Hey everyone. For various reasons, I've decided to set up a new blog on J-pop at http://jriff.web44.net . Hope to see you all there! ;P

Rift moving out then!


9nine again

Posted In: , , . By Rift

[Single] Show TIME
Artist: 9nine
Release: 04/06/2008

1. Show TIME
2. Show TIME [Cho-nori★Instrumental]
3. Hyouryuu Shoujo ~Roudoku(漂流少女 ~朗読)

Buy: Only available from Tower Records apparently...

[Album] second 9
Artist: 9nine
Release: 09/07/2008

1. awake
2. sky
3. Hyouryuu Shoujo ~Roudoku(漂流少女 ~朗読)
4. Cherry
6. Merry-Go-Round (メリーゴーランド)
7. Suna no Shiro (砂の城)
8. koi Hana (恋花)
9. Show TIME

Preorder: CDJapan || YesAsia

Some time ago, Amethyst did a write-up on this lesser known group. I hadn't realized they were still active at all till I recently came across this new PV of theirs, which features the song "Show TIME" from their latest single which is out...well waddaya know, today.

A little more edgier than their last batch of songs, I'll give them that. And I like some of the background effects they had going on there. Still, I find them pretty mediocre. Dancing looks half-assed. The girls look almost expressionless. I mean c'mon, put some heart into it!

What I found nice about their first album was how light and happy it felt. Not overly so (H!P-style), but in moderate doses. It was a nice change. In comparison, "Show TIME" comes across as a weak attempt at trying to gain some attitude like some of the more popular J-Pop artistes these days.

Ah well, I bet some people still wouldn't be able to say no to a bunch of cute girls though lol.


[Single] So Hot

Artist: Wonder Girls
Release: 03/06/2008

1. So Hot
2. This Time
3. You're Out
4. Tell Me (Rap Version)

Preorder: YesAsia

As I always say, spice is the variety of life. If it doesn't make your eyes water and smoke come out of your ears, it ain't worth it. Yes, I'm addicted to anything hot and spicy.

Likewise, it's hard not to get addicted to the Wonder Girl's upcoming single even if you don't buy the whole seemingly superficial theme and lyrics. I say superficial because well...just watch the video below.

At first glance, it looks and feels like what you see on MTV these days. But reading the subs and noticing the humorous spin they're putting on it, it's more like they're poking fun at the theme. A parody, kinda like Ayumi's Startin' PV (now THAT was overkill though).

And it's really been the style I've come to associate with the Wonder Girls ever since I got hooked on their songs Tell Me and Irony. Catchy tunes, stylish dance routines, a dose of attitude and a good dollop of humour.

I'm also looking forward to the Tell Me (Rap Version) included in this single, which was technically the original song, since it was the one shown in their PV. Curse them for editing it out later. The song just isn't the same without that rap bit. And coming from a person who doesn't even like rap, I think that's saying something.


What you see above are screens for the modified main menu on my Sony Ericsson k810i cellphone. I had to replace the default menu.ml file with one that I 'borrowed' from a PSP-lookalike menu, and later modified to get rid of PlayNow and to add KD Player, VideoManiac (video player), and Opera Mini to the main menu. It offered the functionality that I wanted: a serial navigation rather than the default SE grid navigation. The iPhone buttons I ripped from an iPhone menu and altered the colours to match Reina's different outfits. I still think it'd be even cooler if I could find appropriate Reina pictures for each of the options, e.g. Reina holding an envelope for 'messaging'.

Now it's actually fun to scroll through my menu just for the heck of it.


[Album] ayu-mi-x 6 GOLD
Artist: Ayumi Hamasaki

Buy: CDJapan || YesAsia

[Album] ayu-mi-x 6 SILVER
Artist: Ayumi Hamasaki

Buy: CDJapan || YesAsia

And here we have the two latest remix albums from the J-Pop goddess herself, aptly subtitled GOLD and SILVER. I guess Ayu must have liked the BLACK and WHITE concept from her A Best 2 albums so much, she decided to use it again. True enough, if you examine the tracklists, GOLD follows WHITE with a collection of brighter, happier songs whereas SILVER follows BLACK with songs of a darker and more sorrowful nature. Still, being remixes, you can expect a more upbeat tempo and tone from the tracks on either of the two albums. Which is nice and all if you wanna get your groove on to some Ayu music.

Problem is most of the remixes are crap.

Yes, I'm sorely disappointed to say this, but no words can fully describe how aghast I felt listening to how they brutally mangled Ayu's wonderful songs into something less than stellar, less than ear-appeasing even. It's almost as though they just generated some random dance riff and slapped Ayu's vocals onto it, without caring what the result would actually sound like. A casserole remix. Yeah, that's the word. Casserole.

This is true for all but a few of the remixes. Notably for me, ourselves (COLDCUT remix) and HEAVEN(DAISHI DANCE remix). My most favourite remixes among the lot. The remix of ourselves is like a sped up version set to a simple clubbish tune. As for HEAVEN, the remix was done very beautifully, alternating between classical sounds of the piano and violin with thumping dance beats, seamlessly blending them at times. Other remixes worth listening to are fated (Makoto remix), JEWEL (STEPHANE POMPOUGNAC remix) and part of Me (CARL CRAIG remix). Unfortunately (for me, that is), my all-time favourite songs, Moments and GAME didn't get a decent remix. Pity really.

ayu-mi-x 6 GOLD:

Only reason it gets even one berry is because of ourselves. Otherwise, major minus points for screwing up Moments and the rest of the songs.

ayu-mi-x 6 SILVER:

One up against GOLD simply because it has a few more decent remixes, especially HEAVEN. The rest are still either too bland or jarring enough for it to miss getting an overall average rating.


Name: Kanon Wakeshima
Age: 19
Blood type: A
Musical instrument: Cello
Favourite cellist: Jacqueline du Pré
Favourite musicians: Emily Simon, Lily Chou-Chou, Mayumi Kozima
Favourite composer: Claude Debussy, Erik Satie
Favourite painter: Alfons Mucha
Favourite author: Mayumi Nagano, Hiroko Taniyama
Favourite colour: Red
Other talent/hobby: Painting

Kanon Wakeshima started playing the cello since she was only 3 years old, after the advice and encouragement from her parents. In middle school, she played in string ensembles and by the age of 15, participated in various music performances, recitals and joint concerts. Towards the end of middle school, she started writing her own music, and performed for her first time as a vocalist during her high school's cultural festival.

While in high school, she became a member of the music club and desired to express herself more through her music. Her chance came when she applied for an audition sponsored by Sony Music Entertainment and was selected as a finalist. She then signed a contract with Sony's DefSTAR Records. Produced by Malice Mizer/Moi dix Mois guitarist Mana, her debut single 'still doll' is due to be released this May 28th.

Source: http://www.kanonweb.jp/

I've been meaning to blog about this girl for a while now, ever since Lianne showed me the PV. Kanon Wakeshima is an upcoming new artiste who's set to take the J-Pop world by storm with her own style of music, combining her well-honed skills on the cello with her sweet, sultry voice. She loves dolling herself up in lolita clothing, enjoys painting and classical music (Debussy, baby!), and if her picture diary is anything to go by, has an apparent fondness for cats and everything cute. In short, she's a woman after my own heart.

Speaking of which, DO check out her picture diary. The girl's just as talented with her art as she is with her cello. It's updated about once a week I think. So far, there's a few really beautiful pictures of girls in lolita, dresses, fairytale characters (Alice and Snow White in particular) and as I mentioned earlier, cats.

[Single] still doll
Artist: Kanon Wakeshima
Release: 28/05/2008

1. still doll
2. Kuroi Torikago (Black Birdcage)
3. still doll (Orgel/Music Box Version)

Preorder: CDJapan || YesAsia

As far as her music goes, you can watch the PV below and judge for yourself.

Deliciously goth loli. Beautiful and haunting. I love it.


Buying J-Pop

Posted In: . By Rift

Jpop CDJapan

YesAsia.com Logo

When it comes to purchasing J-Pop products out of Japan, two of the most popular online shopping sites are namely CDJapan and Yesasia.

Now personally, I've never actually bought anything from these stores before, much less anything online for that matter - lacking a credit card and feeling it too much of a hassle with the inconvenient cheque/money order options. So I can't comment much about their services first-hand.

What I can do though is inform you about the differences between these two sites in terms of the amount of $$$ you're gonna have to shelve out on your much badly desired J-Pop product and shipping charges. Though as true J-Pop fans, there's another issue other than pricing that might affect your decision (more on that later).

Product Pricing
To compare, I've picked a CD and a DVD, Morning Musume's Resonant Blue (Regular Edition) and Ayumi Hamasaki Countdown Live 2007-2008 Anniversary respectively. On a side note, I find it hilarious how CDJapan lists Resonant Blue as Reasonable Blue. :P

Morning Musume - Resonant Blue (Regular Edition)
CDJapan: 1,000 yen (US$ 9.54)
YesAsia: 1,314 yen (US$12.49)

Ayumi Hamasaki Countdown Live 2007-2008 Anniversary
CDJapan: 4,800 yen (US$45.79)
YesAsia: 5,341 yen (US$50.75)

At first glance, CDJapan would save you a few bucks for your trouble, right? Right. Now let's take a look at the shipping charges.

Shipping Charges
CDJapan's site has a detailed guide on estimating your shipping charges based on the number of items you bought, or the total weight (which is the actual method by which they determine your fee). Though really, I suggest you just try purchasing said items and see what the estimate is yourself before finalizing your order. Much easier that way.

The shipping charge also varies depending on your shipment option of choice and region.

Shipment options (cheapest to most expensive):
  • Economy Air (SAL)

  • Air Mail

  • Registered Air Mail

  • Express Mail Service (EMS) (online tracking available, recommended)

Regions (cheapest to most expensive):
  • Asia

  • North America/Central America/Oceania/Middle East

  • Europe

  • South America/Africa

Unless you opt for the cheap-ass Economy Air, expect to pay roughly the price of a CD single for your shipping charges with CDJapan. Well, actually more than that if you're buying more stuff...

On the other hand, YesAsia offers free international shipping as long as you meet the minimum purchase requirement:
  • US, Korea, Taiwan, UK & Europe, Asia-Pacific - US$25

  • Canada - US$39

  • Hong Kong - US$12.83

  • Other countries - US$99

Not a bad deal at all really. Otherwise, YesAsia charges you per shipment and per unit. There's Standard and Express Service. Standard's cheaper, but Express is much faster, though more costly.

For a clearer comparison, let's say I'm gonna order the two aforesaid items. Here's what it's gonna cost me (inclusive of shipping charges) through both sites.

CDJapan - US$62.49-US$69.83
YesAsia - US$63.24

In conclusion, as long as you qualify for free shipping, YesAsia would be a slightly cheaper option than CDJapan (except with their cheap-ass Economy Air).

Oricon - Making your purchase count!
Online sales through CDJapan, along with HMV Japan, Amazon Japan and JBook does count towards the Oricon charts. So if you're a real stickler about that, I'd suggest you stick to buying your J-Pop goodies through any of those sites.

YesAsia unfortunately does not, as far as I know. Unlike CDJapan and the other mentioned sites, YesAsia is not based in Japan but in Hong Kong.

In the end though, it's really a personal choice where to do your online J-Pop shopping. Some people would have had either good or bad experiences with any of the sites I mentioned. God knows how many times I keep hearing people on forums getting really impatient with their expected shipments from one service or another.

Previously, Amethyst only provided YesAsia links for any of the new releases she posted up. In the future, I'll be providing both CDJapan and YesAsia links where appropriate for you to choose from. I might also go back and edit the old posts to reflect this new change...I know some of the cover arts needs resizing after the layout change.

Anyways, happy J-Pop shopping!