Archive for December, 2009

Da H!P Bestest of 2009

Might as well make this an annual thing.

Seishun Bus Guide/Rival

Seishun Bus Guide/Rival

Best Group Single:

Berryz Koubou – Seishun Bus Guide / Rival

Bus Guide got the energy and pop. Rival was a pretty simple song, yet unique and really enjoyable to listen to. The combo of the two make this one the best for me.

Best Soloist Single: Matsuura Aya – Chocolate Damashii

Best Group Album: Buono! – Buono! 2

Best Soloist Album: Mano Erina – FRIENDS

Mano, Koha and Aya were the only choices right? Koharu had a best of, so I didn’t count that one. Aya was decent, but nothing really stood out to me. So, Mano gets it.


Best PV: Buono! – MY BOY

Spies infiltrating the building in search of… cake! This one was pretty creative and I really liked it.

Group With Best Overall Releases: Berryz Koubou

Only three releases, but two were double A sides and they were all good.

Best New Group: Zoku v-u-den

When the members of the group were revealed, I was optimistic, even tho I’m not too fond of Risako or Sayumi’s voices. Listening to the Champloo album, this one was my favorite. Seeing them live, it was the best performance of the show. The group worked and I like it and am looking forward to seeing more from them.

Best New Soloist: LinLin

I don’t think there were any this year. Perhaps I can give it to LinLin. Even tho she isn’t a soloist, she caught my attention a bit with her solo on the Champloo album.

Best Established Group: Berryz Koubou

Bias~. Buono! slipped a little bit with Take it Easy! and the other groups didn’t wow me as much. Berryz continues to consistently make me happy.

Best Established Soloist: Kusumi Koharu




Best Photobook:

Tokunaga Chinami – Chinami

Yea Chinami, congrats on your first photobook! Maasa too! There were a bunch of good ones this year, but just one page including Chinami’s smile beats them all, hands down.

Hottest Idol of 2009:

Tokunaga Chinami

She’s not really like “hot,” but anyway. I don’t think I need to explain this one.

Worst Group Single: C-ute – Shochuu Omimai Moushiagemasu

I didn’t like it much at first, but I slowly warmed up to it after seeing it live. Of all the groups tho, I’d still put this one on the bottom.

Worst Soloist Single: Yuki Maeda – Kenchana ~Daijōbu~

Worst PV: MM Gakuen Gasshoubu – Mecha Mote I LOVE YOU

For their debut, this was crap. Anime playback with bits of Ogawa Mana thrown in doing some random stuff.

Worst Vocalist of 2009: Michishige Sayumi

Yowamushi wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the best either. I don’t really mind her voice.

Least Attractive Girl of 2009: Okada Robin Shoko

There’s just something… I don’t know.

It’s Okay, I’m a Wota

It was a little over two years ago, October 2007, that I really started getting into Japanese music. Interestingly at the time, I recall while riding home from a conference in Chicago, making mention that I don’t really listen to music. For the most part, I had never put any effort into it. I mean, I liked music in general, a variety of genres, but never went out of my way to listen to any of it. In those two years however, I’d say it’s become a big part of my life; and even then, perhaps that’s a bit of an understatement, hmm.

It started with me downloading music videos from YouTube. I can’t pinpoint what it is that got me seeking out these videos in the first place. It might have been the anime I had been watching through the summer which had just ended, Tengan Toppa Gurren Laggan. Nakagawa Shouko did the opening, and it’s one of the first songs I grabbed. I’ve mentioned on my site before that I stumbled upon some catchy J-Pop in 2002, but at the time it didn’t stick. This time around however, it really stuck. Berryz Koubou in particular, stuck pretty hard.

I began seeking out blogs that discuss this type of music, which lead me to a couple that focused mostly on Japanese music, but also other topics that pertain to the idol fandom; from there, exploring their blogrolls, I found a great many more to keep my interest. It was fun reading about others’ opinions and experiences with the music, the idols. It motivated me to seek out more and more blogs and artists. It was all new to me and I was glad that there were a lot of resources out there for me to look to.

In early December of 2007 I started buying a bunch of tracks off of iTunes Japan. Angela Aki, Amuro Namie, Berryz Koubou, CHERRY LYDER, Nakagawa Shouko and Tokyo Jihen were some of my first purchases. I enjoyed burning CDs and shuffling them in my car. Simple stuff right, but I really hadn’t done anything like that before. Listening to music was never my thing, but I was having fun with this. In February of 2008 I decided to create my own blog related to Japanese music. While I haven’t been the most interesting, frequent or lengthy writer, I’ve enjoyed doing it.

I continued to build my music library, adding Abe Natsumi, Buono!, Canary Club, C-ute, Goto Maki, Matsuura Aya, Morning Musume, Ongaku Gatas, Shiina Ringo, THE Possible, and more. Tho it wasn’t until Berryz Koubou’s first single last year that I actually bought my first CD. Dschinghis Khan wowed me. Well, Chinami was a big part of that. The video was so fun, the song was catchy, and I just loved it. By this time I was already fascinated with this idol pop genre. Watching concerts, their little variety shows and the like, above and beyond the music, there was so much fun and cuteness to keep me entertained.

Random Chinami Stuff

Random Chinami Stuff

More purchases would follow, including my first bunch of photosets. It was kind of weird buying Berryz Koubou and C-ute’s photos. I mean, what was the point of collecting these photos, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them exactly. When I go them however, I was so happy to just have and look at them. I can’t explain it really. There were never any celebrities or the like that I had any sort of vested interest in before, but these girls grabbed my undivided attention. The photos made me feel connected in some sense. I used to not get the obsession and exuberant interest that other people saw in “celebrities,” but now, I had fallen into it.

Random Berryz Stuff

Random Berryz Stuff

Over the next year and some, my musical interest would continue to grow to other Japanese artists and to this day it is ever expanding. I’d buy a lot more songs and a lot more photos, some photobooks, posters, a bunch of stuff, the music, the culture had become a big part of my daily life. I’ve participated in forums and chat rooms, and have contributed to other blogs in an attempt to help spread the J-Music goodness to the masses. In addition, I’ve started learning Japanese in college and am looking to pursue the language and culture so much more. During my brief time in school thus far, I’ve actually had the opportunity to write a few successful essays and do a couple lengthy presentations on the subject of being a wota. It’s great being able to share not only with those who do know a bit about what it means to be a wota, but also with those who have no idea of the subculture.

This past summer I went to Japan for the first time. I hadn’t planned on doing anything as it pertains to music, but it turned out that there would be something going on at the same time I was there. Champloo was definitely the most fun experience I had ever had at the time.

Berryz Tattoo (Drawing by Chinami :P)

Berryz Tattoo (Drawing by Chinami :P)

When I got back from Japan, I decided to get a tattoo. Well, I had been thinking about it for a while, but with the recent experience, I decided to go through with it. So, I had “Berryz” tattooed on my chest along with a design that Chinami had drawn in the past. It was strategically placed, over my heart. Cheesy, maybe, but it’s a representation of the love I have for Japanese culture, Japanese music and more specifically, Berryz Koubou and how much it all has literally changed my life. It’s hard to express how much it all means to me, try as I might, but even then I feel that words really cannot convey how much I love this stuff.

More recently, towards the end of November, I went to Japan for a few days. For what? Well to see Berryz in concert of course. Or really, it’s because Chinami got a solo, and I wanted to be there to see it. Medachitai!! Another great concert experience. Honestly, the best experience of my life. Sitting front and center, to wave and smile and to have the girls wave and smile back at me, epic.

I Want To Stand Out

Now why am I sharing all of this exactly. Is it to show how much of a fan I am? Am I trying to stand out above the crowd? Am I trying to be different (just like everybody else)?

Well, not really. It’s just me sharing my experiences, sharing something that I love with everyone. As I started into the J-Music scene, I enjoyed reading about others experiences, their journeys into wotadom, their praise and criticisms of something they too felt passionate about. Maybe someone will get the same out of my writing. But even if that is not the case, I’m doing it because it’s fun, because I enjoy talking about it. Sure, there is a little bit of me that wants to stand out, but that’s not even remotely the core of why I do it I don’t think, or why it all interests me in the first place.

Really, It’s Okay

((I have to keep telling myself that it seems, lol)). So the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on all of this stuff over the past few years might seem a bit obsessive. I’d say that yes, it is an obsession to some extent. While my interest doesn’t lie exclusivity with the bubbly pop of 13-18 year old Japanese girls, I realize that some might find the interest in general as being a little weird; but I love being a wota. It’s a big part of who I am now, I love just being able to be myself. I’m glad to have found something to be passionate about, no matter how out of the ordinary it may be.

Now, with all that said, I’m aware that I didn’t exactly define what a “Wota” is. I think tho, that I’ll let the post speak for itself. I’ll let others make up their minds on what it means, to me anyway, based on the context of my experiences.