In Which Isilie Reviews 2016: New Hope


krwbhicI won’t promise you that I’ll post more next year, because I do that almost every year and fail. I will say that my fandom is not over, even if I don’t post much, and if I have something to talk about, I will talk about it. I think the unceremonious (for me) loss of Idolminded put a huge dent in my motivation. Pretty feeble, I know. I didn’t realize how much I relied on it and took it for granted.

For those unaware, Idolminded (originally International Wota) was a site that gathered different articles/posts from the idol blogosphere for people to easily access. Sometimes they’d just describe the articles, but sometimes they’d comment on them, or feature them specifically, especially if multiple authors had weighed in on a certain subject.

I received so much encouragement, in regards to my writing, and so much information, in regards to the fandom. Because of this site, people started to read mine and I’ve always been humbled and grateful for that. In October 2015 they stopped posting. I hello_project-673768haven’t been able to discover why, but I’m guessing it’s just that real life became more important and that is absolutely understandable.

I just want to thank anyone and everyone involved in that site, if they are reading this, for all the confidence you’ve given me over the years and all your hard work. You have no idea how much you’ve helped this community. And I hope we’ll all keep writing and finding each other as long as this fandom continues. m (_ _) m

I really should try out some forums, huh?

Anyway, I didn’t post much this year, of course, but that’s not to say I didn’t notice anything that happened. Like I said, I felt a distinct lack of motivation. I think I’ve stopped thinking of posting as fun and started to feel obligated. I don’t like that. I don’t see why it can’t be both. H!P is still a great love of mine, after all.

Despite what so many say, I don’t think H!P ever really stagnates, it just doesn’t always change as fast as people want, or in the way that people expect. In fact I think sometimes the problem is the opposite: that H!P stays the same for a while and people have no attention span don’t like that.

Before we look forward, let’s look back a bit, shall we?

Best Singles

dreamroadkokorogaodoridashiteru-rJuice=Juice – KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!! + Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~

I can’t choose between these two. Dream Road kind weirded me out the first time I watched the pv, but the song wormed its way into my brain and refused to leave. I listened to it a lot and each time I liked it more. JJ has really come into their own this year. There’s something hypnotic about this song. I’ve known JJ as ero-kawaii, but never as wistful.

As for KEEP ON, I didn’t get into it until I saw a concert performance. They were so confident and cheerful that they sold me immediately. The song is catchy and fun and somehow suits them just as much as the subdued beauty of Dream Road. JJ has some strong voices. Way to go kids!

Angel-May – Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku + Ai no Tame Kyou Made Shinkashite Kita Ningen, Aitsugitsugizokuzoku-ev1 no Tame Subete-bomb-in-a-briefcase-this –title-is-really-too-long-etc.

Yeah. The two titles contrast a bit, huh? Song titles, as a rule, shouldn’t be longer than two or three words. Creating a title isn’t writing a book, people!

Anyway, Tsugitsugi was on the grad single of Meimi and she is appropriately fierce and adorable throughout. I remember this song hit me really hard the first time I watched the pv and I’ve listened to the song about a million times since then. H!P rap is nearly always unfortunate (albeit adorable), but this one just works for me. The rapid-fire chorus might be my favourite part, but I’m also very fond of the, “kodomo da ne?” line and Taguchi’s cheeky delivery. The pv is simple, but I really think it works.

umakuienai-evAngel-May has had an amazing year. Ai no Tame, featuring their newest member (who I haven’t noticed much despite her solo lines here), also hit me hard, but because of the lyrics more than anything else. I remember thinking, “yes! YES! THIS!! Put down your phones!!” While I love the whole song, the chorus is my favourite part. It’s very strong and I love that Angerme is at a point where they can handle this. Also: Moe has a great voice! Who knew? She looks so tiny and vacant…

Angel-May have been hit and miss for me since their “debut”, but this year there’s always been at least one song that made me pay close attention. I’ll miss Meimi dearly, but if these singles and their silly, affectionate camaraderie is any indication, we’ll still see great things from them in the future.

Country Girls – Dou Datte Ii nodoudatteiino-la

I love this style of music so very, very much. I was shocked at how aggressive almost all the girls are in this song and how perfectly they pull this off. I love everything about this song. Call it cliché, derivative, silly, not-a-genre-they-should-stay-in-because-COUNTRY-man!, but I love it every time H!P decides to rock out. They almost got me with Boogie-Woogie Love, but this is the one that finally made me think, “ok, fine, they’re pretty good”.

This is the only time Momo’s bizarre foray into an emerging revival group has even blipped my radar, let alone blown my mind. I don’t even mind the insanely awkward “sank you, all faaaans”. More please!!

sakuranightfever-lbKobushi Factory – Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsumoushin

Kobushi is perfect when they are fun, aggressive and digging into their notes like little giants. This song struck me as the most Kobushi-like of the bunch this year. It’s also the one that stuck in my head the most. I liked the baseball single too, but it didn’t stick with me like this one.

Nothing seems to be able to top their debut single, but this song came close to its quality. I love that they have a signature sound so early in their careers. More please!!

Buono – So La Si Do ~ ne ne~solasidoneenee-r

This was completely out of nowhere for me and I’m still not sure why this happened. Was this so that Oatbag Miyabi could have a venue to debut her girl group (aka the Buono concert in which they were ‘guests’; spoiler alert: her band is pretty awful from what I’ve seen)? Was this one last hurrah with Momo before she retired? Did Airiri keep crying until they relented?

What struck me about this song, aside from how beautiful Airiri and Momo sound (sorry Miyabi looked weird to me the whole time; it looks like she’s phoning this one in large), is how happy Airiri looks. She looks like being back in Buono is where she’s always wanted to be. She looks like every single note is a little piece of joy she gets to experience. I remember thinking, “she must really love Buono”. Then I wondered if maybe they’d finally revive Buono and let them keep making amazing music. This is apparently their lowest selling single to date, but that doesn’t mean future singles wouldn’t do better.

Then Momo announced her plans and my hopes were dashed.

Still. This was a very sweet, very refreshing little nostalgia trip, ne?

1cEPCE7216_TP1A_O_prep.pdfC-ute – Jinsei was Step + Nanze Hito wa Arasoun Darou

Again with the genre music blowing my mind. There were a bunch of H!P singles that made use of nostalgic-sounding genres, but C-ute’s handling of swing and gospel might have been the most wonderful thing about their year. It was probably the only thing that could have cushioned the blow of their announcement.

Nanze showcases C-ute’s singing skills and as all gospel songs are meant to do, makes you want to lift up your hands and sway. It’s like a culmination of everything good about their voices. I know Airiri is our diva and she always sounds fantastic, but everyone impresses here. And those gaudy, sparkling dresses look gorgeous…

Then there is Jinsei wa Step, which took over my life. I have to take this one in small doses because while I love everything about it, it’s the worst earworm since…well, anything. I don’t think there’s ever been a C-ute song that has refused to leave my head for weeks on end (not to this extent). This song is everything good about the members as performers: they’re so strong and sassy and confident.

Ok, I’m fawning, I know.

But C-ute has become too powerful, as so many girls do in their last few months before moving on. Let me have this time!

Morning Musume – Mukidatte ni Mukattesexycatnoenzetsu-rc

And as usual, I pick the song everybody hated. Everybody seems to think this song just wasn’t very good, although they acknowledge the awesome pv. Yet again, no one will say exactly why they think this.

I…don’t get it. Sure I chose the Sou Ja Nai version of the cover, but Mukidatte is one of the strongest songs I’ve heard from ’16. The fact they can pull this off at all is astounding.

I think we have another Resonant-Blue-Insta-Love situation: the second I heard this, I loved it. I love each solo line (Eri-pon!!!), I love that layered bridge into the chorus, and I love how dramatic everything feels from start to finish. I wish there was some more bass in the chorus part, but it’s still pretty wonderful as is.

Haga is fast becoming the queen on the spoken lines (she’s so adorable there are times I can’t even handle it).

I love the stupid chicken-dance-hoppity-hop choreography, mainly because Momusu fromfukuchansontumblrcan make it look cool, even though we all know it’s ridiculous (what is with all the chicken-flappin’ in this triple-a side anyway?). I love their jackets, their swirly slow-mo dramatic shots and I love everything about the middle in which the girls smear glowy paint all over each other and the camera. I’ve never seen anything like that in a Momusu pv before. (gif from fukuchans on tumblr)

Slow-mo, yes.
Dancing, of course.
Close-ups, natch.

Never anything like that.

It was an amazingly cool visual and suited the dramatics of the song perfectly. I was damn impressed here. I wish the whole pv took place in the glowy paint area.

This song felt like a step ahead, even more so than My Vision. It isn’t as super polished, but the girls definitely sound different. I love that I can still tell when it’s not a Tsunku song, but the girls can pull it off and make it their own. It’s refreshing to have that variety now.

Tsunku won’t be around forever (not trying to be morbid, but it’s true) and I hold hope that part of his legacy will be Momusu in whatever incarnation, even if they have to sing songs written by others.

Do you guys think Momusu will retire with Tsunku?

Graduations That I Actually Noticed

Zukki!

suzuki1_s

They performed Utakata Saturday Night about a million times after her graduation and I missed her more every time I heard it. That’s why I couldn’t put that as my favourite this year; I love the song, but it still hurts.

I hope she’s happy and doing what she wants to do. I miss her!!

C-ute?

wjwes1q

Yes, this graduation hasn’t happened yet, but C-ute decided this year to disband in 2017. I’m not sure any of us were shocked, exactly, but we were definitely upset. C-ute has probably reached the top in terms of their performance level and I don’t know about you, but I was curious to see how much higher they could go. However, since Brat is now twenty, it’s against Japanese-Idol-law for them to continue anymore.

I’m being a bit facetious, but not really. It’s true, isn’t it?

*bitter sniff*

Momo Hanging Up her Pigtails

11326396-1592222524328536-673197964-n_orig

My first thought was, “Oh, seriously!?”

Then she explained she wanted to work with children and she’d been going to university (or was planning to go) so she could follow that dream. I think her Nyan-nyan schtick prevented me from realizing how smart Momo is. If you read her interviews, she’s quite sharp. She’s always scared me a bit, but the pigtails just made me so tired I stopped paying attention altogether. I’m glad and impressed her dream doesn’t involve yet more/younger new idol groups. I’m very happy for her.

And I don’t know much about Country Girls, beyond Dou Datte, Ii no, but I think they’ll manage just fine.

Shige’s Return Announcement

sayu3

Mind blown.

I didn’t think she’d be back for YEARS. And she was so cheeky about it, just casually posting, “hey everyone” on her blog to watch the fireworks before she finally confirmed it was really her and yes, she’d be returning. She’s joined M-line for next year and she mentioned singing and dancing again, so we’ll have to see how she’ll manage that without kouhai or senpai to save her. I honestly have no idea what to expect.

And yes, Bro was extremely happy.

Also: My Yossy got married this year (to a lucky bastard) and had a baby boy. So very happy for her!

Member Ai

Eri-pon

j4xqp30

Eri deserves her own post and will get one, but I just want to mention one thing: in 2015, when JMelo asked her where she thought she’d be in ten years, she could only reply: “I just want to be happy”. Something about that broke my heart.

I always joke about the Eri-wince, but since that interview, I see it all the damn time. Once you spot it, you can’t unsee it.

And the thing is, she’s really powered up the last two years! She been getting more singing lines; she’s been in the ‘dance-group’ in several singles and been doing increasingly impressive acrobatics in concert. She’s even got a semi-regular gig on a variety show (because one of the hosts loves Momusu and Eri-pon is his favourite). She finally got a photobook too, and it’s about damn time because she’s one of the most photogenic members I’ve ever seen.

ikuta-erina-669712

She’s doing great.
Please be happy Eri-pon!!

Oda Sakura

oda-sakura-489567

I sorta fell for Oda this year. I love her singing voice, and I always have, but this year she finally started to look Ace-like. Ever since she established herself as the one who gets ignored or picked-on (beginning with that odd tension between her and Ayumin), she doesn’t seem as timid or scared to overshadow. Oda owned her lines this year more than ever.

Hopefully, she feels secure now and she can keep growing, because she’s bloody gorgeous in every sense of the word. She’s such a little weirdo too. And did I mention that voice? She can do anything!!

I’m gonna go look at her photobook again!!

Kaga Kaede

cabf1ecd

I would write about Yokoyama too, but there isn’t as much info. Kaede, on the other hand…

I had no idea how much she had to go through to be in this group. After going to TWELVE auditions and failing every single one, she gets into the 13th gen of Momusu, on her 13th try. No wonder she wept when they called her name!

And she’d been in H!P eggs (they will always be Eggs – don’t even try to correct me) for FOUR YEARS. She has a deep, strong voice and dances like a little pro. The first thing she said was that her goal was to surpass her senpai.

I am so very much into Kaede, but not because I feel sorry for her and am glad she finally made it: I think she will be a strong asset, if only for how competitive and determined she seems to be. She struck me as stoic, the way Riho was. She started out quiet and kaga-kaede-ae919ec0gradually became a creepy weirdo even as she worked her butt off as Ace. Maybe Kaede will too?

Even if she’s not our new Ace, I can’t wait to see her pwn Yokoyama and make her senpai nervous. Cause you know she will.

I’ve read that people see her as a diva for various reasons and I don’t really care if she is. Either that will get beaten out of her, or it will cause some lively variety situations in future dvd mags.

Learn to look on the bright side, folks!

Hope

I think it’s easy to get worried when your favourites graduate, or groups disband, or they release a few songs you don’t really like, but H!P still goes on and keeps trying new vlcsnap-2016-12-31-10h32m31s102things. I wasn’t too sure if I could still get into H!P with all these newer groups and less and less Tsunku, but I did. Every single group did something I loved this year. It keeps pulling me back in!

You know, except for Tsubaki Factory.
Nobody likes Tsubaki Factory.
Tell me you do; I won’t believe you.

Momusu is always the one I pay most attention to. I’m excited about the new members and while I will miss Zukki, I still love the other girls and want to see more and more. The Aki My Vision concert was damn impressive even though they’ve gone this whole year with no Ace. I don’t even think they needed one, but it seems to be the way things are now. If we need an ace, then perhaps Kaede can slip in there?

I can’t wait to see that battle. Masaki-kins is getting pretty comfortable with all those lines.

Let’s all have a safe and happy new year, rejoice about all these exciting new members and look forward to more surprises.

Beginning with an H!P and AKB48 collaboration.

Wait, WHAT?

*googles*

Yes this is actually happening.

*cue world exploding*

PS: Riho’s autobiography translation here. Random, but relevant.
PPS: Isn’t it hilarious that one of the tracks on the AKB album is ‘Bucket’??

~Isilie

3 thoughts on “In Which Isilie Reviews 2016: New Hope

  1. LMAO. I smiled and giggled throughout this post, and I absolutely agree. Yes, H!P is getting other producers and people to arrange their songs, doesn’t mean all hope is lost 🙂

    I really do think Angerme came into their own this year, “Ai ga Shinkashidekita-too-long-omfg-song title” was a wonderful song (cuz YAS STOP LOOKIN AT PHONES!), and “Tsugi Tsugi, Zoku Zoku” was my jam for weeks.

    I’m still missing Zukki, can’t watch Utakata MV without tearing up once DJ Zuk comes in. I even thought she would’ve sound great in “Sou ja nai”, #Zukkilossisreal

    That said, I think “Mukidashite” solidified that the girls will be OK – Ace or no Ace. As I was watching the MV I was like, “whoa stop, where’s all this confidence coming from!? I like it!” because some of them have looked awkward (and some still do, lol) in past MVs.

    I really am rooting for Kaede, I’m hoping her drive rubs off not only on Yokoyama but on the other girls too, if not make them feel a little threatened, and they all amp up their game a little. No hurt in some friendly competition! That’s how the OGs were like from wayyy back.

    I will miss C-ute. I too, was wondering how high they can go – they’ve been topping and breaking their own records since 2013! With kouhais like Angerme, Kobushi, Country Girls and JJ though, there are definitely things to look forward to in H!P! 🙂

    I like how you say that H!P changes, only slower than what fans/people would like and that puts them off, I also think so too. H!P’s been VERY SLOWLY changing and amping up their game, a little slow but hey, it’s all very “H!P-like” at the same time, haha.

  2. A big fan of your blog here and I hope to see more next year! My hope is to see Kaedy get a lot of lines or even a center spot for 2017. She deserves it

  3. Such an interesting read. I agree with you on Jinsei wa Step. Great song that really hooks itself in deep. It was my favourite song of 2016.

    Sayu coming back is brilliant news and I love the way she announced it. It’s going to be really interesting to see exactly what she’ll be doing. Whatever it is I have so much faith in her making it very entertaining.

    H!P continues onwards. When June arrives my favourite group will be leaving but there’s pleny to look forwsrd to beyond that. Kobushi Factory are so much fun, Momusu have two new members and will continue to shine and I think Tsubaki Factory could be interesting to watch. I think they’ll really improve a lot this year. Musically H!P can try so many different things. Last year had some interesting song choices. It was a good year overall. This year will hopefully continue in te same vein.

    Oh and I’m with you on Idolminded (and before that International Wota). They really helped with my blog. It gave encouragement when they picked up on posts. It was also a good place to find other blogs. It’s a pity they stopped but like you say life probably took over. Their efforts were appreciated here too.

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