We’re GEM!

GEMI know I’m totally slow on this, but I actually didn’t notice that GEM had released their first MV before today, even though it came out Dec. 4th already! However, I’ve watched it now and must say it totally lived up to my expectations. It was bright, colorful and shiny, just like gems are supposed to be (haha). I’ve been keeping an eye on this group for over a year, so was really happy to finally being able to watch their first music video~

GEM member pictureTo make a short introduction to those who don’t know about GEM, their name stands for Girls Entertainment Mixture and they are a new 10-member girl group under Avex’s iDOL Street project. They will be making their big debut next year Jan. 1st with the single We’re GEM! which will be released in 3 versions: CD only, CD+DVD and a mu-mo shop version. The coupling songs include the new song BFF (Best Friends Forever) and GEM’s version of the iDOL Street All Member’s song PAN-PAKA-PAN!

Here are the names, birthdays and member stones of GEM’s 10 members.

I think they are a nice fresh contribution to Avex’s other idol groups, as opposed to SUPER GiRLS and Cheeky Parade, they doesn’t have a overly cute or funny/crazy style. I would rather say there style is more simplistic and dance-focused compared to the previously mentioned groups. Maybe even a more mature style, if you count their songs like Speed up and Do it Do it.

Check out a performance of their previous indie song Speed up below. (This is a performance with some of the old members, before the final line-up was decided)

And also this performance of their song Do it Do it

For their debut song, I think it’s really catchy! It has a more cute style than their previous indie songs like Speed up or Kitto For you! (love those songs a lot btw.) but I don’t find it too much, if you know what I mean? Of course it also helps that GEM’s members all have really good vocals! Here I’m especially thinking of Maaya, Rana, Jurin and Maho. I think We’re Gem! is a solid debut song, easy to remember (which is very important to get noticed in the biz) and extremely catchy as well. This is a song which will be good in concerts as well, I think, as it has this sort of “main song” feeling to it (sort of like SZ’s debut song Sexy Zone). So they can probably use it to open concerts with or anniversaries etc.

To talk a bit more about the music video, I want to comment I was very impressed by the special effects actually. I was afraid they were going to be totally cheap and ugly-looking, but I think they made the gemstones and setting look fairly decent.

Of course it would have been nicer with a real setting, instead of all CGI, but I think in this case it probably couldn’t be helped. So at least it looks alright. I also think the choreography was really nice and well performed by GEM’s super dancers. I especially noticed Sara and Rana’s dancing!

By watching this music video, I also noticed something else… Nana is totally cute! We're GEM22I may even think she has become one of my favorite members together with Rana and Jurin. But I’m also tempted to add Sara to that list, after watching her superior dancing skills!

So these are my favorite (or to be favorite) members so far:

Rana – because she’s cute and have an amazing and unique voice!We're GEM53Jurin – because her voice is amazing, maybe the best of GEM (together with Rana and Maaya of course)We're GEM56 Nana (maybe) – because I love her looks, which reminds a bit of Hashimoto Ai and her gem stone is aquamarine~ (I like marine stuff haha)We're GEM05Sara (maybe) – because I like her energy and bad-ass dancing, as well as she has a cute face.We're GEM29
These girls totally reek of talent, and I’m sure this is the first great release from them of many to come. And I think it’s great to see an idol group with members picked by their talent rather than only their good looks. It’s obvious they trained a lot and their vocals just keep surprising me! I also think 10 members is a good number for a group which focuses on dancing, as they will be able to make cool choreographies with that number. But of course, I know it’s never certain all members will stay for the future. In this case I really hope they do though, because I think all members of GEM have a lot of talent.

Japanese Christmas playlist

Now we are in December I thought to myself: I want to do a post about Japanese Christmas songs! I’m not sure I know that many, and most of them I know are from idol groups, but well here is my list~

Many probably don’t know about this Arashi song (I didn’t at least), but as I searched to see if Arashi had a Christmas song hidden in their discography, I found this! Ano Hi no Merry Christmas (あの日のメリークリスマス) is a light, typical Arashi song. Nevertheless, it’s a Christmas song and it has sort of grown on me, after having listened to it a couple of times. I would have liked some solo lines, but apart from that it’s a nice jingle for Christmas~

This is a song I know well, having listened to it many times. As always Buono! produces some great pop-rock tunes and this is no exception. I love Winter Story‘s catchy and groovy sound, as well as the brilliant chorus. A Buono! classic of mine and a great song to make me in mood for Christmas!

I can’t forget to include Momoiro Clover Z’s crazy and energetic Christmas song Santa-san! From the first time I listened to this song, I was hooked. It’s such a great, funny song with a lot of small gimmicks. Here I’m thinking of things like Reni’s ii toko (“good qualities”) dance for Santa Claus (or whatever it is) and a mentioning about Australian Christmas being in midsummer, which results in a throwback to their summer song Coco☆Natsu (ココ☆ナツ)(haha), so crazy!

This year Momoiro Clover Z’s “little brother” group DISH// (under Stardust) has released a Christmas single, nearly as crazy as Santa-san. Itsuka wa Merry Christmas (いつかはメリークリスマス)is a funny rock/pop song with fresh voices from the group’s young members (15-18 years old). Like Momoiro Clover Z they sure like to make funny gags during their songs, which I really like about this group. I also like the message of this song, which is wishing for a girlfriend from Santa Claus in order not to be lonely on Christmas eve (lol). DISH’s members always seem in desperate need of one, even though they are all quite handsome! That I find very ironic. Then again it’s just a song, and an entertaining one at that.

This Christmas song by actress Maeda Aki is from her album Winter Tales, and is the only song of that album which isn’t a cover of previous Christmas hits, I believe. I think it’s a nice “gentle” song (like the title Fuyu Fuwari ふゆふわり, meaning “gently winter”) which a  lot of bell chimes, beautiful violin and Aki’s sweet voice to top it all. I like this actress a lot, as well as this Christmas song.

I love this Christmas love ballad by C-ute! I like Aitai Lonely Christmas (会いたいロンリークリスマス)so much I even listen to it when it isn’t Christmas (haha). It’s such a catchy song and the chorus is easy to remember too~ I wish C-ute could make songs like this again. It has a strong setsunai (“wistful/yearning”) feeling to it right? I kind of like that type of songs. I guess it’s because we all yearn for that special someone during the holidays (sigh).

I know this isn’t a song sung by a Japanese person, but Canadian René Simard released many Japanese songs as a child, and I like his song Christmas Tree (クリスマス・トォリー)a lot, so thought I would include it in my list. René has a nice heartfelt voice and delivers yet a beautiful song to enjoy during Christmas. He has released a lot of other Christmas songs in French as well as some in English I’m sure. So if you like this song, you should check his other songs out (even though they are old)~

This is such a happy song from Hey! Say! JUMP about having fun in the snow with one’s sweetheart (or that’s what I gather at least). I’m not sure it’s a Christmas song, but the theme “snow” is enough for me to make it so (haha). I love the intro line: masaka, yuki da! (“no way, it’s snowing!”). That line always make me in a good mood. Not that I’m too fond of snow, but I guess we all love the magic of the first snow of Christmas right?

I had to include Nino’s Winter Song as well. Nino is my favorite member from Arashi and I just love this beautiful Christmas ballad from him. I only have the version recorded from his radio show Bay Storm, and I’m not even sure if it’s been released anywhere else. He should totally release this on an album though! My favorite part of this sweet song is when he ends the song with the line: Merry Christmas to you, Merry Christmas to you~

Fairies has also released a Christmas song! Sweet Jewel has a very uplifting feeling to it and always make me in the mood to be productive (haha). Fairies always knows how to make very girly, yet stylish songs. That’s what I love about them. In addition, the PV for this song is so glittering and pretty, you should check it out if you haven’t!

This is the theme song from Morimoto Shintaro’s movie Snow Prince and is such a beautiful Christmas song! I love the piano play in the background, as well as the Snow Prince choir’s young adorable voices. I totally wish they could have been a permanent group, but unfortunately they only released this single. And I wish Johnny’s would do other songs like this too. It’s so precious!

I know this isn’t an official Christmas song maybe, but I always found it very Christmas-like for some reason! Apart from that, I see the light ~Bokutachi no Stage~ is one of my favorite Sexy Zone songs. It was included on their first single and also features the very young fresh voices of Marius and Sou (I totally miss their voices now! *cries*). I would have included their more official Christmas/summer song Sexy Summer ni Yuki ga Furu (Sexy Summer に雪が降る)as well, but Soundcloud wouldn’t let me upload it (buuhuu).

So these were my suggestions for Japanese Christmas songs (which aren’t covers of English ones). I hope you enjoyed and if you know some other good J-Pop Christmas songs, don’t hesitate to mention them in the comment section below~
And let’s hope Soundcloud doesn’t delete my uploads.

Ender’s Game

I’m back! Recently I received this comment on my profile from a reader, writing he hoped I would start posting on my blog again. Which made me really happy! So I told myself, you need to start blogging again! So now this turned out to be a very long blog post (as always). But hope people wants to read it anyway (haha). still-of-asa-butterfield-in-enders-game-(2013)-large-picturesThe day before I finally got to watch Ender’s Game in the cinemas. I read the book, the movie is based on, back in early spring this year, and have been waiting for the film release ever since. The reason why I even got motivated to read and watch Ender’s Game, was because of Asa Butterfield. I got to know this actor through Hugo, which I also watched in the cinemas and p1452560417wrote about on my blog (you can read the post here). I was really impressed by this actor’s abilities, but I also fell for his British’s charm and stunning eyes, I guess (haha). His eyes are really incredible!  So I have this habit, when I like a specific actor, and I find out they are appearing in a new movie which is based on a book, I very often end up reading the book. I guess it’s because I’m inpatient, so it’s a good way to kill some of the wait.

6a00d83451d01069e2019104700459970cSo I read the book and was thoroughly impressed. I usually never read sci-fi stories, but this wasn’t really about that. It was about so much more!  I felt like it touched on some really deep topics on the human psyche. Just Ender’s thoughts alone were so complex and adult-like, even though he wasn’t more than between six and ten (I think?) in the book. I also enjoyed the whole tactics’ part, always waiting to see what Ender was able to come up with next.

But what I really loved about this book, was how simplistic it was written. I had just been reading Game of Thrones before this, which contains endless details of character’s clothes and sceneries, which sometimes really feels like overkill. So it was really nice to read something compact and different like Ender’s Game. But generally, I found it interesting to follow Ender’s character development throughout the novel. One was always fearing for him to give up or to go insane of the pressure from Battle School training. And Ender’s internal fights, trying to avoid becoming like Peter, his sadistic violent brother, but also trying to fulfil the enormous task on his shoulders, which sometimes calls for cruelty. But yeah, this was just such an intense story! Can totally recommend it.

still-of-asa-butterfield-in-enders-game-(2013)-large-pictureeSo after having read the book, I was really looking forward to watching it as a movie. For example, how were they going to shoot the battle room scenes, the violent content and the mind game? Let alone the big finale! But when the trailer came out, I could see this movie had a pretty nice budget, so I relaxed. However, after Ender’s Game had its release in America, I still needed to wait almost a month for it here in Denmark. In the waiting time I couldn’t help reading some reviews and looking at the ratings, which made me a little bit nervous. The reviews seemed to be only so-so, as well as the ratings. But I still said: you need to watch it for yourself to decide. Which I’m glad I did!

foto-el-juego-de-ender-19-323Finally being able to watch the movie in the cinema, sitting in the soft armchair, watching the movie start, felt so surreal. I don’t know, I just felt that I’d been waiting forever to watch this, especially with tumblr previews as a constant reminder! (haha) Somehow I was surprised to hear Asa’s narration in the beginning of the movie. In the movie’s trailers it’s always Harrison Ford narrating, so that was a nice surprise! I must say the beginning of the movie was a little too fast-paced to my liking, but I’m happy they didn’t soften up the scene with Ender kicking Stilson. That scene was brutal! Asa surprised me with his intensity too, as he actually turned out quite scary in that scene.

peter the tormenter 01But I would have liked to see a little bit more of Ender’s relationship with his siblings Valentine and Peter. Especially the parts from the book with Peter tormenting Ender, was too short in the movie and didn’t leave a big enough impact I think. But then I know from the book, how Peter’s actions traumatized Ender, but I don’t think other viewers would catch it as well.

a2e2a33d-29bd-408d-8a98-bbf5f736c1f1_EG_036_EG27_11261RHowever as soon they went to the Battle School, everything pretty much went in a good direction. I think they were pretty true to the book, and for example picked just the right battle room scenes from the book, to show the development of Ender’s abilities, properly. The scene with Ender unexpectedly joining the battle, even though his army leader forbid it, was so cool!

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Asa looked so bad-ass, souring through the battle room nailing the opponents of the other team like a pro, in a surprise attack. Also the formation battle scene was so well done! Felt almost the same excitement in that scene, as when I read it in the book. And we saw Bean being flung through the room in a rope too! Just a great scene. Calendar-Scan7But I also liked  how they did the scenes with Ender and Petra. For example the scene were they practiced some martial arts together. I don’t remember that being in the book, but I like how they added that to give the movie some more warmth.

Additionally, I was really impressed by Moises Arias playing Bonzo. Even though he was really small of height, he still managed to produce a menacing, frightening aura, as well as some intense looks that could kill! (haha) The famous bathroom scene for example, Arias really gave me the chills. Fortunately they didn’t go overboard with that scene, but still kept it effective.

The mind game scenes, were to some extent well done too. The animation was good and was quite like I had imagined it to be. Especially the animation of Valentine was impressive! Also the music in the scene Ender followed his sister into the ruins, was pretty strange and spooky. I liked that! But I just wish the mind game scenes could have been longer though. They didn’t really dig into the deeper meanings of the game and the resulting nightmares it gave Ender about his relationship with Valentine and Peter. But there probably wasn’t time for that, I know… But I really liked that part of the book.Ender Peter Valentine

Also the scene where Ender quits Battle School, goes back to Earth and finally sees Valentine again, just didn’t feel as powerful as the book. The lack of scenes in the beginning of the movie, showing his strong relationship with his sister, made the reunion seem a bit tame. I also think they didn’t emphasise Ender’s extreme transformation in that scene enough either. In the book Valentine barely recognizes her own brother, and he even scares her a bit. That was non-existing in movie, so I hope the DVD release will have some “extended scenes” to make up for that! (In my dreams, I know).

I liked the following scenes with Ender going to Command School though. I remember I had a hard time imagining how the school must look like in the book, with few details to describe it apart from it seeming “alien” to Ender. Anyway, they did a really good job with the details in that place, making it seem really cold and strange to the audience. I also found the simulation tests really impressive. It felt like watching the ultimate video game of the future (haha). So cool, but I think they could have emphasized the extreme training a little bit more, as that was very intense in the original book. But the ending scene totally made up for that, if you ask me.

enders_game_2013-wideWhat an ending! Was very satisfied with the scene with Ender discovering the truth of the final test and the following intense showdown with Colonel Graff. Asa really impressed me once again with his acting abilities in that scene! The rest of the movie, with Ender realizing the connection between him and the formics and his new mission to save their existence, was nicely done, but of course dragged the ending out a bit. However, the scene had to be there, so I’m glad they kept it anyway.enders-game-(2013)-large-picture The movie had a very open ending, and with Ender’s Game being a series, they could easily continue the story. I’m just worried the movie didn’t do well enough on the box office, but I guess time will tell right? It would be great, but I won’t set my hopes too high. I actually even think I’m satisfied enough with just this movie having been made. I think they did a good job overall with adapting Ender’s Game to the screen. Even with a few short-comings, I think this movie lived up to my expectations. I would even say I already want to watch it again, to get more details from it, as there were a lot! And to watch Asa’s brilliant acting once more, of course.

foto-el-juego-de-ender-12-855About the acting overall, I think most actors did a good job. If they didn’t leave too much of an impression, I think it was really due to their lack of scenes. For example with Valentine and Peter, they cut their scenes very short and even removed the separate storyline they had in the book. But that was sort of understandable though, as it wouldn’t fit well with the pace of the movie. However, it’s a shame, as they had a great influence on Ender as a person for the overall storyline. still-of-harrison-ford-in-enders-game-(2013)-large-pictureAbout Harrison Ford, I think he was quite convincing as Colonel Graff and worked as an important backbone to the other young actors. Hailee Steinfeld was good as Petra too, bringing some girl power to the movie. Aramis Knight was so cute as Bean! But unfortunately didn’t get much scenes, like Valentine and Peter. I don’t think they illustrated his cleverness enough, as it actually almost matches Ender’s brains in the book. But I guess there wasn’t enough time for that (again).

But of course the person carrying the whole movie was Asa Butterfield. I think he was cast perfectly for the role of Ender. He has a very innocent look to him, with his clear blue eyes, which made him believable as the young child he was supposed to portray. However he was also able to convey the emotions and psychological pressure of an adult as well. Asa is really a talented actor. And I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!still-of-asa-butterfield-in-enders-game-(2013)-large-picture