January 31, 2010

happy birthday, Yabu!

山下翔央, Yamashita Shoon, Ya-Ya-yah
That green-eyed monster (a fictional letter from Shoon)

Dear Yabucchi,

at first I thought you were joking when you said you wanted a letter from me for your birthday. 'People don't write letters anymore', you complained to me in quite a big distress. (It's cute when you get all indignant about things like that, things you can't do much about anyway.) You had received the odd postcard from a friend on vacation, yes, valentine cards -more, I suspect, than you're willing to admit-, letters from school or the jimushô, but never a real letter. I supposed it was some romantic notion you got from a movie, or maybe a book. But you seemed so sad about it. You said you wanted a long letter too, a meaningful one, addressed to you.

So here I am, sitting on my bed indian-style, writing in the still of the night, when the house is asleep. This is not my first attempt, mind you. The carpet looks like my class in primary school did when the teacher left the class for five minutes and we started a paper ball fight. The thing is... the thing is this is the first time in my life I write a letter, a real one. After several failed attempts I was rather frustrated, but then I closed my eyes, pictured you in my mind, and tried to imagine I was talking to you.

We don't have many chances to talk lately, do we? I remember how much it amused me when you discovered, a few years ago, that I was 'surprisingly easy to talk to'. I was surprised myself at you as well, couldn't you tell? I still don't know how it happened. It felt as if one day, when I was sleeping, the aliens abduced the whiny, cheeky brat -don't frown like that, you know you were!- and replaced him with this shy boy who was outgrowing me so fast I couldn't help but worry a bit.

Things got awkward -very- and even now I squirm a little when I remember the silly smiles, your quickly looking away from me every time I caught you looking... Then we started talking, for real, and if I had to pinpoint the exact day and moment, I'd say it was when I got both of us lost in Hawaii. I never told you I was a little anxious as it started getting dark and we still hadn't found our way to the hotel. You were perfectly calm, though, and when we finally got there you told the others you hadn't been the least afraid because you were with me. I want to go back to Hawaii with you and get us lost again. I want to get lost with you anywhere.

You should beware; thoughts of kidnap have been going through my head. I miss you. I want something more than a few moments stolen from your busy schedule, want something more than text messages or whispered conversations on the phone when we're both half asleep.

I miss the strangest things, like seeing you wear the ugly outfits the four of us became so attached to. I miss school - or rather, being there and spotting you in the corridors, at the library... I miss going back home with you. I miss watching you during practice, bantering with Taiyô over the silliest thing, fooling around with Hikaru.

These days I'm jealous of everyone that gets to spend more time with you than me. Tottsu, Keito... but mostly I feel jealous of Hikaru, which is so absurd I feel absurd too. I'm even jealous of that horde of screaming fans you have now. The other day, flipping through the channels, I caught the Shokura re-run -I miss that too-, and the screams were defeaning. It irked me quite a bit. They didn't scream that much before you got so annoyingly tall and lean and got that dark, dangerous heroe look... which you spoil the moment that old-man smile of yours shows up.

I wonder how many of them can claim, like me, to love that silly smile, to have liked you even when you had that high-pitched voice you used to have and that terrible bowl haircut, when you were bossy and noisy and not much taller than my waist. Sometimes I worry I'll fade slowly for you, like a face in the crowd, now you're surrounded by so many people and getting so far away from me, now you're receiving so much praise and flattery. I'm scared. Please say you still love me? I love you still the same.


This was supposed to be my entry for Yabu's birthday, but I don't know how it ended up being a fictional letter from Shoon. I don't know if that can be even considered a ficlet, but... This was inspired by a song titled Marble Halls sung by the Norwegian singer Sissel (mainly because of the line from the refrain: "I also dreamt (...) that you loved me still the same") and also by a poem (Rhyme LIII) written in the 19th century by one of my favourite poets, Becquer (mainly because of the last lines: "as I have loved you... make no mistake, they won't love you like that!"). Below you can find the song, and also the original poem and it's translation.

Marble Halls


Volverán las oscuras golondrinas / en tu balcón sus nidos a colgar, / y otra vez con el ala a sus cristales / alegres llamarán. // Pero aquellas que el vuelo refrenaban / tu hermosura y mi dicha a contemplar, / aquellas que aprendieron nuestros nombres... / ¡esas... no volverán! // Volverán las tupidas madreselvas / de tu jardín las tapias a escalar, / y otra vez a la tarde aún más hermosas / sus flores se abrirán. // Pero aquellas, cuajadas de rocío / cuyas gotas mirábamos temblar / y caer como lágrimas del día... / ¡esas... no volverán! // Volverán del amor en tus oídos / las palabras ardientes a sonar; / tu corazón de su profundo sueño / tal vez despertará. // Pero mudo y absorto y de rodillas / como se adora a Dios ante su altar, / como yo te he querido...; desengáñate, / ¡así... no te querrán!


The black swallows will return / to hang their nests on your balcony, / and once again will knock in play / against your window panes; // but those that stopped their flight and perched / to observe your beauty and my good luck, / those who learned to know our names... / those... will not return! // The honeysuckle will return, / to climb the walls in your garden, / and open once again at evening / their even more beautiful flowers, // but those blooms that were full of dew / where we saw the trembling drops / fall like tears of the day ... / those... will not return! // Ardent words of love will return / to sound and resound in your ears; / and your heart from the depths of sleep / perhaps will wake again; // but silent, absorbed, on bended knee, / as men worship God at His altar, / as I have loved you ... make no mistake, /they won't love you like that!

PS: Translation of the text on the header, for the curious: (left) "Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men." (this is a quotation by Seneca) (right) "Someday I want to try and fly into the sky for real." - "Happy 20th birthday, Yabu!"

January 26, 2010


I keep telling myself I should save this for Yabu's birthday, but I really want to share it, because I've rewatched these 2 performances like four or five times already and I love them. I'm referring to two performances from last Sunday's SC in .ts (1920x1088): the BEST medley, and Yabu's performance of Just Wanna Lovin' You with A.B.C.-Z. The part where I share with you the download links will come later in this entry, because -if you will allow me-, first I need to gush about how awesome Yabu and Hikaru are. I wish they could appear in Shounen Club more often and sing solo, or together. BEST is fine with me too. I can think of them as half Ya-Ya-yah + half JJExpress. Takaki is still not my cup of tea, but Inoo amuses me with his perpetual, impish, pixie smile, and Daiki is the gentle, shy orphan type that makes you want to adopt him... or a little lord.

Anyway, back to the performances, the BEST members seemed to heartily enjoy performing the songs that belonged originally to the two junior groups they were part of before they debuted. Ah, that was a long-winded way to refer to Ya-Ya-yah and J.J.Express and it sounded weird. XD;;; And normally when I watch some HHS (Hi!Hey!Say!) or SYYJ (Shuumatsu YY JUMPing) live stage in which Yabu and Hikaru perform Ya-Ya-yah songs there's often a certain awkwardness and strangeness, but on the BEST medley I didn't get that feeling, and I think it might have to do with the fact that they were clearly enjoying themselves, and I was happy to see that. I also liked the thoughtfulness of whoever decided Takaki-Inoo-Daiki should sing Back in Time on their own, at the front, and then Yabu-Hika should sing Stompin' on their own too, and yet I loved seeing Inoo mouthing the lyrics while he backdanced, and it felt right, because the three of them were a large part of the Ya-Ya-yah show.

As a minor complaint of course there's the detail of "we are B·E·S·T, that's right" replacing the original "we're J.J.Express, that's right", which made me wince. I know it would be out of place if they said "we're J.J.Express" when they no longer are, but it's just as strange as the A.B.C.-S (that's for A.B.C.-Shoon LOL) performance in SC in which they finished saying: "we are Acrobat Boys Club". Here's a plead to the old man that Ai Kotoba wa Ya-Ya-yah will never become Ai Kotoba wa Hey-Say-JUMP. m(_ _)m ... *shudders*

Ah, but then there's this look on Yabu's face, right before he and Hikaru step forward, as if he's breathing deeply and thinking "right, here we go", and the old man smile I adore blooms on his lips, and it's the infectious, bright smile we've seen so many times, the smile that says: "Gosh, I love this!". Seeing Yabu smile like that makes me happy.

Hikaru is all kinds of awesome too, and while he has definitely matured as an artist, it's cute to see he still hasn't left his boyish features behind. He looks pretty much like he did two years ago -even his voice still retains that boyish quality- and that's kind of... I don't know, it feels as if he's just the same good ol' Hikaru as always, as though the debut hasn't changed him in the slightest bit. I'm sure what happened made him wiser at the cost of getting heartbroken, but he's still the easygoing, laidback Hikaru of always. =) That, coupled with his impeccable, confident performing style make him stand out. I just wish his stylist would find a fitting haircut for him. ^^;;; A darker shade of brown would suit him better as well.

Yabu, on the other hand, seems to have turned into a chameleon: he has such a perfect symbiosis with the stage! He thrives on the stage. In the past I sometimes "complained" of his stiffness and slightly forceful moves when he danced, and I also commented that he showed he had managed to pretty much get rid of that with Arashi no Carnival. Well, he has moved on to a higher level, has achieved the perfect balance between great dancing and a very personal style marked by a certain sexy briskness in which every single movement looks well studied and precise. If Gundam Wing's Heero Yui danced, he'd dance like Yabu, I swear. XD But that's not all; there's also this cute, cheeky sexiness to Yabu -like that V sign accompanied by a smile- that reminds you of the bratty, little Yabu with his bowl haircut, who knew he'd get his own way, no matter what.

The Just Wanna Lovin' You performance is simply breathtaking and beautiful, which largely has to do with A.B.C.'s masterful dancing. Z is doing so well too. That's got a lot of merit. It's cute how you can still catch him peeking at the nearest group member now and then, as though to check he's doing it right. ガンバレ、はっしー(・ω・)/ The fact that it's a Ya-Ya-yah song, and that Yabu has performed this song in the She Loves Me musical he's doing these days filled it with even more significance.

In the unlikely case you didn't watch these two performances yet, or if you feel like re-watching them now...

The Just Wanna Lovin' You performance made me teary-eyed and melancholic the first time I watched it. It brought back so many memories in a rush, and I kept seeing Taiyô and Shoon dancing to that song -like they did so many times- on my mind. For me it's a very special song that shows the progression Ya-Ya-yah had. It went from being essentially a Yabu/YabuHika song in which Taiyô and Shoon merely backdanced (together with A.B.C., by the way - I like how A.B.C. have always had such a close bond with Ya-Ya-yah and with Yabu in particular) in 2003, to Taiyô and Shoon getting to do the "rap" part in 2005, and then in 2007 to be a song the four of them sang all together. That's what I mean to illustrate with the clips below. =)

This one is from the 2003.06.08 SC. Taiyô and Shoon only backdanced in this, and it was actually A.B.C. who did the rap part and the chorus parts.

This second one is a medley of Stompin', Just Wanna..., and Stand by Me with Jimmy Mackey from the 2003.07.06 SC. Hikaru is missing in this, but it's one of my favourite versions. Here, during Just Wanna..., again, Yabu sings and Shoon and Taiyô backdance.

Same medley, only in Music Station this time in 2003.06.06, so technically I should have put this before the previous one, but never mind. Another difference is that Hikaru was present in this one, and there's A.B.C.-T (T for Yoshikazu Tôshin). I wonder what's become of Tôshin and if he's still in Johnny's. We haven't seen him since the Countdown of 2007. =( In this one it's YabuHika who do the singing in Just Wanna..., while once again Taiyô and Shoon backdance.

And we fast-forward now to 2005.01.16 SC. Yet another performance of Just Wanna..., but in this one Shoon and Taiyo got to do the rap part. Shoon seemed particularly anxious to get to those few, rare seconds of protagonism because he stepped forward too fast for Taiyô to follow. XD This performance is one of my favourites too, because the difference between Shoon and Taiyô, Yabu and Hikaru -but especially between Taiyô and Shoon- was so striking! Shoon was no longer a child and half-way through to becoming a heartthrob, while Taiyô who was already as tall as him, or even a bit taller, still looked so much younger than the actual age gap between them.

And the last stop in this journey back in time is yet another performance of Just Wanna... plus Itoshi no Playgirl from the 2007.02.11 SC. In this one all four of them sing, and I loved it when the four of them sang together, because the sound was great. Things were moving in the right direction, but just when they were about to grasp the Moon... it turned into a big, white balloon with the laughing face of Johnny Kitagawa on it, and flew away. =/

*sigh* Anyway, back to the present. I said I wanted to share with you those two performances in .ts but, due to recent events I won't get into, I've decided to change my sharing policy in what regards Hyakushiki and any Yabu/Hikaru .ts or rare files I might share here in the future. I don't like rules, and never in my life did I think one day I'd be setting up rules here, but it's this, or watermarking, or sharing the videos privately just with a few friends, and I don't want to do any of those things. I'm extremely sorry for the inconvenience. m(_ _)m Maybe I'm being incredibly naive by doing this, but I still believe people are esentially good, so please don't betray my trust. I'm also aware I'll probably be criticized for this, but in my defense, I'm doing this against my will.


- The last file of each of these performances requires a password.
- If you're a member of the Shoon LJ comm, it's the same password I set for the Hyakushiki HD files, so if you have it already, you can skip this.
- You need to leave a comment to get the password (the comment page is located on LiveJournal)
- I'll send you the password via a LiveJournal private message, so make sure your LJ preferences allow you to get private messages from any LJ user.
- If you don't have an LJ account, send me an e-mail (esarein8 at yahoo.es)
- By requesting the password you make it implicit that I have your word on the following:
1) you will not to give the password to anybody else
2) you will not re-post these videos on any community, blog, journal, etc.
3) you will not share these videos through private messaging, e-mail or any other method - if you want another person to have them, give them the link to this entry
- To make things easier for you and me, please paste this in your comment:
http://www.livejournal.com/inbox/compose.bml?user=yourLJusername and type your LJ username where indicated.

To speed things up, I've already PM-ed the password to those of you who regularly leave comments on this blog. =)

2010.01.17 SC HD - BEST medley.ts .001 .002 .003

2010.01.17 SC HD - Just Wanna Lovin You.ts .001 .002

January 18, 2010

happy b-day Taiyô!

山下翔央, Yamashita Shoon, Ya-Ya-yah
Happy birthday, Taiyô!!! Hope you're having a great day and that Shoon, Yabu and Hikaru managed to get together with you for celebrating. =)

Taiyô is now one year short of turning 20! Time does fly. It's been some months since the last time we got to see a pic of Taiyô attending a party with some friends (it was so nice to see him again, and smiling and having fun too!), but thanks to Aki we also know now that he's doing well, and that's enough for me. =)

I just wish some things were different and that other things had been different or hadn't happened. The things that I wish hadn't happened you know them already, and I think we all feel the same way about them: the disappearance of Ya-Ya-yah, and Taiyô quitting. The things I wish were different? They mostly have to do with the way things are done in Johnny's.

Sometimes Johnny's feels like a dictatorship, in which you're expected not to ask for explanations, because they will lie to you (who can possibly buy the "he's taking a break to focus on his studies" anymore?) or not give you any explanations at all. They also stifle the fans protests and set bans (like the uchiwa ban on Shokura) they only lift when they're certain the riot has passed. I must say I'm glad it's been two years before they finally decided it was safe to lift the uchiwa ban.

And, pretty much like in dictatorships, a part of the blame lies on those who meekly accept their rules and everything they do, taking whatever they offer, following the path they lay out for them. I know it's just plastic pop and fandom we're talking about, but sadly this kind of behaviour reflects on real life situations too. We should always stand up for our beliefs, in things big or small. Everything counts.

However, of course, you can rebel against a dictator but, being realistic, unless you have a lot of people backing you, you stand few chances of success. But I digress.

Two years have gone by, and Taiyô, Hikaru, Yabu and Shoon have gone on with their lives and are doing well and seem happy. I'm sure they'll always cherish their years as Ya-Ya-yah members and have left behind the hurt and disappointment for not debuting together, for the way things turned out. For me it's a bit harder, as I think it is for many of you too, because Ya-Ya-yah's disbandment was managed in the worst possible way by Johnny's Entertainment. They could have made a public announcement, let the boys have an official goodbye on the Ya-Ya-yah show, could have acknowledged their hard work of almost six years. We just got silence and a surprise, debut announcement that was supposed to delight us. The uncertainty for Taiyô's fans, when he just disappeared from Shounen Club and the magazines was even worse. It would be nice if JE learned to show a bit of respect for the fans. We are, after all, the ones who fill their pockets.

I'm afraid this hasn't come out as a happy birthday post, but I feel angry with JE everytime I see the trace of hurt and bitterness in some fans because of what they did. Some are now rooting for other juniors, crossing their fingers that this time their hopes won't be crushed, others have abandoned the fandom altogether, others have moved on to debuted idols to protect themselves from further disappointment and hurt, others have stopped blogging. I'm rooting for Shoon and will try to keep the memory of Ya-Ya-yah alive, but I no longer expect much from JE.

I wanted to give Taiyô's fans a little birthday gift, and since sadly I can't pay a paparazzo to stalk Taiyô (I wouldn't either, anyway, poor Taiyô, now they don't chase him anymore XD) nor have any way to contact him, it had to be scans. =) There's a fic in the making too but you know I'm a slow writer. m(_ _)m Anyway, the scans are a bit of a rarity, from the 2004 January issue of a mag called Shougaku Rokunensei, and it has the most adorable pic of chibi Taiyô ever. ^___^ He looks so huggable! I also cleaned that picture a bit with Photoshop, so I'm sharing that as well.

Must-visit Taiyô-birthday posts in case you missed them: (If you've seen some other Taiyô-birthday-related post worth sharing or you yourself have a post you want to share, please leave a comment with the link and I'll add it. =))

+ Wish Taiyô a happy b-day at the Ya-Ya-yah comm and learn what news Aki has from him.
+ Watch a cute sunny video made by Oza for the ocassion
+ Read a sweet b-day letter written by Mokiko
+ Yuu-chan's post with a lovely b-day banner
+ Read Asami's b-day fic
+ Read another fic by ryo_anne

PS: The text on the header says "Happy 19th b-day, Taiyô; never lose that bright smile!" and "The bird of paradise alights only upon the hand that does not grasp." (a quotation by John Berry about happiness that I think fits Taiyô very well because even though it was most likely a hard decision to make, he decided to quit and let go.

2004.01 Shougaku Rokunensei scans
click to view or download

January 14, 2010

Johnny's and the crisis

山下翔央, Yamashita Shoon, Ya-Ya-yah
random: wouldn't Johnny's & The Crisis be a great name for a rock band? XD I wonder to what extent the economic crisis is affecting Johnny's. I've pondered over this now and then in the past months because of different things that have happened, like Kindai (one of the magazines that featured Johnny's every month) closing down, or Asahi TV's cooking show Hadaka no Shounen (on which Johnny's appeared weekly) coming abruptly to an end, or the loooong time it has taken HSJ to release a new single (?!).

More recently I've been wondering if the lack of on-location reports in Hyakushiki might be due to the economic crisis too. Or rather, there ARE on-location reports, but most times they look more like documentaries with a voice over. Then we've also seen Shoon or him and Keito play "yurui games" (aka yurugee)... on the surroundings of the Fuji TV building! (I mean, they could have gone to a park, or an amusement park or whatever.) And now, on Tuesday, it was a crew member (I think the show's director?) who went on-location to tape the report! O_o Maybe I'm mistaken, but I suppose they have to pay more to the boys when they do on-location reports? I can't find any other reason for this. I'm sure that most of the people who watch the show watch it for the cast, and we want to see the boys, not the crew! ^^;;;

Yurugee bookSo yeah, I hope Japan will pull out of the crisis soon (oh, well at any rate I'm sure it will pull out sooner than us with the universal idiot, aka the Spanish Mr. Bean, we have for a president). In the meantime the only thing we can do is support Johnny's in any way we can. Fuji TV is now offering us a way to support Hyakushiki: at the end of this month they will release on the 27th of this month a compilation book of all the "yurugee" they've aired on the show.

It will cost 880 yens and can already be pre-ordered at amazon.co.jp. No idea what the contents are or whether it will include any photos of the boys or not though. You can see the cast promoting it in the video below (at around 01:01 after the yurugee segment). Also, in case you don't know, you can download Hyakushiki every week in MQ and HD at the Shoon LJ community.

I hope they'll come up with more funny things like the yurui games too (which they're re-airing now, by the way - crisis much? =_=). My friend Mabel and I sent a couple of theme suggestions, because sometimes the themes they choose are a bit boring as well, but no luck so far. =/ They could always involve a foreigner in the show; foreigners are fun! 8D No, really. I found the following clip some days ago and I laughed so much I decided I had to share it with you, so I subbed it in English. It's so easy to sub clips with Dailymotion! =) I never tried it before and it's awesome. Originally it was subbed in Spanish, so please excuse the double subs). A Spaniard from Vigo, a city in the region of Galicia, in the Northwest, recently took part in a Japanese TV anime songs singing contest (the subs say it's the most watched show, with over 10 million viewers, but I suppose that's a joke XD). And he won too! It's hilarious to watch and the guy is so funny too. XD [note: he let them believe he was singing in Spanish, but he actually sang in Galician, a language spoken in the region of Galicia. In spite of being such a tiny country, we have five languages: Galician, Basque, Catalan, Aranés and Spanish, and several dialects).] [note2: Mizuki Ichirô was the singer who interpreted Mazinger Z's theme song and acts as judge in the contest. He makes a pun of the word Z (zetto in Japanese) and the emphatic, sentence ending particle "ze".]

In other news, I finally finished my belated fic for Shoon's birthday, (Cross the Line). =) I'm slowly x-posting it to different places.

Title: Cross the Line || Length: One-shot || Genre: Romance || Rating: PG13 || Pairing: YabuxShoon || Summary: It's Yabu's 20th birthday, and the last night he stages She loves me, the musical for which he had been entrusted, for the first time, with the leading role. It was his day, but Shoon had to go and spoil everything the night before with the most shocking and unexpected revelation.

And one of my New Year resolutions was to continue scanning the rest of the Ya-Ya-yah articles from 2002 to 2007, so today I want to share with you a new batch of scans, this time from 2002.05 Wink Up (Taiwanese edition), 2002.06 Duet, 2002.06 Wink Up (Japanese & Taiwanese edition - curiously the Taiwanese article consists of just 1 page! ?_?) You can view the scans individually, clicking on each of the 3 thumbnails, and choose which ones you want to download, or download all in a .rar file (11MB) [it's a bit late now to say it, but this is my first post of the year so... happy New Year! I hope 2010 will be a great year for all of us. Fingers crossed. x^_^x] Next stop is Taiyô's 19th birthday!! =D Talk to you on Monday. ;)