Land of Sayumi doll

October 23, 2011

Sayumi’s new PB, Sayumilandoll, is due to come out soon, and recently a few preview images have been made available in order to tempt our little wota hearts. I’m a huge fan of Sayumi, and her photobooks are always gorgeous, so of course I was pleased to hear about the previews. I was expecting Sayumilandoll to be somewhat typical H!P fare- Sayu standing around looking sexy in a bikini, looking forlorn in casual clothes, posing in the middle of the woods in improbably fancy dresses, and the like. I would have been perfectly happy with all of that- heck, I’m happy to see Sayumi’s blurry, overexposed blog photos. But on seeing the previews today, I’m pleasantly surprised. These images are so fun, so different from most H!P photobooks.

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This first picture reminds me a bit of synchronized swimming outfits.g

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Sayumi, the idol with a flamingo growing from her head.

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These are two of my favorites from among the preview images. And honestly, they don’t differ too radically from the usual formula H!P uses in its photobooks. Sayumi is still posing in a generally skimpy outfit, making a fairly straightforward expression. What sets these apart is their use of an interesting set and/or unusual make-up (and wigs). The soft whites of the first image set off Sayumi’s natural beauty, with the wig serving as the real kicker. We’re so used to seeing our Sayumi with black hair that the wig casts Sayu in a whole new light; we can’t just gloss over the picture and go on to the next one, because it is so unusual. Our brains can’t quite take in what our eyes are seeing. In the second picture, the theme is one we’re much more familiar with. What’s jarring about this one is the barrage of bright colors- the candy pink of the balloons (echoed in Sayumi’s liptsick), the lilac power puff, and especially the bright headband against Sayu’s dark hair. It’s almost so much that you don’t notice the inexplicable flamingo head in the background. It’s so different from the usual muted, romantic colors of a Hello! Project photobook.

A lot of people seem put off by these previews. The general consensus is that the images are too weird, too artificial, too out of the ordinary.

Excuse me? Hasn’t everyone also been upset over how “stagnant” Hello!Project has been lately? Anyone who thinks that a couple of wigs and some cosplay is too strange and daring by H!P standards needs to sit down and think for a moment about what they’re expecting from their idols. The fact that this photobook is so different is what makes it great.

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But where are her knees…?

One thing that really struck me with this PB was that it can appeal to a wider range of people than most H!P releases. The stand Hello! Project photobook is designed to give the owner of the book a feeling of closeness with the idol. It’s a way of carrying on the virtual girlfriend aspect of female Idols. Many PBs come close to mimicking a private photo albums- making the viewer feel like they’re looking back on a cherished summer vacation to Guam with his pretty girlfriend, or a few private moments in a rented cabin with his significant other. Those kinds of PBs appeal to wota more than any other demographic. True, a casual fan might still pick up a book full of Sayumi gazing languorously at the camera while lolling about on the floor,  but for the most part Hello! Project PBs are made for the wota almost exclusively.

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If you were a boy-obsessed 14  year old girl, would you really care about a romantic date in a field with Sayumi?

Sayumilandoll doesn’t bother with any of that stuff. Sayu becomes a strange, unknown creature, beautiful and fashionable and over the top. There’s nothing romantic and comforting about any of these images. While that may seem to make the PB less appealing, I don’t think so. Casual fans can pick the book up because Sayumi looks gorgeous. Stylish girls can pick it up because she’s fashionable and her make-up is done in a striking, modern way. Anime fans might buy it on seeing the Lum-like cover outfit, and of course the wota will buy it because, well, it’s Sayumi.

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I don’t want to read too much into one release, but seeing this makes me very excited about the future of Momusu with Sayumi as a front-girl. She’s a strong, interesting character; gorgeous, and relevant to more than just the wota demographic. In a way, Sayumi is one of the few Momusu members who can really pull something like this off. She’s one of the more universally visible members with her constant appearances on TV shows, and she’s appeared quite a few times in alternative fashion magazines (Kera especially has hosted Sayumi before). If it were Niigaki or Aika posing in a fluffy white floral headpiece, I might be among those people crying out that this release seems off. But because it’s Sayumi, I can accept it. And with Sayumi trying new things, it might be that we’ll start to see the other H!P members shake things up a bit, too- and if they do, it won’t feel as strange now that Sayumi’s lead the way.


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!

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?


Well then!

August 8, 2010

This past weekend I babysat for my adviser, taking care of his four (count ’em! Four!) grandchildren, all aged 4 or under. Every night I was too exhausted from running after naked toddlers or finding blankies to do anything other than fall into bed. As a result, I hadn’t checked for news from the Wonderful World of J-pop for three days. I logged on today, my final day of caring for the Little Monsters, not expecting to find much news.

I went to Hello!Online. Saw the same boring post about the MM girls’ lucky numbers. Whatever. Nothing new–

Oh, wait, what’s that over on the twitter feed? Hm, can’t be anything too major…

What?

WHAT?

WHAT?!

You know how older people always remember where they were when World War II ended or man landed on the Moon? I think I’m going to be the crazy old person who remembers literally falling off of her chair when she read that three members, including her first and second favorites, would be graduating from Morning Musume.

Man…

I’ve always suspected that Kamei might be the next one to graduate, but I can’t understand the way that the Pandas were tacked on. To be honest, this reminds me of when Makoto graduated- instead of being given a real graduation concert, she “shared” Konno’s. It hardly seems fair to the girl or to the fans. Let’s hope that when it comes time for them to graduate, each girl is truly honored.

I’m feeling kind of numb about this right now. The thing that scares me the most is, of course, Lin’s future. When she was in Morning Musume, I knew that she was secure. Even more than that, I had some “guidance” when it came to being a fan of hers. I know about Japan. I feel familiar with it from having spent so much time learning about its culture. I know how to be a H!P fan, where to go to find translations of Lin’s videos, where to find pictures of her, who to talk to to find out more about her. The idea that Lin is going back to China to do who knows what is scary for me as a fan. I’m afraid of not being able to be a fan of Lin as a member of H!P, because I’m not sure how to be a fan in any other way.

It’s just frightening. I always thought that Lin would be in Momusu for at least another year. If she had just stayed for another year, I could have gone to see her in Japan.

I’m sorry that this post isn’t very coherent. I’m just not sure what to feel yet.

I just always thought that I’d have the chance to get to see her.

A quick edit because someone asked me to comment a little more on my feelings about the other two:

Like I mentioned above, I thought that Kamei might be the one to go after Koharu. There was a rumor going around a while back that she would announce her graduation, and even though it ended up being just that, a rumor, I have always felt that there must have been some grain of truth in it. I adore Kamei, but I think she’s reached her peak within the group. She couldn’t possibly become any sexier, funnier, more talented. She needs to leave in order to grow. I think that her presence in the entertainment industry hasn’t ended. My guess is that after taking care of her health, we’ll see her again. Momusu will be a less gorgeous group without her.

As for Junjun, my thoughts of her are drowned out by my cares for the other two. She started out as a favorite of mine, but I eventually lost interest. Still, she’s a sweet girl with a pleasantly combative personality. I’d have liked to see her stay longer if only because she was so feisty. Plus, of course, she’s entrancingly pretty.


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).


“That sucks!”

June 23, 2008

Every job has its occupational hazards. My tennis instructor used to dream about being beaten by tennis rackets. Teachers probably DREAD being stuck teaching summer school. But what does this have to do with H!P, you wonder? Girls within H!P are all happy and eternally joyous, right? Wrong. There have to be some things that suck about being within H!P, and, dammit, I’m going to figure them out and type them up for your perusal! And before you ask, yes, this post was inspired by this clip.

(By the way, while some of these are serious, most aren’t.)

10.) Tsunku.

No matter how you look at it, this guy is creepy. And, my friends, this scary dude is the one making most of the decisions in your immediate future. How can a man who can’t even responsibly pick a hair color that matches his eyebrows decide the future of your entire group? (Answer: he can’t) And then he decides to go put out versions of your singles that utterly ruin the songs for the fans…

9.) Scandals.

They just never work out in your favor. Unless you’re Yajima Maimi, because MeguKami’s graduation did her a world of good.

8.) Fan-made “curses.”

There are quite a lot of these, and while they might not exactly have a direct effect on you if you’re a H!P member, it must get pretty annoying how a fan’ll make a curse out of ANYTHING these days. And I mean anything. For example, we have the rather famous and seemingly legit Love Machine curse, as well as the more far-fetched Sexy Otona-jan, Aruiteru and W curses.

Most of these, with the Love Machine curse being the obvious exception, are complete and utter tomfoolery (Yes, I said tomfoolery) despite how entertaining they are. In fact, to show just how easy it is to make up a curse if you’re a H!P fan, I’ve made one up for you now:

The 4-member Group Curse (Catchy, no?): All groups with four members will be doomed to poor sales, and a very slow/short run of market activity. Let’s examine this more closely, shall we (and seriously, how gorgeous does Kaori look in that picture)?

The four-members groups who have been/are in H!P are: Melon Kinenbi, SI*NA, Tanpopo gens. 2 and 3, T&C Bomber, Athena and Robikerottsu and DEF. DIVA. Melon Kinenbi, T&C Bomber and Athena and Robikerororororoooo all had fairly low sales, especially Athena and Robyblahblah. DEF. DIVA only put out one real single, and SI*NA hasn’t put out anything and is unlikely to in the near future. The third gen of Tanpopo sold poorly and only released one single. EDIT: Thanks to Nozofan, I realize that I’d forgotten Mini Moni. Well, they were doing just fine when Yagu was their leader, but the moment that Takahashi moved in, the sales plummetted. The only exception is thus the 2nd gen of Tanpopo, which did quite well. But I’m going to ignore that, because this is MY curse and I get to say what’s legit or not. Moving on!

7. Exhausting schedules.

This is one of those serious things that must suck about being in H!P. Thanks to the lovely Ishiguro Aya, we know that the girls often get as little as 3 hours of sleep a night. I’m dead if I get any less than 6 hours, so just the idea of getting 3 hours of sleep and then running straight to the next photoshoot/interview/performance is just… terrifying. Someone, I think it was Yoshimi, pointed out the dark circles under the eyes of some of the girls (Ai, Koharu) on the ONSA covers, and she was right. The girls really do look overly tired there. This work-life is partially what pushed Goto out of H!P, as well. Nakazawa Yuko had to graduate from Momusu because she couldn’t physically keep up with the younger girls’ activities. If UFA isn’t careful, they’re going to start losing girls left and right to sheer exhaustion.

6. Eggs.

You never know when one is going to crack.

5. Anyone from Johnny’s.

(Look, one of the three members of Johnny’s that I can recognize! The other two being Golf and Mike.)

Because on the inside you know that at the end of the day, no matter how much sparlkejuice you put in your hair, how many fake gems and human babies plastic flowers you stick to your nails, or how many peace signs you flash, they will still always be girlier than you.

4. Random black dudes who are hired to lip-synch in your PVs.

‘Nuff said.

3. Your group-mates.

Let me expand here. While it’s true that most girls in H!P seem to get along splendidly, there have been those who, on occasion, don’t get along at all (Rika and Miki being prime examples). And when you don’t like someone, being stuck with them day after day, forced to put on a smiling front for the fans, is near torture. Even the best of friends start getting on one another’s nerves if they spend too much time together.

2. The futility.

(Notice that Risako is almost twice the size of Shimizu Saki. That’s just sad.)

In H!P, you’re basically stuck in the same place among fans from the moment you debut. True, there are exceptions (kamei, Gaki), but generally it’s a futile task to try and become more popular within your group if you’re already one of the ones pushed to the back. Is this fair? No, of course not. It leads me to wonder, what would H!P lose if it did start promoting girls more equally? Would it kill the sales if Risako got one less line and ShimiSaki one more? I doubt it.

Which brings us to, finally, the number one worst thing about being a member of H!P:

1. That time of the month…

I’m completely serious here. Most of the members of H!P are 14 or older, and they are all girls, so eventually it’s going to be that time. For you bachelors out there who don’t already know, girls on their period are scary. And if you can imagine dancing around for hours on end, singing your lungs out, and smiling non-stop while all the while your stomach is cramping like crazy and all you want to do is stay in bed with a hot water bottle and bite the head off of anyone who comes near you, you’ll see that this is truly the most awful aspect of being in H!P.


H!P flavored ramblings

March 30, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New group, ho!

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

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

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

(before and after).

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

A snappy title about Mano Erina

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

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

Spawn of Tsunku

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

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

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