No, really. What’s so special about Buono? The question is 100% genuine– not to be taken in a sarcastic way at all, and it’s something that I’ve been trying to figure out for a while now.

When the formation of Buono! was announced back in the summer, I rolled my eyes in exasperation. Just what Hello! Project needed– even more Airi, Momoko, and Miyabi. Because we hadn’t seen or heard enough of them, of course. When I heard about the Athena & Robikerottsu unit, I had a very different reaction. That was a step in the right direction, I thought. Taking Risa, who has continually been overshadowed in Morning Musume, Aika, and Nakajima Saki and Okai Chisato from C-ute and throwing them together for a super-cute unit. This was the way to go about it– put a few of the lesser-known (and newer, in one case) girls in H!P with a more well-known, deserving member of H!P, and you’ll have success. Throwing Miyabi, Momoko, and Airi together into an anime-based unit seemed as redundant as a regular H!P single. These three girls have constantly gotten leading roles in their individual groups or Berryz Koubou and C-ute Suzuki Airi ft. the Rest of C-ute. Buono was neither new nor exciting. And on a more personal level, I didn’t particularly like any of them. Miyabi was the highest on my list out of the three of them, but she wasn’t enough to save the group for me. I just wasn’t interested.

But here I am, months later and loving Buono, without any explicable reason whatsoever.

The group itself was announced a while before their actual first release was scheduled to go on sale. This created a long wait for the fans of the group (who were fans of the group right away, that is); while ‘Honto no Jibun’ had been performed live during the summer, it’s never the same as actually having the studio-quality song in your possession. But from my perspective, I really didn’t care, because I wasn’t anticipating this group’s release. When the live performance was uploaded to the internet, I took a peek at it, chuckled at the rather poor vocals, and I was glad the song was nothing special (so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything). Then October came. The single was released, and that was that. I remember watching the PV and chuckling at Momoko getting pelted with paper balls. But other than that, the PV was nothing substantial. ‘Good,’ I thought, ‘I’m still not missing out.’

I finally listened to the full single for kicks in, oh, let’s say mid-to-late November. I hadn’t bothered with the b-side, ‘Kokoro no Tamago,’ before– so I found myself slightly pleasantly surprised. I liked the song. It was cute, catchy, and had a very light, whimsical feel too it. Maybe it was how silly the English pronunciations sounded– maybe that’s what made me like it. Maybe it was, very simply, the melody of the song. There was something about it that made me like it. In fact, I liked it enough to give the a-side, ‘Honto no Jibun’ another try. I don’t exactly know what happened after that point, but I found myself humming ‘Honto no Jibun’ while I was out and about on a normal day, and I ended up listening to ‘Honto no Jibun’ even more than ‘Kokoro no Tamago.’

I will admit that the occasional song will sneak up on me, viciously attack my playlist, and keep itself on repeat without me even realizing it. This usually happens with Canaria Club songs (it happened to me when I was listening to FAITH! earlier today, now that I’ve finally found the full single), and THE Possible songs– and now, with Buono songs too, apparently. If someone told this to me in late August last year– that I’d be loving Buono’s releases– I would’ve just laughed in their face. Totally unlikely.

But it’s come to pass! I still rock out to ‘Honto no Jibun.’ That song just doesn’t get old, and I love the translation of the song. And I’ve been absolutely loving ‘Renai Rider’ to death ever since I heard the first rip, and I’m highly anticipating the single’s release on February 6.

So what changed my mind about Buono?

The answer might be simple at this point– and it was what I originally assumed at first. It was the music. The music was cute, without being overbearingly so, and catchy. They were just good songs to begin with, and it wasn’t really Buono that I liked. It could’ve been three other random girls from Hello! Project and I would’ve liked the songs just the same. (Except Tanaka… or Hagiwara. I have a feeling those girls have no hope for redemption in my book.)

So I went along with that assumption for a while, and it held up well… until a few weeks ago, when I sat down to watch C-ute’s ‘Aki ~Houkago no Essence~’ concert. It was a C-ute concert as usual. My attention was mostly on Erika and Saki whenever possible. Otherwise, I was cheering for most of the girls, except Airi.
I have to note that I’ve found it hard to dislike Airi as a person; whenever I see her doing anything other than performing, I tend to like her, because she seems like a silly, sweet girl and she just generally amuses me. (Hell, after seeing episodes seven and eight of ‘C-ute Has Come,’ I could never dislike that girl.) But when she’s performing, Airi just bores me, and I don’t think she deserves the constant spotlight that she gets, so… I tend to get annoyed with her when I’m watching C-ute perform.

So then, in the middle of the concert, Miyabi and Momoko suddenly show up on stage. While I did like ‘Honto no Jibun’ by that point, I was less-than-excited about seeing them perform it. “Oh, boy,” I thought, rolling my eyes again, “here they come. I just can’t wait to see this one.” Miyabi and Momoko talked on stage to buy time for Airi to get changed into her costume for the song, so I was not pleased about having to sit through that little MC and hearing Momoko’s grating voice.

Oh, did I mention that I didn’t like Momoko?
I’ve mentioned before that there were three people in Hello! Project that I didn’t like. Tanaka Reina, Hagiwara Mai, and now you all know the third one– Momoko.

So, anyway, moving on. Airi finally showed up in her Buono gear, the three introduced their unit, and the song began.

Before I knew it, I was dancing along to the song in my chair and found myself cheering for all of them. Not just Miyabi– all three of them.

Once the song finished, I was taken aback. What the hell had just happened?! Why did I suddenly like Buono– as a group?! Why was I not sitting there thinking, “Ugh, and there’s Airi… again.”?! Why was Momoko so suddenly no longer in my bottom three?!

I’ve yet to come to a conclusion. I’ve looked at the issue from several angles– none of which give me a solid answer.

Was it the dance? No, the dance isn’t that special– even a bit overdone with the air guitar segments and fist-pumping.
Was it the costumes? No. While I do like the costumes, they were shown way back in August, and I would’ve liked them right off the bat if this was totally based around the outfits.
Was it the anime connection? Nah. I don’t watch Shugo Chara– that wouldn’t have been it.
Was it the voices? This has some possibility to it. That performance at the C-ute concert was the only time I had really listened to a live of the song (except back in the summer when they first formed the group). Maybe hearing this live made it better– but again, we were still dealing with the Airi and Momoko factors here– where Airi usually annoys me when she performs and where I didn’t even like Momoko. It was still them singing the songs, and their live voices never made me like them before.
Was it the line distribution? I thought that this one could’ve had some potential to it, but inevitably, this theory got shot down, too. In ‘Honto no Jibun,’ there is a very even line distribution– no one gets significantly more lines than the others, which is the opposite of your typical Berryz, C-ute, and even Morning Musume single. But then I considered the other girls I liked in H!P– particularly Risako and Takahashi, and both constantly get more lines and face-time than others in their respective groups. So nope– this theory doesn’t work either.
Was it… the hair?! Haha, this one wasn’t one I came up with personally, but it does have possibilities. I shared my sudden love for Buono with a friend and asked her the same question– why was I liking them all of a sudden– and her take on it was their hairstyles. Intriguing, but I’m quite not that fickle. (I ❤ you, Serere, by the way.)

 So… what was it?! Any other theories?

Now, I’ll finally admit I’m a fan of Buono. I’m looking forward to all their future releases, and I’ve even found myself hoping for solo tracks on their upcoming album. I really still am astonished that it’s actually me writing this post– the same person who couldn’t stand the sight or sound of Momoko just a few months ago… suddenly hoping that she gets her own solo track?! I’m suddenly re-watching Berryz concerts and actually liking the way she performs, and liking her personality offstage too?!

It’s a strange, strange thing– what Buono’s done to me. I’ll never forget how my bottom three of Hello! Project suddenly became only my bottom two, or how this one performance shook up my view on some of Hello! Project’s most popular idols.


(My own conclusion, by the way, is magic. Cutesy punk rocker black magic.)

And on a completely unrelated note, I just want to share some news with you all. I just found out earlier this week that my application to study abroad in Japan next semester got accepted! I’m super-excited for this fall! Osaka, here I come!