Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hey Guys I'm Not Dead

When I first started this blog, I swore to myself that I wouldn't be one of those J-pop blogs that falls off the face of the planet indefinitely...


There are a number of reasons why I stopped writing on this blog. And yes, one of the big ones is that I am very, very busy. I know that's the excuse every blog uses, but it's a perfectly valid excuse. I would love to spend my days waxing poetic about J-pop, but I barely have time to juggle everything else going on in my life. I can't remember the last time I had a free weekend, let alone a free evening.

That makes it sound like I'm old and miserable and drowning in obligations, but that's far from the truth. I'd rather not go into specifics, but I'm very happy with everything I'm doing right now. I'm still writing, even if not on this blog. I wish the Wonderland fit into that equation, but it unfortunately just doesn't.

But being busy isn't the only reason. I didn't want to leave whoever still pops around here hanging forever. If you've stuck around this long, you deserve an explanation. And I need to properly write my swan song.

So buckle up, because we're gonna talk about my feelings. And I have quite a few feelings.

First and foremost: I don't feel as connected to idol music as I did when I was a teenager.

The older I'm getting, the more I'm acutely aware that the idol industry is not marketed towards me. Idols are for middle-aged Japanese men. Wotas. Like let's be real here. Wotas are the demographic that spends the most money on idols, and that bothers me more than it used to. Even back when I was writing, that wota demographic was always the elephant in the room. And I'm not trying to indicate that anyone who falls inside or outside that demographic should be ashamed for following idols. But for me personally, I can't ignore the wota demographic and all the unfortunate implications that come with it.

Like the no dating rule. Back when I was writing on here, that pissed me off, and it still pisses me off. Contractual obligations be damned, that rule needs to die. No person should be expected to put their romantic life on hold at the expense of their career. Clearly the rule doesn't work either because these dating scandals keep happening.

One of the big arguments for the no dating rule (or not really an argument but an opinion) is that wotas expect their idols to stay, "pure." Not pure for themselves, oh no, pure for the very market that takes this weird possession of their entertainment personas. And god forbid an idol do anything, like dating, to break that persona, lest some wota decides to drop all support of her work at best or go to a handshake event and stab her at worst. Am I being too harsh? I'm not trying to take this big social justice stand against a market that's been around since the eighties (and probably earlier), but on a personal level, it bothers me. And this has always been a personal blog.

I guess what bothers me more specifically is I feel like the companies that produce these idol groups actively feed into the creepiness of the wota demographic then act like it's all good, clean fun. Am I making sense? I feel like I'm not. Still, I know how I feel even if I can't quite articulate how. All I can say is there was a point where I looked back at the idol industry and didn't like what I was seeing.

That leads me to another reason I stopped writing on this blog. I don't feel like a credible source to discuss J-pop critically. I feel as an English-speaking American who doesn't know much about Japanese culture, I sometimes came from a more judgmental position than I should have. Maybe everything I just said about wotas and idol management squicking me out is purely because of cultural differences (although I very strongly doubt it).

Furthermore, I don't feel like I can write critically about music. I am very prone to my own opinions, as evidenced by my reviews. If I were to start writing about J-pop again, I'd want to review more the production side of the music. But I don't know enough about music production to do so, and I don't have the commitment to learn. Something else I always struggled with when writing reviews was not being able to understand the lyrics, which is such a huge component of why I enjoy a song. And yes, I could read translations, but like any language, there are concepts that just don't translate linguistically or culturally from Japanese.

Some of my reviews now (like the ones where I talk about Sayashi Riho and especially the Beckii Cruel stuff) also come off as meaner and more immature than when I wrote them. Hell, some of the posts on this blog make me outright cringe. But I'm keeping these posts up. Taking them down wouldn't be fair to you guys.

I don't regret the years I spent writing on the Wonderland. This blog, if anything, shows me how much I've grown as a writer and a critical thinker. Without writing so much on this blog, I probably wouldn't have discovered how much I enjoy writing. I even work now as a writing tutor! Getting older is the only way I've been able to see how much my writing style has evolved, but everyone has a starting point. Some people write about their favorite TV shows; I wrote about my favorite Japanese pop songs. My mixed feeling towards the Japanese music industry and my more harshly worded blog posts aren't a source of embarrassment for me. Everyone grows, and this blog helped me grow.

On a lighter note, my music taste has just gotten a lot broader. I actually listen to some K-pop girl groups! I like Orange Caramel, Red Velvet, and f(x). And a few 9 Muses songs. A lot of the acts I followed on this blog have either gone inactive or lost my interest. But if anyone's wondering what J-pop artists I still listen to...

Artists I'm Still Following


No duh, I'll be following Perfume until they disband. Which I'm starting to worry might be sooner than I expect. The girls (and I guess they're more women than girls at this point...) have been Perfume for fifteen years...

I also didn't like Cosmic Explorer as much as I liked Level3. The moment I saw the tracklist, I feared a JPN album would happen again, and what do you know, I was right. If the rest of the songs on Cosmic Explorer had been as awesome as the title track, I might have liked it more. Cosmic Explorer needed more new material and lacked a cohesive feel. Although I loved the space explorer visuals they used for the tour. Tokyo Girl grew on me, and If You Wanna... ugh. Not their best. I did like Everyday.

And a side note, who cited me on Wikipedia?

Oomori Seiko

Perfume is my ride-or-die artist, but Seiko is undoubtably my favorite J-pop act right now. I liked Tokyo Black Hole but I loved Kitixxxgaia. The sheer rate that Seiko keeps pumping out songs at this level of quality blows my mind.

Tokyo Girls' Style

I'm not following TGS quite as hard as I used to, and I am sad that Konishi Ayano's no longer a member of the group. But I've loved seeing them grow out of their idol roots, and I hope they continue releasing music. They're a neat little group, and they never got the recognition I thought they deserved. So be it.

Togawa Jun

She released an album! Togawa Jun might be one of my favorite performers of all time. I love her singing, her mannerisms, her vocal style, if I could become a singer, I'd take a lot of cues from Togawa Jun. She could release an album of frog impressions, and I would eat it up.

Shiina Ringo

I'm still more into her old stuff than new i.e. Kalk Samen Kuri no Hana is one of my favorite albums of all time. But I enjoyed her most recent cover album and loved her duet with Utada Hikaru on Fantome. Speaking of, I almost put Utada on this list, but I'm only just starting to get into her. I really enjoyed Fantome.

Suiyoubi no Campanella

Their latest album Superman is super freaking good.


I almost didn't put them on here, but I liked their latest single. Mabataki Shinai Doll no You Na Watashi is also one of my favorite songs ever. (not) Nuclear Love (or affection) is also a popping mini-album, and you should give it a listen if you've got a sec. Having their stuff on Spotify also helps. I'm so happy some Japanese labels are getting on the international accessibility train! Now if only Shiina Ringo can get on board...

A lot of the J-pop artists I still listen to have gone inactive such as Curumi Chronicle, MEG, and Immi. And every now and then I find one cool song by a random artist (like this song). When J-pop is good, it's super freaking good. So even if I'm no longer blogging about it, I can guarantee I'm still listening.

Artists that Have Lost My Interest

Hello! Project

I'm just lumping all the groups in H!P together. I don't recognize most of the performers in H!P now. Morning Musume, I recognize like 3 people. And C-ute and by extension Buono! are gone. I wish all the best to the new groups, but I don't have it in me to keep up with them.


Again, lumping all the groups together because there are even more of them now? When did that happen? And now there are more Nogizaka46 style groups? And they're more popular than the older groups? At this rate, there are actually going to be forty-eight 48 groups. The thing I said about not recognizing anyone in H!P applies times ten.

But!!! I liked High Tension! Not enough to get me back into the group, but it's a fun song.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

I'd say there was a final nail in the coffin for Kyary, but there are like ten nails and all them have to do with her music.

And Natsume Mito? Heard one song. Not interested. Next.


I just didn't expect them to come back? Now they're back, and I've been too lazy to see what the hell they're up to. Even then, the only original member left is Pour Lui. And I heard she got suspended due to a very dumb but infuriating scandal that will make me go on a rant about unrealistic body standards if I get into it.

Momoiro Clover Z

Apparently they're still together? I'm too old for this.


There are just better rock acts with hipster aesthetics I can listen to.

Wherever my life takes me, I'll bring J-pop with me. If I hadn't listened to J-pop so intently, my music taste would be vastly different. I probably wouldn't be anywhere near into techno as I am without Perfume! I still listen to my favorite songs, and I still feel that surge of joy I felt when I was a teenager. I don't feel like the person I was when I wrote on this blog, but I do feel a nostalgia for it.

Thank you to everyone who followed the Wonderland when it was active and the confused readers who stumbled in after I'd stopped writing. I wish you all the best.




  1. Oh my! Thank god you're still alive (seriously). I even put up on twitter questioning abt ur whereabout. It's like I lost contact with my best friend and don't know what to talk abt perfume and rant the 48s.I understand the whole thing you've mentioned in this blog but please at least say hi to us sometimes on this blog (sometimes) and of course, perfume ✌

    Your (concerning) #1 fan,

    1. Oh man, I'm sorry if I caused any concern! It's easy to forget my online activities have an impact. I can't promise any new posts, but who knows? Maybe someday I'll have another life update to share or Perfume will do something crazy.

      Thank you!

  2. I used to check your blog for a while since your last post, but I hadn't checked in probably a year or two when I came on here today. I can't say how surprised I was to see this! It's good to hear from you again (and find out you're not dead lol). Thanks for the short wrap up of artists; I'll look more into the ones you recommend. I have to admit, since 2015 my taste has gone much more towards kpop. With AKB48, everyone I recognised/loved left, and same for H!P... Anyway, thanks for the closure. You were one of my favourite j-pop bloggers. I wish you all the best!

    1. Kind of the same for me in terms of checking this blog. I hadn't checked it in a least a year. I was equally surprised to see a barrage of comments asking where I was (my favorite being "fck u nia u abandoned us"). I have a lot more friends who are into K-pop than J-pop so I get more K-pop recs - I forgot to mention I like this one K-pop singer named Lim Kim! Her voice is lovely. And yeah, it's hard to follow a group when you don't recognize anyone anymore.

      I'm happy I could provide you some closure. Thank you so much for reading!!

  3. After keeping my RSS subscription for so long, I never thought I'd see one of your posts again! It's nice to know you're alive and doing well, and that you're still writing. I wish you the best of luck in any of your future affairs, and if you decide to fall again in the rabbit hole, these Wonderlanders will be waiting for you. I will surely be, and my RSS subscription will not go anywhere.

    I can understand the reasons for you to stop following the idol culture, but one of those scandals actually brought a really different light on the subject: one HKT48 girl actually got married and decided to graduate, even after Akimoto and the producing team tried to convince her otherwise, going as far as to change her entire Team schedule to give her more time. Off the stage, though, the audience and most of the press badmouthed her for even considering marriage as an idol. What most idol staff said happens to be true, the no-dating rule does not exist nowadays. Especially in AKB48, after all Akimoto married to an idol he produced in the 80's. The press and the worshipper wota are the only ones believing this, and their heavy assaults to mental health are the only thing stopping them.
    It's sad to see that these so-proclaimed fans can't support the happiness of those girls that literally waste their youth trying to give them happiness.

    Serious topics aside, as most of my interest in idol culture is the production aspect, I keep following it, from a safe distance.
    It's nice to see that even with Tsunku not doing most of the current H!P sound, his production style and approach to music still goes strong, and his works outside of the Up Front bubble are just amazing to follow; his lyrics got really deep after his recovery, the subtle edge you could only see on his early Morning Musume songs. I never thought I'd heard a 4 minute song about self-consciousness coming from an idol group, and yet Tell Me Why Umareta Kita Imi wo Shiritai (Tell Me Why, I Want To Know Why I Was Born) exists and somehow works.
    And my vision of Aki-P changed in these three years. After falling head-first on Kayo-Kyoku, City Pop and Bubble Culture, my thoughts about J-POP as a whole changed. And Aki-P, like the songwriters of his generation (basically, 1970 to 1985), are in this weird phenomenon in which they do kayo-kyoku and try to sell it as J-Pop. This got really evident in 11-gatsu no Anklet, where even the arrangement smells like Showa. In the current idol market, filled with rock and metal musicians switching guitars for synhths, his sound comes as lacking, but after you shred this standard you see that the guy who made some of the most meaningful idol songs of the late 2000s is still there.

    Of course, that's when we're talking about the fall singles. The others are mostly terrible and made to sell and I support the heavy critics.

    As for the 46 groups, that actually have a collective name (Sakamichi Series), they are kinda like the current H!P: without its mastermind on the wheel, the staff goes crazy creative. And Keyakizaka46 is the most polished rough diamond I've seen in ages. When would you expect a mass-appeal group singing "I'd rather have my throat slit than mindlessly agreeing to everything" while doing what I can only describe as an intimidation dance on public TV? They did it, and it always looks amazing. You can probably see I like them by the amount of stuff I wrote.

    As for the recognition factor, I was never good at remembering of recognizing most from the start, so all those departures did nothing to my interest.

    I guess what I missed the most was those points, these things that make you think even when it wasn't the actual intention. Seeing you write and give your opinion makes me want to write and share mine as well, and this is certainly a thing that only happens here. Even if you stop writing on the Wonderland, don't ever lose this writing. And let us see your work sometime!

    Best regards from your avid reader, and may our virtual paths cross again sometime ^^

  4. Nia, I missed you! And I will continue missing you, from here on out.

    It's understandable why you've stopped writing about J-Pop, and that your tastes have changed as you've grown. It's normal for people to realise things as they grow in age and in writing, and whilst I am saddened by the fact I won't ever read your beautiful words here again, I'm happy to see that you are well and that you're walking down a road that is making you as a person happy.

    But, please, I want to keep in contact with you... You were one of my closest, best blogging friends out there in the world wide web, and I adored and loved you so much. The fact you live(d) on Tumblr, and I on Facebook, probably doesn't help as much I suppose, but I want to try and keep contact somehow, because you're my dear friend, and I've missed the Hell outta you.

    I'm glad you're safe. I am glad you are well. I am so thankful that you're happy. I am glad you have new music loves and that you still adore Perfume. But, I will forever miss your writing, and envy how poetic and amazing your blogs were worded. I will forever be envious of that fact, because you are an incredible blogger, one of the best I have ever come across.

    Thank you for all your years of hard work, and thank you for letting us know you are well.


  5. She's alive
    Closure, finally

    Bye, Nia.

    1. Yep. Still alive. I figured it was the polite thing to do.

      Later gater.

  6. Hi Nia. I was going through my e-mails and I wrote to you almost 5 years ago about your Okada Yukiko article. You wrote such an elegant, well written reply that I wanted to thank you again for taking the time to do so. It lead me to checking your blog again and you had updated it this year! Just want to wish you all the best. Oomori Seiko is still amazing.

    1. Oomori Seiko is one of my faves. I still find the Okaka Yukiko story incredibly sad. I wish I could find more information on the case, but I think I'd have to learn Japanese to do more research. Even then, I don't think we'll ever know why Yukko decided to end her life. I'm happy you got something out of the article; it only makes me fonder of the time I spent writing on the Wonderland. Thank you :)

  7. I just discovered you literally an hour ago, and now you're leaving.


    1. What can I say!!!! I'm full of disappointments ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  8. My dear Nia !!

    I'm so glad to see that you're alive and well, and that you came for a last goodbye. I was so much worried about you and your wonderland.

    I want to thank you, Nia. Thank you so, so much. You're the person that made me love J-pop and idols. When I first came accross your blog in 2014, it was on your PV review of Spending All My Time. I had just discovered Perfume and I was seeking for somebody else who loved that group. At school, people mocked me about it, and your wonderland came at the right time. I absolutely loved your articles, because each time they made me come upon new artists. It's thanks to you that I fell in love with AKB48's (older) songs, BiS, Oomori Seiko, Babymetal and many more. You practically changed my life. I cannot spend a day without putting my earphones on with some good japanese music. With your words and your reviews, I have a wide range of idols and other japanese artists.

    I understand your decreasing interest about idols. The wotas topic is becoming more and more critical. In my case, I can no longer ignore the fact that their omnipresence and their sometimes suspect commitment to their favorite members is what makes idols live. I cannot either hide that I'm not really following AKB48 because of these goddamn bland songs they have to release every single. I'll stick to their older tunes. Did I say that, without you, I would never had listened to Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou, my all-time favourite idol song ?

    I wish I could get to know you in real life, Nia. To talk with you about reviews, blogging or Oomori Seiko's last album (which as you said was amazing) But even if it will probably never happen, I'm sure you are an amazing girl. Never doubt of your writing talent.

    I have one last question for you : what is your favorite song on Kitixxxgaia ? For me, I'd say Kimi ni Todoku na, but I want to know yours.

    Again, thank you so much for everything, dear Nia ! I wish you nothing but the best in your life.

  9. Hi Nia i just discovered your blog a few hours ago and i really enjoyed reading your posts here.Ive been a fan of jpop for almost 2 years now and i was just randomly surfing the web and I found your blog.too bad your'e not gonna update anymore oh well hope you have a good day/life :)

  10. Hi! Just like the anon above me, I just found your blog a few min ago! I was looking for Okada Yukiko info and I was brought here. I liked your post about it and decided to eyeball your blog. Love your style of writing. Hope you post some more, if not have a great life lol!

  11. Hey. I stopped by to see if you wrote anymore and was surprised to see a post. On the off chance you still read comments I thought you'd like to hear my unsolicited comments on Perfume. I don't pay much attention to them anymore and it took me a while to realize why.

    The problem with Perfume is Nakata. He prefers to work with people who can't sing and produces his songs based on their vocal deficiencies. Perfume was different because Amuse (I assume) invested in vocal training. They sang "Monochrome Effect" really out of tune but their pitch in "Perfect Start Perfect Style" was much better two years later.

    The quality of their singing started declining around the LEVEL3 period and now their music is pretty indistinguishable from the other Nakata exclusives. Perfume's songs are just Kyary's songs mixed with whatever's trendy in the electro world (no pun intended). And Mito's songs are just Kyary's songs with different timbre.

    Amuse has done an amazing job at managing Perfume's career and I'm impressed with how they have managed to stay top sellers for so long. But it's unfortunate they won't branch out beyond their production bubble. Could you imagine what a Perfume song produced by Skrillex would sound like?

    I also don't pay attention to idols for similar reasons to you (and the singing is just too bad). Going to Morning Musume's New York concert was totally worth it to see what goes on at idol concerts.