Iroppoi Twilight Game

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

Yuka Miyazaki to graduate from Juice=Juice & H!P in March

Juice=Juice_Miyazaki_Yuka_-_Una_Mas!_promo

While this news was not surprising in the least because Yuka is the oldest in the group, I was kind of surprised she announced her graduation to be at the same time Yanamin will also graduate too which is at the end of the Spring Tour.

When she first joined, I was happy Up-Front chose someone that didn’t audition for the group but someone from a different situation (like Kanatomo) and us fans already had a little time with her when she debuted as a member in GREEN FIELDS.  Her time in Juice=Juice might have been a back girl, but as the leader of the group she did a good job and she was always bubbly and happy.  I’m wondering if this was already considered seeing that Juice=Juice will be going down to 6 members.

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Hello! 2018! Let’s see what you have brought for us fans this year?

Welcome back and another year has gone and passed us by with a lot of Hello! Project stuff that happened.  Actually a lot more than last year, but with less music?  Yeah, it seems pretty strange, doesn’t it?  So let’s dive into the year that was!

Morning Musume ’18

Morning_Musume_'18_-_Furari_Ginza_promo

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Kicking things off with the mainstay group, Morning Musume kicked off the year in an interesting way with a digital single, Hana ga Saku Taiyou Abite, which was used as a preview for the group’s 20th anniversary mini-album, Hatachi no Morning Musume which included past Momusu members and current members.  Shortly after though it was announced that Haruna Ogata would graduate from the group in June and wouldn’t be present for their stageplay, Pharaoh no Haka~Hebi Ou Sneferu, which was a retelling of their stageplay of last year (which had a preview single and an OST released as well during the year).

Haruna’s last single with the group, Are you Happy? / A gonna came and went with little fanfare to her graduation

Cut to August when unsurprisingly Haruna Iikubo announced she too would be graduating but in December at the end of the Momusu tour and that came with her final single for the group, Furari Ginza / Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara (which at least had SOMETHING for Harunan).

Though slightly off topic, but slightly related, at the beginning of November, Aika Mitsui who was kind of still a H!P member, announced her retirement out of the company as well as Riho Sayashi in December.

  • NOTE: Will not be reviewing, “Koishite Mitakute” as there hasn’t been a physical/digital release
  • NOTE 2: Like with last year, I will not be reviewing the OST songs
  • NOTE 3: With “Hatachi no Morning Musume” I will only be talking about the MM’18 songs, the remaining tracks with the elder members will be in the Other H!P Releases section

GREAT SONGS

  • Hana ga Saku Taiyou Abite – It’s kind of goofy that the first PV we got this year from the group was used for this track which was released a couple of weeks digitally before it had an actual release on “Hatachi no Morning Musume”.  Even stranger that it was the only track on the release that was relatively related to EDM.  It does slightly reminded me of “Jama Shinaide Here We Go!” but there’s something about this song that kind of worked here.  It’s got a solid beat and the girls sound great (surprising that Haachin got a robo-solo) but it’s a cool song!
  • A gonna – Though the other A-side of their first single of the year, A gonna had a bit more of interesting sound a bit more swagger coming from the ladies.  Unlike the rambunctious sound of “Are you Happy?”, A gonna is a little trap-like, but as the groove of the song goes on it’s just a cool track and even though the dance break before the 2nd verse is an odd placement, the rest of the song is pretty awesome!
  • Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara – After “Furari Ginza”, I wasn’t expecting another EDM song to be quite as in your face like “Mukidashi de Mukiatte” until this A-side came up and boy was I happy to hear a song like this return (despite the oversaturation of the style in recent years).  Plus all the love given to Sakura, Mizuki, Miki, and Masaki is just found all over this track.  It’s definitely my favorite A-side released in the year from Momusu!

OK SONGS

  • Are you Happy? – As the leading A-side of the first single they released, Are you Happy? was such an odd song for the group.  I do like the heavy beat at the beginning, but like many previous Momusu songs, it does feel like a couple separate ideas pasted together.  What it does feel like, it’s trying to be epic especially including that dramatic repetition that songs like Berryz’ “1-oku 3-zenman Sou Diet Oukoku” had in the past.  It’s OK, but I think they’ve done better.
  • Furari Ginza – Not sure what to think about this leading A-side from the 2nd single they released.  Furari Ginza seems to be a more electro “Ranrarun ~Anata ni Muchuu~” from the cutesy vibe and just a lighter track from Morning Musume.  Which from saying that reminds me also of “Sexy Cat no Enzetsu”.  There is something good about, like the harmonizing, but there’s also something missing as well.  It’s an OK track I guess!
  • Y Jiro no Tochuu – As the only B-side released this year, this track was more specifically for Harunan who got a sort-of send off track.  Unlike the other songs they released, Y Jiro no Tochuu was more of a lighter pop track which had a little more oomph than a similar song this year, “YEAH YEAH YEAH” did.  I thought this was a nice track to have a sendoff and was happily surprised to see that Harunan got a lengthy solo line after the bridge.

MEH SONGS

  • Otenki no Hi no Matsuri – The only other MM’18 track on “Hatachi no Morning Musume”, Otenki no Hi no Matsuri sounds like a forgotten B-side that didn’t quite make the cut.  Besides the fact that I love the line distribution to feature all the members getting a solo, the song doesn’t sound quite all that entrancing.  It just reminds me of “Itsumo to Onnaji Seifuku de” which was back in 2013!  I mean it has been a while since we’ve had a kind of natural sounding song, but it’s just kind of forgettable.

Predictions from 2017!

Considering this is going to be big for Hello! Project next year, there’s really no amount of surprises that could happen (and that’s something to say considering Momusu gained 3 members and lost Duu). I think someone will graduate next year…either Harunan or Eripon…but it’s hard to say otherwise…maybe a best album? (15 A-sides with no album kind of just says eventual best album).

Actuality: So a little bit of what I guessed did happen with Harunan graduating, but I didn’t think that Haachin would…both Harunas gone!  Still no best album in the works though as we continue to progress…

Predictions for 2019: Kind of unsure where the group is going next year, hopefully a little more active musically since there really wasn’t a lot this year IMO.  I’m sure someone is going to graduate, but I’m not sure if there’ll be auditions since I feel like the group is full.  Who knows with them!

ANGERME

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ANGERME mostly had a pretty straightforward year, at least one of the few that did I’d say!  After the announcement of Maho Aikawa leaving the group on New Year’s Eve, it was pretty much set for the course with a fuller OST of their stageplay, Yumemiru Television besides the announcement in April about the last of the original S/mileage girls & H!P leader, Ayaka Wada announcing her graduation for 2019.

The rest of the year was just normal with Nakenai ze…Kyoukan Sagi / Uraha=Lover / Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends (2018 Acoustic Ver.), a random digital single in the summer, Natsu Shogun, and then Tade Kuu Mushi mo Like it! / 46-okunen LOVE in October.

Though in a rather surprising twist like when Kasahara joined, two new members were announced near the end of November, Haruka Oota Reira Ise.

  • NOTE: Still not reviewing “I Musou Strong!” for some odd reason, it won’t release!!

GREAT SONGS

  • Nakenai ze…Kyoukan Sagi – As the first “official” single to include their newest members, Musubu & Ayano, I was curious to see what we were going to get with Nakenai ze…Kyoukan Sagi and I was not disappointed in the least.  The song itself definitely reminds me of “Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku” in the way that it’s a harder EDM song that really gets you bopping to the beat!  All of the members get some kind of line which is also a plus.  Very futuristic and one the best songs released this year!
  • 46-okunen LOVE – The other song that kind of made me super happy this year from ANGERME, 46-okunen LOVE is definitely the strong disco/funk ladened track and they had so much energy and the song was even cooler pulling from older songs.  I don’t know why, but these kind of songs always seem to get me pumped up.  I also liked the amount of Rinapuu here and the song was just what I needed to end the year off on a good note at least!

OK SONGS

  • Uraha=Lover – The middle A-side off their first single of the year, Uraha=Lover was kind of a hot n’ cold kind of situation when I first listened to it because while it’s a bit more poppier than “Nakenai ze…Kyoukan Sagi”, it didn’t quite sound right to me and it was mostly from that 3-note ascension from the guitar being used so much.  Besides that, I think the song is decent, kind of pop/rock with some slight synthwork involved.  Not quite as impacting as the first A-side of the single, but this is an OK track.
  • Tade Kuu Mushi mo Like it! – As the leading track of the 2nd single, Tade Kuu Mushi mo Like it! is interestingly a funkier song for the group and while I dug it for the most part, it seemed to lack the energy behind it (even if Funaki definitely sounded the best throughout).  If it wasn’t for “46-okunen LOVE”, I think I would have loved it more, but in comparison this was the weaker song for me.  It was like “Gashinshoutan” almost.

MEH SONGS

  • Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends (2018 Acoustic Ver.) – Not even a single later and we’re getting another version of this song as the 3rd A-side for the single.  I’ve never really been a fan of the original because while I do like the light casted mostly on Kamiko, Murotan, and new member Kawamuu…the latter isn’t too great of a singer.  I guess they brought it back for some strange reason with less instrumentation and a shorter length (about 20 seconds shorter).  What I will give is that the song sounds a bit more appropriate and giving all the members solo lines is MUCH BETTER.  Still, the song isn’t all the memorable otherwise.
  • Natsu Shogun – While I’m still a bit salty that “I Musou Strong!” still has not been released and this Summer tour song got the green light for a digital release, I already felt it was just something to tide it over til their next single.  I do love the Samurai-esque opening of the track, but then the song kind of switches gears to something that is a bit like ANGERME’s take on Kobushi Factory’s “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro”.  Like I said, a random release for a rather random song and I definitely couldn’t remember the melody to save my life.  Oh yeah, that dubstep bridge…awkward…

Predictions from 2017

ANGERME should get no more members, there’s quite a bit of them now (their biggest iteration since 2nd Gen became sub-members). So, maybe a less wild year…maybe one graduation?

Actuality: I mean, I was guessing no new members, but there were two at the end of the year and at least one member, Ayacho, is graduating but that was an easy guess.

Predictions for 2019: Besides the fact that Ayaka is graduating, I am curious to see the group’s dynamics going into the new year…Possibly another graduation, but this one for Kanana (she’s getting up there in years) or possibly Takechan (who has been in H!P for quite a while).  Though I’m definitely curious to see how Haruka and Reira will fit.

Juice=Juice

Juice=Juice_-_Una_Mas!_promo

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Juice=Juice has had an interesting year to say the least huh?  They did kick of the year with their single, SEXY SEXY / Naite Ii yo / Vivid Midnight which was technically their first physical release with their new members, Ruru Dambara & Nanami Yanagawa.

Cut to July when the group finally announces their sophomore album, Juice=Juice#2 -¡Una más!- but a week later came with an extra announcement that former Country Girls member, Manaka Inaba was going to join the group and sing in 3 of the new tracks on the album.

After the album’s release in September, we cut to November and an announcement that Nanami Yanagawa will graduate from H!P next year in March and then in December the similar happened with Yuka Miyazaki announcing her graduation in the same time period.

  • NOTE: Won’t review “Borderline” as it hasn’t released yet. Nor Karin’s new solo songs she performed at her birthday event.

GREAT SONGS

  • SEXY SEXY – Kicking off Juice=Juice’s year, we did get SEXY SEXY first as the primary A-side released this year.  What I definitely wasn’t expecting that Nanami would be the lead vocalist for the track (considering I would think she’d be the least “sexiest” to take charge versus other members like Kanatomo, Sayubee, Aarii, or even Ruru!)  Regardless, the song is just a great track and showcases a more mature side to the group!
  • TOKYO Glider – One of the older new tracks from their album, I was pleasantly surprised when I finally got to listen to this one because it seriously reminded me of TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE with that heavy funk/disco style that molded their discography.  For Juice=Juice, it definitely gave them a bit more freedom to showcase their vocal chops and it did wonders for them (mostly Ruru, Karin, and Sayuki).  Definitely a stand out track!
  • Sunao ni Amaete – Another song that included Manakan, Sunao ni Amaete definitely gives me sultry spy vibes about it and I dig it quite a bit!  Something about the sensual undertones mixed in with a nice line distribution just works in so many ways.  Plus Yanamin’s ~oboete cherry~ line just always sends a shiver…just that good!
  • Gin’iro no Telepathy – What I’ve noticed is that the 3 older new tracks from their sophomore album was originally performed with the idea that Juice=Juice was still going to be 5-nin so hearing the studio album cuts of those songs definitely told me that Ruru & Nanami were kind of added last minute to those songs (this one, “Abaretekka?!” & “Kono Sekai wa Suteta Mon ja nai”.  Gin’iro no Telepathy is very outer space and adventure-like and there’s a LOT of Karin in the song.  I also get a little bit of 80s here, but it’s a nice and peppy track!
  • Kindan Shoujo – As the song that was used for promoting the album (would’ve been great if it had gotten a PV), Kindan Shoujo is my favorite of the new tracks to include Manaka!  Definitely the most 80s sounding track, it’s surprisingly catchy and has a lot of good lines (well, the super high notes from Dambara and later on Yanagawa are a bit too much), but a great song minus that small hiccup.

OK SONGS

  • Vivid Midnight – Another A-side from the lone single they released this year, Vivid Midnight definitely showed up as that song that kind of has a rather interesting K-pop kind of feel to it.  At least it made the song was peppy and upbeat like something from KARA or like SNSD.  Still, not quite the fan of the arpeggio squeaking during the choruses, but that’s the only qualm I truly have because the rest of the track is cute and fun!
  • Never Never Surrender – Moving to album tracks, the first one off that 2nd disc, I already somehow loved it for its intro with the filtered bagpipes that kind of open up further into this chanting-like song.  I mean it does kind of sound middle-of-the-road once the song goes into its verses, but I think it’s a harmless song.
  • Jouro (Album Version) – It’s funny how much better an album version sounds better in quality once 2 members get added doesn’t it?  Last year, I really didn’t think much of it because Juice=Juice and cute songs didn’t really work with me.  Granted, nothing changed musically and the only changes was in line distribution to include Nanami & Ruru.  I guess, the cuteness has started working into me and it’s doing better with each listen.
  • Synchro. – So on their album, 3 of the new tracks included their newest member, Manaka Inaba, they gained shortly after the announcement of the album’s release.  Of the 3, I think I liked this the least because it was another slow track from the group, though unlike “Naite Ii yo”, the arrangement is a bit more interesting and unique.  Plus it was nice to hear everyone with a decent amount of solos.
  • Goal ~Ashita wa Acchi da yo~ (Album Version) – Unlike “Jouro”, Goal didn’t change my opinion of it after the addition of Yanagawa & Dambara to the group because they were only given one solo line each.  Other than that, it’s the same track that was released as a 5-nin last year just with a little elevation with the addition of two members.

MEH SONGS

  • Naite Ii yo – I’m not sure why H!P doesn’t quite get ballads, or at least some decent sounding ones that really suit their groups.  Naite Ii yo sadly falls into the bin of forgettable ballads for me because it just sounds generic and bland despite having nice vocals from Tomoko, Akari, and Yuka.  For an A-side this was just a snoozefest of a song.
  • Abaretekka?! Have a Good Time – The group has dabbled in rock arrangements before, but this feels like their take on punk rock.  I find this song more humorous because of Tomoko’s opening line in the song.  Though this one doesn’t quite speak out to me even though I do like the bass hooks, but it could have a stronger punch to it and the chorus especially…
  • Kono Sekai wa Suteta Mon ja nai – When I first listened to this track live, I never felt like it really connected to me and even re-listening to it now, there’s just something missing about.  It actually felt like the album had a filler track and this was the unlucky one of the bunch.  Like I said above about “Gin’iro no Telepathy”, this song added Nanami & Ruru kind of last minute it feels like.  Even with them added, the song doesn’t stick to me at all trying to be cutesy, but disco-y as well?
  • Wonderful World (2018 English Ver.) – Can we just bury this someplace?  This is the 3rd time this song has come up and it has done NOTHING to raise its placement.  Wonderful World this time kept the English version (from last year’s digital release) and somehow added the 2 new members (but didn’t give them solos).  Kind of begs the question of why update it for the 3rd time?

Predictions from 2017

Kind of hard to tell, I’m sure Ruru & Nanami will find a stronger foot as more releases come by (especially with 5 unreleased songs). As for the rest of them, it’s hard to say once again what Juice=Juice will do after their World Tour is done…maybe Yuka graduating?

Actuality: Well it’s kind of difficult to really tell if the 2 new members really found their footing after debut, but I feel like they are fitting in and having Nanami lead SEXY SEXY and Ruru being a total vocal powerhouse is pretty much evidence they’ll be OK, even better now with Manaka in the ranks as well!  Though I’m a little sad that Nanami & Yuka are leaving in 2019.  2nd album was pretty decent though, just hope it doesn’t take as long for their 3rd.

Predictions for 2019: Besides Yanamin & Yukanyan graduating, I’m actually unsure what’s going to happen. Maybe we’ll have 3 singles?

Country Girls

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Country Girls’ 2018 was pretty odd considering they were pretty much in hiatus for most of the year!  The first half was pretty non-existant outside of a couple performances while Morito, Funaki, and Yanagawa were fitting into their new groups!  It wasn’t until the Summer concerts where the group finally released a new digital single in Matenai After Five / Kasa wo Sasu Senpai.

Then the news of former member, Manaka Inaba had joined Juice=Juice, Risa Yamaki joining a new group outside of H!P, College Cosmos and Nanami Yanagawa announcing her graduation for next year…it’s starting to feel like Country Girls might close shop.

GREAT SONGS

  • Matenai After Five – With the hiatus and everything going on, I was really happy to see them manage at least one release this year!  Matenai After Five’s bossa nova/big band sound is quite unique and a great change of pace for the group and hearing Mai & Risa is a treat.  Something about the song just felt right and the cute nature is still there.  A total surprise from Country Girls
  • Kasa wo Sasu Senpai – Though I think a hidden gen from Hello! Project this year was the other A-side to the single, Kasa wo Sasu Senpai.  While it does take some notes from one of their older songs, “Koi wa Magnet”, it definitely added more to it beyond that!  I didn’t even recognize Mai’s voice that opened the track, but once it gets going it’s just good being a bit more serious than “Matenai After Five”.  I think it did well showcasing the 5 members

Predictions from 2017

It’s really hard to guess where Country Girls is going to be in 2018. What with Morito, Funaki, and Yanagawa now permanently in Momusu, ANGERME, and Juice=Juice respectively. Though I assume that perhaps Yamaki & Ozeki will be shuffled into units as their schooling will probably be somewhat finished. Though could we get Inaba to perform with the 5 Country Girls for one time???

Actuality: Well, I mean it’s still hard to guess after this year right?  I mean the shuffled girls are doing pretty well for themselves in their new groups and while Yamaki got shuffled into a unit, it wasn’t a H!P unit to say the least, making Ozeki kind of the vacant member currently.  Still nothing about Inaba joining back for a performance or two (which is kind of weird, it would’ve been interesting had she been readded for the single lol.

Predictions for 2019: For next year, the only thing set in stone for the group is Yanagawa’s graduation leaving Country Girls as a quartet.  Beyond that, its really up to the company to what they wanna do since it feels like Morito & Funaki are comfortable in their groups while Yamaki does College Cosmos.  I guess I’m expecting Ozeki to be placed in a group though.  As for releases, maybe 2 songs?

Kobushi Factory

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After the insanity of last year with losing 3 members, it was no surprise to me that Kobushi Factory would slow it down this year with just having two singles being released; Kore Kara da! / Ashita Tenki ni Naare in March and Kitto Watashi wa / Naseba Naru in August.

  • NOTE: Won’t review “Keseyashinai Kimochi” and “Kame ni Naare!” as they haven’t been released physically/digitally

GREAT SONGS

  • Kitto Watashi wa – Though I feel like the uncharacteristic song ended up being my favorite of their year from Kobushi.  I mean in regards to sound it’s pretty poppy and cute which is something Kobushi hasn’t done since “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro” (which I personally feel still is the black sheep of their discography), but Kobushi also has a chant-heavy chorus which brings back that pop/rock sound.  It’s kind of a refreshing sound though and it’s goofy, but cute at the same time.  I quite enjoyed it a lot!

OK SONGS

  • Kore Kara da! – Something about this track definitely screams Anison to me, but I’m pretty much OK with the song’s arrangement that said.  As the main A-side of the first single (and first time hearing Kobushi as a 5-nin, I kind of expected the vocals to be mostly the same (since Ogawa, Fujii, and Taguchi were never main vocalists) though I do like that Sakurako got pushed to become another lead and since all 5 members have lower vocals (Nomura & Hamaura maybe on the higher range) they still sound good together.  I still kind of dug it though and its pushing through hard time outlook is very fitting (especially all they went through last year).
  • Ashita Tenki ni Naare – The other A-side off their first single of the year, Ashita Tenki ni Naare sounds a lot like what Kobushi has been giving us and I’m happy they haven’t totally abandoned this sound.  Vocally, it also sounds like what we’re used to versus the more deeper sound off of “Kore Kara da!”.  Though my biggest issue is the bridge with the goofy ass spoken dialogue…like WTF H!P…leave that in the PV don’t make that part of the studio recording…especially if its going to sound as embarrassing as that lol.  Otherwise, decent song and very much them!

MEH SONGS

  • Naseba Naru – I guess they had to even their 2nd single out because while I loved “Kitto Watashi wa”, I was bored senseless with Naseba Naru.  It mostly stems from the fact that it sounds WAY too much like their other ballad track, “Kobushi no Hana”.  Granted 3 members less should’ve caused the vocals to sound slightly different but it really doesn’t.  Granted the remaining 5 members still sound great together and melodically sound good together.  Still, the song is pretty much treading too much familiar ground here.

Predictions from 2017

I just want them to return to music for once! Maybe add some new members to kind of soften the triple loss they’ve endured. Musically, not quite sure…more rockin’ songs!

Actuality: I mean, I guess my predictions came true, but I kind of thought they’d release at least one more single and not left us with nothing for months now.

Predictions for 2019: Just to be more active again, while I don’t know if there close to a sophomore album, or even gaining new members (considering the ONLY YOU audition), it’s a little bit of a mystery to what’s next for Kobushi Factory.

Tsubaki Factory

Tsubaki_Factory_-_Date_no_Hi_wa_Nido_Kurai_promo

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Tsubaki Factory this year also seemed to have a rather straightforward year, but at least the group finally managed to release their first full-length album.  The year began with the group releasing their first single in the year in February with Teion Yakedo / Shunrenka / I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~ then another single in July with Date no Hi wa Nido Kurai Shower Shite Dekaketai / Junjou cm / Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta

And finally getting to their first album aptly titled, first bloom in November.

  • NOTE: I won’t be reviewing “Teion Yakedo” as I actually reviewed it last year when it was released digitally.
  • NOTE 2: Won’t be reviewing “Mou Saikou!” and “Hair up Sora e!” as they haven’t been released physically/digitally (though I question if they’ll ever be released?)

GREAT SONGS

  • Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta – I think the best thing to come off the 2nd single, Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta is upbeat, quick-paced and just a fun listen versus the two other serious songs.  Plus hearing all the members sound really strong counts a lot for me.  It’s just ridiculously catchy and just gets me pumped up everytime I listen to it!  Plus that chorus!!!…ooph, so damn good!
  • Hyoumen Chouroyku ~Surface Tension~ – As the first of the new tracks from the album, I was pretty excited to hear Surface Tension as it was promoted quite a bit for the group.  The song is pretty funky and upbeat and has a bit of a similar sound to some of Juice=Juice songs out there.  Still, it’s surprisingly catchy and while my only complaint is the high note squeak that a lot of members try to pull off, the rest of the song is just upbeat and fun!
  • Kaerou Let’s Go! – The last of the album’s new tracks to be revealed prior to release, Kaerou Let’s Go! definitely to me serves as that encore track that really gets the crowd going with the group.  It’s a bit more cuter than a lot of their other songs and I enjoyed the peppy cute side of the group here.
  • Yuki no Planetarium – I think the song I was heavily looking forward to from the album, Yuki no Planetarium is another track that does scream anison, but considering it’s one of the oldest unreleased tracks prior to the album, I was pleasantly surprised as how well it turned out.  It’s really a neat song and the latin guitar was also a great touch to the track.  Definitely my favorite from the album!
  • LET’S LIVE – Moving to the 2nd disc of new covers, it’s to be said that none of the covers Tsubaki did changed the arrangements from the originals here.  This was a rather surprising choice to cover a v-u-den B-side, but I will say it was a good choice since I enjoyed the original.  Already the difference between 3 & 9 members is large.  While not vocally on the same level as the original Miyoshi, Okada, and Ishikawa recording, it was a pretty good cover overall!
  • ENDLESS YOUTH – I thought it was pretty appropriate that the last of the covers they chose was from Melon Kinenbi and it’s a mid-tempo closing song which is nice and softer than “Furisake Mireba…” was.  The group sounds relaxed and nice together which is a plus.  Not bad, not bad!

OK SONGS

  • Date no Hi wa Nido Kurai Shower Shite Dekaketai – As for the 2nd single, I feel like I forgotten about most of it because of how little it stood out to me.  Returning to this long-titled track, Date no Hi wa… has a more serious sound to it (like “Junjou cm”) but this one is pretty standard.  I do love the verses and the build-up to the chorus, but it just didn’t pay off when it actually hits since the chorus is less powerful and slower than the pre-chorus. It’s OK, but nothing that stands out versus other A-sides.
  • Junjou cm – I didn’t think they’d stick two serious songs next to each other on a single because while I feel “Date no Hi wa…” has good verses and pre-chorus, Junjou cm has a good chorus but forgetful verses.  The sound also gives me Platinum era Momusu feels which while nostalgic, really only works with older members.  It’s another OK track, but maybe something I won’t remember how it goes.
  • Kanousei no Concerto – It’s funny that I thought many if not all of the new tracks from the album definitely screamed anison theme to me, but I think this song really pushed the idea the most with the pop/rock with strings vibes.  It’s definitely unique for Tsubaki Factory and it struck a nice chord with me, though I’m surprised there was barely any solos here.
  • Happy Cracker – Ok, it’s one thing I felt like “Kaerou Let’s Go!” would be best used as an encore song, but Happy Cracker also feels like it fits that bill just as much if not moreso.  It’s very quick-paced and loud and it just sounds like a crowd amplifier.  It can be catchy and times and other times a bit much for me.
  • Furisake Mireba… – As the final track of the first disc, I wasn’t surprised to see that the track would turn out to be a ballad.  I mean unlike the other boring ballads of the year, this one has a little more bounce to it.  Though I did they kind of switched it up once the 2nd verse hits by adding random noses and a happier tone.  Interesting song overall and a good way to close things out.
  • Jiriri Kiteru – I was pretty excited to see what Tsubaki could do with Berryz & C-ute songs in their repertoire and with Jiriri Kiteru, it isn’t quite as punchy or dramatic as the original Berryz version sounded, but Tsubaki definitely held their own here and it sounds decent for the most part.
  • Tokai no Hitorigurashi – I was a little more worried with the group covering this C-ute song because at this point in time, C-ute had very mature vocals (except maybe Maimai & Nakky) and this was one of their more vocally strong ones.  Though Tsubaki sure did try their best and props to Yumeno & Mizuho, they sounded the best here.  Still, the C-ute version is much better still IMO.
  • Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi – Another Berryz’ cover as I pretty much feel similar to what I thought about “Jiriri Kiteru”, but maybe not as strong?  Like the group sounds cuter here and funny enough they fit the arrangement better too!  Though the song itself was never one I really cared for from Berryz Kobo.  I would say this was a solid cover!

MEH SONGS

  • Shunrenka – I’m actually not quite sure why I don’t like it, but there’s just not much that I remember about it.  Like I know it’s the group’s Spring song (which is funny that it comes after “Teion Yakedo”, the Winter song).  Like I said, there’s nothing totally wrong with it, it’s just a song that doesn’t really cater to me and I feel like as an A-side it’s kind of forgotten, but there’s others from Tsubaki that does the same.
  • I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~ – I pretty much feel conflicted when it came to this song because I feel like it wants to be a happy ballad, but all of the mood switching is rather odd to me. I really like the verses don’t get me wrong and while the chorus is poppier and kind of plain, it’s this dubstep break that ruins the entire experience for me.  Just does not work here and I feel like without it, it could’ve been higher on the list.

Predictions from 2017

Maybe an album or something like that? I feel like they have enough to have one now luckily! I just hope nothing else happens beyond that ^^

Actuality: Wow, getting Tsubaki 100% correct here because there were no big lineup changes (was pretty happy to see Kiki heal fine) and we did get our first full-length album!

Predictions for 2019: I really don’t know actually.  After their first album, it’s really open for anything from additions to graduations, but I’m hoping for 2 singles at least (and maybe get those Trolls songs released).

BEYOOOOONDS (CHICA#TETSU, Ame no Mori Kawa Umi, etc.)

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WE FINALLY got some kind of movement from UFP concerning last year’s big reveal of Ichioka, Takase, and Kiyono debuting in H!P.

In April, we got the announcement that two units would be created, one for Ichioka and the other for Takase & Kiyono.

Cut to June with the surprise announcement of Kenshuusei joining both groups

  • Ichioka gained Saya Eguchi, Rika Shimakura, and Shiori Nishida
  • Takase & Kiyono gained Kokoro Maeda, Minami Okamura, and Yuhane Yamazaki

They would perform together for the first time during the Summer tours.

Skip to October and we finally gain names for the two groups: CHICA#TETSU and Ame no Mori Kawa Umi, but that’s not all.  It was announced alongside that these two groups (and the winners of the ONLY YOU auditions that were going on would combine into a super unit called BEYOOOOONDS

In December, those winners were announced: Miyo Hirai, Honoka Kobayashi, and Utano Satoyoshi.

NOTE: Won’t be reviewing “Megane no Otoko no Ko” or “Bunkasai Jikkou Iinchou no Koi” as they haven’t been released yet.

Predictions for 2019: I wouldn’t be surprised if the first couple of releases will be under BEYOOOOONDS before they debut as their own group, I’m curious about what name Miyo, Honoka, and Utano’s group will inherit (and yay a new trio group!).

Hello Pro Kenshuusei / Kenshuusei Hokkaido

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What a pretty busy year for the Kenshuusei it seems!  Beginning things off, Sayaka Goto had left the company (surprising as she had just joined a couple weeks prior as an auditionee finalist).

It was shortly followed by the Hokkaido sector releasing their 2nd single, Hankouki! / Ice day Party (initially released only at events, would release fully in July) and this was also the only single Manaka Inaba took part in since she was the “leader” of them for a little while.

Then in April it was announced that both Momoko Hashimoto and Hokkaido member, Ryo Kitagawa had also finished their training, a week before the collective’s sophomore album, Rainbow×2 was released.

In May, the H!P Kenshuusei leader, Hikaru Inoue finished her training.

June came and many of the Kenshuusei graduated to join BEYOOOOONDS; Saya Eguchi, Rika Shimakura, Shiori Nishida, Minami Okamura, Kokoro Maeda, and Yuhane Yamazaki

Moving to August, it was announced that both Mizuki Kanatsu and Kizuki Horie finished their training. Cut to November and 3 more members finished their training; Rena Doi, Marina Hibi, and Kurumi Noguchi and three members joined, Karin Onoda, Mei Kusunoki, and Madoka Saito.

Also in November, Hokkaido member, Haruka Oota graduated to join ANGERME.

GREAT SONGS

  • Ice day Party – As for the other A-side from the single, Ice day Party is definitely more EDM/Dance based than “Hankouki!” and has a bit more of a stronger vibe from the Hokkaido girls here.  It screams a happier winter song and the synth lines really help things out.  Plus the bridge with the jingle bells in the bridge was a nice touch.  Not as many solos to be found, but this was a pretty cool song here!
  • Rainbow – As the KSS’ opening to their sophomore album, Rainbow reminds me of “Ice day Party” but mixed with some of the current H!P sounds that’s going around.  A little surprised that all of the songs are split between members of the Kenshuusei (many of them their last appearance, ironically).  I will say that the five chosen for this song in particular (Horie, Maeda, Kanatsu, Nishida, and Shimakura) really did well as they all sung together pretty nicely melodically and no one really felt out of place.  It’s a hopeful and bright dance track and did a great job opening the album.
  • 43do – Odd title aside, 43do cuts things back down to 6 members involved (Inoue, Yonemura, Yamazaki, Doi, Okamura, Matsunaga).  Though that guitar intro was pretty nifty (kind of gave MIYAVI vibes).  Already it feels like the vocals are a bit on the lower department compared to the members involved in “Rainbow”.  It’s a bit more edgier as well with the guitars having a bit more of a focus.  Though, I think I like “Rainbow” a bit more as I feel the vocals are more shouty here.
  • Medatte Do Dance – Finally it came out!  Was weird it wasn’t released last year (especially since the other 3 tracks got released digitally and whatnot).  Sung by 7 members this time (Noguchi, Kodama, Yonemura, Hashisako, Hibi, Eguchi, Okamura), Medatte Do Dance was a pretty fun song for the group to have because it had a heavy synth beat and had a lot of punch behind it.  While I think of the smaller groupings from the album, the vocals are a bit rough, but it’s still a bop!

OK SONGS

  • Hankouki! – The primary A-side for the Hokkaido single, Hankouki! is definitely more of what I was expecting after their first original track, but this one doesn’t sound like a throwaway Country Girls song.  There’s just something rather nice about the song with the peppiness and mix of synths & guitars.  Yeah, Manakan is present in the song but I rarely heard her and left the other members with hefty and nice solos.
  • Yacchae! GO! GO! – If I wasn’t smart enough to know that Buono! is gone, I would’ve coined this as an earlier song from them.  Though, this song features more of the newer Kenshuusei though some of the elder members do take the solos.  Anyway, the song is pretty all over the map being a bit pop/rock, but there’s some extra sounds and craziness to be found.  What a wild song this is!  Even the waltz-like bridge was random!
  • Tadashii Seishun tte Nan Daoru – I feel like this song’s beginning is SUPER familiar to me like maybe “Miss Henkan!!”?  I dunno, but the song feels like another Country Girls throwaway song.  Though it’s one of the cuter songs from the Kenshuusei like “Hello! Massara no Jibun”.  It’s OK, nothing too terrible about it, but it’s nothing that I’ll remember much outside of this.

MEH SONGS

  • Mirai e Tsunagu Yakusoku – I think the only song from the KSS album that I kind of couldn’t care less was the final track which was unsurprisingly a ballad.  Simply pretty basic and you’d think all of the KSS would be involved, but nope lol.  Just was kind of too vanilla for me as a piano/strings ballad.

Other H!P Releases

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Not a lot to be said with other H!P releases this year, but there was still some.  An early digital single released, it was a new version of Momusu’s major debut, Morning Coffee (20th Anniversary Ver.) which preceded the release of the anniversary Momusu album, Hatachi no Morning Musume. (Like I said above, the tracks that feature the old members will be talked here instead of at the top).

Then in the middle of the summer in July, we get a surprise digital release of Hyokkori Hyoutanjima from the combined efforts from Kobushi & Tsubaki Factory.  It was used as a competition song so it made sense they finally released it.

September comes by and we get a 20th Anniversary single from all units (which included BEYOOOOONDS, minus Oota, Ise, Hirai, Kobayashi, and Satoyoshi) in a group named Hello Pro All Stars titled YEAH YEAH YEAH / Akogare no Stress-free / Hana, Takenawa no Toki.

Of course rounding out the year with the annual compilation album, Petit Best 19.

GREAT SONGS

  • WE ARE LEADERS! ~Leaders tte no mo Tsurai Mono~ – I was floored when I read that were getting a song that featured all the members that became leaders of Morning Musume (no matter their tenure) for this song that takes some pages from “Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari”.  Having Yuko, Kaorin, Marippe, Yossie, Mikitty, Ai-chan, Gaki, Sayu, and Fukuchan singing together seems like a crazy dream (ironic now that it is since Yossie basically quit the industry).  The song is poppy and there’s a LOT of easter eggs to be found even within the lyrics which was great and funny.  So happy this song happened!
  • Tane wo Tsubasa (Wings of the Seed) – Oh hey, we’re going to bring the original people that worked on “Ai no Tane” 20 years ago?  Even better, just featuring the original 5 members as well?  What a shock when I took a listen to this song because it really hits a nostalgic bone in me.  You can definitely hear the 90’s sound throughout and I’m surprised all 5 members still can sound beautiful here!  This and “WE ARE LEADERS!” were complete surprises but both turned out awesomely!
  • Akogare no Stress-free – Probably my favorite of the HPAS single, Akogare no Stress-free has a slick surfers rock kind of groove and it’s the only upbeat A-side from that single.  I also REALLY like they included CHICA#TETSU & Ame no Mori Kawa Umi here even if it’s small lines for them.  I also really liked seeing them paired off by their groups.  It’s a cool song and I wish this had been the leading track instead of “YEAH YEAH YEAH”.
  • Hello! History – Now I’m just bothered that this wasn’t an A-side and had “Hana, Takenawa no Toki” take precedence.  Not quite like a “Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari” session, it does have all the groups get lines to talk about themselves (with an easter egg or two).  I like the funky arrangement here and it’s pretty fun to listen to.  Just baffled to why it was a B-side…

OK SONGS

  • Morning Coffee (20th Anniversary Ver.) – I’ve said this in the album review I did on my other blog, but it felt odd that we were getting another Morning Coffee so quickly after “Morning Misoshiru” last year.  Though the biggest difference is that the original 5-nin Morning Musume is singing along with the current members as well with an updated arrangement.  To be honest, I kind of like the slightly faster tempo, but could’ve lived without the garage band aesthetics to be honest.  I was just happy to see Asuka, Yuko, Nacchi, Kaorin, and Ayappe together again!  Little better as a celebration for Momusu!
  • Hyokkori Hyoutanjima – I wasn’t expecting this song to be covered once again in H!P, but here we are with Kobushi and Tsubaki together singing here.  Honestly, the arrangement is as tropical sounding like the Momusu cover and the additional rap in the bridge was out of left field.  I like the familiar step-in the song has, but it wasn’t a song I was totally into when Morning Musume covered it, so it doesn’t really make it better or worse.

MEH SONGS

  • ENDLESS HOME – There was a small thought that ran in my head that this song would’ve been connected to “ENDLESS SKY” but that doesn’t seem to be the case for this Nacchi solo (yeah, Fukuchan & Odasaku are here, but they’re like backup singers).  Like it doesn’t quite fit on the mini-album and just seems weird to give Nacchi a spotlight song when others should’ve got one too.  The song itself is also kind of bland and just feels like a B-side from one of her many singles.
  • YEAH YEAH YEAH (and it’s group centric versions) – When I think of H!P doing the “everyone is here” single, I would’ve expected it to bring everyone together for a fun time.  Sadly, YEAH YEAH YEAH is probably the MOST generic song they released this year!  I mean it sounds like a couple of Morning Musume songs all combined into one.  There’s just nothing for me to stick to and no solos kind of hurt it a bit too.  The only reason the group centric ones slightly topple the main version is entirely based off the fact solos exist in each of them.  Still altogether, it was a boring song for me.  I also was hoping BEYOOOOONDS would get a version (or even the KSS) but eh…
  • Hana, Takenawa no Toki – I wonder who at UFP thought that this needed to be an A-side?  It makes “YEAH YEAH YEAH” look like “LOVE Machine”.  It’s just a simple piano chorale which features all the main members (can’t tell if the KSS are involved).  This literally feels out of place on the single and the basicness of the track is just awkward to me…it’s not even a stageplay song…so wtf…I guess the girls sound nice harmonizing, but….ugh.

Gains / Losses

GAINS

  • Shiori Nishida (to CHICA#TETSU)
  • Rika Shimakura (to CHICA#TETSU)
  • Saya Eguchi (to CHICA#TETSU)
  • Kokoro Maeda (to Ame no Mori Kawa Umi)
  • Minami Okamura (to Ame no Mori Kawa Umi)
  • Yuhane Yamazaki (to Ame no Mori Kawa Umi)
  • Manaka Inaba (to Juice=Juice)
  • Madoka Saito
  • Mei Kusunoki
  • Karin Onoda
  • Haruka Oota (to ANGERME)
  • Reira Ise
  • Miyo Hirai
  • Honoka Kobayashi
  • Utano Satoyoshi

LOSSES

  • Sayaka Goto
  • Ryo Kitagawa
  • Momoko Hashimoto
  • Hikaru Inoue
  • Haruna Ogata
  • Kizuki Horie
  • Mizuki Kanatsu
  • Kurumi Noguchi
  • Marina Hibi
  • Rena Doi
  • Aika Mitsui
  • Riho Sayashi
  • Haruna Iikubo

My H!P Member Ranking for 2018

  • 63. Aika Mitsui (0)
  • 62. Riho Sayashi (0)
  • 61. Miyo Hirai (NEW)

 

  • 60. Honoka Kobayashi (NEW)
  • 59. Utano Satoyoshi (NEW)
  • 58. Reira Ise (NEW)
  • 57. Haruna Ogata (+2)
  • 56. Ayano Kawamura (-5)

 

  • 55. Haruka Oota (NEW)
  • 54. Saya Eguchi (NEW)
  • 53. Riko Yamagishi (-4)
  • 52. Ami Tanimoto (+1)
  • 51. Reina Yokoyama (-8)

 

  • 50. Shiori Nishida (NEW)
  • 49. Momona Kasahara (-5)
  • 48. Akane Haga (+4)
  • 47. Haruna Iikubo (-17)
  • 46. Minami Okamura (NEW)

 

  • 45. Ayumi Ishida (0)
  • 44. Risa Yamaki (-13)
  • 43. Maria Makino (-8)
  • 42. Rika Shimakura (NEW)
  • 41. Mai Ozeki (+9)

 

  • 40. Yuka Miyazaki (-3)
  • 39. Kokoro Maeda (NEW)
  • 38. Yuhane Yamazaki (NEW)
  • 37. Reina Ichioka (+4)
  • 36. Kana Nakanishi (-19)

 

  • 35. Erina Ikuta (-15)
  • 34. Ayaka Wada (+2)
  • 33. Chisaki Morito (+5)
  • 32. Saori Onoda (-3)
  • 31. Miki Nonaka (+3)

 

  • 30. Kurumi Takase (+14)
  • 29. Momohime Kiyono (+10)
  • 28. Kisora Niinuma (+20)
  • 27. Manaka Inaba (+15)
  • 26. Sakurako Wada (+1)

 

  • 25. Ayano Hamaura (+15)
  • 24. Karin Miyamoto (-1)
  • 23. Nanami Yanagawa (+21)
  • 22. Mao Akiyama (-1)
  • 21. Minami Nomura (+9)

 

  • 20. Akari Uemura (+2)
  • 19. Rina Katsuta (+6)
  • 18. Rikako Sasaki (+14)
  • 17. Kiki Asakura (+7)
  • 16. Masaki Sato (+12)

 

  • 15. Rei Inoue (-4)
  • 14. Risa Ogata (+4)
  • 13. Ayaka Hirose (+13)
  • 12. Sayuki Takagi (+3)
  • 11. Kaede Kaga (+3)

 

  • 10. Mizuki Fukumura (+3)
  • 9. Mizuho Ono (+3)
  • 8. Moe Kamikokuryo (+1)
  • 7. Ruru Dambara (+12)
  • 6. Musubu Funaki (-4)

 

  • 5. Yumeno Kishimoto (+3)
  • 4. Mizuki Murota (+6)
  • 3. Akari Takeuchi (+4)
  • 2. Tomoko Kanazawa (+3)
  • 1. Sakura Oda (+2)

Kenshuusei

  • Madoka Saito
  • Mei Kusunoki
  • Karin Onoda
  • Yuriya Matsubara
  • Kotomi Ono
  • Rin Hachisako
  • Ichigo Yamada
  • Nanami Kubota
  • Anna Shuttou
  • Natsume Nakayama
  • Shion Tamenaga
  • Sakiko Kodama
  • Mei Yamazaki
  • Ruru Kanemitsu
  • Hikari Sato
  • Yume Kudo
  • Kirara Yonemura
  • Minori Kawano
  • Kanami Ishiguri
  • Riai Matsunaga

Phew, and that was 2018 in a nutshell for Hello! Project…Lots of big things to happen in the next year, little sad that as the 20th Anniversary year, not a whole lot of great happened IMO…but with new groups ready to debut, I can’t wait for what the next year brings!

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Riho Sayashi ends her contract, officially leaving H!P

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After 3 years of silence from Riho, it was announced this morning that she has indeed ended her contract with the company.  I guess she just kind of let the contract continue without being too involved considering that she went AFK after her graduation.  I mean I’m pretty curious to why she didn’t do anything with the remaining time she had left or at least ended things earlier, but it is what it is.  It is interesting is coming shortly after Aika announced her leaving as well as they both were the only “soloists” left and now they’re gone.  Just odd IMO.

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Seems the trifecta has completed, the winners of the ONLY YOU Audition/new BEYOOOOONDS members!

I’m a little bit late here, but hey during the first BEYOOOOONDS FC performance, an announcement was made that the winners of the audition were finally announced and the missing triangle piece for BEYOOOOONDS, so shall we meet these new members?

Miyo Hirai

Hirai

Honoka Kobayashi

Kobayashi

Utano Satoyoshi

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Now, there isn’t much of an opinion from myself as they’re brand spankin new members, but what we do know is that they’re Ichioka’s age range which is a nice move.  While it wasn’t 100% announced these 3 will be a unit, they (and the members of CHICA#TETSU & Ame no Mori Kawa Umi) got their member colors.  I’m now certain this collective will announce a debut single during the Winter Tour, it’s nice to finally our 3 units together.

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