Thursday, September 29, 2011

Welcome 10ki members!


The moment we've all been waiting for is finally here!  With the addition of four new members, Morning Musume is now a 12-nin group! (Minus Ai-chan,who leaves us today.)

From left to right, we have:


KUDOU HARUKA, 11, SAITAMA

I mentioned at the beginning of the finals that I wasn't a huge Haruka fan. I thought she had some great skills, but I wasn't immediately sold mostly because she was an Egg (which is why she was so popular in the first place, and you know it).  There were so many other talented girls that weren't Eggs, and I was hoping to see more of them instead of Haruka.  But she's starting to grow on me.  She is a very well-spoken young lady, and she has loads of talent and spunk.  I'm happy for her, and I know she'll be a great Musume.

And congratulations also to Haruka for breaking the youngest member to join Morning Musume record, which was held by Kago Ai for 11 years!

SATOU MASAKI, 12, HOKKAIDO

Masaki was the closest to a favorite I had in this audition, so naturally, I'm thrilled she made it!  I can't wait to see how she grows as a performer, especially with that cute little voice of hers.  That and Hokkaido is one of the regions people haven't seen a super huge lot of girls come from in H!P (yeah yeah, except for the famous ones, I know :P).

ISHIDA AYUMI, 14, MIYAGI

(Oh god, that is not a very flattering photo of her.) Ayumi is ace material as far as her dancing and looks are concerned.  I'm so excited to see how this seasoned pro fits in to the mix.  Somehow, I see her and Masaki becoming buddies.  Oh, that would be cool :P  Honestly, I wouldn't have minded seeing someone less experienced get in instead of her, but I really like her, so I'm really not all that sad about it.  I think she'll be the first Jyuukie in my uchiwa collection :D


IIKUBO HARUNA, 16, TOKYO

Yaaaaay!  Oh Haruna y u so lovely?!?!!  I'm still more than a little worried about her health, but I said before that I'd be thrilled if she made it, and I am indeed stoked.  I see a future sexy goddess in Haruna.  Someone's gotta replace Sayu when she peaces out, after all.



In my perfect world, I would have loved to see two more new members, namely Hinako and Fuuka, but since this audition group was so fantastic, it's hard for me to be sad about any combination of members.

On a less fun note, I decided after I got home from work this morning that I would find a non-forum source to find out who the new members were, and I'm glad I did, because a lot of other people are not so happy and in a trolly mood.  It's days like this that remind me why I avoid forums in the first place.  While they are a great, er, forum, to share opinions and have discussions in theory, my experience has shown me that John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is always true (with varying degrees of fuckwaddery, shitcockery and Asperger's).

I've become really hesitant to participate in any forum discussions because they're not discussions.  They're virtual whip-out contests.  The internet makes impulsive, selfish know-it-alls of us all (yes, myself included), and I don't want to make an ass of myself or anyone else by participating.  My philosophy on forum discussions when it comes to auditions is "Be happy for the girls and get over yourself....well, okay you can lament a little, but only a little!"

So, in any case, welcome, tenth generation.  Ganbatte kudasai!  :D

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On S/mileage, skirts and legs--why Tsunku was right


I've been a S/mileage fan from the beginning.  They gave life to H!P at a time when it was more stagnant than that two-week old half-full cup of Koharu sweet tea in my car.  Watching them debut was so much fun, not just watching their hair get cut and their music evolve, but also seeing four confused and somewhat naive girls go out on the streets of Tokyo and collect pictures of smiling fans for their picture collage challenge.  The smile campaign was a really unique and fun way to get their idol career started, and it helped cement their chemistry with the fans and with each other.

And therein lies the problem.

The four original ladies of S/mileage were a perfect fit.  Too perfect.  They all had distinct personalities, but they were all such good friends from the beginning that they really couldn't help the fact that they complimented each other perfectly.  Together, they made the most peaceful, perfect quartet in the history of the idol world.  As awesome as that seems, it doesn't mesh well with long-term interest, as we are starting to see with Berryz Kobo and C-ute.

I myself am a particularly non-confrontational person (well, when I'm not on the internet), so this perfect dynamic was part of what drew me to S/mileage in the first place.  So when the second-gen auditions were announced, I wailed, gnashed and threw ashes on my head with the rest of the fans.  How could Tsunku say ANYthing was missing from this perfect group?  Didn't he know how hard the girls worked for their debut?  How could he think anyone else deserves to be part of H!P's second best-selling group?  Would I continue to be a fan if the best girls (read: (insert fan's name here)'s personal choices) weren't picked?

I decided to be patient and wait for the answers to these questions to come along.  Now, one live-streamed concert, several snippet blog entries, two fewer members and a couple episodes of Hello! Pro Time later, they've come.

Tsunku was right.  Something was missing from S/mileage.  And the new members have delivered in bringing that something in.

Before the auditions, I was a big fan of S/mileage.  But I have since realized how casual that fandom was.  When Ogawa Saki left, I was bummed out.  She was my favorite member.  Her personality, her vocal skills, her facial expressions and her underdoggitude (WORDS YEAH!) made me notice her from the beginning.  But for some reason, she never broke that elusive "favorite members in H!P" barrier.  She, like the other members, was a pleasant, sparkly afterthought that kept me very interested in her personal activities and those of S/mileage as a whole, but she and the group stayed in that weird fangirl no-man's-land, and it was partly due to how well they meshed as a group because of their friendship.

I never got to see what kind of girls they all really were.  I always thought Ayaka was cute, but a terrible leader, Kanon was cute and crazy but never stood out, and Yuuka was Airi 2.0 with more boobage and far less vocal prowess.  It was hard to believe that I'd get to see more sides of them, even with new members.  It just didn't seem possible, but again, I was wrong.

Since the sub-members have joined, la vie S/mileage has become a lot more dynamic and colorful.  Bringing the senpai-kouhai dynamic into the mix has brought out the original members' personalities and given me a lot of appreciation for who the new members are, even though one of them (two, counting Fuyuka mah luv) was not one of my picks from the auditions.

Before, Ayaka seemed a craptastic leader--not because she lacked leadership skills, per se--but because she didn't have to lead anything.  Friends lead and follow each other.  Her leadership was symbolic before--since she was the oldest, she was the one who led MCs and answered questions on TV appearances.  Then, during the auditions, she realized she had to step up and keep everyone positive.  And now, she is a hell of a leader.  She keeps smiles on the girls' faces with military-like precision and sheds no tears in times of trouble.  Ayaka has gone from being a toothy goof to a total badass.

Before, Kanon was a spaz who had lots of fun with Saki on camera and looked super-adorable with short hair.  Now, she's still a spaz, but she has shown herself to be a marketing genius.  She is a master of self-promotion, and she is determined to master the subbies (esp. Kana) and make them into TV-perfect idols.  What a hell of a senpai!

Before, Yuuka was a sweetheart and the beauty of the group, but never quite stood out personality-wise.  She had the worst attitude about the auditions, but somehow she pulled through.  Now, she is the nurturing one, and the keeper of all things kawaii in S/mileage.  The kouhai have someone to snuggle with after a sound whipping by Kanon.


(This. With more leather.)

Tsunku made the right call on having auditions, and he picked the right sub-members.  They are all fresh and fit the vibe perfectly.

Akari is a star on TV (as seen on the infamous Momo-abuse game show).  I can see her being the next Sayumi in that respect, honestly.  She has a bit of an outgoing and stubborn personality, but she's also wicked funny.  With her cute S/mileage face, she's a complete package--one that S/mileage needs.

Rina is the diamond in the rough.  She's a great singer and dancer, but she's got room to grow with her looks.  Her sweetness and never-ending smiles make up for anything she lacks.

Meimi is nothing short of everything S/mileage represents.  She's young, eager, funny and completely adorable.  She's going to be the first student to master the art of self-promotion, and she already is the first to mesh perfectly in the group.

And Kana, the fans' least favorite out of the auditions, has come to be one of my favorite members.  This girl is smart.  She knew she didn't get picked for her abilities--she said so herself, on camera, to the fans.  She knew she was picked for some other reason.  Kana is the prettiest of the new members, in my opinion, but that's far from being the whole of her charm.  Kana has a lot to learn in terms of singing and posing, but it is so much fun watching her learn.  She has an awkward, KY personality that no other auditionee had, and there was no way we could have seen it had she not made the cut.  I am glad Kana made the cut, and I'm so buying her shirt :P

Many fans are still bitching about Karin not making the cut, and to be fair, I can see why.  Karin would have been a perfect fit.  But that's exactly why Tsunku didn't choose her.  He and shadowy overdudes and dudettes at UFA made the right call.  Karin is talented as hell, cute, and friends with Kanon.  Perfect in every way. But that perfection was exactly what needed to go.  Her future is uncertain, but we now know she has one, somewhere.  That and, come on, it would have been nothing short of insulting for Karin to be a sub-member.  Seriously, now.

I like S/mileage now much more than before, all weird PVs aside.  I'm happy the auditions happened, and I hope fans can now stop whining but quick.  No pressure.


Monday, September 26, 2011

20,000 views!


(Yes.  This is, in fact, Sparta.)

My silly idol blog has officially reached 20,000 views!!!!  I'm amazed, honestly :P

Thank you everyone, especially the crew at International Wota for randomly plugging a few of my posts and helping me discover their awesome site!

I hope I can be more diligent with posting in the future.  Thank you for your support!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My top 20 favorite H!P songs of all time


I am so bad at picking favorites, especially when it comes to music.  But since becoming a fan almost three years ago next month (!!), I've been able to learn a lot about Hello! Project and its awesomeness, past and present.  I'm really bummed that I missed the early years of Hello! Project, because it is full of some amazing songs and people, but I was really, really busy during my high school years, and YouTube didn't exist until about a year-ish after I entered college (holy crap, I'm old :P ), so no dice there.

But, I like lists.  I like reading other people's lists.  So here's a list!

My top 20 favorite H!P songs of all time + super video spam

#20: "Everyday Everywhere"--Taiyou to Ciscomoon

Yea, I got into this song after seeing Ai and Reina do it.  But they did it very, very well, and the song is beautiful.



#19: "Suki Sugite Baka Mitai"--DEF. DIVA

Everyone has this on a "top" list!  But it's totally 80s-fab, so why shouldn't you?! *sparkle*



#17: "Asu wa Date na no ni, Ima Sugu Koe ga Kikitai"--S/mileage

And the longest single title goes to...!  This is, and probably always will be, my favorite S/mileage song ever.  I wasn't fond of it at first, but the different-ness got to me.  It's cute, but not overly so, it has a really nice, calm vibe to it, and the PV is freaking great.  I hope S/mileage will do something similar to this song in the future.



#16: "PARTY TIME"--Guardians 4

Guardians 4 was a confusing group.  They didn't really have a good reason for existing--the music for the Shugo Chara anime was totally covered by Buono! and Shugo Chara Egg, I thought. But they did put out a couple of good songs, and PARTY TIME had me hooked from the first time I heard it.  And the dance is really fun to learn, too.



#15: "Semi"--Berryz Kobo

I'm a sucker for good ballads, and this is definitely one of H!P's better ones.



#14: "Thanks!"--GAM

Oh the legs.  Oooooooh the legs.



#13: "Nanchuu Koi wo Yatteruu YOU KNOW!"--Berryz Kobo

One of the most danceable songs in H!P history, I think.  Berryz' older singles were so amazing.




#12: "Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~"--Morning Musume

This is a song I didn't want to  listen to when I was first getting into MM, but when I finally gave it a chance, I loved it. Yossie's lovely boyishness won me over in the end. It's so wonderfully theatrical.



#11: "BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT!"--Pucchimoni

The PV makes ZERO sense, but this is a powerful concert song.



#10: "Osaka Koi no Uta"--Morning Musume

So much the sexy.  And it's a great song to listen to while angry.



#9: "Last Kiss"--Tanpopo

A classic.  So pretty.  And anyone ever notice how alike Ishiguro Aya and Iida look?  Holy crap, yo.



#8: "Akogare MY STAR"--C-ute

My favorite song off of C-ute's second best album :P



#7: "City Wind"--Goto Maki

This is a song a lot of people probably forgot about, but it is the sexiest song Goto ever released under UFA, in my opinion.  Better, even, than SOME BOYS! Touch.  This is off her amazing "How to use SEXY" album.  Miyabi needs to sing this for me ASAP.



#6: "Dakishimete Dakishimete"--Berryz Kobo

I'm a sucker for club-y techno-sounding songs.  This is some of the best choreography Berryz has ever done, and the song is crack.



#5: "Genki+"--Morning Musume

Another staple on many people's top lists.  I sing this song in the car with the windows down, and people in my quiet little redneck mountain town look at me like I have a third nipple.



#4: "Goal"--Buono!

There is nothing about this song I don't love.  The instrumental is truly amazing, the lyrics never fail to keep things in perspective, and the vocals are always great live.




#3: "Megami ~Mousse na Yasashisa~"--Morning Musume Venus Mousse

Ah, the Glico song....it's goregous, and I would love to see it performed in concert again, as long as the right girls are picked (I'm thinking Manoeri or Fukuda Kanon, Sayu, Miyabi and Risa would be a great performance combo).



#2: "Urahara"--Buono!

*drool*  The chord progression gives me much happy time.  This song is perfection. (However, the concert this video comes from was so far from perfection....ugh, let's just forget Rock'n Buono 3 ever happened.  Yes, I'm THAT picky.)



#1: "Sakura Mankai"--Morning Musume Sakuragumi

One of the first Morning Musume songs I heard, and it will always be my favorite.  It's so wonderfully traditional and gorgeous.





HONORABLE MENTIONS:


-Anata Nashi de wa Ikite Yukenai--Berryz Kobo
-Uwaki na Honey Pie--Country Musume
-Omae no Namida wo Ore ni Kure--Maeda Yuki
-Everyday Zekkouchou--C-ute
-Heroine ni Narou ka--Berryz Kobo
-Jiriri Kiteru--Berryz Kobo
-Do it! Now--MM
-One's LIFE--C-ute
-Inshouha Renoir no you ni--Elegies
-Some BOYS! Touch--Goto Maki
-Love like Crazy--Nochiura Natsumi
-Narihajimeta Koi no BELL--Ongaku Gatas
-Champagne no Koi--Melon Kinenbi

Friday, September 16, 2011

Morning Musume: 10th generation audition goes to camp!



Unless you live under a rock, you know that the 10th-gen auditions are in the home stretch.  Here, we have the ten finalists who have probably just finished washing Tsunku's pony-hair makeup brushes by hand at training camp.

This week's HaroPro Time! gave us a good (if incomplete) look at the ten finalists and their abilities, as well as the vocal coaches giving them the cruel, cruel task of memorizing Ai-chan's graduation solo.  The bastards.





It's rumored that we're getting even more footage next week, and I'm glad for this.  This generation is proving to be a mysterious one, and I'd really like to get a bigger picture of the girls before they are chosen.  They are all doing a great job so far--doing a group dance with people you don't know is really hard.  (Iwas a theater geek back in my young, skinny days--I know :P )  At this point, I see potential in all of them, but like everyone else, I have my favorites.  And I am totally in the minority on who some of them are.

My top picks, color-coded for your convenience:


SATO MASAKI

I absolutely love this girl.  Her dancing was pretty good (except for when she forgot the choreo under pressure, but it happens), and her voice at this point shows pretty good control and infinite room for growth, despite forgetting some lyrics.  She seems to have a smiley personality, too.  Yes, she has a rather plain look, but I see a diamond in the rough here.  That and the whole perfect pitch thing gives me a warm and sisterly feeling for her.  Misery loves company!!!


OOGAMI HINAKO (foreshadowing color WUT WUT)

It's the year of Kansai for H!P!  At least I hope so!  A lot of people out there seem to think this girl got hit with the ugly stick.  I don't.  She's a beauty, especially in the footage.  She has a unique look that no one else in MM has.  She is a very quick study as well, and that will help her take off in her early days as a Momosu. I really like her, and I hope the gods of UFA do too.



ISHIDA AYUMI

Ayumi was one I half-heartedly picked based on looks last week in the 5-second clips, but she really impressed me in the footage.  She is, without a doubt, the strongest dancer in the group (probably due to her backup experience with Dorothy Little Happy), and I have to commend her bravery on singing Naichau Kamo for her audition song.  Definitely not the best to show off vocals, but she did it with conviction.


MURAKAMI SARA 

I finally hopped aboard the Sara bandwagon after seeing the camp footage.  Sara, unlike most of the rest of the auditionees, has very little dance or vocal training.  Yet she shines.  Her voice is rather impressive for her level of training, and I love her haircut :P  She is raw and fresh, kind of like Acchan was when she busted into AKB48.  And look at that girl now--she's a total star and a total beauty.  I see that potential in Sara, and I really hope she gets in.



TANAKA FUUKA

The other Dorothy Little Happy back-up member in the audition!  She is a great dancer, and has a really cute smile, even if she isn't the best vocally.  Screw that, man!  She may seem a little plain, but in the Dorothy Little Happy footage I've watched, she seems to have an adorable personality.  She reminds me a little of Iida Kaori and Konno Asami's lovechild in that regard.  If she and Ayumi got in together, that would rock my world--they are so cute together!


Definitely wouldn't mind, but I'll have to think about it:


IIKUBO HARUNA

This girl, a H!O fan favorite, really is perfect for Morning Musume.  She's pretty, she has a pretty decent voice, and she's not a bad dancer.  I would not mind seeing her get in.  But the reason she makes the maybe list is because of her very obvious weight issues.

I don't like to throw this word around, because it is a very serious thing, but it is very appropriate to describe her: Haruna is literally anorexic.  Her legs are close to bowing out--there is almost nothing on her thighs, which, despite what media would have us believe, is a very, very bad thing. Thighs are one of the biggest indicators of a young woman's health, be they big or small, or in Haruna's case, not there.  Also, in the audition footage, her eyes had very big dark circles under them--and indicator of many things, not the least of which are dehydration, loss of collagen, and emotional and physical stress.  Granted, malpigmentation is also of particular concern for people of Asian descent, but I doubt that's what it is.  Lastly, the swollen cheeks she has, which some think means she has a full face, can indicate swollen salivary glands--not a good sign.

I like Haruna a lot.  But I worry about her health.  However, if she gets in, I'll be thrilled!  I just hope she gets some care.


TASHIMA MERU

Meru isn't that good, and she's not that good-looking.  But she has spunk and is willing to work on things.  She, Masaki and Miwa Satsuki all forgot the choreography at one point, and Natsu-sensei kind of chewed their asses for it, understandably.  But Suki-beam of H!O provided the world with this little gem:

Natsu-sensei: Do you have anything you want to say? 
Miwa: Please give us just one more chance
Sensei: Do you understand? What about when you have to do the final presentation? "Considering you already had a chance, why didn't you memorize it?"
Tashima: As for myself, ... to have the appearance of having memorized it perfectly...
Sensei: You want it perfect?
Tashima: *nod*
Sensei: Tashima, how are you going to continue from here? Until that time tomorrow, how do you plan on being able to do it (the dance)?
Tashima: I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I'm going to give it all my might to be able to do it.
Sensei: Alright, Tashima you're okay.
She can do this, she just needs some time.


Eh, don't call us, we'll call you:


KUDOU HARUKA

I think Haruka is liked mostly because she is an Egg.  Yes, she has some pretty awesome abilities (aside from her vocals, which aren't terrible but aren't great either), but she seems like material MM has had before.  I'm kind of resigned to the fact that she'll probably get in anyway.  I am very much in the minority, but I do not want to see her in MM.


MIYAGI AYUMI

Did not notice.  Not saying "Wax off, Miyagi" just yet though :P  


MIWA SATSUKI

Also did not notice much, but would like to.


I'm excited to see how many of them are going to get in--I'm all for three or four myself, though that might be a pipe dream.

Day 30: Why do you love idols?


The last part of the challenge took me a while to think about....or was it just me being lazy?  Well, you'll never know, now will ya? :P  Sorry for the delay!

I'd been wanting to write about this subject for some time.  I felt like I was going to go into some deep social commentary thing, but I think I've gone into that a few times already in various past posts.  I also felt like I needed to wax-poetic about how some people should stop being assholes about the fact that some people like idol music, but honestly, I really couldn't care less, and I should stop trying to, because I don't have to! I am lucky that the people in my life don't give two shits that I listen to idol music and perv over the girls in the super-bi way that I do.  It's fucking great!  Unlike a lot of people whose stories I've read on the H!O forums, I am blessed to have awesome friends and an awesome family who don't judge people based on silly hobbies like idol fangirling.  (And recognize that I'm a grownup.)  I don't get comments questioning (or affirming 8D) my sexuality unless I do something that warrants it just because of my idol hobby.  All things considered, I have it pretty damn good as a fan.  So, here are the many reasons I love idols!

I love idols because of the music.  It's fun, upbeat, and a lot of the lyrics to the songs are surprisingly deep, which blew me away when I first became an idol fan.  Even that recent C-ute release that I still gnash my teeth over is (oh god here it comes) winning me over because of the lyrics. No, they're not all good, but I love listening to it and knowing that it means something.  Idol music is NOT, I repeat NOT, some super-innovative genre.  It's not amazing riffs or glisses or anything else musically.  But it is fun, it is happy, and it provides that feeling to me when I need it to or just when I feel like it.  I sincerely wish I had enough money to buy every single release every time, but I can make do for now :)

I love idols because the girls and their characters are very interesting and fun to watch.  One thing I dislike about American pop culture is that it turns many women into complete bitches, and I don't want to have anything to do with people like that, be they directly in my life or not.  Idols' characters may not always be who they truly are, but they have other ways to let that out, like blogs.  (Or, if you're Sayaka, some guy's ego.  Oh hell yeah, girl.)

I love idols because the industry and culture give me a lot of things to think about as a feminist.  The idol industry on the whole pisses me off because of what it implies about what men think women should be, and how women themselves have internalized that.  I often wonder sometimes how I can be an idol fan and a strong feminist at the same time.  It confuses me.  But thinking and talking about the cultural issues gives me a ladyboner, and that's one reason I'm glad I haven't resolved this particular internal conflict.

I love idols because it really is neat to watch people grow up.  Many girls go into the industry at what we would consider a pretty young age, and watching them blossom into awesome young women is really great.  This is one thing I think is totally right about the idol world--they take care of the young people they pick, and even though they all work long hours, they usually turn out all right in the end.  (Now if only people would stop saying there's something inherently wrong with going into the AV industry...)

The previous 29 days of this challenge made me actively look into the members of groups I like but do not follow as closely as H!P, and I'm super grateful for that--the more idols, the merrier!  I'm glad I got wind of this--it was a great opportunity to branch out my idol fandom. :D

Sunday, September 4, 2011

30 day idol challenge: Day 29

Back after a couple pain in the ass days at work REEE!

Day 29: In your opinion, who is/was the best leader of an idol group?

Nakazawa Yuko

Is there really any other choice?  I think not!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

30 day idol challenge: Day 28

Day 28: Who is your favorite OG member?

Konno Asami

Konkon was such a mixed bag.  She could be softspoken in a crowd or she could steal the show.  She could be cute one minute and cool the next.  It was almost impossible to predict her most of the time.  She was such a genuine idol--it's rare to see an idol bring so much of what looks like their real self to their character.  I loved how smart she was, and how talkative she could be.  I'm glad she has such a successful career now--she deserves it.