Monday, 12 August 2013

Morning Musume is amazing! / モーニング娘。最高!

Everyone who knows me knows that I've been fangirling Morning Musume since I first discovered them in early 2006, when I was 15. One of the special traits of MoMusu that spoke to me was that they changed members regularly. Old members would graduate and new members would win auditions and gain their place. This created a steady flow of new faces bringing something new to the group, meaning the group would never be boring. The concept of releasing lots of singles before the actual album was also new to me, since Western groups mostly release an album and then singles to promote said album. This was the other way around completely and I loved that it was new and fresh - to me. There was also no knowing of how the next single would sound as singles changed genre and beat with every new release. The videos were just as intriguing as the music since each video would sport a new dance, a new member in centre, and new costumes. I loved it. I still do. Morning Musume started in 1997 and then new members would arrive in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007, while old ones graduated. But between 2007 and 2011 no new members were added and during this time hardly anyone graduated making the permanent group to Takahashi Ai, Niigaki Risa, Kamei Eri, Michishige Sayumi, Tanaka Reina, Kusumi Koharu, Mitsui Aika, Junjun and Linlin. In 2010 an audition for new members was announced and I was so excited to see new members arrive. Since 2011 9th, 10th and 11th generations have been added and writing this all from the previously known group but Michishige have graduated. But I was right to be excited. The new additions have rejuvenated MoMusu and I love their new sound. I have an almost constant medley of their three latest singles in my head.

So let me share the rejuvenated MoMusu with you.

Maji desu ka ska!

First single: 9th gen - Fukumura Mizuki, Ikuta Erina, Sayashi Riho, Suzuki Kanon
I loved this single. Mostly because it reminded me somewhat of "Koko ni Iruzee!", an old single from 2002, and because it was a nice change from the previously sort of sad, slow and adult songs MoMusu would sing. It was young, new, fresh, and happy. 

Only You

I hated this single to begin with, but now I like it a lot. To begin with I didn't approve of the sudden changes in beat and style within the song and I thought that this song would lead the way back to the sad and slow adult songs from previous MoMusu. However as I started to understand the lyrics I began to like it more and more, being the lyricholic that I am :)

Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatteirun da yo! / Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai!

Last single: 5th gen - Takahashi Ai (2001-2011)
I was so busy loving "Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai" that I somewhat forgot about "Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatteirun da yo!", but the second song is more appealing than the first. And I didn't like that they made one long video for both songs rather than two separate videos. But I can live with that. The only thing that strikes me really hard is just how beautiful Michishige is in the first video. 

Pyocopyoco Ultra

First single: 10th gen - Iikubo Haruna, Ishida Ayumi, Sato Masaki, Kudo Haruka
Hated it from the first view. It's ridiculous. And bad. So so bad. It didn't even grow on me when they used the song as opening for their new TV-drama "Suugaku Joshi Gakuen" and I had to hear it for all 12 episodes. 

Renai Hunter

Last single: 5th gen - Niigaki Risa (2001-2012), 8th gen - Mitsui Aika (2007 - 2012)
Up until recently this was my favourite new song of Morning Musume and I've listened to it so many times that I've memorised the lyrics xD This was the first time dubstep entered a MoMusu single and I wasn't at all sure at first. But now I love it!

One Two Three / The Matenrou Show
I thought "One Two Three" was too much of everything when I first heard it, and still being stuck on "Renai Hunter" I didn't listen to it anymore. "The Matenrou Show" I completely forgot existed until it showed up on their album "12, Smart". But "One Two Three" has grown on me and "The Matenrou Show" isn't bad either.

Wakuteka Take a Chance

Still can't stand this single. The only thing that makes it worth listening to are the somewhat catchy "check it out" and the only thing worth watching is Reina wearing cat ears :3

Help Me!!

First single: 11th gen - Oda Sakura
Sakura-chaaaaaan! Honestly I love this song, the dance, the outfits, the lyrics... Everything is perfect, and Sakura's singing is the major hightlight of the song. She immediately became one of my favourite members, and this song immediately became one of my favourite songs. "Help Me!!" also gained MoMusu a well-deserved #1 in the Oricon top weekly for the first time since 2009, and it sold gold for the first time since 2004. And also: Reina looks amazing!

Brainstorming / Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai
Last single: 6th gen - Tanaka Reina (2003-2013)
"Brainstorming" came along and stole the position of best new song from "Renai Hunter". Can't get enough of it. The beat and the lyrics just make me want to dance, jump and skip around a room. Once again: Sakura-chaaaaaan! "Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai" is almost as catchy as "Brainstorming" and I love it almost as much. This single also ranked #1 in the Oricon top weekly, giving MoMusu two consecutive #1, which hasn't happened since 2001. It also sold gold. Two consecutive gold singles hasn't happened since 2004.

Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke / Ai no Gundan
This single will release on the 28th but as good as these songs are I expect it to be another #1. "Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke" is extremely catchy with its "aisaretai aisaretai" and the trumpet (?) sounds of Ai no Gundan is so goddamn catchy that I can't get either out of my head. 

I'm actually expecting to see MoMusu at Kohaku Uta Gassen this year, which is the New Year show in Japan where all successful musical acts of the year participate. MoMusu have been there 10 times before. And, if I'm not mistaken, it was 10 years in a row. But seeing as they don't seem to come close to selling a million any time soon they will probably never move past their two most known songs: Love Machine and Renai Revolution 21

You need more proof that MoMusu is amazing? How about this quote from Wikipedia:
Morning Musume, sometimes referred to as MoMusu, is one of the most successful Japanese pop idol groups , holding the second highest overall single sales (of a female group) on the Oricon charts as of February 2012, with the Oricon record of most top ten singles with an amount of 50, and they have sold over 18 million copies in Japan alone.
If you bothered to listen to all the songs then you'll notice that some things have changed since "my" first new single: 

And if you wonder about my favourite members they are in generational order (with a link to latest solo song):
  1. Nakazawa Yuko 
  2. Yaguchi Mari
  3. Tsuji Nozomi
  4. Konno Asami
  5. Tanaka Reina
  6. Mitsui Aika
  7. Ikuta Erina
  8. Kudo Haruka
  9. Oda Sakura
I'm not expecting to convert anyone here. But due to the medley in my head I just had to share some MoMusu goodness to the world :3

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Early memories

People are sometimes amazed over my memory and how much I actually remember. In the meantime I'm more amazed over the fact that people don't remember stuff. Cause I can't imagine not remembering. I just do. So one thing I decided to share with you are my earliest memories. Those from the age of around five and younger. How much do you remember from that period of your life? Cause I remember a lot.

These first two I'm not sure about which is the older. The one I think is the oldest I'm not even sure if I have made up or if it's real.

One. It was a day in the beginning of the year. I remember that it was grey, like one of those days when it's not really winter anymore and not yet spring. I think it must be quite recently after my little sister was born, cause before she was born I always thought she'd be a boy. My mum asked me what I thought my little sister should be called and I remember saying Anna or Emma. Mostly because I was too young to be able to think outside of the names of people I knew and I knew two girls named Anna and Emma. I also remember that I didn't like them much xD I'm not sure if this is real, mostly because my mum doesn't remember it at all. But I'm pretty sure about the grey weather and the names Anna and Emma. My sister was born when I was three years old.

Two. A hospital oxygen mask being pressed over my face and making me terrified. If the other one isn't real then this is my earliest memory. What does that make me that my earliest memory is of being scared? I had had a nightmare that gave me croup and Mum and Dad took me to the hospital. By the time the nurse started pulling the mask over my face I could already breathe normally again and she was so rough doing it that she made me terrified. I still remember that nightmare. I still remember that mask. I think I was three or four years old.

For the next three I think I was four or five.

Three. The evening before I had forgotten my mittens at the playground. It was in the middle of winter. When I got out to play the next day I found my mittens. Frozen solid. I had probably taken them off cause they got soaked through from the snow. Now they were frozen solid and I was so sad cause I thought they were ruined. I brought them home while crying. Mum laughed a little and put them in the drying cabinet and I was so happy when they came out of there completely normal.

Four. I had been stung by a bee. (I don't actually remember being stung) I had put my hand on a bee without realising and been stung in the middle of my hand. The sting was still in and my parents left it there cause I hated the tweezers. This memory is my grandmother looking at my hand through a magnifying glass. We were sat in her sofa for tea time, and I was eating biscuits while she examined my hand.

Five. This is also a dream that I remember vividly. I was at my grandmother's place and everything was as it used to be. My little sister and I playing on the floor and at the same time watching Cartoon Network on her TV. I remember my eyelids being impossibly heavy and I was so so tired and I just wanted to sleep. So I went to sleep in my grandmother's bed and that's when I woke up in my own bed. It's not until then that I realised that it had been a dream, cause it had felt so real, and except for the heavy eyelids nothing had been weird about it.

When I was 6 years old and started pre-school my memories started flowing together and forming a life rather than small separate rememberable instances. But except for these five memories I also remember what we used to do at daycare. Where we used to eat, where we used to play, what we used to play, my friends' names, the colouring room and the napping room... I remember all of that and also what the rooms felt like and looked like. It has nothing to do with the fact that I was job practicing there when I was 13. Cause from those days I remember the disappointment I felt at nothing feeling or looking the same as it used to. But after 6 my life became a steady flow of remembered school days and vacations.

I have a sort of eidetic memory, except that it's a little faulty and not absolutely perfect. I'm not like Sheldon. But I find it hard to forget most of the time. My sense of location sucks. I remember what places look like, but I don't remember how to move in between them or how to get to one of those places I remember. I remember all the things that happened to me at school and that's also why I find it hard to forgive - cause I know I won't forget. If I still remember everything we did in daycare - how long do you think it'll be before I forget what happened in school?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Van Helsing, BioShock, Faerie Solitaire, Empire: Total War, Neil Gaiman goodness, and writing

It's summer, I have lots of free time and I'm going through games and books like crazy.

I finished The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing last week. I missed a whole bunch of Achievements cause I didn't explore all the areas thoroughly so I might do another playthrough later. As with Dishonored for which I recieved all the DLCs in a spontaneous gift, so another playthrough of Dishonored may come around soon. The final boss in Van Helsing was interesting. At first I didn't get it. I thought I had to destroy all the towers in order to destroy the boss, but it turned out I just ruined and Achievement and that it would be possible to just kill him as is. I thought the lower blue bar was mana and I had to destroy the towers in order to destroy his mana feed and then depleet his health. Guess I was wrong, but I know that now xD All in all I really liked the game. It was fun and easy to play and Katarina always commented everything in a funny way. Van Helsing has no sense of humour. I like Katarina :3

When I finished Van Helsing I started up the first game of the series in BioShock. I was quite nervous since I'm not good with shooters. I don't move enough and I always forget to reload. But I manage quite well. Right now I'm running around Fort Frolic and it's not until now that I've found the game creepy. All those statues that Sander Cohen makes everywhere, they creep me out. The first one I found was a three-piece in a flooded bathroom with bad blinking lights. Stuff of nightmares.
Especially that one but pretty much all of them have scared me shitless every time I've run into them. Cause I always imagine them moving if I turn around and I don't want to back out of the room cause then there'll probably be a splicer right behind me when I finally turn around and it'll give me another jumpscare. But except for those statues and the occasional jumpscare I don't find the game creepy. I actually like the slightly dark and twisted atmosphere and the 40's music - it's cosy. AND I LOVE THAT ONE VERSION OF BIG DADDY IS CALLED ROSIE!!!! :3 >w<
In the beginning of the game I was also very interested in Dr. Steinman's bloody messages:
You can watch me play some BioShock on my new YouTube channel. First part here. Second part here.

Anyway, I'm still playing BioShock, but it doesn't really work when you're tired so towards the end of the evening I always played some rounds of Faerie Solitaire. I've finished the Adventure mode now and all that's left for me to gain all the Achievements is to complete all the challenges. And I may do that at one point just to collect all the pets :3

Yesterday I only played Empire: Total War all day. It's been a while but I quite enjoyed it and I think I'll be able to win this time around. I'm still playing as the UK, but yesterday I wiped out the US \^o^/ I have pretty much all of the West Coast in North America and I've just moved to start taking over India. I'm gonna be the supreme ruler of all! :D

When it comes to books. I finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane in two days. Although it wasn't very long it still was a book that I found hard to put down. It emitted lots of emotions and the world felt empty and dull once I finished it. Really amazing story. A childhood story. The magical and adventurous childhood that many kids wish they could have - me among them. After I finished the book I moved to the second volume of Sandman. I love that comic. It never ceases to amaze me, which is great. I love how every story is stand-alone, but still has a slight connection to each other. A couple of days ago I finished the comic and moved on to Neverwhere. I've only just finished the prologue and almost the first chapter, but it seems just as interesting, spell-binding and exciting as all other Gaiman books :D Once I've read the book I'll also watch the TV-series.

All this reading got me into writing again and I've been on a roll. I've got lots of things that show up in my head out of nowhere and then I have to somehow fit them into my story. My story is coming along nicely and I'm approaching a turning-point. My goal is to have it finished before this year ends. You think I'll manage?