Cake Bake Betty

Lindsay Powell amazes as Cake Bake Betty. Follow the link to better understand greatness.



12.31.2004 - [Ayu: Finally Another Great Album] Hide
Ayumi Hamasaki

For the past 5 years, I've been a fairly large fan of Ayumi Hamasaki. I thought her second album, [LOVEppears] was bolt from the blue brilliant, and [Duty], the follow up, was almost as special. I cared less for the next three albums, and was bored enough with them and innumerable singles and remixes, that I haven't even included them in my small HTML shrine to her. No matter - now she's finally vindicated by [MY STORY], out in time to get 2005 started right.

Produced by Max Matsuura (as always), yet more lively due in part to all of the collaborators, [MY STORY] (released 12.15.04) is not just a 17 song collection of singles and new tracks, but actually seems to cohere more than her recent efforts. Out of the trancy phase, now there are ample rock guitars to go along with the ballads, and while I was non-plussed the first time through, subsequent listens have provided much enjoyment.

Ayumi Hamasaki

Tru Ayu fans already purchased the limited CD+DVD package, which comes with one of 4 covers, a heaping handful of 7 Promotional Videos, along with 4 making of mini-docs. All of that for only about 900 yen more - it's a done deal with tons of fan service.

In short, while Ayumi Hamasaki is more marketed than perhaps even Morning Musume and Hello Project, I'm still finding something of worth in her efforts. There's no way any normal person can buy all of her output, but those new to the party should grab her first few albums or this latest release for a solid start.


12.29.2004 - [RSS History For The Rest Of Thee] Hide

It seems that some of you are actually using the new junk.log RSS feed, which is great. Did I mention that sometime in early 2005 there will be RSS-only contests? Well, now you know. In any case, there's now another feed available for the terribly fixated:

It's a complete record of all past junk.log months, with short excerpts and links to the articles. Not much for you human types, but the search engines like Feedster or BlogDigger really dig it.

junklog.xml is updated often, and will zero out at the end of the month. Subscribe to that to get your normal fix.

junkloghistory.xml will be updated once a month - right now it has Sept-Nov. Thus, random musings about Japanese idols and my favorite snack foods will be accessible for posterity, just in case you need to catch up.

For those not digging RSS yet: RSS Readers Info. Try it out today - it brings the stories to you, all magical-like. Just add the above links to your reader or RSS-capable browser for some action-jackson.

OK... thanks for putting up with the most boring entry ever. I just received a massive shipment of good goods from CD Japan, so expect lots of musings about more interesting stuff shortly.


12.28.2004 - [Top 5 Japanese Movies Of 2004] Hide
[Hana & Alice] Rules

I really like Japanese cinema, even though I can't always comprehend every sentence. Subtitled or not (but never dubbed!) I usually find something to enjoy, in a way that most US movies can't provide.

I've only seen less than 1% of the movies released in Japan in 2004, so my list is a subset of a subset. It only includes movies released in Japan this year, and not movies from earlier years that finally saw the US market. That said, on with the fun:

01) [Hana & Alice], Shunji Iwai - So brilliant in so many ways, and by far my favorite movie this year, in any language. Slow and steady makes the pace straight through my heart.

02) [Shimotsuma Story], Tetsuya Nakashima - Momoko and Ichigo are the odd couple to beat, all cute and fanciful yet full of fists by the end. A massive collection of delightful moments.

03) [Casshern], Kiriya Kazuaki - Visually exceptional, with only a few slow and ponderous stretches that take away from the spectacle. One of the most impressive "first movies" I've seen in quite a while.

04) [The Grudge], Takashi Shimizu - More than just a remake of a Japanese horror hit, this production keeps things "real", with the original director, actors, and a Japanese crew. Hopefully a sign of things to come.

05) [Innocence], Mamoru Oshii- Amazing visuals not quite ruined by excessively philosophizing. Extra points for all us [Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex] fans.

Yeah, it's a short list, mostly because I'm severely lacking an easy way to see the normal Japanese releases. If you know of a Netflix-type service for Region 2 Japanese DVDs, then let me know. If you've seen a movie that I should have listed, then by all means share your opinion using the link below.


12.27.2004 - [Top 10 Japanese Albums Of 2004] Hide
Jude Absolute

For some reason, lists are important. Especially at the end of a year - lists all over the place. I'm not that partial to lists, since they always over-emphasize general traits, and sand off all the rough edges, the parts that aren't easily quantified. No matter, now I'll try an experiment and actually rank the top 10 albums I heard from Japan this year. Please note: I've only heard less than 1% of the musical output from Japan in 2004, so I can only speak for the bits and pieces I came across. That said, on with the fun:

01) Jude, [Zhivago] - Such brilliance is par for the course for Kenichi Asai and crew.

02) Utada, [Exodus] - Hikki can do no wrong, now with full English in effect.

03) Tokyo Jihen, [Kyoiku] - Sheena Ringo continues her full-frontal assault, thankfully.

04) The Pillows, [Good Dreams] - If they were any more tuneful then no one would ever wake up.

05) Tamio Okuda, [Lion] - 10-year anniversary of the songsmith for the best in us.

06) Love Psychedelico, [Love Psychedelico III] - All friends of groovy music should own this record.

07) Thmlues, [Junjou Aijou Supplement Bokutachi] - The best pure-pop concoction I've heard in quite a while.

08) Barnabys, [5 Songs] - Compact, like a fist to the face. Draws blood and makes you see stars.

09) Puffy, [59] - Even a mini-album by Puffy is better than most full-lengths.

10) UA, [Sun] - UA is beyond mere mortals, but this beautifully busy, jazzy experimentation is still growing on me.

As always, there were runners up that I didn't hear enough to really judge. Please note the latest releases by Ayumi Hamasaki, Bonnie Pink, Boredoms, Hitomi, Morning Musume, Polysics, Rovo, Tommy February6, and Triceratops, (among others).

Don't see your favorite on the list? Then, it's your sworn duty to use the link below, and write about it on the JM Message Board. I'd love to learn about your new wow sounds.


12.24.2004 - [Becky: Yes, I'm Definitely Obsessed] Hide
Becky Selling Glasses

Is there no doubt that I adore Becky, the Japanese personality of much amazement? First appearing in the public view in 4.1999, she quickly became known for her cuteness, humor, and overall pleasant acting ability. I first came across her in [Warau Inu no Bouken], a comedic variety show on TV, and since then I've been hooked.

First of all, let's bring up the obvious: Becky is hot. Not just Japanese Hot, but a perfect mixture of Japanese and British that just works. Something about her just oozes quirky spokesperson, or secret love on the edge, or young fashion model on the prowl. She associates with Sun Music and Toshiba/EMI, and has put out a few singles over the years that, while not mind-blowing, still are fun to listen to.

Becky Refrigerator

She's been on a number of TV shows, from panel discussions and dramas, to kids shows and anime voiceovers. Often gracing magazine covers or various commercials, it's hard enough to keep track of her relative fame, and thus there is a site solely focused on her art: Becky The World. For the past few years I've poured over its pages, particularly the discussion board, to find out the latest.

Since I'm not in Japan (and not even Japanese) I usually only catch little snippets of her here and there, but besides her music, there have been a few things I've special ordered over the years. [Becky Refrigerator] and [Valentine Road] are her two photo books and compendiums of biographical information, and are quite suitable for fan possession. If you can't read the ample Japanese, then you still have all of the literally pretty pictures to go by.


[Becky TV] (11.25.2001) is 43 minutes of DVD enjoyment, with serious modeling bits in Okinawa mixed with fun conversations and pretend skits (like her trying to interview herself). Like everything else listed above, it's all for the Becky purists, but due to her age and general demeanor there's only hints of sexiness - thus, fun for the whole family.

Finally, my horribly thorough Becky obsession wouldn't be complete without her large wall calendars. The 2004 edition was something to behold (large poster-like pictures, tiny dates at the bottom), but 2005 brings less Becky and more of the calendar, and I obviously didn't buy it because I wanted to know what day it is. Oh well, the cover (sandy beach, pictured above) is pretty much worth it.

The sad thing is that I'm only comprehending 5% of the full Becky experience, due to my lack of obsessive-skills, so if you have any sightings or information on the 20 year old star, be sure to let me know. Help me make my fixation complete!


12.22.2004 - [Between Mikura and Barnabys, I'm Set] Hide
[Mezzo] Shell Two

The anime adventures of Mikura and her DSA (Danger Service Agency) crew continue with [Mezzo] Shell Two, released on 12.14.04 in the US. It contains episodes 5 through 8, which further advance the fine tradition of earlier stories, with equal parts suspense, action and humor, all comingled with relatively realistic urban SF action.

Creator/director Yasuomi Umetsu continues his task of making a less "H" version of [Mezzo Forte], and largely succeeds save for multiple shots of naked female android breasts in episode 5. Sure, it all fits into the plot with minimal gratuity, but it's apparent from the Mikura worship that all meals shall include fan service.

Asami of [Mezzo]

Plot wise, the focus is on Asami's gradual introduction into the world of the DSA. She's still a young student, constantly bullied by cooler/meaner girls and yearning to emulate Mikura's kick-ass-ness. Thus, the stories start to revolve around situations of her making, which is cute but not overly so. Combine this with a running subplot of a mysterious assassin gunning for DSA members, and I'm looking forward to what the final volume of [Mezzo] has to offer on 2.8.05.


12.21.2004 - [XML For The Best In Junky RSS] Hide

Finally I figured out how to code the XML for RSS feeds by hand, and now I have my very own., or this link here. Basically, I'll just post a brief synopsis of each entry to this file, which you can subscribe to with your favorite RSS reader.

At the end of each month, the file will effectively zero out - this service is meant only to share the latest content, and not to link to all past entries. Let me know how it works for you, or if you want more content in each item description.


12.21.2004 - [Incidentally, Tokyo Jihen Are Great] Hide
Tokyo Jihen Album [Kyoiku]

Sheena Ringo's new supergroup is called Tokyo Incidents, but written as "Tokyo Jihen" in Japanese. That dual nomenclature serves their sound quite well, with its incredibly dense layering and excess energy that transcends genre and logic. Their first album, [Kyoiku] (TOTC-25452, 11.25.04) , is heaping hand and feetfulls of magic, yet perhaps simply too much for any one person to take in initially.

Once you ease into the beautiful messiness, then there's a whole lot to hold on to. You have the previous singles to enjoy ([Gunjo Biyori] and [Sonan]), plus items from her solo work like a variation on [Ringo No Uta]. Sonically I'm reminded of [Karuki Zamen Kuri no Hana] (her last solo album), only with far less pure Japanese influence. It's jazz, rock, punk, surf and more, all shot into a reverse-prism by Ringo-chan lasers, ending up with a powerful coherency that's hard to beat.

Tokyo Jihen DVD

With incredible quickness, Tokyo Incidents also have come out with a DVD of 6 of their songs, [tokyo incidents vol. 1] (TOBF-5337, 12.8.04), which I'm sure is great, but won't receive for a few weeks. 2005 is looking to be the year of Tokyo Jihen, so make sure you celebrate appropriately. This is great music for even the most terrible of times.


12.21.2004 - [Meet The Beastles To The Five Boroughs] Hide

As established previously, I'm new to the world of mashups, but occasionally I find something that I like, usually involving a mixture of hip hop and something else. This time, I came across a project called the The Beastles, which is a rather groovy combination of the Beastie Boys and The Beatles.

DJ BC claims only to be demonstrating his remixing abilities, but the end result is tuneful and sometimes surprising (albeit Beastie heavy). So, if you're looking to flaunt the technicalities of copyright while having a fun time in the MP3 format, then make sure to check these tracks out while you still can.


12.20.2004 - [Lolita Vs. Yankii in Shimotsuma] Hide
[Shimotsuma Monogatari]

About 8 months ago in Shibuya, Tokyo, I saw a movie trailer for what seemed to my kind of weirdness, [Shimotsuma Monogatari] (Shimotsuma Story). Based upon a popular novel by Novala Takemoto, and set in the smallish countrified town of Shimotsuma, it's an odd couple story that pits a "Lolita" girl against a "Yankii" girl. For clarity's sake, a typical Lolita usually sports a frilly baby-doll dress, and a Yankii is tricked out flashy garb often covered by exclamatory kanji. Lolitas emphasize their little girlishness and/or attraction to classical Modernism, while Yankii are all about the toughness, only accentuated by their modified mopeds and "gang" affiliation.

In Tetsuya Nakashima's version of the story, Momoko (Kyoko Fukada), a teenage Lolita to the bone, finds solace from her sketchy parents by shopping for lacey things. She's effectively shunned by all possible members of her town, if for no other reason than being a doll in drag doesn't play in the country. Through selling her father's fake designer goods (long story), she comes across Ichigo (Anna Tsuchiya), a rough and tumble Yankii who quickly becomes enamored by Momoko, eventually breaking through her bonneted shell.

If it's not clear from the scenario, this movie is far from serious, and never forgets to accentuate the essential visual silliness of their adventures. It reminds me more of a manga or anime than anything else, with ample, broad effects and flourishes, exemplified by the bookending car crash, all flying produce and pachinko balls.

I found [Shimotsuma Story] to be both hilarious and touching, and I was quite happy that I ordered the special, 2 DVD edition (released on 11.26.04), which has 90 minutes of bonus materials. Yes, it's completely in Japanese (NTSC, Region 2), with no subtitles whatsoever, but the general flow of the story would be clear enough for those foreign to the language. I could have used a subtitle or two, but that didn't take away from my appreciation of the affair. Plus (plus!) there are two Tommy Heavenly6 songs (from the [Hey my friend] single), so you know I must be in heaven.

The international name of this movie is [Kamikaze Girls], which I find to be truly awful, but it does at least fit the Yankii frenzy. Perhaps it will see release in an English-speaking country in the future, at which time I would firmly recommend it for anyone reading this sentence.

[Shimotsuma Monogatari]
Momoko flies the skies of Tokyo

[Shimotsuma Monogatari]
They're on a mission for Baby clothes

[Shimotsuma Monogatari]
Ichigo in a contemplative, non-hitting moment


12.16.2004 - [Anne Suzuki Is Oh So Special] Hide
Anne Suzuki's DVD

Since in the past I've been excessively fixated upon [Hana & Alice] and its stars, it goes without saying that I'm slowly but surely tracking down all of Anne Suzuki's work. I first came across her in [Returner], which saw a small theatrical release in the US a few years ago, and I was impressed with her energy, above and beyond the masses of cuteness. She has a look of wide-eyed wonder that really hits the spot when combined with her beauty, charm and intelligence.

It turns out that a few years before that, she was actually in [Snow Falling On Cedars], an English-language film based on true events like the mistreatment of Japanese in the US during WWII. She played the younger version of the female lead, who had a youthful romance with Ethan Hawke's character. Even then, her star power was clear, and I enjoyed her brief role more so than the adult actress.

Anne Suzuki's DVD

Recently I discovered the [Anne Suzuki 1st Story] DVD, that takes place sometime between those two roles. It captures her essence both in candid interviews and modeling moments (all in Japanese). It's an innocent production that captures her growing beauty, and increasing stature in the Japanese TV and movie world. I can recommended it for Anne fanatics.

I was impressed enough by this Pony Canyon DVD, that I've now ordered its companion, [Anne Suzuki Side Story], which promises more of the same. She's also had more than a few photo books out over the past 4 years, and so I have a few of them also on order, including one tied into her [Returner] character of Milly. Good times shall be had once they arrive from Japan in January.

(Yes, obsession can be a bit scary, but it makes for detailed junk.log entries).


12.15.2004 - [Massive Boredom: Top 20 Pages] Hide

Since I don't have anything world-shattering to share today, I thought I'd recall a feature of the JM Newsletter from a while back. Namely, let me tell you about the top 20 pages that people are accessing during the first half of December.

01 - Puffy - 420 hits

02 - junk.log - 324 hits

03 - Hikaru Utada - 280 hits

04 - Music Home - 249 hits

05 - Ayumi Hamasaki - 234 hits

06 - Japanese Pop Home - 228 hits

07 - Junk Magnet Home - 221 hits

08 - Sheena Ringo - 180 hits

09 - Judy and Mary - 160 hits

10 - OOIOO - 145 hits

11 - New Page - 126 hits

12 - Street Fighter 3 Third Strike - 122 hits

13 - Games Home - 111 hits

14 - junk.log 9.2004 - 110 hits

15 - Ajico - 97 hits

16 - Polysics - 94 hits

17 - The Brilliant Green - 83 hits

18 - Info Page - 79 hits

19 - Number Girl - 78 hits

20 - Melt-Banana - 77 hits

Obviously, not a lot of people are visiting any one page, but when added all together, I'm getting an average of 500 page hits a day. Compared to large sites, that's only a few seconds of traffic, but I have no complaints for my meager project.

In any case, the only real reason I'm sharing these statistics is so that you few readers can know what else everyone is looking at. Feel free to use any of the above links to examine stuff you might not have seen yet.

A few notes: Puffy has always been near the top since I started 5 years ago, and now with their new Cartoon Network show, many people are finding the site. Other J-Pop artists are pretty well frequented according to either sales or indy cred; for some reason I have one of the highest visited OOIOO pages around, which speaks to the hit and miss nature of fandom. As for the Street Fighter page, well, I did a review for the Dreamcast version of the game years ago, and it's constantly re-released for the PS2, Xbox and the like. Thus, search engines seem to like that short page; all other game pages only get a few hits tops.

Just for the sake of completeness, the least visited page as of late is the message you see after using my [write to me now] page. Thus, no one is writing to me in that way - please rectify that soon, it's sooooo cool.

Don't worry, your usual junk.log sans statistics will come back tomorrow.


12.14.2004 - [Netflix Roundup: DVD For You, Me] Hide

Since I started with Netflix last month, I've been receiving 3 movies a week for my occasional enjoyment. Without belaboring the point, let me share a little about some of what I've seen:

Nuku Nuku Dash!

[Nuku Nuku] Series: I'm a sucker for anime where cute girls have ear things sticking out, all cat-like. Well, this is one of the prototypical cat-ear-girl series, involving an android with cat elements (due to her feline brain) and her involvement both with the evil Mishima company (her birthplace) and the family that harbors her. I'll spare you the specifics, but realize that there are at least 3 different anime series based upon the original manga (and each other), and some play it straight while others are silly. I'm currently partial to the more serious [All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku Dash!], which I've seen half of so far. In this respect Netflix sucks, because they've only bought half of each of the Nuku Nuku series, thus not allowing for the full experience (i.e. the resolution to the plot). Eventually I'll find out what happens, but I enjoyed what I've seen so far. Juvenile, with enough for older folk to appreciate occasionally.

Crazy Lips

[Crazy Lips]: Like the title says, it's a crazy movie, but I can't really think of any lip action. Instead, Hirohisa Sasaki (Director) and Hiroshi Takahashi (Writer, also of [Ringu]) have created hands down one of the loosest, rape-filled horror comedies with martial arts at the end. Basically, a brother is missing - did he kill some now headless girls? His sisters and mother try to protect him, but then become involved with a strange psychic. That's when the coerced sex and deranged ceremonies begin. I appreciated the acting and attempts at weirdness, but the movie in no way, shape or form comes together in the explosive end, unless you consider "kill 'em all" a plot structure. Apparently this is first in a series of related films with some of the same actors and characters (like [Chi O Suu Uchuu] a story of alien abduction involving the same insane FBI agents), so I'll report back when I find more.

Ju-Rei The Uncanny

[Ju-Rei: The Uncanny]: As far as I could tell, a made for video horor film in the [Ju-On] school of ghosts and strange chronology. This film is broken down into 10 chapters, with the last presented first, and first last, so you experience the story all [Memento] like. That's a good thing used sparingly, but the main problem is that each section ends the same way (new ghosts kill someone), and the ultimate chain of events doesn't really lead to a shocker in the "Prologue" ending. It's fun if you like piecing things together, and scary if you find ashy folk reaching out at you disturbing, but the only thing I really got out of it was that there was a few cute actresses that all died (sadly), and that many of the shots were way too long and derivative. Your milage may vary, and here's hoping that director Koji Shiraishi will get it right in the future - go here for info on the prequel already in the can (2003) - [Ju-Rei: The Uncanny] from 2004 is actually a sequel.

More Netflix pix to come in a few weeks.


12.14.2004 - [Joypop: Satisfaction For All Action] Hide
JoyPop for J-News

One of the pleasures of creating a website is to be contacted by like minded individuals. Today I heard from Bobby O. of Joypop, who's daily blog is in some ways very similar to this junk.log. For example, he has a great interview with Yumiko Kayukawa, my obsession of the month, which you should read this instant. Furthermore, its current form started in September just as junk.log did, so I guess we're both on the same wavelength.

In any case, you should definitely check him out, using your browser or favorite syndication like RSS (JM is envious!). Art, music, movies, toys, cute things - it's all in there.


12.13.2004 - [The Pillows: Restful for the Stressful] Hide
The Pillows cause [Good Dreams]

It is a complete and utter shame that I haven't covered The Pillows until now. They're one of my fast faves and all-time-finds, that I originally discovered due to the FLCL anime soundtrack. Since then, I've tracked down practically all of the albums they have in print (with much more no longer available), which is a heaping handful of goodness. [Good Dreams], their latest release, is more of the same excellence, super tuneful and smooth with amazing guitar work and Japanese vocalization.

Celebrating their 15 year anniversary right about now, Sawao Yamanaka (Vocals and Guitar), Yoshiaki Manabe (Guitar) and Shinichiro Sato (Drums) are an incredibly tight trio wearing their Western Influences on one sleeve, and their Japanese strengths on the other. Plus, you have either pants leg all shaking to and fro, due to their power sonics and vibratory bliss. That's a whole body of clothing all rocking out.

The Pillows sleep easily

The FLCL Soundtracks act as a great best-of album; you'll find those songs all over their King Records releases. Otherwise, let me just say that The Pillows sound like a cross between Tamio Okuda (lyricism), and the love children of Blankey Jet City and Judy and Mary (surfy garage meets outro pop). That's a rough way to say that they're all kinds of great mashed together into a package that's soft and supple yet perfectly ready for a fight. JM Best Bet all over the place, and expect a full J-Pop page for them shortly.


12.13.2004 - [Utada DVD Super English Friendly] Hide
Utada [Easy Breezy] DVD

Just a quick note to confirm what wasn't clear to me when I ordered it two months ago - Utada's [Easy Breezy] DVD, 10 minutes including a promotional video making of mini-doc - is completely and entirely in English. It has Japanese subtitles for those who want them, but both the video and behind the scenes footage are clearly made by the US market, for the US market. Plus, the DVD is all region NTSC, and therefore playable all over the world, and not just in Japan. Therefore, it's strange that such a DVD isn't available in the US, since that's the market she's really trying to conquer.

Of course, hardly anyone in the US is willing to pay around $15 for a 10 minute DVD, but it would make a terrific CD pack-in or otherwise free promotional gift. Perhaps when Utada hits the States big (in between my other dreams) more of this kind of thing will actually see the US market. Until then, true fans with disposable content should import this little baby for some crystal-clear MPEG-2 fun. That's UIBL-5001, 10.6.2004, 1429 yen.


12.9.2004 - [Stuff, Things and Junk: A Roundup] Hide
[Last Exile] Wa Subarashi Da

I've said it before and I'll say it again: [Last Exile] is one of the best anime series ever. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find the final DVD volume, [Sealed Move] on the shelves 5 days early at my local Best Buy. No waiting for the usual Tuesday release date, now I can enjoy it tomorrow and find out how things turn out. The world is like that sometimes - little treats when you least expect it. A shout out to nameless stock persons with a penchant for freeing the new anime.

After picking up that and the [Matrix] box set (I'll enjoy the good parts and ignore the sucky bits), I went right to see [Motorcycle Diaries] with one of my best friends. It was a fine movie indeed, and well worth not getting home until midnight.

Thus, I had a long day, with no opportunity to add to my junk.log until now, albeit briefly. Expect me to make up for it over the next 48 hours or so - apologies to the 3 people or so who read this regularly.


12.8.2004 - [Yuki Sweet Yuki: You Shine, Be Mine] Hide
Oh Yeah, Yuki!

I love Yuki. There, I've said it, and now my fandom is complete. She was the laser beam shining from Judy and Mary's raygun, may they rest in peace. Out of their ashes, she messed around with Chara and Co. for a while in Mean Machine (who's album is recommended for all sentient beings), and then started here amazing solo career, with [Prismic] in 2002, [Commune] in 2003, and a whole lot of singles before and after. Thus, even after JAM, I've been in Yuki heaven.

The only area that I've been deficient is in accumulating her singles, usually waiting for the inevitable albums instead (since in Japan albums are often singles collections). That's a shame, because I've been missing out on some limited releases and B-sides of merit. So, I've been making up for it lately, and recently acquired her last two singles, [Home Sweet Home] (ESCL-2583, 8.18.04), and [Harogubai] ("Hello Goodbye", ESCL-2601, 11.10.2004).

Oh Yeah, Yuki!

[Home Sweet Home] is a a sweet ballad for the [Naruto] anime (I think the movie). I don't care for that phenomenon, but Yuki does well considering. [AIR WAVE], the B-side, is a country-fied ditty which I prefer, sounding more like a slight evolution of the Yuki I know. Please note that it's an Andy Sturmer song, which makes it sound very Puffy. If you like that sort of thing, then definitely check it out.

Oh Yeah, Yuki!

[Harogubai] is much more my style, starting out all twinkly stars then quickly becoming Sgt. Pepper meets NiNa. In other words, it's special sounding and deserving of hit status - I like it tons. [Soar] (translated title) is so synth-tastic that you have to show respect. It's perky and perfect for riding down the highway - you have to dig the folded out cover with Yuki riding a Segway transporter, along with a bird on her head. There's even pseudo-rap in the middle, which brings it to full brilliance. This is what Tommy Februrary6 dreams of sounding like.

It's a foregone conclusion that an album is due relatively soon, but I haven't heard about it yet. What I have just ordered are two DVDs coming our way in 2005, a Promotional Video collection called [Yuki Video] on 3.2.2005, not to mention a live DVD [Sweet Home Rock 'n Roll Tour] on the same date (Zepp Tokyo concert filmed on 9.2004). There's also a single called [Joy] (ESCL-2618, 1.19.2005) which may also be swell.

In short, you must respect and represent Yuki, because she's made the stars shine and clouds move for many a year now. For more info, check out my Judy and Mary shrine which is Yuki heavy.


12.7.2004 - [Slam Dancing To The Acoustic Bomb] Hide

Part 12 of 12: Very, Very, Short Stories

In my nightly journal, I often write short plots, trying out ideas for potential future stories. This is the final one that I'm willing to share (at least for a while), and it's about killer music.

* * * * * * * * * *

A musician creates a song that will kill others when played (and listened to). He created it using ear filters that cut out some of the sound, thus saving his life.

His goal is to sell it to the recording studios, as the ultimate countermeasure to piracy. They can name the file as they see fit, and then put it on peer to peer networking systems - people will try to play Shakira or something, and instead will drop dead.

Another scenario is that the artist who created the deadly music intends to perform it at the end of a concert, thus killing the audience. Perhaps it's a huge stadium concert, or maybe it's a small club with all of his friends/targets.

Perhaps you have to hear the song in its entirety for it to kill you. Thus, certain snippets won't do anything - it's the whole sequential effect that does it, with the last bit being the actual trigger pull (or wick lighting, whatever).

Perhaps the song gets out (someone records it, he sells it), and it's used as a general purpose weapon. (1). The song could be long and meandering, meaning that only certain persons will listen to the end. Or, it could be a really catchy pop song that everyone will take a listen to.

DJ's could play it at clubs in spite - or if there's a remix or sample, then nothing will happen.

Perhaps the song doesn't effect the brain of the listener, but it effects the fabric of space time in the acoustical space that it's played. Thus, if you're listening with headphones on, it effects the space in your ears. If you're listening in a large room, then the whole room becomes deadly. Some sort of resonance that tears apart certain important internal bits of humans and some other animals. A directed Acoustic Bomb, so to speak.

The government could try to get this song technology, and truly weaponize it by making the duration as compressed as possible. If you make 180 seconds 1.8 seconds, then is the effect changed? The conceit is that the song has the internal watermark or structure that's the ideal way to create this effect. Trying to make a shorter one without some special method won't work, or may backfire.

Thus, the plot is, when this sort of massive weapon is unleashed, with the extra added element that it needs to be deployed over time (and can be disarmed at any time by simply stopping the music before the 3 minute mark), then how will the world be effected. Joining death with the joy that music brings.... raises many interesting questions.


(1) I'm realizing now that this is like the Monty Python sketch with the killer joke. Oh well, wear your influences on your sleeves...


12.6.2004 - [Barnabys, Hardly Working] Hide
Barnabys Rock Rocks

I'm a big fan of the anime [Mezzo], due in no small part to the explosive beginning and ending themes by Barnabys. Shoko (Guitar and Vocals), Ai (Bass and Vocals) and Miyoko (Drums and Chorus) are a power trio that are awfully cute yet take no fuckin' prisoners. I was so impressed by their sound that I tracked down their two CD releases, a [Mezzo X Barnabys] single that contains the songs I heard, along with a [5 Songs] mini-album that adds on three extra-killer tracks.

The Girls Are All Right

Barnabys are tuneful yet fairly abrasive, with tight instrumentals and sing-along growl crooning by Shoko. I'm particularly partial to [in the galaxy] from [5 songs], which transcends multiple moods, and is guaranteed to get you moving by the ending rave-up. It surpasses most mid-90s indy rock from America's tuneland, grafting on a Japanese twist with punk sensibilities that's sure to please.

I also find [Sukimami Maitai], the [Mezzo] intro, to be way past catchy, with the sound a speeding car makes when it crashes into band practice in a garage. Fast and furious, with shards of brilliance poking through the rubble.

Super Cute in Japanese

It's completely incidental that the band is all female, because they rock the pants off of most boy outfits so extremely. That said, I adore skillful women musicians, so there's really nothing at all wrong with this picture. Here's hoping that they release a full album soon.






12.2.2004 - [Salyu Sounds Like Light Looks] Hide
Salyu Has The Voice

I've been going on and on lately about the works of Shunji Iwai, namely [Hana & Alice] and [All About Lily Chou-Chou]. One of the best points of the latter film was the soundtrack, filled with the atmospheric stylings of "Lily Chou-Chou". In actuality, Salyu was the voice in question, and she's now my new favorite chanteuse.

The soundtrack album by "Lily Chou-Chou" is 39 minutes of heaven, bringing the best of UA and Bjork to bear. It's extremely languid and ethereal, written and arranged by Takeshi Kobayashi, but enlivened by Salyu's remarkable essence. It's both melancholic and invigorating, and a testament to how deep Iwai-san's vision went. The most important part of his movie was that the music had to be a transcentental force bringing together disparate souls, and amazingly this album does just that. Check out Lily's "home page" for the full extent of the beautiful fiction.

Salyu Has The Voice

Of course, Salyu is her own real-live woman, existing as a performer beyond the mask of Lily. This year has seen her releasing 3 maxi singles, the first [VALON] with Ilmari. [VALON] is basically 2/3 Salyu with bookending raps by Ilmari, and her voice cuts through the crap of the world, so silky smooth and pillow fluffy, yet with a comfortable edge. I recommend this for Salyu fans more than anything else, and the included remix is surprisingly unique.

Salyu Has The Voice

Her first solo maxi single is [VALON-1], a variant of her earlier collaboration, only with maximum Salyu amazingness. The second track, [Niji No Saki] (I hope that's the right romanization, the title involves rainbows), is just as great, with a nice melange of organ, guitar and "beat". I highly recommend this single as a cheap place to start the Salyu experience.

Salyu Has The Voice

[Dialogue], her most recent single, is a bit more forceful in its slow and steady attack, and has a catchy chorus suitable for most any sonic occasion (as long as you don't mind Japanese, which is her language d'art). I really like this song, and hope it catches on with the public at large. [Hikari No Taba] (who's title evokes a bouquet of light) is slower and guitar stitched, with pleasant backing overdubs and the sort of feeling that staring at clouds while hiking could potentially provoke. I also find it quite swell, making this maxi-single another best bet.

[All About Lily Chou-Chou] Soundtrack

Finally, I thought I would mention the other non-Salyu [All About Lily Chou-Chou] Soundtrack, which is a heaping handful of classical piano music, with some choral and instrumental effects, inspired by and including Claude Debussy, with a fair amount of Takashi Kobayashi for good measure. If you like that sort of stuff, then [Arabesque] is recommended - it evokes the movie while still standing on its own two feet, in a low-key relaxing way.



12.1.2004 - [Yumiko Kayukawa Swings Starward] Hide
Yumiko Kayukawa [Swing/Buranko]

Recently I had the huge pleasure of discovering the artwork of Yumiko Kayukawa. Celebrated in Japan as well as abroad, she has spent the past few years of her free time creating amazing, energetic works with a pop-Japanese style (which some people call "Anime", but that doesn't exactly fit) combining versions of an iconic sweet/sexy woman (perhaps a self portrait?) with Kana and Kanji. Each work revolves around a concept that's literally spelled out, and there's a playfulness and kawaii feeling that's hard to resist.

My favorite of her latest series is pictured, entitled [Swing/Buranko]. All of her amazing work quickly sells out after it's shown, and right now she just finished a show in Minneapolis at the Ox-Op. I contacted them because I'm itching to own some of her work, but I was discouraged by the pricing - moderate as art is concerned, but out of my current financial league. Yes, her work is worth between $1000 and $2000 US, but I can't quite afford that right now. So, I dream of her ubiquitous painted lady, and start saving for future acquisition. Make sure to go to her website and check out the greatness, and also the Shooting Gallery SF to see pictures of her last show there. If you search, you can also find inexpensive posters and prints of her work.


12.1.2004 - [Contest Results: Exciteness!] Hide contest

After receiving a few entries for my Amazon & Charity and Utada [Exodus] contests, I had the honor of selecting the winners.

Stuart Kazanow of the US won the Amazon & Charity contest, and will be able to split $100 between a gift certificate and charity donation.

Franklin Bird of the US won a copy of the Japanese release of Hikaru Utada's [Exodus].

Both will be contacted shortly to make prize arrangements. The next contest will be announced here, once I figure out what it is.



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