If you know me or have read my about page, you’ll know that I support lots of groups, but I mainly support Majibanch, Alice Project, FES☆TIVE, and Dear L mana. FES☆TIVE is about to go through some major changes and my FES☆TIVE oshi is graduating. It’s really hard, it’s affected me a lot, and I definitely want to talk about it, but first, I’m going to talk about my thoughts on all the recent changes and announcements in Alice Project.
I’ll start with the (mostly) happy side of things. Promotions! In January, there were a ridiculous amount of Alice Project promotions. I knew that some new members were being promoted to Kamen Joshi and probably some members would be promoted to Alice Juban, but I had no idea the scale of what was about to happen. The promotions were as follows:
Steam Girls to Alice Juban: Erina, Maipu, Mana, Yuuka
Armor Girls to Alice Juban: Mayu
OZ to Steam Girls: Maopi, Shihori, Seri, Yuuri
Pa-Ken! to Steam Girls: Koharu
Pa-Ken! to Armor Girls: Sora and Hino
Slime Girls to Kamen Joshi Kouhousei: Yuina (OZ), Rena (OZ), Mia (OZ), Rumina (Pa-Ken!)
The biggest surprises were Mayu’s promotion to Alice Juban and Koharu’s promotion to Steam Girls. Previously, Steam Girls members got promoted to Alice Juban, Pa-Ken! members to Armor Girls, and OZ members to Steam Girls, but that has now gone out the window. Members of both Armor Girls and Steam Girls can be promoted to Alice Juban and members of Pa-Ken! and OZ can be promoted to either Armor Girls or Steam Girls. I think it’s a good change, since some members set their heart on eventually being in Alice Juban and get their dreams crushed when they’re promoted early on to Pa-Ken! because they needed an extra member. However, they also announced that OZ and Pa-Ken! are going to move from main units to “derivation units” on the same level as Cherry Blossom, Pureful, White Milk, and Prism. I was pretty upset by this change. I’ve never thought Kamen Joshi Kouhousei were very interesting as a unit and just thought they were a more boring and less polished Kamen Joshi. OZ and Pa-Ken! have interesting concepts, outfits, and songs and it sucks that they’ll only perform maybe once a week.
Now, how I feel about each of the new groups:
I expected one or maybe two members to be promoted, but definitely not five. Seeing Maipu promoted was really exciting. Her dancing is fantastic and she’s fun, so I’m happy she’s in Anna (my AP oshimen)’s group. I was a little worried she wouldn’t get the chance, since she’s one of the older and less popular AP members, but I guess I didn’t have to worry. Yuuka is one of AP’s best dancers and performers, so she looks great in Alice Juban, but it’s a little sad: Yuuka specifically said she wanted to stay in Steam Girls and was obviously trying to hide her disappointment when her promotion was announced. I think they could have promoted Tomoka instead of her, but I guess Tomoka is still a fairly new member of Kamen Joshi and she’s a good leader for the new Steam Girls.
Mana wanted to be in Alice Juban more than any of the rest of the members, so it was really nice to see her achieve her dream. To be honest, I think she’s a little annoying and can be pretty obnoxious in MCs, so I’m not sure how I feel about seeing more of her. Mana is Anna’s best friend, though, so I’m sure Anna is thrilled to finally be in the same group as her. Erina has recently gotten mainstream popularity and is gone from the theater a lot. She’s also one of the original Steam Girls members, so it’s pretty weird to see her moved up to Alice Juban. I guess it makes sense to have your most popular Alice Project member in the top group. Also, if she sticks around for a while, I think she’d be the best choice for Kamen Joshi leader after Nodoka. I definitely didn’t expect Mayu to be promoted. She’s so close with Momomin and the other Armor Girls members that it’s a bit sad, but she does fit in well with Juban. Overall, I like the new ten person Juban and I think their songs were meant to be performed with a larger group. It’s gonna take a lot for me to get used to, after seeing Juban live over a hundred times with five or six members, but I think it’s good.
Shihori is one of my favorite Alice Project members, so it’s so exciting to see her in Kamen Joshi. I’ve been supporting her since she was in Slime Girls and I was there for her OZ promotion announcement and debut, so it’s too bad I couldn’t have seen her debut in Steam Girls. It’s also great to see Seri in Steam Girls. I think she’s the future of Kamen Joshi: she’s really ambitious, a great dancer, cute, and young but not too young. Maopi was a natural choice with her dance skills and popularity, but I think she was promoted too young. I mean, she’s still in junior high, so she can’t even perform at their later shows unless Steam Girls are up first. Still, it was bound to happen sometime, I just hope she can deal with the schedule and pressure, especially when she’s lived in Nagano her whole life and has had to commute to Tokyo.
Yuuri is less than a year older than Maopi, so she’s still very young, but she doesn’t have the popularity or dance skills Maopi has and she’s been a kouhousei member for about eight months less than Maopi. I think they should have waited with her promotion, but admittedly she looks pretty cool in the Steam Girls outfit and she seems to be stepping it up. Koharu….well, puzzles me a bit. I guess it’s because Koharu was one of the more popular trainees, but I don’t think she works well in Steam Girls. She’s pretty quiet, doesn’t have a cool image, and isn’t the best dancer. I think she would have done okay in Armors, but Steam Girls is an odd choice for her. Hopefully I’ll change my mind and she’ll start to mesh better with the members. The new Steam Girls feels a bit disappointing to me. I’m very happy Shihori and Seri were promoted, but it feels like a trainee group to me and not as polished as it used to. It’ll take some getting used to, but I look forward to seeing how the new Steam Girls will develop in the future.
I’m very happy with the decisions to promote both Sora and Hino. Sora was definitely sped along to Armor Girls; spending about seven months in Slime Girls and six months in Pa-Ken. I think she deserves it though; she’s popular and talented in both performing and speaking. Hino is adorable, beautiful, sweet, a great conversationalist, and has a great body, but I never thought she’d make Armor Girls because of her age (27, making her the oldest Armor Girls member by over three years). It’s super cool they gave her a shot anyway and I think she’s a great addition.
Kamen Joshi Kouhousei:
The promotions to OZ and Pa-Ken! were about what I expected and I’m pretty pleased with them. All of the girls got promoted to the groups they wanted and I’m particularly pleased with the OZ characters the new girls got. Yuina is the lion, Rena is the bee, and Mia is the ladybug. They all fit their characters perfectly and look great in the outfits, especially Yuina as lion. It’d be even better if Waka, who is currently the witch, would be switched to Dorothy, since after Maopi’s promotion, there’s no Dorothy. I’m thinking they’re planning on making Harumi Dorothy when she is eventually promoted from Slime Girls, which would make sense given her image and popularity.
The only thing that disappointed me was Mari’s lack of a promotion. She’s been in Slime Girls for five months longer than Rumina and also wants to be a member of Pa-Ken. I think she fits the Pa-Ken image better than anyone in Alice Project right now, since she used to be a maid and plays guitar. They probably want to promote some more Slime Girls to Kamen Joshi Kouhousei soon, especially since Rumina is the only Pa-Ken member, but there’s only four members in Slime Girls currently (Mari, Yurie, Harumi, and Saria), so it might be a while. I hope Mari will stick around long enough to be promoted. It’d be a shame if we lost her as an idol, but she’s been in Alice Project for over a year now and is coming up on 25. Maybe I shouldn’t be worried, but I am a little bit. She’s my second favorite member in Alice Project and I hope she’ll move up the ranks so more and more people will see how great she is.
Well, I’ve said my feelings about all of the promotions, so now let’s talk about the withdrawal and graduations.
First, Jun Uechi unexpectedly withdrew from Kamen Joshi Kouhousei/Pa-Ken! February 3rd. No one saw it coming and she never even had anything to say about it: it was announced via the Kamen Joshi twitter and said that she was withdrawing because of circumstances related to management. They also deleted her Twitter right away, which was a surprise to me because usually they never deleted the Twitters of girls who left the group. Obviously, management had some sort of issue with her. It’s not clear what happened or whose fault it was, but since AP management is pretty sketchy, I’m inclined to blame them. I think if it was something as simple as her dating a fan, doing outside auditions, having a bad attitude, or being late to practices, they’d say what happened, so I have a feeling it was something more complicated, like an issue with money.
I didn’t consider myself a huge fan of Jun, but I know quite a few people who were, so it’s sad none of the fans were able to properly say goodbye. I took one cheki with her, four chekis of her for someone else, and I talked to her for a long time at a satsueikai once. I’d say I got to know her sort of well and I thought she was a good conversationalist, funny, a great idol, and a genuine person. She got popular quickly within Alice Project, so it’s too bad she had to go so soon. Jun’s very cute, only 18, seemed to love being an idol, was in a group before her time in Alice Project, and has been on TV with NMB48, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she shows up again. I’m not sure if she stayed in Tokyo or moved back to Okinawa (where she was previously a local idol), but I have a feeling we’ll see more of her someday.
Kanon Mori and Maki Kitamura announced their graduations from Alice Juban and Armor Girls respectively on the same day. If you want to read their graduation announcements, I translated them here and here.
Maki’s graduation announcement came as a surprise to me. She’s graduating because of the relapse of her herniated disc and has announced her graduation date, April 7th. I knew she had some issues with injury, but so have a lot of other members recently and Maki is still pretty young. I’ve always liked Maki and thought she was cute, but she was never one of my favorite Kamen Joshi members. She’s also one of the members I haven’t talked to as much, although she knows who I am and everything.
For these reasons, her graduation announcement surprised me but didn’t really affect me, that is, until I read her announcement. It’s clear she wants to stay in Armor Girls and continue as an idol, but she just has to quit because of injury. She also has no idea what she wants to do. I think it really sucks when idols clearly want to continue but they have to quit because of reasons beyond their control, like injury, so it makes me sad. I’m hoping she’ll stay in the entertainment industry so far. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of her gravure, but I can’t tell if she’s into that line of work and I hate it when girls clearly don’t like doing gravure jobs but are pushed into it by management. She loves soccer, so if she could do something related to soccer (announcing or some kind of PR?), that’d be great. Anyway, the plus side is that she gave her fans about two months notice, she’ll have a final seitansai, and she’ll have a proper graduation ceremony, so I’m glad she’ll be able to say goodbye to everyone and get her time in the spotlight.
Now, Kanon. Kanon’s reason for graduating was that she’d done everything she wanted to do in Kamen Joshi, but I’m sure it also has a lot to do with her injuries. She’s been out because of a herniated disc for several long periods of time and even when she came back, it was clear she had a bit of trouble dancing. Previously, she said she wanted to stay in the group until she was 30 and have a 2020 “Morilympics” themed seitansai, but she’s a bit of a troll and I think we all knew she wouldn’t make it to that point. She also announced AKB style, with plenty of time in advance. She hasn’t said a date yet, but she’s said she’s graduating sometime in the summer. It’s really rare with underground idols that you actually get notice and it’s a nice change of pace. With Kanon’s injuries, age (she’s 28), and her many years in Alice Project, I don’t think her graduation particularly came as a surprise to anyone, but it definitely hurts.
You see, I have a bit of an interesting relationship with Kanon. At first, I didn’t really think much of her. She was a member of Anna’s group Alice Juban, but I didn’t have a positive or negative opinion of her. I became really dedicated to Anna after a while and ended up going to PARMS probably five times a week, getting about 260 chekis with her in total and going to (I think) 6 satsueikai. When Kanon noticed I was a regular, I was an Anna oshi, and I could speak some Japanese, she suddenly took interest in me. Kanon and Anna are really close and both original members of Alice Juban, so Kanon seems to take particular interest in Anna oshi and vice versa. She started trying to talk to me all the time, even interrupting my conversations with Anna and insisting to take my pictures with Anna so she could talk to me.
At first, she just wanted to talk to me and enjoyed poking fun, but eventually, she developed what she happily called a “Brichan monomane”, or an impression of me. Whenever she saw me, she’d talk in an exaggerated version of my voice (I lost my voice after most lives, so my voice didn’t sound good and her version sounded even worse) and yell about how much she loved Anna in her impression of me. Once I tried to do an impression of her back, but she ignored me. At first, I thought her “Brichan monomane” was kind of insulting and annoying, but Anna, the other members, and the Japanese fans seemed to love it, so it grew on me. Sometimes I wished Kanon’s trolling would stop, especially because she would interrupt my serious conversations with Anna from time to time, but it made me grow to like her more and it felt like something was missing when she wasn’t around. I got 32 chekis with Kanon in them and she came to talk to me during a lot of my Anna chekis, so I got to know her really well.
There’s probably a lot that I’ll forget, but I wanted to share some of my Kanon stories. One time, she took a picture of Anna, Sara, and Momomin in special outfits for me. Normally, on days when the girls were wearing special outfits, your talk time is very limited. However, Kanon started doing her Brichan monomane before she took the picture. Sara smiled and Anna laughed a bit but Momomin thought it was HYSTERICAL. She had to walk out of the picture and lean against the wall and was practically crying she was laughing so hard. It took a long time for Momomin to compose herself well enough for Kanon to take the picture, so I got at least three times the talk time I normally would have. It’s also one of my few chekis where Momomin is smiling, since she usually always pulls a cool, serious model face in my chekis.
I ran into Kanon a couple times in Akihabara. One time, I was walking to PARMS to see the trainees on a day that Anna wasn’t there and she wouldn’t say anything to me and just gave me a look like “why the f- are you here”. Another time, she was walking with Nanaka and I wasn’t going to say anything, since I don’t want to disturb or bring attention to idols that are just trying to go about their normal lives. However, Kanon saw me and was like “Brichan!!” and then immediately started loudly doing her Brichan monomane. Obviously she didn’t mind bringing attention to herself. It was funny, because it felt like I was the idol, not her, in that situation.
One time, I was at a satsueikai talking to Anna and Kanon was talking to her #1 fan, but she started ignoring him and yelling things at me. I apologized to him, but he seemed to think it was funny. Another time, I was at a girls-only show and Alice Juban did a MC where all of the fans had to line up and choose answers to different questions. One question was “Which member would be the best girlfriend?” and I lined up for Yuki, because she’s great at cooking, she’s the hottest member in my opinion, and she generally seems the most responsible. Kanon saw me in Yuki’s line and called me out in the middle of the MC, asking “Brichan, why are you in Yuki’s line, not Anna’s?” I just said because Yuki’s a great cook and Anna didn’t seem offended or anything, but I knew she wouldn’t because she’s not the type to get jealous really easily.
I’ve had a lot of memories with Kanon and she’s definitely made my Alice Project experiences more memorable. I didn’t properly get to say goodbye to her when I left Japan, because at that time, she was out for injury. Even though she’s given a lot of notice, I won’t be able to go to her graduation or even see her before her graduation, since I’m planning to go to Japan no earlier than September. It hurts, knowing I won’t be able to say goodbye to an idol I’ve spent so much time with, that she won’t get to troll me one last time, and that I can’t sincerely thank her and tell her what she means to me. I can try on Alice Project’s paid streaming service, mixn, but it’s nowhere near as good as face to face interaction. It’s always hard when an idol you like graduates and it’s even more difficult when you’ve seen them a countless amount of times and built up a relationship with them. I had a relationship with Kanon that I probably won’t ever have with any other idol and I wish I could at least be there for her last lives and get some closure. At least I’m pretty sure she’s not going to disappear from the entertainment industry. She’s gotten quite a few MC and variety jobs and hasn’t said anything that indicates she’ll leave, so I think she’ll make a new Twitter and maybe I’ll even be able to see her again in person someday. I don’t know what she’ll do after graduation, but I won’t forget her and seeing Alice Project won’t be the same without her.
This post has gotten to be really long, so if you made it this far, thank you and congratulations 😀 I didn’t mean to end it on such a downer, so I guess on a happy note, an AJ I’ve liked for a while, Saria Seira, was just promoted to Slime Girls!
She’s really cute, loves ears, and is very enthusiastic about studying English. Even with important members leaving, there’s always new members joining who are cute, talented, and worth learning about. That’s the way the idol industry is, I guess. What do you think about the recent promotions, announcements, and changes in Alice Project? Let me know!