Monday, July 19, 2010

[Review] Hey! Say! JUMP's Debut Album Lives up to its Name


Trust me, this was the better of two covers...


1. DREAMER
2. INFINITY
3. Hitomi no Screen (瞳のスクリーン)
4. Shinku (真紅)
5. Ganbaletsgo! (ガンバレッツゴー!)
6. Jounetsu JUMP (情熱 JUMP)
7. Smile Song (すまいるそんぐ)
8. Memories
9. Dreams come true
10. Time
11. Score
12. Your Seed
13. I☆Scream (アイ☆スクリーム)
14. Mayonaka no Shadow Boy (真夜中のシャドーボーイ)
15. Dash!!
16. Ultra Music Power
17. Thank You ~Bokutachi Kara Kimi e~ (Thank You ~僕たちから君へ~)

Hey! Say! Wanna know what I think of Male-AKB48’s latest album? Well, you’ll know after the JUMP!

Haha, you see what I did there?

Okay, okay. All the professionalism in the world couldn’t stop me. Johnny-san seems to be running especially high on the cheesiness meter with this one. With a name like that, our latest batch of pedobait was asking for it.

Anyway, as 2NE1 would say, “it’s been a long time coming… but we’re here now.” And in celebration of this long-anticipated album, let’s take a little trip down memory lane.

A Brief History:

Hey! Say! JUMP is the latest, largest (at ten members) and perhaps the youngest idol group to be churned out of Johnny’s Entertainment, a talent agency famous for its Pretty Boy Idol Factory reputation in the Japanese entertainment industry. Believe it or not, the capitalization of JUMP in the group name doesn’t stem from the fact that group members like to emphatically scream that word whenever it comes up in a song, but rather because they are –cue drum roll—Johnny’s Ultra Music Power!


            Although Hey! Say! JUMP’s initial formation raised hell in JE fandom, as many fans of beloved Johnny’s Junior groups such as Ya-ya-yah. But like all things in fandom, the drama blew over as weak-minded fangirls succumbed to HSJ’s pedo!dream!power! as they debuted with their first single Ultra Music Power in 2007. I was one of their many victims. After a couple rainbow-and-sunshine (think Arashi on steroids) pop singles, the group shifted to a more “mature” image, serenading a er… prostitute? (Mayonaka no Shadow Boy’s elusive “Cherry”). But six singles down the road, we were all foaming at the mouth, waiting for their long overdue album. Rumors bounced around in fandom- were they going to split up? What evil plans was Johnny-san deliberating over in his dungeon? 
           
Finally, on July 7th 2010, Johnny’s Ultra Music Power made their Ultra Album Debut, Hey! Say! JUMP NO. 1 (well, I guess creativity goes flying out the window when you have legions of adoring fans, huh?). Featuring a whopping seventeen tracks, the album presents all released singles as well as album-only group tracks, and subunit (Hey! Say! 7 and Hey! Say! BEST) tracks. Seeing as this was a Johnny’s group, its no surprise that it charted number one in album sales on the Oricon.

Considering this is quite the lengthy and verbose review, although there will be plenty of eye candy to keep you entertained should you ever bore of my rambling. Grab a cup of coffee, lean back, and let's give each song the attention it deserves :) 

DREAMER's lyrics were written by
quasi-group leader Yabu Kota
The album opener has a bit of a case of identity crisis. DREAMER opens with a twinkling piano solo that quickly gives way to a sweeping, uplifting instrumental. The boys come in softly, starting out with some solo verses and slowly building into pairs, and finally singing in unison for the majority of the song. Then the identity crisis comes in- The arrangement tries to break the monotony of HSJ preaching variations of “don’t give up!” by adding a few solos in the bridge and breaking out into a “badass” (by HSJ standards, anyway) guitar solo during the instrumental break in the song. The thing is, it just comes off as being rather forced and well, bipolar. However, I especially liked the fact that there were several pretty harmonies- and the solos were also very were very nice. Also, I wondered if the boys were also doing the chorusy-humming at the very first verse? I doubt it, but it would be nice to think that Johnny was you know, actually using a ten-member vocal group to its full potential for once.
Nice going with those lyrics, Hikaru!

The album steps the energy up a notch with the next track, INFINITY, which continues the feel-good, light-hearted tone set by the first track, but giving it a more futuristic twist with an eight-bit melody that is omnipresent throughout the song. Accompanied by light, almost retro-ish synths (think TMR’s Gundam Seed songs on helium), the boys singing, “Motto, motto, motto,” is sure to get stuck in your head. This song accomplishes what the opening song tried and failed to do- it preached while still sounding fun and light-hearted. But most of all, I absolutely adored the boys’ vocal performance on this track- it felt like everyone was singing something all the time- and you know what? They should definitely do this more often, because with a group their size (yes, I will keep saying this throughout the album) they are perfectly capable, and shouldn’t be reduced to the typical pop song formula of “solo verses, chorus unison” that Johnny typically feeds them. Whether it was the melody, harmony, or layering several verses together, HSJ definitely gave their best in this song. Definitely a winner in my book.

 We enter single territory with the next track, Hitomi no Screen. One of their latest singles, we definitely see that edgy, dark and dangerous feel that the boys were going after in this song- I especially liked the opening, which is reminiscent of ARASHI’s MONSTER (yes, I am aware that MONSTER was released after this single- but ARASHI is their senpai). Aggressive synths shatter the happy-go-lucky feel of the previous tracks, and the listener is abruptly introduced to black!HSJ that like to sing catchy yet broody choruses about “seishun mystery”. The chorus, though catchy, can also be rather grating after a certain point, with the boys emphasizing Every. Other. Syllable. Like there is no tomorrow. Also, since this is a single, it holds to the obligatory pop formula, so we get our typical verse-chorus-verse business here, which is rather uninteresting, especially considering the verses do nothing to draw the listener in. Furthermore, I don’t know if it’s just me, but I just feel like HSJ can’t pull off this kind of image very well- they sound like little boys trying to sing a song that could be considered soft-core KAT-TUN material. A fair effort, but they’ve done better when they stuck with rainbows and butterflies.





One look at that face will reduce you
to a pile of fangirl mush.
            Shinku (Trans. Crimson) continues in the same broody, dark vein as HnS, but tones it down to a soft sensual feel. The opening strains sound like something out of a Kanon Wakeshima album, and that’s soon replaced by soft bongo-ish drums. The verses aren’t very interesting, but luckily they don’t last for long, and we jump into the (rather naughty, for Japan’s equivalent of Justin Beiber) chorus as the boys beg, “love me, show me, tell me,” and we are treated to a typical cheesy Latin instrumental break (which strangely, works well here) before plunging right back into HSJ’s pleas. Although vocally it is nothing exceptional, there’s just something about this track that is addicting- everything seems so overdone with it, from the clearly underage boys singing about seduction to the cheesy Latin strings. But I guess cheesiness is where a lot of Johnny’s songs get their charm. It’s also worth noting that the lyrics were apparently penned by Yamada Ryosuke, the prime pedobait of the lot- he’s the guy that shook his bootie to Asia no Yoru and all those other seductive Shounen Club performances back when he was fifteen, and had fangirls raving about his sexy prepubescent abs. Somehow it doesn’t surprise me. I’d mark this one as a guilty pleasure.


The Hey! Say! 7 of HSJ, not to be confused with the ex-group
by the same name, discussing the girl of their dreams...
            Two seconds into the next song, Ganbareretsugo! (Trans. Do your best let’s go!) and the bright, soaring synths already announce the return of peppy!happy!HSJ. Or at least, half of HSJ, because this song is sung by Hey! Say! 7, the younger half of the super group. Although a bit jarring after the last couple of songs, it is a welcome return, as these boys sure know how to work a nice pop song when they’re handed one. Hyper and bouncy, this song basically carries the same message as the previous song, only in a much more family-friendly way- the chorus has the boys crying out (clearly straining their voices): “I want you! I need you! You kanpeki no knockout! (perfect knockout)!” against bubbly beats. Sure, it sounds a little juvenile- but this kind of feel-good song is what HSJ as a whole are known for. This song, despite its simple arrangement, has the charm of the perfect pop song- its just catchy enough to get stuck in your head, but not catchy enough to get annoying the more you find yourself humming it. It also proves that the at least half the boys are still most comfortable with the bubblegum pop they’ve learned to handle since pre-debut. Maybe that’s why I don’t like their gloomier material. These aren’t hard rockers or emo types, Johnny, let them enjoy their vie en rose. Ganbare is the perfect picker-upper and energizer during these lazy summer days.


That's right Inoo... goodbye and good riddance to this one!
            Thunder crashes introduce Jounestsu JUMP and I immediately think that we’re back to black!HSJ now that the whole group is back. Not quite. This is more like… gray!HSJ. This song was used as the theme for Fuji TV’s broadcast of the nationwide scholastic volleyball tournament, although it doesn’t sound like your typical peppy support song. The melody is cushioned in a jazzy backdrop just under the poppy surface, with the occasional horn blaring in occasionally. Honestly, this is a commendable effort for variety, but everything about this song just comes off as trite and completely heard-before, from the “hey thar listen to that trumpet go, this is a jazz song, don’t forget!” to that completely unmemorable melody that seems like they recycled from a combining HnS with some other standard dark single. Yawn. That is all.




Fun fact: this lyricist is also a skilled
gymnast!
            But HSJ seems determined to get in the jazzy mood, as Smile Song opens with swings, piano, and horns. The jazz elements fade into the background, but the occasional horn accent rounds the corners of this laid-back, sunny pep song (in fact, the chorus begins with “SUN SUN SUN”- yes Chinen, we won’t forget how absolutely positive you are Chinen, we promise). Things are running very smoothly with this mid-tempo track- its an overall breezy, easy listen, and boy can you tell that Chinen wrote these lyrics with all the gooey encouragements about “changing yourself”- at least, it matches his cutesy image. It’s all smooth sailing until we hit the ending- I know you want to drive home the message Chinen, but is it really necessary to repeat “Change yourself” in that monotone five times in a row in the last seconds of the song just so you can leave a sour taste in my mouth? Don’t get me wrong, I love the boy and the song is- for the most part great. Maybe I’m feeling a little pent up resentment that he doesn’t have his cutesy girl voice anymore from back when he was still a prepeubescent baby and we were all counting down the days before his voice broke. Honestly, in a sea of ten boys that basically sound like your stereotypical Johnny- he was the highlight of the day.


Ryutaro concurs- this is the best song EVAR.
            So with the dawn of Smile Song, we are definitely easing back into white!HSJ territory, and I’m all for think that’s a good thing- until the opening melody of Memories stirs an all too fresh memory of DREAMER, down to the chorus hummers in the pre-chorus, and I start shaking my head in dismay… until we hit the chorus. Then it becomes clear that Memories knew exactly where it was going, whereas DREAMER seemed to be bumbling down a road to nowhere- Memories was an epic power ballad and the boys sound awesome. Although the line distribution and arrangement is nothing impressive, the bare-bones instrumental (well, not really, but as barebones as you can get when you’re listening to Johnny’s J-Pop) really works to showcase the boys’ voices, singing in unison and injected with just the right amount of conviction and peacefulness. For some reason, the right melody can make even the cheesiest lyrics sound poetic- for instance- perhaps the most used and abused phrase in J-Pop “wasurenaide, hitori ja nai”, or “don’t forget, you’re not alone” sounds like wonderful with just the right accents embellished by the melody and the wonderful, supportive sparkly clean accompaniment. Essentially, the ballad version of your Arashi picker uppers. One of my favorite songs off the album- although, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for ballads.


Believe it or not, this single caused quite a lot of controversy:
fangirls were fuming over the fact that the Limited Edition and
Regular Edition featured different members- supposedly, the
most "popular" on the limited one and lesser members on
the regular one. The fact that Johnny hasn't done this again
is pretty telling.
            If HSJ was setting up for the climax of their rainbows and sunshine campaign, then Dreams Come True is it. This is another Volleyball tournament song, and this is how it’s supposed to be done, Jounetsu JUMP. Now, we finally have another single on our hands, and I have to say I’m loving its placement in the album, not breaking the flow yet still switching things up a little. This single hails from back in the early HSJ days- in fact, perhaps their second single, and boy can we tell. In addition to sounding remarkably energized and happy in this song (as opposed to rebellious and seething in their later singles) we’re treated to Chinen’s lovely girl voice. Yeah, he used to have all those lovely “impressive background vocal” role in the group (thank god he could balance out Yabu’s… ahem… less than impressive lines), back when his voice still had those high notes down to a pat. Anyway, back to the song. Again, we get a very clean, typical-pop soft synth, etc. The song breaks into a funky dance segment (well, a funky dance segment masquerading as an instrumental break anyway) before we get to some shaky but passable solos in the bridge. Then comes my personal favorite part- when the Engrish comes in, chanting “reach for the sky! Reach for your dream!” leave it to Johnny to find a lyricist that can come up with the most non-cliché lines in song history. No, but really, I do love this song. I feel like it’s one of those signature HSJ songs that people are going to think back later on and peg them with. It’s also this single that really got me interested in them, for some reason. I’m sure there’s some love/hate about this song in fandom, but I am on the love side. Oh, and if the chorus doesn’t seem infectious at first, with its understated melody, trust me, you’ll get it stuck in your head a few “yume mi mashos” down the road.


Takaki Yuya looks like quite the proud
lyricist.
            We’re switching gears again with time, a cool with a fast, quasi-dance track with plenty of prominent beats and the hint of a funky, zippy synth here and there. I have to say, although I criticized their attempts to grow up too fast earlier, this song is pretty slick. The boys pull you with their stacatto chorus and the song just seems to roll from one verse to the next to a hot climax. If I didn’t like the boys' mature side before, I think they may have just won me over. Sure, the melody is a tad repetitive if you want to get into the nitty gritty, but I can tell you one thing: this will make one hell of a concert track when the boys dolled up in their shiny Johnny suits and swiveling their hips, this track is going to be just absolutely perfect. Really, don’t think about it. Just put this on and enjoy the hotness.






            The album calms down a little with the next track as the big boys come out to play in Score, an upbeat pop song featuring the older half of the HSJ crew (which still doesn’t mean anyone over the age of 20, ladies), dubbed Hey! Say! BEST. The song starts off slowly, with a distinct ballad-esque intro with each HSB member getting a few solo lines in against a very pretty, delicate melody. I thought the finger snaps that came in were also a nice touch, adding an organic feel to the opening. Then the breaking out in a poppy synth fest, with the members chanting “B! E! S! T! BEST!” I have to say I was quite impressed by the boys’ vocals in this group. Although I sort of always thought of HSB as the “second hand” after Hey! Say! 7 originally debuted in 2007, everyone sounded absolutely heavenly in this song. The song drew to a lovely close as the boys made a full circle, toning down the energetic pop and coming back to their soft-spoken opening and closing by singing “arigatou” with a simple but lovely harmony. I approve.


Planting the seed of maturity...
            I might be a little biased, but I have to say that I love the next song, Your Seed, part of the double A-side single a little while back. It was used as the theme of the Japanese adaptation of Kung Fu Panda, which of course makes it win in and of itself. The song features a very cool instrumental, with funky beats tied together appropriately with strings that simply scream Ancient China that make it one of the most unique and interesting songs on this album. This is also one of the group’s transition into a more “mature” genre, singing to past-paced beats and lower voices. However, this song gets the right balance between cute and mature, and the song is positively catchy, from the first beats to the mind-numbingly addicting chorus. Also, this song gets bonus points for being in the era when Chinen was still the official backing vocals member of the group- and for him sounding absolutely deliciously girly here. All in all, definitely a very catchy song that won’t let you forget to “believe yourself,” because “you can’t get it wrong.”

Also side note- I’m glad that Bouken Rider (the other A-side that came with the Your Seed single) was not included- it was rather bland.





Daiki advises to just walk away from this song.
            Okay, so obviously you can’t just get one song that has an identity crisis in an album, so here’s identity crisis No. 2, I * Scream. Thank god it clocks in at only two minutes and thirty seconds. Basically, it starts out with a catchy opening line accompanied by this epic-sounding, high-octane synth opening, and then lapses into some goofy rap-talking by the members, some of them appropriately yelling and screaming and occasionally calling out “Hey! Say!” then it’s apparently chorus-time, with rap interspersed throughout the song. I can tell this will be a great mid-concert pep song for the inevitable tour, but on the album it just sounds messy and disjointed. This is one of those songs I would only want to hear if there’s an audience to cheer with.    
               




HSJ looks to their manhood with solemnity in this Single
booklet scan.
Next in the line up is yet another HSJ classic A-side, Mayonaka no Shadow Boy. It was released right after Your Seed, and it marked a point of no return for the boys, I think. After the first “mature” single, Your Seed, fangirls held their breath and wondered if the whole “dark and edgy” theme was here to stay- and you know they’ve crossed the line from boyhood to manhood when the boys start giving their love interests names like “Cherry.” Oh, you naughty, naughty JE kids, you. Shadow Boy is an uptempo song with a dark undercurrent song and a Latino flair, insanely catchy from the first verse to the chorus. Although the instrumental is mostly synth-driven, tinstrument in there gives it more "organic"-ness than your typical Morning Musume song. I especially liked the voice distortion in the bridge- it’s nice to hear digital voice distortion tastefully used once in a while. Although, I think I have the same critique for this song as I do with just about any other single release they’ve put out: they’re not “optimizing” the vocal talents of their ten members. I mean, if they all got into Johnny’s, they must all have an ounce of musical talent in them- so I’m tired of hearing these straight up formulaic verses and choruses. Other than that though, definitely a solid group song.


if it's any consolation, Yuto, I liked
the lyrics. 
            As we enter the final stretch of this lengthy album, we get a change of pace with Dash!! a fresh, upbeat song. And as much as I love HSJ’s youthful, energetic side, I can’t say I’m a fan of this. The whole song sounds a little too forced- a poor man’s “Hanataku Yakusoku” (KAT-TUN) if you will. The verses sound pretty nondescript, and although the chorus picks things up a little, the boys sound like their screaming the entire time- and there is a difference between “singing loudly” and “screaming and straining your voice.” It also doesn’t help that the solos here sound pretty crappy as well. HSJ just wasn’t on their A-game vocally on this one, which is pretty much what I blame for my dislike of this song. But who knows? It could be a grower. For now though, I’m pretty much going to skip this track the next time around. Or put Harukana Yakusoku instead.


Awww! Chibi HSJ from the debut days! Look at Chii <3
            However unpleasant Dash!! was however, it definitely set the stage perfectly for the legendary debut single Ultra Music Power. Written for the 2007 National Volleyball Tournament, this song is HSJ at their peppy best. It starts with choir-esque “lalala’s” from HSJ, and then breaks into a futuristic, soaring synth-strumental. Listening to all the cheesy engrish and the Ultora Music Power of the Heisei era boys brings back fond memories (anyone remember that perf when the boys linked hands and rose in the air in a slowly rotating circle? Classic Johnny’s at work here.) Also, this song was Chinen at his girly vocalizing best. It was sad that in later performances they skipped his epic solos (presumable because he just couldn’t sing them anymore) or changed the melody completely to fit his voice. Basically, this was an epic song then and it still is now for Hey! Say! JUMP fans. It tells of humble beginnings and really shows how far these boys have come. A song for the record books.

            Now, I could say that Johnny saved the best for last and this was the end of the album. Unfortunately, it isn’t.


Keito would like like to salute fangirls who found the
courage to adore this song.
            The album concludes with the seventeenth track called Thank You ~Bokutachi Kara Kimi He~ (trans. Thank from Us to You)- predictably, a ballad track. This song is actually two songs and a “thank you message section” for each of the ten boys, which is why it clocks in at an astounding eleven minutes and forty-five seconds. The song starts off as an extremely… how should I say this… peaceful? Calm? No, wait. It’s more like Boring and Bland. How come we can’t get a Memories encore? Instead, we get this sleepy, dead, sorry excuse for a ballad with the boys singing like they’re about to doze off. Luckily, this section of the song only lasts a minute and forty seconds, and then the music picks up and I perk up a little as the song transitions into a medley of all their single songs. Although this was a very nice surprise, I have to say the fact that all the songs sounded so… awkwardly arranged did not exactly please my ear. And may I just say that the shemale background vocals were positively horrendous? Especially during the Dreams Come True section of the ballad. Absolutely ruined the medley for me. The music faded by the time we got to the third section, which was all the messages… and it was nice to hear the boys’ voices, although a tad unnecessary. I just feel bad that limited edition buyers will have to leave the album with a sour taste in their mouth despite all the perfectly good material that was present.

            Hey! Say! In the end, JUMP NO. 1 was pretty impressive. Sure, we got off on a bad foot with DREAMER, the boys may have tried too hard to be too cool once or twice, and the album may have ended badly for some- but overall, definitely a very solid effort that lives up to the name Johnny’s Ultra Music Power. Overall, the album seemed well done, although sometimes I almost wished there were some interlude songs to make the transition to certain songs slightly less disjointed. One thing I would like to see in their sophomore album however, would be a more mature use of the available vocal talent. I know, I know, this is an idol group and idol groups stick to formula. But this group has so much potential (and they've already demonstrated this in a couple of songs) that I can't help but hope. I have to admit, I used to think that large numbers mean diluted talent- and this is not to say that HSJ does not have its share of weak links, but I guess this group of boys proved me wrong. This is an album packed with just the right mix of variety and consistency that let the boys shine. If you’re new to the world of HSJ- or even Johnny’s- give this album a shot, there’s bound to be a song or two that will suit your fancy, and if you’re a diehard fan- well, chances are you already have this album on repeat.          


16 comments:

  1. I laughed at the male AKB48 part. Then I cringed at the fact that maybe one day that will actually exist -_-;

    I haven't actually listened to this album properly... when I do I'll get back to you :) in the meantime recommend to me some non-single songs on this album that you think I should listen to (because I've heard all of their singles already).

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  2. Gawd I was wondering when somebody else was going to review JUMP No.1
    I love those captions you put under the pictures. And even though I was trying hard not to be biased, Smile Song turned out to be my 2nd favourite track ( the first being Memories ;D). Well, I am a Chinen fan.
    And about your last point - sometimes I find that ten is a large number, it's difficult to showcase each boy's talents equally. I'm glad they used Chinen's high voice when they could though.
    Great review!! ^^

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  3. @dreamtiny: INFINITY, Memories, time, Shinku, and Ganbare Lets go are going on my Ipod :)

    @Migure: I love Memories to peices!! And fellow Chinen fan here :) they should let him inhale some helium or something and see if he can get that voice back.
    Jk, jk.. XD

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  4. lol i actually liked dreamer and dash!! and the medley of their singles in thank you.

    anyway its yeah kanpeki knock out for ganbaretsugo and harukana yakusoku for kat-tun's song. (sorry:x)

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  5. *haha yeah sorry, I late this quite late at night and couldn't think straight. XD
    will fix :) thanks!

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  6. i love all their song
    mostly i love Shinku, TIME, Smile Song, Thank you Bolkutachi kara kimi e, and Dash!!
    I LOVE JUMP
    Yay!!

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  7. Heh, you spelled Bieber wrongly :/
    And sorta made some mistake at Ganbaretsugo!
    It's 'Yeah Kanpeki Knockout'!
    Anyway thanks for the review! :)

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  8. haha on my way of fixing that now :)
    like I said I really shouldn't have written at three AM in the morning =P XDDD
    thanks for the feedback!

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  9. Thank you for this review. Even though I have to disagree with you on some (not many) things you said it was still very interesting and great fun to read. ^^

    Oh, and one thing: I'm pretty sure that Thank You ~ Bokutachi kara kimi e ~ is not exclusive to the Limited Edition. The Regular Edition has it too, only with a different set of messages at the end.

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  10. Kamichan- you're right about "Thank you-", thanks for the heads up :)
    I'm glad you enjoyed it. I know I had tons of fun writing it!

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  11. Thanks for the review, I really appreciate the time you took to make this! :3 I'm always happy to hear what other people think of HSJ's songs, and I really enjoyed reading this! ^_______^

    - hiromiii

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  12. thanks Hiromi <3
    HSJ is one of my favorite Johnny's groups, so I had no problem with sitting down and giving their album a couple of listens so I could really write a detailed review :)

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  13. I found your review somewhat disjointed tbh, you seemed to criticise almost every track yet praise the album as a whole. I agree, admittedly, with some of your criticisms but can't help but feel that some of your opinions were more of a personal dislike in a specific track then an accurate representation of the material.

    Also, I would like to point out that although they may be underage where you are, the national age of consent in Japan is 13, it's only local area laws that raise it to 18. Therefore the fact that they are "clearly underage" depends very much on where you live, especially considering that 9 of the 10 boys are over 16 now (a very very common age of consent internationally). Whatsmore, claiming that Yamada was prepubescent at 15 is not in any way a justified remark. Even if it didn't show, which none of us could tell, the chances are that he had at least started the process.

    PS: Was Your Seed ever classed as a double-A-side? I'm pretty sure that all references to it regard it as merely the Your Seed single.

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  14. I do tend to do that- I never really find a track "perfect", and when looking at each track individually I try to point out both its flaws and its qualities. But when you listen to an album (as opposed to say a single) I also feel like I have to look at the forest and not just the trees (excuse the platitude). As an entire album it is, like I said, impressive. And this is my review, so I think I SHOULD have a little of my personal opinion in it? XD. I can see how it might have made the review less coherent though... I will make an effort to be more clear next time. Thank you for the critique :)

    As for the underage thing, you do have some very good points there, and yes, I may have exaggerated- but as a part of fandom I tend to look at it from a very "relative" point of view. These boys debuted at a VERY young age, and compared to their fellow debuted groups in Johhny's, they are still very young to be singing this kind of "sexy" song. Regardless of Japan's laws about age of consent, (actually I think DID read that it was 13 before), it's still a very "prude" (sorry, couldn't think of a better word) culture as a whole. So in the cultural context, I don't think it would have been out of place to say that sixteen year olds should not have been singing a provocative song like that. Also, from another "relative" standpoint, most other groups that I know of (KAT-TUN, NEWS, ARASHI, TOKIO, etc.) debuted when the majority of members when in their late teens and early twenties. HSJ however debuted when half the group was still U15- therefore, relatively underage, and still relatively young compared to their fellow idol groups.
    again, my fault for not making that clear enough?
    Thank you for opening up this discussion though, I'm having quite a bit of fun :)

    And the Yamada being prepeubescent- I'm assuming that you came from the HSJ LJ comm (or if you haven't, that you're familiar with this particular nook in JE fandom) and I think the point I was trying to make was that Ryosuke was consistently handed the sexiest solos from the very beginning despite being part of HS7.
    Here's an example I'll pull from H!P fandom:
    When Risako Sugaya was "ready" according to H!P, to be assigned a photobook at age 12, wota still felt uncomfortable buying it. Sure, Yamada "looks" old enough, but he's still pretty young for a debuted idol doing those sexy performances. Again, my fault for not making it clear enough =P, sorry for the confusion.

    Thanks for all the feedback :) I really appreciate it.

    As for Your Seed- that's what I also thought... but according to this trusted reviewer: http://www.karenpang.blogspot.com/ (scroll down)
    it is a double a-side, so I just went with that.

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