[REVIEW] NEWS Arena Tour 2018 EPCOTIA – DVD/ Blu-Ray


From the world of “NEVERLAND” in 2017, in 2018 NEWS takes you on a journey into outer space onboard the EPCOTIA Liner – flight 009; NEWS hosting as the 4 flight attendants. A tour based around their album released in March 2018, NEWS once again immerses you into the theme of the album, which has been a “thing” for them since their 2015 album “WHITE”.

In this review, I will be discussing 2 categories – Theme and DVD contents – to give an overall rundown of the DVD itself and if its worth it to buy.

Theme – Outer Space??

Let’s begin with Theme! To be honest, I was skeptical of this space theme from the minute I saw the names of the songs on the album that were basically all a bunch of space themed words thrown together like “BLACKHOLE” and “UFO”. Nothing could top NEVERLAND (tour and album) for me… it was the perfect theming for a group like NEWS who is bright and has bouncy songs with some rock thrown in from time to time, so EPCOTIA had a lot to live up to… and I think NEWS was feeling the pressure too.  Before going into the tour itself in April, I liked about only 50% of the songs but after seeing the tour in Hiroshima I was hooked on about 90% of them for the performance.

You can tell NEWS made an extensive effort to separate NEVERLAND from EPCOTIA as themes, and to not make it a continuation (despite NEWS doing theming for N-E-W-S for the next few years) . NEVERLAND had a more steam punk feel to it with the costumes and had a more typical stage setup for NEWS, while EPCOTIA was a center stage and more “futuristic” with monochrome theming and costumes, lots of strobe light affects and a center stage where they really pushed the limits with what they could do with it. (Bungee jumping around the stage in the middle of the concert, hanging from the celling during the opening and having a huge model space shuttle on the stage? Now THAT’S entertainment!) I felt they had a higher budget this year as compared to previous years, as it was their 15th anniversary and probably after the success of the NEVERLAND theming the year previously.

Also, on a side note, the tickets were adorable with “Boarding Pass” written on the back of them with the EPCOTIA logo on it … the theming was on point the entire time from beginning to end. I think with NEVERLAND they pushed the limits for theming where they had fallen short with QUARTETTO the year previous and then with EPCOTIA, they really took what they learned with NEVERLAND and ran with it full speed ahead.

CONTENTS – less than previous DVD’s?

Credit to Johnnys Entertainment Inc.

The contents of the DVD are very straight forward this time around, containing only the final day of the tour in Saitama Arena in May 2018 plus “EPCOTIA MULTI ANGLES LIVE”, which special to just the limited edition of the DVD. The only difference between the Regular Edition and the Limited Edition is this “Multi Angles live” for both the Blu-ray and DVD versions. Click HERE for all the information on what the DVD contains (Japanese Only).

This time the DVD didn’t have as many extras as in the past… more than likely because NEWS had 3 “tours” in 2018 (EPCOTIA Arena Tour,  15th Anniversary Live STRAWBERRY, and EPCOTIA – encore- Dome Tour)  and I predict that because of this, they are wanting to release the arena tour but for a lower price point so that they can release the other concerts later on in 2019. (A double sided DVD between Strawberry and EPCOTIA – encore-? You heard it being called here first, folks!)

I thought the Multi Angles live was a smart move on Johnny’s part to keep the budget low: Take footage of a handful of songs that they already had recorded at the concert and release it at different angles. Essentially, they have cameras pointed at each of the members during the concert at all times and they compiled that footage of 4 of the popular songs, LIVE,  BLACKHOLE, Erotica, and U R not alone for each member’s angle. Not just that, but you don’t have to choose just 1 member for the entire time, you can choose different members for different parts of the song, letting you control the editing of the song and how you want to see it. I thought you could only choose 1 member for the entire song, but I was happily surprised you can choose the angle at each point in the song. Very interactive, as there are so many combinations you can make between the 4 members’ parts.

“Happy Ending”

Overall, Outer Space wasn’t a theme that I was extremely excited about but the execution and how they kept to theming the entire time was extremely impressive. NEVERLAND is close to my heart and for me, unfortunately, EPCOTIA did not surpass that. The content of the DVD was less than previous years, but hopefully there will be some releases of the other 2018 concerts later in 2019 to make up for it. (My wallet is READY!) 

If you can get your hands on the Limited Edition of this DVD, I think it is worth it for the multi-angles lives, but the Regular Edition doesn’t have much to offer besides the actual concert.

 With that being said though,  I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the VR themed “WORLDISTA” for 2019!

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Seasons of Japan – June 2017 | nihonchique

June 2017. This is the month that marked the last in a chapter of my life. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get past this month in my life, almost like my blog was kind of frozen in time until I figured out what I was doing. I still now dont know what I am doing and what direction I am going in, but in June 2017, I had the huge high of the NEWS NEVERLAND tour in Tokyo dome with a close friend, followed straight after by the disappointment of hearing that the department/ website in my company I was working for for a year and half would be shutting down and my contract would not be continuing because of it. I was devastated and was extremely hurt that a company I had worked so hard for for a year and a half would just cut me so simply, but despite this I took this as a learning opportunity and got searching for jobs as soon as possible. (Spoiler, I found one and started it at the beginning of August 2017!).

On the topic of the NEWS NEVERLAND tour in Tokyo Dome, that was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. “U R not alone” since then has become my anthem and even when the DVD came out in January of this year, I cried again right long with them at “U R not alone” and had no shame. As I said in the 4th picture, the end of the NEVERLAND tour isn’t the end, and we truly are not alone. NEWS has been along with me on this journey for almost 10 years now. I feel like I have grown with them and they have supported me all of these years, almost half of them being in Japan.  Thank you NEWS. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you in Hiroshima for the EPCOTIA tour in April, 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seasons of Japan – April 2017 | nihonchique

April started off with a bang with the first leg of NEWS’s NEVERLAND tour in Sapporo! I was so excited to go to Sapporo again after 2 years. My friend and I ate all the food there and even went to an observatory that is considered one of the best night views in Japan! (Except I went during the day… but I digress.)

Next came Cherry Blossom season with some amazing views. Spring is one of my favorite seasons in Japan, and I was so happy to experience the Cherry Blossoms in a few different places (Including my first time to see them in Shiga!)with some special people.

At the end of the month was Golden Week, and I decided to make a trip home to America and experience wine country in California for the first time before heading home to Florida for about a week. Emeritus Vineyards was by far my favorite visit and we had a very nice tour complete with a personal talk with the owner himself! Their wines are amazing and the company was awesome!

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Made it to NEVERLAND!!

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Chocolate Heaven! チョコ天国!🍫

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Sapporo Butter Salt Ramen! 👍🏻

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Sapporo! ❤

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Nighttime Cherry Blossom Find! 🌸❤

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桜🌸〜

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Yakisoba under the Cherry Blossoms! 🌸💕

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Let the wining and dining begin!

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Third stop: Jordan Vineyard and Winery!

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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! 

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 Go To A Johnny’s Concert More Than One Time

The third week in March of 2015, I took the Shinkansen about 50 minutes to Nagoya to see NEWS LIVE TOUR 2015 WHITE. NEWS hadn’t toured in 2 years and it was hard not to feel the excitement inside and outside of Nippon Gaishi Hall, all the fans teeming in anticipation about what NEWS had in store for this tour. The actual concert itself was all-new, with many mistakes, as Nagoya was the fist stop on a 3 month long tour.

Fast-forward to the weekend after and my best friend Meghan and I are on our way to Sapporo, a 2-hour flight away from our home base of Kansai. The feeling of Sapporo was different than Nagoya, the venue being more intimate than other venues that I had been to with the members of NEWS themselves coming into the audience. The fans were very warm and inviting despite the cold weather of Sapporo and we made a new friend along the way!

A few months pass and finally NEWS comes to where I live in Osaka in early May. Since I had already been to this tour 3 times previously, and it was on my own stomping grounds, everything seemed very familiar. During the actual concert, you could tell the members were confortable with the set-list and the fans knew what to expect as well, as this was many fans’ multiple time seeing this concert as well.

When I tell people that I have traveled around the country to see my favorite Jpop group, many laugh in disbelief and/ or awe at how many times I have attended and the distance I have traveled just to see a group preform live. Every time this happens I think to myself how much I enjoyed attending and how I do not regret it at all. I often wonder why it seems strange to people the amount of times that I go and the distance that I travel to see these Johnny’s groups. To me, each show and each venue is a different experience, even if the set list is the same. Sometimes they even change the set list to fit the venue or the time of year (for example insert Christmas songs at a concert close to Christmas). Also, the gap between the beginning of a tour and the end of the tour and that evolution is very interesting to see as well. Johnny’s in particular tweaks things even between an afternoon and evening show. There is also a difference between arena venues and dome venues as well, arena venues being smaller and intimate, the artists coming directly into the crowd, and the domes being more elaborate performances complete with pyrotechnics, waterworks, lasers and huge moving stages.

For Johnny’s in particular, the MC’s also change each time. MC’s are the talk portion of the concert where the group takes a break and just talks to the audience about recent happenings or informing them of upcoming events. Each concert is different and you get a little bit more of an insight into the members themselves and the group dynamics. For somebody that is a fan, this is fascinating. As for myself, I enjoy getting to know the members as people and not as celebrities and during these concerts, little parts of their personalities pop out each time.

Last, but not least, it is about supporting the artists themselves. Sure I buy all the singles and a lot of memorabilia, but also going and supporting them in person is something that is important to me as well. Seeing a performance live and listening to it on a CD are two totally different experiences. Concerts are one of the only true times that the fans and the artists can meet face to face. Fans come together and support their group and create a bond that can’t be explained easily in words. You become friends online through the same bond and you finally get to meet in person at the concerts and share the same joy and excitement for seeing the group.

Going to a concert multiple times might seem crazy at first glance, but next time you speak with someone who does see the same show multiple times, maybe try to look beyond the surface and ask yourself if you have anything that you are passionate about that you would do or see multiple times.

NEWS Live Tour 2015 “WHITE” Memories – Part 1

I can remember clearly when the WHITE tour was announced. It was Christmas Day and the message was sent out as a Christmas present from NEWS via email. I was walking to work while reading the message; so happy that another Christmas away from home was made special by my favorite group. WHITE was a very special and different concert tour for me for many reasons; one is that I had started working and making my own money. Two is that I was more involved in the fandom than ever before. After Tegomass, I had begun to find more fans online and this was the first tour that I was able to branch out and meet more people and go to different venues than I had before. I was able to travel all the way to Sapporo for this tour, while making new friends and interacting with old friends the whole time. I attended the Nagoya, Sapporo, and Osaka legs of the tour.  Here are some of my memories from this past tour.

Nagoya – March 21st ~March 22nd, 2015

Nagoya was the first part of the tour and I was teaming with excitement at the thought of finally seeing my favorite group live after 2 years. This tour was a bit different for me than other tours, as I had just started working and didn’t have the flexibility that I used to have as a graduate student. I also felt more mature than I had before, as I had my own salary and could decide how to spend my own money as I pleased. This would be a theme of the tour, being able to handle my own money and what I was able to do while working.

When I first arrived in Nagoya, I immediately met up with my friends at the hotel, dropped our things off, and went to buy goods at the venue. Even though Nagoya is only a 45 minute Shinkansen ride away from Osaka, it was better to stay in a hotel overnight for 1 night than spending the money for the shinkansen home. I was only able to go to the last show of Nagoya, going around Nagoya by myself while my friends were in the other shows. I went to the Johnny’s shop on Sunday morning before I finally went to the first show! We were in Arena D Block (the very last block of the floor seats) and my friends said that NEWS wouldn’t come back to these seats. It was a bit hard to see, but surprisingly NEWS came on the carts right next to our section. More specifically, Massu (Masuda Takahisa) was right next to us during Koi Matsuri. I had my Massu Uchiwa up while spinning the towel in the air during the song when Massu noticed me and pointed in my direction and acknowledged that I was holding his Uchiwa. Of all of the times that I have been to a Johnny’s concert, this was the first time that I had direct fan service. It was a new experience for me and it is something I will never forget! I was smiling and spinning the towel during the entire song until finally he left on the cart and when the song was over, I remember turning around to put my towel back on the chair and covering my mouth with my hand to hide the excited tears welling up in my eyes. I am not one to be emotional during concerts, but actually being acknowledged with fan service from my favorite Johnny’s after being a fan and attending the concerts for so long made me so happy, even if it was only for just a second.

After the show was over, my friends and I headed back to the hotel to pick up our things and then head back to our respective homes, Osaka and Tokyo, with the excitement of meeting up the next weekend in Sapporo for the next leg of the tour.

(to be continued…)