Saturday, 31 December 2016

On 2016: Memories of A Year

The Year is coming to its close, and once midnight hits, a new chapter will begin in this tale of Idols, Music and Entertainment. Before it all ends and the magic of 2016 disappears, however, it's time to sit down, look back at all we know happened over the course of 12 months, and create memories of what was once the Year 2016...

I never know how to start these posts, because I always want to begin with something nice and whimsical, or something equally cheesy. Likewise, I never know what to put in these posts, aside from the Graduations or anything else that happened that was big. I mean, 2016 was a complete blur, for me. Aside from an abundance of Celebrity passing's from the Western side, as well as an unholy amount of Graduations from the Idol side, what else was there to 2016? Well, there's been a few things, I suppose, mostly in the Graduation and Disbandment department, of course, and we will get to those, soon. Still, the year that was 2016... where has it gone, and why did it decide to disappear so quickly?

For the year that will come to its end tomorrow at midnight, it's time to look back, think about all the Idols we love, and reminisce on what once was. Before the clock strikes Midnight, let's treasure the magic that is sure to disappear...!


On Life (In General)

Because this is turning out to be a long post, I'm going to keep the Personal Side a little bit short and to the point. My life hasn't had much going on, anyway, aside from a bit of travelling and change in workplace. So, I'll go as quick as I can, to get you to your Idols as soon as possible~

This year I travelled, more than I usually do, at least. I went to Hong Kong, where I was able to attend the film festival with my University, as well as spend my time learning about another culture whilst actually being a part of that culture. I was mostly within the Wan Chai area, though I was able to visit Llamar Island and other places during my ten day stay. It was an amazing experience, and one I hope to repeat sometime in the future, because Hong Kong is an amazing place, with so much hidden beauty, and a very polite community.

It is also a great place to take pictures, and also... the food! Yum! I enjoyed myself a lot, and again, I want to go back there... it's just that money is a little tight. Boohoo!

Though it might not seem far, I was able to go to Bristol for the first time this year! As me and my friends are apart from each other a lot, we decided to finally see each other again after about a year or so, in order to watch some King Lear (God damn, that was a bloody play XD), and look around Bristol, seeing all the beautiful Banksy artwork, and other art pieces that decorates the city. It's a lovely place, though the day I went was just after the Brexit vote had won out, so for the two days we were together, me and my friends were little put out and sad.

I won't talk much about Brexit any more, though, it's a dismal topic. Plus, being with my friends was a happy occassion, and no matter how sad we were, we were also delighted to be together once again. The three musketeers were reunited!

Aside from Bristol, though, I also took a trip to Poland! The photograph on the right to the artwork was taken in a beautiful botanical garden that my friend, who is indeed Polish, took me to during my last day there. I really enjoyed being in Poland - it's a beautiful place - because it was yet another venture for me, and allowed me to adopt to another cultural lifestyle. I learned a little bit of Polish, but only enough to be courteous when out and about in public, and was able to buy a lot of yummy Polish food! It's a cheap country to be in, if you have the money, and I was able to buy a few things, in terms of food items, clothing and cosmetics, but the experience I gained was invaluable. I want to go back again, because it's such a wonderful place, so if I can go... yeah, I will!

... And I think that's it! I was planning to go to other places this year, however, money stops me. I know people say 'don't worry about money, just go out and travel!', but really, it's hard to do just that when you don't have money. It costs just as much to get to a place, as it does to live.

Also, in terms of family life, everything has been pretty chilled out, and in terms of work, I quit where I was earlier this year, and have recently started working in a Theatre to help me with my 3rd year funds. My anxiety has also been pretty calm, so... for 2016, it was a chill year, if anything, though the travelling was certainly the best part about it!

On Blogging...

I reached my 100+ post quota for 2016! Yahoo! I honestly didn't know if I would hit or not, because last year, I didn't even make it to 90... what a blow. Well, with 2016, I have managed to go above and beyond that, with Okay! Musume Time alone! Not to mention 12 posts on Selective Hearing, as well as some on Hashire! Idol Manic, and also a few on JaME! I've done pretty damn well, and yes, I am pleased with myself! Let me revel in the glory.

I think the whole chilled out approach I have adopted this year aided in all these posts. Less of a focus on worrying about personal things, more of a focus on writing what I want, when I want. Well done, Chiima~

This year, I'm pleased with all I have done. I think there are some posts I hoped to do, and didn't - but that is how life goes. Still, all that is written here, I am proud of, and I hope you have enjoyed it, too. It's been such a fun year for writing on here, I think, and by doing my Music Selections, I was able to deliver even more music to everyone, and share with you what I loved in a satisfying, easy way. Truly, this year has been about the music, more than anything, and I think it's nice that my blog saw that change of pace.

However, I have missed my music video reviews, and whilst I am glad to have talked more about music, dedicated time to the news and such, I do feel a tad disappointed that I did not do as many music video reviews as I could have done. So, come the new year, I hope that I do them just a little bit more. They are, after all, what started this blog, and what I wanted to bring to this kind of writing platform. I will not let my video reviewing skills go to waste, I promise!

Aside from blogging here, though, the year that is 2016 also saw the opening of my co-writer blog! Finally, after wanting it for so long and trying to figure out how I might approach it, I was able to create the blog that is 走れ!Idol Manic! Open to both one-off and casual writers, I want this to be a blog that brings together many voices within the J-pop community, allowing opinions to be heard, and music to be shared.

I am unsure of how this blog will develop, or even if it will last, but it is something I have wanted to try for so long, and finally, it has begun. If you would like to write for it, be sure to head to the site, and see what you can do to join in! I want this blog to grow, and it can do just that by having your voice become a part of it! Go on, have a try at blogging, and see if it piques your interest~

Also in blogging and music reviews, this year I became a contributor for the site, JaME! Though my contributions are small, I am happy that I have been a given a chance to lend my voice elsewhere. As a blogger and writer, I want to continue challenging myself to all forms of writing, and grow in editing and cadence. By doing these kinds of reviews and posts, I am able to balance the types of voices I create, whilst also improving myself slowly. Through writing more and more, I want to understand the ways of the written word, and share with you the music I love and adore through a passionate piece.

... and Writing

Writing makes me happy. It's why I post here and elsewhere, and it's why I take it as a course. My love for the art has not waned any in 2016, but instead, it's grown even bigger. Every time I think about writing, I want to cry with happiness. It's such a wonderful thing, and it makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile in my life by creating and sharing all I love and adore with the people I know, and even those I don't. 

This year I began writing my dissertation, and though I am in a lull right now, I am happy with where I am. I am creating my own versions of fairy tales I loved when growing up, and hopefully the passion I have for them translates well into what I am writing. I feel so positive about it, and I hope that positivity and love continues to develop in 2017. I have my own aspirations for writing come the New Year, but there is another time and another post for that. Just know that, no matter what, I adore writing, and I love how it makes me feel. It's the best thing in the world, and I don't know if I could ever live without it.

The Idols

2016 has been... well, it's been a little bit heartbreaking, and a little bit delightful. In terms of the Idols I love and follow, there have been a few tears, and plenty of smiles to go around. My heart has hurt so much, because I have lost at least two beloved Oshi's over the course of 2016, and barely months within each other. Well, this is the Idol world, and in this bright and wonderful industry, the Idols we love and adore have to move forward, and step out of the limelight at some point in their careers. It does not hurt any less to see them go, but knowing they are stepping away to pursue new interests eases the mind.

With these departures, though, there comes along the chance to find new loves, and to see fresh faces grow into familiar, beloved Idols we never thought we would see become our favourites. So, for the year of 2016 in Idols, what has happened that we know of...?

On Debuts and Idol Returns

In 2016 we sure the debut of quite a few groups, with a few returning faces among them. One of these groups, Magical Punchline, saw the return of Sato Rena, former Idoling!!-NEO member, as well as the current leader of the magi-girl unit, Magical Punchline. With two single releases already, Rena and her group seem very promising, and have proven they are rather creative and charming in all they do. 2016 was only just their beginning, so hopefully, they claim a little more power in the up-coming year, and win us over with their cuteness and delight.

Another unit that includes a few returning Idols is DEAR KISS, made up of a few former GaLLETTE members, Shishima Saki and Nonoko. The group also includes former QunQun member, Yamasaki Miiwa, and Saito Rikako, who has been in a number of units, including OrangeHoop, Barbee, Drop's, and many others. In short, this is a group that seems to take in Idols from all over, so every member has experience somewhere before joining DEAR KISS, making it a hive of talent. They started their activities just this year, already showcasing their talent and drive, and hopefully come 2017, they will be a little bit of a force to be reckoned with.

In terms of CD debuts, both Fullfull☆Pocket - all original members of the unit carat☆, which disbanded in June 2015, only to reform as this group in August 2015 - and wa-suta both released their first singles and / or albums in 2016, and depending on who you listen to most, I would say both have their own fair share of fandoms and die-hard fans.

The group that is wa-suta, especially, seems to be on a roll, and have made a dent in the industry with their quirky, meaningful lyrics and eccentric videos. There is a unique style to the group, one that avex seems to execute quite well, and I can only look forward to what they bring for 2017 in terms of sound, style and visual glory.

After failed auditions and many annoyed fans (aka: Just me), Morning Musume's 13th generation were finally revealed, with a duo generation making their appearance, and astounding the fans at just who had been picked. From the Kenshuusei programme, we have Kaga Kaede and Yokoyama Reina, one a veteran of Hello! Project, the other freshly picked from the first batch of Morning Musume 13th generation auditions. It was a happy surprise for many, with Kaede being the cherry on top of the cake for all who adore her, and for many who awaited her debut.

It also stopped our hearts for a second, didn't it? I mean, it did mine!

This is an exciting time to be a fan, because whilst I'm not totally in tune with MoMusu as they stand now, seeing this new generation and how excited and inspiring they look, I really can't wait to see what they do! They are a promising duo, and I only hope that once their debut comes around, they will shine and stand out amongst those they have admired for so long. It's going to be something to look forward to, for sure.

With these brand new Idol units popping up, with the return of familiar faces, it feels right that Michishige Sayumi also announced her return for the year of 2017. In a surprise blog update, the Queen of Cute revealed her intentions of returning to the industry after a two-year hiatus, exciting fans and bringing speculation with it. Though Sayumi herself has been rather quiet about just what her intentions are with this re-debut, it is sure to be something exciting, given how reluctant she seems to part with information.

A lot of fans are excited, many awaiting her return with baited breath, and for the year that will be 2017, I wonder just what Sayumi will bring to the plate, and how she will make her return as memorable as she is...?

In a way, it's weird to remember that, just this year, Horii Nina debuted within the HouPri clan. Has it really been so little time since she first made her appearance? Well, what a year it has been for her! Being a member of the Houpriyusu group, Nina was able to sing and dance alongside other members, as well as participate in events with Houkago Princess. She also made her gravure debut this year, and seems to have been met with a positive response through it. She was also able to meet and Idolise Marichu, who she very clearly adored, and will miss dearly now that Marichu has held her final ball.

Later on the year, just after the announcement that Marichu would depart the group, it was revealed that Morishita Rina would join the group as an Cadet! Though she has only been a part of the unit for a few short weeks (that we know of), it seems that Rina is liked by the members, and that she gets on well with them all. For 2017, I hope I can see more from her as both a personality and an Idol, because she is simply adorable!

There was also the recent announcement that, on January 1st, two members of the group Heart x Strings will withdraw from their current group, and join Houkago Princess as the latest Cadet members. As this is a 2017 join, however, I will leave that for next years post (if I remember~).

Also on Debuts and Reappearances:

  • Pink Cres happened...?
  • Buono made their long-awaited return
  • Tsubaki Factory introduced two new Loli's. I forget their names.
  • SAY-LA made their CD debut
  • Tsubaki Factory to debut in 2017
  • The two newbs in Country Girls whose names I can't remember. Wide-Eyes and Forehead.
  • Konno Natsuki debuted as DIAMONDOLLFY's latest member
  • Keyakizaka46 debut.
  • SNH48 debut some of the new sister units, I think xD
  • Makihara Yuyu debuted within Houkago Princess Youth.
  • Akimoto Yasushi announces even more damn groups for the 48 collective, because let's play feckin' monopoly.
On Graduations, Withdrawals and Impending Departures

It really has been a year of smiles and tears, hasn't it? Back in March, the wonderful Ayase Miho took her final bow before leaving Houkago Princess, returning to the life of a normal girl, where the magic and ballgowns no longer exist. I was so, so sad to see this wonderful girl go, because she was my beloved HouPri Oshi, and I adored her so much, Of course, she had been with the group a while, coming in just under a year after the group debuted in their indies stage. She had practised alongside them as a Candidate, before becoming a full-fledged member, who struggled alongside the group during the indies era, until they finally debuted back in 2015. Mihotan was such a calm, yet bright addition to the group, and I still greatly miss her in new releases that no longer include her.

I still cry a lot, and it seems a little bit pathetic that I do that, but honestly, I loved Mihotan as an Idol. She made me happy, so right now, there's still a hole in my heart.

The fact that Zukki also left this year, though, gave me a double blow. Seriously!?

I mean, I love Zukki so much. She is one of my Top Tier members in Morning Musume, and ever since she joined the group back in 2011, I have adored her. She was a member I watched grow from a young girl, to a seasoned performer and a beautiful young woman. She was someone I admired and cheered on from sidelines, and when people were being cruel towards her, I both quietly and vocally told them to shut up. For me, Suzuki Kanon was a shining star, a girl whose smile could light up a room, with a voice that could reach the last stalls in a stadium. Like Miho, she made me happy, and she was an Idol I adored.

So of course, when she chose to graduate this year, and I saw Utakata Saturday Night! in both its video format, and as her final song performance, I cried. I cried, and cried, and cried. The happiest member with the biggest smile had given us her final song, and with it, she left us conflicted. Should I be happy, or sad?

For 2016, these were the biggest Graduations, for me. They were so sudden, in my mind, and I never wanted them to happen. In this world of the Idols, though, I know that they must all move on, and though it hurts that two of my favourites chose to leave this year, just mere months apart... I know they left with smiles on their faces, and hope for their futures.

Looking back, I've come to realise just how many departures Houkago Princess have had, as a whole. With 2015 only seeing two departures, 2016 goes back to the usual, with SIX member departures - three of which were Regular members. That is a lot, especially when I look back to the year before. It's quite startling, actually.

Aside from Mihotan's leave earlier this year, we also saw the graduation of long-time member, Miyashita Mayuka. After being ill for a while, and juggling both her Idol activities and voice acting classes, the delight that is Mayukyandi decided it was time for her to part ways with HouPri, and focus on the thing she loved most: voice acting. I don't think that being helped her any, either, so Mayukyandi's decision to leave was quite understandable, and hopefully, she's been able to follow her dreams and improve in both health and voice acting.

The third departure of the year from the Regular lineup is, obviously, Nagasawa Marina. After re-joining the group as a part of the Candidate based sub-unit, Houpriyusu, early last year, Marichu basically worked her way up to Regular status, and was finally promoted in September this year. Then, after just three short months, she announced her withdrawal. It annoyed me, I admit, and it also saddened me, but I do get it... Marichu didn't like being an Idol. At least, she didn't like being an Idol that had to work as hard as HouPri seem to. She admitted herself; she cannot dedicate herself to the current ways of Houkago Princess, because it is not easy enough for her.

She pretty much admits it in her blog. So... I'm not being a bitch, or unnecessarily catty. Though it really seems that way, doesn't it?

I'm not mad at Marichu, nor do I think she's wrong to quit after realising; she seems to have tried, but if she's just worrying about what she's doing, instead of enjoying herself, then it is clear she's not ready for this. She knows this well herself, and whilst I am sad to see her go, I think she knows herself, and she knows that she needs to go. Plus, she's not looked overly energised like the others in concert or even in pictures. So, yeah. I'll miss Marichu, but hopefully we will see more of her in the future. Where, I don't know, but I want to see her again. She's a delightful gravure model, and a wonderful personality. As a former member of HouPri, however, she will be missed.

Of those who have left Houpriyusu, this year we saw the graduation and withdrawal of three. Though it was originally decided that Kamiya Airi would graduate the unit with Marichu and Sasara in tow, the three choosing to create their own group together, it was eventually decided that Airi herself would graduate the industry altogether, realising that being an Idol was not what she had thought it once was. This was pretty sad, because I adored Airi - she was my original Houpriyusu favourite - however, I understood (as much as I can) her feelings; she didn't want to be an Idol any more, and so, she graduated at the planned time.

For a while I was sad about it, and I can only hope Airi is doing what she wants, now. She was so adorable. Sigh...

Alongside Airi, Izumi Sakura withdrew from Houpriyusu, because she wanted to pursue solo activities in Gravure Land. For a little while, Sakura was around, however her twitter has since become defunct - for about half a year, now - though she is still swimming around. She met up with Marichu, recently, and they've clearly spent time together. So, it's nice to know she's keeping in contact with her beloved Marichu, and living her life happily.

Makihara Yuyu was yet another withdrawal from Houpriyusu, as well as a short-lived member. Her reasons for leaving were due to spinal issues, and right now, she's working as a model and not putting herself under too much pressure with activities. I think she's doing the CHEERZ thing, and gaining some popularity through that.

Going away from Houkago Princess, one of the bigger departures from Hello! Project this year had to be Tamura Meimi. Good gawd, she was an amazing Idol. In fact, I would have to say she was the perfect Idol, at least in Hello! Project. She could sing, dance, act, and she was absolutely adorable and sweet. This charming girl only had a short run in ANGERME, joining as a second generation member of S/mileage, the group she loved and adored, and swiftly became one of their most recognisable members. Though I didn't like her much at first, she honestly won me over, because Meimi is lovable. She's such a sweet little thing, and I was honestly sad to see her go, because she was the best Idol in ANGERME, period.

We also saw another shock to the system this year, with the sudden withdrawal of Inaba Manka from Country Girls. After taking a break from the group due to asthma, and not being able to perform to her full ability, Manaka decided that she would depart from the group in order to focus on getting better, though she did not specify her complete leave of the industry. It was sad, knowing that Manaka had left the group after waiting so long to debut, but, it was understandable: She was ill, and she has to focus on herself, rather than the group.

Of course, I would love to see her return - she was a diamond, and I adored her, however if she never returns, I understand, too. Manaka needs to get better, think of herself, and do what she wants. It's just sad that she had to leave so early.

With Momona's graduation from Dream5 and her leave of the industry at the end of April this year, it was undetermined what would happen to the group. Their last release was February, this year, with the album COLORS, and... well, I don't know what else there was. I can only guess they had a few lives and events. Late this December, though, it was announced that Dream5 would disband on December 31st, with the members each going their separate ways. It was sudden and quick, but it is understandable. They've all grown up, and without the five of them, they are simply not Dream5.

I do wish there would have been a little more time before we saw them go, however, this is the way the Idol world works. They were great while they lasted, and they've been loved and adored by many since their debut. I just hope we see them all again in the future. As Dream5, though, they will be missed.

In terms of impending departures within the industry we love and know, there is of course the up-coming disbandment of veteran Hello! Project unit, C-ute, as well as the graduation of Tsugunaga Momoko from Country Girls. Though both departures were going to happen sooner rather than later, it's quite a shock to the system that they will both happen very close to one another. That said, it also feels right to have it this way; they debuted together, so of course, they will leave together, taking our hearts with them.

Two of H!P's biggest, most talented acts are leaving, and it's a sad thought, but honestly, how else can we find new talent? Hopefully with the new year, we will see a kick-ass goodbye for both C-ute and Momoko, as well as the dawn of a new era for Hello! Project. They are the last of the golden age, and the final of the originals that we all knew and loved. It's weird to know that, after all this time, Hello! Project will be a completely different platform to the one I was introduced to. It truly is the beginning of something new.

Doll☆Elements also revealed their plan to disband in the New Year, with their final one-man live being held in January. The news that they would disband was a shock to the system, only because I hadn't realised it was happening, and found out so suddenly towards the end of this year. The announcement was made around September~October time, I believe, but it was heartbreaking. I don't follow the group as closely as I once did, but as I have some attachment to them, it feels quite sad, you know?

The reasons for this disbandment is because the members want to go forth and do their own thing. They each have solo activities they would like to focus on a little more, now, and whilst I would love them all to stay around and contribute to the group, I know that clearly, they can't, and they won't. It's sad to see them go, especially when I would have liked to have seen them go on for another year or so. Still, they had a good run, and they entertained many with their cute ways, and doll-like approach. I'm going to miss them dearly, but I wish them the best in their future endeavours.

Other Graduations, Disbandment announcements, Hiatus and Withdrawals of 2016:
  • Miyazawa Sae graduated from SKE48 in March this year.
  • Midorikawa of Fudanjuku held his graduation this year in April.
  • Watanabe Miyuki graduated NMB48 in Augus.
  • Shibata Aya graduated SKE48 in August.
  • Shimazaki Haruka graduates from AKB48 on December 31st.
  • Cheeky Parade members Suzuki Mariya and Yamamoto Marina put activities on hold to study abroad for two years.
  • Kobayashi Rei of Yumemiru Adolescence went on hiatus from October this year, due to polyps on her vocal cords.
  • Ladybeard left LADYBABY in August this year.
  • Prizmmy☆ and Prism mates will disband at the end of March, 2017
  • Lyrical School's Ayaka, Ami and Mei are set to graduate in February 2017, and the group will go on hiatus for an undetermined period in order to set up a new structure within the group itself
  • Kiyoshi Ryujin 25 to disband in June of 2017.
  • Kojima Haruna to graduate AKB48... at some point.
On Houkago Princess

... Well, that was a year.

Once again, with the year that was, I followed my darling HouPri like crazy. Through all the announcements, graduations, withdrawals and tears, I still managed to find some joy and light in what has happened. So, yes, despite the fact we have had six graduations - two of whom I liked a lot - I feel that this year, HouPri have still held strong and proven themselves to be a group that can pick themselves up from a setback.

With the graduations of Mihotan, Mayuka and Marina (... oh feck, the 3 M's >o>), it does feel like there has been a big blow, especially when one of those who left was a great singer, and the other... well, Marichu's just really popular. So, yeah, I'm sad about all three of these departures, however, I know HouPri can work through it. They've done it in the past, and they sure as hell can do it again.

In terms of singles and songs, I think that 2016 has been a great year. They released three individual singles - Junpaku Antoinette, Seishun Mermaid and Himitsu no Tiara to Gelato, all with great sounds, and fun b-sides that will appeal to all, and their PV's just seem to keep on getting better the more they do. They also released a Music Video collection from 2015~2016, so, that was cool!

A calendar for the group was released as well, and Mayumin's return to gravure was announced, as well as the debut of Himarin in the gravure world! Horii Nina also made her debut in graure, earlier this year, following in the footsteps of Marichu. Next year, I anticipate the release of more gravure, because now that Marichu's gone, I have a feeling Cute Black are gonna try and get another one of their members popular in that area of the market. It's gonna happen, I tell ya.

Also, we have had the recent debut of Rina - such a cutie - as well as the up-coming debut of two new members from January 1st! Despite all the sadness and tears we've seen from 2016, as well as the shock and surprise, I can't help but go into the New Year feeling positive, especially when the new single has been announced, and two more members!

It's been a rocky year, much like a wave, and I do hope that 2017 is a little calmer... but not so calm it gets boring. Bring it on, HouPri! Let's dominate 2017, and win everyone over! Are you ready for their takeover?

On Hello! Project

Though it seems HouPri have had a bit of a year, I can't deny that, for Hello! Project, it's been a little turbulent, too. With the graduation of Tamura Meimi and Suzuki Kanon, as well as the sudden withdrawal of Inaba Manaka from Country Girls, Hello! Project lost three talented young girls, two of whom were fairly well-received and adored by the fans. This year also saw the disbandment announcement of C-ute, as well as the graduation announcement from Tsugunaga Momoko. So, yeah... there's nothing calm going on in Hello! Pro, not this year.

My interest in the collective as a whole, too, has waned. Though there have been a few releases that caught my intrigue, I've not really felt attached to the project, or any of the groups themselves. The only group I would say even somewhat piques my interest is Country Girls. The groups that I forget even exist, though, included the likes of Juice=Juice and ANGERME, this year. Not to say either or bad, I just... forgot them. Cruel as it sounds, it's true. Neither really stood out to me this year, and aside from Itoshima Distance, I all but forgot that ANGERME had released anything this year.

Juice=Juice, I just forgot. I still forget they exist. I only remembered them cause their picture is with the rest of H!P. Heyll, I even remember Kobushi more than them, and I'm not keen on Kobushi.

One of the more memorable moments of 2016 with H!P for me, though, had to be the reveal of the 13th generation; aside from the fact that I was lamenting over how H!P were dicks for doing this whole 'not choosing a member' thing on purpose (it's obvious they're playing a game to make the fans even more excited), I was still very excited at finding out just who the 13th gen were, especially when it came to light that they would come from the Kenshuusei pool. So, yeah, that was a highlight!

Another key event was, obviously, Ikuta Erina's debut photobook. It has been a long-awaited release, and after finally seeing it up-close, in full, I can safely say that, aside from all my HouPri stuff, this is one of the best things to come out 2016, merchandise wise. It's gorgeous, it's wonderful, and Eripon is BAE!

Other than that, the project, as a whole, has been somewhat forgettable, give or take a few good releases, and some eyebrow-raising announcements to keep us on our toes. Hopefully, 2017 will be a bit better. If it isn't... well, we shall see what happens.

On Idols (in general)

Well, wa-suta happened, and despite the fact that I am generally not keen on the weird and wonderful, they managed to steal away my heart, and keep me entertained. Seriously, this group is addictive, and from the few releases they've brought out this year, I've enjoyed. They are a fun, entertaining group, and they have so much personality and zest. I'm in love.

Aside from the wa-suta greatness, though, the year of 2016 also saw the return of meltia, that one lolita-clothed group that had disappeared off the radar sometime last year. I was really surprised by that, because I kind of expected them to never come back. Don't ask why, I just didn't. It's nice to see them back, though, and they returned with such a good video, to boot! Hopefully we see more of them come the New Year, because we all need a little bit of meltia in our lives...~

2016 also saw the love of the Solo Idols coming back in full force. With so many great singers to choose from, of course I had to fall for those who sucked helium on the daily, right? From Inori Minase to Murakawa Rei, Uchida Aya and more, I've come to appreciate and adore the soloists of the Japanese pop scene. I've enjoyed so many singers this past year, and honestly, I can't wait for what 2017 will bring in terms of song and happiness! With singers like Ueno Yuuka, Chise Kanna, Inori Minase, Uchida Aya, Ray, Murakawa Rie and Oda Kaori especially, I look forward to the joy their voices and songs can bring.

Let's just hope the singles they offer their vocals to don't suck, though. That could definitely dampen my love for them~

I've also enjoyed a lot of 48 and 46 based releases this year, too, as well as some Stardust! It's a little surprising, given my own reluctance at wanting to enjoy what they do, but honestly... the 48's, 46's and the Stardust Junior section have really entertained me this year! The releases have been solid, I've found a few key favourites in tracks like Saikou ka yo and Sayonara ga Utsukushikute from the 48's, and songs like Cherie! and Muteki no Uta have really appealed to me! This might be the downfall of my love for H!P, and the beginning of a new interest in anything 48 or Stardust... who knows? I welcome it, though, because I have an appreciation for the music these Idols create, and I want to enjoy it even more in the next year.

One group I've found myself slowly becoming attached to, though, is SNH48. I've been enjoying their releases quite a lot, and I even anticipate anything new from them or their little sister units. I also lovetheir videos and how beautifully crafted they are - it's like art. If this intrigue continues into 2017, I'll be happy to see how it blossoms, because SNH are an interesting group. I love the controversy behind them and the industry that is AKB48, too, which is where my intrigue in them originally fostered. I I keep going back to them, though, I'll be glad to see how my liking for them develops, as well as watch how this group grows and changes now that they are no longer under the thumb of Aki-P.

There are a great deal many other groups that debuted this year who have made their mark on the industry, and are sure to continue pleasing the fans in 2017. Keyakizaka46 debuted with Silent Majority, and continue to wow and amaze viewers with gorgeous imagery and pretty cool songs. Magical Punchline are also standing out with their cute, magi-girl gimmick, and may only prove to get cuter come the new year. DEAR KISS are also a group of interest, and I hope that all three of these groups I have pointed out will continue to impress us with their songs and videos, as well as their group chemistry and anything else they might bring to the plate.

Though I have not followed some of these groups as exclusively as I would like, I do think that they are all promising, and each have something to offer that I have not seen yet before, or that they offer something better than other units. Keyakizaka46, especially, is one of the most promising, though only because of the name they come from. Still, after such a stellar debut, they've proven themselves better than not only their sister group, Nogizaka46, but also a good chunk of the 48's, in general. It will be interesting to see how they further develop, and to watch if they flourish, or fall under the pressure of 2017.

Of course, how could I ever forget i✩RiS? With 2016, we saw them release a few singles, two of which were their usual, wonderful affair, and the third, an absolute twist that was surprising, unexpected, but absolutely amazing, too. This year, i✩RiS threw away their usual cute and energetic image, and delivered to us all an edgy, unique look that they had never shown before, showing off a mature and cool side that fits them well, despite the drastic change. It was one of the biggest shocks of 2016, for me, but I am so happy they did something as cool as Re: Call. It was a change of pace we never knew that we needed, and they looked absolutely amazing, and sounded incredible.

Another group, or duo unit, rather, that I have loved in terms of sound this year has to be TRUSTRICK, who have been as on their game as i✩RiS have been this past year. With some catchy, soothing sounds, TRUSTRICK also went the extra mile to surprise those who know them with Recall THE END, a dark and edgy sound that is just as amazing as what i✩RiS put out. Honestly, I've been enjoying TRUSTRICK so much this year, but Recall THE END cemented my adoration of them. I'm sure they have many other songs like it in their discography that I'm unaware of, but the change of pace it delivered against such soothing sounds like mint gum and innocent promise was wonderful. In general, TRUSTRICK are amazing, and I can only hope that 2017 sees me falling even more in love with them, and even making them one of those groups that I am always looking out for with up-coming releases.

And, before I end on the Idols for 2016, I would like to give a shout out to BiSH, who surprised me this year with such a heartfelt release in the form of Orchestra. Because of that song, I hope to follow the group further into 2017, and keep an eye on them. They seem very promising, and hopefully, I will convert to the darker side, and follow them beyond the next year, into the one further ahead.

On 2016

2016 has been interesting. It's had its ups and downs, things have escalated and then fallen quickly again. We have lost loved ones, our Idols have disappeared from this planet, and some have come back again. No matter what it was, this year certainly contained a few happenings that we did not want, nor did we sign up to. It is the way the world works, however.

It is now time to move forward, however, and look towards what I hope to be a brighter year. Though I will hold the memories of 2016 dear to me, I look forward to the future that is 2017, and hope that it brings with it as many smiles and happiness that 2016 brought, if not, more. Of course, I would love to forego the tears, but with every shining chance, there is going to be something to make us cry. It happens, because it's nature's way of reminding us that there is still some sadness despite the great amount of happiness we could only wish to consume.

In Idols and Songs, Video and Returns, 2016 has been a pretty decent year. It's not the best, granted, but it has done what it had to do. Now, however, it's time to turn the page and move on to the next chapter. Let's start this year anew, shall we?

Once Upon A Time...

Until next time, everyone, and please, have a Happy, safe, New Year.

Much Love,

No comments:

Post a Comment