Evangelion designer’s illustration of virtual idol/vocaloid Hatsune Miku released as a cool new figurine

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

Virtual idol or not, there’s no denying that Hatsune Miku is a bona fide star in the Japanese music scene. But while human vocalists might have professional photographers eager to take their pictures for a glossy photo spread, the equivalent for Vocaloids like Miku is being drawn or redesigned by famous artists of the anime and video game world.

Last year we saw Miku as reimagined in CG by Final Fantasy’s Tetsuya Nomura, and now the world’s most popular computer-generated songstress is being given a new physical form as a figure based on a redesign by the character designer of seminal anime hit Evangelion.

While Yoshiyuki Sadamoto is best known for creating the look of Shinji, Rei, Asuka, and the rest of the Eva cast, he’s got a number of other impressive designs on his resume. Sadamoto’s history with animation studio Gainax stretches back to long before the company produced Evangelion, as he was also the character designer for Gainax’s professional debut work, The Wings of Honneamise, as well as Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, the studio’s first television series.

Gainax isn’t the sole beneficiary of Sadamoto’s talents, either. In recent years, he’s provided designs for several of director Mamoru Hosoda’s animated films, including Summer Wars and Wolf Children. Sadamoto also collaborated with sound producer Mitchie M by providing the cover illustration to 2013 Greatest Idol, an album created by Mitchie M using Hatsune Miku’s Vocaloid program.

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Given how many fans Miku and Sadamoto have separately, Japanese anime merchandiser Good Smile Company figures there should be plenty of people intrigued by their team-up, and so recently unveiled this 1:8 scale figure of the Sadamoto-designed Miku.

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Standing roughly 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) tall, Good Smile Company has done an excellent job bringing Sadamoto’s characteristically slender limbs and angular jaw line into three-dimensional space.

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The Hatsune Miku Greatest Idol Ver. figure, as the piece is officially called, goes on sale in May, but Good Smile Company is taking preorders through its website here between now and September 30.

For those who purchase early, 12,000 yen (US$100) gets you not only the figure, but also a 420 by 297 millimeter (16.5 by 11.7 inch) tapestry of the original Sadamoto Miku illustration.

Japan’s newest idol group, KBG84, hails from Okinawa, has an average age of 84

KBG84

RocketNews 24:

Japan’s idol world is quite…expansive, for lack of a better word. Even with the wide variety of groups running around, it can be hard to really tell them apart–though we have to say there was no mistaking Osaka’s Obachaaan for any other group. In fact, the “old lady” idol group is still going strong–perhaps thanks in part to the dearth of elderly competition. But it looks like Obachaaa and AKB48 are about to face some new rivals: KBG84, Okinawa’s own geriatric idol group!

KBG84, the newest idol group making headlines, is commonly described as “Japan’s idol group closest to heaven,” which seems like a cruel way to say they’re all super-old. Though we like to imagine that it’s actually a reference to the fact that they live on an island paradise!

View image on Twitter

That said, the group’s members certainly aren’t young–in fact, you apparently have to be 80 years old or older to join and the average age is 84! And if you think that’s nuts, the central figures of the group are Miki Hanashiro, who is a mere 90 years old, and Tomi Menaka, who is 91. Say what you will about idol groups, but if we make it to 90, you can believe we’d rather be in an idol group than sitting around watching daytime TV. If you’re champing at the bit to get into the group, though, they will let people in their 70s or younger in as trainees, but you’ll likely face some competition: the group already has roughly 40 members!

As for the group’s name, the “K” is for Kohamajima, the “B” is for oBachan (old ladies), and the “G” is for “Gasshodan,” or “choir.” And, of course, the 84 is for their average age. We’re not sure if that means they’ll be adjusting the name of the group every year or not, but it’s good enough for now!

▼Kohamajima, part of the Yaeyama Islands

kohama

And, yes, this is an active idol group–in fact, they’re a “dance and vocal” unit, though we somewhat suspect that their dancing isn’t quite as energetic as some other idol groups. They recently recorded their first track, titled “Come and Dance Kohamajima,” and it has a planned release date for sometime around June. The group has also apparently filmed a music video which featured Menaka standing and dancing–which in most other contexts might not seem impressive, but definitely is here! There are even plans for KBG84 to come to Tokyo where they will perform a show at Shinagawa Prince Hotel’s Club eX towards the end of June.

Can’t wait for Utada Hikaru’s new music? Reminisce with these 5 songs

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Audrey Magazine/Team-Yellow:

Let’s hear it for our former boss, J-Pop singer Utada Hikaru! Unlike most J-Pop idols, Utada Hikaru is well-known for writing and producing all her music, a feat that has paid off with the 52 million albums she’s sold. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jpop, you may recognize Utada Hikaru for her Kingdom Hearts songs “Simple and Clean” and “Sanctuary.”

Although she was considered one of the most influential Japanese artists of the 2000s, Utada Hikaru announced she was going on hiatus in 2010 for personal reasons. She added that the hiatus shouldn’t last more than five years.

Now it’s 2015. Although she stepped out of the limelight, rumblings from her personal life have made it’s way to the public. Some of the news, such as her marriage, were good. Other news, such as her mother’s death, were tragic. All the while, fans made it clear that they missed her. A tribute album was released in Japan featuring artists such as Sheena Ringo and Ayumi Hamasaki.

But recent news has hinted that the wait may finally be over. Utada Hikaru has announced via twitter that she is working on a new song with the working title “Sasshire Cappucino.” Is it the end of her hiatus? No one is sure yet. But new music from Utada Hikaru is welcome and we here at Audrey thought it would be great to reminisce on five of her greatest songs while waiting for “Sasshire Cappucino.” Ranked in no particular order, here they are:


1. First Love

Released as her third single in 1999, “First Love” was written and composed by Utada Hikaru at the tender age of sixteen. This is especially surprising considering the first lines of the song translate to “our last kiss, taste like a cigarette.” Despite this edgy opener, “First Love” is primarily a song of heartbreak, with a chorus that is both wistful and devastated. Who wouldn’t cry when she sings “I’ll remember to love, you taught me how.”

 


2. Passion

Primarily known as the Japanese version to the second Kingdom Hearts opening theme, “Passion” is a beast on it’s own. The closest English equivalent would be an Enya song, but that doesn’t even fully capture this ethereal rock-ballad with the soaring background vocals. There’s also quite a few english lyrics sung backwards in the chorus. Can you find them?

 


3. FINAL DISTANCE

A ballad re-arrangement of her song “Distance,” Utada Hikaru reworked the song after she heard that the 6-year-old victim of a school stabbing, Rena Yamashita, was a fan of hers. It’s hard to do a slow, mostly-piano driven ballad without boring the listener, but “FINAL DISTANCE” always seems to evoke tears.

 


4. Kiss & Cry

Speaking of working song titles, Utada Hikaru once revealed the working title of “Kiss & Cry” was called “Dancing Leah” after the Filipina American model Leah Dizon. While “Kiss & Cry” certainly has a danceable beat, it’s not exactly club material. But then again, as long as “Kiss & Cry” is playing, we are down for anything.

 

 


5. Flavor of Life (Ballad Version)

Lastly there is “Flavor of Life (Ballad Version),” which many know as the theme song to Hana Yori Dango 2 (Boys over Flowers 2). Equally heartbreaking and catchy, “Flavor of Life” is undeniably one of Utada Hikaru’s biggest hits. In Japan alone, it sold 700,000 physical copies and 7.7 digital downloads in the year of 2007. Yeah, it’s huge and we can understand why.

 

 


 

BONUS: Sakura Nagashi

We’re cheating with this one, but this song, which was released in 2011 (after the the hiatus) for the Neon Genesis Evangelion movie, is simply exquisite. Bring on your new material when you are ready, Hikki-chan!

 

Cross-dressing cosplay idol group a huge hit in China

RocketNews 24:

In Asia, female idol groups are a dime a dozen. These days it seems like anyone with a pretty face can throw on a skirt, get up on stage and call themselves the next Kara Generation 48.

That’s why we’re always happy when unique acts like Chinese idol unit Alice Weiniang Group are able to make it into the spotlight. You see, in addition to having style and looks, the members of Alice Weiniang Group have something no other Asian idol girl group does: a penis.

That’s right, every member of the 200-strong idol team is male. Weiniang literally means “fake lady,” or cross-dresser, so we might better refer to them as “Alice Cross-Dresser Group.”

The group was formed in October 2009 and is based in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei in central China.

The idea for an all-male cross-dressing idol group came to the founders, a group of college students in a Japanese anime club, when they were stuck having to perform a mixed-gender cosplay show at an anime convention while female members happened to be away. Several of the male members decided to play the females roles on stage and, to their surprise, the costumes were a huge hit with the crowd.

After that, they began organizing cross-dressing cosplay shows for money. While there were only about 20 members at the time of the group’s founding, their ranks have swelled to 200 over the past three years and now they even have their own choreography, make-up, stage and photography team.

Most members are college students, but there are also a few working adults in the mix. In order to be admitted to the group, you must have a feminine face and long, slender legs, so it’s natural that most the guys are in their late-teens or early-twenties.

Alice now has a sizable Chinese fanbase and are frequently asked to perform at anime, comic and game conventions and cosplay festivals. Several of the boys have made modeling debuts and one of the most popular members, 20-year-old Haoge, is said to have nearly 14,000 followers on Chinese Twitter-like service, Sina Weibo.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive reception they’ve received over the past few years, those with more conservative opinions criticize the group of being “morally corrupt” and “a danger to Chinese boys.”

However, the members of Alice stand their ground, saying:“There are some people in their 20s who
still leech off their parents, and there are some who are not only financially independent, but support their parents as well. We are the latter group.”

 

▼ Reminder: all the people pictured below are male

▼ The popular Ms. Haoge

▼ Rehearsal

 

Virtual idol Hatsune Miku on David Letterman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA5pIpdQEr0

Kotaku:

Last week, virtual idol Hatsune Miku appeared on the Late Show with The David Letterman and blew the roof off the dump.

Miku performed “Sharing the World,” and the crowd really seemed into it. Dave seemed slightly perplexed.

Virtual Idol Hatsune Miku Dazzled on David Letterman

Deal with it, headbangers… Babymetal is here.

Babymetal perform during the first day of the 2014 Heavy Montreal festival.

Babymetal perform during the first day of the 2014 Heavy Montreal festival.

NPR:

On Saturday, Aug. 9, more than 40,000 people descended upon Montreal‘s Parc Jean-Drapeau for the first day of Heavy Montreal, North America’s biggest heavy metal festival. The main draw was headliner Metallica; respected veterans in Anthrax, Voivod and Overkill; and upstarts like Municipal Waste and Protest the Hero featured on the eclectic undercard. Early in the day though, it was a performance by a trio who performed a confounding, surreal fusion of bubbly Japanese pop and edgy heavy metal that attracted the crowd’s attention.

The metal scene loves to wring its hands over anything that upsets the status quo, and Babymetal have been especially polarizing in 2014. After all, co-opting metal music and juxtaposing it with J-pop melodies and Japanese “idol” fashion, choreography, and marketing will do that. The cries of foul have been predictable, skeptics up in arms about the act’s seeming lack of sincerity, its “corporate” approach, its prefab quality. It’s a common complaint in an era when the mainstream side of heavy metal is stuck between the nostalgic and the milquetoast. The best-selling metal acts of the past 12 months are a hodgepodge of old-school heroes (Black Sabbath), late-’90s holdovers (Korn, Godsmack), younger bands that pander to the lowest common denominator (Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch) and the odd mild bright spot (Volbeat). It’s as if post-millennial mainstream metal doesn’t know where to go next. There’s little galvanizing the entire metal scene anymore: The older metal crowd has its favorites, the kids have theirs, the underground carries on and never the twain shall meet. The fact that the sudden notoriety of this shrewdly marketed trio of teenaged Japanese singers has brought people together in a combination of excitement, confusion and revulsion is not a bad thing at all.

What Babymetal’s naysayers tend to forget is that heavy metal is no stranger to contrivance and gimmickry. Some of the most popular heavy metal albums ever released were awfully contrived, whether the carefully honed sleaze of Mötley Crüe’s Shout at the Devil and Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction, Metallica’s made-for-the-masses Black Album and Def Leppard’s similarly intended Pyromania, or the calculated cathartic sounds of Pantera’sVulgar Display of Power and Korn’s Follow the Leader. Even today’s extreme metal is laden with gimmicks; just look at the cartoonish Satanism of Watain and the Viking shtick of Amon Amarth. Heavy metal is as much about contrivance as it is about substance, and often its best bands have been able to skillfully combine the two. What makes metal so uniquely charming is that the bands and their audiences buy into those contrivances and gimmicks fully, without irony.

Babymetal doesn’t hide its contrivances at all. A product of the Japanese pop idol stable Sakura Gakuin and the vision of producer and longtime metal fan Key “Kobametal” Kobayashi, the project embraces metal’s most enduring and endearing tenets — fantasy, escapism, theatrics, bombast and sheer volume — and that solid, skillfully played metal foundation cleverly grounds a wildly eclectic sound that incorporates elements from trance to synth-pop, to dubstep, to reggae, to J-pop at its most manic and overtly “cute.” It’s also brilliantly self-referential, the group’s manga-style fantasy storyline involving some wonderful parodies of metal’s “Big Four” of Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth. Speaking toMetal Hammer magazine, Kobayashi eloquently explained the method to his madness:

 

As a longtime metal fan, I always used to say ‘That’s not real metal so I’m not listening to it!’ I’m a metal purist too, to be honest. But I realized that the scene isn’t really getting any bigger. All the old-school metal bands are still around and there’s still a fanbase, but it’s all getting smaller. So to bring Japanese metal around the world, it has to be something different and original. It’s like sushi! Sushi came from Japan and people had never eaten it before, and now everyone eats sushi all over the world.

 

A good number of those people singing Babymetal’s praises are old enough to remember when heavy metal was contrived and awesome because of it. Jeff Walker of death metal legends Carcass has been effusive in his praise, and Metallica are reportedly fans. In the metal media, veteran writers like Metal Hammer‘s Dom Lawson, Metal Rules‘ JP Wood and Metalsucks‘ Vince Neilstein have all gotten on board. Not all old-schoolers have gravitated to the squeaky voices of 16 year-old Su-Metal and 15 year-olds Moametal, and Yuimetal, but those who have recognize that undeniable element of fun that somehow has become lost over the years in a sea of equally contrived darkness, hostility and antisocial sentiment. The bearded dude in the patch vest might not want to admit it, but in metal, it’s okay to smile once in a while.

The broad appeal of Babymetal’s stylistic free-for-all to younger audiences is key. Having never known a world without the Internet, where every form of music is easily accessible in seconds, the millennial generation doesn’t give a damn about genre boundaries whatsoever, and that ultimately could fuel metal’s next sea change. With much of the genre recycling formulas, clichés, and tropes in ouroboros-like fashion, metal is poised to head in two opposite directions at once, splitting between becoming a strictly traditionalist genre, or completely embracing non-traditional styles of music and instrumentation. The latter is happening more and more, above ground and below: Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu incorporates krautrock elements into its black metal sound. Tristan Shone’s Author & Punisher creates otherworldly industrial metal using his clever inventions. Deafheaven scored a crossover hit in 2014 by meshing searing black metal with contemplative shoegaze. Enter Shikari has attracted a large youth audience with its blend of metalcore and electronic music.

The traditional side of metal, whose myriad subgenres are separated by strict limitations, will always flourish, but metal’s future evolution lies beyond those self-imposed walls. While Babymetal’s shelf life remains to be seen — their swift success is also an apt reflection of contemporary pop music’s highly ephemeral quality — its emblematic of a mindset in metal that will only become more common in the years to come. This is only the beginning.

Many in the big crowd that Saturday afternoon in Montreal were mostly curious about what Babymetal would be like, how this music could be pulled off live. The feeling of uncertainty was palpable as the backing band, clad in robes and kabuki-style facepaint, strode onstage, followed by the three pixie singers. Clad in matching schoolgirl/warrior outfits that serve as an apt visual representation of that J-pop/metal hybrid, the trio’s playful yet badass choreography felt awkward initially. Like any band that emphasizes the more theatrical side of the music, it’s best experienced in a setting more controlled than an open-air festival. Plus there were a couple technical glitches, and poor Yuimetal was smacked when Su-Metal’s thrown fox mask boomeranged into her face, but the three young women didn’t miss a beat, remaining in character while the crack supporting musicians played some scorching music accentuated by backing tracks.

Before long the band and singers, the music and choreography, started to coalesce, and the crowd had bought into the gimmick of it all, jumping, raising fists, singing along to hit singles “Megitsune” and “Gimme Chocolate!!” In an inspired tongue-in-cheek moment, an accompanying video implored the mosh pit to stage a “wall of death“, stating wryly, “If you show true courage, we will show true metal.”

The crowd divided in two, the mellow intro to “Ijime, Dame, Zettai” started, and as soon as the speed metal riffs kicked in, both sides of the crowd sprinted into each other, bodies flying, thrashing, dancing. Only unlike a Lamb of God or Slipknot show, the aggression wasn’t negative, but a reflection of pure joy. Everyone had a smile on his or her face as a fire hose shot plumes of water high in the air, cooling off the euphoric throng.

We are!” shouted the girls.

BABYMETAL!” replied the crowd in unison.

We are!

BABYMETAL!

Link

Members of Japanese pop-idol group AKB48 attacked by saw-wielding “fan” at meet-and-greet event

 

RocketNews24/Asahi Shimbun:

 

At 4:55 p.m. today, the company behind many of Japan’s larger idol groups, AKS, released a statement regarding an attack on members of AKB48 and event staff during a handshake event in Iwate Prefecture this afternoon.

Members Rina Kawaei (19) and Anna Iriyama (18), as well as a male member of the venue staff, are said to have been injured, with a 24-year-old male taken into police custody.

 

The incident took place at one of the group’s many meet-and-greet, or “handshake events,” this time being held at Takizawa City, Iwate Prefecture. According to reports, a 24-year-old man was waiting in the line to meet the girls when he suddenly pulled out a serrated blade and started slashing at the young idols.

Management company AKS released this statement on the AKB48 website, blog, and other sources.

 

“Today, Takizawa, Iwate: At a handshake meeting in Iwate Sangyo Bunka Centre Apio for the 33rd Single Electric Heart and 35th Single Mae Shika Mukanee, AKB48 members Anna Iriyama and Rina Kawaei along with one member of the organizers’ staff were attacked by a blade-wielding fan. They suffered injuries to their hands. 
Currently, Iriyama, Kawaei and the staff member are being treated in hospital.
None are in a life-threatening condition.
We deeply apologize for any concern this may have caused to fans. As soon as Iriyama, Kawaei, and the staff member’s conditions are known in more detail we will report again.”
(AKS)

 

AKB fans have taken to the various news sources’ comments sections demanding to know the name of the assailant, which is currently being withheld. Police have only said the man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Other fans were also keen to learn the name of the male staff member who was injured in the incident, assuming that he was wounded when trying to help the girls.

Still details are highly sketchy at the moment and we’ll report more as it becomes clear.

 

Check out this link:

 

Members of Japanese pop-idol group AKB48 attacked by saw-wielding “fan” at meet-and-greet event

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