I’m not sure why but I’ve been in a reflective mood recently. Maybe it’s because of a “landmark” birthday the other week or something. Anyway I’ve been thinking of my idol fandom quite a bit. Reminiscing about the good old days. My first discovery of idols through Momusu PVs on Youtube (Renai Revolution 21 and Kanashimi Twilight. Still two of my favourite singles). Eagerly catching up on all the old songs from both Momusu but also solo stuff from Nacchi and Nakazawa Yuko as well as the shuffle groups. My earliest idol loves (Konkon and Ai-chan were quite quickly at the forefront alongside the much overlooked by far too many Iida Kaori). Discovering that the kids groups weren’t actually that childish (Forever Love. Superb song!) Seeing idols in the flesh for the first time and even getting to ask them a question (Hangry&Angry in Camden Town innit geezer with the Q&A session at the end. My participation thanks to ptom at the old Hello! Blog). Then just a few weeks later seeing Momusu in Paris. Actually seeing Ai-chan and Junjun and Reina and lol of all lols Mitsui! A great experience.
Through the last seven and a half years lots of idols have come and gone. Lots of groups too. My tastes have changed at times as well. Some idols not having the staying power and others remaining favourites to this day. Some graduating far too soon and Mitsui just stuck around didn’t she? I mean she’s sill not officially gone even now although I actually suspect she’s in dog heaven but Tsunku doesn’t want to upset her fan.
Anywhoo being in a reflective mind I decided I would do a top ten H!P idols of all time post and also a top ten singles type post. For idols it’s all of H!P but for songs it’s one for Momusu, one for C-ute and one for assorted others. Also the songs are in no particular order. Just my ten favourites. It’s too hard choosing a number one for them! So up first the songs…
Renai Revolution 21. The first song I heard and one of the best.
The Peace! Still love it even after all this time.
Iroppoi Jirettai. I have a weakness for the Spanish rhythm. I really like the sexy breathy vocals at the beginning too.
Egao Yes Nude. Gotta love a bit of classic disco.
Kanashimi Twilight. The second song I heard and also one of the best. Plus great PV. ^^
Kimagure Princess. After a few somewhat lacklustre singles this was a great return to form.
Maji Desu ka Ska! The ninth gen’s debut and a great ska tune.
Kono Chikyū no Heiwa o Honki de Negatterun Da yo! / Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai! They kind of belong together as a ten minute blast of bliss. Two songs but I’m cheating and counting them as one.
One Two Three. Proof that idols can count. At least to three anyway. Also just a damn catchy song.
Wakuteka Take a Chance. Like One Two Three an other blast of autotuning but again a cracking single. Both singles were the start of a resurrection I think. The sales certainly seem to indicate that.
Massara Blue Jeans. Because “MASSARA BLUE JEEEEEEEEEANS!” What a start to their careers!
Namida no Iro. Love that Spanish style rhythm. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing I guess.
Forever Love. The first C-ute song I heard and probably just about my favourite.
Dance De Bakoon! Unless this is my favourite Another song I fell for instantly. Plus it’s brilliant live. “JA JA JA. JA JA JA JA JAAAA”.
Momoiro Sparkling. Is this overlooked? I think sadly it is. It’s also one of the last happy poppy youthful singles before they went cool.
Sekaiichi Happy na Onna no Ko. Another brilliant song. Also great live like Dance de Bakoon.
Crazy Kanzen na Otona. C-ute were well on the way to a more mature style by the time of this single but there’s no denying it’s a style that works well.
Adam to Eve no Dilemma. The more mature style and the increased sales continue with another damn tuneful release.
Tokai no Hitorigurashi. Very much a typical C-ute style song by this stage but that’s not a criticism. The quality of their singles has always been damn good and their more recent direction hits another high here.
I Miss You. Brilliant. Something very different that shows C-ute and indeed H!P in general can still be refreshing and surprising. A beautiful construction. Also it continued C-ute’s run of great PVs.
Now ten from other groups.
Piriri to Yukou. I don’t pay Berryzz that many compliments but I’ve always loved this song. And weren’t they all so cute back then? Even Momoko. Why did they replace her with that weird Momochi girl?
Cha Cha Sing. Love this. Such a fun single. So catchy!
Koi no Hana. A favourite song from Natsumi Abe. Perfection!
C\C (Cinderella\Complex). When this was released it was a real breath of fresh air. It still is.
Jaja Uma Paradise. Fantastic song from a group that deserved more success.
Nanni mo Iwazu ni I Love You. The success didn’t come so Biyuden said goodbye with this but wasn’t it just a great way to go?
Sekai wa Summer Party. Mano Erina’s sound of summer. Such a happy song. You’d have to have a pretty black heart to disagree.
Genkimono de Ikō! Genki is about right!
Yattarouze. Let us not forget that before Mano Erina the solo artist there was Mano Erina the Egg backing up Rika, Yossie, Konkon and Satoda Mai. This was my favourite Ongaku Gatas single.
Oheso no Kuni Kara Konnichiwa. Because even the squeaky-voiced Kenshusei are great. Chipmunks can be cute and their songs can be so full of energy and happiness!
Now for the main course. My beloved idols…
Just missing out on a top ten finish is Okada Yui. I was a fan of Rika too and had her photobooks at one stage but Yui was my favourite in Biyuden. She had that perfect mix of sexiness and humour. Sort of like a bustier Sayumi. She deserves a mention because I still miss her quite frankly. Biyuden were great and I was really disappointed when they finished and when Yui and Miyosi Erika moved on.
10. Kamei Eri.
I think my liking for Eri came along far too late in many ways. I didn’t appreciate her enough when she was actually around. Then again there were many idols in Momusu at the time who I liked a lot and who I still like more. Also some who I liked more then but a little less now like Reina. Even so in many ways Eri with her quiet humour and weirdness mixed with stunning looks should have been just my type. And indeed she was. I was just too preoccupied to notice it at the time. Damn! Still better late than never.
9. Mano Erina
Mano was one of the first new idols to come along in H!P after I became a fan. She was also something very different musically. Anyone who remembers Manopiano being released will probably also remember the fact that for many people it was a real wtf moment. Not for me though. I was won over instantly. Her follow up Lucky Aura cemented my liking for her music and when Sekai wa Summer Party was released sometime later and her debut album that was me sold hook line and sinker. Her solo albums were excellent and she herself was cute, fun and very likeable. I still really miss her releasing music. She had some great singles and her albums were always of a good standard. Something I can’t always say for some H!P groups. To this day I can’t really say Momusu have released a truly great album. Just albums with good singles, one or two good album tracks and some crap filler. Mano had three really good albums. H!P could do with another soloist really.
8. Iida Kaori.
One of the idols I first liked when looking back through Momusu’s history. I remember being really taken by Kaori when watching old Utaban episodes, Hello! Morning episodes and even Ayaka Surprise English Lesson episodes. Kaori was truly beautiful and has an air of classiness to her. An idol who was very different from those that followed. The fact she was in the group still when the likes of Kago Ai and Tsuji Nozomi joined somehow amuses me to this day. What a bizarre mismatch. Kaori had a slightly spacey personality but always seemed feminine and mature. Her solo albums reflected that maturity and to this day I still listen to her first album. Perfect mellow Sunday afternoon music.
7. Yajima Maimi
Several years after Momusu in Paris came C-ute. Twice. Both times I got to attend handshakes. Twice each year. All four times Maimi was amazingly beautiful, happy and welcoming. Unlike with some idols I expected no less. I have to say when I met Hangry&Angry I was expecting Rika to maybe be a bit iffy but I was surprised how polite and happy she seemed. With Maimi I’d have expected no less than awesomeness and awesomeness is what I got. Maimi is just damn cool. Slightly forgetful apparently yet a perfect cool big sister for H!P. A perfect leader. To us fans she seems really happy, hard-working, athletic and so full of life. A shining star. Yet she also doesn’t seem distant at all. She seems like the kind of person who, if she wasn’t an idol and was just some woman living nearby, she’d be great to hang out with. So instantly likeable and with such a positive aura around her. Sheer perfection.
6. Michishige Sayumi
Sayu’s graduation meant the last of “my” Momusu line-up had gone. That just leaves five of C-ute left standing since I became a fan of Hello! Project seven and a half years ago. Still they have all had a good innings that’s for sure. Sayu being the last Momusu member standing was no bad thing for me as I have always found her a great mix of sexiness and humour. I was taken with her from the very start. Indeed if memory serves me right hers was the first name I asked of. When I saw the Kanashimi Twilight PV I was struck by her immediately. Others may have risen above her subsequently but she was still someone who was always up there for me. Beauty and humour are a great mix. A knowing sexiness just added to her allure. Add to that the fact she seemed to love being an idol and seemed to love the other idols (ahem) and what you end up with is someone with such a uniquely beautiful mix of heart, beauty, humour and sexuality that we’ll never see another idol quite like her!
5. Maeda Yuuka
I said Maeda YUUKA!
Yes well anyway sometimes an idol comes along that just has something undefinable that captures your attention. An idol who takes your gaze away from most others when she’s performing or even just when she’s sharing a tv screen with them. Yuuka was one such idol. She was the first Egg I ever really liked. There have been a few since but it was Yuuka more than any other that made me actually pay attention to the trainees in the first place. Back before even High-King little Quit-chan grabbed my heart and then later my wallet. Even now I can’t really explain her appeal. Her cute looks and voice? Maybe. The fact I’m not even sure what it is only adds to the enjoyment though. Whatever the reason even to this day my heart does a huge YAY when I see her in an old S/mileage pv or some other clip. All the old feelings come rushing back. Yuuka is the kind of idol I feel gleeful over. That life-affirming rush of energy and happiness. Any idol that can have that affect on someone is something special. An idol that can still do it years after graduating even more so. It’s been so long already yet I still miss her in Angrysmilegerms. The one thing I never figured out though is why I didn’t buy her second photobook. I still want it!
4. Konno Asami
Group pic posted as A. Fifth gen were the best gen and B. That’s probably one of my favourite concert outfits although I don”t know why! As is her claret and blue outfit in the preceeding pic actually. Oh and here is a solo pic in the outfit…
“Bambi?”Ah Konkon. She was like an anime character made flesh. That is a super-intelligent anime character made flesh. Take a huge dose of cuteness, mix in the energy of a snail and add in an intelligent mind and you end up with a beautiful concoction called Konkon. Someone totally unique and totally mesmerising. She was one of my first idol loves. Indeed the first solo member item I ever bought (if not the first idol item of all. I can’t quite remember if I’d already ordered some CDs and a DVD at that point) was Konkon’s Alo-Hello. The DVD is in my living room as I write this and it’s one I would never sell. The old Alo-Hello’s were often great and Konkon’s probably stands out most of all for me. Admittedly it’s partly because it was the first I ever saw but even so I couldn’t have chosen a better one to watch first. I’m really glad that she is now doing presenting work. It’s good that she is continuing in the entertainment industry in some form having already been to university. She always seems to have had her head screwed on well. Also when one of your favourite idols moves on it’s always nice to be able to carry on seeing them. She was pretty much my first idol and so it’s kind of fitting that even now she still has a place in my idol-loving heart. Also I need to mention Ongaku Gatas’ Yattarouze PV. Konnkon perfection!
Chubby cheeked idols are the best idols. It was true of Konkon and it was true of Junyum. Junjun used to really exaggerate the idol persona. So much so that at times it became an almost grotesque parody. Yet it never got tiring or boring (unlike with someone else I could mention who’s nickname rhymes with moomotchi). It was always really funny and somehow also kind of sexy. This was an idol with a big personality. Competitive of spirit, strong of mind and with a sense of humour that went from lesbian undertoned flirting to cute girl idol persona over-exaggeration. Personally I found her absolutely dropdead beautiful and completely mesmerising. Hilarious and gorgeous. Plus let’s not forget here was a young woman who went to a foreign country not speaking a word of the language and a little while later was standing on stage performing alongside Japanese-born idols. That took a strong mind, dedication and lots of hard work. Not only that but whenever Momusu appeared on tv shows she’d grab her chance to shine every time. She was always a riot on them. Junjun might not be to everyone’s taste but frankly not many other idols come closer to mine and that’s why she’s so high up. If I could choose one idol to bring back even if just for one tv appearance or live performance it’d be Junjun!
2. Nakajima Saki
My Nacky. ♥ When I first came across C-ute I wanted to adopt her. She was the first in what is still just a short line of possible adoptees (with the latest being Hamaura Ayano). After that I wanted her as a maid. Now? Well Now I just admire and respect this beautiful and talented young idol. She went from being a shy awkward but very cute young girl and has grown to be a slightly less shy and very beautiful young womfish. She has also become a great dancer and her voice, while not the best, has also improved in leaps and bounds. Frankly I am proud of her in that way idol fans can be of their favourites. She has worked hard for ten years and has grown and improved. I guess my liking though comes from this feeling that in her personality she is just my type of person. I’ve written many times before on the subject so I won’t again in detail now but as someone who was a shy young person who could barely leave his bedroom I have always been impressed with Nacky’s ability to do what she does. Being an idol fan the age of the idol and the age of the fan isn’t important. What’s important is the thoughts and feelings. She may be a lot younger than me but I still look towards her and admire her hard work and her determination. If she was my daughter I’d be incredibly proud of her for all her efforts these past years. Of all the idols who were around when I got into the fandom there is now only C-ute. I’m lucky that one of my favourites is a member then. 🙂 I am so lucky and happy C-ute are still continuing and I’m sure I’ll continue to support Nacky until her inevitable graduation and marriage to a comedian.
For some reason on my laptop there were a few Nacky PV screencaps so I’m dumping them here. Sort of like a quick recap of Nacky through the years…
Little Nacky there. Aww!
1. Takahashi Ai.
Who else? Who else could possibly be my number one? When a Goddess has walked amongst us what possible other choice is there? Ai-chan is, to put it frankly, my idea of perfection in an entertainer. Or at least as close to perfection as us human beings can ever be. Some people said she was boring. I just saw a beautiful heart merged with beautiful looks, a beautiful voice and a really manly sounding “URRGHHHHHH” when she didn’t like something. ^^ Ai-chan just has this amazing aura around her. You get this strong impression of a beautiful soul. To know Ai-chan is to want to hug her. Something I’ve seen many people do over the years. One lucky fan in Paris even got a hug from her. Ai-chan is someone I could never be like but I can always aspire to have even a smidgeon of her heart and that in itself makes me a better person by about 100%. When she performs she takes my gaze. When she’s in a room with others she takes my gaze. She’s beauty through and through and I was lucky to be able to support her as an idol until her graduation and marriage to a comedian (seriously is that written into their contracts? “Upon graduating you must marry a comedian”?) Of course she’s still active in musicals and in other appearances and so I still support her even now. It’s great that I still get to see tv appearances sometimes and that she is still a member of M-Line and so still releases goods and has fan club appearances. Lucky me! 🙂 Of all the idols I have watched since becoming a fan Ai-chan has stood out the most and she has given me so much happiness. Meeting her in Paris is probably my favourite idol memory of all. I’m not sure anything could really beat it. I like all the idols in this list but Lovely is head and shoulders above them all. I really doubt anyone will ever come along who could challenge her. She was idol perfection and is still entertainer perfection! ♥
And that’s it. My favourite Hello! Project idols from seven and a half years of fandom plus some favourite singles. But my fandom continues and there will always be more idols coming along and trying to break into this list. So here’s to the future while giving thanks to the past. Idols are great. Long live idols! Long love happy entertainment!