Sunday Blog Spotlight: Taking Both Roads

Filed in American Wota 1.0

Here’s the new Sunday blogging feature, which is a lot like the old Sunday blogging feature but a little more manageable on my end. We’ll start with bullet point links culled from the past week (with some extras thrown into the mix that didn’t make the daily listings), followed afterwards by long, rambling paragraphs on one specific aspect – a particular story, or a particular blogger, or a particular trend in the Jpop blogosphere – examined in greater depth. I’m really wanting to focus on a specific blogger every week, but still need to figure out a way to approach it rhetorically without making it seem like my nose is up that blogger’s butt. And with that pleasant image in your heads, let’s move on!








While the rather impassioned responses to GAM’s and Berryz’s new PVs intrigued me, the spotlight this week has to go to the news about Hinoi Team’s uncertain future.

First, there is that idol dilemma that has become positively archetypal in recent years: the crucial choice between education and continuing one’s career. And here we have vivid examples of each choice: Keika seems to be opting out of the geinou life to focus on school, while the opportunities for Asuka’s solo career seemed to snowball at the same time. Never mind the road not taken, here we have both paths presented in sharp contrast to one another! It almost feels like a zero-sum game, where one grows in idol stature while the other shirks it. This hasn’t been the case in other recent defections from the idol world – usually, the departure of an idol serves only to highlight just how difficult the idol life can be. Asuka’s good fortune, however, also makes clear exactly what Keika’s giving up. In effect, it paints a fairer picture of both the lures and traps of the idol life.

The second interesting aspect of the Hinochi story – for me, at least – is how beautifully it’s illustrated the dynamic between two of the Avex bloggers around these parts, Santos of Idolizing St. Anna and Thea of Made in Paradise. I’ve often called them the tag team of Avex blogging, but here they truly outdid themselves. While it’s common to see H!P-focused bloggers cover the same story, often from different angles that fill in a larger picture, Santos and Thea seem to work together particularly well in the same respect – Thea often using Santos as a source, but also providing her own inimitable fangrilling take on the event that makes the blogging feel more like a discourse.

Further, this week in Hinochi blogging was a case where the narrative seemed to actually grow with each post. Santos’ two posts broke the news, added further details, and analyzed it from the industry perspective. Thea meanwhile reacted to the news, provided some useful translations, then added further news about Asuka’s career moves that made the two paths – Keika’s move out, Asuka’s move up – seem even more momentous, or at least more symbolic of the choices available to young idols and the opportunities they have to weigh.

And of course, Japtard’s Frox providing the Asuka photobook was the eyecandy icing on the cake, as well, further cementing the idea that she’s a first class idol who’s being marketed as such. In this manner, we see each of these bloggers playing up to their strengths, their individual voices and contributions still distinct even as they work in tandem towards creating an arch narrative by which to frame these events.

As for the news itself… Initially, I had seen this as a clear move for Hinoi Team’s imminent breakup. This was influenced in no small part by some confusion about releases a few months back, as well as a kind of fatalism about Avex girl groups from the 2006 Year of Kaisans (a term cleverly coined by Thea, I should add). Now, I’m not so sure… Partly because my second-guessing has always been rotten, but also because the marketability of the rest of Hinoi Team should also fit into the equation. Specifically, Hikaru’s got a great deal of potential and has become a first-rate hottie in recent months. Santos read some hints that Rina may also be making the jump out of idol-dom and it’ll be a shame to see her go…

But I’m also not thrilled with Hinoi Team any more and haven’t been for a long while. If I’m being honest, the bloom was off the rose ever since Koriki actually started singing with them – which was their third single, “Night of Fire”. I thought it was actually fun and cool seeing him dancing with them and being their big, cuddly, diaper-wearing mascot – however, his shtick on audio was just plain annoying. Beyond that, Hinochi’s refusal to veer from their formula of retreading old dance songs has made them less exciting than they should be. We had four very cute females dancing and singing and looking real hot in their outfits – when I stopped giving a damn, that should’ve warned me something was wrong. If anything, I was more excited by news of Asuka’s first photobook than I was of a new Hinochi single.

That said, the name of the group makes clear what the pecking order is, and it’s hard to argue with. After all, Hinoi Asuka solo has two very good rock singles under her belt – with the help of Tommy, no less! – and I still remember thinking she was ridiculously hot in her miniskirts (and guessing quite wrongly that she was already eighteen at the time, when she was something like thirteen). Considering the samey nature of Hinoi Team’s music up till now, Asuka making the jump back to rock – or even trying out other genres (why is there no J-klezmer music yet?) – could be done without jarring her potential audience, who probably only care that she looks beautiful and not mess up her lines too obviously.

I’m on the fence on whether or not I want to see Hinoi Team survive. Or rather, I know I want to see Asuka blossom in whatever career choice she makes, but don’t want to see Hikaru (and perhaps Rina) left in the dust as a result. We don’t need another Namie / Supermonkeys or Akina / Folder5 situation here. The coming weeks should confirm the news one way or the other, but at least there’s some relief in knowing that Asuka herself won’t be leaving the spotlight any time soon.


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3 Responses to “Sunday Blog Spotlight: Taking Both Roads”
  1. very nice..I like the new format

    oh and it twas I who did the Miki tribute…Eriku doesn’t love her as much as I do..

  2. wu-san says:

    going along with Langdon Alger, great format for the sunday blog spotlight.

    I’ll will be looking forward to your future works on Americanwota’s new design.

    a good low-down on the Hinoi team to 😛

  3. Wow. Info overload. Though I must wholeheartedly agree with the whole U-15 thing. It ain’t no different than Mickey Mouse Club, and a heck of a lot better!