A quick update

April 23, 2012

Hello, everyone who still checks this blog!
This is a quick note to let you all know that Aoi Usagi isn’t dead. It’s currently on hiatus until the life-suck that is college ends, which is in about four weeks.

If I’m in one piece at the end of the semester, expect some blog posts!


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!

Alright, people

February 9, 2011

It’s always amusing to look and see which search terms are leading people to my blog. More often than not, the terms have no clear pattern. On the same day, a person can reach this little snippet of the internet by searching “Natsuyaki Miyabi’s twin brother” or by searching “AKB and coffee”

There is, however, one search term that always comes up again and again. It’s not particularly offensive, but the sheer number of people finding my blog by searching this term is enough to make me pause and give it my attention.

The term is “Youth and Beauty.” I’ve used it only once- in reference to Kusumi Koharu. Since making that post, the smallest number of times people have been referred to my blog via that term is 14 times in one day:

What exactly are you trying to find, Youth and Beauty people? This is not a make-up nor a fashion blog. I am not going to teach you how to make a Gaga-bow out of your hair, nor will I provide you with information on the beauty tricks used by Japan’s trendy Gyaru or Korea’s pretty (and slightly scary) ulzzangs. This is a music blog. There will be youthful and beautiful people featured here, and you will have to be content with that.

While I’m on the WTF-train, what in the world is up with someone finding my blog after searching “Man sitting on a chair looking at the moon?” Have I ever used those words in conjunction before? Ditto for “crazy old black man.” Unless it had something to do with Melon Kinenbi, I rarely mention crazy old black men on this blog. In fact, I don’t think I ever have.

Lastly, just so we’re very, very clear: No, I will not direct anyone to porn through this blog. People searching for stimulation and titillation will have to look elsewhere. (That means you, “maeda atsuko look alike porn stream” person.)


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!

~~~

(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!”)

~~

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!


Ranking Revolution!

February 28, 2009

Just sneaking out of my self-imposed hiatus for a moment or two to babble a bit… And I do mean it- look at that title! I used alliteration! Clearly, I’m babbling.

About a year ago, I did my Hello Project Rankings for C-ute, Berryz and Momusu. To say that they’ve changed drastically since then is an understatement. So, one year later, I’ve decided to re-examine those rankings. Girls will be listed from least to most favorite. I’ll start with the Head Honchos…

Morning Musume:

(Last Year’s Thoughts:)


reina-get-out-of-the-way-of-the-epic-win#9. Tanaka Reina

Former Postion: #9

So my opinion on Reina hasn’t changed. None, nary a wit, not at all. Stop winking, stop whining when you sing, dye your hair black again. Thanks.

(And yes. The only reason I saved that picture is because Linlin is being particularly awesome in the background).

sayuaika-grope1#8. Mitsui Aika

Former Position: #3

And here’s where the drastic changes start.  How could she have fallen so far? Well… honestly, she hasn’t done much at all that I can tell since joining Momusu two-ish years ago. Her voice, if anything, has gotten worse over time, and without bangs she has a kinda scary face. Also, she seems to be hanging out with Reina more often, and that reflects negatively on her in my eyes. She is, however important in once respect:

For me, Mittsi kind of stands for all the disappointments that MM’s current members seem to be bringing. They all seem content to stay safely within the world of genki and kawaii, and Mitsui is the epitome of that. She lets her voice go to seed, putting to shame the amazing debut lines she got in Egao Yes Nude. However, there’s more to it than that. Mitsui doesn’t need to be just another boring Musume in a long line of future boring Musumes. I sense future greatness in her… in fact, here’s a little prophecy:

She’s come to provide salvation, and reconciliation with the general public for (the majority of) the MM girls’ sins of boringness and Way-Too-Cuteness. To do so, she’ll sacrifice herself: She’ll accept the punishment of falling in my wota rankings to clear the other girls of their sins…

Thousands of years from now, there’ll be a religion that’s all to do with Mittsi. There’ll be Mittsimas, to celebrate the day she joined MM, and there’ll be Sotsugyou, to commemorate the day she hung up her microphone, thus taking with her all of the evils that Momusu-kind had collected over the years. And, of course, there’ll be a seemingly random holiday about eggs and rabbits celebrating the day she was suddenly resurrected to be on some dull quiz show as a judge.

(And yes, that is a picture of Mittsi(‘s butt). That’s Mitsui getting groped by  Sayumi on the big screen behind Koha and the others in that .gif).

#7. Kusumi Koharu

Former Position: #8

I respect Kusumi. She may be a Kirari-singing, scary-toothed crack fiend, but at least she’s confident about it. She has a lot more personality than, say, Aika or Junjun.

Then again… She’s also mildly terrifying, and her voice makes my brain crawl out my ears like so many gray slugs on more than one occasion.  Thus, she’s ranked down here. And yes, I chose that picture for a reason. I’m sure Koharu and Kanna would get along just fine…

jundress1#6. Junjun

Former Position: #2

So… yeah… Junjun… kinda like with Aika, I’ve seen little improvement in The Junster during her time in Momusu. I still like her because she’s abso-bloody-lutely gorgeous, but so are most of the other girls.

#5. Takitty

Former Position: #6

I just like Takitty lately. I don’t watch enough TV shows to say whether or not she’s gotten less boring when being interviewed, but during all of their concerts she’s got the most stage presence and best voice, and that’s what counts. Takitty has the ability to make old classics interesting again. Let’s face it: When you’re a fan of Morning Musume, you’re basically signed up to watch the girls perform the same songs over and over again in increasingly desperate outfits. Yet Takahashi always puts a new spin on whatever she’s singing, and that’s enough to keep my attention for an entire performance.

gakideiyaaaaa#4. GAKIIIIIIII

Former Position: #4

No opinion change here: I love Gaki, Gaki is great, when Gaki smiles, the whole world smiles along with her. And when she makes the “(°0°)” face, so does the rest of the world. I KNOW YOU’RE ALL MAKING THAT FACE WHILE YOU READ THIS.

sayuyu#3. Sayumi~♥

Former Position: #5

I didn’t want this to happen, but it has: I just love Sayumi.

She’s too cute to be real.

22#2. Kamei Eri

Former Position: #1

Uh-huh, I went there. I dropped the Turtley Musume down a place. I still love her and if she offered me a position as her adoring wota love-slave, I’d still drop everything and hop the next plane to Japan… I just love a certain Panda much more.

linlin3#1. Linlin

Former Position: #7

This is the real reason that I decided to re-do my rankings: Linlin has gone from being in my bottom three in MM to being not only my favorite Musume, but one of my favorite H!P members! It’s like Linlin just woke up one day and accidentally drank a glass of awesome for breakfast. Her voice stopped doing horrible squeaky things, and she started smiling comforably on camera. Plus, she says and does the oddest things. She’s what I feel Momusu is missing; Someone to play the Kemeko character to contrast all the sugary sweetness we’ve got with Gaki and Kamei and Sayumi and Reina and Junjun. Cuteness is great, but there need to be some girls willing to act like a fool to show the cute ones off. Linlin knows that.

And now, because it’s my blog and I can: LINLIN PICSPAM OF (not exactly) EPIC PROPORTIONS!
linlin1

linlin2lin-being-cute-in-silver

Also, for those of you who feel cheated out of their daily dosage of the Non-Panda 8th gen. girl, here’s a token picture of Mittsi:


The Safari Begins!

January 14, 2009

shorthairerina

In this post, I proclaimed my eternal terror for Mano Erina.

Now I see that I was only afraid of her hair.

I’m not kidding- this picture may be the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. If only Mano had actually cut her hair short, instead of just pulled it back. For some reason, she just seems so much less… menacing… when she does her hair like this!

sheatesayumi

Then again… maybe this look is all just a plot to fool those of us who, like myself, are still skeptical. Mano is, after all, a predator who is a master of camouflage and disguise, taking on the faces of her Idol victims in order to get closer to her next prey. In the above picture, one can clearly see her infamous routine at work, as she is showing the face of one of her earliest victims, a certain Morning Musume member whose name rhymes with Shichishige Mayumi.

This this tactic allows her to infiltrate even the most genki of dressing rooms, posing for seemingly “cute” and “harmless” pictures. The real reason behind that hug? She’s feeling up the amount of muscle on her next meal, of course.

Well I won’t be fooled, Miss Mano. This wota will continue to monitor your behavior as a predator amongst the unsuspecting gazelle… er… idols.

…And so, the safari begins!

{This may become a semi-regular series… sort of the opposite of a worship post, I suppose. And don’t worry- whilemy discomfort over ManoEri is completely real, my belief that she eats other Idols is merely harmless speculation.

🙂 }