How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: Morning Musume and Hello!Project

morningmusume

Trying to come up with an introduction to this article is probably one of the harder things I’ve had to write recently. I had toyed with the idea of making some very bold and in your face statements to rile people up but ultimately decided against it. This is a fairly serious opinion piece so to detract from the message just for “shock value” seemed to be an unwise decision.

All I’ll say is this; if you would like to read some words about my views on how Morning Musume (and by extension Hello!Project) are rather unfairly treated by the western fan community then keep reading. There will be snark, sarcasm and all the rest as well as mentions of AKB48 and various other things. None of the things I am about to say are intended to cause offense to anyone and you certainly don’t have to agree with my views. I just want to try to get your synapses firing and generate some rational discussion.

Okay so I guess the best place to start is where I got my inspiration for this article in the first place. I was casually browsing Twitter and the various other forums I frequent as part of my participation in this fandom and I couldn’t help but notice that there is a rather extreme dislike of Morning Musume and Hello!Project that tends to float to the surface whenever a new song or music video is released. Granted some of these naysayers are your hardcore AKB48 fans, which is to be expected because to each circlejerk their own and all that. However there’s a decent number of, who I have reason to believe are very reasonable people, who seem to just spout hate on anything Tsunku puts his name to. Except for his Backstage Pass group because for some reason they’re pretty good despite having the same guy working on the music.

The most recent example of this that springs to mind is when Morning Musume released the PV for their new song “Brainstorming”. I personally thought that it was a rather good PV and the song is by no means terrible either. However, many people online did not share this opinion and were quick to criticize the PV for being lazy, boring and what have you. That’s fair enough I suppose but I couldn’t find any reasoning in what I read or asked as to why people thought these things. It was a rather strange situation because most people, especially idol fans are usually quick to rattle off a whole host of reasons for not liking something. It was at this point that I came to the following conclusion.

Hating on Morning Musume, Hello!Project and Tsunku is seen as this cool thing to do. There’s almost this dudebro mentality behind it with people virtually elbow nudging and high-fiving whenever they come up with their next “wicked sick slam, brah” and it’s rather unfortunate that things have come to this. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll joke about stuff just as much as the next guy (Suzuki Kanon being overweight as an example) but I never go as far as to preach hate about something. Back in my younger and more naive days maybe but these days the farthest I ever go is being indifferent or perhaps uncaring about a musical offering from a group.

I get it, Hello!Project was a fucking train-wreck for years and everyone who had to live through that time as a fan is obviously jaded as hell and you’re perfectly entitled to be. The problem comes when your hurt feelings make it so that new fans feel like there’s some kind of unwritten rule that you have to hate on Morning Musume, C-ute, Berryz, S/mileage, etc to be accepted in the wider community. I know I certainly thought as much when I was getting into the genre. Thankfully I no longer give a shit about what people in the community think about me or my tastes so I can actually enjoy the current direction that Hello!Project are heading in.

At this point I would like to address some things that I see most Morning Musume and Hello!Project detractors dredge up from time to time. I know that these things are complete bullshit and you should all be ashamed of yourselves but I’m trying to educate the uninformed here so you’re going to have to just grin and bear it.

First up, I see a lot of people bitching on Twitter and forums about this new Electro Musume sound being repetitive, uninventive, lazy, whatever you want to go with. I’m not going to deny that yes, these songs are rather similar and we’re not really pushing any boundaries with the writing and composition. Valid critiques except for the fact that a lot of these people are the first to heap praise on the latest AKB48 rehash or whatever other group they champion and can’t find a single bad thing to say no matter how dull or bland the vocals or instrumental composition are. At least Hello!Project are trying to do something different in an attempt to avoid the trap that AKB48 is about to find itself falling into. I think it says a lot when Morning Musume’s (and Hello!Project as a whole for the most part) sales are currently on an upward trend while AKB are in the throws of a slow and drawn out death. That’s just my opinion though, to each their own.

Speaking of AKB48 and sales, how many of you actually know how many of their million copies sold each single comes from theater editions? You know theater editions, the copies that wota buy not for the music but for the golden ticket that gives them 10 seconds of face time with their favorite idol at a handshake event. If you answered anywhere in the region of 700-800k copies then you’re right. No one even bats an eyelash at this but man, when Morning Musume start offering event tickets in their CDs they’re just artificially inflating their numbers. Can you see the logical fallacy in this or am I the only one here who lives in reality?

Then you have the people who say the members of Morning Musume don’t have personality, aren’t talented, wouldn’t make it in AKB48 and various other things that would take too long to list. Again completely entitled to such opinions but perhaps you should actually learn the names of these girls who aren’t Michishige Sayumi or Tanaka Reina before you go and tar them with that particular brush. I’d even argue that you’re sporting a rather uninformed opinion if you don’t even know these girls’ names. It shows that you clearly haven’t seen or read enough to judge their talent or personalities in a way that could ever be described as fair.

While we’re on the subject of talent, personality and the like let’s talk about Tashima Meru from HKT48. She actually auditioned to be in Morning Musume fairly recently but ultimately didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. A few months later she shows up in HKT48 and suddenly she’s this amazing talent that Tsunku just couldn’t see, when no AKS fan even gave a flying fuck about (or even knew about) her before. It’s quite incredible really, what one tabloid article touting her as “The next Matsui Jurina” can do to get the AKS faithful singing her praises. In my honest opinion, Meru isn’t anything special and she’s about on par with what Morning Musume is working with right now. I’d even go as far as to speculate that she got her center position just to point score with the AKS fans who don’t like Hello!Project. Congratulations guys, you all got played like a violin.

I could keep going but hopefully I’ve got my point across by now. It doesn’t seem to matter what Tsunku or Morning Musume do, people just seem to hate unconditionally. Got rid of the older members and got a bunch of fresh faces? Too many new members. Changed up the music? I don’t like it, it all sounds the same. Sales are on the increase? They’re cheating, it doesn’t count. At least they’re not trying to sell songs about stepping in dog shit. Also, why on earth would you be quick to cast off a style of music that clearly sells after years of trying to pick yourself off the canvas while the blows keep raining in. You can be as negative as you want but this new direction is clearly a good business decision.

It’s like some people just want to see the group fail because they can’t let go of the past. Maybe there is just too much water under the bridge at this point but if that’s the case then why not just walk away completely? If you truly can’t find anything enjoyable about Morning Musume or Hello!Project no matter how hard you try then why keep putting yourself through this? Are you really that petty that you have to spread all of this hate and (inadvertently or not) discourage new fans from giving these groups a shot? What are you even getting out of it at this point apart from your dudebro point scoring with all of your other hater buddies?

I think that’s it from me for now. If you’d like to discuss any of the points that I raised in this article then feel free to leave a comment, send me an email at garry@newschoolkaidan.com or hit me up on Twitter @Mage77. I’ll do my best to respond to all comments and questions as long as they’re well thought out and rational (I know, that’s a lot to ask for in this fandom) so let’s get some healthy discussion going on.

 

About NSK

New School Kaidan is a community-focused website for the Japanese idol industry international fan base. Between podcasts, broadcasts, events, and analytic articles, New School Kaidan aims to bring an understanding of idol culture to the masses.

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