Like many foreign fans of Japanese media, I was thrilled to see the return of Sailor Moon in the form of Sailor Moon Crystal. Another thing that thrilled me was that Japanese idol group Momoiro Clover Z was performing the opening and ending themes. However, while I’m primarily an idol fan first and a Sailor Moon fan second, I understand many people may not know who MomoClo is. So here’s a brief introduction on who the group is.
What are idols? While the definition of idols can vary dramatically, the word is generally used to refer to female performers in their teens and early twenties, who perform pop music. There are many idols that don’t fall into this category at all, and there are many artists that fit that definition but aren’t considered idols.
It’s also a trend that’s swept Japan in recent years; there are hundreds of idol groups in Japan, and many chart toppers are idol groups like AKB48 and Momoiro Clover Z.
Beginnings: Momoiro Clover Z started out as Momoiro Clover (commonly referred to as MomoClo). They were formed as the idol group from Stardust Promotions, a talent agency. The group started out performing street performances in 2008, and had many members join and leave the group during that time.
They finalized a line-up and put out their first indie single in 2009, with members Takagi Reni, Momota Kanako, Sasaki Ayaka, Tamai Shiori and Hayami Akari (Ariyasu Momoka would join just after their first single). Their early singles had a traditional Japanese theme, and they wore modified yukata for their first two indies singles and their first major single. They branded themselves as “shuumatsu heroines (weekend heroines)” as they performed on weekends while they went to school during the week. They also called themselves “Idols you can meet right now,” as a way to compete with AKB48, who were known as “Idols you can meet” (since AKB48 were becoming popular at the time).
In 2010, Momoiro Clover made their major label debut with Universal Records, with Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo. This is noticeable for Sailor Moon fans, as it’s really the first single to start experimenting with their sentai image that they would adopt more later. With lyrics about them transforming and a music video where they beat up bad guys, their road to Sailor Moon is pretty clear.
After Ikuze! they moved to King Records, and put out two more singles.
Momoiro Clover Z
In early 2011, fans were disappointed to find out that Hayami Akari intended to leave the group, to pursue a career in acting. While members leaving groups is commonplace in the idol world, MomoClo decided to honor Akari by renaming the group, Momoiro Clover Z. They put out their first album, Battle and Romance, and two singles. One of these singles is Z Densetsu ~Owaranaki Kakumei~.
This single is the first real exploration of the sentai theme that they adopted with Momoiro Clover Z as a name.
Beating all of their goals
MomoClo has been immensely successful. They have performed at the largest venues in Japan; in fact, they performed at the National Olympic Stadium and became the first female idol act to do so.
Their biggest goal was to appear on Kouhaku Uta Gassen, which is a big end of the year broadcast that showcases the biggest names in music in Japan. They have performed on the program twice now.
It’s hard to say where MomoClo can go from here; they have performed at the biggest arenas, have put out more singles and more albums, and are generally regarded as one of the top idol groups in Japan right now. That said, they have been active for several years now, and it looks like they are, at least for the forseeable future, here to stay.
There are five members in Momoiro Clover Z right now.
Momota Kanako – the current leader of. Her image color is red. One of the ways she gained notice early on was through her jump near the end of Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo.
Takagi Reni – the former leader of the group. She’s kind of an oddball, and in the past was a bit of a crybaby. She’s the oldest member in the group. Her image color is purple.
Sasaki Ayaka – The youngest of the group, she was a child performer before joining the group. Known as “MomoClo’s idol,” she’s generally the girliest, most idol-y member. Her image color is pink. Her nickname is “A~rin”
Ariyasu Momoka – Generally prides herself on her singing and dancing, Momoka is the shortest member as well. Her image color is green.
Tamai Shiori – Known as “MomoClo’s little sister.” They joke about how much she likes food. A lot. Her image color is yellow! Her nickname is “Shiorin.”
Mononofu – A MomoClo fan.
Oshimen – the member you support (i.e “A~rin is my oshimen”). Can be shortened to oshi, and used in reference to oneself (i.e. “I’m A~rin oshi”).
wota – An idol fan; shortened version of “otaku” so it’s usually used for intense idol fans!
wotagei – movements/fan calls that people do. Usually the fan cheers are more important during a concert!
kwkm – MomoClo’s manager. They make jokes on his behalf.
Hyadain, Narasaki – two of MomoClo’s most well-known songwriters. They haven’t written as much for the group lately.
Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku, Team Syachihoko, Takoyaki Rainbow – Momoiro Clover Z’s “little sister groups”.
Stardust Promotion – the agency MomoClo is under
3B Junior – the idol arm of Stardust that has both MomoClo and its sister groups.
If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask away! This is a very basic intro, but I hope it’s helpful to new MomoClo fans!