jona: Yamapi of NEWS making a 'um, what?' face (JE - Yamapi knutschig)
I had just started to finally start typing up some thoughts on In Fact when I saw that [livejournal.com profile] b_akakame had just had the same idea. I wrote this up before reading hers, and afterwards was pleased that for once someone else was wordier than I was! *g* Go check out her review too, which includes analysis of visuals, static and moving! >_>

Below are my thoughts on In Fact, in a mix of review and rambling impressions.

The short version: Kusabi, it ain't. Kusabi was an excellent mini-album, and in my opinion you could tell that they wanted to throw some songwriting power and skillz behind their 4nin re-debut. There were some truly excellent songs on that one.

I don't know if for In Fact they lost that kind of focus or had to make to with the replacement crew or what, but... I don't think this is a great single. It's one third 'not bad', one third 'okay', and one third awful.

The songs )

After I'd listened through the single, I thought, well, maybe the album will be better, there's lots to look forward to there with the solos and stuff.

Now we can listen to previews of four songs and I'm admittedly a bit less hopeful.

In order )
jona: (GKS - bigin)
I kind of have the impression that most Japanese learners on my flist are way ahead of me, with a few additional people who are still on the hiragana and katakana, so things that I (upper beginner, lower intermediate, ish) find useful might really be useful to nobody but me, but just in case, I have been meaning to mention two things I watched / have been watching recently that I found really useful (and enjoyable) for Japanese practice.

1) I watched Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo with [personal profile] solo, in Japanese with Japanese subtitles. This is a half-hour comedy about a quirky, unusual teacher (yes, really) ending up teaching the class full of weirdos (yes, yes, really) at a Japanese language school for foreigners (new!), where she tries to get them all to graduate together (YES, REALLY).

The plots are nothing special and you've heard all of the tropes before, but because it's only half an hour long, I found that didn't really matter. What I found cool on the language level was that it was fairly easy to understand; partly because, well, we know all the tropes, but also partly because the foreigners speak fairly clear and slower Japanese. It also usually opens with some actual 'history of Japanese' teaching, which I found interesting just on that level. (For example, there is a classroom scene where they talk about why all sorts of green shit is called BLUE in Japanese, and one plot revolves around the proper use of keigo.)

The foreigners are basically a bunch of Japan otakus/weeaboos, and the show pokes some fun at them, but in a benign and friendly way that I found sweet rather than cringe-worthy. It is a little bit racist but actually a lot LESS than I expected. (Don't let the first scene with the black dude mislead you, it gets much more nuanced.)

It helps if you find Naka Riisa, who plays the teacher, as charming as I do, but, really, in terms of language learning, this was one of the cooler series I've checked out recently.

2) A while ago, I downloaded the first episode of Nihongo no kurasou. I downloaded it mainly based on the title, for random curiosity, and then when I first checked out the ep, i giggled at the setup and linked the torrent to Solo, feeling sure that it was mostly something to watch-and-mock -- it's a Japanese-learning TV show from... some years ago, the look of which is extremely dated and kinda cheap, and reminded me of this 'how to deal with a mugger if you travel abroad' English-learning video that I once watched that nearly made me pee my pants. (If you have not watched this, here, let me make your life improving. Japanese is not required to appreciate this.)

Turns out, though, that I've found this a pretty cool language listening tool. The episodes are themed ('Asking questions, 'Becoming Annoyed') and you get to watch little skits that explain the usage of particular phrases. In terms of vocabulary this isn't that efficient, because it's usually two or three phrases and the eps are twenty minutes long, but the sensei and the three foreign students always discuss the skits, and I've found that pretty cool listening practice even without subs. Basically, they explain Japanese grammar and word choices in Japanese but with the help of pictures and skits, and since this is something I don't get in class, I've found it a cool addition.

Sample on Youtube, the whole thing is available on d.addicts.



~~~~

On a not-Japanese note... I'd been looking forward to reading Dan Savage's new book, American Savage. I'm a regular listener and reader of his and two of his previous books, The Commitment and The Kid: what happened after my boyfriend and I decided to go get pregnant, are books I've reread. Turns out, though, that when you're a regular reader and listener, American Savage is just kind of... boring. The political chapters just basically rehash his rants and writings from elsewhere, and even if they're very justified rants, it doesn't really make my life improving to read another fiften page explanation on why health care policy in the US is nutty and hair-raising, you know? So there's a lot of preaching to the choir in there.

However, I've found his recent essay in response to the DOMA ruling in the US... well, enjoyable is probably accurate despite how weird it sounds. Morbid, touching, funny, and in my opinion worth reading: I Can Die Now: Here's What I Don't Have to Worry About Now That the Supreme Court Overturned DOMA

I don't think this is a unique perspective or anything, but it boiled things down in a way that... speaks to me. Possibly because to some degree, I share these 'worst case scenario' and jinx ponderings. Not entirely -- I'm not Catholic, I don't have the guilt, and I don't think about it all the time -- but it's somewhat familiar. And possibly because my mind goes 'tax breaks' and 'pension entitlements' before anything else, too. :-)
jona: Jin, of KAT-TUN, joyful (JE - Jin joy)
While my copy is in the mail... random notes on the new single!

Expose
Lame PV, nice song. I look forward to more performances. Kind of rock-ish, kind of dark. Vocally it's not much of a standout song for anyone, but the driving beat and the rough sound (for JE) is very nice indeed. I love the bit when it starts to build up steam for the chorus and the bass really gets going. (Good reminder that sometimes the PC speakers really don't do a song justice.

I want to see this one in concert.

Even more random note on the Music Station performance: a bit surprising that Kame has the least cool outfit of them all. (Hey, Junno, you look pretty good!) Less surprising that he has the best hip roll.

遙か東の空へ
Awwwww. :D This is a very sweet song, but has a not-entirely-straightforward underlying beat that I really dig, so I'm grooving by the time we got to the chorus. The transition to which is pretty shameless and manipulative, but also very very enjoyable. ('LET US CHASE THE SUN TOGETHER', anyone?)

Oh, and that one chorus towards the end when the instrumentation drops away almost entirely is really lovely. And I approve of Koki's singing, he gets some really nice showcase bits in this.

Definitely a keeper.

I also want to see this one in concert.

Connect & Go
This, right after 遙か東の空へ starts more like LET US CHASE THE BEER PITCHER IN IBIZA, but it redeems itself pretty well by being less predictable than I originally thought. Not brilliant, but fun enough, and the part around the actual break away, connect and go lyrics makes me bounce.

I also want to see this one in concert.

Steps to Love
This is a strange one. Mood-wise, its mellowness reminds me of Sweet Chain; then it has some harmonies that are almost exactly like 儚い指先 from CHAIN. I... think this is basically friendly background music; harmless and not too lounge-y and sort of not going anywhere either.

I don't need to see this in concert. But I'm sure Kame will look pretty singing it, so I won't complain.

Brand New Day
So, after we have chased the sun together, we are now either winning the J-league, or the Women's Soccer World Cup, or whichever sport tournament is central to the anime we're all in. *g* It's just... adorable. The song is adorable and Kame sings adorably (and is totally captain of the football team) and I feel uplifted.

(Move on slowly heart? Is that correct? That is not really how you win the J-league, though.)

I wish I could run ATM, because this would be an excellent running song.

I want to see this one in concert.

Snowflake
Oh, Nakamaru. *g* I confess I was relieved when the real PV started, and it turned out to be not, in fact, four minutes of someone playing with MS Paint and then Windows Movie Maker. The actual song is quite sweet, and has some lovely harmonies. It also shows off well that Nakamaru can sing. (Nakamaru dancing is, I'm afraid, still like watching your accountant try hip-hop.) Much like [livejournal.com profile] solo____, I'll probably like having that on my mp3 player, but without the beatbox. (Which is not actually bad beatboxing, but, well.)

I am very fine with watching this one in concert. (Dear Nakamaru: just lay off the glow sticks this time, ok?)

Summary 1: not a bad crop at all. yay!
Summary 2: OMFG I need concert dates. REALLY.

What did you guys make of it?
jona: (GKS - fight-oh!)
I didn't sign up for Yuletide this year, even though I've long wanted to, because at the time nominations rolled around I was such a stressbunny that I couldn't even think properly what I would want to request, let alone write. But I've been enjoying the reading part (all the fun! none of the work! hee) immensely this year, probably aided by my family having scaled wayyy down on the Xmas activities. Yay!

Something to Talk About: The Good Wife, Cary/Dana, Cary/Kalinda. Dana isn't my favourite character on The Good Wife, but this was a great outsider POV on a lot of the regulars and had really good character voices.

We Three Kings of Porridge and Stars, Cabin Pressure. Obscure fandom among the obscure fandoms: Cabin Pressure is a BBC radio show focusing on the adventures of a small airline company. It's one of my Favourite Things at the moment; people who've sat opposite me on the commuter train while I was listening to it probably thought they had a close encounter with a randomly giggling madwoman. (And that's not to mention the time I spewed water all over the exercise machine in the uni gym. Um.)

This story captures the tone and characters of the show and adds a side order of awww, and I really enjoyed it.

What This Means. Short and sweet Bend It Like Beckham story about Jess having inconvenient revelations, with a lovely Jules voice.

A wind that passeth away and cometh not again: a story for the other show nobody knows I'm watching, Homeland. Highly spoilery for the entire first season, it's got great Brody and Carrie characterisation, and is a great exploration of what the inside of Brody's head might look like. (Hint: it's complicated.)

In the City Hung with Stars. The Good Wife AU, Kalinda/Alicia. It shouldn't work, a dystopian fantasyish AU to a show that's so deeply steeped in realism, but I would so read more in that universe. It's short, but with some gorgeous images, and this Alicia is just... interesting.

I have another relatively slow, relaxing day coming up, and apart from catching up with hols (those three Akame-heavy days were busy busy busy ones here and I'm woefully behind -- though I'm terribly tempted to make a 'I'm guessing the author just by their author's notes' post *g*) I only have to do some laundry, so if anyone wants to point me in the direction of more good Yuletide fic...

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the paranoid android

December 2015

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