I became a Morning Musume/Hello! Project fan on Monday, August 29, 2005, twelve years ago today, after watching a VHS tape of the Hello! Project 2004 Winter “C’MON! Dance World” concert that I’d picked up on a whim while looking for anime tapes in HQ Video, a New York Japanese video store. It was the first time I’d ever heard any MM/H!P songs and after hearing “Go Girl! Koi no Victory” (above) and “Ai Araba, It’s All Right” (below), I was hooked.
Cut to 2017, when it has become a rather trying time to be a fan of Hello! Project. On one hand, there are many talented young ladies sprinkled among the six major groups in H!P and an abundance of enjoyable new songs coming out from them. The concerts I’ve seen from this year have all been wonderful and are ripe for multiple viewings: C-ute Saitama Super Arena Final Live, Hello! Project Winter 2017, Hina Fes 2017, and the H!P Countdown Party from Dec. 31, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017. I’ve still got Momoko Tsugunaga’s final concert and Morning Musume’s Spring 2017 concert lined up to watch. For every favorite member that leaves H!P, there are plenty of potential new favorites lined up to take her place.
Continue reading “12 Years of H!P Fandom: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times”
Eager to see the new girls in performance for the first time, I ordered the Hello! Project Winter 2017 concert and watched the first disc in the set, the “Crystal Clear” concert, recorded on January 8, 2017 at Nakano Sunplaza. Morning Musume had the two members of 13th Gen performing with them for the first time: Kaede Kaga and Reina Yokoyama. Tsubaki Factory had their three new members performing with them, the first time I’ve seen them with the group: Mao Akiyama, Saori Onoda, Mizuho Ono. (All three had performed with TF at the H!P Countdown Party on New Year’s Eve, just a week earlier. I’ll be getting to that concert soon.) Angerme had Momona Kasahara, although I believe I’ve seen her perform before. She just hasn’t registered strongly with me yet. Of these six, only Kaga and Akiyama are immediately recognizable to me. Both were very impressive in this concert. These are the most auspicious H!P debuts I’ve seen since Riho Sayashi in MM and Rikako Sasaki and Mizuki Murota in Angerme. As Maria Makino jockeys for the “ace” position in MM, I believe she’ll get serious competition from Kaga, who’s given one of the lead dance positions in “Oh My Wish!,” the first MM song in the concert. And Akiyama takes the lead in this concert’s performance of TF’s then-newest single, “Just Try,” already outshining her seven teammates, at least in my eyes.
Continue reading “Hello! Project 2017 WINTER Disc One: ~Crystal Clear~”