Monday, December 22, 2014
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.
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
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.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
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
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~"
"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)
"1 carat star"
"Pojikaru World" by Natsu & Yuka
"Chocolate Paradise" by Momona
"Glory Days" by Hina & Runa
Sakuran Bom Bom -
“Bom Bom World☆”
Candy Kiss -
Michinoku Sendai ORI☆HIMETAI -
"Kimi ni Todoku Kaze ni Nare"
Himekko 5 -
Candy Zoo -
"Go Go ☆ Dinosaur"
Pink Babies -
CoCo DeCoRu -
"Hare nochi Hare"
Haru ☆ Kana -
Millennium Girls -
Miniature Garden -
Idol Renaissance -
Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku -
"Fujicco QQQ no Theme"
Minichia ☆ Bears -
"Minichia ☆ Ouenka"
Maboroshi Love -
"Merry Go World"
Party Rockets -
Favorite Albums / Mini Albums of 2014:
Sakura Gakuin -
"Sakura Gakuin 2013 ~Kizuna~"
Prizmmy☆ & Prism☆Mates -
"Music Goes On"
Sakuran Bom Bom -
“Bom Bom World☆”
Favorite New Groups of 2014:
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
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.
Noguchi Monami (野口もなみ) - Born on December 27, 2000
Monami's Blog, Monami's Twitter
Wada Yuka (和田優香) - Born on March 17, 2002
Yuka's Blog, Yuka'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 Blog, Miku's Twitter
Asaka Fuuna (浅香ふう菜) - Born on August 18, 2002
Fuuna's Blog, Fuuna's Twitter
Nishikawa Airi (西川愛莉) - Born on September 21, 2002
Airi's Blog, Airi's Twitter
Itou Kika (伊藤妃花)
Yoshioka Satsuki (吉岡楓季) - Born on July 8, 2001
Satsuki's Blog, Satsuki's Twitter
Oochi Yuna (大内柚菜) - Born on October 31, 2002
Yuna's Blog, Yuna's Twitter
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
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
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!