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This should be the first time in many years that i managed to wish him on the actual day(^_^;)

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Passed by cinemas in Tokyo and saw the lovely promotional posters of this movie. It took almost 1year to be shown in my country. After all there isn't a strong market for Japanese entertainment when K-wave's all the rage.

I was fairly surprised when Inagaki-san's 13 Assasins was shown a few months ago even though it was an award winning movie (i only remember Inagaki clinching the supporting role award). Space Battleship Yamato was shown abit earlier then but showing Kimura-san's is understandable as his bigger reach to other asian countries. The latter two did not attract me enough to pull me into the cinemas (perhaps that's the part about growing older or getting more choosy) even though a SMAP member had acting roles. 

I am not really a sucker for stories with sad endings but i was sort of anticipating this one due to the common nature which portray a normal japanese family amid the story perhaps had stretched over  their self encouraging nature. It is just way too normal for a Japanese movie/drama as i had observed. There is certainly some degree of feel good factor in the show considering how Japan entertainment countries likes to adapt or shoot commercial movies of such nature. 

The review from some magazines from country were encouraging despite highlighting the feel good nature of such Japanese movies. One of the redeeming part was that they did not try to make use devastating or tearjerker tactics to amplify the nature the storyline.

The movie was only shown one screen with less than normal number of seats, something likely 70-80 seats at most. I am not too surprise the turnout was small even on a weekend. I had to agree that in my country it can be termed as a árt house movie ala many quiet scenes and different kind of storytelling mode. I had to suppress sipping my hastily bought drink softly to ensure the sound do not echo amongst the soundproofed walls. 

I was expecting a storyline sticking close to the reality whereby the daily life of the couple are chronicle closely. Instead i find a picture that was peppered with weird science fiction scenes that reflected the figments of the husband's (the ever loveable Kusanagi-san) imagination. Someone being a sci-fi novelist will also have hard time keeping inspirations alive while penning an ''essay'' a day while he tried to milk every drop of his brain juice to put up the funniest stories to keep the laughter on for the first and biggest fan of his novels. 

The weird situations of seeing colliding planets, aliens or robots in every nooks and corners is a bonus in this story which i believe do not shame the actual novel depictions (seems that the novel was adapted from a true life story). It is delightful to the written stories played out as if reading random essays and short stories. In fact, the loving wife being fleshed out by Takeuchi Yuko was a bonus due to the fact of the both leads chemistry and her knack of depicting sweet but emotionally strong women (see: Pride, Bara nai no hanaya and the recent drama with Matsumoto Jun). Someone like Setsuko will surely win the best wife award if there was any. 

The story was made in the way that there is no evil character and everyone is surprisingly accomodating to the stubborn Sarutaro. The main characters were not made out to be real tragedy material. They were just made simple and the usual cruelties (aka movie cliché) like cold hearted publishers or gloating rivals did not make an appearance this time. In all, i felt it made the story more focused on the main themes of the doting yet cancer-stricken wife and the numerous imaginations of the naive husband.

Kusanagi did great as usual as the simple man who is spoilt by his wife and need not handle any family matters except indulging in his novel writing. Kusanagi's simple looks is also probably why he can flesh this role wholesomely and to many he is already a veteran on local screens or goggle-box who can handle this role with ease. Just like the way no one was over acting or the show can be handled with a light feeling when the curtains are closed.

Despite the irritation of the one gentleman who snores periodically and even made a remark 'the show is way too long' in boring manner did not dampen my feelings for this show. I was glad that his remark seems to be largely ignored by his companions. Leaving the cinema with a light heart after almost two hours is a nice feeling for a movie watched.


SMAP's 20th anniversary - Congratulations!



20110909 marks one of the most special days for SMAP. In the past 20 years they had tolled from adolescences as young as someone who had yet to complete their high school studies to someone who hold the court stately in the world of short lived glories of many other idol pop groups. 

Their longevity if not SMAP's continued popularity is probably a feat itself as five individuals who worked to hold the group together. Johnny Jimusho can make a group but the binding could only exist among the five (or six) and bring so much synergy over the years can be a small miracle itself. While not all of them can be counted as ikemen in Japanese context, probably none of them can hold a really proper note, their jack of all trades and their no-idol-airs atittude had never fail to win over the crowd. Their formula of success had slowly become the standards of many later pop idol groups in Japan.

They are definitely no saints or adonis who can always be right and ever youthful. Their mistakes made and scandals in the past were publicly scutinized but they were only made wiser and their bonds ever strengthened. 

Whilst i race against a deadline to send in a heartfelt gratitude to a group i hold so dear on 4 sept, i recount the smiles and strength had gave over 10 years. As ordinary as i can be, i coo at their fashionable drags and fawn over their winks & smiles in their numerous performances. More importantly, i drawn upon their preseverance to maintain the bond, their efforts to work their magic during every moments of the concert and to correct mistakes made. Many of their fans worldwide, past and present may probably share the same sentiments. To the famous five (six)~~ Thanks for everything and my best wishes for many more SMAP years to come.

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The 12mins medley is definitely one of those that surpassed their past peformance. The remix was totally a blast and really spiced up some of the already fun classics songs. 

The most pleasant surprise is the chereography changes that links up these songs perfectly till it seems there is no time to give us fans time to catch our breath (apart from the break before the finale 'Orenji'). The cheerful vibes of 'Sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana' brings another feel to the otherwise too familiar tune. 

Even '$10' which is not my favourite classic list shouts kakoii! Kudos for SMAP who made an effort to perfect this remix which you would probably otherwise only see it on their concerts. Not to mention the condensed version that brings on the highs within such a short time frame :D

Ending with Orenji was a great choice as the song had somehow grown on me with my better understanding of the lyrics. So sweet as their smiles throughout their performance despite the effort from the high adrenaline chereography , all i wanna say is 'Arigatou' as softly as the way Kimura-san sang his part.

Something worth the mention was, the most Kakoii one is surprisingly Kusanagi-san who looks so sharp and genki! Although, i cant discount Katori-san's wide grin as well. ^_^ Gosh everyone looks great in this show. Of course, my respect to Nakai who went all out with his hosting, performing his famed MJ inspired dance and most of all the great sabotage.. poor him despite it should be staged beforehand. 

Given another shot in Beijing!

 Was pretty shocked seeing the news flash of China's Premier Wen Jiabao's brush with SMAP in Tokyo. That is shortly after seeing news of SMAP's Beijing Concert revival on 19/6/2011 reported on Johnny's Net and the members made mentioned of the premier's name.

Wanted to whack Nakai on the head when he brought a weird piece of lyrics slip to sing in front of such an important guest! Political issues aside, i am glad that their aborted concert can go on after two delays (Beijing Expo performance and the concert slated shortly before the bi-country unfortunate incident). It is really high time that SMAP moved out of their country limits by which many Japanese artiste had done so long ago.

While SMAP probably couldn't outshine on their vocal skills or even flashy dancesteps, they are probably the represent Japanese of that generation. They worked extremely hard to shine in their fields and they may not be the innovators but definitely the ones who brought innovations to another high with them emulating and improvising on the way. They are the people who gave me inspirations to soldier on whenever i feel less able.

You can always count on them putting up hilarious skits in variety shows, putting up different performance efforts (dramas, movies, stage, concerts, etc.). They never fail to keep me upbeat and surprised at every turn. It is probably not their expertise in their craft but their tremendous efforts and showmanship that sets them apart from many entertainers.

That is despite i was somehow disappointed at the latest show of Katori-san whereby the storyline was lackluster and the beautiful cast nearly cant save the show. It seems like another case of 'Tsuki no Koibito'. Katori-san, you looked too tired in this show or your emotions seems too subtled in there? No matter, i am still hoping for some sparks in the rest of the show.

There are definitely ups and downs in life which are reflected in their highly publicized long standing career. Through their experiences as a bystander, i had somehow learned to take things in stride better then a decade before. SMAP's and Johnny's move yet again to put them in China's radar is admirable, thus i hope they are third-time lucky. 


It still may not sound appropriate while SMAP and kouhai are working so hard to complement their efforts with Marching-J. SMAP just looks so dashing in their sombre coloured yet tastefully designed suits. Katori-san's hair is exceptionally good looking and i wonder if he will look as good on his new dorama due to air on 28/4/2011?

While the media had accused of Johnny Associates are not doing enough as compared to other entertainer companies or groups, i wouldn't have expect Johnny's will hold concerts for charity aid as it seems to be their style all along. The Marching-J seems to be a testament to that. 

All in all, it is not a totally bad about that idea after all as long it really helps in donation gathering efforts. I would have feel shortchanged in a sense though if you do not get to see their live performances. SMAP Ganbarimasu makes up for it in a sense i guess. 

I am not totally surprised as it is rumoured that SMAP members had individually donated up to 5Mil USD in total despite not making this public as a group. Most of the Japanese entertainers are actually known to be low-keyed and i thought that SMAP will also have the belief that what they had earned in all aspects was in fact gained from many fellow Japanese all through these years. Giving back to the society sounds natural to them in that sense i guess.   

While Japan is slowly crawling back to recovery and i strongly believed their determination and conviction will soon place them back to where they were before the extremely unfortunate events ensued. 

On a personal note, the determination that SMAP and the Japanese had put me back on battle mode to my fears again. The most important part i have to emphasize --- give me SMAP in suits anytime! *smacks my lips in glee*
 

I am pretty sure that this was recorded some time ago. Despite its well intention of being used to garner more donations for the Japan's unprecedented disaster since WWII, it may come across as a marketing gimmick to push this at such a timing. 

Of course, as a SMAP fan and i couldn't really be bothered with those implications. Although this is not my favourite and really over exposed in my opinion, this is really one of those that would be most appropriate to be heard at such times i guess. 
 
 Before i started on this PV, i was abit apprehensive on how it might turn out. I silently prayed that it will not become a horrendous pronunciation nightmare that the Chinese probably will remember for the next 10 years, especially it was touted as a disaster donation effort.
 
Much to my delight, it turned out much better than i imagined despite the somewhat cheesy intro. Their pronunciation was nowhere near a native speaker naturally but their diction pretty clear for about 80% of the entire song. Coupled with usual SMAP styled gusto, i would grade them a 100% effort for great FIVE! The lyrics was generally similar to the original however it was a tad sweeter and a more China-inclined writing style. 

Nevertheless, it is one nice news is certainly a nice departure from the numerous news of devastation from the land of rising sun. As the sun always rise from their country, i hope the Japanese will continue to believe in the new day and live with hope to get them through the difficult times. 


 

My LOVE for PEACE in life

 


MESSAGE
今、僕らに何ができるだろう。
みんなで目の前のできることを、やろう。
それは、寄付かもしれないし、電気のスィッチを切ることかもしれない。
そのアクションは、たとえ小さくても、あしたの希望につながっていると思う。
僕らは、力を合わせることができる。
心を合わせることができる。
頑張ろう、みんな!!!

SMAP
(http://www.johnnys-net.jp/j/artists/smap/message.html)

No words can describe my feelings as news and images of disaster ravaged Japan kept streaming in. No other news had ever dominate the prime time tv news this way, just as the way the unprecedented natural disaster had brought enormous damage to the country i loved best besides my own. 

It hurts to see way too many fellow lives destroyed and many more left devastated ones left behind. While some are waging war against each other, they forgot about the much important war that we had constantly fought against (with) nature.  

Listening to SMAP's 'Love and Peace Inside?' had never stirred as much emotions now than watching them being performed live in Tokyo last September. The trip brought me deep impressions of the country's warm and considerate people. A big tribe who believes in hard work and so well-mannered. 
 
They are what i imagined them to be before my first venture there, but only better.Their ability to stay calm and stoic in the face in these natural disasters did not surprised me nevertheless impressed myself and many people who could only helplessly see the tragedy unfold. It was the same tragedy which embittered Bali, Sze Chuan, Christ Church, Taiwan and too many recent ones to quote. The images of quake and water damaged land, fire razed down building are the same but the faces of stoic citizens and their orderly manner spells a difference from the rest. 
 
The Japanese people abilities to remain so composed in the face of crisis are admirable and all i wish to tell them... the hurt like others who faced (still facing), it is the same.. so it is okay to cry. Meanwhile, please continue with the journey of bracing and rebuilding with the admiring traits!
 
悲しい時がわかりました。だってみんなさん絶対すぐ元気になったと思って、頑張りましょう!世界にひとつだけの花のよう、日本人さすがつよくて美し、特別なonly one! 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

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