Yes it’s yet another ranking the members post. I do these just because I like to keep up with my current feelings and also see how they have changed over time. The last time I ranked all Momusu members past and present was September 2008 so it’s been two years anyway. A lot has happened in that time. I’ve seen and met Rika and Yossie and the current Momusu eight for instance. I’ve also seen Yuko in the flesh. That’s all something I couldn’t even have dreamed of one year ago let alone two. Plus in that two years the eighth gen have bedded in more, Koha has left and the others have all continued to mature. Ai-chan is fast approaching 24 and the Rokkies have all entered their 20’s. Time can change a person’s way of looking at things. Also seeing someone mature from this distance is interesting. Keeping an idol personality while maturing is a tricky business. There’s a fine line between staying cute but growing up and trying to stay cute while actually becoming an embarrassing woman-child. My opinion on Sayumi is a roller-coaster. 😛
Anyway onto the rankings. The numbers in brackets are the positions of each member last time followed by whether they have stayed still (=), moved up (+) or moved down (-). The number after the + or – shows how many places they have moved. So a move of two places up would be +2.
1. (1 =) Takahashi Ai
Who’d have thought Ai-chan would be number one? Oh…everyone. Well it stays pretty damn constant. Ai-chan is more than just the perfect idol. In her public persona we have the perfect human being. She’s beautiful, sweet, kind, caring, self-effacing, loving, loyal, talented and funny. She really is the kind of girl most men would want to date and most women would want to be like. Perfection in an idol. Having now met her I can only say that my previous love of her has only increased 1000-fold. I never had any doubts that I’d like her just as much upon meeting her but even so my already full-to-bursting heart just grew far bigger once I did meet her. Observing her during all the signing sessions at the Japan Expo in France also played a part in this. Watching (jealously) from a distance as she hugged one teary fan at the final signing session is the icing on the cake (with a nice little cherry on top). They weren’t even supposed to shake hands and yet I saw her hugging someone. She has such a beautiful and caring heart. Ai-chan is the physical embodiment of all that Hello! Project is. Idol perfection.
2. (1 -1) Konno Asami
Konkon is someone who is lucky enough to have the exceptionally rare gift of being exceptionally cute and exceptionally intelligent. That makes her exceptional. 😛 She is one of those people who cheer me up as soon as I see them. Something in her aura just lifts the heart. I just get this essence of kindness from her. It’s like a chemical shot of love straight to the heart. This is something that has never changed about her. I love her so much I even named my cute lickle rabbit Konkon in honour! 😄 Konno was pretty much the first person whose merchandise I started buying when I had just gotten into H!P. I still hold her Alo-Hello dvd as a highlight in the series. I still buy her merchandise too on the rare occasions some turn up somewhere. Just a few months ago I bought an Ongaku Gatas set of Konno pics from HelloStoreUSA. Absence probably hasn’t made the heart grow fonder as I was pretty bloody fond anyway quite frankly. However tellingly absence hasn’t weakened the heart either. Konkon like Ai-chan has such a beauty about her that I will never grow tired of supporting her.
3. (1 -2) Yaguchi Mari
Yaguchi has one of those presences that totally captivates. She might be small but she has a huge star quality. Her personality is wonderful. So energetic, funny, good-hearted and unique. Whenever I see her on a stage performing my eyes are automatically drawn to her. She has this joy about her and this incredible cuteness to her. That’s what being a performer is all about. Yaguchi’s presence is a lot like Ai-chan and Konkon’s. It’s an automatic shot of love to the heart. Yaguchi is beautiful. I can’t think of another performer quite like her. I can’t think of another performer with such a strong personality yet such a beautiful personality. Her sheer force of presence is wonderful and heartening.
4. (7 +3) Ishikawa Rika
I have to say that I always had slight doubts about Rika. I have plenty of her photobooks so I obviously always liked her yet there were still nagging doubts in my mind. The infamous criticising the fans incident (when she was miked up backstage at a concert once) plus a lot of negativity in online forums about her personality (all of which seems to just be baseless supposition or fantasy) made me have little doubts. Obviously we never know what our idols are really like in their private lives and it’s more than fair to assume there’s a lot more to all of them than we see. Being an idol is after all a job and part of that job is projecting certain characteristics and ideals. Even so I think to really support an idol you need to also believe that what you see is part of the truth of the person and what you don’t see is not necessarily something negative, but just something not relevant to their job. With Rika there had been little doubts in my mind but yet I always loved seeing her performing, whether it be singing, acting, presenting or just being a talent on a tv show. Heading to London for the Hangry & Angry signing session I had prepared myself to be slightly disappointed. It seems common for people online to say that Rika seems uncomfortable in front of the fans sometimes while Yossie is a total star in such things. So I’d actually prepared myself to maybe like one a little less and the other a little more. Well maybe I now do but not in the way I’d prepared myself for. All I can say is having met Rika and then seen her performing two days later all my doubts have evaporated. I have so much respect for her, both as a performer and a person. She was beautiful and courteous at the signing session and during the gig she was amazing. At one stage she was dancing with a fan and was purposefully leaning over the stage to touch fans with a member of the audience who had been dancing along with their own fan. During the Q&A at the end when one person was so overcome with emotion that she was struggling to get her question out Rika was so supportive. Basically during the whole signing session and two days later the gig I was in awe of her. Total respect! She is amazing!
5. (1 -4) Iida Kaori
Kaori doesn’t really fit the idol type of image. Even so she has a great voice, great clothes style and is tall and pretty too. Sounds good to me. Her first solo album is pure class. It’s one of my favourite Hello! Project related albums ever (even if it’s not strictly speaking a H!P album). She was incredibly entertaining on old Utaban’s, always seemed smart and humorous and once she’d become leader always added an element of class to proceedings. I’ve always held her in high regard. I don’t see that changing.
6. (11 +5) Kusumi Koharu
KOHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Koharu is very unique in that she can’t really sing, could barely walk properly when she joined H!P, has a totally bizarre personality that makes it seem like she’s not really there half the time (like she’s caught up in her own little world) and she has an unconventional face. Yet she’s brilliant! Much like with Ai or Yaguchi when I see Koharu performing I’m just mesmerised. Her kooky personality is endlessly entertaining and unpredictable. Her constant smiling just so joyful. Her voice deliriously cute even at it’s most screeching. In fact Koharu is made up of so many elements that are so wrong that somehow she becomes this glorious slice of perfection in an idol. Even her looks are beautiful even though you can also see they are odd. I think to love Koharu is to love life, to love individuality and to love the endless variety of life itself. Koharu encompasses all those things so forcefully.
7. (14 +7) Junjun
Once Koharu had left Momusu the personality of the group became Junjun in my opinion. She is the funniest current member and her graduation will be a big blow. I have nothing but total respect for both Junjun and Linlin. Being an idol must be hard at the best of times. There’s constant touring, rehearsing songs, rehearsing dances, learning lines for musicals or plays, constant tv appearances and so on. It seems like a non-stop type of job. Joining such a group as Morning Musume must be really tough at the best of times. For Junjun and Linlin however it must have been extra tough. Especially for Junjun. She was totally new to Japan and being away from family in a country whose language you don’t speak must be really hard going. Add to that the toughness of the job anyway and it takes real guts and determination to pull through. Well Junjun did pull through. So much so that she became the big personality of the group. Always entertaining on tv shows whenever given the chance and always entertaining during concert mc’s as well. She developed her own cute and funny idol persona and grew more and more beautiful too. I will miss her once she’s gone. At least when Koha left I still had another lively and funny member to enjoy. When Junjun leaves, well…the ninth gen had better have some stars!
8. (5 -3) Tanaka Reina
Sexy Cat is the fashionable one in Momusu. Her clothes style is pure sex on two sticks-for-legs. Her yankii persona is always a breath of fresh air too. Witness the recent Pocket Morning question where they were asked what they would do if they saw a little boy in the middle of a road crying. While the other members all answer explaining how they would try to find out what had happened and would try to help Reina’s answer was that she’d wonder what had happened…but then would just walk on anyway. She even laughes at her doing that. How deliciously…evil. How honest too. You have to admire her honesty and her ability to be her own type of idol. Add to that hey wonky gorgeousness, her feline mouth, her good singing voice and her killer fashion style (she won the best dressed Momusu member in the airport competition when Momusu left Paris. I was the judge so I should know. 😛 ) and you have a great talent in the mix. Nobody else in H!P could have inspired a cartoon as brilliant as Kaito Reinya that’s for sure! 😄
9. (9 =) Nakazawa Yuko
Yuko was of course the original yankii in Momusu. Alongside Kaori she was brilliantly funny on Utaban and was also let’s not forget very damn attractivbe too. I have a big weakness for the old blonde Yuko. But while writing this post I’ve just seen some pics of the present day Yuko advertising some slimming product and blow me she’s still damn hot. Show me another 37 year old who looks like this and I’ll ask if she’s single and can you hook a brother up?
Yuko added a touch of maturity to Momusu and despite since then the group focussing on younger and younger members I actually think that bit of maturity helped cement the group as being more than just your typical teen idol group. When a group starts off with members aged between 14 and 25 that’s not the usual type of thing. The fact that the first leader was gutsy, sharp, sometimes ill-tempered but ultimately caring, compassionate and a strong leader all helped settle Momusu down into a strong unit. After all the second, third and fourth generations all joined while Yuko was leader. She was there as the head of the group during these times of major change. She played a big part in the early success of the group. She deserved her reception at the Japan Expo concert (even if I still don’t quite see why they had to interrupt the concert with her).
10. (12 +2) Michishige Sayumi
Michishige along with Konno was one of the first Momusu members I started buying merchandise of. However my opinions of her have always fluctuated wildly. I’ve made many a gushing post on here when she’s released a photobook or dvd. Yet I’ve also often enough grumbled at her bitchy side and what I perceived as a lack of maturing in her personality. Yet I can’t deny how cute and pretty she looks. I also can’t deny being won over by her spazzyness (have you ever seen that old Hello! Morning physical test show where they test the members to find out their true physical age? For someone who dances as part of her career Sayumi is bloody shockingly lacking in any type of physical coordination!) 😛 Then there’s the spazzier sides of her personality. She clearly loves kids for instance but they clearly don’t love her. The Yorosen episode with her on a train is a case in point. As is an old Hello! Morning episode where she goes to a primary school with Ai-chan, Yossie and Miki to act as a teacher for a day. She clearly loves the little ones. They clearly…aren’t that bothered really. 😄 Then there’s her Yorosen week. When she announced that she loves trains I thought it was just foisted upon her by the producers. Another shit topic for a fail show. Yet a few months later when I saw a subbed version of that Million Kazoku show where contestants can win money if they avoid being caught by the hunters (one of whom in that particular show was Ishikawa Rika) it turns out she really does love trains. O-o Sayu has her surprising sides. It’s fair to say I love her kind side but it’s also fair to say I find her bitchy side as shown in her London Hearts appearances as being a big turn off. I also have doubts about her I’m-the-cutest moments. It’s like I’d prefer her to mature a little. Like Ishikawa Rika has. Even so the simple fact is I find her beautiful looking and the sides of her personality I like I really love. But then the other sides I don’t like and so she stays mid-table. Maybe I wouldn’t have her be any other way though? There’s certainly nobody else quite like her! Also having seen a little of her blog posts it’s clear there is more to her than meets the eye. I’m glad she’s not graduating later this year as overall I still enjoy her presence a lot.
11. (6 -5) Abe Natsumi
Nacchi is another one of those members who I like a lot yet still have doubts about. I have all of her albums, several singles, a couple of live dvd’s and one photobook so clearly I consider myself a fan. I’m also really glad she’s returning with a single and a photobook. Yes even though I posted this picture on Twitter and claimed it’s the cover to her new pb…
By the way you can see all my Twitter-related photo posts here.
Anyway I personally like her music and find her attractive too. But at the same time I don’t totally believe in her public persona as being anything like the real Nacchi. I can’t quite put my finger on why. Maybe it’s the plagiarism? I think that has damaged her reputation for good really. Well whatever it is I do still enjoy her work. But at the same time there are others who I admire far more. Even so I’d still put Nacchi in the band of people who I enjoy seeing performing bracket. She is pretty much the last one in that bracket as from member number 12 it all starts to mean a lot less to me. It’s not as though I dislike the members after Nacchi, it’s just I don’t really care one way or another about them.
12. (8 -4) Kamei Eri
And the first of the I don’t care bunch is Eri. When I heard there was to be a triple graduation I was shocked. Especially when I saw who was leaving. The pandas are going far too soon. My reaction to Eri’s leaving however was one of *shrug*. Well she’s been there a long time. Even so I’m still surprised she’s going as she’s one of the group who can sing and she seemed to be getting more lines recently. But if she is leaving for health purposes than it’s understandable. I just don’t really care that much that she’s leaving. Anyway Eri is a strange one for me. Her image has always been of the shy member who prefers staying in to going out. That kind of thing should be perfect for me seeing as how I was painfully shy as a child. Yet for some reason she has just never grabbed me. At times I’ve found her beautiful looking, never more so than in her earlier pb’s when she had short hair. I also liked her during those Haromoni@ segments with all the throwing of things over the shoulder. Her attitude was one of good-natured long-suffering. So I can’t pretend to dislike her at all. Yet she still never became a fully-fledged Morningtime object of affection (I’m sure she’s bothered!) Despite that I wish her well and hope that after she’s taken some time out to cure her problems that she’ll return to entertainment.
13. (19 +6) Linlin
Like with Junjun I’m impressed with Linlin’s effort in learning Japanese and fitting into the Momusu line-up. She also has a really nice personality by all accounts. Add to that a good voice and it seems a shame that she is leaving. At the same time even though I’m disappointed for her that she’s being extradited back to China (>.>) I still don’t think I’ll miss her that much. Mainly because all my attention during her time in Momusu has been on Ai, Koharu, Reina, Junjun and Sayu. Maybe I’ve rather overlooked Linlin. But then that just means her personality hasn’t shined enough for my particular likings. Still I wish her the best when she graduates.
14. (13 -1) Yoshizawa Hitomi
When I travelled to get Rika and Yossie’s autographs I was kind of prepared to like Yossie a bit more and Rika a bit less. Just because of popular conception on your typical H!P forums. However the opposite happened. I fell for Rika hook, line and sinker and Yossie was slightly disappointing somehow. Maybe it was the casual way she passed the item to Rika to sign with hardly a glance, said arigatou quickly and then moved her gaze to the next person? Maybe it was just that she wasn’t Rika and therefore isn’t completely fucking awesome? Well either way it’s not like I felt less for her, more that I was disappointed not to feel more for her. Even so as an ex-idol she’s got a strong personality and I’d never say that’s a bad thing. She’s physically fit, good on tv and great with Rika in Hangry & Angry and Ongaku Gatas. She’s just not really my type of idol. Then again I’m not a girl. 😄
15. (17 +2) Tsuji Nozomi
Now we are getting to the really don’t care section. Well I thought W were really good. Surprisingly good actually. Even so I didn’t like Tsuji or Kago in Momusu. I do however like Tsuji more now as a talent on tv shows. She seems happy, fun and in her own bizarre way quite nice looking. Okay scary looking but nice too. Maybe if W had continued I’d like her even more. She does have that kind of happy, sparkling look in her eyes when she performs and that’s something I always enjoy seeing in someone. But with W not lasting past two albums and Tsuji then marrying and becoming a parent she’s not really been around much during my fandom so hasn’t really had the chance to grab my attention. I’ll look forward to seeing her in S/mileage’s next pv though!
16. (10 -6) Niigaki Risa
Looking at the Risa of old, back when she’d just joined Momusu she seemed a bright prospect. Despite only being 12 she seemed to fit in immediately. Seeing her appear with Konno on a Matthew’s Best Hit Television show I was struck by how well she ran the show. She was totally on the money. She pitched her whole performance perfectly for the show. Yet over the years I’ve just found her more and more boring. I like the cute types or the kind types mostly. Niigaki is the mother type. Lacking in happy, energetic vibes. Instead I find her serious and a bit boring. Hence her lowly position.
17. (17 =) Kago Ai
She of the tarnished reputation and crap ‘look-at-me-aren’t-I-shocking’ photobooks. I only started to like Kago through her W work. Before and since then I’ve not liked anything. Unlike with Tsuji I don’t see anything in her now that would make me keep an eye out for her future work. I do realise she was very young when she joined Momusu and it must have been hard. I also feel sorry that she obviously had her problems during her time in H!P. But nevertheless for me there’s nothing I see in her that makes me want to see more of her. She was good in W though. W were a damn good duo.
18. (21 +3) Ogawa Makoto
What Ogawa had was humour. She was great in those Hello! Morning sketches. She certainly never seemed self-conscious during them. I admire her for that. She livened that show up a lot. Even so beyond that I’ve just never had that much of an interest. I respect her but just don’t have any real interest in her.
19. (15 -4) Goto Maki
Maki was very popular and had a successful solo career. Yet I’ve never liked her music and never really noticed her. Maybe you had to be there when she was a member. I wasn’t so I just shrug my shoulders.
20. (24 +4) Ichii Sayaka
Sayaka seemed likeable enough. I love her in the Koi no Dance Site pv with the whistle. If she’d stuck around H!P after graduating from Momusu maybe I’d know more about her and would have had an opportunity to enjoy her work more.
21. (22 +1) Ishiguro Aya
Aya also seemed likeable enough on those old Utaban episodes and I liked her piercing. I can’t really say much more about her than that!
22. (23 +1) Yasuda Kei
Kei was a good sport on Utaban. It’s funny how much I use Utaban as a measuring tool for the earlier Momusu members. Anyway Kei did take all the skitting with good humour and seemed happy to be making a name for herself that way. Nothing wrong with that. However I can’t say I’ve ever paid any attention whatsoever to her even when watching old Momusu pv’s. Thus she ends up low down.
23. (16 -7) Miki Fujimoto
I’m not really into the cynical type of personality. I like my idols happy, sweet, good-natured and fun. Miki just seems like a cynical wet fish. Do not want! She might be good looking but that doesn’t mean I have to like her. The personality is such a huge part of liking idols. There are plenty of good-looking idols with much better personalities.
24. (20 -4) Mitsui Aika
First the good points. I liked her on stage at the Paris concert when she was getting the crowd to sing along with the Sayumi birthday wishes. I also think she seems very happy on stage and I can’t begrudge her that or criticise it. After all I want to watch people who seem to be loving their idol job! Okay that’s the good points out the way. Now the bad points. Her speaking voice is like fingernails on a blackboard. Her personality is like a spoilt Downs Syndrome sufferer with a chip on her shoulder at not being as cute as the others. Oh and her facial expressions are constantly amusing…in all the wrong ways. She even looks like a Down’s Syndrome sufferer. She makes me feel embarrassed to be a fan of Momusu. If I showed Momusu to a non-fan I’d be mortified if they noticed her. I just don’t understand why she’s there, I don’t understand why some people find her cute and I don’t understand what Tsunku is playing at in graduating the pandas first. I may use Mitsui as the basis for most of my skitting but that doesn’t mean I hate her. I don’t. But it doesn’t mean I like her either. I don’t. I wish her all the best. I just wish it was the best in some other group I don’t follow. >.>
25. (24 -1) Fukuda Asuka
The first Momusu member to leave. I know virtually nothing about her except she looked permanently grumpy. She was in Momusu and didn’t seem to enjoy it. Bloody sod her then! 😛
So there we have it. Meeting Rika dispelled any doubts I had about her. Meeting Yossie instilled some doubts. Mitsui gets no better with experience, Niigaki gets more boring with age and my top 3 stays damn consistent. Of course this is all just a bit of fun. The whole ranking idea is odd. I mean what else would I do this for? Favourite meals? Favourite days of the week? Of course not. Yet there’s something about idols that makes me want to constantly evaluate and rank. Partly it’s that urge to support your favourites and also call out their strengths and what you love about them. Partly it’s that urge to call out what you don’t like so much about idols. Like Miki’s sarcasm or Mitsui’s…almost everything. Partly it also shows how I myself have changed in the way I view things. I think that might be what interests me the most. Seeing how some things stay constant, some yo-yo up and down and some change completely over time is an interesting insight (to me) of my own personality. It shows the things I hold dear and stay true to as well as the things I dislike and carry on disliking. Then it also shows the transient parts of my nature, where some things I thought were important it turns out weren’t. Maybe it also shows how easily I can go off some people and how quickly I can forget things I liked about them. Maybe this is all about me? Identifying my strengths and weaknesses? Maybe I’m trying to improve myself as a wota and a person? Aww…that almost makes me feel quite mean about Mitsui now. 😄