Guest contributor @thenumber244 here to give you the monthly low-down on Tsunku’s girls. I’m sure this month’s Hello! Project Power Rankings will not shock anyone. Well, the top spot won’t be much a surprise, at least. The month of April saw a couple of huge announcements in Hello! Land and a record breaking single release. So, how did the groups stack up?
|Morning Musume '14||(=)||This month wasn't a real contest. The promotional schedule of "Toki wo Koe, Sora wo Koe / Password is 0" kept Morning Musume '14 as Hello! Project's main focus. As the group wanted to keep their consecutive number one streak alive, Hello! Project made damn sure to utilize the strategy of a double A-side release and increased media exposure to bump the streak up to five. Michishige Sayumi's girls were everywhere this month from billboards in Shibuya and magazine covers to subway posters and television appearances. By the middle of the month, we also saw new au commercials featuring a hilariously aged Morning Musume '14. As if this wasn't enough publicity, Sayumi's graduation announcement at the tail end of April kept the group at the forefront of Hello! Project promotion. Put all of this together and Morning Musume '14 clearly perches themselves at the top of the rankings for yet another month.|
|S/mileage||(+2)||You know the deck is loaded when your new single release takes a back seat to the flagship group. To make that metaphor more accurate, S/mileage found themselves in the trunk of the car next to the spare and the tire iron. "A Mystery Night / Eighteen Emotion" surprised (or at least intrigued) many with its alarmingly mature themes. In keeping with the company line, S/mileage displayed their buffet of shoulders on their own billboard in Shibuya. On any other month S/mileage might have been atop the power rankings. With the seismic shifts in the group at the top spot, S/mileage needs to be content with the bridesmaid position this month.|
|Even though it might seem like mopping up after the flagship, second and third place were hotly contested this month. The announcement of Berikyuu's appearance this summer at Japan Expo Paris got many overseas wota jaws flapping with plans to converge on the City of Lights. Why wasn't this enough to rank the girls higher? Well, neither group had a single to promote this month, limiting their media appearances. Were I to rank Berikyuu separately, C-ute would get the best of their counterparts due to the stripper pole antics of their "2014 Haru ~C-ute no Honne~" tour. If the vision of Nakajima Saki and Hagiwara Mai twirling around suggestively isn't enough consolation, perhaps you can wipe away your tears with the knowledge that Tsugunaga Momoko and her musubi are now regulars on OhaSuta, a relationship that may pay dividends down the line.|
|Juice=Juice||(-2)||That leaves the newbies/eggs/Juicers. This month seemed to find the girls strengthening up their portfolios with magazine pictorials. Other than this, Juice=Juice were relatively quiet in April. Perhaps this is the calm before the storm of their next single. Oh, and Miyamoto Karin announced a June release for her first proper photo book. Now you (I) must answer the gut-wrenching, moral-twisting question: do I buy the photo book of an idol who was 10 years old just the other day (figuratively speaking)? How did you longtime Maimai fans deal with this?|
That’s how I saw the month of April. Please let me know how you saw the month either in the comments below, on my personal twitter, or on the New School Twitter. Also, you can give me an earful at my main blog The Number 244, where I write about (mainly) Hello! Project idols and talk about my desire to give Miyamoto Karin cute school supplies.