Monday, December 22, 2014

Si☆Stella Debuts!


Si☆Stella, the reorganized version of St. Bonapro School, had their live debut on December 21, and two new members appeared with the group!  The new members are not just sisters, but twin sisters!  The group's website has been updated, plus they now have a blog, a Google+ account and a YouTube channel.  (Currently there are no videos on the channel, however, I have subscribed so I'll get an email when they do upload one.)  Updated info is below.

Members:
Sakurai Rico, Leader - Born on May 3, 2002
Nono Mafune - Born on July 8, 2004
Akai Sakura - Born on November 20, 2004
Masuda Hina - Born on December 10, 2008
Kashiwa Ayana - Born on July 20, 2005
Kashiwa Yuina - Born on July 20, 2005

Official Website
Official Blog
Official Twitter
Official Google+
Official YouTube  

The Expansion of amorecarina


Osaka based idol group amorecarina has some big news.  First, on December 10 they debuted a new subunit named Miracle Girls featuring five members, Matsumoto Momona, Sugiyama Hina, Nakajo Himeka, Saitoh Kiara and Fujimoto Naho.  Miracle Girls are a magical girl inspired group that only sing songs from magical girl anime!    


The biggest news, however, is that the group is expanding.  This was tweeted on December 20, and this blog article has all the details.  As it turns out, amorecarina will have a group in three cities, Osaka, Tokyo and Nagoya.  New members will be auditioned to complete each group's lineup.  I assume that means the current lineup will be split up, which I'm disappointed about.  I'm just getting to know these girls and I prefer them to stay together as they are now rather than splitting them up and adding more members.  Creating three groups may make things easier for the members that have to travel to Osaka to practice and perform, though, as only Yanou Juria lives in Osaka.  

In related news, I want to wish happy birthday to amorecarina members Mouri Aimi (born on December 21), who is now 14, and Kiyono Momohime (born on December 22), who is now 10.  

Mouri Aimi 

Kiyono Momohime
        
  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Idol Renaissance Signs With T-Palette!


In October I wrote about a group named Idol Renaissance that was created by Sony Music to celebrate their 40th Anniversary.  Although they have nearly all of their YouTube videos blocked and have two venue-only singles now, including the newly released "Taiyo to Shinzo" / "Hatsukoi" double A-Side single, they attended the recent T-Palette "Thanksgiving" event held on December 13 as guests, not realizing what was in store for them.  Towards the end of the concert featuring all the current T-Palette artists, they were announced as the newest group to join the label!  This was tweeted by T-Palette Records along with this article appearing on their website announcing that Idol Renaissance were now a part of their label, along with the promise of a March 2015 single!   What I am unsure of is why Sony let them go.  Fortunately for overseas fans, we may be able to purchase Idol Renaissance singles in the near future.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The 2014 Japanese Idol Review!

With another year drawing to a close, it's time for everyone's favorite (?) tradition, the year in review!  Of course, I'll be focusing on Japanese idols for the purposes of this article.

In the past few years the Japanese idol industry has been going through an "idol boom" where idol groups are popping up all over the country.  Every city, district and neighborhood seems to have an idol group.  You can't walk too far down any street without bumping into an idol or idol wannabe. This, unfortunately, has caused an oversaturation of the industry that has many fans having a hard time keeping up with all of these groups, as well as finding ways to support them through purchasing merchandise and attending concerts.  2014 saw many new idol groups debut, only to have some of them break up or have lineup changes.  Sometimes an idol would join a group only to leave a few weeks later, or even join a another group shortly thereafter.  Some groups reorganized into new groups and there were even some "microwave" idol groups that came and went in the blink of an eye!

One trend I noticed this year is that older idols were being "phased out".  Shortly after I wrote the first English language article about Links on July 24, Saito Mitsue, currently 21-years-old, left the group.  The idol group BiS, whose members were in their 20s, broke up.  Michishige Sayumi, age 25, graduated from Hello! Project's Morning Musume, and H!P even announced the disbanding (excuse me, "hiatus") of the group Berry Kobo, whose members range in age from 20 to 23, during Spring 2015.  While there are still older idols for those who like them, I feel that this may mean that some new, younger girls will soon debut and hopefully take the place of the departed older idols.  The only way for the idol industry to survive is to keep things fresh and exciting, and to give younger girls the chance they want to show the world how much they love to sing and dance.  

Any end of the year review wouldn't be complete without a list.  Yes, I have one!  Actually, I have a list of my favorite idols songs of 2014, as well as much shorter lists of favorite albums and new groups.  Instead of ranking my favorites, which I can't really do as I love a lot of these songs, albums and groups equally, I am grouping my favorite songs from each idol group that I like, and adding a list of albums and groups that I recommend if you haven't already heard them.  (Select songs on my list have music videos.)    

Favorite Songs of 2014: 

Sakura Gakuin & Subunits - 
"I J I" 
"Jump Up ~Chiisana Yuki~" 
"Mikansei Silhouette" 
"Daydream Believer" (cover of The Monkees) by Marina, Raura, Nene & Hinata 
"Ningentte Iina" by sleepiece 
"Heart no Hoshi" 

Caramel ☆ Ribbon - 
"Nana Iro no Niji no Muko ni" 
"Sparkling Daydream" (cover) 
"Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis" ("A Cruel Angel's Thesis") (cover) 

NA-NA - 
"Fu Fu" 

Aither - 
"Fantasy combo" 
"1 carat star" 
"Pure myth" 

Prizmmy☆ - 

Prism☆Mates - 
"Pojikaru World" by Natsu & Yuka 
"Chocolate Paradise" by Momona 
"Glory Days" by Hina & Runa 

Prism☆Box - 

Sakuran Bom Bom - 
"My Hero" 
“Bom Bom World☆” 
“Ne~e! Sakuranbo” 

Candy Kiss - 

Michinoku Sendai ORI☆HIMETAI -
"Kimi ni Todoku Kaze ni Nare" 
"Takara Mono" 

Himekko 5 - 

Candy Zoo - 
"Go Go ☆ Dinosaur" 

loop - 

Pink Babies - 

CoCo DeCoRu - 

Onigokko - 
"Hare nochi Hare" 
"Dream Angel" 
"Ki.zu.na" 

Haru ☆ Kana -  
"Sense Revolution" 

Peekaboo - 

Millennium Girls - 

Pocchimo - 

Hypericum - 
"Sweet Box" 

Miniature Garden - 

Q♥T - 
"Happy Happy" 

Kokepiyo - 

Idol Renaissance - 
 "17 Sai

Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku - 

mImi -
"lucky star"  
"Girls' Revolution" 

KAGAJO☆4S - 
"Fujicco QQQ no Theme" 

Minichia ☆ Bears - 
"Minichia ☆ Ouenka"  

Cute☆Pit - 

Maboroshi Love - 
"Merry Go World" 
"Kinenbi Noto" 

Party Rockets - 

Favorite Albums / Mini Albums of 2014: 

Sakura Gakuin - 
"Sakura Gakuin 2013 ~Kizuna~" 

Onigokko - 
"Toy Box" 

Prizmmy☆ & Prism☆Mates - 
"Music Goes On" 

Sakuran Bom Bom - 
“Bom Bom World☆” 

Favorite New Groups of 2014: 

Pocchimo 
Q♥T
Millennium Girls 
Idol Renaissance 
mImi 

So there you go!  Fifty-six songs, four albums and five new groups.  Yes, I know that Q♥T broke up last month, but they were a new group in 2014.   


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Idol Group Spotlight: PARLISH


For the past four months I have been following the Facebook page and blogs of a young idol group named PARLISH.  PARLISH were formed in April 2014 from members of avex artist academy and are based in Osaka.  Originally there were nine members, but now there are seven.  They have been active in live events since July.  All the members are also models, and member Asaka Fuuna has appeared on the cover of the children's fashion magazine Dream Girls.  As for why two members have already left, I can't say for sure.  Yoshioka Satsuki has not blogged since September 27, 2014 when she announced she had cut her hair short.  Oochi Yuna has written in her blog only four times since November 1, when the new PARLISH group photo was uploaded to Facebook without her and Satsuki, and Yuna's blog posts are no longer being linked to the PARLISH Facebook page.  Furthermore, despite the efforts of both me and a friend, I cannot find the birthday of member Itou Kika.  Kika is also the only member without a Twitter account.  

Members:
Noguchi Monami (野口もなみ) - Born on December 27, 2000
Monami's BlogMonami's Twitter
Wada Yuka (和田優香) - Born on March 17, 2002
Yuka's BlogYuka's Twitter
Nishikawa Reika (西川怜伽) - Born on May 17, 2002
Reika's Blog, Reika's Twitter 
Sasaki Miku (佐々木美來) - Born on June 6, 2002
Miku's BlogMiku's Twitter
Asaka Fuuna (浅香ふう菜) - Born on August 18, 2002
Fuuna's BlogFuuna's Twitter
Nishikawa Airi (西川愛莉) - Born on September 21, 2002
Airi's BlogAiri's Twitter
Itou Kika (伊藤妃花)
Kika's Blog

Graduated Members:
Yoshioka Satsuki (吉岡楓季) - Born on July 8, 2001
Satsuki's BlogSatsuki's Twitter
Oochi Yuna (大内柚菜) - Born on October 31, 2002
Yuna's Blog, Yuna's Twitter   

Official Facebook

Here are a couple videos to watch!  The first is from September 15, 2014, when there were nine members.


The second is from December 7, 2014 with the current seven members.    


Special thanks to Asahi and Bethany for help with the translations and info!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Chiba Rian Graduates From Candy Zoo


Sometimes when I am trying to support as many Japanese idol groups as possible, and my chosen favorites are of the indie variety that few others are supporting, I tend to focus on a few groups while ignoring the others.  It's not that I dislike the others, but there simply aren't enough hours in the day to for me to keep up with everything.  Case in point: I have been ignoring a group I was the first to write about back in March of this year, Candy Zoo.  It figures that when I choose to ignore a group for a while that something important happens, and something important happened just recently.  As you can guess from the title of my article, Chiba Rian, the Giraffe of Candy Zoo, has graduated.  Rian wrote in her blog on November 9 that she was graduating from the group in order to focus on school.  It had suddenly become difficult for her to be both a student and an idol, similar to what Ootsuka Minami, Candy Zoo's other 2014 graduate, said when she graduated in May.  Rian actually wishes she didn't have to leave the group, but it was too hard for her balance her academic studies with her singing career.  What wasn't made clear is she didn't explicitly say if she was also giving up her modeling career.  I assume she will, but can't say for sure.  Rian's final performance with Candy Zoo was on November 30, 2014.  She will be missed by all of her fans.        

Here are some videos featuring Rian her fans won't want to miss!  

TTKC 2013 A/W INNER PRESS (Sorry, embedding problems.)  


Monday, December 1, 2014

SENSATIONAL IDOLS

Back in September I mentioned that I was working on an idol project that I would hopefully reveal before the year was up.  That project is an idol website I created named SENSATIONAL IDOLS.   The idea for the website has been in my mind for a long time.  I helped my friend Xin Chun with her website Idol Candy, although she rarely updates her own site.  I always wanted my own website so I could update it at any time and so I could add all of my favorite idol groups.  I felt that there was a need for a Japanese idol website for groups that have little or no information in English.  As much as I wanted to do everything myself, I am not an expert at creating a website and there are details that still confuse me.  So I asked Xin Chun and later Bethany Walker to lend their skills in fixing up the website so it looks nice.  I wrote all the content myself and chose what photos to use.  (In most cases I used official photos from the groups' websites.)  I tried to not use photos with copyrights and text, but in a couple cases I had no real choice.  Trying to locate all the necessary information and photos was a lot of hard work.  I still didn't find everything I needed so there are places where something is missing.  Hopefully in time I will either find these things I need to make the website more complete, or maybe someone who has that info or a nice photo will be kind enough to share it with me. 
 
I have linked on the website my blog (the one you are reading) and my Facebook page Young Idol Singers.  I was thinking of creating a Twitter account specifically for the website where my followers would get updates of what changes I have made and allow people to send me tweets with their comments and questions.  Please check the links at the top of the website next to the name as well as the "Links" page for any future updates regarding Twitter.  I plan on adding more groups in the future, but for now there are only twelve.  I hope everyone enjoys SENSATIONAL IDOLS!                 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

St. Bonapro School Returns! - Sort Of


Faster than you can say "name change" the girls in St. Bonapro School have been reorganized as the group Si☆Stella.  The name Si☆Stella means "Sister Star", and there are four members: Sakurai Rico, Mafune Nono, Akai Sakura and Masuda Hina.  Rico and Nono were the heart and soul of St. Bonapro, so it's no surprise that they are a part of the new group.  Si☆Stella will make their live debut on December 21, 2014 and will perform twice, in a white version and a black version.  This means different costumes and different songs according to this tweet.  Speaking of Twitter, the old St. Bonapro School account is still being used as Si☆Stella's Twitter.  The name, url and banner are different, but you can still find old photos of St. Bonapro School if you still haven't looked at them.

Members:
Sakurai Rico, Leader - Born on May 3, 2002
Mafune Nono - Born on July 8, 2004
Akai Sakura - Born on November 20, 2004
Masuda Hina


Thanks to Anna for help with the info!  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Aither Disbands


After the controversial way Aither leader Konno Yuuka left in October it came as no surprise to me when I read the latest Aither blog article written by Misaki on November 27 that the group was breaking up.  Their final live performance will be on December 29, 2014.  This is very sad news for fans of the indie idol group who made Japanese pop history when they were the first idol group to have an overseas live (which I attended) in less than a year after their Japanese debut without the backing of a major label or anime tie-in.  When Yuuka left after claiming of being treated poorly by the management and not getting paid, many of Aither's fans stopped following the group.  My Japanese friend Chibineko Suwano, who was filming most of Aither's live performances and uploading them to YouTube, suddenly stopped this.  When Yuuka created her own personal Twitter account she gained over 1,000 followers in short time.  Meanwhile, very few fans seemed interested in filming Aither's live performances and sharing them on YouTube since the group had been reduced to a duo, with Tsujimura Airi handling most of the vocals while Misaki primarily danced.  Tellingly, there seem to be very few photos of Airi and Misaki together on Aither's blog or Twitter.  (The above photo was the most recent I could find, and I prefer photos without text or "touch-ups".)

Honestly, I am very sad about all of this.  I was the first to write about Aither in English last November and now I am reporting their disbanding one year later.  Aither could have been a great and successful idol group had all of the members been treated fairly and had the group stayed together.  Not many idol groups make Japanese pop history, even if it's in minor way, but Aither certainly did.  I really hope Yuuka, Airi and Misaki find much better management and form a new group.  All three girls are pretty special to me, and I thought it was really awesome meeting them at Idol Matsuri in June this year.  I wish them all the best because they really deserve it!                

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

12 Months Ago...

It was a year ago that I decided to start a new Japanese idol blog.  I have written a total of 59 articles in this blog so far, and there have been great and not-so-great moments spread throughout. I didn't want to title this article "The Year In Review" because I have some thoughts on Japanese idol music in the year 2014 that I will share with everyone next month.  Instead, I want to look back and reflect on what I have done in the past 12 months.  

My first article was titled "Idol Thoughts".  At the time I had no idea that there were other idol blogs that used the same title for their articles.  I wrote the first few articles in my "This Is Your Wake Up Call!" blog during the 14 month period when I did not have the internet, and therefore I could not know what had been written in fan blogs and what had not.  If you want me to be honest, I rarely pay attention to other idol fan blogs anyway.  Many of them are focused on popular mainstream idol groups with only a brief mention of smaller groups.

My second article was titled "Junior Idols".  I was told, incorrectly, by a Japanese idol fan that junior idols meant very young idol singers.  As it turned out, "junior idols" is the term for young gravure, or sexy / bikini, models.  I don't pay attention to this aspect of Japanese culture, although I will admit that I do know about it.  I am interested in traditional singers and models, not the more explicit forms of these types of entertainers.

"What Is Popularity?" was my next article, and originally it was a two part article.  I felt that it would be best to join them together at the time.  I regret this choice now.  I wish I had published it in two parts, or at least edited it a bit.

"Are You A Sakura Gakuin Fan?" was an article I wrote in response to the negativity unleashed by select fans of BABYMETAL, who showed no interest in their parent group, Sakura Gakuin.   BABYMETAL's popularity and their current status as a worldwide mainstream artist has certainly helped bring about a bigger awareness of Sakura Gakuin.  The downside to this is that there is still much focus on the three girls in BABYMETAL, Nakamoto Suzuka, Mizuno Yui and Kikuchi Moa, and very little focus on the other past and present members of Sakura Gakuin.  This is why I feel the need to show my support for the members who I think are special, including Miyoshi Ayaka, Sugimoto Mariri, Sato Hinata and Isono Rinon, despite what other fans may think.

"Why I Hate Tsunku" was the article that soon followed.  I voiced my complaints about the songwriter and producer of many Hello! Project songs based on what I could remember and with the sources of information at my disposal offline.  As it turned out, I made some errors in judgement about who made certain decisions for Hello! Project artists.  Someone informed me that people who work for Up Front Works are the decision makers and not Tsunku.  Still, I feel my complaints about the book he co-wrote are valid.  Perhaps if I had known more about Up Front I would have written a slightly different article, which I could have then titled "My Complaints About Tsunku And Up Front".

I've written profiles for some indie idol groups beginning with Aither last November.  Unfortunately it seems that any group I write about either breaks up or loses members.  Sometimes I feel that any group I choose to write about will be cursed simply because I am supporting them.  I do my best to have as much info about these groups as I can gather before publishing an article, but often I am missing pieces to the puzzle, so to speak.  I often wonder if there's any point in writing about these groups or if anyone besides me cares.

More recently I have written articles about the group Prism☆Box, informing my readers that their new single is titled "Glitter Way Down☆".  This was a bad translation on Google Translate's and my part.  Google actually said "Glitter Down Way☆" was the English translation, and I simply reversed the last two words.  The correct title is "Kiraki Runway☆", which I think translates as "Sparkling Runway☆" or perhaps "Glitter Runway☆".  Had I consulted with one of my bilingual friends first I could have saved myself some embarrassment.      

I haven't allowed comments on my current blog due to the history of my former blog, "I ♥ Miyoshi Ayaka's Idol Musings".  I wrote 138 articles in my former (now deleted) blog, and for the most part no one commented.  I recall only six occasions when people posted comments, and four times those comments were spam.  (One person gave me his name and email address, and asked me to email him.  I never did.)  Only two times did someone post a comment that related to the article I wrote.  The lesson I learned from this was most of the time people have absolutely nothing to say. When they do say something it rarely contributes to the conversation at hand.  Only on rare occasions does someone have something interesting to say that relates to the topic being discussed.  So, I've decided that for the first time in my current blog's history that I will allow comments.  I guess I'm ready for whatever my readers want to say to me.          

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Seri Karen Makes Their Debut!


On February 16, 2014 Jewel Kiss members Kodama Serika and Ohashi Karen graduated from the group.  On October 5, 2014 they made their first live appearance as the duo Seri Karen.  Although both girls had their own Twitter accounts, the Seri Karen Info account was created on October 21 and their official blog was created on October 24.  While no single has been announced yet, they have manufactured t-shirts!  I am probably not the only fan who is pretty excited to see these girls sing again.  Here is a fan video titled "Sakura Thank You".


Members: 
Kodama Serika (児玉迫香), born on June 26, 1996 
Ohashi Karen (大橋佳恋), born on April 17, 2000 

Friday, October 31, 2014

All You Need Is Love: amorecarina


Aiming to be loved by all generations of idol fans are the 15 fashionable girls in the new idol group amorecarina.  The name of the group comes from two Italian words, amore ("love") and carina ("cute").  They were created by Good Choice Entertainment Co., Ltd. and are the little sister group of Chu-Z.  The girls of amorecarina were chosen to sing the Japanese version of the theme song to the scary cool cartoon Monster High, along with Chu-Z member KAEDE.  Here is the promo video. (Sorry, the usual embedding problems....)

"Monster High ~Scary Cool Girls~" PV  

On the list of members below, click on the name of each girl to see her introductory video.  Trivia: Yamabe Ayu is the younger sister of Tokyo Girls' Style leader Yamabe Miyu.

Members:
Mouri Aimi - Born on December 21, 2000
Tozawa Airi - Born on January 5, 2001
Yamabe Ayu - Born on February 3, 2002
Matsumoto Momona - Born on October 12, 2002
Sugiyama Hina - Born on December 13, 2002
Abe Sara - Born on February 25, 2003
Izumida Momoka - Born on March 3, 2003
Mukoyama Aira - Born on March 28, 2003
Takahashi Urara - Born on June 24, 2004
Nakajo Himeka - Born on June 27, 2004
Oda Yuzuha - Born on November 7, 2004
Saitoh Kiara - Born on November 26, 2004
Yanou Juria - Born on November 28, 2004
Kiyono Momohime - Born on December 22, 2004
Fujimoto Naho - Born on January 12, 2005

Official Website
Official Blog
Akiba Cultures Theater Page
Official Twitter
Official YouTube

Happy Idol Halloween!

Caramel ☆ Ribbon

NA-NA

Kairi (Sakuran Bom Bom)

Koga Suzune (soloist)

Nishikawa Airi (PARLISH)

Nishikawa Reika (PARLISH)

Sakurai Rico & Imamura Misato (St. Bonapro School)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Q♥T Disbands


In August I wrote about a cute young group of idols named Q♥T.  It was announced on Twitter on October 20 that Q♥T will disband after their November 16 live.  I didn't read the tweet until last night due me not paying attention to all of the people and groups I am following on Twitter.  (Sometimes following over 100 people has its downside.)  I didn't even notice that all three girls now have their own Twitter accounts.  Perhaps they will keep them after the group breaks up so fans can keep up with their favorite member(s).

Q♥T is a very nice group, although I honestly didn't expect big things from them.  I discovered them due to people linking the same video on two forums I use, and one of my followers on Twitter re-tweeting photos of Yano Myuu, who joined the group on July 10 only to leave two weeks later.   Unfortunately, Q♥T's singles and merchandise are venue-only and very limited.  This means there is little chance of me or anyone who doesn't live in Japan of getting their CDs.

For those who wish to follow the members of Q♥T on Twitter, here you are!
Luna's Twitter
Mio's Twitter
Himari's Twitter   

I'm sad to see you girls break up, but here's hoping I will see all of you again in other idol groups soon!    

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

St. Bonapro School Closes


St. Bonapro School (or St. Bonapro Gakuen, as it's pronounced in Japanese) is an idol group that was formed by BONAMII Inc. (Bonamii Model Production) in 2013 with seven members.  The group's YouTube channel debuted on May 29, 2013 and the digital download (no CD, unfortunately) for their first single, "St. Bonapro School", appeared on June 30, followed by a YouTube video on July 5.  St. Bonapro School's second single, "Yumemiru Carnival", followed the same pattern, with a digital download debuting on August 31 and the YouTube video on September 12.  In the early part of December Marumoto Rin joined the group, writing in the group blog for the first time on December 8.  The eight member lineup didn't last long as Ishikura Miyuu and Yoshikawa Rio graduated on December 21, 2013.  2014 saw the debut of a tennis-themed subunit named Yellow Ball with the youngest members, Mafune Nono and Rin.  New members joined and old members graduated, with sisters Ishikawa Suzuka and Yumeka leaving in April, and Yoda Ayaka officially leaving in June (although her activities with the group stopped sometime before this).  Sakurai Rico and Nono eventually became the last of the original seven to stay with the group.  One new member, Ohashi Remi, was a member of St. Bonapro School for only two months before she graduated.

Two important announcements were made yesterday on Twitter by members of St. Bonapro School.  The first was from Rico, who announced the group was breaking up after their 11th One Man Live on November 24, 2014.  The second was from Rin, who said she was leaving the group on October 23.  The girls and the staff thanked everyone for their support, and apologized for the sudden announcement.  At the end of next month only Rico and Nono can claim to have stayed with St. Bonapro School for the entire 18 months of the group's existence, with Rin claiming the second longest tenure of any member.

I became aware of this group some months ago.  Someone linked the video for "Yumemiru Carnival" on a forum of a French website I use.  I didn't really like the song at first, thinking it was too electronic.  I did like the girls, though, as they are very cute.  Rico in particular has an incredible voice, and she's very beautiful for her age.  I should have watched St. Bonapro School's self-named debut song to see what else the group had to offer, but I didn't until two-and-a-half months ago when the same person on the French forum (which thankfully allows English language comments) linked the video for that.  "St. Bonapro School" is a great song, and it hasn't left my head ever since I heard it.  I wanted to slap myself for ignoring this group based on one song that I didn't care for.  I listed to "Yumemiru Carnival" again and it grew on me.  I then had to check out the other videos on their YouTube channel.  The live videos feature excerpts of three songs, with about two minutes of each song heard.  The only live video you can hear the whole of is a graduation song sung for Miyuu and Rio, although some of the members are crying and can't get the words out.  I should have written about St. Bonapro School long before this, but kept putting it off.  I doubt that an article in English would have kept this cute idol group from breaking up, but maybe if I had written this over a month ago I would have made more people aware of them before this sudden news.

"St. Bonapro School"


"Yumemiru Carnival" 




Members: 

Sakurai Rico 
Born on May 3, 2002 
Nickname: Ritchan 
Hometown: Tokyo 
143 cm 
Blood Type: O 

Mafune Nono 
Born on July 8, 2004 
Nickname: Nono
Hometown: Kanagawa Prefecture 
125 cm 
Blood Type: B 

Imamura Misato 
Born on April 8, 2003 
Nickname: Mi~pi 
Hometown: Saitama Prefecture 
148 cm 
Blood Type: Unknown 

Amano Mimi 
Born on November 10, 2001 
Nickname: Mimipyon 
Hometown: Tokyo 
153 cm 
Blood Type: A 

Amano Misaki 
Born on March 9, 2005 
Nickname: Misaki 
Hometown: Tokyo 
136 cm 
Blood Type: A 

Akai Sakura 
Born on November 20, 2004 
Nickname: Sakupon 
Hometown: Hokkaido 
131 cm 
Blood Type: O 

Graduated Members: 

Ishikura Miyuu
Born on December 26, 2002 
Nickname: Miyuyu 
Hometown: Kanagawa Prefecture 
139 cm 
Blood Type: Unknown 
Graduated on December 21, 2013  

Yoshikawa Rio 
Born on March 14, 2003 
Nickname: Rio 
Hometown: Chiba Prefecture 
133 cm 
Blood Type: Unknown
Graduated on December 21, 2013 

Ishikawa Suzuka 
Born on January 8, 2002 
Nickname: 
Hometown: Yamaguchi Prefecture 
143 cm 
Blood Type: O 
Graduated in April 2014  

Ishikawa Yumeka 
Born on December 16, 2003 
Nickname: Yumerin 
Hometown: Yamaguchi Prefecture 
132 cm 
Blood Type: O 
Graduated in April 2014 

Yoda Ayaka 
Born on February 23, 2004 
Nickname: Ayaya 
Hometown: Yamanashi Prefecture 
133 cm 
Blood Type: O 
Graduated in June 2014, although she stopped her activities with the group sometime earlier.    

Ohashi Remi 
Born on May 31, 2003 
Nickname: Remimin 
Hometown: Tokyo 
142 cm 
Blood Type: A 
Graduated on August 31, 2014

Marumoto Rin 
Born on April 23, 2005 
Nickname: Rinrin 
Hometown: Kanagawa Prefecture 
131 cm 
Blood Type: B 
Graduated on October 23, 2014

Singles: 

"St. Bonapro School" (June 30, 2013, mp3 download; July 5, 2013, YouTube video) 
"Yumemiru Carnival" (August 31, 2013, mp3 download; September 12, 2013, YouTube video) 

                        

Friday, October 10, 2014

Konno Yuuka Update

I reported two days ago that Konno Yuuka was leaving Aither, and this is true.  Yuuka's original announcement on the Aither blog was deleted twice by the management, although it appeared a third time and has stayed.  This was followed by Misaki's reaction to Yuuka leaving, which was also deleted.  Yuuka then posted a long comment yesterday (divided into three posts) about why she was leaving Aither on her new Twitter account.  Apparently Yuuka has not been paid her salary for ten months and had to borrow money just to get to Aither's gigs.  She feels her relationship with the management has been damaged and she cannot trust them.  It was decided a while ago that she would leave.  In addition, Yuuka had a fever due to the high amount of stress caused by all of this.  She said she wanted to continue her activities in Aither but cannot under the circumstances, and offered an apology to all the fans.  

This is very sad news, and totally unexpected.  I was not aware of what was happening, and I doubt many others (except maybe the other members of Aither) knew either.  It leads me to ask many questions, such as are Tsujimura Airi and Misaki being paid a salary?  If so, why hasn't Yuuka been paid?  What about the graduated members of Aither, Megumi and Sakura?  Were they paid for their tenure in the group?  Did they have other reasons for leaving Aither other than the official reason of wanting to focus on school?  Aither had announced back in July that they were releasing an album sometime in 2015.  Will this album still be released?  What about Yuuka's activities with Shamrock, her project with two members of Links?  So many questions, and I doubt any of us will get all the answers.

I feel terrible that Yuuka has been treated so poorly.  I sure all of her fans do.      

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Konno Yuuka's Announcement


Today I woke up to some very startling and sad news.  I was told by two of my friends that Konno Yuuka, the leader of Aither, was leaving the group.  I was also told that the announcement was on Aither's blog early in the day and then it was removed.  It reappeared later so I could see it myself. I read it with Google Translate but it didn't really say why she was leaving.  Sometime later it was deleted a second time, but it has  now reappeared.  I'm not sure if it will stay on the Aither blog for long, but here is the article.  Yuuka's announcement is quite surprising.  Aither have had an interesting year, having added two new members who unfortunately stayed for only nine weeks, and performing their first overseas live at Idol Matsuri in Silverdale, Washington, which I attended.   Furthermore, their U.S. performance came less than a year after their debut and without the support of a major label or an anime tie-in, something that - to the best of my knowledge - has never been done by any other Japanese idol group.  During their first year as a group Aither released three singles, all of which contained four vocal tracks and no instrumentals, another unusual thing for an idol group to do.  Aither's songs are more like artist songs than typical idol songs too.  I was feeling pretty good that Aither were on the road to success.  Now I still don't have any real reason as to why Yuuka is leaving, so hopefully this will be revealed soon.  I am personally going to miss her if she leaves, as she is my favorite member of Aither.

My friends already know this, but some of you reading may not, so I'll confess something about myself.  I used to have a blog that was named "I ♥ Miyoshi Ayaka's Idol Musings".  I deleted this blog and other personal accounts for personal reasons.  When I wrote this blog I wrote several articles about idols that no one else wrote about, similar to what I am doing now.  Among the groups I was the first to write about in English were B Flat and Party Rockets.  I first wrote about B Flat in January 2012, in reference to a concert named Girl's Revue.  B Flat was one of seven idol groups that performed at this event.  The lineup of B Flat at the time was basically the lineup that later became Party Rockets, Watanabe Koume, Konno Yuuka, Tsujimura Airi, Fujita Akari, Kikuchi Fumika and Sato Hiyori.  Of course Airi became ill and had to leave the group before they debuted.  I wrote about the members of B Flat graduating and forming the group Party Rockets on June 14, 2012, 17 days before they made their live debut on July 1.  I wrote about them a couple more times before July and only after their first performance did other bloggers start writing about Party Rockets.  Now I got a tip off about B Flat and Party Rockets from a Japanese friend who actually saw B Flat live.  She wrote a detailed history on Facebook which I copied into a document that I have kept on my computer ever since.  I give my friend Yacchan credit for bringing these girls to my attention.   Without Yacchan I would not even know about Konno Yuuka.  Even if you count June as when I really started to take an interest in Yuuka, I still have been her fan for more than two years.  Only Japanese fans like Yacchan can claim to have been supporting Yuuka longer than me.  I cancelled the internet for 14 months and then decided I wanted it back.  On November 2013 I finally watched the promo videos for Aither that were on YouTube, and slowly learned more through the live videos uploaded by Chibineko, who I am now fortunate to be friends with.  No one else had written about Aither at the time so I decided that it was time that idol fans knew about this awesome new group and became the first to write them.  In July of 2014 I asked Chibineko for information on Shamrock, Yuuka's side project with two members of Links.  I wanted to be the first to write about Shamrock so that I could  say that I was the first to write about all of Yuuka's groups.  Of course I didn't have much info to go with so I turned my article into a joint Links and Shamrock article.  I'm glad I did as I can now rest easy knowing that I have done my absolute best to show my love and support for one of my favorite idols.

If Yuuka is leaving Aither for good, no matter what her reason(s) may be, I will be heartbroken.  But this is her decision and as a fan I should support her no matter what her choices are.  I sure hope this will not be the last I hear from her.  Yuuka has cancelled her Twitter account with fashion designer Frank Valleee, but has started a new Twitter account.  It says she has tweeted three times although I can only see one tweet.  Perhaps those other tweets were deleted or private.  So maybe this isn't goodbye, but rather a new start.  Only time will tell.                             

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Getting "Glitter Way Down☆"!

A couple days ago both versions of the new Prism☆Box video "Glitter Way Down☆" were uploaded to YouTube in their preview edits.  The new single will arrive on November 26, 2014.  I'm really into this song a lot!  Prism☆Box singles are what I'd listen to if I needed something  to perk me up.

Regular Version:


Dance Master Version:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It's Time For An Idol Renaissance!


In December 2013 Sony Music decided to celebrate their 40th Anniversary by creating an idol group!  They started with twelve candidates.  The name Sony chose for this group was Idol Renaissance.  Is this a revival of old fashioned idol groups?  A brand new start to a new wave of idol groups?  Those are the questions that the group's name brings to mind.  Interviews with the candidates of Idol Renaissance began appearing on YouTube in January 2014.  The official YouTube channel was created in March.  A nine member version of Idol Renaissance made their live debut on May 4, 2014 (although originally it was meant to be ten members until one candidate became ill).  The candidates blog became the group's official blog on May 7.  Idol Renaissance performed at TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL 2014 and @JAM EXPO 2014 among their other regular live performances.  By this time they had been reduced to their final lineup of seven members.  Idol Renaissance's first single, "17 Sai" ("17 Years Old"), was given a limited release on July 6, 2014, and the official music video debuted on YouTube on the same day.

Now here's the bad news.  All of Idol Renaissance's videos except one are (as far as I know) blocked from all countries outside of Japan.  That two track limited release CD and other merchandise can only be purchased from Rocket Express's website, which I believe requires a Japanese address.  There is some good news, however.  While I have had the official website and blog bookmarked for a few months now, and I been following Idol Renaissance on Twitter for the same length of time, I didn't take notice of their official Facebook page until today.  When I clicked on the Facebook page link I figured I'd find the usual things; i.e, lots of Japanese text that I can't read, photos of the group and links to YouTube videos that I can't watch.  While I did indeed find all of this, I also noticed that pinned to the top of the page was the official music video.  I clicked on the video and to my surprise it actually started to play!  I clicked on the HD which made the picture so much better!  So this video may be blocked on YouTube, but I believe anyone can see the video on Facebook.  And see it you should, as "17 Sai" is a fantastic rocker that is already on my list of the best idol songs of 2014.

Some trivia for you.  Hashimoto Kana is the only member of Idol Renaissance that is actually 17. Momo-oka Koyoi was previously in B Flat, the same Step One Sendai group that Dorothy Little Happy and Party Rockets came from.

The only video on their YouTube channel that overseas fans can watch is an interview with Minamibata Maina.



Members:
Hashimoto Kana - Born on December 5, 1996; Blood Type: B; 152 cm
Arai Noa - Born on January 17, 1999; Blood Type: A; 158 cm
Minamibata Maina - Born on February 21, 2000; Blood Type: O; 150 cm
Higa Nanako - Born on February 26, 2000; Blood Type: A; 152 cm
Ishino Riko - Born on October 29, 2000; Blood Type: A; 155 cm
Miyamoto Marin - Born on April 23, 2001; Blood Type: AB; 155 cm
Momo-oka Koyoi - Born on April 30, 2001; Blood Type: A; 156 cm

Single:
"17 Sai" ("17 Years Old") (July 6, 2014)

Official Website
Official Blog        
Official Twitter
Official Facebook
Official YouTube

Thursday, September 18, 2014

JS Idol Spotlight: Pocchimo


Yesterday I mentioned that I was watching some new idol videos including one by a group named Pocchimo.  Pocchimo are what is known as a JS idol group, or elementary school age idol group.   JS idols are not new at all, but there has been a new wave of them lately.  Perhaps many of these groups won't achieve the level of success of an AKB48, but the tide is turning in the idol world and they are poised to become the next big thing.

Pocchimo is a group created by Pony Canyon who made their live debut on May 10, 2014.  All three girls are child models and TV actresses.  The group's blog was created on May 1, and a Twitter account was made on May 11.  The video for Pocchimo's debut single, "JS Datte!! Ima Shika Nai!!", was uploaded in a 360p version to YouTube on July 31, with the CD (and CD + DVD set) being released on August 20.  Also on August 20 the group's website appeared.

The Limited Edition of Pocchimo's single comes with a Region 2 DVD.  If you have a DVD player capable of playing this or VLC Media Player on your computer then you are all set!  The DVD menu screen is in both Japanese and English, with options such as "All Play", "Music Video", "Dance Shot Version" and "Making Of Shooting".  As you can guess, the picture quality of the music video is superior to the video that you can see on YouTube.  The dance shot version is fun as the clothes on the girls changes every so often.  The making of the video is pretty standard, but fun to see the girls be themselves behind-the-scenes.      

Pocchimo's musical style is mid-paced traditional pop.  What I personally like about them is that they are not trying to copy a popular idol group, they don't have an anime tie-in (at least not yet), they aren't an autotune electronica group nor are they a fan-service group.  Pocchimo are simply trying to be a cute pop group that wants to entertain people and have fun.  The girls are young and they act like it too.  No one is trying to be mature and dress up in clothing to make them look older.  This is refreshing to me.

Since I already linked the video for "JS Datte!! Ima Shika Nai!!" in my last post, I'll share some other Pocchimo videos.  The first one is a low quality video of their live debut.

 
Pocchimo dancing videos....

"Attack Hip" (Sorry, I can't embed this.)

"Nanana Gymnastics":


The Making of "Nanana Gymnastics":


Members:
Hata Mei, Leader - Born on April 10, 2002
Ishii Momoka (Momo) - Born on December 19, 2002
Shinta Maki - Born on March 7, 2005

Single:
"JS Datte!! Ima Shika Nai!!" (August 20, 2014)

Official Website
Official Blog
Official Twitter
Official Vine   

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cool New Idol Videos!

I've been neglecting my blog for a month now because I'm busy with promoting idols on Facebook and forums and I'm working on an idol project which I'll reveal hopefully before the year is over.  In the meantime I'll share some of the newest idol videos that I have been watching lately.

CoCo DeCoRu, "Kiss Me Kiss Me" 
I'm unable to embed this video (thanks again, Blogger!), but it was just uploaded today.  The venue-only single was released on June 25, and it included a DVD.  Now those who don't have the ability to buy it can see CoCo DeCoRu's debut video!  The video contains some kind of religious symbolism, and I'm not sure what exactly is going on, but it's possible that some people might be offended.  You have been duly warned.

Candy Zoo, "CWB!!"
The first video from this cute young group was uploaded on August 19.  It features the two new members of the group, Miyu and Mikara, along with Himiko's shorter hair style.  It's also a five minute commercial for Candy A-Go-Go!

 
Pocchimo, "JS Datte!! Ima Shika Nai!!"
This is the debut video from a new group from Pony Canyon.  I haven't written about them yet, but I plan to soon.  Pocchimo are a trio of elementary school girls who are trying to be the leader in a new wave of JS (elementary school age) idol groups.  One Japanese article I came across basically said that older idol groups that have been around for a while are getting stale and it's time for younger groups like Pocchimo to offer something fresh!  That's a subject that surely will get a few opinions from idol fans.


Millennium Girls, "Kyoshitsu Sabaibaru" 
I don't normally go for fan-service type of groups but this song from a new group named Millennium Girls (who were created by the Tokyo branch of a famous American dance studio and taught by an American dance instructor) are really good dancers.  This catchy song was uploaded on July 17, so it's two months old, but I've been watching this and some live versions (in which a different girl gets a solo dance during the song's break) several times lately.  This is another song that won't leave my head!    


I'll be back in a few days with some idol group profiles.  Keep your idol spirit high!
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

MINAMI Graduates From ORI ☆ HIMETAI


I noticed that for the past few months that MINAMI, the only trainee in Michinoku Sendai ORI ☆ HIMETAI, has not been in group photos.  I thought it was due to illness but apparently there were other reasons.  According to the ORI ☆ HIMETAI blog, MINAMI has been taking exams to get into the high school that she wants.  Her chosen school has strict rules about the students being in the entertainment industry, so MINAMI had to think about being in ORI ☆ HIMETAI over.  The final reason that MINAMI has chosen to graduate has to do with her father getting a job transfer, which means her family will be moving far away from Sendai.  It's pretty sad that MINAMI never became a full member of ORI ☆ HIMETAI before she had to leave.  MINAMI is also one of my favorite singers in this group, so I hate to see her graduate.  MINAMI will perform with ORI ☆ HIMETAI for the final time on August 31, 2014.  Farewell, sweet princess, and good luck with school!                

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Quartet Of Q♥Ts!

Recently I have become aware of a group of young idols who are also models named Q♥T.  I have done some digging and have found a little bit of info for this group.  I still don't know everything, but I'll share what I have discovered.

Q♥T debuted sometime in March 2014.  At least their first photo is dated March 15, 2014.  They performed, perhaps for the first time, perhaps not, at an idol event on April 26.  The members in the photo below, left to right, are:

Mio - Born on January 1, 2004
Luna - Born on September 16, 2002
Himari - Born on December 15, 2004


Q♥T's Twitter account was created on May 1, 2014.  They have two Ameba blogs, one created on May 3 and the other created on June 4.  One of their blogs has other idols whose photos appear on it.  On July 10, 2014 Yano Myu was announced as a new member of Q♥T on her blog and on Q♥T's Twitter.  Her last photo with the group was uploaded on July 23 (see below).


On July 29 Myu announced that she was joining usa☆usa Girls Club.  The blog article that announced she was joining Q♥T was deleted.  Myu went to TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL 2014 with usa☆usa Girls Club, although she did not perform with them.  Instead Myu simply watched the other members perform, shook hands with the fans and signed autographs.  On August 10, 2014 Myu performed at the Ikebukuro Junior Idol Festival where Q♥T also performed separately.

Yano Myu - Born on December 25, 2003

Myu still has not performed with usa☆usa Girls Club, and I haven't found a video of her singing, but I hope this will change soon.  Q♥T have released an indie single with a new one due soon.

Single:
"Happy Happy" (May 1, 2014)

QT Official Blog #1
QT Official Blog #2
QT Official Twitter
Yano Myu Official Blog

"Happy Happy" clip.

MC


A fan video.  





 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Caramel ☆ Ribbon's "First Secret" Video

Caramel ☆ Ribbon's first music video for 2014 and their second studio video was uploaded to T-Palette Record's YouTube channel today.  "First Secret" is the fifth single for this indie idol group and it's another winner!  Most of the video has the girls of Caramel ☆ Ribbon, Fukada Seina, Ueno Amane and Yoshinaka Aoi, dancing in front of a beach.  They also have some fun with sparklers and walk on a bridge.  Nothing innovative, but it's still fun to watch.  


The B-Side to "First Secret" is titled "Nana Iro no Niji no Muko ni", and it's an energetic pop rocker. Here is the live version.   


Caramel ☆ Ribbon don't release lots of singles like other idol groups, but the singles they do release are all above average.   
  

 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Links To Shamrock


I'm going to do something a bit different this time by writing two short profiles, for the idol groups Links and Shamrock.  And yes, there is a link connecting them.

Links is a five member idol group from Fit One, which formed in March 2012.  They have performed at several idol events including TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL 2012 and 2013, and will be at this year's TIF as well.  Links have released three singles so far and contributed a song to a game soundtrack.  I don't have a lot of information on them, so I'll let their music do the talking.  Here's a song named "Homenobi ☆ Ja Panda".


Members:
Saito Mitsue - Born on November 3, 1993, Blood Type O
Ootomo Haru - Born on January 6, 1995, Blood Type B
Ayakawa Hinano - Born on June 20, 1995, Blood Type O
Yanaka Yuisa - Born on January 4, 1998, Blood Type AB
Sato Arisa - Born on August 8, 1998, Blood Type A

Discography:

Singles:
"Shinkai Syndrome" (February 27, 2013)
"Homenobi ☆ Ja Panda" / "Amai Mint" (August 27, 2013)
"Ikaneba no Musume ~Love Soldiers~" (February 18, 2014)

Various Artists Compilation Album:
"Short Peace Tsukigime Ranko no Ichiban Nagai Hi" (March 26, 2014; Track 1, "Denshou Love Letter" + DVD with "Galactic☆ GAL-ACT" Links Version music video)  

Official Website
Official Blog
Fit One Profile
Official Twitter
Official YouTube

Yuisa and Arisa are also members of Shamrock, a group that also includes Konno Yuuka of Aither.  Shamrock debuted on April 26, 2014 during an Aither concert.  Shamrock will be contributing songs to an upcoming movie.  No details on the movie have been released yet.  There isn't an official Shamrock photo, but I found this on Twitter.

   
The Shamrock live video won't embed, so click here.

I really like the songs from both of these groups, so I hope they will find a lot of fans!



  


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pink And Proud Of It!


Pink Babies are somewhat new to the Japanese idol scene, but their music is decidedly not so new.  That is because Pink Babies, created by Pan Pacific Project, are a group which exclusively sings covers of Pink Lady songs.  Pink Lady was a pop duo in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

I first became aware of Pink Babies back in December 2013 when I was doing some research for the group Prizmmy☆.  Pink Babies were performing at a kids dance event along with Prizmmy☆ and some other singers and dancers that I was unfamiliar with.  There was a dance rehearsal video of the group on YouTube that I only watched once before it became private.  Unfortunately I didn't think of downloading this before it became inaccessible.  I've been following them on Twitter (and they've been following me) for a few months now.  I suppose after they uploaded their first videos made available for the public that didn't go private right away, a short introduction to the group and the song "UFO", I should have written an article about them.  Maybe I'm a bit behind, but better late than never.

Pink Babies' latest video, "Wanted (Shimei Tehai)", is being released as a single on iTunes and I think there is also a CD.  (It's not listed on CD Japan or YesAsia yet, unless I'm missing something.)  It's a pretty interesting video with some sci-fi and horror elements which show the girls dancing in a haunted house and displaying mental powers!  Prior to this video being uploaded to YouTube, a short and humorous video of some of the members of Pink Babies using telekinetic abilities to move objects, bend spoons and read cards was uploaded.  Clips from this video are also on Twitter.  Any group that has a sense of humor while also taking their jobs as idols seriously has my respect, and I really respect Pink Babies.  These girls are very good singers and dancers and their videos are fun to watch.  I'm hoping that bigger and better things are coming this way for Pink Babies!

Members:
Kuriyama Rina - Born on September 24, 1996, Blood Type AB
Saganuma Mayu - Born on December 15, 1996, Blood Type O
Yoshida Aina - Born on March 17, 1997, Blood Type A  
Furukawa Yukari - Born on May 10, 1997, Blood Type O
Maskai Kotona - Born on September 26, 1998, Blood Type A
Arakawa Saho - Born on October 8, 1998, Blood Type O
Sato Kotono - Born on November 30, 1999, Blood Type ?
Asada Mayu - Born on February 20, 2000, Blood Type AB
Sakurai Yui - Born on February 21, 2000, Blood Type B
Yabuta Nanaho - Born on July 11, 2000, Blood Type B
Suzuki Chinatsu - Born on August 16, 2000, Blood Type O
Suzuki Sara - Born on December 20, 2000, Blood Type ?
Omori Rio - Born on December 22, 2001, Blood Type: AB
Shiseki Rio - Born on January 27, 2002, Blood Type B





Official Website
Official Blog
Official Twitter
Official YouTube