But more to a point, a year on, we can reflect what the graduation was for the elders club. Beforehand, I’d say there were 3 main theories to why Hello! Project graduated all it’s older members:
- Credit crunch time – get rid of the old idols who aren’t doing much and promote the hell out of the younger money makers.
- Elders’ had had enough – a la Maki Goto, the Hello! Project wasn’t very accommodating to new styles they wanted to try
- Nothing changes – graduating the elders was a mutual decision to generate a lot of cash for H!P and UFA and let the girls develope their careers further.
From the looks of things a year on, the theory that proved correct seems to be 3 – although the decision also seems to be more in UFA’s favour, as they have retained the majority of the graduated elders as well as being able to milk the Wonderful Hearts for what it’s worth. But who have the real winners and losers been? Well at least in my eyes…
Congratulation, you are a winner!
1. Mari Yaguchi
Mari Yaguchi is the overall winner in all of this. Since graduating (well a few days before) she released a solo track, has released 2 joint singles (one of which she was lead singer). She seems to have the highest profile of all the Elders Club. Congratulations Mari, less control by UFA on your career and more popularity and success. You even got to sing the theme tune to your favourite anime series – for an otaku, it can’t get much better than that!
2. Yossie & Charmy (AKA HANGRY & ANGRY)
The anti-twin 4th generation double act. A trip to the US last year, an album and an impending tour, and that’s even before we mention stage plays, Ongaku Gatas and solo events. Yossie and Charmy should actually be #1, but there still seems to be a lot of control over these 2 unlike Mari – and if HANGRY & ANGRY wasn’t such a marketing gimmick they would have made it.
3. Melon Kinenbi
Despite the fact that they’re breaking up, Melon Kinenbi had the best year last year for an act outside of Hello! Project, from my perspective. They got to release awesome singles and an awesome album, it’s just too bad they wanted to go into an ultra competitive field of girl-rock from pop. They seemed to make the most use of the freedom which not being a Hello! Project member gave them.
4. Mai Satoda
Mai is probably the most famous non-Morning Musume in Japan at the moment. She’s kept a high public profile by appearing on Hexagon and by releasing a number of singles through them, which have all charted much higher than Country Musume ever did. Saying this – this was all going on before she graduated. Has the graduation made much difference to Mai – probably not! But she’s still a winner.
When Tsuji announced she was married and pregnant, a lot of people thew in the towel. However, she has fought through it all by her uber-popular blog, and her baby clothing range (which looks adorable). Tsuji, we salute you!
And the 3 losers are…
In no order…
Despite having a tour last year, and although she’s taking a break right now, Ayaya seems to have completely fallen off of my radar. Her small “outburst” of jealousy at Gomaki’s album was also duly noted. I really hope she does bring out more material, but maturing into elegant songstress from a strange face pulling idol is not the easiest transition. Also, next time, don’t let the hairdresser put a bowl on your head and cut around it…
V-U-DEN (minus Rika)
What are they doing now? I’ve seen the one with big boobs on a variety show, and I follow her on twitter, but the other 1 is… er…. Well to be fair, V-U-DEN had disbanded before the graduation… somewhat. Oh well, at least they will be forever remembered through Zoku V-U-DEN.
Nice come back girls – Inaba was back MCing concerts every now and then before she ended her contract with UFA. I reckon UFA was able to sell about 4 more albums from your reunion. At least I don’t have to watch them dance anymore at concerts, it was painful.
And the three to look out for…
1. Koharu Kusumi
Because of the way graduations now work, she has left Morning Musume but is still a OG and managed by UFA. Koharu’s still appearing in Oha Star and has got that modelling career to think about, and is the OG we’ve definitely we’re watching out for the most at the moment.
2. Asami Konno
Smartest OG (the only one to have attended university?), and broke history when she rejoined the Hello! Project. Is currently rumored to be becoming a TV reporter. Watch out Japan!
3. Miki Fujimoto
Now happily married to the guy she got kicked out of Morning Musume for dating (and he also ironicly had a better selling single than her last), Mikitty has been quiet for too long. Surely she wont fade into non-existence as a talento? You’re going to do something more Mikitty… aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?
And so this concludes the ramblings. Hopefully next year, we can recap again – maybe by then Yaguchi will be running for priminister of Japan? Mikitty will be having a solo career to rival… hmmm… Maki Goto? And er… Ayaya will have pulled herself together and got a better hair cut. Let’s wait and see!
As Hello! Project seem to be sinking into a deep abyss, how does this years “Petit Best” selection sum up their year musically. From Morning Musume to Melon Kinenbi to MilkyWay the best of H!P is pushed onto this CD.
1. Resonant Blue (Morning Musume)
2. Genghis Khan (Berryz Koubou)
3. Edo No Temari II (℃-ute)
4. 16 Sai no Koi Nante (Natsumi Abe and Mami Yajima（℃-ute）)
5. Kizuna (Aya Matsuura)
6. Nannimo Iwazuni I LOVE YOU (V-U-DEN)
7. Charisma Kiirei (Melon Kinenbi)
8. Papancake (Tsukishima Karin starring Koharu Kusumi (Morning Musume))
9. Anataboshi (MilkyWay)
10. Seihun! Love Lunch (Atena & Robikerotsu)
11. Come Together (Ongaku Gatas)
12. C\C (Cinderela Complex) (High King)
13. Renai Rider (Buono!)
14. Koerou! Rakuten Eagles ( ℃-ute)
15. ＬＡＬＡＬＡ Shiawase no Uta (Wonderful Hearts)
16. Oki Tegami (Miki Fujimoto)
17. Hana Ichimonme (Aya Matsuura)