Do you hear that? It’s the sound of Tsunku growing up a little. In a Young Town interiew Tsunku implies that he sees all of the H!P members as daughters and couldn’t think of them in “that way”. He also notes that the girls’ parents have entrusted their daughters to him implying that Tsunku is in loco parentis. What does this have to do with Hello! Station? Nothing.
Hagiwara Mai takes the chair this week fresh from the announcement of her new photobook. Seeing Mai grow from a young girl in the public eye certainly gives Tsunku’s comments some weight. If you were around to see MaiMai as a munchkin with gigantic sunglasses, then you know it’s difficult to see her as anything more than the beautiful young woman into which she has grown.
Naturally we begin with footage of C-ute’s recent trip to Paris. This Paris trip is probably the most significant thing Hello! Project accomplished this summer. From the audience reaction in the concert, the excitement and energy that C-ute brought to France bleeds through the screen. The crowd is seriously crazy. Listening to the girls introduce themselves in French is very cute! And, this is no half-baked concert performance. The girls brought multiple outfits to thrill their audience and perform a good number of their singles and album tracks spanning their entire career. I just came back from Anime Expo in Los Angeles, and watching this footage makes me very jealous of the fans lucky enough to see C-ute in France.
The next piece of video we get is the dance shot of C-ute’s “Kanashiki Amefuri“. I know what you are thinking … “Finally we get a good look at all of the girls’ outfits.” I’m put off when they give one girl pants (MaiMai in this case) when the others are wearing skirts. I know the strategy breaks up the visual monotony, but I still want Mai in a skirt. Watching this version really pushes this A-side past “Adam to Eve no Dilemma” for me. I mentioned how much I liked the 70’s groove of the instrumental break. The dance seems more energetic and is filled with retro looking poses (I’m not a dance authority).
Berryz Kobo gives us some live footage from a recent live (I think I heard Mai say Yokohama…). Watching this footage after the C-ute footage really emphasizes how Berryz seem to have lost their spark. It’s not a fair comparison since C-ute’s concert was a “once-in-a-lifetime” thing. And I don’t mean to imply that Berryz are not as good. I really believe that Berryz, as a group, lost their identity a while ago and have yet to find it. They’re not the group of plucky little girls anymore- they can’t fall back on that identity anymore. They need to discover their new role in a younger Hello! Project soon. For me, I was glad to hear “Rival“, “Tomodachi wa Tomodachi Nanda“, “Maji Bomber“, and “Loving You Too Much“.
Our next segment documents Sudo Maasa’s drastic haircut. As long as I’ve known her, Maasa has had long hair. That first cut must have been a shocking experience, and the panic shows through her face just a bit. If you haven’t seen her new hair, it’s quite the new look.She will certainly save on shampoo!
Hello! Station 23 closes with a solo vocal performance by Oda Sakura singing “Seishun Collection“. YES! The solo performances are back!! It bothers me that Sakura is not the most popular member right now, and she has a limited time to gain fans before she becomes “that back girl who can sing” (see Lin Lin). She breezes through this performance easily. Sakura even gives us a cheery bit of the choreography. I think Sakura is growing up cutely, but really needs a vehicle to put her personality out there. Oh, and BTW 12th gen is coming … she better do something quick.