H!P flavored ramblings

March 30, 2008

Instead of going in-depth about the things occurring in the blogosphere lately, I’ll just ramble about them here.

H!P Wars Episode VI: Return of the Maki.

– So Maki is blogging again, and she’s in America. I came into H!P at a bad time for liking Maki, since she had just begun to release her line of slut-tastic singles (which gave me a very bad impression of her). Since she left, though, I’ve gained a lot of respect for the effect she had on H!P and Idols in general.

– I wish she’d just tell us what she’s doing in the US, already!

– I’m worried that she’ll try and make a US debut. I don’t want to re-open the “H!P in the US” debate, but… honestly, a lot of people will see her, think “Pretty girl”, then hear her accent and think “Oh, I don’t ‘get’ it, so I don’t like it”. If she’s going to sing in English, she’s gonna have to get pretty damn good.

– If she’s just training to come back to Japan and be the new and improved Goto… then awesome.

Biyuuden/ Viyuuden/ V-u-den: They weren’t always sluts…

– V-u-den’s newest PV has them looking… exactly like they did when they first started out? Even Yui has gone back to having all her hair scraped away from her face, which looks awful on her.

– The song itself is pretty good. I’ve liked this song since I heard Eri performing it solo.

– There are some random blurry, shaky clips of V-u-den playing around on the beach (while wearing all their clothes). I’m not sure why they’re there, though.

New group, ho!

– The members of HAPPY! STYLE have been announced. It consists of the Kansai girls, two trainees (where’d they come from, anyways?) and Noto Arisa.

– I’m glad for the Kansai girls, especially Suma Ai. Puberty was good to her.

puberty-was-good-to-ai.jpg puberty-was-very-good-to-her.jpg

(before and after).

– I’m a little surprised about Noto being added, but whatever. She’s pretty cute.

A snappy title about Mano Erina

– I have held back on blogging about ManoEri cause I’m still not yet sure what to think about her.

– She’s cute and all, and her voice isn’t bad exactly, but… I just don’t see her as a soloist. Still, I’m happy that there’ll be someone new in Wonderful Hearts (that’s assuming that she’ll be in Wonderful Hearts).

Spawn of Tsunku

– I’m unsurprised about this. He has a wife (trophy wife that she is). Of course they’d expect mini Tsunkus eventually.

– I wonder if he’ll make them become members of H!P if they’re girls? Wouldn’t that be against everything a father would want, having his daughters wear skimpy clothes and dance around in front of a bunch of middle aged men?

– Isn’t is amazing that Tsunku hasn’t yet gotten into a scandal of any sort? Without him, the H!P girls would be basically screwed, after all.

Advertisements

The return of B-adass!

March 26, 2008

namida-no-iro-c-ute.jpg

Namida no Iro Limited Edition (click for fullview)

namida-no-iro.jpg

Namida no Iro Regular Edition (click for fullview)

Really, I just wanted an excuse for these pictures to grace my blog.

I think a member-by-member review is in order.

Umeda Erika: For being the resident H!P Kids sexpot, Erika’s pose on the regular edition is a bit disappointing. I’d like to see her working it a bit more, to make up for the un-sexiness of her outfit (it’s like she accidentally spilled fruit punch on her shirt, so they tossed the tablecloth over her shoulders to try and hide it). That said, she totally rocks it on the limited edition cover. The hat offsets the thinness of her face, and she’s one of the few H!P girls who doesn’t look like a dead fish when giving the sexy gaze.

Yajima Maimi: Maimi needs to curl her hair like that more. Seriously, this could be my favorite of any look she’s ever had. Her outfit isn’t great, but it’s not awful by any stretch of the imagination. Her expression on both covers are fiercely kakkoi, especially on the limited cover where she is channeling Yossy (always a good person to be channeling). As for her poses- on the regular cover, it’s simple, sassy, works well, whatever. But on the limited edition it’s like… wow. She just looks amazing, and groping Chisato probably isn’t hurting much. Maybe there’s more to that little Maimi/Chisato kiss than we thought?

Arihara Kanna: Another victim of bad neckwear, this time it’s like Kanna realized that she had forgotten to buy fish for dinner and threw her fishing net over her shoulder for later. I actually like her more on the regular version, since the side of her head with all the hair is turned towards us. It just looks nicer. I despise her shoes.

Nakajima Saki: Saki looks so damn cute! Even with that huge fugly hat, she looks great! She has to have the best emo face in all of C-ute (as seen in Tokaikko Junjou) and she’s totally using it to her advantage here. Surprisingly one of the ones really going for the sexiness on the regular cover, she made the mistake of crossing her legs and lifting one foot up in the air. It kind of makes her look like she has to pee. A lot. Anyways, her hair should stay like this: It shows off her nice eyebrows.

Suzuki Airi: It’s good that she’s obscured by Mai in the regular edition, because Airi’s pose is bordering on silly. She looks as though she’s asking the age old question concerning her posterior and size thereof. She makes up for it on the limited, where she looks absolutely fierce. The big collar kind of gives her an “evil princess” look, and she really does look great in short-shorts (these are even shorter than the Renai♥Rider ones!).

Okai Chisato: I’m not… sure exactly what type of look they were going for with Chisato (I call her Chisai in my head all the time, so if I accidentally type that here, my apologies). her hair is kind of like an Elvis cut mixed with a pompadour (IE crazy). It could have been worse, and at least it shows off her dreamy eyes. Her outfit is… also kind of crazy, but still manages to work. She doesn’t do much of anything on the regular cover, but she looks like some kind of Queen Dominatrix on the limited cover, with her little C-uties ranged around her adoringly.

Hagiwara Mai: Dear… dear little Mai, please have bangs again? Please? Because you look a little scary without them. Aside from that… Mai has my least favorite outfit in this; it’s just a black drawstring bag with holes chopped in it for the arms and legs. Her pose and expression aren’t bad on the regular cover (in fact, she’s working it more than most of the older girls), but I love her expression on the Limited cover. She looks so cool and arrogant. One last thing… does anyone think that she has red-eye in the limited version? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a H!P photo before. Ever.

In all: C-ute looks quite nice here. Actually, what with the ladder in the limited cover, I’m reminded of the cover for Roman ~MY DEAR BOY~ (this is not a bad thing at all, as that’s one of my favorite MM singles).

roman-my-dear-boy.jpg

Look, even Kanna’s fishing net-scarf made an appearence here!


Look, a new, C-ute themed post!

March 21, 2008

img20080314220507.jpg

I’ve been sick lately (well, okay, for the last three months), so I had difficulty ordering my thoughts about the new C-ute album (which I got along with Gatas’ first album a few days ago). Here’s a brief (I lie, it’s become so not brief!) review.

Artwork: I can see that they tried to keep up a “paradise” theme with this album, by having lots of shifting colors and bright lights. It’s really nice and pleasing to the eye, but the chairs the girls sit in are a little weird. If this is paradise, shouldn’t the girls be sitting on clouds? As for the girls themselves, they look fantastic. I love when h!p girls have outfits that look the same, but actually have slight differences. I think Mai, Maimi and Erika look best in their outfits. Poor Kanna, her outfit just subtly doesn’t fit. The waist part doesn’t quite hit her at the the most flattering part of her body, and as a result bunches up towards the bottom, making her look thicker than she is. The general artwork and looks of the girls themselves get a 10/10.

1. Tokaikko Junjou: This song is what it is. I wasn’t one of those who was immediately won over by it, but that said it’s the perfect song for starting off an album. It has that sort of “get ready; more is to come” feel to it.

Ranking: 4/5

2. Image Color (Suzuki Airi and Yajima Maimi): Halfway through this song I forgot about listening to it and accidentally dropped the cd-player. That would certainly not have happened had the song been at all interesting (which, sadly, it’s not). It’s not that it’s a bad song, it’s just that it could have been SO much better! The vocals sounded uninspired, the song itself was so standard J-pop that I could cry, and… well, the placement in the album doesn’t really seem to have any purpose. It is not the song with which to follow up Tokaikko Junjou!

Rating: 1.5/5

3. Otome Cocoro: It’s… a nice… slower song? The fact that I can easily space out during this song doesn’t say much for how interesting it is. The vocals are okay. The best thing to say about this is that it isn’t Image Color ^^’. Although the instrumentals are really nice and soothing.

Rating: 3/5

4. LA LA LA Shiawase no Uta: I have a secret; When the scary male vocal person comes on during LA LA LA Shiawase no Uta, I sometimes go try to go to a happy place. Why? It’s the stuff of nightmares, that voice! Anyways, terrifying vocal guy aside, LA LA LA comes in with perfect timing in this album. It is a much-needed wake up after the two previous slower (boring) tracks. And somehow I found myself liking this song more on hearing it again.

Rating: 4/5

5. Homerare Nobiko no Theme Kyoku: I like this song! A lot. It has interesting vocals and instrumentals, I especially like the “echo” effect used (I love anything like that, actually). The vocals sound so much better than in Otome Cocoro. This is the sort of song that I can’t wait to see concert-performed. One of my favorites off of this album.

Rating: 4.5/5

6. Meguru Koi no Kisetsu: Erm… this song is kind of just “there” for me. I don’t particularly love it, but there’s nothing really wrong with it, either. I also would have put it one more track later, after Chisato and Kanna’s song. It just threw me off, hearing it right after Homerare Nobiko no Theme Kyoku.

Rating: 3/5

7. Sweeeets→→→Live (Okai Chisato and Arihara Kanna): This started off so coolly, with some nice drum effects and such. And then the girls come in just sort of… half-singing. Chisato was the reasoning behind my purchasing this album, and to hear her voice being used for about 1/4 of its potential really sucks. The song does pick up a bit towards the chorus, and without the whole “This was supposed to be Chisato’s song to shine in and instead she gets this” thing, I’d really anjoy this slower, slightly odd-sounding song.

Rating: 2.5/5

8. Sakura Chirari: Wait, I’m not supposed to like this song! I’m supposed to find it dull and repetitive! But here it’s sounding sweet and friendly. How odd. The placement is nice too. after the disappoinment of the previous track, sweet and friendly is just what I need to hear. But it still does get repetitive…

Rating: 3.5/5

9. Hare no Platinum Doori (Nakajima Saki and Hagiwara Mai): Another fairly uninteresting track on this album. The good thing is that Nakajima’s voice doesn’t make me want to cry, like it normally does. Hagitty is just awesome. Still can’t save this song, although I liked the “Ooh la la la” parts.

Rating: 2/5

10. Do Don Ga Don Ondou (Umeda Erika with the other C-uties making funny noises on occasion): This is the song that saves the whole album from being forgettable. It’s just so not-normal and addictive! I like this much better than the original that inspired it, and Erika’s voice is just so… uh… I’m going to go out on a limb here by calling it Erika-tastic.

Rating: 5/5

Total Score: 43/60 or a C.

cute-3rd-love-paradise20.jpg


Wut?

March 13, 2008

8th-gen-this-is-a-good-start.jpg

This is just a venting post about Resonant Blue.

I love this song. I really, really do. It’s fun, the vocals are pretty good, sure it’s not original, but it’s got a nice sound all the same.

And then I saw the PV. And all I can say is WHAT THE FUCK. I do not say “fuck” often, but I’m saying it now. What the FUCK?! It’s… it’s one long dance shot. With a few close-ups of Koharu, Reina and Ai. A dance shot. I mean, even La la la shiawase no Uta had something aside from just dancing and a few close-ups, despite how flimsy that something was. I’m just so furious! The first few seconds gave me so much hope: A close up on the 8th gen, and cool dark outfits. Then Mittsi and the pandas danced out to the back and sides and stayed there for the ENTIRE pv. And the thing is…the girls who do get screentime and singing time at all are some of my lesser favorites in Momusu. In fact, two out of the three who get up any real screen-time make up my MM Bottom Two.

thats-right-kussun.jpg

Yes, Kusumi. Hide your face in shame at this sad PV.

Another thing: What are they wearing? Ai and Reina look kinda cool (in a goth/pirate sort of way), but Kusumi is wearing what appears to be black sweatpants, and her dad’s shirt and vest. And the girls who don’t get to solo sing at all (IE everyone else) are dressed in head-to-toe black. All black is what the stage crew wears on opening night. They wear that so no one can see them as they set up props. The point of being a Musume is being SEEN. Blending in is not good.

give-kamei-a-line.jpg

Oh mighty lord Tsunku, give Kamei a line already!

To wrap up this pointless rant on a positive note, the few good things about this PV: Everyone, from the glimpses of them that I got over Reina, Kussun and Ai’s shoulders looked great, and Sayumin’s “HELP ME!” line was adorable and well done (A la Shabondama?).

this-is-good.jpg

Those Gaki/Kame shared lines may be the only thing that makes me want to watch this PV again.

if-only-sayu.jpg

“HELP ME!”

I’m sorry, Sayu. If only I could.


Mystery: Yurina

March 12, 2008

423px-yurina1250.jpg

Her looks and singing are hit-and-miss. She towers over everyone else. She has one of the most one-dimensional personalities in all of H!P. Chinami is more entertaining, Momoko and Miyabi better singers. And yet, there’s still something making me hang on to Kumai Yurina, something that makes her my second Berry (behind Maasa). And I want to find out why.

Going back in time to when I first got into Berryz and h!p in 2006, Yurina originally didn’t catch my eye; it was Miyabi. Miyabi with the interesting features and the superior voice. It wasn’t until I noticed that we shared a birthday that I started caring about Yurina at all. And then it was like I couldn’t think of ever liking another Berry. Honestly, she was even above Yossy for a while in my h!p ranking. If you looked at my browsing history a year or so ago, it was ALL Yurina. And then, slowly… she slid. I can’t say when it began to happen. it’s like one day I woke up and realized that Yurina wasn’t my favorite anymore.

yurichinamaa.jpg

Needless to say, it was not an easy transition from “YURINA = #1” to being a multi-dimensional fan. I do not like change, and this was a pretty big one. But the more I tried to bring back my old feelings for Yurina, the less I was able to care about her. Her biggest disappointing factor for me is her personality, or lack thereof. When she was still young, it was was okay to have just be a permanent airhead. Now that her looks have matured, however, I’m waiting for her personality to mature along with them. And the fact that she’s hasn’t matured shows when she performs. In this performance of Omoitattara Kichi Desse, her emotional range DOES NOT CHANGE. She’s just cheerful, happy, or cheerful and happy. Chinami and Maasa are clearly doing a lot more acting and emoting (I couldn’t find a version without Miya’s solo attached, so that’s there too).

Now, for a song like that it’s okay to just be happy; it’s that kind of song. But what about songs with more mature themes? Take Jiriri Kiteru.

In the parts where the girls are running, everyone else does their best to at least look distressed or worried. But Yurina is grinning almost the entire time. Like “I’m runing! Isn’t it fun to run? Let’s all run and have fun! Wee!”. I get the feeling that the nature of songs like these just sort of goes over her head. As for her singing… on album songs, it tends to be strong and powerful. And she often does well in concerts. But her voice isn’t Miyabi-grade. It can go flat, and she misses notes quite a lot.

So with all of this negativity, what is it that still makes me cling to Yurina? My feelings about her are different than Yoshizawa or Maasa, or any other music favorites of mine. For example, when I see people stating their negative opinions of my number one Berry, Maasa, I laugh it off and don’t get too worked up. I certainly wouldn’t post something confronting those people. But if they were to say those things about Yurina? I’d get furious. It’s more likely that I’d confront them about it right there and then, ready to duel to the death in defense of my beloved Yurina. And that’s what confounds me so much! Why does she evoke such reactions from me?yurina-tan.jpg

The closest I can come to an answer is that watching people pick on Yurina is, for me, like watching someone kick a puppy. Since she is the airhead that she is, I get the feeling Yurina does nothing antagonistic on purpose, that she’s completely innocent. Someone so ditzy and kind can’t defend herself against someone else, so I feel like I have to do it for her.

Bah. Enough being philosophical. Here are some pretty pictures:

yuri-book2.jpg

012.jpg

029.jpg

I really adore Yurina.


H!P my way.

March 6, 2008

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the things “wrong” with Hello! Project, and seeing Maple GreanTea’s post made me finally make the effort to organize my thoughts. It seems I’ve been replying to Maple GreanTea’s thoughts lately, huh? (Maple GreanTea, let’s be friends!)

Things Aoi♥Usagi would change about h!p:

Morning Musume:

A new graduation would not occur for at least 6 months- 1 year.

There would be auditions held for the 9th generation before ANYONE else leaves. At least three girls would be chosen (no more of this one-member generation nonsense). Personally, I want to see a Korean member, a “mood maker” member (Hi, Yaguchi #2), and… a glasses member?

The T-man would continue releasing music with a sound similar to the disco-ey sound of Resonant Blue.

Kusumi Koharu would not get any more leads until she has intensive vocal lessons. Tanaka would not get any more leads until she stops warping her voice to sound “cute” and goes back to Shabondama-era Tanaka.

Kamei would begin to subtly come to the front more and more. She would not get many leads, but will contribute solid vocals as always.

The expansion into Asia would accelerate to ludicrous speed.

The line distribution would become FAR more even.

Berryz Koubou:

Risako would begin fading to the back. Since that will never happen outside of my dreams, she goes along with Kusumi to begin intensive singing lessons.

After learning to control her voice, Risako would surprise all us non-fans by being somewhat bearable. Like in Munasawagi Scarlet.

Maasa would come to the front during the time in which Risako takes her singing lessons.

Yurina and Chinami would begin to have an interchangeable places singing within the group.

– Yurina would develop a personality beyond space cadet. She’d also begin to take up modeling.

Momoko would begin using her Buono! voice and impressing everyone.

Miyabi would release a solo single but would NOT graduate. This would be a one-time thing, similar to Takahashi’s Yume Kara Samete.

Their musical style… would still remain all over the place.

The line distribution would become FAR more even.

C-ute

Their sound would immediately go back to Tokkaiko-esque. Like, right now.

Airi would remember how she used to sing (or be forced to remember). Like back in Aa!. She misses this style and starts singing that way again. Aoi♥Usagi weeps with joy.

– Okai Chisato, Yajima Maimi and the newly vocally reborn Airi would become the lead singers, with the other girls helping out liberally. No more of this “no lines for the less promoted girls” bit.

Yurina would call up her friend Erika and tells her how much fun modeling is. Erika gives it a try.

The line distribution would become FAR more even.

The rest of h!p:

Melon Kinenbi would either get some real, quality releases SOON or graduates within the year. Before they go, Oohtani would dye her hair every color known to man and be immortalized in the Hair Hall of Fame.

Ogawa would come back to be a soloist. With her new long brown hair and same kick-ass voice and personality, people would kick themselves for not promoting her talent before. They throw themselves at her feet. She laughs and goes on to conquer the charts.

Matsuura Aya would begin to get singles similar to Ki ga Tsukeba Anata; an upbeat mature sound suitable for an adult woman, but not another boring ballad.

GAM would reform and become Aya’a new hope for the future. They’d release music similar to Thanks!.

Ayaka’s Surprise English Lessons would come back in a big way.

Buono!’d continue doing what they’re doing. Eventually they’d move beyond the sphere of Shugo Chara and become a solid group.

Athena and Robbywhatever would stop releasing music for their anime. After a few months, however, the same four girls would team up again for a group with a cool image (Risa really can pull off kakkoi! Honest!). In their first single, Chisato will be featured in a room full of baseballs.

New Units:
– Kumai Yurina, Kamei Eri and Umeda Erika would team up for a group that has a sound similar to 2nd Gen. Tanpopo. I really want to see this group come into being. It’s basically my dream group.

Ai, Airi, and Aika would release one single on Valentine’s Day (please?). But no more after that.

Okada Yui and her boobs would create a new egg-centric group.

-After some rumors of a solo career, Miyoshi Erika would join Yui’s Egg group. Yui jiggles with happiness.


Resonance

March 5, 2008

Most of you will have heard the preview for Momusu’s Resonant Blue by now. I love it. It’s exactly the sort of song that I feel  Morning Musume should be coming out with. However, that’s not the best thing about this song. I was playing it (fairly loudly) while a friend of mine was over. This friend is used to me trying to force her to listen to my J-pop, which she basically hates. But when Resonant Blue started to play, she absolutely loved it. She asked me if she could buy it, and failing that, if she could get it on her Ipod.

Interesting. I look forward to showing her the PV when it comes out.