Berryz and C-ute, H!P

The Berryz Question is Answered


Do we like the answer? The answer to the question: what will be done with Berryz now that their sales kinda suck, they’re all over twenty (right-?) and clearly starting to check out emotionally from this idol-business?

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Answer: “Hiatus”.

*sigh*

I am not a huge fan, but Berryz has been around a long, long time and for H!P, this is big.

I had one of those strange reactions to this where you are completely expecting it, but at the same time you just can’t believe that they actually went through with it! I remember wondering about this question way back in 2012 (feels like forever ago, honestly). I just don’t see how they could continue.

The thing with being a Morning Musume fan is that your fandom is in a kind of strange haze where time passes without passing. Yes, the group evolves and changes, girls joining or graduating every few years to keep the group young, but you don’t really notice the time passing the way you do with a group that doesn’t change. This is partly because the girls are beautiful and youthful even after they hit twenty, but also because of the internet and the way one can always go back in time, like Kago dragon-punching Yaguchi in the crotch (see the show Utaban for more of such things) happened just a few days ago.

However, Berryz Koubou, at least in terms of the members, never changed, minus one graduation. You can go back in time with Berryz and marvel at how odd-looking, but adorable, they were, but the evolution that happens when members keep changing isn’t there. I don’t know if Tsunku knew what to do with them once they started getting older. He seemed to be having fun with their music and then suddenly just didn’t know what direction to take them. And the girls must have picked up on this. Not only that, but their sales just never reached the same numbers as Momusu; they weren’t able to surpass them.

H!P became a place exclusively for tweens, following the exit of the Elder Club in 2009. I feel like now H!P isn’t simply a place for Tsunku to gather all his groups, but more of a place to foster young talent (young being the main point).

So, if there aren’t rotating members to keep them fresh, and these tween groups keep popping up and getting all the promotion, then what can Berryz do once their age becomes obvious?C-ute

C-ute is just hitting their stride; After losing members and struggling around, they are finally being recognized for their talent. Airiri is a diva, one of the best voices in H!P, and her fang makes her look much younger than twenty; Yajima has always been popular and Chompy is lauded as quite the dancer (when she isn’t devouring mics); Chisato is a force of nature and she’s more than proven herself as a singer and a dancer. Tsunku seems to have discovered he has more than one powerhouse in the group and he’s finally using that. And the mere presence of Brat, who hasn’t hit that life-altering TWENTY-YEARS OLD yet ensures that they have at least three more years to pwn.

I’m not saying it’s right or fair, but female idols have an expiration date. They can bow out gracefully and do other things in entertainment (even if it’s just hosting H!P events), or they can hang on forever until it becomes kinda painful.

Berryz has become a bit painful for me, but it’s nothing to do with their “age” or relevance. It’s been stated on many blogs that Berryz influenced other idols to pursue their dreams and as a blogger I was always naively surprised when I read that Berryz was another blogger’s “reason I got into idols in the first place.”

It’s painful because it looks like the girls themselves have checked out. Big time.

It struck me when I watched the Budokan concert. They did a great job and I’m not saying it was a bad show, but I just don’t Hello_Project-496089remember anything about it. Nothing stood out at all. I don’t remember any fan-service moments, or really what the set list was like, or who I watched particularly. They were happy to be there, of course, but it felt a little empty to me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been the biggest fan of theirs, fair enough, but why did they even get this in the first place? Or rather, why not way before now, when they were kicking ass with singles like this one?

A big indicator for me was Maasa’s smile being almost non-existent. I fell for her super-awesome-happy smile and I mostly saw a grumpy one. Risako looks like smiling is the hardest part of earning her diamonds, so the most she can manage is a grimace. Even Chinami, who seems like a bundle of fireworks and sunshine seemed almost subdued. Let’s not even open the can of worms that is Momoko and the ‘yan-yan’ schtick. She’s entirely preoccupied with it, to the point where I can’t remember a time she didn’t terrify me.

This announcement seems saddest for Captain, Yurina and Miyabi because they still seem to be going strong. Captain loves the group and I think this year and last year might have been the only years I really noticed her as a strong vocal presence (not to mention that sudden hawtness). Yurina has always been a good vocalist (YMMV) and still seems to love concerts, although honestly, she could model very easily once this is over. Miyabi is their ace and she knows it. She does most of the heavy-lifting in terms of vocals, so it would make sense if things were getting tiring for her. I don’t think she can help plastering a smile on and performing her arse off, because if she didn’t everything would fall apart. That being said, there is a certain satisfaction to be gained from getting the most screen time.

I don’t think the others are bad performers exactly, I just think it’s a lot more obvious that they’re sick of things. What are they all going to do now? Where will they all go? I can see Yurina modelling and Momoko seems determined to run her Hello_Project-496087‘nyan’ nonsense into the ground. I don’t know if Buono is going to continue, which a lot of people seem to be worried about, even more than Berryz being gone.

That kinda sucks when you think about it. I think most people miss the fun, crazy Berryz, who had manic but catchy, cute tunes, rather than the Berryz of the last couple years that had no clue where it was going. I still maintain that Berryz can pull off cool or cute without looking awkward, but in the last few years they just seem to be running out of steam. Tsunku doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. And if they’re getting sick of it, what can be done?

What’s the lesson here, that idol groups can only have staying power in some sort of revolving door system? That idol groups that don’t change shouldn’t last ten years? It seems that Tsunku and the Berryz members actually sat down and had that awkward, “where is this all going” conversation. Rather than just going another year and half-assing what Tsunku gave them, they must have said, “You know what? We’d like to stop and maybe do other things”.

What can you say to that except, “Good for you, good luck and thanks for everything?”

I don’t know how best to put that to your loyal fans in a way they can accept. I understand they didn’t want to “make people sad”, but isn’t it better to be adults about this and say, “Yes, we love you all and we’ve worked hard, but Berryz is done.” This hiatus thing just seems to give false hope.

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I want a Chinami too!

Well, we’ve got one more single until hiatus-ville. I don’t know if Buono will still be there, but I can’t imagine that Miyabi won’t still be contracted somehow. Tsunku isn’t going to just let her go. Risako is harder to pin down; at least now she’ll have more time to spend with her diamonds. As for the rest of them, I guess we’ll have to see.

I hope Yurina models though.
Chinami too, with those gams.
And I hope they show Koharu you can move to a new profession without being a jerk about the old one.

~Isilwen

3 thoughts on “The Berryz Question is Answered”

  1. This is quite a lot to think about. We all can’t deny that as big a shock this is, this has been coming for a long time.

    You did a great job of showcasing your information and making your point. Two thumbs up!

  2. I totally agree with you about the kind of expecting it thing. I was waiting for it for a while, I knew it was coming. Once all of MM’s senior members left, it was the next logical step for Hello Pro.
    I kind of like berryz, I like them more than c-ute so I kind of feel bad for waiting for this to come.

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