Kinematograph review on JRock247

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

Kinematograph / umbrella

Anna Tsuchiya interview on NekoPOP

After Anime Matsuri, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna Tsuchiya about her show and future plans.

When you put on the fan’s “yankii” jacket, how did you feel revisiting a character (Ichiko from Kamikaze Girls) whom you played over 10 years ago?

Anna Tsuchiya: I was genuinely happy! I hope to create more long-loved works that will stay in fans’ hearts after ten years.

What made you choose more upbeat songs for your set?

Anna Tsuchiya: Since this was an event, I wanted to have fun and get excited with everyone. Also I made this set list mainly with my songs that overseas fans know (NANA‘s theme songs and the latest single “LUCIFER”).

NekoPOP-Anna Tsuchiya-Anime Matsuri2014-3

Click here to read the rest of the interview. Photo is from the concert live report.

Listening to: “Change you life” by Anna Tsuchiya

DISACODE Anime Matsuri 2015 live report at JRock247

Here is the final Anime Matsuri live report.   Performing for the first time in the U.S., DISACODE helped kick off a fantastic night of music.

AKIRA danced all over the stage—the kimono sleeves of her outfit swirling around. That motion perfectly complemented the traditional Japanese sound of “Mononoke NIGHT”. She also delivered drama with both her voice and body in “Sakura x Kuroku x Kuraku” while drummer Marcy banged away at the cymbals.


Click here to read the rest of the report.

Listening to: ARCO∞IRIS” by DISACODE

Sakura x Kuroku x Kuraku / Disacode

Roclassick2 review at JRock247

Since BIGMAMA’s conceptual album, Roclassick2, made my Best of 2014 list, I decided to review it for JRock247.


BIGMAMA has done it again, blending classical and rock in a completely unique manner. Rather than covering or sampling from classical music pieces, the band has used them as inspiration for original songs. Roclassick2 reimagines some familiar pieces from childhood piano lessons or high school band days that will please fans of any genres…

Click here to read the rest.

Listening to: “Swan Song” by BIGMAMA

Hibari-sensei’s best of 2014

My friend Risa shared this graphic on Facebook, and I thought it summed up the year pretty well.
 photo 2014recap1_zpseca70725.jpg
Joking aside, 2014 has offered a lot of queer representationand not just with boys.  When Marnie Was There and Sailor Moon Crystal both offered female queerplatonic (possibly veering into romantic).   The latest Sailor Moon musical brought that into live-action, and J-rock ADAMS returned with more homoeroticism.  Although Japan has a long way to go in terms of LGBTQIA rights and visibility and the yaoi genre contains a lot of problematic elements, 2014 seemed to be a year of oncoming change, especially when it ended with the news of Shikoin Temple offering gay weddings.

Of course, one theme cannot encompass at the past year’s greatest hits in entertainment so read on for my picks.  Also, don’t forget to check out JRock247‘s and NekoPOP‘s top album covers of 2014.

Single – “FxxK Boyz Get Money” by FEMM
With an in-your-face title like that, how can you not give this song a listen?  It evokes memories of early Lady Gaga and Ke$ha and is the perfect anthem for a party’s girl night out.

MV – “White Caress” by ADAMS

A lot can be said about ADAMS’ use of homosexuality as their central theme (I could probably write an entire essay on it), but it cannot be denied that they make a great team with director Ryota Sakai.  “White Caress” is a perfect example of the raw emotion and beautiful symbolism that makes their videos so hard to tear your eyes away from.

Album – Roclassick2 by BIGMAMA
Hard rock-classical music mash-ups are not a new thing, but rather than insert a classical sampling into an original song, BIGMAMA has done the opposite and created a fresh new take on old favorites.  You’ll never think of “Swan Lake” and “Pomp and Circumstance” the same ever again.

Artist – Wagakki Band
 photo 2014recap2_zps7979ae50.jpg From Rocket News 24
Although they debuted the previous year, Wagakki Band started to really attract attention in 2014.  They truly blend the past, present, and future with their rock-meets-traditional Japanese instruments covers of Vocaloid songs.

Live-action Character – Lynn (Black Butler)
The live-action equivalent of Mey-Rin turned out to be the epitome of moe.  Her clumsiness is more endearing, and she has one of the coolest fight scenes.

Actor – Fuka Koshiba
Fuka Koshiba is a fairly new face, but she’s making a name for herself.  First, she excelled in Kiki’s Delivery Service, carrying the whole movie on her shoulders as the eponymous protagonist.  Then her heart-breaking portrayal of a bullied student in the second season of GTO made her one of the most memorable cast members.

Drama – Boku no Ita Jikan
This show was raising awareness on ALS before the ice bucket challenge.  Not only that, it depicts a common struggle of today’s college grads: the often frustrating search for a job.  Haruma Miura deserves lots of recognition for his portrayal of a young man who discovers that he has ALS, and seeing him share the screen again with Mikako Tabe in a more mature role was really sweet.

Film – Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno
 photo 2014recap3_zpsa6281074.jpg
I haven’t seen The Legend Ends (which was released late 2014) so I can’t comment on that.  While this one leaves the audience hanging at the end, it is still one of the most stunning anime adaptations that does not shy away from the gritty realism of war.

Anime Character – Shogo Senga (Love Stage!!)
How can you not love the idea of Daigo voicing a caricature of himself, created by his sister no less?  Shogo is also the only character who had enough sense to do something about his brother’s rape. While the seriousness is downplayed as part of his outrageous devotion, he is a rare voice of opposition that yaoi needs more of.

Anime – Sailor Moon Crystal
Even with the weird animation (particularly in the transformation sequences), this series deserves accolades for promoting female strength and friendship.  It’s inspiring a new generation of girls to overcome their insecurities and provides a breath of fresh air from all the reverse harems and all-male series.

Series to Cosplay – Attack on Titan
This anime made Kareshi, who doesn’t normally cosplay outside of my dragging him into couples costumes, actually work on a costume on his own.  The design is iconic and so cool that even my friends who don’t watch anime love it so this trend is going to continue past 2014.
DSC_2093 Overbeck as Dot Pixis

Listening to: “Swan Song” by BIGMAMA


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