AKB48: Oku Manami Surges into #4 Cluster!

File this under the “Yes This Is News” department.

Whilst muttering absent-mindedly in #stage48 (irc.irchighway.net) an image was posted that became the first-ever time Oku Manami (“Maa”, a channel favorite) caught my attention as a contender for the oshimen status. This is the larger image it came from, but below is the portion in question:

And irritated from having to explain my ranking system for the 9th time, I decided to make a crude version of my ranking system so I could refer to it simply and easily:

Formerly, Maa had been in the #6 cluster of “all others” despite having known about her for quite some time and been largely unaffected by her attempts to capture my affections. However, this one picture immediately places her in the #3 bunch.

The bigger question: Is it possible for me to catch a glimpse of a Sae or Minegishi pic that will shake up my spectrum? I say not likely, but we’ll just see..

NYR: Complete/Progress One Art Per Week, 11 12 & 13

For better context of what these NYR posts mean, see this intro post.

I meant to combine weeks 11 & 12 because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get much done, but not the case. Since it’s so late into Week 13 already, I figured I might as well make an all-inclusive.

On Week 11, I changed the site image banner (to the green forest-scape), having to crop an ideal section out of a dozenish potential images I pilfered, without crediting, from Wallbase.net. It took maybe 2 hours, because I sorted through perhaps 200-300 potential wallpapers to find one that suited my whim =P

On Week 12, I assembled more raw materials for the cardboard Solomon’s Temple, with the intent of creating a 3D diagram for use in teaching kids at my church about what the place looked like, in cut-away.

On Week 13, I extensively photographed and video-recorded a 3rd-annual benefit Pow Wow that my dad and the Native American group he heads up, where proceeds go to ARC. For my non-US readers: “Native Americans” doesn’t refer to people who were born in America, but instead any of many hundreds of indigenous tribes of people that lived on the land prior to the esteemed “discovery” by Europe. A “Pow Wow” is, today, loosely a celebration generally for a specific tribe unless, as in this case, it is intertribal. Native Americans are sometimes called American Indians, due to a legendary mix-up by discoverers thinking the land they’d struck was actually India. There are vendors who sell crafts and works of art based on the Native American culture, cultural food like Indian Tacos, and foremostly, a large central circle with a giant drum made from animal hide in the center, surrounded by inward-facing drummers and singers who all pound on the drum simultaneously in beat and sing, while various activities occur around in the circle behind them. They’re often outside, but it is not uncommon for them to be held indoors, as this one was.

Below is a panorama picture I took of the circle (click on the image to see full-size). On the far right is a head table. You’re generally supposed to only walk in the circle in a clockwise direction. If someone only needed to walk up to the table and they were on the table’s left a quarter of the way around, they’d have to walk 3/4 of the way around instead of straight up to it. However, most tourists who visit Pow Wows are unfamiliar with this practice and regulars glare at them when they do but often don’t mention it. If you do obey the clockwise rule, you’ll get some instant credibility with the regulars for knowing better.

Also for Week 13, I was flipping through a 3-ring binder I’d forgotten about that contained a few art clippings I’d cut from magazines and collated into clear plastic binder sleeves, and got the idea to make another large colorful collection similar to one I’d made therein, to hang on my bedroom wall. Yay! A new project I may never finish =)

A-Pop Wrap-Up: Beckii Cruel, Run SNSD Run

Feeling Run Down About SNSD’s Run Devil Run
The big draw for me to listening to SNSD (a Korean girl-pop group of 9) was their cuteness and their peppy songs. I haven’t been overly thrilled with Kara’s serious-business mini album Lupin or any of their perfs so far, and the same is ringing familiar with SNSD’s new single and perfs for Run Devil Run.

Maybe it’s that the attitude of the song isn’t bright and cheery, or that the costumes aren’t bright and happy (or quite as leggy, for that matter), but it just doesn’t hook me in as well as Oh! or Gee ever did. I can’t really pin it down, but this one just doesn’t do it for me. It’s not something I’d really find myself humming at work or getting stuck in my head very easily.. I like the side seams on their white pants (although from a distance they remind of leotards or white nylons, but the black nylons-look of their dark outfits is almost entirely unappealing to me and the material in their hair for the dark outfits is more weird than cool, and the “run” motion during the chorus is frankly a little lame.

The Rise of Beckii Cruel
On a lighter note, and despite the heresy that many in the J-pop world might suggest I am perpetrating by even mentioning Beckii Cruel — it must be done. I first came across the video below, only moments ago, that shows a girl with a British accent in some sort of interview with Sayumi Michishige from Japan’s famous Morning Musume group.

Beckii is a 14-year-old who had been posting numerous home-filmed choreography/dance covers on YouTube (including numerous Japenese tunes) and by a stroke of fortune was discovered and posted on a popular Japanese video sharing site called Nico Nico Douga and near-instantly became a huge hit which eventually led to a recording contract and is described by many to be a budding star. She’s the daughter of a policeman and a former dance instructor, and hails from the Isle of Man, an island between England and Ireland I’d never heard of until today but seems to have a deep, rich, and significant history and inhabited by a people group called the Manx, a blend of English and Norse. You can read more about her at her wikipedia page, and check out more of her videos (including a Massara Blue Jeans dance cover) at her YouTube account. Her new group, the Cruel Angels (perhaps as a spin on the Neon Genesis Evangelion theme, Cruel Angel Thesis although unconfirmed) is one that I may have to keep an eye on.

EDIT – I’ve gotten my hands on an MP4 version of the “This Is Beckii Cruel” DVD and the best description I can give is that, “If Luna Lovegood were to make a Japanese “idol” DVD, this is what it would be like.” The whole thing seems like a sort of imitative commentary on the Japanese idol DVD market, rather than attempting to be its own version, per se. It’s almost as if its publication were an editorial on patterns Japenese idol DVDs follow, as if in some slight way to mock them without directly saying so.. She definitely reminds me of Luna Lovegood, though — doing her own thing, dancing by herself, saying weird things out of the blue, blissfully (and delightfully) unconcerned with how she is perceived by the occasional on-looking asians in the background. I would have not been terribly surprised if she gave us a brief documentary on Wrackspurts and Nargles.