Thursday, December 26, 2013

Himekko 5 - Cute Ninja Idols!



I have this strange but accurate method that always works whenever I take an interest in a new Japanese idol group.  Sometimes I will download a video or torrent such as a TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL just to watch a couple of my favorite groups, but will come across a group I’ve never heard before that really captures my attention.  Other times I will randomly select a video on YouTube for a group I’ve never seen before and take an immediate liking to them, and start watching more videos of that group.  There are also times when I will see a photo in an idol magazine I bought and discover a group I never knew anything about and go on the Internet to look them up.  And there are a few times when I’ll make friends with a Japanese person who mentions the name of a group he or she follows, and I will look that group up.  Sometimes I find a little bit of information about these groups in English, but more often than not there isn’t any information.  This starts me on a mission to find whatever I can, hopefully a Japanese website or blog with photos and YouTube links.  The groups that I discover through these methods are usually the ones that I love and support for months and years to come.  The groups people suggest I listen to are the ones that I will listen to on occasion, but very rarely.

This brings me to the group I am writing about today.  Last year I received an idol book as a gift from a friend.  The book was about the 2011 U.M.U. Award and included several idol groups categorized by district.  Included in that book was a group of girls dressed in martial arts clothes which I discovered was named Hmj Hime tsu Musume 5.  There were four girls in the group despite the “5” in their name, and they all appeared to be in middle school or junior high.  I thought the martial arts outfits was something  unique for an idol group, so I was interested in looking them up. Of course, I didn’t have the Internet in my home at the time so I had to postpone my investigation. When I got the Internet again back in November of this year I set out to look them up, but ran into a problem when their website address (in the book I had) appeared to be old and discontinued. Flash forward to over a month later, when something told me to try again.  I’m glad I did.

Finding information for this group is pretty hard.  It took me a week to put all the pieces of this puzzle together, and I’m still missing a few pieces.  It seems that Hmj Hime tsu Musume 5 are alternately referring to themselves as Himekko 5, and they formed on January 30, 2011 with five members.  Around 2012 Reona (whose family name and birthday I don’t have) left and they became a quartet.  The four member lineup consisted of….

Imazu Kurea - Born on December 9, 2000.
Katou Kana - Born on April 13, 2001.
Yamamoto Saki - Born on May 9, 2001.
Katou Minami - Born on November 10, 2002.


At some point Kurea left and they became a trio.  They kept the name with “5” in it despite two members leaving.  (Hey, if it works for 9nine….)  I guess all this change led to them ditching their old website address and getting a new one in the year-and-a-half since I received the book.   Himekko 5 also had their song “Shuriken Shu Shu” appear on the five disc compilation release “Japan Idol File”, as well as releasing it as part of an eight track CD.  There are videos on YouTube of Himekko 5 performing this cute and catchy song, which I think is one of the best songs of 2013. So, I am now officially hooked on this idol trio!

Himekko 5’s gimmick is “cute ninjas”, as one can see from the pink (and sometimes black) ninja clothes worn by the members sometimes on stage and in many publicity photos.  Their original ninja outfits were different, as seen in the four member photo, complete with headbands.   Sometimes, though, the girls perform in school uniforms, as seen in the video I’m linking.  The live performance of “Shuriken Shu Shu” was originally uploaded on May 16, 2013, but it was re-uploaded with a special animated - and English friendly - introduction on November 17.  This is the best introduction I can think of for this cute ninja idol group!


   
Official Website
Official Blog
Official Facebook
 
Special thanks to Yacchan for translating and additional info.          

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Prism Music


Those who love Prizmmy☆, their sister group Prism ☆ Mates and the collective of those two groups, Prism ☆ Box, will want to know about the exciting news for all of these groups.  Prism ☆ Mates have been releasing songs for download only which pair two members.  Already available are the songs "Dancing Doctor" by Mirei (younger sister of Prizmmy☆ member Karin) and Kanon, "Glory Days" by Hina and Runa and a song by Natsu and Yuka.  (Sorry, Google Translate didn't provide a translation that makes sense to me for Natsu and Yuka's song.)  Reported on December 18 was the news that seventh Prism ☆ Mates member Momona will have an upcoming solo song released!  This is exciting for two reasons.  First of all, Momona is only eight-years-old (she'll be nine in January), and I can't think of any idols this young that release solo songs.  Second of all, Momona was unfortunately all but cut out from the Prism ☆ Box single "RainBow x RainBow", having appeared on the single's CD cover and at the beginning of the video, but not actually singing on the song itself.  In other news, Prism ☆ Mates have two new members, Airi and Sana.


Airi (left) and Sana (right) 

Finally, Prism ☆ Box will be releasing their second single "Happy Star Restaurant" on February 26, 2014.  The promo photo for this single is at the top of this article.  It really is Christmas for fans of these idols!     



      

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Candy Kiss Single Due In March!

Since I haven't come across too many new idol groups that really capture my attention, I might as well write about something idol-related that's important to me.

Indie idols Candy Kiss are releasing their third single "Beautiful Girl" on March 19, 2014.  This info is coming straight from the Candy Kiss blog.  This is their second single with Fukushima Kotoko, the second girl to wear the green dress.  For those who have forgotten, the original girl to wear the green dress was Kasahara Mahochi, who can still be seen in the music video for "Koisuru Candy Kiss" and two other videos on YouTube.  These are the only videos that remain on YouTube with Mahochi in them, as all the others have been deleted (or made private).  And at that, one of the videos is missing 59 seconds from the original version uploaded to YouTube for barely 24 hours - which I can attest to having downloaded it!

I'm not sure if there are any people outside of Japan that like Candy Kiss besides me, but I think this is a fun group.  I'm glad that for the second Candy Kiss single the other girls besides Yamashita Honoka and Yoshizawa Ruri got to sing.  Thankfully this is also be the case for "Beautiful Girl".

Official Website
Official Blog
Official Facebook
Official YouTube         

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Idol Matsuri

Instead of  writing about a new and relatively unknown Japanese idol group I need to help a friend of mine with an idol-related project she is putting together.  The person I’m helping is a woman who helped me a bit with my NA-NA profile.  Admittedly all she did was translate the family name of a member of NA-NA that I couldn’t translate myself, but it was enough to make want to thank her. That woman is Bethany Walker, and we’ve been friends for…maybe three years or so.  Honestly, I’m not counting.

My friend Bethany, who is one of the nicest and funniest people I know, is putting together what will be the first Japanese idol convention in the United States of America, Idol Matsuri.  She and her husband are trying to raise funds for this convention through Kickstarter.  The funds will primarily be used to bring a Japanese idol to this country to perform live for all the attendees.   Also, the funds are needed to show Japanese companies that Bethany and her husband are serious about bringing a Japanese idol to this country.  Right now Bethany’s goal is to bring a soloist to the U.S.  If enough funds are collected perhaps a whole group could come.  That goal may be a ways off at this point as Bethany only has about 20% of what she needs to bring a soloist.  I’ve already contributed a small amount towards that goal, although “small” is the key word here.  The due date for raising funds for Idol Matsuri is January 7, 2014.  Those of you who live in the U.S. or can travel to the U.S. are in particular needed.  If Idol Matsuri sounds like something you’d want to see a reality and want to attend yourself, then please help out with whatever you can.  My friend Bethany is a bit discouraged at the moment, but I believe in her!  This is something I’d like to attend, although I don’t have the money or means to do so.  I want this convention to happen, not just for Bethany’s sake, but for everyone who loves idols and wants to see idols perform live in this country.  Yes, some idol groups have already held concerts at U.S. anime conventions, but it’s not something that happens too often.  If Idol Matsuri’s initial year is a success then the following years will be even more successful.

Official Website
       

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Idol Profile: KAGAJO☆4S



Those Stardust groups!  I’m sure if you follow Japanese idols you’ve heard of one or two of them: Momoiro Clover Z, Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku and Minichia Bears, to name three.  KAGAJO☆4S is a Stardust group formed in April 2013 with two former members of Minichia Bears and two girls from 3B junior.  3B junior, from what I’m told, is similar to Hello! Pro Kenshuusei in that girls get a chance to sing and dance at Stardust events while awaiting the moment they are told they will be placed in a permanent group.  The four lucky girls selected for KAGAJO☆4S are Okuzawa Reina, Odagiri Shiori, Fujimoto An and Uchiyama Ami, Shiori and An being the two ex-Minichia Bears members.  Since the group has formed they have released two indie singles and have made some videos uploaded to a YouTube channel.  Among the KAGAJO☆4S videos that you’ll find are a short school drama series titled Kagayaki Joshi Ouendan~ KAGAJO☆4S (“Shining Girls Cheer Party~ KAGAJO☆4S”), each episode between ten and fifteen minutes. 

Unlike most Stardust groups, KAGAJO☆4S aren’t in the competition to win the “Wackiest Idol Group Ever” Award.  They seem to take their job as idols a bit more seriously.  That’s not to say KAGAJO☆4S is a “traditional” idol group.  Check out the video for “Jump!” Band Style with the girls playing instruments!  Yes, there have been other idol groups that play instruments, including the groundbreaking ZONE, and I’ve seen idol videos in which the girls are pretending to play guitar and drums.  However, it actually sounds like KAGAJO☆4S are playing their instruments for real.  A closer look at Shiori’s guitar playing reveals that she’s playing rhythm guitar, not lead guitar, so I assume there is an unseen musician backstage handing that instrument.  Still, this is rather uncommon and refreshing to see young idols actually playing instruments.  A little more practice and they could be a great band! 


Members:

Okuzawa Reina - Born on February 16, 1999
Odagiri Shiori - Born on May 10, 1999
Fujimoto An - Born on December 11, 1999
Uchiyama Ami - Born on January 17, 2000 


Singles: 


“Oyoge! Shirasu-chan” (July 21, 2013) 


“Mainichi ga Christmas” (“Everyday Is Christmas”) (December 7, 2013) 


Official Website
Official Blog 
YouTube 1  YouTube 2 
Staff Twitter

Special thanks to Yacchan for much of the info and translating for this article.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Idol Profile: NA-NA

Since my Aither article was fairly popular with some of you, I’ve decided to write a series of Japanese idol group profiles for idols that aren’t very well known or new.  I was originally going to profile another group first, but I discovered some sad news about one of my favorite indie idol groups a few hours ago.

NA-NA is a junior idol group formed by ESSE Academy in 2011.  Originally performing cover songs, NA-NA progressed to performing an original song titled “Candy ☆ Machine ni Notte” (“Riding On The Candy ☆ Machine”).  At the time the lineup of NA-NA consisted of Hara Mizuki, Takimoto Yuzuki (alternately spelled Yuduki), Kimura Karin, Taniguchi Sayane and Yuna.  (I don’t have any info for Yuna other than her given name.) This lineup stayed together until sometime in 2013 when Yuna left.  Honda Touko eventually joined NA-NA giving the group five members again.   In June 2013 they were signed to T-Palette Records along with their “older sister” group Caramel ☆ Ribbon.  NA-NA played at TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL 2013 and also other ESSE Academy events throughout the year.  On December 2, 2013 leader Mizuki announced on the ESSE Academy blog that Yuzuki was leaving to concentrate on her studies.

NA-NA (March 2012)

The real sad thing about Yuzuki leaving is that she was one of the main vocalists in the group and contributed to NA-NA’s appeal.  NA-NA still haven’t released a single, although a studio version of “Candy ☆ Machine ni Notte” is available as a mp3 download from Amazon Japan.  Thankfully we have both fan videos of NA-NA along with some official uploads from ESSE (mostly promoting events like TIF 2013) on YouTube to watch (and some of them have Yuna in them!).  I guess it’s not too surprising that Yuzuki left since there have been blog photos of NA-NA without her and even a video on YouTube without Yuzuki participating.

         NA-NA (December 2013)

Here is a fan video from August 24, 2013 of NA-NA performing “Fu Fu”.  


Members:
Hara Mizuki a.k.a. Mimi (Born on February 22, 1999)
Kimura Karin (Born on July 31, 1999)
Taniguchi Sayane (Born on September 8, 2001)
Honda Touko (Born on May 24, 2001)

Former Members:
Yuna
Takimoto Yuzuki (Born on September 5, 1999)

NA-NA ESSE Profile

Special thanks to Bethany Walker for translating some of the info for this article.