March 4, 2010

Wandafuru Revival

Leave it to a rapping puppy to spur my first post in a few months. I just couldn't resist commenting on Sakura Saori's latest LoveLoveLovable #82. This week's show features 27 minutes of Sakura Saori Chiwakura-san (sproing) doggedly trying to cram as many "wans" into a sentence as possible.

chiwakura.jpgChiwakura-san, who turns 2 years old this coming June, redubbed the show WanWanWandafuru and sat in for Saori while she was off busy preparing for ave;new's 3/13 appearance at Club Citta. Fans took the rare opportunity to learn more about Chiwakura-san, as well as try to slip in some questions about Saori behind her back. However, the real gem this time was the big reveal of some serious rapping skills in the ave;new camp. And we're not talking about Kent and U-key. In the closing Memory ave;new segment, MC Chiwakura dropped some serious beats in "Chiwaku-rap." - the special bonus track produced for last summer's Comiket which finally made its radio debut.

Since it first began broadcasting in 2007, the show hasn't changed much. The general format revolves the sole host, 25 year old ave;new singer/writer/art designer Sakura Saori reading and answering listener mail categorized into "theme corners" as determined in the previous episodes. During each corner, she picks out a few listeners "Lovable Names" and reads their mail aloud, which almost always starts with "LoveLoveWa" (she will scold you if you don't start your letter correctly).

Anyway, I figured I would give a brief overview of the theme corners. Note: while I'd love to link to every example I reference, it's going to be based mostly on memory since older shows aren't up anymore.

Nandemo OK. As general Q&A, this is the most frequent corner and the largest component of the show. It is in almost every episode as an opener for Saori to get things moving with 3 - 5 questions, though some episodes are dedicated to her blitzing through dozens in rapid fire. While you do learn useful information like what kind of glowsticks to use in her concert (white), a lot of the entertainment comes from the personal anecdotes, in which Saori goes to great lengths to fill in details of her character. Half of it sounds like fiction, but what do I care?

Among other things, we learn about her love and struggles with beer, her apparently boring and secluded hermit lifestyle, and her inability to get valentine chocolates except from ave;new coworkers

Once a fan indirectly asked about her voice in real life and she basically affirmed (so she would love us to believe) that it's her default real life voice and strangers will even laugh at her for it. Sounds like bullshit to me. If it actually is true, then I might as well believe the stuff about the hermit lifestyle too. Try to get through your formative teenage years with that voice - it will fuck you up real good.

Oshiete my sweet
Oshiete my sweet is a segment where fans choose some kind of dessert for Saori to eat in the studio. The only rule is that it can easily be bought from a convenience store. Despite that, somehow these usually wind up being weird as hell confectionaries that nobody has ever heard of like curry flavored popsicles. I think she should combine this with Challenger Saori and just drop the "dessert" part. Then we'll see if she can take requests to get drunk on shots mid-broadcast or eat all kinds of nasty creepy crawlies.

Anata ni Yell!
Always nice when it appears, this corner is entirely for fans. Saori becomes a cheerleader and drops a goldmine of cute inspirational lines (that is if you find things "ei ei OOOOO" and magic incantations to be inspiring). Saori gives these out quite liberally, and they can get LONG and incredibly personal. This is less creepy than you think though. Surprisingly, most fans who write in betray the kimo-wota stereotype and are usually ambitious young students trying to ace exams and stuff, not 50 year old dudes asking for courage to leave mom's basement. Among various things, she has recorded wake-up messages, job and commuting mantras, and exam passing charms. I was almost tempted to send in one of my own but I don't want my name called out on a show like this :3 Sorry Shaori

Possibly no longer relevant. I think this used to let fans ask questions to other members of ave;new. Recently Saori has mostly done away with referring to guest Q&A as a corner at all though and just brings on guests to answer questions directly. You get people asking a.k.a.dRESS random stuff like who was his favorite character in ToLoveRu. It's informative when it happens, but dRESS apperances also have the downside (upside?) of having the show's background inexplicably replaced with his own theme song, which sounds like some 70s style porno soundtrack. Too bad there's no accompanying video where we can see his famous hair.

Nandemo Lovable 3
Ask Saori for her top 3 whatevers. Favorite drinks, music, candies, cafes, perfumes, soaps. Anything is fair game. Sometimes she just answers them straight up, but other times it can go on to an interesting tangent. Generally, this is the weakest corner for me, not because it's a bad idea, but because a lot of this involves everyday products/foods/locations that can only be found inJapan. A lot of the fun for listeners is probably going out and actually buying or trying out the "top 3," but all I can do is make lists of "oh yeah I gotta go try that next time" which pile up.

Challenger Saori
Opposite of Nandemo Lovable 3, this is the most fun corner where Saori attempts any challenge sent in by fans. It can sometimes be very teasing because she saves really good challenges for the next show. These segments always own tremendously as they tend to take her out of her element.

Memorable challenges include
- An entire episode where she's forbidden from using keigo, which she uses very heavily by default. This of course ended in cute miserable failure, with Saori inventing ridiculous nicknames for readers in order to make them sound more casual, and her tendency to mash up fake suffixes that were half formal, half informal whenever she slipped up.
- A challenge to sing low notes. I suspect this was almost certainly a fan trying to get her to break character by forcing her voice to go into the lower and presumably "real" registers. Of course Saori bailed at barely 1 octave below middle C. Come on Saori I know you can go lower dan dat!!!
- The episode that spawned this entire post. LoveLoveLovable #82.

Kikasete Memory Avenue
The request corner. Each show winds down with one song request from Saori's discography. Usually, she'll offer insight on the creation of the track and what it's generally about, but sometimes she seems confused about her own niche genre. Whenever she plays some blatant moepop track she says she hopes you will enjoy it with your "special someone" or listen to it with your family during sentimental moments. I guess she's not wrong. You can use it to initiate break ups of the "whoa I didn't know you were into that" nature. And what could be more sentimental than the sight of parents crying out where they went wrong?

Minna no Chiwakura-san
Finally, we have a common show closer. Chiwakura-san is a dog that you can write in about. It's very open ended and can range from discussing her hobbies (like her being a hardcore surfer), surprise appearances, and so on.

Recently I've been insanely busy due to work obligations during a time of major events in my industry, so I've had to choose my time wasters carefully, but LoveLoveLovable's content never disappoints even if I do gripe about some corners being worse than others. Plus its slow and infrequent podcast schedule manages to be one of the easier and funnier things I can actually keep up with without feeling overwhelmed. What's more, there's a kind of familiarity with the letters since 99% of the time it's the same 8 or 9 guys who rotate in and out every few broadcasts. They're practically members of the show (especially this one dude who knows he always gets read and has begun addressing letters to the listeners).

Well, I wrote a lot of words but I guess all I really want to say is go listen to Chiwaku-rap right now.

Posted by Paranda at March 4, 2010 11:49 PM


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