Morning Musume ’15 – “Sukatto My Heart” [PV]

I don’t know if just the Hello! Project fandom that does this, but the subject of cheaply made promotional videos seems fascinate. I’m personally from the camp where spendthrift videos are welcome and the biggest sin is a distracting PV or (worse) a boring PV. Simplicity is a virtue, and “Sukatto My Heart” remembers this in the best way.

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Morning Musume ’15 – “Oh My Wish!” [PV]

Before you get anything accomplished with this song, you need to scream out loud “Damn! This is Suzuki Kanon and Kudo Haruka’s song!”

The lead track from Morning Musume 59th single immediately hits with Zukki on the first scene. This is Suzuki Kanon after her weight loss campaign putting herself out there, and H!P staff seem happy to oblige. Now, I’m not a dieting blog, and I really never minded Zukki playing the chubby character. But, the pathos is real. Naturally, I support any positive health decisions the girls make, this one included. As for her talents, Suzuki Kanon’s voice hung in the corner of the closet for a long time as a well-known secret weapon. Without enough opportunity to receive showcase, her vocals just hung there wasted. I guess her new body convinced the upstairs gentlemen that Morning Musume ’15 won’t get tagged as a “chubby girl idol group”
with Kanon out in the front.

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Morning Musume ’15 “Yuugure wa Ameagari” [PV]

Morning Musume ’15 rounds out their April 15, 2015 triple A-side release with the Tsunku composition “Yuugure wa Ameagari”. Like the bittersweet “Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe“, the grandmaster of Hello! Project fills this song with equal parts sorrow and hope, rain and sun, death and rebirth.

Starting with a solo piano.

The trees, they grow so high

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Morning Musume ’15 “Seishun Kozo ga Naiteiru” [PV]

Morning Musume ’15 “Seishun Kozou ga Naiteiru” [PV]

A tough as nails supporter cheers you on toward your goals. It’s a fight, it’s a battle, and the rewards are unspoken and perhaps uncertain. The new Morning Musume ’15 PV certainly gives an impression of a pugilistic bombardment. It’s an uphill battle to get to … an adolescent boy’s crush? Oh, no. Certainly, you can read whatever rewards you like at the end of your struggle, regardless of what the lyrics tell you.

PonPon welcomes you to the Kyuukie era Morning Musume.

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Zukki and Karin, and Where It Matters

The following is an expanded comment I left at the Jicchan website concerning the treatment of Suzuki Kanon in the “Hello! Station Version” of the latest Morning Musume ’15 singles “”Seishun Kozo ga Naiteiru” and “Yuugure wa Ameagari”. This thread translated Japanese reactions to Western reactions to the PVs. It was an ugly affair that exposed many preconceptions and prejudices held by the Japanese people. It read like mudslinging across language barriers by two groups devoted to the same fandom.

As you read the comments, I think we all need to remember that the Japanese people are just that: people. They may have different prejudices and misguided notions as the average Westerner (myself included), but those prejudices exist nonetheless. In short, Japan is not a magical land where you can watch anime 24/7 and walk around shamelessly with your dakimakura while 12 inch mobile phone charms dangle magically at the end of your iPhone. Whatever you saw in Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s Pon Pon Pon PV, people don’t actually fart rainbows.

I say all this because I want to diffuse a dangerous “Us vs. Them” mentality that seems to be building. Necessarily, those of us who do not live in Japan cannot engage in idol music the same way as people living in Japan. It’s reality. Face it. This doesn’t make your reality any better or worse than the reality of Japanese wota. It’s just different. Differences in cultural experiences also means that the traits most valued in Japan are different than the traits valued overseas. No one is really “right”. Much of our preferences are nurtured by years of cultural immersion, which differs from person to person and from locale to locale. Of course Western fans have different tastes than Japanese fans!

I’ll note that I’m more of a Karin fan than a Kanon fan. I don’t have anything negative to say about Kanon- it’s just preference.

I understand Kanon fans being upset at her lack of time in the PV; I understand their disillusionment when faced with the solo shots of Karin. I really get it. I’m an Ikuta Erina fan.

I think we all need to understand that we are talking about a business venture. Like it or not, Karin is much, much more popular than Kanon where it counts- in the pocketbook and in Japan. When presented with an opportunity to push Karin to a wider audience, UF/H!P would be stupid not to capitalize. Along those same lines, they are wasting an opportunity to promote the future of Hello! Project if Karin isn’t given ample screen time and close-up shots. Putting Karin in a PV and not giving her close-ups is practically leaving money on the table. So, in my mind this is not a case of management slapping Zukki in the face; it’s an instance of management capitalizing on an opportunity gifted through unfortunate circumstance. It’s not personal. It’s business.

And, exactly who are management hurting with their promotion of Karin? We already know they think very little of foreign support and fandom. Even if we buy a CD Single or two (or a dozen) from a legal overseas vendor, our purchases will not count on the Oricon charts. Sure, they’re happy to take foreign money, but it won’t affect anything where it counts (Japan).

Are we worried about Kanon? I’m worried about Kanon, too. But, also remember that aside from being talented, she is extremely lucky to have a place in a group like Morning Musume. After spending any amount of time in the fandom, you will see many extremely qualified girls passed up in their audition for the group for seemingly no reason. Kanon knows how lucky she is. She also knows her place in the group. I believe enough in Kanon to think that she has the wisdom to leave the group if the cons ever outweighed the pros.

[UPDATE 2015.04.01: @realskoban adds a piece of the puzzle that I left out. It’s an excellent bit of editorial from an experienced hand. Please read at

Morning Musume ’15 – “Ima Koko Kara” [PV]

The Morning Musume X Anime crossover you were clamoring for finally arrived. Morning Musume ’15’s first release of the year, and 58th release overall, is the triple A-side “Seishun Kozo ga Naiteiru / Yuugure wa Ameagari / Ima Koko Kara”. As part of the triple A-side, “Ima Koko Kara” will be used in the latest Pretty Cure movie, “Pretty Cure All Stars: Haru no Carnival”. I think providing closing credits/insert song to a well-established anime franchise can only bring great things to the group. Wisely, Pretty Cure appeals to young girls (so I’m told), which could bring a windfall of new girl fans to the group. That said, I am squarely a Morning Musume fan, so I find the addition of Pretty Cure anime cuts in the PV a bit distracting. A necessary distraction, but still a distraction.

Mysterious shots of as yet unnamed Morning Musume ’15 members start off the PV.

Oda Sakura hopes she gets a good spot near the center.

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Tweets about Sayumi’s Graduation [live tweets]

I haven’t done one of these for a while …
These tweets do a decent job of telling how I spent the EARLY morning of November 26- Michishige Sayumi’s graduation from Morning Musume. I don’t want to editorialize too much; hopefully the raw emotion of the night will come through. If nothing else, I think there are some great screen caps from the graduation.

Now, as you will read, my stream crapped out on me on several key moments. Lucky for me, this means I get to rewatch the whole thing again! You can tell when I’m getting frustrated with my internet, which is a little bit embarrassing.

I also want to acknowledge the Twitter community. I felt like I was watching the graduation with everyone who was awake and watching at the time. We had an emotional rollercoaster of a night, and I’m glad I had company. You all are great!

MOST IMPORTANT- I’d like to thank the SKE48 channel that decided to break international laws and stream the graduation. Good job!

(P.S. If you’re not following me on twitter, maybe these tweets will incentivize you? FOLLOW ME!)

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Morning Musume ’14 in NYC [adventures]

I’m writing this preface on October 23, 2014 nearly 3 weeks after the Morning Musume ’14 concert at Best Buy Theater. As typical of my personal fandom, I haven’t had nearly enough time to sit and write for an extended period of time after the summer fades. As the days grow short, I feel an overwhelming need to push this article out into the web-sphere with increasing urgency. You, the reader, will undoubtedly see a few mistakes in my recollection of the details. Remember, this is my personal recollection; I’m not documenting anything more than my personal experiences. If my memories don’t jibe with your memories, if my memories distort or misrepresent the facts, or if I’ve forgotten faces and names, please know my writings are not meant to be malicious, misleading, or misanthropic. Also, you will find very few photographs in this article, as we were asked not to take cell phone photographs during the performance. The few photographs from Morning Musume ’14’s performance are credited, so please visit their website for more great coverage. I dedicate this writing to all of the people I met at the Morning Musume ’14 New York concert and its related festivities. You’re all the best!

Way back in 2009, Morning Musume came to Los Angeles (where I live) to perform at Anime Expo. By 2009, I had been a fan of the group for a couple of years. It would have been the right time to see the group for these and many other reasons. I bought my tickets to the event and prepared myself to attend the concert. Unfortunately, tragedy struck just days ahead of the event, and I necessarily attended the funeral for one of my dear relatives instead of the Morning Musume Anime Expo concert. I’m not bitter about this, but I’ve been left with a gigantic hole in my fandom ever since then.

The Anime Expo concert I didn’t attend

As one can imagine, I was incredibly elated when the announcement of Morning Musume ’14 playing at New York’s Best Buy Theater hit. This concert held a few notes of importance. Firstly, it was the opportunity to see my favorite Ikuta Erina in person. Secondly, this represented my last chance to see Michishige Sayumi, an idol whose importance to me grew over the long years and who is the last holdover from the Platinum Era/MM Anime Expo concert. I instantly knew I would be attending. I experienced some difficulties purchasing tickets to this event- the onsale date coincided with a family vacation that took me to a “no signal” part of the country. With the help of some friends, I managed to secure a ticket to Morning Musume ’14 NYC! I purchased my airline ticket, made arrangements with some friends in Brooklyn to couch surf at their place, and before I knew it I was in New York City on October 4.

The porthole of an airplane denotes travel…

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Morning Musume ’14 – “TIKI BUN” [PV]

There is so much I need to write about. I just recently started back at my seasonal job, so time is at a premium for me. Before you castigate me for my perceived laziness, know that I am actually just paying the bills. Specifically, I am paying off my recent trip to New York. And, of course, a flurry of news hit the wota public right as I began work for the season. As they say: when it rains it pours.

Michishige Sayumi’s last single with Morning Musume has a release date of October 15, 2014. The triple A-side release starts with the puzzlingly titled “TIKI BUN” and contains the Sayumi solo “Shabadaba Doo” and the 9/10/11 homage to Sayumi, “Mikaeri Bijin”. The single serves to celebrate Sayu’s tenure in the group as well as peek into the future of the group. While “TIKI BUN” doesn’t stray too far from the familiar Tsunku’s electronica well, the other two songs on the release surprise with their diversity. But, before I get into “Mikaeri Bijin” and “Shabadaba Doo”, I’ll take a closer look at the lead song from the single.

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