Sunday, 18 December 2011

2011 Year End Recap: Of Graduations and Auditions, My Idol Love Lives On

This post will contain my opinions, so be warned! Your opinions are your own, as are mine, so respect my opinions, and I shall respect yours. Adios for now!

2011 has been quite the year for Idols, in my opinion. It's the first year in which I have truly experienced Idols from a Wota's point of view, and most likely not the last. But for this first year, I have experienced a lot: Graduations, Auditions and many surprises as well. You don't believe that it's surprising? Want me to show you the biggest surprise of all?

Nakazawa Yuko getting MARRIED! I was seriously surprised when my sister told me. I mean, I know I wanted it in my 2011 Hello! Project predictions (site unknown) but seriously...

Honestly, I'm happy for the woman. I think this made my 2011, really. She deserves a guy. Hopefully she'll be preggo soon, too :D She can copy Tsuji!

This is gonna be a pretty long post, so read on after the break!

But seriously - this year has been amazing in many ways, as well as a little bit sad. This has been the year of Graduations for me - mostly in the form of Hello! Project members, as well as the year where Idols reigned my mind. There has been good music, shit music and average music. 2011, bring it ON!

For 2011, Morning Musume brought both greatness and some sadness along with it. During 2011, the line up began as 5 but then became 9 shortly afterwards with the addition of 9th Generation. Here, we got four new girls who were to bring freshness and youth to the group since the addition of 8th Gen. With these four, we got sub-par vocals (barring Fukupon) and some fierce dancing courtesy of Riho.

Because the 9th Gen were my first generation that I experienced, I was seriously excited with the auditions. However, because my favourite (Mogimon) didn't get in, I found myself crying with sadness and disappoint, but then quickly found myself latching onto Zukki. I then came through and eventually found my favourite out of the 9th generation - Ikuta Erina. I've now been a fan of her for about half a year, and since I have started to like her, I've bought about 5 pictures of her to show my love for the girl, and since the debut of the 9th gen, I have bought their first 3 singles. Sadly, I am too poor for the album! Cry~

Anyways, since the 9th Gens debut, I have been in full support of the girls. They're each charming in their own way, and even though I don't care for Riho in any way, I am glad that she is there to be a fan favourite. Though she can't really sing, Morning Musume needs a front girl, and I have accepted that Riho is now the face of Mmorning Musume next to Winky.

But I still hate ONLY YOU's line distribution. Seriously!?

Okay, moving on from my depression over ONLY YOU...

2011 was also the year that marked the end of Takahashi Ai's reign over Hello! Project, and probably the biggest money maker that Hello! Project has seen in a few years. Takahashi Ai's graduation was both a long awaited and dreaded one, with her departure leaving a massive gap in the Morning Musume group, Who would take her lins? (Riho) Who would take her place? (Riho) Who would become the new face of Morning Musume? (Riho) All of these questions probably came to mind, and some would even think 'Would Morning Musume survive' without this girl. Well, maybe, maybe not - we haven't really crossed that bridge yet, however, with Takahashi's graduation, auditions were once again held. This time, 10th generation were more anticipated than the 9th Generation. Here, we actually had many girls with both vocal and dancing talent. Whilst the then-new 9th gen members were still improving, 10th gen potentials were already pretty darned good.

Vocals: ^ Sub-par,        ^ Butchers lines,       ^ can't sing,           ^ "Husky" voice

Well... in the end, Tsunku chose more girls who weren't really that great (but way better than 9th gen), but all of these girls had the potential for Morning Musume. He brought in another dancing machine, one who happens to be better than Riho, a 16 (now 17) year old (FUCK YEAH, legal to look at inappropriately in the UK!), a cute-faced girl who was at first hard to look at, and someone who thinks she has a husky voice, but is just irritating. Yeah... but in all honesty, I think that 10th gen is a pretty good pick of girls. We have some variety, from a bossy 11 year old to an innocent and well-spoken 17 year oldas well as a predator and a cute-faced ditz. You know who I am referencing for each of these.

But in all honesty, I like 10th gen. 3/4 of them are girls I like, and I think that their freshness will bring something to Morning Musume. Whilst 9th Gen were created out of desperation for more members, 10th Gen were to bring energy and youth back into Morning Musume after the departure of Takahashi Ai. There was no rush with their audition, and it took time for these girls to be announced. I think that 10th Gen are probably the most anticipated generation since 7th Gen, and I can't wait to see these girls in action when 2012 comes through! Whoo~

And in better news! 2011 became the year of the Gaki. After the graduation of former leaders, Ai-chan, Lord Gaki finally crowned herself ruler of all Hello! Project and Morning Musume, and also become the longest serving member of the group at 10+ years. I'm absolutely overjoyed that Gaki finally made leader. The girl is gorgeous, and has the skills to reign the land of Hello Project. I just hope that Reina graduates before Gaki, because I don't want Winky as leader!

For the most part, C-ute have been pretty good in 2011, even surpassing Morning Musume (thanks to Maji Desu Ka Ska) at one point. With Chisato taking a lead in a majority of 2011's songs, C-ute has shown that they have a great strength as a 5nin unit. They broke out a sexy song (Kiss me Aishiteru) then came back with a cute summer song, and then an even cuter song to help autumn along the way. This year, we have had pretty good line distribution from these girls. My favourite single so far has probably been:

The fact that I have this song on CD means that I really do love it. It's just so upbeat and happy, and whenever I listen to the song or watch the video I break out into a smile. It's a really cute and happy song that I love to listen to, and the girls all sound great in it. For me, this was the best single of 2011 for C-ute. Others may say that Kiss me Aishiteru was their best single, but that is their opinion. I love this song and it made 2011 a happy year for me when I needed it, because when this came out, it was a sad time for my family. So I thank C-ute for bringing me up when I was down.

But! This was also the year of the Chissa! With her newfound popularity (thanks to youtube dancing covers, WHOO!) Chisato not only got more lines, but also found herself getting a photobook too! I think this was my happiest moment for C-ute when I heard the news, because Chisato is absolutely gorgeous, and really deserved this PB. If you don't think she's stunning, consult the picture above!!!!

This also became the year where I rekindled my love of Hagiwara Mai. She is the reason I got into C-ute in the first place, after realising that she and Koharu had been in a unit together called Kira*Pika, I checked the girl out and fell in love. I then fell out of love when I found Chisato, but this year, she really stood out to me in Momoiro Sparkling and Sekaiichi HAPPY. I think that this year, the girls just become more and more beautiful, and hopefully she keeps going that way, because this girl is seriously pretty when Hello Pro doesn't kiddyfy her.

S/mileage have been a hit and a miss for me this year. 2011 marked the first graduation of a true S/mileage member, and then it marked the year of new members as well. S/mileage started off great, releasing 2 really great singles as well as becoming one of the most recognised Hello! Project groups for wota. They became a fan favourite in Japan as well as overseas, and we're becoming increasingly popular. However, they had a bit of a downfall with the sudden announcement of 2nd generation auditions. Fans didn't like it, whilst some did accept it. However, in the end, it happened, and S/mileage had 5 new sub members;

I was already happy about these auditions, but then I started to worry that something bad would happen, like one of the OG members becoming a sub member themselves, or even leaving...

... Yeah :/ The greatest member to ever grace S/mileage graduated. Whether it was to pursue a normal life, or to get away from Meimei's forehead, she left. And the fact that she left pretty quickly was what pissed many people off. 3 days before she graduated it was announced, and I still won't forgive Hello! Project for that. They may claim that she wanted a normal life, but I'm sure a lot of us call bullshit on that considering she was apparently planning her graduation since May-June time, about when the auditions were announced. If that's true, then they had enough time to plot and plan a ceremony. But no. 3 fucking days. Yes, I'm bitter, but so I should be. My favourite member graduated with a 3 day warning, with no concert. Maybe H!P were pissed off that she wanted to leave, but really?

Even Yuuka's getting a send off, and yet Saki didn't... FML.

Speaking of which...

Maeda Yuuka's graduation announcement was a bit of a shocker for me. Not as big as Saki's, but considering I decided to like Yuuka after Saki left, I was at a loss for what to do. I mean, why the fuck not Dawa? She can't sing, and she isn't as pretty as Yuuka or Kanon, so why not get Dawa to graduate? I mean, I don't really care for her either, so win/win there if she left. But no, it had to be Yuuka... FML. Oh well, now we know it's the 2nd gen of S/mileage who have done it, right?

Moving back to F/oreheadage, I was pretty on the edge with these girls. A lot of people wanted Karin in, whilst I didn't care (much, though she would have been a good addition). In the end, Akari made it in (YAY) as well as the cute Fuu-chan, the quirky Gorilla-san, the unfortunate Rina with her squinty eyes, and then Fangy. I wasn't really following the audition process with S/mileage, however whenever I did tune in, I hated Meimei's voice. She sounded like one giant shreik, so I was pissed off when she got in, but then again, I wasn't surprised. She's a fan favourite (ew) so I know why Tsunku chose Fangy over the rest of the talent -coughcoughKARINcoughcough-

But then again, why'd he choose Kananana? Oh yeah - Project girl

Anyways, with 2nd gen, and the departure of Hello! Project's greatest member ever, came a new single.

Oh wait, wrong picture...

With the new sub-members (makes them sound like a subway sandwich) came Tachiaa Girl, the weakest S/mileage single to date in my opinion. The song wasn't exactly the most memorable, and it took a while for me to even like the song. And then the PV. Urgh... it has to be the shittest H!P PV to hit 2011, just after Maji Desu Ka Ska. It was cheap, horrible and lacked the gorgeous Sakitty. Also, though this video was to help the Subs to get noticed, you barely noticed the girls. They were hidden half the time, and had no lines except some 'Fu fu's' and such. For me, this single was the downfall for S/mileage...

Until now.

Now with the sub-members as full members, we get a better view of S/mileage with these fresh faces, and what to expect after life without Yuuka. Much like the graduation single of Ai-chan and Kare to Issho ni Onise Ga Shitai, we see how the lineup will be thanks to fewer lines and less screen time! So, we now have two new front girls (Derpy Akari and Fangy forehead), a front girl who used to be hidden in the back (Dawa) a girl who was hidden more in the back but is slowly creeping to the front (Kanon) and two backing dancers, because one's not so pretty but can sing, and the others pretty but can't sing (Rina and Gorilla-san). So yeah, that's the new S/mileage for 2012! Whoo~

With 2011 going smoothly for the most part, UFA announced that Morning Musume's OG members would be debuting as Dream Morning Musume, a unit which would represent the nostalgia of the goold ol' times! Some people are still on the edge with this group, as they may be snatching away Morning Musume's glory, whilst others are ecstatic, willing to live in the past and bathe in the glory of the oldies + Koharu. With this lineup, we are brought back nostalgia. Whilst I support the group, I don't actually really care for them. I'm not the biggest fan of any of them barring Koharu, so really, the groups a bit meh for me.

However, I am looking forward to their first single in 2012... Shining Butterfly is a really nice name.

Speaking of Koharu, one of my 2011 predictions came true! Back in 2010, late December, I went on a forum site (I forget which one, so I can't remember all my predictions, sadly) and made my predictions like everyone else. One of them was For Koharu to become a Model. I remember at the time that someone cruelly commented back and said 'She will have to lose all her weight first'. Of course, I was pissed off and hurt cos I am a Koharu worshipper, but in the end, it actually happened! Koharu became a model like she wanted, and I am really pleased of this. She has become the girl she always wanted to be. So, keep going Koha!

Seriously, this was a happy moment in 2011 for me when I found out that she was becoming a model.

Breaking out of the H!P and into other groups, let's start off with Afilia Saga East! Though they weren't my first non-H!P group, Afilia Saga East are certainly one of the most memorable. With their Maid charms and their fetish-based videos (seriously, watch their videos), this group has become a favourite of mine. You get a few different characters in the group to tickle your fancy, from a Megane girl, to the cute panda-loving girl. Though I still don't know all of their names, finding this group was probably the best thing that I ever did this year. I have fallen in love with their music, especially Knee High Egoist, and I hope to visit their Café one day and order myself a maid rather than a drink...

These girls have destroyed my certainty in my sexuality ;(

I mean, seriously... I really like these girls! And if you thought that AKB48 was slutty and daring in their videos, well, I think that this group goes one step further, and yet they do it so subtly, which is probably why I like them. They interest me a lot more than AKB do, that's for sure, and they're a lot more entertaining. They have a quirky charm about them, and I love their voices. So, bonus~

Bump.y is actually the group that started off my venture into groups outside of H!P. This is actually a group that my sister introduced me to early on in 2011, but at the time I wasn't overly interest, however I liked their music. My sister went on to download one of their PVs, and after a while I found the PV again, and fell in love. It was about the time that their song Kiss came out that I was hooked on the group. I love the sisterly vibe that the group has as well as how good their vocals are. I'm sad that they don't release more, but then I remember that they do acting more than singing. But I think this group is great, and they made my 2011 a happy one with their summer song Kiss. I hope that they get really popular in 2012, but if they don't, then oh well~

And here's another group I was introduced to through my sister. My sister started off really liking PASSPO, but in the end, she ended up not caring about them, whilst I ended up not caring at first, but then totally loving them afterwards.

I don't know when I started to love PASSPO more - I think it was when I heard that they were having a debut single that I got interested. I was already hooked on Let it Go, but I didn't bother with any of their other songs until I heard about the girls releasing their first major single. After that, I was a fan of the PASSPO girls.

As far as 2011 goes, I think that the girls have had a great year. They've released three major singles as well as their first major album, and have gained a great fanbase since then. The girls have become so well known now, and it's thanks to their darling faces, and most importantly, their uniforms. Without their flight attendant theme, I don't think that these girls would have gotten so much attention.

But, sadly, the year does end with sadness for these girls, as 2011 also marks the year where they lose one of their founding members. With Sakuma Kaho (aka Mushu) leaving, she will be the first to graduate PASSPO. Considering she's one of my favourite members, I am pretty gutted.


Moving onto another group, Houkago Princess made their appearence in August, and have yet to make another one. These girls debuted with their single Houkago Princess ~Oshiete Kudasai~ with the idea that the girls would become living dress-up Idols, where fans would get to choose their outfits for performances or even singles. Whilst this group was greatly overshadowed by the arrival of the dancing vocal unit Fairies, I was more interested in these girls.

The girls got off to a rocky start, with most wota and reviewers less than impressed with the debut of these girls. Even though what others say is true, I am still on good terms with this group. I go onto their site regularly, even though I can't read Japanese, and I make sure to watch their updates on youtube. 2011 may not have been their year, but it did open up a new Indies group for me to listen to. So yay!

I also found another group in 2011! This one is Ebichu, and is one of the two school-based groups that I became interested in. Ebichu are relatively new, and are the underlings of the popular (and seriously annoying) Momoiro Clover Z. Whilst some like MomoClo Z more, I prefer Ebichu. I find them cuter, less annoying and better singers. I like Ebichu. They're wacky, but they win me over unlike MomoClo.

And the last of the two school-based groups I have begun to like more is Sakura Gakuin. Whilst I am still very new to the group, I really like what I hear. Whilst they all have sweet faces, I find their voices a lot more bearable than Ebichu's. The girls don't sound as childish as they look, and have lower voices than you would expect. Or at least, that's what their new song VERISHUVI tells me. These girls are all charming, and their song VERISHUVI made me smile and I got excited from just watching it. I really hope that they bring out more singles for 2012, because these girls are very talented, and I would love to hear more from them. As their sub groups, or as a full group - whatever it is, I want to hear them sing!!!

One thing that 2011 has brought is my end to my AKB48 dislike. Whilst I still don't really care for the group, I don't mind them as much as I used to. Before, I was a petulant fan who thought that AKB were the enemy. But then I started to find a great liking for SKE48 (whom I am not on good terms with right now) and then NMB48. I then gave into my dislike of AKB48, and found myself indulging in their songs more. Some of my favourites are Ue Kara Mariko, Heavy Rotation and Everyday Kachuusha. I still have a great dislike for Flying Get and Kaze wa Fuiteiru, but it doesn't stop me from disliking the group all together.

But I still really don't like Maeda Atsuko. I just don't like her face, and I want her to graduate. Soon.

Also, I want their singles to stop sounding so god-damned generic. The onyl one that sounded like it was distinct and different was Kaze wa Fuiteiru.

Speaking of anything AKB48 related, Not Yet's single Pera Pera Perao really impressed me. I loved it so much, I even downloaded the PV for kicks. The PV is absolutely incredible in my eyes, and the song fits it perfectly. Whilst I may not be the biggest fan of the lead girl, I think they're all pretty darned good. The song is definitely one of my 2011 favourites. I keep going back to it if I want a happy and uplifting song. This beats out my Hetappi Winku obsession, seriously.

But the biggest part of 2011 was me finally giving into boy bands. I don't think I have ever experienced something so fun like the 3 day challenge of Johnny's Entertainment that I took. I enjoyed all the suggestions I got from various people, and I enjoyed finding out which groups I liked and which I didn't. I also finally found that fangirlish love for boys that I never experienced as a kid, and I've been enjoying it since. Even though I don't listen to boy bands as much as I do girl groups, I have found myself listen to Magic Power more than once when I feel like going for a song with manly voices. I don't know why, but I just enjoy this song. I also enjoy me some Arashi now and again, because they're awesome.

SEXY ZONE have also tickled my fancy. Though no one is as cute as Ryousuke, I do like SEXY ZONE's self-titled debut single. And, if you're wondering, yes I have listened to the new KAT-TUN single, but it bored me. That pissed my friend off xD

See? I am trying to listen to male group singles! I just.. don't like... KAT-TUN >o>

But yeah. I seriously need to get my ass into gear and review Magic Power, cos I love that song!

And, after failing to feature this group on my Top 5 list for 2011, I will be giving them an honorary mention here. Considering they (Heart2Heart) are the reason I am trying to get into boy bands now, they're a big part of 2011. That, and they're the first English boy band I have actually listened to in a while. I don't generally care for English music, especially from boy groups (too prepubescent) but I guess because these guys are closer to my age... yeah, I care a bit more.

Their song is cheesy (Facebook Official, come on, it's cheesy, but modern) and is a throw back to the 90's boy bands that I never really liked whilst I listened to the Spice Girls and Britney Spears when I was about 7 or 8., but Heart2Heart are still the reason why I am giving Johnny's Entertainment a chance now.

The group is fun, and made 2011 pretty fun and memorable for me in a way.

Other good Moments in 2011

The Eggs who graduated getting to actually do stuff. Whilst some went over to the useless group that is known as UP-UP Girls, some decided to do something worthwhile - Kitahara Sayaka has since become a soloist (for anime), and though her singles aren't the best, at least she's doing something. Two eggs have also graduated into Morning Musume, whilst another two graduated into S/mileage. A few more girls were added to the Eggy group, such as Morning Musume 9th gen candidate, Mogi Manami and that other one, as well as S/mileage ex-sub member, Fuyuka (Fuu-chan) and another one. They're also holding auditions! WHOO! Oh, and Kikkawa Yuu became a soloist.

Yipee! See, even the Eggs have had a good year. Miyamato Karin hasn't really though. She should be in S/mileage, ffs, not that vampire...

Eripon became the new Oha Suta Maple Girl! Okay, so she replaced the best damned S/mileage member to ever exist, but at least she's getting screen time! She's gorgeous, and has an amazing personality. Also, she got to dance with Kanon from S/mileage. Mwahahahaha

Haruna. Enough said.

Niigaki Risa finally becoming the leader of Morning Musume and Hello! Project. I was very happy when this happened, because seriously, the girl deserves it. She's an amazing singer and she is so good at leading others. She doesn't have the shyness that Takahashi had as a leader, and I expect this girl to lead 10th gen to victory. Hopefully, she shows how great she is in 2012.

Mitsui Aika gets a photobook. YAY! The boobs of Morning Musume finally starts her gravure Idol debut! Whoo~

The Bad Parts of 2011

2011 has been half and half for me in terms of the Idol world. So, yeah...

The tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan was devastating for everyone around the world, pretty much. Thankfully, Japan has a great support system, especially with their Idols. Everyone pitched in. Even Lady Gaga raised money to help this amazing country. This just shows you how strong Japan and the world is. We will help others in need, because we do care.

Kago Ai trying to kill herself. I said in my post about this that I thought she was a lost cause, and in a way, I still do. At the time, I was called out for what I said, and though I apologised, I find no harm in my post. I don't respect those who take their lives, and I will stick to that. Luckily she is still alive, but 2011 has not been Kago's year. She is now facing a lawsuit, and though it is sad, I don't support Kago. I was never a part of the 'old Morning Musume', so I really don't support any of them barring Koharu.

But, I hope things perk up for Kago. She's had a rough year, and it was sad to hear this news when it came out.

The amount of graduations throughout the Idol industry

I don't keep up to date with many groups, but with the graduation announcements of Ogawa Saki, Maeda Yuuka, Takahashi Ai, Sakuma Kaho of PASSPO, Hayami Akari of MomoClo Z, some unknown SKE48 members, the graduation of SDN48 members and probably a few more that I don't know of. There have been a lot of graduations this year, with about four of them being girls I do like and girls that I never wanted to graduate.

Hopefully, 2012 has less graduations going on, right?

Mitsui Aika is on hiatus for a long fucking TIME! Seriously, I sometimes wondered if it would be better to graduate her, because by the end of it all, I forgot she was there and was used to what looked like an 8-nin Morning Musume. Now, I love Aika and her boobs, but you shouldn't be out of work for that long, seriously.

Riho injures herself. I may not like the girl, but seriously, I don't want a member of my favourite Idol group to bust her leg. I'm glad she recovered quickly, anyway.

Miyamato Karin not getting chosen for S/mileage. I mean, seriously? WTF? She's one of the most talented eggs, and it pisses me off that big-head Haruka got into a main group whilst Karin got stuck with the Eggs. If Tsunku doesn't make her go solo by the end of 2012 I might scream...

And I know I didn't care during the auditions, but now that Haruka is in Morning Musume, it kinda makes me angry that Karin didn't get her chance to shine, considering she's 10000x better than Haruka in my opinion.

Whatever... I'll get over it xD

So, to cut the post short, 2011 was a pretty interesting year. Whilst Morning Musume may have lost a few fans thanks to Takahashi Ai leaving, they still made a good amount of money from their cash cow before she left. Then, S/mileage lost quite a few fans with the auditions for 2nd gen, as well as losing even more when Saki left. And guess what? They're going to lose some more when Yuukarin leaves. Good, innit?

But no, really, 2011 has been a pretty good year. Hello! Project got their act together and decided that promotion is a good thing, and have been promoting the hell out of MoBeKiMaSu and S/mileage (with the once sub-members painstakingly scrambling around the towns trying to get attention) as well as Takahashi Ai's graduation. There have also been some pretty good songs that the groups have churned out from H!P. We've had pretty good music from other groups this year too, as well as major activity and a lot of fresh faces added to our favourite groups.

So, whilst I may think that 2011 has been a pretty good year, what do you think? If you want to comment, please do, but if you feel like creating your own blog post on your own 2011 year end recap, please link me to your blog and I will happy read it!

Happy end of 2011, guys! 2012 is just on its way!! WHOO!

Have a good one. Happy New Year :P


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