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Japan; 2005; Directed by: Yoichi Nishiyama
Starring Keiko Saito, Yuko Kurosawa, Yukari Fukui and Nozomi Ando
A fun getaway turns into a journey to Hell for some teenage girls visiting an isolated house to rehearse and perform a play for their private movie club. Taking the trip with an adult chaperone, the girls learn that a previous club member supposedly went missing in the house, and another went insane! Shortly after they arrive, a mysterious videotape is found with footage of a violent killer wearing a Japanese deigan mask. Is this footage real or fake? Soon, their food and equipment disappears and one of the girls is haunted by ghostly visions of the masked demon. Someone or something is in the house, and gruesome death awaits those who cannot escape!
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This May, a female “superhero” appeared in Hong Kong, wearing low-cut black tights and blue mask, called herself “Zijing Woman” or “Chinese Redbud Woman” Read more
Danceroid is a Japanese group under Heartfull Entertainment, wich consists of Internet dancers who are members of Nico Nico Douga. They dance and sing to Vocaloid songs.
Members: Itokutora (Leader), Aikawa Kozue, COCO, Maam, Yuzuki
Former Members: Minka Lee who joined for short time.
Danceroid began in 2009 with 3 members Itokutora, Aikawa Kozue and Minka Lee. With agreement between Itokutora and Minka Lee, Minka joined just for short time. In December, they released their 1st indie DVD called “DANCEROID”. In 2010, after Minka left, they held auditions for new members. The 3 winners were: COCO, Maam and Yuzuki. All of them also have their own Nico Nico Douga account.
Two original members performed at EOY 2010 in Singapore.
S/mileage is a Japanese pop girl group managed by Up-Front Agency and part of Hello! Project.
Members Include: Wada Ayaka (leader), Fukuda Kanon, Nakanishi Kana, Takeuchi Akari, Katsuta Rina, Tamura Meimi
Former Members: Ogawa Saki (graduated August 27, 2011), Kosuga Fuyuka (left September 10, 2011), Maeda Yuuka (graduated December 31, 2011)
On April 4, 2009, Tsunku posted on his blog a plan for a new unit featuring Hello! Pro Egg members Wada Ayaka, Maeda Yuuka, Fukuda Kanon, and Ogawa Saki. A month later, on May 8, the unit was named S/mileage, which is a portmanteau of “smile” and “mileage”, which in turn refers to the age of smiles. Their debut indies single, “aManojaku”, was released in June. Two more indies singles followed during the year. S/mileage performed in Hello! Pro Egg concerts and as guests at Mano Erina’s concerts.
Starting with the single “Hajimete no Keiken”, S/mileage performed as back dancers for Mano along with Komine Momoka and Sekine Azusa, but appeared without the two for Mano’s remaining singles for 2009.
On November 23, 2009, during Hello! Pro Egg’s Shinjin Kouen concert, a video message from Tsunku was played to S/mileage, where it was announced that they would graduate from Hello! Pro Egg and make their debut in Hello! Project in 2010. Initially when the group was first formed, Tsunku had said that in order to make the best group possible, additional members might be added or current members might be removed. Wada, Maeda, Fukuda, and Ogawa were confirmed to be the definite line-up of S/mileage. They graduated from Hello! Pro Egg on March 27, 2010.
In February, Tsunku announced S/mileage’s challenge for their major debut. By the end of March, they were to collect 10,000 photos of people’s smiles and assemble them on a 2 x 4 meter poster board. Anyone could send in photos through the official website. In April, the announcement was made that the goal was achieved and S/mileage made their major debut in May.
On December 8th, 2010, their first album, Warugaki 1, was released.
On May 29, 2011 the official S/mileage website and Tsunku announced an audition to find new members for S/mileage, with Tsunku stating on Twitter that “From the beginning I stated the number of members wasn’t fixed. I’m just now putting that into practice. Sorry to make you worry.” The audition applicants had to be middle school and high school aged girls, who were also allowed to audition for Morning Musume at the same time but with the restriction of choosing only one group if they happen to pass both auditions. The first round of interviews took place at the TKP Shibuya Conference Center in Tokyo on June 4, 2011 and continued through the month. The second round was streamed live to fans over popular site NicoNico Douga on July 9, 2011. On July 27, 2011 the third round of the audition was also streamed live to fans over NicoNico Douga.
On August 14, 2011, five new sub-members were announced in the last leg of the Hello! Project 2011 Summer ~Nippon no Mirai wa WOW WOW Live~ tour: Nakanishi Kana, Kosuga Fuyuka, and Tamura Meimi, along with two former Hello! Pro Egg members, Takeuchi Akari and Katsuta Rina.
On August 23, 2011, Ogawa Saki announced suddenly that she would be graduating from the group and from Hello! Project on August 27 after the summer concert in Nagoya to return to a normal middle school life.
On September 10, 2011, Kosuga Fuyuka dropped out of the sub-member competition due to severe anemia. It was also announced that she she gets better, she’ll be back in as a Hello! Pro Egg.
In September 18, 2011 it was announced that on top of their work so far the sub-members would have to participate in a “Egao Up Campaign!” (???p??????; Smile Up Campaign) in order to become full members of the group. The campaign involved them going up to people and asking them to take a picture of them holding a message up on a dry erase board, and then asking the person to upload the photo to Twitter or their blog.
On October 16, 2011 at the first release event for the group’s seventh single it was announced that all four sub-members would become full members of S/mileage. Later on October 25, 2011 Maeda Yuuka’s graduation from S/mileage and Hello! Project was announced, to take place on December 31, 2011. She announced she would graduate because she wanted to concentrate more on school in order to fulfill her dream of getting into a University.
Sakura Gakuin (Cherry Blossom Academy) is a Japanese pop idol group under the agency Amuse and the label TOY’S FACTORY. The group first started in April 2010 with their first appearance at the TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL a few months later. Their major debut single, entitled “Yume ni Mukatte / Hello! IVY”, was released on December 8, 2010.
Muto Ayami(Leader), Miyoshi Ayaka, Matsui Airi, Nakamoto Suzuka, Iida Raura, Horiuchi Marina, Sugisaki Nene, Sato Hinata, Mizuno Yui, Kikuchi Moa, Taguchi Hana, and Isono Rinon.
Official Site: http://www.sakuragakuin.jp/
Pocky was first sold in 1966, and consists of a biscuit stick coated with chocolate. It was named after the Japanese onomatopoetic word for the sound Pocky makes when bitten, pokkin. The original was followed by “Almond Pocky” in 1971, with an almond coating, and “Strawberry Pocky” in 1977. Today, the product line includes such variations as milk, mousse, green tea, honey, banana and coconut flavored coatings, and themed products such as “Decorer Pocky,” with colorful decorative stripes in the coating, and “Men’s Pocky,” a dark (bittersweet) chocolate and “mature” version.
Pocky can be found in dozens of varieties such as chocolate, strawberry, and almond. Some of the more unusual flavors include the seasonal flavors of honey (spring) and kiwifruit mango (summer). The bittersweet version of chocolate Pocky is known as Men’s Pocky. Regional flavors of Pocky include grape (Nagano), y?bari melon (Hokkaid?), giant mikan (tangerine, sold in the Ky?sh? region), powdered tea azuki bean (Kyoto), Kobe wine (Kobe), and five-fusion berry (Goka). There are also such flavors as banana, coffee, caramel, marble royal milk tea, melon, milk, honey and milk, cream cheese, berry, sweet potato, coconut, crush (crunchy cracker pieces in chocolate), pineapple, pumpkin, hazelnut, kurogoma (black sesame), kinako (soy bean flour), marron, Brazilian pudding, mikan, blueberry, apple yogurt, mixed berry and green tea.
Special variations of Pocky include Decorer Pocky (which features extra decorative icing) and Mousse Pocky (which features extra thick, “creamy” mousse-like icing and is more exclusive). Unlike other Pocky variations, Mousse Pocky packages contain fewer pieces than regular Pocky, with only nine pieces per pack.
Dessert Pocky features Pocky sticks covered in a generous helping of cream. These flavors include: Double Chocolate, Tiramisu, Chocolate Banana, Marron White, Chestnut, Strawberry Shortcake, and Orange. Dessert Pocky usually comes with five packets in a box with three in each sleeve.
Another variation of Pocky is the My Calorie Pocky (mai karor? pokk?), which has 1/4 the calories of regular chocolate Pocky.
Other variations include: Pocky G (marketed as being “hard and rich”), Giant Pocky (Strawberry and Chocolate flavored; each box contains 20 individually wrapped sticks with real dried strawberry; each stick is about 10″ long, and approximately 3 times the diameter of a normal Pocky stick), Reverse Pocky (cracker on the outside with the filling in the middle), Fortune-Telling Pocky (each stick contained a “fortune”) and Pocky Cake (a literal cake shaped to look like a Pocky stick. Each cake contained, according to its packaging, raisins, chocolate cream, orange peel, and an Italian cake batter).
A related product is Pretz, which is an unglazed version of Pocky, featuring flavors like tomato, pizza, and salad, as well as sweet flavors such as French toast.
Ayaman Japan is a girls’ entertainment group performing mainly at party events around Roppingi and Nishi-Azabu. Read more
A host of young Korean stars are taking to the stage in London, New York and beyond in a bid to crack one of the final global frontiers for Asian culture — pop music.
“K-pop”, as Korean pop is called, has made major inroads into Japan, the world’s second largest music market.
But breaking into key countries further afield like Britain, Germany, France and, most crucially, the United States, has so far eluded acts who may be household names at home but remain virtual unknowns outside Asia.
Korean bands are not the only ones trying to be the next Britney Spears, Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber.
Japanese artists, some of them “J-pop” superstars, have also looked overseas for new audiences, although the size of their own market, only just behind the United States in the world rankings, means they have less incentive.
“It is a pain for a lot of these Japanese bands to make the effort to try and penetrate overseas markets,” said Steve McClure, executive editor of McClure’s Asia Music News and an authority on the region’s music scene.
“Time spent doing that is time not spent here and it’s a really fast-paced market and you have to work at it,” he told Reuters, speaking from Japan.
Foreign music accounts for around a quarter of Japanese record sales, and the top 10 albums on record are all by local artists. Hikaru Utada holds the record with “First Love” from 1999, while Mariah Carey is the biggest international artist.
K-POP VS. J-POP
McClure, like many others, believes that K-pop stands a better chance at success globally than J-pop, although even that is far from certain.
The structure of Korea’s relatively small music market is such that telecom companies control a large proportion of revenues, he said, meaning bands have an economic incentive to look abroad.
And K-pop acts, often created and nurtured by savvy record companies like S.M. Entertainment, are being groomed for specific markets — learning Japanese, for example, and fitting in with Japan’s musical mores.
One recent success story has been the nine-member South Korean girl band Girls’ Generation, whose first full-length Japanese album sold over 500,000 copies in Japan.
McClure also argued that Korean pop acts, though often manufactured, were generally more professional than their Japanese rivals and produced a better sound.
The most obvious, and biggest barrier to Asian acts breaking regions like Europe and North America is language.
Since music is about communicating ideas and feelings, common language helps. And the prevalence of English makes it easier for a singer from Toronto, for example, than one from Tokyo.
“The language barrier is probably the biggest thing that sets us apart from the global (arena),” said G.NA, a 24-year-old Canadian-Korean singer whose first language is English but who has found success in Korea.
She, along with two other K-pop acts, will be appearing at London’s 02 Academy Brixton on December 5 as part of what the PR company handling the gig called “The Invasion of K-Pop”.
It follows a K-pop concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden in October. Those and other similar gigs outside Asia underline the ambition of K-pop acts and management companies to conquer the West and beyond.
It may be less invasion and more a small-scale foray, but promoters say there are encouraging signs for K-pop.
“We can’t spend too much money if there is no market for us,” said Ronnie Yang, head of CABA Entertainment who is organising the London gig featuring artists from Cube Entertainment.
“But we feel this is the right stage for developing a new market — there is demand and it is higher than before.”
G.NA, for one, is not getting lost in the hype. Chance, she says, is as important as anything else.
“This industry is kind of like gambling,” she told Reuters by telephone from Seoul. “You lose something, and you may lose everything. You may win and win more than expected. I think there’s a lot of luck.
“It does depend on how much we try, but no matter how hard we try, if the circumstances don’t work out, then things may not work out the way we planned. This concert is huge — if people don’t like it that could be the end of that.”
The wide pop genre may be the hardest market to crack abroad, but there has been success in the United States and elsewhere within narrower categories of music like classical, dance, rock and heavy metal.
Japanese heavy metal band X Japan staged a North American tour in 2010 catching the attention of major news outlets, and have visited Europe, Latin America and Asia this year.
L’Arc-en-Ciel, a Japanese rock group, has flirted with the United States and Europe, and plans a 2012 world tour.
The event is limited in scale so far, however, with seven dates showing on the website including indigO2 in London with a capacity of around 2,500.
The band’s guitarist Ken alluded to a cultural barrier which has proven tough to break down.
“In Japan I am always listening to music from the U.S. and the UK,” he told Reuters by telephone, speaking through a translator.
“But I never really got the impression people in the UK were listening to music from other parts of the world. So I’m really looking forward to getting a sense of how those people in Britain will perceive our music.”
McClure added: “Music is meant to be the universal language…well, yes and no.
“There does seem to be this inability to accept an Asian face in the world pop music market place. I don’t know why that is, as there are Asians who have done well in other spheres.”
HANGRY AND ANGRY
Hangry&Angry is a musical project spinoff from the popular Japanese designer h.NAOTO. The two member unit is made up of former Morning Musume members. Vocalists Hitomi Yoshizawa and Rika Ishikawa play the characters Hangry and Angry respectively.
A large part of their appeal is connected to their fashion based image, however both members are experienced singers and pull off a credible balance between being fashion icons and performers. Their music style is a mixture of rock blended with punk and techno pop elements.
VAMPS is the name of the band formed by HYDE (L’Arc~en~Ciel) and K.A.Z (Oblivion Dust). HYDE and K.A.Z have been working together on HYDE’s solo work since 2003. After years of collaboration, the two finally decided to form their own band and agreed that there was no better way to announce VAMPS than getting out in front of the fans right away. Their first nationwide tour of Japan, “VAMPS LIVE 2008″, kicked off at Zepp Tokyo. Between August 1, 2008 and October 28, 2008, VAMPS played 46 shows at the prestigious Zepp live houses throughout Japan. 46 shows in just 3 months is a rough schedule indeed! The tour was totally organized by VAMPS and the venues were custom decorated by spray paint such as the now-famous VAMPS castle. The band played 6 to10 shows at each Zepp venue and every single show was sold out! The continuous string of sold out shows were unprecedented and had never taken place during any other Zepp live house tour before. Come and see for yourself what is sure to be another colossal collaboration between HYDE and K.A.Z! VAMPS ROCKS!