Extra Strong Kisses of Hardcore Love

June 14, 2018

KissKissKiss-la

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

As part of Hello! Project’s 20th anniversary celebration, I will take a look at various releases from the collective’s history.

As announced via a video announcement on Tumblr and Facebook (which was also seen in 20-second Stories snippets on Instagram and Facebook the day before), I decided to make reviews of the two Q2 ties and postponed the planned Ping Pong Pinpoint digest for a later date (probably one of the July slots).

This week, we’ll be tackling Buono!‘s Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!, which was tied with Morning Musume‘s Resonant Blue for the Q2 Anniversary Review Vote Win:

  1. Morning Musume – Resonant Blue (2 – 50%)
  2. Buono! – Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! (2 – 50%)
  3. C-ute – Namida no Iro (0 – 0%)
  4. Fujimoto Miki – Okitegami (0 – 0%)
  5. Matsuura Aya – Kizuna (0 – 0%)
  6. High-King – C/C (Cinderella/Complex) (0 – 0%)
  7. SHIPS – TOKYO FRIEND☆SHIPS (0 – 0%)
  8. Mano Erina – Manopiano (0 – 0%)

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In the midst of Morning Musume’s angst period, a new wave was sweeping over H!P: the rise of the Hello! Project Kids. One example of this is the formation of Buono!, formed with a Cutie (future soloist sensation Suzuki Airi) and two Berryz (future PINK CRES. fronter Natsuyaki Miyabi and future Country Girls Playing Manager-turned-kindergarten teacher Tsugunaga Momoko). As those who know… well, know, this was when Hello! Project was in the midst of doing anime tie-ins (which is why Koharu was so prominently featured in MM as her Kirarin Revolution activities gave her immense exposure). At this point, we were knee-deep in the other big anime tie-in of H!P’s late 2000s: Shugo Chara.

Some of you may remember about three months ago when I covered the second ending theme, Ren’ai♥Rider. (You should know because you guys voted for it!) This time, we’ll be taking a step forward into history and dig into Buono! #3.

💋💋💋

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They’re Blue, Ba Da Dee Ba Da Di

June 7, 2018

ResonantBluePromo

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

As part of Hello! Project’s 20th anniversary celebration, I will take a look at various releases from the collective’s history. This one technically is also one of five meant to make up for the six weeks I went without a proper post in the first quarter, due to being busy with the Production Red Diary (among other factors).

As announced via a video announcement on Tumblr and Facebook (which was also seen in 20-second Stories snippets on Instagram and Facebook the day before), I decided to make reviews of the two Q2 ties and postponed the planned Ping Pong Pinpoint digest for a later date (probably one of the July slots).

ResonantBlue-lb

This week, we’ll be tackling Morning Musume‘s Resonant Blue. As this is in the late 2000s, we’re in the midst of the “Emo Musume” period where Momusu sang about practically nothing but “I’M SO LONELYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY”! and “Everyone has ANGST!” (Given what this blog was originally about, it took everything in my power not to make a “Crawling” joke, something I took great delight in as I loathed that song with every fiber of my existence. Besides, I have something better in mind come the summer….)

…Anyway, Morning Musume’s output was marked by a more “mature” note with more introspective (and at times, angry) lyrics. One can trace one aspect of this to the success of singles like Kanashimi Twilight (which “had angrier lyrics than Shabondama”) and Onna ni Sachi Are (which was infamous for its line distribution, which can be attributed to the sudden departure of Fujimoto Miki a little more than a month before the single’s release). This was also a time when the 48s were really gaining steam and a lot of the idol names we know were just bubbling. (Momoiro Clover was formed a year after this single was released, eventually gaining and losing a member before turning into Z Fighters we know them as today… until Ariyasu Momoka left earlier this year.)

Point is Hello! Project was in a state of… abyss. Sales were rock bottom or close to it (as you can see from this spreadsheet used to seed the M3 Momusu Grand Prix) and public recognition was at a similar level. This also marked the duration of Morning Musume’s most stable lineup, which would be broken in 2009 with the graduation of the eternally controversial Kusumi Koharu.

If all of this sounds familiar (and given the end results of two unrelated polls, it should to a good chunk of you), then you may know that all of this is the textbook definition of what became known as the Platinum Era. Twas a time when Morning Musume were building up their skillset to compete with the juggernaut of the 48s (which has quite the pedigree), along with other idols and cultural factors. (Kpop and the overall Hallyu Wave were also making waves around this point. I can’t believe I forgot.)

This was also a time marked by Hello! Project’s overall efforts to expand into Asian markets, as shown by the addition of Chinese members Junjun and Linlin to Morning Musume, the formation of Taiwanese groups Ice Creamusume and Da Xiao Jie, and the sole H!P Korea member in the form of its sole Kenshuusei member. (As we are all painfully aware of, H!P’s competitors learned from their mistakes and missteps.)

Now that we’ve talked a bit of history, let’s dig into the third single of this brave new frontier and one of the winning singles of the Q2 Anniversary Review Vote, Morning Musume #36: Resonant Blue. Da ba dee da ba di.

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Cabbage Patch FEELS

May 31, 2018

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Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

As part of Hello! Project’s 20th anniversary celebration, I will take a look at various releases from the collective’s history. This one technically is also one of five meant to make up for the six weeks I went without a proper post in the first quarter, due to being busy with the Production Red Diary (among other factors).

In this post, we will take a look at the representative for 2013: Peaberry’s Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru Hen~.

Like with Seishun no Serenade, I technically gave this a mini-review on a previous post (namely Frou-Frou Sato, which talked about the Satoyama-Satoumi Movement).

Before we do anything, we must give time to the “original” version of this piece:

Starting with a classically-minded music box and a shot out our Peaberries standing on a country field, we go into the woodsy wonderland as the song officially begins. May I just go out on the whim at how the main hook of the song hits me? The voices of the th Gen Ace and the leader of S/mileage blend amazingly well (to the surprise of haters of one and/or both girls). The mellowness of the song is an odd, but refreshing surprise. After all, it’s an introspective, pensive piece:

When you sow seeds and pour in your love
They‘ll take in the rain
And if you love them again, they’ll definitely bear fruit
You have to be grateful for every life
Now, let’s wash our hands and eat dinner

Source: Project Hello
On another note, can someone tell me what piece the song is referencing?

And now for the bit about the song we’re actually talking about:

We’ve come now to the major debut of Peaberry. Instead of a music box, we begin with a piano.
Instead of two girls on a road, we see flowers and a satoyama home.

The music is far more subdued during the verses, giving more emphasis on the vocals (which has more harmonization in certain parts).

We also see the oft-mentioned grandmother (played here by Hosokawa Kayoko¹), who sings a verse of her own.

The song is essentially the “theme song” of the SATOYAMA SATOUMI Movement, performed during every major event’s opening ceremony until the Spring 2017 event. As you might’ve guessed, after Sayashi Riho left the Morning Nest and took a break from showbiz in 2015, Tsubaki Factory took up the mantle for the song, resulting in this:

(If you want to know my thoughts on the Camellia version (which isn’t that different from the Peaberry one), check out the post Reporting on Having Camellia Blooms to Yourself.)

The grandmother is played by Hosokawa Kayoko, wife of former prime minister Hosokawa Morihiro and the chairwoman of a non-profit organization the Movement often collaborated with.

With that in mind… let’s dig into Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru Hen~.

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Declarative Nonsense from the GAL-o

May 28, 2018

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

Welcome back to #MemeMusicMonday, where we make up the rules and the hashtags don’t matter. Last week, we made objects out of pens, apples, and pineapples with Pikotaro. (If you want to see what’s ahead, look no further.)

I’ve thought about making a post about this way back in October 2017, but I wanted a reason to justify it. (#MemeMay was partially a way to justify it. In fact, every post in #MemeMay began as April Fools joke ideas (especially considering the schedule doesn’t allow for them)… and this was the entire reason for all of it! Heck, even while producing the other posts, this song was ingrained in my head and incessantly playing.)

I actually found out about this song through the (W)VGCW Universe of all things. (Yes, I somehow avoided that meme in 2011.) In fact, I dedicate this particular post to everyone there. After all, you’re the entire reason all of this exists! THANKS GUYS

I wish I could say more about the group, but… there’s no much there. Their Myspace page is dead (as with a good portion of it, thanks to the site’s redesign) and there’s no much to go on save for their iTunes page, a blog with a scarce amount of entries that may or may not be official (the YouTube description says it’s official and one post goes into detail about the band and the Keisatsu album), and a sampler of their album on Soundcloud (every other post on their page relates to said album).

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Smile for a Summer Night

May 24, 2018

SummerNightTown-r

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

As part of Hello! Project’s 20th anniversary celebration, I will take a look at various releases from the collective’s history.

In this post, we will take a look at the representative for 1998: Morning Musume’s Summer Night Town.

Kath, didn’t you cover Morning Musume enough this month?

Yes. Like I said in the last review, that’s what the Random Picker chose…. The Picker really loves Morning Musume.

Granted, 1998 was a time in which Hello! Project was essentially just Heike Michiyo and Momusu. Sure, Nakazawa Yuko also began her solo career (and all its enka-flavored glory) this year and Tanpopo was formed, but again… it was literally just Michiyo & the ASAYAN loser troupe! (As we all know, Nakazawa was the leader of Momusu and Tanpopo was said group’s first sub-unit. I think you can forgive me for 1998’s rep being Momusu-related. Sure, I could’ve pulled the executive card, but I wanted to be fair.)

With that in mind… let’s dig into Summer Night Town.

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Picking, Poking And Peeking at PPAP

May 21, 2018

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

Welcome back to #MemeMusicMonday, where we make up the rules and the hashtags don’t matter. Last week, we took a trip to the early 2000s to watch a bunch of leaf-wearing guys make us laugh and be cheerful. (If you want to see what’s ahead, look no further.)

Out of all of the memes talked about so far, this is actually the most recent.

To compare, this came out in 2016. Heck, I didn’t even know this was a thing until Pikotaro was interviewed on Newsroom Tokyo. (This marks the second time I discovered blogging material from NRT.) This singer-songwriter from Chiba captured the hearts and minds of countless people on the Internet with his quirky “PPAP (Pen Pineapple Apple Pen).”

To quickly summarize the KnowYourMeme article: Ever since the original video‘s release in August 2016, it spread slowly but quickly (it had gotten over 7 million views and 4,000 comments in one month alone). It truly spread like wildfire around Twitter and a video sharing service, garnering parodies and homages within the month. By September’s end, major new outlets (namely CNN and BBC) were talking about it, boosting Pikotaro’s tune’s reach. It further went into the stratosphere when Justin Bieber gave it a shoutout to his Twitter followers.

As Pikotaro himself put it…

The fantasy of expressing love & peace through Pen, Apple, and Pineapple… Now bringing you the long-awaited “Long” ver. of PPAP!! It’s not just simply ‘long’… the world will now witness this unbeliebale moment… It’s SHOWTIME!!

You heard the man…

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A Melon-Flavored Carelessly Whispered Chance of LOVE

May 17, 2018

ChanceofLOVE-r

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

As part of Hello! Project’s 20th anniversary celebration, I will take a look at various releases from the collective’s history.

In this post, we will take a look at the representative for 2003: Melon Kinenbi’s Chance of LOVE.

Kath, isn’t 2003 the year you became a fan?!

Yes.

Then why aren’t you reviewing Go Girl ~ Koi no Victory?!

Because that’s what the Random Picker chose…. H!P released a lot of stuff back in the day (and even in the more recent years up to now). Besides, after last week, do you really want me to cover another Morning Musume track? It’s supposed to be a celebration of Hello! Project’s anniversary and the Mothership had their time in the limelight last year.

But Kath, this is the 20th anniversary of their major debut!

…Let’s dig into Melon Kinenbi.

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A Leafy Explosion of YATTA!

May 14, 2018

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Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

Welcome back to #MemeMusicMonday, where we make up the rules and the hashtags don’t matter. Last week, we tackled a serious offering in Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. (If you want to see what’s ahead, look no further.)

Born a sketch on the comedy show Warau Inu no Bouken (or Silly Go Lucky), Happaitai is a group made up of owarai personalities. To be more specific, it is made up of leader Nanbara Kiyotaka (the “Nanchan” of the duo Ucchan Nanchan) and members of the owarai combis Bibiru (Oki Jun and Ouchi Noboru*) and Neptune (Nagura Jun, Harada Taizou, and Horiuchi Ken).

*When the group reunited for an appearance on Jimmy Kemmel Live! in March 2003, Ouchi was replaced by Dacho-Club’s Ueshima Ryuuhei as he had retired from the entertainment industry at that point.

Released on April 18, 2001, the single was the group’s sole CD release, which did rather well (gaining #6 on the Oricon charts if Japanese Wikipedia is to be believed).

With that in mind, let’s dig into Happatai’s YATTA! and see what’s so easy and happy-go-lucky about it.

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CONGRATULATIONS on Your Happy Summer Wedding!

May 10, 2018

HappySummerWedding-r

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

As part of Hello! Project’s 20th anniversary celebration, I will take a look at various releases from the collective’s history.

In this post, we will take a look at the representative for 2000: Morning Musume’s Happy Summer Wedding. (This is rather fitting, given the recent news regarding last week’s topic.)

This one has a bit of a personal significance to me. While Go Girl ~ Koi no Victory was my “gateway” song into the H!P fandom (for a flimsy reason) and said song that marked the beginning of my days as H!P fan, I had actually tried to get into H!P about a year earlier using this song. (Oh, and The☆Peace too, but I didn’t even listen to that one until I became a bona fide fan.)

It’s weird admitting this, especially since they’re among my favorite songs now and they are considered classics. Plus, this was the debut of the 4th Gen, half of whom are my all-time favorite Momusu members and went on to form my all-time favorite H!P unit. Heck, the entire 4th Gen rocked.

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PON This WAY WAY WAY

May 7, 2018

PonPonPon_by_Kyary_Pamyu_Pamyu_Cover

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

In addition to other reviews (especially as Hello! Project becomes somewhat quiet on the newsfront), I’m going to attempt something different this month: #MemeMay. What is #MemeMay? Every Monday in May (the “sweeps month” for Q2), I’m going to take a look at a piece of J-pop associated with memes. #MemeMonday and #NewMusicMonday are already a thing so… every Monday in May is #MemeMusicMonday.

What better way to begin the celebrate the collision of J-pop and memes with what is possibly the most relevant one of the four I picked (aka the certified confirmed ones I could find on Know Your Meme. While I’m familiar with other J-pop memes listed there, I went with the confirmed stuff just to be safe): Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

This fashion blogger-turned-pop phenom is sure to ring some bells for some.

I remember when the video came out and made quite a stir. Since I was already a fan of Yasutaka Nakata’s work in Capsule and Perfume, his distinctive fingerprint being on Kyary’s material was a great gateway in. What solidified it for me was the surreal visuals and Kyary’s own unique style, definitely reflecting the unique scene she came from.

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