Need I even list all the insanity of this year? If you’re an H!P fan, odds are you already know. If you aren’t, then you’ll at least have heard of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March and how continuously devastating it is to those still living it. It is hardly over, even if the news has moved on. Reading translated tweets from Japan, reading as much as could online and just seeing the photos in newspapers everywhere is something I will never forget. I suppose it’s trite – I don’t live there, I have no family there – but the feelings I had during that month…not something I will forget. Something that changed a lot of things for me.
Just to digress for a moment, I was very touched when the online fan communities rallied this year and donated money, time, effort, and headaches into fundraising campaigns. You can look at it however you want (I’m sure there are more than enough people out there who think donating money is/was a bad/ignorant/naive idea because blahblahblah, but hush for a bit, ok?), but I thought it was awesome. I love that our self-indulgence could help, even a little bit. Love of idols tends to lead to a love of Japan, the desire to learn the language and a love of the culture outside of anime or Johnnies or whatever it might be. At least it has in my limited experience. That is the best part about this sort of fandom. I was very, very touched.
Ok~! Onward, one more time in 2011!
I think almost everybody likes MajiSuka the best this year. I agree that it is a fabulous song, one that captures genki Momusu with being embarrassing (I’m looking at you, Pyoko! Not sure what to make of you yet…). Plus it’s one of those increasingly rare songs that lets the newer members actually sing a distinguishable line. However, if we’re talking singles that Isilie played over and over and over – this is the Momusu song(s) that did it for me.
I don’t care that the costumes are borrowed from a previous single, because everybody looks great. I don’t care that most of the lines go to three girls because, well as much as it pains me, they all sound great. The song is funky and awesome. Kareto is possibly the best use of Shige that I’ve ever heard (before I heard her “duet” with Mizuki on 12Smart). It might be the catchiest chorus we’ve gotten out of Tsunku this year. The pv is the kind of silliness we usually only get from S/mileage. I never got around to writing a review of that pv, but I suspect it would have taken forever and exploded my brain. There is only so much capping one can reasonably do before one must give up and just place a youtube link to the pv itself.
To sum up: in my opinion they had some strong releases this year, amidst all the craziness, but this one was my favourite. I wish they would continue with this sort of sound, but it seems like Tsunku has other ideas. I will probably end up loving whatever Pyoko will be, but from the previews (and some worrying comments from three of the elder members about how this direction is a little strange) it may take some getting used to.
PS: I cannot wait to see Ai’s graduation concert. It will be epic and I will cry again.
Berryz Koubou – Heroine ni Narou Ka (Honourable Mention to Aa,Yo ga Akeru)
We only got three singles out of Berryz this year, minus the Berikyuu stuff. They started the year off with this and it blew me out of the water. I love pretty much everything about this song. I’m always surprised by how well Berryz handles the dance stuff. When I think of them, I always think of slightly wackier songs like Monkey Dance or rock-y, funky stuff like Maji Bomber. I never picture them sporting ‘Lady Gaga’ head gear or dancing in shadows. When they get a song like this, though, they really make it work. Risako’s last little push at the end of the dance-shot, when her hair flips over her face pwns my socks off.
I also love how in 2011, the singles seemed to give more play to girls who weren’t normally leads (in the singles, anyway). It was awesome to see Captain get some screen time, beyond just a few glances in the dance-shots. Maasa just…she just rules.
I really liked Aa, Yo ga Akeru but it didn’t hit me as hard as this one.
C-ute wasn’t even on my radar this year, minus this one song. I love it when C-ute is fierce. They need to do songs like the two summer singles (I didn’t review those because they sound pretty much the same to me – they aren’t bad songs, just forgettable ones) because their name pretty much demands it, but this song, with it’s crazy intro and awesome vocals captures that kind of power that only C-ute has.
I didn’t get a chance to review it, but the pv is really well-done. There is something very smooth about it all, despite the fact that it’s just the same close-up dance-shot stuff it always is. I love how they all don’t seem to have any idea what to do with those clear, glass apples. I love the recycled-from-Lullaby-Game padded hall-way set that they dance through. Mostly it’s the vocals that make the song. Airiri and Chisato continue to power up. They were so powerful I almost didn’t notice Maimi…and that takes some doing.
And now there is S/mileage…
It’s been pointed out to me that I probably care more about them than I let on. After all, I didn’t do extensive pv reviews, but I did do a couple posts on them, most of which detailed my concern for the members. They lost two founding members this year and gained a bunch of rookies, who I can’t even recognize at the moment. It irks me that two members in one year just up and left when the group seemed so tight-knit.
It’s funny the audition for these rookies seemed so hastily put together, right alongside the Momusu auditions. It’s like Tsunku or whomever was surprised and unprepared for Saki’s departure – like she just came into work one day and said, “that’s it.” It worked out: the auditions caused the leader to step up and the founding girls to work together to welcome the new members…but it also made Yuuka want to leave. As I understand it, she is the “face” of S/mileage for a great many people. Now she says that she wants to go to school, but who knows? There is also the matter of Takahashi’s grad, all these new faces when the group was four people for such a long time. The timing seems a little suspicious.
But whatever. They’ve worked out their style now and they have that whole “short skirt” angle to go with all the cute.I really like this picture of them – the newer pics with the rookies just remind me that there is now a hierarchy (yet another Momusu similarity). Some have pointed out that having the same members for years can potentially stagnate a group, but I don’t think that is something this group ever needed to worry about. Four is a nice even number, first of all. Second, this number meant that they couldn’t rely on one or two of the girls for all vocals without looking like tools. Everyone got to sing, because there just weren’t enough people to ignore. So much for that…
The only song I liked or paid any attention to was Tachiaagurl and even then, barely. It’s cute and singable, but I don’t listen to it that much. I wonder what it is with this group where I don’t care about their music at all but I persist in writing about them.
Good luck kids!
Sign me up.
There is nothing that she has released that I don’t love and listen to on repeat. Her singles were awesome and all the awesome b-sides made them like mini albums. She did different styles but always had me hooked.
She is cute, pretty and talented. She is funny. She is amazing live (from the performance clips I’ve seen, anyway). I mean, she could have been in Riho’s position, lending that strong, pretty, awesome voice to Momusu. But no. We got Granny instead. In a way though, I’m grateful. I haven’t enjoyed a UFA soloist in a long time. After the yawn-fest that was and is Mano (just…can’t…get…into it), she is a breath of fresh air. I cannot wait for the album…
You’ll have to forgive me. This year I worked very hard and learned a lot of things and I am very, very tired. I sort-of lost track of H!P and I spent a lot of time at my other blog writing about other things that I couldn’t have posted here. I don’t mean to cut this short, but compared to previous years I guess this year end post is pretty small.
I want to mention Dream Momusu, because their new single looks incredible and I don’t use that word lightly.
Yossy. Slapping. Charmy. (around 2:16)
For that alone, this will be the most awesome pv in the world.
The only way this picture could be more amazing is if it were Yossy…
Nakazawa-sama is getting married and so ending a decade of jokes. I am glad she held out for exactly what she wanted. Weep, gentlemen who thought you were man enough – you lost.
I want to mention Goto Maki, who I think is on her hiatus now: I hope she becomes happy again. I still think Fly Away is my favourite of her post-H!P fare, but I enjoyed her album Ai Kotoba. There was a real sense of freedom in her once she decided to leave us awhile. She already seemed more at ease. That makes me very happy.
Buono – I liked Zassou no Uta a lot. Then Momoko wouldn’t shut up and I stopped paying attention.
Mobekimasu – Not a bad song, but the whole thing just felt so half-assed. I couldn’t get as into it as I wanted to.
I think I need to see some concerts with all these new kids…
And then there is Yossy – always my favourite. I followed her shows and appearances as best I could and even when she isn’t doing idol things, I love watching her. I think my favourite appearance was when she went on a biking trip with a former race-car driver. He comments a lot that she is stronger than he expected, an idol, but athletic. She goes at her own pace, but keeps up even when they are winding their way up huge hills. They proceed to bike through gorgeous countryside until the plastic models factory in which she does this:
Y: *totally ignoring everything else* “I had these when I was a kid!!!!”
Then they race model cars and she makes this face:
Serious mode – activated!
Quote: “I go at my own pace, but when I am competing, I’m totally serious.”
“Not that I need to compete, however….Awwwwww yeeeeeeah.”
As for Takahashi’s grad – I think I said it all here.
I’m going to get some rest so I don’t get left behind again in the new year. Thank you everyone who commented or stopped by (especially those that always stop by ^_^). Thank you for taking an interest in my ramblings, contradicting me, agreeing with me, anything.
I really love writing.
If you ignore the fact that their heads are smooshed – it’s Takalin for the win!!!
Kamei is beautiful. I thought the layering worked out well in this one.
No doubt the best photobook H!P has ever seen – or at least the most creative. Shige can pull off anything…
A very simple, highly colourful header using one of my favourite pics from the JunLin Kamei grad concert. Rival Survival was an awesome show and the last of tight-knit family-Musume.
Happy New Year everybody!
Wow…Gaki’s already drinkin’!