I’m going to start with my announcement first. It’s been a long time coming, but I was waiting to finish up some posts that keep getting delayed for logistical reasons. After I wrap up two long-term projects, I’m going to stop updating this blog.
My interested in Japanese pop culture has waned, and it’s been so long since I’ve been a JET. As much as I want to keep promote about diverse representation and social justice, I’m tired of fighting about it on here. I don’t have the time to maintain this blog along with others I run/contribute to. I will still write for JRock247, NekoPOP, and Drama-MAX. There just won’t be updates or original content here. You can also find me in the other sites linked in the right hand column. Like I said, I have a couple more original posts that I plan to write (once my brother and I finish our collaboration). Once those are finished, I will make an official announcement along with where to find me. That being said, I probably won’t look at comment here anymore.
In the meantime, please enjoy my review of A9’s (formerly Alice Nine) latest mini-album Ginga no Woto on JRock247.
The aptly-named first track, “Phoenix”, is a rock number with Hiroto’s skillfully-layered arpeggio’s and Tora’s hard-hitting riffs. Show’s voice balances the edge with a touch of gentleness and falsetto, and there’s a surprise acoustic section to show off Saga’s bass skills. “Spiegel” also contains fantastic hard rock guitars, accompanied by Nao’s rapid drumming.
Click here to read the rest of the review (and see the “Spiegel” video).
Listening to: “Nijikan no Dake Vacance” by Utada Hikaru feat. Shiina Ringo
Posted by Jen on October 2, 2016
I had trouble writing this post. It’s been nearly seven years since I left Miyagi-ken. I haven’t gone back like I had planned, and now I don’t see my students coming to Southlake because they’ve grown up (also the age range changed). As evident with the decreased frequency of updates, I’ve become distant with the country that is my second home.
Nevertheless, I can’t forget about how five years ago, I spent all night worrying about my friends when the casual status updates about an earthquake became something much scarier. It’s hard to not think about the Tohoku earthquake when NPR was all over the 5 year anniversary and all of us Miyagi-ken JETs pay tribute on social media. I think it’s good to be reminded though, as the people in the region are still struggling. Thus, I’ve decided to make this post about some examples of aid and recovery. There’s a lot of individuals out there who continue to dedicate some of their time to Tohoku through raising money or lifting spirits. Let this be inspiration to all of us.
The one project that led to this post was the 113 Project. It is a series of short films directed by Wesley Julian, one of my fellow Miyagi JETs who also created Tohoku Tomo. The 113 Project provides glimpses of rebuilding from youth, local business members, and expats to show the power of collaboration. To view the films, visit the 113 Project website.
From 113 Project
Visual kei band X Japan has always been active with charity work, having raised money for both the Tohoku earthquake and other disasters. This year drummer/pianist Yoshiki put up a special drum set for auction. He donated the proceeds to the Japanese Red Cross.
From Resonance Media
The question of where to send money often crops up with disaster relief. While I don’t doubt the Red Cross’ valiant efforts, they have received some criticism, at least stateside. One charity I can recommend 100% is the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund. Not only does each project provide updates through emails from Global Giving, but the charity is run by the father of Taylor Anderson (who was another Miyagi JET).
Lastly, I wanted to highlight RADWIMPS’ annual tribute as an example of how art heals. Listening to music that pays tribute to the survivors never fails to bring back emotions I thought I had forgotten. Seeing images does the same. With the returning sadness is a message of hope that the artists put into their work. Tohoku is recovering, and the human spirit will triumph. Since 2012, RADWIMPS has released a new tribute song on March 11. Here is a list along with the video of the most recent:
2012 – “Hakujitsu”
2013 – “Buriki”
2014 – “Kaiko”
2015 – “Aitowa”
2016 – “Shuntou”
Posted by Jen on March 24, 2016
Recently I was able to conduct an interview with akai SKY, whom I saw at AnimeFest.
How does Chasing Lights reflect how each of you has grown over the course of ten years?
Ryuusei: Our recording engineer remarked that our songwriting had really grown since Heart, Attack! [their second EP, released in 2013]. I think we’ve really grown in how we develop our songs, particularly in the area of arrangement and with this release, adding different backing tracks. Individually, I think the individual parts we write have all gotten stronger and show more of our individual personalities.
Umi: We’ve built upon our previous experiences and tried some new things with Chasing Lights that we haven’t done before. Every time we do something, we try to make it a little bigger and better using what we learned from the process the last time around.
Click here to read the rest of the interview.
Listening to: “Break Down!” by akai SKY
Posted by Jen on October 22, 2015
Visual kei band umbrella released a new mini-album earlier this summer. Their single caught my attention, and I decided to check out Kinematograph and write about it for Jrock247.
The latest mini-album from visual kei quartet umbrella opens with the cranking sounds of an old-fashioned camera projecting film. Indeed the aptly-named Kinematograph does provide a glimpse into the past—the early 90s to be exact, when shoegaze was all the rage. Those hazy guitars float from the intro, “Lumiere”, to the very end, yet umbrella manages to break free from the wall of sound to have a modern rock sound.
Click here for the rest of the review.
Listening to: “Keihaku no Hito” by umbrella
Posted by Jen on August 28, 2015