Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Quickly Delivered, Strong and Vigorous Blow

As a lawyer, I often end up writing words that mean the same thing as someone else has used but changing them either to make more sense, be more descriptive, or otherwise avoiding plagiarism.  So, in my effort not to repeat what others have said, my title is actually a strange way to say that I was Zippy Zapped.  

Yeah, this effort is weak, but I was distracted.  It's time for one of my theme posts -- it's been a little while -- and ZZ provided me with the perfect foil for a theme post: Japanese Idols. Now, I don't begin to understand all the strange sounding write-ups and issues on Wikipedia for a lot of these groups -- I think it's due to Wiki-translations and due simply to my own inability to understand the whole idol culture.  

But Zippy Zappy understands it.  So, hopefully, I won't butcher it too badly.

I figured, heck, let's compare some cards to some of the idol groups.  I did some research (and ask Jaybarkerfan about my research) to come up with a list of idols and gravure idols to highlight and talk about the cards that Zippy Zappy sent me.

1. Morning Musume

Let's start with the basics of both idols and this package.  If you have read Ryan's excellent Blog "This Card is Cool" in which Ryan writes about all of his card collecting, chances are that you have heard of Morning Musume.  They were one of the first "cyber idols" in Japan, or at least that is what Wikipedia told me.  Because of Ryan's blog, Morning Musume is one of the few idol groups I've have heard of -- they are the basic idols to me as a result. 

Here's a photo of what is I think their current iteration.

The basics of this Zapping were 1979 Topps...lots of them too:

Sixto Lezcano looks a little bit seedy with that very light mustache and goatee he has going on there...it's kind of how I feel sometimes looking at some of these idols!

2.  AKB48

According to my sources (Tsunagujapan.com here), AKB48 is the all-time leader on the singles chart for all-time sales for any female group.  Apparently, though, AKB48 could be banned from performing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because the organizing committee thinks they are "Embarrasing" and "the shame of Japan."  Perhaps the best way to describe them comes from the Washington Post, which said:
It is as if Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and the entire cast of Twilight were placed in to a saucepan and simmered on a low boil until nothing remained but the sweet, cloying essence of fame, and if that fame were then poured into pleated tartan skirts and given pigtails.


I tend to view Bowman's efforts as similar to this in many respects.  Both Bowman and AKB48 put out new efforts every year. Every year, Bowman and AKB48 try to find the brightest, newest stars -- AKB48 through tryouts, Bowman through the draft. Both mostly feature new stars in their late teens and early 20s.  In the end, though, I don't collect anything from AKB48, but I do collect Bowman:

No matter whether you're talking about teenaged girls or boys, it still strikes me as a little creepy...well, at least if you're talking about kids under 18.  

3. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

In 2013, the Wall Street Journal published a blog post about Kiriko Takemura -- the real name of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.  Apparently, KPP (because I don't want to type that name over and over) grew up with a very strict mother who scolded her constantly for leaving the house dressed as if she was "insane" thanks to her odd sense of fashion.  KPP, though, has more substance than many of the idol groups, and isn't just a singer by being "cute" or "kawaii."  The readers of Muripo voted her the second top idol that Japan would love for the rest of the world to appreciate.  Her breakthrough song was PonPonPon..the very weird video is below. 

Perhaps she is a closet Green Bay Packers fan, or at least a closet Wisconsinite for wearing a Cheesehead in the video.  Please ignore the floating donuts and the flying sharks.

Something similarly sweet and yet more substantive are Kellogg's cards, one of which I was zippily zapped with.  You have to love Larry Hisle.

Okay, let's move on to the "older" women in Japan...the "gravure" idols. Why?  Because ZZ said so:

These four photos of Yumi Sugimoto are the fronts and backs of two cards that led off this package when I opened it.  Yumi is 26 years old, so I don't feel too bad for ogling her just a bit (of course, she's probably like 19 in these photos and I'm still going to hell). I am curious about the "City of Hartsville Public Safety" half shirt she is wearing.  Just strange..

On to the last three categories....represented by the Top 3 Gravure idols of 2014 as selected by Axiommagazine.jp.

3.  Mikie Hara

Mikie Hara is 27 years old.  Her Wikipedia page lists 9 different "Photobooks" that feature her, the most recent of which is called BLUSH Accident which can be purchased on CD Japan for $24.64 plus $8.21 shipping (for the cheapest available shipping). Here she is reading the book to a group of Japanese school children.

Okay, I lied about that last part.

So, at number three in the remaining card countdown, I have a tie between a blue 2014 Museum Collection Ryan Braun parallel (SN99) and a2014 Monte Harrison autograph:

2.  Ai Shinozaki

She's 23 years old and started modeling at the age of 14.  The issue there was that she was a very, ahem, curvy 14-year-old and caused quite a bit of consternation among Westerners who found out about her. She has been able to have a career as an actress, a singer, and even as a wrestler with "Pro Wrestling Wave"...at least, again, that's what Wikipedia says. She is an attractive women, of course:

What is is really attractive?  Well, there are a few items that fall into this category...Sega Card-Gen, of course! Tons of them...and please ignore the small margins my scanner put on some of these:

What could possibly top Sega Card-Gen? It has to be something truly special. Just like it has to be a very special gravure idol to top Ai Shinozaki. 

1.  Risa Yoshiki

I have to say that any time you get a model who holds a university degree, was born in China, produced two music albums, and wanted to be a manga artist, you're talking about someone pretty special. It doesn't hurt that she is a stunning woman as well:

What was the most stunning card that Zippy Zappy sent to me?

That's far easier than picking out a top gravure model.  This one is a no-brainer:

Meet Joe Lake of the St. Louis Browns on a T-206 with a Piedmont cigarette back. How absolutely cool is this?  I mean, this card was issued first when my grandparents were 2 years old! The St. Louis Browns actually represented the first team to move from its original city after the formation of the American League in 1901.  

The Browns became the Browns in 1902 after leaving Milwaukee.  The old AL Brewers were managed by eventual Hall of Famer Hugh Duffy as a player/manager for just one year.  In 1954, the Browns became the Baltimore Orioles -- the year after major league baseball returned to Milwaukee in the form of the Braves.

Zippy Zappings never hurt. They always put a smile on my face.  But this time, it's in the form of a card that I can always show off to anyone and say, "Yup, that's definitely my oldest card!"

Thanks, ZZ!


  1. Hey, welcome to the T206 club!

  2. To me idol groups have just been girl groups who're just even more commercialized (if that's even possible) and exploited to milk every last fraction of a penny. Imagine the Spice Girls or Pussycat Dolls on exposure levels so high you'd think they became the supreme rulers of the galaxy.

    I don't think AKB48 is as bad as that quote claims but then again I've never really been able to get into the idol thing myself. I will say this though, for most of the 2010's they were unescapable and probably drove a lot of people mad.

    Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is, for the record, one of my favorite J-Pop artists of all time. I've heard some people say she's the Japanese equivalent of Lady Gaga & Katy Perry mixed into one yet she's not as annoying as that would make her sound. Not to me anyway. Her videos are always a mindf*** though. I have fond memories of going to the karaoke with friends high as a kite and just being mesmerized at how Kyary-sama channeled her inner Pee Wee.

    On a side note both Hara Mikie and Risa Yoshiki have trading card sets devoted to them (several of them).

    And and welcome to the guys who have a T206 in their collection club. I was worried JBF might induct you first so I had to move quickly and had to settle with a guy who plays for a team that used to be the Milwaukee Brewers.

    1. These idol groups remind me of what Menudo was about in the 1980s -- in fact, I think Menudo stole the concept of having boys age out of a group from the idol groups in Japan. When I think of the Spice Girls or Pussy Cat dolls at the exposure level you mention, though, I think I get "Kardashian."

      Thank you a TON for the T206, my friend. It is something that I had to show my wife, and even *she* thought it was cool!

  3. Awesome stuff! Always a good mail day when you pull an unexpected T206 out of the mailbox.

    1. Absolutely! It definitely put a smile on my face. That, AND the Yumi Sugimoto cards. :-)

  4. The T206 club is growing! That is a beautiful card.