Keiko Kitagawa : Finding Fame in Her Own Way!

Real Sports Web posted an interesting editorial about Keiko Kitagawa, and how her clean past is keeping her with her agency, Stardust Promotion. The agency recently dropped one of its “breadwinner” stars, Erika Sawajiri over allegations of drug abuse. Given the recent arrests of many stars in Japan for drug abuse, Stardust is axing any star with even the slightest hint of a drug problem. The article then talked about how Keiko is now playing many leading roles, such as the recent TV Drama Buzzer Beat, and in her very first Japanese period movie, Hana no Ato. We have a beautiful shot of her from this movie featured today (more can be found here)! Keiko will be featured next in the movie Elevator To The Gallows. She has been called a starlet who is “a step ahead of today’s generation”. Originally, she had been a local model, but later transitioned to drama. Playing Sailor Mars in PGSM was her first role, however in recent times her agency has tried to keep knowledge of that at bay. Keiko has never been one to show very much of her body, and the article makes special mention that she is the only star of PGSM who has not turned to the world of gravure idols (and makes specific mention of Miyuu Sawaii in this context). However, because there were a few shots of her bloomers, this has somewhat taken away from her wholesome image. However, now that Keiko has a more “developed figure” and that she is now a more respected model, this isn’t a huge deal anymore (though some still think that PGSM is an obscure credit). The writer ends the article hoping that Keiko tries more, and that she also cosplays a bit in the future.

In Japanese society though, gravure idols aren’t seen as being “dirty” like they are perceived in North American culture. For many girls in fact, the only way for them to really get their start in the industry most times is to get into gravure modeling. We have to admire Keiko Kitagawa for avoiding these things largely and becoming a respected star in Japan. Fans, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think Keiko necessarily made the wrong decision in not pursuing a gravure career after PGSM ended?

Sailor Moon Musical Number to be Presented by Cosplayers in Seoul!

Since 2005, there has been a festival which happens at the same time in Japan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) to celebrate friendly ties between the two countries. The Japan-Korea Exchange Omatsuri will begin on September 19th, and will take place simultaneously at the Roppongi Hall Arena in Tokyo , and the Seoul Plaza (which happens to be in front of Seoul City Hall) in Seoul. One very interesting event that we hope someone posts video of, will be Korean cosplay group Moonstone going a step further than their usual Sera Myu cosplay! On September 20th, they will be performing a musical number with the use of traditional Korean and Japanese instruments! We don’t know what song they will sing from Sera Myu, but this sounds like it could be a very interesting and fun show! For those of our readers in South Korea, this will take place at 7:30. We would love to see pictures and video of the event if you are going! From the pictures of their appearance in a cosplay parade last year (we have featured them below), they sure put in a lot of effort into their costumes and we think they are pretty close to the original! Also, if any of you know anything about Moonstone (we haven’t been able to find out a lot about them), please tell us, we’d love to tell the fans a little more about them! There will also be a lot of youth participating in performance groups there as well along with Moonstone. There will also be a Japanese cultural parade in Seoul, and in Tokyo there will be a Korean cultural parade, as well as a Kimchi festival, which will teach Japanese people about how to make it, and also a little bit about Korean culture. Perhaps Keiko Kitagawa and Jung Woo-Sung should attend that (we kid, we kid)!

MOONSTONE Appearance at Omatsuri 2008:

Tabloids Being Unfair To Keiko

It seems Keiko Kitagawa (Sailor Mars in PGSM) has been the subject of many tabloids’ fodder lately. The first one came a little over a week ago, where she was compared to Aya Ueto. Aya Ueto is an idol who has a nickname in the Japanese press, she is known as the “low-ratings idol” since she mostly appears in magazine, commercials, and low-rated dramas. According to this article, Aya has some competition with her “low-ratings” crown in the form of Keiko Kitagawa, who over the last nine months has been seen in the same sorts of things that Aya used to conquer! The article goes on to say that Aya has had a 10-year career, while Keiko has only been on the scene for 6 years. But it makes light of dramas which they starred in and their dwindling ratings. There’s an error in this article, as he calls Keiko only an actress and Aya an actress and a singer. Keiko has sung songs for PGSM which we’re pretty sure were well loved (at least it wasn’t Miyuu Sawaii’s singing). The writer of this article, at the end shows a shred of humanity saying that he doesn’t want fans to be angry with his decision about who the new low-ratings idol is. He ends saying Keiko is winning against Aya right now, but has more faith in Keiko having a better career in the future. He also notes that it is hard for many idols to achieve a lot of popularity. Aya is pictured here ->.

Yes, we know this article was garbage, but we really don’t think that this was fair to even put her in that category! Sure her latest dramas haven’t had wide appeal (Homeroom on the Beachside lost ratings steadily), however she is one of the few stars of PGSM who is steadily working hard towards stardom (even though she is not as successful as others)! Plus, she is featured frequently on commercials for cosmetics giant Kanebo (as is Aya). We remember reading in an interview a long time ago that she didn’t feel like she was worthy enough to be with all the other, more beautiful, idols that were in the commercials. To us, Keiko seems willing to try different things to put herself out there, and we know that she will never be a low-ratings queen to us!


We also came across this scan of Keiko’s various romantic interests and other men she has starred in movies and dramas with. We can’t name any of them unfortunately – if any of you know who they are, please tell us! Miyuu Sawai and Ayaka Komatsu are only in there to connect to her debut work, PGSM.

And thirdly, it seems that Keiko was involved in yet another scandalous mishap! Last week, she appeared on Tunnels: Food Prejudice King, a variety show in Japan. Tunnels features a campy quiz show for the first 20 minutes, and then the other 40 are devoted to celebrity food tasting, and then everyone has to guess the food that the other one hated. Alongside Keiko was a South Korean actor named Jung Woo-sung. Unfortunately, at the end of the show, he spelled Kimchi wrong (writing Kimuchi instead of Kimchi), and many South Koreans got offended. This led him to issue a huge apology out to his fans. We have a couple clips from the show for you all!

First: The Introductions, and Wine Tasting! Keiko doesn’t like the wine and seems a little shy…

Second: Kimchi/Kimuchi confusion! Keiko finds Kimchi spicy!

For those of you who want to know about Korean romanization and why “Kimuchi” causes a bit of an uproar, hit the jump for a very special explanation from our seasonal writer, Starcat!

Here’s Starcat’s explanation!

(please note that for this article I don’t use a standard romanization system — I simply write out how I think things are best phonetically pronounced to American English speakers, with hyphens to indicate between syllables. If you are from another country or have another accent you might not sound “Korean” when you pronounce things this way, but I think it works the best to my eyes and ears! I’m also calling it the “English” alphabet rather than Latin because romanization tends to follow the English way of pronouncing each letter.)

The Korean language, 한국어 (han-guk-oh), and Korean alphabet, 한글 (han-guhl), don’t really match the typical sounds given to English letters, so there can be a lot of variation for one word. It can get somewhat closer to most English words than Japanese due to the use of final consonants other than n (as in kim-bap, kal-bi, ta-sot, and an-nyohng–yes, the ng is one letter in Korean!) Some words are really easy to romanize into English — kimchi is written very much as it is in Hangul: ㄱㅣ ㅁ (김) ㅊ ㅣ (치), 김치. it can be spelt gimchi as well (and some people/places write kimchee or other variations on the same pronunciation) because the first consonant, ㄱ, falls slightly between these two English letters. (There are two more variations on this letter that produce a more distinct k-sound or a short gg/kk sound, as well, further complicating romanization into English, but since we’re only concerned with a simple word, kimchi, it’s not our problem.) The -chi part is slightly less complicated, because the ch, ㅊ, is already what’s called an “aspirated” consonant, which means it’s pronounced almost exactly like “ch” is in English. The letter it’s based on, ㅈ, is more of a j/ch combination–again, causing romanization problems in a different way.

Japanese, though, does not have these ending consonants. To write “kimchi” in Japanese, you must write ki-mu-chi, or キムチ. The u sound is usually dropped or only briefly pronounced so it ends up sounding very close to kimchi in Korean. It’s not a problem, right?

Well, to the Korean people, it is. The Japanese occupied Korea for a long time, and there is still a bit of jealousy and tension between the two countries. Japan has tried to get Korea’s national dish standardized in English as “kimuchi”. While I am not a Korean national or even Korean by heritage, my guess is that this misspelling was so offensive because of two reasons: for one, it’s the Japanese way, not the Korean way; for two, an unknowing English speaker would pronounce kimuchi different than kimchi. In short, the romanization directly from Korean is the best way and to do it otherwise is weird and insulting, particularly for such a high-profile dish! Even though this K-Pop star was in Japan, he should have been representing Korea and spelling it the Korean way.

I’m still a learning Korean student–if anyone knows if “kimuchi” is a real word in Korean (the basic hangul spellings I tried in Google Translate produced nothing) please write in and let us know!

sources/references:

For more information on how to pronounce Korean consonants: http://www.wright-house.com/korean/korean-consonants.pdf

The English article about this scandal from All K-Pop.com: http://www.allkpop.com/index.php/full_story/jung_woo_sung_apologizes_for_spelling_kimchi_as_kimuchi/

More on kimchi as a food: http://www.kimchi.or.kr/eng/index.html

BREAKING NEWS: Two Lost Souls Have Returned!

In the last few days, two very important people involved with Sailor Moon have finally returned to our radar!

Sailor Moon R II: The Promise of Naoko

Forgive us for the Sailor Moon Return pun :p. For the last few years, pretty much the only news we had heard of Princess Naoko came from people who had been around her, from students in 2004, to more recently, Naoko’s own husband. On New Years’ Day of this year, it looks like Princess Naoko’s Room has returned in a much different form to the official Sailor Moon Website. And, we were lucky enough to get a picture of Naoko (even if it is from last October). In Shizuoka City, lies Bandai’s Hobby Center, which is their main toy factory. The toy factory has a showroom, and also aspires to be the first green toy factory with zero emissions, and wants to be a pioneer in plastics recycling. Naoko visited the Bandai Hobby Center in October, and had the opportunity to check out some Gundam plastic models (known as “Gunpura”) and has joined the ranks of other mangaka in drawing their characters in a Gundam style (it is Gundam’s 30th anniversary after all!). Naoko says that this is a drawing of Usagi in a Hobby Center Uniform. The entry hints that there may be more updates from Naoko to come in 2009! To check out a full translation, go visit here! We are so happy to finally have a new picture and some words from Naoko in many years! Naoko, please continue to update your site – we miss you!

Rika Izumi Makes a New Splash!

Rika Izumi (otherwise known as Chisaki Hama) is well-known for playing Sailor Mercury in PGSM. After the show wrapped in 2004, she disappeared altogether, and castmates were rumored not to be allowed to talk about her on their blogs or post pictures. Last summer, she made her return modelling in magazines, and she even got a role in the movie Clearness playing the character Reiko. She appeared in 3 scenes in the film, the last of which we have pictured here for you with an arrow. The movie is a romance based on a keitai shosetsu (mobile phone novel), about love in the sex trade. More recently, she has appeared in a noodle commercial as the beautiful Kimono Girl of a lonely boy’s dreams (played by SMAP’s Masahiro Nakai). This morning, we read an article all about her “re-debut”! Rika confirms that she gave her school the priority after PGSM ended, and that she graduated with a literature degree from Meiji University in 2007. Shortly afterwards , she took up modeling again! She wants to do more acting, and she hopes to be able to express herself as sexy and as lovely as Marilyn Monroe did. She wants to costar with everyone that she can, and she is still good friends with her former costars of PGSM. The article makes special mention of her friendships with Keiko Kitagawa and Mew Azama (Sailors Mars and Jupiter). When she was ready to return to the entertainment business, she sent her own shots around to agencies before she was signed. The article also features a brand new photo shoot, along with a few shots from her noodle commercial. Click here to see! Fans can also go to A Fruitful Spring to check out her most recent magazine appearances!

News From The Other Side Of The Pond #17

Editor’s Note: Among the few files which I lost on my computer was the backup of a very important widget I used to keep tabs on all the stars of Sailor Moon. This means I have to build it up again from scratch. PGSM had the smallest cast and crew, so I thought that was a good place to start before hitting the behemoth casts that are the musical and the cartoon. So for now, this update will cover the stars of PGSM.

Keiko Kitagawa Ranked 7th Most Popular Teacher According to Oricon!

Japanese survey giant Oricon recently completed a poll asking people who they thought played the best teacher. Keiko Kitagawa (Sailor Mars in PGSM) came in 7th place! The article’s writer said that of all the actors in this ranking, Keiko is “the new kid on the block”. According to some of the surveyors’ opinions, they found her cute and lovable, and that with time it was very possible she could be a wonderful teacher. Coming in first place was Nanako Matsushima, second place went to Misaki Ito, and third was Kyoko Fukuda.
And while we’re talking about Keiko, we’re going to sneak in another couple tidbits we came across. Keiko’s new movie, Handsome Suit is just around the corner, and the Daily Cyzo web magazine is having a contest for ten pairs of tickets to a preview of the movie October 9th! For more details (you have to be living in Japan) click here. The contest deadline is September 19th. This picture we have here of Keiko was taken at a promotional event for the movie last week. When Keiko was 17 years old, she read a novel called Norwegian Wood, about a man who remembered his college experiences back in the 60s. The novel became one of her favorites, and as fate would have it, the novel is now being turned into a movie. She read it again after 5 years, and had a different perspective about it’s meaning now that she is an actress and has a good idea of what her identity is. She called on all her blog readers to read it too. Keiko will also be endorsing a new cell phone in Japan, the Prada Phone by LG (we wish we had this!). And lastly, we’d like to congratulate Keiko Kitagawa upon finishing her degree in Commercial Science at Meiji University! She will graduate in the spring.

Kaori Moriwaka to Give Free Q&A and Mini-Performance in Harajuku!

Kaori Moriwaka (Ikuko Tsukino in PGSM) will be having a free Q&A session and mini-performance at the Harajuku KDDI design studio on September 20th. No other details have been released at this time, as the event is being shrouded in secrecy – what does she have planned, we wonder? One detail that has emerged is that this is to promote her new podcast being offered through KDDI. This has already been a big year for Kaori with the reunion of her old girl band, the Go-Bang’s.

Narushi Ikeda Cast in New Movie!

Narushi Ikeda (Sugao Saito, Minako’s Manager in PGSM) has been cast in a new movie called Don-Jyu. This movie is about childhood friends who are torn apart, and eventually reconcile. The movie will be released some time next year. Filming began on September first. It is based on the award winning Chinese movie from 2005 of the same name. The movie will be directed by Tetsuya Nakashima, and stars another star who has worked with someone else from PGSM! Tadanobu Asano plays a leading role in the movie, and he worked with Keiko Kitagawa on the Docomo 2.0 commercials!

Masu Takeshi Directing New Play!

Masu Takeshi (Rei’s Dad in PGSM) is seen here first from the left on the bottom row. He is directing a new play Puzzling Sunday which begins on the 19th in Tokyo. This play is a revival of a play which was very popular in 1996. It’s a comedy about the dwellers of a luxury apartment: a daughter who refuses to obey her father’s wish for her to get married, along with other quirky visitors. Masu has had to overcome great obstacles to work on this play, just last year he underwent surgery to fight stomach cancer. He says that his health is good today, and that he can even drink alcohol now to celebrate his play. We wish him all the best with his new play and continued good health!

Jyoji Shibue in New Drama!

Jyoji Shibue (Tuxedo Kamen in PGSM) stars in a new drama starting September 26th in Japan! It’s a tragic story called Romera Love Feud and it is about Nanase, a 39-year-old woman whose father died in a car accident when she was 15, and her mother later ran away. Nanase is trying to pick up the pieces of her broken life as she tries to fall in love. The show also tells his story by going back and forth from the present to when he was younger. Jyoji plays Satoru, Nanase’s best friend from her younger years. He is pictured at a promotional event announcing the premiere third from the left.

And finally, we came across some Aya Sugimoto news that is definitely for our older readers only after the jump!


Aya Sugimoto Engages in Some Strange Business?!

Aya Sugimoto (PGSM Queen Beryl) has long been known to be in touch with her sexuality. Just a few days ago, Japanese ISP Biglobe announced a new partnership with her, wherein she offers advice for couples to get more sensual with each other. This is by far the strangest endeavor we’ve seen from Aya. We know during the time of PGSM she gained a lot of notoriety for what she said about her ex-husband during their divorce, but reading this new website of hers gave us the creeps. However, there are some other cleaner but still awkward productions of hers on the way. In November, she will be doing a Tango dance show exploring womanly desires (we’ve got the poster pictured here). She feels that she needs to express the feelings of a woman. She also has a recipe book out, and the title loosely translates to “Cooking That Will Capture a Man”. She has also posed for the Japanese branch of PETA, sitting down on a white block, wearing only white stilettos and holding a sign over her chest that says “Fur? I’d rather go naked”. That news alone is making headlines all over the world, and we can even point you to an article in English. We’re not entirely sure what phase of life Aya is in right now, but if she’s happy, then we’re happy.