In which Isilie Reviews 2009~Favourites~


img20080320165552686 So 2009 is coming to a close, eh? I realize it’s not technically over, but there are times when I’m not very patient.

I’ve decided that being lame is ok for a moment and am therefore ready to spring this end-of-the-year post on ya. I think that 2009 was an interesting year, plus this will give me a chance to comment on things I didn’t formally write about for whatever reason. I might repeat words a lot, like ‘beautiful’, because I’m writing mostly about what I liked and that makes me excited and unable to think of more creative adjectives.

I begin with this shot of (arguably) the three most adorable of the Musumes. Mame and Mitsui should be in there too, but we can’t always get what we want, can we? Linlin has the most wonderful smile. In case you can’t tell, they are making a strawberry shortcake. In mid-air. Which is apparently hilarious.

Hey, whatever. Since when has any photo set made sense? I love this one, personally, but I’m not sure why they don’t just use a table.

Man, cute pics are distracting.

Favourite Singles of 2009:

Momusu’s Shouganai Yume Oibito + Kimagure Princess

img20090717062048481I’m not sure exactly how many people cared that this was their first number one on the Oricon charts since Aruiteru, but it was another milestone in their long history. Yes, a milestone. Not because it sold spectacularly well, but because this number one made it so that every single generation of Momusu has experienced a number one single (at least on that infernal, yes I said infernal, chart), even for a day.

Every single generation. I think that’s pretty cool.

Besides that, this song is beautiful. The harmonies are amazing, although it’s somewhat drowned out by the backing track. I wish Tsunku would have showcased these harmonies more, rather than focusing so much on solos. I have no idea how, but someone had uploaded an mp3 of the track with only vocals (I cannot remember where I found this though) – I was floored. Even though the harmonies are slightly drowned out, they are there for once and beyond that, the solos are slightly softer than normal. It felt like everyone held back a little and rightly so. The pv had a story for once and a location rather than a set. University seems like a perfect setting for that song. And I love the costumes. The dance is a little odd, but I love it anyway.

See what a little promotion can do for ya?img20091103143700297

Kimagure is a little different for Momusu, but also not so much. It reminds a lot of people, including Nutjob herself, of Balalaika and it reminded me of Odore Morning Curry, just in the sheer craziness of those first few moments before they start singing. There’s been a lot of fuss about the chipmunk vocals and of the random cowgirl costumes covered in holes (-the hell? I remember when I was really young blue jeans with giant holes in the knees were fashionable. I thought holes in your pants were stupid then, and I still think they are now).This was an odd choice for the cowgirl theme, but they’re all so pretty/cute/etc that you stop caring (if you’re me). I don’t care about the chipmunk moments, because they go by quickly and the ‘ii janai’s more than make up for them.

The lyrics seem tongue-in-cheek to me, which I like. I think Momusu needs to stop taking themselves so seriously for a moment. They’ve not had a simple, fun, random pop single in awhile. This feels like one of those songs that Tsunku just felt like writing, because he’s completely insane and operates on whim. I love that he sat there writing lyrics like, “look at the charm of this ass”. Remember the “sexy island” lines in IJ? I could see him writing those lines and then giggling to himself. Perhaps he was trying to sound sexy, but it comes across as the song equivalent of a wink.

Give us another Yowamushi when you wanna be sexy, Tsunku. Don’t give us chipmunks, Russian dancing and random butt-grabs (can’t wait to see the new concert on dvd for that performance).

It might seem like I’m complaining, but I’m not. The vocals are great, the dance is fun and the backing track is pop-y goodness. I love this song – mostly because it’s pop that doesn’t care what you think. It isn’t trying to be anything but its cracked out self. It’s fitting grad song for Koharu. I find it quite catchy, even though I’ll always giggle at the “sexy princess” (grab!) line.

Guardians 4 – Omakase Guardian + Party Time

img20090808112101482I didn’t expect to like this group at all. I don’t watch this anime and I usually can’t really be bothered keeping up with all the random, anime-related groups that seem to pop up and then disappear. Some times they are cute and some times they are just a resounding meh. Since I am always looking for new music, I decided to give their first single a listen and I fell in love with it. First of all, it’s hilarious Engrish at its finest: “rakki” (lucky), “bu-i sa-i-un (V sign)” etc. Second, the pv, with its entire lack of set and the rocking back and forth with that banner to the music? Want some cheese with that cheese? Then the dance, which is just so cutesy it makes me laugh… It’s all good here. I really think Mitsui comes into her own in groups like this. She can pull off pretty much whatever you throw her way, but I think she is happiest in these sorts of songs. Cuteness radiates from her, but somehow maturity. She reminded me of Mame’s presence in Athena&Robikerottsu – cute and youthful but with a big-sister air. Love her vocals here. This song just always cheers me up because it’s so…well, cheery.
And ridiculous. How can you watch them rocking back and forth with that banner and not start giggling?

Party Time just plain delights me. It reminds me vaguely of the opening song for the anime Chobits. The ‘pa-pa-pa-pi-ah’ could get old fast, but for me it doesn’t. I’m addicted to those little things. There’s something refresing about the arrangement. The accompanying pv is a lot more elaborate than Omakase. They get a set, a LOT of bubbles and their customary tea. Kumai (SO tall), Nakajima and Mitsui run around being adorable, but Risako always seems like she’s out of the loop a bit. They all must be tired of looking up into those enormous nostrils of hers (HA!). I love that they’re always having some sort of celebration, too. It’s always, “yay, let’s have cake cause we’re friends!” That’s a good philosophy.

Buono – My Boy

Is there really anyone who hated this single? Buono has been consistently good since they debuted, even though I thought they wouldn’t last a year (in my defense, anime units don’t seem to stay around for too long). If I don’t like their singles initially, I go back to them later and realize how epic they really are. This happened recently with Rottara. How did I not love that song? The thing with this trio is their vocals – they’re strong but very sweet. Often with strong vocalists, at least for me, listening to them gets tiring and singing along becomes impossible (not always, but with certain artists). Buono is singable, enjoyable pop with just enough rock thrown in to be a little different.Their voices are all similar so they blend perfectly and individually they are all capable of gorgeous things.

My Boy is nothing short of epic, right down to the insane quest-for-cake pv (yes it was a cake, sorry for that spoiler – Really, it must be the best cake in the world for them to go to all that fuss). Gachinko de Ikou will always be my favourite, but this one came really close to knocking it down. I love that often Buono lyrics consist of the girls berating someone for being a wuss. In My Boy, it seems that they’re giving someone a good-natured nudge, saying, if you change your perspective just a little, you might find there isn’t anything holding you back. Some of the lines really get to me: Because it’s a digital world, people are careless and forget their true selves / What would you do if it was all here for you? (translation here) Throw in those costumes, the smooth, firm vocals and the squealing guitars and you’ve got some truly epic win.

Berryz Koubou – Dakishimete Dakishimete + Rival

Ever since Madayade, Berryz has forced me to pay attention to them. And I do mean forced. I try really hard to ignore them, but then they give me THIS single, with the awesome costumes, the awesome vocals, adorable Captain and everyone’s ‘I’ll-KILL-you-with-my-pwning’ eyes (as always, dead-fish-Risako is the exception).I was wishing for something like this from Momusu, but it was given to Berryz.

It’s difficult for me not to see them as the kids, but this really made me feel like they were growing up, just like Mada made me recognize that they’d developed their own sound. I love the energy in the dance and I even love the cheesy disco pv. They look like grown ups and they look like individuals, which is something I’d really not seen previously. I’ve liked some of their stuff in the past, but I’d never really taken them seriously.

Rival took me by surprise. When I watched the pv the first time, I started to cringe and think, “oh no, we’re back to kids stuff”, but despite the cardboard, which makes me cringe still, I really liked the song. I miss songs where Tsunku would throw in some spoken lines. Even though Risako so often repulses me, I do love her vocals, especially in this song. Kumai pwns too. Honestly, I don’t know why I like it. I usually don’t have the patience for mid-tempo songs (I have to be in the right mood), but it really grew on me. I particularly love the chorus. I figured I’d like the faster A-side, Seishun Bus Guide, but not as much as this one.

What’s going on with me, this year?? I’d mention how much I adore their newest double-A, particularly Watashi no Mirai no Dannasama, but screw it, I’m not giving into this any more than I already have. I’m thinking 2010 will be the year I start featuring them in this blog with the same attention I give to Momusu. Man, it really is a new year, isn’t it?

Sweet Black feat. Goto Maki – Fly Away

Because I first listened to this song outside at sunset, in the winter, I will always associate it with that scenery and the feelings it brought to me there. There’s power and vulnerability threaded through every line and it’s perfectly suited to Goto’s voice. This is the song that made me want to follow her avex career. I end up loving much of what I listen to, but loving a song as much as I love this one doesn’t happen as often as you’d think. It’s funny, but I never associate it with the pv, it’s always that image of the sunset reflecting off the snow.

Favourite Albums:

  • Morning Musume – Platinum 9

I’ve read so many reviews of this album that said it was boring or a disappointment. I cannot understand that logic at all. At all. Firstly, most of it blew my mind with how catchy, aggressive and different each song (singles not included) sounded. They went choral on ‘Ame no…’ which showcases the kind of harmonies that they just don’t seem to do anymore. They went into deep, dark territory for ‘Jounestsu no…’ and let Riida wail her heart out (with beautiful effect). There were a few too many solo songs, but since each one has its own charm, I stop minding so much. Guruguru was created for lives; You can tell about five seconds into the song. Songs was like a punch in the face: beautiful piano intro, then brass for no reason, then the drums and bass and that outro that…I just…there aren’t words for how hard that hit me the first time I heard it. Maybe you think I’m exaggerating, especially if you don’t personally like this song, but it really hit me hard. Their songs don’t usually go into aggressive dance territory, but man… Ditto Take off is Now. I love the lyrics for that one. Actually, there isn’t much about it that I don’t love. If an album absolutely punches me in the face the moment it starts and holds my attention no matter who is singing (even if it’s Shige), that is basically a pwn. The sound is different, but still them. I don’t really understand why people hated it. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s pretty damn enjoyable.

[Random: There seemed to be many comments to the effect of, “why is Momusu so emo lately?” I’d like to direct your attention to a little song called ‘Night of Tokyo City‘ from their second album. This song has an awesome rap, whispery and lovely vocals and a very SummerNightTown-esque beat. This song , while epic-win, is also quite depressing. A lot of their songs from early on deal with that sort of loneliness. Their genki-ness is always cited as their main point, but Momusu has had their fair share of emo moments in the past eleven years. The Golden Era needed to be happy and genki because that is what people wanted back then. That era was so explosive that it seems to overshadow every song in the past that dealt with so-called “emo” angst. NofTC is just one example. What about Usotsuki Anata? Or two of their famous ones: Memory or Daite? Samishii Hi anyone?]

  • Hangry & Angry – Sadistic Dance

Every time I set out to talk about a Yossy-related thing, I get nervous because anyone reading this who is familiar with me knows my extreme bias. I am likely to adore anything she does, because it’s her. In my defense though, is there anyone who hates her? At best people can be indifferent to Yossy, but as far as I’ve seen, she’s pretty much universally respected, if not adored. So yeah. It’s her fault I’m like this. Not mine. *cough* Surprisingly, I did NOT adore every single track. Nevertheless, I must admit that with the exception of that hideous evisceration of The Peace (dude, WHY!?) and some song elements that annoyed me (like in Lady Madonna), I was surprised how much I loved it. For example, Mr Monkey and Doubt are fantastic. A lot of the tracks are remixes of the songs on the mini album and most are improvements on the originals.

The best thing about these two musically is their contrast. They harmonize well, but individually Yossy’s low tones contrast sharply with Ishikawa’s girly, sometimes pouty vocals. It might not be as edgy as it could be, but couple that contrast with some smooth harmonies and their obvious chemistry and you’ve got some epic win.  They were never the strongest singers, but they’ve always had an adventurous spirit between them. It must be so refreshing to sing songs that are this different. Regarding their pvs, I still don’t think Ishikawa can pull off ‘Angry’ but she certainly has that creepy-eternally-staring-doll look down pat. Yossy’s attempts at anger come across as campy, but I love that she’s still throwing herself into every second of performing. Whenever she stares into the camera with that Yossy-smirk, I get the sense that she knows EXACTLY what she’s doing to me – and likely, to everyone else.

Regarding their similarity to GAM…other than the fact that it’s a duo of best friends who don’t mind getting cozy with each other (*winkwink*), I don’t see that many. This album is nothing that I’ve heard before and I loved it.

  • Sweet Black feat. Goto Maki – Sweet Black

Ah, Goto. I’ve talked about her a bit already, so I’ll be brief. I loved every single track, which is rare. This is also the first time I’ve encountered Goto’s voice and felt it was beautiful. It’s always been good, but I’ve never listened to a song of hers and thought, “wow” Stand-outs include…well, everything, but my personal favourite, aside from Fly Away is Mine with Ken the 390 (what does that even mean, anyway? 390??). Even now, I can’t stop listening to that one. I wish that rap went on a little longer. Albums like this satisfy my need for constant energy (as I always listen to music while walking or at the gym). More releases, Goto! MORE!

  • Maeda Yuki – Zenkyouku Shuu ~ Kenchana

I doubt any blog devoted more than a line to this album, from this underrated, underappreciated powerhouse of a singer. I do understand. Enka is a tad esoteric, especially if you’re expecting H!P pop.”Boring” is a one word for it. Most of the time, even I don’t have the patience to sit and listen to it without something to look at. Call it what you want, but H!P is a visual thing as much as it is a music thing. That isn’t to say that Maeda herself isn’t gorgeous, but finding her pvs is damn near impossible.

Even without the aid of pvs, I’d describe this LONG-OVERDUE album as the musical equivalent of a gorgeous photobook. Maeda’s vocals are deeply resonant and then devestatingly pretty (trite word, true sentiment). The way she digs deeply into some notes and gently glides over others creates something that no other artist in H!P could possibly create. The only one I could compare her to would be Iida Kaori, but only in the atmospheric music. Some favourites: Naki Usagi, Sarasara no Kawa, Tokyo Yoimachigusa and Ai Ai Daiko. I know, all of those are singles, but they’re epic. If nothing else, you should give this album a chance because her vocals are just that beautiful. I wish I could tell you some flaw. Either I don’t know enough about music, or that voice really is perfect.

  • Hello!Project Champloo – Happy Marriage Song Shuu

I was skeptical. Very skeptical. Saying you’re going to remake any of these beloved Golden Age groups is bound to make at least a few people raise their eyebrows (or their torches). However, even though I have no idea who any of the Eggs are and don’t care for Mano at all, each of the remade groups managed to capture the same energy as their originals. Well, as closely as they are ever likely to get. The Champloo concert was fantastic. Seeing Mini Moni again, even though I didn’t know any of them except Linlin, gave me so much joy. Even the new Pucchi Moni with Mano had wonderful crackling energy when I expected bland, shy attempts. Getting back to the album itself, even those who don’t have the strongest voices seem shuffled to just the right place. I don’t know who would actually play this at her wedding, but it’s a sweet album with that sort of wedding-reception atmosphere. There are some songs that I can’t manage to listen to (you can probably guess which ones), but there are few spectacular tunes here that I didn’t expect.And just a note, I’m surprised how many of them I recognized from Uta Doki episodes or from random J-dramas.

Linlin’s solo is hands down the best solo I’ve heard this year. Argue with me. I dare you. She’s amazing. I love the way she digs into that note at the end of the chorus. I wish she had performed it in the concert. I also loved the new Mini Moni. Perfect song.Takahashi always nails her solo, but this one is particularly pretty because she’s singing in a much lower register than she usually does. I felt bored with the prospect of YET ANOTHER solo from her, but her voice always seems to move me. The lyrics are beautiful. I realize I’m using that word a lot, but it’s true.

I didn’t expect to love Diamonds by High King, but it’s an addictive, catchy song. Akai Sweet Pea is perfect for Tanpopo and I think all the girls placed here, especially Kamei, pretty much murder it. The GakiKame solo is just plain beautiful. Niigaki needs to go solo. Seriously. I’ve thought so since 2007. And am I the only one who loved Only You by the new Biyuuden? That song rocks in an album with pretty much exclusively midtempo ballad-type songs. Feels like one of those 80’s power songs that they’d play during a montage. Watch the concert. It’s worth it, even just for the performance of this one, with Junjun’s spastic air guitar and Risako’s smug self-satisfaction that for ONCE isn’t out of place. I was skeptical, but the album pwns.

Honourable Mention: Morning Musume All Singles Coupling Collection. Finally we can have all the b-sides. It’s about time! I’ve really loved all the b-sides sinces Yowamushi. What’s better is that in these b-sides the girls that got no lines in the single suddenly get to sing. Aishite Aishite Ato Ippun is hard to get out of my head once it gets in there.

Good Ol’ Fashioned Musume Ranking for 2009:

Usually I hate rankings. First of all, I’m very indecisive and so will change my mind the second I make a statement like, “Wonderwall is my favourite song of all time”. Also, ranking nine women from most favourite to least seems a tad demeaning. I’m snarky enough without saying things like, “I like THIS ONE THE BEST and this one can BITE ME!” and giving reasons like “because this one is CUTE and this one can BITE ME!” (Plus, who talks like that?) But this will give me a chance to talk about each girl and since I love Momusu far too much for someone who is not Japanese, I’ll enjoy that aspect of it. Going from 1 – 9, most favourite to least.

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I wanted to use a pic in which she’s smiling that ‘I look exactly like Ayaka’ smile, but this picture completely blew me away. She looks gorgeous.

1. Linlin. Quite simply, she’s grown on me this year.
I love that she still has an accent when she speaks Japanese. I love that she’s so talented, but seems not to notice. I love that she’s so delighted to be performing that she’ll hit herself in the face with her mic (resonant live concert reference). I love that she’s so little-sisterly and that she has the ability to look both gorgeous and awkward when she bursts out laughing. I love that she adores everyone, but seems to be particularly close to Takahashi. I also love how down-to-earth she seems. I’ve not had that sort of vibe from any Musume for a long while. I want to go to Japan and kidnap Linlin, just so I can give her a hug for being so endearing. Cause, somehow, she IS. Also, her English is pretty awesome, too. She’d be able to say, “who are you and why are you squealing and hugging me?” I ufa_mm_090510_linlin_e01swould love to see her in a Hello!Morning skit. I think she’d be hilarious, without even meaning to be. As far as dancing, she still doesn’t stand out a whole lot, but her singing is distinctive enough that you always know it is her. Nevermind the fact that her voice is awesome. It’s like her talent is being kept under wraps. I could write an Insanity Series piece on that: why does Tsunku shoot himself in the foot by squashing such talent when he doesn’t have to? Granted, there are times when Linlin can come on a little strong, but hey, teach her some more control and you’ve got yourself a main vocalist. Giving her that solo in the marriage album was such a good decision. Linlin murders ‘For You’ and pwn-ed everyone who might have thought her solo lines in ‘Ame…’ were just a fluke and overrated. She needs more solos.

Plus LOOK HOW ADORABLE!!!
*dies from cute*

img200910141405477862. Mame. Niigaki. I can’t decide what I should call her. She’s still so delighted to be in Momusu that her smile sometimes seems like it will break her face, but at the same time she can look so mature and beautiful that I feel like she’s outgrown that nickname. She absolutely blew me away in the Platinum 9 concert and in all the singles released this year. It makes me so happy that she changes it up from the ‘touch own face, then kiss own finger, then touch own face again‘ pattern the others seem to be stuck in during closeups. She’s finally gotten out of the background (well, to a certain extent) and Tsunku is using her voice, which is quite versatile, if you think about it. Her voice is deep and distinctive on its own, while still managing to be pretty (“pretty” is such a trite word, but that’s what it is). You give her harmonies and she blends with and enhances the main vocals in a way that reminds me of the 2nd Gen. The 2nd Gen were only brought in originally to give Momusu’s sound depth and their harmonies are gorgeous (Memory Seishun no Hikari is a wonderfully crafted example). They don’t use harmony as much anymore, at least not so that one can hear it over the backing track, but the point I am trying to make is that Niigaki is capable. Perhaps more so than most of the girls. I’m also loving that her sub-leader style seems to be very papa-like. She seems reliable and teasing, but gentle. The only thing that gets me about her is how tiny she is. Just…wow.

3. Riida. Takahashi Ai. I love how much she is rocking those hats this year. I’ve always had a soft spot for Takahashi. As I’ve mentioned, hers is one of my favourite voices in all of H!P. There is a reason why she is always a lead and nearly always in the center. I don’t think she’s ever quite let go of her “I’m lucky to be here so I’ll work harder than anyone” attitude. No matter how much she is praised, she never seems to understand just how talented a performer she is. There is something both refreshing and frustrating about that. If Konno is the Cinderella of the Gokkies, then Takahashi seems like the girl-next-door: she’s painfully shy and humble, but once you get to know her, she’s a sweet, stubborn, weirdo (see her Futarigoto with Niigaki). I love that instead of shrinking from her leader role, she’s worked it out so that she can lead in her own way. I can relate to her being her own harshest critic and I can relate to her not being able to take compliments very well. I can definitely relate to how she honestly just loves to sing.

I watched a dvd where she went to Hawaii and participated in an English acting class. I was really touched by her tears and determination to read the scene. It must have been terrifying. She’s just not the personality to enjoy having all eyes on her, so it’s pretty amazing that she decides to do these things and sees them through. I guess being stubborn once you’ve decided is important, ne?

Takahashi’s  sheepish I-totally-just-cried-for-an-hour face, lovingly patted by the prof. She cried a lot, but she did a five minute scene in English. I love how vulnerable she allows herself to be, sometimes.

I read a description of her on another blog (tell me if this is you, and I’ll quote ya) that said she seemed like “a nice, normal girl who got her dream”. That definitely feels like the case. That is why I can forgive her for being “boring”. The concept of Momusu is for girls like this: girls who want to transform themselves, who want to sing, dance and perform despite of and through their limitations. If you watch older concerts, Takahashi oftens holds the mic with two hands in front of her face, like she is trying to hide. Nowadays, she cannot be stopped onstage. I really respect her because it seems like she is always working despite her insecurity. It doesn’t hurt that she is absolutely adorable.

4. Kamei Eri is a weird case for me. I bought one of her photobooks when I was in Japan on a whim and was surprised how beautiful yet sweet she looked in it. Kamei has always been cute, but I’d never really taken notice of her. I pretty much didn’t give a flying toss about any of the sixth gen until the middle of 2007 or so, but Kamei has always been very pretty. I’ll come right out and say it (maniacal as it may sound): I enjoy looking at her. Then she pwned my socks off with her dancing in RB and in 2009 she’s been getting some actual vocals.

Her voice is not always my favourite, because it has a tendency to be so high-pitched at times that it borders on tinny. When she sings a song like her solo, or Akai Sweet Pea in the marriage-album, that is in a comfortable range, it becomes soothing. I can’t explain it. If anyone other than Kamei had sung Kataomoi no Owari ni, it would have bored me to death, but that soothing tone got me. This isn’t always the case, but it’s the case enough that I’ve started to watch her.

I also never really noticed how weird she is. That is because I never followed her Kamezou (?) corner on Hello!Morning with Nakazawa, where she did completely random things to promote new releases. I understand this was where she really grew, because she was so shy everywhere else. Nowadays if you watch her in backstage clips she seems so carefree and ridiculous that it’s endearing. Watch her in the Nanchatte making of, when she starts composing songs to Takahashi, who has no idea what is going on at all (but is loving every minute) or babbling about absolutely nothing because her tension is inexplicably high. If you’ll excuse this pun, she’s really come out of her shell (*wince*) . What I like about her is that while she did transform in Momusu, in dancing, singing and posing (her photos are always great). she still seems like the easy-going weirdo she’s always been – the shyness has just dissapated.

And can I be shallow and comment once more on how gorgeous she is? In terms of beauty, she’s the only H!P girl other than Nakazawa or Yossy who makes me “fan-gurl” on her photobooks. This shot of her sitting on a bale of hay (because really, who doesn’t feel like sittin’ in the hay when she’s wearing her best dress?) is one of my favourite shots of her.

5. Ah, little Aika. If Yossy is trying to murder me with ‘Kakkoii’ then she is trying to do it with cuteness. Some times she is still so weird and granny-like, with her nasal tone of voice and her crescent-moon-eyes smile, but when she wants to, she really becomes adorable. Despite this murderous cuteness, that seems to come out of nowhere, the thing I always get from her is maturity. It’s a maturity that seems ingrained in her character, rather than something she’s developed. Her confidence has exploded. When Yossy was still leader, she really seemed too shy to talk to anyone, let alone step forward and present herself. The fact that the group has been together steadily for these two years is probably a big factor in how bubbly she now seems. Her dancing doesn’t catch my eye, but she’s proven (at least to me) that she can sing and that she can do the kakkoii thing just as much as the cute. I think she’d shine a lot more in a smaller group with kids her own age though – like her Guardians group. When I watched the making of School Days, she really seemed in her element. I thought it was funny because she was working with three girls who have been in the agency way longer than she has and they were happily following her anyway. I was happy with her growth this year, but I hope next year she’ll be able to step forward more. I really think her random cuteness is going to kill me…

6. I still think that Junjun is beautiful. Her self-described ‘dumpling’ face is something that we’ve not really had in Momusu since Konno. I love how she can pimp on anyone in the group (watch dvd mag.23 to see many examples).I love how she murdered the Naichau dance routine and how she works the camera in every pv. Mostly, I love that she held her own whenever I saw her on variety shows this year. Thought it was hilarious.

She still seems like an enigma to me. I think it was Shige who said that she seemed like she never showed her true character is front of the members. In one of the radio shows (cannot remember which) she was teased about copying Shige, which I’ve noticed a few times this year, but she claims not to know she’s doing it. It’s natural to mimic those you admire, isn’t it? I can relate to that, because I think everyone does it, to a certain degree. Some times you aren’t conscious of it. It made me feel a bit sorry for Junjun. That is always a frustrating situation. There are only so many character types in idol-dom and there are only so many hairstyles – if you like one that is already monopolized, what’s an idol to do? I think she might be holding back. It seems like her personality was coming out a bit and then she reverted to this Shige mimicking. I want her to become more like Yossy. I can see it in her. She might be a bit more of a crybaby, she might be more inclined to cuteness, but I can see Yossy in her – even just in the deeper tones of her voice. Watch AlloHello3. So many Yossy moments, at least to my eyes. Goodluck next year JJ. Please, PLEASE Yossy it up.

7. Shige is one of those girls who I didn’t take any notice of until this year. Even before she started making the rounds on all kinds of random variety shows (hide-and-seek-supreme-wtf, anyone?), I was forced to take notice of her because of her solo in the Platinum 9 concert. She approaches minx territory in that performance. ‘It’s You’ could only be sung by this girl.That and when she poses for photos, you feel like she was born to be in front of a camera. This is not just because she is beautiful, but also because she never seems to run out of poses/faces.

If you look at Shige in another light than just ‘that one in Momusu who says she’s cute all the time’, she’s the most consistent member I’ve ever seen. Even her hair has never really changed. Yes, it grew a little, but it’s basically the same as when she first joined. And this “I’m cute” thing isn’t just something she was kidding around about – she honestly believes she’s the cutest, even today. Her singing is basically the same. Lots more control, but it’s still that whispery, spun sugar it’s always been.Usually it bothers me when a member doesn’t change at all, but that is because very few members seem to have this sense of self. She knows exactly what she wants to be and that hasn’t changed, no matter what people have said to her.

Fans of hers have always noticed her Dark Sayu side, but we’re just recently getting to really see it. Her London Hearts appearances were always hilarious. She surprised everyone with how many times she could attack unflinchingly. The fact that she holds back this part of herself only because she wants to be seen as cute is exasperating (I mean, think about that for a second!), but like everything she does, it’s so very Michishige that I can’t even stay angry. Eventually you just have to throw up your hands and give in. Shige is so totally convinced that cute is the best thing to be that I’m not sure she could talk herself out of it if she wanted to.

The worst thing is, she IS cute.
I can’t place her any higher than this cause she doesn’t need anymore self-satisfaction. *shakes fist*

img200910212341298118. Nutjob. I don’t know, I just barely noticed her this year, unless she was warbling her way through a solo line (Yes, I said warbling, and before you start defending her, I do acknowledge that her singing has improved, I just still don’t care for it). I didn’t notice her much during her cracked-out-anime phase either. After being so annoyed by her in the past, it’s interesting that my reaction to her now is a resounding, “meh”. Or an “oh yeah, her.” There are many ways in which I am sorry to see her go, but sadly, they have very little to do with her and more with Momusu itself. I know, I know. I suck. Apparently Koharu is the light of the group, or something like that. I just never noticed, I guess. She’ll be great at modeling. She already seems to love the camera and she can be quite beautiful, especially in photos like this one. Goodluck to you, Nutjob.img20091104192703668

9. Winky. Really, to expect anyone else would be silly. She hasn’t stopped getting on my nerves. I think her singing has improved a lot and it’s pretty much flawless in concert, but I just don’t care for it. There was a brief shining moment in which I thought she might be cool to hang out with at least (after viewing her antics in their dvd magazine), but it passed. I’m not sure I even like her personality type, let alone her as a performer. Let’s just leave it there.

Since I’ve linked to them so much in this entry here are two of the lyric sites I frequent:

  • Project Hello – Colour coded romanji for people like me who feel physically ill if they can’t sing along well to their favourite.
  • Kiwi Musume – an amazing amount of translations (and not just from H!P) for people like me, who want to know exactly what they’re singing along to.

Again, I realize that 2009 is still about a month away from being over, but since this year-end post was getting far too large, I thought I’d split it up. That is, if I decide to continue it. This was such a big year for H!P. There are a few things I haven’t talked about.

Nevertheless.

Let me leave you with my favourite headers (yeah, I made these; I make all my own headers. It’s just fun.) Click on the pic if you want to see the full-size:


Epic-shot Maimi. Also, the first official header for this site.


Yossy being gorgeous in the Egao Yes Nude pv.
Took me forever to cap her with her hand over her face like that.

Nakazawa is class. And is gorgeous. Easiest header I ever made.


Takahashi and the four best caps ever. This began quite simply as the four photos, but after a lot of fiddling it ended up like this. This version is much better than the original.


Abe has been conspicuously absent from this blog, something I plan to change in 2010. I love all of her photobooks. I should use them more. She will get her own gush post.

Also, I will continue the  Gokkie Series.
Because you can never have enough Gokkie love.
Part Two (may or may not) be coming soon. -_^

Cheers!

~Isilie

3 thoughts on “In which Isilie Reviews 2009~Favourites~

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