Proud to be MD: Why I Go Oshimen

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.

Top Ten Idols – 2013

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),

State of the Wota Address

Hey all,

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!!

Ogawa Saki’s graduation…what?

OK, so I’m not the best font of Hello!Project information anymore, and S/Mileage has never been my big focus. However, big news has forced my hand to talk about this S/Mileage news, and that’s that original member Ogawa Saki has decided to graduate from S/Mileage.

Now I’m more of a fan of Yuukarin myself when it comes to S/Mileage. However, Ogawa Saki’s graduation announcement isn’t the only thing that is making this news. It’s the fact that Saki is graduating in only three days on August 27th.
In case there’s any casual Hello!Project/idol fans reading my blog, when an idol announces that they’re graduating a group there’s usually a good amount of time before they actually graduate. They announce things months in advance, which ends up giving ample time for fans to plan to go to that idol’s final concert and say farewell. So already, many eyebrows are being raised at the reasons given for graduation and the hasty nature of it all.
The only time that girls get quickly dropped is either that they’re Eggs and UFA thinks THEY’RE disposable or that there’s a scandal involved. This leads me to believe that something fishy is going on either with Saki or with UFA, something we might never no or something that might show up in a tabloid eventually. At this point we can only speculate, but so far NO ONE I’ve seen is taking the concept that Saki is graduating by her own free will any seriously.
According to the statement by Tsunku as translated on Hello!Online, Tsunkku said that Saki requested to graduate back in May. However, why did this graduation announcement happen now? It’s really odd, and I think everyone I’ve seen is rather suspicious.
Still, regardless of motive and what has happened, I wish Ogawa Saki the best of luck with her school life and with her life beyond being an idol!

S/Mileage’s new members… are not real members, but wha?

The new members of S/Mileage, the group that everyone thought would have a stable lineup until Tsunku went “PSYCH!” were just announced.

So now we have a new nine member unit of S/Mileage, with new members Katsuta Rina, Takeuchi Akari, Kosuga Fuyuka, Nakanishi Kana and Tamura Meimi. However, there’s a catch; these aren’t full members YET, they’re actually considered sub members. Meaning that they are not actually permanent members yet, and their permanence in the group actually depends on their performance in the new single that’s being released in September and the fall tour, but some of them could be kicked out.

My first thought was honestly a plain and simple “WTF are you doing Tsunku.” This is one thing that has to be AWFUL for the girls to deal with; they’re members, but not yet. If I was one of them, I know I’d be on edge every single second, to make sure I didn’t get kicked out. And while I suppose that’s the plan, it’s kind of an awful thing to do to them, especially since it wasn’t guaranteed. They went into this audition expecting to be members, not submembers. Also, does submembers imply that their participation will be less in the single and tour? If so, they should just be named “Mitsui Aika class” in that they’ll be there, be great, but will not get any attention whatsoever.

I LOVE YOU AIKA DON’T WORRY.
My second thought after seeing this was that it reminded me a bit of the AKB48 kenkyuusei system. If you don’t follow AKB, basically the kenkyuusei are trainee members. To get into AKB nowadays you HAVE to join the kenkyuusei. They have performed their own stages, and the kenkyuusei are the ones who fill in at the theater if one of the members (usually one of the popular ones) isn’t there that day, which can give them great exposure (my favorite kenkyuusei, Natori Wakana, has subbed in for Kashiwagi Yuki, the third most popular AKB member according to the election). However, these members have to reaudition every so often and can be cut. They participate to an extent, but don’t become full members until they’re promoted to a team. 

I wonder if this is what Tsunku is trying to get at; getting new members, testing the waters (their abilities to perform as well as their popularity, I imagine). This is a pretty OK idea, I’d say. However, it’s really weird, because Tsunku hasn’t really done this before. Yes, he has the Eggs, but he hasn’t done THAT much with them. These are girls who were told they’d have a chance at S/Mileage, but now they are told they might be cut. That’s nerve-wracking, IMO.

I also think that they’re really trying to test the waters to see which ones become popular and which ones don’t, regardless of vocal/dance ability. I have a bit of a theory that any Japanese girl could become an idol if she wanted to become one, and vocal/dance ability really doesn’t make or break an idol ever .I know that it’s a bit more important in H!P, but I think it’s really overestimated. These girls aren’t singers, they’re idols, so I doubt this testing period has anything to do with singing ability.

However, I’m also a bit wary as a fan. It took me a while to pick a favorite kenkyuusei because I was worried I’d get attached and then she’d leave; however, I was completely charmed by Wakana. This is pretty much the same; how can you expect a fan to become attached, if they’re afraid the girl will be kicked out? And what happens if a girl gets a fanbase (all the H!P girls have one, whether they’re frontgirls or not) and then she gets kicked out? I’d imagine that could seriously alienate some people.

I’m really honestly quite hesitant about this, but it’ll be interesting to see how it works. I’ll be hesitantly following S/Mileage from here on out, trying not to get attached to the new girls.

Hello! Project Fankora Concert Review- pt 5

I’ve been a bad reviewer. Now where was I.

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!!

Hello! Project Fankora Concert Review- pt 4

MC2

O hai thar, Yossy. I keep forgetting you’re in this concert as the sole shining representative of the amazingness that was the Elder Club. Next time bring Rika with you. We can jam.
This whole MC was basically Momoko going “LOOK AT ME I’M A LEADER OF MULTIPLE GROUPS OOOOOOOOH” and everyone else not caring. She’s being a little too attention-whorish for my tastes here. 
Aisu Kuriimu to My Purin

Can I just skip this? Please? PLEASE. No? Gah. 
Zoku. I just don’t like them. It’s nothing against the members; I just think that they are honestly the antithesis of what v-u-den WAS; in fact, no one in current H!P is fit. H!P is about youngness, youth. v-u-den was about women starting adulthood and that’s part of why I find them interesting and that they’re tied with Gatas for my favorite H!P group. I’ve ranted about this before, it shouldn’t be tough to find on the Disco.
Anyways, this performance keeps confirming what I originally thought about Zoku in my Zoku rant (in which I stated I would NEVER call them Zoku v-u-den. OK, yeah. don’t want to get into this. I like the members, but they don’t represent v-u-den’s v-u-denness. 
This was actually less offensive to me than Koisuru Angel Heart, but JUST BARELY. This song is not something to be taken seriously, but at the same time is actually supposed to be sexy. Playfully sexy, sexy in a “look at how silly fanservice can be!” kind of way, but nonetheless sexy. The impression I’ve always gotten from the Aisu PV is “haha, fanservice is ridiculous” but it’s still pretty hot. 
The dancing was not TOO bad, but it had some iffy bits; the kickline was uber fail, and no one was really a good dancer. It felt slightly unrehearsed, and, my main complaint about the group as a whole, like they really didn’t try. 
JunJun, you’re doing it wrong. 

Speaking of not trying too hard; I understand that Zoku’s only doing one song and that they all have other things to do. But seriously. The costumes? What are they supposed to be? I mean, even if they had to use them for the main groups. Why are the main groups using those costumes? 
Vocals weren’t too bad; Risako was really the best one there and I was happy that she got Rika’s long solo near the end. I wasn’t expecting amazingness from them, so. 
I don’t mean to sound mean; a LOT of this is my bias speaking. But say what you want about the original v-u-den, but their performance skills (not vocal, performance) were out of this world, and Zoku doesn’t come close to representing the original group I love so much. They honestly feel a tiny bit like a REALLY good cover group of the original, but certainly NOT the revival. So really, it’s my bias as a v-u-den enthusiast, but in my opinion the revival groups are that; trying to be the original group as best as they can. And this really wasn’t that bad of a cover, but when it comes down to representing what v-u-den was I can’t give Zoku the thumbs up. 
Oh, and Momoko attention whores. I know a lot of people found Momoko getting up and dancing cute, but I honestly thought it was pretty disrespectful (my GOD this review is going to get me flames). I liked her a lot before, but man I don’t know now. I just really thought it was rude, no matter how I felt about the actual performance going on. I mean, I don’t mind people going for attention, but IMO this was not the place to do it. 
Also, I was hoping to see Yossy rocking out in the back (she’s notorious for LOVING this song), but that didn’t happen. Perhaps she needed Rika to be there. 
Daite Yo! Please Go On!

Am I the only one that finds it awkward when solo songs become group ones? I don’t know, maybe I am. But the one thing that I keep focusing on here is just how it is of a group song. It MIGHT have been done another time, but the one memorable time that Daite yo! was used as a group song was for Goto Maki’s Captain Kouen concert, which was Gocchin, Tsuji Nozomi and v-u-den. It was really more of a solo song for Maki, but with the other four sang with the chorus. 
Also, there was a dance solo section before the rap. Speaking of, that would have been REALLY cool for High King. If High-King is excellent at one thing it’s dancing; in fact, I think that was the main theory for the group? I could be wrong. Anyways, while the girls ARE rather fierce here, I only wish that there had been a better arrangement of some kind to better feature their dancing.
However, despite preferring a more imaginative arrangement other than just the song sung by five people, I really like this performance. I can really tell why it was that these five girls were chosen; their dancing was all spot on and excellent to watch, and all of them seemed to be giving it their all. The singing, to be perfectly honest, was nothing special. To be frank, Goto Maki was much better than Aichan was here, and the others never wowed me. 
Though she IS fierce here

However, it was the dancing and the energy of this performance that made it really entertaining to watch. The five performers were all really excellent at performing, and it was so high energy that it made me forget the low energy-ness of Aisu Kuriimu. High-King’s never been my favorite unit ever (I love Maimi but I don’t really care that much about the others), but they really impressed me here. 

Hello! Project Fankora Concert Review- pt 3

Maji Bomber!!


Sorry to all you Berryz Koubou fans out there: Berryz may have gotten me into H!P, but as of recent times I just don’t follow them all that much. At all. They have lost a lot of spark that they might have had with me. In fact, when watching concert performances of Berryz for something like a review I have a little game I play, but I’ll explain that later.

Maji Bomber is a pretty good song; I wouldn’t consider it that interesting, but it’s pretty catchy and is a good song for a lot of the people involved. It’s a song where pretty much every Berryz memeber gets a solo and sounds great. Vocally, this performance isn’t bad at all. Some members sound better than others, but otherwise they all sound nice when singing it.

However, this is another issue of energy; they perform it well but not great. I don’t watch the performance and go “man that was better than in the PV!” or “oh man, that was epic;” it just feels standard. It was a solid performance, but nothing memorable.

Like, looking back I’d remember S/Mileage and C-ute’s performances as being particularly energetic and thus I’d feel positively towards the group. Conversely, nothing about this performance was particularly memorable; it was just. Good. Except…

When I watch a performance of Berryz I ALWAYS watch for Miyabi. Now you might be wondering why. Miya’s not my favorite Berryz member (that’s Chinami), but ever since I saw the performance of Nigiyaka na Fuyu with the fish costumes I realized that Miyabi never really looks super enthusiastic on stage. I have nothing against her as a person, but I just observed her lack of interest. So therefore, I have dubbed her face of “why am I doing thiiis?” to be “Miyabi Face” and now looking for evidence of Miyabi Face is my game.

Like here, sort of. Not my best. 

If there’s any point I want to make here is that I don’t find Berryz that interesting anymore. There weren’t any glaring things wrong with this performance, but it really didn’t hold interest for me.
Seishun Collection

Now here’s professionalism! Performing a fairly dull song with fairly dull choreography with ugly costumes, all of them look at least somewhat happy to be there. No Miyabi faces to be found!
Seriously, I really am not the biggest fan of this single to begin with. Now, I DO think it’s a move in a better direction. It’s upbeat and happy, which I honestly think is what the Japanese music market is looking for at the moment with AKB48. Unfortunately. This happened. Well, Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game looks to be better. 
Other than that I don’t have too much to say. It’s a nice performance, with all of them doing a good job, but no one doing particularly well. They all seem to be enjoying themselves and giving it their all; granted this isn’t saying THAT much, considering there’s not much to give when it comes to this song, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. 

Hello! Project Fankora Concert Review- pt 2

Genkimono de Ikou!


((on a side note, I just learned the grammatical reasons for Ikou. Yeah. Be jealous of my Japanese knowledge))

Speaking of Japanese knowledge, what does Genkimono de Ikou! mean? Why, I’ll tell you! It’s “Let’s go with Energetic Things!” Basically, it’s “yay energy.” Which is why it baffles me that they got Mano Erina of all people to do this song in particular and to get the budget her PV must have gotten, considering they hired a legitimate director and everything.

The vocals are fine for this performance. She has a few pitch issues, but she’s not horrendous, and never sounds too out of breath. However, man, the energy level was low. That’s why I made the point about the title. The song is LITERALLY about energy; the title is rather energetic. So why are you performing this like it’s “let’s go with slightly unenthusiastic things!”?

I’ve never been a huge proponent of H!P needing super strong vocalists. Hell, plenty of my favorites aren’t that great of vocalists, I know that. I think that as a soloist Mano Erina should be stronger than she is now, but she’s not super terrible or anything and that in itself is good. However, if there’s one thing that should not be missing from a lot of H!P songs it’s energy. They don’t always require amazing vocals (though some do; I’m looking at you, Ayaya), but they do require their performer to have the right level of energy and ManoEri just did NOT deliver the genki for this performance.

They also need to start training her on stage presence; I like her well enough as an idol, but man if you ALWAYS need four background dancers to fill the stage and you’re a soloist, then that’s a problem.

I don’t need THAT much from an idol. But come on. It’s the title of the song; energy should be a given.

Dance de Bakoon!


I’ve got it! C-ute stole Mano Erina’s energy!

In all seriousness, THIS is what I’m talking about when I’m talking about energy and what I need from idols. None of the girls here have perfect vocals; not even Airi or Chisato. I’d say that no one here is bad and that they’re all very good in their own right, but it’s not the greatest vocals ever. Why? Because they’re giving it all they’ve got into the dancing and the energy of the song, and so their singing skills suffer just a little.

The dancing here is INTENSE; I swear, these girls gave it their all and I’m beyond impressed. Lately I’ve been really into C-ute, mostly in thanks to my friend Dani who adores Nakky. This is the type of performance that confirms the reasoning behind liking them so much as of late. The energy here is intense.

Maimiiiii <333 and fierce!Airirin

I even like this performance better than in the PV; all the girls are performing their best, they all look very much into it. This is one of those performances that is super fun to watch and that I just have to love. At this point in the concert, only four songs in, I’m just thinking that this is the song and group to live up to. 

Hello! Project Fankora Concert Review- pt 1

I haven’t forgotten about my other review in the works; not at all. I’m still working on finishing my Gatas review. However, I decided I wanted to review Fankora while it was still relevant, whereas Gatas might not have another concert TO review.

So, here’s Fankora! First off the bat I’m a bit disappointed that they only had ONE concert to review, especially since it’s the one I was possibly LEAST excited about. Oh dear God I have to review Zoku. So it’s a bit disappointing I can’t see the Tanpopo# performance I wanted to see, however I still like the idea that they took fan contributions and did a lot of older numbers (even if they didn’t use my super epic suggestion of doing I&YOU&I&YOU&I *grumble*)


All For One and One For All


What a way to start out a concert; this IS the quintessential H!P as a whole song, excluding Hello! no Theme (HELLO HELLO HELLO DANCING…). However, I realized when watching this that it was the first time that we saw All For One without the Elder Club involved (if I recall correctly), and so…

We start with Takahashi and Niigaki. And then I realize. Oh my goodness. This is the Mobekimasu version of All For One. Why do I have to endure this?
This isn’t to say I dislike Mobekimasu; not at all. I like them. However, the fact that it’s not Yuko, Nacchi and Kaorin singing the first line just makes a little bit die inside.
I did like that the beginning started out with all of Morning Musume’s generations; it’s as if H!P’s saying “Yeah, MM>>the rest of them, woo!” I mean, I do miss the old distribution of lines, I really do. But that’s not super feasible without having a few Country Musume members to throw in, good soloists to throw in (why hello there, Yukidon; how’s enka-town?) etc. After a while, this song just gets to be really long. The one thing that made this song so good originally was that it WAS all of H!P; all 45-46 members of Hello!Project, with a bunch of different generations, showing just how vast H!P was but having all of them sing a song. It’s showing H!P’s history and the importance of each generation within the collective whole.
However, after MM’s generations, it just shuffles through the Mobekimasu order; MM, Berryz, C-ute, ManoEri and S/Mileage a few times. It’s slightly repetitive. 
(And goodness, whyyy did the unit I’ve been least impressed with lately have to sing the 4th gen lines? *sigh*)
The performance itself was OK. It was really nothing special, and honestly I got kind of bored part way through it. I mean, a few of them looked like they were into it (C-ute in particular, S/Mileage too) but about half way through there’s really not that much energy left and it’s kind of a let down. This is a song to perform with an abundance of energy, not holding it back. At one point I was looking through the Eggs to try and find my favorite, Sekine Azusa.
C’mon, Sekkii, I know you’re in there somewhere….

All in all (haha, see what I did there?) this is another performance to remind me yet again how much I miss the Elder Club. I don’t care how legit a decision it was, Tsunku, the Mobekimasu groups haven’t gotten better songs or PVs since they left; bring back the Elders. 
VTR

It’s a VTR. What do I have to say. Well. A couple of odds and ends.
1. Best MC roster. Ever.
Makoto’s a pimp. Yossy’s the pimp. We all win. Makoto, please never stop being the one male member of Hello!Project. You make everything more epic and more amazing. I hope to study abroad in Japan when the 2012 H!P summer concert will take place. I will cheer hard for Makoto. I was surprised this screen didn’t get more cheers; there’s obviously a deficiency in the Ishiyoshi wota in the audience. Wait, is that picture of Yossy from Tokyo Alice? If so, then that’s over a year older than the concert. Maybe I’m wrong, but I could have SWORN that was a picture from her stage play. Or maybe I’m totally off. 
2. That took a LONG time to get through ManoEri. I get she’s 1/5th of Mobekimasu. But really? 
MC1
Yossy’s funny. The first MC should be funny, yes? aaaand no. It’s sadness. Graduations. I’ve already blogged about Eririn/JunJun/LinLin graduating, but it is actually pretty sad to watch happen. JunJun and LinLin look pretty upset; like they haven’t actually accepted it. Because anyone who thinks it was 100% their choice to go back to China needs to get their brain straightened out. 
Aannd to the first main group song, which is….
OO Ganbaranakute mo Ee Nende!

Yay, I like S/Mileage. I’ve actually had a reaally big thing for this song ever since previews came out, and so seeing a live performance of it really warms the heart. I’m seriously really excited for whenever the DVD of S/Mileage’s solo concert comes out; I can see S/Mileage without sitting through ManoEri. It’s perfect!
The girls here are really fantastic; they have some really nice live vocals. Even the admittedly weak link Wada Ayaka (it’s OK, Ayacho, I still love you!) sounds really nice and never sounds too terribly out of place throughout this relatively vocally strong performance. It’s times like this that I’m still amazed at how little they’ve been around so far; they all sound great for debuting not that long ago. I mean, they were all Eggs, but even still; many Eggs still suck. 
You don’t suck! Cute Kanyon is cute!

Energy wise I love these girls. They’re all very energetic and are all very much into it, unless they’re somehow amazing actors. The dance is silly, but they do it well.
Oh, you girls be silly

I seriously have nothing but high hopes for the future of the group; they are all very solid at dancing (or at least the dances choreographed for them), solid at singing, and they jive really well together as a group, which is really important. They all look like they’re having fun with the silliness of this song. I maintain that this is one of the best single songs H!P has had in years, and while I’m not super into the Bijin Mama song.
More later!