How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: Morning Musume and Hello!Project

morningmusume

Trying to come up with an introduction to this article is probably one of the harder things I’ve had to write recently. I had toyed with the idea of making some very bold and in your face statements to rile people up but ultimately decided against it. This is a fairly serious opinion piece so to detract from the message just for “shock value” seemed to be an unwise decision.

All I’ll say is this; if you would like to read some words about my views on how Morning Musume (and by extension Hello!Project) are rather unfairly treated by the western fan community then keep reading. There will be snark, sarcasm and all the rest as well as mentions of AKB48 and various other things. None of the things I am about to say are intended to cause offense to anyone and you certainly don’t have to agree with my views. I just want to try to get your synapses firing and generate some rational discussion.

 

Okay so I guess the best place to start is where I got my inspiration for this article in the first place. I was casually browsing Twitter and the various other forums I frequent as part of my participation in this fandom and I couldn’t help but notice that there is a rather extreme dislike of Morning Musume and Hello!Project that tends to float to the surface whenever a new song or music video is released. Granted some of these naysayers are your hardcore AKB48 fans, which is to be expected because to each circlejerk their own and all that. However there’s a decent number of, who I have reason to believe are very reasonable people, who seem to just spout hate on anything Tsunku puts his name to. Except for his Backstage Pass group because for some reason they’re pretty good despite having the same guy working on the music.

The most recent example of this that springs to mind is when Morning Musume released the PV for their new song “Brainstorming”. I personally thought that it was a rather good PV and the song is by no means terrible either. However, many people online did not share this opinion and were quick to criticize the PV for being lazy, boring and what have you. That’s fair enough I suppose but I couldn’t find any reasoning in what I read or asked as to why people thought these things. It was a rather strange situation because most people, especially idol fans are usually quick to rattle off a whole host of reasons for not liking something. It was at this point that I came to the following conclusion.

Hating on Morning Musume, Hello!Project and Tsunku is seen as this cool thing to do. There’s almost this dudebro mentality behind it with people virtually elbow nudging and high-fiving whenever they come up with their next “wicked sick slam, brah” and it’s rather unfortunate that things have come to this. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll joke about stuff just as much as the next guy (Suzuki Kanon being overweight as an example) but I never go as far as to preach hate about something. Back in my younger and more naive days maybe but these days the farthest I ever go is being indifferent or perhaps uncaring about a musical offering from a group.

I get it, Hello!Project was a fucking train-wreck for years and everyone who had to live through that time as a fan is obviously jaded as hell and you’re perfectly entitled to be. The problem comes when your hurt feelings make it so that new fans feel like there’s some kind of unwritten rule that you have to hate on Morning Musume, C-ute, Berryz, S/mileage, etc to be accepted in the wider community. I know I certainly thought as much when I was getting into the genre. Thankfully I no longer give a shit about what people in the community think about me or my tastes so I can actually enjoy the current direction that Hello!Project are heading in.

At this point I would like to address some things that I see most Morning Musume and Hello!Project detractors dredge up from time to time. I know that these things are complete bullshit and you should all be ashamed of yourselves but I’m trying to educate the uninformed here so you’re going to have to just grin and bear it.

First up, I see a lot of people bitching on Twitter and forums about this new Electro Musume sound being repetitive, uninventive, lazy, whatever you want to go with. I’m not going to deny that yes, these songs are rather similar and we’re not really pushing any boundaries with the writing and composition. Valid critiques except for the fact that a lot of these people are the first to heap praise on the latest AKB48 rehash or whatever other group they champion and can’t find a single bad thing to say no matter how dull or bland the vocals or instrumental composition are. At least Hello!Project are trying to do something different in an attempt to avoid the trap that AKB48 is about to find itself falling into. I think it says a lot when Morning Musume’s (and Hello!Project as a whole for the most part) sales are currently on an upward trend while AKB are in the throws of a slow and drawn out death. That’s just my opinion though, to each their own.

Speaking of AKB48 and sales, how many of you actually know how many of their million copies sold each single comes from theater editions? You know theater editions, the copies that wota buy not for the music but for the golden ticket that gives them 10 seconds of face time with their favorite idol at a handshake event. If you answered anywhere in the region of 700-800k copies then you’re right. No one even bats an eyelash at this but man, when Morning Musume start offering event tickets in their CDs they’re just artificially inflating their numbers. Can you see the logical fallacy in this or am I the only one here who lives in reality?

Then you have the people who say the members of Morning Musume don’t have personality, aren’t talented, wouldn’t make it in AKB48 and various other things that would take too long to list. Again completely entitled to such opinions but perhaps you should actually learn the names of these girls who aren’t Michishige Sayumi or Tanaka Reina before you go and tar them with that particular brush. I’d even argue that you’re sporting a rather uninformed opinion if you don’t even know these girls’ names. It shows that you clearly haven’t seen or read enough to judge their talent or personalities in a way that could ever be described as fair.

While we’re on the subject of talent, personality and the like let’s talk about Tashima Meru from HKT48. She actually auditioned to be in Morning Musume fairly recently but ultimately didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. A few months later she shows up in HKT48 and suddenly she’s this amazing talent that Tsunku just couldn’t see, when no AKS fan even gave a flying fuck about (or even knew about) her before. It’s quite incredible really, what one tabloid article touting her as “The next Matsui Jurina” can do to get the AKS faithful singing her praises. In my honest opinion, Meru isn’t anything special and she’s about on par with what Morning Musume is working with right now. I’d even go as far as to speculate that she got her center position just to point score with the AKS fans who don’t like Hello!Project. Congratulations guys, you all got played like a violin.

I could keep going but hopefully I’ve got my point across by now. It doesn’t seem to matter what Tsunku or Morning Musume do, people just seem to hate unconditionally. Got rid of the older members and got a bunch of fresh faces? Too many new members. Changed up the music? I don’t like it, it all sounds the same. Sales are on the increase? They’re cheating, it doesn’t count. At least they’re not trying to sell songs about stepping in dog shit. Also, why on earth would you be quick to cast off a style of music that clearly sells after years of trying to pick yourself off the canvas while the blows keep raining in. You can be as negative as you want but this new direction is clearly a good business decision.

It’s like some people just want to see the group fail because they can’t let go of the past. Maybe there is just too much water under the bridge at this point but if that’s the case then why not just walk away completely? If you truly can’t find anything enjoyable about Morning Musume or Hello!Project no matter how hard you try then why keep putting yourself through this? Are you really that petty that you have to spread all of this hate and (inadvertently or not) discourage new fans from giving these groups a shot? What are you even getting out of it at this point apart from your dudebro point scoring with all of your other hater buddies?

I think that’s it from me for now. If you’d like to discuss any of the points that I raised in this article then feel free to leave a comment, send me an email at garry@newschoolkaidan.com or hit me up on Twitter @Mage77. I’ll do my best to respond to all comments and questions as long as they’re well thought out and rational (I know, that’s a lot to ask for in this fandom) so let’s get some healthy discussion going on.

 

64 thoughts on “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: Morning Musume and Hello!Project”

  1. OMG! THIS FUCKIN’ ARTICLE RIGHT HERE IS MY FEELS WRITTEN BY SOMEONE ELSE! Very nice article and I really hope the hate on H!P settles down.

    As an H!P fan, seeing most of the hate come from AKB fans is hurtful and somewhat scary; and of course it really makes me want to stay away from that type of crowd. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate AKB, but I actually really really respect them. It’s just the things I’m seeing from the fans is what disappoints me. I’m sorry if this confused the hell out of you, i’m terrible at commenting and explaining.

    Anyways, I love this article. Nice write up Garry. :D

    1. Thanks for the kind words, glad I’m not the only one noticing this trend. I was kinda worried that I’d be talking to a brick wall on this one so to see at least one supportive comment is great.

  2. You bring up good points but parts of the article sound like an irrationally angry letter one would write, keep in a drawer and not show anyone.

    One on hand I like the new musical direction of Morning Musume, but on the other hand, I can see how people are expressing more caution considering the ruts MM have gotten themselves into before.

    I don’t think there’s a problem with recurring themes, instrumentals, and vocal styles. AKS, H!P, Momoclo, BiS, and other idol groups that are healthily competing in the marketplace have a number of musical tropes and identifiers. But people are going to get worried when they release 4-5 songs in a row that are similar enough to be considered extensions of each other, even if they’re all in a style that is new to that group, purely because Tsunku has run down specific, once-unique musical styles into to the ground before. This is exactly why I’m wanting Tsunku to throw a curveball as a sign of assurance that he’s not going to repeat history; and the absence of that will keep people distanced. That’s at least for people who are cautiously enjoying the new MM sound. People who disliked it outright will continue to do so unabated.

    I don’t hold that much stake in AKB songs but I’m always puzzled when I hear the criticism that it’s a rehash. A rehash of ideas, like seasonal singles? Because other than that, the single output is pretty diverse. Even when compiling all the summer songs, spring songs, fall songs, etc, there’s plenty of variety within each, aside from the Janken singles. I can understand if you’re talking about the multitude of songs AKS releases outside of singles, since those are very much for the core audience that enjoy that particular sound, as rehashed as they are.

    I’ve seen a lot of the offenses cited in the article from every perspective whether it be AKB, H!P, Idoling!!!, Fairies, etc. There are always excuses. The ones who can’t have their minds changed and won’t acknowledge the positives are ones who probably weren’t going to give it a real chance, or have an agenda. Being more open is something I’d like to see come from every community that champions one idol sect of the fandom.

    1. What can I say, I’m “passionate” about this particular subject (don’t you just hate it when people use that word as a justification?). Also, when have I ever been known to keep my emotions in check when trying to make a point? I can’t change who I am man.

      Glad to hear that you’re liking this new musical direction. I can also completely understand that people are being cautious because years of disappointment is sure to leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth.

      Again yes, I’m also slightly concerned with the lack of variation in Morning Musume’s new sound but I want to have faith that things will be different this time. With all the positive steps being taken to reinvent Morning Musume for a new generation I feel the need to give them a bit more time to find their feet. Also like I said, why on earth would you change a formula that is proven to be working for you in terms of sales. These things can come in time but let’s get the group reestablished and on a sure footing first.

      Rehashed AKB songs can be anything from the b-sides that, at least for me seem to blend together to the predictable nature of how each seasonal song is going to sound. You can’t really deny that there’s at least a basic template being used here and apart from the rare exception like “Give Me Five”. You can kinda guess how the Spring, Summer and Fall songs are going to sound before you even hear them at this point. That’s not even talking about the vocal arrangement that has the unfortunate effect of mashing everyone’s voices together into the famous AKB sound. It gets very hard to see the personality when you have a lot of people singing at the same time and layered over the top of each other. The negative side effect of having such a large senbatsu I suppose.

      For sure there are people out there who just won’t budge on this and are so set in their ways that they’re beyond reasoning with. I just felt that this was worth talking about because I’m personally sick of how closed off the various sections of this fandom are.

      Thanks for the input man. <3

  3. Cool article. My only problem with recent Morning Musume is the lack of diversity in their sound. It’s been the same electronic-esque arrangement for the past couple singles. The Matenrou Show was great, where Tsunku threw it back to their groovy sound. What happened to that? Maybe they just need to get other producers.

    1. My theory is that now that they’ve found a formula that seems to work reasonably well they don’t want to just throw it away so soon. Not that there’s anything wrong with sticking with the current sound but yeah, hopefully they vary things up a bit on the next single. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  4. Amen!

    It’s not that I don’t think people are entitled to their opinions on H!P’s latest, it’s more that I can’t stand the people who go into it hoping to hate it and gleefully tearing it apart when they do without giving it a chance.

    I’m no AKB fan, but there was a time when I can say looking at it objectively that they were coming out with much better stuff. I really feel like H!P has turned that around completely, it’s just a shame that so many are so eager to write off this new batch of talent and good material because hating on H!P is the cool thing to do.

    1. Yeah, it’s a shame that people go into things looking so much for the bad that the good completely goes out the window. You don’t have to like everything you hear but writing off otherwise decent girls and music because of preconceived notions kinda sucks.

  5. trying to include akb48 in the discussion won’t make your favorite idol group any more relevant. lolz, MM fans write articles like this all the time and they wonder why akb fans aren’t their best friends when they are down?

    talking about variety, at least akb can say their last 3 singles are different.

      1. Does it matter? have a similar theme every year is just a rehearse but have the same song three times in a row is “not falling into the same trap”? how do you even justify this kind of logic if your bias haven’t completely blind you?

        And obviously to you akb is dying now. For me, when MM fans stop randomly bringing up akb whenever they talk about their own problems, akb may be dying.

      2. That’s certainly one way you can look at it and that’s totally fine if that’s your position, I’m in no way saying you’re wrong for holding it. However I choose to look at it as AKB doing the same thing for three years with no signs of changing (they’re still selling a million each single, so why not I guess) and Morning Musume trying something new for them which I personally think is a good thing because they’ve been in a pretty bad place these last few years.

        You’re happy with the current direction of AKB from what I’m reading and that’s great, more power to you. I’m kinda tired of it and would like something different so of course I’ll be more critical because I’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. We’re coming at this from two completely different angles which is why I think I’m rubbing you the wrong way.

        My “falling into the same trap” comment was in reference to my perception of AKB being stuck in their ways and seeing no need to change anything. If Morning Musume start to run their new sound into the ground then that’ll be really unfortunate and I will criticize Tsunku for blowing this great opportunity. At this point though I would like to be optimistic that they’re just finding their feet and will kick on from here.

        Bias is a pretty ugly word. If I’m bias for praising Morning Musume for trying to right the ship and being critical of people (who unfortunately tend to be AKB fans) criticizing them for no logical reason then yeah, you can call me bias I guess.

        Thanks for the comments though, it makes me happy that people are so passionate about this that they’ll take time out of their day to talk to little old me.

  6. As someone who’s mainly an AKB fan who’s fond of Morning Musume as well, I think you have a valid point for certain sections of the fandom. I do have one problem with your argument though- I really doubt Meru got centre due to people disliking Tsunku. Many of the girls in AKB have auditioned for Hello!Project and have been rejected, before becoming top members through hard work like Takamina or Yukirin. I’m not a huge Meru fan and I don’t think she’s the greatest idol in the world, but that doesn’t mean she’s only getting pushed due to some weird vendetta.

    1. I got a bit sensational with the Meru bit but hey, ya never know right? Just seems strange that she drops out of the Morning Musume auditions then shows up in HKT shortly after being hailed as the second coming of Jurina. A title that she has so far failed to live up to.

      1. I think putting the label of ‘next Matsui Jurina’ on any girl is a stupid move on management’s part, the situation Jurina was in during the Oogoe era of AKB could never be repeated these days.
        I do think that AKB’s increased blending of the sister groups and the main section is a bad sign. One good thing about H!P is that every group gets a unique flavour. I’m not an expert on the company, but I never got the feeling that they would shove a popular member of say, C-ute, into Morning Musume if Tsunku couldn’t find a better girl for a new generation like AKB is doing right now.

      2. Yeah, it was a pretty unfortunate label to put on her right from the start. It was always going to be incredibly hard for her to live up to the sort of expectations that such a thing brings with it.

        Who knows, maybe I’ll end up being wrong about her but right now I’m just not seeing anything that would justify such a claim.

      3. Let’s face it. the only reason you are talking about meru has nothing to do with Jurina. If she is some randome girls that is called the second Jurina you will just joke about it in the podcast or even be impressed by her.

        So obviously when a girl failed MM’s audition she is forever signed to MM even if she is not chosen and she is not allowed to further her career with other groups? Such bs. MM audition is not some kind of holy sacred process of the idol world. It is just another audition. She can do whatever she want after MM’s audition ended and AKS can do whatever they want for whatever reason. Does AKS supposed to give a fuck about what MM fans feel?

        In all seriousness, these kind of things happen in every heathy competitive job market. Talents jump ships all the time. Go to the valley and you know what I am talking about. The only end result is girls like meru have much more alternatives and consumers like us also have the benefit of seeing her again else where after she failed one simple audition.

        Hardcore MM fans are the only group of people that try to spin it in a negative way. I am disappointed that this kind of thinking makes its way into nsk which is supposed to “love all idols”. Obviously idols like meru can go fuck themselves if they are making the holy sacred MM looks bad.

      4. Why wouldn’t I talk about the girl who dropped out of the Morning Musume training camp (for whatever reason) who no one cared about at the time but then ends up showing up in HKT and being hailed as the next Matsui Jurina?

        At that point a bunch of people find out about her Morning Musume audition and proceed to criticize Tsunku for missing this supposed great talent and how Aki-P clearly got one over on him once again because he was too blind to see how amazing she was.

        Fast forward a bit and for me, she hasn’t really done anything to live up to that very bold claim of Jurina v2. That’s even after being made center of her group in place of the equally capable (or incapable depending on your opinion) Kodama Haruka.

        I honestly don’t care who auditions where and have no problem with anyone furthering their career. I was more using her as an example of fans having double standards. A point that I guess I didn’t make clear enough because I think you’ve taken what I was saying the wrong way. My bad if that is the case, I’ll try to do better in the future.

        Like I said, I’m not a hardcore Morning Musume, AKB, whatever fan. I’m just commenting on what I see as something that’s unfair in this fandom. Perhaps my writing style just isn’t to your taste but I really have no ill will against any idols. I’m just trying to get a point across in my own way.

  7. I think a good portion of the Electro Musume sound haters are actually older fans who just…don’t like the sound for some reason or another, and a good number of people are jumping on this sound hating because it seems trendy to do so. Maybe they think MM had some more pop-music credibility when they weren’t ‘autotuning’ the hell out of the girls, and some of them bring up vocal talent issues.

    …I think it’s silly, because the musical compositions that Tsunku makes are incredibly complex, intriguing, and often very anti-pop, but whatever. Philistines. :P Haters gonna hate.

    Personally I’ve been pretty vocal about my support for pretty much everything new in MM, and I’ve always thought that the only redeeming features of AKB48 pretty much boiled down to Sashihara Rino in terms of personality, and like…*squints* the legions of pretty girls. I’ve never particularly found that either MM in their heyday OR AKS now has more ‘personality’ – it’s pretty much who has the most TV exposure nowadays, and that current MM is pretty much chock-full of girls who’d probably do well on variety if given a chance…but once again popularity is this magical thing that affects ones’ abilities to judge things a lot.

    Also, AKB48 has a propaganda film (no, seriously, that is a crazy biased and emotionally manipulative film that sells hardcore a false story of underdog-ness) whereas H!P tries to…promote environmentalism, so of course fans are going to react accordingly.

    Great article. You’re definitely not the only one, though at this point I’ve just given up arguing with people and decided that I’ll gush or squee or do whatever on my own blog.

    1. The only relevant feature of MM is a fans like this one who try to talk shit about akb whenever they can and at the same time wondering why akb fans “hate” them.

    2. I don’t know why people are hating, most can’t give an actual reason from what I’ve seen. I’m sure some people don’t even know why they’re hating at this point. It’s just this automatic reaction I guess.

      No comment on the musical complexity. I don’t have the education or experience with composing to make any informed comments.

      TV exposure plays a massive part in popularity in Japan and I agree that current Morning Musume has a bunch of girls that would do well in a variety setting. Sucks that their only real television show right now is that one Satoyama show that isn’t really the best platform for promoting anything really.

      Can’t say I agree with the propaganda film comment but that’s an interesting way to look at it I suppose. Props to Hello!Project for promoting environmentalism though. I guess if you’re shilling something then that’s one of the better things you could be shilling.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

  8. I tried giving Morning Musume a chance when I first got into idols and was giving groups beside AKB a listen to see if I would like them as well. I didn’t like what I heard (I guess it’s Tsunku’s writing style, plus I’m pretty sure their vocal trainers teach them to use their nose a lot when singing which gives all H!P a distinct sound from a vocal standpoint), so I never followed them. I still gave their songs a listen when they were discussed on NSK podcasts, but nothing ever pulled me in. And being a guy that works 2 jobs, I don’t even have time to follow AKB completely, let alone the sister groups or H!P. It would take a drastic change in H!P music to get me interested (unfortunately I didn’t like Brainstorming either)

    That being said, I completely agree that hating on Morning Musume for the reasons listed is dumb. I think hating on any group is dumb. Why? Because you have the power to stop listening. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it, and let the fans enjoy it. Hating on forums or Twitter and leaving baseless criticism won’t cause the group to be less popular, won’t change their musical style, and won’t cause the fans to stop being fans, you’ll just come off as being a negative Nancy.

    1. It’s comments like these that give me hope for this fandom. Thank you for being a very reasonable person who thinks logically. We need a lot more of you.

      If you don’t dig the style of any group’s music then that’s fair enough, at least you give it a shot. That’s all anyone can really expect and hope for you to do. Why people waste time hating and then get defensive when people call them on it is beyond me.

      Thanks for the comment.

  9. love this article =),,,… and yeah, I’m getting tired with all this “hate” going on with Morning Musume.. but whatever, haters gonna hate.. that’s what they do, they’ll hate your idols for what they lack and they’ll hate them for what they got.. At the end of the day, I’m happy that MM is starting to lift themselves out of its former obscurity…. And I have a good feeling that Brainstorming would have sales as good as their previous ones =)

    1. Yup, really happy that Morning Musume are starting to gain some traction again. Seems changes are being made to push the group forward which should hopefully benefit Hello!Project as a whole.

      Positivity! We need some more of that going around.

  10. Morning Musume is at it again. let’s just bash akb and play the victim in the same post. how paranoid, but good try.

    meh……

    1. But……..I like AKB too. Liking a 48 group and liking Morning Musume isn’t a mutually exclusive thing. Well, it doesn’t have to be if you don’t want it to.

      1. but bashing other group and playing the victim is kind of mutually exclusive. At least don’t do it in the same post.

        When some random people talk about Morning Musume not having personalities you are so angry that you made a blog post. When some Morning Musume fans replied your post about how akb is just “*squints* the legions of pretty girls” and “propaganda” machine you just “really appreciate it”. Please don’t try to pretend that you are neutral.

      2. I was thanking that person for taking the time out of their most likely busy life to leave a comment on my article. I wasn’t thanking them for agreeing with what you perceived to be my agenda. I think you might have got your wires crossed on that one. Hopefully I cleared things up.

        Oh where are my manners. Thank you for taking the time to read my article and comment on it too.

  11. Sure got real forum in here.

    In all seriousness, people will hate forever until all humans are completely wiped off the face of the planet. There are haters pointlessly hating on shit on all sides of any fandom. Let them be. Let them waste their time, energy, and life on hating. With that said, I hate all of you.

    1. I agree with Yoshi, there will always be haters and assholes in any fandom, that’s just the way it goes. The problem is, the people that this article is directed at either won’t see it or won’t care. Asking an asshole to stop being an asshole never works, just gotta let them be and hope you don’t have to come across their shitty opinions too often.

      I’m fortunate in that these people are totally mythical to me. The only way I know they exist is from posts like this. I only follow the people/places whose opinions I actually want to hear and it has worked out great for me.

      1. “I’m fortunate in that these people are totally mythical to me. The only way I know they exist is from posts like this. I only follow the people/places whose opinions I actually want to hear and it has worked out great for me.”

        YUP.

      2. I totally agree. It’s not very often we get people like us on the internet.

  12. Great article. Who cares what people say Brainstorming/Kimi Sae Ireba Nani Mo Iranai is my all-time favourite single from Momusu now and thats saying alot. So in love with the reborn Morning Musume especially Sakura <3 will go to japan someday to see them!!

  13. For me, I was a fan of H!P but their styles just got so bland. It was hard to see diversity when it came singles. I just like that fact that AKB do so much more songs like their old stage shows where they would rotate units or whatever. I’m sad that others H!P girls couldn’t do the same (Country Musume or Coconuts Musume.) it’s hard for H!P to, I think with their constant change line up it’s hard to keep up, unlike AKB where the members do stay or until they are forced to leave.

    I’m still rooting for C-ute or BK to hit it big though.

    1. You know something, I feel kinda the same way. AKB’s theater songs are really good, probably my favourite offerings overall from that particular group outside of a few select singles. Hello!Project was also in a bit of mire for a few years there so yeah, good points all round.

      Hello!Project did struggle with off-shoot units which is why I think they stopped doing them for a while. They brought it back recently with the Satoyama/Satoumi Movement stuff and things seem to be on the right track so far.

      Yeah, the changing line-ups in the recent years haven’t really helped, although for Morning Musume it sorta had to be done I think. Hopefully things settle down a bit now and they can build on what they have.

      C-ute and Berryz have been putting out some good music lately, S/mileage too for that matter. I’d say things are looking up.

  14. I was a avid Momosu fan until the Blessed One (the hint is in my handle) graduated. After that, the Year of Scandals and some pretty vapid releases made me less enthused. The Pandas were fun, but then they left too (with Eri!).

    Now, Momosu has got some fresh faces that are pretty awesome (apparently every generation divisible by 5 is the key). The new sound isn’t daring, but it is enjoyable. my biggest complaint is that they need to spread the lines around a bit more. Reina is leaving so her line-stealing ways will soon end (I hope Sayashi doesn’t get an appetite for lines…but it looks like she will).

    Also, Zuki is a doll! Quit ya’ll hating!

    AKB48 timed itself well in ascending when Momosu hit their low-point. That, I think, created a false image of competition between the two. Now that MM is getting it’s groove back, I feel no qualms about liking both.

    This is because I know the truth. The enemy isn’t AKB/Momosu. The enemy is SMAP. Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

    1. Kon Kon was a bit before my time but Jun Jun and Lin Lin’s stint in the group was enjoyable albeit rather short. Agreed on the less than stellar releases during that time, it was a pretty rough few years for everyone involved.

      I’m enjoying the fresh faces, something that should have probably been done a lot sooner. Yeah the sound isn’t very daring but hopefully they’ll take some more risks now that they’ve established it a bit more. No comment on line distribution, that’s one thing I have no want or need to ever get into. Far too messy for me.

      Nah, Suzuki Kanon is cool. It’s just unfortunate that the rest of the group look like sticks and the costume department always insists on giving her some of the worst outfits possible.

      Yeah, the competition between fans of both groups is rather petty. People need to realize that it’s fine to like or not like something without being completely overbearing about it. There’s more to life ya know?

      Thanks for the comment.

  15. Could care less about 48 groups but I really wish people would not bash so much the groups they don’t like. But you certainly could lose friends from arguing about this stuff. It’s how I lost a friend over cursing my favourite Korean idol in front of my face or for tickets for SM Town Paris and sending me and my friends a death threat.

    Hasn’t hating on H!P been a thing for a while? Or is that becoming more common now? I would just ignore the comments everything from Morning Musume doing electropop now to “blaming everything on Tsunku.” The only way I notice these things are from certain H!O members or when people write blog posts like yourself. I have never personally seen it directed with a Japanese idol before. Wonder if it’s just as brutal…

    Hope I didn’t ramble on for you.

  16. Damn, GarGar. You let out a lot frustration in this article. I have to admit a lot of the hate they get seems unwarranted. Idol fans are not immune to the trap that almost all online communities fall into. That trap being a complete circlejerk of unwarranted hate. It’s going to be part of the community regardless which is unfortnate because Tsunku has really made an effort to improve Morning Musume as of late. He’s trying something new when even the group that got me into idols, AKB, has been too afraid to shift away from the formula. I was immediately put off when they started their cycle again in 2013 and may not pay much attention to their music until they try to change it up a bit.

    Great article, GarBear. Just remember to fuck the haters.

    1. Circlejerks are probably the worst part of any online community. A lot of people really do just need to get over themselves and stop hating but I guess if you’re already that far gone then nothing that anyone says is going to get you back.

      I think we share many of the same views on this matter which is cool. Nice to know it’s more than just me who thinks these things. Thanks for the comment.

  17. I gotta agree that it’s totally unreasonable to hate a certain trope. While I only follow 48 groups regularly, I start liking idol music because of Buono!, which is ofc a mashed-up unit from H!P that doesn’t get much attention it deserves.

    PS. And Risako sounds better than everyone in 48. LOL.

    1. Totally agree that Buono! don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve. Although it would really help them out a lot if they released more music. Still, it’s always a pleasure to hear something new from them.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  18. Sadly, it seems to be one of the only ways that some people can make their favorite things look “cool”, by talking down everything else that appears opposite to them…. but that really makes it look like they only have a very superficial and immature appreciation of it!!

    I agree with the earlier comment that many of Tsunku’s compositions are more daring and complex than might be obvious from a casual listen (particularly with the old Mini Moni songs, paradoxically enough!). And really, I think the decline regarding H!P’s music a few years back simply mirrored a decline in the popularity of girl groups in general in Japan — and during that time, they were catering mostly to their diehard followers (and unfortunately, may have acquired a reputation of no longer being relevant to people outside of that following). Meanwhile, AKB48’s management were wise to see that it was merely the ebb within a cycle, and so they were well-positioned to catch it on the upswing with their own particular approach to things, which also seemed fresher to people beyond just the diehard fans…. (even though they still may have struggled somewhat to be taken seriously, in the beginning). The success of AKB48 obviously was a giant boost to the entire idol genre, including the H!P part of it — but likewise, there might never have been an AKB48 if H!P hadn’t existed first!

    In any case, none of this makes either one better or worse than the other. The more “otaku-centric” flavour of H!P versus the more populist (and perhaps more modern) approach of AKB48 are just two different options, among many other things in Japan, among many other things in the rest of world! It seems especially ridiculous that in a genre like THIS though, that people would think that a hater mentality can somehow lend added credibility to their own chosen parts of the fandom…. when supporting these girls’ efforts is largely the point of it all, in the first place.

    1. Yeah, that seems to be a rather unfortunate feature of life. Talking down something is a pretty effective tactic in a lot of cases assuming you can get enough people to go along with what you’re saying. I’d prefer if it wasn’t like that but I suppose some things just can’t be helped. Someday maybe.

      Again, I can’t really comment on how complex a piece of music is because I simply don’t have that kind of knowledge or have ever claimed to. I just know what appeals to me and try to follow trends as best I can.

      I can get on board with your analysis of the music industry around the time that Morning Musume were struggling and AKB snatched the ball and ran with it. I’d argue that we’re on the cusp of the cycle repeating itself but I understand that it’s not the most popular of opinions in certain circles. Whether it be Morning Musume, Momoiro Clover Z or someone else, I think AKB aren’t going to be the dominant force that they have been for the past few years for much longer. They’ll still be around of course but I think the balance of power might be a bit more spread out.

      If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being in this fandom it’s that people have very strong opinions and take any kind of critique of the group/girl that they support as a personal attack on themselves. In an ideal world such things wouldn’t happen and people would be accepting of all opinions, even if they didn’t necessarily agree with them. Sadly that’s not the case but you have to keep trying and not be afraid to broach difficult subjects.

      Thanks for the comment.

  19. I’m not convinced people hate on HP to be cool.

    I just think it’s a matter of loss of brand confidence. When you let people down OVER and OVER again you get embittered fans.

    Morning Musume and the Hello! Project were THE Idol group at one point… but we all saw how little management cared and how empty every successive generation of MM was. Devoid of personality.. like automatons. I know people will say that the two Chinese girls had ton of personality.. but this was in comparison to the pieces of wood the rest of the group was. They stood out as fun within the MM group, but within AKB they probably would be ignored.

    I believe the hatred stems from the Hello! Project… quoting from Dark Knight… “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

    Like Seinfield you exit stage leaving them wanting more, not embarrassing yourself to the bitter end.

    It’s like seeing a hero stabbed in the heart by a villian.. and with his last moments.. he throws cups of water at the bad guy. That’s what Hello! Project is doing. They are trying to do SOMETHING.. but it isn’t enough and no one cares.

    What they need to do is stand up.. work through that pain.. and with every last bit of energy show everyone why they deserve to be respected.

    These dying gasps by Hello! Project that’s been going on for some 5-6 years now aren’t enough to win back the respect they lost through shitty management and ONE guy half-assing his way through songs.

    If they were to win back the public, they need to prove they belong there. Committing to improving their public image, their videos, and their songs. Whatever they are doing now just isn’t going to cut it.

    1. I guess my question to people who hold this point of view would be at what point will Morning Musume have proved to them that they deserve their respect again?

      Do they have to sell a million copies every time the put out a single? Does every PV have to be a Hollywood quality production? Do they have to be on every billboard, television show and stick of gum in Japan? What would be enough?

      It’s fine for people to say that whatever they’re doing right now isn’t enough in their eyes. However in my experience the people who say stuff like that either don’t know what would be enough or simply won’t ever see anything as being good enough. They just like to hide behind vague statements and don’t give you a straight answer when you ask them. Again, just my experience.

      Maybe I’m being too soft but I think Morning Musume, Hello!Project and Tsunku deserve at least some credit for a fairly successful past year or so. Sales are up, the music is getting better (in my opinion anyway) and it looks like the brand is starting to recover slightly.

      I guess I’d rather just focus on the positives instead of continuing to dwell on the past although I can appreciate that some people just got burned one too many times for that to be a possibility.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my article and leave a comment on it. I appreciate it.

      1. PART ONE

        The way they can improve.. and this is just me talking as a marketer / emotional asshole.

        1) Hire new composers and song writers.

        The current lineup of MM songs will only appease current fans, they aren’t drawing many new fans. Note that my suggestion is NOT “sing better” because Idols aren’t KNOWN for singing. Anyone who says ANY Idol group is about singing is objectively wrong. Fight me about it. (LoL)

        Songs for MM only come out 4 times a year. The least they can do is try a full year of experimental jpop to see which clicks best with the audience. I’m not saying that ALL MM songs are inherently bad, but AKB48 can manage to play SAFE songs because of their position. It’s an underdogs chance to do something more creative because they are in a position of “nothing to lose.”

        2) Get someone who understands what Idols are about to make PV’s.

        Idol dances are almost universally amateurish. So stop bringing attention to it by wide screen shots of the entire crew dancing shittily.

        Idols aren’t really known for their strong singing or dancing abilities. Even if someone CAN sing or CAN dance, it’s not what Idols are known for. The MORE choreography you include in a PV makes it almost universally worse. Choreography in idol groups is always going towards the lowest common denominator.

        AKB48, Passpo and Idoling!!! PV’s all understand that you have to create a narrative WITHIN a promotional video to take attention away from bad dancing. Close up shots. Storyline. Zooms on faces. Zooms on skirts. Zooms on shoes. Zooms on legs. Pans. Refocusing. Handycams.

        Morning Musume and Hello! Project approach PV filming as if they were filming a concert. It’s lazy and doesn’t suit the medium. You have creative, artistic and visionary license to create a lot more FOR a music video and they go out of their way to make sure none of that ever happens. They shoot it like a 2 camera sit com. You have one camera for wide shot. You have one camera for a close up for whoever is singing. You splice it. There the job is done.

        3) Be more likable.. somehow.

        I don’t even know how to fucking approach this. But H!P has always seemed cold/distant from reality since about 2004. I really don’t know how to explain it, or how to fix it. But there is definitely something that seems a lot more restrictive and tight about H!P compared to nearly any other Idol Group.

        4) Auditions and Graduations.

        Needs to happen way more frequently. They were built on the yearly graduation and inductions ceremonies then they dropped it just in time to be stagnant and unpopular! People get bored so you need to cycle through girls. It’s not fuckin’ fair, but this is how a business works.

        Since I wrote a whole shit load. I’ll write some more in my next thrilling post!

      2. “Do they have to sell a million copies every time the put out a single? Does every PV have to be a Hollywood quality production? Do they have to be on every billboard, television show and stick of gum in Japan? What would be enough?”

        Absolutely not. Popularity has never served as any reason I ever liked anything ever.

        But in the same way you can see a bad actor simply by observing it.. I believe this is the problem H!P is facing.

        You can almost taste the apathy about everything H!P does. No one seems to have that passion.

        “Maybe I’m being too soft but I think Morning Musume, Hello!Project and Tsunku deserve at least some credit for a fairly successful past year or so. Sales are up, the music is getting better (in my opinion anyway) and it looks like the brand is starting to recover slightly.”

        You know the problem about this? When I visited Japan in 2004 Morning Musume was still arguably vogue. They might not have had the appeal they did when they started in the beginning but they were still pretty popular.

        When I visited in 2005 a complete trainwreck. There was a lot less HP stuff on sale, and you can argue that demand dwindled so supply matched the lack of enthusiasm.

        When I visited Japan in 2008 HP was all bu eradicated. AKB48 wasn’t hyper popular like now? But they were climbing the way up.

        When I visited Japan in 2012.. BIG change. Music stores suddenly had an IDOL SECTION which didn’t exist in 2004, 2005 and 2008. Or, wasn’t as widespread.

        Here’s my theory.

        AKB48 overwhelming popularity… which re-fueled struggling Idol shops.. suddenly created a revitalized Idol Market. There was a trickle down effect. Because AKB48 NEEDED to have it’s own section (AKB, SKE, NMB, HKT, + 20 SubGroups) they’d toss in PassPo, Idoling!!!, MomoClo, and HP.

        In other words.. my theory?

        Hello! Project is seeing a resurgence in popularity because AKB48 brought Idols into the mainstream again. Hello! Project has something to shoot for again when they thought the market wasn’t working for Idols anymore.

        AKB48 was the marketing and business juggernaut Hello Project didn’t have the management to accomplish.

        “I guess I’d rather just focus on the positives instead of continuing to dwell on the past although I can appreciate that some people just got burned one too many times for that to be a possibility.”

        Although MANY MANY MANY people whine for no good reason, I’m not one of them. I whine when I believe I have a point to make, and my point is never to change someones mind or make them HATE Hello Project or something.

        The way I see it, coming from a professional marketing/advertising background rather than that of TUMBLR REBLOGS or TWITTER FANS, I may be one of the few that believes I actually know EXACTLY what is wrong with HP and what can be done to help fix them.

        HeLOL Project management has done a LOT of damaging things to their brand, and the fans need to understand this is NOT inherently any of the girls faults.

      3. FINAL PART.. JEEEZ

        “It’s fine for people to say that whatever they’re doing right now isn’t enough in their eyes. However in my experience the people who say stuff like that either don’t know what would be enough or simply won’t ever see anything as being good enough. They just like to hide behind vague statements and don’t give you a straight answer when you ask them. Again, just my experience.”

        We don’t have to worry for food, shelter, or much else creature comforts. Instead we focus on pitiful things like whining about the color of cars or about the air conditioner not being cool enough and “totally” ruining your life.

        We’ve become so petty that even when we complain we only allow those with similar opinions to enter our lives, eradicating those who hold differing judgement or thoughts not matter how valid or invalid.

        I think the culture we have is sort of masturbatory.

        We are so sensitive we surround ourselves with people who are just like us in every way and simply can not face being questioned.

        Here’s the lesson I think everyone should learn.

        If you love someone, you love someone. Sometimes you can’t explain it. Sometimes you can. If you love your dad, no one really goes around asking other people if they ALSO love your dad. It’s weird.

        If you hate someone, you hate it. You don’t NEED to explain it or justify it to anyone. You should not feel any sense of accomplishment or justification if someone else ALSO hates the thing you hate.

        But yet.. it seems in this culture we do.

        We are more likely to share and pass on our hate than out loves and our passions.

        My HATE of Hello! Project isn’t a hate of the girls, or of the songs particularly. My hate is how I can see so many things they could have done right or better, but the management didn’t know how and doesn’t seem to care to try to fix.

        It’s like polishing a turd. The management seems to think “Oh this is good enough” when it isn’t. Stop making turds.

      4. “Here’s my theory. AKB48 overwhelming popularity… which re-fueled struggling Idol shops..”

        I think it has a bit more to do with Akimoto Yasushi and the management behind AKB, having substantially more influence within Japan’s entertainment industry. Up-Front was always and still is a relatively small jimusho, magnified by the success of Morning Musume.

        Either way, seen from afar, beyond specific groups and personal preferences, the progression of the idol industry has been steadily incremental.

        So I don’t think the gap between MoMusu’s disappearance from the mainstream and the rise of AKB48 was substantial enough to say that AKB revived the idol culture, but it sure boosted it.

        That being said, as a Morning Musume fan and as AKB48 casual, I agree on your arguments on why the Hello! Project has failed these past years.

        The so called platinum era, or the post scandal MoMusu, was incredibly lethargic and devoid of character. But I don’t blame the girls. It is up to the management to provide coaching and opportunities for them to become proper entertainers, keep them challenged, and as whole, keep the group fresh, whether it is with graduations/auditions or musical/visual style.

        Probably around 2005 or so, when they saw very clearly the oncoming slope, Up-Front decided to play it safe and aim h!p to the wota faithful. Since then, their TV shows, their youtube content, their DVDs, everything has been done to secure what they consider a safe and reliable target audience.

        And yes, recently they have taken positive steps towards a more mainstream Morning Musume, but at some point, they will have to take some real risks if they intend to compete with, let alone AKB, but with their sister groups. It won’t happen as long their platforms are tame and niche like the Satoyama movement and their new youtube show: Hello! Project Station.

        To their favour, they still can take advantage of the legacy of the original Morning Musume, so their reentrance into the limelight will be easier.

        All of that is, of course, assuming that Morning Musume and the Hello! Project intend to return to former heights or that they should. Otherwise, there isn’t really that much to complain about the current H!P.

  20. well at least theater sales are a million times better than the H!P lottery handshake system. which is gambling & borderline fraud aka. RIP-OFF. are they still using that stupid system??? and lol, whining about AKB sales? you conveniently don’t mention digital sales, which does not get added to the total.

    everything the OP whines about are tactics used by Hello Project fans against AKB when they were unpopular. now that tables have turned H!P fans are crying foul. what a joke.

    as far as music goes. does AKB have some songs that sound the same? Yes. but they still easily outclass H!P in terms of diversity. Aki-p writes lyrics but he uses different composers/arrangers etc. for more variety. Tsunku on other hand rarely hires anyone but himself.

    1. I’m really sorry that you feel this emotionally distressed. It wasn’t the intent of my article to cause you this much frustration and anger.

      It’s unfortunate that you seem to be so negative about Hello!Project and Morning Musume but I’m sure you have your reasons. Not everyone has to like the same thing which is completely cool with me. Maybe try not to get so worked up about it in future though, it’ll help you live longer.

      Not really sure what else I can say apart from thanks for taking the time to read my article and leave a comment on it. I really appreciate the fact that you took the time out of your day to do so.

  21. The only thing that made me want to comment was what you said about Meru.
    When I watched the 10th generation auditions, I immediately liked Meru. To quote me in 2011, “I like Tashima, Haruka, and Ishida ( ^-^)b…Tashima isn’t particularly talented but there is something about her that I like a lot, I really hope she gets in!!”. I was so sad when she didn’t make it into Momusu, so when she joined HKT I was very happy.
    “no AKS fan even gave a flying fuck about (or even knew about) her before. ”
    Very wrong.

  22. As you can see you flip the table, Let me tell you that most AKB fans like me came from H!P fandom before so we have the right to criticize Outcome of Hello Project works. Do you wonder why Bakstage pass even created by tsunku was not fully critize?
    it has 2
    reason 1.) They have the same background as AKB (hard working idols)
    2.)None of them is proven a bitch and whore 3.)Their fans were not boastful.

    And that is the problem in Hello Project group do you know how many AKB members auditioned in Morning Musume before but now are more famous than them? For example was Yukirin her quality is average yet she is famous yes more poplar the whole C-ute and Berryz Kobo member. And you even mentioned meru who fail on Momosu auditioned yet is now the star of HKT48 do you know why?

    Live performance is different from concert as well as music videos, or stage performances. The problem with H!P fans which UFA was keep feeding on them is how they boast so much about the dancing skills and vocals of H!P girls which is quite balance. Matsui Jurina is a very good dancer yes much better than any current Morning musume girls but her vocals is weak, yet with her live energy she can set fire on stage. Team K (especially the previous Team K) is the home monster performers, they synchronize and their intensity is so much that audiences at their stage performances called it a Hurricane/Tornado experience. Yet not all of them are good singers or good dancer. Takamina is a talented girl yet she is a midget, paruru is weak in everything even salty but her charm is undeniable especially to new AKB fans do you even wonder why? 48 family work like a human body, everyone is important every one has weakness and strength and each of them help each other.

    But H!P fandom was not looking at that instead they were looking for girls who can fool them. You know good looking girls, good vocals great dancer (puke). Yet the problem is NO PERSONALITY. Plus the factor that H!P girls proven to be Johnny’s seeker and hunter especially the berryz kobo group (but the new generation was not such as S/milage and the current Momosu line up) which is a big slash at H!P fandom. Do you even wonder why there is no JE/H!P collaboration despite the fact the H!P is more than a decade while AKB/JE collab is too frequent whether drama variety shows or even music station guesting? Another factor is the lyrics of the sings admit or not H!P lyrics is all the same over and over and over about love, girly thing, love. AKB music differ in every aspect plus the factor of Hidden Message at featured single song (Most notably Everyday Kachuusa despite the fact that the song is about summer love the real meaning is the years the AKB group had encountered before they became famous, Ue Kara Mariko which means that the guidance of a sempai is needed in life to succeed, Manatsu no Sounds Good the future of AKB if the new generation will follow the same path as their sempais and Gingham Check the warning about the new pattern of AKB group). Do you ever wonder why even a song about Dog Poop was been liked by fans or despite the fact AKB singles were the same according to their haters it still sells?

    Another thing is their personality is being real during the time when Takamina and one member of Momosu(I forgot her name) talk about love Takamina said that they were prohibited to be in relation but one sided love is allowed while at H!P group even one sided love is not allowed. Everyone knows that ONLY STUPID PEOPLE WILL BELIEVE AT H!P RULE. It is clearly a fake rule, you know people nowadays were smart.

    In TV guesting you can see how wild AKB girls are and they even say their favorite group, but in H!P fandom they only listen at H!P songs (wow so true), no wonder despite sayumi narcistic attitude she is the most loved member of Momosu by AKB fans while AKB girls gained favors from different fandom because of their likeness for different music. Oh if you don’t believe me watch AKBingo and wait for the bashing section where each AKB member bash each other.

    Another thing is professionalism, when Akimoto Sayaka caught in a scandal she resigned as a captain, Yuka masuda resigned from the group, Michan shave her head. Jurina keeps smile despite the hate, Akimoto Sayaka again shows how fan should behave. While H!P girls Kanna Arihara cry when other refuse to handshake her (Jurina was being bashed face to face and giving threats, while Akimoto Sayaka received a dirty finger yet they remain strong during Handshake event) Yurina Kumai and Miyabi dating scandal was been ignored and the best part is fans (according to some reports it is the Berryz Kobo Management) make it looks like it was the Johnny’s boys who dated them and they suite each other since during that time they were consider as counterparts until AKB show up and look what they’ve got, Johnny’s Empire wrath.

    The declination of AKB sales shows that fans were not BULK BUYING ANYMORE if they were dying like what you say their sales should not be million anymore from the great love machine of morning musume during year 2000 then a sudden drop of 600k at 2001 and died at 2002 you can see the big difference use your head. AKB may not sell million anymore but if their popularity will not fade their sales will be like of Arashi which sells more than 500k by the way why focus much on AKB SKE sells more 600k HKT sells more 300k NMB sells more than 300k Nogizaka sells more than 200k more than your H!P girls which you say has more talent than our girls.

    And it is funny how you criticize the theatre sale while at the first place you were saying that AKB popularity is declining if they were really on death situation theatre single will not sell anymore because AKB members were not popular so people will not give shit to see them.

    H!P fans are all the same in denial and will blame their frustration at AKB fans while we were saying the truth so what if we say Brainstorming is a shit (although I like it what I don’t like is the single before Brainstorming I even didn’t know the title because it makes my head hurt) after all you H!P fans keep saying that AKB song are all the same, AKB is a shame in JPOP scene. At least we know AKB is the reason why JAPAN surpass AMERICAN music Sale and AKB did many things in favor of Japan because they were REAL PEOPLE NOT FAKE IDOLS

  23. Joined this party a little late – but this article REALLY resonated with me. I just don’t understand why current Momusu – and H!P – are getting so much hate. I haven’t been a fan of H!P for very long – just over a year – and I was part of the forums for about two months; I had to leave because all the hate was affecting my personal views on the girls and the music (in particular, a certain blog that posts regular, anonymous, confessions).

    However, hypocritical as this will sound now that I have declared my feelings on this post, I have done and still do my share of Tsunku-hating – albeit in a jokey way now.

    Finally, I have no comment about AKB; even though I am aware of them (it seems impossible to avoid them), I have never listened to any of their music, so I couldn’t possibly judge and compare their singles to H!P singles.

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