I thought I’d present to you a handy cut out and keep* guide to the current Hello! Project artists starting (and possibly ending) with Morning Musume.
Takahashi Ai (高橋愛) is a Japanese pop singer, idol, actress and humanitarian managed by her father God. She joined Japanese idol company Hello! Project on August 26th 2001. She is a fifth generation member and the current leader of Morning Musume.
Nicknames: Ai-chan, Lovely, Takitty, Tettekete, Cry-chan, Her Ainess, Her Thighness, Goddess, Our Heavenly Host, Angel Ai, The Queen, The Future Mrs. Morningtime.
Ai-chan was born via a virgin birth on September 14th 1986 during the International year of Peace that had been designated by the United Nations in honour of her forthcoming arrival. Indeed in this same year the average per capita income in Japan exceeded that of the USA. A coincidence? I doubt it. Miracles follow Ai-chan through her life. In fact Mitsui Aika has had a number one single with Morning Musume. See? A miracle. Who was the leader at this time? Ai-chan. I rest my case.
Ai-chan retires from Morning Musume at the age of 25 to take up humanitarian work around the globe as the Japanese Audrey Hepburn. She marries Morning Time the same year and they have five children (all girls) several dogs, some cats, fish in a garden pond, rabbits and several bee hives. Ai-chan returns to music in 2027 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Morning Musume. Her covers album of Morning Musume classics outsells the then current 16th, 17th and 18th generations own official 18th Morning Musume album ‘8-teens’ by more than 10 to 1. Ai-chan is announced as a miracle by Pope John-Paul-George-Ringo in 2035 and people travel from all over the world to be miraculously healed by her smile of pure angelic love. By 2036 all known diseases have been wiped from the face of the Earth.
Niigaki Risa (新垣里沙) is a Japanese backing singer with idol group Morning Musume. Niigaki joined Morning Musume the same day that Our Heavenly Host did and quickly settled into her role as second banana from the left (back row).
Nicknames: Gaki-san, Mame, Thingy, Whatserface, The Other One.
Niigaki was born October 20th 1988 and was already 40 years of age by the time she was out the womb. Three days later Super Mario Brothers 3 is released in Japan. These facts are completely unrelated but I’d rather watch two Italian blokes with moustaches to be honest.
Niigaki left Momusu suddenly two months before Ai-chan thereby losing her chance to be leader. The official reason given for her sudden departure was that she had a genetic hair disorder that made her look crap most of the time. Niigaki then retired from entertainment to run her own childcare business.
Kamei Eri (亀井絵里) is a Japanese pop singer and idol working with Hello! Project. She is a sixth generation member of Morning Musume.
Nicknames: Eririn, Kame, Kyamei, Elizabeth, Hoover, Shoes, Funny Tummy**
Eri was born to parents on December 23rd 1998 and immediately made a run for the cover of a nearby bed. Eri then spent the first 12 years of her life alternating between her twin hobbies of hiding under the stairs (hence her nickname Hoover) and hiding under her bed (Shoes). Eri finally emerged blinking into the real world at the age of 13 when she successfully auditioned to join Morning Musume. Eri cites the reason she auditioned as being to overcome her shyness. She figured that joining Morning Musume just a year after Her Ainess would be a good way of being in public without feeling like she was being looked at.
Eri became leader of Morning Musume following Ai-chan’s departure in March 2012. Her shyness no longer bothered her as by this stage Morning Musume were selling less singles than Frances & Aiko. Morning Musume nevertheless continue with Eri as leader for another two years before in July 2014 she left suddenly to work with a turtle charity.
** This nickname is only used by people with strange vision like PTom of Hello! Blog.
Michishige Sayumi (道重さゆみ) is a Japanese pop mimer and sixth generation member of Morning Musume.
Nicknames: Sayumin, Sayu, Shige-san, Sigh Yummy, Bitchyshige, Hottie, Babe.
Michishige was born July 13th 1989 to two parents at least one of whom must surely have been bloody cute looking. Two days after her birth, at the annual G-7 Summit, leaders call for restrictions on gas emissions. She made her debut with Morning Musume in 2003 but more importantly joined EcoMoni with Ishikawa (beautiful angel second only to Ai-chan) Rika in 2004. Their one song ‘Help: Dangerous Ass’ was a critical success and the then Japanese Prime Ministre urged Tsunku not to disband the unit but to instead keep them performing so they could continue to publicise the dangers that cow methane pressents to the ozone layer.
Sayumi became sub-leader of Morning Musume after Ai-chan left only to herself leave just three months later after Friday published pictures of her with a boyfriend. Six months later Sayumi married her boyfriend (a 49 year old member of the Hello! Project fanclub) and successfully continued her tv career as a humorous wind-up merchant.
Tanaka Reina (田中れいな) is a sexy yankii Japanese pop singer, feline, voice artist and fashion expert who joined Morning Musume as a sixth generation member in 2003.
Nicknames: Tanakacchi, 07 (Rei-Na), Reinya, Sexy Cat, Wonky
Reina was born on 11 November 1989 to a human father and a feline mother. Upon joining Morning Musume in 2003 she immediately went out and bought 27,000 different outfits so she could have enough clothes to wear to wear for the next few months. Reina came to prominence upon the graduation of Fujimoto Miki on June 1st 2007 as she became the unofficial sub-leader and second vocalist.
Tanaka Reina became sub-leader upon the resignation of Sigh Yummy and broke the record for most shit-hot photobooks released by one idol ever. She eventually took over as leader of Momusu but left to open up a chain of fashion outlets. By the age of 40 she was the most successful distributer of hookerwear in the business.
Mitsui Aika (犬) is a Japanese cross between a Shih Tzu and a Mitsui. Her mother (Lassie) married her father (Bruno) when she found out she was four weeks pregnant. Five weeks later on January 12th 1993 Aika appeared.
Nicknames: Mittsii, Woof Woof, Full Moon Forehead.
Aika joined Momusu as the sole 8th generation member because Eri had asked Tsunku if it would be possible to have a pet in the group. Mitsui soon became a big hit with the fans due to her ability to run around and around and around and around and around the stage endlessly while grinning wildly and also because of her hobby of chasing her tail. She was also adept at jumping up at strangers and barking when the fan-mail is delivered which was a big help to the Hello! Project staff during her time in the group.
Mitsui stayed in Morning Musume until she graduated with her owner Eri. Mitsui saw out her days happily chasing rabbits on the fields near Eri’s home.
Li Chun (李純) (Junjun) is a Chinese singer, model and beauty who joined Morning Musume in March 2007 as one of the two human members of the 8th generation.
Nicknames: Junwon, Junyum, Junko, Sexy Panda, The Entertaining One, China Doll.
Junyum was born February 11th 1988 and just two months later on April 11th 1988 The Last Emperor won nine Oscars. Coincidence? Of course not. It was nature’s way of preparing the world for Chinese win. Upon joining Momusu Junjun quickly became known as ‘the one who is entertaining on tv shows’ as well as becoming a fan favourite as the one most likely to goose Reina and Berryz Captain Shimizu Saki. Junjun’s hobby of hiding in Reina’s bath of a night also endeared her to those fans with a naughtier imagination.
Junjun became leader of Morning Musume upon Eri’s graduation and became Japan’s most popular ever Chinese person. Upon graduating from Momusu she went on to host her own chatshow on primetime tv that ran for 25 years before retiring to raise pandas on a nature reserve.
Qian Lin (銭琳) (Linlin) is a Chinese nice person who is also a member of the Japanese pop group Morning Musume where she is known as ‘one of the ones who can sing’. She is the other half of the 8th generation human duo with Junjun.
Nicknames: Lin-chan, Linko, Linwin.
Linlin was born March 11th 1991 and moved to Japan at some stage after that where she joined the Hello! Project Eggs. Eventually Tsunku decided adding a dog to Momusu probably wouldn’t help him much in the recording studio so he soon hit upon the idea of adding Linlin and another Chinese singer to the mix. This also helped Morning Musume break into the Chinese market at a time when other ultimately short-lived idol groups were outselling them in the Japanese market.***
Linlin became sub-leader and eventually leader before retiring to run a manga bookshop in Tokyo. She spent the rest of her years reading kinky books involving male twincest.
* I can accept no liability for any damages incurred by the use of scissors on your laptop screen or monitor.
***It’s telling that all these other groups had been and gone by the time Linlin became sub-leader of Morning Musume. Groups like AKB48, HardKB24 (which was made up of former members of AKB48 who had gone on to do hardcore porn movies and who had decided to sing the ending themes as well) and of course much later on ENK48 (which was itself produced by Tsunku and ran for three years spawning 27 hit singles all of which were boring) outsold Momusu in the short-term but ultimately didn’t have the staying power that Japan’s most successful girl group had and still has.