Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Arashi Wish List

Chances are really low that anybody with any power over Arashi's projects will ever see this post, but I'll put it out there anyways. Here are some things I would really really want to see Arashi do, in no particular order (and I might keep adding to this list as I randomly think of more things).

* Do another plot-based PV (like the ones for アオゾラペダル"Aozora Pedalu" and マイガール"My Girl")
I thought it was really cute to see MatsuJun as the encouraging friend who was trying to get the girl to confess to Sho (and that moment when he realizes she's been rejected and he looks at Sho just sitting on the back of the truck; it was like a scene from a dorama, only better because it made my mind jiggle with all those precious Sakumoto fanfic moments...kyaaa!!). And I've always been a sucker for the concept of all five of them as brothers because in my mind, they are kind of like a special family to each other. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ninomiya Kazunari - Snarky Slacker with a Surprisingly Sensitive Side

Note from HK: Very sorry to all my readers, but a correction has been made to this post regarding the marital status of Nino's parents and his family background. I had previously written that his parents were divorced and that Nino lived with his mother and sister growing up "on the wrong side of the tracks." It has been brought to my attention that there are no first hand sources that state anything concrete about such things. So I have removed that part from this post. To read more about this clear-up in detail, please see this post

Now please enjoy the last of the member posts ^.^ Douzo!!

The big joke you'll hear over and over again about Ninomiya Kazunari is that he's looked like he's 17 since he was, well, 17.

Nino in Oct. 2013 (from the PARADOX PV)
See what I mean? Can you believe this guy is thirty? Physically, he's changed the least out of Arashi over the years. And really, Nino doesn't strike me as the type who would be really carefully taking care of his skin or body the way someone like Jun would. Yes, women over the world are green with jealousy at Nino's possession of the fountain of youth, but this is just such a typical Nino trait: to slack off and yet still achieve the best damn results in the end. We've learned to live with it. Sigh. But don't think for even a moment that Nino acts at all like a sweet teenage boy! He's Arashi's snarkiest sharp-tongued little brat, and will point out little mistakes or embarrassing moments of his bandmates on national TV quite frequently. And he gets away with it every time, too, because let's face it, the other Arashi members all know they'll never get the better of him in a battle of wits and therefore hold their peace. Naturally, Nino is very talented, and stands out in Arashi as a songwriter and a brilliant engiha actor. You know how sometimes people say Ohno sings way too well to be in an idol group? Well, you could also say that Nino acts way too well to be in an idol group! This is not to say that idols can't also be excellent singers or actors, but just that in Japan, where idols are expected to do so much (act, sing, dance, host, radio, etc.), it's almost expected that they should be more jack-of-all-trades than really good at one particular thing. But I'm glad that Arashi members are breaking the stereotype here. And Nino, boy, he sure is a character!

Monday, November 25, 2013

お誕生日おめでとう, 大ち ゃ ん (Happy Birthday, Oh-chan)

This is going to more visual than textual, so I hope you enjoy seeing Riida's pouty face over and over again!

Ohno Satoshi turns 33 today (since it is already Nov 26 in Japan), and I'm sure the other members have prepared a surprise for him at the LOVE tour. I'm hoping it's a cute prank :-) like when they gave MatsuJun that sparkling jacket as a gift. Who knows?

Riida debuted when he was 18, and he's certainly grown up a lot from the awkwardly reticent, long-haired teenager on that Hawaiian cruise ship back in 1999. For 14 years, he has been a part of fans' lives, singing us through difficult times with his powerful voice and offering us the rare word of wisdom in an odd magazine interview every now and then. He may be the quietest in Arashi, but his presence is like a warm blanket that covers the sets and stages; it envelopes us and reassures us. Everything's going to be all right; Riida has got your back.

Yoshi! On to the pictures!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sakurai Sho - The Adorkable Honor Student with A Versatile Rapping Voice

Now it's time to present Arashi's resident intellectual: That's Right! Sakurai Sho-kun!

Sakurai Sho: every girl's dream senpai.
He graduated from Keio, and yes, you can watch him interview famous people and commentate on serious real-world news items every Monday on News Zero (if you live in Japan, that is). He's probably the one in Arashi that would look most in place in a salaryman suit, and there's no denying that he has superb work ethic as both a newscaster and an entertainer. In fact, he is known for being a workaholic just like MatsuJun; he reads three newspapers a day to keep up with current events and writes all the rap lyrics for Arashi songs. His co-workers at News Zero have revealed that he always prepares very thoroughly before interviewing anybody. But you'd be in for a big surprise if you think Sho's just a straight-laced Mr. Goody Two Shoes who always gets A's on his homeworks. See below.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Arashi - LOVE Album Review

I finally got my album in the mail from my trusty old I could only get the Regular Edition, because the Limited Edition sold out. Sigh. I kind of wanted that PV of P.A.R.A.D.O.X. but I suppose I'll just have to live with the short teaser version (which, by the way, is already heart-stoppingly smooth and dangerous) and the screencaps that any generous fans may post on the internet.

So now, on to the album.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Intergalactic - Arashi Song Review

Earlier this year, Arashi released their most recent single, Endless Game, which is a pretty solid track, though still not quite close to beating their phenomenal Face Down of 2012 or the 2013 double A-side Calling/Breathless. Arashi's been really into a more synthetic club style recently, adding some techno elements, a very danceable beat and favoring melodies/lyrics that are on the edgy mysterious side. All these singles fall into this category, which makes sense, since they're all theme songs to very edgy, suspenseful dramas/movies (I mean, things like Troublemaker or Love So Sweet wouldn't exactly make for suitable theme songs to dramas like Kazoku Game or Platina Data, ne?). Arashi's pushing into some seriously kakkoii territory, and I'm loving it! I've decided to review one of the coupling songs for Endless Game here, mostly because I actually like it a lot more than Endless Game itself, and also because I am terribly upset that it didn't get performed at the 2013 ARAFES and just thought I'd bring some more attention to it (we all know how coupling songs tend to get lost in the obscurities of time due to not being performed or collected into an album. Sigh). So without further ado, I give you Arashi's Intergalactic

The first thing you need to know about Intergalactic is that it is out-of-this-world sexy. From every aspect. It's like everybody involved, the composer, the lyricist, the sound engineers, and most importantly, Arashi themselves, had an ultimatum handed to them: sweep those fans up at warp speed and give them a throbbing hot eargasm in a dark, bad-ass corner of the galaxy. And boy, do they de-li-ver...

Monday, November 4, 2013

リフレイン (Refrain) - Arashi Song Review

I'm still waiting for my copy of LOVE to arrive in the mail, so instead of drumming my fingers on my desk and rewatching old episodes of VS Arashi, I've decided to write a little review of one my all-time favorite Arashi ballads: リフレイン, or "Refrain" in English. It's a track from their 2010 album 僕の見ている風景 (Boku no Miteiru Fuukei), so I've been listening to track for over three years now, and call me sappy, but it still hasn't lost its appeal. This will be a quick one, so please forgive and feel free to point out any errors in my listening. 

In one word, melancholy.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Matsumoto Jun - Takes Himself Seriously, Loves Arashi Selflessly

So before anything else, you need to just look at this guy. Get ready for electrifying paralysis of all body systems except your toki-toki hearts.

You're welcome, girls.

The intimidating and magnetic stare that Jun
is so famous for.  
Because I can't resist putting another
sexy-and-I-know-it Jun pic here...
I never skip over the Lucky Seven opening credits because
of, well, this. 
Here's a gentler Jun-gaze to ease us into the mecha-kakkoii
subject that is Matsumoto Jun.
Aaaand here it comes. Matsumoto Jun-sama. It was so difficult to condense his character into a little phrase for the title here. Certain words thrown around in the fandom came to mind: Princess, Diva, Stoic, Concertmaster, DoS, and of course, we have to keep in mind that Jun, unlike Aiba, Nino, or Ohno, changed quite a lot in both appearance and personality since Arashi's debut; he's grown from that cute spiky-haired kid with the idiotically wide smile to the sexy brooding gentleman who's always in demand for romantic lead roles in doramas. So what phrase could encompass all these sides of our beloved Jun? In the end, I settled for a title that is quite lame. But whatever, it sort of fits, as Jun is stoic to a fault when it comes to perfecting his art and takes himself very seriously. You don't see him chuckling at silly things as much as the others, especially after 2009 when he really matured. And he really does love Arashi like it's his soul, soul; the other members have all, at one time or another, pointed him out as the one who cares most about the group. He can be just as yasashii as Riida when you get past his intimidating superstar aura!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ohno Satoshi - Power Vocals Hide Behind this Quiet Exterior

No, I didn't think this pre-pubescent looking
guy was actually the leader of Arashi when I first joined
the fandom either. He's just too... pretty!
The leader of Arashi may have come to this position by a chance game of janken (rock-paper-scissors), and his leadership may be decidedly lazy and unassuming on their variety shows and interviews, but the moment he parts his refined (almost girly) lips at any musical performance, you will understand why all the other members stick firmly to the leader they chose way back in 2000 on Shonentaimu. His voice is just...heaven. When I first got into Arashi, I identified Ohno as the "voice of Arashi" because his was the one I heard most; he had the most solo lines and even in choruses I got the feeling that the sound engineers upped the weight of his voice in relation to the others. Not that I blame them. Ohno's voice is like that fine whirring engine that knows how to respond to even the slightest change in pitch or power. His control is fantastic and unrivaled in Arashi (and I'm tempted to say, in all of Johnny's, but I won't because I'm not actually familiar with all Johnny's idols), and it just soars so beautifully wherever Ohno pilots it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Aiba Masaki, the Tall, Giggly Manchild

Aiba being bashful on VS Arashi.
Aiba, as I have mentioned elsewhere, is really one of those personalities that just aren't around that commonly anymore. It's so hard to describe him in a single phrase, but I settled for "the tall, giggly manchild" in the title; that's because while it is by no means the only side to our darling Aiba-chan, it is the most prominent side that tends to get emphasized in Arashi bangumis, in fandom, and even in the La Tormenta lyrics (don don ban ban, talking in onomatopoeia? Looks like even Arashi themselves like to think of him as the child-like one). And boy, do we love this side of Aiba. Manchild Aiba is a package of bubblicious fun, always energetic, always spouting ridiculous proposals that make you question just what sort of logic runs in that gorgeously shaggy head, and always positive. He's someone we instinctively feel as friendly and approachable, despite being able to pull off one hell of a smoldering sexy face; I personally think that's because he never seems to judge anyone and generally has straightforward desires that he's not shy about voicing.

But of course, it would be terribly remiss of me to glide into the next section without bringing your attention to the well-oiled sexiness that is the non-manchild Aiba. Here are a few pics for reference.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

愛を歌おう (Ai wo Utaou) - Song Review

So LOVE was released on Wednesday, and I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive from cdjapan, but naturally, the tracks are already posted on youtube and I couldn't resist listening to them. So yeah, you get the idea of what I've been doing with my spare time for the past five days. The result? Ah-may-zing! I post here a review of the opening number of LOVE, which is aptly named 愛を歌おう (Ai wo Utaou). It's my favorite track in this album by far. 

I'm personally no crybaby, but I could feel a speech-impeding lump forming in my throat when this track surges into its vocal and orchestral climaxes. Whoever composed the melody and the orchestral parts is a musical genius and should stay with Arashi forever and ever. The melody itself has a great shape, swooping and climbing, full of tension and release; and with this musical arrangement, which I absolutely adore, it packs quite a punch in all the right places.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Favorite Arashi Songs

It is always a daunting task to choose a top ten or even a top twenty when you're talking about artists as prolific and as variable in style as Arashi. So I'm not even going to try to limit the number of songs I talk about here. I'll just give some of my thoughts on the songs that particularly stick with me. They're not in any particular order.

But first, I'll digress a little by talking about some playlists I have on my iTunes, because I just need a reason to post pictures of these awfully good-looking boys.

I have a few Arashi playlists on my phone. They're named after members, of course.

Under Arashi Aiba, I have happy songs, things that make me nod my head and smile cheekily like SuperFresh and Everybody Zenshin and most of Aiba's solos. Arashi Aiba is like the boy-next-door who comes over all the time and wants to pick up your mood by making you appreciate all the little things until life is not mundane anymore. Everybody loves Aiba. I have such a soft spot for him, and this playlist is so dedicated. I play it a lot in the morning right after I get up, to remind me that the day is beautiful, and that Aiba is telling me Ganbatte!

Yes, that's right. Hidden inside this tender-faced shonen is a powerful voice that will take you far far away. 

Arashi Ohno is pure magic. It will transform me into a soaring bird. It's because his voice is just so suited to taking flight. It's got such clarity, such power, such precision, that you feel like you are a piercing ray of light shining out of a crystal and shooting straight into the clouds. In this playlist, I have all his solos and I also have songs where his voice picks it up to a different altitude (like movin' on and Monster).

Arashi Nino is a little melancholy, and a little sentimental. It's the perfect soundtrack for a night alone, with only a glass of wine and the distant voices of the streets for company. It's what you're feeling when you enter heartbreak hotel, but it's also what you feel deep down inside for every wasted day you spend hating yourself for not doing more with your life. It's got anguish, it's got sorrow, and it's got tons and tons of regret. Select Nino solos (and some Ohno solos!) and Arashi ballad numbers such as truth, refrain, Akashi and Your Eyes are included.
I was tempted to post the an an pictures, but that would have been "very, very danger."
Arashi Sho is manly, sexy, and full of swag. He wants to get into your face and really make you listen to him. He's the type of guy you want to be rapping in your ears when you need to rough it out in the gym or just when you're just feeling fly. His voice is husky and low but very distinct, and you can hear him chugging out his words with a gruffness that you wouldn't ever imagine to be in a person as polished as he is. But Arashi members surprise us at every turn, don't they? It's part of their charm. The playlist is upbeat with a bit of in-your-face conceit, the type of thing you want to cross your arms and wear your baseball caps sideways for. Think A.RA.SHI, a Day in our Life, Pikanchi, Jidai, and of course La Tormenta.

Arashi Jun is one fine beast. Where Sho is swagger, Jun is slick. Arashi Jun has a futuristic feel. Jun knows how to be smooth and sexy, and he likes to take you for a ride while he's at it. There's something about that nasal voice of his that, when flattened and treated, is the perfect vehicle for a ride into an alternate sci-fi universe. Arashi Jun is something to play when one is dressed in a sleek leather suit and strutting down the street, ignoring all the heads you turn, because, like Jun, we can be vain princesses ;) *smirk* Songs we princesses strut to include Come Back to Me, Face Down, Breathless, Intergalactic, Mada Minu Sekai E, Lotus, and a swoonworthy number called Tokei Jikake no Umbrella.

All right, on to my favorite songs!