November 25, 2007

to be or not to be... ambitious

I was thinking of a reply for an interesting comment an anonymous reader (hi!) left on the previous entry, and realized my reply was going to be a bit long, so I’ve decided to turn it into a post.

There are some things that I have to disagree with after reading this post. But please correct me if I misunderstood anything. IMHO Shoon and Taiyo are not only hardworking but also ambitious. If you equate ambitious with "stealing the limelight", "camera hogging","attention grabbing actions", etc then maybe its right to say they are not ambitious. Otherwise, I just feel that they're trying to get there in a different way cause like what you said not everyone is the same.

Talent? Limits? Shoon & Taiyo's limits were set by JE! I mean how can you really shine if there is always a line that you're not allowed to cross? Who knows who could have been the leader or lead singer if everyone was given a truly fair chance. Like you mentioned, not all debuted seniors are great dancers/singers. Yabu and Hikaru are great, but they were pimped by JE from day one. From Ya3's early days I've always wondered why TaiSho never got much love cause I felt they were just as talented if not more talented.

I think Shoon and Taiyo have been put through a lot and have remained strong thus far.. but for how long must they be subjected to all this? and over and over again?

Please don’t worry about disagreeing with me on anything —this goes for everyone really. =] It’s perfectly okay if you have different views from mine. ^^v

It’s true that the word “ambitious” can have both good and bad connotations. I guess I used it meaning both senses. I didn’t want to say that being ambitious is a bad thing, because in the sense of wanting to improve and achieve a goal, it’s not a bad thing at all. However, yes, there’s the sense you mention of "stealing the limelight", "camera hogging"... etc., which I utterly dislike, and which is what I consider the opposite of “unassuming”.

And yes, absolutely, I’ve always thought that you can achieve a goal without having to resort to trying to make yourself noticed, stepping on other people, sucking up to your boss/teacher/whoever, and so on. I prefer people who work hard and act in an unassuming manner. So no, it wasn’t my intention to say that Taiyô and Shoon don’t have any ambitions, just that they’re not as anxious as others seem for being in the spotlight.

What I meant by “limits” was merely in what regards talent. Everybody has some kind of talent, but not everybody has the same kind of talent, obviously. I think it’s evident that Shoon and Taiyô cannot sing some of the lines Yabu and Hikaru sing in certain songs because their voice wouldn’t reach certain notes. I think that’s their only real limitation. In the dancing department, for example, I don’t think Hikaru’s skills are superior to Taiyô’s, and for me Shoon is a better dancer than Yabu.

I very much agree with you that Shoon’s and Taiyo's limits were set by JE, and that you can’t really shine if there is a line you're not allowed to cross. Until this year, Taiyô and Shoon have been mostly a pair of brackets in Ya-Ya-yah for JE. Yes, you read correctly: brackets. In my opinion this is the way JE saw Ya-Ya-yah: [YabuxHikaru]=Ya-Ya-yah. In that equation Shoon would be “[”and Taiyô would be “]” ... or the other way around; as you prefer.

For them Yabu and Hikaru were Ya-Ya-yah, as can be seen from the fact that in the Osaka SCs, Yabu and Hikaru were introduced as “Ya-Ya-yah” when they appeared on their own, while Taiyô and Shoon were introduced just as themselves when they too appeared on their own. In the Ya3 show, when Yabu and Hikaru were taking part in Takki’s Enbujô, life-size, cardboard cutouts of them were placed at the studio. I doubt they would have done the same if Shoon or Taiyô had been absent for some reason.

In the magazines photoshoots there’s far too often the pattern “Yabu and Hikaru at the center; Shoon on one side, Taiyô on the other”. Yes, I know that’s because they’re the leaders of the group, but if you browse Ya3 mag scans, in group pics Yabu and Hikaru are more often than not with their arm around each other, or hugging, or posing in a way that makes you think they’re non-identical twins (sometimes they’re even dressed in a similar fashion) or something. In those pics Shoon and Taiyô usually stand on either side, smiling, but look like a pair of brackets, left outside from the YabuxHikaru bond. Obviously that way of posing is something JE probably asks of the magazine photographers, just like when they are dressed in red, blue, green, and orange for those photos. Don’t you find it funny when two of the boys or the four of them get the wrong colour? XD I prefer the group pics in which they’re standing/sitting in no particular order, and in which they wear colours that have nothing to do with the colours assigned to each.

Either way, JE has always made every possible effort to stress that bond. In the 2003 magazines there was a whole series of YabuxHikaru pictures (apart from the Ya-Ya-yah pictures) when Hikaru joined the group “officially”. When I see the YuutoxYamada pics now I’m reminded of those pictures. One day JE decided to pair Yabu and Hikaru up, and it looks like they won’t ever break them apart. The fact that Shoon and Taiyô didn’t take part in Takki’s Enbujou in 2006 nor in 2007 is also very eloquent.

I’m not saying the YabuxHikaru bond is not real. It’s plain to see they’re great friends, but I’ve always felt that Yabu is actually closer to Taiyô than he is to Hikaru, and that Hikaru is closer to Shoon than he is to Yabu. It’s just that JE wants the fans to see only the YabuxHikaru bonding, as that’s the one they’ve been promoting.

A Yamabu fan fellow from the Chinese fandom called Liching (hi if you’re around! ^_^) told me once that she thinks JE probably cut most ShoonxYabu moments from the Ya3 show. Okay, maybe that sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory, but it might not be that far-fetched. We know from Taiyô’s words that quite many bits got cut from what they filmed originally for each episode, so... who knows? Maybe they wanted to stress only the cute YabuxHikaru moments. I’ve always thought it strange to say the least that there’s so very little YabuxShoon interaction, and that there were only like 3 episodes with the YabuxShoon pair. We got YabuxHikaru, HikaruxShoon, ShoonxTaiyô, HikaruxTaiyô, and YabuxTaiyô too, but only 3 YabuxShoon episodes. Not to mention how so very few YabuxShoon we ever got in the magazines.

Anyway, leaving aside Yamabu conspiracy theories (LOL) and going back to what I was saying... yes, in a way I think Shoon’s and Taiyô’s limits have always been set by JE. They were given some important chances in the past (Stand by Me for both, Kinpachi Sensei 7 for Taiyô, and West Side Story and Satomi Hakkenden for Shoon), but apart from that there haven’t been many chances for them if you compare them with Yabu and Hikaru. Shoon has been a bit luckier than Taiyô: he has an original solo and he was a “producer” in an SC episode last year, but other than that they haven’t had that much spotlight if you take into account the fact that until late 2006 they had become mostly Yabu’s and Hikaru’s backdancers and backsingers. Sometimes they weren’t even on stage with them, and many times Yabu and Hikaru had duet or solo performances in their show livestage.

A friend of mine thinks Shoon has been given many chances and that he hasn’t made enough of them, that even Yamada managed to outshine him just with the Seishun Amigo performance on the Ya3 show —the hat one everybody was so impressed with. Am I alone in disagreeing with that? In my opinion Shoon was given very little screentime in his own produced SC, but I think he did great. Then again maybe I’m biased. I don’t need him to do anything special for me to take notice of him. ^^ Oh, well, as I’ve already said I don’t want Shoon to be in the spotlight all the time or to be a leader. I just think that he deserves his fair share of chances because he’s a hardworker and because he’s talented, just like Taiyô.

I too hope I’m not alone in thinking that in general Taiyô and Shoon have made the most of the chances (big or small) they’ve been given so far. I can’t judge how their performance was in Stand by Me, but Shoon’s crying certainly impressed me in the bits shown in the Ya3 show. Also, I think Taiyô was really good in Kinpachi Sensei and in my opinion so was Shoon in Satomi Hakkenden and West Side Story even though he just had a small role in both.

On the leader thing... As I said, Shoon stated once that he doesn’t want to be a leader. In fact, he seems quite content to be led —even though he’s pretty independent— as long as he gets his fair share (like getting some lines in a song), and I think the same can be said of Taiyô.

Yabu, on the contrary, is very much an inborn leader, I think, which was even more noticeable when he was younger: he was even a little bit of a tyrant! XD He also seems rather strict —particularly with himself.

About the lead singer... I really can’t decide whose voice is better —Yabu’s or Hikaru’s—, but JE certainly doesn’t necessarily follow the rule “leader/lead singer=best singer”. Yamapi is the leader of NEWS, but he’s not the best singer in the group.

The question “why is it that Taiyô and Shoon have never been as much pimped as Yabu and Hikaru have?” is something I’ll adress in another post, because there’s A LOT to be said on that. I’ll just say that I doubt it has anything to do with their being talented or not.

I’ll try to reply all the other comments later. ^^

PS: Almost forgot... The NTV poll is closed now. The site says there have been over 1 million votes!! @___@ and it seems we won’t know who has won until December 11th, when that person/group appears at Yokohama Arena. Thanks so much to everyone who voted!!

PS2: There’s a small Ya-Ya-yah picture in January’s Popolo... because it’s something like a ranking of the best photos of 2007. Well, good to know Ya-Ya-yah hasn’t been wiped out from the magazine’s history. Credits to Sora for the smaller pic and to yaya912 for the page scan.

PS3: Have you heard of Audiofic? You can listen to audio versions of great fics like Let the Sun Shine Through, by Aki, or Yugureden, and Tiny Roller Skates by Scribe, and also to an audio version of my fic Kotchan’s Story read by Aki. ^___^ Plus you can submit your own audiofics too. =]

PS4: I just had the greatest idea for Shoon’s b-day. XD Yui will know what this refers to. ;-)

a door to wherever you want