Either way, 2012 is ending and I am here to post my Year End recap, so prepare yourselves for 2012: The Year That Was. Let's go!
So to start off this post, I will ask you all a question; Has this been a good year for you all, and has it been a good year for J-pop in general? Think about it, kay?
To answer my own question, I say yes; It's been a good year for J-pop and myself in general, or at least in my opinion it has been. Yes, there have been tears over Graduations, but honestly I just told myself to get over it and move on, there's plenty more Sushi on the plate and more Idols out there to fawn over. I know that some people find it harder to get over their losses, but I've somewhat become used to losing my favourites anyway, so I've gained a sort of immunity here.
To expand on the question that I have given more, I will be taking a look at a few of the low and highlights of this year with you all, starting with something which set off the year for me personally, and made it great from start to finish.
Personal Highlights of 2012
Before I really get into my own personal highlights of 2012, I need to tell you that 2011 was a really bad year for my family in general. We had a loss in 2011 which really derailed us all, and it put everyone in a bad place for a while after, as you can imagine. I did write a post about it, but deleted it soon after because I felt that I should never put my own personal life onto this blog unless needed (like a post like this where I highlight things). That said, 2012 has been one of the best years I have ever experienced. Yes, I have had times where I was down and wondered why I bothered with things, but in the end 2012 has been amazing for my family and myself, and I wouldn't change anything for the world.
That said and done, let's get into the personal highlights, shall we?
It is undeniable that the biggest highlight of this year was that my niece was born in January, and she will soon be celebrating her first birthday. We shared our first Christmas in a long time with a baby who was within our immediate family, and it has been 14 years since my nephew was born, so we have been waiting a while for this little precious Baba-pon. Honestly, this past year has been an absolute joy with her - she's had her ups and downs, mostly to do with teething and being ill, but she is such a wonderful, happy baby and she really brightens my day. She knows how to leave you hanging and she pretty much has every male in my family wrapped around her little finger! She's spoilt rotten, yes, and she knows she is, but we really can't deny her at all! We adore her so much and it's been a long time since a baby has been in the family, we really can't help it!
Another personal highlight of mine has to be that this year I was able to gain some valuable work experience in the field that I want to work in. If you don't know, I want to work in Media, either working in film or anything that surrounds it - reviewing or being a critic is an option as well, one which I would adore to do, and so the experience I gained is extremely valuable to me and has really helped me to gain a better understanding of what I want to do in the future. I had an amazing opportunity, and I am so happy that I was able to take it on and learn from the experience.
Now I don't know about you, but writing for this blog has been so amazing this year. I've really felt that I was able to connect with the readers whilst also expanding my own interests and trying new things. I've also been able to hit two milestones this year with my blog, the first being the 50,000 page view count which amazes me even now, and the second being the recent 100,000 page view count. I'm still in shock that I have that many views and that people even come to read my blog, but it's happened, and seriously... wow, I am still shocked.
Aside from this blog I have been able to experience an incredible year with both Selective Hearing and Idolminded, as well as become a part of the currently hibernating PonPon Wei. As a side project to my own blog, I have also begun doing video's on youtube which some of you may or may not know about.
... And that is it for my own personal highlights. I felt that I needed to get it out of the way as quickly as possible, because the High and Low lights of 2012 for Idols could be a long one - there are so many things to talk about, but so little time! Anyway, here are the High and Lowlights of 2012; you know, the stuff that made it what it is.
2012: Idol Edition Extravaganza
Graduations - The Tears We Shed
Even though 2011 passed pretty quickly, it needs to be known I'm still reeling from the unexpected and truly unwanted Graduations of Ogawa Saki and Maeda Yuuka. Sadly 2012 has seen another graduation of my favourites, continuing this streak since 2009. I swear, H!P will never let me keep a favourite, will they?
I guess I've become used to my favourites graduating, though; first it was Koharu in '09, and then it was LinLin in '10. 2011 was the most shocking because two of my S/mileage Oshi's left just a few months apart, completely destroying the love and respect I had for S/mileage at the time. Now in 2012, I lost both Gaki and Aika, with Gaki being my Oshi and Aika being a semi favourite who kind of jumped around in how much I cared about her, but still, I loved her to pieces and her graduation was just as shocking and pitiful as Ogawa Saki's was, and I will never forgive Hello! Project for how rushed and inconsiderate either of their graduations were.
But yeah, the Graduation that really hit me hard this year was the dual graduation of Gaki and Aika. I still haven't watched the graduation concert fully, because I know I will cry like I did with Koharu's graduation - it's still the only concert I have fully watched that has a graduation. It was a sad day for all fans, but seeing Gaki graduate with a smile was so reassuring, and I knew that her presence would stay with Morning Musume... Mostly because of Eripon, of course.
But whilst Aika's graduation was shocking timing wise, I don't think that I could have ever predicted Mano leaving Hello! Project as soon as she is. In fact, I don't think that I ever expected her to leave period. I always envisioned ManoEri as a permanent Idol, like Sayumi, and that she would never leave - And with the amazing year she has had in terms of songs and promotion, I really wasn't expecting the announcement. It was, and still is, shocking and totally unexpected, but it's going to happen. Thus making 2013 a four year streak in Chiima losing the Idols thatshe loves and adores. Wow.
Adding further salt to my ever-expanding wound, I do need to mention the loss of Station♪'s Kinjo Narumi, Afilia Saga East's Rose Gardenfairy and Houkago Princesses Miyashita Mayuka who have all graduated their respective groups. I was really surprised and shocked by all three graduations, especially Mayuka's, because I had never expected them to leave. Mayuka's was actually very sudden, I actually doubt she even had a graduation or a ceremony, and I was totally distraught over both hers and Yuuki's departures from HouPri. All three of these graduations are really saddening, and I really think the Idol world has something against me, because all of these girls were my favourites in the group, though Mayuka wasn't my ultimate favourite admittedly. But still!!!
The Idol Gods are against me, you know?
But I think that the true shock this year in terms of Graduations has to be from the 48 family itself. There have been a lot of graduations, withdrawals and removals, it's undeniable, but the part that shocked and upset most people would be just who graduated, especially when it comes to Maeda Atsuko and Yagami Kumi, who are/were both really popular members of their respective groups. I think Jo was too, I am not really sure though
But yes, it's undeniable the impact these graduations or announcements had on the fans. AKB48 lost the face of their group, and whilst the group is in the process of change and finding a new face (Mayuyu and Jurina, please), people are still mourning the loss of Atsuko. People pretty much keeled over at Yagami's announcement though, and I think that fans are still getting over Jo's departure from NMB48.
It's been a pretty bad year in terms of graduations for the 48 family, and 2013 still holds some more graduations that have been announced but are yet to happen. I really hope that the 48 family have a better year in 2013, because whilst the amount they did lose is not a lot compared to the amount of girls they do have, it still hurts the group, especially when older and more well known/popular members leave to do what they want in their lives.
Débuts - The Lights to our Lives
Whilst Graduations did overshadow the year that has gone by, there have also been great débuts that I have greatly enjoyed, the first being Naabadoufu@Nana in all of her glorious, leggy glory.
It's undeniable that this girl has talent in a department away from dancing, and whilst she may not have the most gifted voice known to man, she does have a certain aura and appeal about her which is quite striking and, er, flexible. My stand out debut of the year, though not the one I enjoyed the most I will admit. I love Nana, and I get so excited with every piece of news I hear from her. She's a stunner, her confidence is unrivalled and her legs are just noooooom!!!
Speaking of Leggy débuts, I can not fail to mention DIY♡ in all of their yummy glory. Made up of five members I like, and one I don't want there, this group is probably the best thing to happen to H!P in a long while! Tall, slender, sexy, leggy... this group has all the properties of NOM and so much more, mixing talent, looks and sex appeal together and creating absolute perfection in the form of DIY♡ and Fore Fore ~Forest for Rest~. Honestly, out of all the sub-unit débuts this year, this one really took the cake in H!P and kept it all for themselves!
Another stellar and unexpected début from the year that was is in the form of Watanabe Mayuyu, the soul sucking cutie. She started off rough admittedly, but when her third single came out I finally realised just how good she was/could be. She was pretty stale at first, with singles that would probably be used as add-ons for an Anime, but boy did she come far and show us all what she was truly made of! Seriously, her voice may not be much cop, but when they do something with what she does have in the vocals department, they make it amazing!
Thinking about it, there have been a lot of débuts this year, either in groups or girls going solo. Yes, there has been a lot of loss through graduations and such, but there have also been new girls jumping onto the Idol scene as well, whether they are joining a group and becoming a part of a legacy, or starting something new and trying to win over the Wota and public in order to make their major début and become a part of the Idol world officially. Either way, you can not deny that this year has given us some wonderful new singers to fawn over.
And of course, how can I forget the unfortunate début of this group? It was a true tragedy to the Idol world...
The Ups and Downs of Idoldom
Of course a year would gone by would be nothing without a few ups and downs, and let me tell you, I have had my disappointments and surprises thanks to 2012 in regards to Idols. Of course, I will mostly highlight the disappointments, because you need to, right?
My two major disappointments of the year actually come down to Houkago Princess and Morning Musume, and really, the Houkago Princess one saddens me the most. I truly love this group, but they have really lacked in releases lately to the general public, to the point where fans outside of their little venue can't even listen to a new song unless they purchase the single first hand at the venue they perform at. I actually really detest this new system they seem to go by to the point where I actually dislike Houkago Princess greatly as a whole. The group has disappointed me greatly this year, and it's honestly heartbreaking to fall out of love with this group because of what's happening to them. They have become obscure despite being active.
With Morning Musume, my disappointment mostly lies in One Two Three and the PV's they have. They started off the year creatively, only to basically go downhill from there with atrocious video's and hideous costumes. Song wise they have been stellar, video's not so much. In fact, let's apply S/mileage and Cat's Eye 7 there, too. It's only been C-ute and Berryz to a certain degree who have had the best PV's this year; especially C-ute. The rest of them sans the sub-units? Absolute atrocities, especially S/mileage.
Another true lowlight of the year has to be the amount of crappy songs AKB48 has released this year; really, I never thought they could release so much generic, recycled garbage, but they did. The only redeeming songs were Uza and, to a certain degree, Manatsu no Sounds Good. Of course I did enjoy the songs, but I can't deny how bad they were in the generic, uncreative and lazy departments. They were just bland and terrible, and truly forgettable... much like Nogizaka46's songs.
I was really hoping for some amazing songs from AKB48 this year, but the only amazing thing about them was their PV's (except Give Me Five and Eien Pressure). It's a shame, because if their PV's had amazing sounds to them, then they would be even better... Oh, and Manatsu no Sounds Good's bikini scenes... they were an absolute destroyer for that PV. It was so good until the very blatantly obvious fan-service came in.
I will get torched and pitchforked for this one, but I gotta say it - Sayashi Riho's damn voice. Wow this past year has not been gracious to her, has it? Really, she started out so good back in 2011, and then it went downhill so very very quickly. 2012: The Sound of a Dying Cat.
I know I am not the only one who thinks her voice is terrible, and plenty of you know how I feel towards Riho, BUT! But but but but... she can sound good if she sings low songs like that Cabbage Hakusho song she sang with Dawa, as well as Be Alive. The rest of the time, when she's shrieking like someone shove a poker up her butt, is because she sings high songs that she clearly can not handle. And honestly, even the auto-tune can't make her sound better like it can Sayu or Haruna. It really can't...
I would love to hear her sing another ow song though, because she can sing those songs so damn beautifully! Shame H!P are intent on milking her vocals dry to the point where she can't sing in a straight pitch.
Though it's not like she ever could
Another downer (wow, I am not an uplifting blogger today, am I?) for 2012 has to be the fact that I pretty much ignored PASSPO this year. I really found no appeal in them, and the one time I did was because damn, their PV's became awesome and extremely entertaining! But other than that, I lost a lot of interest in this group. I guess it left alongside Kaho, which is a shame because this group is undeniably amazing and really awesome.
Quickly moving to a highlight, however - I finally found more interesting in Kikka this year, and have thoroughly enjoyed all of her releases for 2012! This year showed great improvement for her and really allowed her to stand out against other Idol singers, which ultimately allowed me to truly appreciate her vocals, even if they aren't my favourite. She's been amazing this year, and I enjoyed what she produced. I am pretty happy that I found her interesting again, because last year this girls voice got on my nerves!
Of course, what would a downer-filled post be without the mention of a scandal or two? Most notably, Sashihara Rino's scandal and transfer to HKT48 as well as Minami's mother sleeping with some 15 year old delinquent.
The year has not been the kindest to AKB48 members, resulting in one girl graduating after a scandal was serialized that she had stayed in the same apartment as a man, and quite a few members of HKT being kicked out for being around boys and having their twitters hacked. It's unfortunate like any scandal is, but honestly, the Idol world is a cruel one which basically deprives girls of having any trace of a relationship with someone, even if it was before they became an idol.
In Minami's case, it's more so that her mother did the wrong thing and it got leaked out, and poor Minami basically had to take the brunt of it all because of her position in the Idol world as AKB48's General Manager. Again, the year has been an unfortunate one for AKB48 in terms of scandals, but people/tabloids love to gossip and get Idols kicked out, don't they?
The Stand-Out Starlets
Okay, I've had enough of depressing you all with my downers of the year! It's time to lighten up a little with the shining girls of 2012 - you know, the ones who stood out really well? Yeah, those girls. The ones who don't have personalities that are equal to a potato... kinda.
Starting off, none of us can deny that Eripon has stood out like a sore thumb this year, if only for the fact that she became a complete Wota and began to parade around her love for Gaki like she was graduating.
Oh wait she did This personality trait of hers either got on your nerves or made you love her more, and for me, I could only love Eripon more and appreciate just how wonderful she was. I love her, and I love her Gaki-Wota-love which shows off that weird, creepy side to this girl. Also, her body is looking so damn good and her voice is getting better. You also can't deny that she is a better dancer now and killing it on stage. She has such a great Idol presence, and the fact that she can connect with fans as well is something that no other Idol in Hello! Project can do right now, and that's simply because they aren't as smart as Eripon in terms of selling the Wota Personality.
Starlet Numero 2 has to be this little Idol of joy and smiles! Seriously, I don't know what made me turn, but I've been completely smitten with Rina in 2012. One is because of her voice, two is because of how gorgeous she is, and three has to be because of how much she adores doing what she does, regardless of how shafted she seems to be for the Vampire on helium. She's just lovely, and I really want this girl to have more lines. She's so... uwa!!!
Okay, so I love Kudo more than I ever thought I would, but she has really stood out this year because of her personality. She's so fun and quirky! On shows she is either this iron-fisted, tough little cow or she's this confident and hilarious cutie who has great presence. She changes her character quite a bit, but in the right situations, and is just really fun to watch. Seeing her in the recent promotion video for the Hello! Project FC campaign made me realise just how funny and cute she is without even trying, and how much she stands out against the other girls. She's absolutely wonderful to watch, and she has a presence that none of the other girls have; She has absolute confidence and she's aware of that, and it's amazing when you watch her. I love it!
I don't know what it is, but both Momotaro and Midorikawa really stood out to me this year when it comes to the Fudanjuku boys... especially Midorikawa! With Momo, it had to do with the love and passion he has for Fudanjuku and the amazing lyrics he produced for Lyrics senbatsu. Midorikawa, it just has to be his unique voice. He is amazing, and so passionate. His face is also adorable, as if he's having an orgasm every time he sings.
... That's the only way I can describe it, really.
If you are surprised that these guys are here... what? What are you on? Seriously, this group has been amazing this year, they have really stood out, grabbed me by the collar and made me a fan! They have just been great this year (especially Akira, in his Leopard print pants glory) and really stood out like the stars that they are. And don't get me started on how fabulous Shekimeki and Kotori are...
One of the most surprising Stand-outs this year though has to go to Wada Ayaka. I didn't like her, and whilst I never wanted to like her I had this feeling that eventually I would, because it happened with Yuuka just after Saki had left. I've basically transferred my feelings from Saki and Yuuka over to Dawa and Rina, but seriously, how did I not see this girl was a stunner? Yeah, she's a bad singer, but whatever - I like looking at her and she has really climbed her way to the top of my list this year!
Whilst I have loved and lost, I think that 2012 has been a great year personally. Hello! Project/UFP has gotten their act together, promotion is better than ever and the PV's are slowly getting better bit by bit. I've also found love for new groups and units, and improved in how I see Idols and watching different acts outside of Hello! Project. I think that 2012 has been good, and whilst it has been filled with devastation and tears from the graduations, announcements and withdrawals, it's still been positive and a happy year.
With that, we are nearing the end of this Year End post. But before I let you run away from the shackles I have binded you to, allow me to share with you the predictions that have come true this year.
Don't worry, it won't take long... I think...~
Predictions come True:
- Morning Musume are Promoted more
- 9th Gen get more promotion and lines (minus Riho) (Done, but not for my Pony)
- S/mileage stop f**king changing
- Mitsui Aika graduates
- C-ute bring out really awesome singles
- Morning Musume get over 50,000 sales for any single during 2012
- Michishige Sayumi and Iikubo Haruna get to act (Suugaku Joshi Gakuen)
- Niigaki Risa goes solo (it kinda happened with her B-side and cover album, that, and I also said something about potential graudation...)
- A new group or sub-units within Hello! Project
- More Morning Musume auditions
- H!P gets another soloist (Tazaki Asahi via UFP Satoyama movement is kinda there...)
- PASSPO☆ stay as a 9nin unit
- Bump.y release more K-pop styled singles
- HouPri release at least 2 singles
- Afilia Saga East release another single wearing maid costumes
- 9nine release something which doesn't sound like their other songs
- Sakura Gakuin release more singles
- I get into K-pop
- I get into more boy groups (Sexy Zone kinda counts...)
- I start to care about S/mileage more
- I start to care for AKB48
That's a pretty nice list of achievements, huh...? Let's hope that my predictions for 2013 come true as well, aye?
Okay, you can go know. You are hereby FREE!!!
... Well, that is until next time, of course...
Until then guys, and a Happy New Year!
PING!!! Idolminded Recommended Reading: December 29th, 2012
PING!!! Idolminded Recommended Reading: December 29th, 2012