Posts Tagged ‘kago ai

I recently posted about Kago’s new line of “adult” photos that people have been harping about. I’ve been thinking about it more lately, though, and I’ve tried to figure out how Kago’s image changed so rapidly, and why. It’s one thing to say that she’s just doing it because H!P kept her in the same idol mold for too long, and quite another to display it in such a way that is is a believable conclusion. Then, I discovered what made the most sense to me about how she became like this:
Some of you may be anime fans. Maybe you’ve heard of Satoshi Kon? He’s directed a lot of great things: Paranoia Agent, Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers, etc. But the first of them all… was Perfect Blue. It follows the story of Mima Kirigoe as she transitions from part of the idol group CHAM into an actress. Already sounding familiar?

Now, there are important differences to note between “Aibon”‘s life, and that of “Mimarin” in an animated feature. Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller, to start with. There are serial murders happening around Mima involving people key to the change in her image. In a way, she’s kind of going crazy as her life starts to drastically change. Last I checked, not so with Aibon.
The thing that made me find the parallel here, though, is a certain scene. The two girls leftover in CHAM start anew and are backstage talking before an appearance. They reveal that Mima is about to do a photoshoot with a photographer who’s well-known for getting girls to take it all off. Mima does indeed do so, and doesn’t outwardly show any signs of disliking it. It isn’t until later that we see her disgust.
Mima’s first dorama is actually something of a bit part in a drama as a dead character’s sister in a murder mystery drama, only her part evolves to something bigger as her manager promises that she’ll do just about anything, and that it doesn’t matter because she’s graduated from being a pop idol. This gives her a much larger part, but it culminates with a rape scene. Her second manager doesn’t think this is a good idea, but Mima agrees to go along with it anyway.scantily
The pertinent line that Mima screams as she’s tearing apart her small apartment and throwing herself on her bed is this: “Of course I didn’t want to do it! But I couldn’t trouble all the people who brought me this far!”
Is this what is happening with Kago? Someone (her manager?) brought up the idea of the photobook to her, but it’s someone who helped her get back to where she is now so that she felt she couldn’t say no? It makes sense. Kago does look uncomfortable in a lot of her new pics. I argued that she probably wouldn’t have done them if she hadn’t wanted to, but that doesn’t mean that it was her preference.
Kago is finally making a name for herself, post-H!P, post-scandal, post-childhood, etc. FRIDAY is even talking about her again, trying to claim she’s in some big illicit relationship again. Only, this time? Kago’s management is denying it, and Kago wouldn’t even be “in trouble” if it was true this time. She’s 20… old enough to be allowed to make her own decisions. We, as fans, can only hope she’s making the best ones she can. After what she’s been though and seen, though, I think she will. I have confidence that this Kago will be the Kago that people will truly love forever.
There are several other lines from Perfect Blue that relate here, and one in particular comes to mind in light of this. Mima, in a scene that blurs between her role in the drama and her reality, says “I’m a pop idol! No… I’m an actress. That’s right… I’m an actress.”

Kago had no plans in the beginning to get back into singing. She was strictly going to be an actress. Now, she’s writing her own music that will start to drop in a few months (something I’m eagerly awaiting). She’s heading back to being an idol, but with a better head on her shoulders, and stronger hands to hold her up if she starts to fall. Yet, she’s not giving up acting in the slightest. It’s kind of wonderful, though to be true, I’m finding that while I like her acting, it doesn’t grab me like when she sings. I’ll keep watching though, because it’s still enough, or at least is for now.
Kago has changed a lot since her debut way back when. I sometimes wonder if she looks in the mirror and fails to see that part of herself that was with her for her H!P years. To quote a last line from Mima… her first lines in her first drama were “Excuse me… who are you?”, and it’s a phrase that is repeated quite often throughout the movie. I wonder if getting back into singing is Kago’s way of reclaiming that part of her life she feels was taken away.

Regardless, I wish her luck, and look forward to seeing the future with Kago in it.

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Maybe because I’m getting older than most of the H!P fans I’ve come across lately is why I can look at the latest pictures that have come out of Kago Ai and not react strangely.

Fact of the matter is that there are some girls in the idol world who are getting it on with members of the opposite sex. Tsuji is proof positive of that. Kids don’t just happen without a little nookie, and it usually takes more than once, especially if we assume that either Tsuji or her now-husband were smart enough to use protection. Now, from what I’ve heard from a friend in Japan, contraceptives are not the easiest thing to come by, but I would assume that with both of them being kind of famous, they might be able to afford it at least. Sugiura isn’t even an idol, so would it really have looked so odd for him, at his age, to purchase a pack of prophalactics?

What started the idea of this post was scrolling through the picboard at Hello! Online and seeing the following picture:

Wet Hot

Wet Hot

I won’t try to say that’s the most tastefully done picture ever, but in my opinion? Not so shabby. There’s nothing needlessly showing, the colors are nice, and while it’s a bit “adult”, Kago is 20. Look at what Britney Spears was getting away with at that age. Tight red pleather catsuit, anyone?

Oh Bondage, Up Yours

Oh Bondage, Up Yours

This picture surfaced, too. The outfit Kago has on underneath the purple rope is reminiscient of some of the things she had to wear in her H!P days.  She’s talked about feeling trapped in her “little girl” persona, and this demonstrates that beautifully. Her face here is even a bit more like we saw way back when.

It's Not Black and White

It's Not Black and White.

The above is probably my favorite of the new Kago shots. It’s not dirty, and anyone who thinks it is? They’re a prude. This is just the slightest little hint of sexuality, but again? Everything that should be covered is.

All By Herself

All By Herself

This is the one that’s getting people saying she’s going to start doing AV work any second now. Okay, guys, let’s get serious. Japan does not have a whole lot of actresses who can be both cute and sexy. Ai is proving that she has the look. So she’s naked in these shots. Who cares? She’s still covered. She isn’t putting it all out there for the world to see, but is showing that she is 50 times more comfortable with herself now than she was a few years ago.

The root cause of it all.

The root cause of it all.

The above is the root cause of all of the uproar, I assume. Is this Aibon’s new photobook coming out or something? Regardless, Aibon is 20 years old now. She goes by the nickname “Love Basket” sometimes. It’s more than likely that she’s shared a bed with a guy or two. Heck, look back at her scandals. She went to a hot spring with that one guy. Do you really think that’s all?

Mmm... ribs.

Mmm... ribs.

The above picture also has been getting a lot of flac. Why? Ishikawa Rika is in a very similar pose in her recent photobook, only sitting on a bed instead of lying down. Rika is equally as guilty of having some ribs showing, and even more skin. So long as Aibon is comfortable doing this kind of thing, I don’t care. When she first came back to the “entertainment world” she pretty much said you would never see “little-girl Aibon” again, so why are people up in arms? Eri had a risque photo or two in her latest photobook (yeah… in the plaid? Leaning over the chair?) and I didn’t see these kinds of comments anywhere.

But I suppose the thing is that Ai’s pictures are just a hint more sexual. She’s wearing lingerie instead of bathing suits, and being naked swathed in sheets in a bed, and looking at the camera instead of turning away. Maybe she’s just doing it to get back her fame. Maybe she just got to know this photographer who does a lot of nude photos anyway and got talked into it. For whatever reason, this is the Aibon of today, and I will gladly embrace it. As much as I love W and Mini Moni and old-school Morning Musume, I’m eager to see what Aibon can do outside of all of that.

She can still camp all the way to the top of Fujiyama.

She can still camp all the way to the top of Fujiyama.

The old Aibon is still in there. You can see it sometimes. Okay, you can see it a lot in her blog pics. But she’s older, and she was prevented from doing a lot of her growing up while in the public eye with H!P. Obviously it’s a lot to deal with to go from her old image to her new one, but she’s handling it pretty well. This Aibon seems a lot more stable and consistent, and that could keep her in the entertainment industry for quite a while. The idol industry has a much shorter lifespan.

I applaud Aibon and how great she looks in all of these shots. Her face is stunning, and you can tell how hard she worked to have the body she has now.

I figure that everyone else does it, and I certainly have the time to do so right now, so how about a year in review? Let’s go!

I’ll go through each group and talk about what they did, what I liked, and what I didn’t.

Morning Musume – Resonant Blue and Pepper Keibu were their only two singles, but they also released the Cover You album. They were in “Cinderella”, ended Haromoni@, started Yorosen!, had more PVs for a single song than ever before (Resonant Blue) and started to perform in places other than just Japan.  Personally, I liked all of that. It would have been nice for them to get one more single in there, but the album was almost like one big single anyway.

Berryz Koubou – Released Dschinghis Khan, plus the remix, as well as Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance and Madayade, and the studio album 5(FIVE). Performed/received an award at the Asia Song Festival. Ended Berikyuu! and joined Yorosen!. Lines started to be distributed a bit better. I’m also a fan of everything Berryz Koubou did this year. I generally like their singles, and I’m glad to see them divvying up the parts a bit more evenly.

°C-ute – Released LALALA Shiawase no Uta, Namida no Iro, Edo no Temari Uta II, FOREVER LOVE, Koero! Rakuten Eagles  plus the album 3rd ~Love Escalation~. Ended Berikyuu! and joined Yorosen!. Had a controversy about how Hitler was “taught” during Yorosen!. Maimi and Airi were lead on 3 of the 5 singles, and Maimi was center on 3 of the 5 singles. Those of you who read this blog know I’m not into °C-ute that much, so don’t be surprised that I wasn’t a fan of what they did this year. I prefered LALALA Shiawase no Uta to their other singles, but still didn’t particularly like it. And while I like Airi and Maimi? You’ve got 7 girls in the group. If Momusu can usually highlight their 9 members, why can’t you do 7? 2008 and still not a fan.

Ongaku Gatas – Released Come Together as well as the studio album 1st Goodsal. Mano Erina and Mika Muto graduated. Elder Club graduation was announced, which may signal the end of this group. OG didn’t do badly this year, though it would have been nice to have more than one single. They’ve only done 1 a year so far, though. I’ve got my fingers crossed that they’ll continue as a group outside of the H!P name because I do enjoy them, but I’m not that hopeful. Come Together was the worst single so far, but I think only because the other 2 were so much better, not that it was bad.

Buono! – Released Renai Rider, Kiss!Kiss!Kiss!, Gachinko de Ikou, and Rottara Rottara, plus the album Cafe Buono!. Were in Pizza-La commercials. Despite my dislike for Momoko, I still liked everything Buono! did this year. Their singles are amazingly catchy, and they have a distinct sound within H!P, too. Their outfits are always interesting, too.

High-King – Formed for the Cinderella musical from members of Momusu, Berryz, °C-ute, and the Eggs. This 5-member unit only did one single, but it was well-regarded as one of the best singles with possibly the best B-side ever in all of at least 2008. The group will likely not reform except possibly in concerts.

Milky Way – Released Anataboshi and Tan Tan Taan!. Both were good singles, and I’m definitely hoping for more Kikkawa Yuu now.

Athena & Robikerrottsu – Seishun Love Lunch was their final single, as the associated anime ended. I wasn’t a fan of any member of this group, so I’ll be honest… I didn’t even give it a listen.

Melon Kinenbi – Only released Charisma . Kirei. It had a shoddy video, but is still a decent song. The group announced that they would continue as a group after the Elder Club graduation.

Shugo Chara Eggs- Released Minna no Tamago. First major release by a group consisting solely of H!P Eggs. Cute, but not a bombshell of a song.

Viyuuden – Released “Nanni mo Iwazu ni I LOVE YOU”, a cover of a Momusu song. Disbanded shortly thereafter. I like the cover of this, and the video (with the very candid-looking bits) was a nice goodbye.

HANGRY & ANGRY – A non-H!P unit, technically, but they did release their first single “Kill Me Kiss Me”, a radical departure from the typical H!P fare. First group to have a MySpace, and to release formally in the USA. Announced plans to tour in the US and Europe, also a first. I adore this group, and think that they could definitely be going places, though after the Elder Club graduation, it definitely won’t be a part of H!P.

Abe Natsumi – Released 16sai no Koi Nante with Yajima Maimi from °C-ute, and Screen. Screen especially failed to report good results. But, I still found both songs easy to listen to, if not particularly memorable.

Matsuura Aya – Released Kizuna. Ayaya looked like a grandmother in this video, and the song was unimpressive.

Fujimoto Miki – Released Oki Tegami. Done in a different style than her previous solo work (similar to enka instead of the sugary pop), I found this my favorite of her songs, easily.

Koharu Kusumi – Released Papancake as a soloist. Got a lot of flac for her overexaggerated singing style. Released the Kirari to Fuyu album which received many more compliments for her singing style. None of it compares to her early Kirari stuff, I don’t think, but I still think it’s enjoyable to listen to.

Satoda Mai – Released Mou Sugu Christmas with Goda Kyoudai, as well as Hi wa, Mata Noboru with Aladdin. The Aladdin song did rather well on the charts, but I couldn’t get into it, or the Christmas song. Sorry, Satoda.

Mano Erina – Released Mano Piano, Lucky Aura, and LaLaLa-SoSoSo as indie singles. Never looked her age at all (17). I think Manoeri is charming. She’s a decent pianist. But, I think her voice leaves something to be desired.

Ice Creamusume – Formed through the NEW STAR auditions. My favorites are Youko (always Lightbulb to me, though) and Shenshen so far, but we’ll see when they actually start performing together?

I think that’s it? There’s quite a bit to look forward to in the new year, though. There’s a new MoMusu single on the horizon, and the promise of another new material album. Berryz has their first best-of coming out which will include a new song. Buono has a new single and album scheduled for early in the year. Matsuura Aya will get another album, Maeda Yuki will get a single. Satoda will put out another single with Goda Kyoudai. Koharu will release another single. C-ute will have another album. And that’s just in the first 2 months of 2009! It looks like it will shape up to be a good year. Elder Club’s graduation doesn’t seem to be hindering any of their releases, so hopefully the girls there will be more active post-graduation. My fingers are crossed!

I hope everyone is having good times during the final days of the year, and to help? Here’s H!P’s New Year’s card.


Oh, and to top it all off? Aibon is supposed to start releasing music again next year, too!