Sunday, 30 December 2018

To Conclude: The Idols Of 2018

With the Year's End on our tail and a new one set to begin, it is time to take a look back at what the Year Gine By has delivered for us all in Idols, Music and Video. To begin our mini-countdown to January 1st, 2019, let's begin with the ones who made 2018 all it was before we conclude this chapter. It's time to take a look at The Idols Of 2018 and see just what they delivered to make this 2018 so memorable...

So, it's been a year. Despite being inactive here on my blog, my love for Idols has only grown throughout 2018. Yes, it was rocky at the start - I followed barely any music, groups and idols - however, I seem to have made it up during the middle and end of the year thanks to various events, interviews and the like, and have slowly come to understand myself even further as a fan of idols, music and more. So, it has definitely been a year of sorts, one that proved both eventful and uneventful within the realm of real life and Idoldom.

And it is here where I shall wallow in the ups and downs of the Idolverse. From the Idols who made 2018 incredible, to those who have debuted and the ones we have lost to a wave of graduations and disbandments, here lies a look back to The Idols of 2018: A Conclusion (of sorts).

Within this wide idol-sphere, will there be a group you recognise, or will I pass by the ones you loved the most? You will have to read on and find out...~

Of Those Who Made 2018 Memorable

In this part of the post I will look back at the groups that have made my 2018 memorable, for various reasons. Whether I met them in person or simply entertained myself with their music and visuals, there is something here that made my year a great one thanks to these guys. So, without further ado... let's go~

As fate would have it, a re-kindled love for LONDON BLUE came about this year after I witnessed the group perform at HYPER JAPAN in London this year, way back in July. A first timer at the Japanese Culture themed convention, the event itself allowed me to listen to pure Japanese music from various groups, ranging from the likes of J-pop to J-Metal and even AniSong, a rarity for the UK circuit. It was delightful,a nd through it I was able to rediscover this incredible group that take their inspiration in both fashion and sound from the UK and Japanese music scenes.

Energertic, a little bit clumsy, cute and charming, LONDON BLUE is made up of three girls (initially 5, until the graduation of RINA and RINKA) who really pack a punch with their love of the UK, fashion and music. Each member has a strong-point that is captivating upon meeting them - KANA for her maturity and drumming, KAYANO for her stylish nature and love of dance, KYOKA for her energy and smile - and I really can't help but smile whenever I think of them. Thanks to HYPER JAPAN, I was able to meet these girls, experience their cheki event and also interview them, so to say they made my year memorable is an understatement!

I love LONDON BLUE and will continue to support them for as long as I possibly can. They are amazing, I adore them, and I look forward to what 2019 brings in members, music and more! Let's go, LONDON BLUE!

NECRONOMIDOL were the fourth act I would experience live this year, right after witnessing the likes of ANGERME, Zekkyo60 and 2& within the space of two days. Though I only introduced myself to NECRONOMIDOL this year thanks to JaME, I really came to love the groups style of music as well as their look, a dark and enticing visual that is based upon the likes of H.P. Lovecraft. As a lover of nightmarish PV's (hello, Dreamcatcher), it would actually make some sort of sense that I might enjoy this group.

Anyways, after listening to their music and then witnessing them live, I have fallen for the group. Of course, with a big change coming in their lineup next year - front-runner Sari and doll-like Hina will graduate, and new members will be introduced - NECRONOMIDOL will certainly shake things up a little in the fandom, but honestly, I look forward to it. Plus, I can only hope for another UK tour this coming year, because why not? NECRONOMIDOL are quite renowned within the UK at this point, so it would be a pleasure to meet them once again, and further my love for the resident Owl-Princess and Twitter stalker, Himari.

2019, please brings this group back to my Homeland. I really would love to see them live again because, boy, that was a wonderful experience!

Keyakizaka46 will, of course, be making their appearance this year. After giving my YouTube platform a bigger focus and showcasing new groups on my channel, Keyakizaka46 quickly became one of my new favourites for the year thanks to their incredible cinematography, intriguing lyrics and catchy music. Though they follow a familiar pattern in both lyric and sound, I really can not help but enjoy this group the more I watch what they create. Plus, they have some incredible choreography which flows beautifully with their visuals. How can you not like what they come up with?

Though I have yet to see Keyakizaka46 perform live - oh, if only - this is a group who has impressed me immensely this year already. I truly look forward to their up-coming releases and PV's for the New Year, and hope that I further invest my time into them and figure out a favourite member who is not Hirate Yurina.

They're a good group, and who knows? Maybe 2019 will be the year I truly (finally) connect with a 46/48 group. Fingers crossed.

Another HYPER JAPAN this very winter brought me to the likes of BANZAI JAPAN, a girl-group made up of 17 or so members who come from various prefectures within Japan. With an aim to promote their various prefectures to their fans, these girls really pack a punch thanks to their energy, bright costumes and cute looks. Each member has a unique appeal, since seeing them at HYPER JAPAN, I cannot help but adore these girls completely. Charismatic, fun on stage and very considerate towards their fans, meeting BANZAI JAPAN had to be one of the best idol experiences I have had since entering the concert circuit around a year ago (almost 2!).

Though only 7 of the members could come to the UK for the weekend performances, there was definitely a sense of unity and love in the air with these girls. It was also very obvious that these members truly care about their fans, going above and beyond during meet and greets - they extended their 30 minute slot to an extra hour and a half because there were so many people who wanted more than a simple cheki! - and even preparing a fan-walk around London on their day off from performing. If that isn't dedication to the fans, then I don't know what is!

These girls are bright, fun and sparkling, and they seem a little more unique and willing than other idols. I really love what they do, and even though their gimmick might not be that original, there is something about them that is just so appealing. So, meeting BANZAI JAPAN was incredible, and I hope I can meet them again one day. Thank you, BANZAI JAPAN, for making 2018 so wonderful! Here's to watching you grow even more in 2019.

Of course, where would I be without Houkago Princess? The group may be slowing down a little in terms of music now that they are indies again, but with a DVD release, Maika's solo mini-album, HouPri YOUTH's single release and Houkago Princesses more recent single, Kaguya no Negai wo and a music card release for Uchuu Ichi no Christmas (2018 ver.), the group has definitely been busy in many aspects! Of course, 2018 alone has been a big year for the group, because it marked the year that HouPri as a whole changed its lineup almost completely.

With the departures of Kojima Mayumi, Shirosaki Himari, Odagiri Nana, Yamaguchi Miran and Kizuki Saori, HouPri lost five members, three of whom were core to the group in both its major and indies period. Then, the lineup saw a further change with the re-addition of Michishige Saho, who had been demoted the year before, as well as the additions of Yukino Yuria, Yanagawa Natsumi, Kohinata Nanase, Tani Nobara and Takano Hiyori. Furthermore, Sekine Sasara was made Leader, whilst Maika stayed as the Deputy-Lead. So... all around, a pretty damn hectic year within the HouPri group and fandom, huh?

Still, it's been exciting, and with such a fresh lineup, I hope that we will see a change of pace in vocals from Houkago Princess come 2019. It has been extremely stagnant in terms of vocals since Maika joined way back in 2015, so to see them freshen up the line distribution will be a plus. So, 2019... who gonna get dem lines?

Another girl I got to see perform live, 2& - otherwise known as Saki - made her UK stage debut this June alongside NECRONOMIDOL and Zekkyo60, and proceeded to amaze me with her performance style and big voice. Though a small singer, Saki packs a punch with her singing and use of gymnastics on-stage, and further proves to be a funny, cute idol of sorts thanks to her love of sweets and cute conversation topics when doing cheki and talks with her.

I really was not aware of Saki until this year, and though I did some research into her, I didn't really get into her music until it was performed live. I love what she does now, but I think it's her interactions which are the most memorable for me. Plus, her love of sweets can border on comedic to a degree, and I love an idol who can make me laugh with a personality trait as simple as 'loving sweets to a fault'.

She's a cute idol,a nd she definitely made my 2018 a memorable one in not only her performance style, but with her personality and charm, too. She may not speak much English, but she tries, and what she comes out with is adorable and funny. Hopefully come 2019 I will get to meet her once again and experience the true Saki experience all over again. Please, 2019... be good to me!

Hello again, =LOVE! A group who had a memorable debut the year before now return as a group who created new memories for my 2018. With some catchy music, appealing visuals and great dynamic, how can you not love =LOVE? They are such an appealing group, and despite not seeing them live (however much I wanted to), I do think that they made my 2018 memorable with their sound and style.

Of course, I look forward to what the group brings next year, as well. With auditions underway for new members, =LOVE will have their first lineup change since their formation, so I look forward to how the new additions might change the current members, and how it may change their look and appeal as a group. It will be interesting, to say the least, but I can't say I am not excited.

=LOVE were memorable this year, but I think 2019 will be even more promising for them. Hopefully they will continue to further their music and visual style, similar to what they did this year. So, =LOVE... can we get a horror story MV next year? Thanks.

Of The Idols Themselves

A small, dedicated section to the individual idols themselves who I adore most. Something about them made me love them more this past 2018, and here I will share some memories of why they appealed to me more, or why they impressed me. This is a list of Oshi's, of you will, the ones who stood out. It's time to recognise the girls of 2018 who truly appealed to me...~

Of course, Ikuta Erina stands tall as my Queen Bee of all Idols. Though I may not have been that keen on Morning Musume this year in general, I will never deny my love for Eripon. An idol who has truly blossomed, I feel like 2019 has showcased a positive side to my Queen Oshi, to a point where people are starting to really notice her charms. And yes, I will sit here and say 'urgh, FINALLY' over and over again, because damn it took y'all a while.

Eripon has truly shined this year. From golfing to modelling, appealing to the masses and showcasing her improvement in singing and dancing, I really can't help but notice that Eripon has found her place in Hello! Project and Idoldom. She is glowing, and I think that is amazing. I am so proud of this girl and all her achievements, and I only hope that she will continue to grow as a performer, idol, personality and person throughout 2019. And of course, the more she grows, the more I will love her, because that is the way of the Eripon lifestyle, yo.

And, for the sake of saying it... please don't fucking graduate next year, Eripon. PLEASE!

Tsukishiro Himari is a new addition to the Oshi list, because up until earlier this year, I just knew her by looks alone and was not really that bothered with NECRONOMIDOL until I listened to one of their albums. And, damn, I was missing out, because Himari is not only gorgeous, but she's a true personality and really funny. She's super damn kind, too, and after meeting her and watching her in-person, I can safely say that I chose damn wisely in terms of Oshi-status for NECRONOMIDOL.

I purely based my first decision on making Himari my Oshi for her looks, but seriosuly, she's great. She is a kind and funny soul who stalks people's twitters - even if you are not necessarily her fan, per say - and is caring when you meet her in-person. Yes, I acknowledge this may be a part of her act as an idol, but regardless, it really surprised me just how gentle and sweet she was. It endeared me to her more after meeting her, and she was still kind even when I cried in front of her twice. Truly, she's a kind soul.

I think what makes her even cuter is her clumsiness, though. I won't get into it too much - I have a fair few idols to get through this year - but, Himari is just a saint in general. Adorable, funny, clumsy and sweet, this idol made my year by just being there and being wonderful. I am so happy I could meet her and realise I made a good decision in who should be my favourite idol within NECRONOMIDOL, and I regret nothing. I really look forward to seeing how much more she grows within 2019, because with new members on the horizon, Himari will finally be a senpai...

And a senpai Himari is actually a weird thing to acknowledge. Oh, dear.

2018 brought us KAYANO, a member of LONDON BLUE who joined earlier within the year after a few member departures from the group. Though a newer addition, KAYANO quickly became a senpai after the additions of RINA, RINKA and KYOKA to the group, but no matter what her status, she always seems to showcase her maturity and cool nature within the group. I guess it's not surprising she is a cool member, though, because she is the oldest within the group, and has no desire to hide her true self through the use of fake, cute vocals or by wearing adorable, fluffy clothing.

KAYANO is just a sight to behold. Upon researching LONDON BLUE before going to HYPER JAPAN, it was KAYANO's unique looks that drew me in. Then, upon meeting her, it was her voice and personality, and after that, it was her ability to try and adapt to a situation and help not just herself, but her peers as well. KAYANO truly has a big sister appeal to her, someone who looks out for the others, and honestly, I could easily mistake her for the leader if it wasn't for the fact that I knew who the leader of LONDON BLUE is. So, to say I am impressed with KAYANO is an understatement, but also... damn, I'm happy I chose her as my Oshi before meeting her, only for her to further prove that she is my Oshi of this group!

KAYANO is great. KAYANO is a joy and I loved every second she was on stage, and every second of meeeting her. This girl is a gem, and though she might not be your stere-typical cute idol, she is someone who knows herself and who is aware of what she can bring to LONDON BLUE. I adore her, and I only hope that 2019 can bring me even more KAYANO goodness in terms of music and PV's, because god damnit... I love KAYANO!

Like a fair few of the idols on this list, Fujisaki Fumi is a new addition to the oshi list. Though I only met her this winter, Fumi left a great impression on me upon meeting her at HYPER JAPAN. Charismatic, cheeky, cute and a little bit weird, Fumi truly stood out amongst her fellow members for her nature, and then for her voice. Because, daaaaamn, Fumi can sing!

Incredibly, here's an Oshi I hadn't pinned down before meeting her. Upon researching BANZAI JAPAN before meeting them at HYPER JAPAN, I initially pegged Mai as my favourite, however Fumi is the girl that won me over. She's a cheerful, cute and chubby idol who really is a ball of fun to be around, someone I can just see myself getting attached to pretty quickly. I just loved interacting with her and getting to know her even more.

So, I'm sorry that I oshi-henned Mai, but... Fumi. I really love Fumi! So, for 2019 I hope that I can love Fumi a little to a lot more, and hopefully learn more about her! Plus, we need a solo song from her again. She really is a good singer.

Though Sasaki Miho continues to reign as one of my older Oshi's, I am still amazed by her. After re-debuting as an idol with READY TO KISS just last year, I continue to adore this girl the more she appears in music videos and singles. She's lovely, an idol who seems to care for her fans and for the career she has chosen to continue, and I just adore her.

Plus, I found out that she's also a Twitter-stalker, very similar to Himari of NECRONOMIDOL. Miho regularly likes tweets from fans, even tweets that are not READY TO KISS or Miho specific... so, that only endears me to her more, because it proves she's considerate towards her fans. That makes me happy.

Miho is adorable, and Miho is life. I am aware that she and Eripon are truly tying for Oshi-The-First at this point, because I adore them both equally, but I can't help it. I love this girl so much, I think the world of her (as much as a fan can, of course) and she is just one of my favourites. Hopefully, 2019 will prove to be a fruitful year for Miho-tan. I really look forward to seeing what she does alongside READY TO KISS, and I anticipate more of her Twitter stalking, too.

Of Memorable Debuts

Let's dedicate our time to the groups that debuted this year! From Japan to the Philippines, here are a few of the groups that stood out with this debuts and caught my eye! In a small look-back, let's reminisce on just who 2018 delivered to us all...~

With a surprise-attack for a debut, Aidoru Sozai really blew up the indie idol scene within the Philippines thanks to their polished look and already-growing fanbase prior to their official debut reveal. Acknowledged by many as a more fitting idol group in look and presence when compared to MNL48, Aidoru Sozai created some form of conflict when hosts for MNL48 claimed them to be amateurs. Still, the group has gained a lot of traction, and are now headlining acts for various conventions and even released their own song and music video in under barely a year since debuting!

2018 has truly been an incredible year for this group of girls, and through all their efforts and hard work, I am happy to have seen them grow and blossom together. Of course, there is still a ways to go for them, but I have complete faith in Aidoru Sozai and their abilities as a group. They have truly proven themselves to be more than a 'cover' group who perform at estivals and conventions, and I really do see them as a force to be reckoned with. It must be said that these girls will stand as inspiration for future idol groups within the Philippines, too, because they really have set the bar high.

Though I am currently not following them that closely right now, I anticipate what 2019 will bring for these girls. Truly, I look forward to Aidoru Sozai and all that their future brings them.

Until a friend introduced me to their content, I was not aware of Chuning Candy. With that said, for the few months I have known about them, I must say I'm impressed. Cute, charming and energetic, these girls are vibrant thanks to their pastel, 90's look and questionable styling choices, and though their music is not always up my alley, it is entertaining. So, props to Pony Canyon for creating such an adorable group!

I can not say much more on the matter, because I only started following the group recently. Still, they're a lot of fun, and I only hope that Chuning Candy continue to grow once the New Year hits. They seem fairly promising, so I wish them success in the New Year, and look forward to seeing their content and style grow with them.

IZ*ONE are a fairly recent addition in terms of grouos, and though I am not that interested in them yet, I suppose I will look forward to what they create come 2019. Already a hit with the masses, IZ*ONE have shot to international-ish fame with both Japanese, Korean and English fans thanks to the group being a product of the 48 and Produce101 community. It is a fun combination, however for a none-follower of either group / show, there may be a lack of interest in what these girls bring to the plate.

Anyways, I look forward to seeing if IZ*ONE change their tune and image a little come the New Year, because whilst what they have now is catchy and cute, it's also generic and forgettable, despite its pretty packaging. So, for 2019... make them more memorable?

In other K-pop news, the industry brought us Honey Popcorn, a group made up of three Japanese AV actresses and gravure models, all of whom had previously been idols in Japan. I actually didn't follow this group at all (aside from watching their PV), however their debut is hella memorable. From the news coverage to the PV, the look of the girls and their visuals, there is no way I could forget that Honey Popcorn debuted. It would be hard not to.

Despite releasing only one single this year, Honey Popcorn did indeed take the J-pop and K-pop fandoms by storm, both in a negative and positive way. With the knowledge that these three were active in either AV or gravure, the group gained a lot of attention, but also found many fans through it. Since their debut, the group has lost one member so far, and from what I know they are currently holding auditions.

So, for 2019, let's hope that new members emerge, and that the group continues it's streak of AV / Gravure idol members who become K-pop singers. It's an interesting concept, and it's a fun one, too. But, I doubt I'll follow the group into 2019... sorry.

With 2018 slipping away, I can not help but acknowledge the disaster of debuts that was MNL48. Though the group did eventually find its footing upon its debut release, there is not denying that MNL48 was a shipwreck waiting to happen, what with the multiple member graduations, a mess of auditions, and then the hosts of the groups show openly mocking indie idol groups that were in no way threatening MNL48 itself. It was, in so many ways, a hot mess, and it had the general J-pop fandom watching with bated breath as it crumbled.

And then MNL48 picked itself back up again, amazingly, and we had a generally good year once the first generation was up and running, and a new single released. So, all in all... MNL48 was a memorable debut because it had a hell of a year that was both good and bad.

So, yeah. This was a rollercoaster ride if ever there was one, and I actually watched most of it from the sidelines. The funny thing is that, with MNL48, I was totally against them at the beginning of 2018, before finally finding myself rooting for the Manila based girl group at the end of the year. So, it's definitely been one Hell of a year for both fans and members alike.

Let's just hope that 2019 is a tad more peaceful, aye?

2018 brought us King&Prince, the latest from Johnny's Entertainment, and a complete HouPri replica, but with guys. And damnit, they're a lot of fun, though their music videos are eerily similar to the first two major debut singles from HouPri... >_>

Given I have a love for gimmicks and all things fairy tale, there is no denying that this group is up my alley in terms of look, style and flare, however I really have not kept up with them, but only because JE groups are harder to follow. Their PV's aren't that accessible, and their live videos are just annoying to watch, so whilst I would actually love to follow this group, I can't do so without good audio or full PV's to view. It's just how I am.

So, for 2019... I guess I just want easily accessible PV's and audio for these guys? Thatwould be a bonus, but I am not holding my breath. JE is so damn hard to get into, at least it is for me. Urgh.

And I had better not forget Suzuki Airi, especially when I take into consideration y'all would kill me if I did. A much-anticipated debut, Suzuki Airi came into 2018 with a rocking debut album and some snazzy PV's, all of which hyped up the fans and created a wave of delight within the H!P fandom itself. And yes, everyone who loved the debut album are of course anticipating all that Airi will bring forth come 2019.

... Well, not everyone. I really don't give two figs about Airi, if I'm going to be completely honest with you.

Though I loved the music videos and Start again from Airi's solo debut, I have no desire to follow her just yet, or at least until she hooks me with something else in a future release. I am aware of how incredible she is as a singer, the charisma she exudes and how fun she is as a person, but right nowI can not get into her music. It may be the style, it may just be the tastes I have right now, but truth be told: Airi is not my cup of tea at this point in time.

I wish Airi all the best for 2019, and hope that she gains a successful career as a solo artist. She is damn gifted, and I do look forward to her future works, but let's be real; I won't personal look out for them, and will probably take a gander if I fall upon them by accident.

Of Disbandments and Graduations

Each year that passes by we shall see a disbandment, graduations and withdrawals of members and groups we adore. Though I can not list them all, I am going to note the ones that have had a bigger impact on myself. So, with that said, let's take a look at some of the losses within the Idol world we have had toendure this year alone...

I feel like the Idol fandom came to a stand still when Cheeky Parade announced their disbandment. It was sudden, unexpected and far too soon, and it shook a ot of the iDOL STREET fans and enraged many. For me, a casual listener of Cheeky Parade and a fan of few of their songs, it actually surprised me. I was saddened by it, because I really liked Cheeky Parade, and since they broke apart I have continued to remember them fondly, but also acknowledged that they are no more.

It is sad, and I am well aware of how much I miss them, because I really did love their unique style of music and their general charm and appeal.

This is a group who will be sorely missed. I understand the anger from the fans and the pain that they are enduring. I question Avex on why they disbanded such a good, promising and strong group (whilst simultaneously wondering why they kept the weak link, Super Girls) , and I wonder what could have been.

No matter what though, Cheeky Parade will be missed. I am sad that I will be heading into 2019 without any more of their music, and even sadder that their 2018 delivered a sudden, somewhat quiet departure from the loud and proud girl group.

If ChikiPa's disbandment wasn't a shocker, GEM's certainly was. A giant slap in the face for the fans, GEM were not even given a departure single before Avex mass-graduated the members in an attempt to reform iDOL STREET. Announced in January, gone by March, GEM were given an undue departure that really did enrage and upset the fans.

I initially forgot to add this into my Departures and Graduations count because, honestly, it happened so quickly within the year that I forgot about it completely until writing up my ChikiPa bit. And then I remembered, and I raged. And yes, I still hate Avex with every fibre of my being, because they basically annhilated two of the best groups they had within the shit-storm that is iDOL STREET.

This was a shocker and just unprecedented. Avex are shit for doing this, and I am sad that not only do we go into 2019 with no more GEM, but that we had to suffer through 2018 without any GEM related music, and the knowledge that Avex really don't care about their acts. What dicks you are, Avex. Many urgh's and disgruntled faces towards you.

We will miss you, GEM, and we will curse Avex for years to come for what they did to you.

I am aware that Babyraids JAPAN are not everyone's cup of tea, but I had a soft spot for them. Debuting back in 2012, I actually never cared for Babyraids JAPAN back when they had their original name, only learning to love them once the group had rebranded itself and showcased a flare for loud, energetic songs that were catchy and fun to sing along to. So, to see them leave the idol and music scene was quite sad, however they left in their usual style - loud, proud, hopeful and wonderful as ever.

Thankfully, Babyraids JAPAN's final run felt complete, as if it was the right thing to do for the group. It was not as sudden or unexpected as GEM or Cheeky Parade, delivering a finale that is befitting of the group and showcasing the proper respect towards the members and fans that is needed when a group leaves the idol scene. So, despite being sad about the groups disbandment, I am glad to see that Babyraids JAPAN were given decent treatment at least towards their departure, and that there were celebrated properly in both sound and visuals.

It will be sad to never see them perform as a group again come 2019, and I will miss the sound of Babyraids JAPAN for sure. Still, I wish all the best for the members as they travel down their unique paths now. I'm going to miss the group, but I know that I will find new groups along the way. So, for all they have done: Thank you, Babyraids JAPAN.

From the graduation side of things, Houkago Princess experienced its fair share of leavers. By October, Odagiri Nana, Yamaguchi Miran and Kizuki Saori gave their final bows on-stage before returning to a life of normality and simplicity. It was a shocker for a lot of fans - first, because it was the first three-person graduation within the grouo, and secondly, it was freakin' Odagiri Nana leaving, yo - and it certainly changed the group a lot for the first time since their indies period.

This was a change of pace, one that was much needed, but one we didn't anticipate so suddenly.

With three big graduations, this does bring up a lot of worry for the future of Houkago Princess. Three core members, all of whom have a great deal of popularity, and three of whom have big roles as lead singers or dancers within the group, have left, leaving a big gap. But, it also leaves potential for the group to grow more, and to give new faces a chance at becoming front members. In so many ways, this is a risky move to lose three key members, but it's also positive in that it can grant others a chance at showcasing their skills, skills that would otherwise be ignored because of extreme bias from management.

In regards to my own feelings, I was saddened and a little shocked, but not wholly surprised either. I mean, it was to happen eventually. The shock was also mostly because the announcement was merely 1-2 months before the graduation itself, something I had not anticipated for the three biggest members of the group. Still, it's happened, HouPri are still going, and honestly, I look forward to 2019 and what they bring to the plate as a group.

It's the dawn of a new era. HouPri have changed, and I am ready for it. Are you?

Continuing this whole HouPri graduation thing, I will acknowledge the loss of my darling Kojima Mayumi, who departed the group this August at Tokyo Idol Festival, the very place where she had been told she would debut as a member of HouPri. It was a bitter-sweet end to what I believe is a short tenure, however, it seems that Mayumi left with little regrets and a smile on her face, and I think that is all I need as a fan to keep me going.

It is hard, losing a favourite from a group you love, however I am glad that I was able to be a fan of Mayumi's, however brief. She was a good idol, someone who shined on-stage and delivered memorable, fun performances. I will miss her, but I understand that idols come and go, and for Mayumi she came, she went, and she left an impression on me. So, thank you Mayumi for being my idol. I am happy that I at least saw most of 2018 with you as a member of HouPri.

Another graduation from HouPri that surprised me - and damn, it still hits me hard when I think about it - is Shirosaki Himari's own departure from the group. One of the youngest members at the time, Himari was the member I was least likely to expect to leave, especially as she had been there for only 4 years. Still, it seems like Himari herself was content with her departure from the group, so whilst it still shocks me a little that she left so soon after Mayumi, I am happy that Himari herself was happy with her time in the group and her inevitable graduation.

Still, it's weird not to see her in the music videos. I am so used to her being a part of the lineup, you know? She was as integral to the PV's as Nana was, by this point!

I am going to miss Himari, I really will, but I wish her luck in her regular life. I hope she is successful and that she lives life to the fullest. Thank you for being our idol, Himari. We will miss you!

Here is a graduation that many will agree was sudden, though some will celebrate it because they're dicks. Ogata Haruna, who graduated to focus on school, left Morning Musume '18 this year with a sudden, shocking announcement that resulted in her departure around 3 months later. It was unexpected, fans were shocked, and for a lot of my friends, this became an emotional time. No one really expected Haachin to leave this early on, not when Morning Musume members tend to stay beyond 5 years at this point in time, however... it happened.

And damn. I was shocked, too. I never anticipated Haruna leaving, not yet. She still had so much going for her.

It was a while back, yes, but I think this graduation is still fresh in everyone's minds, especially for those who loved her. Such a cute, charismatic girl, Ogata was a good talker, fun to watch and brilliant when she smiled. Yes, she needed to work a little harder to keep up with her peers, but she tried her best and never stayed down when she fell. This girl is a hard worker, and it must have taken a lot of thought and emotions to make the decision to graduate, and whilst I do miss her, I applaud her for choosing what she felt was most important.

So, this graduation was sad and sudden, but Ogata is a wonderful girl. I am glad she chose the best thing for herself. Despite only having her for a short while, we were lucky to have her as an idol. Thank you for everything, Haachin. We miss you.

And then there was Iikubo Haruna. A graduation that is still fresh, Harunan truly captivated us all by the end of her tenure. In all of her pictures and performances, she glowed. There is an undeniable happiness about her that shows us all she was ready to leave and that she had no regrets, and by the end of it all she was stunning, a masterpiece of an idol who had grown from a gangly, uncoordinated teenager to a beautiful young woman worthy of being on stage.

Harunan radiated, and everyone noticed.

Though some may see her departure from Morning Musume as sudden, others will notice that Haruna herself was ready to take the next step forward as a performer, entertainer and actress. She looked amazing, and I can not help but feel proud of all that she has achieved as an idol. Though I will miss her and find it weird not seeing her face, her smile or her charisma in a music video, I look forward to all that she can bring us now that she is working alone and looking towards a brighter future as a tarento.

This graduation is a positive one, the most positive of all that have happened this year in my eyes. So, thank you for everything, Haruna. You were a incredible idol, and we thank you for shining on stage for this long.

I hope your 2019 will be incredible.

Of Groups To Keep An Eye On

We are hitting the last stretch, the part where we look at the groups I would like to keep up with come the New Year. So, without furrther delay, it's time to look at the groups I would like to watch out for in 2019...

2018 delivered NECRONOMIDOL to me, and now I want to continue my path towards becoming a dedicated fan of theirs. So, for 2019 I want to keep an eye out on NECRONOMIDOL, especially when you consider that come January, they will have changed members and lost their front-runner Sari and their cute doll Hina. So, there's quite a bit to anticipate from 2019 already, and that's only the beginning!

So, 2019 and NECRONOMIDOL... let's keep an eye out for them.

LONDON BLUE is another one I need to keep an eye out for, firstly because of my recent surge of love for them, and secondly because this group may also seea change of pace in members. With the departure of RINA and RINKA this December, LONDON BLUE will act as a three person unit until they add new girls. So, I look forward to seeing who they may potentially add, whilst also looking forward to their future activities in radio, performances and music.

I love this group, so it makes sense that I would put them in this list, right?

Okay, so I have not talked a lot about 26-ji no Masquerade, because whilst they have made my 2018 pretty damn good in terms of music, I can not say that I have followed them excessively,because nope. I haven't. Still, for 2019 I want to follow them more because visually and musically, I really like them. They are appealing, the visuals they showcase are pretty to look at, and I like the sound palette they offer their fans.

I want to continue following them, so for 2019 I hope I can get into them more, learn about the members, and perhaps even become a die-hard fan of theirs. Is that too much to hope for?

Well, Chuning Candy debuted only this year, but so far they seem promising. Granted, I like only one of their songs, but I hope that come 2019, I will like so much more by them, and  also hope that I will love a lot more about them. Right now, however, I have very little knowledge on them as members, singers... etc.

So, 2019; hook me up with some Chuning Candy goodness!

Believe it or not, I do want to like MNL48 a lot. I may begrudge myself of liking them - is it a guilty pleasure? Do I pity like them? - but I do want to like them more. I enjoy their music, and though their budget could be bigger and better, I also like their videos. They are a fun group at the end of the day, and regardless of the shit storm start of the year they had, they pulled through and the girls have created a good group.

So, for 2019 let's watch over MNL48, and pray for a decent year in music and MV's, yes?

After meeting them this year, I would love to learn so much more about BANZAI JAPAN come 2019. The group is great, the members are charming and the songs are right up my alley, so of course I want to learn even more about them as a group and to also find out about the members individually. O fcourse, I want to keep Fumi as my Oshi.

For 2019, let's learn about BANZAI JAPAN!

I am doing this for you, Kukiko... MeseMoa., a group I generally don't follow because it's a boy group, but also a group that I am intrigued about because of their background, the history they have, and because Kukiko is a fan, and I adore Kukiko. So, come 2019, I would like to try more MeseMoa. videos and music and understand why people like them. Hopefully I can, but I may have to reinforce help for this one.

So, 2019... MeseMoa., aye?

Kobushi Factory have been a worry for a lotof fans this year, as this was the first year they acted as afive-nin unit completely. That said, their music was great, the group dynamic feels stronger and better than ever, and I actively have an interest in them now. So, for 2019 I want that interest to grow stronger. I like Kobushi Factory, their music and image now, and I want them to become a stronger group come next year.

Next year, let's love Kobushi Factory even more! They are a great group, and if H!P screw them up... Yeah, I'll be mad.

With potential new members coming this 2019, I look forward to what =LOVE will bring to the plate. And despite the groups undeniable image of cuteness and purity, I actively look forward to seeing them grow and mature as members in both sound and image with or without new members. After Teokure Caution especially, I want to see how far this group will go musically and visually.

In 2019, I hope that =LOVE grow even more and showcase their skills in both acting and singing.

And Of Those I Abandon (Kind Of)

And then we come to the finale, where I talk about that one company I am trying to abandon... kinda.

This is a difficult one, for I am aware that I will never escape Hello! Project. Still, as a fan I have come to understand myself more and akncowledge that, right now, I have no place fro H!P as a whole within my heart. I will continue too update myself, follow specific members and groups and listen to their songs, but I accept that I do not and can not put the entire spectrum of Hello! Project on a pillar of sorts. If I do that, I sacrifice other groups in favour of something I care very little about.

Anyway, I have somewhat 'abandoned' H!P, but not completely. Though I no longer see myself as a fan, I will not neglect it. It is not in my nature as a fan of idols in general. So, even though I will not focus on H!P in 2019, I hope that the company brings us great music and even better music videos.

I look forward to watching Hello! Pro from afar come 2019, but I am moreso looking forward to discoverin a few morenew idols in the New Year...


And to conclude this conclusion of 2018: Idol Edition, I would like to say that this year in Idols was a good one. Though there have been ups-and-downs, undeniable surprising and shockers, and some weird rides along the way, it has still been enjoyable and entertaining, nonetheless. I have been able to do a lot this year, and through it I was able to discover some new favourites. There are many idols I want to see into 2019, and many I would lvoe to discover come the New Year.

Hopefully you have all had a wonderful year in Idols as well. I would love to see just who made your year incredible, and who you will be watching over in 2019 as the groups we love and adore grow stronger than ever.

Anyway, thank you for reading everyone. I hope you are well and that you have had an enjoyable Christmas, and I hope you look forward to the New Year. Until the next post however, please take care and rest well.


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