H!P, Random

Giving Tsunku his Due

5564-xzbs1g3z1dBy now everybody in this fandom is aware that Tsunku has cancer and is undergoing treatment. Honestly, other than to use him as an ill-advised scape-goat (a bit of blogging laziness on my part), I don’t really think about Tsunku. And now I am.

When I heard about his illness, it was another one of those moments in my life where I simply couldn’t believe it. I think I’ll always feel about cancer the way I felt about it when it affected my life for the first time: it’s unreal.

So what happens if Tsunku isn’t able to continue H!P? I keep thinking about this and about whether or not he’ll lose his voice.

And the fact that he’s got two young children, who probably have no idea what this means.

*Disclaimer: This is a bit stream-of-consciousness. Don’t know what I was going for here, just wanted to talk about it.

I won’t go too much into it, except to say that I lost my father to cancer. I was about thirteen years old and my overwhelming feeling, minus the fear and sadness, was that cancer was surreal. The entire thing felt like something that should only happen on TV and it was completely insane that it was a real thing that was happening to my family.

Didn’t Tsunku’s wife have kids a couple years ago? How is this going to be explained to them? Melodramatic as it is, that was my first thought, really. Then I tried to imagine my life if I couldn’t sing, let alone barely speak.

And I honestly don’t know if I could live if I couldn’t sing. I imagine singing is like breathing to Tsunku also and the fact that he’s spent the last few decades writing and performing his music tells me that losing his voice would be devastating.

But I don’t know Tsunku personally, so I suppose I can’t claim to feel anything beyond, “Oh that’s too bad”. When I think of it in terms of what it means for H!P, that’s really the only way that I know him and so my concern for that is probably more believable. I don’t meant to sound cold here. Certainly, I wish the best for him, full recovery and all (and I am definitely sympathetic to his family), but if we’re all honest, we’re worried about what happens to H!P without him.Hello_Project-335333

I’m not even being morbid. Hopefully he will make a full recovery, but what if, God forbid, he loses his ability to sing altogether, or simply doesn’t want to spend all his time writing songs and decides to retire? Is there someone else waiting in the wings to carry on Tsunku’s legacy?

And it really is a legacy.

When I try to think through the almost twenty years of songs he’s written for all the groups and soloists in H!P (nevermind his work with Sharon Q), it boggles my mind. He pours so much of himself into his work. I’ve often joked that he’s too excited and needs to calm down about it all because he just keeps going and going. He’s found some truly amazing girls and given chances to countless others.

I know that his supposed control of H!P is debatable. I’ve been reminded on more than one occasion that if I “did my research” I’d know that so-and-so really runs things and Tsunku has a lot of people to answer to. And there is the reality that behind any of these beautiful dreams there are hundreds of  invisible “staffs” who help create it. The thing is, I don’t think anybody can say that nothing would change if Tsunku stepped down and some other producer tried to mimic his style or re-create H!P altogether.

I’m not a fan of absolutely every song Tsunku’s written, or every girl he’s pushed, but I love that he still takes risks with who he chooses from auditions and with what kind of songs he gives to each group. They don’t make AKB money anymore, but I can still name so many of his songs that hit me where I live for one reason or the other. AKB is usually cited as H!P’s main ‘rival’ and while it’s fun and new and I enjoy it immensely, it has never done for me what H!P did.

AKB strikes me as a business before its anything else. There is nothing wrong with this. The marketing is amazing and I’m pretty much in love with girls like Akimoto Sayaka, Takamina and Oshimaaaaaaaaa. AKBingo is pretty much what I wish Momusu was doing and is pretty hilarious.


H!P always felt and still feels way more Tsunku-indulgent, like it’s his baby before it’s anything else; when he is in a slump, so are the groups. It all feels a lot more personal. I read this idea somewhere (if this is yours, let me know) that Tsunku’s H!P girls are avatars for his inner tween girl and through them he gets to dance and sing and be adorable forever. He gets to look at the world through the eyes of a girl and then he writes songs about it. His ideas can come from a middle-finger to the tabloids (the pv concept for The Peace) or just his little daughter shaking her butt at him (Kimagure Princess). He does this girl-thinking a lot…for a bunch of different groups…for years…and somehow, people got into it.

Get past the oddness of that thought and it’s actually kinda cool. His fantasy life created all these groups, brought together all these girls, and created entirely new dreams. He’s still going, even with Morning Musume, whom everyone seemed to think he was sick of and just stuck with.

And which group is still the flag-ship?

Fukumura Mizuki, Iikubo Haruna, Ikuta Erina, Ishida Ayumi, Michishige Sayumi, Tsunku-436803

Annnnd getting back in commercials to boot!??

Honestly, using Tsunku as a scapegoat every time I was unhappy with one of his (or the company’s) decisions was just an easy way to get out frustration. It feels like something my younger blogging self was very fond of. Not anymore.

I mean…not unless I’m joking.

Tsunku could still compose for H!P, even if he can’t really sing, but that might be frustrating for him.
But then he’s said before that it would “break his heart” if someone else started writing songs for Momusu (not sure how attached he is to the rest of the groups).

Now it might be interesting, seeing where someone else would want to take them. C-ute has sort of taken on a life of its own. They’re all incredible performers (even Brat and Chompy) and their image seems pretty consistant. They are “cute”, but powerful and I feel like they’ve decided to be this way and Tsunku just went with it.


Are you really going to argue with that??
(gif from HaroPuroEdits @tumblr)

Berryz is probably the group that could really do with an image makeover. I’m not sure what they are going for anymore. It’s fine if they want to be “adults” but I don’t know if they really seem to know what that means. I hope it doesn’t mean more singles with diamond-sucker in her granny dresses and Maasa looking sullen and bored. I want to see Berryz being silly again.


How I miss these days!
(gif from Boom! Berryz Koubou @wordpress)

Don’t know about Smile-time and Naked-JJ.
S/mileage hasn’t known what they’re about for ages and JJ is fine as they are (did they mention the naked-naked-naked kisses?).

For Momusu, the emphasis on dance and all the new blood was probably a directive from on high (whomever that might mean), but it still feels like Momusu to me. I’ve never been able to articulate what makes a Momusu song feel so Tsunku flavoured (obnoxious Tsunku-voice moments aside), but you can tell it’s one of his. If that goes away…wakutekalinegif1tumblr

Well, I don’t know. It’s kind of an interesting thought: do we love Momusu mainly because of the girls, regardless of the music? Do we love the Tsunku-flavoured songs (that description sounds kinda gross the more I think about it) regardless of which girls perform them?

One of the performances that made me fall in love with Yossy was her duet with Ishikawa in 2006, when they performed Berryz Koubou’s Special Generation. I also decided I was in awe of Takahashi Ai in that same concert when she performed a Matsuura Aya song, Goodbye Natsuo.

All songs penned by Tsunku.

Out of curiousity (those of you reading this who are inclined to comment): what are your favourite Tsunku songs?

It’s hard to even narrow them down because there are just so bloody many…

Like I’ve said, I don’t know where I was going with this. I hope Tsunku recovers and that even if he can’t perform anymore he will continue to make music somehow. I wonder if the company would still honour his wishes in terms of where his groups will go. Does he have as much say in that as I assume he does?

You guys need to watch Morning Musume ’14 55 special. It’s an incredible show. It has short interviews with old and new members and every single Momusu single performance, right down to Morning Coffee. It’s wonderful to watch them all again and it’s wonderful to see people like Ishiguro Aya come back and talk about their time in the group. It was a long show, but it made me realize all over again how much I love Momusu in any form (I grit my teeth through the Winky/Nutjob singles a little, but still). 55 singles and I knew almost all of them by heart. 55 singles and all of which made me happy.

Tsunku, I am in awe.
I wish you all the best.

And thank you.



3 thoughts on “Giving Tsunku his Due”

  1. My all time favorite Tsunku songs are no doubt the stuff he has done for MM. Like you said in the article, it’s his songs for MM that seem the most “Tsunku-ish”. I can’t even imagine a MM without Tsunku, or vice versa.
    My favorite songs of all time are AS FOR ONE DAY, Shouganai Yume Oibito, Resonant Blue, Help me!! and Toki Sora. Those are just the best~

  2. When Tsunku announced his diagnosis, I was extremely wary of people using his cancer as the butt of some crass joke. Thankfully I haven’t seen too much of that. I’m glad there are people out there who recognize that we are talking about someone’s life.
    I’m always in awe of Tsunku’s legacy. I don’t think there will ever be someone who could keep an enterprise like Hello! Project afloat for as long as Tsunku. You’re right: H!P feels much more personal and less calculated/business savvy than AKS. This personal touch, I can only attribute that to Tsunku, endears H!P to me much more than AKB. Thanks for giving Tsunku some credit, even though it would be so easy to highlight his gaffs.

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