Wow…. I mean, I’m shocked, but I guess these rushed-feeling auditions make a lot more sense now. I said in a previous blog post that auditions probably mean graduations, but I didn’t expect it to be this soon.
It really seems that she may not be leaving on very good terms. It’s pretty clear that the agency didn’t want her to leave, but she forced the issue. For example, Tsunku’s statement:
“Also, she is still an immature student.
A working adult would understand that abandoning work half way is an inexcusable act,”
So he basically says that what she’s doing is “inexcusable” but to please forgive her because she’s too young to understand responsibility. Also, the fact that she is leaving in just a few days, without any kind of graduation ceremony or send-off. Only girls who leave with h!p’s blessing get a graduation concert. Honestly, this is probably a very bad time in S/mileage’s development to lose a member, especially their strongest singer, so it’s understandable why they don’t want her to leave right now. I imagine it feels like they’ve invested so much into Saki, years of training and grooming, and done all this promotion and work leading up to S/mileage’s debut and their first year, and NOW just as they’re really starting to take off she decides to quit. On the other hand, Saki is young (14) and she joined h!p at the tender age of 7. Seems that a lot of important decisions about her life have been made for her, and now maybe she wants to take back control.
I mostly feel bad for the other members. I wonder if they only just found out too? It’s pretty clear that the other girls didn’t know at the time they announced the auditions, since they were all saying things like “But I want it to stay just the four of us!” They must be so sad!
Hey all. Something a little bit different today: my top 12 anime themes! But since that doesn’t have much to do with h!p, let’s do some mini-reviews first.
Aa, Yoru ga Akeru: Pfffffffffffft. Berryz songs are all starting to sound alike since they decided to go with this new “sexy” angle. I miss the Berryz from 2005- early 2010.
Sekaiichi Happy na Onnanoko: It’s starting to grow on me. The PV is pretty cute. However, the dance is the stupidest thing I’ve seen out of h!p for a long time, and “Kiss me Aishiteru” and “Momoiro Sparkling” are both better songs.
“Paretenza” and “Natsu Dakara”: Buono is back! Natsu Dakara is a great summer song, and I’m impressed with the singing skills. There are some good tracks on the album too. I especially like “San Bun no Ichi no Junjou na Kanjou”. Yeah, I know it’s a cover, but it’s the first time hearing it for me, and I like how they used their deeper voices.
Also, have I mentioned that I love “Uchuoten Love”? Because I do.
Now, on the topic of anime themes:
I think it’s very interesting that in Japan, themes for TV shows are usually real songs by real artists. I think most established acts in America would never stoop to doing a TV theme, but in Japan, the biggest artists do songs for TV shows all the time, and they top the sales charts. For this reason, you can find some real quality songs attached to animes.
I have to admit, I’ve put together a pretty eclectic list. There are old songs, new songs, cute songs from girly anime, and epic songs from violent anime. Now, I don’t claim to be an anime expert. In fact, I haven’t even watched the shows several of these songs come from. I just found a cool song and later learned it came from an anime.
Oh, and I limited myself to just 1 h!P song, because otherwise the list would be overrun with Shugo Chara and Inuzama 11 songs.
12. Sousei no Aquarion, Genesis of Aquarion: A pretty popular karaoke song in Japan. I actually first heard it on a game of Taiko no Tatsujin
11. Yuzurenai Negai, Magic Knight Rayearth: Ah memories of middle school. I taught myself how to play this on piano. People would ask me “what’s that pretty song?” but I wouldn’t admit what it was
10. Cha-La Head-Cha-La, Dragon Ball Z: THE classic anime theme. Japanese law stipulates that it’s got to show up on lists like this.
9. Life is Like a Boat, Bleach: Don’t really care for Bleach, but I love Rie Fu’s voice. A really simple, but beautiful (and bilingual) song.
8. Kesenai Tsumi, Full Metal Alchemist: FMA just has too many great songs to choose from!
7. Blue Bird, Naruto: This was playing everywhere my first year in Japan! Another one where I know the song but not the series.
6. Sekai Wo, Death Note: My favorite anime series. I never skipped through this opening, because the song’s so cool with the animation!
5. New Future, Full Moon wo Sagashite: Okay, so it was only used as the ending for the final episode, but that still counts as an ending theme! All of the “changin’ my life” songs from this series are really great, but this one’s my favorite. (Ever heard of this show? It’s a cute little anime about a girl who wants to be a singer so she can reach the guy she loves (who moved to America when they were little). Magical transformations! Sappy messages about never giving up on your dream! Oh, and also she’s dying of throat cancer, her parents are dead, and the guy she loves is actually dead too but she doesn’t find that out until later. Odd show)
4. Rottara Rottara, Shugo Chara: Had to get at least 1 h!p song in there. This is my favorite Buono song.
3. Asu e no Brilliant Road, Uchuu no Stellvia: I was able to see Angela perform live a couple years ago, and I fell in love with this song. It’s very unique, don’t you think?
2. Melissa, Full Metal Alchemist: So…catchy! Now it’ll be stuck in my head all day.
1. Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis, Neon Genesis Evangelion: I have a love-hate relationship with Evangelion, but a love-love relationship with this anime theme classic.
And the surprise at the end? Just try and tell me you weren’t tempted to start singing along.
Having closely watched the S/mileage auditions, I was very excited to find out the results today. Still, a part of me feels like, with regards to S/mileage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I mean, they’ve just released their best selling single ever, outselling the first weeks of all but a couple Berryz and C-ute songs, and their chemistry as a group is really strong. On the other hand, S/mileage is a group with a very “youthful” image, and it may be that instead of letting their image mature, like Berryz, Tsunku wants the members of the group to remain young. I hate to say it, but where there’s auditions, there’s probably also graduations. Something tells me that the current S/mileage members don’t have more than 2-3 years left in the group, maybe a bit longer for Saki since she’s older.
Anyway, that unpleasantness aside let’s take a look at the new sort-of members!
Her singing and dancing are both polished and debut-ready. Maybe a bit weaker than the other two eggs, but certainly head and shoulders above the non-egg finalists. Of the three eggs who auditioned, I didn’t really expect her to make it, but she seems like a really sweet girl, and I’m glad she did. One of her eyes is shaped differently than the other, but I still think she’s cute.
6 kanji in her name! 6! Anyway, Fuyuka has a unique look, and apparently she’s smart? I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about her that makes her stand out, and I think the audition judges saw that. Her dancing was good, singing… not so much. Her voice is pretty nasally, but having a bad voice never stopped Dawa I guess. There’s enough good singers in the group to cover for her.
Also known as the cute little girl from the Shugo Chara musical. Tamura brings lots of spunk, S/mileage-worthy personality, and energetic on-point dancing. She’s also adorable, though her teeth need some help. Then there’s her voice. It’s strong. I mean, she really knows how to project. It’s even in tune, but it’s really really super high pitched. Like Momoko on helium. I don’t know if she’ll grow out of that. Honestly, it’s not a huge problem for me though. Her voice fits with S/mileage, and I might even kind of like it!
I was absolutely shocked that this girl got in. Out of everyone at the audition, I felt like she stood out the least. I mean, she wasn’t terrible at anything, but she wasn’t very good at anything either. She was just kind of… there. I suppose she’ll be trainable and her dancing and singing will improve, and she’s not bad-looking, but I really feel that some time as an Egg would have been the better option for Kana. Not sure there’s really anything special about this one, but I hope she proves me wrong!
Take-chan! She was my first choice for S/mileage. Excellent dancer, and a good singer too! She first impressed me in Shin Minimoni. Interesting fact, Takeuchi joined the Eggs in the same group (of three girls) as Fukumura Mizuki. Anyway, I’m really happy for Akari, and I know she’ll be great in S/mileage. What I’m not happy about is that they gave her Fukuda Kanon’s old haircut from when S/mileage debuted. I HATE that haircut! (I used an old picture here just because I can’t stand it).
A couple fan-favorites from the audition were notably absent from the winners circle. First, Miyazaki Yuka, the girl who perpetually looked like she was going to cry. She reminded me of a cute puppy, and she just seemed so… earnest. I can see why she didn’t get in though. Too tall and probably too old (17) for being a new S/mileage member. I could really see a place for her in Morning Musume though, so it’s be interesting if she tried out for 10th gen. If h!p really lets her go, don’t be surprised if she turns up in an AKB group sometime soon.
Also absent, Miyamoto Karin, leading to much speculation that she will be added to Morning Musume 10th gen for sure. That wouldn’t surprise me one bit, but whatever happens, it’s clear that the reason Karin wasn’t chosen for S/mileage isn’t that she’s not talented or cute enough, because she has HEAPS of talent and cute. I’m not too worried, because I have no doubt that h!p has a plan for her. You don’t get natural star-power like that every day.
Another interesting point is how they are handling the new girls. Instead of becoming full-fledged members, they will be sub-members until after S/mileage’s tour in October at which point Tsunku will decide what to do with them. They could become full members, remain sub members, become eggs, or be dropped from h!p entirely. It’s like these next few months are still one long audition for them! I wonder if Tsunku will really follow through with this plan, because it’s going to be absolutely heart-breaking for any girl who doesn’t make it into the group. It’s an interesting idea though. I guess they want to be really sure they’re picking the right girl before they commit to her.
Well, I for one am looking forward to S/mileage’s next single and seeing all the newbies in action.
PS. Does anyone think the new gimmick of showing live audition footage, the surprise concert announcements, and the sub-members being “sort of part of the group and sort of not and having to prove themselves” thing is a little…AKBesque?