Morning Musume


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…

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The first time I heard about AKB48, it was in a negative light. They were supposedly ripping off H!P’s idol groups, and some fans were not happy—so the information I came across told me.

“What’s this?! Some other idol group copying Morning Musume?! The injustice!” was my initial response. But really, I had to see this for myself. A quick Youtube search for AKB48 brought me to the PV for AKB48’s single, ‘Skirt, Hirari.’ I had no idea what I was in for. When I clicked on the link, I watched as these girls danced around in schoolgirl uniforms. They were all adorable. Some of them were good singers, and some of them were, well, not so good. I was kind of surprised to see some girls (particularly Maeda Atsuko) featured with a big solo in the song with a voice like that. But anyone who’s seen this PV can probably attest to the fact that this PV wasn’t about showcasing the vocal talent of this group. No, no. It was about, literally, skirts, fluttering. Pure and utter fanservice in one of its most obvious incarnations. At that point, my mind was made up about the whole debate—this group was not copying Morning Musume.

Not even close.

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I was half-tempted to title this one ‘Junjun in Space’ (I’ll explain why later in the entry), and was really debating between that and the one I ended up using; ultimately I chose “Mikan’s Impact,” because, well, I got thinking about space, you know, asteroids… impact, haha– well, it was funny at the time I realized the unintentional pun. … but anyway.

 Yesterday, the new PV for Mikan surfaced, and I can certainly say it’s nothing like I expected. The adorable cover previews gave me hope for a colorful set and some kind of party-themed PV, with the girls dressed in normal clothes, and– well, basically, another Tokaikko Junjou, except less dancey and ranking higher on the exuberant happiness scale. I certainly got the exuberant happiness I was looking for, but certainly not the party– but nevertheless, I kept seeing something of a repeating pattern here.

I can’t help but thinking this single was released a few months too early. From the party covers, to the sparkly special effects, to the chrome-colored stylish space suits in the PV, to the overall meaning of the song– this entire single just screams “New Year” to me. But alas, we’re in the beginning of November! But no one can really ever tell what’s going on up in Tsunku’s mind, can they? His obsession with his new favorite English word, “chance,” is another pretty intriguing pattern, but I have no idea where may be going with that one, if at all. (9th Chance Auditions, anyone?)

But anyway, time for some more specific reactions to this new PV.

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It might seem like a silly, petty thing to do, but I have honestly tried to dislike Koharu. Waves of that kind of feeling would come because of how much promotion she’s been getting in comparison to other members, and just simply how her talent– vocal quality, mainly– still left a lot to be desired.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Koharu was one of my first favorites. I just latched onto her when I started learning about Hello! Project. Since she was the newest member at that time, I wanted to learn more about her and root for her. In a way, I think I identified the most with her, if only on a distant level. She was relatively new to Morning Musume, I was new to learning about Morning Musume. So as she’d grow and progress through the group, I’d learn more about the group and be able to be there along the way watching the newest member to see how she turns out in the group.

Very gradually, I found myself slipping away from my dear Kusumi, the girl who made me giggle with her goofy smile, and made me cry when I watched her performing ‘Ai Araba IT’S ALL RIGHT’ solo. (Hey, I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m pathetic. But I am honest.)

I think it must have happened earlier this year. I remember being super excited for “Balalaika,” and that was released at the end of last October. But I think with the excitement of the 8th Gen auditions and Aika being chosen for Morning Musume, my attention faded away from Koharu pretty quickly. Things were all about Aika after December. I just sort of lost interest in what Koharu was doing. I thought her solo album was pretty good, but I don’t really remember anticipating it as much as I had anticipated Balalaika. And then it must’ve been around the release of “Happy” that things went really downhill. I wasn’t a fan of the song at all, the vocals irritated the hell out of me, and I just wasn’t buying it anymore.

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So the rips have been released out on the net for Morning Musume’s new single, “Mikan.”  I’ve been listening to the radio rip and a concert rip (since that’s really all that’s out there), and while such low-quality files aren’t exactly the best to judge a single on, they’ll have to do for now. If you haven’t come across any of these and want to take a listen, here’s links to those files (both found at JPH!P forums):

Mikan: Radio Preview
Mikan: Concert Rip

Mikan clearly takes a turn from Morning Musume’s past few singles; Kanashimi Twilight and Onna ni Sachi Are definitely have that angry/edgy feel to them, and Mikan is a totally different change of pace. Mikan’s upbeat and fun to listen to, but it’s missing two very, very vital things.

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So it’s been a little while since my last post; I’ve since been stuck with a lot of work, followed by a nice little break, which I spent back at home being absolutely lazy and enjoying every minute of that. Last night, we had a big dinner for a good bunch of my relatives, so there I was, sitting in the parlor with my laptop, and I found myself watching the H!P Eggs Concert while my family argued back and forth about the Red Sox/Indians baseball game. Just to create a little amusing scene for you all– imagine “Strawberry Pie-yi-yi-yi-yi-ya-yi, strawberry pie, oh strawberry pie!” harmonizing with fevered shouts of “GAGNE?! THEY’RE SENDING IN GAGNE?! Game’s over, we’re doomed.”

 I’ve actually watched the H!P Eggs Shinjin Kouen Concert quite a bit before then. It’s not rare, though, that when I settle down to do some work, I’ll throw on a concert to listen to instead of the original music. It sure as hell is more DISTRACTING than listening to music alone, but it’s a lot more entertaining! So it’s not a new thing, but what I’ve found with the Eggs Concert is that it REALLY commands a lot of attention from me when I happen to play it, and small parts of the concert will get stuck in my head. Not just an entire song– just little lines said by certain Eggs. It’s a little annoying, actually, to have ONE LINE running through your head an entire day, but I’ve just had to accept the fact that these Eggs just have some mysterious power over me right now.

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With the release of another U-15 photobook comes the inevitable swimsuit debate. Well– not every U-15 photobook; those shots are a given for gravure idols, obviously, but when it’s someone who isn’t in the gravure industry, the announcement and release of a photobook always sparks this debate between fans. Just recently, Kusumi Koharu released her second solo photobook, POP. Before it was announced, I was wondering when the time for another photobook for Koharu would be. After all, she’d gained massive popularity from her seiyuu work in Kirarin Revolution, was given successively greater roles in Morning Musume (her center position in ‘Onna ni Sachi Are,’ highlights that best), and the slew of H!P Kids photobooks over the spring and summer gave a bit of a hint at what was next to come. And there it was– the announcement for POP. I happened to like the name when it was released– I had pretty high expectations for the photobook (which weren’t entirely met, but that’s off-topic), so I was looking forward to it.

By now, I’ve gotten pretty used to the H!P photobooks pattern– despite the age, there’s a huge chance that you’ll be getting some swimsuit shots. There have been a few exceptions, but more often than not, swimsuit pictures are part of the whole package. So, of course I was expecting swimsuit shots in Koharu’s new photobook, and needless to say, swimsuit shots did show up in POP, but these kind of things create a bit of a split in the fan community.

Before I put a cut on this entry, I’m just going to put a warning out there that there WILL be links to swimsuit pictures in the rest of the entry. I won’t thumbnail them, but I will be discussing specific pictures, so there will be corresponding links. If you’re sensitive to that kind of material, just don’t go blindly clicking on links. 🙂

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