Gripping Onto Glory in a Pinch

September 9, 2019

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

This post is going to be a tad special as the circumstances leading to it is entirely by the power of the fans.

In January 2018, I announced the Momusu M3 Grand Prix, a dual tournament of members and singles dedicated to Morning Musume’s (and Hello! Project’s) 20th anniversary. (Given the festivities have been extended into 2019, it turns out my belated festivities are right on the dot.)

After months and months polls on Google Forms, Polldaddy/Crowdsignal, and (for the most part) Twitter, both tournaments had champions crowned by the year’s end.

For the Members Tournament, which concluded in late November, the champion was then-soon-to-be Hello! Project leader Fukumura Mizuki.

Actually, let’s be appropriate for the theme here…

That’s better!

For the Singles Tournament, which concluded a few weeks later in December, the winning single was 2012’s Help me!!.

Now, while it wasn’t the plan initially (the initial prize was on-blog “bragging rights”), I had planned on doing a special Morning Twilight on it (and pardon the small tangent)….

My output in 2018 was a tad weird, resulting in the worst analytics stats for the blog with some months potentially being the new lowest traffic month. (December ultimately finished with 53 views, behind October’s 55, September’s 56, and July’s 65.) Yeah, forgot to mention that in the year-end stat review (though let’s face it, it was probably for the best).

Personally, I partially attribute it to (aside from the aforementioned weird output on my end) external changes on the various platforms:

A screenshot of Fukumura Mizuki in the PV. Text: Guess Morning Musume (particularly Mizupon) was too much for Tumblr... Oh, just too much...
  • The announced shutdown of Google+, rendering (super-belated and already Sisyphean) efforts to build there useless. (At least the blog can begin to recover starting in March.)

…However, in addition to the aforementioned monkey wrenches, a more serious one appeared almost immediately after the Grand Prix concluded: Friesgate. As much as I had wanted to, I couldn’t review Help me!! and any other Hello! Project content until the business with Morning Musume Germany was settled.

As we all know, it has… and we have ourselves to thank. The efforts of the overseas fandom to bring the issue to the attention of UFP, TuneCore, and other authorities, spurred on by our Japanese counterparts who further helped these efforts…. Sure, the guy threatened to sue, but it’s the same with all fraudsters and thieves.

“I was doing you a favor! Why are you picking on me!?”

Sorry if I sound very cynical, but it’s the same song and dance I hear from art thieves whenever they’re on the loose via the grapevine. (I did mention that this really got to me not only as a devoted fan of J-idols, but as a content creator whose contacts on social media tend to be other artists and creatives, right?)

Anyway, to commemorate both the crowning of champions in the Momusu M3 Grand Prix, but also this victorious moment, I’ll be reviewing this. To quote the Singles Champion:

I’ll grip onto glory
When I’m in a pinch

Source: Project Hello

Without further ado, let’s dig into Morning Musume #52.

Oh yeah, circumstances (a long drought in posts in 2019, along with the fact the Tumblr post announcing the end of the aforementioned tournament repeatedly getting flagged (never mind another post involving the 9th Gen getting flagged, thanks to a certain blog reblogging it) also made this the “spotlight” post for the 2019 Ice Fairy Festival. (I had completely forgotten about that.)

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Top 10s for 2018

December 28, 2018

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

2018 is almost over and since the final regular post went up a few weeks ago, it’s high time to look back and celebrate. (We could use some good cheer, given recent events.)

Sorry I couldn’t get to it sooner. I’ve been a tad busy with trying to get Magi-Kat Creates 2.0 set up that I kinda lost track of time.

You know the deal: Top 5 is italicized and the Top 3 are in bold. I’ve also merged results that share identical results.

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Grand Prix and Anniversary Vote – The Results!

November 29, 2018

Updated December 8, 2018

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

Long time no see, eh?

…Yeah, I do realize it’s been a while. Between burnout/fatigue rearing their ugly heads, wavering feelings regarding Hello! Project as a whole messing with me (yet my sense of fandom’s been kept alive by the wonderful Discord communities I’ve joined, namely H!P Chat and H!P Fans …I really ought to join the H!P Wiki one… Been putting it off for what may be (in the end) silly reasons…), and… just life stuff.

However, there has been a constant– two constants that have anchored this particular blog in the midst of the chaos between the outgoing old and incoming new members: the Momusu M3 Grand Prix and the Anniversary Review Vote!

As such, we have some things to cover.

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Momusu M3 Grand Prix – 11/16 Update

November 16, 2018

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

As Morning Musume faithful are enjoying themselves the City That Never Sleeps (in the aftermath of a snowstorm — please stay safe, guys!), let’s take some time to take a gander at the current status of the Momusu M3 Grand Prix.

Shall we?

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Momusu M3 Grand Prix – 11/7 Update

November 7, 2018

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

MM66thsinglepromo2

It’s almost time for Musume faithful to head to Mexico. In the meantime, the Momusu M3 Grand Prix reaches one more stop on the road to the Final Round.

I was originally going to announce this past Friday (Tweet notwithstanding)…

…but I held off because I didn’t feel the mood was right. (After all, we were barely a day removed from Yanamin’s departure announcement and Mitsui Aika’s retirement was announced hours beforehand.) I then delayed it until today because of the fervor surrounding the US Midterm Elections and I felt it’d get lost in the noise.

Besides, the last thing you need to hear in a sea of “VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE LIKE LIVES DEPEND ON IT! VOTE LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!” is “Hey, my blog’s having a popularity contest of a tournament. Please pick your oshi in some fanpoll that will have zero bearing on your oshi’s standing in general idol life.”

So without further ado, let’s go over the results and the path ahead.

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Momusu M3 Grand Prix – Update 10/26

October 26, 2018

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

If you’ve been watching a little space called the M3 Grand Prix page, then you’d know that we’re approaching the home stretch regarding that event. Yeah… that little dual-tournament announced back in January is nearing its end. Can you believe it?

Which brings us to this point, which is the first “update” made on the main blog in who knows how long. What has happened since early January? Well, unless you want to dig through months of Tumblr posts, let’s dig into the current status of the Momusu M3 Grand Prix!

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Sgt. Pepper’s Wonderful Hearts Club Band

September 10, 2018

Good morning, good morning, good morning!

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

As part of Hello! Project’s 20th anniversary celebration (and M3’s 10th anniversary), I will take a look at various releases from the collective’s history.

This review is actually the final M3 10th Anniversary review (re-reviews of stuff covered on the old Vox blog), along with being a remake what may have been the final post on it ever: Morning Musume‘s Pepper Keibu. (Ah, it’s nice to have a little help from our friends, eh?)

As you may have gathered from the title, when I first reviewed this, I had gotten very into the Beatles the year before (I still like the band now) and the whole Wonderful Hearts/Elder Club thing was in full swing (and Momusu, being made up of mostly under-20s at this point, qualified for the former) so coming up with a title was fairly easy….

Of course, “Inspector Pepper’s Wonderful Hearts Club Band” doesn’t have the same ring to it, even if it’s far more accurate. Good luck fixing that hole!

With that in mind, let’s dig into Morning Musume #37. (Oh yeah, don’t forget about the Momusu M3 Grand Prix.)

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IC Grand Prix: ⑨

September 9, 2018

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

It’s that time of the year again: The Ice Fairy Festival, a celebration of Morning Musume’s ⑨th Generation (and totally not me just geeking out for Cirno Day, nosiree~)!

  • 2015 was the premiere event, having a general theme for the festivities. As such, the spotlight post, The Adventures of the Lovestruck Tomboyish Girls, gave a general overview.
  • 2016 was dedicated to celebrating the graduations of Sayashi Riho and Suzuki Kanon, along with the Pon-tastic leadership of Fukumura Mizuki and Ikuta Erina. To commemorate their powerful contributions, the spotlight post for that year was their generation’s pieces in the Powerpuff Musume ’16 project, Ice Fairypuffs: The Strongest Generation.
  • 2017 was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Morning Musume, which fell within the month. As such, the spotlight post (Frosty Reflections) was a more reflective piece about the 9th Gen’s place in Momusu history.

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Hello! Project (a milestone that has technically been celebrated already…), a unique occasion in J-idol history. Not even AKB48’s predecessors, Onyanko Club, survived that long (though it’s getting close — the 48s have already celebrated their 10th anniversary and while the general grip of idols is faltering a bit, there’s still a lot of juice in that tank so expect the 48s to stay a long while).

As a part of this, I’ve started a series of events that are winding down. As far as the (9)th Gen are concerned (since they’ve joined long after 2008), they’re involved in quite a lot of matches this time around as the Third Round has begun. (Of course, if you’ve been paying attention, this may not seem like much of a surprise.)

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Kath Loves News, Yeah Yeah Yeah!

September 6, 2018

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

Summer’s ending, students are back in class, and it’s time to reflect a bit on what’s going on.

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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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