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Ami Suzuki: The Voice Behind Black Jack

An introduction to Ami Suzuki...

Ami Suzuki (born February 9, 1982) is a female singer and songwriter from Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Ami was one of the most popular Japanese female singers around 1998 and 2000 from Sony Music, even since her very debut in 1998 with her single "Love The Island", and "SA", her debut album which sold amazingly well. But after some legal problems with her management company, Tokyo-based AG Communication, she was dumped from her label and lost almost all her popularity, being an unnoticed singer in the Japanese entertainment business for years.

With the help of Max Matsuura, Ami Suzuki "returned" to the music scene under the Avex Trax label in 2005 with her "comeback" single "Delightful", a Trance track, which reached number 3 on the Japanese Oricon charts and became one of 2005 summer's hits. In October 2005, Suzuki released her first album on Avex, entitled AROUND THE WORLD, which has sold 50,000 copies.

Biography

The beginning

While she was attending high school, Ami auditioned to ASAYAN Vocal Strike Audition Final, a singing talent contest held by Sony Music Japan TV show Asayan (show that was aired on Monday evenings in Japan) looking for young girls who can sing; the grand prize winner was about to get a deal with Sony for a music career. The section on TV show Asayan became very popular and daily viewers increased, being popular enough to be aired even in other Asian countries. From 13,500 wannabes only five girls were chosen to be on the final, and finally Ami won the competition being supported by the audience with 802,157 votes. She was only 15 years old.

Sony Music signed Ami to the label, and Tetsuya Komuro sponsored her to his own sublabel on Sony, TRUE KiSS DISC, with Komuro as writer and producer on every song made for Ami.


Debut and Success

Promotional picture from "Love the Island"In April 1998 Ami recorded her first song and single "love the island", song written and produced by Tetsuya Komuro, who was on the top of his career at that time, working at that time with popular singers like Namie Amuro and hitomi. Sony Music and the government of Japan made a deal for use of Ami's song "Love the Island" as the main theme of the "Guam Island Campaign Summer '98", which campaigned for an increase in Japanese tourism in Guam. The song was well promoted, with Ami appearing on covers of magazines like Young Jump and even travelling to Guam to promote the song live on the local version of the international music channel MTV. The single was finally released on July 1, 1998, and debuted at number five on the Oricon charts, selling pretty well for a debut single. Ami's second single, "alone in my room" was also used for the Guam campaign, and also did pretty well, debuting number three on the charts and selling even better than the first single.

As the "Asayan" show has already ended its run, Ami debuted her first radio show in October 1998. The show was called RUN!RUN!AMI-GO!, which topped the radio rankings of popularity. She also signed a deal with the Japanese product Kissmark for advertisements and promotion all around Japan and Asia. Sony also began promoting her third single, "all night long". Because the song was a dance tune, they featured it constantly at the most famous discotheque of Japan: Velfarre. The song was also a big hit. It debuted number two on the Oricon charts. Later that year, Suzuki Ami won various awards including the Japan Record Award for Best New Artist.

1999 started well for Suzuki, with the huge success of her first photobook titled Ami-Go, which sold around 200,000 copies, and later with the release of her debut album "SA" in March. "SA" was one of the Top 10 best selling albums of that year. With the release of her 7th single "BE TOGETHER" (which was a cover of TM Network), Ami went to the top of the Oricon charts for the first time, debuting at number one, and became one of the most popular singers of 1999. The next single, titled "OUR DAYS", and her second studio album "infinity eighteen vol.1" (in which Ami started to write her own lyrics), also became huge hits inside Japan and throughout Asia. Ami was constantly being compared with her "rival" Ayumi Hamasaki. The two young female singers were often called "enemies" by the tabloids because they began their careers at the same time and had potential to rise to the staus of "Queen of J-Pop". Both Ami and Ayumi have always denied the rivalry existed.


Legal Problems

In 2000 the young singer's career came to an abrupt halt after her parents sued her management company, Tokyo-based AG Communication, whose president, Eiji Yamada, had been convicted on tax evasion charges, in order to terminate what they saw as an unfavourable contract. The lawsuit resulted in Ami Suzuki's blacklisting because of an unwritten rule of the entertainment business in Japan — artists who get into legal trouble are blacklisted.

2001 wasn't a good year for Ami. In March of that year her radio program RUN!RUN!AMI-GO!! was cancelled, and in April her official fan club ami spice (which had at that time at least 15,000 members) got abruptly closed. In the middle of this earthquake Sony Music released their last Ami's album, her Best Of collection entitled "FUN for FAN", already considering Ami a retired artist. Many people and fans started to show their support to Ami, and the Best Of album reached the first place at the Oricon charts, despite it hasn't a big promotion; something even more strange happened at that time also: Ami's first single, "love the island", appeared once again at the Oricon charts on April 2001, after four years of its original release, and it was one of the Top 50 best-selling singles for some days (selling approximately 1,000 more copies on that week). But the he support of Sony Music and Tetsuya Komuro to Ami wasn't there anymore; finally Ami achieved an out-of-court agreement with Sony, and her contract with the label finally ended in December 2004, but since 2001 to they never wanted to release another Ami's single or album, probably because of her now bad reputation.


Going Independent

After three years and when all the disputes were finally over, Ami decided to change her stage name from 鈴木あみ (kanji/hiragana) to 鈴木亜美 (completely in kanji) and tried to make a comeback to the music industry. In April 2004 the singer released a photobook called "Tsuyoi Kizuna" with a CD Single included through Tokyo-based publisher Bungei Shunju. She made few appearances on TV shows to promote it, and it did pretty well despite the low promotion, reaching the number one place of the best-selling non-fiction books. In August of the same year, she released another release named Forever Love under her own independent label, Amity, The release did well despite the poor promotion and ranked #21 on Oricon's General Singles Chart and #1 in Oricon's Independent Singles Chart. In addition, a mini-concert was released. This included the songs from those two previous singles named, and it was entitled "2004 Summer Fly High -Ami Shower-".

But everything changed drastically for Ami when she performed live at the annual festival of her school, Nihon University. Max Matsuura, the president of Avex Trax (one of the largest record labels in Japan) was in the audience. (Matsuura is also famous for finding and developing artists into famous stars. One example of his work is Ayumi Hamasaki.) After watching Ami's performance, he signed her to his label Avex.


The Comeback

On January 1, 2005, Ami's official website under label Avex was officially open. An the promotion of the song that was about to be the first single, "Hopeful", started. The release date was in February, but later got cancelled for unknown reasons. Finally "Hopeful" was just known as the first Avex downloadable ring tone and tune single, because it was never released as a physical single. Despite of that later a music video for the song was made with a remixed by version by Japanese Trance DJ Overhead Champion; the original version of the song was never released on a regular CD, just on Avex airplay promos.


Ami promoting "Delightful" at HMV Japan.In March, Ami finally marked her return to the music industry with a "comeback" single physical CD single titled "Delightful", song produced by German "hands up" trance producer Axel Konrad, and excecutively produced by Max Matsuura. The trance song was massively promoted by Avex, releasing diverse kind of releases of the single (CD, CD+DVD, CD+Photobook, CD+Illustration Essay), with a different remix on each version and also a b-side, a j-pop ballad "About You...". The single debuted at #2 in Oricon's charts its first week and became one of the spring hits of the year. "Delightful" got the 97th place in the Oricon's Yearly Top 500 best singles of 2005.

Her second single under Avex, titled "Eventful", also a dance track, had moderate sales, debuting at number nine on Oricon music charts and it got the 245th place in the list of the top 500 best singles of 2005. Later in the year, "Eventful" won a gold prize for Best New Artist at the 47th Nihon Record Taishou on December 31, 2005. The gold prize is awarded to 10 of the top songs of the year. Other winners of the prize for that year include Ai Otsuka and Kumi Koda.

At the release of Ami's third single, Avex and Ami decided to try a different style, away from the electronic dance, and finally the ballad "Negaigoto" was chosen. The single also included the b-side song entitled "Times", a J-Pop song which appeared as the main theme of a TV commercial of N's STREET Online Shopping. Although "Negaigoto" had a touching music video relating Ami's own career with her raises and falls, the single only sold 22,000 copies and debuting at #13 on the Oricon charts. This month also was founded her official "Mobile" (via-cellphone) FanClub Ami Sapuri, and on her official website Ami announced that her live tour for promoting her upcoming album was about to start in the following months. She also participated on the 2005 version of A-Nation, a concert were the most popular artist of Avex Trax get together and sing their hits. Ami performed her singles "Delightful" and "Negaigoto". This was also the first time that Ami shared tour and stage with known rival Ayumi Hamasaki.


AROUND THE WORLD, the debut album on Avex Trax.In October 2005 Ami released her first studio album in five years, and her debut album on Avex Trax. The album was originally going to be called "HOPEFUL", but ended up being titled "AROUND THE WORLD". The album included all the singles that Ami released in 2005: "Hopeful", "Delightful", "Eventful", "Negaigoto" and "AROUND THE WORLD" (the single of this song was released the same day of the album), released in four diferent formats including a version with a bonus DVD with the music videos. The name of her live tour also changed from "HOPEFUL TOUR LIVE House Body Shake It!" to "AROUND THE WORLD LIVE HOUSE TOUR". Although the album sales weren't too bad, it can't be compared with Ami previous albums, selling the poorly amount of 50,000 copies, and also her lowest debut on the Oricon albums charts, at number five. However the the AROUND THE WORLD tour helped the album sales.

The following month Ami took part on the Japanese 55th Anniversary of Snoopy, called officially Snoopy Life Design Happiness is the 55th Anniversary, recording a song titled "Happiness is...", which was sold as a CD Single exclusively at the event, which took place in Tokyo.


Promotional picture from Little CrystalOn 2005 Christmas Eve Ami released her 5th Avex single, entitled "Little Crystal". The Maxi Single was full of a Christmas feeling including four different ballads of four different arrangers, and two different music videos were made for promoting the single, "Crystal" and "To be Free". All the singles with bonus DVD included behind the scenes footage until the release of this single; this is the first of Ami in Avex (CD+DVD) that don't include the bonus material, and probably this material will be added at the release of Ami's second studio album under her new label. "Little Crystal" had a really poor promotion by Avex label for unknown reasons, with only one live performance on Music Station (which is actually no promotion for a Japanese artist) and at its release debuted at #22 selling only 15,000 copies its first month.


Fantastic, opening theme song of the TV anime adaptation of manga Blackjack.Ami's 6th single under Avex, "Fantastic", was released just two months and a day after "Little Crystal", and one day before Ami's 24th birthday. "Fantastic" was the first song of Ami used as a opening theme on a anime series, the TV adaptation of the third season of Blackjack. But just like her previous single, "Fantastic" didn't got enough recognition, debuting only at #14 with low sales (only 14,000 copies its first week, and only 3 thousand more copies its second week). Ami celebrated her 24th birthday in company of her boss Max Matsuura (who calls her affectively Ami-chan, fact that obviously lets see a friendship between them) and some close friends. At the moment the single has sold more copies, and it did pretty well for its low promotion and debut, and has already outsold "Little Crystal", which is the single with the lower amount of sales.

The first remix album of Ami, entitled "AMIx WORLD", was released on March 29th 2006. It contained a remix of the song "AROUND THE WORLD", and of every single Ami released on Avex (except for "Little Crystal"), plus remixes of some non-single tracks from Ami's album "AROUND THE WORLD". The remixers who worked on the album are some of the most popular and recognized artists from Japan's dance scene these days. They include Sham-Poo, M.O.R., and Ferry Corsten, who remixed the songs "AROUND THE WORLD" and "Fantastic". However, the release is not expected to be a big success or a chart-topper. It is likely that Ami will never get back the success she once had at the beginning of her career, but there is still a long road ahead and we will surely be continuing to see Ami Suzuki for a long time in the future.

Currently, Ami has already finished recording the song and music video of her next single under Avex, entitled "Alright!"; the single will be released in May 2006.


That's the story of the rise, the fall and the comeback of a fallen J-Pop/J-Dance Princess...*okay*

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    visit n'yo ang Youtube...*okay*
  • About BLACK JACK

    Black Jack (Burakku Jakku in Japanese) is a manga written by Osamu Tezuka in the 1970s, dealing with the medical adventures of a doctor named Black Jack.

    Black Jack consists of hundreds of short, self-contained episodes, on the order of 20 pages of manga each. Some of it has been translated into English by Viz Communications. "Black Jack" has also been animated a number of times, two of his animations available from Central Park Media and Manga Entertainment. Black Jack is Tezuka's third most famous manga, after Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion.

    Summary

    Black Jack is a medical mercenary, selling his skills to the highest bidder. He is a shadowy figure, with a black cloak, eerie black-and-white hair, a scar across his face and partially black skin. Black Jack cures patients indiscriminately, from common folk to presidents and yakuza leaders. To his VIP patients, he charges absurd sums. All this has given him a reputation for callousness and greed which he gleefully cultivates. However, to the reader it is clear that Black Jack actually is a good man: he is anti-wealth and anti-prestige, and believes he is actually doing rich people a favor by removing their material wealth. The opposition to wealth and power is a common theme in Tezuka's work: powerful men are almost always portrayed in a negative light.

    Black Jack's real name is Kuroo Hazama. A bomb destroyed his home when he was a child, killing his mother and giving him a lust for revenge. Kurō's body was nearly torn to shreds, but he was rescued thanks to miraculous surgery by a Dr. Jotaro Honma. Marked by this experience, Kuro decided to become a surgeon himself, taking the name of Black Jack. Despite his surgical genius, he has chosen never to obtain a surgical license, operating instead in the shadows. He scorns such things as licenses as a meaningless symbols of social status, preferring to live in anonymity. He is based in a secret private clinic far away from the city, but frequently travels to hospitals around the world to covertly assist terminally ill patients.

    Most of the episodes involve Black Jack doing some good deed, for which he rarely gets recognition – often curing the poor and destitute for free, or teaching capitalist fat cats and his pompous colleagues a lesson in humility. They frequently end with a good, humane person enduring hardship, often unavoidable death, to save others.

    Osamu Tezuka drew on his knowledge as a physician in writing Black Jack, and the manga contains frequent medical details. However, Tezuka chose to generally eschew medical plausibility in his manga: Black Jack is superhuman, regularly performing spectacular and impossible feats of surgical virtuosity.

    Secondary characters

    Pinoko

    Pinoko, is Black Jack's sidekick, a little girl constructed entirely by him from spare body parts. She was a rare type of Siamese twin, living in one of Black Jack's patients' bodies for eighteen years until Black Jack extracted her and gave her a real body. She often acts as comic relief in Black Jack, physically and in many ways mentally appearing to be around the age of five years, but claiming to be a girl of eighteen.

    This causes a great deal of confusion for non fans of Black Jack who may view Pinoko's effection for the doctor and the general housework she does to be both of questionable nature.

    Pinoko's main form of comic relief is proclaiming "Oh my goodness!" whist pressing her cheeks together with her hands (Sometimes, this is translated as "OHMIGEWDNESS" to fit the phrase being distorted by the action) when something suprising happens.


    Kiriko

    Dr. Kiriko, the "death doctor", is another shadowy doctor, travelling the world like Black Jack. When Kiriko was a war doctor, he saw many patients in great pain, and got into the habit of using euthanasia. He often appears in the manga, attempting to kill terminally ill patients which Black Jack wants to save. He is so dedicated to euthanasia that he once attempted to kill himself when he got a rare infectious disease. Although he is not a villain, some have called him Black Jack's opposite: he leads patients to their deaths and Black Jack to their lives.

    In the 'Clinical Chart' OVA series release in the US, Dr. Kiriko is introduced only as "Mozart", in homage to his affinity for classical music.

    Anime version

    In 1992 Tezuka's protege Osamu Dezaki did the direction for an OVA series. Ten OVAs were made (six of which were originally only available in dub-only VHS form in North America, but all 10 OVAs are now available on bilingual Region 1 DVD), and a movie (also by Dezaki).

    There is also a four episode TV special from 2003 called Black Jack: The 4 Miracles of Life.

    A new TV series was released in fall of 2004 in Japan and a new movie is in the works.

    Trivia

    There is widespread confusion as to how Black Jack got his nickname, and/or, what it means. Usual assumptions include:
    • Possibly because parts of his skin are dark. (In some episodes, it is revealed that some of skin grafts came from a friend who was Black.)
    • Possibly as a reference to the card game of the same name. (A game of chance, like difficult medical operations, and whose outcome is unsure, like the endings of Black Jack stories.)
    • Possibly as a reference to the Jack rank in the deck of cards.
    • Possibly as a reference to the weapon of the same name, a heavy club.
    • (After WW2, during the US occupation of Japan, the Japanese learned to dread the "burakku jakku" of the US police and military.)
    • Possibly from the character's first name, "Kuro-o", which in Japanese is written with the characters for "black" and "man"; since a jack is also a term for a man, these two characters would translate to "Black Jack".
    • Allegedly, Tezuka would have once said that because Black Jack operated illegitimately (i.e. outside the official medical system), he was like a pirate and that the name referred to the universally known "skull and crossbones" Jolly Roger pirate flag – which is also known as the Black Jack. Yet, Tezuka might have said this in response to comparisons to Captain Harlock who has a similar scarred facial appearance and is also a "by his own rules" outsider
    .

    Black Jack made a brief cameo appearance in the 1980 movie Phoenix 2772 which was based on another Tezuka work. Here, he is seen as the foreman of the prison planet work camp. He also makes a cameo appearance (along with several other characters created by Osamu Tezuka) in the 2004 game Astro Boy: Omega Factor created for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance.


    source: Wikipedia
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