Note: This will be a very YouTube-heavy post. While you can skip the vids and read the text, you might to allot some time for the vids to get the full effect. Also, due to the YouTube videos, this might cause some browser issues.
Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!
Today is a special day in the Touhou fandom: it’s 9/9, Cirno Day! It’s a day where we celebrate the Strongest Ice Fairy in Gensokyo.
What does this have to with M3 and J-pop idols? Well, if you’re new to this part of the Blogging Stratosphere, the short of it is that I named Cirno as the patron Touhou of Morning Musume’s 9th Generation. (This is also why the princess-like leader, her KY (see under Nicknames) deputy, the polarizing ace, and the Ensemble Darkhorse are all referred to as “Ice Fairies,” “Cirnos,” or “the Strongest Generation” on the blog. Regarding that last one, it barely helps that they made a strong impression from the get-go.)
It also barely helps that their debut song sounds similar to the UNL version of Cirno’s theme. (Unlike the “OMG they ripped off Majisuka Gakuen” camp, I view it as a major coincidence as ska is rather familiar territory in H!P. In fact, H!P Ska is among its strongest genres.)
As such, in observance of Cirno Day, this post is going to talk about H!P’s Ice Fairies. Fortunately, while they can be goofy, none of them are dim.
Allow me to take you back to 2011, 2010 even! Here is footage from their audition:
(Watching this made me remember the following:
- I both wanted Sayashi to get in and not get in, because she was good. Her raw talent and work ethic was something needed for Morning Musume going forward, but I correctly predicted that she will be pushed by the management and polarizing to the fanbase because of it. I even read a confession on Tumblr saying that her voice has suffered damage because of her time as an ace.
- I correctly predicted that Mogi would not get in and would be better as an Egg (as they were called that at the time). This (of course) made me mad when she “completed her training,” especially given the fate regarding her fellow reject (read below).
- I was miffed Otsuka Aina didn’t get in and was ecstatic that she became an Egg. This, of course, made it hurt even more that her time in Juice=Juice was cut short due to contractual disputes.
- My prediction for the 9th Gen was almost right on the money. I thought Otsuka would get in and I didn’t factor in a surprise addition at all, let alone Eggs. (This is from someone who has been in the fandom long enough to know Tsunku and UFA throw more curveballs at us that a baseball machine.) These days, I am happy for all the girls (saltiness regarding Mogi and Otsuka aside).
And the post-decision period:
If you want to see the aftermath (mainly behind-the-scenes footage of their first single, promo show, and concert) documented in as much detail as humanly possible (via Bijo Gaku), check out this playlist.
It all lead to this MV:
Ah yes, Maji Desu ka Ska! Originally scheduled for a March 23rd release, the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami necessitated it moving to April 6th. The single debuted at #5 and reportedly 41,029 units sold. What are my thoughts? Courtesy of the 2011 post in the Ping Pong Pinpoint: Precision Past Perspective rewind series, read below:
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.)
Now that you know their story…
Let’s get to know the girls!
Each of these snippets is accompanied with a video “introview” (introduction/interview) from their debut single. I even went through the trouble to count how many episodes of Hello! Station each girl has hosted/co-hosted. (You’d be amazed…)
Fukumura Mizuki had her start as a Hello Project Egg, joining alongside now-former KSS leader Kaneko Rie and future ANGERME member Takeuchi Akari in June 2008. After a stint as Mano Erina’s background dancer and as Shugo Chara Egg!’s 2nd Amulet Heart (after 3/4 of the original lineup went on to form 3/4 of OG S/mileage; her predecessor was Maeda Yuuka, by the way), Fukumura was called up from the Developmental League in 2011.
She became Morning Musume’s 9th leader in 2014, following the graduation of Michishige Sayumi. This was after becoming joint sub-leaders with Faith Girl Iikubo Haruna in May 2013.
Ikuta Erina is the eldest of the audition winners, where she gained infamy for being an “AKB wota,” to the point where her stoicness during photo shoots was mistaken for a desire to be among the 48s. (It was pointed out that Ikuta has had some modeling experience prior to becoming an Ice Fairy, so that might explain it.) Thankfully, this has gone down and people are more accepting of the fact that idols don’t see these boundaries and rivalries like the fans do.
She became known early on for her “KY” character. In 2014, she took Fukumura Mizuki’s place as joint sub-leader with Faith Girl Iikubo Haruna, due to the former’s promotion to leader.
Sayashi Riho is a standout among the audition winners. She also had the most H!P experience among the audition winners and the second most behind Fukumura, having participated in their Fashionable musical the year before.
Sayashi, like other aces, is polarizing and the topic of her worthiness is enough to spark a “conversation” on the matter. My feelings is that I like her, but I’m primarily ambivalent. I’m among those types who loves all of them and respects/admires their hard work. Sayashi Riho is no different. (As previously mentioned, I both wanted her to get in and didn’t, due to her potential. I… almost feel sorry for Rihoriho, due to her state.)
Kanon has certainly made an impression. She stood out to me with her goofy personality and charm. (It helps that she vocally reminded me of Kusumi Koharu, but far nicer. This was during the time I was burned.)
Suzuki quickly became a dear among the fanbase, particularly in the West. However, her “chubbiness” made her a butt of jokes among the Japanese fandom. (I put “chubbiness” in quotes because I never really noticed any weight changes. That is why the most recent fandom topic about her, mentioned in the following paragraph, left me confused.) This was also cited to be a source of “those weirdo Westerners'” preference for her.
Despite her sweetness, Kanon has been the center of two (really minor) controversies this year. One was the “infamous” switch for the spring PVs. (You can read my reaction here, but I must warn you that I was going off of secondhand sources so take what I day with a grain of salt). The other was her weight loss around the time of their summer release. (Like Rihoriho, I kinda feel sorry for Zukki for the fact that these kerfuffles are completely out of her control.)
Nine Singles In…
Here are some PVs from their ninth single as full-fledged Morning Girls, Brainstorming/Kimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai, released on April 17, 2013. (Unfortunately, this was Tanaka Reina’s graduation single.) Quoted mini-reviews come from the 2013 post in the Ping Pong Pinpoint: Precision Past Perspective series.
The first A-side is Brainstorming (which has the unfortunate distinction of having an unfortunate short version that was the stuff of jokes). There’s not much to say here. I do like the Girls form an “M” after every chorus.
Music-wise… remember when I said the “Wakuteka Take a chance” was the “Revenge of One Two Three”? (Rather, I said “Password is 0” is the revenge of “Take a chance.”) Well, “Brainstorming” is the
true“Revenge of Wakuteka.” Seriously. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, really…. Really….
The second A-side is
2000 People on the Dance FloorKimi Sae Ireba Nani mo Iranai. Once again, we see our Morning Girls in… a set. Their outfits is also reminiscent of Onna ni Sachi Are and Pyoko Pyoco Ultra, but less overdone. The choreography… pay attention to that, guys. It is a foreteller of things to come? What am I talking about? Just a wait a few months…
The most recent performance is during the spring tour, Morning Musume ’15 Concert Tour Haru ~GRADATION~. Since the DVD just came out (like “‘last week’ just came out”), there’s no high-quality footage of this on the Internet (as of this writing). (On that note, buy the DVD! Support H!P and all that.)
So you’ll have to make do this performance from Hello! Project Yaon Premium Live ~Soto Fest~ in May 2013. (I apologize for the outro of the video, but it was the best I could find with both songs.):
Just so you know, the 9th Gen are on their 15th single as of July 2015.
How far have they come?
Much. Zukki always was a favorite and was given a center role in a single with “Oh my wish!” With Mizuki’s promotion to leader, we have entered the Strongest Era. Coupled with Riho being in the spotlight (and I’m being neutral about this), Ikuta having visible exposure, and Zukki’s dark horse status ensured that this is an era to remember.
As of today, they would have been members for 1711 days, today being their 1712th. That 4 years, 8 months, 7 days.
The Party Continues!
The celebration of the Ice Fairies is continuing on over on the Tumblr blog. Feel free to take a look! (It’ll only last until Thursday at 8:00AM Eastern time. Then again, to a “true” ⑨th Gen fan, it definitely won’t end then.)
On an unrelated note, if you’re knowledgeable/nostalgic about the 80’s (particularly in J-idol terms), feel free to take a look at this little discussion from the Tumblr blog.
Until next time! Stay frosty. 😉