Hello everybody, guest contributor TheNumber244 here to bring you up to date with the new month of Hello! Project rankings. I know this edition appears a bit late, owing mainly to my four-day lockdown at Anime Expo early in the month. But, enough with my silly excuses! The early goings of June were dominated by an outpour of emotion for the graduations of Tamura Meimi on May 30th and Suzuki Kanon on May 31st. That’s a lot to take in for a fandom that held both girls in high esteem since their induction into the Projects in 2011. How did the rest of the Projects deal in June? Well, let’s find out together!
Rankings come on!
Morning Musume ’16 ride high on the rankings for another month. Some of their ascension can be attributed to the lingering hangover of their latest release ” Utakata Saturday Night / The Vision / Tokyo to Iu Katasumi“. Toss in a few television performances, a photobook release, and the graduation of a senior member, and Morning Musume ’16 ended up on the lips of all HaroWota for the last month.
To begin things, 11th generation member Oda Sakura released her debut photobook “Sakura Moyou” right at the start of the month. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t spend much ink on the release of a photobook. But, “Sakura Moyou” holds special significance in that Oda Sakura is the first member of the newer generations (read: “younger” than Kudo Haruka) to contribute to the group in this manner. As for the content, well you’ve all probably seen Alo Hello! 7, right?
The big news for the group in July was the graduation of 9th Generation member Suzuki Kanon. After losing their ace member Sayashi Riho less than six months ago, the loss of another senior member contains potential to rock the group’s foundation. Outwardly, Zukki provided solid vocal and somewhat underrated performance for years. Within the group, Suzuki provided emotional stability and a friendly face to the newer generations. Morning Musume’s younger generations need to find a way to keep the vocal performance stable and re-unify the girls’s purpose to keep the group on top of the idol game.
Kobushi Factory shoot up ladder to the number two spot this month. Most visibly, the Factory girls made a number of appearances on the visual side of the idol world. Pink Kobushi Hamaura Ayano released her first photobook “Hamaura Ayano” early in the month. Not to be outdone, Inoue Rei appeared solo in the June issue of UTB+. But the big damage from Kobushi Factory came from the promotional cycle for their upcoming July 27 release, “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro / Bacchikoi Seishun! / Ora wa Ninkimono”. The group made about 20 stops across Japan in split-squad groups with more to come in July. With a samba-themed song just in time for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and a baseball-themed song timed for mid-season baseball, Kobushi Factory seem to have summer all tied up with all but a beach-themed song. With less than a month until release day, expect the rest of the promotional videos to roll out at a quick pace.
The girls of C-ute get knocked down a peg this month to the number three position. C-ute maintained their usual mix of recurring appearances with Suzuki Airi in RAY magazine, Nakajima Saki in “P★LEAGUE Bowling”, and Okai Chisato appearing in various variety programs, etc. June brought a few festival announcements for the girls of C-ute. First, C-ute perform a set at the OTODAMA SEA STUDIO on August 3. Next, C-ute made a date with the ROCK in JAPAN Festival on August 14 at the Park Stage. Lastly, C-ute confirmed an appearance at the Buono! Festa 2016 on August 25. That’s quite a bit of anticipation for the group! As a kicker for June, C-ute finished their “℃-ute Concert Tour 2016 Haru ~℃ONCERTO~” at Nippon Budokan on the 20th with Tsubaki Factory performing a special opening set.
The next two groups took decidedly different paths to the fifth spot in the Power Rankings. ANGERME seemed to maintain their profile through a series of visual media appearances. Fan favorite Murota Mizuki announced the release of both her ~Greeting~ Blu-Ray and its supplemental mini photobook. Mizuki gets a bit of a reputation as a fan-service oriented member, so some of you may want to keep your eyes on her. Newest member Kamikokuryo Moe joined the photo parade with an appearance in UTB+ magazine, and senior members Wada Ayaka and Katsuta Rina contributed an appearance in TOP YELL. And, don’t forget about Sasaki Rikako’s monthly appearance in SEVENTEEN Magazine.
The Country Girls stayed out of the cellar with the remainder of their “Country Girls Live Tour 2016 Haru Natsu” dates in June. The girls busied themselves with the remaining 16 performances of the Inaba Manaka-less tour. Notably, Morito Chisaki fell onstage with dizziness during their penultimate performance at Fukushima leading many to start whispering about the “Country Musume curse” again. While I can’t comment one way or the other regarding such supernatural matters, I can only lament that maybe Manaka loss put the Country Girls in “park”. Like Kobushi Factory, Country Girls should have announced a new single by this date (factoring their last release). The Country Girls performed two new songs on this latest tour, but no news of a single from their lips. As we wait for more news, expect the Country Girls to sink even further in the rankings. But, there is a bright spot: Country Girls will make an appearance at “Buono! Festa 2016” on August 25!
Juice=Juice round things out for the Hello! Project Power Rankings with their second consecutive month in the basement. For most of June, the Juice girls found themselves on the road for the third phase of their Code 220 tour. In all, June looked to be a bit of calm before a storm of new activity. The release of the “Budokan” drama Blu-Ray disc set was announced for July 6; and, Uemura Akarai’s second photobook, “Akari II” is slated for July 25. Pretty soon things will really gear up for the Juicers with a new single impending, the fourth and final phase of Code 220, and their solo date at Budokan all slated for later in the year. But, this month? Right.
Like always, you’re free to disagree. In fact, please disagree! That’ll 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 where I took a closer look at iDOL Street Carnival 2016 and the rebirth of the Avex idol campaign. Until next time!