Warning: There will be a LOT of YouTube videos in this series, which may cause some browsers to lag and/or crash. You’ve been warned. If I missed anything, let me know.
Greetings, Magical Meteorites and other Earthlings who happened to drop by!
We’re at chapitre trois of the Precision Past Perspective Edition of Ping Pong Pinpoint. (No, there won’t be any of that so get your heads out of the gutter. We are a respectable blog.) In this post, we cover the year 2011.
2011… a year I was dying to cover. Not that the previous years were bad, mind you, but this one had a lot of good releases. Yes, even if the signature “revolving door” membership system of a certain mothership
connection group returned (or arguably partially because of it). There was a lot of hope here this year, even with the soul-crushingly depressing disaster that struck in March (or again, maybe because of it). It was just a great year—for H!P at least. I’m sure the other bloggers can attest for what’s happening in the rest of the J-music blogosphere—and then some.
- 02 – What better way to kick in a new year than for new blood for Morning Musume? Well, on this day, we welcomed the Strongest Generation into the fold. How can you make it better? Announce your graduation!
- 26 –
The first release of this cuspid year is Mano Erina’s Seishun no Serenade. Mano, in her red and white sportiness*, dances along with her army of zipperiffic backup dancers* (while looking to attempt the Morning Coffee look). We seem to have returned to normalcy after Genkimono (so we’re led to believe).
* She reminds me of Maki for some reason in that look.
- 02 –
February was greeted with a new release by Buono, Zassou no Uta. We see the Buono gal sing their hearts out with a live band
holycrapthedrummerin a garage as they tend to cars.
Don’t worry, you won’t see me do any jokes based on the title’s meaning. I’m not that kind of person. Besides, there’s been too many already. (I must admit that this comes close to a first listening as my Buono fandom began to falter at this point.)
- 09 –
Welcome to the Salon Dream where shortcut dreams come true… like the first idols on the Moon (lighting issues notwithstanding). In honor of this release, the S/mileys received haircuts (goes well with whole “short skirt” schtick they’ve got).
I must admit this is one of my all-time favorite songs by the S/mileys. (Can I just flat out admit that S/mileage is one of my favorite H!P acts now? Please? Pleeeeease?)
- 23 –
Like robot chickens, we are pulled in towards a TV. It looks like a retro sort of set, something out of a bygone decade.
The set turns on and shows those witches and those horrific words: “C-ute Kiss me 愛してる”
Afterwards, in a shiny, seductive manner, we set the girls try to entice us. Bearing headphones, holding crystal apples, and swinging in
villainessvillainous chairs. Look at them, trying to make us kiss them while telling us they love us. It should be forbidden, what they’re doing.
Unfortunately, as they show their skin, our eyes focused on their shiny jackets and purple hot pants, we try our hardest not to fall to their temptation. However, as idols, they are masters at enchantment, sniffing their glass apples as if they’re a dwarvesworth of Snow Whites. It barely helps that they’re channeling a sister group’s lullaby game in their five-minute hexing of our eyes! Sadly…
Wait, it’s over? The torture is over? …What happened here?
- 02 –
Heroine ni Narou ka! aka Berryz (Gone) Gaga: Using a look that’s part One Room Disco, one part Poker Face, the little Workshop Crop of H!P Kids bring us this musing about heroines.
The Poker Faced Berryz sorta freaked me out to be honest (and I’m a Gaga fan— Oops, sorry, “Little Monster”). I don’t know why.
On another note, it was… The song’s concept speaks a lot for itself (even if you wouldn’t expect it, going by the cover art).
- 11 – Time stood still but the earth didn’t (though we wished it did): the Touhoku Earthquake and Tsunami happened (and let’s not get into the ensuing incident). This had repercussions on all aspects of Japanese life, including the music business. Many releases were cancelled or pushed back (among the casualties being the Strongest Generation’s debut single) and the tragedy even made Capsule change the name of their then-upcoming release. This also led to a massive outpouring of support for the Japanophile’s beloved country. (I even played “Anataboshi” to commemorate me donating on to the Red Cross on St. Patrick’s Day.)
- 30 –
Just weeks after making everyone gaga for them with poker faces, the Berryz released their seventh album: 7 Berryz Times.
- 06 –
Are we serious? Yes, I’m serious! Why so serious, ska? Why so serious? Maji Desu ka Ska! We were treated with immense behind the scenes footage into the making of this PV — culminating in the world premiere of the completed edition. Many have feared that having all of these “kids” would have a detrimental effect on the music (forgetting/not knowing that not all child newbies had child friendly songs). Many also tried to stir controversy over the title being an apparent ripoff of Majisuka Academy, due to the title. I’m not speaking on that matter.
What a nice song to get Japan’s spirits up after a major disaster! (Though they were still in the backburner in the public consciousness.)
Simultaneous to the Strongest Generation’s first single being released, the C-uties release a very wonderful sixth album: Chou WONDERFUL! 6.
- 27 –
(If you’re at work, I suggest hovering over some of the following links before you click them.)
Boo! Boo! Boo!
The S/miles are flakes! The S/miles are cheap flakes!
Throw ’em out! Boo, peeyew!
S/mileage boo at love and their frustrating subject in their next single, Koi ni Booing Buu! If anyone’s wondering about the
four differentpigs, it’s because it’s a play on words. The lyrics are a lot more serious than you’d expect, given the piggishness. On another note, the S/mileys (and idols in general) gained a new personal Western anthem for me.
Looking back at this now, the PV is not nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be (even with the silliness). Could it because of something in the future?
Of course, folks wanted something in the line of this. I betcha someone wants this to be the PV. Doesn’t that make you feel better?
- 08 – Just when you had gotten comfortable with Morning Musume as you knew it (read: accepting of the fact that Takahashi Ai was graduating and the ensuing change in leadership therein), we were hit with a news with the magnitude of an H-Bomb. It was wasn’t as dramatic as a graduation (if you view it that way), but it still meant the very foundation of Morning Musume would be changed forever: the 10th Generation auditions are coming soon. No longer would the Strongest Generation have the sparkly novelty of being the new blood (though said novelty had worn off at this point). We would welcome more new Musume into the fold, into the Project.
- 25 –
Summer’s in the air and the C-ute is giving us not a spark ring, but Momoiro Sparkling. For a sparkling PV, there’s a lot of bubbling here. I also noticed at certain scenes, the C-uties appeared to have a pinkish tinge.
Also, whoever said it was a good idea to have the girls look like a bunch of glitching spazzes should be– Now I’m craving carbonated pink lemonade/water and gumballs. Darnit C-ute.
- 08 –
The Berryz get out their guns and try to shoot love bullets into our hearts in Ai no Dangan. Are these girls working for Sister Claw? Why am I reminded of Cutie Honey?
Why are they holding hands of their hips, allowing them to make their intentions as grabbing posteriors? Did4Kids edit out their guns? After their Gaga phase, have they forgotten a little something from the song they paid tribute to?
Wait, that can’t be right! Er, motorbikes!
Anywho, this was obviously an attempt to
sex up“age up” the Berryz and give them a more “mature” image. (This is understandable, given their ages. Just recently, one of their core members graduated from university.)
Now, repeat after me… TETSUO~!
- 15 –
Ah, Only you. One reason I wanted to get to this year. This song has a lot of meaning to me as it’s a personal anthem of mine. It also helps with a project I’m doing due to its theme of unconditional love. Just look at it. You have no idea how much I wanted to show this to my fans and followers in their honor, just because. In fact, if I didn’t post this to my Facebook wall for Valentine’s Day, it’ll be a deed I’ll forever regret
until next year, when I’ll definitely remember.
- 29 –
A breezy song that would be right at home in Otsuka’s collection, Mano Erina brings us her latest (at the time) single: My Days for You. With a video showing vignettes of her at a playground, riding a bus, and taking snapshots around Japan… well, this is a lot for H!P standards, of course. Might be because of her different management. Next!
- 20 –
In lieu of last year’s summer treat, Buono take things easy with Natsu Dakara! What’s with H!P and breezy songs as of late? It’s a nice refresher with a slight 60’s flair, complete with a dreamy PV with them in a residence and associated garden… with white summer dresses (and denim as of the second verse). Now I’m reminded of the International Wota Summer Refreshment program
which I missed out on due to my hiatus.
- 03 –
Oh my! It appears that in my zeal to collect the material for this series and reviewing this in time, I neglected a certain something (or some things) regarding this phase in S/mileage history. Aside from possibly being the best single of them all, Uchoten LOVE will live forever in people’s hearts as it’s the final 4-nin single. Why? It was announced that Ogawa Saki would graduate from S/mileage, along with auditions being held to find new S/mileys. Not necessarily in that order, mind you.
- 10 –
What light through yonder window breaks?
It is east and ah, it is the sun.
Aa, Yo ga Akeru. The Berryz continue to try to prove their sexiness by taking us to their most intimate places. Ah, dawn is breaks as they try to navigate the waves of love as the nights in pink satin grow as long as their longing. However, dawn is a feeling and it’s a feeling that is traitorsome. Why must another day pass before their love returns. Dawn may come, but never comes the day for their love.
To the guttery ones among us: try not to pay attention to the bloomers, k?
Simultaneous to this, Buono released their first mini-album: partenza. Among the tracks is a b-side from their weedy single from February, the PV of which is shown above this paragraph. A nice, but low-key rocker (duh) of a track that sees our girls partake la dolce vita in the video. Heh, la dolce vita. How fitting.
- 07 –
Next stop on this tour is C-ute’s release, Sekaiichi HAPPY na Onna no Ko. You wouldn’t guess from the title that it’s not a cutesy mess. (Then again, as we know, not all of C-ute’s material live up to the group’s name.)
- 14 –
The Morning Musume funk it up in the name of love and peace and paradise in their final single for 2012, Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun da yo! Oops, I almost forgot: this one’s a double A-side with the more peppy Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai!. Coupled along with a certain special edition is the graduation song to our glorious leader
MegatronAi Takahashi. It has been fun ride during all these years and while I missed the opportunity to blog about your departure and properly give you a send off, I will always count you as a member close to my heart. (Seriously, I hear your voice at times when I listen to Government Hooker Swinecertain songs.) I will continue the wish you well on your future efforts, Takitty.
- 28 –
We now arrive at a rather strange time in S/mileage history: the auditions are done and the group’s first graduation was held. Now, in the appropriately named Tachiagirl, we see the new girls in action. Well, submembers. Yes, you read that right: submembers. Just before the new blood can call themselves full-fledged S/mileys, the agency declared them submembers and had them show how sturdy their downs are. Are the fluffy feathers just feeble or are they strong enough to truly withstand the rigors of idol life? (Nevermind the fact that two Eggs are among the interns, each having at least two years of Egginess under their belt.) Sure, that little initiation process involved the subbies “going up to people and asking them to take a picture of them holding a message up on a dry erase board, and then asking the person to upload the photo to Twitter or their blog” (source), a similar “smile campaign” the OG had to complete. We would end up losing a cadet, holding on to hope that we’d see her again, but all of the other “Wanna-S/mileys” made it in.
You just don’t realize that they’re actually members of the group judging by this release, seeing as how it’s dominated by the Old Boss. Nevermind the wackiness that made you question the sanity and sobriety of whoever came up with the PV’s concept. Are you sure this wasn’t conceived on drugs? Are the girls supposed to be cow-kidnapping aliens who crash-landed on Earth and are singing about how they’re going to get themselves back together?
- 29/30 – On the 29th, we welcomed the 10th Generation, the generation meant to bring reinvigorate the Japanese spirit: Iikubo Haruna, Ishida Ayumi, Satou Masaki and Kudou Haruka. The high from the added new blood would not last long for the day afterwards, Takahashi Ai graduated from Morning Musume. This signified the end of a long era for many fans.
- 12 –
Continuing from a trend seen last year, we see Morning Musume release a final album for the departing member: 12, Smart. Unlike the Fantasy, however, this album oddly gets released after the graduation. This, of course, means that most of the content is performed on tour with a changed lineup from the studio version (not that the fans care—part of the spectacle is seeing how the new lineup performs old material).
- 16 – On this day, it was announced that the Sub-S/mileys would become full-fledged members of the group. There was much elation over the fact that we had recovered from the departure of Sakitty and Fuuchan… only for the comedown to return with Maeda Yuuka announcing her graduation days later. Poor S/mileage. Within one year, the group lost three members. Could there be more on the horizon? We shall wait an see with bated breath whether more S/mileys jump the ship.
- 16 –
I had forgotten (as usual) in my glee that in 2011, we had received the mega-A-side of the era: Back in August, it was announced that all members of Mobekimasu (Morning Musume, Berryz Koubou, C-ute, Mano Erina, and S/mileage) were to release a single together called Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku. With H!P approaching 15 in a year of constant changes, this release came at an exciting time for all. To many seasoned fans (like myself), we were reminded of 2004’s H!P All-Stars single. (Of course, this was not lost on the fandom at large too). Unlike One for All and All for One, the girls didn’t introduce themselves in debut order (who’d be crazy enough to believe they’d do that?). Regardless, tis a fun song to listen to, even with the knowledge that the lineup’s going to change during the promotion/release period.
- 28 –
Please Miniskirt Postwoman! Deliver a dream, deliver a letter, deliver the hopes and dreams for the year ahead. It is the fitting song for the final single of Yuukarin, who would turn in her final letter as a S/miley on December 31. The video (which tickled my Magical Girl-loving fancy with the henshin at 00:46) features our ladies preparing to make their routes. (Now I’m thinking of ToQger and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Darnit….) This song could very well work for a Magical Girl shoujo anime, just by the sound and the lyrics. Just the theme of wanting to send out courage…. I also like the fact that the very last solo line was given to the graduating member, very much like Lullaby Game. Nice. Now I want apples and oranges, probably from its Christmasy feel (between the music and the presents).
Well, here we are. As 2011 came and went, the world was rocked. Now, tune in next time as the game changing continues on, so much that it’d might as well be apocalyptic!
Space Cowboy Magical Meteorites!