J-Generation’s best J-Pop and J-Rock album/single jackets for 2012.
Koda Kumi – JAPONESQUE
David: This pose perfectly captures the balance of sex and style that has made Koda Kumi an international success. A killer shot for a killer album.
Berryz Kobo – Be Genki Naseba Naru
David: The superhero personas of Berryz Kobo instantly grabbed my attention with these designs straight from a modern-day comic-book shelf. If Berryz Kobo had a comic, I’d buy it.
mini – Electro Hako Banban Picasso
Nhu: Studded shoulder armor and strappy disco-ball tiled shoes are a strange combo, but mini makes it work whilst posing with that awesome neon light bolt.
Minori Chihara – D-Formation
David: Elegant, understated sc-fi with a surprising hint of menace (–are those cables going in… or out?) reminiscent of 80’s fantasy novels.
Angela Aki – Blue
Nhu: Aki is a classy lady rocking a pretty blue dress and… a pair of Converse. She’s also levitating!
Atsuko Maeda – Kimi wa boku da – Act 1
David: Leave it to AKB48’s Atsuko Maeda to portray domestic tranquility with ominous signs that the roof is about to come crashing in.
Moumoon – No Land
Nhu: At first glance, my attention is drawn to vocalist Yuka’s refined face. I’m quick to think I see a crown on her head (that’s what I expect), but on closer look, it’s a carousel! With all the little details, she’s pretty much wearing a mini-Fair in her hair and pulling it off elegantly.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – Candy Candy
David: Outrageously kawaii, Kyary channels her inner Shiina Ringo. A perfect visual summary of the artist’s style.
DE DE MOUSE-Faraway Girl
Nhu: I’m attracted to this simple cover of a drawing of a little girl.
Hitoto Yo – Kayoukyoku
David: Dreamy and ethereal, Hitoto Yo invites you into her magical world.
HALCALI – HALCALI no Okawari
Nhu: It’s a HALCALI bentou or Japanese-style lunch box. Edible, though? Rather not!
Nampa Boys – Plunge
David: This makes me laugh every time I see it. Nampa Boys go all out.
Kana Nishino – GO FOR IT!
Nhu: Kana Nishino is cute and pretty as usual in this cover for “GO FOR IT!” Normally a solo artist, she’s not solo on this cover. In the right-hand corner is a little bow-wearing, bunny that steals the spotlight… this little cheerleader is really what screams, “GO FOR IT!”
Pes from RIP SLYME – KISS
David: Imaginative, playful, and original, this trippy cover gave me a Ralph Bakshi flashback.
esu-efu – Sing Future
Nhu: This mini-album cover reminds me of a time when I was younger and wanted to travel into space… except, I still do. My mode of space transportation didn’t quite look like the plane in this cover, but my space travel dreams look and felt as vibrant as this artwork.
Kaela Kimura – MAMIRERU
David: Kaela Kimura has always been crazy, but rarely does she forsake her normally cute cover imagery to let loose her inner psycho.
Kanjani8 – ER
Nhu: I’m a big fan of the Limited Edition A and B covers of “ER,” the single and theme song for Kanjani8’s superhero movie, Eight Rangers. Limited Edition B groups all eight in a ready-to-lay-a-smackdown-on-you pose. I love the regular edition artwork the most, though — a collage of their faces and helmets. I’d expect this of an indie rock group, like Polysics, for example, but not for Kanjani8!
Misato Watanabe -Serendipity
Nhu: Everyone grows plants in their homes, but in this cover album, a tree grows through the floorboards of Watanabe’s room. It’s a quirky cover as the singer sits looking off into the distance, dog in lap, while a garden grows around her.
Mayu Watanabe – Hikaru Monotachi
David: This special-edition jacket for Mayu Watanabe’s Oricon-topping single was designed by hot pop-culture artist Aki Akane.
Perfume – Spending all my time
Nhu: I love the dresses and poses of these ladies. Nocchi (left) has the best pose of the three. The more broken-doll-like, the better!
Ayumi Hamasaki – Party Queen (Box Set)
David: Technically not an album jacket, but special mention for really cool packaging.