It has been almost a year since the Ebisu Muscats Facebook page was updated and some 2 years since the lineup disbanded. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, this post came along.
It says something when there’s a countdown page on the Ebisu Muscats website. What is it exactly? Why put the time and effort to make a countdown regarding a group that disbanded some 2 years ago? Well, a few things come to mind, especially regarding the magnitude of this announcement. On this article, I am going to make guesses as to what this announcement may be. We won’t know exactly what it is until July 2nd, but whatever it is, it sure as hell feels like it will live up to the hype.
When I write this, I leave you with this warning: the women I am going to mention on this article may have another career besides the lovely world of Japanese pop idols. Simply put, a majority of them are in the AV (Adult Video) Industry in Japan, so the second you search up one of them on Google Images, you may see some images that are a little explicit. So please take this as a warning: this article may not be safe for work. While the article itself is completely safe, I cannot control what you do the second you close this article, so just keep that in mind as you read.
Ready? Here are the predictions for the big Ebisu Muscats announcement!
The Ebisu Muscats Reunion
This one is the easy choice. A lot of women seemed to come and go among the Ebisu Muscats roster. Imagine if management somehow brought them all back for a concert, variety show, or even an unreleased single. All your favorite Ebisu Muscats, from Asami Yuma, Kishi Aino, Yoshizawa Akiho, and so on, could come back one more time. To be honest, I would sure as hell like to see my original kami oshi, Rukawa Rina, perform J-Pop songs with the Ebisu Muscats one final time. Whether that would be the classic “Banana Mango High School” or something borrowed from AKB48 like “Heavy Rotation”, it would be a blast to see her again.
However, there is pretty reasonable doubt that a reunion may not actually happen. Given that a lot of the Muscats had ties with Japanese Adult Video companies, those ties, for the most part, are gone. A few Ebisu Muscats retired or are retiring from the AV industry, including Kishi Aino, Asami Yuma, and in August, Rukawa Rina. The only way a reunion would take place is if the fans demanded one; the reunion would have nothing to do with the AV companies. There is an Ebisu Muscats fan base, and it still remains strong, even to this day.
An Entirely New Roster
This is yet another prediction that seems all the more realistic. Basically, the roster would be revamped to suit a younger generation of Ebisu Muscats, all of whom would be in the AV industry or gravure industry. There are many AV/gravure idols in Japan, but the picks from management have to stand out compared to everyone else.
Take into account the lovely lady in the video: Sakura Yura. If there is anybody who could continue the Ebisu Muscats “J-Pop AV Idol” trend, it’s her. First off, Sakura Yura actually looks like an idol. She has the same aura that Rukawa Rina had when she was around. Yes, she is in the AV industry as well, so she would be a near perfect addition to the new Ebisu Muscats. She could even be the captain of this new roster; who knows.
There are plenty of AV idols that I could name off the top of my head who would make a fantastic addition to the Ebisu Muscats roster, such as Kana Yume, Tsuji Yuu, Ogawa Meruru, Hasegawa Shizuku, Tsuruta Kana, Yumeno Aika, and Usami Mai. Remember what I said about searching them up.
Honestly, I have no idea what the Muscats have in store. The countdown on the Ebisu Muscats website is getting me all excited for something I have no idea about. These two hypotheses are all I could bring to the table, but what if it were to be something really random? Could it be a new single with AKB48’s Kojima Haruna? Or maybe an entirely new album filled with new songs the public has never heard before? Who knows?
All I do know is this.
Bring my kami oshi back please!
On April 21st 2015, GENERATIONS from EXILE TRIBE announced their first world tour. An extension of their recent tour GENERATION EX, they planned to perform 6 concerts overseas in Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York, Taipei, and Hong Kong. As a fan of GENE since their third single, I was ecstatic to see they would be performing in LA! Tickets were fairly cheap, 12$ for General Admission and 30$ for VIP, so I grabbed a VIP ticket the moment they were on sale and the seemingly eternal wait till the concert commenced.
The Paris and London concerts were successful. Fans sang Happy Birthday to member Hayato and posted photos and videos on twitter. The LA concert, and the first of the US shows, was set for June 16th, so on June 15th, when all GENE social media was quiet, I began to worry a little. It’s typical for music groups to post when they arrive in a country but I didn’t want to dwell, but after going through twitter, I can see other fans felt similarly. Maybe they were just exhausted from travel? Maybe they were too busy getting settled? Regardless, I set off to bed with my clothes and concert gear ready for the following evening.
At around 6am, the official facebook page for GENE made the announcement:
GENERATIONS WORLD TOUR 2015
Cancellation Notice for the “GENERATION EX” Los Angeles and New York Shows
We regret to inform all of the GENERATIONS fans that the GENERATIONS shows on June 16th at the Echoplex in Los Angeles and the June 19th show at the Santos Party House in New York were cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances where any and all visa issuance for travel to the United States were temporarily suspended.
We have been working night and day to overcome this problem but were unsuccessful due to it being on a scale that affected the entire immigration system. The members of GENERATIONS are truly heartbroken over this result and we apologize sincerely for this difficult decision. We would like to thank you all once again for your continuous support of GENERATIONS.
Information regarding ticket refunds will be announced through the ticketing websites from which you purchased your tickets.
The absolute last thing you want to see on the day of a concert you’ve been preparing for for a few months. The concert was absolutely cancelled and this was only cemented further when we received our refunds that afternoon. How could this happen and on such short notice? There was speculation that they were simply denied their visas because the US is strict about overseas performers. Others thought they just didn’t apply for visas ahead of time. According to the official statement and the cancellation email from Echoplex (The LA concert venue) the fault lies on the department in charge of US visas, but what does that even mean?
The situation was cleared up a bit when the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs posted an update about technological issues regarding passports and Visas. Basically, on June 9th the State Department experienced hardware failures in their computer systems, preventing transmission of data related to visas and passports. As such, there is a sudden and unexpected backlog of visas that cannot be approved or distributed. This problem is affecting people coming from and going to all countries, so the theory that this was related to the US being strict toward Japanese acts is debunked.
This computer issue is entirely to blame for the concerts being cancelled and is leading to similar trouble for anyone trying to enter the US for business or receive a new passport. (On a similar note, Japanese group CROSSFAITH is experiencing similar difficulty coming to the US for the Warped Tour.) There’s absolutely nothing they could do at this point. Despite the circumstances of their tour, they cannot receive priority on their visa request either (currently, only humanitarian travel and adoption related trips receive priority.)
This situation is tragic, to say the least, for both fans and GENE. Many fans planned trips to LA and NY for the shows and can lose money on hotels and travel. Others took time off work or changed their schedules around in preparation. The members of GENE must be heartbroken knowing they cannot see their fans over here or hold the performances they worked so hard training for. And while many fans are losing money on this, LDH is losing a lot as well. It’s unlikely they can get the deposit on the venue back, or the money spent on their airline tickets or hotels, and all the tickets have been refunded.
There was a lot of potential in this show. Personally, I was excited at the possibility of them performing the English versions of their single tracks. It would have been a simple, but powerful way for them to connect with the audiences over here. alavic_222 and myself planned a big A-to-J Connections review of the concert that would be vastly different from any we’ve published before. A successful GENE tour could have even lead to other EXILE family groups coming abroad. For now, we can only imagine all that could have come from the success of this tour.
While there’s no word yet on rescheduling the shows, maybe they will plan something later this year or early next year. I hope we can see such a thing happen so GENE can fulfill their wish to perform here. In the mean time, let’s continue to be supportive of LDH and encourage them to pursue returning to the US.
For more information about the Visa/Passport issue please click here.
LoVendoR's PV for the song "Futsuu no Watashi Ganbare!" was recently released and this video is just as much fun as one comes to expect from the four-member, all-girl group!
The new PV is the second from the group's upcoming major debut single "Iin ja nai?/Futsuu no Watashi Ganbare!". I previously covered the release of the first PV from this single (Can be found here) and just a few days later we are treated to the second! While the two songs differ in many ways, they both give the listener the solid, fun sound that is LoVendoR. First and foremost in the changes is the fact that this song has a different team behind it that "Iin ja nai?". While Takui Nakajima handled writing duties the first time around, this time Watanabe Miki provided the music and former Hello! Project mastermind, Tsunku, provides the lyrics. This latter point is interesting as it lends an element to the song that many have missed in the recent Hello! Project outings of late. The song's message is positive as one expects and has the catchy feel that both draws in first-time listeners and keeps them coming back again and again. Being that the song is written in a more pop feel than some of their more rock-oriented numbers don't expect too much in the way of shocking drum fills or blistering guitar solos. That said, the song will most definitely have you singing along by the second chorus!
Let's look at the song performance for a minute. I usually rave about Tanaka Reina's singing when I talk about LoVendoR, but I have to say that I feel that Okada Marina stole the show on this one. While their vocal style works well together on this song, for some reason I felt that there were two completely different sounds in this song and Marina's was definitely the one that I preferred. Also I feel that her personality comes out in the video more so than Reina's and this only leads to one to want to pay even more attention to her. What about her "Samashii samashii deshou?" line in the final chorus? I'll admit that when I first heard that part I was taken out of the song, but it has since grown on me and I like that little touch. Back to the main point, her vocal style seems to suit this song like a glove and while I don't think that Reina is out of place, I do feel that she was overshadowed in this song greatly by Marina. This is not necessarily a bad thing as I think there are times when Reina receives just a little too much attention.
Musically we get the twin guitar stylings of Marin and Yuki here and while their playing is not front and center as it is on some songs, the two do an awesome job showcasing their skills as well as laying down some nice shared melodies and solos.
Moving onto the video itself. Simply put, it's playful, fun and colorful. That could be said about a lof of recent UFA PVs, but there is a bit more meat to this video that we usually get from Up-Front. I think this has to do with the subject matter at hand as there is a bit more to work with in terms of concept. Playing off the theme of the song, we see the girls engaging in various activities. These activities come about when they are inspired by a certain group they see on TV! We get some nice fortune telling by Miyazawa Marin, some random hobbies (That rabbit in the hat!) from Tanaka Reina, dress up from Marina and just some awesome partying and rocking out from Uozumi Yuki! The side scenes give the girls some time to have fun on screen, but it is these segments that I feel that Marina and Marin visually steal the show. They not only look great, but their quirks shine through here. Lots of fun was clearly had here and that feeling comes through in both song and video. While there are a few extra shots than one usually sees, it is important to not that the video is not too far removed from the general type that Up-Front commits to these days. Thankfully, it happens to be a good example of how the simple PV formula can be done well. On a final note, be sure to watch until the very end to see more funny bits from Marin...
That's it for now! Check out the PV itself in full below and be sure to pick up the single, "Iin Ja Nai?/Futsuu no Watashi Ganbare!" when it drops July 1st! Remember, be careful when playing with nunchaku!
◆ Tanaka Reina (田中麗奈) (Vocals)
◆ Okada Marina (岡田万里奈) (Vocals)
◆ Uozumi Yuki (魚住有希) (Guitar)
◆ Miyazawa Marin (宮澤茉凛) (Guitar)
Official Website: http://lovendor.jp/
On the 6th of June an official announcement was put out by Up-Front Promotion that Uta Shimamura’s contract with the company would be cancelled due to a disagreement on the terms of the contract. It was said that the family and Up-Front Promotion could not come to an agreement on contract terms that was satisfying to both parties, the contract was thus terminated.
Uta originally auditioned for Morning Musume ‘14’s 12th generation of members, but didn’t make it all the way. She was eventually added to the new and improved Country Musume, which got renamed to Country Girls. With the shaky history of Country Musume, Country Girls managed to get off to an explosive start with their major debut release of Itooshikutte Gomen ne / Koi Dorobou. This was not just due to the music, but due to the amazing synergy all the girls had witch each other along with the timing of their unveiling (following along the heels of Berryz Kobo’s indefinite hiatus news). It helped renew faith and reinvigorate interest in Hello! Project all over again. It wasn’t the sole reason, but it was one of many that escalated this interest. Being a member of Country Girls, Uta quickly became popular due to her extremely cute demeanor and presentation. In many ways she rivaled even Momoko Tsugunaga, who has reigned over the realm of cuteness since Sayumi Michishige graduated from Morning Musume ’14.
In recent times though, Uta had been silent from a lot of social media in comparison with her fellow members in Hello! Project, and this announcement helped solidify all of our fears. Statements have been left by all the members as well as their supervisor, Mai Satoda. The tone is almost universally the same: sorrow, surprise and a slight tinge of disappointment with a touch of hope moving forward.
While this is tough to accept for Country Girls fans and especially for Uta fans, please do your best to support her and her family in this decision. Most importantly, don’t forget to continue to support Country Girls during this time, since the transition can quickly either go sour or move forward depending on how fan support goes. I wish Uta Shimamura the best of luck in her future endeavors.
Below is a link to the Country Girls Fan Club Facebook Page’s post that contains translations of the announcement and the messages from the individual members.
Member Messages (Click Here)
Below are the music videos for their double A-side ‘debut’ single.
Hot on the announcement of their major label debut, LoVendoR releases the first PV from their double A-side single, "Iin Ja Nai?/Futsuu no Watashi Ganbare!"
The song featured in this first PV is "Iin Ja Nai?" which is not only the lead-off track of the single, but also composed by fellow Up-Front artist, Takui Nakajima. Nakajima has lent his talents to Hello! Project artists Abe Natsumi, Dia Lady and Mano Erina in the past. Most recently his songs "Taiki Bansei" and "Tsugi no Kado wo Magare" were concurrently recorded by ANGERME and C-ute respectively. Being that his style is far more rock than what one typically associates with idols, his work with LoVendoR (He has also written several of their songs in the past including their single "Ikujinashi") is something to take note of. The rock stylings of these four girls, led by former Morning Musume member, Tanaka Reina, is set to take the Japanese music scene by storm!
The video opens with Reina coming out of a trunk, or a box if you will. This is fitting as this song is hard to put into any traditional genre and indeed goes outside the box of what one probably first expects. Clearly rocking but complete with an accessible pop feel, this song is the proper major debut they deserve. Tanaka Reina and Okada Marina trade off vocals perfectly here and harmonize as well as they have in all their past releases. I've always said that I feel that Reina's voice is more suited to this style than what she performed when she was in Morning Musume and that stands true now. Marina's vocals are awesome as well. That said, there is one odd moment in the second chorus where she is singing into an imaginary microphone that I couldn't help but notice. I don't know if this was intentional or a slight error that made it into the video, but it definitely drew my attention. I can recall fellow ex-Morning Musume member, Kusumi Koharu, talking about the many retakes that had to be done on Morning Musume's "Iroppoi Jiretai" because she did the exact same thing take after take. Back to the song itself, Uozumi Yuki and Miyazawa Marin do an amazing job on twin lead guitars and lay down an awesome solo to round out the musical package.
Visually, the PV is very colorful both in location and in the outfits chosen for the girls. All is bright and cheerful matching the general theme of the song itself. There is the usual Up-Front simplicity present here (Group shots separarted by solo shots with little in between or much in way of "plot") but they always seem to know how to pull off simple well without it feeling plain. There is also a playfulness both within the song, and the interaction with the members, that make this song quite infectious. I defy anyone to not be singing along by song's end!
There you have it! Check out the PV itself in full below and be sure to pick up the single, "Iin Ja Nai?/Futsuu no Watashi Ganbare!" when it drops July 1st! Remember "Those who have fun win!" Also, who is "Wilson"?....
◆ Tanaka Reina (田中麗奈) (Vocals)
◆ Okada Marina (岡田万里奈) (Vocals)
◆ Uozumi Yuki (魚住有希) (Guitar)
◆ Miyazawa Marin (宮澤茉凛) (Guitar)
Official Website: http://lovendor.jp/
What a night. The Sousenkyo is over, and what a night it was, filled with surprises, broken records, and cameo appearances. A new 48G champion has been crowned the Sousenkyo pennant, and all sorts of new members ranked for the first time.
This is an article based on the takeaways from this year’s Sousenkyo. It is a bit of an opinion piece based on my observations. So if I manage to anger a select few, my apologies.
Let’s dive right in at the takeaways from a night filled with surprise.
Welcome Back Suuchan
I will admit that 2014 was not too kind to Sato Sumire until the arrival of the coupling song, “Ambulance”. She was transferred to SKE48 and she failed to rank in the 2014 Sousenkyo. This year, she has come back in a big way: as Future Girls center.
I will also admit that I haven’t followed Suuchan as much as the average AKB48 and SKE48 fan, but I will say that she really blossomed at center in one of the best coupling songs in AKB48 history. Maybe it had to do with the nurse motif.
Welcome back to Sousenkyo, Sato Sumire!
A Round of Applause For Kojina Yui
One of the biggest surprises, not only among HKT48 fans but also among HKT48 members, was the appearance of the punctual yet goofy Kojina Yui, ranking as high as Next Girls at #46. The thing is, the members who have no idea that they’ll rank end up with the best reactions (such as Tanabe Miku during the last election).
Jiina was rather surprised ranking this high, evidenced by hyperventilation. All of her HKT48 comrades were rooting for her to start her speech. However, she needed the host to hold on to the microphone for a bit so she can take out a mirror to see if her makeup wasn’t smudged or anything. That alone was enough to capture the hearts of new fans.
You go Jiina. Rock on with your goofy self!
A Steady Vote Count Doesn’t Mean A Steady Rank
Let’s look at the minimum amount of votes needed to rank this year: 13,116. Last year’s number was at 9,561. For some members, that meant if a certain member has a steady and consistent fan base willing to put in almost the same number of votes as last year, that certain member is very likely dropping a few spots.
Even if the number of votes for a particular member has increased by a little bit (about 500-2,000 more votes than last year), that still does not mean that member is going to stay at the same rank as last year. Take into account Tano Yuka and Nagao Mariya, who received more votes than last year, however fell a few spots. This shows that the game is changing, and more votes are needed to allow a certain member to remain at a certain spot.
SKE48 Fans Make A Statement
Several members of SKE48 ranked for the first time, from Upcoming Girls (Kumazaki Haruka, Kitagawa Ryoha) to Undergirls (Tani Marika). You could also argue that the AKB48 vs. SKE48 rivalry has just heated up, given how more SKE48 members ranked this year compared to AKB48 members. Yes, SKE48 has 27 representatives in this election versus AKB48’s 23 representatives. And they did this without Matsui Rena.
However, given that SKE48 had four members in senbatsu (just like last year), the group did not necessarily win this year’s election, despite the Sakae faithful voting in several new members.
Home Field Helps
This is the first time the AKB48 Senbatsu Sousenkyo took place in Fukuoka, where HKT48 is located. While SKE48 has more members rank in this election than anybody else, HKT48 members ranked but in a special way: three of them are centers for three lineups. Yes, Anai Chihiro is your Next Girls center while Kodama Haruka is your Undergirls center. Despite how only 15 HKT48 representatives made this year’s election, three of them are going to get the most screen time on the upcoming songs.
Yes, I mentioned that three HKT48 members cracked the center spots, and one of them is Senbatsu center. Now it’s time to get into the Senbatsu takeaways, and there were plenty.
Muto Tomu Is This Year’s Big Surprise
In 2013, the big surprise ranking was when Shibata Aya made Undergirls center, beating Minegishi Minami to the punch. Last year, the big surprise ranking was when Matsumura Kaori made Undergirls center, beating Watanabe Miyuki to said spot. This year, Muto Tomu cracks the last Senbatsu spot, edging out Kodama Haruka for the spot.
The reason I say this is the biggest surprise is because not a lot of people really predicted Tomu to make Senbatsu. This spot was usually predicted for members such as Kodama Haruka, Minegishi Minami, and Kizaki Yuria. Yet Tomu and her fans managed to edge all 3 out to clinch a Senbatsu berth.
The Competition Is Way Too Fierce
As predicted, Shimazaki Haruka, Yamamoto Sayaka, and Matsui Jurina all make senbatsu. All 3 of them received a whole lot more votes than last year, from 5,000 to 30,000. However, that did not translate to an increase in rank. Paruru fell down 2 spots out of Kami7 to 9th place. Jurina fell down a spot to 5th place even though she received over 14,000 votes more than last year. Sayanee received over 30,000 more votes than last year and still stuck at 6th place.
This just begs the question: how many votes will it take to win the Sousenkyo pennant?
Heartbreaking Yet Heartwarming
This is Takahashi Minami’s final Sousenkyo election. Thus, a message to her fans was that she wanted to rank in first place, which would be a tremendous sendoff to one of the most influential AKB48 members in history. Unfortunately, while Takamina managed to crack the Kami7 lineup, she did not win the entire election; she placed 4th overall, her highest rank in Sousenkyo history. This is heartbreaking because Takamina does not have another chance at Sousenkyo center.
While her rank was rather heartbreaking, there was a heartwarming cameo appearance right after. Maeda Atsuko, a former face of the AKB48 franchise, came to comfort Takamina right before she was about to sit down. For those of you who have been with AKB48 since its inception back in 2005, you would know that that was a big moment for fans of the franchise: this brings back the friendship between Acchan and Takamina (Atsumina) that has been around until Acchan graduated from the group. This was probably the most powerful moment of the entire Sousenkyo. While Takamina did not get her wish granted at the end of it all, it was nice to see Maeda Atsuko return to comfort an old friend.
New Ways To Shock The World
Since 2013, Watanabe Mayu has shocked people with her ranking on Sousenkyo. The 2013 year was the year most fans thought she would have won, but she ended up ranking 3rd behind Oshima Yuko and Sashihara Rino. In 2014, a lot of fans thought she would have lost to Sasshi, as evidenced by the preliminary results. Yet we all know how that turned out.
This year, Mayuyu received about 15,000 more votes than last year, at 165,789 votes. This amount of votes was enough to win last year. This year, this amount of votes was only enough to secure third place. This also makes Watanabe Mayu the first ever Sousenkyo champion to rank lower than second the very next year.
Even her fellow Team B comrade, Kashiwagi Yuki, beat Mayuyu by a little under 1,400 votes. Yes, Kashiwagi Yuki only secured second place with that ranking. That is just how fierce this competition was. Tough break Mayu…
How to Break the Sousenkyo System
Remember when I said three HKT48 members managed to make the center spot for three separate units? One of them was Senbatsu, and Sashihara Rino once again claims the Sousenkyo pennant. This makes her the third 48G member to win twice and the first since Oshima Yuko. It also helps that this year’s Sousenkyo took place in Fukuoka, which means the HKT48 faithful came in droves. This was a lot better than 2013, where several 48G fans were leaving once Sasshi’s name was the last called.
What makes this victory better than the surprise from 2013 was just how many votes Sashihara Rino received this time around: 194,049.
Yes, one hundred ninety four thousand votes were given to Sasshi in order to win this year’s election. That’s almost one hundred thousand more than Yamamoto Sayaka. If you combine Matsui Jurina’s votes (105,289) and Miyawaki Sakura’s votes (81,422), those votes are still not enough to dethrone Sashihara Rino. This means that next year, a likely vote count of 200,000+ may be necessary to secure the #1 seed. This is how you break the voting system.
Well, Sasshi did promise her fans a concert in a bikini, so...
◆ Rin Rigoni