Hello everybody, guest contributor TheNumber244 here to bring you up to date with the new month of Hello! Project rankings. This month in Hello! Project saw a new addition, a future foursome, and a TV Summer Spectacular. In addition, July saw nine performances of the Hello! Project 2016 Summer Tour- “Sunshine Parade” and “Rainbow Carnival”. Throw a new release on top of the mix, and it’s a wonder who will fall on top of the heap! Well, I did some of that work for you, so ease your seat back and get ready for the August Hello! Project Power Rankings!
Rankings come on!
Last Rank: 2
Kobushi Factory complete their ascent up the Hello! Project ladder and grab the top rung in August 2016. To start with, the group’s third single, “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro / Bacchikoi Seishun! / Ora wa Ninkimono” unleashed the samba beats to Japan on July 27. Kobushi Factory’s third release opened the week with a record 29,709 units, although the single only managed a number three ranking. Even though the weekly results for “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro ….” are strictly the province of next month’s Power Rankings, you should expect that the record opening and third place ranking presages the eventual outcome of the single. And just in time for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, right? Did they plan that?
Of course, the new release comes with a flurry of activity that pushed Kobushi over the top in August. To focus in on a couple of things, look at Kobushi Factory’s feature in Seventeen Magazine. Hirose Ayaka and the rest of her crew received a great styling job that really transformed some of the members to bring out their beauty. No, it’s not a flashy spread. There isn’t anything in the way of gravure, but damn the Factory Girls look great!
This is also the appropriate time to mention Hamaura Ayano’s appearance in Weekly Shounen Sunday. Along with Juice=Juice’s Miyamoto Karin, Morning Musume ’16’s Makino Maria, and Country Girls’ Morito Chisaki, Weekly Shounen Sunday gave us another glimpse into a future of Hello! Project that is rapidly becoming the present. With just a bit of debate, these four girls seem to be the ones charged with carrying Hello! Project into the future. I do not have much quarrel with these choices: all the girls selected seem to have broad appeal, better than average performance skills, and a great relationship with their fan base. Hamachan (the Colonel) definitely belongs in any group that touts itself as the future of the Projects.
Finally, the ~Greeting~ Blu-ray series continued with a joint video release featuring Inoue Rei and Hirose Ayaka. This bit of news probably would not normally make headlines, but this is the second time H!P released a joint ~Greeting~ video. I am not sure exactly what this means, but I do know that ReiRei is one of the more popular girls, visually speaking. Perhaps the influx of new girls has finally flooded the release calendar. In any case, look for the continued release of ~Greeting~ video releases and the eventual outcome of Kobushi Factory’s “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro / Bacchikoi Seishun! / Ora wa Ninkimono” on next month’s Power Rankings.
Previous Rank: 5
Second place this month belongs to Wada Ayaka and the girls of ANGERME. The big news first: Kasahara Momona became the sole member of the fifth generation of the surging Hello! Project group. It really seems like H!P is hell bent on keeping ANGERME at nine girls, doesn’t it? A few stats on Kasahara- she is a twelve-year old girl from Kanagawa. Her birthday is October 22, 2003 and her blood type is type-A. Kassa, as her admired senpai Aikawa Maho nicknamed her, belongs to the 24th generation of H!P Kenshuusei and began her life in the Projects on April 1, 2015. What is the connection between AiAi and Kassa? They both take ballet!
The biggest performance of the month came July 18th, when ANGERME and H!P’s other two senior groups (C-ute and Morning Musume ’16) received an invitation to perform on Fuji TV’s FNS Summer Festival of Song. Perhaps owing to the new member in their midst, ANGERME did not seem to get as much screen time as the other two H!P groups. Unlike Morning Musume and C-ute, Angerme did not get an invitation to the afternoon’s idol medley at the pool. Nevertheless, their performance of “Taiki Bansei” in the evening definitely sparkled! New member Momona definitely fit right in with the group; I expect big things from this girl in the future!
Morning Musume ’16
Previous Rank: 1
Morning Musume ’16 seemed all over the place this July, and I mean that in a good way. Firstly, Kudo Haruka released her fifth solo image Blu-ray “Haruka -Haruka-” early in the month. Keeping with the theme, Ishida Ayumi also released her “It’s a Beautiful Day” Blu-ray on July 27. A pair of video releases in the same month from the same group strikes me as a relative rarity in the idol world (I do not have much more editorializing that that really). Also in the visual realm, Makino Maria appeared in “Weekly Shounen Sunday” as noted above, which probably put an even bigger target on her back. Finally, Morning Musume ’16 notably appeared in Fuji TV’s Summer Festival of Song with the “who’s who” of the idol world. The group appeared twice during the festival with a performance of “Happy Summer Wedding” at the idol pool and a performance of “Nagisa no Sinbad” during the Idol Summer Song Cover Medley later in the night. While this diversity of activity keeps the group fresh, it definitely was not enough to elevate Morning Musume ’16 past the two groups above them in the list.
Previous Rank: 6
Juice=Juice are back on the rise with some great news from July. Firstly, the Juicer’s eighth single, “Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~ / KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!! / Ashita Yarou wa Bakayarou” finally gets a release date on September 7. The new single’s production credits are loaded with all-stars from Tsunku, to Hyadain, to DANCE MAN. Hell, even Fukuda Kanon gets in on the action by penning the lyrics to the third a-side, “You’re an Idiot If You Leave Something Until Tomorrow” (which sounds just like Kanon). Melon-flavored Uemura Akari released her second photobook, “Akari II” Late in July with a companion image Blu-Ray, “Take it Early” to be released in August. Not to be (too) outdone, Miyamoto Karin appeared in that H!P loaded Weekly Shounen Sunday with MM16 Maria, CG Chisaki, and KF Ayano. Finally, there will be a time when I stop mentioning “LIVE MISSION 220” with Juice=Juice. This isn’t that month, though. Juice=Juice kept it going with “Code 3” and “Last Code” performances during the month. With a single release in September and a Budokan solo live in November, Juice=Juice may have the rest of 2016 all lined up. We will see if there are any more surprise announcements.
Previous Rank: 3
C-ute did not do much to make waves this mid-summer month. Not that July was completely devoid of news for the senior Hello! Project group. Yajima Maimi at the rest of the girls appeared on the Fuji TV summer festival along with Morning Musume ’16 and Angerme, as has been noted above already. Speaking of Maimi, the leader announced a new solo photobook and Blu-ray release for later in the year. This is notable because Maimi is a woman. But for my money, the news that drove the month was the successful surgery on Okai Chisato’s vocal cords. The operation was deemed a success, and Chisato appeared on the Fuji TV FNS Summer Festival of Song with barely a week of recovery time. Speaking of the FNS Fest, C-ute treated us to two performances: “Naze Hito wa Arasoun Darou” and 2011’s “Momoiro Sparkling”. For my money, the best moment of the fest was NMB48’s Yamamoto Sayaka’s seriously wota-fied face as she cheered for Suzuki Airi. I am serious; it’s dead classic.
Previous Rank: 5
Country Girls remain in idle for another consecutive month. With their feet off the gas, Tsugunaga Momoko’s Girls descend to the depths of the projects. As of my writing, we know major news about Inaba Manaka broke; the ailing Manaka chose to graduate from the group. Manaka’s decision won’t be felt until next month’s rankings as per the rules of this little game. Country Girls, who began their resurrection with full momentum definitely slowed down with Inaba’s hiatus. Unable to announce a new single and unable to promote a new single with Manaka’s status in limbo, I think we can all understand what happened here. Still, a bright spot for Country Girls and all of Hello! Project is about to go dim; we are not better for that.
Like always, you are free to disagree. In fact, please disagree! That will give us something to talk about! You can give me an earful in the comments below, my personal twitter, or the New School Kaidan Twitter. Don’t forget to visit my blog at TheNumber244. Until next time!