Month: May 2014

A Good Way to Prevent Future Handshake Event Incidents??

It’s just like a prison…but I’m not a criminal and neither is the idol…

Something should be done to protect idols, but an acrylic barrier with a hole in it would make handshake events just a bit too depressing.

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Updates on the AKB48 Attack

The handshake event attack is the top story on all of the morning wide shows here this morning. Here are a few updates to the situation:

  • Both Rina Kawei (川栄李奈) and Anna Iriyama (入山杏奈) successfully underwent surgery, and should be released from the hospital tomorrow. Kawaei had a broken bone and lacerations to her right thumb, and Iriyama had a broken bone and lacerations to her right pinky, as well as a head injury.
  • The assailant was 24-year-old hikikomori Satoru Umeta (梅田悟). He has admitted his guilt. Umeta’s mother released a statement saying that she couldn’t find the words to apologize, and also that she had never seen any AKB48 goods around the house or heard Umeta talk about them. The day before the attack, Umeta left the house to go on a walk, and his mother was unable to contact him. She heard about the attack when a TV station contacted her.
  • There were five members in the handshake event tent Umeta entered. Kawei and Iriyama were the two closest to the entrance. Central members including Mayu Watanabe (渡辺麻友), Haruna Kojima (小嶋陽菜), Minami Takahashi (高橋みなみ), etc., were also in attendance, although in different tents.
  • An NMB48 high-five event planned for yesterday evening in Osaka was cancelled, and an SKE48 handshake event taking place in Nagoya was halted. SKE48 members were seen crying after hearing the news of the attack on the AKB48 members.
  • Hiroshi Yuasa (湯浅洋), manager of the AKB48 theater, commented that the security at these events must be reconsidered.

AKB48 Members Attacked at Handshake Event

I’ve been really busy this week, but I’ve been preparing posts on the AKB48 general election early report (総選挙速報発表) and their official rhythm game app. But those will have to wait, because today, there was a terrible incident.

At an AKB48 handshake event in Iwate Prefecture, a man suddenly pulled a 50 cm. (~20 in.) saw out of his bag, and attacked some members in the handshake lane he was in. One male staff member was injured, as were AKB48 members Rina Kawaei (川栄李奈), 19 years old, and Anna Iriyama (入山杏奈), 18 years old. The severity of their injuries has not yet been announced, but responding police and fire officers said that all three victims were conscious. The 24-year-old assailant was promptly detained by the people around him, and was arrested on the charge of attempted murder.

According to NHK, staff were checking that the handshake event attendees did not have weapons in their hands, but the contents of people’s bags were not being examined. This is a major security failure that I sincerely hope is rectified by the next time one of these types of meet-and-greet events occurs.

As you can see in this video, at handshake events, attendees can shake hands with AKB48 members directly, with only a table between them. A staff member stands close by with a stopwatch making sure that fans move along after their allotted time is up and that they don’t try to get too close to the members, but there is sadly little preventing attacks like the one that happened today.

And it’s not like it was inconceivable that this sort of thing might happen:

AKB48の「握手会」に10回以上参加したことがある18歳の男性によりますと、会場で、ファンが好みのメンバーに結婚をしつこく迫ったり、メンバーに対して「裏切られた」などと大声でどなったりする様子を見たことがあるということです。
こうしたファンに対しては、会場で待機している担当者の男性がすぐに対応していたということです。
ファンの男性は「事件が起きたことはとても残念だ。ただ、過去の例を考えると今回のようなことが起きても不思議ではないと思った」と話しています。

An 18-year-old man who has attended AKB48’s handshake events at least 10 times said he has seen occurrences like fans aggressively proposing marriage to their favorite members, and people screaming “You betrayed me!” at members in a loud voice at these types of events, but that male staff members immediately respond when these situations occur. One male fan commented, “It’s a shame that this attack happened, but considering what’s happened in the past, I’m not really surprised.”

We don’t know what the attacker’s motivation was, but this sort of thing could happen again, and considering the sheer number of people who attend these events, it’s almost amazing that it took this long for a physical attack on an AKB48 member to happen. It sounds like security for these events needs to be seriously stepped up to ensure the safety of AKB48 members and staff members.

Here is Kawaei performing “Hasute to Wasute” (ハステとワステ) as the center of BKA48 (starting at 2:50):

Here is Iriyama singing “Temodemo no Namida” (てもでもの涙/’Even If’ Tears) with Rena Katou (加藤玲奈):

I hope that both of them and the staff member who was injured make a fast and complete recovery, and that all members of the AKB48 team can feel and be completely safe at future events.

AKB 切られたのは川栄さんと入山さん (NHK)

Update: Both Iriyama and Kawaei underwent surgery for broken fingers and cuts.

J-Pop Meets US-Pop

I must admit that I find the popularity of Pharrell Williams’s song “Happy” baffling (A room without a roof? That sounds awful!), but here is a video of many of J-pop’s top artists getting their freak on to it, including Kobukuro, BiS, the horrifying clown from Sekai no Owari, and…Funasshi?

On a similar vein, have you seen AKB48 and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” collaboration from last year? Nothing like Robin himself coming up behind Haruna Kojima and Yuko Oshima and going “YOU THE HOTTEST [censored] IN THIS PLACE”

37-Year-Old AKB48 Member’s Papico CM Song: “Oshiete Mommy”

Here is Glico’s Papico (パピコ) ice cream commercial starring Mariko Tsukamoto (塚本まり子), the 37-year-old homemaker from Nara Prefecture who passed AKB48’s Otona AKB48 (大人AKB48/Adult AKB48) audition, the goal of which was find a woman aged 30 or up to join AKB48, for the main purpose of appearing in this commercial.

According to AKpedia, Tsukamoto’s hobby (趣味/shumi) and special ability (特技/tokugi) are both “raising children (子育て/kosodate).” So, naturally, her big number for the Papico commercial is called “Oshiete Mommy” (教えてMommy/Tell Me, Mommy). Perhaps her job within AKB48 is to appeal to fans who have, uh, mommy issues. You can see my translation of “Oshiete Mommy” here

This isn’t the first time AKB48 has inducted a new “member” for the sole purpose of appearing in a Glico commercial. In 2011, a new member named Aimi Eguchi (江口愛実) appeared in Glico’s Aisu no Mi (アイスの実/Ice Fruit) commercials. Eguchi was actually a composite CG character made up of parts of the faces of 6 AKB48 members, and her name stood for “EGUCHI Glico AIsu no MI.” Eguchi looked great in still pictures, but the CM got a bit uncanny-valley:

Aimi Eguchi was unceremoniously “graduated” from AKB48 in 2013, when her official profile was deleted from AKB48’s website. Let’s hope they let Mariko Tsukamoto go a little more gently.

Haagen-Dazs Spoon Vege Ice Cream: Why?

Recently, my husband and I “enjoyed” both flavors of Haagen-Dazs’s new Spoon Vege ice cream, which went on sale in Japan on May 12.

spoon vege carrot orange

The first flavor we tried was Carrot-Orange (キャロットオレンジ), which we determined likely to be the less horrible of the two.

carrot orange ice cream

Nice color! Looks like sherbert.

The taste was like a modified orange, like a kind of mango or something. It wasn’t bad at all…until the aftertaste hit.

BITTER. So bitter. The aftertaste was like licking earwax. Are carrots bitter??

acerola orange peel

I washed it down with this: Kirin’s Kajitsu to Peel no Osake (果実とピールのお酒/Fruit Juice and Peel Alcohol), a canned vodka cocktail made with acerola fruit juice and orange peel. It was nice and fruity, and also got me a bit buzzed, so that I could get up the courage to try…

spoon vege tomato cherry

…Tomato-Cherry (トマトチェリー). Come on. There’s no way anyone thought this could possibly taste good.

tomato cherry ice cream

That color sure is…interesting.

While Carrot-Orange didn’t taste much like carrot, Tomato-Cherry’s taste was undeniably tomato. Tomato and cream. It was like a tomato latte, with a shot of grenadine. Yeah.

Why even make these flavors, anyway? It’s not like they’re good for you. They still both had 200-some calories (Tomato-Cherry had 216 and Carrot-Orange had 206; a mini cup of the divine Caramel Crush [キャラメルクラッシュ] has 262 calories). The main ingredient of both of them was still “cream.”

I understand Gari-Gari Kun (ガリガリ君) making spaghetti and stew flavored popsicles as gag/cult items, but come on, Haagen-Dazs. Your products cost almost 3 times what Gari-Gari Kun’s do. You’re supposed to be better than that.

If you’d like to try Spoon Vege for yourself for some reason, check out your local conbini or supermarket.

Haagen-Dazs Spoon Vege Official Site

Pigeon’s Recipes for Busy/Lazy People: Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

1. You don’t need to measure anything.

2. That’s a lie; measure the pasta. 100g per person ought to do it.

3. You should probably start boiling the water for the pasta first, because that usually takes a while.

4. Get two (2) tomatoes, onions and/or garlic, and some stuff that seems like it’d taste good in a pasta sauce. A bunch of vegetables and one meat is usually a pretty good combo.

pasta ingredients

Today I have shimeji mushrooms, black olives, eggplant, green peppers, asparagus, and bacon.

5. Mince/food process the garlic and/or onions. Cut up the vegetables in whatever size and quantity you want. Cut the tomatoes up haphazardly into 8 pieces or so each, but keep them separate from the other vegetables for now.

6. Put some olive oil in a frying pan and fry your garlic and/or onions. When the kitchen starts to smell like garlic and/or onions, put your vegetables (not the tomatoes) in and fry them up. It’s usually a good idea to put the meat in a little bit later, but you can just throw it in there whenever if you’re that busy/lazy.

pasta veggies

This is two people’s worth, by the way.

7. Add flavoring. The only flavoring you need for this is salt and pepper. I use Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt. You can throw in whatever herbs you have sitting around if you’re feeling fancy.

8. After your meat and vegetables look almost all cooked, put the tomatoes in. After you fry them for a while, they’ll start melting and releasing juices and eventually just leave behind their skin. Taste it and see if it needs more salt. Add salt if you need some. Turn off the flame when you think the sauce looks saucy enough.

saucy sauce

Yeah, that looks pretty saucy.

9. Did you boil your pasta?

10. After you’ve boiled your pasta, drain it and put it into the pan with the sauce (with the heat off). Toss it like you’re tossing a salad and try to get all the stuff mixed in with the pasta.

11. Put your pasta on plates. If you have some parmesan cheese, put that on top.

00260514-003224.jpg

 

Ta-da!

 

 

48 Group General Election Appeal Videos: The Special Ones

The General Election appeal comments (総選挙アピールコメント) are up on YouTube! There are a lot of them. A lottttttttt. I’ve chosen some especially…unique ones, to save you some of the trouble of searching yourself. You’re welcome.

AKB48

AKB48 Team A, Minami Takahashi (高橋みなみ)

Don’t need to appeal, I got this.

AKB48 Team A, Haruna Kojima (小嶋陽菜)

“Why am I moving like this? Because if I stop…I turn sexy.”

AKB48 Team A, Mariko Nakamura(中村麻里子)

Looks like she’s got a future career as a Yoshimoto comedian.

AKB48 Team B, Natsuki Uchiyama (内山奈月)

She wears a suit and recites part of the Japanese constitution and eats rice and is SO CUTE.

AKB48 Team 4, Miki Nishino (西野未姫)

Wanna watch a girl eat a bug?

 

SKE48

SKE48 Team E, Akari Suda (須田亜香里)

Wanna watch a girl cut her nails?

 

NMB48

NMB48 Team N, Yuuki Yamaguchi (山口夕輝)

What…what are you…oh god don’t hurt me

NMB48 Team N/AKB48 Team K, Sayaka Yamamoto (山本彩)

ADRIANNNN!

 

HKT48

HKT48 Team H, Haruka Kodama (兒玉遥)

Nice bar trick.

HKT48 Kenkyuusei, Misaki Aramaki (荒巻美咲)

If the camera moved 90 degrees to the right, this video would be illegal.

 

 

Anyways, I’m still voting for Mayuyu. Her video was pretty weak, though.

 

Have some time to kill and want to go appeal video treasure hunting? They’re all on YouTube!

AKB48 Playlist

SKE48 Playlist

NMB48 Playlist

HKT48 Playlist

JKT48/SNH48 Playlist

Steam Eye Masks by Megurhythm (and Gendered Marketing)

I get headaches, a lot. I also destroy my eyes by pretty much constantly staring into a screen whenever I have free time (like I’m doing right now). So Jouki de Hot Eyemask (蒸気でホットアイマスク/Hot Steam Eyemask) eyemasks made by Megurhythm (めぐリズム) are a lifesaver.

They come in a box like this:

megurhythm eyemask box

This is the big 14-pack, but they come in smaller boxes, too. My preferred scent is Kanjuku Yuzu (完熟ゆず/Ripe Yuzu), but they also come in Lavender Sage (ラベンダーセージ), Sakitate Rose (咲きたてローズ/Just-Bloomed Rose), Camomile Ginger (カモミールジンジャー), Eucalyptus Green (ユーカリグリーン), Fresh Mint (フレッシュミント), and Mukouryou (無香料/Unscented).

When you open the box, there are a bunch of little packs like this:

eyemask package

In which you can find a mask like this:

eyemask

Through some process that I don’t understand, the mask begins to heat up as soon as it’s out of the package. You put the little holes over your ears, and the mask covers your eyes and warms them up. There’s actually invisible steam being produced; it makes your eyelids feel a bit moist when you take the mask off. The package claims that the heat lasts about 10 minutes, but I find that it actually lasts a while longer, depending on the temperature of the room.

These masks have amazing reviews on Amazon, and I super recommend them if you have any problems with headaches/eyeaches/dry eye etc.

That being said, the way these eyemasks are marketed is a textbook case of companies gendering things that don’t really need to be gendered.

Here is a commercial covering all the scents other than Fresh Mint:

「目つき、険しくなっていない?」「なんとかして!」”You’re looking pretty severe around the eyes.” “Do something!”

And here’s the commercial for Fresh Mint (notice the different package design):

「これができる男の昼休みよ!」”This is how successful men spend their lunch break!”

So, women want to relax their eyes, because god forbid they don’t look cute and wink-y after spending all day doing office work. Men, on the other hand, want to refresh their eyes so they can be awake and alert to finish the rest of their 16-hour shift. (Where would you even go during your lunch break to sit with a mask on for 10 minutes, anyways? Hog a bathroom stall? I bet there’d be at least one co-worker who would play pranks on you if you just sat there at your desk blindfolded.) The “woman” eyemasks and “man” eyemasks even have different webpages.

So next time you go to the drugstore, check these masks out, but go ahead and buy whichever scent you want, no matter what pronouns you use.

Jouki de Hot Eyemask Official Site for Ladies

Jouki de Hot Eyemask Official Site for Gentlemen

Which “Labrador Retriever” Will You Buy?

AKB48’s “Labrador Retriever” (ラブラドール・レトリバー) single goes on sale May 21!

“Labrador Retriever”…there are many jokes to be made about that title, and they’re all sexist and terrible, so I won’t make them. But you can leave yours in the comments.

Here’s the official PV clip:

Looks like that dog’s got a bit of a limp, huh? It’s nice to see media using mutts instead of purebreds.

Anyways, just judging from that clip, the song is a bit meh, but I can almost guarantee it’ll be the #1 Japanese single of 2014. You know why, don’t you? Because when you buy this single, you get the right to vote in the AKB48 General Election (総選挙)! And of course there are always the otakus with too much disposable income who buy 50 CDs so they can vote for Sasshi (Rino Sashihara/指原莉乃) 50 times or whatever, but I’m not that bad. I’m just going to buy one.

My oshimen (推しメン) is Mayuyu (Mayu Watanabe/渡辺麻友). I’ve voted for her in the past two elections. She got up to 2nd place in 2012 and fell back to 3rd in 2013, but with perennial favorite Yuko Oshima (大島優子) graduating this year and therefore not running in the election, maybe this is her year?? She’s the star of the “Labrador Retriever” video so it looks like the people behind AKB48 are supporting her as the next center, but I can also see that having a inflammatory effect on the fans of other girls (“We must beat Mayuyu!”). It’ll definitely be an exciting battle.

The thing with buying AKB48 singles, though, is that they come in several different versions, with different coupling tracks and/or video footage included in each one. This is, of course, a ploy to encourage people to buy all the versions. But like I said, I’m not that bad.

AKB48’s official YouTube channel has clips of each of the coupling songs unique to each track. First up, there’s the Type-A version’s coupling track, “Kimi wa Kimagure” (君は気まぐれ/You’re Fickle), performed by the Team A girls:

Then there’s the Type-K version’s track, “Itoshiki Rival” (愛しきライバル/Beloved Rival), by Team K:

Here’s the Type-4 version with Team 4’s “Heart no Dasshutsu Game” (ハートの脱出ゲーム/The Heart’s Escape Game):

And finally there’s Team B on the Type-B version with “B Garden” (Bガーデン):

Hooray, another Mayuyu center song! But…who’s that to her right?

ikoma rina b garden

Is that Rina Ikoma (生駒里奈) from Nogizaka46 (乃木坂46), who is currently doing double duty in Team B? What’s wrong with her face? She’s awfully tall…and hairy. Is…is that a dude in a dress and a cardboard mask?

Huh.

“Kimi wa Kimagure” sounds like a pretty good song, but I think I’ll go with the Type-B album when I go to buy my copy, because Mayuyu. Plus I want to see the video with the weird faux-Ikoma. Which one are you gonna get? Who are you voting for?