Hey, Senpai!

Brace yourself: the Idol Wars are coming (again)!

Posted on: March 16, 2010

Over the past year or so there has been a lot of talk about Morning Musume vs. Idoling!!! vs. AKB48. Who is relevant? Who is capturing the hearts of the wota? And why does everyone leave Berryz, C-ute, SKE48, SDN48, Happy! Style, and the TNX groups out of this discussion?!?

Well guess what?  None of that is relevant anymore, because coming this May is a brand NEW showdown for your enjoyment as three teenage groups make their debuts at pretty much the exact same time:

1. Tokyo Girls’ Style

Tokyo Girls' Style

From left: Konishi Ayano, Yamabe Miyu (leader), Arai Hitomi, Nakae Yuri, Shioji Mei

This Avex group was formed the most recently and seems to be the least well-known among idol fans. With their official formation on January 1st, this group has only released via keitai download so far while they’ve quietly performed a number of gigs. Foreign fans have been waiting for a physical single so they can support this cute new group. Not only have they complied, but they’re doing so in stereo, with two single releases two weeks apart from each other! “Kirari” streets May 5th. The Jacket A set, retailing at 1500 yen, features both the “Kirari” single and a DVD containing the music video. Jacket B contains the CD single only for 1000 yen. Their second single, “Onnaji Kimochi”, streets two weeks later on May 19th with the same Jacket A and Jacket B styles. According to CDJapan, the first press for each Jacket A consists of making-of footage and a random sleeve-sized trading card; special first press content for the Jacket Bs is an 8 page booklet.

Fans speak with fondness of many past Avex groups such as SweetS and Folder5. I cut my teeth in the idol world on Hinoi Team, so I have to admit I’m excited to see another group coming from this company which has a reputation for good production value on its releases. TGS will be taking advantage of its membership in the Avex stable of artists by performing later this month at AAA’s spring tour in anticipation of their major debut release.

Here’s a music clip of “Kirari”:

2. Momoiro Clover

Momoiro Clover

From left: Takagi Reni, Sasaki Ayaka, Momota Kanako, Ariyasu Momoka, Tamai Shiori, Hayami Akari

This Stardust Promotions group has been making a buzz on the idol pop circuit since last year. Like a certain Hello! Project group (we’ll get to them, don’t worry) they spent last year performing small gigs and releasing two indies singles: Momoiro Punch (regular/limited) and Mirai E Susume (regular/DVD/PB).

With multiple editions of singles even in their indie stage, Momoclo’s management was clearly preparing fans for what was coming next. Their major debut single, “Ikuze! Kaito Shojo”, features a whopping seven editions: a regular edition and limited editions featuring each of the six girls: Reni, Akari, Arin, Momoka, Kanako, and Shiori. It streets on May 5th, the exact same day as TGS’s “Kirari”. I wonder if 5/5 is a particularly auspicious day in Japan?

These girls might not have the production power behind them that the other groups do, but they regularly have exposure that the other groups don’t on Kansai-area television (their performances are featured on programs alongside those of SKE48 and Happy! Style). Hometown girls get a lot of love in this area of Japan (if you read Michishige Sayumi’s blog, for example, you’ll see that when she posts about Aika many of the supporting comments are in Kansai-ben) so it’s likely that they’ll do very well in their home market. They’ve also charmed many others throughout Japan and overseas with their cute outfits and genuine presentation!

Here’s the video for Mirai E Susume (stay tuned all the way through for a cute and unexpected ending):

3. S/mileage


From left: Ogawa Saki, Maeda Yuuka, Wada Ayaka, Fukuda Kanon

The darlings of Hello! Project, we’ve been treated to snippets of S/mileage’s progress as a group for about two years now: first as Shugo Chara! Egg, and then (following a member change) in their four indies releases. “Ama no Jaku” was very convincingly compared to Minna no Tamago, carrying a very similar simplistic tune albeit with a slightly more complicated dance. “Asu wa Date nanoni, Imasugu Koe ga Kikitai” evoked 2nd-gen Tanpopo with a classic melody and quirky dance. The girls really started to show their star power in “Suki-chan” – while still relatively easy vocally, the song is insanely catchy and (this is the key) their delivery never disappoints. “Otona ni Narutte Muzukashi!!!” continues the high production value that the group enjoyed releasing through TNX as they transition to a major H!P group.

This 10,000 smile challenge, though, kind of has its setbacks. I would love to tell you when “Yume Miru 15sai” is scheduled to street, but… I can’t. They seriously aren’t making any announcements until this smile thing is resolved, though you can bet it’ll be all over the Internet within three minutes of the concert announcement. Until then, the question is: will UFA and H!P push the issue and debut their girls on the same day as the others, or will they wait? What I can say is that from the concert rips, the song sounds rather vocally ambitious. Hopefully after cut-and-pasting all those smiles the girls will still be up to the task!

While we wonder about this prospect, here’s Suki Chan again, since it’s stuck in my head now:

So… what can we expect out of all of this? To be honest, I’m not sure. All three groups have a good sound. All three groups blog and two of them have Twitters. The Momoclo girls have a former Oha Sta regular and S/mileage has a current Oha Sta Mushi girl. TGS is the least experienced all around but has excellent backing. The best question may be this: with around 200 girls on the “major league” idol circuit, how long can all these groups sustain themselves?


2 Responses to "Brace yourself: the Idol Wars are coming (again)!"

I did some hunting as I got curious about May 5th and Japan as I was reading.

Turns out it’s a national holiday called “Children’s Day”, that takes place during Golden Week. “It is a day set aside to respect children’s personalities and to celebrate their happiness.”

[…] Brace yourself: the Idol Wars are coming (again)! (Hey, Senpai!) […]

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