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.
Well, its been a slow month for Hello! Project. Mostly, December was a month of anticipation as we await the first looks at Morning Musume ’15,
S/mileage Angerme, and Country Girls. Keep that in mind as we look at the month that was Hello! Project. And, with all of that out of the way, Rankings Come On!!
(NOTE: As of writing, the results of “The BIG CHANCE” had not been released.)
|Angerme||(+3)||Without a doubt, the biggest news in Hello! Project in December was the name change of S/mileage. I'm sure Nakanishi Kana proposed the name fully innocent of the firestorm it would bring. Kanana might have a little goth girl inside her - "Ange" (angel) and "Larme" (tears)? Kanana is two overgrown cuspids away from an Anne Rice novel.
If you didn't catch on, the portmanteau (Japanese sure love portmanteau) reads as ANGER ME to most English readers. Seeing the word ANGER in an idol group name was probably NOT the desired effect of the change. Instead of the gothic romance novel name, we get a suburban punk band. Um...no.
It seems like Up Front listened to the outrage since the name appears to be in Katakana instead of English letters now - アンジュルム (anjurumu) instead of ANGERME. Maybe this means we won't be seeing the girls with the word ANGER next to their names.
If you're looking ahead, Angerme's debut single "Taiki Bansei / Otome no Gyakushuu” will be released on February 4th. Interestingly, or perhaps predictably, the new single will not be written by Tsunku. "Taiki Bansai" will be written and composed by Nakajima Takui (you've seen him on all of the Satoyama / Satoumi events), while "Otome no Gyakushuu" will be written/composed by Kodama Ameko / Kawanabe Hiroshi & Ueda Tadashi.
|Berryz Koubou||(=)||The countdown for Berryz Koubou is really on. Last month, the girls released their final single "Romance wo Katatte / Towa no Uta" to resounding success and a whopping 80,791 in sales to date. As noted in last month's Power Rankings, the single is now the highest selling single from a Hello! Project Kids group.
This month we have the track list for January's "Kanjuku Berryz Koubou The Final Completion Box". The gargantuan release will feature six discs filled with singles, B-sides, rarities, and a few new recordings. One new song, "Love Together!" recently saw a PV release. Filled with callbacks to past choreography and reflective lyrics, "Love Together!" feels like the "farewell" we've been expecting.
In an unprecedented move, Hello! Project organized a Berryz Koubou Bus Tour exclusively for foreign fans of the group. The “Berryz Koubou 3 Getsu 3 Nichi Concert ga mireru～Very Very Kandou Tour～” (in English “I can see Berryz Koubou March 3rd Concert ～Very Very Touching Tour”) visits PV shooting locations for Berryz Koubou PVs and, most importantly, includes a ticket to the final Berryz concert on March 3. No, the girls won't take part in the tour, but what else are you going to do with your 33,000 JPY? Of course, if you're hearing about this for the first time from me, then the deadline for purchasing one of tickets is past. Cue sad trombone.
To wrap things up for Berryz Koubou this month, we have a couple of news items from Thailand. The girls play a central figure in the Thai movie "The One Ticket", where the group plays a central plot point for a seemingly heartfelt movie. Finally, Berryz Koubou will be performing in Bankok in February 2015 at Naruchika 2015. You still have some opportunity to celebrate with these girls, but time is running out!
|Morning Musume '14||(-2)||Its been a month of regrouping for the flagship group of Hello! Project. In the aftermath of Michishige Sayumi's graduation, the group has been busy rehearsing and preparing for the integration of the 12th generation. As expected, Ogata Haruna, Nonaka Miki, Makino Maria, and Haga Akane opened their official 12ki blog.
Many fans are waiting for the moment when Ogata Haruna (a.k.a. Haa-chin) goes full crazy on the blogs. We all know she has experience in this matter. If you speak English (and I know you do), you're probably waiting expectantly for Nonaka Miki (a.k.a. Chelsea) to blog in English. Personally, I'm waiting for more cute pictures of Maria-sama and Haga-chan (a.k.a. Crouton). We can also all look forward to the song that MM 12ki, Angerme 3ki, and Country Girls are preparing for the Hello! Winter Concert. I can't wait.
In print, new leader Fukumura Mizuki appears on the Young Gangan 24 cover and an attractive pictorial (oh, those couch pictures!).
The 12th generation girls also get into the magazines in a big way with cute Santa cosplay in the same issue of Young Gangan! This continues the 12th gen girls' torrid magazine appearance pace with appearances in BOMB, Entame, Young Gangan 23, Princess Bambina (Maria), and BLT. And yet, we are still looking forward most to Haa-chin's funny faces...
|C-ute||(-1)||This is where things get really sparse. To be blunt, C-ute didn't do much of anything in December. The group still had the residual glow from their last release "I Miss You / The Future" ( I linked to the Dance Shot Version PVs to spice things up for you), and they released a DVD/Blu Ray of their "C-ute no Hi at Budokan Concert 2014".
Okai Chisato featured in a series of fun YouTube videos with Sawayaka Goro for DARS chocolate. I suppose the concept was a celebration of Dars Day (12/12). You can hear the song here. Regardless, it was fun seeing the song take shape.
Perhaps the funniest news for the C-ute girls was the naming of Nakajima Saki as the "Strawberry Ambassador" for Chichibu City, Saitama.
Oh, and Suzuki Airi held release events for her Style Book, "Airi-sT" (that's always fun?).
|Juice=Juice||(=)||Yeah, I've got nothing here. A little bit of "Koisuru Hello Kitty" - the soundtrack was released on December 24. Some "Juice=Juice School for Girls" from Hello! Station #98 happened.
And, that's it. Exciting month, right?
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 implement the most complicated way to choose my singles of the year.