does fantastic work with the lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spy theme and how KAT-TUN are all running around espionage style and singing. But part of me wanted more. I desired dancing that we usually get in their other videos, and if no dancing, at least a loose story line. The making of the video is a lot quieter and toned down than usual, but still has a few entertaining parts that made me laugh.

The special edition

As some of you know, this single featured a special edition which you had to order especially online. The title track is the same, and the design is the same as the Regular edition (a little disappointing, I was hoping for at least a different cover photo) but the contents were worth it.

The B-sides of this CD are live recordings from the countdown concert 2014-2015 and features all the members solo songs sung live as well as In Fact and Dead or Alive. It also featured a long 30 minute special talk especially for the fans which did sound a little like a radio program without the music (the members words, not mine)

Overall I think that the single was very well put together and featured some good songs. I’m glad that Jovette and Maiko wrote the A-side this time and that I hope that he will be writing more of their singles in the future.

If you haven’t heard the songs already, you should definitely check it out.

Single Information

Royal Kingdom Music (Jovette and Maiko’s site)

World Single Awards ranking

World Single Awards article

Translated Lyrics of Dead or Alive

 

 

I’m Meghan, a South African who has lived all over the place. Currently I live in Japan where I am a teacher, a writer, a traveller, a translator, a blogger and a dreamer. Meghan’s blog

Johnny’s Talk: Lauren’s Guide To What To Bring To A Johnny’s Concert

Since many of you all might be coming to a Johnny’s concert here in Japan in the future, I thought I would give you some ideas on what to bring to a Johnny’s concert by telling you what I normally bring to a Johnny’s concert! This is what I bring most of the time when I attend a concert, but it changes sometimes on the show and also the weather as well. Let’s jump right in!

#1: Ticket

This may be obvious, but you can’t enter the concert venue without a ticket. Many a time I have seen on twitter and heard from my friends that they have accidentally forgot their ticket at home or in the hotel. Just double check your bag before you leave to make sure you have your ticket before leaving! This will save lots of trouble so you aren’t rushing to get your ticket at the last minute and risk being late for the show. Also, I personally recommend you buy your ticket before the actual day of the concert as well. This will save lots of hassle and worry if you will be able to attend the actual show. If you are interested on how to ballot for fan club tickets I made a post here about it previously, but if you would like a post about ways to get Johnny’s concert tickets without being in the fan club please let me know in the comments or tweet me!

#2 Money

Another obvious thing, but sometimes I have panicked on wether I had enough money to buy concert goods at the venue because I was rushing. Take that extra few minutes to calculate how much your goods will be and make sure you have enough money for them! It will save you time so you won’t have to get back inside the goods line again for things you couldn’t pay for. Also, when you are having fun at the venue you don’t want to have to worry about money for food and other things as well before or after the show.

#3 Water

Remember to hydrate hydrate hydrate! I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten a bottle or 2 of water and I have regretted it and searched frantically at the venue for a vending machine, only to find that they were all sold out (crazy Johnny’s fans….). Especially outside concerts it is important. Even if its not outside, you will be standing for at least 2 hours and not eating or drinking during that time. Normally during the MC I take out my bottle of water and drink it and have it handy at the top of my bag to drink during the concert as well. Normally the domes allow you to eat and drink inside of them, but there are some instances where you can’t at really small vanes. For this only bring water, not another type of drink. They do having vending machines or convenience stores around or inside the venue, so don’t fret if you forget! I just normally buy before entering inside because its cheaper for the most part and inside the venue might be sold out.

#4 Rain Items: Umbrella/ Poncho

Check the wether forecast if it’s going to rain. If it is going to rain, then I recommend going to a convenience store and buying a fold up umbrella, not a full sized one because it is long and the seats are small in Japan. Keep it inside your purse or concert goods bag! Most of the time the venues aren’t connected to the subway or trains or busses, so you will want to have one with you. The convenience store near the venues might become sold out, so try to buy near your hotel or home or someplace that isn’t near the venue. An umbrella is also handy if you have to stand outside in line for concerts goods, because at most venues the goods line is outside the venue.

Also, for outside concerts you are not allowed to have an umbrella up during the concerts and they are performed rain or shine. So buy a poncho at a convenience store or 100 yen store to keep somewhat dry! Buy an extra one to wrap your concert goods in so that they don’t get wet either.

#5 Recommended Concert Goods

You won’t bring these with you if you haven’t bought them yet, but I will at least say my recommended goods to bring or buy at the concert! This is also up to personal preference as well, so buy the goods that you will want to use! You also don’t have to buy the goods for the actual tour you are attending either ! You can buy them used if you are short on funds or if you prefer a past tour’s goods instead!

a. Penlight

A penlight is a must for a Johnny’s concert! I recommend a penlight because everyone brings them and uses them in the concert and it also in a way makes you part of the actual concert itself. You wave it in time with the music and do the hand motions of the songs with it! My first 2 concerts I went to for Johnnys in summer 2009 (KAT-TUN and Kanjani8) I didn’t buy a penlight and I felt left out because I didn’t realize how important they were until I went to my 3rd concert in 2010-2011 (Kanjani8 8Uppers countdown concert).

b. Towel

This is defiantly optional and up to everyone’s tastes, but recently I have been into buying concert towels because they are useful during the summer in Japan and for rainy days. I normally keep it around my shoulders during the concert. It helps with outside concerts and sweating (even inside concerts too!) and sometimes the guys have you twirl towels in the air to certain songs as well!

c. Uchiwa

Another optional item, but I didn’t know what the point of Uchiwas were when I went to my first Johnny’s concerts, but Uchiwas are the Japanese style fans with the face of your favorite member on them. You buy your favorite member’s (or members’) Uchiwa and it is not only telling the guys themselves who your favorite members are, but also the other fans as well. I always get asked at concerts who my favorite member is and its a great conversation starter with Japanese fans, as well as foreign fans! So hold your uchiwa proud! (but just to chest level… you don’t want to block the view of the fans behind you!)

d. Bag

To keep all of your concert goods in and for putting your newly bought concert goods inside, I recommend bringing a bag! Most of the goods that I buy won’t fit inside my purse so I always bring the tour bag with me.  When I went to Shige’s stageplay a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize how many goods I was going to buy and it didn’t fit inside my purse, so I had to run to a nearby 100 yen store and buy a bag! So make sure for a stage play you bring a previous tour bag or your own bag to put the goods inside because stage plays don’t sell bags normally.

Having a tour bag is also another fun way to identify you as a fan of the group and Japanese fans might even come up and talk with you!

 

 

Well, these were my recommended items to bring to a Johnny’s concert! I hope you all enjoyed! If there is anything that you think I forgot or want to know if its okay to bring please comment below! Let me know what your concert essentials are if you have been to a Johnny’s concert before. Also, let me know if you like these types of posts!

 

Review: Tegomass – “Tegomass no Seishun” テゴマス「テゴマスの青春」Album

“Tegomass no Seishun” is Tegomass’s 4th full length album and also their first album in 2 years and 3 months. The Title of the album basically translates to “Tegomass’s Youth” or “Tegomass’s Adolescence”. This album includes songs produced for them by “The Godspellers” and “DEPAPEPE”. This Album also is the lead in for their tour that started in February, going through the end of this Month, with the same title, “Tegomass no Seishun”.

 

Album Editions

Limited Edition: CD + DVD

Image

 

The Limited edition comes with the 12 songs of the album and a 40 minute DVD of the Music Video and Music Video Making of「ヒカリ」”Hikari” . It also comes with a 28 Page Booklet, which includes the lyrics of the songs and photos.

Regular Edition: CD

ImageThe Regular edition comes with the regular 12 songs, plus 2 bonus songs. One of these bonus songs was written by Tegomass themselves called 「月の友達」- “Moon Friend”. It also comes with a 16 page booklet that includes the lyrics and some photos as well.

The Songs

The theme of this album is “Youth” so all the songs for the most part have to do with being youthful, the pains of youth and the joys of youth.

「蒼色ジュブナイル」- “Inexperienced Juvenile”

This song is an upbeat song that kicks of the album very nicely! Tegomass is always good about organizing the songs of their album in a good order. I think this song was a great pick for the first song of the album because it has very Tegomass like sound to the song, which shows off their vocals and harmony and is upbeat, but still has a soft easy-listening quality about it. They also kicked off the tour with this song as well! Its a song about looking back on your youthful days. This is one of my top 5 songs on this album!

「ハルメキ」- “Become like Spring”

This song is another upbeat song about the coming of spring, just like what the song title implies! When I first heard this song, I had a feeling that this would be one of the last songs in the concert because it was an upbeat song that Tegomass tends to end their concerts with before the encore, and they did!  This is also one of my top 5 songs on the album.

「いつかの街」- “Town of Someday”

This next song slows down the pace of the album and really shows off Tegomass’s vocals and harmony.  I can just sit back and listen to this song with my eyes closed and even though This is more of a sad song that is about not seeing your dream anymore and wandering aimlessly not sure what to do, I feel calmed and reassured somehow.  Everyone has had this feeling the past, or may be going through this as well, thus included in the “youth” theme of the album.

「DONUTS」

 The Godspellers wrote this song for Tegomass and it has this old “do-wap” feeling that I love! This also happens to be Massu’s favorite song on the album and his reason for it being that he feels that the Godspellers really knew Tegomass’s style and harmony well and made an amazing song! The funny part of this song is that DONUTS means Vinyl records, not literal donuts. When I was listening to the lyrics at first I was confused until I saw somebody comment it was vinyl records and not real donuts because the lyrics say “I found a black donut in the back of my closet”. This is my favorite song on this album that isn’t a single, the reason being because of that old style music feel and the harmonies in it. The lyrics are also really sweet too!

「ファンタジア」- “Fantasia”

The first thought I had about this song is that I really like the Piano in it. It has a good rhythm that changes a bit with the chorus and I like the build up from the verse into the chorus and then slowing back into the verse again, then ending slowly like the song began. It has a good flow to the song as well! This particular song is a sad love song and I think it fits with the rhythm of the song. This isn’t one of my top picks of this album, but I really like this song when it was performed live!

「タイムマシン」- “Time Machine”

The first time I heard Time Machine I was immediately attached to it. I think the Melody of the song and the instruments are what really attract me to it, as well as the lyrics. This is the one song that I love to play over and over and even though its a sad love song about regrets and not being able to turn back time. It calms me because of the melody and the amazing vocals and harmony. Zopp-san, who writes a lot of songs for Tegomass and NEWS, wrote this song and even replied back to me when I said that I really liked his songs he wrote for the album!

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 4.30.36 PM

He said that ”the lyrics were about a Journey, if you can understand that he would be relieved!” This song really was a journey and I loved it, thus making it my favorite song on the album!

「サヨナラにさよなら」- “Goodbye to Goodbye”

I did a review about this single already that you can find HERE. I really enjoy this single a lot and it is my favorite single that is on this album!

「少年~Re:Story~」- “Young Person Re. Story~!”

The main point that I like about this song is the light, rock-like rhythm of the song and the Guitar. Its light and airy and gives of a very vibrant aura.  This is a song about having a dream as a kid, loosing it, but then finding it again and the resolve to keep continuing. The 「もう一回、もう一回」”One more Time, One more time” That is repeated again and again in the song is very encouraging to me and also fits with the theme and the rhythm of the song.

「innocence」

Tegomass always has one “harder rock” song on their album and this was it! I also like the guitars in this song as well and how the rhythm changes from the chorus to the verse.  The rhythm of the song is also very catchy and easy to remember and I tend to hum this song sometimes! I wasn’t attracted to it initially, but after I went to the concert I really enjoyed it a lot and I listen to it a lot more than I used to.

「猫中毒」- “Cat Obsession”

I also did a review on this single, so if you would like to know my thoughts on this song go ahead and click HERE. It is very fun song and very Tegomass like!

「色鮮やかな君が描く明日の絵」- “The Colorful Picture of Tomorrow that you Draw”

What immediately struck me was all the different sounds in this song.  Guitar, Organ/ Keyboard, and also the changing tempos in the song as well. The lyrics are very cute with talking about “Black Magic” and “Yellow dreams”, really conveying the title of the song. It is a very cute and light, upbeat song!

「ヒカリ」- “Light”

This is the main song for this album that Tegomass decided to make this the PV for this time around. This song is a ballad and is very easy listening, but it builds up at the end of the song then slows back down again. The lyrics are very powerful, saying to treasure each day because the same day won’t come back again. I needed to hear this type of song at this point in my life because I am always looking 100 steps in front of me, so it reminds me to just take one day at a time and I don’t have to plan so much. Just enjoy the present more  because you won’t get this day back ever again. I love how Tegomass songs have such amazing meaning!

「きれいごと」- “Beautiful Words”

This is a beautiful song. The guitar is so soft and the vocals are so gentle that I also fell in love with this song as well, the first time I heard it. I really just want to go to bed after listening to this song because it is so soothing and comforting. I normally don’t like ballads, but Tegomass’s vocals really pull me in and make me love their ballads. Besides “Time Machine”,  this song is my next favorite ballad on this album.

「月の友達」- “Moon Friend”

This is the song that Tegomass wrote for this album. On their radio show they held a survey of what type of song they should write and the results came back as an upbeat song. From that, Massu wrote the lyrics and Tegoshi wrote the music with their band director for the Tegomassu tours and it turned out to be a fun upbeat song with strange lyrics about shooting for your dreams! I really like the reoccurring “ooooh yea, ooooh ooooh yea” in the song! Its catchy and I find myself humming this song a lot recently because it makes me motivated and gets my blood pumping when I am waking someplace.

Final Thoughts

Tegomass are now 26 and 27 years old, so they have graduated into their late 20’s, which calls for a more mature album. In the last album that they released, 「テゴマスのまほう」- “Tegomass’s Magic”, they were 24 and 25 years old, so you can tell the difference between the feel of the album right away. They still keep many Tegomass elements, with the sounds of the songs and the style, but you can tell that they bridged the gap from early 20’s into late 20’s. I think this time they chose the theme youth to look back on their youth and bridge the gap from being the “cute duo” to being experienced musicians. . The vocals in this album have improved over all, in my opinion, compared to the last album. All in all, Tegomass was able to  keep the sound that they are known for, but also make it more mature. When I think of Tegomass now I don’t think of them as idols, but I think of them as performers and musicians. This was an amazing album and I hope now that people can look at Tegomass as musicians rather than just Idols from Johnny’s.

 

*DISCLAIMER* I am still learning Japanese and these translations of these song titles,  Japanese content, or any other translations from Japanese aren’t perfect. Please bring to my attention if you think I have any errors.