Sunday, 29 December 2019

Of Album Releases and Graduations: Houkago Princess to Release 2nd Album as Three Members Descend The Throne!

On December 22nd 2019, Houkago Princess finally revealed the covers for their second studio-album release. Ttitled My Princess II, the album will act as a sequel to the groups first album, My Princess.

Two editions will be available to purchase, both in a Regular Edition form and a Limited edition release. The Limited version will include a DVD that contains the groups three most recent music videos. Both editions will come with 13 tracks from the groups latest releases, as well as three '2020' renditions of their more popular and recognisable songs.

Left: Regular Edition  |  Right: Limited Edition

Taking on the theme of My Princess, My Hero, My Princess II aims to showcase both the cute and strong sides to a Princess. By creating an expression of strength on both covers, whilst still maintaining the individual cuteness of each girl,  My Princess II is the groups representation of a Princess who will face adversity head-on and become her own type of Hero.

The Regular Edition cover features the groups most recent costumes from their single releases for Abrakatabu Luv!, Kaguya ni Negai wo and Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi. The Limited Edition, on the other hand, includes costumes from the groups major debut release Seifuku Cinderella up until Shin Jidai Princess, with the only costume missing being the outfit for Sayonara Duarena.

This will also be the last release for members Yukino Yuria, Yamamoto Natsumi and Takano Hiyori, who will all be graduating from the group at the end of the release events for My Princess II.

Listed below are the prices and track lists for the up-coming album:

Album Prices:

Regular Edition - ¥3,000 (approx. £20.55 / $26.94)
Limited Edition - ¥4000 (approx. £27.40 / $35.92)

Track List:

1. Shin Jidai Princess
2. Furuten LOVE&ROLL
3. Kaguya ni Negai wo
4. Abrakatabu Luv!
5. Jasmine 〜 Kimi no Kokoro ga Shinjiru mama ni 〜 (2020 ver.)
6. GoMyWay (Sekine Sasara & Miyashita Maika)
7. Shin Jidai Princess
8. Kaguyahime, Tsuki ni kaeru
9. LOVE FIGHTER (Sekine Sasara)
10. Uchuu Ichi no Christmas (2018 ver.)
11. Juliet ~Kimi wo Suki na 100 no Riyuu~ (2020 ver.)
12. Manatsu no Yoru no Yume (2020 ver.)
13. Mangetsu no Encore

Limited Edition DVD:

1. Abracadabu Luv! MV
2. Kaguya ni Negai wo MV
3. Princess no Teigi MV

Random Things to Note:

- The most recent member, Sawada Momoka, has noted that she wears the costume for Abrakatabu Luv! on both covers and that she was glad to transform into this princess. During her time as a Cadet within HouPri YOUTH, it was the costume Momoka saw the most during HouPri performances. Being able to wear the costume on both jacket covers is an emotional moment for her.

- Both Michishige Saho and Maika are wearing the costumes of their favourite fairy tale / folklore Princesses on the Limited Edition jacket cover. Maika is a big fan of The Little Mermaid, whilst Saho loves Kaguya-Hime. Saho also wears the Kaguya ni Negai wo costume on the Regular Edition cover.

- Sekine Sasara is wearing the Princess variant of the Himitsu no Tiara to Gelato costume, which was also her debut single.

- The pairings on the Regular Edition cover seem to be in 'seniority' order. Saho, Maika and Sasara wear Kaguya ni Negai wo outfits, and are the most senior within HouPri. Yuria, Nobara and Nanase all sport the Princess no Teigi dresses and have seniority (or age, in Nanase's case) over Natsumi, Hiyori and Momona, who either joined a little later in 2018, or are a bit younger than the members they debuted with (Natsumi).

- The covers look as if they are inspired by movie posters similar to Star Wars or The Avengers by Disney. The feeling the jacket covers transmit are epic and cool, which is very different from previous single or album covers that HouPri has released in the past.

Personal Comments:

In regards to the covers themselves, I really like them! Though they undeniably give off a Star Wars or Avengers move poster vibe, I am enjoying how different these kinds of covers are to their usual fare of cuteness and sparkles. It's a big change of pace for sure, but it's a very welcome change - the face of a strong Princess who is still cute! It is honestly a great idea, one that I never saw coming... and yet i still feel a little disappointed with the jacket covers, regardless of how epic and strong they seem.

Honestly speaking, I was anticipating a new outfit from the group. Of course I understand the reasoning behind this - it's a way to celebrate the groups various transformations since 2015, as well as a way to acknowledge the various types of Princesses that are out there. Head-strong Princesses, cute ones, jealous ones... you get the idea. It's an homage to all that this group has accomplished in both their Major Debut and Indies eras, and I love that, but the disappointment in not seeing a new costume is so real. I just wish we had been given something fresh, but of course this is still great. It's still a fantastic jacket cover - a lot better than Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi's covers, for sure - but I would have liked to have seen a new dress for the album release.

Moving on from that little whine-fest, I'm also happy to see that we have three re-recordings for the year of 2020. The first one surprised me, because it's Jasmine and whilst i adore that song, I never expected to see it redone or brought back to be sung by the whole group. Secondly, I am super excited to see that Manatsu no Yoru no Yume is back for 2020! Yes, it's a Team Twinkle release - very predictable, given that was how the song basically worked before Team Twinkle were even invented - but to see one of the groups most iconic works back in full force? Amazing!

Also, I hope this means that we can hear Momoka's voice more. As a Team Twinkle member, I demand that she has at least 1 full line and that neither Maika nor Sasara hog the entire track. We cannot be denied Momoka's cuteness nor her power!

One last whinge: Where in the fuck are the album exclusive songs, aye!?
... Ahem. That is all. Now, onto the next piece of news...

Descending The Throne - Yukino Yuria, Yamamoto Natsumi and Takano Hiyori to Graduate

I feel bad putting this like, at the end of the post, but here goes:

On December 27th 2019, Houkago Princess released the statement that Yukino Yuria, Yamamoto Natsumi and Takano Hiyori will be graduating from Houkago Princess in 2020, around January ~ February time. The decision for the three graduating after the album release was made out of the respect of the members' own decisions to leave.

Initially debuting within the groups main lineup in 2018, Yuria has participated in two physical single releases with the group, as well as an m-card release in the form of Uchuu Ichi no Christmas (2018 ver.). Both Natsumi and Hiyori have participated in one single and one m-card release with the group. My Princess II will be the last release to feature these three members.

All three girls will more than likely have a group graduation, and will leave Houkago Princess once all release events for My Princess II have ended.

Below are some very, very rough translations of the members' statements regarding their impending graduations.

Yukino Yuria

I, Yukino Yuria, have decided to graduate from Houkago Princess after all release events for My Princess II, which releases on 1/29/2020, have ended.

I was really happy that my dream of becoming an Idol, a dream I had chased since childhood, came true, and I feel fulfilled that I could become a member of Houkago Princess.

Above all, the time spent on the same stage as the seniors I waited to join was like a dream come true, so no matter how many times I look back, this experience is my treasure.

And I will never forget the fans who have supported me a lot. Even though I would sometimes show my weaknesses, even when I worried I a lot, I thank you for always being kind, laughing and enjoying the live performances.

Thank you for liking Yuria.

There is one month remaining, but I will be glad if you can support Yukino Yuria until the last minute.

Yamamoto Natsumi

I, Yamamoto Natsumi, have decided to end my activities as a Princess within Houkago Princess at the end of the release events for My Princess II, released on January 29th, 2020.

After two years of working in both Houkago Princess YOUTH and finally being promoted to the Regular member lineup of Houkago Princess, there have been a lot of fun, happy things that have happened, new and wonderful things that you wouldn't normally experience. Yet as I experienced so much I also had many thoughts and worries, so I made the decision to go down another path instead.

Everyone who found and supported me when I was immature told me 'You can do your best'. I am happy that I could meet you, so thank you very much. I will never forget the times that we have spent together.

During the rest of my life I will be grateful to everyone that I have met. I will do my best so that you like the Yamamoto Natsumi that stands here now. Thank you very much.

Takano Hiyori

First of all, I am sorry to everyone who supports us that this announcement has to be made.

I, Takano Hiyori, have decided to graduate from Houkago Princess upon the release of My Princess II, which will be released on January 29th next year.

As I continued with my Idol activities, I wanted to know more about the world outside of being an Idol.

I am sorry for being selfish.

Right now it is undecided whether I will continue performing after my graduation, so there is a chance that I may return, but I might not come back as well. I am sorry for my selfishness once again.

I received this audition thinking 'I will never accomplish this'.

But during that time when I worried about everything, I was happy that I was able to meet such warm people who helped me when I passed.

It has been hard, sad, fun and happy.

I have found fans who like and support me even when I felt weak and crushed.

Thank you for teaching me so much and allowing me to experience something like this.

Thanks for finding me out of all the Idols.

For me, everyone is a treasure.

Thank you for the time we have left, until the end.

Personal Comments:

I was honestly surprised by the triple Grad-Announcement from HouPri, especially when it was in regards to three of the newer members... with that said, it seems this decision was actually made not because the company wanted them out, but because the three members fulfilled their dreams of becoming Idols and simply wanted to do other things in their life.

Though it can seem a little hard to fathom at times, the agency that house Houkago Princess aren't at all worried about ages or anything like that, therefore allowing their members to stay on until they are closer to 30. The oldest member, Michishige Saho, is 28 right now, and though she was asked to either consider graduation or be demoted to the Cadet programme again back in 2017, it seemed more to do with how she couldn't keep up with the group at the time. Yes, I'm still salty about it, but it seems to make some sense I suppose.

Anyways, back on topic - the three members currently seem to want to move forward and do something different, with Yuria achieving her 'Idol dream' as such, Natsumi being worried and deciding to take on another path, and Hiyori simply wanting to focus on doing and seeing more. With all three of them I can understand what they desire, to a degree, more-so Natsumi: I am fairly sure she has recently graduated University, and though she could possibly continue doing her idol activities, she would probably like to pursue whatever her degree is in more seriously, and therefore decided to leave Houkago Princess to search for a job.

For Yuria and Hiyori it seems a little more personal than that, as if both have simply found that their times as Idols are well and truly over. Sometimes an Idol wants to perform for a short time, with Yuria realising that the goal she set out for has been reached, and therefore needs to find a new goal to pursue. With Hiyori, it seems a little more like she is unsure about performing in general.With a lot of uncertainties about whether or not she will continue being a performer, Hiyori has left it somewhat open as to whether or not she could return to the Idol world one day. Who knows?

Regardless of why these girls are leaving however, I am sad. I really like all three members - Hiyori especially - and feel that they could have stayed within the group longer, yet I also respect their wishes as a fan.

I'm happy they get one more music release as members of Houkago Princess, and I am glad that each of them are confident in their decisions to graduate and why. But I am sad that they will leave, and I am sad that I will not get to see them in another release after this. And above all I shall miss them, because even though they were not a part of the group for that long, they are still a piece of Houkago Princesses history and legacy.

Until the final day let's support them. I look forward to all they can accomplish up until that point.


And that is all for today. Thank you for reading, and I hope that you will all have a pleasant day, evening, week and weekend.

Take care,

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