Well having ranked my favourite H!P members I felt I should at least talk about my other main idol interest.
Sakura Gakuin are a great group. They have some really entertaining members and many damn catchy singles to their name. Plus once a year they release an album that is generally top quality from start to finish. In fact if I had to choose my top ten jpop albums I’d put at least three of their four albums in that top ten. That despite all the H!P albums that have been released over the years.
I guess the main gimmick with Sakura Gakuin is that they are a school-aged group where members leave once they reach a certain age. It means the groups’ image is sweet and happy with cute uniforms and lots of energy but it also means that just as the members are reaching an age where they are improving and maybe gaining popularity they leave. That’s a shame really. However the agency looks after graduated members well. After all original leader Muto Ayami is now a solo singer, Babymetal are continuing as an “after school activity” with Nakamoto Suzuka still at the helm, Iida Raura seems to be part of a duo now and Horiuchi Marina and Sato Hinata are doing voice work and have released a single with two other voice actors. Plus there are several ex-members now modelling.
The other gimmick is that the group has many sub-units all with a theme that is supposed to relate to some kind of school activity. Although I’m not sure how many schools have a metal music club! These units are a brilliant idea. They give the different members a chance to shine in units of smaller numbers, they give the opportunity for lots of different music styles and they give the opportunity for different visual styles too. Of these units Babymetal are of course the best known. They have become something far beyond what could ever have been expected. However other groups should not be overlooked. There have been some great units although most from previous albums have now ceased activities due to graduations. Even so the baton twirling Twinklestars, the Science Club, the, err…sleepy unit sleepiece and the tennis club have all had great songs. The tennis club is still going and will be joined by some new units for their upcoming fifth album. I’m particularly looking forward to the wrestling club. It sounds like a bizarre idea for a unit but one of the members, Taguchi Hana, is a huge wrestling fan and I think it’s great they can incorporate members own tastes like that.
Babymetal. World Domination underway!
Science Club Kagaku Kyumei Kiko Logica.
I can’t enthuse enough over how many great tracks Sakura Gakuin have had. Singles like Wonderful Journey, My Graduation Toss and Ganbare are well worth checking out but so are so many album tracks and spin-off sub-unit singles. For album tracks I’d suggest tracking down Friends, Message, Sleep Wonder, Hana Hana plus many sub-unit tracks. The Science Club’s Welcome to My Computer and Delta for starters and anything from sleepiece. The Science Club’s single Science Girl▽Silence Boy is a personal favourite too as is Twinklestars Please Please Please. And that’s without even mentioning global superstars Babymetal. Okay they are maybe not superstars (yet) but they are certainly global. They started off as a Sakura Gakuin sub-unit and have now travelled America supporting Lady Gaga. Surreal!
Another great thing about Sakura Gakuin is that their albums come with bonus DVDs that as well as including PVs also come with various other things such as their annual school test (thing of that Momusu idiot girl test), group quizzes, interviews and odd humorous mini-dramas. It’s a good way of getting to know the members and they are usually very entertaining to watch. They are also always fun to watch on tv shows. Their two-part appearance on Idoling a couple of years ago was a particular highlight. There are often subtitled versions of these appearances available on Youtube and they are worth checking out.
Having talked about the group I’d also like to mention my favourite members past and present. Since they say you shouldn’t live in the past I’ll start with the present. So my favourite members…
1. Ooga Saki.
When I first noticed Saki she’d only just joined. It was the PV to Suzuka’s last single My Graduation Toss and I have to say first impressions weren’t favourable. Saki gave me the impression of a more mental Mitsui Aika type. Horrified wasn’t the word! However having watched her a few times after that (especially on Idoling) my opinion changed massively. She’s just incredibly sweet, very energetic and positive, very funny, adorably cute and very very very spaztastic. In the end disliking her would feel a bit like bullying someone for being disabled. Okay that sounds like the weirdest thing to say about someone I really like. Seriously though she is very much a Marmite type. I’m sure to many people she’d be a bit too all over the place but for me the energy, positivity and sweetness just made her slowly grow to be my mumber one. She has all the happiness, energy and humour you could ever want from an idol.
2. Taguchi Hana
Hana has always been a favourite of mine ever since she joined. She has the stereotypical “Morningtime’s perfect daughter” look (previous perfect daughter: Nakajima Saki) plus she always seems good to watch live. Her mannerisms are very likeable and she’s often got humour in her performances. There’s one live song where she sings half of it lying down and then there’s her great love of wrestling which gets brought into their member rundown song Mezase! Super Lady (no she isn’t wrestling other members! Just speaking into a pretend microphone as though in the ring). On top of all that she has a big smile. ^^
3. Mizuno Yui.
One third of Babymetal and cute in personality and looks in that way only Japanese idols can be. Moa is the sweet looking one in Babymetal next to Yui who seems more mischevious looking but also somehow more grown up. Moa is just someone who captures the attention and seems like fun to watch. Another great purveyor of happiness! She also seems to fit perfectly alongside…
4. Kikuchi Moa.
Yui and Moa seem inseparable. They are always in units together. In fact I don’t think they have ever been split up for any unit yet. Babymetal, Twinklestars, the Cooking Club, it’s MoaYui all the way.
Moa gives off the impression of being the more polished performer while at the same time having a smile that makes you think she’s just put salt in the sugar bowl. She’s also that most wonderful of things: An idol that loves idols. Especially Suzuki Airi. She has even spoken of buying C-ute photobooks in the past. What’s not to like? Sakura Gakuin’s current leader has great taste!
As for past members Horiuchi Marina is the first that comes to mind.
Marina is up there with my favourite idols of all time from any group. Funny with a very weird mind (I’d like to visit MarinaWorld. I think it’d be a bit like a Japanese version of The Mighty Boosh), very expressive in her hand and body movements (and by “expressive” I mean “hyper”), pretty and with a lovely personality. Marina is awesome!
The other past member who stands out is Babymetal’s frontmetalidol Nakamoto Suzuka.
A really good singer with a very likeable personality and cute too. A strong performer and absolutely perfect for Babymetal. Like many of the members she’s been performing for a long time already. There’s even a clip of her on stage at some performing school many years ago alongside Momusu’s Sayashi Riho. These idols work bloody hard to develop their talent and they often do it from a really young age. Suzuka deserves the success she’s currently enjoying.
So that’s Sakura Gakuin. A group that also deserves success. Babymetal are riding the wave right now. I’d like Sakura Gakuin to have at least a bit of the surfboard too. They are a great group plus Amuse (their agency) really does nurture their talent and ensures it’s not limited just to their Sakura Gakuin days. An idol group that has great pop songs, interesting sub-units, entertaining members and where the members are actually being nurtured to go onto other things beyond the group? What”s not to like?