H!P Girls part 8 – Iida Kaori

I think of all the members MM have had over the years none have been as attractively unique as Iida Kaori. From her ‘communicating’ eyes to her slender and very feminine figure she always stood out (in a good way). By the time the 4th generation had joined and MM was starting to really consistently hit the heights Kaori had come to the forefront. To me she was more mature than her years suggested. She seemed to have real poise. She was her own person with no doubts as to who that person was (well none outwardly anyway). Watching her Futarigoto episode one of the things that really hit me (other than how beautiful she looks in jeans) is that this is someone I’d want to spend time with. No I mean properly. Okay many members are very cute and you’d love to be in their company but in terms of actually talking to someone rather than just being swept up in their kawaiiness? Kaori seems like someone you could really enjoy being with for reasons other than being amused by the personality or adoring the cuteness. She seems someone who you could be deeper with. Someone you could connect with. Some people maybe don’t like that kind of personality though. I think the people who are the most popular are often the ones who have noticeable character flaws or more immediately approachable outgoing personalities. People who can be daft like Tsuji, Sayumi, Rika or Kago. People with more outward vibrancy like Yaguchi, Niigaki, Yossie and Kusumi (or not, depending on your opinion of her). People who have that youthful cuteness mixed with insecurity like Konno, Takahashi and Eri had. Or maybe the more forceful Yankii type like Yuko or Reina. Kaori seemed a very different plate of sushi indeed. Kaori seemed more of a lady. Confident, mature beyond her years, sexy and more contained than the others. I can’t think of any drawbacks to that kind of personality and I think those qualities made her a good leader.

Ogawa recently spoke of how much nicer MM is now that all the members are of a similar age (from her Haromoni@ press conference upon returning to Japan from New Zealand). I like to contrast this with Utaban presenter Ishibashi Takaaki’s comment that the current Musume doesn’t have a distinguishable personality (from the the 29 November 2007 Utaban appearance). Yes they are all similar ages and may get on better now but does that make them any better to watch? Does it make their music any better? I’d say, on the whole, no. More variety in the personalities would make for more interesting television. A wider age range would benefit them in terms of giving them a wider view on life, music, the universe and everything (oops I keep falling into Douglas Adams territory). A wider group of personalities would broaden their horizons. This current line-up is missing some big personalities. I’d list Yuko, Kaori, Yaguchi, Yossie and possibly Fujimoto Miki as the type of people they are missing. It’s not just an age thing, as Yossie is not much older than Takahashi, but it’s also about presence (or possibly mental age). In a lot of ways Yossie and Miki had strong personalities. They had a strong presence in the group. The current line-up more resembles a noisy bunch of kids whose teacher has been delayed. The group was much more interesting when there was more variety within the line-up. It gave them more gravitas and created better entertainment.

Kaori was great because she never totally looked like she belonged. This made her seem a strong leader and made the group all the more richer. I remember when I was just discovering MM that I watched the Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari pv and spent the whole time wondering who the tall one was. She stood out. Rather than dismissing them as just a cute bunch of kids doing catchy pop music I actually had my interest raised in the personalities. This of course leads to seeking out Hello! Morning and Utaban episodes and that’s never a bad thing. Watching the Utabans Kaori comes in for a lot of Ishibashi’s cruel humour and sometimes you can see she is annoyed and she doesn’t always just laugh along. Again though this gives a sense of her individual personality. It’s easy at times to forget too how young she was. During the 2000 shuffles episode there’s one point where she looks like she wanted to kill Coconuts Musume’s Danielle. While she was trying to come to a peaceful resolution during musical chairs Danielle just pushed her off. In that instant we see that here is someone with common sense trying to ensure everyone gets along and at the same time here is someone with a fire inside when riled. Sounds like a good leader to me. Of course it also showed that here is someone still young. I mean it was musical chairs. Don’t get so stressed. 😀

Away from good looks and a strong personality there is one other thing Kaori has going for her…a great voice. I am deeply in love with her debut solo album Osavurio ~Ai wa Mattekurenai~. Her other albums are good too but the fact I already had a familiarity with many of the songs meant Osavurio quickly became a favourite. Okay so Yossie liked to take the mickey out of her singing and her choice of music may not be to everyone’s taste but again you get a strong sense of personality and beauty. Her songs are beautifully sung. It’s perfect music for a sunny day or a lazy Sunday afternoon or for when you need to escape from the world around you. The beauty in the songs can be breathtaking.

A beautiful voice, beautiful looks, strong yet feminine personality and a clothes style that complemented her physical beauty while also suiting her personality. To me Iida Kaori is one of the biggest personalities H!P ever had. Now she’s a mummy and may never release another record. She was due to take part in Cool Earth Ambassador 2008 on July 7th however which suggests she may not be ready yet to call it a day on her career. I really hope to see her release more solo albums. Whether she does or not however, with over 7 years in MM incorporating 26 singles, 4 solo albums and a wealth of live performances under her belt, there will always be some Kaori to watch or listen to. Doesn’t stop me hoping for more though.


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