Iroppoi Twilight Game

For those who like H!P ^_^, plus a learning experience!

Half Year Roundup!

So it’s the beginning of June basically so it’s time to do a well…halftime report for what’s been going on with all the groups!

Morning Musume ’16

So the year began basically from the onslaught of change from the group releasing “Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi / ENDLESS SKY / One and Only two days before the year began and Riho Sayashi graduating on the final hours of 2015.  Though it didn’t quite end there with Kanon Suzuki announcing her graduation in February. From that we would get her final single “Utakata Saturday Night! / The Vision / Tokyo to Iu Katasumi” (and a vinyl of their previous single) to celebrate her time with the group before she bids adieu at the end of May.

C-ute

Like Momusu, the group was riding off the wave from their 9th album released at the tail end of 2015 before returning in April for the first single of the year with “Naze Hito wa Arasoun Darou? / Summer Wind / Jinsei wa STEP!”which turned out to be really nice before Chisato at the end of May announced a small hiatus due to her having voice nodules (which she’s going to have surgery to deal with).

ANGERME

With the looming announcement in 2015 from Meimi announcing her graduation, we had little time to have a sendoff for her and to introduce everyone to the group’s new member Moe Kamikokuryo.  It took a while but we did get the single announcement and release date for April with the single “Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku / Itoshima Distance / Koi Nara Tokku ni Hajimatteru”.  With Meimi graduating a day before Zukki, it’s going to be a draining day for wota!

Juice=Juice

The group this year so far has been a little more active but its been set back for some odd things.  First, Tomoko announced a short break to deal with her endometriosis, but powered on their LOOOONG tour and their drama, Budokan.  The group themselves released a single (currently the only double A-side of the year so far) with “Next is you! / Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai” and then slid a digital single out with “Otona no Jijou”.  3 songs? Not bad.

Country Girls

A lot of people were excited to see what CG was going to release with two new members in the group (Funaki and Yanagawa) and they released their single “Boogie Woogie LOVE / Koi wa Magnet / Ranrarun ~Anata ni Muchuu” to good expectations and then an OST mini-album for their stageplay “Kizetsu Suru Hodo Aishiteru!”.  Though all that culminated to an announcement that Manakan was going on hiatus for the summer as she had a return of her asthma.

Kobushi Factory

Kobushi I would say had a regular year so far.  The only big thing that happened was that the group released their 2nd major single “Sakura Night Fever / Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsu Moushin / Osu! Kobushi Tamashii” to a surprisingly favorable crowd!

Tsubaki Factory

On the other hand, I feel like Tsubaki had a LOT of presence so far this year.  Starting the year off with their 2nd indies single “Kedakaku Sakihokore!” an expansion OST of their “Thank you Very Berry” stageplay AND their first mini-album in May (“Tsubaki Factory SOUND + VISION Vol. 1”), and some appearances with Country Girls’ stageplay, I feel like the push is pretty suregoing here.

Kenshuusei

Well the 6 months for the KSS has been lighter than normal.  We did get 5 new members in Kotomi Ono, Kurumi Noguchi, Kirara Yonemura, Sakiko Kodama, and Momohime Kiyono.  Also Miu Takemura had finished her training.  Beyond that, they had their test and there were 4 winners: Akiyama, Inoue, Kasahara, and Kiyono.

 

====FUTURE===

Momusu does have a song with no release yet in “Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai” since it’s first appearance last year, it’s probably going through multiple edits (especially since now Riho and Zukki aren’t in the group).  Also we’re due for the announcement of the 13th Gen sometime soon, though after Zukki’s last performance, it was announced that no one and that it will be held again at a later date.

Country Girls have 4 songs unreleased: “Kiss Yori Saki ni Dekiru Koto”, “Mousou Rehearsal”, “VIVA!! Barairo no Jinsei”, and “Rhythm ga Yonde Iru zo!” while the first two was explained because Musubu and Nanami joined and they had to pull it back, the other two were just recently performed but no announcement of a single?

Juice=Juice recently performed a new track titled “Jouro” but that’s about it that’s really known.

Kobushi is the first group to announce their 2nd single of the year. The first two tracks are titled as “Bacchikoi Seishun!” and “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro” with the 3rd single being told is a cover of an old anime them for this year’s Idol Matsuri.  Most think it’s “Suki Suki Song”, but it’s not confirmed.  HOWEVER, they also performed a song before the single’s announcement titled “TEKI” but nothing else is known beyond that well other than Tsuno Maisa was involved.

Tsubaki Factory performed a new song in the Moritaka classic “Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo” and that’s not surprising as they’ve covered “17sai”.  Not much else is known.

The Kenshuusei’s only news is that there’s a new song about to be performed in a couple days!  Which turns out to be named “Hello! Massara no Jibun”

Momusu, C-ute, and ANGERME are releasing vinyls of their released singles…all receiving a remix.

Rumors are floating that Buono! might release new music to hype up for their performance at Budokan, but that’s just about it.  Though Miyabi’s audition finished up and there were two winners: Yuuka Nihei and Hikaru Kobayashi…despite not having  group name, they’ll be interesting to see as they are both set to debut at the Buono! concert.

 

BASICALLY! TOO MANY UNRELEASED SONGS

 

 

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2016’s Kenshuusei Shindan Test!

Looks like it’s that time of the year again where the Kenshuusei have a pretty big test and hope to win.  Unlike last year’s mega amount of changes, this year it feels quite different as only four members left (which 2 were Yanagawa & Funaki and the other 2 I’ll talk about at the bottom) and we gained 5 new members.

Also like last year, Tsubaki managed to perform a new song, another Chisato Moritaka song, this time “Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo”.  Though beyond that, let’s see what the trainees brought to the table, shall we?

Mao Akiyama

Song of Choice: Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai

Wow, kicking the test off is the song that’s the most recent of the bunch from Juice=Juice.  Honestly, I really like how Akiyama tries out these harder songs (and more recent tunes) for sure.  After struggling with her “The Power” last year, I was surprised at how much better she got with this song.  She does sound like she’s yelling a lot of it, but she’s quite confident in it so, I ended enjoying it a little more than expected.

Kurumi Takase

Song of Choice: Moonlight night ~Tsukiyo no Ban da yo~

Being one of the sheer favorites last year, I was surprised she chose the album opener from Momusu’s 10th album to tackle.  It seems she was trying to mimic the various members through the track, especially the Sayumi/Linlin line in the original.  For as fascinating as it was, I didn’t think Kurumi did as well as she did with “Senobi” as she somehow faded towards the end…but she’s still in the higher tier vocally within the group.

Kotomi Ono

Song of Choice: Akai Freesia

Being the first of the newcomers, Kotomi sure picked a well-known track for newbies in Melon’s Akai Freesia.  I will say, her voice is kind of a hard listen (almost slightly akin to Yumei’s).  I also could tell she was quite nervous and slightly monotone and couldn’t keep up with the melody very well.  A lot of training will have to happen as she has potential, but it’s really difficult to see where that point is currently

Hikaru Inoue

Song of Choice: Sayonara Usotsuki na Watashi

Seems that Hikarun really likes Berryz (she’s done Otona na no yo! and now another sing in the same year essentially.  Also after showing how much she’s gotten through last years “Nakimushi Shounen”, I was very excited to see how she tackled this track.  There’s really nothing to say, she impressed me once again with a more difficult track here.  I mean she’s getting vibrato which is a plus! The only thing she messed up on is holding out loud notes, but beyond that…still one of the best performances!

Sakiko Kodama

Song of Choice: Yumemiru Fifteen

Wow, I’m surprised Sakiko got the crowd going and she’s new like WHOA!  It’s funny how her voice suited the song almost snuggly with her voice.  She’s still sort of green as she forgets lyrics here and there and her voice loses energy through various areas (those high notes she’s able to hit unlike when Minami Nomura did this song a couple years back).  I’m interested on where she goes in the program for sure!

Kurumi Noguchi

Song of Choice: Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe

From the new KSS, I was surprised Noguchi would chose to do a slightly more mature song tackling this song from Momusu ’14.  For me, she definitely sounded nervous which effected a lot of the first half of the performance, but once the song hit the louder areas, she was more comfortable.  She has a lot of potential, but needs to learn a little more control in loud parts, but she’s pleasant to hear.

Kaede Kaga

Song of Choice: KoiING

On the flipside, one of the eldest of the KSS currently, Kaedii decided to switch things up and tackled a ballad (where in the past she had more energetic songs).  I have to say, her voice sounded different here than whenever she sings loud songs which might excite fans of hers.  For me, her voice sounded too different, but she managed to sing it with passion and is more impressive than I thought.

Kokoro Maeda

Song of Choice: SHOCK!

After last year doing “Suki na Senpai”, I was hoping for more from her and she’s gradually rising in the ranks so I was excited to hear this.  She’s getting better that’s for sure and her take on SHOCK! is something I wasn’t expecting.  She still has some kinks in performing, but her singing loud is bringing more yays than quiet parts (plus she needs to keep close to the mic there >.>).  Also being nervous from how well Kaga did was so awwwws.  She’s improved so much!

Momona Kasahara

Song of Choice: Itoshiku Kurushii Kono Yoru ni

I think this gal really likes Eri Kamei because it’s a second year in a row where she did a song connected to her (last year was “Haru Beautiful Everyday”.  Unlike last year though, Momona sounds a lot more confident and doesn’t sound flat and lifeless which is great for her!  Definitely an improvement was made here for the better!

Saori Onoda

Song of Choice: Watarasebashi

Saori once again choosing to do an Ayaya song?  Unlike her powerful performance of “GOOD BYE Natsuo” last year, she decided to go for a ballad here!  I was always impressed by the things she’s done so far and it shows because she sounds delightful and has a nice voice for the track but wait…she has a recorder solo?!?  How surprising, yet cute of her to pull off…one of my favorites!

Kirara Yonemura

Song of Choice: The Matenrou Show

One of the youngest additions out of the 5 newbies, Kirara as cute as she is decided to tackle a song that’s a bit slightly mature for her, but with the disco vibes going on.  I actually thought she was decent and managed to keep up with the song and notes quite well.  The problem is while she did great in those aspects, the power in her voice is still noticeably weaker so the song sounded thin.  More training can easily fix this I hope, but as a first timer, she was surprisingly good.

Ruru Danbara

Song of Choice: Hatsukoi Cider

I mean it’s Ruru, where can you go wrong with this gal?  Tackling one of the more fun Buono! songs, Hatsukoi Cider was an easy choice for her to tackle.  I do think she’s being a little bit shouty, but it’s a lot more tamed than the last couple of years she’s had songs that asked for power.  Not much else to really say though, Ruru is still one of the best vocalists in the KSS.

Kizuki Horie

Song of Choice: Kiss me Aishiteru

Horie just knows the songs I love and now kicked it with a C-ute song and she delivers again a powerful and lovely performance of this energetic song.  I feel like she was trying to mimic some members, but I liked her versatility.  I have to say, there really was nothing wrong with this performance, just straight up one of the vocally best of the evening for sure!

Rion Nakano

Song of Choice: Yattaruchan

So last year, Rion did “Yuugure Koi no Jikan” and all I could think of was how nervous she was singing and now this year with Yattaruchan, her confidence is leaps and bounds and she was just having fun with the tune.  However, not all was golden because her trying to tackle this song is difficult (especially having problems during Meimi’s big solo line).  Though the cute side of things was done well…maybe I would’ve focused on a song with note movement…but this was an improvement for her.

Yumei Yokogawa

Song of Choice: Momoiro Kataomoi

I already knew going into this that it as going to be the hardest song to listen to, but I hate to say, but, Yumei has slightly improved from last years mess.  Her voice is still struggling to find its place and it’s distracting, but she’s managed to have bits of good moments, despite taking baby steps…it feels like the training is SLOWLY starting to work its way through I feel like…I just hope it moves faster…

Momoko Shimano

Song of Choice: Crazy Kanzen na Otona

Moving from “Suki-chan” last year to this sexy song from our NGP girl, Shimano was trying to impress with a song I love.  I feel like she was trying to sing quieter than the track so hearing her was a little struggle.  I do feel like she sung a smidge better, but I feel her diving into notes to be a little maddening.  It’s not bad, but still needs work.

Nagisa Hashimoto

Song of Choice: Daite yo! PLEASE GO ON

Last time this was performed in a Shindan Test, it was the first one where Rie Kaneko.  When it comes to Nagisa’s performance, I was surprised she was doing worse than she did in her “FOREVER LOVE” of last year.  She actually was off-tempo and her voice was breaking here and there (though it sounded like she was heavily dancing so it might excuse some things).  Not bad, but not as great as last year.

Mizuho Ono

Song of Choice: Romantic Ukare Mode

In last years test, I felt like of the newbies then, I felt Mizuho was the best of the 7 introduced and was curious to where she stood this year since others had started to blossom.  Covering a Mikitty song, I was excited to see how it’d turn out and my first thought was that Mizuho sounded a little like Chisato here and there :0  She handled the song well and she’s gaining power in her voice which is a plus too.  Great performance!

Mizuki Kanatsu

Song of Choice: Inspiration!

I definitely remember Kanatsu singing in last years test with the strange decision of tackling “Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai”.  It seems she did it again choosing a B-side from “Renai Revolution 21”.  Her voice comes off light and airy so unfortunately it doesn’t suit the funk-based track very much.  I feel like she’s grown a little bit, but she needs to learn to be consistent in volume (or handling the mic), but I love the little vibratos she puts in…cute to say the least!

Reina Ichioka

Song of Choice: Glass no Pumps

Then we have the other elder of the Kenshuusei and Reina having Glass no Pumps is interesting to say the least.  While I do admit she’s improving every year, this year with Glass no Pumps, she did sound like she was struggling with breathing control and trying to come off sexy but ending up getting off kilter.  Not her best performance…

Momohime Kiyono

Song of Choice: Tsumetai to Kaze Kataomoi

Ending the test, we have our last of the new batch of KSS and Momohime was given this song, Riho’s farewell A-side.  When I first her speak, I was like oh god this could be the worst performance.  HOWEVER, once she started singing, it was like a slap in the face.  She managed to sound amazing (except for the falsetto note at the end of the chorus).  While it might not be the best performance, it’s the most unexpected of the bunch

==================================================================

HERE’S THE RESULTS

BEST DANCING: Akiyama (Since we probably won’t get visuals until H!S next week, I’ll just take their word for it, but the first performance winning this is shocking!)

BEST SINGING: Takase (I mean, she was top billing as it is, but seeing her win over others like Onoda, Horie, and Kaga…quite alarming to say the least, but still Congratulations!

JURY AWARD: Inoue (last year, Inoue won a special award from Captain and she was part of the jury this year.  I mean it should count for something…I’m not sure of the specifications of how/why she got the award, but yay for Hikarun!!

BEST PERFORMANCE: Kiyono & Kasahara (Runner-up: Takase) – Now I hate to be that blunt, but I definitely couldn’t see how Kasahara won this at all as she was more run-of-the-mill more than anything compared to most other performances…at least with Momohime, it was down right impressive doing that song.  Though kudos for Takase managing 3rd in all this.

============================================================

So here’s my personal best performance to worst!

1. Horie
2. Onoda
3. Inoue
4. Kaga
5. Takase
6. Danbara
7. Akiyama
8. Ono M.
9. Kiyono
10. Noguchi
11. Maeda
12. Kasahara
13. Ichioka
14. Kodama
15. Yonemura
16. Hashimoto
17. Shimano
18. Kanatsu
19. Nakano
20. Ono K.
21. Yokogawa

okamototakemura

I guess it should be mentioned, since I haven’t written news about it, but both Okamoto and Takemura had finished their training (although I feel like Honoka didn’t even DO any training as she went AWOL for most of 2015 before she left and Takemura was the last of her Generation (herself, Kana Saito and ANGERME member, Maho Aikawa).  Miu never stuck out to me, so it wasn’t too big a loss for me…but either way…letting you all know!

 

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Did they have a good graduation? PART 1: The First Generation

So I’m stating a new, short series about Morning Musume’s ladies and whether they had decent graduation singles or not as it’s been documented quite a bit that certain members had better songs to leave over other members and such, so I though I would judge that by the obvious facts and by their music (though I’ll be going from the A-side (or A-sides), its PV (or PVs), and B-side (B-sides).  The first post will be about the first 5 members of Momusu so let’s dive in and check them out!!!

Asuka Fukuda – Memory Seishun no Hikari

fukuda

Yup, Asuka will always be known as the first member to graduate from the group and it feels like she’s the only one who really didn’t care for it all and just had negative emotions coming out of it when she returned to the public eye…as such, she did have an important factor being the first to least

memoryseishun

A-side: When it comes to the A-side, we were going through a shift of group power with Natsumi becoming the leading voice of the group.  So when Memory Seishun no Hikari came out, it didn’t really feel like it focused very much on Asuka.  It was also a switch to a stronger urban R&B setting so it wasn’t something Momusu was used to at the time.  However, looking at the color-coded lyrics, Asuka did have the most solo lines which is absurd seeing that it’s only 3 lines in length as the rest of the song was a whole lot of melodies, and Nacchi/Kaorin solos.

PV: I think the PV did it worse because there was a LOT of Natsumi shots in the song and on a lesser amount, Kaori here (and the 3 bros dancing xd).  Though on Asuka’s lines she’s there for it, but if I didn’t know she was leaving, I would call it usual business.  Not even the ending really hints at this happening either.

B-sides: 

Happy Night: Now the first B-side was Happy Night and it doesn’t seem to feature anything prominent for Asuka, instead focusing more on the other members (Sayaka & Kei pretty much).  Hell, she’s only there for choruses and some of the pre-chorus…oh well

Never Forget: However, Tsunku did manage to surprise us when we got a 2nd B-side (a first for Momusu) and even more awesome, it was a solo track for Asuka!  I mean it’s such a good sendoff and Asuka really gave it her all for this so it made up for the lack of importance in the rest of the single.

OVERALL: I would say the one that started the trend for graduation singles in Momusu, Memory Seishun no Hikari was a good single despite most of it wasn’t surrounding her except Never Forget which was surprising yet awesome to see.  I’d say she’s on the top of the list, so let’s see how the other 4 fared

Aya Ishiguro – LOVE Machine

ishiguro

Here we are at Ayappe as she would be the 2nd member to leave the group, oddly enough at a time where Morning Musume was being risky after choosing one new member to join the group (Maki Goto).  While I never really understood why’d she’d leave after LOVE Machine became the huge thing it had become…I wonder what it left us to remember her by…

lovemachine

A-side: For such a song that left its mark in J-pop history, when I first heard it, I knew it was where Maki started but never knew was also a graduation single for Aya and sadly wouldn’t have known that until I looked into the single’s history.  Poor Ayappe got sidelined for this song as she has ONE solo line in the track.  Her ~akarui~ line though somehow sticks out in my mind.  Really though, the single was really more focused on Maki’s first appearance more than Ayappe’s final single.

PV: The PV is almost the same exact way, although we see everyone in a lot of shots including Aya herself, Gocchin was the focus for most of it which while disappointing is somewhat understandable.  Could have fooled me though that Aya was leaving.

B-side: 21seiki – I hate to say though, its B-side, 21seiki did nothing for Aya in anyway as the song is sung entirely in unison.  The song itself is kind of slow-paced as well so I’m just kind of like…this could’ve EASILY been a Aya solo to be honest.

OVERALL: Compared to Asuka, Aya got shafted for her final single and that’s partially possibly due to Maki’s introduction to the group.  Still for being one of the most recognized songs in Japan, many people tend to forget that Aya left through this single and honestly there’s no hint of it here so she’s definitely below Asuka in how H!P handled it.

Yuko Nakazawa – Renai Revolution 21

nakazawa

Next up is the de-facto first leader of the group Yuko who graduated 4th (after Sayaka) due to her well coming to the fact that new blood was joining the group and she wouldn’t be able to keep up with the youthful energy in the dances and such…so let’s see what this song has!

renairevolution

A-side: With the 4th Generation becoming more comfortable in the group, it feels like they were starting to get pushed as members alongside Maki who was still at this point a major figure in the group.  With Yuko in the song she got two solo lines which is one more over Aya ironically lol.  Still, not a lot of importance here

PV: The PV did show a lot of Yuko in comparison to past PVs (except maybe “Koi no Dance Site”) but I think everyone got the same amount of view time though (except Maki obviously).  So really, not much of a focus or notification that Yuko was leaving the group.

B-side: Inspiration! – I do think that Yuko might’ve been better represented, but with Inspiration! just about everyone else gets a solo line, though it’s still better than nothing.

OVERALL: I would say Yuko would be on the lower half of things as her final single didn’t really show that she was leaving, nor I don’t think she needed it because of the fact she had an ongoing solo career as well in Hello! Project so I mean, she wasn’t going too far away…

Natsumi Abe – Ai Araba IT’S ALL RIGHT

abe

Ah, the eternal youth member, I feel like Nacchi could’ve gone farther if not for the solo career she got before she graduated.  Nacchi left during a really busy time for Momusu (who had just added another generation for their biggest iteration of the group’s history).  Really though it as impressive but was Natsumi given any special moments in the single?

aiaraba

A-side: I think I’m seeing a similar pattern here after Yuko with the fact that there wasn’t a whole lot of spotlight for Nacchi.  I mean yeah she had a pretty lengthy solo in the first prechorus, but considering that Natsumi has always been a leading voice in the group, this isn’t a new subject of matter.

PV: With everyone wearin the same outfits for the most part, I feel like there was no true focus on anyone more or less Nacchi.  Though she was up front in the dance quite a lot which might be the smile light shining for her graduation.  Plus the older members surrounding her during her solo is also quite nice for her as little as it may be.

B-side: Dekiru Onna – Unfortunately it doesn’t bode very well for the B-side here as the only solo lines were given to Mikitty, Charmy, Ai-chan, and Aibon.  The only times you hear Nacchi is her lines alongside Kaori and Mari which is only a seldom couple times unfortunately.

OVERALL: When it comes to Nacchi’s final single, I think she did less than Yuko did when she graduated honestly.  Likewise, I assume because of the solo career Natsumi had she wasn’t given anything special because well she’d still be in Hello! Project for the time being.

Kaori Iida – The MANPOWER!!!

iida

Then we come to the last of the original 5 to graduate, I knew that it was going to be a huge deal because it was the last of the original members that started the group up.  Really was surprised though her final A-side would be tied to a baseball team, but hey keeping it original I suppose.

themanpower

A-side: Talking about the song, Kaori had only two solo lines and one is kind of in front of other girls singing which is eh expected.  I hate to say though, she really didn’t pop out anywhere else in the song.

PV: I have to mention though that the main PV chosen sucked SO MUCH because it was just the dance-shot meaning there was no focus on anyone in particular especially none for Kaori unless she went to the front line of the dance.  However, things played out a little better in the Another Edition version of the PV.  While she still doesn’t take center stage, she is seen with Yaguchi a lot (as they were the eldest members by generation).  Not as prominent especially for being the last of her generation but whatever lol.

B-side: Love & Peace! HERO ga Yattakita. – Ouch, after listening to this song, I was surprised that everyone BUT Kaori got a solo line in this track…I mean, I wasn’t sure why but that’s a bit cold-shouldered.  Eh…

OVERALL: You’d think as being the final 1st Gen member, you’d get something special for your final single, but Kaori kind of fell to the wayside and like didn’t even exist in its B-side, but like Natsumi and Yuko, she also had a solo career so the loss or lack of importance in the single wasn’t too rocky or bad for that matter.

  • Asuka Fukuda
  • Yuko Nakazawa
  • Natsumi Abe
  • Kaori Iida
  • Aya Ishiguro

That’s pretty much the standings so far and I’m quite surprised that the member that left first got the best treatment of a graduation single than ones who stayed the longest (though on the flipside of that coin 3/5 didn’t really need much spotlight as they had other opportunities to shine).

Next time, we’ll dive into the 2nd and 3rd Gen and hopefully it’ll shake up the standings a little bit more!

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