Hello everybody, guest contributor TheNumber244 here to bring you up to date with the new month of Hello! Project Power Rankings.
In Hello! Project news that doesn’t fit in these rankings, Tsubaki Factory gained three new members! The other Factory Girls picked up H!P Kenshuusei Ono Mizuho, Onoda Saori, and Akiyama Mao. These girls are some real jewels in the KSS system. Onoda Saori is an experienced idol having been a part of the local Shizuoka idol group Princess♪Ribbon and is also the voice of one of the main characters in Kopinks COSMOS. Akiyama Mao, meanwhile, is a noted skillful dancer whose KSS rival is/was … Ono Mizuho! Read more about the new members at my blog. Look for this group to accelerate forward in the coming months.
The other monumental event in August took place at Nippon Budokan. After about four years, the super group of the Hello! Project Kids reunited on their biggest stage. Along for the ride were Tsugunaga Momoko’s Country Girls and Suzuki Airi’s C-ute. Natsuyaki Miyabi probably had the biggest day, though. Not only did the August 25 event take place on Miya’s birthday, but the “New Natsuyaki Miyabi Group” finally received it’s name: Pink Cres. (that’s short for Pink Crescendo). Crescendo is a music term that directs musicians to gradually increase volume, which is the hopeful trajectory for this new group with new girls Nihei Yuuka and Kobayashi Hikaru. Best of luck girls!
Take the good with the bad, though. August saw a major announcement in the world of Hello! Project that flavored Buono! Fest with a bit of the bittersweet. We will get to that news shortly, but before we do, let’s look at Tsunku’s Aflac commercial.
Rankings come on!
I cannot stress the enormity of the August’s big news enough.
C-ute is disbanding.
After more than ten years and a career that saw Yajima Maimi, Nakajima Saki, Suzuki Airi, Okai Chisato, and Hagiwara Mai (along with Murakami Megumi, Arihara Kanna, and Umeda Erika) start as a footnote in the Berryz Koubou Wikipedia page and finish up as the queens of Hello! Project, C-ute will hang up their microphones after a date with Saitama Super Arena in June 2017. The news shocked the idol world since C-ute’s long standing and well-noted abilities make them an admired senior group to almost the entire idol community. In their statements, C-ute intimated that a few options for the continuation of the group beyond Hello! Project existed. But, the group wanted “C-ute” to always remain a thing of Hello! Project.
Let me decipher that: C-ute would rather break up than no longer be a part of Hello! Project. That’s hardcore!
The end of C-ute made the Buono! Festa particularly poignant. The biggest Hello! Project concert in August seemed like a mix of goodbyes (C-ute), hellos (Pink Cres), and wassups (Country Girls). Of course, it’s pretty unlikely that anyone in attendance for Buono! would be unfamiliar with C-ute, but the August 25 event was the largest event for C-ute in the month.
In revealing news of a different nature, Yajima Maimi’s 11th photobook, “Hitori no Kisetsu” hit the racks on the 27th of August. The girl has released a photobook every year since 2007, but I don’t think anyone is tired of seeing her. As a bit of news to brighten up the corners, I’m happy to say that Maimi is still very fit. You can check out the previews on my blog if you don’t believe me.
Well, the news doesn’t actually get any better. On August 4, Inaba Manaka dropped a bombshell by informing us that she was graduating Country Girls effective immediately. The dance leader of Hello! Project just could not sustain her health for any length of time in the Tokyo air. I feel a real sense of sadness when I think that Manakan probably chose to graduate for fear of holding back her group. With Shimamura Uta and Inaba Manaka both gone, it seems that new members Yanagawa Nanami and Funaki Musubu really are taking up the torch for Tsugunaga Momoko’s Country Girls. And, as it was in the beginning, Country Girls are now a group of six.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the fourth single from Country Girls was announced a mere two weeks after Manaka’s departure. “Dou Datte Ii no / Namida no Request” will hit shelves on September 28. “Dou Datte Ii no” is a Nakajima Takui penned number filled with more 50s rocking swing, and “Namida no Request” covers a 1984 release from The Checkers. Down a couple of members, let’s hope Country Girls keep their enthusiasm and spirits up for this new release. Of course, seeing how the group operates, I am filled with optimism still.
All told, there really isn’t much to write about with Kobushi Factory this month. However, the one piece of news is pretty substantial. Kobushi Factory’s third single, “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro / Bacchikoi Seishun! / Ora wa Ninkimono”, became the group’s best selling single to date with 39,662 units sold during its first week. Even though that number are a personal best, it was only good enough to garnish the group a third place finish in the Weekly Oricon chart.
In further news, Inoue Rei (along with Morning Musume ’16’s Makino Maria) became models for the magazine LOVEberry. I suppose Reirei was getting pretty bored after her graduation from OhaSuta?
As the one year anniversary of the group’s debut approaches, a bit of reflection is not undue. Even though Kobushi Factory fast-tracked its way to a major debut, they do not seem any worse for wear. The group’s original members are all intact, and no one has uttered the words “2nd generation” yet. Even better, the group still seems to be on an upward trajectory. Not bad for a group of girls who were languishing in Hello! Project’s Kenshuusei system less than two years ago.
The Mizukingdom continues to court the overseas market with its activity in August. With a date in Taiwan announced late in July, Morning Musume ’16 sent leader Fukumura Mizuki, 10th gen member Kudo Haruka, and 12th gen member Ogata Haruna to Taipei mid-August to drum up enthusiasm. The three of them seem to have had a great time. My money’s on Ogata Haruna for the biggest winner on this event becuase of her hilarious boba milk tea photos. She loves that stuff!
August was also a big month for 12th gen member Makino Maria. The former H!P kenshuusei released her first photobook on August 6 titled “Maria”. While there’s not really much to say about the release other than “it happened”, I think we can safely predict Maria will probably become the photobook machine of the group after the graduations of previous PB monsters Michishige Sayumi and Sayashi Riho. Couple this photobook with Maria’s new modeling gig with LOVEberry (mentioned above), and you got yourself a Maria kind of month!
Oh, and they can just announce Morning Musume ’16’s next single anytime now. Do you hear me, Up Front? ANY TIME NOW!
Not much in the way of activity for Juice=Juice this month. Like always (for the last year), the Juicers “keep on” with their Live Mission 220 tour. Perhaps more significantly, the group’s 8th major single, “Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~ / KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!! / Ashita Yarou wa Bakayarou” had its release date pushed back to October 26. Some details about the single? “Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru” is a Tsunku composition, “KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!” is a Hyadain composition with arrangement from DANCE☆MAN and instrumentation from THE BANDMAN. “Aishita Yarou wa Bakayarou” returns a familiar face to Hello! Project with Fukuda Kanon penning the lyrics to an Itagaki Yusuke composition. Meanwhile, Miyamoto Karin unleashed a preview of her pages in “Weekly Famitsu”, and she looks great. Not to be outdone in the looks department, Uemura Akari released her solo DVD/BluRay “Take it Easy” mid-August. Akari is really taking the visual lead in the new Hello! Project, isn’t she?
As the release date approaches, look for the promotional videos for Juice=Juice’s 8th single. As always, remember that J does in fact equal J.
To tell the truth, there wasn’t much news for Angerme in the month. Perhaps the group has their hands full breaking in new member Kasahara Momona, or maybe they were in the basement cooking up new tracks. Either way, there isn’t much to report. What I can do for you is point you to these videos of the group performing “Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku” and Taiki Bansei” with a live band accompaniment that were recorded for Full Chorus late in August. I wish we could get more of these; ANGERME clearly shows why they quickly becoming the tops of Hello! Project, even if they are in the basement for this month.
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 I go HEAD OVER HEELS for Tokyo Performance Doll’s Jonishi Seira. Until next time!