Growing up with Idols

August 31, 2011
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In my last post I mentioned grabbing an old notebook at random from beside my bookcase in which to write. I keep all sorts of old things in that space- calendars (which I hate), wrapping paper from birthday presents, school things which I can’t bring myself to throw away, and all of my notebooks from freshman year up until graduation. After arriving at Ben and Jerry’s and ordering my sorbet, (but before setting out to write my Sumer Refreshment post), I opened the notebook and leafed through it.On discovering that I had picked up  my all-purpose notebook from Freshman and Sophomore year, I was immediately drawn in by the nostalgia. What interested me most were the page dividers. On each one I had doodled, scribbled, and generally left record of all of the dull and confusing math and science classes I’d ever been in.
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Y’know who else gets bored? Eri. Eri gets bored. But not Koha!
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Most of those doodlings had to do with Hello! Project. In my freshman year I had been a fan of H!P for two years. My scribbles were mostly about my most and least favorite members each group. On one page I explained that I hated Michishige Sayumi, that I couldn’t stand Sugaya Risako, and that Airi’s line-hogging annoyed me to no end.

On the next page, I wrote down ideas for various sub-groups, mostly in jest. One was Maxi-Moni, consisting of Yurina, Maasa, Koharu, Maimi and Erika. Another, somewhat less well-intended group was untitled but consisted of Matsuura Aya, Okada Yui, Saitou Hitomi and Goto Maki.

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Gee, wonder what this group oughta be called…
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On another page I had set up a challenge for myself: To remember all of Morning Musume’s singles in order. I didn’t do too poor of a job, and from Ai no Tane to Resonant Blue the only song I ended up missing was Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari (incidentally my least favorite Morning Musume song). Still other pages had little caricatures of my favorite members, charts drawing up proposed revivals of the old sub-groups (long before Tsunku had the idea!), and lists of those girls whom I considered the most talented singers.After leafing through all of the pages and eating half of my sorbet, I sat back. I looked around the shop and noticed that I was the only person eating alone. But most of the other people sitting around me looked sweaty and bored, while I felt pleasantly distracted. When I realized that, I sat forward in my seat and wrote these lines:”I have been a Hello! Project fan for five years now. For all of those years, Idols have been my main hobby. Whether I’m bored at school, alone at a restaurant, trying to fall asleep after a long day, or flying to a foreign country, Idols and their music have been my constant and sometimes best companion.”

I’d be lying if I said I had no regrets regarding the four years I spent in high school. But all in all, I had a lot of fun with friends, clubs, and school trips. Throughout those years, Idols were my soundtrack, my distraction, and my hobby. All of the songs on my ipod are more to me than just background music, and the videos I’ve favorite’s on Youtube aren’t just  entertainment. When I listen to Genki+ I am taken back to the plane ride to Greece during my junior year. Whenever that song comes up on my iPod I remember how excited I was, but also how close-minded. I was ready to judge and look down on all of my party-obsessed classmates. I also remember how much I opened up on that trip, how I was able to get along with the very kids I’d set myself up to despise. Whenever I feel myself starting to prejudge someone, I think of Genki+ and I remember to give them a chance.

Similarly, whenever I watch an episode of Ayaka’s Surprise English Lessons, I remember the time in my sophomore year when, lonely and shy, I set myself in the corner of the library and watched Ayaka teach Yaguchi how to say “I want to be naked on a deserted island.” To my surprise, a few kids came over to watch, and those kids soon became my friends.

Just a few days ago I packed up all of my things and moved to New York for college. I’ve been here a few days, and the uncertainties and feelings of timidity and the desire to prejudge are already upon me. I have to find a job, find all of my teachers’ offices to arrange interviews, and for the first time in my life do all of the little things that make up life without parents. Amidst all of the future uncertainties, one thing is solid. I know, without a sliver of doubt, that Idols will continue to be there for me. Even if all of my most beloved groups disband tomorrow, there will always rise up another group of smiling young women with questionable musical talent. I’m not going to go into why I think the Idol phenomenon in Japan will never die (at least not in this post)- this post is simply meant as a reflection on my past and future, and all of the ways in which Idols have and will affect me.

I guess what I’m really trying to say in this post is a huge thank you. To Idols, to their producers, to their fans, to their questionably sane costume designers, their choreographers, and to everyone I have met as a result of this unusual hobby. True, more often than not I have found things to complain about. I will continue to rail against the evils of the Manobeast, and Tsunku will probably never be fully on my good side. I’ll probably never be able to look at S/mileage and not think of Wada’s xenophobia, and AKB48 will continue to confound me. But even that is all part of what’s so wonderful and fun. So thank you, Berryz Koubou, Morning Musume, C-ute, H!P Eggs, AKB48, Onyanko Club, and all the rest. I’ve had a lot of fun these past five years thanks to you. I look forward to every fluffy-skirted and squeaky voiced moment that you will provide me with in the future.

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Thank you!

International Wota Summer Refreshment Program!

August 15, 2011

As some of you may know, International Wota has been hosting a series of posts dedicated to Summer refreshment, Idol style. Since this has been a hot summer, I decided that as long as someone else was paying, I might as well go out, get myself a refreshment, and think about Idols while enjoying it.

To that end I grabbed an old notebook that was laying about next to my bookcase and headed into the only significantly large town in Vermont. Being a Vermonter, a few things are near and dear to my stomach. Maple syrup, cheese, creemees (soft serve to the rest of you), apples, and perhaps our state’s most famous export, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I love Ben and Jerry’s ice cream enough to ignore that I’m lactose intolerant, but today I was feeling like a good girl, so I bought…

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Sorbet! One scoop of Berry Berry Extraordinary and one scoop of Lemonade. Delicious and refreshing, and no stomach-ache later!

After sitting down to eat my guilt-free sorbet,  I opened the notebook and proceeded to write a long, heartfelt something-or-other concerning how much of my history has been inextricably linked to Idols. The idea was good, and I’d still like to turn it into a post, but there was nothing Summer-y,  nor anything refreshing about it. So I scrapped it, and spent a few weeks oscillating between conviction that I’d get my Summer Refreshment post done THAT VERY HOUR, or never get it done at all and be forever ten dollars in debt to Ray, a prospect which terrifies me. The solution to my terror came as I was staring at the cover of Buono!’s mini album, Partenza. Staring, in fact, at Miyabi’s legs. Her pants, to be even more specific. What a great change of pace to see an Idol in pants for once, how intriguing, how… refreshing.

Look at almost any random photo of an Idol. If she is from H!P, she will be wearing a poofy, glitzy tutu-monstrosity with dead birds and beanie-babies glued all over it. If she is from AKB48, she’ll be wearing a bikini. If she’s from any of the other dozens of Idol groups currently on the market, she’ll doubtless be wearing one of those two, or a school-girl uniform. Of course, you say. Why not? Idols thrive on their appearance of cute, attractive femininity. What better way to show that off than in a skirt, dress, or few centimeters of bathing suit?

For that very reason, seeing an Idol wearing pants is extremely refreshing. The look is so rare, so casual and slightly boyish that it can cast the Idol in a new light. Pants make you do a double-take, whether they’re part of an official costume, or a casual snap-shot from a blog entry. In appreciation of that fact, I dedicate my Summer Refreshment post to the Best of Idols wearing Pants.*

First off are the pants that sparked the idea for this post. On further inspection we find that these are, indeed, capris. No matter. Miyabi’s legs look long and slim, especially next to Airi’s giant maxi skirt. As a note, Momoko also wears pants in the alternate outfits for this mini-album. Jeans, even!

Speaking of jeans, Takahashi Ai is our next Idol in Pants. Ai’s blog is a great spot to find these kinds of pictures, since Takahashi’s love affair with denim has been recorded extensively in her near-daily outfit snaps.

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Ai-chan’s jeans tend to be slouchy and boyish. While Ai’s choice in legwear doesn’t rectify the impression she’s been giving off lately that she is G-dragon’s less feminine twin, she still looks great.

Ai’s partner in crime also occasionally dons pantaloons, as seen here:

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See how excited Gaki is? That’s because she can now do a deep-knee bend and a cartwheel without fear of flashing Ai. Not that Ai would mind…

Speaking of giant lesbians, there is one woman whom stylists put in pants at any opportunity. I almost considered not including her in this post, because it would be too easy. Luckily I came to my senses in time to provide you with these excellent images of Yoshizawa:

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Ignoring the fact that she looks vaguely clown-like with those shoes and socks, here we can see Yoshizawa doing what she does best- looking absolutely cool and princely, with just enough of a feminine edge to make EVERYONE question their sexuality. Here, have more:

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I hate jeans with holes in them. I think they’re silly. But those jeans… are good. I like them VERY much. 😀

Ayaka got the picture a long time ago, when she taught Yossy a very useful phrase:

She does, Ayaka. She does.

Let’s keep speaking about giant lesbians for a minute, and move on to Sayumi. Unlike Yossy, it’s nearly impossible to find pictures of Miss SugarPinkBunnyPrincess in pants. But they do exist, and I, dear readers, have found one for you:
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This is one of my favorite pictures of one of my favorite Idols, so if you were planning on scrolling past it quickly on the way to the rest of the post, I must humbly request that you stop and look again. And then again. For a full minute. Or else.**

Now that we’ve moved on to bikini shots, let’s consider the group that’s turned the bikini shot into high art; AKB48. One member of that group in particular is extremely fond of jeans. So fond, in fact, that back in 2009 she felt the need to share her love of jeans in her “private video.” I’m talking, of course, about Miyazawa Sae.
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(Apparently 2009 was also before they invented charisma. OOOOOH.)

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YEAH!

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The rest of AKB48 have worn pants rather more rarely. The most significant instance of it in my (admittedly lacking) memory would be this stage, Himawari-gumi’s first:

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Back when AKB still had the image of Idols you could Meet, I think jeans really suited them. The casual, girl-next-door vibe of denim worked in their favor. They look so relatable. When all is said and done, I think that the relatability factor is what I love the most about seeing Idols in pants. Take away their piles of glitter and enormous costumes, and they’re just girls…

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…albeit extremely beautiful ones. I am practically piddling myself over Koharu’s modeling career. Even more chances to see those legs in gorgeous, tailored pants!

Before I sign off on this post, let me leave you with a few videos that feature Idols in pants, in all of their leggy glory; from the classics, to the new, to the downright horrific:

The moment when Yoshizawa’s fate for the next five years was sealed. Also the last time real men were allowed in a Momusu PV.


Sayaka in paaaaannnntsss…

And now, the truly horrific, only in this post because the lovely Murr reminded me of its existence…

The murdered stuffed animals attached to their hips like war trophies, and Reina’s entire everything (those leggings, those “Say YEAHS”… Uuuugh),  are only saved by how unequivocally sexy Kamei and Gaki are in their jeans. Yum.

This post has been ridiculously fun. Expect to see a part 2 in the future!

Finally, enjoy the last few weeks of your Summer!

*Full-body jumpsuits, overalls, and male Idols are not included. Unless they look REALLY good.

** Or else what, you ask? Well, if you’re a little girl, Sayumi will come and molest you like she has Riho and Mizuki, and if you’re not a little girl, she WON’T come and molest you, and you’ll be sad (this joke was entirely tongue-in-cheek. 😉 )


In Which I Respond to Isilie and Reaffirm Myself as a H!P Fan

June 29, 2011

I don’t read a lot of blogs. I am a bad member of this fan community that way. But one blog that I always read and always love is Itsumo Genki. If you haven’t already, you should go read Isilie’s latest post there, in which she ponders the stagnation of H!P (its de-evolution, in her own words). The post affected me strongly, and after I read it, I began typing out a response. Well, that response ended up being… VERY long. Rather than take up all of Isilie’s comment space, I’ve fiddled with  my response a bit, and am now posting it here. I’ve tried to make this reply understandable even if you haven’t read Isilie’s post… but seriously, why wouldn’t you want to? Go read it! (And then come back.)

Isilie’s post made me very sad, for a lot of reason: because it put to words some of the worries I’ve been mulling over lately; because I don’t think I could have said it quite as gently and clearly as she did; and because I value Isilie’s opinions as a fellow blogger, so it makes me sad to see her at something of a low point in her fandom.

That said, my opinions on most of the points she made don’t match up with hers.

The first point that I take umbrage with is the idea that H!P groups ought to stop performing certain songs. To quote Isilie, “Some songs should just retire, not because they aren’t amazing, classic songs, but because H!P just isn’t the same place anymore.” I must disagree.

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I look forward to the times when H!P covers itself. Because I love all of the girls so much (with a few REINA exceptions), it’s a pleasure to see them succeed, fail, or even just meet expectations when performing another artist’s songs. It shows another facet of them, aside from their personally sculpted idol persona. Some song choices play into that persona, of course: Momoko singing Momoiro Kataomoi, Gaki singing Boogie Train, etc. But as Isilie mentioned, other choices are surprising. Maasa singing The Bigaku? Who would have expected that? But it gave us a chance to see her perform with a kind of sparkle and energy that is such a deviation from her usually my-pace character. Shin Mini Moni, the youngest bunch of performers in H!P, performing a sultry T&C Bomber number? I loved it. I would never have known that Karin could bend her voice in such amazing ways had I not seen that performance.

That said, I agree that there are times when covers flop. When the first BK vs. C-ute concert was announced, I envisioned a section in which the groups would cover each other. I wanted to see how the girls could transform, if the crazy girls of Berryz could badass it up in Tokaikko Junjou, and if C-ute could let it go and be crazy and fun with something like Piriri to Yukou. When no such thing happened on a major scale, I was sad. Disappointed. I felt like an opportunity had been wasted.

But now I think that might’ve been a mistake. Imagine today’s BK singing and dancing to Kiss Me Aishiteru. They’re a versatile group, but their recent experiment with sexy has made it clear that their strength lies in their fun, out-there ability to sing about monkeys with conviction. And C-ute. They’re great at the kind of cool, strong dance tunes that they’ve been putting out. Momoiro Sparkling was cute, but seemed so tame and dull when compared to the fierceness that we’ve grown used to C-ute hurling at us. Experimentation is great, but some groups have a niche, and H!P seems most comfortable letting them stay within that niche.

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Compare this…

But when the groups go outside of that niche, and fail… isn’t that all part of their growth as artists? Even the most ear-rending performances are valuable in that way. Take Risako. A few years ago, 12-year old Rii performed Matsuura Aya’s famous ballad, Hajimete Kuchibiru wo Kasaneta Yoru. She sounded awful. Terrible. She looked confused, and nervous, and, frankly, like a 12-year old child singing a song far outside of her comprehension. Five years later, she again performed the song, and look at her progress. She made that song into something that she could tackle. Maybe her singing still isn’t Aya-level, but that’s not her strength as an Idol. We as fans would never have been able to truly appreciate Risako’s handling of the song in this latest concert if we had not seen her fail at it so miserably when she was young.

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…to this.

And then, Isilie takes on the factor that fans try and fail to scrutinize- The Tsunku factor. Why, we wonder, has his music lost its popularity? Why continue to give Aya boring ballads when her upbeat songs sold so well? How the heck is he picking his auditionees? And just how much control does he have?

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The simple explanation is to recognize the fact that the T-man is insane… locked-in-a-padded-room-muttering-and-chewing-toothpicks insane. But there’s got to be more to it than that. There has to be SOME thought process behind what Tsunku does. He is supposed to be a businessman, a producer, a mentor figure. He has to make choices that, at the very least, make money.So, why do his decisions so often seem mind-bogglingly stupid?

At least on the outside, he has all of the power in H!P. But more and more often lately we as fans have been questioning his control. We know that he does choose line-distribution. Sayumi (who seems to provide the most insight into the inner workings of H!P lately) has made that clear. And yet, if he does, then some of his other actions just do not add up. If he chooses line distribution, then why not give lines to the two members who were supposed to help H!P expand into the rest of Asia? Tsunku allegedly has the power to have give Jun and Lin lines in H!P songs- and for some reason, chose not to. From a purely business standpoint, that was not a good choice. No girl can magically become a top-earner without any sort of push. And yet it seems as though that was what he required of them.

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God, it was fun finding pictures for this part…

Why? We just don’t know his motives. Pressure from higher ups? Maybe. Racism? Doesn’t seem so- he had Jun and Lin over for noodles rather often (according to his hilarious blog). Crack? A popular theory, but not likely.

Now we see the same kind of silly business being repeated with the 9th generation. Tsunku has his clear favorite in Riho, but how can he expect the others to become anything in the public eye if he doesn’t give them a chance to sing? Of course singing doesn’t count for everything, but a quick solo line or two might be enough to catch the ear of a new fan. Tsunku has to know that- he isn’t dumb. But if he does know that, he doesn’t seem to care.

All of that would make Tsunku seem predictable, and frustratingly so. Of course Reina and Ai will have 75% of the solos in the next single. Of course he’s going to pick one boring, seemingly talentless girl at his next audition. And yes, that would render him dully predictable… if he weren’t so damn crazy at the same time. We see his craziness all of the time- having C-ute put out passionate love songs one minute and cutesy summer songs the next, occasionally throwing the less popular members of the groups a memorable solo line, and especially in whom he chooses to be H!P’s next generation. Who could have expected that Riho would be so creepily talented, Zukki would be so entertaining, Ikuta so easy to root for, and Mizuki so lovely? If you give him credit, Tsunku could have, and did.

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Seriously, LOOK at her! SO cute.

I’ve stopped stressing about Tsunku’s motives. I’ve come to accept them as part of what’s so fun about H!P. He is part of the unpredictable craziness that we love most about Hello! Project. We never know when he’ll graduate someone, what the next song will be like, or who his next favorite will be. We don’t know if he’s just a character, or a scapegoat, or a god-figure looming over all of the project. Sure, we can formulate a pretty good guess based on his seemingly predictable past actions, but there have been so many unexpected moments that it would be silly to write the T-man off as a one-trick pony.

My love for H!P is stronger than ever. Do the low sales lately get me down? Absolutely. Do I think that H!P is in a strange limbo, both trying to move forward in the face of competition and trying to relive its glory days? Yes indeed. Is it stagnating, as Isilie posits? Perhaps. But none of that is going to stop me from loving every single moment of it. Even when I’m sobbing my eyes out over a performance of Ame no Furanai, I’m enjoying myself. I’m glad that I’m a H!P fan, and that means that I’ll take the bad with the good.

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Where else would I find images that make me burst into tears and laugh happily at the same time?


Why the worst matter

July 26, 2010

(This picture somehow seems appropriate)

We all feel this way at some point. Every time she shows her face- be it in concert, the middle of a music video, or on TV, we cringe. We want her gone. We wish the cameraman would stop worrying about spending somewhat equal time on all of the members, and just stay the heck away from this one.*

She’s a different member for each of us, but every wota can identify her in a heartbeat: Their least favorite.

I’m fairly vocal about my least favorite members, and even my friends who aren’t H!P fans (IE all of my friends…) can at least point to Risako or Reina and say “She’s the one you don’t like, right?”

So yes, I can’t stand Reina or Risako. I don’t like ManoEri either, although she’s kind of a special case (in that I’m terrified of her). I’m not going to talk about why I dislike these girls in this post. I feel like I mention my reasoning in every other post I make, and for the purpose of this article, reasons actually don’t matter all that much. I dislike these girls, and that’s all there is to it.


(Pure, murderous intent)

Whenever my least favorite gets half of the lines in their respective singles, I rail and rant about the unfairness. “It should have been Maasa/Captain/Lin/Sayumi/insertunderratedidolhere!” I say, closing my eyes in despair at the unfairness of it all.

However, there’s another layer to my Idol-Wota relationship when it comes to the least favorites. I dislike them, yes. But that’s not all.

I recently re-watched Berryz Koubou’s 2009 Aki ~Medachitai~ tour, and the above video made me angry enough to leave a comment essentially detailing everything that I hated about Risako. Someone else commented and agreed with me, and at first I was all happy to have found someone who felt the same as I did. But something in their comment didn’t sit right with me. This was their original comment (sorry, I can’t find the video again, and I don’t remember my exact comment) :

” I know! I can’t even say how much I hate her. 😛 She’s the worst in the group and she’s getting all the lines! I can’t say how much better my life would be if she just left Berryz forever. She’s just plain gross!”

What? Leave the group? Berryz Koubou without Risako’s annoying, pouty, face? Inconceivable!

I may hate on Risako. I may scream with indignation whenever Reina thinks that, just for a change, she’ll wink during her solo line. But I would never, ever want to see either of their groups without them.

This is the part where you, reader, will sit back and say to yourself “Rebecca, I read your blog because it occasionally makes me laugh, think, cough up phlegm, or do all three at once. I enjoy your solid convictions against your least favorites. What up?” I will tell you what is up, dear reader. Least favorites are essential to keeping interest in a group alive. Without them, my favorite groups would be cool and groovy rage-free zones, yes, but also terribly dull.

(Do I really want her out of the picture?)

Not convinced? Stay with me.

Take C-ute. I have my favorite in Okai Chisato. I champion her, and I like to say that her sultry vocals can spread world peace. But C-ute is my least favorite of all of H!P’s main groups, and I barely pay attention to them. I surely devote less time to them than BK or Morning Musume (for the sake of arguments, I’m leaving out S/mileage. They’re too new). And guess what? C-ute is the sole group without one member that I dislike. True, sometimes I whine about Nakky’s duck voice, but she is just so pretty and good at dancing. Yeah, Airi has pretty much taken over the group’s singles, but damnit, she’s gorgeous and talented, and if anyone’s going to have a solo single, it ought to be her. Maimi is a freakishly gorgeous cyborg woman, and Maimai is turning into a beautiful young lady.

When I watch C-ute’s concerts, there’s no suspense. I don’t care who gets a line or when, because no one in the group makes me rage. In fact, I tend to skip over most of C-ute’s performances, because I know that they’ll be good enough, but lacking anything that I need to watch out for. After Erika and Kanna left, I didn’t worry about who their lines would be performed by because as far as I was concerned, it could be anyone and I’d be happy.

When I finished watching C-ute’s Shocking Live tour, I felt like I’d watched a good concert. I ate some rice pudding. I felt guilty about doing so even though I wasn’t hungry, then remembered that I’m Jewish and that eating and feeling guilty is what we do. I felt better. I went to bed.

Cut to Morning Musume’s Genki Pikka Pikka tour. My god. I was practically glued to the screen during group songs, flashing back and forth between Youtube and Project!Hello’s colorcodes, wringing my hands and wondering who was going to get Kusumi’s lines. I was on an emotional roller coaster. I cheered when Linlin sang “Torokeru torokeru yumegokochi” in Aishite Aishite Ato Ippun, groaned when Reina (and Ai)  got all of the graduated Nutjob’s lines in Resonant Blue. It should have been Sayumi- her voice would have been squeaky, but at least it would have been someone different. I commented multiple times to that effect, and with each new performance I felt something new- rage, happiness, relief, and at one point, extreme hatred toward all maxi dresses ever.

(I hope this fad is eaten by Lady Gaga and dies.)

What that concert was over, I stayed up late writing this article, then talked on the phone for an hour with my cousin (who is tolerant of my Wotaism and even occasionally indulges in some herself). I went to bed tired, partially annoyed, but more importantly, really excited to see the next Momusu concert. Who knows? Maybe the lines would be rearranged. Maybe Reina would lose her voice and be forced to sit to the side for the entire concert, desperately winking every time the camera swivels past her on its way to someone more talented (hey, I didn’t say that I wouldn’t mind the groups without Reina or Rii’s voices. Just their presence. 😉 )

So yes. I will continue to preach dislike of my least favorites. I might cry a little bit when once again, Saki is pushed to the back in favor of Risako. But you won’t hear me wish them out of the group. Hello! Project is all the better for their presence.

(…Yeah.)

*No, I’m not talking about Aika on a bad hair day ( Y’know. Most days).


New Mini Moni, Old Mini Moni… oi!

June 2, 2009

Hi, everybody!

Well, let’s see! I haven’t blogged since Yossy’s birthday, I do believe. Why? Well, I have been mostly enjoying reading the blogs of others- you’re all amazing (yes, you). But something so momentous, so incredible, so unbelievable has happened that I have to come out of my semi-retirement to blog about it:

Tsunku may have actually had a good idea.

I’m sure that you’ve guessed that I’m talking about the revival of MiniMoni. I think that this move is risky but brilliant on the part of the T-man, and if he plays this right (IE composes it of all of the members I want ;3 ), it could be very successful. And if not, wellllll, it’ll at least be fun for the wota!

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(I mean, seriously, look at this man. Ridiculous).

Now, there have been countless times in which Tsunku has appeared to be on drugs when coming up with a new idea involving H!P. Sometimes he seemed to have been on something very good- I’m thinking that this was the case when he came up with The Peace, decided to include children who could barely speak in his project and train them to be superidols bent on draining our wallets, not telling Niigaki Risa to take herself and her bean-shaped head the hell out of his auditions and including Tsuji into the fourth generation at the last minute. But more often the inventions of the insane man behind H!P’s inventions have been, well, insane.

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(I mean, seriously, look at this group. Ridiculous).

Take Coconuts Musume. CocoMusu were essentially a bunch of awkward, semi-talented Hawaiians who spoke little to no Japanese and looked gigantic next to the petite and supernaturally pretty MM members. They didn’t sell well, and the line-up bounced around enough to make even the best Wota’s eyes spin. And Tsunku was originally very excited about them. They’re not the only ones, though. Most of H!P has had to deal with Tsunku’s crackosity at one time or another: He treated Melon Kinenbi so badly that they quickly became a running joke amongst fans, and even Berryz fell prey to his lunacy (“HEEEEY! Heeey, man, let’s, like, dress ’em up in MONKEY suits! And have ’em sings songs! About MONKEYS!” “Dude, you’re, like, brilliant.”). So, I’ve learned to take most of what Tsunku says and look at it through a filter- a loving, incredulous but indulgent filter. “Oh, that’s just Tsunku being on ecstasy again, it’ll all turn out fine in a few days, no worries.”

(“TSUNKUUUUUU! I WILL DEVOUR YOUR LIVER!”)

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With all that, what makes me think that this revival of a classic group would ever be a good idea, when H!P is stagnant in its popularity and the economy looks like a Johnny’s member without make-up (According to Newsweek, Japan’s economy this year has taken the largest yearlong plunge in decades)?

For one, at least in the beginning, this group should get great publicity. It’s a revival of a group whose old fans are at the right age to look back nostalgically at- “Ah, Mini Moni were so great. I loved listening to their music after school!” In the idol industry, which is all about image, publicity is everything. When people see you, they’re more likely to buy.

Secondly, H!P is moving towards a more mature image. Yes, C-ute’s newest cover single sounds like it was sung by Airi and the Chipmunks, but the other groups are shifting towards a more mature style, Morning Musume especially. At the same time, there’s some holding back. Morning Musume has done dance-y and a little sad in their latest singles, and Dakishimete Dakishimete dabbled in sexiness, but nothing really sultry has come from H!P in a long, long time, whether it be in the form of a song or a group. In fact, the only sultry prodcut of H!P that comes to mind is the original  Tanpopo line-up, and that was back when Morning Musume members were allowed to be real, sexual beings. I feel that with a new Mini Moni to keep up H!P’s playful, childish side, Tsunku may feel more comfortable experimenting with the sultrier side of things. Put those awesome Korean H!P hopefuls to use!

So which H!P members do I think would make this new group a success? Well, that depends.

First, how many members does Tsunku want? Technically there was a time when MiniMoni had five members. I’d like to assume, though, that Tsunku will stick with four.

Will the group have the same theme? Well, we all seem to be assuming that this’ll be a bright, childish group, and that seems about right. If it’s not, then my post is mostly rendered moot. And I hate being made moot.

Second, will he stick with the 150 cm height rule? That seems unlikely, as very few non-Egg members of H!P match that rule. However, since this will be a children’s group (we hope), the members might still stay on the short side.

Third, what groups will the members be from? In my idealized world in which the only drugs Tsunku takes are the ones that he uses to help out in bed with his trophy wife, he’ll choose one girl from each group (BK, C-ute, the Eggs and MM).

The criteria are thus that  there’ll be one member from each group, that the height doesn’t matter but should be shortish, and that the group will be childlike and happy.

So taking that into consideration, here it is:

AOI♥USAGI’S PERFECT NEW MINIMONI FORMATION:

Of course Kanon is already in the group, but I would’ve chosen her anyways: She’s the perfect new Kago. She’s sweet, adorable as hell and has a good voice.

Please let Chisato into the group! She’s little, she’s spunky, and she’s simultaneously able to pull off Tsuji-like levels of mischevousness and Mikitty-like levels of singing ability. She needs to be C-ute’s representative in this group!

Momoko is insane and has a unique, powerful voice. Her personality takes second place to none and she can hold her own on variety shows. She’d be the Mari-figure that this group needs. Plus, she’s tiny! Yay!

Linlove

Yay Linlin! Lin gets to be the crazy foreigner (IE Mika) of this group. She’s a fabulous singer, just like Mika, tiny, full of personality, and can teach us another language! Just please don’t make her wear the Chinese flag on her head in the form of an ugly bandanna, please.

So there you go Tsunku, get off your pills and read my blog. Or stay on your pills and read my blog, for all I care. Just read it!

Disclaimer: Of course, this is the T-man that we’re talking about. It’s completely likely that this group will end up containing Kumai Yurina, Junjun, Umeda Erika, and a half-dozen eggs chosen at random. C’est la vie!


FOREVER LOVE… y’mean Tokkaiko 2, right?

November 17, 2008

C-ute’s new PV is not spectacular, but it’s still pretty damn good. I’m loving that they sprung some surprise outfits on us for the dance shot. I’m also loving that no one even bothered to hide the fact that Berryz got the crappier computers for their PV. It speaks volumes about the current placement of these two groups within H!P’s priority list. Berryz has basically become a joke, sort of like Melon Kinenbi did when they released their infamous PV for Onegai Miwaku no Target. I mean, look at this:

bettercompy

Chisato: Ha ha ha! OMG, the girl in that picture’s totally got octopus hair! Lol, what a lame-o!

Kanna: … Wonder if I should tell Chisato that that’s one of her official UFA pics from this PV? They basically photoshop her into unrecognizeability anyways. so it shouldn’t matter, but…

Erika: Mai, how many times must I tell you? Stop trying to unhook my bra in public. Just wait till later, okay?

Mai: C’mon, baby. No one’s watching! Just for a few minutes!

Airi: And that, my friends, is how you download free porn.

Maimi: Wooooow! Airi, who knew you had such hidden talents?

Saki: Hey, that girl in this hentai kinda looks like Yaguchi Mari! Only her name’s Yauchi. What’s this called again? Shining Musume? Funny, that almost sounds like… Oh.

I’m pleased, in general, with how the girls look. The menswear theme is really cool, and I’m loving the boots. With the alternate outfits, each of the girls gets a somewhat menswear inspired feminine outfit, expect for Airi, who’s wearing a particularly attractive little capelet which is nevertheless the aboslute worst thing to be wearing when dancing. It kills her movements. I think I’m the most in love with Mai’s clothes. The remind me of Kanashimi Twilight.

kanna-and-chisatush

The worst outfit award HAS to go to Kanna. She has this odd overall outfit in a really heinous plaid. It totally doesn’t fit around her hips, and it makes her torso look way too short. The hat and the scarf just make it that much worse. She ends up looking like she’s gotten confused as to whether she’s being Orphan Annie or one of the factory boys from Oliver.

However, something else stood out to me about this screen-shot, something far more interesting than the fact that whoever chose Kanna’s clothes was obviously high:

chisatushOMG, ChisaTUSH for the win!

maimifacetouch

Like this move? Takahashi taught it to me. It’s really original and makes me look distraught and hurt, lol!

Maimi was, as usual, looking stunning. For me, Maimi herself isn’t physically my type. She’s pretty, but not in a way that I really care about. But something about the way she carries herself really appeals to me. Maybe it’s because that she’s actually a UFA built cyborg that she carries herself like that, the original having been absorbed by the ManoCreature ages ago.

airibitch

On your knees. Lick my boots. Curl my hair. Kill Momoko and Miyabi so I can go solo.

Somehow… Airi… really made me happy in this one.

Maybe it’s because she knows how to download internet porn. -shrugs- You decide.

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No matter how you look at it, Chisato is gorgeous in this PV. But her hair… her hair…

How much hair cement did it take to make it look like someone had basically stuck an octopus to her scalp and called it a day? Whoever thought of this style should be shot (although I don’t mind the bangs).

nakkiewfl

Nakki, oh, Nakki. What happened here? You look like some Mexican guy, and not the sexy kind that have big muscles and looks good when they’re sweating. The scrawny kind with the thin little mustache that tries to sell you things on the side of the street and is wearinga stained tank top and has too much hair gel in their hair.

But, uh, you looked great dancing. In fact, that purple blazer of yours in the alternate outfit version was fantastic. I tried the exact same thing on today while shopping at Banana Republic.

It looked better on you.

Dammit.

kannafl

Kanna, oh, Kanna…

Whatever Saki did wrong, you did right. You’re breathtaking in this PV, in that special lesbian way that only you can be.

maimai

Mai looks like a sickly child here. Like the kind you see carrying an inhaler in their fanny pack, along with their hanky and handi-wipes, just in case.

Er, yeah, Mai. Better luck next time.

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If any of you needed proof that Erika is part woodchuck…

Erika was mostly just Erika here. Kinda out of place, but still sexy. I abslolutely loved her curly hair during some parts of the dance shot. She looks so much better that way.

(Oh, the reason for the title of this was because the song, the PV, the dance, the line distribution, all of it basically makes me thing of Tokaikko Junjou/ That’s not bad. I love that song and PV.)

I give this PV a 8 out of 10, and the song an 8.5 out of 10, because I’m just that great.

Now if you’ll excuse, I’m going to go stare at ChisaTUSH some more.


This. Is. AWESOME.

July 25, 2008

Hi, boys and girls! Have you seen the PV for Edo no Temari Uta II yet? If you haven’t, you’re missing out, because from the set to the dance to the girls themselves, this PV is amazing. I can barely organize my thoughts to actually review this correctly, so first I’ll just talking about the girls themselves, relatively safe territory.

The very first thing we see in this PV is Airi looking, for lack of better words, magical. I’ve recently come to terms with Airi in my head. I just can’t hate her, and in allowing myself to NOT hate her, I’m actually finding myself liking her. Huh. Throughout this entire PV, Airi is just a bit of cotton candy. She’s fun to watch, but there’s no real substance. But this is J-pop. Who needs substance? Airi’s costume is quite a lot shorter and more revealing than the others, but I’m okay with that. Like I said, I’ve come to terms with her being the star of C-ute, and if that means tiny costumes, that’s fine. The lack of fabric actually comes in handy for her when they do the slower parts of the dance (the little back-and-forth steps, the head rolls, etc.) because it shows off her great posture.

Maimi is… Maimi makes… I’m not sure what to say! Everyone in the PV is having fun, but Maimi seems like she’s really THINKING about it. In a lot of other idols, that would come across as forced and fake, but not Maimi. She’s just great. Her deep vocals acually suit this song and she doesn’t sound as though she’s struggling at all. The only low point would be her costume, which reminds me of a character from The Nutcracker (Y’know, the lady whose children all run out from under her skirt), but somehow, she pulls it off. Also, Maimi + Red = hot.

Gotta love her expressions an acquaintance of mine made an interesting comment about Yajima: “Red–> Definitely seemed like she’s usually the leader and doesn’t want to give that up.” That’s right. Yajima is giving off Leader-vibes.

Erika and her impossibly high cheekbones are difficult to screencap in this PV. All those shadows! That aside, Erika brings the sexy into the PV. She just is a sexbomb. It’s been said before, of course, but I wish she’s stress that more. Her voice is typical for her, kinda squeaky but not bad. But her outfit. Wow. It’s the best outfit of the whole PV, for sure. I would wear that in real life (yes, but Usa-chan, you’ve worn an evening gown to school! You’d wear anything as long as it’s pretty…).

Holy crud, I’m even liking NakaSaki in this PV? I can’t help it! She’s sooo cute. She reminds me of when a young chick when it’s all yellow and fluffy. Even her little Mouse-voice sounds good here. And her dancing is somehow… coy? I think it’s coy. Yes. Her smile goes a little funny in some parts, though. And not good-funny.

Mai was just kinda… Mai for me in this PV. Not bad or good. Just… Mai. Her singing was fine, and her costume was cute, although it seemed more, well, costumey than the others, and of course, she was ADORABLE. But, I’m actually a little worried about The Future of Mai. She’s going to have to stop relying on being the youngest in the group at some point, because pretty soon being the youngest will mean that she’s 14 or 15, and that’s not really all that young in Idol years.

Kanna. Kanna Kanna Kanna! This PV totally cemented her as my #2 C-utie. She just… flirts the entire time. And has fun, and draws you into the PV. I love her expression in the dance-shot right after her line. Like “Yeah, I’m singing for YOU.” -fangirl sigh-

Ah, Chiisan. With your voice that sounds like a 80-year old woman who has smoked a pack a day her whole life… and still just so happens to be a kick-ass singer. Chisato’s having so much fun in this PV. She looks like she’s just having the time of her life, SO happy to finally have a line. And of course, she nails it. I love her crazy expressions. I’m a little disappointed by her outfit color. They manage to wash out someone as tan as Chiisan.  Impressive!

Now for the set, which I believe is what really makes the PV. The set manages to be dark and dreamlike, yet still fun. It’s like a carnival at night, inhabited by spirits wearing cute outfits. The darkness of the background and the bright lights actually reminds me a bit of the Anataboshi set. But this one is many, many times better. In fact, thanks to the set, I can say that this is one of the few H!P singles that I really want to physically own. I want this single!

Score: 9.5/10. Half a point off for the length. I want more Kanna goodness!