Hello everybody, guest contributor TheNumber244 here to bring you up to date with the new month of Hello! Project Power Rankings.
April 2017 was a busy month over in the Projects. A quick run-down includes overseas concerts, commercials partnerships, mobile game release events, single releases, new single announcements, photobook/video releases, and GRADUATIONS! With so much happening, I think it’s only right that we get into the action as soon as possible, right?
Rankings come on!
This is it folks! ℃-ute spent the month preparing for their big finish with overseas concerts, domestic concerts, the announcement of the “℃-ute Complete Singles Collection“, a Last Official Book, and a Gold Certification for the final single “To Tomorrow/Final Squall/The Curtain Rises“. Writing here in May, I can comment on the massive nature of the Singles Collection: the regular edition is a six-disc retrospective that includes all the group’s singles (no kidding) and selected b-sides and rare tracks. I easily see the ℃-ute wota grabbing all three editions.
I think the biggest news for those of us sitting overseas is the pair of concerts and fan meets ℃-ute held in Mexico City and Paris. While some might be disappointed the group never visited their country, the two cities above lavished much affection for the group. ℃-ute treated the luck fans in attendance with a concert filled with fan favorites and giveaways. And, those who obtained a VIP ticket were treated to an additional fan event with the girls.
For a bit of light-hearted fare, Suzuki Airi uploaded another bizarre video of Obaasan Suzuki introducing birthday goods with young Taguchi Natsumi (Kobushi Factory). If you’ve never witnessed Airi’s weird side, this might be your last chance.
With roughly 30 days to go, I expect the entire world to go ℃-ute crazy. This is the Final Squall.
The Hello! Project flagship group didn’t slouch in April either! Early in the month, Morning Musume。 ’17 hit us with their “Nissay Mirai & Morning Musume。 ’17” CM featuring the girls in cheerleader gear and a couple of alpaca mascots. The spot appoints the group as official cheerleaders/supporters of Nippon Professional Baseball’s “Sekapaca PLAY DREAM CAMPAIGN” . The group will be at the ZOZO Marine Stadium in Chiba for the opening ceremony of the first interleague baseball matchup between the Chiba Lotte Marines and the Hanshin Tigers (May 30). You’ll see some first pitch hijinks, cheer dancing, and leader Fukumura Mizuki keeping score.
As announced at March’s Hina Fes, Morning Musume。 ’17 and ANGERME participated in the release event for “Idol Nama Gassen” ~Kunitori Tenka Touitsu Hen~ Live Battle Event” (see below).
And, if all that wasn’t a dizzying enough … KUDO HARUKA ANNOUNCED HER GRADUATION from the group. Late in the month, Duu decided to continue down the path as an actress. The Morning Musume。 ’17 ikemen becomes the first 10th generation member to graduate from the group after roughly six years and 16 singles. Haruka’s graduation concert is set to coincide with the conclusion of the Fall Morning Musume。 ’17 tour, so we all have about 6 more months to cherish our time with Duu.
Juice=Juice is going on a world tour!! Announced on Hello! Station #214, Miyazaki Yuka and girls plan to visit the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia on this “Live Around 2017” tour. As of writing, only the Mexico City date (September 8) is confirmed, although fliers from Europe indicate the group will visit England, France, and Germany in September 2017. With the group’s repertoire chock-full of globe-trotting influences, the Juicers seem like the obvious choice to continue the Hello! Project world domination plan. Personally, I’ve been a Miyamoto Karin wota for longer than I can safely say, so naturally I already have tickets to the Mexico date (it’s not THAT far from California, right?).
Domestically, Juice=Juice released their 9th single late in April. “Jidanda Dance / Feel! Kanjiru yo“. With Oricon sales number slightly ahead of their previous single, the triple a-side “Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~ / KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!! / Ashita Yarou wa Bakayarou“, Juice=Juice’s single sales seem to have settled into the mid-30K range. This latest on earned the group a number 3 spot on the weekly charts, which is the group’s best showing since last year’s “Next is you! / Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai”.
Up next for the girls in Juice=Juice is a continuation of the their “Juice=Juice LIVE AROUND 2017 ~NEXT ONE SPECIAL~” tour in May and more more announcements for their World Tour! Let’s go, Juice=Juice! We wanna know the where/when!
With no major announcements or singles during April, you might question why Country Girls landed in the top half of the Power Rankings. And, if you really want to switch Country Girls and Angerme that would probably be OK with me. Not that Country Girls didn’t generate their own news in April: Ozeki Mai released her “Ozeki Mai ~Greeting~” photobook, Morito Chisaki announced her first proper solo Blu Ray for release June 28, and the Yanagawa Nanami / Funaki Musubu (YanaFuna) “Greeting～Yanagawa Nanami・Funaki Musubu～” Blu Ray still looms for a May release.
The Country Girls’s ranking really testifies to the power of playing manager and former Berryz Kobo member Tsugunaga Momoko. Old news is that Momoko appears regularly ad frequently on television variety shows, which consistently powers up the Country Girls. We now get reports of how Momoko trains her girls for success in talk and variety. To her credit, many HaroWota rank the group as tops in MC corners. YanaFuna already appear on the program “Test no Hanamichi”; hopefully the group will continue to earn television spots long after their playing manager’s retreat from public life this June.
Let’s start with the announcement of the 23rd ANGERME release, announced late in March. “Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai / Namida Iro no Ketsui / Majokko Megu-chan” keeps Hello! Project’s penchant for triple A-sides alive. “Majokko Megu-chan” returns the group to “Aidorusai 2017 ~Idol Matsuri~” (you might remember the group’s 2015 entry with “Mahou Tsukai Sally”). Unfortunately, Aikawa Maho, still MIA, will not participate in the single nor its events. That’s a black mark for sure, but at least the group is still moving forward, however painfully.
As teased above, Angerme and Morning Musume。 ’17 participated in the mobile game “Idol Nama Gassen” and its launch festivities on April 16. With Angerme split into Team Blue and Team Green and Morning Musume。 ’17 split into Team Red and Team Yellow, Japan hang in the balance of a dangerous power play that could only be decided by … a round of “Taiko no Tatsujin”. With Aiai unable to participate, Juice=Juice’s Miyazaki Yuka rounded out the Angerme team. After roughly three hours of competition filled with quizzes, pedometer, Tekken, basketball tosses, and more, one of the Angerme teams stood atop the heap. You can find a nice event summary with video links over at JPLOP.
Still to come for Wada Ayaka and the rest of the girls is a date with Budokan mid-May. This fourth solo trip to Budokan doesn’t come easy: reports of tickets sales suggest the show may not sell out like the group’s previous concerts. Will the group sell out Budokan? Will the 23rd single continue the group’s string of intensity? Will Aikawa Maho make her return?
I’ll be honest with you: the steady stream of appearances on Utanavi was the only thing that kept Kobushi Factory slightly ahead of their sister group. Of course, writing this here in May we know that big change is just around the corner, albeit not the kind of change most wota particularly want. Looking at things from a late-April perspective, the Hirose Ayaka and company finally announced their next single. The double A-side “”Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa / Ee ja nai ka Ninja nai ka” sees daylight on June 14. This fourth major release features the theme song to the Kobushi Factory movie “JK Ninja Girls” (I’ll let you guess which song). And, speaking of the the “JK Ninja Girls”, there’s still the July 17 theatrical release for the musical-turned-movie. With these two items (and the unmentioned graduation), Kobushi Factory have a fair amount on their plate in the near future.
Truthfully, not much is new in the world of Tsubaki Factory. So, here Yamagishi Riko and girls are sitting in the basement of the Projects. For my money, the release of leader Yamagishi Riko’s photobook provided the biggest highlight for April. The choice for the first girl in the Factory to be photobook’d seemed to puzzle a few people, but I have no problem with this at all. Rikoriko is a cute girl, and I’d be happy if a copy of her book ended up in my bookcase.
Well, things will pick up for the Factory girls in the near future: the second as yet unnamed single single got a July 26 street date at the end of April. Not much is known about the triple A-side as yet. What we do know is that Nakajima Takui (Taiki Bansei, etc.) gets composer/songwriter credits for the track “Shuukatsu Sensation”. I’m gonna expect a jam on July 26.
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 where we go gaga over SUPER☆GiRLS’s Asakawa Nana. Until next time!