September 23, 2008


山下翔央, Yamashita Shoon, Ya-Ya-yah
[it's still September 23rd here in Spain, but it's the 24th already in Japan - has been so for a good many hours -, so treat this post as if it was written on the 24th]

Feel like having a collective hug? I'd like to gather you all in that symbolic hug, to thank all those of you who follow this blog, whether you comment or not. Thanks for still being there. It's largely thanks to you that I'm still here. Today it's been a year since Ya-Ya-yah was disbanded, and one year after I still get e-mails from people who have discovered them one way or another and want to say "I'm a late-comer, but I've fallen for Ya-Ya-yah and I wish they were still around". They're all heart-warming, passionate e-mails that remind me why I am a Ya-Ya-yah fan. =)

It seems like fate decided this had to be the day for another painful event for me, one year after. Today I went to bid farewell to the people I've been working with for the last 6 years. And Ya-Ya-yah had been around for 6 years too... spooky! I'm such a sentimental there were a couple of moments when I got teary-eyed when I was talking to my "boss" and then to one of the proofreaders who used to check my translations. ._. Oh, well, it was a chapter of my life that needed closure, and now I'm starting a new one, like Hikaru, Taiyô, Shoon and Yabu were a year ago, albeit for them it was against their will. I hope they'll lend me some of their strength so I'll face these changes in my life as bravely as they did.

I wish I had something deep and meaningful to say on this anniversary we all wish we didn't have to celebrate, but we can choose to be sad, or turn it into a day to remember Ya-Ya-yah as they deserve. For Japanese fans the four-leaf clover is a symbol of Ya-Ya-yah, an idea I've always liked. However, for some reason, a couple of weeks ago I saw a photograph of forget-me-nots on a webpage while surfing the Net and thought of Ya-Ya-yah. Forget-me-nots, for those who don't know, are those flowers on the current header, tiny yet strong flowers that can grow even on the Arctic tundra. Memories are like that too, stubborn, and so are we, Ya-Ya-yah fans. Let's be stubborn one more year, shall we? Go watch a Ya-Ya-yah episode, or a clip, or a livestage, and let the magic work once again; forget them not. =)

Forget Me Not, by Lucie Silvas

Forget me not, I ask of you
Wherever your life takes you to
And if we never meet again
Think of me every now and then

We had just one day to recall
Now all I want is something more
Than just a fading memory
Left wondering what could have been.

Isn't it a shame, that when timing's all wrong
You're doing what you never meant to,
There's always something that prevents you.
Well I believe in fate, it had to happen this way
But it always leaves me wondering whether...
In another life we'd be together.
We should feel lucky we can say... we've always got yesterday

And as I leave it all behind
You're still emblazoned in my mind
And for that very special day
Nobody loved me in that way

Forget me not, I ask of you
Wherever your life takes you to
And if we never meet again
Think of me every now and then

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September 18, 2008

an essential guy

山下翔央, Yamashita Shoon, Ya-Ya-yah
I felt the need to write this entry after reading a certain post on the LJ of a fan friend, Hydee(a.k.a. ixarese).

I've been trying to avoid writing entries like this because I want to stop angsting over fandom stuff, but for once I'm perfectly calm and content fandom-wise, so I thought I might as well try to dispel the fog of worry that seems to be settling down around Shoon.

In the past months I've learned what it is like to feel down and worried for 4 Japanese idols I became a fan of. Time has passed, and their lives go on, and so does mine, and the world didn't crumble, but there were moments when I felt really, really deppressed. It felt as if somebody I loved had died. Looking back at it now I don't feel ashamed of having felt so strongly about it (and I still do), but I wish I had found a way to see it more rationally and suffer less, or at least recover earlier.

That's why in the past weeks I've let many "rant occasions" pass.

A couple of weeks ago, for instance, there was all this commotion because of a letter JE sent to the members of JFC (Johnny's Family Club) to ask fans to behave properly (i.e. no stalking, etc.) A number of messages supposedly written by each of the members of Arashi, NEWS, KAT-TUN and HSJ, and by Hasshi on behalf of the juniors started spreading on line. When I learned about it, it made me feel so disgusted and so bad that I read everybody's rants and comments on the matter, but I was unable to voice my opinion. You know, much like when you have a lump in your throat.

Now we know the messages were fake (several JFC members have confirmed they only received a letter; no messages), that they were most likely made up by some Japanese fan, but at first nobody knew where they had come from, so naturally all of us felt awful. It only felt all the more awful with all those supposedly real messages. It doesn't matter that they were false though, because they're probably based on things that really happen, like some cases you can read about here.

Anyway. I didn't write a rant about it, so... how did I react to it?
1) Felt awful and, being a bit of a masochist, read every rant/comment I found.
2) Felt guilty even though I've never stalked or harassed any JE boy (or anybody else for that matter).
3) Deleted the paparazzi pictures from my Flickr album. I haven't deleted the ones on my hard disk, though, I must admit; I'm weak. .__. Shoon is too cute/cool in many of them. ^^;;; But they're all pics I found online; I don't own a single paparazzi pic. In fact... how come it isn't illegal in Japan to take paparazzi pics of underaged celebrities? Here in Spain it is.
4) Considered leaving the fandom because I kept thinking "I don't want to ever get obsessed to that point; I don't want to cause, even indirectly, any harm to Shoon".
5) Realized I was exaggerating.

I'm glad I didn't write that rant and spent that time doing other things instead. Now the commotion has passed I can put things in perspective, and I'm thinking of doing something that might be of actual help, like starting an awareness campaign against paparazzi pics if people didn't buy them, the paparazzi wouldn't bother taking them, right?

Another recent instance in which I managed to escape the temptation to rant was when it was reported that a certain Japanese tabloid had published an article about a rumour that claimed some Japanese A.B.C. fans had attended Summary with Shoon-bashing uchiwas.

I believe certain fans capable of that shameful behaviour, but it was a rumour, and it was coming from a tabloid as well, so I told myself to calm down. Actually, even if it were true, I'm sure Shoon can tell sensible, respectful fans apart from petty, unfeeling fanatics. Also, he's strong, and I'm sure he wouldn't let it bother him for long. As Socrates once said, if an ass kicked you, would you go and sue it? =)

Yeah, I didn't let that dampen my spirits, and that was another rant ocassion successfully avoided. 8Dv

Now, there's a bit of angst in the junior fandom lately surrounding A.B.C., Hasshi... and Shoon as well. It's strange for me in what regards Shoon because I'm "happy" with his current situation. I say "happy", with quotation marks because of course I'll always want more for him, but what really matters is that almost one year after Ya-Ya-yah's break up he's still standing. Plus he's still fighing... and how! With nails and teeth. =)

Tinuviel228 left a comment on one of the previous entries saying: Sometimes, when I see Shoon now, I wonder why he couldn't have been like this a bit sooner... is it because he didn't try as hard before or was it because he didn't get the chance?

My reply was that -and this is mere speculation on my part- I think he went through a rough period and was somewhat indifferent towards his job for a while, roughly between mid 2004 and early 2006, during the time he became little else than Yabu-Hika's shadow with Taiyô. Also, I don't mean to say it was traumatic for him, but mid 2004 was the time when Hoshino left JE, and they were undeniably close, so that probably brought him down quite a bit. Back to what I was saying, neither Taiyô nor him got to do much for a long while, and Shoon strikes me as a person who doesn't want to stand out (i.e. be the star of the show), but who loves challenges and doing new things.

He had a couple of challenges/chances during that time though, West Side Story and Satomi Hakkenden. I think WSS was a bit too stressing for him to enjoy the experience fully - after all he was measuring himself against people like Ohno, Matsumoto Jun, or Ikuta Toma. JE clearly had high expectations from him at the time. Pity those expectations seem to come and go. =/

Shoon himself has admitted he wasn't much more comfortable at first when filming Satomi Hakkenden, surrounded by older people, and that's where the big-hearted senpai episode took place - meaning Takki, most likely. =) He looked very happy and comfortable when he appeared on Tokyo Friend Park with the rest of the cast afterwards, though. ^___^ It was just a small role, like in WSS, but sufficient for him to be noticed. =)

I think I need to clarify that when I say he went through a "rough period" I don't mean it was rough for him all the time. It obviously had its ups and downs. ^^ But largely, and in particular in what regarded his place in Ya-Ya-yah and the juniors, just like Taiyô, he was hardly getting attention. You can't call "getting attention" to being little more than a backsinger/backdancer whenever they performed. On the Ya-Ya-yah show he didn't get lots of attention either, just ocassionally and with the exception of the AiQ skits. There are several rankling examples of Ya-Ya-yah episodes in which Taiyô and Shoon merely trailed behind Yabu and Hikaru like ducklings.

Anyway, my point is that partly I'd say that yes, he didn't get many chances to show what he was worth other than the ones I mentioned above, and also that I have a feeling he came to a point at which he didn't care much because he probably felt things were not going to change. I mean that for a long while it looked as if, even if they debuted, Taiyô and him would always be in the background.

Things started to look up gradually sometime in 2006 - I'd say in the Summer, when he was given his own original solo (BadxNice), when he had some lines and a bit of spotlight in SummerxSummerxSummer, and also when Hikaru became part of Kitty and was away and busy with the KittyGYM stuff for a while.

Little by little Taiyô started getting some more attention too, and they both started looking happier, and increasingly more self-confident. In short, things were getting more levelled inside Ya-Ya-yah, and then came rumours of debut and... well, you know what happened then, so I'll just skip that part. You don't mind, do you? ^^ We've talked about it long enough, and that was a hurtful period that's best buried and forgotten.

Though I imagine that must have hurt a lot more for Shoon, he was really brave and mature about it, just like Taiyô, Hikaru, and Yabu were, and he hardly let it show. For a while he had the look of a boxer who's a bit groggy after having been hit hard, but he hadn't been knocked out, and little by little he regained his ground and started punching back, harder every time. =) And that's the way to go about anything in life, you know, because when life punches you in the face, you have to punch back harder.

Now Shoon knows there's a lot of people who support him and he looks content and confident and seeing him go through all this has made me see that I shouldn't worry so much about him, and believe in him. Or, as a Chinese proverb says: "You cannot prevent the birds of worry and care from flying over your head. But you can stop them from building a nest in your head."

What's going to become of Shoon?, many wonder. Only JE knows, but I'm not going to let myself fret. Whether he joins A.B.C. or not, whether he debuts with other juniors HSJ style or not, whether he becomes the next Toma or the next Tôshin, I know he's going to be okay. Once I described Shoon as a "lonely reed", and everyday I'm more convinved it's a fitting description. Reeds are not broken even by the strongest wind. They bend with the wind and then straighten again. Shoon is flexible too and has shown he can face any challenge and pull it off gracefully.

And he is going to be fine... because he is an essential guy. *points to the pic below* That's a page from a beauty/entertainment magazine called Voce (ヴォーチェ), from February of 2005, and lo and behold Shoon is sharing printed space with Matsumoto Jun, Yamapi, and Ryô. According to the magazine he's among "the essential guys", and he's "the next heroe". The philologist in me snickers evilly at how they refer to the other three as "the OTHER heroes" LOL This was back when Shoon was doing WSS (remember mags always go like 2 months ahead), but I know Shoon's got it in him to take his rightful place in the spotlight again. He just needs a little chance... and he'll make the most of it. =)

2005.02 Voce

PS: I'm still catching up; if anybody wants my scans of the September Shoon pages, click here

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September 17, 2008

Hyakushiki love

山下翔央, Yamashita Shoon, Ya-Ya-yah
[FORENOTE: A piece of good news: Shoon will be performing a solo song in one of the October SCs. =D *dances* The song's title is 欲望のレイン (Yokubou no rain - Rain of Desire) and you can watch it here on YouTube performed by Toma & Yamapi. There's a lyrics transcription and translation on the right as well, and the lyrics are really... um... steamy. XDDDDD For once I'm glad my Japanese is not so good, or I'd die listening to Shoon saying those things. D: I hope this means a "real" solo, with no backsingers, and not a 1 and a half minute of the song. *crosses fingers*]

Hyakushiki is so much love of late that I can't resist x-posting from the Shoon LJ community my latest Hyakushiki-centric entries and clips. For those of you who are not members of the comm. They go in reverse chronological order (newer to older).

September 16th

The theme of today's Hyakushiki was "chicken"... who on earth comes up with these themes? XD ...and I discovered a side of Shoon I didn't know: Shoon the poet. Apparently there's a rumour that he has a gift for literature (wow, who knew? =D), so he's asked to compose an ikku (一句 - a one haiku-poem) to yakitori (skewered, grilled chicken). LOL And just as it was to be expected it was both sweet and witty. ^3^ Forget Shakespeare; I prefer Shoon's verses. ^-^ [click here if you don't know what a Haiku is]

translation of Shoon's ikku: 焼き鳥や 君がタレなら 僕は塩 [Yakitori-ya. Kimi ga tare nara; boku wa shio] Yakitori-shop. If you were the tare (a type of sauce), I'd be the salt. ("Kimi" is an intimate form of "you" men use to address their girlfriends/wives, and "boku" is one of the masculine forms of "I/me") [yakitori is usually served with salt and tare sauce - wikipedia]

The new header was inspired by this. =)

September 9th

Today's Hyakushiki can be summarized in a 6 minutes video. The rest of the show was clips from old episodes. =/ But seeing the guys mimicking the Gokusen cast (I guess?) was fun. My favourite bit is where Shoon shows Sanada how to really dance. 8D

September 2nd

A rough explanation of what Shoon and the woman say (or what I grasp, rather): Shoon tells the others about a dream he sometimes has, in which he wakes up, looks at his reflection in the mirror and realizes in horror that his hair is gone. And knowing how coquetish he is and how fond he's of his hair must be a real nightmare. LOL The lady says his dream reveals he's a secretive person (himitsu shugi - 秘密主義). Not that we didn't know before, right? Even the voice over describes him as ミステリアスな山下 (the mysterious Yamashita). XD Then she also adds that his dream means his character is marked by rationality ("shikou" 思考), strength of will, I think (意思 - "ishi")", and also says that it expresses leadership (リーダーシップを表す - "leadership wo arawasu") and if I'm not wrong she concludes that it indicates he's a person that doesn't want to stand out but does? (目立つ人 - "medatsu hito") (in fact she says that a bald person stands out, which is true) I believe that's so because she explains something I'd already heard somewhere, that when you dream you're naked or bald as Shoon does, you're afraid of standing out or that you're worried your secrets will be exposed somehow. That's an interesting analysis of Shoon's personality, isn't it?

note: the full clip has been subbed by 33_snowfish and smalltownsburns and can be downloaded here

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September 07, 2008

Higher! Fly!

山下翔央, Yamashita Shoon, Ya-Ya-yah
What can I say? It was a great performance, and Shoon outdid himself so as to not lose to A.B.C. =) His dancing, singing, acrobats and rapping were great, the song and coreography were really cool... and it's late, so I'll just post the talk and performance and update this post tomorrow. Plus one part of the SC is not up yet. Also... new header because the pic is worth a header. ;-) Thanks to Enshinge for the scan! ^0^

*Para Coni: Recibí tu e-mail y te he intentado contestar, pero mi servidor me devuelve el mensaje. Escríbeme a =)*


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September 01, 2008

radish boy

山下翔央, Yamashita Shoon, Ya-Ya-yah
I'm definitely back home. In the city, I mean. ^^ I spent this past week with my parents at their Summer house in the countryside, which is about an hour from the capital, but still within the province of Madrid. I love the place. I spent many happy Summer holidays there during my childhood and teenage years, and I still escape there whenever I can take a break. The only thing I dislike about going there is that my Internet connection there is horribly slow, so I decided to wait till I came back to update and catch up with all the stuff I missed while I was away. Like Hyakushiki. =)

Yesterday night I downloaded last week's Hyakushiki from Kamichan's site, and Shoon made me laugh so much in the game at the end of the show! I subbed that part (well, not all of it) for those of you who haven't seen it yet or didn't understand it. Please bear in mind that it's a loose translation and also that my Japanese is just so-so. Corrections are most welcome. =) I miss Kato Kan T___T When is he coming back?

He's so funny! ^____^ ...and random! XD But then that's the kind of humour I like best, the kind of absurd humour that makes me laugh. And it's kind of amazing to see how quickly he goes from one character to another: he's playing a tough rapper, and then all of a sudden he turns into an idiotic foreigner speaking Japanese. LOL That was hysterical. I always wondered what foreign people must sound like to Japanese ears when speaking Japanese, and now I know! XD Not us, Spaniards, I hope, since we have the same vowel sounds. That was mean, Shoon! XD But funny. XDDDD

I also loved the little, silly and slightly gay XD dance Shoon was doing when it was Takada Sho's turn. LOL Oh, and I can't wait to see the next episode... Shoon in pajamas. *__* I sleep in the exact same position as Takada! XD *gets shot* And I can't wait to get a HQ version of this episode to take like a dozen screencaps of this part.

Actually I was curious and searched for the song on YouTube... and found it! These Kome Kome Club (米米 Club) guys are pretty hilarious too. XD

Anyway, it's been some time since the last time I scanned some Ya-Ya-yah pages, so I chose two Stand by Me articles from 2004 that are pretty rare. They all look so young and cute. ^0^ But poor Shoon gets his name spelled wrongly in both ("Shon" in one and "Syon" in the other XD) Please don't repost these scans, thanks. =) Feel free to use them for icons, graphics, or translations, though. Credits appreciated but not necessary. Remember that header I used some months ago, on Shoon's 7th anniversary in JE, when things were not looking good for him? The one that said "how much higher will Shoon have to jump for JE to realize that he deserves more chances?" or something like that? Some of you asked where was that from, well, it's from one of these articles as you can see. =)

2004.07 TV Life - 2004.07 TV Life 2 -
2004.09 Candy - 2004.09 Candy 2 -
2004.07 TV Life :: 2004.09 Candy

And this has nothing to do with Shoon nor Ya-Ya-yah, but I'm so ridiculously proud of my digital camera I just wanted to show you a few of the hundreds of photos I've taken this past week at the countryside. XD I always got frustrated with my old, non-digital camera, but a digital camera makes things so much easier. =D

Left: back view of my parents Summer house, taken from beneath a fig tree in the corner. Right: wood pidgeon that has its nest on the pine tree in front of my parents Summer house. Wood pidgeons are a type of wild doves. I dislike doves because they're like air rats, but wood pidgeons live in the countryside and have a much more healthy diet of insects and such than city doves.

back view of my parents Summer house, taken from beneath a fig tree in the corner wood pidgeon that has its nest on the pine tree in front of my parents Summer house

Left: two lovely pansies and a shy one with a peculiar shape. Pansies are my favourite flowers. =) Right: community gardens near my parents Summer house. I like how this one turned out because it looks sort of like part of a Japanese garden. =)

two lovely pansies and a shy one with a peculiar shape community gardens near my parents Summer house

Left: an evening view of another part of the community gardens, where you can see my favourite tree in the place: an acacia. ^__^ Right: this is a flower from one of my mother's fuchsias, which we call "pendientes de la reina" (queen's earrings) in Spanish. I love trees, plants, and flowers.

community gardens near my parents Summer house Fuchsia flower

Left: the sky seen from beneath the pines. I took this one while I was sitting on a bench in one of my favourite spots for daydreaming. =) Right: my late Summer read: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. It's a great book; I loved it. ^^v

the sky seen from beneath the pines my late Summer read: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Left: some lovely lavender bushes. Right: from the camping and park sets of my Playmobil clics "collection". =D It's not exactly a "collection". Playmobil clics (those articulated plastic dolls you see on the picture) were my siblings and mine favourite toys when we were kids. They were really popular in the 70s and 80s. We got clics sets on Xmas, on our birthdays... and with five children (counting me) that's a lot of sets. When we grew up my brothers and sisters lost their interest in them, so I've been the one who took care of them. I put away each set in separate boxes, and they are all at the atic of my parents Summer house. This Summer, with the help of my new camera, I decided to start taking pictures of each set. =) I'm thinking of donating our collection to some toys museum, but the idea of parting with them breaks my heart a little.

lavender from my Playmobil clics collection

If you want to see more of my pictures click here. You can also see them all on a slide show. =)

PS: sorry I still have many comments to reply. m(_ _)m I'm still catching up after the holidays.

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