Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!
It was announced last week during their
first birthday one-year anniversary event that Country Girls have received their second generation. (To put this in perspective with their successors, this would make them the sixth generation.)
The idea of a changing lineup would seem a bit strange, until you realize that it’s nothing new in Country Musume.
The blurb on the Hello! Project Wiki[a]’s front page puts it best:
In its early active years, the original Country Musume’s lineup was frequently changing. The resurrected Country Girls continues this tradition on the anniversary of their announcement by adding two new members, both from Hello Pro Kenshuusei.
Meet the New Girls
Funaki Musubu was one of the seven finalists in the first Morning Musume 12th gen audition. Though there were no winners, all finalists joined Kenshuusei in late 2013, including fellow Country Girls member Yamaki Risa. Being born May 2002, she becomes the new youngest member of Hello! Project.
Ah, I remember hearing about her when she joined the Kenshuusei. I always have an affection for the rejects of H!P. (After all, its mothership act began with rejects.) As the 9th Generation was the first generation I had followed via audition footage, I was just as fascinated with Otsuka Aina and Mogi Minami as I was with the winners. (Funny I say that as one announced her graduation not too long ago.) Therefore, it always makes me smile to see reject-turned-Kenshuusei get their big break, regardless of group. (This might be why I have a supportive agape-like feeling towards the KSS.)
Needless to say, when I see a “Mirai Shoujo” finalist get her due, I’m elated. This is the feeling I have about Musubu. (That and I like her name. It’s quite unique!)
Yanagawa Nanami is one of the most recent additions to Kenshuusei, joining in April of this year. She is also 13, having been born in January 2002.
According to her page on the wiki, Yanagawa considered Funaki her rival and hoped to debut with her. Well, I guess dreams do come true then! Like many Kenshuusei, Yanagawa was a Kenshuusei who failed a Morning Musume audition. (It’s unknown which one she failed.) Yanagawas addition is remarkable in that she was one of the quickest call-ups among the trainees, having joined this past April.
What I said about the KSS and audition rejects applies here. While Nanami’s debut came rather quick (though there have been others who spent mere months in developmental), I’ll be keeping an eye on her. I’m curious about her arc. Besides, there’s a reason she was promoted… right?
…that Momoko will be leaving soon. Back when the group was first announced, one point that was emphasized was that Momoko’s membership was going to be temporary; “during 2~3 years to make them grow together and become adult, following the expectations of Mai and to pursue the history of the group.” Country Girls have already cracked over another one so Momoko’s within the window to take her leave.
Never mind the fact that she is one of a few Berryz still active in the entertainment business, along with the only one still in H!P. Sudou Maasa is involved with the acting troupe, Shimizu Saki and Tokunaga Chinami have been promoted to staff, Kumai Yurina’s in university, Sugaya Risako’s on hiatus from showbiz, and Natsuyaki Miyabi’s trying to get back into it with some new recruits. Her attempts have not been fruitful so far, but keep your fingers crossed!
On another note, Momoko’s presence also continues the tradition of “lending” other H!P members into the group. (Ishikawa Rika, Fujimoto Miki, and Konno Asami were others.)
Ishikawa Rika was lent in 2001, her years as a lent member being very profitable. Their “debut,” Hajimete no Happy Birthday!, was both their first charting single and their highest seller. (Future supervisor Satoda Mai would join Country Musume during the “ni Ishikawa Rika (Morning Musume)” era.)
The next borrowed members were Fujimoto Miki and Konno Asami, who took Ishikawa’s place in 2003. During this “ni Konno to Fujimoto” era, their final (for about 11 years) and lowest-selling single was released: “Shining Itoshiki Anata.”
The span between the first single with Ishikawa and the first single with Fujimoto and Konno are 2 years, 3 months, 6 days. The span between the first and last single with the latter is 1 year, 11 days. (The span between the first and last single with Ishikawa is 1 year, 6 months, 26 days.) Needless to say, the window is just right.
Regardless, let’s enjoy Momoko (and the rest of the girls) while we still have them around, hmm? What’s the point of—you get the picture.
With this new addition, Country Musume– er, Country Girls begin a new arc in their story. Is Country Musume– Girls. Country Girls set to follow in the example of their predecessor (and sister groups Morning Musume and ANGERME), having an ever-changing lineup. (Then again, having a stable lineup is a rarity these days.)
Regardless of what happens, I wish them the best. To quote a toku song: “Life goes on. Anything goes.”
Before the breathin’ air is gone
Before the sun is just a bright spot in the nighttime
Out where the rivers like to run
I stand alone and take back somethin’ worth rememberin’
Go ahead, got to keep it real!