Hello! Morning 259/260 – Neoki Dokkiri

Filed in Cult of Pop 1.0

Part Four. Apparently, there’s something about being a teenage pop idol that invites being woken up on-camera for the sake of cheap laughs. Part of it certainly has to do with seeing a pretty young girl in bed, caught unawares…

Okay, most of it probably has to do with that.

But pop idols are such a manufactured kind of entertainment, told how to act and dress and what to sing and where to appear, that catching these girls at their most vulnerable may provide some insight on what these idols are really like. How do they keep their rooms? How soundly do they sleep? Will they be scared, annoyed, or delighted to be greeted with a camera in their faces at such an inopportune moment?

The Neoki Dokkiri happens only on the April 22nd episode, but it sprung out of the trips to Okinawa and Hokkaido. And being the most junior members of the current line-up, it only made sense that sixth gen – not counting Mikitty, who had a solo career before joining Morning Musume – would be the victims of Neoki Dokkiri (“surprise wake-up” according to my wife).

Fresh off their Japanese cooking and music lessons, Team Okinawa – specifically, Yossi and Makoto – are the ones who’ll perform this delicate operation on Sayumi. This only makes sense – tour guide Rika is no longer Momusu, so she shouldn’t join in. Takitty is too gentle and boring a soul, while Konno has apparently been rendered completely ineffective for the duration of these episodes. What’s odd, thoughm, is that Konno was so effective at awkward interviews on Hello Pro News – this should have been right up her alley. The Musume who’s shown the most spark these episodes are Yossi and Makoto, so I’m glad to see they’re handling the mischief.

The girls sneak in, using a key to unlock the hotel door. Sayumi wakes up immediately, looking scared and mildly mortified.

That said, she’s absolutely cute when she wakes up. I mean, when she’s not fronting and really pushing the kawaii buttons, Sayumi is actually kawaii as all get-out.

The sign is held in front of her to explain what exactly is going on. When she does, she seems more accepting, if still a tad clueless. She finds out Yossi and Makoto woke up at 5:30 AM to wake Sayumi up at 7 AM, making me wonder who the real suckers are in this little excursion…

Yossi repeatedly shoves a pink feather thingie under Sayumi’s nose, practically clearing out her nostrils with it. Sayumi doesn’t fight this, though, perhaps out of respect to her senpai or because she’s still trying to figure out what’s going on.

Of course, you can insert a dirty little comment right here.

In a voice that’s a bit husky for her and still a bit out of it, Sayumi puts her best face forward and gives a cheer. She’s absolutely adorable and I think I can finally count myself as a Sayumi fan after this.

Over in Team Hokkaido, Mikitty and Risa are the only choices to wake up their two sixth gens, Reina and Eri. Reina is first, with some problems unlocking the door.

They come in and Reina is sound asleep, buried under her blanket.

Mikitty tries to wake her up with a bowl of presumably foul-smelling food…

… But it doesn’t work.

The girls then try a bag of ice, but that doesn’t work either. Mikitty and Risa are beside themselves with laughter, not believing how soundly Reina can sleep.

So they settle next on a fake mustache.

Which, in Morning Musume, is always useful to have around, I guess.

They attach it as eyebrows on Reina, but she still doesn’t wake.

Mikitty is laughing at this, even falling onto the spare bed.

Finally, they start talking to Reina, who lifts her head a little, then decides to hide under the blanket. Risa lifts off the blanket, but Reina remains asleep. However, at one point she’s aware enough to tug down her sweatshirt to make sure she’s not showing any skin.

Reina fights waking up, however, and tosses around even as the blanket is ripped off her. The mustache winds up at her wrist, not on her face.

Insert dirty little comment here.

Finally, Mikitty nudges Reina awake, telling her what time it is. This does not go over well.

Reina is cranky and calls them baka and tries to sleep some more. No good, though, she’s going to have to wake up if she’s going to get rid of her intruders.

Rising a little more out of bed, Reina has a little laugh about this trick, but is clearly intent on going back to sleep as soon as the others leave. Mikitty and Risa oblige her.

And all I can say is: Wow. I mean, this isn’t exactly punk rawk of her to be so stubborn and insist on sleeping, but her kakoi factor went up exponentially, just as Sayumi’s kawaii factor went up based on her reactions.

I’d had suspicions that Reina’s tough girl image was fabricated, something to set her apart from the prissier, more feminine sixth gen girls… But she really is a little spitfire, not caring if she looks bad and willing to vent anger when she feels it. I guess it’s the flip side of all the screaming when she was doing the rickshaw thing.

Last but not least is Eri. Mikitty and Risa are again in front of the door, get ready to come in…

Except Eri is already awake and watching TV. She just about freaks when she realizes there’s a camera.

She jumps to the other bed, hides her face, but finally gives up. Her hair is looking remarkably… full… this early in the morning.

Mikitty and Risa look around, commenting on the open luggage on the floor and the outfit Eri was planning to wear later. Eri is mortified.

Mikitty then brings out Eri’s glasses – looking under the pillow where it was hid – and has her try them on for the camera.

Eri is completely humiliated, it would seem, but Mikitty and Risa take it in stride.

So if Sayumi comes across more kawaii and Reina more kakoi, then Eri…? Well, I guess hen is the right word. Strange. Not in a bad way, but there’s something about waking up early to watch television that’s both typically childish and intensely strange at the same time. Shouldn’t she be at a point in her life when early morning television makes way for more sleep, isn’t that the usual trajectory of teenagers?

That said, Eri shows a surprising self-consciousness – moreso than Sayumi (as for Reina, she probably would have flipped the middle finger if she was provoked any further), which I wouldn’t have guessed. Maybe she’s just going through an awkward phase – her hair seems to indicate that, though she doesn’t look bad at al in glasses – or maybe, unlike the other two, she was awake enough to know just how bad this could look for her.

It would’ve been nice to have seen some in-studio reactions as this footage aired, actually. The objections and accusations would have been worth having my wife translate in detail.

And for the record: the best neoki dokkiri I’ve seen doesn’t even involve Hello! Project, but Zone – I think during their Okinawa trip, as well, back when Takayo was the fourth member and not Tomoka. Maiko and Takayo were inflicting the damage, and Mizuho and Miyu were a lot of fun to watch.

Also, the lights were out for Zone’s mischief, making it seem like more of a surprise.

Somebody noted on the boards that the lights were on for all the Neoki Dokkiri in this episode, which made it seem suspicious. I can understand sleeping with the lights on, either out of fear (Sayumi) or disregard (Reina) or being awake to watch television at seven in the friggin’ morning (Eri). So I won’t dwell on it too much.

So was there any deeper insight gained on the sixth gen girls? Well, I guess you have to define depth. Certainly, it confirms some suspicions and adds some minor details to the sixth gen. It makes it easier to imagine what it’d be like to share a hotel room with each of them.

And of course, it’s always entertaining to see the girls harass one another, which is the real point of these little invasions. After all, the sixth gen aren’t the new girls on the block any more, are they? Might as well get some last licks in, before Kohara takes her own newbie hits…

Next: Part 5 – Koharu’s Debut