Blog move!

August 24th, 2008

Update your links!

The Tokyograph blog is moving over to a new address: http://tokyograph.minnasan.com/ I’ve set up a Wordpress Multi-User install over there with plans to start hosting more blogs, so if you’re interested in joining me, let me know! I’m still working out some bugs and adding/modifying plugins and themes, but I’m completely open to suggestions.

Unfortunately, the permalinks here aren’t matching up with the new blog, which means some linkage is getting lost in the transition. Sad.

Mao Inoue in a wedding dress

August 22nd, 2008

On Thursday, there was a PR event for the “Hana Yori Dango Final” movie, attended by co-stars Mao Inoue and Jun Matsumoto. The press snapped some nice photos of Mao in a wedding dress:

Mao Inoue 1

Mao Inoue 2

Mao Inoue 3

(pictures taken from Sanspo)

Toho also announced that as of Wednesday, the movie has earned 7.1 billion yen, making it the highest-grossing live-action Japanese film so far this year. (It unfortunately can’t beat Miyazaki’s “Ponyo.”)

Google takes you to Japan

August 5th, 2008

For all you people in love with Google Street: Japan Probe notes that the service is now available for several major areas of Japan. Now you can take a virtual tour of the country without leaving your room!

I haven’t had a chance to really explore it yet, but I hope to get a gallery together over the weekend. Post any interesting landmarks you find!

Teppei Koike, kawaii!

July 29th, 2008

Well, here’s something you probably didn’t need to see - Teppei Koike dressed as a maid:

 Teppei Koike as a maidTeppei Koike as a maid

Images taken from this Sanspo article. It’s part of his role for an episode of “Shibatora,” airing on August 5.

AX 2008 Pictures: Shokotan

July 27th, 2008

Better late than never! Anyway, here’s the second batch of AX images, featuring Shoko Nakagawa over at the Bandai booth:

Read the rest of this entry »

AX 2008 Pictures

July 20th, 2008

Yeah, I know this blog has fallen by the wayside. I still have some plans for it, but I’ve been too busy with work, so everything for the site has been pushed back quite a bit. Especially due to Anime Expo, I’m still catching up with news from as far back as last month.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from the event:

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Japan Nite 2008, Part 2: Petty Booka

April 6th, 2008

After Scandal’s performance at Japan Nite 2008, I figured the next act would probably be Petty Booka - at least if the staff wanted to avoid a huge drop in energy during the latter half of the show. My instincts were quickly confirmed when crew members set up two ukuleles in front of the two mics on stage.

Petty and Booka made their entrance by walking in hidden behind a banner they were holding, and they finally lowered it, revealing a pair of cute (in fact, too cute) women in blue cowgirl outfits with amazingly high-pitched voices. I’m sure the crowd had no idea of what to make it at first, and when they kicked off the set with their version of Alan Jackson’s “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” (which was significantly slower than their recorded version) the room was full of stunned silence mixed with snickering. Clearly, Petty Booka was out of place at a rock show.

Petty Booka

They mostly sang while kind of swaying side to side, patting their ukuleles rather than playing them, all the while never breaking their smiles. They were accompanied by a guy on mandolin and another guy on guitar. At the end of each song, they said “arigatou” in their too-cute voices and gave a small bow. By the end of the second song, I still think the crowd was unsure of what to think.

However, at one point, the two guys left, leaving only Petty and Booka on stage, and that’s when things picked up. Singing and strumming their ukuleles, they finally won the crowd over when they played the best rendition of “Que Sera Sera” in history, and they got the whole room singing along with the chorus.

They only played a few songs alone, and the mandolin and guitar came back. One of the other highlights of their set is that the mandolin player was pretty awesome too, rocking some very fast and complicated solos with skill and style.

A lot of Petty Booka’s charm is in their unconventional takes on familiar songs, so you can appreciate them a lot more when you actually know the song they’re playing. Personally, I thought it awesome when they played The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” (appropriately reworked as “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend”), while I wasn’t as enthusiastic as the Grateful Dead fans when they covered “Friend of the Devil.” Another song I liked, even though I was unfamiliar with it, was the absolutely charming “Ukulele Lady.”

Overall, Petty Booka is a fun group with a lot of novelty and charm (despite the supercute factor). It’s certainly not the type of music that will get you sweaty, though some of their songs can be fairly lively in a country-western type of way. Those familiar with the group may know that the lineup has changed from its original members (more than once I think), so be aware that the vocals vary throughout the group’s history.

Japan Nite 2008, Part 1: Scandal

March 31st, 2008

(Okay, since I don’t have time to put together one huge post about Japan Nite, and since there are too many pictures I want to post, I’m breaking this up into smaller parts, one for each band.)

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, the Japan Nite 2008 tour came to Los Angeles for its final show last weekend. After an amazing show last year, I definitely didn’t want to miss out this year, and this time I got to stay for the whole event!

The show was at the Knitting Factory again, but on a different stage. The turnout seemed to be smaller this year (perhaps last year was the exception because of GO!GO!7188?), but I guess it’s a pretty reasonable size for this type of concert. It’s just disappointing that more people don’t show up, especially when tickets are so cheap.

But whatever. First ones to take the stage are SCANDAL, a band composed of 4 high school girls from Osaka.

Scandal

From left: Tomomi (bass), Haruna (vocals, guitar), Mami (guitar)
In back (sorry you can’t really see her): Rina (drums)

These girls play a really energetic brand of pop-rock, though I have to say they’re going to need to work a bit on their stage presence. They’re still young, though, so they’ve got plenty of time to improve. They’ve already got talent, so I can only see them getting better over time.

They did try to interact with the crowd, and they were partly successful, getting a good number of people clapping and raising their hands up in the air. They also did a short “Japanese language time” with phrases from Osaka-ben (”maido” and “ookini”), but after seeing the same thing from Oreskaband before (and I really like Oreskaband), I guess it fell flat on me.

My favorite song from their set was “S.L Magic,” though “Space Ranger” and “Koi Moyou”(”Love Pattern” as it’s titled in English) were also good. I was looking forward to “Playboy,” since it was my favorite from the songs on their MySpace page, but in the end I think I like the sound of the recorded version better (that one always gets me energized).

The bassist Tomomi is my favorite from the group, as I felt like she was having the most fun up there on stage. She just kept rocking out with a big smile on her face, occasionally sticking her tongue out for kicks. I mean, they all seemed like they were having fun, but Tomomi left the strongest impression. And in every picture I’ve seen of the group, she just looks the happiest. =)

I definitely enjoyed their performance, but it’s much closer to cute pop than something I could really rock out to (like detroit7, but I’ll get to them later). And I couldn’t help but feel that a lot of the guys in the crowd were into them largely because they’re cute high school girls jumping around on stage in skirts. Sure, that’s part of the appeal, but for me, the music always comes first.

They were selling a CD+DVD of “Space Ranger” for $5, but I waited too long to get it and it was sold out before I could pick one up… sad =(

Scandal

Overall, SCANDAL is a band I’m hoping to hear more of in the future, even if their live performance was personally a little disappointing. They have a chance to be a really fun and powerful band, and I think this tour was a great opportunity for them, in terms of both exposure and experience.

(By the way, credits for all pictures in these posts go to my brother.)

Yes, Shokotan at AX

March 27th, 2008

So Anime Expo isn’t hosting Utada like I speculated (yet), but it is bringing over the otaku queen, Shoko Nakagawa. Awesome. I can’t wait to see what kind of antics she’ll pull. And I really hope the rest of AX’s lineup gives her good company.

In other news, I’m still trying to get through this hectic week (and next week) to catch up on all the news. Fortunately, I do have some help from staff members 千秋 D. and gloomybear, who just posted a translation of a Bennie K interview (I’ll be posting the link on the front page once I get an additional system set up this weekend). So they deserve some credit.

A quick check-in

March 24th, 2008

As I predicted, a busy weekend meant little time for updating the news. I just got back from Easter celebration with the family and then the Japan Nite concert, and I have work in a few hours, so the news will be light and late today. I’ll catch up over the course of the week.

As for Japan Nite, it was awesome, and I’ll be putting up a post about that too in the near future.