H!Ppy Anniversary

2017 is the 20th anniversary of Morning Musume and Hello! Project. Yes Momusu is 20 this year. It’s older than most of the current members. It’s also my personal tenth anniversary of being a fan of Momusu and H!P. Ten years seems really weird. How has that much time gone by? I remember being shown the PVs for Renai Revolution 21, Kanashimi Twilight and a few others on Youtube and thinking this group is somehow really striking. Renai Revolution 21 in particular hooked itself in my head very quickly and ensured I went back to Youtube the next day to watch it some more. Within about a month I was purchasing the just released tenth anniversary double DVD PV collection quickly followed by the triple disc singles CD and DVD set. The PV collection was much-watched and I have to admit that recently it’s found itself being played a lot again. Ah nostalgia. Wait how has it become nostalgia already? Ten years? Huh?

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This is ten years old this year? WTF?

In the last ten years I became a big fan of Momusu and many of it’s members. I’ve seen Hangry&Angry live in Camden quickly followed by Momusu live in Paris in an event I found incredible. I could never have expected to have seen any of these groups in Europe. It just wasn’t something that seemed to happen. I also met my wife in Paris and we have both been back to see C-ute perform there twice. I had become a huge C-ute fan in the meantime and it’s fair to say they are my favourite group now. I’ve had so much entertainment through Hello! Project. Singles, albums, concert DVDs, films the members have done (hey stop judging. a couple of the horror ones were good. Ousama Game and Gomennasai were a lot of fun). Then there’s been musicals, so many tv appearances helpfully subbed by the many different subbing groups, solo DVDs like the excellent Alo-Hello range which they really need to revive. Plus DVD Magazines, photobooks, so much merchandise and above all else so many great feelings. The happiness and positivity these idols produce not to mention the humour is something very pure and unique. So many great idols giving so many fans all around the world so much entertainment and joy. Hello! Project is a great company. They have produced so much fun entertainment in the last 20 years and seem to really look after the idols well.

So as we enter their 20th year I am watching some old PVs but also looking forward to what is to come. C-ute may be disbanding soon but Momusu are still strong, Kobushi Factory are about as joyful as you can get without taking banned substances and Country Girls have Ozeki Mai. So there’s a bright future on the horizon. So I’d like to say thank you for all the entertainment of the past and here’s to another 20 years!

Now for some picspam. I feel I should post some pics of the idols I have found the most interesting, inspiring and entertaining in my ten years as a fan. As it was Momusu that brought me here I’ll be focusing on their members here but of course the other groups have and have had so many wonderful idols too. This is more about saying thank you to the group that started it all for me.

So let’s start at the beginning…

Nakazawa Yuko

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The first leader. Beautiful, strong and funny. “Funny? Funny how? Funny haha? You lookin’ at me?” Err…also scary. A big presence though and very much the grandmother of H!P (and she’s old enough to actually be the grandmother of some of the younger Kenshuusei already). She still cares about H!p too which is lovely to see.

Iida Kaori

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This former leader was one of my first big favourites. Like the other early members she seems to belong to another time but unlike the other early members she also seems to belong to another world. She was amusing though and also beautiful. Oh and I don’t care if nobody else agrees but her first solo album was a great laid-back Sunday afternoon listen. I still have a big liking and respect for her.

Abe Natsumi

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Nacchi was the star of the first gen to the general public and it’s easy to understand why. I bought her albums during the early days of my fandom and she had some good releases. She’s got her own kind of charm. She’s also got longevity. The picture above was from a photobook released only a year ago. Nacchi played a big part in Momusu’s early success and deserves to still be in the industry now. She is a star.

Yaguchi Mari

 

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The smallest, cutest and most immediately likeable member. She seems to have recovered from her little…hiccup of a few years ago which is nice. She left a big impression behind for such a tiny person. xD Yaguchi was a great idol. She gave off feelings of warmth, was lively and funny and was a strong personality too.

Ishikawa Rika

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Rika had the HNNNGGGGGG factor alright. She also had the very funny and charming Charmy character too. Then she had that whole hating the fans character that you felt was more believable. I remember going to meet her at a signing session in Camden and I felt apprehensive that maybe I wouldn’t like her when I met her but actually she was lovely. I thought Yossie would be the more friendly one, the one more up for signing sessions but if anything it seemed to be the other way around. Rika is also one of the most beautiful looking women H!P has ever had. I bought a lot of her photobooks back in the day and had a blue glowstick at the Hangry&Angry gig. Go Rika!

Takahashi Ai

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In my first year as a fan I caught up with a lot and spent a lot of time figuring out who was who and what the different idols were like. Ai-chan became my favourite idol and to this day she still is. She has everything, a great singing voice, a beautiful personality so full of warmth and so caring, plus she is beautiful looking. Add in shit fashion sense and you have the full pack…okay maybe she’s not perfect but then who is? If Ai-chan isn’t then the answer is nobody because nobody else will ever be as close as her.

Konno Asami

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You had me at “Bambi”. It took one word and I was smitten. Konkon is perhaps my second favourite idol ever. Add super intelligence to super cuteness and a little shyness and you have someone really unique. One of the first solo merchandise items I ever bought was Konno’s Love-Hello DVD. It was the start of a long road for me. A long and winding…TSUNKU! Get out of my blog with your Beatles references. Watching Konno’s DVD even without understanding what she was saying was a really happy and relaxing experience for me. It transported me to another realm. I could easily have been a walrus or living in a yellow…TSUNKU! That guy. Sheesh. But yes the early days of my fandom were a time of mind-opening new experiences. Konkon was THE idol that first made me realise that there was more than just music to enjoy here. There were really interesting personalities to support too. I quickly followed up the DVD with Ongaku Gatas’ Yattarouze limited edition single. A journey to a great place had well and truly started. Thank you Konkon! I’d have watched her eight days a week if I could. TSUNKU! If you don’t stop this you’ll end up going nowhere man. You need help. Now get back to where you once belonged.

Kamei Eri

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I always thought Eri’s personality was perfect for me. Yet there were so many other members I liked that I just didn’t have the time to spend supporting her too. Then she left. Then I realised I’m an idiot. Make time in future! Eri was awesome. So funny and sweet and charming and she’s a bloody amazing hide and seek player. How many years has it been? Longest game ever surely? Please come back one day. I mean if you want to and it’d make you happy. Even if it’s just appearing in another member’s blog. Pleeeeease?

Michishige Sayumi

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During my first year as a Momusu fan the line-up had Ai-chan and Junjun and Reina. It also had Sayu. Poor Eri was cruelly overlooked for far too long. But then again I mean come on…Sayu! I noticed her in the Kanashimi Twilight PV and she quickly became one of my favourites and it’s testament to her charm, her heart, her beauty and her killer sense of humour that ten years later she still is. And unlike Eri she is coming back. SAYUUUUUUUUU! Sayu is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen idol or otherwise. And with a personality that stands out in so many positive ways she really is someone special.

Tanaka Reina

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This is the first time I’ve spoken about Reina in ages. That’s weird as I always really liked her. Yet since she left Momusu I’ve paid her virtually no attention whatsoever. I can only apologise and hope that’s enough. But if I’m found with my throat slit ear to ear or at the bottom of the river wearing cement slippers you know who to blame. Damn wonky yankii hoodlum. Reina was wonderful though. Sort of like a more delinquent more modern Nakazawa Yuko. She looks stunning too. Her looks and personality leave a lasting impression as does the horse’s head in my bed. Please stop.

Mitsui Aika

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Oops sorry…

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Look I know I skitted a lot. I mean really a LOT but I never hated her. Initially I really liked her and there are some blog posts in the early days showing that. I actually do think she’s a little angel in so many ways. Sadly I also came to think that she wasn’t that good as an idol in Momusu. She really was a Scrappy Doo type of fit for them. It’s a shame but she really was an annoying puppy. A gurning annoying puppy. And I like puppies usually. Yet she is also a beautiful, sweet personality. If she’d been in Berryz Kobo she’d have fitted in better…although she has a beautiful and sweet personality. But I can’t do this post without mentioning her as she was nevertheless a big part of my fandom in the early days. She is an adorable person but not an adorable idol. She’s easier to take and more likeable as H!P’s roving reporter. Roving. Rover. Woof. DAMN. Sorry. I genuinely really like her as a person though.

JunJun

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Criticise her and I’ll cut you. YOU HEAR ME. The sexiest idol Momusu ever had. Funny, beautiful, wonderful and sadly under-appreciated. I don’t care though as she’s my Junjun. I appreciate her. She was awesome.  She was beautiful. She was brilliant at sending up the “idol persona”. She could out Michishige Michishige sometimes and do it with a piss-taking attitude that just about fell the right side of parody most of the time. Sometimes though it really was just parody. I remember Linlin telling her once to stop walking a particular way as it was too much. Junjun was really just taking the piss and I loved it. She had a great approach to the whole idol thing. The line between reality and fiction was so blurred sometimes. Nobody else was ever quite like her.

Ishida Ayumi

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And so we are up to the present day. Later this year it’ll be twenty years since Momusu were formed and ten years since I became a fan and Momusu still appeals. Ishida Ayumi is every bit as beautiful, funny and charming as any other idol. Sadly it is harder these days to see that as quickly. I remember when I became a fan there was Haromoni@ and people were complaining that it was no Hello! Morning. So I watched some Hello! Mornings and I agreed. Then it ended and we got Yorosen. I was happy to see other groups appear and it helped make me a fan of C-ute but I still felt it was no Haromoni@. Then it ended and we got Hello! Pro Time. Ah it was no Yorosen. Hello! Station? Well it’s nice for PVs and we are spoilt now with subtitled PVs. Such a great gesture from Up-Front to the overseas fans. Even so Hello! Station is no Hello! Pro Time. Solo DVDs  are no Alo or Love-Hellos either. Slow-motion gazing is nice to have on in the background but it tells you nothing about the idol other than that she looks good in a bikini. There is no Utaban anymore. There’s not even Music Station anymore. There seem to be less opportunities for H!P idols to actually get their personalities across. So it takes a bit of effort and sometimes it takes a lot of time for the idol’s appeal to drip in. it’s almost by osmosis sometimes. So with Ayumi it took quite a while and then I realised…my god that shark is awesome. The Daiishi feeling is a real thing and it’s the perfect idol-related hit of happiness. Ayumi is awesome. I just wish she had more chances to show that. Frankly she’s my current Momusu number one and I’d gladly sacrifice myself to her if she really needed a meal.

Iikubo Haruna

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Honey is another tenth gen that I admire a great deal. She appealed to me quicker than Ayumi but it still took work to actually get a handle on her. I like her geeky, fannish side a lot. She has posted pics on her blog of manga books and of various CDs she has bought including a Shokotan one once. Liking Shokotan is a sign of good taste. Honey is also very fashionable and very pretty. You could see her having been a model if she hadn’t become an idol. She’s a happy, likeable and fun girl and somehow she suits being with Ayumi a lot. They make a great partnership. She also has her first photobook coming out soon. I’ll be looking forward to seeing it.

Kudo Haruka

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Tenth gen made up for what it lacked in Masaki by having three really good members to counter-balance her. Kudo stands out a lot and not just because he’s in an all-girl group. How could you not like Kudo? She’s fantastic. If I had a daughter and she was like Kudo I’d be massively proud. She’s strong, independent, individualistic and damn beautiful. You kind of want to hug her and shout “GO KUDO”.

Haga Akane

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The 12th gen joined in 2014. They are just starting to make an impression on me. Like I said it’s hard these days. Yet Momusu produce great singles still and the members are as good as ever. It just takes more effort now as there’s less subtitled tv appearances and less chance to get a handle on the members. So this is very much about the future. Akane is becoming my favourite 12th gen. She’s lovely and funny and so sweet. And the fandom continues onwards into my personal second decade of fandom and H!P’s third decade in existence. The future is bright. The past is too. Momusu is a glorious ship. Onwards ship, to the future!

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