H!P, Morning Musume, PV

Brand New Ace Formation


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We’re back everybody (and once again, I’m absurdly behind in my reviews)! After a brief and glorious respite from the heavy formation choreography and the blatant pushing of an Ace member – it’s all made a comeback in Brand New Morning, Momusu’s declaration of war on 2017.

Ok, well it’s actually not a war declaration. It’s an uplifting song about moving forward in confusing times and using all your power for good and so forth; it’s the usual morning fare with perhaps a whiff of politics (although to say this song is about Trump seems stupid to me). But this is a BRAND NEW morning (get it?) and we have two fabulous new members to shake things up.

bnm01149I didn’t expect this kind of a pv though. I mean, it certainly suits the song, but this is taking the formation dance thing to an absurdly literal place.

The last couple of singles haven’t struck me as heavily formation the way Help Me or Brainstorming are, and there hasn’t been any Ace to push either. They gave Maria a chance to center in Sou Ja Nai and BOSS, Masaki-kins, Fuku-hime and Oda have all had their moments. Mostly, 2016 was a year of unity for Momusu; I was just getting used to the idea of ‘no ace’ and enjoying how much everybody has grown (except maybe Haga, who just is kinda there – adorable, but not really a big part of things yet).

But as soon as I saw this face:

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I thought, “Yep. Yokoyama’s gonna be the promoted one, for sure.”

You know how I know? It’s not just because she’s younger and has the kind of generic idol face the Japanese public loves (settle down – I’m not saying she isn’t cute because she definitely is), it’s because I ALWAYS like the one they don’t promote as much better than the Ace.

bnm00777And I LOVE Kaedi. I think she’s fierce and poised and has strong deep vocals that are really going to add a lot in the future. Besides, she’s demonstratively worked her ass off to be here. We already know she has drive and ambition and you can tell me that the fruits of her labour aren’t clear in her fabulous debut, but I won’t believe you. More than possibly any new member I’ve ever seen, she just blended into the group like she’d always been there. I still notice her, look for her, appreciate her, but she fits in so well that you can only tell she’s new when she’s answering questions; when performing she’s all in and on fire.

Yoko, on the other hand, got in after barely three months of work. Which is fine, I mean, good for her, but if we compare them to each other, I’m not seeing why Yoko deserves to be pushed more. Maybe because of her lack of experience/exposure, but I doubt it.

I also need to point out what many people have pointed out: that she has the same confidence and sly ambition as Riho and that she sings EXACTLY like Zukki. And her name is Reina.

I mean why don’t you just punch me in the FACE, Momusu!?

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WOA! Ok, sorry!
Also: perfect solo line is perfect. I love her voice. Duet with BOSS about who is more ikemen – now!

You know as much as I complain about one being promoted more than the other, I love the dynamic between these two. Kaedi worked hard for years to get a major debut and now that she has it, she still seems so floored with her victory that she’s perhaps a bit absentminded when she talks. However, her background with H!P Eggs (they will always be Eggs – don’t bother correcting me) has given her confidence and poise in both singing and dance. There’s a real ikemen feel to her even though she has an elegant stature. After working for years for this bnm00544chance, I seriously doubt she’ll let Yoko just take over.

Yoko, as I’ve said, reminds me of debut-age Riho: she’s absolutely ambitious without alienating anyone  (she has that cute, reassuring smile, after all), she has a background in dance, with singing being a bit more difficult for her, and she’s instantly getting a ton of close-ups and attention from the Japanese fans. Her smirk is the same debut face as Riho. When given the chance to talk, she’ll talk a ton. Have you seen her replies in the Pocket mornings?? Then there’s the crooked-baby-teeth-super smile…

As I mentioned before, they have such an odd senpai-kouhai paradox: Kaedi is the senpai but now they’re part of the same generation, so they’re equal. Kaedi has worked diligently while Yoko (I can’t call her Reina; it’s too traumatic) got into a group quickly on some mysterious charm. The other members cried in happiness that Kaedi had finally gotten in, while they are now constantly mentioning and promoting Yoko in their blogs…Our 13th gen seem to be on good terms, but they definitely get their digs in to each other.

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It’s gonna be a fight indeed…in fact it looks like Kaedi kinda punched our little Yoko in the back of her head. Oooh that smarts.

After all, isn’t this pv all about aggression? It’s absolutely saturated in red. Red is an aggressive colour; it means passion and fire and no-time-to-mess around. Coupled with that militaristic marching, what else are we supposed to think about?

Also did anyone else notice this thing:

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This red flash happens a few times and I really have no idea what it is.
Some angry swiss cheese?

My first thought was, “blood cells”, which it isn’t. There is something biological about that image. Unless, it is angry cheese, in which case, colour my face… red.

*rimshot*

Fuku-hime mentioned the theme is “marching band” and since Momusu have had a few years to get used to formations, they seem to form their X, circle and triangle shapes effortlessly. The costumes are the right mix of cute and strong, although I was hoping for a revival of the Rival Survival concert gear. I suppose I’d have to wait for a concert for that one.

Since the theme is marching band, we gotta have some flag-bearer action! BOSS!

BOSS seems pretty excited in this one, although I honestly didn’t notice her much until her solo lines.

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B: “I don’t care if you didn’t notice me – I’m INVINCIBLE.”

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B: “RISE MY FANGIRLS AND SWEEP THIS STAGE CLEEEEAAAAAN-“

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The terrifying power of our Ikemen: everyone is swooning and they don’t even know why! Look at her eyes people; she’s losing it!!

I love everything about this cap, especially Maria’s very matter-of-fact way of punching the camera. And what’s with that extra hand on Ayumin’s shoulder??

Seriously though, good luck competing with Kaedi for who’s the most boyish, Boss. She’s already protested that her and Kaedi look too much alike and their interests align and therefore clash too. If you notice in some of the performances, Kaedi started to part her hair on the other side…

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Y: “Haaaaay, guuuuuuys. Dis about me?”

No, Yoko. No, no. I’ve talked about you already. Just cause there’s a million shots of you doesn’t mean you can just keep popping up like this.

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Y: “Whatevs.”

Ahem.

Moving right along…

Today she isn’t Fuku-hime…she is RIIDA!

Honestly, Fuku-hime seems so leader-like in this pv, in a way I haven’t really seen before.

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F: “Don’t you steal now. As your princess, I simply don’t approve.”

As far as her performance, it’s pretty much flawless as always. The only thing close to a complaint I have is how quietly she sings during lives. Some times she just doesn’t project enough. I mean, that could be the sound guys screwing up, but since it’s happened so often, I don’t think so. I hope she’ll really belt it out in concert, because you can’t just be ‘cute’ in this kind of song.

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…Ok, fine, maybe you can.

F: “Hail to da riida, baby!”

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Case and point about cuteness: Haga-chin, who is so adorable whenever she pops up that I don’t even mind how I keep forgetting she exists.

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Look at that little face – how can you get mad at her??

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Y: “Dat’s just like meeeeee!”

HEY! What did I say, Yoko?! Get outta here!
And you STOP that winking!

Ikuta brandishing the MM flag like a weapon! That outta keep them haters away.

Does anybody actively hate Eri-pon? I’m planning a post about her so I won’t go into it too much, but I’ve noticed she’s gotten a lot more sullen in the past few years. She’s still trying really hard, she’s still smiling and being adorable and being the most photogenic of all the members (except maybe Oda, who is so freakin’ gorgeous this year that I can’t even sentence make!), but there always seems to be a frown in her eyes.

But let’s talk about her solo part please!

She gets the second bridge line and I don’t think she’s ever sounded better. It’s a bittersweet line and she delivers it with that unique, but rarely seen Eri-pon vulnerability; I even hear some of that vibratto she’s developed. It was just such a sweet delivery. I nearly teared up I was (am!) so happy for her. I feel happy when members we never hear from get solos, but I’m almost never emotional about it! Eri-pon just wants it so badly! >_<

I think a lot of the girls, despite speaking in rather high registers, don’tbnm02547 have the singing range for super high-pitched melodies. You could also argue they aren’t sure how to hit those notes without bellowing.

I have said it before and will continue to say it forever: singing is a skill and your voice is a muscle as well as an instrument. Using it properly, so that it won’t crap out in three years or get ruined forever, is critical for girls who sing constantly and sing LIVE. We laugh at singers who take ridiculous precautions before their concerts: drinking odd herbal concoctions or not speaking at all until the performance or making ridiculous noises repeatedly to “warm up”, but then these people sing and we shut the hell up because all those preparations WORKED.

This range is somewhere between low and high; it’s easy to sing, just girly enough.

I’ve seen Eri-pon perform this line on shows and she’s clearly not used to getting a center part, but I hope her shyness and insecurity won’t get the better of her. She’s probably the Musume I’m rooting for most, even if she isn’t my favourite.

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Y: “Haaaaaay, I’m totally fiiiiiiine with center parts, ne?!”

Yoko, for fracks sake…

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ERI-PON WILL ROUNDHOUSE YO’ FAYCE IF YOU DON’T QUIT IT!

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Let me just mention here again how amazing Kaedi is during her solo moments.

*dies*

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Close-up shots are usually a clear indicator of how much improvement is needed, or how much the girl’s confidence has developed. Kaedi is wonderful to watch. I didn’t get any of the derp I usually find in 12th gen, or the wide-open mouths I find with the 10th. Kaedi seems to already be able to feel the song and not fuss about whether or not she’s enunciating a lot.

Plus there’s the fact that she’s so gorgeous and elegant.

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K: “Don’t forget the guns.”

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Epic elegance.

I’m not actually sure if that is Kaedi or BOSS…

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B: “I-I can’t remember either!”

B: “Who….who am I?”

Boss, settle down.
This is Kaedi!

Y: “Hey…hey MOVE KAEDIIIIII-“

An example of both derp and the wide-open-mouth-syndrome. The struggle is real.

I had to include all three of the best shots of Maria, because if you can’t cap Masaki-kins, Maria is where you’re going to get all your unbashed joy. She doesn’t get to do much in this pv, but I always notice her and she always has at least one moment like this one.

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…Then she’ll turn around and be gorgeous.
She’s totally won me over folks, even with all the Loverinrinwhateveritis nonsense.

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Y: “Haaaay, listen, I won’t evar do gags like that, ok? I am an ace.”

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Well Kaedi will give us a random Aiiiii~n fail-face in the middle of pwning the choreography. I think you can afford to give us at least one fail-face.

If you’re gonna keep popping up, at least you can give us a renewed Reina-fail.

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Y: *random goat noises*

…Okay.

Let’s move on to a completely different kind of awkward and talk about Ogata now.

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Ogata has finally gained enough weight to be able to hoist the MM flag.
Well..hold it anyway…well mimic holding it. They probably CG-ed in the actual flag…

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O: “Look, I didn’t come here to grow an angry Riida out of my head and listen to insults, ok?”

It’s not an insult, really. I’ve just noticed how skeletal she looked in the past few years and now she looks a bit more healthy now. That isn’t really the point though. The point is that there is something about Ogata that means I keep noticing her. It’s probably because she’s just so damn odd.bnm01936

There’s something odd about that whole 12th gen, isn’t there? Haga is like a stuffed-animal, but can be a bad-ass when she gets the idea; Maria is s giant-smilie-face come to life, but is incredibly versatile as a performer (even if her voice is still pretty rough); Nonaka is derpy even though she’s the most composed out of all of them; and then there is vacantly smiley Ogata who can’t sing and always seems awkward until you strap a pair of skates on her (seriously, look it up – she’s quite capable and looks very comfortable on the ice).

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What is this expression? I DON’T KNOW!

Ok…we’ll leave on that note.

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Perfect Oda is perfect.
Wait…that IS Oda, right?

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HAH! Found you!

O: “Woa, center again! No waaaaay!”

I confess 2016 was all about Oda for me. Once I discovered her strange tension with Ayumin and her ‘bullied’ character, I was intrigued. I’d been thoroughly blown away by her birthday solo performances, but I’d never quite seen her as an ace, or potential ace. She’s kept powering up, and I’ve kept wanting to learn more about her. Ultimately what I discovered is, I really like her.

I think she’s gorgeous and I love her voice. I feel like she didn’t really have a character before last year. She was just sorta there as a pleasant back-up. Then one line from Ayumin in a dvd magazine (“I don’t wanna be on camera with Oda.”) led me to discover that they bully her a bit. And rather than shrinking away, she loves it. She requests that they bully her more. It’s like finding her place has given her the confidence to really push herself in performances. Yasuda Kei was a bullied character and it turned her into probably the most infamous member of them all! Being bullied can be a gold mine!

Before the Sexy Cat business, I really couldn’t say she was a potential ace, but that single felt like a starting point. Even if Yokoyama is gonna be pushed, I doubt Oda will stay on the sidelines for too long.

I couldn’t honestly say she’s my favourite member though; I don’t really have a favourite, which is another strange and wonderful thing about this lineup. I feel like I’ve always had someone I’m watching or noticing more than others. Sure, Oda has my favourite voice, but I also love Fukuhime’s voice; I love BOSS’s ikemen stuff and the craziness of Masaki-kins; I’m rooting for Eri-pon and I adore Maria’s nonsense. I simply can’t decide.

There isn’t anyone to really dislike either.
Call me boring, but I like that.

Y: “Oh, so dis means you like me? Oooooh…”

Sure, Yoko. Now please be quiet.
*sigh*

Turning around is apparently Ayumin’s specialty.
I don’t get it any more than you do…

Ayumin has changed so much. I still get that Daichi feeling from her, but now that I know she doesn’t get along with Oda (“they don’t ‘match’ well” – however you wanna say it), she seems a bit more cut-throat to me.

You can call it bias if you like, but I don’t think she’s really shown that side of her. All that aggression in her dancing is finally coming out in her personality. It’s like Riho’s exit finally freed her to aim for center. Or maybe I’m just more wary of her because this Oda thing doesn’t feel like it’s just for tv. Played up some times, sure, but it feels pretty real.

I certainly don’t dislike her and some tension in the group doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s not like Oda and her can’t do variety together, it’s just pretty tense when they do. I guess I didn’t think Ayumin was that kinda girl.

Hey, sometimes when you’re wrong, you’re pleasantly surprised.

If she’s pushing forward, I’m loving it. Her voice isn’t my favourite but I respect how much work she’s put into her singing. I love that they’re finally using her rap skills (not in this song, but in Jealousy, Jealousy – the Tsunku addition to this lovely single) and I hope that will become a permanent thing.

Be honest: H!P rap is usually a sad, albeit cute, failure, with lots of ‘uh’, ‘like dis’, and ‘you know?’s. Let’s not forget ‘yo, check it out, yo’.

*facepalm*

Speaking of facepalms, who are the derp-iest derps who ever derped?

Both: “It’s YOU!”

That’s correct!!
Both: “Hooray!”

It made me laugh so much when I saw they’d paired up Mega-Derp Iikubo and Derp-chan Nonaka. The two Derps sound great together, blending surprisingly well. It’s fitting as they both seem to cycle from derp-to-cool over and over. Iikubo has fewer instances now, but she’s probably the originator of the derp-face. I was so happy they were together here.

It’s nice to see them get some play. Iikubo felt oddly absent last year, I think suffering from some health issues (please correct me if I’m wrong here) and when she was around she’d sorta fade into the background. There wasn’t even any of her “sweet, sweet honey time” in backstage moments.

Nonaka has been moving up steadily. I read a few rants about how her English-speaking was going to alienate Japanese fans. I don’t know if that’s true, but whether the fans are intimidated or not, she’s gotten a lot of opportunities with those language skills. Her singing has improved every year and her confidence never seems to waver. She always looks so comfortable, even when she says she’s nervous.

N: “Haaaaay, man, don’t like- don’t -no, I’m not that – no…”

I: “Oooh, I’m not derpy at ALL in this!”

True enough, Iikubo, but you’ll always be Mega-derp to me, no matter how many sweet-sweet-honey-times you have.

LOVE the dance-break! So much fist-throwin’ and stompin’ goin on!!

That’s really all I got here. Two new members kill it.

*squee*

So 2017 is starting to take shape as a year about unity. Everything about this slams strength-in-numbers into your face: the formations, the militaristic feel, the flag brandishing. After all, the idol-business is a war for fans and sales and how does Momusu compete?

By dancing and singing…

Together, in unity!

And of course, they want all the fans to move forward and do positive things with whatever strength they have. It’s a lovely message at any time, but I suppose if you’re taking it as a political statement, it’s particularly fitting right now.

This is ‘brand new morning’, pushing forward with their new members, their long history, and their strong unity holding it all together. You could argue the song is “too strong”, but after last years Mukidashi de Mukiatte I feel they are at a level to pull this off. The new members don’t slow it down one bit.

Y: “I’m da ace. Dats why.”

I wouldn’t be so sure about that, Yoko.

~Isilie

1 thought on “Brand New Ace Formation”

  1. What I really like about Daasaku and the Oda-bullying is that it feels like it’s in good fun, like the way they dunked on Charmy in Hello!Morning, or on Momochi in Berryz (and the general “everyone trolls everyone” modes in Angerme and Country Girls): all parties involved are in on the joke. About half of the Oda-bullying running gags (most notably, calling her just Oda with no honorifics) originated with Maachan. With Daasaku, you can often see them make eye contact beforehand, getting on the same page that it’s time to coordinate on a Daasaku Foe Yay moment. And it is a new chara development, because there are so many accounts from earlier about how much 10th gen is in love with Sakura, and their hanging out off the job and such. There’s still plenty of on-camera affection right alongside the supposed tensions, too. They’re working together to make entertainment for the audience, and I appreciate their craft!

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