This isn’t going to be as long as my normal posts. I wasn’t planning on covering this, because I’m attending a convention this weekend and I don’t really follow Juice=Juice all that much other than following their basic single stuff, but some of the discourse surrounding this announcement made me want to briefly write something.
If you haven’t heard yet by now, Otsuka Aina is leaving the new H!P group Juice=Juice. Chiima of Okay!Musume Time posted a translation from Hello!Online on her blog HERE, but the gist of the announcement is that there were some contract issues, and her family decided Aina wasn’t continuing on.
1. Aina’s parents aren’t the worst parents ever. I know there’s a lot of hyperbole thrown around surrounding this and you probably aren’t really wishing all these bad things upon them. At the same time, I just want to be the person to remind you that there are worse parents out there.
2. I know that graduations suck, especially ones without much notice. H!P’s had issues with that especially with the S/Mileage gradutions and now Aina. However, it’s not personally a decision made against you, it’s a decision made with Aina in mind. You may not agree, but we don’t know all the factors.
3. Being an idol is hard. I know Aina’s been an Egg for a while, but seriously, being an idol is time consuming, wearing on the body, and mentally taxing. While they’ve been easing J=J into it, now that they’re making their major debut I imagine they’re going to try to push these girls harder and harder, and some girls just can’t do it. Not at any fault of their own, but it’s just hard, with not that much financial gain (they don’t make THAT much, especially in relation to Western celebrities), and not much job security. There are a lot of benefits to being an idol, but it’s a lot of work and it’s just flat out difficult, and I don’t blame girls for graduating, even if it’s hard on us fans.
4. Speculation has been that there may be more than meets the eye, and I think that’s fair. I mean, let’s be real, we don’t know everything that goes on. If they were unable to reach an agreement on the contract and it just ran out, that sounds fairly unprofessional on Up-Front’s part. If it’s about money, you pay money for your Egg training, from what I understand, so I doubt that it’s a big financial issue of not making enough. Also, you’d think they’d figure out contracts and things ahead of time, so you can have graduation events and things. With how hasty things have gone, I wouldn’t be surprised if something is behind this.
Not sure my main point, other than just be careful with generalizations, there might be more things at play, and you should think about the idol. That said, I’ll be sad to see Aina go because she was a really great addition to J=J, and I know she had fans who loved her a lot. I wish her the best in the future.
Last week I read the very well done article on Pure Idol Heart about being an idol fan and picking a favorites. If you have yet to read what Paul wrote, look here. It’s well worth a read if you’re at all interested in thinking about the nature of being an idol fan.
Personally, I agree with what Paul writes, in theory at least. I think you should like who you like, despite the predominant idea in idol culture that you should pick an oshimen. Being a DD, someone who likes everyone, is all fine and good, I think. However, I consider myself to be an MD (Minna Daisuki) which means that while I like pretty much every idol in groups I like, that I support one as my oshimen.
However, one reason I pick an oshimen, and this is a bit of a confession to make: I have a hard time following/supporting idol groups without a firm favorite member.
I’m not quite sure why this is the case, but there are some idol groups where I can get behind them as groups, but since there isn’t an idol that stands out to me that much as an individual I just can’t have that group be one of my favorites. This was a problem for me with SKE48, for a while; I had an oshimen in the group I was a fan of, Yagami Kumi (who, for the record, I think is super fantastic), but since she wasn’t at the level of my other 48 oshimen SKE48 became the 48 group I followed least, even though I think they’ve put out really great stuff. However, now that Kuumin is leaving SKE48, I expanded my horizons, and after a couple of missteps (mainly becoming a fan of Ogiso Shiori… who then announced her graduation), I’ve become quite a fan of SKE’s Hata Sawako. So we’ll see if Shawako is enough to make me follow more of SKE48.
This also came into play with Morning Musume. While I have a blog post planned about my on and off again relationship with Hello!Project and Morning Musume in particular, in short I’ve thought about completely quitting Hello!Project for some time now. However, recently my interest in Ishida Ayumi has grown to the point where she’s one of my top current idols. I’m now actively supporting Morning Musume (through merch purchases, mostly; I bought Ayumi’s birthday shirt), and this is entirely because of one girl and the fact I think she’s amazing.
I also think that having an oshimen is helpful in larger groups that have a lot of merch. While Momoiro Clover Z, for example, is really great about having merchandise for Hako Oshi (MomoClo fans who support the whole group), not every group may have that, and it might be easier (and financially more viable) to support one member. For example, for a while I supported the second generation of S/Mileage as a unified whole, and while those are still four of my top five current Hello!Project members (2-5, Ishida Ayumi being #1). However, this made me resistant to getting merchandise because four girls is kind of a lot on my college student budget. However, once I decided on being a Meimi fan, I felt more able to get merch.
The idol industry also supports the whole “you have to pick an oshimen” idea through songs like Team B Oshi, which not only tells you to pick an oshimen, but to support Team B. (Interestingly enough, it also says that changing oshimen, also known as oshihenning, is OK, but only if it’s to that individual girl. Most idol fans look down on someone who oshihens a lot.)
That being said, while having a specific oshimen is important to me liking an idol group, I think the “Minna” part of my Minna Daisuki thing is important, as well. Occasionally I see people who only like one girl and one girl only, disliking almost everyone else. While that’s your choice, it still feels like that would make liking that idol group frustrating and flat out not fun, especially if you’re not a fan of the group.
One thing of note, however, is I think that the oshimen dynamic changes depending on what group you’re supporting. If you’re an AKB48 fan or a fan of those groups, so much rides on the senbatsu election and the Request Hour Setlist Best 100 election, so that not choosing an oshimen would pretty much disqualify you from this part of the AKB48 fandom. Larger groups or popular groups, where there are elections or rivalries within the groups, it’s hard to not have an oshimen because they encourage you to support your particular member of choice. On the other hand, I feel it’s a lot less vital for smaller, indie groups (like the ones mentioned in the Pure Idol Heart article), and that it’s honestly less important to focus on one girl in particular. The biggest factor, though, is the word of “support,” whether that means one particular girl or your favorite group.
Ultimately, though, it is your choice, and regardless of what other people feel you should enjoy idols however you want to. Because really, idols are meant for fun.
Hey; moving my album reviews for Monday, so I can have weekends to work on them.
One of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot is how fortunate I really am to be an idol fan. Earlier today was listening to the two Nerdist podcasts featuring Gabe Newell of the video company Valve (which has made a lot of really high quality games, including the incredible Half-Life 2 of which I’m a big fan). One of the big questions brought up was that since there’s more and more content being provided, how there’s less of a sense of community. Gabe mentioned something that now, with the internet, there’s a lot more ways to find community, and I really took that to heart with idols.
The fact is, without Youtube and other content providers, I wouldn’t be a fan of idols. And before the internet, you almost had to live in Japan, visit Japan or know someone who liked Japanese music. It was a lot more difficult to find content that you like, and now music is more international. I mean, sure it happened before (see: British Invasion), but I’m grateful for the internet.
I also really connected to the idea of finding a community online, because I don’t know anyone offline that likes the music that I do (at least the Japanese music), but now I’m connected to people through Happy Disco, Facebook and other sites. Hell, the MomoClo Facebook book I co-admin has been a really great resource for both Japanese and foreign fans to meet up and talk. Twitter too; while I get that AKB has their deal with G+, but twitter is really a great tool for companies.
Certain idol companies also do it better than others. I think one of the things that makes Hello!Project so popular with international fans is that they have worked with international fans in the past; I can buy new H!P tracks off iTunes, they used to have Hello!Store USA (which I spent a bit too much money on), and they have done a fairly good job of appealing to international fans. This wasn’t always the case; I remember distinctly when Takahashi Ai (or someone) said that Morning Musume members didn’t blog, and they sure realized that that reluctance was a bad idea. BABYMETAL has actually done, IMO, the best job of it, with an official Facebook page that updates in English, an official merchandise store and all their stuff on iTunes.
Slowly it’s becoming more and more possible for international fans to enjoy things, which also makes it more frustrating that other things aren’t international. I absolutely hate when a YouTube channel is region-locked, or the fact that I can’t spend money on things like AKB48 LODs; it’s understandable that not every place will ship internationally, but it’s when things are region locked that I think that some companies don’t get it.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than the fact that without the internet international idol fans wouldn’t be where we are, and that I can see things only getting better/easier for us from here.
Well, whenever I go back and look at my top ten idols list, it always seems like things change a lot. I know things have since I started Happy Disco (my original list was all Hello!Project, wow). This list is always pretty difficult to make, because as an idol enthusiast I have a lot of favorites. Even if someone slipped down my list at all or is omitted, that only really means that I have another idol I like better, not that I like them less.
10. Tamura Meimi (S/Mileage)
S/Mileage’s second generation are four of my top five members in current Hello!Project. While I like Kanyon and Ayacho, if S/Mileage’s second generation formed an idol group on their own I think it would be one of my favorite idol groups ever. I think they all have a lot of strengths, are a lot of fun, and are super adorable. Picking one as my favorite is hard; however, it ends up as being Meimei. She’s just so energetic and excited, that Meimi was actually the one to open me up to Hello!Project after being a bit cynical regarding them for a while; Meimi felt and still feels fresh. I love her energy, her enthusiasm, and just how mischievous and fun she is. One of my favorite things was when she basically trolled everyone by setting up a blog entry sounding like she was graduating… only revealing she was graduating from using “-chan” to refer to her friends. Meimi not only loves her fans, she trolls them. She’s cute, energetic, fun to watch, and just a weirdo.
9. Ishida Ayumi – Morning Musume
For most of 2012 Meimei was my favorite in Hello!Project, so putting Ishida Ayumi over Meimi is a pretty big change. Ever since Morning Musume’s 10th generation has debuted, I’ve been fond of Ishida Ayumi, and she’s been my favorite Morning Musume member for a while. However, since I don’t really follow much of Morning Musume, it didn’t really click with Ayumi as a favorite member until recently, and even then it was a slow build. I first became really impressed with her when the dance shot to One Two Three came out, since Ayumi’s performing strength is in her dancing. Slowly I began to find out more about her personality, and found out that while she’s a sweet person she’s almost a closet wota/creeper of her fellow members. In one blog post in particular she took pictures of all of her fellow 10th generation members sleeping and posted them on her blog, saying how cute they all are. She’s a hard worker, a strong performer, and has a really sweet personality. She’s making me follow Morning Musume, which is what qualifies her as one of my top idols. Honestly, if I followed Morning Musume more closely than some of the other groups, Ayumi could move up my list because I like her that much.
8. Watanabe Miyuki (NMB48/AKB48)
Putting Milky this low is ridiculous for me. Honestly, this is a tough spot. Once you get past the two Hello!Project girls (who I really love, but aren’t my favorites), my top 8 is really where I have strong feelings. My top 3 48 girls shift around places a lot, so one day Milky might be my #1 girl in AKB and one day she might be my #3, like today. Normally, within AKB48, I tend to go for the lesser popular girls (though the one girl who just barely missed this list is Kashiwagi Yuki, AKA #3 in AKB48), but I’ve been a Milky fan since the early days of NMB48. I can wax poetic about how perfect I find Milky (and have, on my tumblr HERE) but basically she’s a natural idol who loves idols. She has tons of charisma, has been able to endure a scandal and come out on top, and ultimately really loves what she does and being an idol. She’s also really funny and strange (I adore the whole “chapu chapu’ movement), and is a fan of Ishikawa Rika, which does help. She’s one idol who’s a natural, and it’s definitely appealing Plus her photobook, Mirugami, was my favorite of 2012 and possibly one of my favorites ever
7. Oota Aika (HKT48)
Lovetan is a very adaptable member, which is probably her biggest strength. She went from being one of the cute younger members of Team B to being one of the middle-range Team A girls (as well as center of the Undergirls for a while). She started off young and as one of the cuter members of AKB48, but she’s been able to adapt to more mature things as she’s gotten older (look how cool she looks in that outfit from Show Fight!). And finally, she’s moved to HKT48, where she’s now the most experienced member. The thing I’ve always liked about Lovetan is just how natural she is, and how honest she really seems. Perhaps that’s her “tsundere” personality, but she doesn’t shy away from showing her emotions or expressing them. She’s a real sweetheart who I always love watching. I was really disappointed to see her huge drop in the AKB48 election (though not in her; she’s been doing great), so I’m hoping that she can shine in HKT48 through the future. I honestly think this is a good move, and I can’t wait to hear more from Lovetan! Seeing her growth as an idol from Team B to today has been a privilege, and I’m proud to be a Lovetan fan.
6. Natori Wakana (AKB48)
Wakanyan’s not an easy idol to have as my AKB48 oshimen. She only recently was promoted to Team B, and before that was a kenkyuusei that missed the whole Team 4 thing. Despite that, Wakanyan is really fantastic. I initially became a fan of hers because of her performance skills; she was Kashiwagi Yuki’s under and performed as Yukirin in kenkyuusei shows, which shows that AKB trusted her to do a lot. She was also the first person of her generation to perform the solo kenkyuusei song “Romance Kakurenbo,” and has proven herself both an excellent singer and an excellent performer. However, aside from this I just love her personality. She’s worked so hard since her debut as a kenkyuusei, and on the 11th generation special of Ariyoshi AKB Kyowakoku she won my heart by being brave enough to not only pick up one snake (in a test where they had to put snakes back in their containers, to “test bravery) that bit her, but going back again. She also seems to have a good personality whenever I see LODs or look at G+.
5. Mizuno Yui (BABYMETAL/Sakura Gakuin)
Look at that face and tell me she isn’t the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. In all seriousness, I love watching Yui’s enthusiasm when performing and in PVs, both in standard idol group Sakura Gakuin and heavy metal unit Babymetal. While I adore every member of Babymetal and I enjoy both Suzuka and Moa a lot as idols, something about Yui sticks out to me. Probably how happy she looks singing metal music. If anyone can have a huge grin on her face while performing metal, it’s Yui. But she has a level of happiness and enthusiasm that I just love in an idol, and has the cutest smile ever.
4. Aso Natsuko (soloist)
If you missed it, yes that is me and Nacchan at the Hyper Japan event this February in London. 🙂 (read my post about that HERE) Putting Nacchan this low really sucks, and I think is a real testament to how strongly I feel about other idols. However, seeing Aso Natsuko live was amazing; she has such crazy charisma and energy. It was an incredible experience I hope to experience again. She’s a real sweetheart and a great performer, and an all-around great idol. It takes a lot of charisma to be a successful solo artist, and Nacchan definitely qualifies.
3. Sasaki Ayaka (Momoiro Clover Z)
A~rin is in the “natural idol” category. Seriously, if there are any girls who are born idols, A~rin is one of them. Every time I see her performing, I can tell that she’s obviously loving what she does and that she’s having a great time with what she’s doing. I personally also love her performance; while she may not have the best voice or dancing, what she is good at hamming it up during her solos and giving a good performance. I also have a strong affection for cute idols and idols that have an “idol-like” personality (and she is referred to as MomoClo’s idol in her introduction). While all the MomoClo members are good in their own way and I’m fond of all of them (especially Reni, who’s really weird), I’d argue that A~rin’s the most fun and playful member. Not to say that she doesn’t take her job seriously, but she has just a fun personality that shines, on and off stage.
2. Ishikawa Rika (ex-Morning Musume/v-u-den)
She’s topped every single list I’ve ever had until now. This might be a surprise to you if you know me, and it surprised me when I realized it. However, I think this is mostly a result of not being very active any more (I’d tentatively still call Rika my all-time favorite, as this list is primarily current). Simply put, Rika is one of the most driven idols ever, a hard worker, a role model for younger members, and is one of the strongest performers (not vocally, but on pure strength of dance/performance skills). Rika, is in my opinion, the gold standard for idols everywhere; there’s a reason that two of the top idols in the 48 empire, Watanabe Miyuki and Kashiwagi Yuki are huge Rika fans. She has a great personality, great performances, and I’m proud to be a Rika fan, which has not wavered at all since I became a Rika fan. That being said, when deciding this I couldn’t ignore the sheer power of my #1…
1. Ooguro Yuzuki (Team Syachihoko)
Yuzuki is the first idol to surpass Rika since Rika became my favorite near the end of 2008/beginning of 2009. Which, as a big idol fan, says a good deal. I initially pegged Yuzuki as being my least favorite of Team Syachihoko, because she didn’t initially stand out to me in my initial viewing of The Stardust Bowling’s PV. However, despite this, when I first watched a live performance, I saw how strong Yuzuki really is. The thing about Yuzuki is that, even though she’s probably in the middle of the group in terms of skill, you can tell she’s clearly giving a huge effort every time she performs. She has a ton of enthusiasm, and every performance you can see how hard she works and how much she enjoys herself. She is a sweetheart, clearly loves being in Team Syachihoko, and is the most fun idol to watch right now.
Honorable mentions: Kashiwagi Yuki (AKB48), Iwasa Misaki (AKB48), Matsui Sakiko (AKB48), Miyawaki Sakura (HKT48), Yajima Maimi (C-ute), S/Mileage’s 2nd generation, all the other members of Team Syachihoko and Momoiro Clover Z, Kyao (MMJ),
If I’m a fan of anything in Hello!Project it’s old-school H!P. While I’m a fan of S/Mileage, C-ute and Ishida Ayumi right now, my #1 idol comes from the golden era of Morning Musume. However, even though it’s been over twelve years since Love Machine was released, we keep hearing it at every concert along with a couple of older songs they bring back. However, while I appreciate the Renai Revolution 21, Suki na Senpai, Hajimete no Happy Birthday and Baby Koi ni Knock Outs, there are a lot of gems in H!P history that have barely any concert performances. Thus here’s my (NOT all-inclusive) list of songs that current H!P should perform in concert, including who should perform them.
Girls Power, Aisuru Power
Originally By: Melon Kinenbi
I think Melon Kinenbi is kind of a hard sell for current H!P. Sure there are still performances of the ever popular (and justly so) This Is Unmei and Saa! Koibito ni Narou, but I seriously doubt I’ll see Amai Anata no Aji (first single) or Champagne no Koi in the setlists anytime soon. I’m hardly a die hard Melon Kinenbi fan (though Murata Megumi was one of my favorite H!P members). However, a lot of Melon Kinenbi stuff is really good and should be brought back for more concerts. This song is the B-side to Saa! Koibito ni Narou (and on the Melon Kinenbi best of album Fruity Killer Tune, which is how I know it), and doesn’t feel too much like Melon Kinenbi. It’s downright cute and energetic, and would be a perfect fit for ..
Proposed cover: S/Mileage
The high energy just screams current S/Mileage, and while I would love to see this performed just by 2nd gen S/Mileage I could honestly see this becoming almost an anthem for S/Mileage. This is the type of song that Takeuchi Akari and Tamura Meimi would make their own.
Futari no Hokkaidou
Originally by: Country Musume
I’m kind of a sucker for some of the older misfit groups of Hello!Project. While Country Musume definitely had some popular songs, the only songs we really see at Hello! Project concerts are Hajimete no Happy Birthday and Uwaki na Honey Pie. However, Country Musume really had an interesting sound going on when they first started, and they had a lot of other great songs going on. Futari no Hokkaidou is both upbeat and really fun. I’d also like to see a performance of Shining Itoshiki Anata (but we need a vocalist who can belt like Mikitty did) and Kakumeichikku Kiss (Just an album song, but a really good one). However, Futari no Hokkaidou is really the one song where they focused more on Hokkaidou (Kakumeichikku Kiss did, a bit, and some of the other pre-Rika songs did too).
Proposed cover: Sato Masaki + others
Masaki is the one member of H!P currently from Hokkaidou, as far as I remember, so she definitely has to be there. However, I don’t think she’s quite there to pull off doing a solo, and this song really does work better with more than one person. So perhaps they’d pick some other people from MM, or some other H!P members that are close-ish to Hokkaidou.
Originally by: Maeda Yuki
Yes, I’m pulling out the enka singer from H!P. However, Hello!Project does have a history with an enka singer with a really long/nice list of songs that don’t get performed; while this might be because they don’t necessarily want to do enka in H!P because it’s not a super trendy genre, AKB48 has an enka singer (Iwasa Misaki) as does Momoiro Clover Z (Takagi Reni). None of the H!P girls really have the pipes to pull off some of the other enka songs, and I really can’t imagine any of them being able to do something like Ai Ai Daiko (which is a really good song FYI). However, Tokyo Kirigirisu is a really excellent song that’s a bit easier than some other enka songs, and might be doable by….
Proposed Cover: Oda Sakura
They’re going to try and push Sakura as a new ace as well as a lead vocalist; she has a pretty good voice, and while she’s not Yukidon I could imagine her pulling this off. The solo would also promote her as being a lead vocalist, and would be a unique take for her.
Originally by: Romans
This has literally only been performed once; by Rika as a solo at a v-u-den concert. It’s originally by Romans, the group that brought you the wonderful “Sexy Night ~Wasurerarenai Kare~” (which I love, but I know is a bit too sexy for some). However, the B-Side Roman has gone almost completely unnoticed, when it’s a light, kind of strange song, very different from Sexy Night. This should be done by…
Proposed Cover: C-ute.
I mostly want to hear Nakky do Rika’s “pi pu po” bit. But other than that, the numbers of the groups match up, and this is a song I could really see match C-ute’s current image very well.
Otome no Shinrigaku
Originally by: Ichii Sayaka and Yasuda Kei
This is a really fun duet. While Sayaka and Kei were both definitely good vocalists (Kei especially) and this has some great harmony parts, the song is most fun when there’s a really good back and forth between the duet. While the song itself is great, in my opinion this is almost eclipsed by how fun it is to watch live. With that in mind, the members I think could be fun to watch with it…
Proposed Cover: Ikuta Erina and Suzuki Kanon
Eripon and Zukkii both have fun personalities and I could see them going well with this not very traditional idol song and making it a really fun performance.
Kyou mo Mattemasu
Originally by: v-u-den
The biggest issue that I had with Zoku v-u-den was that it basically only did the later/sexier songs, which I think misrepresented the actual v-u-den. v-u-den was certainly a lot more adult than the rest of H!P, especially at that time, but it also was adult in that it was more mature. Even still, they had a LOT of really great songs that most people aren’t really aware of unless they’re a v-u-den fan (like me); Bi Hit Parade, Let’s Live!, Kurenai no Kisetsu and Ai Suite Room are all great songs that aren’t necessarily sexy but don’t get a lot of notice nowadays. However, Kyou mo Mattemasu is kind of a cuter song but performed by the more mature girls of v-u-den. Really, a lot of the B-sides are like that, and could be performed nowadays.
I think my other problem with Zoku v-u-den was that it focused on sexier members, but not really mature members if that makes at all sense. However, I think Maimi, Ayumi and Miyabi both have an older appearance and feel to them that’s not necessarily aimed at sex appeal, but would be good with these other v-u-den songs.
Miss Love Tantei
Originally by: W
I like duets and I like idols rapping, so Miss Love Tantei is right up my alley. I think that W songs have been a bit taboo since Aibon had her scandals; however, they have performed Robokiss and Dekoboko Seventeen since the Kago scandals, so I think that Miss Love Tantei should be fair game. A lot of the W songs are also really good, too (I love Ai no Imi wo Oshiete a lot and I would love a cover of Sexy Snow), so I think they should bring the W catalog back into H!P.
Of all the proposed covers I’ve given in the rest of this post, this is the number one thing I really want to happen. Meimei and Takechan are both energetic, cute and have really nice voices that would match this song really well. Plus, I really want Meimi to rap. I think this would be a really nice combo on stage and I think they could pull of this song well.
Other assorted songs I want more of include Say Yeah! Motto Miracle Night (why is this not at every single concert ever?), Tsuki to Taiyou (or any Taiyou to Ciscomoon/T&C Bomber song that ISN’T Gatamekira or Everyday Everywhere, but a song that the current H!P could actually sing), Romantic Ukare Mode (again, why isn’t this at more concerts?), Dekiru Onna (Morning Musume’s most underrated B-side), Love Like Crazy (H!P needs to rap more please), I & You & I & You & I (yay Tanpopo album songs).
I’d also like to hear more unique arrangements or performances in the current H!P; something like when Saitou Hitomi performed Shiawase Beam Suki Suki Beam as a sexy solo song a few times, completely redefining the song, or when Matsuura Aya did a more jazzy version of Ne~e. This breathes new life into old songs. I’d also like more acapella like Berryz has done in the past; they really need to continue more of that.
Otherwise, I’d really like more innovation in these concerts. I mean, I know they pretty much have to perform their latest single or two and what would a Morning Musume concert be without a medley featuring Love Machine and Renai Revolution 21? However, for when they fill spaces in concerts, I really wish H!P would be more innovative. Not all idol groups have these vast discographies to find gems in, so H!P should really take advantage of one of the real strengths they have and perform some of these songs sometime.
So. I’ve been bad. And haven’t posted. Basically, I’ve been really busy, having the time of my life in London! And while I haven’t forgotten about idols and I’m still crazy into them like always, updating Happy Disco comes after my goings on here in London.
So, here’s a quick update before I start posting more regularly again!
-In London, I found a store, Japan Centre, that sells Japanese magazines, though it mostly sells food/general goods. So now I have a giant poster on my wall of SKE48.
-I recently had my first major encounter discussing my wotadom with someone who’s Japanese/Indonesian; I’m staying with a host family, and another student is staying with us. She’s both Japanese and Indonesian, and while she lives in Indonesia she follows a lot of Japanese stuff. And, so, when she saw my SKE48 poster, it was kind of interesting, haha. She says she likes JKT48 because they’re Indonesian, but she was impressed by Momoiro Clover. Which made me so proud.
– I’m kind of back into Hello!Project now? S/Mileage is my jam. 2nd Gen S/Mileage in particular; Meimi, Akari, Rina and Kana are all fantastic girls. I might write about this soon.
-Biggest for me…. I’m seeing my first idol live soon! I was waiting for the tube one day and I saw a poster for a convention here. I didn’t think much of it, until I realized “…wait, is that Nacchan?” Yes, I’m seeing the lovely Aso Natsuko! I haven’t mentioned her much, but she does a lot of anime openings, most of them written by Hyadain, who’s my favorite idol music writer at the moment. And she’s going to be here! So I’m definitely going to be writing a blog about my experience, but I’m totally pumped to see a performance of Perfect Area Complete!!
Now, this one’s a BIT tougher, because I haven’t been into H!P for a while and my tastes have changed since I started to follow AKB over H!P. I COULD say Rika, and that would be true to an extent, but she’s not a current H!P member.
However, I’ll have to go with…
The lovely Mitsui Aika.
I know that she has a lot of haters out there, but I have no idea WHY. She’s one of the sweetest members ever, very kind, has a fun personality and isn’t a bad singer at all. In fact, the relentless hate of Aika from both the non-Japanese and the Japanese fan community is part of why H!P isn’t my main deal any more. I love Aika, and her Nine Smile muffler towel on my wall is one of my idol treasures.
Runners up to Ikuta Erina (I LOVE her) and Yajima Maimi. These three are really the last bits of current H!P I love.
Day 10: Your favorite “undebuted” Idol (Hello! Pro Egg, AKB48 Kenkyuusei, etc.)
Just because, I’m going to name two!
The first for Hello!Project fans is the (former) H!P Egg Sekine Azusa. Now it looks like Sekkii is going to get some work in Up Front Girls and UFZS, but since the group is mainly doing KPop dance covers at the moment I’m still counting her as undebuted.
She’s a GREAT performer. She has oodles of stage presence in addition to being one of the most skilled singer and dancer of the H!P Eggs and possibly of current H!P despite being relatively young; she gained some good recognition when she did a duet of Romantic Ukare Mode with Kikkawa Yuu at only 12 years old! In my past idol rankings I’ve always said that I’ll push Sekkii up higher when I get more stuff with her in it, and it looks like UFZS/Up Front Girls might do that. She is such a sweetheart and I love her.
And now, my other favorite undebuted idol…
I like her better than Sekkii, which I never would have thought about an undebuted idol, especially an AKB48 Kenkyuusei. Since the whole concept of the KKS is that they have to keep reauditioning and might leave at any time, I’ve been hesitant to get behind an AKB48 Kenkyuusei. And now she’s pretty much tied with Oota Aika for favorite AKB48 girl and second favorite idol. What.
I just love Natori Wakana that much. When I first saw her perform Romance Kakurenbo (the solo song that a kenkyuusei performs before a performance of the Team B 5th stage) I was immediately interested. She has oodles of stage presence ALREADY, and this was her first ever performance of everything! That voice, that performance. It was amazing. Then I saw her performing with the Kenkyuusei the song BINGO during the Request Setlist 100 2011 and she was just so cute and energetic in how she performed it.
Finally, I saw her in the 11th generation Kenkyuusei special on the show Ariyoshi AKB Kyowaku, where they all competed in various tests. One of them was picking up snakes (there were three of them) and putting them in boxes. In the previous challenge, Wakanyan had shown her fear of lizards (by having one mess up her dancing). However, she braves through it and the snake BIT HER. Instead of freaking out and throwing it off her, she takes the snake that’s biting her and puts it in the box. And then goes for another snake. That’s bravery. (However she did get either last or second to last in the running competition because that was too much XD). It shows a really strong personality and I just found that amazing.
The life partners of H!P, Rika and Yossy AKA Ishiyoshi. They have Japanese fans dedicated to their pairing, they’ve been besties since they joined. Rika and Yossy are super ultra close friends, always fun to watch, and the most obvious best idol pairing EVER.
MC3 Featuring S/Mileage! I hear a surprising amount of shouts for “AYACHO” when she’s one of the least popular members of S/Mileage. They introduce their next single, which I affectionately refer to as “Onaji something something Bijin Mama”. Or “something something pretty mom.” Yuukarin has an interesting button on:
To tell us that she’s apparently a Pink Secret Agent. Saki talks about the concept of the song, which is that their friend’s mom is their rival in love. I swear, I get a weird vibe from this song, but it’s catchy and cute so I ignore it.
The girls also seem kind of intimidated by Yossy, who’s not as funny as she normally is. Especially in that weird/ugly dress.
The one that I think stood out the most was Saki; she got a big laugh from the audience, and did a lot of talking. Yuuka was super cute, so she’s fun. I was a bit disappointed, because I like all of them, but Kanon didn’t talk all that much, and my favorite, Wada, didn’t speak all that much. But when Ayacho DID say one thing near the end that made the audience AND other H!P members laugh and cheer. Man, this is when I wish my Japanese was better, because Ayaka’s pretty hilarious from what I do understand. Otherwise, it wasn’t that interesting.
Chu! Natsu Party
Another favorite of mine! Despite my complaints about the covers of songs earlier, this is probably the best cover song so far. S/Mileage performs it with a lot of really nice energy, using mic stands.
In my opinion this is one of the better performances of the concert thus far. All the girls give the song appropriate energy, and while the vocals aren’t their best (for some reason, I keep thinking that Yuuka isn’t doing as well as she should..?), the performance aspects of the performance more than make up for it.
Occasionally the energy level dropped a little, but that was during things like when they were singing and I don’t think it could have gotten much better. All four of them look excited and happy to be singing this classic H!P song, so all in all I really enjoy this performance.
Oh, I forgot to mention; this is the Fankora section of the concert now, so it’s the rotating songs that the “fans chose.” Now I put that in quotations because while IIRC the last song performed by each group/ManoEri was their most requested, we don’t know how often the other songs were requested. So while it’s really nice that these groups are doing older songs, how were the not-most popular songs chosen? Just curious. (BTW, they never performed my choice, I&YOU&I&YOU&I, a 2nd gen Tanpopo song. S/Mileage DID perform 2nd gen Tanpopo, but it wasn’t recorded). That reminds me again; why WEREN’T there multiple DVD releases? This just doesn’t make sense to me. Instead of just releasing one concert, why not release them all, or find a way to make it so people can see everything. H!P’s not super popular anymore, but concert tickets aren’t cheap and you don’t know the setlist until you get in. What if you REALLY want to see a certain performance? I was sure that they’d monetize on the multiple setlist aspect of Fankora. H!P, I don’t get you sometimes.
Anyways. Chu! Natsu Party was adorable, good energy, and I REALLY like the dynamic that S/Mileage has going on. They’re one of the two H!P groups that has the best group dynamic, IMO.
aMa no Jaku
OK. So basically, even though Chu! Natsu Party is a better song, this was a better performance. Take the C!NP performance, and add better/more in-time dancing, better vocals and even more energy.
S/Mileage really seems like they’re in their element; they’ve practiced this song/dance like crazy since their Indies debut, and it really shows. They work together well, and I think this is the point where they totally deserve this group of theirs.
For being H!P’s newest act, I’d say that they brought their A-game. So far, S/Mileage’s performances have been some of the most fun and enjoyable, and they really show how they fully deserved being moved up to a major label. None of the members in particular stand out as being particularly good at singing (though, even though I’m a fan, I’ll be the first to admit that Ayaka’s the worst singer), or particularly good at dancing, but this works. They feel like equals, and you can really tell that they’ve bonded as a group, which is a bit surprising considering how new they are.
Consensus: S/Mileage can improve, but they’re being really great right now! Keep up the good work, S/Mileage!!