Momoko vs Chinami: And The Winner Is…

嗣永桃子 vs. 徳永千奈美写真集バットル! – Vox.

MorningBerryz does something very interesting here, taking scans from the two photobooks released by these Berryz and alternating between the two. The striking thing that comes from such a contrast is seeing how hard Momoko works it, practically begging the viewer to pay attention and love her, while Chinami is more laid-back, inviting the viewer’s curiosity by remaining at the slightest remove, but still radiating warmth and charm.

Oh, and Chinami still has the best smile by far of anyone in H!P. So yeah, she’s the winner by a country mile.

Another Senior Moment

Tsukiki of Shanimuni Paradise was asking for information about the Chinami-Bakanishi rumors from a while back. Since I enjoy her blog a great deal and almost never mention Chinami without alluding to that delightful non-scandal – seriously, look up her tag on this blog – I decided to share a link to the Sunday Blog Roundup from that time.

The October 17, 2006 entry was called “Chinami, You Minx!”, and it’s clear I’ve been enjoying the Chibakanaminishi rumors from the very beginning. But what truly struck me as I read the SBR in its entirety was how much more manageable it was to cover the blogs I knew about back then. A rough count shows about fifty posts being covered for the week… and several blogs had more than one post. So let’s say there’s maybe thirty-five to forty blogs being covered in those fifty posts. For the entire week.

With Intl Wota, we’re covering somewhere in the region of 120 to 150 active blogs, I think. (Playing very fast-and-loose with the definition of “active”.) Most – but not all – have sprung up in the year and a half since that SBR post. And because I decided to take off a couple days due to some outside concerns, I have a backlog of sixty-plus posts from the past two or three days that I need to handle. And this is with other Intl Wota folks doing their own coverage, otherwise I’d be looking at eighty or so posts.

Of course, if we go all the way back to the first SBR from July 24, 2005, there is an even starker difference, with all of six blogs being covered. Of those six, only one – the gaming one – is active and at the same URL. Everyone else has either been inactive or moved in the past three years, just as I had when I jumped from Cult of Pop to Ame Wota.

I’m not really going for a specific point here. It’s just always odd to realize how much time has passed – and to know that in the grand scheme of things it isn’t a lot of time, though on the interwebs it may seem like an eternity. And in parenting terms, too – Haruna was barely born when the Bakachinanishiami thing happened, and now she’s a feisty little girl who runs and screams and causes trouble. (I’m having a “Cat’s in the Cradle” moment… hold on… okay, that’s it.) So three years marks a lot of progress, which isn’t a surprise – but even half that time, a mere eighteen months, has seen a leap forward that’s a little difficult to fathom.

I’m not the blogger who’s been around longest, by any means – Go of jrocknyc has been around considerably longer (I once called him the “alpha male” of our community and continue to stand by that assessment), and I’m sure there were several who kept LiveJournals before going public with their J-blogs. But it does make me feel a bit ancient, and actually kind of tired to think of how much things changed, how much more work it’s taking to keep track of the community, and how frames of reference have shifted over time. (It doesn’t help that much of my best blogging happened back during Cult of Pop 2.0 and that I’m still trying to get back to that level of activity and enthusiasm.) There’s a sense of satisfaction, of course, but the fatigue can hit just as hard for knowing what’s gone into it.

I’ve written most of this before, on my Intl Wota anniversary post. I risk becoming the old man in a rocking chair on his porch, repeating himself time and again on “the good old days”. I don’t know if it can be helped, though – part of moving forward is always looking back. Lord knows, every time I look at baby pictures of Haruna, I’m even more astounded at how much she’s grown and changed. I shouldn’t be, I was there all along and marked each step forward, every new milestone, with pride.

I don’t regret all the time I spent both blogging and community-building – though 20/20 hindsight means I certainly wish I could have been more efficient and made some wiser moves. I’ll be covering some of the why’s and how’s later, when I finish broomhead’s TLS Survey. For now, though, I’m just taking another walk down memory lane, remembering breadready and undoing the mercator projection and not knowing who Shihono Ryo was and running the Pedolicious blog and the reaction to the first Momoko poem and all the other neat moments from my past three and a half years as a J-blogger. And when I’m ready, I’ll steel myself for what’s coming next and charge forward.

Berikyuu! Episode 5: Luck of the Draw

The last show of the first week and all I can think is, “Do I have it in me to keep screencapping this? Maybe I should give up before the jokes grow stale. How much more can I recycle material that wasn’t very good in the first place?”

And then I think of Haromoni@ and realize I’m actually waaaaaayyyy ahead of the curve compared to them. And so I soldier onwards!

Here the camera slowly creeps up on Manoeri, as if ready to pounce…

You know, I went to a Catholic high school, and as a student I’d often hear rumors that the chapel was used by other students for sex.

I’m not sure why, but seeing Manoeri in the pews makes me think of that.

Ahh, there’s that winning smile!

The girls seem to be in a pretty good mood for this long, drawn-out week of filming. Though actually, they probably filmed all five episodes in the space of fifteen minutes.

It must’ve been, like, “Okay, girls, before you take off your fugly costumes, come to this set for fifteen minutes and do whatever the fuck we say or else you’ll be graduating to ‘concentrate on your studies’ before you know it.”

And apparently, this time around what they’re being told to do for three minutes is draw.

Risako is the first to get the answer right.

What is it they’re drawing, though? Why do we have to guess what the correct answer is? Is it meant to create suspense?

Miyabi now takes her turn…

She starts by writing down Pi, then realizes this is Berryz time and not Buono! time.

Airi is wondering if her Dad is going to autograph more copies of clear to sell on eBay or something, and wonders why he just doesn’t do a photobook of his own.

She breaks down the fourth wall and it turns out to be a message to me: “Dear Dirty Old Wota, I think of you often and want to talk to you on the internet. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell Chris Hansen about us. You can trust me.” Wow, I didn’t know they had a single kanji for “I’m not going to tell Chris Hansen”, but there you have it!

By the way, did everyone catch the announcer’s derisive laugh when he told Miyabi she got it wrong? Maybe I’m being oversensitive but if I heard that laugh directed to me I’d either punch the fucker or crawl under a rock.

Insert Bakanishi joke here. Actually, I think Bakanishi may have indeed inserted his joke here…

But really, aren’t there better things these girls can be doing for three minutes besides playing Pictionary with a studio camera?

For example, they could make out for three minutes. Each girl find a partner from the other team and swap spit for three minutes. I mean, isn’t that what Kanna wants to be doing anyways? And is Maimai flashing somebody a look, or is it just my imagination?

Miyabi again breaks the fourth wall down and says, “How do you know we don’t already do that backstage, you dirty old wota?”

Okay. Then how about this: you get a length of garden hose and a golf ball, and see how quickly each girl can suck the golf ball through. Airi’s dad can supply the golf balls.

Chinami breaks down the fourth wall and goes, “Bakanishi once asked if I could suck chrome off a fender! I got lead poisoning as a result!”

Maasa’s thinking, “How can you get lead poisoning from chrome?”

Or again, let’s go back to knife fights.

The idol world is Darwinian! It’s not dog-eat-dog but bitch-eat-bitch, and the queen bitch stands over all!

Why not pay proper homage to this truism and simply arm them with shivs and let them have at it for three minutes?

Chisato’s thinking, “Yeah, I can take them all on.”

Airi takes a turn, and she seems especially happy to do so.

The Berryz are conferring: “Is it a secret test to see which team can out-genki the other? Risako, do you wanna take another try at bouncing and squealing?”

Airi gets it right…

And is super super happy for it!

Maimai’s now thinking, “I can beat Chisato in a knife fight. Bring it on.”

Kanna adds, “I can make all of them my bitches. Take that to mean however you like.”

It’s Airi’s turn to talk smack: “Mess with me and my father will go after you with one of his golf clubs!”

Anyway, it’s now Kanna’s turn to play Pictionary with the camera, and does she get it right?

No, it’s wrong! But oh, I get it now! They’re supposed to be drawing anuses! Yessir. Today’s challenge, apparently, is to draw a famous anus.

And apparently, while this failed for not being detailed or famous-looking enough, it’s at least hairy and has been opened wide by some amyl nitrite. Which makes me think she was trying to draw Katori Shingo’s…?

Chisato goes, “Hey, who stole my secret stash of poppers? I wanna turn!”

On a tangent, when restaurants first started offering “jalapeno poppers” as appetizers, I couldn’t stop giggling every time I saw it on the menu. Just so you get an idea of how consistently childish I’ve been throughout my life.

She takes her own turn to draw…

And yeah, she must have done a very good rendition of a chocolate starfish, right there.

Yurina opts for a more sci-fi Star Trek anus that opens up through sliding panels that make a “vwhooosh” sound. Too Sorayama for the judge, who goes no.

The girls are now under pressure to think of famous anuses they can draw in detail. Miyabi raises her hand to ask if has-been comedians count as famous. Considering we’re in H!P Land, I think such comedians would count as superstars.

Yurina is trying to perfect her Sorayama-influenced anus by giving it a more glossy sheen, but now it’s looking more like a Shirow Masamune anus.

Maimai is now up at bat, so to speak…

And when she gets the answer right, she breaks out into an Angry Oompa Loompa face which is pretty fucking scary.

I do like how industrious and motivated Miyabi seems throughout the show so far. She seems a natural leader in her own way, willing to take charge and unafraid to assert herself in a serious manner.

This time Miyabi gets it right, probably making sure to draw a very detailed taint to nail that winning point.

Kanna is sooo adorable! Honest and truly, I’d watch a show devoted just to her. Actually, wouldn’t it be fun if this show followed more of a Futarigoto format with only one or two of the girls doing something simple like cooking a meal or finishing some homework or assembling a rifle? I mean, sure, I’d pass certain weeks depending on which Kid is involved, but I’m more than likely to tune in to most of it.

Oh, it was an X? I’m sorta tempted to find out what this means – could it tie into Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters? In a way, isn’t Hello! Project a School for Gifted Youngsters? (Or maybe it’s more like Sheridan’s School for Scandal, all things considered.)

Or is it sound advice for the girls? “Don’t do anal until you’re out of the business.” Wise words indeed.

At any rate, the challenge is over and four of the C-ute got this right and only two of the Berryz did the same, neither of whom are depicted here.

So once again, C-ute has won! Oh yay oh yay!

The week’s challenges are all tallied up here, with three ties, two victories for C-ute, and no wins for Berryz.

So what the heck happens? Do they get to pull a Sweeney Todd and cook one of the Berryz into a pie? Do they get to switch costumes on-camera so that Berryz will have the edge on being fuglier in those horrible poufy numbers? Do one of the C-ute who isn’t Airi get a chance to have her own photobook? (Look at this line-up – three of the Berryz have solo photobooks, only one of C-ute does.)

“That’s it!” Kanna says. “I get to claim one of you Berryz as my love slave for the weekend!”

The other C-ute clap and encourage Kanna, just so long as they don’t ever have to visit her leather pink dungeon anytime in the near future.

So. How was this first week of Berikyuu! ? Did it live up to expectations? In so far as I just wanted to be able to stare at some of my favorite H!P idols, not quite. Kanna, yes. But no Momoko – I’m still kinda sore about that. As for whether or not they made this show actual fun – well, I had fun watching it, but in the same way Kinbote had fun explaining John Shade’s poems. “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain,” indeed.

If you’re not willfully perverse and monumentally obtuse, I think Berikyuu! can be a decent bit of lobotomized fun – which, you know, we’re talking about idols here. This is about as much as we can ask of them. Certainly, The McLaughlin Group isn’t going to be sweating over this. And even after all this trifling silliness, it still provides more wota bang-for-your-buck than Haromoni@ – which I would argue not only suffers from a weaker cast (okay, I’m biased), but also a weaker format that’s overextended. That said, if Berikyuu! was a half-hour show itself, it would still have an edge over their senpai’s show – but considerably less, since the bite-size nature of these bite-size idols doing bite-size things is part of its appeal for me.

That said, a full half-hour show of C-ute and Berryz making out with each other would probably get fantastic ratings.