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).


Hello

May 29, 2010

(Picture unrelated, but when you look that amazing, who cares about relevance?)

Despite the fact that I now have less free time than ever, am testing for my second degree black belt in one week, have finals coming around the corner, and just missed eight days of school, I have decided to re-start this blog.

Call me crazy? Er, sure, if you want. I mean, it’s your own opinion, really.

First of all I’d like to apologize for having disappeared without notice. That is inexcusable (not to mention hypocritical. I’ve railed time and again against bloggers and webcomic artists who did that very same thing). Those of you still checking this blog, thank you very much for doing so. From now on, I’d like to continue to post in this blog. I can’t say it’ll happen on any regular schedule, or quickly, but I will post. I had decided to keep my fan opinions to myself and just enjoy being a fan for a while, but now I’ve changed my mind.

Now, here is the reason for that change of heart…

Above, I mentioned having missed eight days of school. No, I didn’t come down with H1N1 long after all of the cool kids. Rather, I was traveling. Thanks to my school’s Ancient Greece class, I and 30 of my classmates were able to travel to Greece for a total of 10 days. We were originally slotted to leave about a week earlier than we did, but then the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted and we found ourselves postponed (for those still struggling to pronounce the name, here’s a handy pronunciation guide: vol-KAY-noh). Undaunted, we eventually flew out a week and half later. I had a lovelyish time, and managed to avoid getting sunburned.

This anecdote does have a relation to my blog and to Hello Project. Our group spent a long time wandering around the Heathrow Airport in London while we waited to see if the Greek riots would strand us in Britain (there are worse places to be stranded. The first time we attempted our trip, we ended up in CANADA). At the time I was wearing the Linlint-shirt highlighted in my last post (I was wearing some other things, but they aren’t relevant).

During one of my wanderings, I decided to go get lunch at the Wagammama noodle restaurant. They serve yummy (but overpriced) ramen and the like at long, cafeteria style tables. I ended up at a table with a group of people I didn’t know. I ordered and was well into my ramen when I heard a voice say, “Excuse me!”

I looked up and saw a youngish-looking Japanese man sitting across from me. I was immediately terrified that I had accidentally slurped my noodles too fast and sprayed him. Instead, he pointed at my shirt and asked, “You are Linlin fan?” When I nodded, he broke into a huge smile and pronounced, ” I am too! Linlin is number one!”

I have never talked in person with another Hello Project fan. Meeting that man was the biggest and best surprise of the entire trip. We spent the rest of our meal speaking in both English and Japanese about everything Idol. When it came time to leave, I went back to my group nearly in tears. Many of you in the blogosphere can understand how I felt. The majority of you must be like me: isolated in your love of H!P, never expecting to meet anyone who shares your strange hobby. The feeling of being a H!P fan- alone- is an entirely unique one. I never realized how lonely a feeling it can be. Finally meeting someone in person who knows what I mean when I say “Mitsui Aika needs to change her hairstyle”… I can’t put the feeling into words.

That moment spurred me to re-start this blog. I enjoyed the time I spent keeping my fandom to myself, but I think it’s time to return to this particular corner of the blogosphere.

I hope you will all forgive me for my unexplained absence, and welcome me back.


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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!


Saki, you sexy beast!

July 16, 2008

Alternate title: So, Risako Didn’t Get Beaten to a Berryz Pulp, But After Watching this Concert, I Think She Deserves It.

WARNING: This will be a LONG review.

The Berryz vs. C-ute concert was kindly uploaded to Youtube a little while ago, but I’ve just gotten around to watching it. Each video is about ten minutes long and contains 2-3 songs. I’ll be reviewing every single one! YAY! For each section, I’ll also talk about who stood out, whether good or bad, and whatever else crosses my mind.

1. Huzzah, the opening! And… one of my least favorite H!P kids songs so far, Darling I Love You. There’s nothing interesting or catchy about this song to me. In fact, for some reason it just kinda REALLY annoys me to listen to it. So I’m going to pretend that the next song was actually the opening.

2. Special Generation is a great concert song. It’s fun to watch, the girls get right into it, and the wota are always really enthusiastic in their cheering for it. One thing I’ve learned to look out for when this is performed is the choreography in which Yurina and Momoko touch hands in the air (in this clip, it’s around the 6 minute mark). Just before they let go and Momoko sings “Suki to,” Yurina always mouths something to Momo, and Momo always looks even more under the influence of helium. It’s adorable, really.

3. The next song is Ookina Ai de Motenashite. It was around this point that the energy seems noticeably low. But it’s the beginning of the concert, so I can forgive them.

Stand outs for Part One: So far, no one’s really gotten into it (?)… but Momoko and Yurina both grabbed my attention, not just because they flirt during SpeGe, though that had a lot to do with it, for sure…

4. Part Two begins with a hilarious little video of each of the members suiting up for “battle.” I adore that Maasa and Kanna are their group’s leaders. And I LOVE how Yurina’s special “skill” is her height. That green outfit… she’s the Green Giant (I should be shot for that one). Good lord, Chinami’s got sexy legs. Is it just me, or is C-ute running MUCH faster than Berryz in the group-running scenes?

5. Member Introductions… pah. As if the wota didn’t know the girls already. Furthermore, I think tha- HOLY CRAP, SOMETHING’S EATING MIYABI’S HEAD! Quick, someone get a bucket of water! Kryptonite! A used towel! No, wait, someone go get some HAIR SPRAY, stat!

Oh, and I love Okai’s outfit.

6. Namida No Iro isn’t my favorite song, but I do love the dance. It’s fun to watch and very interesting. Throughout this whole performance, I can’t keep my eyes off of Kanna. She is absolutely spot-on with everything she sings, her expressions, her posture, it’s all great (She retains this throughout the concert, actually). Airi and Maimi do fine with their vocals, as usual. Hey… why do C-ute get those cute, somewhat-matching, modern looking clothes while half of Berryz get plaid lumberjack shirts? Shouldn’t Kanna be the one in a lumberjack outfit?

Standouts: Kanna and Chinami. Kanna, as stated, is solid not just in this clip but throughout the concert. And Chinami… Chinami’s got those killer legs.

7. I love this song! I love Munasawagi Scarlett, but not live. They always skip Chinami’s line, my favorite part of the song, and there’s just never enough ENERGY. They need to practically spit out the words. Another sore spot for me is the Miya/Momo duo line after the intense guitar solo. Their voices just don’t blend at all. but Yurina’s practically leaking sweetness all over the stage. So all is well in my little Berryz kingdom…

Miya Hair Check:

This might look like an innocent dance move, but in reality, if she lets go, it’ll explode.

8. I really am terrified of Tsunku’s voice at the start of La La La Shiawase no Uta. And I don’t like the beginning of it, or the middle, or, really, the end. But I do like the way that the crowd can easily interact with the girls in this song. Check out how simple a dance the chorus has, and how easy it is for the glowsticks to dance along. Nice. Maimi is fantastic here, all smiles and sparkles and… Maimi.

Miya Hair Check:

Is it… getting… BIGGER?!

9. Dschinghis Khan is a Chinami song. No two ways about it. She dominated the PV, and she’s dominating this, too. As for the vocals, well… Risako sounds like crap, Miya sounded really nice, and Momo sounds like a helium creature.  But one with good tone and control. Yurina’s still oozing cuteness, so good for her.

Standouts: Maimi was rather nice, and Yurina.

10. I really like Tokaikko Junjou live, and this was a great performance. Airi in particular had great vocals and her performance level has noticeably improved from the start of the concert. She did really well with that chest-popping move right after the bridge. Mai’s hair, I’m sorry to say, is bordering on Miyabi-like proportions, but the kid makes up for it in energy. She’s like a jack russel terrier, or something. If you’ve never seen one of those in action… Ah ha ha ha… ahem. And check out Kanna during Airi’s final line. I’m going to be singing her praises a lot during this review, because she’s constantly smiling and giving it her all, just like that.

11. I feel like this (Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi) is the song in which Berryz really starts getting their act together as a GROUP. They’re really solid in this performance. HOMG Risako makes the oddest, most awkward smile after her first line. It almost made me forgive her for sucking so much throughout the rest of the concert and for looking so awful in that shirt. Almost. This is also the first performance that inspired the title of this post. Saki begins pulling out the charm here, and it’s really fun to watch. I love her dancing during the instrumental break.

Standouts: Airi for vocals and Saki for sexy.

12. And then up comes Very Beauty… Oh. Mah. Gaki.

Risako, please. Please, just stop hurting my ears like this. Your performance here was sad, really. The “dancing” (slow walk down the stage) was half-hearted, your vocals… your vocals…

Airi. Thank you for trying to save this song from your friend. You almost did it. Well, at least you’re cute. I was right about you sounding good singing this song.

13. I was putting a lot of faith in the Bokura no Kagayaki performance. It contains all of my favorites from both groups, but aside from Chisato’s opening, I was disappointed. I mean, I’m all for Chisai getting lines, but couldn’t they have done a LITTLE bit more spreading around of lines? Most of all, I’m disappointed with Chinami. this could’ve been HER performance. It’s the perfect genki song for her, but she just wasn’t… there for me.

14. CAPTAIN YOU ARE OFFICIALLY AMAZING. Even though all she does is provide the sound effects, Captain is so cool and sexy throughout this performance of Sayonara Hageshiki Koi that she just owns the whole song, for me. This may, in fact, be my favorite performance of the whole concert. Maimi was also rather nice here, as was Miya. As a group, the only one who really doesn’t seem to fit here is Maimai.

Miya Hair Check:

It’s starting to look a little tired… maybe it mated with Mai’s hair-blob? That would explain Saki N.’s hair-do… well, hair-don’t.

Standouts: Saki. Saki Saki Saki Saki… SAKI. That’s Captain Saki, by the way.

15. I don’t totally understand Erika’s Tension Ageko character, but I still love her! I like how the wota get into the MC with the girls, and that makes this MC more fun. My friend and I now shout “used towel!” to each other whenever we see each other. And I certainly wouldn’t mind having Saki’s used towel… no, no, I’m not going to be a pervert. I’m younger then she is, darnit!

16. I was somehow really happy to have this song (That’s the Power) performed at this point in the concert, and whenever Erika interrupts with her “used towel” bits, I can’t help but smile. The atmosphere of this song is just so friendly and laid-back. It’s great. Well, more specifically, Erika is great.

17. See above paragraph, final sentence. Long live Do Don ga Don Ondou!

Standouts: This section is all about Erika, and it’s really nice. She proves herself to be a truly strong performer here. Buono! Stands out in that they’re conspicuously absent.

18. I really love Buono!, and their first single is by far my favorite. But somehow, the Eggs steal the show here. They’re soooo cute!

Miya Hair Check:

Oh, it’s starting to wilt a little…

19. Ouch, Miya had some difficulty in the beginning. And holy crap Airi, those shorts are SHORT. They’re practically panties. Shiny, black, panties. But Airi has really nice le-… Oh, what, the performance?! Yeah, that was pretty good. Nothing great or spectacular, though. The thing that really made this a good performance, however, was that the girls seem to take up with whole stage. They don’t make it feel static and stuck, like some of the other performances, regrettably, did.

20. ASDJKASFkl. Saki. Either Saki. Both Sakis. Whatever. I was totally not expecting them to just dance the whole time during Natsu Doki Lipstick, but I’m incredibly happy that they did. It sort of became a Saki Dance solo, with Maimi singing in the background. My second favorite performance of the concert, for sure. I can’t wait to see the Berryz footage, because that’ll be practically a solo shot of this dance for Captain.

21. Massara Blue Jeans is such a fun song! I’m constantly amazed at the stamina of these girls. Especially Maimi and Saki right now. Wow. Just… wow. And THEN the Berryz come in… SHUTUPRISAKO. Shutupshutupshutupkthx. Actually, her second line made me realize that this could be the PERFECT song for Risako. I mean, all she does is scream, and that’s all that this song requires.

Stand outs: The Sakis (mostly Captain because she’s just a sexy beast), and Airi’s shorts.

22. My first reaction to this performance was that Jiriri Kiteru is a great song to perform with lots of people. Everyone’s energy is through the roof, and the all look and sound great.

23. What the hell? This is barely an MC.

24. JUMP is an inspiring song, and when it’s sung by 14 cute girls in pretty costumes, it’s just that much better. Songs like this make a concert completely worth going to. The girls themselves do the song justice. Chisai’s “Wow!” was adorable.

25. My favorite H!P kids concert song, period, is Yujou Junjou OH Seishun. it’s so much better live than as an mp3, when the Berryz’ voices were still too young and squeaky to really fit the song. And right there confirming that opinion is Kanna, bundle of energy that she is. During the line “Yume nare donna toki mo”, she is completely performing the hell outta this song. Close behind her are Captain and Chinami. Captain is, I swear on my honor as a Yossy-fangirly, channeling the great Yoshizawa here. There’s a part where she points at the camera and just sort of raises her eyebrows, which nearly gave me a heart attack. If Captain started being a cool character within Berryz, I would be so happy. And Chinami, well, she always owns this song.

Stand outs: Everyone. Everyone is just great here.

26. This is just too precious. The H!P kids playing superheroes! Everyone is so adorable. Momo is especially cute with her “White is feeling a little blue” (or something like that) line. This whole MC is pure kitsch. I adore it, really. Maasa continuously cursing, Kanna and Maasa as the leaders, Airi being Airi…

Stand outs: That bat-monster thing. What IS it?

27. Warera! Berryz Kamen & C-utie Ranger. Maasa’s “big” solo is my new god, Kanna and Chisato should’ve gotten lines (especially Kanna, I mean, she’s the “leader”), and Captain is still incredibly managing to remind me of Yossy.

28. What a cute MC, damn this review is getting WAY too long! I’m just going to include the rest of the concert here: I can’t believe they ended with Sakura Chirari. What’s the point? It’s not energetic like Yujou Junjou, it’s not touching or inspiring like JUMP. It’s just… blah, although having Ganbacchae (the song that started it all!) as the ending background music was sweet and nostalgic. In all, this is one of the finest H!P concerts I’ve seen since becoming a fan.

Stand outs for the whole concert: In my mind, this concert was a great one for Captain especially. If she keeps this awesomeness up, she’ll be moving way up in my member rankings.

SO in the end, Berryz Kamen and C-utie Ranger teamed up and defeated their creepy bat-thing enemy. But in the end, we all know what the REAL enemy here was: