Just a Casual fan

img20090527032115This pic continues to be my favourite incarnation of Goto thus far. I love that minx hair style, that odd mix of overalls with a leopard-print jacket and the fact that she is outdoors, not draped over some velvet couch covered in pearls. This strikes me as down-to-earth sophisticated, which I much prefer.

Since her mini-album has been released I decided to watch her ‘Unrecorded’ segments on youtube (see her recording ‘Fly Away’, also personally my fave episode here). She wears this coat a lot during the shows.

What I expected to like about it was seeing her in real life, being like the Goto she was in H!P. Granted, I don’t know a whole lot about who she was in H!P because I had no interest in her when she was in Momusu, or when she was a soloist. Well, some interest, but very little. I’ve always been more interested in the person Goto than the idol Gocchin. So I was delighted to see that ‘Unrecorded’ was that kind of show. I liked just seeing her do the job. She got up early, slurped down her Starbucks treats and went about her day not as if she was “super delighted” to be there, but as if this was (is) her job and so she’ll keep going, even when she inevitably got tired. I did get a sense that she enjoyed it, but she didn’t have to pretend as though she did to entertain me. My Japanese is still in its infancy, but from the bits I understood, and what I observed, she seemed fulfilled and determined. I loved seeing her that way. Seeing her scribbling down lyrics and choosing the look she wanted to present in her photoshoots (as was my limited understanding) was so different than any backstage moment H!P has ever given me.

Avex is a bit of mysterious place for me, but my impression of it in regards to people like Koda Kumi has really made me think about the person Goto Maki.

I sorta feel like we all need to get to know her all over again.

I said in the first version of this post, but I’ll say it again: I don’t like, nor do I agree, with the assumption that Tsunku and H!P and all those associated with Momusu used the young Goto  to boost sales and then sucked her dry until she finally managed to claw her way to freedom. I don’t believe that her career can really start now and I think it’s naive and silly to assume that her idol days were only restraining and gave her no sense of self. If anything being forced to conform to a certain label can make one ever more certain of who one is NOT.Certain girls in H!P have always resisted the normal idol fall-back position of genki-cutesy, while still creating something special: Nakazawa, Yossy, Yaguchi and Mikitty, to name a few.

One thing I’ve noticed in the older generations of Momusu is that sense of responsibility to the job: they are selling themselves as a certain dream and it may not be what they expected img20090413102249461or wanted to become, but if it makes people happy, then they will find a way to reconcile themselves with that expectation. The fans, their audience, are the point. Yes, Momusu is a dream and the chance of a lifetime, but it is a job. Like any job there are responsibilities and everyone in the group has to recognize them for the group to function. Takahashi has taken that lesson into her leadership: Junjun is apparently predisposed to be lazy and not really work on her dancing, so although it was awkward, Riida had to gently but firmly remind her that for the group to work, every one has to work hard.

I’m getting a bit off track here, but this sense of responsibility (and yes, the money, I do not forget about that, even if I sound all lovey-dovey and naive about the whole concept of Momusu) is probably what kept her in H!P for so long. Goto was always put to work, in dramas, in her solo ventures, in endless photobooks (how many does she have now? 20?) and dvds and shuffle units. She always had work she needed to do and she probably felt like the fans expected these things too. Maybe back in 2007, when they decided that the only way to market her was to stick her in push-up bustiers and have her writhing around on the floor, she finally felt like her fans could allow her to move on. I’m not sure how Goto fans felt about her ‘new’ direction back then. The explanation was that she had turned 20 and so was trying to be more ‘mature’, but those used to idol Gocchin might have been alittle wary. Was there really a segue between  ‘Ima ni Kitto…’ and then suddenly ‘Glass no Pumps’ (otherwise known as ‘here are my breasts, oh mirror darling’)? She clearly wasn’t a child anymore and either she didn’t want to be Gocchin anymore, or those in power felt she couldn’t be.

Also, I often forget, as most tend to, that she has a life outside of her work. Her brother’s arrest and all the trouble that came from that must have put more strain on an already overworked and exhausted girl. The family issues needed to be put first, before the needs of the company. Also Goto apparently didn’t like writhing around on the floor at the command of the company and she felt that she was ready to take the reigns from Tsunku in terms of what she wanted to sing about.

It seems those that choose to leave H!P do so swiftly. There have been a few girls that have left pretty abruptly, without graduation ceremonies or really any forewarning. I’d like to think I expect people to move on, but it’s always a bit of a shock to me. Goto made her decision, took some time to wind down and chose to study some things in America. I loved her blog when she was in America. I don’t even know why. But it’s that image of Goto as not “THE” Goto Maki, but just a young woman enjoying life and pursuing her own interests that img20090527061224481attracts me.

So, a little while later, here she in in Avex, working her way up as she’s never had to do before. She was popular almost instantly in H!P and experienced what was probably a bewildering instant fame, but now (if you’ll forgive the cliche) she’s a little fish in a big pond. From what I’ve seen around various sites, she’s been doing a lot of random collaborations, like with Ravex, a song called ‘Golden LUV’ that I LOVE to death even though I have no interest in rave music. She’s been performing in tiny rave venues, with the audience right in front of her eyes, not hidden in the throng or hidden in the darkness. How terrifying and exhilarating for her, ne?

‘Fly Away’ is a wonderful song. I still really love it. As far as I know, she has penned the lyrics to that song and every song that followed under this Sweet Black project. Writing lyrics is a lot harder than most people think. Wait, let’s rephrase that: writing lyrics that aren’t AWFUL is harder than you’d think. I haven’t found any translations of her songs that haven’t been copied and pasted into a translation engine, so I really only know the gist of what she’s singing about, but what I can talk about with certainty is how good the music is.

Fly Away – Love it. Have already talked about it here.

Lady Rise – In a word: “meh”. This is what I was initially expecting when she signed onto Avex. It’s rather boring for me with the exception of her little “OW!” squeal at the end. The PV reminds me of Jaja Uma Paradise from Biyuuden (and for good reason), without the goofiness. If I wanted a Goto fashion show, I’d look at her photobooks.

With – Finally, the outdoor pv, with the awesome minx hair.  The song has the kind of lovely acoustic guitar that makes me want to close my eyes and smile. Her voice is wispy and img20090822011636036there is a gentleness in it that has been missing for awhile (at least to a casual Goto fan, like myself). It is beautiful.

Tear Drops with KG – I think this one is lovely too. I haven’t really watched the pv that much, because I thought it was odd that this KG person is never seen at all. Why isn’t he in the video? It’s just Goto being sad and pretty…which is fine, but it’s a duet, isn’t it? I was hoping for something else. And I found his voice was nice on it’s own, but it didn’t really add anything to the song. It was like they were singing two different songs at the same time. Still, it’s pretty even so. The vocals are lovely. In its own way, it is also beautiful.

Queen Bee with Bigga Raiji – I think in this newest single she’s finally hit…it. The song is awesome and the pv is just as awesome. Yes, Mr Raiji is a little bit ridiculous (did he remind anyone else of a frog with that bandana around his entire-lack-of neck?), but his screaming eventually blends in beautifully to her honey sweet vocals. I love Goto in the honeycomb, because that outfit is just plain cool and because she’s able to do lots of weird little faces while playing chess against herself or watching herself on the hood of Raiji’s car with her opera glasses. When she’s on the hood of the car, I am tempted to roll my eyes at the typical-writing-on-floor moves that happen, but I’m distracted by how much I love the gold outfit. The dance is also awesome, even though, once again, she’s crawling across the floor. At least this time it’s kinda hot.

I realize it must be tiresome to hear me say how much I always like everything, but liking Goto’s music post H!P more than her music within H!P is a surprise to me. I usually don’t care for much of what Avex has to offer and Goto as an idol seemed bland to me. Cool with nothing behind it. My initial impression was that she was one of THOSE girls, the ones who can always do everything perfectly and sort of turn up their noses at anything less than what they feel like doing at the time. In other words, it seemed like she was cute and cool but really didn’t have the personality you need to be an H!P idol.

This is my impression. I’m a casual fan. I’ve not followed her very much, if at all, so I fully admit that I could be totally wrong. Maybe when she was being all bland to me, she was really just exhausted. What I’m trying to say is that when she was smiling automatically and trying to be excited when she probably wasn’t, I didn’t buy it and she didn’t appeal to me. Now that she is working hard for her career and in charge of things, she seems much more genuine. Watch the Unrecorded series. It’s not been subtitled, but if you’re trying to learn Japanese, it might be helpful to see what you can understand from it. Just seeing her interacting with people and not just running past a stationary camera during a concert is so refreshing.


I like her music right now, for whatever reason. Maybe this is because I’ve not followed her until now. I’m a new generation of Goto Maki fans. Like I said in the beginning maybe we all need to get to know her again. Goto the woman, not Gocchin the idol. I think those days served her well, but they are over.


3 thoughts on “Just a Casual fan

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