If you listen to the HaroWota at all, you probably heard the screams over Kobushi Factory. Starting with their indie single, “Nen ni wa Nen / Survivor”, there’s been a collective gasp at the tightness and performance level of the group. For the many who follow the Kenshuusei (Hello! Project Trainees), Kobushi Factory makes good on the promise of quality girls coming up through the system. The debut single, “Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan / Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta / Nen niwa Nen (Neniri Ver.)” charted an Oricon Weekly no. 3 with 34,639 units sold. Using an antiquated metric of sales, the single performed better than five Morning Musume singles (in the Platinum Era).
“Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan” starts with some muscular guitar riffs and rhythms that immediately ring Japanese. In the PV, Fujii Rio helps this impression by banging the taiko under the watchful eye and ear of a sumo. From there on out, the sound, and the members of Kobushi Factory, explode out of the classroom. Hirose Ayaka, Fujii Rio, Nomura Minami, Ogawa Rena, Hamaura Ayano, Taguchi Natsumi, Wada Sakurako, and Inoue Rei play a game of pass the baton / tag that leads the girls through their school campus.
As the girls run through the campus hallways, labs, cafeterias, and library, we get a refreshing look at this youngest set of Hello! Project. Thinking through the “Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan” promotional video, I like to remember that the girls went through some serious trials and immense mental obstacles to arrive at their debut. Sure, the PV asks the girls to play tag and pass the baton. We see Fujii Rio, Nomura Minami, and Taguchi Natsumi abandon their group mates when cornered by the baton wielding Inoue Rei, Hirose Ayaka, and Hamaura Ayano. Doesn’t this ring a bit too true? While this baton may not be an omen or an evil talisman, when the girls are cornered they needed to think about self-preservation above even their group mates. This mirrors what these girls must have done in order to make their dreams of debuting in Hello! Project reality. Let’s not even talk about how the sumo acts like a surrogate wota: impeding some girls and aiding different ones beyond logical thinking.
The lyrics, while they can be read as a generic cheer song, also read like a manifesto on survival in the Kenshuusei system. “Once is easy, but the second time is hard. Nothing is permanent in life”, “To win consistently, study hard steadily, and keep it up”, and “Even if it rains, even if spears drop, never forget the first resolution” might be spray painted on the walls of the Hello! Project rehearsal studios. “Humble but bold, very chic” could be the mission statement written on all the H!P memos!
Just as easily, “Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan” should be mandatory viewing and lessons for the scores of H!P trainees to come. The release serves as an example of how their work as trainees can pay dividends, produce stunning results, and even outsell other longtime favorite idol groups. Read the writings on the wall: be humble but bold, very chic.
You can buy “Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan / Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta / Nen niwa Nen (Neniri Ver.)” at CD Japan
Regular Edition A