If you have followed AKB48, their sister groups, and/or Nogizaka46, you know that several members have their own photobooks. The photobooks consists of several photos of the idol featured, in all sorts of backgrounds and outfits, from the sleek shots in the evening to a day at the beach in a bikini. Members such as Watanabe Miyuki, Kuramochi Asuka, Yokoyama Yui, Miyazaki Miho and Minegishi Minami all have their own photobooks. There are also a few members who have more than one photobook, such as Kojima Haruna, Sashihara Rino and Miyazawa Sae.
Because of the recent flurry of photobooks released the past two months (releases from Yokoyama Yui, Kizaki Yuria, Nishino Nanase, Shiraishi Mai, Miyazawa Sae, Yamamoto Sayaka, and later Kojima Haruna), I decided to take a look at two photobooks I recently purchased of two of them: Nishino Nanase and Kizaki Yuria. Basically I am going to describe them as best as I can without showing any actual pictures (if I show you pictures other than the cover photo, that’s technically spoiling the experience!). I am doing this in order to warrant whether or not the photobook is worth a purchase at CDJapan, Amazon Japan or your local Kinokuniya bookstore.
The first book I’m going to take a look at is Nishino Nanase’s very first photobook, Fudangi. Nishino Nanase is the 3rd member of Nogizaka46 who has her own photobook released, with the other two being Shiraishi Mai and (technically) Matsui Rena. Will Nanase’s photobook experience rival that of Maiyan’s?
The first few shots seem like you are hanging out with Nanase on a date or what not, from walking around the city to sitting and reading manga. Some of these have grey lighting while the glare of the sun provides a more intimate effect. Some shots need two pages to use while others, for some reason, use less than half the page per shot.
Case in point with the bikini shots (yes there are some). A few of them are shots that take less than half the page to cover. Given how rare the bikini gravure shots are (we ARE talking about Nogizaka46 here; they’re known for conservative gravure), it’s a bit of a disappointment how half of the already few bikini shots take up less than half a page.
There are some shots here that have just the right amount of swimsuit gravure: not too conservative yet not too revealing. A few shots are of Nanase in a playground where she is technically wearing a shirt over her bikini. For some odd reason, I really like these shots. It feels like you are hanging out with Nanase in a park only a few steps away from the beach.
Possibly the most fanservice-based shot of the entire photobook is of Nanase lying on the beach in a blue bikini. This takes up two pages to do, and shows a level of sex appeal that only comes with swimsuit gravure photos. But the bikini gravure stops right here; a quarter into the photobook and you’ve had all your bikini fanservice.
Shots switch from black and white to color every now and then, but for some reason it takes away from the ambiance of the photobook. One minute Nanase is standing next to a wall in a grayscale photo, and the next she is licking an ice cream cone in a color shot. The grayscale shots would work if an entire section of the photobook is in grayscale with the next entire section in color, but that is not the case.
There are plenty of shots showcasing Nanase’s legs. She wears pants in like, one or two photos, while the rest are of her in short shorts, a dress, or a bikini. Sometimes you may even see a photo or three of her butt (one shot takes up two whole pages and it is literally of her butt). Another set of photos I like include Nanase in a red dress, shining in the night of the city. I think she looks stunning in this round of photos, and of course, you see how nice her legs are.
However, there are shots that don’t necessarily work, per se. There are some shots where you have to flip the book 90 degrees clockwise to look at properly, and there are some 2-page photos that are hard to see (one of them makes Nanase’s face look strange). I am also not a fan of the constant color to grayscale transitions.
Overall, this is a pretty decent photobook with some fantastic shots of Nanase and just the right amount of fanservice. It is by no means a perfect photobook as there are a handful of problems with the shots and the color transitions, but by all means it is worth a pick up if you support Nishino Nanase and Nogizaka46. It is not better than Shiraishi Mai’s photobook, but it’s still solid for what it’s worth.
Next up is AKB48 member Kizaki Yuria’s first photobook, Peace. This photobook was released on Kizaki Yuria’s 19th birthday, shot all over the beautiful island of Guam.
I do not know about you, but throughout this photobook, it feels as if Kizaki Yuria actually wrote in it. I know that is just printed ink, but I like how it is added so it seems as if Yuria is talking to you as you stroll along the photobook. Like the Nanase photobook, I have this vibe that you are hanging out with Yuria as you look through the book. You have a few shots of her in a school uniform, and then you’re with her helping her decide what bikini she should buy.
From there you are on the beach and Yuria is on a swing. Next thing you know, you are sitting near the tide and Yuria is writing in the sand. Basically, there are plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of beach swimsuit gravure photos. It is definitely a colorful photobook, since Yuria’s bikinis keep changing every 3-4 pages…but the strengths of color are not just found in bikini gravure photos. One of my favorite set of photos includes Yuria in a graffiti-covered skatepark wearing a Dodgers tanktop. This showcases the bright and colorful nature of the photobook without Yuria in a colorful bikini.
This photobook does what the Nanase photobook should have, and that’s utilize the smaller shots that take up less than half a page and put two photos in one page. Nanase’s photobook has these smaller shots but they take up one page and leave you with half a page of white space, whereas Yuria’s photobook puts two of these smaller shots in one page.
I think the fanservice gets a little more, explicit, towards the half of the photobook. You have Yuria not in a bikini, but in lingerie, and it’s enough to give you a nosebleed! Even when there are smaller shots that take up about half the page, the white page blends well with the white of the sun, making Yuria seem like she is some sort of divine angel. There is even a shot of her with her covering her breasts with her back bare. For some odd reason, photos like those get me every time.
Just like the photo found on the cover, why Yuria would pose like that on a weight scale is beyond me…but the beginning of the second half consists of honestly the best Yuria gravure photos I have ever seen in my lifetime. They make her look seductive while being cute at the same time with her round baby face and doll eyes and what now.
There are also shots of her with a friend. I honestly do not know who it is given how her face is never shown, but it looks like Yuria is having fun with this friend of hers. It is good to see that in this photobook because you are literally with Yuria throughout the entire experience, so bringing one of her friends along is pretty cool too.
Like the Nanase photobook, there are some pretty classy photos of Yuria in the night of Guam. They make her look absolutely stunning, and they are not bikini gravure shots, since you may need a break from them every so often.
And yes, you do need a break from the bikini gravure every so often. For starters, the amount of bikini gravure fanservice is a little too high for some people and may turn off the female Kizaki Yuria fans (the Nanase photobook does not necessarily have this problem). The fanservice also can get a little tiresome by the end of the photobook, because you’ve seen Yuria in a bikini so many times that you won’t be taken aback by it anymore.
Overall, this is a photobook that is very bright, colorful, and chock full of fanservice. A least a good 70% of the book is of Yuria in a bikini or lingerie. It is worth a purchase if you’re a fan of Kizaki Yuria or if you find her to be extremely attractive (like I do, at least somewhat). This photobook shows how stunning and cute she is.
If I had to pick a favorite, I would probably go with the Yuria over Nanase. Yeah, the gravure in Yuria’s photobook did get me at times, but I think I have a thing for bright colors, since Yuria’s photobook was full of bright color photos. Nanase’s photobook was great too, but the color to grayscale transitions irked me more times than it should have. Don’t get me wrong; they are both spectacular photobooks and both of them were worth the purchase price. But if I had only enough for one book, I am probably sticking with Yuria on this one.
There are plenty of photobooks I would like to take a look at. Usually I collect group photobooks such as the AKB48 Mizugi Surprise for 2014 and Nogizaka Ha, but I’m starting to look for photobooks of a single member, such as Watanabe Miyuki, Yamamoto Sayaka and Kasai Tomomi. Hopefully I can pick up a few along the way, since I heard Sayanee has a new photobook that makes her look drop dead gorgeous…but that’s a story for another day.
Recently AKB48’s official rival group, Nogizaka46, reached their 3rd birthday and presented their fans with a concert of a lifetime: one at the Seibu Dome in Saitama. Even though it was rather chilly during the concert, the performances were definitely enough to heat the place up!
The 7-hour concert was split into three parts with Nogizaka46 going through every song in their set list in chronological order: from “Guru Guru Curtain” all the way to their newest single, “Inochi wa Utsukushii”. The concert had all sorts of surprises, from the Nogizaka46 band performing “One Night Carnival” to Kojima Haruna making an appearance to sing “Keishasuru” from her Kojizaka46 unit.
The concert also had a bevy of announcements. Nogizaka46 aired a trailer of their documentary, which will air in May, they announced their next stage, and announced a project that holds auditions for the 1st Generation members. Also, Nogizaka46 promoted all of their kenkyuusei to undergirls! They are now the 3rd group among the 48G family to no longer have kenkyuusei, with AKB48 and NMB48 being the others.
The under members will also have a Live 3rd Season from April 14-19 at Zepp Tokyo. So if your oshi is a kenkyuusei-turned-undergirl or has been an undergirl for quite a while (such as my kami-oshi, Wada Maaya), you are in luck!
But I have to give big ups to the Nogizaka46 girls for battling the chilling temperatures to give you, the fans, a show of a lifetime. You could even see their breath during the concert which showed you just how cold it was in the Seibu Dome. This just shows you how strong the Nogizaka46 girls are, because this was by no means an easy feat.
This was an excellent way to kick off the first quarter of 2015. You go girls!
For today's Throwback Thursday post, we will revisit my favorite period of idol music, the 80s! This era is otherwise known as the "Golden Age of Idols" and is one of my favorite periods of music of any genre. The song we will look at is "Dancing Hero" and it is performed by Japan's original dance queen, Yoko Oginome!
For those that don't know Yoko Oginome was one of the biggest idols of the 80s whose career was defined largely be a Eurobeat dance style. She started her career at a very young age in the three-member group, "Milk". Following the group's disbandment, she briefly tried her hand in both live and voice acting before debuting as a singer, at the age of fifteen, with the single "Mirai Kouka -Sailing-". Her early singles and albums were all under the major label Victor Entertainment and while she received large levels of promotion it wasn't until her seventh single, "Dancing Hero (Eat You Up)", that she truly achieved mainstream success. The song was a departure from her earlier style and featured an electronic sound that played well to her new image as a leader in popular dance music. It has that unique mix of 80s sound that is both retro and timeless at the same time. Her unique fashion and style in the promotional video for the song was also something that took the music and club scene by force. Some of the more sensational looks could also be seen as a precursor to the styles seen in some modern pop stars.
Following this hugely popular song, Yoko's career took off with hit single following hit single. She would win several awards before the decade was out and appear on Kouhaku Uta Gassen no less than five straight years. Her acting career took off again from this point and she would appear in many popular dramas and variety shows, including a host spot on the show "Young Studio 101". Like most idols who take a turn into acting, much of her later career would be focused there as opposed to music. That being said, her career never truly stopped and continues in limited form even today. Also, like many other Golden Era-idols, Yoko took a try at the US pop music scene with the English album "VERGE OF LOVE". While this album was produced by the great Narada Michael Walden, it nevertheless failed to create the waves everyone hoped for.
While her career had many ups and downs following this crucial point, it was the iconic "Dancing Hero" that would label her as Japan's "Dance Queen" (a title that would make its way over to contemporary idol, Chisato Moritaka) and also cement her place in the history of Japanese pop music and idol history. Check out the song and take a trip back to the Golden 80s...
Hello! Project Station Episode #103 Contents
MC: Nakanishi Kana, Aikawa Maho
◆ Hello! Project - I Know
◆ Hello! Project - Rival
◆ ANGERME - Otome no Gyakushuu Live
◆ 4 Kanji phrase 大器小用
◆ Discussion: Yajima Maimi & Shimizu Saki
◆ Q&A Corner
◆ Inaba Manaka (Country Girls) Hair Arrange
Episode 103 opens with two of the big Hello! Project performance from the recent concert tour. First up we get Aya Matsuura's "I Know" which was a song I never really cared for around the time of its release. It's a bit more interesting here performed by Hello! Project at large, but just as forgettable as before as far as I am concerned. Thankfully this wasn't the only song presented, we next get Berryz Koubou's "Rival". This was a song that I liked when it was released but never really listened to after that. It was the double A-side to "Seishun Bus Guide" and, for me at least, that song got the most attention. That being said, it was refreshing to hear it again and of course fitting to use a Berryz Koubou song as the group performance as this is their final Hello! Project tour. With that in mind, I must say that I think there are far better songs in Berryz' catalog to perform as an ensemble, but there are also far worse ones too.... Anyhow, watch and enjoy and wait the long wait until they release these Hello! Project concerts on DVD/Blu-ray
The hosts for this episode of Hello! Project Station are both from ANGERME, we get second gen member, Nakanishi Kana and recent addition Aikawa Maho. They make for a very interesting pairing and there is lots of friendly banter between the two. We hear of Kana's Osakan accent slowly reappearing thanks to new Hello! Project members who also hail from Osaka and we also get a glimpse at Maho's deep love for classical balet and karaage! There is some talk of the pairings within ANGERME and perhaps we'll see more of the Aihara/Nakanishi duo in the future? Some interesting talk about the ANGERME single release show, especially regarding the performance of S/mileage songs with the new nine-member line-up. I can't wait to see these performances properly when they are eventually released. After this, we move into yet more ANGERME promotion. Not that I am really complaining as I feel that this is a group that should get far more recognition/support than S/mileage received.
The next segment is a live clip of "Otome no Gyakushuu" from the recent Hello! Project concerts. I've said it countless times, but I love the song and I love this new line-up. This live only confirms the fact that the re-branding is just the sort of change that S/mileage needed to remain relevant. While we're on the topic, I was always more than a little confused as to why the powers that be waited so long to add a third generation to the group. Returning to the performance, the girls are all in top form when it comes to the dance and their vocal talent is present even in this slightly low-quality clip. There is a bit during the chorus where everyone just sounds a little too loud, but it can be forgiven by the rest of the performance. Check it out and the single itself if you haven't already! Be a tree!
Next up is the 4-Kanji corner, a segment that I do not usually care for. This one is a little more entertaining as we get some good dialogue between Morning Musume 15 sub-leader, Iikubo Haruna and Country Girls' member Inaba Manaka. For one we learn that Manaka shares Haruna's love for anime and manga which leads to some nice asides. Just like most of these segments, Manaka knows little about the phrase itself. She's not alone though as I found this phrase especially confusing to me even with the explanation... It closes with Haruna asking Manaka to sing. She breaks into an impromptu "Taikibansei" and I can't help but wonder if Haruna was just trolling her not thinking she'd actually comply. Anyhow, I found this segment far more entertaining than I usually do, so I suggest you don't skip it this time around!
Next we have a very interesting segment, a talk between Hello! Project/C-ute leader, Yajima Maimi and Berryz Koubou Captain, Shimizu Saki. This is a very informative retrospective discussion that goes all the way back to their days as members of Hello! Project Kids. They talk about the audition process, their first roles in acting and the early days of being back dancers for the established Hello! Project artists both in PVs and in lives. They both talk about their feelings that their dancing skills were not up to par which is interesting as many fans consider these two amongst the strongest dancers in Hello! Project. The talk then moves along to the formation of the groups "ZYX" and their first single "Iku ZYX Fly High!". What I found most interesting about this segment is the revelation that the girls wore butt pads to make themselves look more mature! I was not aware that UP FRONT and H!P would go to these lengths to push a group and it makes me wonder if there are any other similar stories in H!P's history.... This discussion is not complete though and is to be continued in the next episode.
A somewhat quick Q&A corner follows some discussion about the recording of "Taikibansei". Aikawa Maho apparently is a Nakanishi Kana fan! Even though this segment moves really fast, it was also really entertaining. These two interact well and I guess that is for the best as they will be spending a lot of the Idol careers in each other's company. Kana basically steals the closing speech and goes in depth on the the meaning of ANGERME. Good way to wrap up this episode....but wait, there's more!
This episode closes with a hair arrange by Inaba Manaka from Country Girls. I usually don't care too much for these segments since they seem like fluff, but I watched most of this one for a change. Basically curled twintails with some high braiding. If you want to mimic this look, the instructions are there! Some interesting anecdotes from her, but I still don't know too much about her so perhaps these segments will have more of an impact once the new members settle in.
One of the major concepts behind AKB48 is the ability to meet some of your favorite members through handshake events. You could have a conversation (or ten) with any member on any team should you purchase and register handshake tickets, which are usually received through their singles. On occasions where an album is released, AKB48 members have events called 2-shots, which are opportunities for fans to take photos with some of their favorite members. As expected, some members get more handshake tickets and 2-shot tickets than others, so while some members get fairly short lines, others can get relatively lengthy lines.
However, on May 25, 2014, one man changed the handshake and 2-shot events forever.
Taken from Stage48: "...a man appeared with a sharp saw-like object and started to attack members, management staff, and even fans, during a handshake event in Iwate. The man was arrested, but the idols and staff members suffered injuries on their hands and head and were taken to the hospital for emergency surgery."
The consequences from this incident however ultimately affected all of AKB48 and its fans. All AKB48-based handshake events during the last week of May were cancelled, increased levels of security during handshake events among sister/rival groups (such as Nogizaka46) were present, a change in 2-shot events (you no longer can take photos next to members; you are separated by a table during the 2-shot) and finally, the man responsible for the incident was to serve 6 years in prison.
The two members who were injured were Kawaei Rina and Iriyama Anna. Their nicknames are Ricchan and Annin respectively. They both star in the AKB48-based combat drama, Majisuka Gakuen 4, and both of them ranked at high spots during last year’s sousenkyo election: Ricchan at #16 and Annin at #20. Kawaei Rina made a surprise appearance at the last sousenkyo despite still recovering from the injuries, while Iriyama Anna was contacted by phone during the election for her #20 spot. To this day, Annin is still recovering from her injuries and she still wears a glove on her injured hand. Neither Kawaei nor Iriyama will participate in future handshake events.
Because of the incident, people who are not familiar with AKB48’s “idols you can meet” concept called for the handshake event to be removed altogether, given how it will take months for Ricchan and Annin to recover from their physical and psychological wounds. Several ideas were suggested on how the handshake event should be implemented, such as having the handshake event through thick glass like what you’d find in a bank. Metal detectors were installed on the stages of certain groups, and several AKB48-based events scheduled in June were postponed. Basically, AKB48 and their sister groups were in a bit of a flux, as they have gone this long without an incident like this.
It is easy to see how some people may want the concept of handshake events removed from AKB48 in order to protect some of the idols. However, if the handshake event was removed entirely, AKB48 and its sister/rival groups would not be as popular as they are now. You select an oshi to support, and if you purchase a single with a handshake event ticket, you could visit her and have a short conversation with her. It has been like this for years now, and one unemployed man wielding a saw is not going to destroy AKB48.
The added security among handshake events and 2-shot events were basically a wake-up-call for the group. The amount of negative media attention this story received rivaled that of Minegishi Minami’s incident back in January 2013. News outlets such as the New York Times even covered this story. The question is: Why would it take this long for a potentially fatal incident like the one in Iwate to take place?
The answer is simple, because the fans know that they would never do this. The fans would never hurt their oshi or any idol they plan on visiting. There were never bag checks or metal detectors because the fans would never consider attacking their oshi outright. The members of AKB48 are there with dreams of becoming actressese, musical artists, dancers, or something along those lines, and they perform in theater events and concerts in order to entertain you, the fan. If you have an oshi you are willing to support, she will do her best! That man who slashed Ricchan and Annin is not a fan of AKB48 nor does he support the idols; he is an unemployed man down on his luck who took his frustrations out on the innocent. Thus, he single-handedly tarnished the name of AKB48 and made every fan suffer because of it.
As someone who has never been to Japan, I have never experienced the handshake event and only know what it is like through the descriptions of friends who have gone to Japan to see AKB48. But one day I will save up enough to visit Japan and visit some of my favorite members I am willing to support until they graduate: Minegishi Minami, Shiroma Miru, Wada Maaya, and Murashige Anna just to name a few. Even with the new precautionary measures, those measures will not stop me from visiting Miichan during a handshake event and ask her how many caps she has collected, for example. Heck, having 2-shots with Miichan would be an amazing experience as well.
The handshake event will never die because of the actions of one man. He may have forced management to increase security, but as long as AKB48 stands, so does the concept of “idols you can meet”.
Hello! Pro Station Episode #102 Contents
MC: Katsuta Rina & Natsuyaki Miyabi
◆ ANGERME - Otome no Gyakushuu (Dance Shot) PV
◆ Country Girls Major Debut Announcement
◆ Hamaura Ayano Interview Part 2
◆ ANGERME - Taikibansei Dance Lesson
◆ Q&A Corner
◆ Nakajima Saki Hair Arrange
The 102nd episode of Hello! Pro Station kicks off with the Dance Shot PV for ANGERME's song, "Otome no Gyakushuu". I love this song and I love this PV, but I've talked about this many times elsewhere, so I'll just skip the usual praise here. The dance is great and the choreography is rather unique for Hello! Project. Many fans notice that there is dance recycling in a lot of PVs (For all Hello! Project groups too, not just ANGERME/S/mileage) but there is little of that here. The dance matches the song and video well and the break in the bridge (Which is unfortunately where this video cuts) is a unique touch. Also, I wrote this after I saw the episode so I know now what the Thriller-esque hand poses I mention in other posts are supposed to represent... well.... more on that later. I like this Dance Shot PV more than Taikibansei's as it shows more of the dance proper without typical PV-style editing and cuts. Taikibansei's was edited much like the normal promotion version, but without the close-ups. This one is pure dance without too much fancy editing which is what a proper dance shot should be.
Our hosts for this episode are Natsuyaki Miyabi of Berryz Koubou and ANGERME's Katsuta Rina. They are an interesting pairing and I can't help but comment on Miyabi's sweater which is pretty cool with its wax seal design. It apparently is a topic worth discussing as the two do mention it and clothes in general. Lots to talk about here, Miyabi is a fan of "Otome no Gyakushuu" (aren't we all?) and Rina mentions that the dance moves are meant to be tree stances, that's right, tree stances. I would never had thought trees, I thought monster/zombie/whatever and I'm fairly certain a lot of other people did too. I guess that can be forgiven, but they are meant to be trees apparently! Anyhow, this is Miyabi's last hosting on Hello! Pro Station, so get the most out of it! Only mere days left as of this posting till Berryz Koubou ceases operations...
Next we have the Country Girls major debut announcement. Momoko reads a message from Satoda Mai and messes up a couple times along the way! This was probably the best part, especially the first time as she re-reads the whole message assuming probably that the mistake would be edited out; no such luck! Well, to the details of the announcement, Country Girls will have their major debut on March 25th and their previously announced indie debut has been cancelled in favor of the major one. Everyone seemed really shocked, not the least of which were the fans, and quite a bit of tears flowed.
We get the second half of the interview with Hamaura Ayano. More of her time with the Kenkyuusei and her experiences recording and training with them. There is some interesting insights here and more than a few funny/interesting anecdotes, but I personally don't feel too much regarding her personality. Perhaps when the unnamed group debuts I'll revisit this to see an early side of her character, for now though, I'll just move along....
This is all followed by.....Taikibansei dance lessons led by Wada Ayaka! It's in interesting segment and feature's Morning Musume 15's Sayashi Riho, Ishida Ayumi and the 12th Generation members. This is worth noting as there has been so little Morning Musume present in recent Hello! Project stations. Other than that little novelty, I don't think this segment was really all that necessary. Then again, it seems to have replaced the kanji lesson this week so I can't really complain... Everyone catches onto the dance really quickly and the new members are very skilled if I do say so myself. Hope we see more from them in the coming weeks!
The Q&A segment follows, but I found this one not as interesting as most. Maybe this is just me. Our hosts did a good job though and sadly this will be the last time we'll ever see Miyabi host Hello! Pro Station. More promotion for the new ANGERME single (out as of this posting) and we get a final goodbye to Miyabi and move onto the final segment....
A hair arrange from Nakajima Saki! Yeah, I actually don't care too much for these segments. The last time we say Saki though she teased her hair in a crazy fashion that made the 80s jealous! This time is just a little more boring, but perhaps you wanted to mimic one of her braids, I don't know. Anyhow, watch and enjoy!
In today's idol pick, we will examine new "Ikemen Idol" unit, "THE HOOPERS".
THE HOOPERS are an idol group that formed following Fudanjuku's "Next Generation Audition" in 2013. Following the audition, they spent the following year training before their major debut. Taking a page from Takarazuka and, of course, idol group "Fudanjuku", this new group were selling out their performances almost from the outset of their announcement. What is it that makes this idol group so special and unique? Well, it's the simple fact that this 7-member all-girl group dresses in male clothing and have a very cool style to boot! Music-wise, their sound also breaks away from the traditional idol mold and if their first song is any indication, falls more into the male idol genre.
Their debut single "Itoshi Koishi Kimi Koishi" will be released on March 5th and the song was chosen from amongst 300 potential candidates. To promote their debut they have been performing every Tueday, until the single's release, at JOL Harajuku. The song itself is a throwback of sorts to the 90s pop sound and aesthetic and is of course extremely catchy and full of great vocal performances. Production values are high in both the song and video, but that is to be expected form a group on a major label like Universal. As to the video itself, the girls all look cooler than many guys in the Japanese entertainment industry and it's no wonder that their fan base (which is mostly female) is expanding at a rapid rate. Did I mention the video has flips and their concerts usually feature other acrobatic stunts? Because they do!
While cross-dressing idols aren't exactly new, THE HOOPERS bring a breath of fresh air into the small sub-genre and hopefully will do their part in pushing it into the mainstream! Teaser video for the group and preview clip for the new PV are found below.
In a surprise announcement last week, it was revealed that Morning Musume '15's first single with the new name and new line-up will be the theme song for the upcoming Precure movie 'Eiga Precure All Stars Haru no Carnival"!
This comes as a big surprise to many fans as it is a departure from not only their normal style, but also from writer/producer Tsunku. Owing to Tsunku's battles with his health this comes as no surprise, but this author is more than a little sad that all the Hello! Project groups are taking outside penned songs for this round of singles. The new song, "Ima Koko Kara" will join a very small list of songs that are performed by the group, but written by outside producers. That said, this song will be a huge opportunity for Morning Musume to reach a wider audience, both within Japan and abroad.
In addition to this news was the announcement that Morning Musume '15 members Iikubo Haruna, Oda Sakura and Ishida Ayumi will be voicing characters in the movie itself! The age of Helllo! Project's presence in anime might be returning in force! These big announcements come at the end of a long drought of proper Morning Musume news and it turns out the wait was worth it! A preview for the song can be found below, but it must be noted that this version of the song is not performed by Morning Musume '15. Stay tuned for more news and updates!
As AKB48 revealed the cover photos for their “Green Flash” single, and as SKE48 takes out the big guns at center for their senbatsu lineup, NMB48 is in the news giving one of their marquee members a final sendoff at center. There is also Yamamoto Sayaka’s new photobook out which may give you high blood pressure or nosebleeds just by looking at some of the photos, but that is a story for another day.
Yes, Yamada Nana is your center for the next NMB48 single! After her song with Yamamoto Sayaka, “Tomodachi”, made 2nd place during the last Request Hour, she gets one more send off at center, the 5th of NMB48’s history to ever center a single. The other four past centers were Yamamoto Sayaka, Watanabe Miyuki, Shiroma Miru and Yagura Fuuko, all of whom make this senbatsu lineup.
Like with every senbatsu, someone new makes the lineup to round out the 23-girl roster.
Congratulations to Sutou Ririka and Ota Yuuri for making the senbatsu lineup for the first time! But someone else makes senbatsu for the first time, and this member is pretty popular among some of my friends back at the AKB48 SoCal Fan Club.
Kusaka Konomi makes senbatsu for the first time! Let me get some of my friends to explain who Konomin is (shout out to Tenkei and Boy from basugasubakuhatsu!):
As for kennin members who did not make it, as expected, Takayanagi Akane does not make senbatsu. This is most likely a response to SKE48 releasing their single the same day as NMB48 (which is why Yamada Nana and Watanabe Miyuki fail to make SKE48’s senbatsu). Unfortunately, for you HKT48 fans, your favorite Russian/Japanese idol fails to make the lineup. No Murashige Anna this time around…this is the 2nd time she gets snubbed from an NMB48 senbatsu. It sucks because she is my HKT48 oshi, but that too is a story for another day.
Here are the other members who make senbatsu. You have the kennin members either based from AKB48 (such as Kashiwagi Yuki), members who have a kennin with AKB48 based from NMB48 (such as Shibuya Nagisa and Kotani Riho), members permanently transferred from AKB48 to NMB48 (such as Fujie Reina, Ichikawa Miori and Umeda Ayaka), you have the mainstay members who very likely do not fall out of senbatsu (such as Yoshida Akari and Jonishi Kei), and you have the up and coming members who make senbatsu once and never fall out of it (like Nishimura Aika).
In terms of NMB48, there’s a podcast that makes the group more accessible to people outside of Japan, called Takoyaki Party. Shout out to Osaka Joe and DJ Soymilk from the AKB48 SoCal Fan Club who have done an amazing job with NMB48-based podcasts!
So there you have it. NMB48’s senbatsu looks like a fantastic way to give one of their most famous members, Yamada Nana, a perfect sendoff. The title of the single is “Don’t Look Back!” Here is a sneak peek:
Let’s start with the bad news first before we get to the good part. We touched earlier on SKE48 graduations and how they seem to be happening in waves. Throw in Kobayashi Ami’s name among those graduating because her graduation announcement came right before we published the article…that’s just really bad timing on our part.
With that said, best wishes to Kobayashi Ami, who will graduate in March. You were one of the smartest SKE48 girls we ever knew…
Now for the good news: SKE48 has announced their senbatsu for their upcoming single which is to be released the same day as NMB48’s latest single. And look who’s back to lead the lineup:
These two are your centers once again. Both of them made the senbatsu lineup for Green Flash, and here they are again leading the lineup for SKE48’s new single. Welcome back WMatsui!
Other than Jurina and Rena centering an SKE48 single once again, the other members of this 21-member senbatsu consist of both mainstay members and a few new ones. As for the new members, three of them make the senbatsu lineup for the first time:
Ego Yuna, Isohara Kyoka, and Goudo Saki punch their ticket into senbatsu for the first time. Congrats!
There were also other surprises as well. Unfortunately, Watanabe Miyuki does not make the senbatsu lineup. There’s still NMB48 for her, which is a guaranteed senbatsu spot if not double center with Yamamoto Sayaka. Besides, NMB48 does release their single the same day as SKE48, so a rivalry has to commence somehow, right?
There was yet another surprise senbatsu announcement: your favorite forever-17-year-old kenkyuusei made the lineup.
Yes, Matsumura Kaori makes the senbatsu lineup. After nearly making it last year during sousenkyo, Kaotan gets another chance to shine in senbatsu since "Kiss Datte Hidarikiki".
Here is the full lineup:
Center: Matsui Jurina, Matsui Rena
Senbatsu: Azuma Rion, Ego Yuna, Furuhata Nao, Futamura Haruka, Goudo Saki, Isohara Kyoka, Kimoto Kanon, Kitagawa Ryoha, Matsumura Kaori, Miyamae Ami, Miyazawa Sae, Oba Mina, Oya Masana, Sato Sumire, Shibata Aya, Souda Sarina, Suda Akari, Takayanagi Akane, Tani Marika
Who do you think got snubbed out?
◆ Rin Rigoni