Hello! Project Power Rankings November 2016

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Hello everybody, guest contributor TheNumber244 here to bring you up to date with the new month of Hello! Project Power Rankings.

October brought with it three single releases, the expectations for two more single releases, overseas concert performances, idol Halloween costumes, and more. But, even with that flurry of activity the news that dominates the here and now is Tsugunaga Momoko’s graduation from Country Girls, Hello! Project, and public life. You saw that correct: Momochi is hanging up the musubi. Technically, this news should belong in next month’s Power Rankings, and it still will appear there. But, in the here and now there is no bigger news. Momoko still has a few months with us- Momoko officially calls it quits on June 30, 2017 – exactly 15 years from the debut of Tsugunaga Momoka and the rest of the Hello! Project Kids.

And now,
Rankings come on!


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Morning Musume ’16
Last Rank: 3
Change: (+2)

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Look, lots of things happened in October with Hello! Project. Putting Morning Musume ’16 at the top of the heap is not small accident. The group continued its “My Vision” Fall tour throughout Japan, but that’s a yearly occurrence- sure. A couple of girls made personal announcements in October: Ikuta Erina announced and released her first photobook “Erina” (which is incredibly exciting for the author); and Oda Sakura spread news of a new solo Blu Ray release due in November.

What really put Morning Musume ’16 in the penthouse suite of the Projects was a double whammy of foreign soil concerts/appearances. Firstly, the flagship group arrived in Korea to perform in the MU:CON LIVE AMN Big Concert at DMC Festival 2016 an the Sangam Culture Plaza. The girls performed their latest single “Utakata Saturday Night” and a “Love Machine/Renai Revolution 21” medley. As a bonus, Nonaka Miki and Oda Sakura performed a bit of the SNSD “Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)” choreography for the lucky audience.

Later in the month, Fukumura Mizuki brought her girls to Taipei for the group’s “Morning Musume ’16 Live Concert in Taipei”. The group’s return to Taiwan cam 8 years after their first concert in Taipei in 2008, which was also the first overseas concert by Morning Musume. No doubt many longtime Taiwanese fans waited a long time to see their girls again.

Up next for Morning Musume ’16 is their 62nd single release “Sexy Cat no Enzetsu / Mukidashi de Mukiatte / Sou ja nai” on November 23rd. With the Oricon changes hitting the rest of the projects (more on that later), one can only speculate how the group will perform on its second release of the year. So far, the release seems very polarizing with “Sexy Cat no Enzetsu” ‘s slinky sexiness and Makino Maria taking a page out of the Sayashi Riho playbook in “Sou ja nai”. Time will tell, right?


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Country Girls
Last Rank: 1
Change: (-1)

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Tsugunaga Momoko’s Country Girls launched into October strapped to their rocket of a fourth single “Dou Datte Ii no / Namida no Request“. Although the Nakajima Takui / Checkers penned release only garnered the group a fourth place weekly rank and 25,150 units in sales, it’s widely believed that the single is a casualty of new counting rules enforced by Oricon. Specifically, Oricon now counts a lower percentage of CD sales sold at non-Oricon vendors- which you should read as “idol events”. From what I can gather, less than 30% of all CDs sold at idol events count toward the group’s totals. All of the above is personal theory, of course, and other explanations for this group, and all other idol group’s, sales dips. You know, Oricon doesn’t even count all of the CD sales that ship to non-Japan sites which makes our overseas support of the girls even more tenuous. I’ll get off the soap box now.

As you are reading this, the most important news regarding Country Girls already broke (see introduction) making this entire Oricon ranking business a bit moot. Seeing as Momoko’s retirement from show business was announced in the new month, it doesn’t make the rankings for October. But, man this is the end of an era for Hello! Project.

See, I told myself to talk about Country Girls, their bus tour, and Morito Chisaki’s feature in Young Gangan, but all of that doesn’t matter much anymore, right?


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Juice=Juice
Last Rank: 4
Change: (+1)

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Let’s talk about good new first. Miyamoto Karin released her third photobook “Karin” on October 21. I know that bit of news doesn’t work for everyone, but I’m the one writing these Power Rankings and Karin-chan-san always makes headlines. Of course, I’m only partly joking here. The big news for Miyazaki Yuka and the rest of the fruit juice girls was their triple A-side single “Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~ / KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!! / Ashita Yarou wa Bakayarou“. Coming off the heels of their best selling single “Next is you! / Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai”, the group’s fifth place rank and 32,242 unit sales feels like a downturn. By a glance at the numbers, this single sold about 30% less copies than its predecessor. But then again, Juice=Juice’s single outsold the rest of the Projects, narrowly besting the powerful Angerme by only 774 units. Like the rest of the Projects, the new rules make it virtually impossible to compare the sales of the Tsunku/Hyadain/Dance Man/Fukuda Kanon single with the rest of the group’s catalog. I find it difficult to believe this single is the group’s second worst selling single as indicated by the raw numbers. By now, you should have some kind of idea how I feel about Oricon.

Stepping away from all this chart talk, Juice=Juice finish their year long “Live Mission 220” campaign next month with a date at Nippon Budokan. Their ambitious tour started at Yokohama Bay Hall in June last year and now ends at the storied venue. Really, I think the Live Mission 220 goes down as an under-celebrated achievement. The girls, the group, and the group’s profile grew tremendously in this time span. Hopefully we will start seeing Budokan as a permanent fixture on Juice=Juice’s tour itineraries.


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Angerme
Last Rank: 5
Change: (+1)

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Wada Ayaka and the rest of Angerme peak this month in the fourth spot in the October 2016 Power Rankings, which puts them somewhere near the middle floors of the Projects. Actually, this placement doesn’t speak well to the achievements of Angerme in October. “Ai no Tame … / Umaku Ienai / Wasurete Ageru” was the second highest selling Hello! Project in the month with 31,468 units sold in its first week. But, like Juice=Juice ahead of them, this number represents a dip for the group from the group’s 21st single release. To be exact, Angerme’s 22nd single saw a 40% drop in sales from “Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku / Itoshima Distance / Koi Nara Tokku ni Hajimatteru”. But, that single’s 52,682 units is the group’s all-time high. As I keep saying, the rules have changed and Angerme also seems like a casualty. Until the whizzes at Hello! Project can find a way to get their number truly represented we are all looking at lower sales numbers from Oricon.


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℃-ute
Last Rank: 2
Change: (-3)


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With the countdown to the release of “Mugen Climax / Ai wa Maru de Seidenki / Singing~ Ano Koro no you ni“, the group’s 30th single, activity on the airwaves take an up turn for the senior Hello! Project group. And, as with everything with C-ute these days, everything is a countdown to their permanent vacation. Unfortunately, when I put up C-ute’s TV schedule in comparison with the rest of the Project, I can’t think of a compelling reason to boost them higher in the rankings. All of this is going to change for November though. Look for “Mugen Climax / Ai wa Maru de Seidenki / Singing~ Ano Koro no you ni” to power Yajima Maimi and the rest of the girls up the ladder in the Projects.


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Rank06

Kobushi Factory
Last Rank: 6
Change: (even)

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Kobushi Factory promoting “Bacchikoi Seishun!”

The basement dwellers in October’s Power Rankings is Kobushi Factory. You know, Hirose Ayaka and the girls did keep busy in the month. “Kobushi Factory Live Tour 2016 Aki ~Hyper Mode~ ” put the girls on the road for much of October. The girls also made their weekly appearances on “Uta Navi” during the month, but not of this is particularly “sexy” news. There’s always November, and in November Kobushi Factory is going to release their first album “Kobushi Sono Ichi”. While albums don’t tend to give the groups much of a boost (in comparison to singles), hopefully there will be enough lift to take the girls out of the cellar.

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, “Ganbatte Ikuta”!

About Number244

Contributor to New School Kaidan, idol fan TheNumber244 gets tickled mainly by Hello! Project. A former musician and full-time nerd, he calls Los Angeles his home. TheNumber244 is waiting for the day someone calls him "senpai".

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2 comments

  1. The new Oricon rule seems nonsensical coming from a chart meant to depict numbers of units sold within the country, rather than a “number we find acceptable”. I likely would have positioned Juice=Juice above Country Girls, but maybe that’s me putting too much weight on the completion of their tour goal.

    I’m looking forward to how rankings will play out when Tsubaki Factory is in full swing in February next year.

    • Firstly, thanks for reading and commenting. I always appreciate feedback.

      For a company that’s charged with counting CD sales, Oricon blatantly does not accurately count sales. It’s infuriating, really.

      I had the middle of the Power Rankings very close in my numerical system. Really, Juice=Juice could have been number two. If “Dream Road” performed better (according to Oricon, errrr) I would have definitely given them a bump up. But, I was also still a bit emotional about the Momoko announcement. This definitely colored the way I saw the rankings while I was writing.

      I really hope Tsubaki has a great debut. It’s been a long, hard road for those girls!

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