Hello! Project

Click to see all the posts related to the whole agency.

Morning Musume.

Click on the title to see all the posts related to Hello! Project's flagship group.

Berryz Kobo

Posts about Hello! Project's heroines.


All the posts about °C-ute's activities.


Everything released about the miniskirts girls.


All the posts about Hello! Project's rockers.

Mano Erina

Hello! Project's soloist also have some activities to check out!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Berryz Koubou's 2010 Summer Concert Review

I was finally able to watch the concert in its entirety last night, so here are my thoughts on all of the performances. Just a quick note as to how I'll do this: I won't go over the MCs, just songs and any time they sing during a skit. I'll quickly give my thoughts on the song, performance, and how the girls sang it and give my rating of that performance on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst, 10 being the best).

1. Maji Good Chance Summer
 Not my favorite song ever, but it's decent. I didn't really like the way the concert started - with a skit MC and a medium tempo song like this; I prefer to start with a high energy song, but oh well. It's a pretty standard group song and pretty standard performance. Risako's monologues were probably the best part of the song. 7/10

2. VTR
A very nice change from the normal member introduction VTRs that have become standard at H!P concerts. Instead of cheap looking graphics announcing each member, we are treated to a short video of the girls at a beach with Koi wa Hipparidako playing in the background. Definitely one of the better VTRs in recent memory. 10/10

3. Rival
First off, nice dresses. So sparkly~ Anyway, another song that I'm really indifferent to. Definitely not a bad song, just not my thing. It was sang pretty well, though, except for Risako's final falsetto note. 7/10

4. Koi no Jubaku
Now we're getting to the good stuff. There's nothing more awesome than old school Berryz. Any song where the wota are able to chant "L-O-V-E LOVELY Yurina/Miyabi/whoever" is instantly awesome. They all sound good here, especially Yurina. She's really becoming a great singer as of late. 9/10

5. Tomodachi wa Tomodachi Nanda!
This concert started really slow for me with the skit at the beginning and no true high energy song anywhere to be seen. Tomodachi is another one of those inbetween medium tempo songs that is just okay to me. It has a kind of nice, laid back feel to it that I prefer to see near the middle or end of a setlist. 7/10

6. Yakimochi wo Kudasai (Captain, Chinami, Risako)
My favorite part of concerts is right here, when the girls break off into smaller groups and sing duets and solos. I was a little disappointed hearing this because we've already heard it at the Yomiuri Land outdoor event, so it doesn't have that fresh feel to it that new songs have being performed for the first time. I wasn't a fan of their 6th album, but this song is a lot better when its performed live, so good for those three. The colorful patchwork overall outfits are also awesome. 7.5/10

7. Grand Demo Rouka Demo Medatsu Kimi (Yurina and Maasa)
A H!P concert isn't complete without a long titled song, so here we go. In this case, it also happens to be one of my favorite performances. I didn't really like it listening to it for the first couple of times on CD, but Yurina  really make this song come alive in concert. Their voices sound really great together. I'd love to see more Yurina/Maasa duets in the future. 8.5/10

8. Ai ni wa Ai Desho (Miyabi and Momoko)
Now this is what I'm talking about. A great song and two of Berryz's best singing it. They are also wearing my favorite outfits of the concert. This was hands down my favorite performance (so far). I could watch those two sing all day. 9.5/10

9. Natsu Wakame
In the middle of another skit, the girls break out into song. I always love Berryz's summer concerts because they have so many great summer themed songs and Natsu Wakame is no exception. Too bad they sung a short version. Afterwards, it was back to the skit. 9/10

10. Maji Natsu Sugiru
The Berikyuu concerts lately seem to each have some sort of special moment in the middle - usually for C-ute its some sort of dance (tap dancing) and Berryz has this beatboxing acapella thing going on. This time they did a Maji Natsu Sugiru acapella beatboxing performance and it was awesome. Risako's vocals sounded much better here than the Gag 100kai Bun beatboxing performance and all the girls singing backup and doing random beatboxing sounds sounded really in sync. 9/10 

11. Natsu Remember You
The third summer song in a row, but I'm not complaining. This is the point in the concert where I don't mind the slower songs. Once again, they all sound great here. But I have to highlight one person in particular. Miyabi's final solo - her "deau no kamo shirenai" line was by far the best sang line of the whole concert and was sang to absolute perfection. A couple of Risako's high notes early were a bit painful, but Miyabi's was spot on. It was at this point that I really had to reconsider how I feel about the girl's singing talents. Miyabi put herself right back at the top of my list after this performance. 10/10

12. Medley (Miyabi, Momoko, Captain, Yurina)
They sang short versions of three songs - Anshinkan, Passion E-CHA E-CHA, and Fighting Pose. Nothing terribly special here; it's nothing Berryz fans haven't heard already. Neither song is anything I get excited over, so I can't say I really loved this medley. 6/10

13. Medley (Maasa, Risako, Chinami)
Before I even talk about the songs, I have to say something about the outfits. Berryz have been known to wear pretty weird things over the years, but I think this medley's outfits have taken things to a whole new level. As soon as Maasa, Risako, and Chinami strutted out wearing pineapple outfits, I couldn't take the songs seriously because I had trouble controlling my laughter. Anyway, they had the better songs of the two medleys I think. They sang Berry Fields, Yume de Do Up, and Toshoshitsu Taiki. One thing I really love about Berryz is that no matter how you split the members, the resulting duet, triplet, or whatever will end up giving you a great all around performance. I consider these three to be Berryz's weakest singers and yet they took on (and did a great job) on three of what I'd say are some of the harder to sing Berryz songs, so props to them. 8/10

14. Yuke Yuke Monkey Dance
Now it all makes sense.. sort of. The remaining four girls ran out wearing similar costumes, except they happened to have bananas and monkeys on their outfits (as opposed to the equally hilarious pineapple outfits). Girls like Momoko seem to be quite comfortable wearing something like that, but it was nice to see someone like Miyabi that has sort of a "cool character" wear something incredibly silly. Yuke Yuke is one of my most underrated Berryz songs of all time, so it goes without saying that I enjoyed this. 8/10

15. Seishun Bus Guide
This is where I feel this concert really hit its stride. Much better outfits and one of my favorite Berryz songs = win. The girl that really stood out to me here was Risako. After a somewhat rough concert so far, she really began to shine. I really think Risako has somewhat of a power voice and this song really shows this. She is at her best when she can show her fierce side. 8.5/10

16. Ryuusei Boy
Out of the double A sides, this was never really my favorite, but it's a solid song nonetheless. What I do like about this song is that everyone really gets a chance to step into the spotlight with a solo or at least dancing in the center. 7.5/10

17.  Otakebi Boy Wao
Quite possibly my favorite Berryz song of all time right here. Once again Risako gets fierce and I love it. Miyabi, Momoko and the rest of the girls aren't too far behind. I don't like to use the word "perfect" often, but this performance was absolutely that. Definitely my favorite of the concert. 10/10

18. Yuujou Junjou oh Seishun
Typical end of concert song. A great high energy way to wind down. My only problem is that it's performed at basically every Berryz concert, so I've heard it a countless number of times by now. Still a pretty good song. 7.5/10

19. Maji Bomber 
Nice to see this performed live at a concert (and in the original outfits)! Again, not one of my favorites, but still very solid. Everyone sounded really awesome here as well, especially Risako. 7.5/10

20. Bye Bye Mata ne
Some people did not approve of singing this song, but I say why not? I don't like songs that are only sung for special occasions (such as for graduations). It gives this sad stigma to it that I hate. If a song is good, then I am perfectly fine with them singing it anywhere. With that said, there is no doubt this song is special to Berryz. I almost choked up myself when Yurina could barely finish her solo. A great way to end the concert. 8.5/10

Overall, this was a solid concert. Not one of their best, but not forgettable either. There were a couple of really great standout performances (Otakebi and Natsu Remember You) that really made this concert. A couple of old favorites of mine were missing (Jiriri Kiteru, Munaswagi, Special Generation, etc) but still a decent setlist. The Maji Natsu Sugiru beatboxing thing was great to watch. I give this concert a 7.5/10.

Also, after every concert I always like to think about who I feel did the best and which performance was my favorite. As I said earlier, Natsu Remember You really surprised me (in a good way) and my best performer of this concert goes to Miyabi. She's always been a great singer, but for a while I considered her Berryz's 3rd or 4th best. However now she totally impressed me this concert and she has finally dethroned Momoko to take Berryz's best singer spot.

Friday, August 27, 2010

H!P Biweekly Roundup #4

  • C-ute's Dance de Bakoon! debuts at #7
Released on the 25th, C-ute's 13th single debuted at #7 on the Oricon charts. Not bad considering their competition, but it's not great either. Estimated first day sales are 7,697. The single ranked 12th and 8th for Thursday and Friday, respectively.  As of right now, the single has sold about 14,000 copies (by my estimates), so I'm expecting and hoping for a 20,000 first week, which would be pretty good all things considered.

  • Risako makes her soloist debut
It was announced a couple of weeks ago that Risako would release a solo single for an Anime, Mecha Mote Iincho and today we have a release date. Look for it in stores on October 13th!

  • H!P 2011 Calendar cover previews
Set to go sale later this year, the covers of the new calendars for each group have surfaced. Do want.

  • Berryz's 2010 Summer Concert is out
Finally got my hands on the ISO and am currently uploading to Youtube right now. Will make another post with my thoughts when I finish watching.

  • S/mileage's 3rd single covers
S/mileage totally seems to get the best of everything these days (not that I'm complaining!) and these covers continue that trend. The four limited edition covers were uploaded to S/mileage's website, as well as the single v cover.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

H!P Biweekly Roundup #3

The past couple of days have definitely been busy in the world of H!P new release announcements so here we go~

  • Momoko gets new Photobook
As I expected, new Berryz photobooks were/will be announced and filmed while the girls are in Hawaii. Momoko was the first to have her new photobook announced (or to be exact, her new IV DVD was announced). Look for at least one more girl to have a new photobook announcement (Miyabi please) in the coming weeks.

  • Berryz's 24th single announced, dated
 Titled Shining Power, Berryz Koubou's 24th single will release on November 10th in at least four editions. It seems like this single is also tied to the Anime Inazuma Eleven, just like their past four singles, which is good. It will probably be the ending or (hopefully) the opening theme to the Anime, giving Berryz a little extra promotion. Though, as Maji Bomber proved, you cannot rely on an Anime series as your sole promotion (unless that Anime happens to be called K-ON). I would love for this to be performed on Music Japan to help Berryz regain their push to have a 30,000 first week.

  • Second Berryz Alo Hello dated
We all knew this was coming since Berryz Koubou are currently in Hawaii and now it's official. Fans have speculated and made their hopes and feelings known that another extended photobook making of type DVD (similar to Morning Musume and Niigaki's latest Alo Hellos) would be the opposite of what they want, but I personally wouldn't mind if Berryz's 2nd Alo Hello was exactly like that. Especially considering the bikini action was severely limited in their first Alo Hello (at least compared to C-ute's). Either way, look for the DVD to be out on November 17th.

  • Hello! Project's 2010 Summer Concert release
A date for the DVD release has been set for October 27th. Looks like a simultaneous blu-ray release isn't happening (though UFA still has plenty of time to make an announcement), so I have my fingers crossed for a future blu-ray version. After watching the Winter Shuffle Date concert in blu-ray, I can't even look at concert DVDs the same way.

Friday, August 20, 2010

H!P Biweekly Roundup #2

Another day, another blog post. Nothing major has happening since the last roundup, but after the graduation announcement, that probably is good news.

  • More H!P horror movies, more 3D
It was recently announced that Niigaki will be starring in a new horror movie titled Hontouni atta Kowai Hanashi that is set to hit Japanese theaters this Fall. This article also mentions that Nakajima Saki will make an appearance.

Horror is definitely in my top three favorite genres, so I'll be looking forward to watching this when it releases on November 5th (in Blu-Ray 3D).

  • S/mileage can't reach second milestone
After getting the needed 10,000 smiling pictures to debut, S/mileage's solo close up videos that were uploaded to the UFA Youtube channel did not meet the needed 50,000 views for UFA to upload the remaining two solo close up versions. I totally did not even know this was going on, but it's no major loss. If you really need to stare at your favorite S/mileage member for four minutes, you can watch on my channel.

  • Berryz Koubou's 2nd FC Tour in Hawaii draws near
Starting on August 25th, it will be Berryz's second trip to Hawaii in the same amount of years. This also means there will likely be a Berryz Alo Hello 2 as well as another couple of solo photobooks from Berryz. My bet is on Risako and Momoko (which I'd have absolutely no problems with), but I'd love to see Captain get her first and Miyabi get her second.

  •  Wednesday is going to be a busy release day
With no less than three new releases (and more if you count the various versions of Dance de Bakoon), next week will be a great week for Hello! Project kids fans alike. C-ute has their thirteenth single, Dance de Bakoon releasing as well as Airi's second image video, Natsuyasumi. However, the new release I am most looking forward to is Berryz Koubou's 2010 Spring Concert DVD. With school starting back for me on Monday, next week will definitely be a busy week for me to keep up with.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Awesome photobook is awesome

Looking at the previews, I can already conclude that Suzuki Airi's fifth photobook is awesome. But that's to be expected right? After all, it is Airi we're talking about here.

Anyway, it's picspam time!

First up, some seifuku action.

Now some random casual shots.

And finally, the nosebleed inducing swimsuit shots.

Now that you've seen 1/4th of the photobook, support Airi and buy it if you like it!

The making of:

Its official: Eggs can audtion for 9th Gen

Nouciel has kindly translated a Tsunku blog post where he answers the long anticipated question of whether or not Eggs may join Morning Musume's 9th Generation.

"The persons who're currently on Hello Pro Eggs, who are between 10 years and 17 years old, and have the desire to participate, can do so."

So there you have it. Not only are Eggs eligible to audition, but they also will be able to skip the first round (where normal girls must send in a video of them singing/dancing). Makes sense seeing as Tsunku already knows what the Eggs can do.

The only problem I have with this announcement is the Eggs must still abide by the age requirement. This means my two most wanted Eggs (Kikkawa Yuu and Furukawa Konatsu) are unable to audition. It doesn't mean they can't or won't be added (Tsunku has definitely done crazier things), but it seems to be a lot less unlikely now. I still haven't given up hope, however.

Still, there are quite a few interesting names that are eligible to audition. Saho Akari and Kitahara Sayaka both immediately come to mind.

I'll actually go out on a limb and say this guarantees at least one Egg will be added to the 9th Generation. Every single one of them has a huge advantage over girls off of the street - concert experience. They also have been trained by professional dance and singing teachers.

Now it's just a matter of which one(s) and how many. More on how I want the 9th Generation audition to shape up later.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

H!P Biweekly Roundup #1

In order to have constant H!P related things to talk about, I have decided to do a weekly recap of recent H!P news. Not sure exactly when and how often I'll do this, but anyway this is for last week and the couple days from this week.

  • Morning Musume's 44th Single titled, LQ preview uploaded
Titled "Appare! Kaiten Zushi" (Admirable Conveyor Belt Sushi), seems to be in partnership with some sushi shop. A very low quality recording has emerged on the internet as well. There is too much background noise to really tell what's going on, but it should be interesting.

  • S/mileage's "beautiful mother" is a familiar face
S/mileage's 3rd major single, with another impossibly long title had a bit of a mystery surrounding it as soon as a title translation was revealed (something about being in love with a friend's beautiful mom). Just who is this beautiful mother person that they would be singing about? At best, I expected some random b-list celebrity, but we got something better - Tsuji Nozomi. It's been a while since I was genuinely surprised with something H!P related, but this definitely did it for me

  • C-ute's Dance de Bakoon PV aired on Japanese TV
The long awaited PV of C-ute's newest single aired on the Japanese program, M-ON a couple of hours ago. I haven't found a video yet, but some juicy preview pictures have surfaced. So far, Dance de Bakoon is turning out to be a solid C-ute release. If you can't wait for the August 25th release date, grab a copy on iTunes!

The PV is obviously cheap, but its a different kind of cheap. It's well edited and its mesmerizing. Song is pretty good and the dance is even better. And no one can really complain about line distribution in this one. It's been a while since a C-ute single has hit on all cylinders (for me, it was Tokkaiko Junjou that did it last), but I think Dance de Bakoon has everything going for it. Now if UFA would just promote it a little better...

  • Morning Musume in 3D?!
UFA is totally on a technology trip as of late and I love it. Apparently sometime in the future, a Morning Musume event will be in 3D. It will be interesting to say the least. Not sure how it's going to work or even what it will be about, but I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Is Blu-Ray really that big of a deal?

I'm doing a lot more posts about encoding than originally planned, but hey, at least this one is about Hello! Project. Anyway, I'll keep this one short and to the point. Thanks to the random wota that uploaded the Shuffle Date Blu-Ray ISO to the net, I have been able to run a couple of tests to see what looks best on Youtube (will make a couple public soon). For now, here are two images which should help you answer the question presented in the title.

(Click for full size image)

(Click for full size image)

The first picture is from the regular DVD, upscaled to 1080p. The second picture was taken from a LQ test rip I made from the Blu-Ray ISO.

I hope that you can see that the difference in quality is staggering. This is why I always say that just because you resized a video to 720p or 1080p does not mean that it's true HD.

It's time to cross your fingers for more Blu-Ray release in the future.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A guide to encoding, part seven (final wrap up)

If you actually read all six parts and followed my instructions then you are one step closer to becoming a better encoder. However, even with all of the help I've given you, don't think that you are done. There are so many things that I either glossed over or did not touch on at all. My guide will get you started. It's up to you whether or not you continue practicing, experiment, and make yourself better.

With that said, here are some links that I found very helpful when I first started encoding.

  • Doom9 Forums  - A giant forum where many brilliant minds gather to answer questions and develop new things for Avisynth, MeGUI, and many other encoding programs. If you get an error in MeGUI or something goes wrong, Doom9 is a great place to search for answers.
  • Avisynth Wiki  - The official wiki page for Avisynth. Very, very helpful in explaining the finer points of Avisynth. If you ever want to go above and beyond MeGUI and do more advanced things to your video, that is the link to visit.
  • Avisynth Filter Intro - An introduction to what Avisynth filters are (very important if you want your encodes to look even better).
  • MeWiki  - The official MeGUI wiki.
  • x264 settings  - From the MeWiki, a very advanced guide to all of x264's settings. Not for beginners.
  • 100fps  - Another guide about interlacing/deinterlacing. Probably easier to understand than the guide above.
    • AfterDawn - a multipurpose site. Has download links to encoding programs, a decent forum, and guides. This particular link goes to a good guide on how to use Avisynth.
      • AnimeMusicVideo's guides - quite possibly the most helpful set of guides (for me at least). They are pretty clear and easy to understand but at the same time, explains some of the more technical aspects of encoding that are good to know.

      Finally, I promised a video showing you how I encode. It's basically a quick, condensed version of this whole guide, put into action.

      (best viewed in 720p using the expanded player on Youtube)

      Edit: As promised, I finally wrote a follow up to this guide, explaining how I edit in MeGUI. Head on over to part eight.

      Saturday, August 14, 2010

      A guide to encoding, part six (encoding & finishing up)

      Almost done, yay!

      Once again, return to the main MeGUI window. The "Avisynth Script", "Video Output", "Audio Input", and "Audio Output" boxes should all have files in them, like so.

      Now, where it says "File Format", select either .mkv or .mp4. Either one is fine (if you are using xvid to encode, .avi should be the only thing you choose).

      A guide to encoding, part five (h264 encoding and profile settings)

      Before you can actually start encoding your video, you need to understand a couple of other things about MeGUI. Don't worry, I won't go over everything - that's for you to explore on your own - instead, I will tell you enough to get you going.

      A guide to encoding, part four (dealing with .ISOs continued)

      You will see three tabs in the Avisynth Creator - "I/O", "Filters", and "Script". Starting in the first tab, I/O, I will explain most of the settings.

      A guide to encoding, part three (Key terms & Dealing with .ISOs)

      A quick note before I begin: words in bold are "key terms" - common encoding words that I am not expecting the readers of this guide to know the meaning of. If you hover your mouse over those words, you will see a definition of the word written by me as well as a link you can click on if you would like even more information.

      Friday, August 13, 2010

      A guide to encoding, part two (Setup)

      Ready to make the plunge? Great, but first you will need to download a couple of things to make everything work.

      • Avisynth - The main component that you'll need.  
      • MeGUI - A graphical user interface (yep, that's what GUI stands for) for Avisynth. Basically it means that MeGUI is a program that makes using Avisynth a lot more manageable for those unfamiliar with writing scripts from scratch.
      • Winrar or 7zip - Winrar is free for 30 days and 7zip is 100% free. Both have similar functions, which is extracting the contents of .zip, .rar, and many other types of files. For the purpose of encoding, we will use either program to extract the contents of an .iso file. 
      • A video source - An .ISO preferably, but any random .avi, .mp4, .mkv, etc.. will do (though I won't be covering encoding from other DVD-Rips in this guide; you can figure it out on your own if you read through). 
        Now, everything below is not required, but I strongly suggest downloading them because I will be using them in this guide.
        • VirtualDubMod - For quickly editing video. I find the included function in MeGUI to be lacking. 
        • CCCP  - Combined Community Codec Pack. Basically a requirement for those who don't have Windows 7 (and even if you do run 7, I still suggest it). CCCP makes video playback go smoothly and also includes my favorite video player, Media Player Classic Homecinema.
        • K-Lite Codec Pack - You don't need both CCCP and K-Lite -- either one is fine. K-Lite is more up-to-date, so those with newer PCs may want to download this instead. If you do choose K-Lite, download either the Full or Mega version.
        Download the three required programs (and the three optional if you wish) and install. I hope you don't need help installing so I won't go over that, but if you have specific questions about any of the programs, feel free to ask.

        In part three I will explain a couple of key terms and how to get started with ISOs.

          Why my encoding methods are better than yours: a guide to encoding, part one (Introduction)

          Whenever I take interest in something, I like to go all out. I must know anything and everything there is to know about the topic at hand and I must become one of the best at it (or at least as close as I possibly can). Encoding is no different.

          Now don't get me wrong. I do not claim to be the best encoder ever. No where near. In the real world I'm above average at best. However, over these past three years (and with the above stated personality trait in mind), I have learned many invaluable things that has made me the encoder I am today.

          With that out of the way, there is the question of why I'm making this post. Well, in the past couple of weeks I have encoded a dozen different videos for various people, have been asked by at least three people to teach them specific tasks of the encoding process, and in some cases I was asked to teach my encoding methods from scratch. That does not even include the various people who have asked me for help over the past couple of years. So here I am with this multi-part guide on how exactly I encode.

          As cocky as the title may sound, I and many others firmly believe that using avisynth is by far the best solution to encoding high quality videos for Windows users. Why? With most other programs you can only do whatever function that specific program was created to do. Avisynth is different in that regard. With the power of scripting, you can carryout just about any function you could possibly want, in order to enhance your video.

          Continue reading part two to find out how.

          By the way, I would like to warn everyone that this guide is not for those looking for a quick fix. There is a reason why I am writing this in multiple parts - it is going to be a long process and I will be explaining nearly everything I learned in two years of using avisynth. Things can and will get complicated.

          Thursday, August 12, 2010

          Ganbaranakutemo's TopNude remix is hilarious

          I'm a big fan of remixes, especially when they are done right. They add a bit of shelf life to a song that I otherwise may be bored of. S/mileage's Ganbaranakutemo ee nende TopNude Remix does exactly that, though in a different way.

          One thing that I always do is listen to iTunes's preview of a song before buying, to get some sort of idea of what I'm paying ninety-nine cents for. And I must say Apple's choice of editing is quite hilarious. For thirty seconds your ears are greeted with DAWA repeating "Dakidakidakidakidakishimete" and nothing else.

          ....needless to say, I bought it as soon as the preview was over.


          Wednesday, August 11, 2010

          Goodbyes aren't forever

          August 8th, 2010 - a day that many H!P fans all over the world will never forget. During an MC at one of the last shows of H!P's 2010 Summer Concert, producer Tsunku announced that three Morning Musume members, Kamei Eri, Junjun, and Linlin, will graduate at the conclusion of Morning Musume's upcoming fall tour.

          But you already knew all of that; that's old news by now. It's been three full days since the news hit the net and it finally seems to be sinking in for most. Now that the dust has cleared, I'd like to look at the whole thing from an optimistic perspective. You won't hear any doom and gloom theories from me. Instead, I will explain why I think something like this will only help Morning Musume going forward.

          First I'll start with Kamei Eri. She's been suffering from a skin condition that has to only have gotten worse with the wear and tear that being a live performer brings. Kamei stated that she wants to take a break from show business for a while in order to get herself healthy again, which is certainly understandable. For me, her graduation is the easiest to get over due to a clear, legitimate reason for needing time off. 

          Junjun and Linlin's situations aren't so clear cut. Time and time again, official reasons for graduating have been a bit fishy with the evidence available to the public. In other cases, almost undeniable evidence surfaced with not even a peep from management confirming or denying the situation. With that said, I don't fault fans for feeling left with a lot to be desired on UFA's public statements in regards to Junjun and Linlin.

          Here's my take on things. Junjun and Linlin joined Morning Musume three years ago, in mid 2007. They were brought in mainly to aid Tsunku's evil plan of invading the rest of Asia (namely China, obviously). Being the two least popular members of Hello! Project, and with no real surge in sales or popularity, it is safe to say the Pandas are a failed experiment. That, however, does not mean that Junjun and Linlin are useless. Actually, I would say it's quite the opposite.

          Linlin has proved that she definitely has a great voice and Junjun is the textbook definition of a great personality. Honestly, I'd consider them to be two of Morning Musume's most talented members when you carefully consider exactly what they bring to the table. So then why get rid of them?

          Being a sports fan (and having played a couple myself), I know exactly what being a team (or in this case, a group) truly means. In a sport like baseball, you see the trading of superstar players probably more than any other sport. Most often you will see this executed by a team behind in the standings that has no chance of making the playoffs for that particular year. They trade away their best player in exchange for multiple young talents with high potential in hopes of making their team better for many years to come. The mindset for doing something like that is that as good as this person may be, we're losing with him and we can just as easily lose without him, while taking a chance on a couple of low risk, high reward prospects.

          Bringing this back to Hello! Project, I look at this as a way of starting fresh. New members will come in, experience growing pains, and see what being a part of a J-pop Idol group is really about. Hopefully bringing positive attention to Morning Musume (and Hello! Project as a whole) in the process.

          It's always sad to see members leaving, especially when you've been in the group for as long as the three of them have (I was quite surprised to find out that the Pandas will have been in Morning Musume longer than some OG members such as Nakazawa Yuuko, by the time December rolls around). But, what a lot of fans don't seem to realize is that Hello! Project is not the be-all and end-all of the entertainment industry. Leaving H!P does not somehow make a girl damaged goods. Former members have a huge advantage over wannabe artists off the street and random indie bands: exposure.

          Hello! Project members are able to show off various talents to the mainstream public, whether it's singing, dancing, modeling, or even acting. Their résumé is literally out in the open for any would be employer to see. There is even a huge precedent set with former Morning Musume and Hello! Project members making new names for themselves. Even someone like Kago Ai, whose name was tarnished by multiple scandals has made a comeback to the limelight.

          As talented as Junjun and Linlin are, I don't think we've seen the last of them. With Jun's personality (as well as her previous experience), I can see her taking up a career in acting. Linlin on the other hand has a voice that should be heard by as many people as possible. She definitely has a soloist's voice. And if Ame no Furanai Hoshi de wa Aisenai Darou? (dare you to say it three times fast) has taught us anything, Linlin (and Junjun for that matter) is even better singing in Chinese than Japanese. Totally makes sense considering it's their native language. I, for one, am happy for Morning Musume's first Chinese members. They overcame adversity and made themselves into respectable members of the group.

          Now, the two of them gets to return home and spend some quality time with the people they have missed dearly from their three year stay in Japan. With any luck, they'll be able to continue work with an agency in China and be on their way to becoming the next big thing. Anyone whose ever complained that Junjun and/or Linlin doesn't get enough lines/attention in Morning Musume should be satisfied with this outcome. They obviously weren't going to get a significant amount of attention in Morning Musume. Now they are free to pursue whatever their hearts desire. If either of them does decide to continue singing, well, now you no longer have to worry about poor line distribution.

          Kamei, Junjun, and Linlin may be withdrawing from the Idol business for the time being, but it certainly does not have to stay that way. Their future is now in their hands. After Kamei gets her health in order and Junjun and Linlin gets re-acclimated to their home turf, they will be free to walk down whatever path they so choose. The three of them may be saying goodbye for now, but I have a feeling that their goodbyes aren't forever.

          Tuesday, August 10, 2010


          A PV of Mano Erina's 8th single, Genkimono de Ikou! was uploaded to the UFA Youtube Channel earlier today.

          Considering Hello! Project's track record, I tried not to get too excited about this PV. A famous director, Yukihiko Tsutsumi, was hired to provide Hello! Project with some much needed direction, but just how much of an impact could one person have?

          Tons, apparently. It only took me one watch to see that Genkimono de Ikou! is miles better than any PV Hello! Project has churned out in the last couple of years. But what exactly makes this PV so much better than the rest? For starters, it has one key feature that is almost always lacking in a Hello! Project PV - humans of the male variety. Considering the pure pandemonium that only a PV of this quality can provide, I have no idea what role they (or Manoeri for that matter) play in whatever story Yukihiko has created, but what I do know is that it is awesome.

          More importantly, this PV looks well polished. One of the biggest complaints from Hello! Project fans these days is that UFA's PVs look cheap. Most of the time I'm indifferent to something like that, but when you have the girls dancing in parking garages, even I must object. This PV is the complete opposite of any of that. It doesn't look like it was filmed in someone's yard. It was well edited. I daresay it even looks like it cost a pretty penny to make.

          But why now? After years of following the same cookie cutter formula, why would management suddenly decide on something radically different? Never underestimate the power of change. Many people are afraid of change. After all, change is, well, new and when things are going well, why change? A year ago during Manoeri's debut, the above may have been perfectly valid. However, with sales declining, something needed to be done.

          Genkimono de Ikou! is a perfect example of positive change and a giant step in the right direction. No one can deny that the PV is wildly different from anything we've seen from Hello! Project in what seems like forever. I won't hold my breath waiting for it to happen, but I really hope that this trend continues with future releases.

          New blog time

          Welp, it's been about three years since I last blogged and roughly the same amount of time has passed since I became a Hello! Project fan. Having nothing better to do, I started to think about random things, until a crazy thought popped into my mind. My summer is coming to a close and my days are becoming ever increasingly boring, so I decided to get back into the thinking mood that school life inevitably requires by blogging. I will be blogging mainly about Hello! Project, my Youtube channel, and random happenings in my life. Welcome to the inside of my head.