It is January 2nd, 2011. Morning Musume is starting to suffer from a severe lack of attention and love due to the reduced size of the group to 5 members with the recent graduation of Eri Kamei, Junjun and Linlin. But on this day, it is officially announced that Morning Musume has a new set of four members, a 9th generation: Mizuki Fukumura, Erina Ikuta, Riho Sayashi and Kanon Suzuki. These four girls would bring a new, youthful charm back to the group that had been missing since the more mature (commonly referred to as) Platinum Era had been the face of the group. They debuted with the single Maji Desu ka Ska!
In the next couple years, the remnants of the Platinum Era slowly graduated from the group, while this new 9th generation started to change the face of the group. Riho Sayashi ended up being the face of these four girls, since she showed a lot of promise due to singing and dancing skills. She would henceforth be referred to as the 'ace' of the group. From then on, she only got better and better, much to the delight of her fans. She also brought her own brand of uniqueness and silliness to the group which is always welcome. Once Sayumi Michishige graduated last year, thus officially ending any connection with the Platinum Era, the whole group evolved into something new and exciting, with many thanks going to the talent and experience of the 9th generation.
It came as a sudden shock, then, when she recently announced that she would be graduating from Morning Musume '15 at the end of this year. Since she's joined the group, she's participated in 19 singles, 12 albums (4 of them with new content, the rest compilations), 6 stage plays, 1 television drama, 1 movie and much more. While her official graduation date will be on December 31st, marking the end of Morning Musume '15 (and presumably the start of Morning Musume '16), the last performances she will be a part of will be on December 7th and 8th. This will be during the Countdown Live at the Budokan in Tokyo. For those of you who would like to go to see her off, I'd recommend you start working on getting tickets immediately, because they will be difficult to get a hold of. Maimi Yajima, leader of ℃-ute and leader of Hello! Project, made a very touching post regarding the announcement in her blog, which you can read at the bottom of this article.
Her future goals are to study English abroad, and focus on perfecting her dancing skills. Something extremely interesting to note is that she is not graduating from Hello! Project, only from Morning Musume '15. She has every intention of coming back to Hello! Project once she's done studying abroad and studying dance to her satisfaction. This could mean that she could come back as a very unique dance-centric soloist, or that she might start a really cool dance unit within Hello! Project when she comes back. There are many possibilities, most of them extremely exciting.
That being said, Morning Musume '15 has evolved into a very beautiful group thanks to all of its current members. It will be tough to see Morning Musume '15 without Riho, but they've all managed to create something really special, and I have full confidence that they will continue to do so moving forward. Let's continue to support the girls with all our hearts, and let's continue to support Riho in whatever she chooses to do from here on. An unhappy performer isn't a good performer in the idol world, so let's hope she comes back refreshed and fully satisfied, so she can continue her career with the same love and care that she's shown in her time within Morning Musume.
Morning Musume '15 is:
- Mizuki Fukumura (9th Generation – 譜久村聖) Leader
- Erina Ikuta (9th Generation – 生田衣梨奈) Sub-leader
- Riho Sayashi (9th Generation – 鞘師里保)
- Kanon Suzuki (9th Generation – 鈴木香音)
- Haruna Iikubo (10th Generation – 飯窪春奈) Sub-leader
- Ayumi Ishida (10th Generation – 石田亜佑美)
- Masaki Sato (10th Generation – 佐藤優樹)
- Haruka Kudo (10th Generation – 工藤遙)
- Sakura Oda (11th Generation – 小田さくら)
- Haruna Ogata (12th Generation – 尾形春水)
- Miki Nonaka (12th Generation – 野中美希)
- Maria Makino (12th Generation – 牧野真莉愛)
- Akane Haga (12th Generation – 羽賀朱音)
You can read her official announcement on her blog here: http://s.ameblo.jp/morningmusume-9ki/entry-12089659596.html
You can read an official translation and a short note about it on Up-Front Link here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/up-front-link/en-concerning-riho-sayashi/967417713317146
The official Hello! Project announcement is here: http://www.helloproject.com/news/3725/
You can read a message regarding the announcement on Maimi Yajima's blog here: http://s.ameblo.jp/c-ute-official/entry-12089611470.html
You can read an unofficial translation of Maimi's post here: https://www.facebook.com/910percent/posts/1187891511225223
If you’re a fan of various idols, you may have noticed the image above. Some of your favorite idols’ videos may not be viewable if you are in the US. Much to the dismay of all of us fans over here, these videos are blocked in our country now, due to a shift in YouTube policy.
YouTube is preparing to launch a new program on the 28th of October called YouTube Red. This is a special paid subscription option that will be available for US viewers (the rest of the world to follow in 2016). This service offers viewers the opportunity to pay a monthly subscription in order to view YouTube videos without ads. This also provides the content creators higher revenue, and incentive to create YouTube Red exclusive videos (if they wish).
Why is it that we can’t see Hello! Project, AKB48 and some other idol groups on YouTube then? As is to be expected, this new service comes with an update to YouTube’s Terms of Service and their contract information pertaining to content creators. All content creators need to agree to these terms before being allowed to continue displaying their videos in the US. Many creators and providers accepted these terms with no issue, but for some reason many Japanese companies (especially with idols) are still taking time to review their options before buckling down and accepting the terms.
As a result of this, these videos are being blocked from viewership in the US. The following is from an official e-mail sent to me regarding content I have uploaded that has Hello! Project assets in it:
“We’re writing because one or more of your videos is no longer viewable in the United States, due to a pre-existing claim by a copyright owner. Before we get to the details, please be assured that this change does not affect your account standing on YouTube, nor does it put your channel at risk of termination. In other words, this is not a “copyright strike.”
Keep in mind, this is an abridged version of the e-mail. While this is most definitely frustrating, especially since YouTube tends to be our main connection to a lot of the content and information for us, we need to be patient and see what happens. We can only wait and hope that these companies agree to the terms and that our time cut off from the things we love is only for a short time longer. In the meantime, I recommend checking out Dailymotion to fulfill your needs, since many overseas fans are trying to help bridge the gap until this (hopefully) tides over. The video quality isn’t always as good and the interface can be a bit more clunky, but it’s better than nothing.
Here’s hoping that the issues are resolved promptly, and our beloved idol groups can re-enter our lives through YouTube once again.
For more information on YouTube Red: https://www.youtube.com/red
Recently at Japan Expo LA, we were lucky enough to stop by the Best Jeanist booth where Amatsu Uni was promoting her upcoming anime "Tokyo Senhi". Amatsu Uni is a popular anime song singer, voice actress and recently worked on the character designs for Toyko Senhi.
Hello! Thank you for your time with this interview. Let's get started. Well, you're in the US now promoting your upcoming anime, Toyko Senhi, how are you liking it here?
It is such a nice place! I love American very much?
What's your day-to-day life in Japan like?
I like going to Akihabara very much. I usually go to Akihabara three times a week.
Really? That's a lot! I'm sure you like anime then. What is your favorite anime?
Sword Art Online! It is my favorite anime!
Well, you're here to promote Tokyo Senhi. What can you tell us about it?
It's a fighting girls anime and I made this anime with three main characters. I am also doing the voice acting for the three characters and I am singing the theme song.
What are some of the challenges doing so many different things at once? Being a character designer, voice actress, singer, etc.
It's actually my dream to be able to do everyhing. I want to be able to do all of it. I want to make anime, do voice acting, sing; everything.
You've been in the US before. What are some of your favorite places?
I love New York very much. I went to New York before and I want to go to New York Comic Con very much! I plan to go to Comic Con next year with this anime!
So you have plans to come back to the US?
Yes! I want to go to New York and perform! I want to perform this song [Tokyo Senhi opening theme] there!
That's awesome! I'm sure it will be well-received! Maybe we'll see you there. Can you tell us about your favorite musical artists?
I love the music of Motown. The Motown style is very awesome.
So you mentioned you worked on the character design for Tokyo Senhi.
Yes! I made this character. I also did all three of the main character designs.
What were some of your inspirations behind the character designs?
I really like Absolute Duo and Sword Art Online. The character designs from there are really cute. So are my characters.
What are some of your upcoming goals in your music and anime?
Hmmm...I don't know yet.
Oh? You're still planning?
Yes. I have plans. There is this anime of course and I have music, but other than that I am not sure.
When will Tokyo Senhi be released?
It's still in development. Maybe it will be released next year.
Where would we go to find out more about you?
I have a website where you can find out more about the anime, listen to my music and hear my voice acting. It's on PC only though.
Your English is really good. Where did you study?
Really? My English is not that good.... I went to New York though and I spent half a year studying singing and learning English in New York.
Do you have any closing words to your fans?
Yes! I have an Instagram account [@amatsuuni]. My followers are all my fans! My biggest fans!
You can find out more about Amatsu Uni via her social media.
And Tokyo Senhi at:
The above interview was conducted by Manuel Figueroa with assistance and filming by Eunice Wang.
A while ago I wrote an article detailing the Franchise Four of the 48 Groups. Since we are still in baseball season, I am still thinking about “Franchise Fours” like crazy. It got me thinking…
Who is on my Franchise Four?
What I mean by this is the four artists or idols that really got you into J-Pop, or have done something special that kept you as a fan almost forever. The possibilities are endless if you’ve been a fan of J-Pop for years now, but if you had to narrow it down to just four individuals, who would it be and why? Let me tell you which four individuals I selected.
I would have never enjoyed J-Pop if it weren’t for these four…
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Minegishi Minami, Wada Maaya, Rukawa Rina
Let me explain each one in detail.
The reason why I chose Kyary Pamyu Pamyu as the first choice is because she remains the only person out of these three that I have seen perform live. I first heard of Pamyu through the Ebisu Muscats’ variety show way back in 2013. Some of the Muscats were covering her songs during one of the show’s segments, and the song “Tsukema Tsukeru” was covered. Curious, I did a little research on the song and found out that it was by an upcoming artist named Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. From then on, I became hooked. It took a while for me to get used to songs such as “PonPonPon” and “Candy Candy”, but eventually they grew on me and I could not stop playing them.
Then I found out she was coming here. She was going to perform at Club Nokia in Los Angeles. Of course, I could not let an opportunity like that slip by, so I bought a ticket, went to the concert 4 hours early, and met a lot of new friends there. I screamed my heart out when I saw her take the stage, and I thought to myself, “I have to do this again!” Lucky for me, she was performing in San Francisco the same year, so I traveled all the way up there to see her once again. While that concert was short (and not worth the 6 hour drives…), I was still rather thankful to watch her perform. The very next year, she came back to perform, and I once again did not let this opportunity slip by.
I’ve seen her perform three times in my life, which is why I have her on my Franchise Four. If she ever comes back, I may get the VIP package to get myself a photo with her. I will admit this: Kyary has been my celebrity crush since 2013…
I’ve already touched on Minegishi Minami and Wada Maaya before, but there’s no harm in reviewing!
I found out about Minegishi Minami because of her scandal. I used to despise AKB48 (as was the case with most Ebisu Muscats fans), but when I found out she shaved her head due to a dating scandal, I got curious. I did a little research on who she was, what she’s done with AKB48, and so on. It did not take too long for me to drop the AKB48 hatred and call her my oshi. Yes, that scandal is what drove me to become a Minegishi Minami fan. She unlocked AKB48 and their sister groups for me, which is the main reason why she is on my Franchise Four.
As for Wada Maaya, her story is a little bit different. When I found out the Ebisu Muscats disbanded in 2013, I had to find a new group to pay attention to. While AKB48 was an option, I saw a bunch of photos on Tumblr of this attractive lady named Shiraishi Mai. Turns out she was on an idol group called Nogizaka46. I grew curious of Nogizaka46 and their determination to be the first “rival group” of AKB48. I also became curious as to who the members were, who was cute, who was worth following, etc. Then this underrated girl at the bottom of the list showed up, and her name was Maaya. Like Minegishi Minami, I did a little research on Wada Maaya to see what kind of idol she was. I found…almost nothing. But to tell you the truth, the reason why I became a fan of Maaya was because she was vastly underrated. She has so much untapped potential as an idol, to the point where I believe she can be as popular as other idols her age, such as Murashige Anna, Komiyama Haruka, and dare I say, Miyawaki Sakura. Wada Maaya is funny, gives good handshakes, has a nice singing voice, and is cute with her short hair. While I know that a lot of idols are like that, in my opinion Maaya does these things better than most idols. This is why she is on my Franchise Four.
The last spot goes to Rukawa Rina, who I’ve written about before. Since the Ebisu Muscats were the first J-Pop group I was ever interested in, I had to pick a favorite. It took a few tries (Asami Yuma, Rio, etc.), but eventually Rukawa Rina caught my eye. The things that I did like about her were that she was cute, she liked anime, and she was close to my age (the rest of the Muscats were 4+ years older than I was). Put all those factors in and thus she became my Ebisu Muscats oshi. She also was an adult video idol, but she was the first idol I called an oshi, so that explains why she is on my Franchise Four.
That just about does it for my Franchise Four selections. These four individuals are the reason why I am a huge fan of J-Pop, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Who is on your Franchise Four?
With the impending release of °C-ute’s new single, ‘Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ / Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!’, came some really exciting news. On the 7th of this month, it was announced via the official Hello! Project site that there would be a special limited release of a 12-inch record for the new single.
Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ is designed to be the squad hymn, and “Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight~ is meant to be a cheer song for the Japan Wrestling Federation. The normal single releases on the 28th of October (coming in 2 Regular Editions and 4 Limited Editions) while the vinyl is set to release near the end of November.
If you want to snag one, they will be up for pre-order until October 26th (Japan Time) on e-LineUP! It requires a Japanese address, so you would need a secondary party to acquire the vinyl for you. You can work through private parties or various companies, or use the provided walkthrough to use tenso (the sponsored service for e-LineUP!). However you decide to get it, don’t miss your chance!
~ Teepu (Bowser05)
◆ Yajima Maimi (矢島舞美, Leader)
◆ Nakajima Saki (中島早貴)
◆ Suzuki Airi (鈴木愛理)
◆ Okai Chisato (岡井千聖)
◆ Hagiwara Mai (萩原舞)
e-LineUP! Listing for the Vinyl: http://www.e-lineup.com/shopdetail/000000007226/
Walkthrough on Using tenso:
Hello! Project Official Announcement: http://www.helloproject.com/news/3600/
Maimi’s Blog Post Announcing the Songs’ Purposes: