Sunday Blog Roundup: Sympathy for the Wota

Filed in American Wota 1.0

JJ – MySpace Blog is an articulate, Japan- and Jpop-oriented blog that in its first week already has some very interesting reading. It starts off with some basic H!P news and later has a piece called “Wotas and their influence in the decline of idol music”. It’s a thoughtful piece, though I’m going to argue that he’s placing the cart before the horse: while arguing that the hardcore wota were what drove general audiences away from Momusu with their ridiculous behavior and obsessive attitudes, I’d argue it’s a more circular process than that. The nature of Morning Musume and idol music often means a limited shelf life, and the constant changes in their sound, image, and especially line-up meant there was a limited window of opportunity for the group to be masters of the geinou universe.

There’s a reason why the Golden Age – both musically and sales-wise – ends exactly (or almost exactly, depending on how you define the Golden Age) with the debut of fifth gen. Setting aside any reflexive fifth-gen-bashing, the group dynamic simply became too unwieldy for the casual audience, the music began to suffer with Danceman’s exit, and perhaps most important the novelty of an idol supergroup such as Momusu had also started to fade. Pop culture audiences are notoriously fickle and Japanese pop culture audiences moreso, and I’d argue all this – sketched in broad strokes – is why Momusu started their long decline. The hardcore wota stuck around because they’re dedicated, obsessive types, so in that sense they helped keep Hello! Project afloat – a reliable consumer base, which is always good – but at the same time, as JJ points out, they do tend to alienate the potential casual audience.

However, you can also argue that the people who run Hello! Project are themselves encouraging this narrowing of the audience by catering more to the hardcore base and less to casual audiences – perhaps most notoriously by making certain H!P releases unavailable through wide venues. (C-ute and Melon Kinenbi, anyone?) So what we’ve got is a vicious circle: the general audience no longer cares about Hello! Project (or girlgroups in general), leaving it for the wota to become the base, whom the marketing folks cater to, which make the wota an even more vital presence in H!P audiences, which further alienates the general audience who don’t care about H!P anymore in the first place. (And here’s the point where I usually compare the phenomenon to American mainstream comic books, but this time I’ll resist…)

Speaking of pandering to the wota, Skawt of jankenpyon! has issues of his own, as he sees Goto Maki making the long, slow, luxuriantly skanky slide to gravure artist… Speaking of which, has news of Gocchin’s next photobook release, the abhorrently titled Foxy Fungo. Meanwhile, it looks like Kd is also trying to stir up the pot somewhat. This week on Iriro Aru Sa!, she takes a look at the downside of being in Morning Musume’s sixth gen and comes up with her own idea of the ideal Hello! Project concert. The latter seems more controversial to me, as H!P fans do indeed have strong opinions on what songs by what singers would be perfection unto itself.

From Kd’s hypothetical to the real and buy-able, Madara decides that the Rainbow 7 Concert DVD is one of the best Morning Musume concerts he’s yet seen. I find it interesting that he now finds gravitas in the current line-up, though perhaps that will become more obvious with the new 8-nin line-up. WEBmikey reviews another Morning Musume concert, Dai 6 Kan Hit Mankai, taking issue with the sound quality but otherwise enjoying Rika’s graduation concert a great deal. (And wasn’t it Reina’s “Ai Arraba” outfit that Koharu wore…?)

I’m always delighted whenever Lainay of Channel-Ai writes about Hello! Project. This is especially so with her latest article, as it’s on Berryz Koubo’s “Waracchaou yo Boyfriend”. In related news, English-language Berryz Koubo fan site Switch-On has its own news blog now, Switch-On! News. And in a welcome surprise, Yossittelua is back early from its anticipated hiatus with another installment of “This love continues to grow”! Meanwhile, Johnny of The Mind got this close to Morning Musume! This close being Narita Airport, that is. Living in Hawaii, I just have to wait and Momusu sooner or later comes to my neck of the woods, not the other way around… Not that I ever see them or anything… or realize they were here until long after they’re gone… but you know… Hawaii. Momusu. Alo-Hello. You know.

In sorta-related-to-H!P writing, pengie of unchained , starting off with Whiteberry and going on to Speena, Mi, and Strawberry Jam. It’s a great overview article, and has this wonderfully pungent assessment of Mi keyboardist Aya:

Aya actually bears a striking resemblance to–guess who?–Morning Musume singer and pedobait Tanaka Reina. I think Reina’s pretty cute, but she’s too young, so finding an older, less wonky-eyed version with keyboard skills is just plain heaven for me.

Even without the pedoliciousness, count me sold! This isn’t the only example of Momusu-alikes being discussed in the Jpop blogosphere this week, either. Santos of Idolizing St. Anna basks in the success of Mihimaru GT and notes yet again singer Hiroko’s resemblance to Yaguchi Mari. Your Opinion Doesn’t Count’s Langdon Alger looks at AV idol Abe Chinatsu – who bears some resemblance to Abe Natsumi – and her collaboration with AV legend Monbu Ran, who bears a strong resemblance to Matsuura Aya. Find a Charmy-alike and Gocchin-alike and just maybe I’ll become a Def. Diva fan.

The magnificent bastards at Your Opinion Doesn’t Count continue their nonstop rampage through Jculture, as Langdon provides photos and clips from the upcoming Sukeban Deka movie. And for those who need a primer on the classic series (a favorite of my wife’s while she was growing up, it turns out) and its remake, provides exactly that. Langdon also delights in Amuro Namie pictures where the greatest Jpop diva of all is sipping on a San Miguel beer… For the non-Pinoy out there, San Miguel is a Filipino brew and one of the greatest in the world. Though myself, I prefer Grolsch.

As for luscious playthings that delight and amuse, YODC also has that… with news of the Hard Gay action figure! Whooooo! Oh, and the J-Music Clip of the Week is Ogura Yuko performing “Vitamin Love”, a song that is as guilty and sweet a pleasure as Yuko herself. Cute Cosplay Angels also has tons upon tons of Ogura Yuko pinups this week, with parts three and four of the series providing a great deal of eyecandy love. The Your Opinion Doesn’t Count crew have been doing their solo blogs as well, as Craig has revised his site and renamed it Major Exposure. Craig has found out about the first major tragedy of Hello! Project. Meanwhile Tsuji Eriku seems to have fired up his own blog, Tsuji No Uchi, and writes about tattoos – his own and others’.

Tsuchiya Anna, anyone? Go of jrockynyc is charmed by the “Slap That Naughty Body” PV, while pengie of unchained doesn’t want to say “I told you so” but she did foresee the Kamikaze Girls star making it big. pengie also recommends Yui and her movie Taiyou no Uta, though Akiramike was less enthused when he saw it. Akiramike also got around to watching the live action Nana movie and had a more positive reaction to that. Or at least he “had a pretty good time perving at Miyazaki Aoi” – and really, shouldn’t that be a viable critical measure?

The crossover between singing and acting is evident with some other blogs and with some other geinou as well. Rinoa of Channel-Ai gives a wonderfully detailed review of the latest release from the site’s titular idol, Otsuka Ai’s “Yumekui”. Idols Unlimited takes a look at the manga-based Ueto Aya dorama Ace wo Nerae and even offers all the episodes for download! Speaking of which, has news of a Best of Ueto Aya singles collection coming out next month. Karakui looks at the upcoming movie Backdancers!, which stars Okinawan diva slash legend hiro, and asks a very intriguing question about the film’s inspiration.

On the Avex front, Thea of Made in Paradise has news of AAA’s upcoming first year anniversary release, as well as clips of Hinoi Team at their recent LaQua appearance, and compares the girls’ style over the past year. Meanwhile, Avex-blogging tag team partner Santos of Idolizing St. Anna goes to see Hinochi at Wonder Goo Moriya and finds himself becoming sexually attracted to Hikaru… Hey, it could be worse. It could’ve been Koriki. Angela of Tonari dooshi anata to atashi sakuranbo! looks at Hinoi Team’s “Now and Forever” as well as BoA’s “Key of Heart”, finding them both pleasant enough.

On the luscious male eyecandy front, Gail of the impressive Himitsu has lots of tasty photos of Glay from a recent Newsmaker. She also got her hands on the latest W-inds photobook and Keita’s first solo photobook, both of which she generously shares. Meanwhile, I’m happy to announce that Lisa of Eden is back with a translation of an interview with NEWS.

usagi of usagi incidents is back in full-on review mode with a whole lot of anime reviews this week (including the videogame-inspired Mahou Senki Disgaea), peppered with some reviews of favorite American Fox TV shows (like Prison Break!), and a couple of Japanese music PVs as well: Chatmonchy’s “Hana no Yume” and Tokyo Jihen’s “Himitsu”. Memento has a screencap review of Depapepe’s “Lahaina” PV, while Shay of SparkPlugged has a video of a song by Black Bottom Brass Band F with Verbal and Hinouchi Emi and Béné of Béné Blog delights in Perfume’s “Akihabalove”.

On the rock front, Go of jrockynyc looks at new releases from Despairs Ray, Death, Wizard, Sadie, and the – um – VK supergroup deflina ma’riage, both discs one and two. Go takes special delight in the new Pierrot splinter group Angelo, not because of what they’ll accomplish, but because of the pressure placed on the remaining Pierrot members in their own solo projects. He also finds Puffy shilling for an investment firm…? It’s no stranger than all those porn stars who swoon over Warren Buffett, I guess, but is their slogan “High High! Ami Yumi love a bull market!”? Anyway, CJ Marsicano of Stuck in a Pagoda with Motoko Aoyama has an excellent review of the long-running girl duo’s recent album Splurge, taking special note of the differences between the Japanese and American version. Cj also begins his long-awaited series on the Best Albums of All Time, starting with Mike Watt’s Ball-Hog or Tugboat? – a typically CJ choice, and another excellent review by someone who knows his music inside-out.

Looking at Japan’s quirkier sides – as if this blog isn’t itself all about one of Japan’s quirkiest sides – Chorus, Isolate, Confirm provides a meaning and example of a taro-doru. Barely 18 Movies has a Darth Vader that is just sooooo kawaii! Tim Gunn wouldn’t approve, but that’s okay. And WEBmikey reviews Vermillion Pleasure Night Vol 1, which is world-renowned for its comedic use of… um… mannequins. On the international tip, Zush of the fabulous dispels misguided notions about Finland, proudly pointing out that they make their own kung fu movies and even have cosplayers! All I can say is, “Hard Wota Hallelujah!”

And one last thing, before I forget: tomorrow – that is, Monday – is the last day for the Miyabi Birthday Poetry Contest! Three thousand yen CD Japan gift certificate if you can make your words sing and rhyme! If not… well, wait for the next contest and see if it tickles your fancy.


Comments (Comments are closed)

10 Responses to “Sunday Blog Roundup: Sympathy for the Wota”
  1. CJ Marsicano says:

    “A typically CJ choice?” LOL. You’ll have to explain this one, Brother Ray. 🙂

  2. WEBmikey says:

    I took a guess on Koharu’s outfit, Ray! She doesn’t say who’s it is during the concert (that I could tell), and it was the right color – based on Rika’s surprised reaction, I figured it was a kind of tribute. Oh well, I’m sure Reina’s would fit better anyway. 🙂

  3. thea says:

    > Langdon also delights in Amuro Namie pictures where the greatest Jpop diva of all is sipping on a San Miguel beer…

    whoa that kinda makes me happy too to see her with an SMB lol.

    and it’s weird that otakus laugh at fellow otaku themselves lol. i don’t really good. the otaku world is such a mystery to me.

  4. thea says:

    ^ omg typo! lolll
    > i don’t really good = i don’t really understand

  5. Garamond says:

    Since I won’t bother to register so I can comment in JJ’s blog, I’ll just write a few words here instead.

    JJ makes a point about recent generations of Morning Musume being younger than the early generations. There have been very young members in the earlier days too.
    1st Gen. had Asuka Fukuda who was 12 I believe when she joined. (In 1997.)
    4th Gen. saw Ai Kago join at age 12, and Nozomi Tsuji who was 12 or 13. (In 2000.)
    5th Gen.: Risa was 12-13, Konno 13-14 and Ogawa 14. Well thereabouts anyway. (In 2001.)

    That about covers “The Good Old Days” I think. I havent done the math so I don’t know if the avreage age of MoMusu has dropped in recent years. (Yuko Nakazawa was pretty old by H!P standards at 24 or 25 when she joined, so she upped the average age of the 1st Gen. though.)

    That being said I’m not entirely opposed to JJ’s opinion about the wotas “scaring away the younger fans/families”. He might have a point there, though I’m more inclined to support Ray’s theories (mentioned above), that we can’t blame H!P’s decline in popularity on the wotas alone.

  6. Chuck says:

    Don’t forget Third Gen: Gomaki was 13 when she joined, although I don’t think most fans wanted to admit it to themselves.

  7. Ray Mescallado says:

    CJ, I just meant that your musical tastes are pretty evident on your blog and your respect for Mike Watt has been expressed time and again. I actually would’ve expected an older, more “classic” punk album to have debuted your series – something from the Minutemen, for example – but this made me go, “Ah, yes. Of course.” (That said, my choice for a Mike Watt album would’ve been Ciccone Youth’s WHITEY ALBUM… But I’m a funny noise-mongering bastard.)

    WEBmikey, the only reason I remember that it’s Reina’s outfit Koharu wore is because when I heard it I did a double-take and went, “Holy Crap! There’s someone as skinny as Reina?”

    Thea, while I’m not much for of making fun of wota just because they’re being wota, ridicule sometimes has an important role in keeping the extreme factions of a group in line and realizing when they’re crossing the line. Lord knows, I need an occasional bitch slap once in a while…

    Garamond and Chuck: I think the only thing I’d add – or rather, re-emphasize – is that the shelf life for pop acts along the lines of Morning Musume aren’t that long. That H!P is still around is mildly amazing, never mind that they still have some chart viability left. How long did Onyanko Club last? Or Wink? Even Speed lasted no more than five, six years. (Not counting the reunions.)

  8. doink-chan says:

    I also find it amazing that H!P has managed to last all these years, even with a decline in music sales. Onyanko Club only lasted for about 3 or 4 years (with a brief reunion in 2002) before fading away. Checkicco, another Onyanko-like group that debuted around the time MoMusu did (and even had the kanji for “musume” in their name), only lasted for 1 1/2 years or so. I wonder how long AKB48’s going to last…XD

    Wink was around for 8 years (1988-1996), and in the mid-90s, their singles did terribly, much much worse than H!P’s sales now, due to changing music trends. TK and Eurobeat were big at that time, and the public had moved on from groups like Wink that were seen as dated relics of the 80s. Indeed their next-to-last single “Jive Into the Night ~Yaban na Yoru ni~”‘s highest spot on the Oricon charts was…#92. Definitely far from their glory days when they had 5 #1 hits in a row… Their last single “Angel Love Story ~Aki-iro no Tenshi~” did a little bit better, getting #62, but in the end it was only on the charts for 2 weeks like the previous single.

  9. Christina says:

    I’m sure that the decline in H!Ps popularity is due to a conglomeration of several factors, but I do strongly believe that the main reason is because of the WOTA. They have made it uncool for the average person (especially girls) to like Morning Musume. Do young women want to be associated with Star Trek geeks? No. By the same reasoning, do they want to be associated with WOTA? No.

    I’m a girl who has lived in Japan and visited several times and has seen MM in concert there. I love the group and would hate for anything to keep me from going to the concerts, but it is just generally uncomfortable in there for girls and why would anyone go to a place that makes them uncomfortable?

  10. Craig says:

    Pleasure in pain? 🙂