Why Morning Won

I don’t actually know if Morning Musume’s appearance on Nakai Masahiro’s Black Variety show with “rival group” Fairies was actually meant to be a battle. They do have a small competition, even though the point is supposedly to teach Nakai about women (since everyone confirmed that he’s never aged past 15 despite being 39). If you don’t know who Nakai Masahiro is…well, you must not be a Momusu fan, never mind a fan of SMAP (Utaban is a crucial and awesome part of Momusu history and it is well worth your time to look up their appearances). The teaching-about-the-heart-of-a-woman kinda goes by the wayside fast. You do have a room full of 13-16 year olds all vying for camera time after all. They also invited two senpai, the lovely Nakazawa Yuuko and NANA from MAX to watch over things (and be teased of course).

Now let me make this clear: I’m really enjoying Fairies. The avex idol group has had strong releases, their dancing is awesome and they have a much more polished image when compared to Momusu. Even though it’s always a little irritating to have seven girls and ONE singer, whomever does the main vocals is quite strong. I adored Hero and Sweet Jewel is a delightful little ear-worm. However, it’s impossible for me not to notice that Morning Musume PWNED THEIR POLISHED LITTLE TUSHES!!!

(PS: some of my caps are from a subbed version and I forget who subbed it…but THANK YOU!!!)

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but a big part of succeeding as an idol is being interesting. That’s why Shige works so well. She still can barely sing and is hit-and-miss as a dancer, but Tsunku capitalized on that charm of hers. There is a very obvious character at first glance, but when you watch her there are layers that make you wonder. So you can put up with her ridiculous certainty that she’s the cutest because, well, it’s not like she isn’t cute and it’s kinda hilarious.

I mean the first thing she says on the show is:

She says this even though she’s surrounded by adorable kouhai and the guests are more than ready to refute this.

And what is Nakai’s reply?

The main points for me were that in every installment, Morning Musume were just a hell of a lot more interesting. One could argue that they have to be like that. They haven’t gotten the kind of promotion that Fairies has from Avex and looking at those performances back to back, the egg-layin’ choreography of Renai Hunter just looks kinda crazy. I think that is what a lot of people took away from this: Fairies are cool and Momusu are just noisy. I beg you to look a little closer here.

It is true that the agencies have a vastly different way of creating their idols. In Morning you pretty much train a few months and then start working. I think they must get a lot more training before they debut at Avex (don’t know much about Avex except their outward image – and it ain’t H!P). Nakai tells Momusu they have a noisy image, while Fairies seem “complete” and “fresh”.

It doesn’t help that Momusu can only appeal their freshness at that point by being noisy.

Niigaki asks him why he’s so much nicer to Fairies.

Can’t argue with that.

Another Utaban reference. Ahhhh ~~ I laughed so hard.

I think it’s that history that helped them though. This is one of those cases in which their history only served them well. At first Nakai is very much treating Fairies differently and he’s a bit wary of this Momusu full of girls he doesn’t really know. He’s been used to new members being quiet and shy, nothing like the early days of pouty, weirdo, whining Morning Musume. As the show goes on and our new members continue to speak up, he’s swept up in the silliness and innocent enthusiasm. He almost seems bored with Fairies, or if not bored, less affectionate. After all, the only way a tiny boy trapped in a man’s body can express affection is through abuse.

Let me give you my highlights.

The Introductions

It’s true that Momusu is quite noisy here, but it is awesome. I absolutely loved Zukki’s nonsensical impression (Nakai laughs in spite of himself), Yuuko’s motherly impatience at having to wait for Momusu to change (“Your host is waiting for you!”), the ‘elders’ being unceremoniously kicked out after Nakai insisted “that Yankee” (Winky – please, she hasn’t been YANKEE for years) definitely had to be dating someone, and Riho getting the Yuuko glare after she tried to be all cutesy-idol.

She says something like, “shuwa, shuwa, pon!” and Nakai jumps all over it.

YUUKO-SAMAAAAAAA!!!! *jaws theme*

Riho = pwned.

I was also impressed with how none of them seemed the least bit nervous introducing themselves. Best example: Harunan has been so pretty but lifeless in the singles that I was pleasantly surprised at how she owned what she said. Some times when an idol claims that she has a talent, she suddenly chickens out when she gets the inevitable request to show it off. Harunan says she’s good at giving compliments and so Nakai asks her to compliment one of the guests. The comedian Takeyama has a character that “snaps at people”, so Harunan says:


Takeyama = pwned.

Harunan is adorable! Whether it’s genuine or flattery, I found it a very sweet moment and a character trait we haven’t had yet in Momusu.

Also: note Masaki’s scrunchy-nose smile (*squee*) and how scared the Fairies member in the corner looks.

The Totalizer Segment

Basically: the two groups are asked questions and if the answer is ‘yes’ they press a button.

As illustrated by Masaki’s derp face…damn, she is adorable…

Does anyone here want to be like Amuro Namie?

Some of Momusu say they do, but this is after commenting that they never sing anything but Hello! Project songs at kareoke (because they love H!P so much). They insist this even after Yuuko and NANA both say that it’s ok to sing and enjoy the songs of rival groups. In fact, they are so insistent, Nakai asks if they’ve been brainwashed by their agency. Is H!P a religion now!?

And if it is, why did they suddenly say they want to be like someone in a rival agency?

Call it Yuuko-samaaaaaa!

This comment comes up again when Mizuki says she doesn’t need to date because singing H!P songs is enough to fill her heart up.

I love how vocal she is about loving H!P. I know they all all jumping on the bandwagon here, but I honestly don’t think Mizuki is lying. We need a member that desperately loves the group like Niigaki did when she first joined. Seeing this made me want to watch the moment when they announced Mizuki was the fourth addition to the Kyuukkies. And it made me remember when Kudo got in and Mizuki gave her a huge hug while crying…because she was so happy for her and she’d been through the same thing…

Right. Sorry.

Then Mizuki hits us with this (and Zukki agrees, VERY loudly):

A second before we get this question:

Who here wants to be like Nakazawa Yuuko?

I love Yuuko’s supreme-wtf face.

Fairies have no idea who she is but they want to be polite. Poor babies.

Morning knows her though!!

Note how emphatic Zukki and Mizuki want to be about this.

I love Zukki’s every expression.

THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!! Yuuko is taken aback by the eight screeching voices declaring that she is an admirable senpai.

It’s all about Zukki here though. She keeps saying it the loudest until they let her explain that she recently attended a Dream Morning Musume concert.

This old-man style of expressing herself is hilarious and totally genuine. Even Yuuko comments that she seems more like a fan seeing her on tv than a fellow member expressing admiration. The others tell Zukki that she’s so young, but she’s like an old man. It doesn’t phase her at all.

Leave it to Zukki to admire the Queen rather than someone like Ishikawa. Don’t get me wrong, I love everybody in DMM, but Yuuko doesn’t get nearly as much love as she should. To have two teens want to be like her and to recognize that she’s…well, the Queen, just makes me very happy. And for those of us who aren’t familiar with Yuuko-samaaaaa, we can appreciate the fact that she’s someone scary who is obviously not used to admiration.

Again: see Utaban appearances for more information.

The Love Confessions

This is Nakai’s response to the first attempt to get his heart beating faster.

N: (thinking) Man, her dad is probably the same age as me.

It’s really not her fault that his heart didn’t move. This Fairies member (whose name I can’t recall – sorry) is cute, sweet, just the right amount of shy and bold…she basically just whispers in his ear that Nakai is the one she likes. All in all, it’s kinda perfect.

Then they bring in Eri-pon. Miss KY (or can’t-read-the-atmopshere).

E: (jumping right in with no segue) “Nakai-kun I LOVE YOU!!”

She then pokes at him, yells some nonsense and declares that her confession and love-spell are a big success.

The other members know a super-fail when they see it.

E: (oblivious to the shrieks of wtf) “How was it?”

N: (intensely disturbed) “Somehow, my heart is beating really fast right now.”

Eri-pon loses this one. Spectacularly.

This leads to my favourite moment: Eri-pon must eat a lemon, while our Fairies member gets to eat a nice cream puff. Eri-pon takes a bite and starts to wilt. Nakai suddenly waves Zukki over. “Go on and help her out,” he says.

So Zukki marches on over, gives Eri-pon a hearty pat on the back and says, “Shall we eat together?”

And they do. And Zukki, even as she’s wincing in pain, exclaims that it’s delicious.

I just…man, I love her so much. In one of Tsunku’s blog posts, he mentions that Zukki is very relaxed during MCs and such and he doesn’t think there has ever been a member who is more relaxed during those times. I can see that ease here. She does everything with such gusto, but if it doesn’t really work out she just goes with it. That is a strength that not every idol has. Hence Nakai knew exactly who to call.

The Incredible Song-Recognition Win

Yeah. When I said they won, I wasn’t kidding around.

This whole segment is the usual scream, fall, tease, etc stuff. Near the end Nakai decides he will sing the SMAP intros and he mumbles strings of tuneless nonsense until he finally declares that this last question will be worth an extra FORTY TRILLION (at least I think that is what that number is…I wouldn’t overthink it. Nakai is kind-of a brat. Taking him seriously will only encourage him). Momusu gets it.

They eat macaroons and Fairies are sprayed with that dry-ice hose thing.

One of the members gets it down her throat and starts coughing. So they take the hose away from Takeyama:

And they blast him repeatedly. In da FAYCE!
Yeaaaah, it’s cruel and awesome.

The Dance-off

Our final battle is fought between pairs of the strongest dancers. They are given a short piece of music and they have to make up a dance routine right there. Nakai is pretty much on auto-pilot for the Fairies portion of this.

They are given a hip-hop kind of piece (I actually love that song but I couldn’t tell you who sings it for the life of me) and while it’s full of attitude…there isn’t much to talk about.

They dance about and end like this.

What can he say? It was good.

Then come Riho and Daishi. They are given a much more lively, quirky techno piece. Nakai randomly mumbles that they have to include a rock-paper-scissors game in their routine.

I actually love the dynamic between these two. Riho seems to keep a tight lid on herself while dancing. She’s having fun, but she wants to maintain her cuteness. It feels like Daishi is just going for it. Her movements are a bit bigger, perhaps a bit more clumsy, but less inhibited. You can sense rivalry there, but a team feeling too.

They don’t even have a starting position, they just jump into things.

This little moment here is a gag, isn’t it? That la-la-la-lai dance? I recognize it from Arashi shows. If I’m wrong, it doesn’t really matter because wherever it’s from, everyone seems to recognize it and they start laughing and paying more attention. Riho and Daishi dance their free-style stuff, but they then engage their audience at the perfect moment.

And the janken shows up, causing Yuuko and NANA to loudly exclaim, “Ah, there it is!”

A definite crowd pleaser.

What’s that you said? Crazy spastic can-can!? Well, of course!

Oh hells yeah. Morning won.

Now I’m not trying to pick on Fairies. They are marketed as a polished, complete artist. Morning has always been about dreams and growth. It’s never as polished as all that because it’s always changing. And Fairies talked a lot and were sweet, but I just wasn’t engaged (minus that incident with the hose – so hilarious). Don’t think Nakai was either, even though he acknowledged how awesome they are at singing and dancing. It all comes down to what you’re looking for in an idol. I am in it for everything – the music and the girls themselves. Goto Maki is always my example of an idol that was a great singer and a great dancer, but bored the hell out of me in H!P. I love her music, but I have little interest in watching her do variety shows. Now Zukki, on the other hand, can barely dance and her singing is not very well-developed, but I would happily listen to her sing, or watch her frolic around with everyone on tv – because she engages me.

H!P groups just strike me as groups that aren’t afraid to look silly because they know that is what endears you. It’s those moments of enthusiasm that you can’t hold back, that crazy comment, or silly dance or slip-up resulting in glares. Fairies are cool, certainly and I haven’t seen their show, so I can’t really say how entertaining or not they are on their own turf. I just am so proud that Momusu, who just about everyone ridicules for not being good enough at singing or dancing or whatever was so damn interesting and adorable on this show. I love that they got the chance to do some real variety stuff, to actually speak and to prove themselves against a group that will probably always be more promoted, more praised and taken more serious.

If it was actually a battle, Morning won.

Nakai? Still absolutely clueless about women.

Well…you have to want to change.


4 thoughts on “Why Morning Won

  1. While I agree with you on many points the one I don’t… Did people really take away from this that Fairies are cool and MoMusu is just noisy?

    1. I think it was more seeing the two different songs back to back and comparing their choreography. People seemed to dislike Morning’s routine for that song and the Fairies song Beat Generation looks cooler next to it. That was the impression I got from some blogs.

  2. I thought the choreography for Renai hunter was interesting and cool. and I loved this show. I hope MM get to do more variety 9th and 10th gen are hilarious

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