An Announcement (because I like to keep things exciting)

April 21, 2011

*This is the part of the post where I talk at length in an entertaining and/or thought-provoking way. If you are the kind of person who relied on SparkNotes in school, you may want to skip to the end of this post, where there will be a shortened explanation of what your more ambitious peers have decided to read. Be warned: You may come to regret your decision next class…

I have gone through many different phases during my five years as a Hello! Project fan. When I first stumbled across a H!P PV (Berryz Koubou’s Waracchaou yo Boyfriend), I threw myself into a rush to absorb general knowledge- who was whom, which group sang which songs, and basic H!P History. A little while later, I began to treat my love of H!P as more of a hobby. I absorbed all of the specific information that was readily available, concerning myself with height in centimeters, favorite flowers, and obscure groups like Sheki-Doll. The next phase of my journey as a fan came swiftly on the heels of the last as I realized that facts just weren’t enough anymore. I wanted to contribute more to the English-language H!P community. Around that time I began to read blogs, and the next phase of my fandom began as I made the decision to start my own blog. Since then, much like any fan, my interest in H!P has fluctuated. Currently my love for all things UFA is stronger than ever.

Throughout my journey as a H!P fan, my love for a certain group has acted as the proverbial canary in the coal mine, both preempting my general feelings toward the rest of H!P and often providing the catalyst to my move to the next stage in my fandom. It may not surprise the longtime readers of this blog (I like to flatter myself that I have a few of those) that the group in question is Berryz Koubou.

As my first H!P group, my relationship with Berryz has always been on a somewhat different level than my relationship with the rest of H!P. Even when my favorite Idol was from a different group, I held Berryz Koubou in high esteem. They weren’t my favorite group. They weren’t the most interesting group or the group with the best songs. But that didn’t matter. They were My Group. So it is fitting that My Group, the first H!P group that I encountered, will also be the first Idol group that I’ll see performing live.

When the announcement was made that Berryz Koubou would be performing at Sakura-con in Seattle, I was glad in a distant sort of way. I felt proud of My Group for getting the chance to perform overseas, even if it was at as niche a venue as an anime convention is. I didn’t think about going myself: I live on the other side of the country, and I’m a student saving up for college next year. But events conspired, and suddenly I had both the ability and the conviction to to get myself to Sakura-con.  I bought my plane ticket a few weeks ago, and Thursday morning I’ll be boarding a plane at the tiny Burlington International Airport. In just three days I’ll be seeing My Group, live, in person.

To express the excitement being able to see Berryz is bringing me is difficult. After five years of loving H!P from afar, separated by miles upon miles of ocean, it seems unreal that in a few hours I’ll be seeing Captain and the rest in person, separated by at most a few feet.

I’m planning on bringing my mother’s netbook with me to Sakura-con. Each night I’ll write some form of report on the day’s events. The report could simply be a brief summing up, to be expanded on later (I suspect that I’ll be emotionally drained by the time I have free time to write). For those of you who aren’t able to attend Sakura-con personally, I’ll try to write the posts with as much specific detail as possible. Please check back here over the next few days to catch my posts!

* I’m going to go see Berryz Koubou at Sakura-con in two days, and they’re My Group, and I LOVE them, and this is VERY exciting for me, and this will be the first H!P performance I’ll see live. Now good luck on the test next class, Mr. SparkNotes.


Where I stand on: AKB48

October 3, 2010

Alternative Title:  The Opinions of the Under-informed.

Because I am chiefly a H!P fan, this blog is very Hello! Project-centric, but at its inception, I intended it to have a broader subject matter. I don’t mind mostly talking about H!P, of course, but in the next few posts, I’d like to take the time to cover a few things that I rarely take the time to mention in this blog, a sort of  “This is Aoi♥Usagi’s Official Stance on ______.” I will try to go beyond mere opinion and provide a bit of analysis, because I don’t like my posts to be too self-indulgent. 😉

To kick this series off, I’ll start with one of the things that I do mention from time to time: AKB48.

The Quick Facts:

Favorite Member: Miyzawa Sae

Favorite Song: Namida Uri no Shoujo

Favorite Single: Oogoe Diamond, Sakura Shiori

Favorite Subunit: I still love Chocolove!

Least Favorite Member: None

First off: I don’t consider myself a fan of AKB48. In my mind, a fan is someone who goes above and beyond casual interest in a group.  I have about 30 AKB48 songs on my Ipod, watch their new PVs, can name a few members, and keep up with new happenings in their world. But I can’t name all of the girls, don’t actively search out information on them, and haven’t sat down and watched a full stage since K4. So while I certainly don’t dislike AKB48, I’m far from being a fan.

As a fan of Hello! Project, I feel as though my thoughts and wants, and those of the general H!P community, are represented and understood by those in power. Tsunku has said many times that he reads online forums. If a feeling is expressed strongly enough in the H!P fan community, we do see our desires granted. Case in point, the decision to scrap Koi wa Hassou as the 28th single in favor of Chokkan 2. The fan reaction to Koi as Hassou was less than enthusiastic, and we were heard. Although it’s not confirmed, a similar thing may have happened with MM’s upcoming 44th single, as well.

The relationship between H!P fans and the higher ups in H!P feels established. We may not get everything we want, but our whims are generally respected. There is mutual dependence, and the relationship thus feels comfortable and solid.

(He may be the most ridiculous man alive, but at least he respects us)

The feeling I get from AKB48 is entirely different. Despite the fact that AKB fans are given a much more direct chance to affect the future of their Idols (through Senbatsu), the transient nature of that chance doesn’t give the same feeling of safety and stability as does the power relationship within H!P. With every new single or election, fans risk having their established opinions ignored. The most recent example of that is, of course, the Yuko/Acchan struggle. Fans made it pretty clear that Yuko was the girl they wanted to see as AKB’s Number 1 (she had about 600 more votes than Acchan in the Heavy Rotation senbatsu). But when the next single came around, that desire was ignored, and Atsuko was right back in the center.

This relationship is further complicated by the desires of casual fans.  Now, H!P obviously doesn’t have as many casual fans as AKB48 does. If they did, H!P’s sales wouldn’t be so dismal. But despite that, the lack of many  casual H!P fans means that the wota, those who have dedicated their love to their Idols, have a greater say in the girls’ futures. As far as AKB48, those who are really devoted to their Idols seem to be drowned out by the money-paying masses. So a H!P fan can sit back on his or her laurels, knowing that what they want will be heard, whereas an AKB fan has to worry and worry about whether or not their voice matters.

However, there is one huge positive for AKB48: Change.

I’ll say it: H!P is been fairly stagnant musically and in terms of members.  That has a huge effect on the sales of merchandise. I’m not saying that this stagnation is the sole reason that H!P’s sales aren’t what the once were, but I do think that it’s a major factor. Dedicated fans tend to dislike change. They don’t want to see their Number 1 fall from favor or, Gaki forbid, graduate. That desire is respected, and the fans feel safe. But nothing changes, and the casual public becomes bored.

The lack of safety in AKB48 means that no such stagnation is permitted, or indeed possible. The public won’t tire of AKB48 as long as those in charge of the group keep changing things up, and turning the desires of the casual fans into shocking new ideas (see my last post).

Lastly, what of the supposition that, as a H!P fan, I must automatically be an AKBhater?

Well, that’s just silly, isn’t it? 🙂


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.


“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.


I don’t know what this is, but I’m smelling fresh-cooked eggs.

June 9, 2008

A link to a new (?) website appeared on the official H!P site today, and it appears to feature the H!P Eggs. For those of you who don’t desire to toddle off to the official site, here’s the link to the aforementioned new site:

http://www.helloproject.com/akasaka/

So, my computer can’t read any kind of characters (including Japanese), so I’ve no way of reading this and guessing what it’s about, but I see pages that seem to have concert information, and there’s a page with profiles of each of the eggs and also another with what appears to be a blog. Anyone want to confirm/deny this? I’m making a big fuss about it, but it’s probably nothing… probably just an advert site for their newest concert.

And, because this post is looking rather bare, here are a few ramblings on the Eggies:

Fukuda Kanon. Does she have any fans out there, like, on the Mano Erina level? Seriously, how have you guys not discovered her yet? She’s freaking adorable, and a good performer to boot.

One of my favorites eggs. I saw Yuri in Narihajimeta koi no Bell and finally understood why that song is titled “The bells of love begin to ring.”

Sekine Azusa. i don’t know anything about this girl, but c’mon. The size of her head makes Miya look normal! And she’s so skinny… watching her on stage, it’s kind of like someone took a melon and stuck it onto a toothpick and told it to dance. Although if you cover up her impressive forehead, she’s rather cute. I’m sure she has some forehead loving fans out there, pining for her massive brow.

I wonder how they’d do wota chants for that?

L-O-V-E, LOVELY FOREHEAD!


Because I’m un-creative: TLS blogger survey.

May 18, 2008

I haven’t had the mental power to come up with a worthwhile post lately, but I’ve rather wanted to take this survey… so, here it is.

Goals:Goal

  • Why do you blog? At first, I just really wanted to have a place to talk about Idols with other people who felt as strongly about them as I did. Then I started reading some other people’s blogs (most notably Shanimuni Paradise, Yossha Yossha yossha and Hello!Blog, all of which are linked in the sidebar) and decided that what i really wanted was to voice my opinions and have discussions with people like these.
  • What long-term goals do you hope to accomplish, if any at all? I don’t really blog to accomplish anything. I just… do it to be heard.
  • Where does your blog fail to meet your goals? I have trouble stating what I mean to say concisely. And, of course, I rarely come up with anything original to say…
  • If you do have goals, what will accomplishing them do for yourself? My goals don’t have much to do with my blog…
  • What do you want to gain out of blogging? A creative outlet? Praise from others? Personal satisfaction? Money? No money, sadly, and even if I earned any, it’d go right to H!P merchandise… it is something of a creative outlet for me, because Idols leak into my everyday conversations enough as it is. Praise from others is always an added bonus…
  • Do you feel that your blog should meet a requirement for amount of entries? Do you feel any particular entry should be a certain length? No, that’s a limiting and rather silly thought!~
  • For any particular entry, what motivates you to start and finish blog posts? I start a post because an idea or feeling takes a hold of me and I need to get it out! Finishing is something different entirely. I rarely finish my posts.
  • Do you actively consider long term goals for each individual post? Only if they’re in-depth thought posts.

Subject Material:V-u-den

  • What do you blog about? Asian music. Mainly H!P.
  • Would you be keeping a blog even if it wasn’t about the subjects you tend to cover? …no?
  • Do you write about the material to promote it to others? Sometimes. I don’t tell people to go out and buy something, but I’m not above asking people to give something a listen!

Readership:

  • How much do you care about readership? I’m very grateful that people stop and read my blog. The idea that my words are being read and thought about by others keeps me going!
  • Does it satisfy you to know people are reading, even if they don’t comment? Yes!~ Very much so. Comments are nice, because they offer a different perspective on what I wrote, but just seeing that people visit my blog is enough.
  • What effect does receiving a comment have on you? It makes me a little embarassed, but also very happy.
  • Do you write with a particular audience in mind or an unspecified general audience? Why? I don’t do so… I write for myself.
  • If you write for a particular audience, is it International Wota? If yes, why? At first i was, because it was my goal to have the people at IW notice my blog. When that occured within my second post, I was almost speechless.

Community: (The International Wota section)

  • If International Wota didn’t exist, would you blog? I started blogging after seeing all the blogs on IW, so if it never existed, then no. But if it were to cease existing, then yes, I would.
  • When IW covers an entry of yours, are you encouraged to blog more or less? More! I love seeing what they say about my posts.
  • When IW does not cover an entry, are you encouraged to blog more or less? More. It makes me feel like I need to improve.
  • How often do you read other blogs? Every day! Even more than writing in this blog, I enjoy reading what others say.
  • How often do you comment on other blogs? At least once a week, but not often.
  • If another blog covers a topic that you wanted or wished to cover, do you still blog about that specific topic? Why or why not? I do! Blogging is all about getting out different opinions on the same or a similar topic.

Commitment:

  • How serious is your attitude towards blogging? Do you consider it just as something to do for fun? It’s both serious and fun. I do it for fun, but because other people are reading what I write, I have to put effort into my posts to be respectful of my readers.
  • How often do you blog? How often would you like to blog? I blog at my own pace. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow. Generally it’s slow… but that’s not so bad!
  • What priorities do you or have you put aside in order to blog? Why? School. I never do homework at home, anyways… blogging is just another thing that I do instead of that (well, I’m doing homework right now…).
  • Do you see yourself blogging in 6 months? Why or why not? Of course. In 6 months, new singles will be out, new scandals, new groups… I want to blog about it all!

Personal:

  • Would you say you blog for yourself? I do, but at the same time, I ensure that I’m not overly offensive to someone who might be reading, and I try to make what I write interesting.
  • What is your feeling after posting an entry? Is it relative to the time and effort you put in an entry? I feel a little nervous, since I’m putting my opinions out there for others to judge.
  • What needs does blogging fulfill? The need to talk about Asian music!
  • Do you consider yourself a writer? Yes, I love to write anything and everything… except this stupid speech for history class.
  • Do you consider yourself good at writing? Good at blogging? I’m good at writing in that I can make up words about any topic and sound like I know exactly what to say. I’m as good a blogger as I can be right now.
  • How much of your personal life do you share on your blog? If none, why do you leave this out? I’ve no real reason to share personal life here, right? You all care more about Takahashi Ai in a bikini than what I had for breakfast this morning, right (French toast and strawberries, thank you very much)?

Konno is Bou?!

February 17, 2008

I was recently looking at some pictures of Konno Asami while listening to Antic Cafe’s wonderful new single, Cherry Saku Yuuki. I can’t listen to anything of Antic Cafe’s without thinking about their wonderful and adorable former guitarist, Bou (he recently left the group for unspecified reasons). So as I sat there, looking at Konno and thinking about Bou, the two just sort of… collided in my mind. Suddenly, all I could think was how similar in looks and, to an extent, character, the two were. Then I wondered, could the reason I like Konkon so much be because she subconsciously reminds me of Bou? After all, I had been a fan of Bou’s for quite a while before even hearing about h!p. And Konno isn’t normally the type of h!p girl I like- she’s super cute, has a voice that isn’t the conventional “good” voice, and her personality is more girly and cute than the cooler roles I normally like.

Could it be that I can thank Bou for helping me to like Konno?

kon-kon-is-bou-bou-is-kon-kon.jpgboukonkon20.jpg

kon-kon-is-bou2.jpgbouschoolgirl2.jpg

Perhaps I’m just crazy, but I do think that there’s something of a resemblance between the two (or maybe it’s just because they have all the same poses?).

2005_nyara2.jpgboukonno.jpg

PS: Bou is 100% male. Well, at least 80%. And, because I love it so much and want you all to love it, too, here is a link to Antic Cafe’s newest single/pv : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVb3o6W8Aa4