Feb 11 2013
I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I wanted to offer some thoughts on the newest addition to the Hello! Project lineup. After all, it’s not every day a new (non-temporary) group or soloist gets added to h!p. The last time this happened was the formation of S/mileage in April 2009. I guess with Mano Erina graduating very soon, there is an open slot on the roster.
Here is the video of the announcement. You can get a good look at the members:
It was said that the members of this group might change before their debut. Well, they said the same thing to pre-debut S/mileage, but their membership wasn’t changed. It could be an empty threat to motivate the girls to work harder, or maybe they actually intend to switch things up this time. I would hope that if there is a change it’s to add a girl or two rather than kicking someone out, because that seems rather cruel, but who knows? There are some girls whom I would have expected to be chosen who were passed over, particularly the girls who were picked to be on the cover of the “Kanjou ni Naritai!” single (Tanabe Nanami, Hamaura Ayano, and Taguchi Natsumi). I’m especially surprised that Nanami hasn’t been included. She’s the second most popular egg after Karin and one of most senior members. Ayano has been given a big push with her inclusion in the Morning Musume 11th gen audition and prominent positions in the trainee concerts. I strongly suspect that she is going to be 3rd gen S/mileage, and if that is indeed the plan it would explain why she isn’t in this group. There has been some speculation about Kaneko Rie, the longest tenured current egg, but honestly, I just don’t see Rie ever getting a major debut in h!p. To me, she lacks the necessary charisma/ talent.
Anyway, since most of the Eggs are relatively unknown, let’s look at the members who were chosen.
Miyamoto Karin 14yrs- Karin is without a doubt the best known and most popular current H!p trainee. Absolutely adorable of face, strong in singing and dancing, Shin-minimoni member, and with theater and voice-acting experience, when she was announced as a member of this group the fandom gave a collective shout of “FINALLY!” Thank God they’re not letting her go to waste. I expect her to be the “face” of the group. You can watch Karin performing with Shin Minimoni HERE. She’s the one in the long coat.
Takagi Sayuki 15yrs- So, Sayuki is a strong singer, probably the best in the eggs. The thing is… how do I put this nicely?…She’s kind of funny looking. Sort of ugly-cute. Like a troll doll! I mean, sometimes she looks cute and sometimes she looks like an old lady. But like I said, lots of vocal talent, so she should be an asset. You can see her dancing as part of “Team Okai” HERE (light green, Ikuta Erina position, Karin is also here in Kanon’s spot)
Kanazawa Tomoko 17yrs- Only added to the trainees a couple months ago, so I don’t know much about her. I can say that if she’s being added to a new group this soon after joining, the powers that be must have seen something very special in her. You can see her introduce herself HERE at 1:16.
Miyazaki Yuka 18 yrs- Yuka caught many people’s attention during the S/mileage auditions with her charming demeanor and puppy-dog face (I mean that in the best way possible, it’s the same “look” as Konno Asami, and I don’t know how else to describe it). It was pretty clear that she wasn’t a good fit for S/mileage, but she was later picked as an Up Front Trainee and added to h!p Satoyama group “Green Fields”. I’m glad to see her joining H!p proper now. She had too much idol potential to let her slip away to some other group. You can watch Green Field’s PV HERE.
Otsuka Aina 14 yrs- Aina was a finalist in Morning Musume’s 9th generation audition. While I agree that she wasn’t ready to join Morning Musume at that time, her tenure in the Eggs has done her a lot of good. She’s not only become a much better performer, she’s become cuter too! Her voice is sounding quite strong these days, and I’m happy she was selected for this group. You can see Aina performing HERE at 2:00 with Hamaura Ayano and Morning Musume 11th gen member Oda Sakura. Aina is the one standing in the middle.
Uemura Akari 14 yrs- I’ll admit that Akari has really been flying under the radar for me so far. She joined h!p a little under a year ago, and she really hasn’t been pushed or featured at all within the kenshuusei, so I was kind of surprised to see her added to this group. I have no idea how well she performs, but she is rather pretty which is a very helpful trait in the idol world.
I’m very interested to see what direction the as of yet unnamed group will take. Though many of them are pretty young, looking at these members, I don’t see them going the cutsey/humorous route of S/mileage. I’m really looking forward to watching this group develop and find their niche in Hello! Project.
*I know the trainees are called “Kenshuusei” instead of “Eggs” now, but I still like to call them eggs.