Well, hello again. Feels like I haven’t blogged in a while now, but it really wasn’t that long ago. I’ve been pretty ill these past few weeks– that and otherwise buried in homework. Those factors sort of combine together with the fact that nothing recent in the idol world has inspired me quite enough to make a big blog post about it (sometimes I think I have an attention span worse than Tsunku’s), but the recent Hello! Project ranking poll started by Hello! Blog that’s been going around and reading about everyone’s rankings has made me want to join in, too. So I’ll post up my rankings and explanations and combine a whole bunch of random thoughts I’ve had about recent events in the idol world later on in the entry. So, without further ado…

(For some reason, WordPress is being immensely difficult and not letting me load images on my entries. I don’t know why– so I apologize for the inconvenience there. Links are provided in place of all the pictures I was planning to use!)

[My Morning Musume Ranking Graphic]

Morning Musume was the hardest of the three groups to rank. After going through that, I realized even more just how much I love the current line-up of the group. I’m just so attached to so many of the girls, and it was really difficult to place a lot of them because of that.
1. Linlin — The top spot was the hardest one to choose. The top four in this list tend to be quite interchangeable, actually. But for now, it went something like this: Linlin stomped onto the battlefield, took hold of her mighty sword of idol prowess– no!– abandoned the sword entirely and resorted to her bare fists of brute comedic power and Bonkyu! Bonkyu! BOMB-style knocked out all the rest, emerging in the end with a triumphant cry of, “Bacchiri-desu!”
Linlin just does everything right. She’s a talented singer and dancer, she’s explosively funny, seems to have a very sweet personality, and her stage presence and energy is just unbeatable. Honestly, I think this girl is the perfect Musume– the ideal. I can find no faults in her.
Here’s to you, Linlin– and here’s hoping she gets the kind of attention she deserves (HINT: Solo lines in Resonant Blue, please!) soon!

2. Junjun — I love how much Junjun’s personality has really been shining through lately. She started off almost a year ago as a shy girl, but she’s been coming out of her shell lately, as episodes of Haromoni@ continually reveal. How could one forget the classic banana-stealing moment? And, a little further back– I really remember falling a LOT for Junjun in one Haromoni@ episode where the girls had to go through a haunted house type of place. All these little traps were set up around the place to try to scare them, and Junjun, Takahashi, and… I think it was Reina went in together. Ai’s manly screams absolutely cracked me up, but it was Junjun that really impressed me. She was totally unfazed by the whole experience, even while Ai and Reina were jumpy and screaming all around her. She just smirked whenever something scared the other girls. I liked to see that kind of toughness in her– it really set her apart from the others.
Aside from her personality, Junjun looks like a good dancer, and she’s an absolute beauty. A cute beauty, at that– she can pull off the cute look, the beautiful look, and even the sexy look. A versatile image is another great plus for Junjun.
My one reservation with Junjun is her voice, actually. She’s a decent singer, and she sounds just fine in studio recordings, but when it comes to lives, she seems to have a bit of trouble maintaining her vocal qualities. She certainly isn’t the worst in the group, but she could use a bit of work. That has really been the only thing that’s disappointed me about Junjun, thus leaving her so far up in my list.

3. Takahashi Ai — Ai is just the superstar of Morning Musume. While I can normally annoyed by particular girls getting all the lines in singles, Ai has the vocal talent to really deserve those lines. I cannot think of many other Musumes who have been on the same level as Ai– with such talent. And not only is she a good singer, she’s a spectacular dancer. She’s just one of Morning Musume’s top performers. She has the kind of dependability that Morning Musume really needs. Even when everything is utterly failing (ahem), Ai is RIGHT there with her A game. I’m barely ever disappointed by this girl. 
Whenever a graduation rumor comes about, I always worry that Ai will be the next one up. Because honestly, Ai leaving is the LAST thing Morning Musume needs right now. Ai is at the heart of the group. She’s that solid foundation that keeps things from falling apart, and without Ai, I’d be almost afraid to hear what their singles would sound like (judging by Tsunku’s typical pattern– Reina and Koharu leads?!).
Outside of that, Ai’s personality is so loveable. She’s shy, quiet, unintentionally goofy. I always feel like I’m seeing the real Ai with her– it’s not just some act.

4. Kamei Eri — Eri is just one of those girls that you HAVE to like. Eri’s quirky, funny, cute, and another girl where I always feel like I’m getting to see her genuine personality. Eri’s a great dancer, and while her vocals can sometimes be a tiny bit ittle weak (more on the ‘whiny’ side– but her range is just fantastic), I can easily overlook that because she has so many other good qualities about her. On a more superficial level, Eri definitely has the best damn figure out of all the girls. Her photobooks just reign supreme.

5. Niigaki Risa — This girl just has the best smile ever. What I love about Risa is that she looks so happy when she’s performing. Her enthusiasm is totally unparalleled. She always looks like she really wants to be there, and she always puts on a strong performance. I’m also a huge fan of Risa’s vocal talent, too. She can pull off a great range, and her voice is always so strong. Risa power! On a last note about her, Risa just exudes the classic feel of ‘Morning Musume’ to me. Her presence always reminds me of the group’s past, and she seems to help keep that classic feeling around. As I said, I love this current line-up, but Risa is the one who helps make the group really feel like Morning Musume– not just any other talented pop group that you could slap any random name on.

6. Mitsui Aika — Oh, it broke my heart to see Aika so low on this list, but I had to do what I had to do. I won’t elaborate too much here on Aika, because I’m still really gathering my thoughts about where I stand with her recently. But mainly, the reason she’s down here so far is the vocal quality factor. I’m generally not too impressed with her performances. But what I do like is that she’s indeniably adorable, and always looks like she’s having fun– an important quality to have, for sure!

7. Kusumi Koharu — Like I’ve explained before, my love for Koharu seems to come in waves. Right now, it’s at one of those low points. Not that I’m tending to be on the “I dislike Koharu” side of the fence lately, but I just haven’t been too impressed with her lately. And it mainly has to do with her live vocals. I can tolerate her studio recordings well enough– hell, tracks from her Kirarin Land album constantly get stuck in my head and I don’t mind it. (I can’t even count the amount of times ‘Konnichi pa’ has been stuck on repeat in my brain, but I’m used to it by now.) But her live vocals… just… not so good. A little painful, at times. When a live performance of ‘Mikan’ was shown on Dohhh UP!, I watched it and just felt… embarrassed for Koharu. This is one I have to share just so you can all see what I mean.

At 00:46, I just watched along in horror. While I normally love the spacy spaz look on her, I just wasn’t feeling it this time around, and with that combined with her shaky vocals– yeah, as I said– it was just… embarrassing to watch.
What I do like about Koharu is that she’s a really enthusiastic dancer. She really gets into her dancing (you can see that in the Mikan performance, too).

8. Michishige Sayumi — I’m going to be harsh on Sayumi here, so if you’re a massive Sayumi fan, I’d recommend not reading this. I was just discussing my thoughts on Sayumi with a friend a few days ago. I’ve usually thought favorably of Sayumi, but more recently, the tide has been turning away from that. It’s sort of gone from really liking Sayumi to sort of liking Sayumi to tolerating to Sayumi to… well, now. My patience is running short with Sayumi. I used to find her bad singing cute, but now it’s just… lost its appeal on me. Whenever I see Sayumi performing live, I’m usually just disappointed with her. I’ve sort of come to the point where I’m thinking, “Shape up or ship out!” with Sayumi. She has been able to improve since joining Morning Musume, of course, and I’ll give her credit for that, but it’s just not enough for me right now.
I was listening to ‘Sayonara Solitia,’ by Chiba Saeko the other day, and I was just STRUCK by the similarities that her voice shared with Sayumi’s. It amused the hell out of me. (Seriously, if you haven’t heard the song– take a listen— hear how she definitely sounds like Sayumi in some places?!) I really think Sayumi COULD be like that– if she worked REALLY hard. But at this point, I’m not optimistic enough to think that will ever happen. I’d be majorly impressed if she someday DID sound that good. But for now, Sayumi’s charm has just worn off on me.

9. Tanaka Reina — There should be no surprises here. Reina is at the very, very bottom of my entire Hello! Project ranking. Again, more harsh words coming. Flee, Reina fans! In short, I find her voice annoying, her stage presence and personality annoying. The act’s old now.

Next up!

[My Berryz Koubou Ranking Graphic]

1. Sugaya Risako — This one should also not be a surprise. Risako is very easily my #1 girl in Berryz– that top spot is very comfortably hers. For a much more detailed explanation, see a previous post– The Mystery of Risako. 🙂

2. Tokunaga Chinami — Again, no surprises. Chinami holds a close second to Risako’s top spot, and is very comfortable in second place, as well. The divide between 2 and 3 is quite large, and as much as the rankings of the other girls may change, 1 and 2 are ALWAYS Risako and Chinami. And again, for a more detailed explanation, see As long as there’s Chinami, IT’S ALL RIGHT.

3. Kumai Yurina — Choosing between Yurina and Miyabi was probably the hardest to do of this bunch. But Yurina won in the end because she consistently impresses me. While I have my reservations about her vocals, I just genuinely have to like Yurina. She’s a good dancer, a great performer with great stage presence and energy, comes across wonderfully in PVs, and, well, she’s super pretty! She also seems like a really sweet girl, too. She’s got a very likeable character. I have very few complaints with the girl.

4. Natsuyaki Miyabi — Berryz’s vocal goddess is in a pretty respectable spot on my list. It’s a very fine line between 3 and 4. But Miyabi definitely deserves all the praise she can get. She’s a pretty good dancer, and extremely vocally talented. She’s sort of like the Takahashi of Berryz in this way– I’d fear for the fate of Berryz songs without Miyabi. While not as reliable as Takahashi, she’s still the best vocalist in the group and usually does well whenever it comes to singing– whether it’s live or in the studio. Not to mention that all my favorite lines from Buono! songs are sung by Miyabi…

5. Tsugunaga Momoko — If it weren’t for Buono!, Momoko would place a lot lower on this list. I don’t think I would’ve really given her the chance. But through Buono!, Momoko proved to me her versatility as a performer. While I find her voice can get a little grating [in Berryz songs] at times, I like her voice in Buono! Most of all, though, I love this girl’s personality. She’s very much an idol. Her energy shines on stage and she’s a fantastic performer. But even off-stage, I find myself really liking her. It may seem like a stupid a thing to say, but I just have a feeling that she’s just a really good person. She seems like a good, reliable friend to the other girls, and I think it’s very admirable.

6. Shimizu Saki — I find myself with very little to say about these last two. Saki doesn’t have the best vocals, but I can certainly tolerate them. I guess the thing that stands out the most is Saki’s talented dancing. Ever since I saw her solo dance in a concert performance of ‘Anata Nashide de wa Ikite Yukenai,’ I’ve been blown away by her dancing. That girl can MOVE!

I can’t comment too much on her personality. She’s soft-spoken and cute, and… well, that seems to be the gist of it! She doesn’t stand out a whole lot to me, and that’s why she places so low on the list, but I certainly don’t dislike her.

7. Sudou Maasa — And ending off this group is Maasa. Again, I can’t find much to say about Maasa. She has her moments, and her singing seems to be improving lately, but out of all the girls, Maasa definitely stands out the least to me. I don’t particularly love her, but I don’t dislike her either. I’m just neutral about her.

And finally!

[My C-ute Ranking Graphic]

 1. Umeda Erika — As with Risako, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Erika is one of my very favorites in H!P as a whole. She’s a talented, talented performer. Her voice is fantastic and her vocal quality in lives tends to be strong, she’s a good dancer, and her personality is just AMAZING. She’s ridiculously entertaining, I just love watching her goof around with the other girls. There’s a rumor going around about the possibility of Erika getting a solo song on C-ute’s new album, and I think I can die happy if that happens. To say the least, Erika deserves a LOT more attention than she’s been getting in H!P. She’s immensely talented, pretty, and a real star.

2. Nakajima Saki — Oh, Saki. With her ducky little voice, crybaby eyes, and fragile smile, Saki charmed her way into this second spot. It’s so hard to dislike this girl. A lot of people complain about her rather painful vocals. I do agree that she has a lot of work to do on improving her singing, but she has been slowly improving ever since C-ute began, if that counts for anything. In the short lines that she’s given in singles, it can be hard for her to really shine, but in songs like ‘Disco Queen,’ Saki’s able to show off and handle her voice a bit more. What’s really notable about Saki, though, is her dancing. She’s so tiny on stage, but when you focus on her, you really get to see the punch that this girl packs in her dancing. Take a look at her in this clip of ‘Bishoujo Shinri,’ especially right at 03:13.

Even in other live performances, dance shots, and whatnot, Saki works really hard on stage, and I really appreciate it. She doesn’t just go through the moves like some of them seem to. Saki POWER!

3. Yajima Maimi — Maimi is an absolute powerhouse. She’s an INTENSE dancer– one of the best in Hello! Project, and overall a very strong performer. I’m rarely ever disappointed by Maimi’s performances. She can outshine the other girls so easily. She’s been getting a lot of attention lately, and she totally deserves it. Her vocals were great in the recent single with Nacchi. And, well, to sum it all up, Maimi is just a superstar and another one of those girls that I could just never dislike.

4. Arihara Kanna — I think Kanna has a lot of hidden potential. She’s given very, very little attention in C-ute, and I really can’t understand why. She’s a good dancer, and her vocals have improved IMMENSELY lately. I’m always really impressed whenever I see Kanna in concerts, because I always tend to forget just how great this girl is at performing. She can easily wear herself out on stage, but she always keeps trying, and I admire that hard-working spirit. Not to mention how fantastic Kanna looked in the latest C-ute PV! She’s absolutely gorgeous– definitely the prettiest girl in that PV, but she barely gets any screentime! What’s up, Tsunku?! Start noticing Kanna more! She’s way too talented to be kept in the back!

5. Suzuki Airi — The reason that Airi’s got this position on my list is merely because of her personality, and, well, Buono! again. Her vocals in C-ute tend to grow old on me fast, and her dancing is nothing spectacular (not BAD, but it just doesn’t stand out to me), but gosh, this girl is so loveable. And, again, Airi’s great in Buono! I can’t complain about her there.

6. Okai Chisato — Sort of along the same lines as Shimizu Saki– I don’t have much to say about Chisato. She’s definitely a cute girl, and a good singer, but Chisato just doesn’t stand out too much to me. Not that she’s really been given the chance to, though. Chisato seems like a fun-loving girl, which is definitely a positive point. And Chisato never fails to impress me whenever I watch performances of ‘JUMP’! 

I still do like Chisato, she just unfortunately ended up all the way down here on the list. Though I will note there is a HUGE split between this and seventh place. I like Chisato a LOT more than, well…

7. Hagiwara Mai — Bluntly, I just don’t like Mai. She’s a cute kid, sure, but… she doesn’t impress me, and I just… find her a little bit creepy. Sorry I can’t articulate this better, there’s just something about Mai that I simply don’t like, and because of it, she always ranks so low. She’s a step above Reina in my book, at least.

And finally, those random scattered thoughts that I mentioned before–

  • Janakya Mottainai is one of the best songs to come out of a Hello! Project group ever. It’s just SO different, shows off the girls’ voices spectacularly, and I just love it to pieces.
  • The previews for Buono!’s upcoming album ALSO are spectacular. I’m in love with almost all the previews of the new songs, and I really can’t wait until the full thing is released.
  • Noto Arisa needs to join Morning Musume… NOW. That girl is pure, 100% idol POWER. Her stage presence is amazing, she NEVER falters. And, well, she’s so freaking adorable it HURTS. Ongaku Gatas is giving her a lot of good exposure, but it’s Morning Musume would benefit massively from Nocchi. She’s more than ready for a chance like that.
  • Remember how I said Uchida Yuma is one of those rare, really CLASSIC cuties with a really unqiue appeal? Yeah, I believe that EVEN more now. How cute is this girl?! (Photographic evidence: 1 /  234 / 5)
  • I’ve really been liking THE Possible lately, but I’m just not a fan of their two latest songs and PVs, unfortunately! Here’s hoping they release some better stuff so I can, you know, actually WANT to follow their releases!
  • While I was massively disappointed with AKB48’s latest PV, ‘Romance, Irane,’ the PV preview for the upcoming re-release of ‘Sakura no Hanabiratachi’ looks AMAZING. Now we all know where the budget went!
  • On the note of AKB48, Team B needs more love. (On that note, I’m considering creating a post about Team B soon.)
  • Risako’s latest PB was her best yet! She’s such a gorgeous girl, and I’m really impressed with how well it turned out! In fact, I’ll just share one of my favorite shots from that PB to wrap this entry up. 🙂

[Risako PB photo]