Greetings from guest contributor TheNumber244, the freshly released “Hello! Project 2014 Hina Fes” and “Hello! Project Countdown Party 2013” eclipsed much of the news items in the past few days (didn’t you want to see S/mileage back-dancing for Mano Erina again?). Not to mention I still need to buy a plane ticket to New York in October!
About those Power Rankings, I’m sure we all have a guess about the top group in Hello! Project this month (it’s probably not a surprise). The rest of the groups had a surprisingly even month with no group clearly taking the second through fourth spots in the rankings.
|Morning Musume '14||(=)||The flagship group continues to lead the way for Hello! Project. Only MM14 can rack up significant Power Ranking points without a single release. The big (and I mean gigantic) news for Morning Musume '14 (and for all of Hello! Project) was the announcement of a live performance by MM14 in New York City. Unlike previous Hello! Project overseas appearances, Morning Musume '14's live is not attached to a larger convention or a fan club event. I'm hopeful that we will get a concert uncomplicated by the restrictions of a con performance. I'll see you there.
A trio of photobooks added to the buzz. Ishida Ayumi's debut photobook, "Shine More", certainly did shine. Most of us are happy that Hello! Project are finally releasing photo books from the girls not named Michishige Sayumi, Fukumura Mizuki or Sayashi Riho. Speaking of the apartment wife, Mizuki's 2nd photobook was announced this month amid heavy anticipation of more of her "marshmallow body". For me, I'm most interested in the unique "Michishige Camera" which functions like a photo documentary of the last year of Morning Musume through the eyes of the Hello! Project leader.
And while most of the girls are participating in the vampire musical "LILIUM", Ikuta Erina is strengthening her portfolio with weekly golf lesson columns, television and web show appearances, and an ab-tastic pictorial in Can Cam. Her month culminated with the BARKS News Award Gold Prize for her gaff (proclaiming herself a "one in a ten-thousand people" idol).
|Berryz Koubou||(+1)||The new single "Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni " / " Fuutsu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!?" returns Berryz Koubou to second place in the Hello! Project Power Rankings this month. I see this single as a return to form for the girls. The sharp uniforms of "Ai wa Itsumo Kimi no Naka ni" and the surprisingly candid lyrics of "Fuutsu, Idol 10nen Yatterannai Desho!?" caught many off guard and were received positively.
The announcement of another Budokan concert for Berryz Koubou on September 11 (a conspicuous date given the C-ute news below) comprised the other big news item for the group. The regularity of the group's Budokan concerts is good news for those of us who worry about the future of Berryz Koubou. For the moment, at least, the girls are in the middle of an upswing.
|S/mileage||(-1)||S/mileage continues where they left off last month with the release of "Mystery Night!" / "Eighteen Emotion". The single became their highest charting work on the Oricon Weekly singles chart with a number 2 ranking. S/mileage single #16 led to great promotional opportunities including a performance on Music Japan.
This month also marked the fourth anniversary of the group's major debut a.k.a. the fourth anniversary of "Yumemiru 15". Of course, the girls are also preparing for their first ever solo live at Nippon Budokan on July 15. Like you, I'm hotly anticipating this event; I'm sure S/mileage will be charged up and ready to bring their energy...and Tamura Meimi's fangs.
|C-ute||(-1)||Its been a relatively quiet month for C-ute. The big news this month was the announcement of the C-ute day concert at Budokan this year. This marks the second year that C-ute have performed their C-ute day (09/10, get it?) at Nippon Budokan. This announcement and the impending Paris concert lend further proof that C-ute are not going away anytime soon. With a new single due for release on July 16 , we should probably brace ourselves for a summer of C-ute.
We should also add that the latest images from the "℃-ute no Honne" tour are a shock to the system, but most of us should know about this by now. In other news, Yajima Maimi supported her photo book "Pure Eyes" with the usual media appearances, I just don't know if looking at images of Maimi are your thing.
|Juice=Juice||(=)||For the most part, May was another quiet month for the Juicers. The most notable item for Juice=Juice was the announcement of Miyamoto Karin's first photo book. Naturally, your thoughts on the photo book will vary depending on your perception of Karin. One thing's for sure: Karin's "little girl" image is eroding slowly. Elsewhere, Kanazawa Tomoko, Takagi Sayuki, and Uemura Akari made an appearance in BOMB Magazine, and that is all for Juice=Juice this month. Dressed in their Satoyama Life flannels, the three girls emote a fresh pastoral feeling. Overall, the group's minimum level of exposure greatly disappoints given the group's momentum from their debut and "Hadokano Hadokono Kadakono Kiss" / "Arekore Shitai". Things have definitely slowed down for the girls, but the new single "Kaze ni Fukarete / Black Butterfly" looms on the horizon with a July 30 release date. I'm not a prognosticator, but I don't think we are going to see Juice=Juice at the bottom spot for a third consecutive month.|
And that was the month of May for Hello! Project. Did I forget anything? Do you think your favorite group got a raw deal? Let me know in the comments below, my personal Twitter, or the New School Twitter. Don’t forget to visit me at my main blog The Number 244, where I write about (mainly) Hello! Project Idols and contemplate the animal kingdom equivalents of Juice=Juice. See you next month!