Restarting the Old Rusty Engine
(For the 2nd Time too)

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

[Idol Flashforward] Idol Supremacy and Future Trials

It's not fair, I was working on this piece for some time, thinking that it will probably never happen until the next 4 years. Goddamn, it happened faster than I thought. Now I will look like some idiot. What good is it if you make a prediction of something that has already happened?

Procastinating is my greatest enemy.

I'm referring to AKB48's move to create their own rival because they could not find anyone to compete against now. To be fair, AKB48 is NOT the originator of the idea. Hello! Project came up with this idea first, in the form of Dream Musume in which the current Morning Musume were instructed to say that Dream Musume are their rivals in many public appearances. However, their voices were drowned by the enormous marketing megaphone that is AKB48. So their Nogizaka46 idea was more widely talked about than Dream Musume.

So here it goes, in all it's unformatted and raw format, and under-researched. Before it comes true one by one i suppose i better post it here and now.
It is supposed to semi-fictional mixed with some possible outcome of our idol world in Japan.

Idol Flashfoward - 2015-2020
Hi! I am Kato Yuriko, for Bio Channel and welcome to Japan, the land of the rising idols.
Technology has improved in leaps and bounds. So has marketing strategy, the idol bubble in the 1980s are now in history book of schools and colleges. "Idol" is now an official genre on its own along with Pop, Rock and R&B. Idol music has its own unique music format and style copied all over the world, it is so big even Disney has ditched their bubblegum pop to pursue the Idol music style.

Idol music now has a special dress style that is responsible for creating idol-wear that is prevalent in the streets of Shinjuku and Harajuku, there are stores opened like mushroom after rain that sells idol fashion. Visual Kei fashion is not the only one having specialized stores dealing with special Goth fashion. In fact lots of Goth fashion has incorporated maid cafe and Idol fashion. Sailor uniforms are now a hip thing to wear, that in fact major fashion industry even used sailor uniform motif in their designs. Even Giorgio Amarni has their winter Idol fashion collection.

There is only one problem, the percentage of youth in Japan is still dangerously low, and the Japan government still has not found a way to increase the young workforce of Japan. However, with the insurgence of Idol bubble that has seen its prime in the 80's has encouraged many families to favor having more children. Especially girls. An Idol is now an occupation, as common as an salaryman.

AKB48 has announced their 18th generation audition, and their growth has seen no end in sight. In fact they have a rival in town, but they are also under Aki-P's direction, they are called JKS56 - Joushi Koukou Sei 56 or High School Girls 56. Seems kind of a moot idea seeing that AKB48 is already that. But Aki-P said that he wanted to have a group concentrating on school life, and graduation is imminent when the JKS56 girls reach 17 years old. So far they are doing good and their 2nd generation intake is already underway. As for the sister groups, SKE48 is growing really strong and there is talk that they will absorb NMB48 group under them ever since Friday has exposed that almost half of their members have a boyfriend on the side, some of them even smoked. Kago Ai was interviewed and she was quoted as saying "I can understand how they feel, because I've been there." Kago is now happily married with a Filipino oil tycoon almost twice her age. SDN48 is now disbanded due to their age approaching "dangerous".

Morning Musume has now separated from UFA and Hello!Project. A manager Mr S under UFW is fed-up with his company's laxness in managing his favourite idol group and decided to found his own company, struck a deal with UFA and transfered Morning Musume brand under his wing, with a brand new audition to set it up from scratch again. All of the graduated Morning Musume members are enjoying great success as TV personalities. Mr S plans to bring Morning Musume and start them from the grounds of the indies and hopefully one day be able to challenge AKB's stranglehold of the idol market.

The indies scene is now a booming phenomenon. For those unable to join the AKB army, the indies are the natural second choice, and most have been very content with what they are able to do. Dorothy Little Happy is now like the patron saint of indies idols, they are away in Hawaii and Beijing doing their tours but they are still aware of their indies roots. Which is the next issue to talk about - AKB against the rest of the world.

Like Microsoft's Bill Gates, Aki-P is now being sued by a coalition of a party comprised of the rest of the idol companies and communities in Japan for monopolizing the idol market. Aki-P of course, denied all allegations and claimed that there are choices out there but he has proved that he has the superior products. We will see the turnout of this court case, in the weeks or years to come.

The only one defiant major competitor in showbiz that did not join the fray to sue Aki-P is Kpop. They still maintain Pop and R&B as the music style to promote their talent is Korea. Kpop is now omnipresent in many countries including Japan, and are the only other genre to compete against idol genre on Oricon charts on a nearly weekly basis.

But now they may have a 3rd competitor in the works - technology. Scientist have now successfully created singing and dancing androids. Former Morning Musume producer and now an indies mogul Tsunku, is in the process of purchasing the rights to patent and become the sole proprietor of idol androids.

Next we will be talking about the other idol alternative - 4D idols, holograms that are touchable. Which will perhaps set another apex of change in the world of idols. With special guest the eternal idol Matsuda Seiko. I am Kato Yuriko for Bio Channel.

As you can see, the Kpop, MM and android idols parts are under-written. Lack of time to write it up. Perhaps a continuation is in order.
AND perhaps I will not stall my other parallel article and finish it quickly - "[Idol Flash sideways] What If...". We'll see...
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Life is Demanding

Blah.... real life is demanding. AND Country running among with politics, murder, sex and lies.
I'm ditching writing my own blog software for now. will jump straight to just usign wordpress....
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Friday, April 15, 2011

AKB48 vs Morning Musume 9th Generation

(Looks like my new blog is going to take some more time to complete. Posting this one here, will move it to the other side once it is ready...)

It has been a long time. A REALLY long time, since I last wrote an article of any worth. Life got in the way of a lot of things and I took a long break from the blogosphere. I went from being a young bachelor building his career and being an avid wota in the idol world, to now a married man preparing to purchase my very own apartment. Sure I miss blogging, but in a way (the break) was a good thing, because I was able to sit back and look at things from a different perspective. And gave me a chance to get back to my original music influences (you will know in due time, and I think you will be surprised) and take the simple joy of appreciating my usual preferences of music.

Have begun starting back my blog from scratch but in the meanwhile, have also been helping the guys in PureIdolHeart on the technical and coding side of things (Blogger can be a pain to customize). In that time, I began to look into some of the indie idols that PIH recommended on their site and found my solace there that Morning Musume have not given me in a long time. And there is, of course, AKB48. AKB48 has certainly gotten their big break, became a cultural phenomenon and there seems to be no stopping them. Their omnipresence is apparent in the streets of Shibuya, where billboards and posters are filled with AKB48 goodness whether it was talk-buzz, posters, marketing, merchandise etc etc, all eyes and attention have turned to AKB48 for optimum marketing, advertising and PR value. And this is what I am going to talk about.

(*Takes a deep breath*)
AKB48 vs Morning Musume: Continuous battle or evolving cultural phenomenon
There is this competition where fans pit Morning Musume vs AKB48 in a battle for the top idol superiority in Japan. I think it is a nature of fans right? To pit two(or more) top acts of their division and watch to see who has the upper hand. Like "Justin Bieber vs Jesse Mccartney" or "Big Bang vs Beast".
I have even noticed some that compared Morning Musume and AKB48 track record single-by-single. A futile attempt. Because in my observation this is a one-sided affair and a notion propagated by Morning Musume fans only... and I do not think AKB48 fans have even considered it, because in their mind AKB48 have already won. And may I be so bold to say that this "competition" is only happening more outside of Japan amongst western idol fans. Because in Japan, fans and media alike, both looked at the situation with AKB48 and Morning Musume quite differently.
To illustrate my point - On the internet we have "internet memes", cultural and popular catchphrases/words popular among internet denizens, where it will become very popular until it phases out in popularity or replaced by another. Example "Nom nom", "Meh", "Rickrolling" etc. The current situation of AKB48 and Morning Musume is exactly like that. Morning Musume was THE cultural phenomenon in the early 2000's, we saw them conquering every billboard, advertising endorsements, and were a constant topic amongst TV talents in variety shows. Now AKB48 has overtaken all of the mentioned.
There was a segment in a London Hearts variety show episode couple weeks ago where Morning Musume's Michishige Sayumi was posed a question about AKB48 in which Sayu in her usual narcicistic nature notes that the AKB48 girls are cute and that she likes them, however she stated that when compared individually she will win in terms in cuteness. Guest starring the show at that time was Ariyoshi Hiroiki (who incidentally hosts a TV show "Ariyoshi AKB Kyowakoku" with AKB48), who counters in a split second by saying that Sayu is "ugly" and that she is not in the current and certainly not the popular face of entertainment right now. Though it was all said in the name of having good TV, I believe he has frankly voiced the naked truth that not many have dared to say in the open - that Morning Musume is a thing of a past and that AKB48 has overtaken Morning Musume as the current showbiz buzz. The media Japan reflects this fact. Now, whenever Morning Musume was mentioned, they are associated by the press with past-tense vocabulary - "former national idols", "... who used to be the top idol...", "In the past,..." etc etc. The media has branded Morning Musume a thing of a past, a finished product, and will be used to compare any idol act that comes next. Anything else that Morning Musume will do afterwards would be no more than an effort extend their legacy and to keep their name from being forgotten.
So therefore this is a continous evolving cultural phenomenon, whereby AKB48 has replaced Morning Musume as the current "it" thing, rather than victory via competition.

AKB48 vs Morning Musume 9th generation (?)
However, let us entertain the thought that there is a competition between them. I have been strolling around the internet and from what I observed, even loyal Morning Musume fans have half-heartedly accepted that the current Morning Musume lineup (post graduation of Kamei Eri and China girls Linlin & Junjun) is not strong enough to take on the idol powerhouse AKB48. But it seems that these same fans have found renewed hope with the intake of 9th generation members to the group. It would appear that the 4 girls of 9th generation intake are the long awaited savior to give life back to Morning Musume whose popularity is fading fast. I have a friend who would tell me that in the Morning Musume shows that she watches, she would tend to fast-forward to the segment where the 9th generation girls are featured. (I think she must not be the only fan doing this). Thus the birth of this interesting phenomenon that I would describe as..... AKB48 vs Morning Musume 9th generation.
But are these 4 girls able to take on the entire AKB army and their sister groups? An incredibly impossible mission to burden these four young idolets. In fact the it is almost improbable to compare and put them in a competition this early in their idol career. Additionally there is no big transformation, no makeover, and no rebuilding happening with Morning Musume in the addition of these 4 new members. For example, when the 4th generation members were added to Morning Musume, the group traded their mature style and costumes to a more younger, colourful and elaborate costumes, to accomodate a whole new direction to new heights in their popularity. So how do we even begin to declare Morning Musume fit for a competition? With this we arrive to my next point.

Comparing AKB48 with Morning Musume
These are two very very different groups, idols as they are called but both are different in its style and direction. It's like comparing apples and oranges.
For those who still do not realize, AKB48 has its beginnings built from the streets of Akibahara in Tokyo grassroots style. And they were indeed local idols, like Dorothy Little Happy. But they did not gain their popularity overnight and has spent a many years to climb to where they are now since their inception 2005. Their early activities were just like any other local idols, appearing in stage shows, handshake events, street lives and manga shops. Their main income comes from selling their CDs and merchandises (photos, stickers, keychains, posters, memorabilias etc) at those events back then.
Sidetracking a little bit - There was a new and hidden discovery at that same time, which developed into rising interest in local idols, that there are potentials and talents to be harvested from these girls. One of the early individuals whom who has caught on to this, is none other than Morning Musume's producer Tsunku himself. Why do you think he started his company TNX many years ago and began appearing in the streets of Harajuku and Akibahara with his newly-formed local idol groups under his company and walking around promoting them in manga/game stores? Unfortunately for him, luck was not on his side, where a much more experienced and visionary Akimoto Yasushi succeeded in pushing AKB48 to mainstream recognition better and faster than Tsunku. His secret, in Aki-P's own words, was to produce AKB48 as a collection of talented but ordinarily good looking girls groomed to be idols but yet remain to be highly approachable and/or accessible to wotas. And the keyword is "wotas". AKB48 is tailor-made to accomodate Akibahara wotas in their songs and style. Their song lyrics borders on the near-acceptable levels of sexual innuendos and flirtation to gain favors from the social-depraved wotas. A practice that stems from Akimoto's production of Onyanko Club back in the 80's (e.g. OC's "Do not strip off my sailor school uniform"). The girls are repeatedly used to project subtle but obvious lure of youthful sexuality to appeal to the audiences. While I am tempted to stereotype these "audiences" as middle-aged otakus who have no life but star-chasing their idols, we should be aware that AKB48 also have a large following of female fans especially from pre-teens, even in Japan itself. But make no mistake, AKB48 still do base their suggestive and risque styles mainly to appeal to wotas. And don't get me wrong, there is certainly nothing wrong with what they do. Anime, mangas and games constantly portray their some of their female protagonists as large breasted and always displaying their voluptious cleavages at every possible opportunity. Coming from Akiba culture themselves, AKB48 represent things like that. Finally, despite getting their major break and national recognisation, AKB48 retains their street theatres to perform shows just like they used to do before. Presumably to maintain their high accessibility and as an act to preserve their "street cred", so to speak.

Morning Musume on the other hand had a different beginning. For one, the original founding members were selected from an audition intended to find a vocalist for Tsunku's rock band. So they were a Jpop group to begin with, not a pure idol group. It was not until the addition of later generation members that they were slowly being branded as an idol group, and their songs shifted from Jpop to idolish type of songs. True that in Morning Musume first indie single was promoted grassroots style ala indie idol methods through promotions and handshake events in the streets, but everything that came after were closer to a well-funded pop group. Morning Musume memberships differs even more from AKB48. Quite the opposite, rather than trying to recruit natural talent from auditioning girls, the norm of Morning Musume was to discover raw and totally untrained girls where they proceed to groom them into idols. If you the fans of Morning Musume who have been repeatedly frustrated and left wondering why some of the more talented and highly potential girls were not selected into the group from the auditions (where a few of them are not carving a good career in AKB48), this is exactly why.
The idea was to use these young girls whom were unfettered by the ways of showbiz and showcase their growth and journey to becoming a star as a long term reality show of some degree, thereby sending a message of hope to everyone - that anyone can be a star if you put your heart and hard work into it. Just like what they did with Kusumi Koharu's Kirarin Revolution and the 9th generation girls. And this is Morning Musume's charm point.

* * *

So given all of this information, although it is the nature of fans to put two pop acts into a "versus" mode, the situation between Morning Musume and AKB48 is not like that. I am inclined to think that the producers behind these two groups do not even want to go against each other. After all there is more than enough of the idol fans to share amongst themselves.

On a side note: Being a fan of Morning Musume for 10 years myself, naturally I hope Morning Musume will regain some of their magic sooner and be as popular as before. But I am concerned for current Morning Musume, for their laxness and complacent attitude. I do not know if the producers or the girls themselves should be blamed.
One thing to remember is that although Morning Musume is not at their prime right now, their CD sales still top all idol groups(except AKB48). But if this goes on, never mind overcoming AKB48, Morning Musume might not even beat upstart idol units in the sales charts in the future. Perhaps the producers behind Morning Musume are just content with the revenue that Musume generates(their merchandises still selling okay, and their sold-out concerts tickets still pricey) and therefore not motivated in expanding fan support outside of their current fanbase (consisted mostly of wotas, I presume).

As a fan of some of the songs by AKB48, I am also concerned for AKB48. Being in the mainstream for some time now, it seems to me that they are slowly shedding their Akiba style and becoming more and more Jpop mainstream in an attempt to appeal to audiences beyond wotas. Will AKB48 lose the support of wotas, and finding themselves struggling to compete with real artistes for the Oricon top spot? Or will they still maintain their Akiba style to maintain their charm, and perhaps bring Akiba to national acceptance? After all, no popularity lasts forever. It certainly did not last for Onyako Club, Tokyo Performance Doll nor Morning Musume. So neither will it last for AKB48. One can only guess what Aki-P has in mind to spur them on to several more years to come.

In the meantime, I must say that being introduced into the indie idol scene was a pleasantly refreshing experience. It is good to know that there are other fishes in the sea worth watching. Perhaps one of these indie groups will rise and become a new rival to AKB48 or Morning Musume.

A long post after a long absence. But thanks for reading this far. I am amazed.

Peace ( ^_^)v

I have not voiced it out yet, but for what it's worth I would like to also offer my condolences and moral support for those in trying times in Japan due to the tsunami and earthquake. I have been diligently following the news and updates of the situation there. There were many fund raising and support by various groups coming from where I am, to help in the form of shelter, food and clothing being sent to Japan for the past many weeks. Go Japan!

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Restarting the Old Rusty Engine (For the 2nd Time too)

Hello, long time no see.
Life got in the way of things and so I have not blogged for a long time.
However in my helping out in the technical side of things with PureIdolHeart
, helped me to regain some spark. So I will be restarting the old rusty engine for sure and hopefully very very soon.

Will take some time to code my own blog engine, when it is finished, will post the link here.

Just so we are clear, and so that PIH has its own identity - Previously Gaki mentioned that this blog has moved on to
To be clear, PureIdolHeart is NOT an extension of HNPH. It is purely Gaki's brainchild and his very own project. It would be unfair to say take any credit from all his hard work, because he does have his own unique and exclusive writing and direction on how his site works. Give PIH all the support you can, the writing team has a lot more to offer and you don't want to miss a thing, for that I am sure.

Peace and hope to see to back real soon.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stop 2

Stop. Previous posts removed. Reinitializing soon. Am frasmotic to have caused any pericombobulations.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008


HNPH is closed.
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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Berryz Koubou at 5th Asia Song Festival

Hello! Project's very own Berryz Koubou is set to perform in the 5th annual Asia Song Festival. They are performing for the Main Concert and Eve Concert on October 3rd and 4th at Sangam World Cup Stadium in Seoul, South Korea. A total of 16,000 people are estimated to attend those two dates. Berryz Koubou as well as South Korea's Shinee will be receiving the Asia New Artist Award. Congrats to the both of them.

Some of this year's guests are: W-inds (Japan), Fahrenheit (Taiwan), Agnes Monica (Indonesia), Rivermaya (Philippines), and more. South Korea's own So Nyuh Shi Dae, Shinee, and Dong Bang Shin Ki are also set to perform, too.

ASF's Offical Website |
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