Guest Contributor @thenumber244 here, with a look at the last month in Hello! Project land. That’s right: I take the last month of activity from the Hello! Project groups, run them through multiple sophisticated statistical software systems, and output a highly subjective ranking of the groups.
As of writing this, I have not heard anything about the new members for Morning Musume or S/mileage. As these new lineups are sure to shake up Hello! Project, I’m writing these rankings in anticipation of the 12th generation of Morning Musume and the 3rd generation of the group formerly known as S/mileage. Also, as of this writing I am packing my bags for the Morning Musume ’14 NYC concert (Do I wear my green Eripon shirt or my purple Eripon shirt?). If you see me there, please stop and say “hello!” (Looks like I posted this a bit late. -GM)
|Morning Musume '14||(+1)||This month's choice for number one was pretty simple. You're no doubt seeing plenty of news about the Hello! Project flagship group. The first announcement of the month gave us news of the soon-to-be-announced 12th generation. Tsunku revealed that the new girls' introduction will take place at Morning Musume '14's September 30 Budokan concert. Frankly, I don't remember this much anticipation for a new generation since the Kyuukie Auditions in 2010/2011 (which yielded current ace Sayashi Riho). This makes the upcoming Budokan concerts one of the most hotly anticipated events of the year in Hello! Project land.
Of course, "Hello" always comes with a "Goodbye", and we will be saying goodbye to leader Michishige Sayumi soon. But, before she bows out gracefully, Sayu will release her last photobook and a DVD in late October. Judging by her last two photobooks, "Mille Feuille" and "Blue Rose", this final release should be hot, hot, HOT!
Speaking of later days, Morning Musume '14's next release "Tiki Bun / Shabadaba Doo / Mikaeri Bijin" is approaching soon. The promotional version of "Tiki Bun" just saw daylight in the latest Hello! Station. We just saw a short preview of Mikaeri Bijin , and are (at the time of writing this) awaiting the Sayumi solo "Shabadaba Doo". A new album, " 14 Sho -The Message", also looms on the horizon for Morning Musume '14.
As I sit here and write the Power Rankings, though, I can't help but think that within days we will have a new Morning Musume generation AND a Morning Musume live performance in New York. If this doesn't get a H!P fan excited, then fandom is dead.
|S/mileage||(+1)||I'll admit it: S/mileage is a very special group to me. The group is the first permanent group that Tsunku created during my personal fandom and featured my favorite egg, Fukuda Kanon. S/mileage already survived one seismic level meltdown when two much-loved members resigned from Hello! Project, but have finally found equilibrium with the "new" members. Things have gone so well for the group that their Budokan concert this month was probably the most enjoyable Hello! Project solo concert in the last year.
Its been a month since their last single, "Aa, Susukino / Chikyuu wa Kyou mo Ai wo Hagukumu" and the girls are cruising along with their 2014 Aki ~FULL CHARGE~ tour and the "Jukebox Musical Smile Fantasy" musical set for October performances.
But then, 1st generation members Wada Ayaka and Fukuda Kanon dropped a bomb on the September 24 "Hello! Station": a 3rd generation comprised of Hello! Project Kenshuusei will join the group on October 4. Even more shocking: the new generation will be accompanied by a name change. Fans will also have an opportunity to suggest names for this evolution of S/mileage.
Exciting times but these events leave me contemplating a future for the group without the founding members. Just which of the KSS will join the Gorilla, Oden, Pupu and Dracula? And, would a S/mileage by any other name smell as sweet?
|Juice=Juice||(+2)||Confession time: the turnaround between the last two Juice=Juice singles has my head spinning. More Juice=Juice is good Juice=Juice, right? Anyway, the October 1 release, "Senobi / Date ja Nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa" does not, I repeat DOES NOT, contain a Latin leaning A-side. While this makes "Senobi" more conventional than their last two leading A-sides, it doesn't break the streak of strong color palettes as "Black Butterfly"'s (obvious) black is exchanged for an 80's electric blue. If that mid-tempo adult groove doesn't work for you, then you should try the horn-drenched sounds of "Date ja Nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa" - the best idol PV featuring a French horn and a tuba.
Elsewhere, the girls made a bit of a splash with the announcement of a new musical starring the group of Juicers. "Koisuru Hello Kitty" is set for November performances and stars Miyamoto Karin as the Kitty. With the recent news from Sanrio (Kitty is not a cat!), I could think of no better person to embody the ubiquitous Kitty. It remains to be seen if the other girls will bully the Hello Kitty Karin like always.
|Berryz Koubou||(-3)||This month, the girls from Berryz Koubou cooled down a bit. Of course, the group performed an emotionally charged set at its Budokan concert on 9/11. The Berryz last "sayonara" has begun! Shortly after their Budokan concert, the girls hit the road for a special fan club bus tour.
As my dewy eyes dry up, I can now envision a Hello! Project without Berryz. I don't know how many of the girls will stay with the company, but we should still see Tsugunaga Momoko pop up on variety shows. Perhaps Sugaya Risako and Natsuyaki Miyabi will pop in as background singers or in future units. Heck, maybe Shimizu Saki can finally become the dance master of H!P and kick the girls into shape? We can dream, right?
Up next is a new single "Towa no Uta / Romance wo Katatte", scheduled for release on November 12.
|C-ute||(-1)||Well, it feels weird to put C-ute at the bottom of the rankings this month. This is especially true with "C-ute Day" (September 10) falling within the last 30 days. But, its been about two months since their last single "The Power / Kanishiki Heaven", and we all know you're only as good as your last release. With that in mind, we should be hearing news of a new C-ute single any moment now.
So, yes. Even with a sold out "C-ute Day" Budokan concert, Yajima Maimi and the girls did not do enough this month to leave the Hello! Project cellar. I'm not worrying too much, though. C-ute just embarked on their 2014 Aki ~Monster~ tour. Even if that tour doesn't bring us more stripper poles, I'm sure we will get something positively drool-worthy from the girls before the end of the month.
Like always, you’re free to disagree. Give me an earful in the comments below, my personal twitter, or the New School Kaidan Twitter. Don’t forget to visit me at my main blog The Number 244, where I write about (mainly) Hello! Project Idols and the magical properties of Oomori Seiko’s “Kyuru Kyuru” and wish I was the guy who got to make out with her.