The H!P Kids Are Alright 4: Broomhead

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There is a lot to cover over the past three entries.

The initial question was whether Morning Musume should remain the flagship unit of Hello!Project or if the torch should be handed to the two H!P Kids groups, Berryz Koubou and C-ute. It is an argument of semantics. Currently, the popularity and promotion of the three groups is relatively even. They each get about the same number of releases for singles, albums, DVDs and merchandise, in addition to each group having their own concert tours. The only media differences are in photobooks and a television show. The photobooks is largely an age issue, although this is debatable with the emergence of junior idols; but one can assume now that the Kids are entering the 15-20 age range, they will get more photobook releases. Morning Musume has their own television show, the insufferable Haromoni@, but the Kids will be getting their own show, Berikyuu, that will air 7 minutes every weekday, thus having more airtime (5×7 minutes) in a week than an episode of Haromoni (22 minutes).

Despite the relative even nature of their statuses, Morning Musume is labeled the flagship unit. While I would personally prefer to see more Berryz Koubou and C-ute releases than Morning Musume releases, it seems silly to label any unit a flagship unit or a lead group. If Berryz or C-ute were to be labeled the flagship, why wouldn’t the same situation and argument against Musume today be used against the Kids in 3-5 years? Hello!Project should invest its promotion and time into whatever act is popular at the present time. When the popularity of that group runs out, it should look to the next unit. As for now, I don’t see much of a difference in popularity between the three groups mentioned, so staying status quo seems reasonable.

Another reason to argue against Berryz Koubou or C-ute becoming the flagship unit of Hello!Project is that they are quite possibly ticking time bombs. Whereas Morning Musume cycles members, these two groups have a core unit that they rely on. If something were to happen to these members (I would suggest Miyabi, Risako and Momoko for Berryz and Airi and Maimi for C-ute), then the group’s vitality is put into serious question. We have already seen members leave these groups over scandals, Megumi Murakami, and “personal reasons,” Maiha Ishimura. The units were able to survive the departures of Megumi and Maiha because those two members were not what endeared the group to the general public. The H!P Kids are at the age where emotion still triumphs logic, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if one of the girls found themselves in a situation like Megumi and Maiha.

But is Morning Musume that much better? They have been able to survive scandals and departures that would surely spell the end for Berryz Koubou and C-ute due to the constant influx of new members. This has created a different problem though. Morning Musume is in a identity crisis. The girls and personalities that made Morning Musume popular to the general public are no longer a part of the group. Only since the departure of Hitomi Yoshizawa has the “new” Morning Musume been completely separated from the “old” Morning Musume and able to carve a new identiy. Morning Musume will never be able to escape its past though, and the majority will constantly compare the current group to the Golden Age.

A solution has been offered by Ray and addressed by Celestia that would mold Hello!Project in the same idea as Johnny’s. I admit to being ignorant on the whole process of Johnny’s, but I believe Johnny’s debuts a new group each year after years of training and backup, endearing the boys to the hardcore fans long before they hit the general public. In theory, this would work for Hello!Project. Unfortunately, the reality for female idols in Japan is different than the reality of male idols in Japan. It goes beyond the looks and at what age society deems a person attractive. Japan is a male dominated society. A Morning Musume could never dominate the idol market like SMAP, there would be too much pressure from the media and from the population for the girls to move on. It is a traditional value that is held by most, although not by everybody, for women to change careers by raising the house and the children. This is why idols of the past that have quit the music industry to become a housewife get praised, like Momoe Yamaguchi, and idols that drift away from the model get lambasted, like Seiko Matsuda.

Therefore, a hyper-like model of Johnny’s may just work for Hello!Project. The training process is important so that should not be changed. However, debuting groups every 6 months or every 4 months (one for each season) may be a better idea. All the new units will be fresh and new, something that the general public adores. The shelf life for the units is questionable as it is. V-u-den didn’t even last 4 years. You could argue Melon Kinenbi should have broken up a while ago.

This would be the natural progression from the Morning Musume model. Instead of just allowing the Kids to take over and run into the same problems that Musume has seen, as well as ones that Musume can overcome (scandals, etc.), the model would be changed entirely. It would also serve as a long-term purpose for the H!P Eggs. The market would not be flooded with H!P groups since you could argue that all the groups will become inactive within 5 years time anyways. Furthermore, you could even reuse the exceptional talents, or just turn them into soloists.

Unfortunately, with Tsunku’s gradual progression from UFA to TNX, I wonder if this is at all possible. It is more a theoretical situation.

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3 Responses to “The H!P Kids Are Alright 4: Broomhead”
  1. craig says:

    i think megumi was a big loss for c-ute .
    also i think emotions trump logic throughout life (not just in the young).

  2. Radicalipton says:

    Morning Musume is the flagship basically because they’ve been around longer than anyone else, and all other groups — including C-ute and Berryz — have sprung from that general idea. Graduations have worked for Morning Musume because the members, by and large, move into other performing areas, creating new units, coaching newcomers, going solo.

    It will be a tough road over the next year. C-ute and Berryz, the longer they stay together, the more likely it is they will be retired as a group as was V-u-den and, unfortunately, The Possible (they still perform but not with H!P).

    The year 2007 was amazing for all units, even Morning Musume. The year 2008 has started very strong, even with disruptions like Buono!, disruptive because those three singers combined can upstage anything out there, not only in H!P but idol music overall.

  3. tayotniinammet says:

    Megumi was a front girl of ÂșC-ute…..so i would say she was a big loss for the group

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