Hello! Morning 259/260 – On the Road

Filed in Cult of Pop 1.0

Part One. The last couple of episodes of Hello! Morning – on May 15 and 22 – was a two-parter that split up the current Musumes and flew them to the ends of Japan. So much happens in these episodes on so many fronts – not just the trips, but new singles from both W and Viyuden, as well as coverage of Koharu’s debut – that it’s best to break this blog entry into several different parts.

There’s a shift occurring in the Hello! Project, and it’s reflected in these episodes. The new Musume line-up is defined by fifth and sixth gens, with Yossi as the last representative of Morning Musume’s greatest days. Will that spur this line-up to achieve their own greatness? Will they shine brighter without the glare of past successes distracting them?

And yet! And yet… Hello! Project continues its shift away from a Musume-centric world, and perhaps even a Musume-centric Hello! Morning. How does that factor into the changes going on, what kind of a future does the Tsunku family anticipate?

We begin episode 259 with one team – made up of Yossi, Takitty, Konno, Makoto, and Sayumi – down south in Okinawa. Yossi uses her handy to call up the second team – made up of Mikitty, Risa, Eri, and Reina – who are visibly shivering up north in Hokkaido.

I knew this trip would already be great for a couple reasons.

First, there’s already a sense of one team being tormented while the other team enjoys themselves: Team Okinawa is enjoying the sun and beach while Team Hokkaido are freezing cold. Yossi even twists the knife a little by claiming to be in Hawaii.

Second, it looks like my favorite Musume will be getting a lot of screen time. As the groups wait for their tour guides to appear, Sayumi is on Yossi’s cel phone and speaks to Eri, then Reina asks to speak to her and is mistaken for Risa. It’s a cute moment

And now a third reason to love this episode: Team Hokkaido’s tour guides show up and it’s Tsuji and Kago, wearing glasses and being their usual hyperkinetic silly selves.

At this point I’d been missing W a great deal. After appearing on one daytime show after another, they seemed to have disappeared for a while, doing their musical. Now they’ve got a new single and are promoting it as well as continuing their travels around Japan.

Down South, a similar surprise occurs. Dancing behind some traditionally dressed women, Rika appears – and shatters Team Hokkaido’s spirit by her very presence. If anything, she seems even bubblier and more Charmy than ever, even as Yossi asks what she’s doing in Okinawa and shouldn’t she be with Viyuden already.

I have to admit, I like Charmy now more than ever. She seems freed now that she’s a leader of her own unit – she’s more commanding but also happier, more playful, and just a lot of fun to watch. It’s also fun to see how she ineracts with Yossi – now that they’re in different units, it’s as if every attempt is sought to make the girls work the Ishiyoshi vibe. So where Team Hokkaido is graced with one memorable gen four duo, Team Okinawa is graced with the other.

One thing puzzles me, though: why put the leader and the sub-leader of Momusu in the same group? Why isn’t Takitty in Hokkaido and leading them, why is it Mikitty who’s de facto leader there? (Though a part of me is even more persnickety, thinking Risa has seniority over Mikitty anyway… But Risa’s not nearly as compelling a leader as Mikitty anyway.)

Next: Part 2 – Team Hokkaido’s Journey.