The Science of Hello! Project: Introduction

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

Lately, when I think of Hello! Project, I think of innovative technological breakthroughs. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that.There’s a powerful vision of technology in the PVs of the Tsunku family, making me suspect there’s a hidden agenda – a Hello! Project science directive, if you will – that can be rooted out and explored. Luckily, having watched H!P PVs over and over again, I think I’ve become more acutely aware of the underlying message this science directive wishes to convey, a sexy beam of hope to guide us through the new millenium.

Here are some conclusions I reached from my less-than-thorough, more-like-half-assed observations:

The most important trends of the science directive involve robotics, time / space travel, and measurement of grooming skills. In the future, Hello! Project will make sure you have a robot clone of your favorite idol, one who can travel through space and who will be properly assessed for her beauty by some kind of machine.Of lesser concern are individual flight vehicles and sadistic pinball machines, but they’re part of the mix as well.

New technology is best suited for the young and silly. Apparently, H!P performers who are older and wish to be taken seriously are less interested in advancing the Hello! Project science directive. Thus, we don’t have Matsuura Aya riding around on a jet pack in her recent ballads, nor do we see spaceship settings for Morning Musume anymore. On the bright side, the desire to appear more mature – while jettisoning science directive themes – often means more crotch-thrusting and grabbing of other people’s body parts, so it’s a glass half-empty / glass half-full kind of situation.One notable exception proves the rule: Nakazawa Yuko’s “Shanghai no Kaze” seems vaguely futuristic, and she’s the oldest and most serious of the bunch. Oh, and there’s that whole Cyborg Shibata thing, which isn’t a PV but still science fiction.

So never mind this rule.

Kago Ai is at the center of H!P’s science directive. At the very least, she pops up more often than anyone else and in the widest variety of units that promote the science directive. This could mean that she’s one of the secret architects behind the science directive, the intended spokesperson when the science directive is finally revealed to the public, or that I watch a whole lot of videos with her in them.

Sexy Beam may be developed into a Weapon of Mass Destruction. If you line up Okada Yui, Matsuura Aya, and Saitou Hitomi and teach them the proper laser-beam nipple technique…The science fiction aspect of Hello! Project has been brewing in my head for a while now, no doubt due to my academic past studying science fiction and other kinds of paraliterature. I finally figured it was time to flesh these ideas out some. There’s a handful of SF-derived PVs which will bear in-depth discussion – not just because they use SF, though of course I think that in itself is worth exploring some. And there’ll also be a smattering of broad surveys, bits and pieces of PVs that are less centered on an SF theme.

No schedule on this series. (My Unified Theory of SweetS is taking longer than expected to develop, so why should this be any different?) Just consider this another ongoing thread in my exploration of Jpop concepts.


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6 Responses to “The Science of Hello! Project: Introduction”
  1. S says:

    Interesting… I hadn’t thought of it this way before, but it makes so much sense. I’ll refrain from commenting further because I’m interested in seeing how you develop it.

    There’s one more thing involving Melon Kinenbi and science- I don’t know if you had this in mind already or not. Two and a half months ago MKB had a mini drama on Tensai Terebi-kun, which spanned 3 episodes from 2005-06-13 to 2005-06-15. Each part was a little less than 9 minutes long, and the whole thing wrapped up in those ~26 minutes.
    The basic plot of it (without giving it all away) is that a young girl (13 or so?) is a huge fan of MKB, and especially of Shibata Ayumi. The little girl’s father is a (slightly crazy) scientist, and he invents a machine that will let one person experience the life of another and puts them in their shoes for a limited time (5 minutes, if I remember correctly). Limited time… or is it?!? *cue ominous music*
    It’s really adorable, highly recommended if you’re even remotely interested in MKB and if you haven’t seen it before.

    Oh, and MM’s Space Venus makes a lot more sense now. 😀

  2. niji says:

    Oh noes! All your base are belong to us.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say you haven’t read any books or watched any movies involving conspiracy theories for quite a while now and are exhibiting withdrawal symptoms thru your writing. But of course, we all know that you never leave sight of your PC to begin with so a case of withdrawal syndrome from something you never had time to do in the first place seems very unlikely. ROTFL XP (Boy, that was a mouthful for a bad joke.)

    Barring your “Science Directive” theory, here are some more plausible reasons for the usual involvement of elements of science-fiction in Hello! Project videos:

    1. They’re Japanese. Technology to them is like… (I was going to make a green joke but decided not to. After all, no spoiler tags.) Non-humorous humor aside, no encyclopedia entry of Japan can be complete without mentioning technology, and vice versa.

    2. The general market of many Hello! Project singers/groups is the younger population. Cellphones, iPods, laptops, any techno-whatever you can think of, the non-adult populace will surely consume them like the sheep and ants that they are — well, duh! of course I didn’t really mean all of them. That’s not to say that adding a touch of sci-fi instantly makes a PV cool and watchable; but at the very least, those few seconds you spend complaining about how cyberpunk has been replaced by the silly concept of cyberbubblegum pop will be time that you spend listening to the song and hopefully, growing to appreciate it.

    3. Sci-fi equals synthetic jumpsuits. ’nuff said.

    4. The two big things (I think… for now… because I wasn’t thinking… before I posted this) in contemporary pop culture are sexuality and technology. While the members of Hello! Project do use the first element to their advantage, it would alienate many potential consumers for them to maintain a strictly evocative and sexy image, not to mention, the damage it would cause to their reputations as “pure idols.” There should be something for everyone, so it’s only fair that they also touch on the latter element.

    If you have read eveything about this point, then here are some crucial facts that you need to be aware of to fully understand and appreciate my statements:

    1. I have no idea about what I’m talking about. I was bored so I typed like an idiot without knowing what to type about.

    2. I know that Ray’s article was a humor piece and I can appreciate the humor in it. However, as I said, I was bored and felt the need to blab some nonsense.

    3. Until Ray mentioned it just now, I never really noticed that Hello! Project incorporated many sci-fi elements into their videos. I mostly just watch PVs to see who sings which line… and for the eye candy.

    4. I just spent the last 30 minutes typing this comment down and I don’t even care about posting it. For the record, it’s me thinking of what to type that occupied most of that elapsed time — my typing speed’s above average.

    5. Please forgive any grammatical, spelling, typographical and any other errors that exist within this post. I don’t feel like proofreading this anymore.

    6. Sorry for the stupid and long post. I’m a bum with no life. ROTFL XD

    7. An all-Reina sidebar perhaps…? *puppy dog eyes*

  3. S:

    I actually downloaded a couple of those. Is it part 2 of the Cyborg Shibata series? If not, MKB do a hell of a lot of SF-related stuff. One of them must be a fan.


    I like my conspiracy theory better than your rational, culturally astute observations. So there.

    Seriously, you hit on a whole bunch of points that are helpful to keep in mind as I write blog entries in this series. Many thanks for bringing them up.

    What strikes me, though, is how little science fiction elements are used by other Jpop acts – at least, not in as imaginative (and at times wacky) a manner as H!P. Non-commital futurism, sure. But actual SF elements are harder to find. Off the bat, I can only think of Hamasaki Ayumi and that video that looked like Will Smith’s I, Robot.

    I’m sure there are others, but why – for instance – haven’t I seen Ueto Aya doing SF-themed PVs when she’s supposed to be a Gundam fan? I’d say it has to do with the kind of image female Jpop singers wish to project and what they think sells. This ties into that significant leap from naturalism to postmodernism in Morning Musume’s history, but I can’t go into that right now or I’ll never stop.

    If science fiction is a kind of wish fulfillment, the wishes in some of the H!P PVs are pretty typical… but expressed in an interesting manner. Other PVs are just plain wacky and worth exploring on their own merits. It’ll be a nifty “in” to figuring out the usual cultural blah-blah-blah that I like to rut in rhetorically.

    And I was actually thinking today about an all-Mikitty sidebar. Seriously. (Perversely, an all-Miki sidebar that would raise the average age of the girls on the sidebar by at least six, seven years…) I also now have an all-Mikitty playlist for PVs on my iPaq, too.

  4. S says:

    I actually downloaded a couple of those. Is it part 2 of the Cyborg Shibata series?

    It’s not related to the Cyborg Shibata series.

    You say you downloaded a couple, when there were 3 episodes. Which parts did you get? Did you watch them? I have them if you need them.

    I’m bugging you about these because there’s a pretty important lesson about the dream of wanting to become one of these idols, the abuse of science (particularly against H!P itself) to act out on that dream, and the role of the H!P idols and their fans. 🙂

    If not, MKB do a hell of a lot of SF-related stuff.

    “A hell of a lot”? What else is there besides this and Cyborg Shibata?

    Though I’m still not sure what direction you’re taking the this in, and if you’re just exposing the science of H!P or making some commentary about it as well. You had mentioned earlier that you were going to talk about “the science of H!P” at some point (or am I remembering things that didn’t happen?), but I had figured that you were going to analyze H!P scientifically, not actually talk about science elements in H!P.

    I agree that the sidebar needs more Reina and Miki.

  5. Sabaku Ika says:

    Recent MM PV’s have shown feats of technology just as amazing as the early ones. They show a distant future world so high-tech that the technology is invisible.

    Notice the setting of The Manpower. The Moon! Why don’t they have space suits? Mysteriously, they don’t seem to need them. Biotechnological advances have even given man they power to teleport and change form at will, all while singing and eating moon-grown vegetables!

    Irroppoi Jirettai shows a bit less, probably because the complete picture would shatter our primitive minds with it’s terrible and sexy awesomnity. Based on the hints given, I gather that pyrokinesis will become second nature to all people (or at least teenaged girls) in the distant future. This is probably a deliberately engineered trait, since the environment appears cold and mostly devoid of firewood and heavy clothing. The unseen Sexy Island is now the last comfortably liveable place and therefore the current home of the H!P Science Directive. The rest of the world’s population is sustained by biscuits, which are now worshipped.

  6. S:

    I’d call three different stories about a cyborg and one about mind possession a hell of a lot of SF in and of itself. MKB don’t do nearly enough music (one single this year so far?) but they do spend time on projects such as these, so it takes on greater relative importance.

    And I may need to get all three episodes of the series you’re talking about, I’ll check this weekend and let you know… I downloaded the first two episodes, for some reason opened up the second episode (I think) and saw no Masae, and I think I deleted the files. I was in a very Masae-centric moment at the time.

    “The Science of H!P” was meant as a take-off on The Science of Star Trek and The Science of X-Files, books that examined the science fiction elements of these shows to see if they’re actually workable. There are others in the series and I never actually read any of them, just liked the idea behind it. Of course, I’m much less concerned about the viability of the H!P science fiction elements in the real world (almost none of it works) as with the way they reflect thematic concerns in the PVs and songs. Hopefully, today’s Tanpopo and tomorrow’s Berryz posts will make clearer my intentions.

    As for the science of H!P in the sense of a rational, logical examination to the Hello! Project and how they make decisions as a business / entertainment collective – that’s still Kremlinology to me. Opaque to outsiders and relying on the haphazard reading of clues and obscure gestures.

    Sabaku Ika:

    I’m still laughing about your comments and thinking of that saying, “Any technology that is advanced enough will appear to be magic.” Or words to that effect. However, you’ve given me an idea for a connecting thread for these more recent videos that I hadn’t seen before… But now I need to figure if it all works out.

    “Awesomnity” – great word.