WING WORKS interview on JRock247

I took a short break from writing articles for JRock247, NekoPOP, and Drama-MAX, but now I’m back and I’ve got a new interview with WING WORKS.

The three PVs in your DVD are part of one story yet they’re very different in setting and overall atmosphere. How did you decide on the look for each one?
RYO:SUKE: We get our ideas from various songs and lyrics. “Silver (シルヴァー)” is cyber and gothic. “VAD†MAN” is conspiratorial and “Fushichou (不死鳥-FENNIX-)” is Japanesque.

“VAD†MAN” features a lot of historical and religious imagery. What events and historical figures influence you? How about religion?
RYO:SUKE: A lot of the influence for “VAD†MAN” was taken from the cultural aspects of the Christian worldview.

Click here to read the rest.

Listening to: “Silver” by WING WORKS

Lustknot. reveals mental illness as reason for indefinite hiatus

Activities pauses are not uncommon in the world of J-rock.  Explanations are a little bit harder find, but there’s usually a vague statement to let fans know what’s going on.  However, the bands remain private.  That’s half of why the news of Lustknot.’s hiatus is so surprising: they gave a specific reason.

The other reasons is the reason itself.  Their vocalist Yuki suffers from dissociative identity disorder and can no longer continue with the band.  You can read a translation of the officiate statement at Shattered Tranquility.

This announcement is a big deal because there’s always been a stigma against mental disorder in Japan (and other parts of Asia too).  In a culture that places so much importance on a public face versus a private one, it’s no surprise that such disorders would be kept secret and that patients would be locked away.  That’s not to say there haven’t been reforms and better treatment, but just take a look at how Crown Princess Masako was treated after she was diagnosed with adjustment disorder.

I commend Lustknot. and their management for both bringing attention to an illness that isn’t visible and showing their support for Yuki.  It would’ve been easy to leave it at health issues and continue without him, but they chose not to.  Thank you Lustknot. for the music you have given us, and I wish Yuki the best.

Listening to: “Sakura Memento” by URBANGUARDE

GEEKS interview on JRock247

I had the chance to interview GEEKS for JRock247. They’ll be playing A-kon this year.

You all have unique titles like “Genius Scammer”. How did you acquire them?

Endo (Gt): We intentionally picked these unique nicknames to leave an impression on a new audience so they wouldn’t forget us.

What inspired you to have multiple vocals?

Endo: Isn’t it more awesome to have multiple vocals instead of just having one? That was it.

Click here to read the rest. Thanks to Babel Entertainment for making this possible.

Listening to: “Eine Kleien Nachtmusik” by GEEKS

Rewrite review on JRock247

Since I won’t be able to write a live report of Nightmare’s performance at Anime Matsuri, I decided to review their latest single, Rewrite.

JRock247-Nightmare-Rewrite-review

Nightmare has always been an unpredictable band, and their latest single, Rewrite, definitely captures that. The three tracks convey very different moods and styles, leaving the listener wanting more. Released in January, it’s a perfect way to kick off the new year and preview for what else the band has in store.

“Rewrite” feels like it is constantly accelerating, thanks to the focus on RUKA’s drumming. It’s a nice change to have percussion leading the way alongside the vocals.

Click here to read the rest.

Listening to: “Dizzy” by Nightmare

Rewrite / NIGHTMARE
NIGHTMARE

Hibari-sensei’s Best of 2013

Since I don’t delve as deeply into Japanese media as I have in the past, I’ve combined my year-end recap into one post, hitting upon the big points.  The theme this year seemed to be “girl power” with unconventional girl groups,  exist†trace coming to town, and well-written female leads.  Of course the guys still get their nod, but for once there’s an anime series devoted to showcasing fanservice for straight women.  Before we get started with my list, have you seen my picks for Best J-Rock and J-pop Album Covers on JRock247 and NekoPOP?

Single - “Girl Digger” by FAKY
On top of being a clever turnabout on a sexist term, “Girl Digger” features a much-needed amount of attitude from fa girl group and power house vocals.  The song is catchy and a fantastic girl power anthem.

PV – “The Assassin’s Assassin” by Shiina Ringo x SOIL & “PIMP” Sessions

Yuichi Kodama has managed to create a film noir that’s under three minutes long.  There’s costume eye candy and lot of action with a parting shot that is sure to haunt you for the rest of the day.

Album – Ciao, Fake Kings by WHITE ASH
It’s easy to write off this album as typical alternative rock, but the versatility and polished sound is definitely worth noting.  Plus there’s no denying the overseas potential with the bilingual tracks.

Artist – BiS
2013recap1 photo 2013recap1_zpsb6229d18-1.jpg Photo from FAN48
In the past couple of years, Brand-new Idol Society has challenged the aesthetic of idol groups.  With new members, they’ve continued to shock and rebel with outfits that would make Lady Gaga jealous and videos that are absurdist commentary on beauty and J-pop.  They’ve even teamed up with noise rock group Hijokaidan.

Live-action Character – Mako Mori (Pacific Rim)
Despite the large number of Japanese actors starring in overseas productions this year, many played second fiddle.  Not Mako Mori.  She was the true star of Pacific Rim, a character who is strong yet still maintained Asian values of respect and filial piety,  and the new face of feminism in film.

Actor – Yuga Yamato
Casting a former Takarazuka otokoyaku was the best thing Pretty Guardian Sailor MoonLa Reconquista could have done.  Tani’s training has allowed her to capture the nuances of Mamoru, Tuxedo Mask, and Prince Endymion while melting every single lady’s heart.  In addition to the musical, she’s made her TV debut as a female vampire in the drama Higanjima.

Drama – xxxHOLiC
2013recap2 photo 2013recap2_zps344756b3.jpg  Photo from xxxHOLiC Wiki
Darker than the original manga and anime, this drama eliminates all the kawaii fluff to provide an allegory to real-world struggles, particularly those of adolescence.  Every episode ends with a moral without coming across as preachy, and Anne Watanabe is perfectly enigmatic as Yuko.

Film – Strawberry Night
This movie cleverly reverses the gender of archetypal noir characters.  Reiko Himekawa is both fearless and fallible, and her crusade for truth and justice is a rollercoaster ride fulls of unexpected turns.

Anime Character – Levi (Attack on Titan)
While he’s an utter badass and the embodiment of stoicism, “humanity’s greatest soldier” is a neat freak who looks like grumpy cat most of the time.  It’s these little quirks that make Levi endearing. Plus he seems to have a sadistic streak that’s fun to think about.

Anime – Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club
 photo 2013recap3_zpse7dacf79.jpg Photo from Crunchyroll
It was a tough battle between Attack on Titan and Free!, but the swimming anime won out for defying expectations.  Past the eye candy and bromantic (romantic?) moments, there was complexity in the characters and story.  Tidbits like Makoto’s goldfish sucker punch you in gut with all the feels.

Series to Cosplay – Sailor Scouts
This is technically not a series because I don’t mean Sailor Moon.  While there were plenty of the original Scouts, there’s been a ton of other characters, particularly those from Western comics and animation, reimagined in the easily-recognizable and nostalgic serafuku.
A-kon24-09

Listening to: “NEXT STAGE” by Gacharic Spin

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