From isilie to you!
From isilie to you!
The first time I ever met Ikuta Erina…ok, well, the only time I likely will ever meet her, was during the handshake portion of 2014’s New York concert.
I remember I’d just been overwhelmed by my Zukki moment and then floored by how warm and sweet Riho had been, then there was Eri-pon.
And I just froze, dumbfounded. She’s so very, very small. I’ve never seen a human that is that small. I mean, short, yes, but skinny, with a tiny face. This isn’t a criticism, by the way. It honestly shocked me. I had sort of expected BOSS and Oda to be small and gorgeous, but this level of tiny was entirely different.
Eri-pon spoke, saying, “arigatou gozaimasu” and her voice was incredibly high-pitched. I looked in her eyes as I shakily remembered to take her hand and saw that wince. She had smiled, but her eyes had that ‘I think that went badly’ wince that I kept seeing in variety shows or dvd magazines. Before I could say anything, apologize for what I’m sure was a strange, nonplussed face, I was pushed on
When Bro and I compared notes later, he said that he’d basically burst out laughing the second she spoke and he’d felt terrible, but couldn’t stop laughing. It was that high-pitched voice and the wince that you can’t un-see once you start to notice it.
And it’s not that either of us are mocking her or think she’s somehow laughable.
There was just something so odd about her. Continue reading “The Strange Case of Eri-pon”
I suppose ‘evolution’ is the word I want. But this is starting to be more than I can handle. I’m not trying to pick on AKB (although I suspect it will come across that way), but that is not a format I want for H!P. It’s not what H!P is. If H!P becomes a giant, unstable idol factory in which every group can just be shuffled at will and auditions don’t mean anything and groups that have worked hard get unceremoniously split up or the group name just suddenly disappears-
Let me explain a bit less dramatically.
PART THREE: Paving the way for Colourful Era
I still think the Platinum Era members of Momusu had it tough and it’s only now that people are realizing how amazing that group became. During promotions for their 20th anniversary, Shige said that if people were going to praise the members of that time, she wishes they would have done it back then. As Takahashi pointed out, “No one called it ‘Platinum’ at that time!” One of the most frustrating things they heard back then was, “What is Morning Musume up to nowadays?”
There were many factors contributing to their lack of popularity in Japan, but one of the major ones I cited was the appearance of AKB48. They were younger, newer, they were more accessible (at the time) and they had the variety emphasis Momusu no longer had. Momusu had to figure out what it wanted to be in the bridge period between the Golden Era and whatever they were to become. I think people generally agree that their Golden Era ended when Yossy graduated, but the usual transition was interrupted by Fujimoto Miki unexpectedly resigning to be with the man she eventually married (“Shoujiiiiii!”). Until Tsunku could find our ninth generation, Momusu had to recreate itself without their senpai to help.
One of the main things I kept seeing in blogs was ranting about ‘stagnation’ and it still bothers me. For a period of such immense changes, people didn’t seem to see anything but the lack of auditions and reliance on the same types of songs for each new release. I’m going to try and explain why I feel they didn’t stagnate; in fact, I think their development raised the bar for future generations and paved the way for the Colourful Era.
Mostly, I’m just shocked.
I had no idea. NONE. Like everyone else (at least everyone I’ve read), I assumed that Iikubo or maybe Fuku-hime would be next in line to graduate. See, we were all thinking about ages, huh? We didn’t think about one of the girls actually wanting to leave, because she honestly loves acting more than idol-ing.
It happens, people. Even to those who pwn our idol socks right off.
I was all ready to start posting about Kudo’s graduation, but then the bizarre revival of the shuffles happened and now I don’t even know where to start…So I split things up and I’ll just focus on one at a time.
Let’s pretend for a moment BOSS graduating is still all there is to it…
And while I’m at it, sneak in a small pv review.
I don’t think I can express to you what Momusu means to me. I haven’t been a fan since the beginning, of course. I don’t live in Japan, can barely speak/understand the language (workin’ on it!) and can only understand idol culture on a surface level. What I can do is come out of my long hiatus, full of writer’s block and lack of motivation, to tell you about what being a fan of Momusu for the last ten years has meant to me.
(Unless otherwise stated, all caps/gifs are from random google-searches/tumblrs – not mine!)
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.
PART TWO: The Stagnation Situation
After about two years of Platinum generation, with their slowly declining sales and lack of television presence, it seemed like every post about Momusu involved the word ‘stagnation’. The O.Gs were almost always onscreen when Momusu got to appear and as a result, the concept of the Golden Age became a topic of endless, heated debate. This is also the first time I ever encountered the concept of ‘rage-quitting’ a fandom: “They are just so bad that I am QUITTING them dammit!!.
Never mind all the changes that had happened two years ago and how lightning quick O.Gs had graduated or just exited (it was hard to catch your breath after Abe Natsumi graduated); Never mind the unprecedented move of having Chinese members in Momusu, or the fact that long-time shows had ended and new shows had taken their places; Never mind how H!P was slowly condensing, splitting into Elder Club and WonderfulheartsLand only to have a massive Elder Club exodus in only a couple years; Never mind how very different concerts became when there wasn’t that strong emphasis on variety anymore and how each girl had to step up her game.
Nope. All that mattered was Momusu was the same as it was a year ago, and let’s not forget the looming juggernaut of the emerging AKB48!
What was Itsumo Genki, Momusu-Supporter, to do? Was it really that bad? Let’s take a look at some of the things that I can remember people hating about the Platinum era.
PART ONE: The Ace Question
There is no other period of Morning Musume history that gets more criticism, insults, and terrible reviews than the Platinum Generation. At least there isn’t to my knowledge and I’ve been in this fandom for a decade now (wow, who else feels old?). It’s strange to me, who became a fan in late 2006, that this era is now becoming a bit as mythical as the Golden Age. Obviously it’s nowhere near as admired and lusted after, but people now seem to acknowledge how spoiled we were back in the age of JunLin, Takahashi Ai and, depending on your level of crack-consumption, Miracle-Ace Koharu. Since the kyuukies, the polish of the group with only three newbies has gone down. The vocals aren’t as strong, for example and mileages vary on performance level.
In one of her many awesome posts, Magi-kat made the point that there is a whole generation of new Momusu fans who are used to the conditions of one or two members getting all the solo lines, the relentlessly pushed ‘Ace’ member carrying all the pressure, and members staying in the group for decades. That was simply never the norm until Platinum Era.
So what was the Platinum Generation/Era? Why did people hate it so much if it created a generation of fans? Why is the question of the Ace so important for people now?
I 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 haven’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?