There were a lot of major announcements this week and a lot of surprises for me personally, so let’s get started!
This Week’s Releases
AOP – Maboroshi Wink
GANG PARADE – BREAKING THE ROAD
Momoiro Kakumei – Momo Revo Red Zone!/Million☆Journey$
Cerisier – Cerisier
Death Rabbits – Minna Oide yo! Death Rabiland! ~Idol Kai no Yami~
i☆Ris – Memorial
Tsubaki Factory – Teion Yakedo/Shunrenka/I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~
Zenryoku Shoujo – Zenryoku Shoujo R!!!!!!! 2
HONEY GO RUN – Memory Go Round
Tacoyaki Rainbow – Double Rainbow
Tacoyaki Rainbow – Naniwonderland 2017 ~OH! CIRCUS~
Last Week’s Oricon Rankings
9th: Fuwa Fuwa – Sakura Namiki – 17,257 (NEW)
13th: READY TO KISS – Narimasu ni Narimasu – 12,903 (NEW)
20th: STU48 – Kurayami – 6,842 (down)
22nd: SKE48 – Muishiki no Iro – 5,829 (down)
24th: Sakidori Hasshinkyoku – Karimen Destiny – 4,983 (NEW)
25th: Last Idol – Bandwagon – 4,878 (up)
27th: Nogizaka46 – Itsuka Dekiru kara Kyou Dekiru – 4,085 (down)
31st: NMB48 – Warota People – 2,453 (down)
32nd: NGT48 – Sekai wa Doko Made Aozora na no ka? – 2,336 (up)
41st: Keyakizaka46 – Kaze ni Fukarete mo – 1,476 (down)
10th: predia – Fabulous – 7,102 (NEW)
29th: Morning Musume 20th – Hatachi no Morning Musume. – 2,403 (down)
31st: Star☆T – Mellow – 2,213 (NEW)
44th: lyrical school – “TAKE ME OUT” ON DEC 16 – 1,873 (up)
46th: Nogizaka46 – Boku Dake no Kimi ~Under Super Best~ – 1,720 (down)
Major PV and Song Releases
AKB48’s 51st single, JyaBaaJya, was revealed on AKB48 no All Night Nippon on 2/22. I gotta say, when I heard the title, I thought it was gonna be a really silly, stupid song, but it’s actually a pretty cool disco-inspired song. It’s not a favorite, but it’s decent and I think it’ll grow on me.
Keyakizaka46 released the PV for their upcoming B-side to Glass wo Ware, Bathroom Travel, on 2/24. It’s a unit song comprised of Neru Nagahama, Minami Koike, and Rika Ozeki. Pretty much every version I’ve found of this PV is blocked in America, but if you’re in a different country or can throw on a VPN, give it a watch. It’s a weird title and concept, but it’s a pretty cute song and a stylish PV.
Sadly, both of these PVs are blocked in America, but ex-Nogizaka46 member Marika Ito’s PVs that were made for her art exhibition last year were released on Nogizaka46’s YouTube channel on 2/20. I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched them yet because I haven’t found them anywhere else and I’m too lazy to put on my VPN, but Marika was my favorite Nogizaka46 member, so I’m glad they’ve gotten released.
BiS released a PV for WHOLE LOTTA LOVE on 2/20. This video is Aya’s comeback and it’s minus Pour Lui and Saki Kamiya. It’s not my favorite BiS song, but it’s certainly not bad.
WACK and Avex collaboration group EMPiRE released their second PV on 2/22, this time for Buttocks beat! beat! The PV is about what you’d expect with the title and BiSH are also heavily featured, so even if you’re not familiar with EMPiRE yet, give it a watch if you’re a BiSH fan. I think the song’s pretty decent, it’s certainly catchy.
Nogizaka46 announced that their 20th single will be titled Synchronicity and will be released on 4/25. Oh hey, that’s my birthday, it better be good!
NMB48 has announced their 18th single, which will be released on 4/4. Sayaka Yamamoto will be center and it will be Cocona Umeyama’s first senbatsu.
BILLIE IDLE has announced that their new single P.S.R.I.P will be released on 3/21 and it will be their last single to be co-produced by NIGO and Junnosuke Watanabe; from now on, NIGO will be their sole producer.
GANG PARADE has announced that they will be releasing their new single GANG 2 on 5/29.
Purely Monster is releasing their second single Mada Daremo Shiranai Ashita e on 5/30. It will be the theme song for smartphone RPG Eternal Linkage. Let’s hope it’s as good as their first!
Erabareshi has announced that their fifth single Motto, Nee Motto will be released on 6/13. It will be a theme song for the upcoming anime Tachibanakan To Lie Angle.
A new Sakamichi series group, Yoshimotozaka46, was announced on 2/21. Yoshimotozaka46 will be a group combining male and female talents under Yoshimoto Kogyo. I think a lot of people expected a new Sakamichi group but I don’t think anyone expected this. If this is going to be serious and not a joke or novelty group, it could be interesting. I’m excited to see more.
Momoiro Kakumei started an under group called Momo Revo_. The members are Saki Akaneya, Koto Hoshimiya, Mami Fujisaki, Akina Masumoto, Sara Suzuki, and Miki Mochizuki. Saki Akaneya was formerly a member of Honey Spice under the name Saki Sugaya and Sara Suzuki was formerly a member of Pink Babies. I was surprised to see Saki return as an idol. When she was in Honey Spice, I met her three times or so and I was a bit of a fan of her. From what I could tell, Sakichi wasn’t interested in being an idol again and was content modeling and doing radio work, but I wasn’t following her too closely. Anyway, I like Momoiro Kakumei and it’s nice we’ll see more of her.
It was announced that I-GET unit BABY TO KISS members Ayane Naruse, Manaka Sato, Hina Shirakawa, Rina Ohara, Mirei Imaizumi, and Ai Aoi will be forming a new unit HOT DOG CAT. This will be I-GET’s fourth unit after READY TO KISS, SAY-LA, and trainee unit BABY TO KISS and they will debut on 3/19. Two things: first off, for anyone who doesn’t know, Ai Aoi used to be a member of Steam Girls under the name Aina Hoshi, so that’s pretty exciting for Alice Project fans. Second off, what the heck is that name? I should really make a list of the worst idol unit names….
BELL AGENCY’s new group COLOR’z debuted on 2/25. This makes them BELL AGENCY’s third group, after DISDOL and Tokyo Illuminati. Their concept is a cute and cool group founded on the basis of color. COLOR’z has four members: Leona Tachibana (red), Nao Tsukino (pink), Remi Nanohana (yellow), and Yui Ichinose (blue).
It was announced that LADYBABY is restarting with new members Nana Ikeda, Fuka Karasawa, and Emily Arma. Original member Rie Kaneko is continuing with the group, making LADYBABY a four member unit. Nana has been active for a while as a model, Fuka is a member of Warera ga Puwapuwapuwapuwa, and Emily (I believe) is new to the entertainment industry. Fuka will continue with Warepuwa while being an active member of LADYBABY. This announcement shocked me. I didn’t realize LADYBABY was restarting (I never followed them that closely) and I’m a pretty big fan of Warepuwa, so I never expected this. I never met Fuka, but I’ve been supporting Warepuwa pretty much since the beginning and been to a bunch of their lives. It’s really bizarre but cool to see Fuka make it big like this. LADYBABY is a big deal, so I think this is amazing news for both Warepuwa and my favorite group Majibanch by extension (since they’re also with Warepuwa’s agency). Also, damn, Fuka looks good! Apparently LADYBABY’s management knows how to give makeovers. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the new LADYBABY!
Amina, Meimi, and Beel joined Junjou no Afilia (formerly Afilia Saga) on 2/23.
Akari Kurosawa joined BABY TO KISS on 2/25. Akari and Reina will be the only members of BABY TO KISS after HOT DOG CAT is formed and Nodoka debuts in SAY-LA.
Namiki Sakura, Nayu Amano, Chinatsu Ichikawa, and Sayuri Nishimura debuted as new Happippi members on 2/23. Sayuri was active as a solo idol and talent previously, but the other three girls are new to the entertainment industry. I think Nayu (the purple member) is really cute and I’m so excited to have a member I can support in Happippi again after my favorite member, Chiharu Yoshikura, withdrew from the group.
TOKYO SWEET PARTY (formerly Honey Spice) cadet members Megumi Kitano and Maaka Sakurai debuted as full members on 2/25. I was a fan of Honey Spice, but since all my favorite members left, I haven’t paid much attention to them, or as they’re known now, TOKYO SWEET PARTY. I was hoping I’d like one of the new members, but neither have caught my interest so far.
A new member will be joining Wonder Weed on 3/1.
Saya Hanaki joined KOBerrieS on 2/25. She’s 16 years old and from Nagata ward of Kobe.
Promotions and Transfers
Slime Girls members Mari Yoshino, Yurie Hashimoto, and Harumi Osuzu have all been granted the titles of Pa-Ken! Kenkyuusei (trainees). They will be continuing their activities in Slime Girls while also performing in Pa-Ken! as kenkyuusei with Pa-Ken’s full member, Rumina Toujo. Mari and Yurie debuted on 2/21 and Harumi will debut on 3/5. I was pretty excited about this announcement; I love Pa-Ken, but after Jun’s withdrawal, Pa-Ken couldn’t go on with just Rumina. I thought Pa-Ken would go on hiatus for a while, but with this announcement, I was proven wrong. I’m also a huge fan of Mari and she’s wanted to be a member of Pa-Ken for a long time, so even though she’s not a full member yet, it’s still really exciting.
On 3/4, BABY TO KISS member Nodoka Morisaki is being promoted to SAY-LA.
SAY-LA member Reina Oosaki announced that she is withdrawing from SAY-LA on 3/3 and joining READY TO KISS and SAY-LA’s trainee group BABY TO KISS on 3/19. Interesting that she’d make that choice, since she’s essentially demoting herself. Unless she said she’s making that choice and management forced her to. Anyway, I hope things work out well for Reina.
MNCorps trainee members Mao Hosoe and Serina Watanabe will be promoted to full members on 4/1.
La PomPon suddenly decided to end their activities on 2/24. From what I can tell, there will be no final live. La PomPon is a pretty popular group and it’s not often that you see a big group totally disband out of nowhere like this. Something serious must have gone on behind the scenes. It always makes me sad when idol fans don’t get the chance to say goodbye.
Puti Passpo has announced that they’re disbanding on 3/21. Omoka Chiba, Eri Hokazono, and Riko Fujimoto wanted to leave and focus on new things, so management came to the conclusion to disband the group. Hinata Yagi and Yuna Yamamoto really wanted to continue, so their agency plans to establish new activities for them. I’ve been a big fan of Puti Passpo’s music from the beginning, I like Omoka, and I definitely didn’t expect them to disband before the 2020 Olympics when that’s the concept of the group, so it’s sad. It would have been nice if they could have at least made it until summer 2020, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.
Idol Renaissance disbanded on 2/24 at Yokohama Bay Hall. I know their disbandment was rough for a lot of people, but I’m glad they at least got a nice sendoff.
Honey Go Run is ending their activities on 5/13.
Himeniwa (also known as Princess Garden) had their last live on 2/25. I personally wasn’t a fan of any of their members and found their music to be pretty boring, but I have a lot of idol otaku friends, both Japanese and foreign, who liked them, so I wish they could have lasted longer.
Futari Opposite is going on indefinite hiatus on 3/19.
GIRLS4EVER is disbanding on 4/1. Information about the members’ future activities will be announced at a later date.
TiA is disbanding on 3/10 because both of the members’ parents wanted them to focus on their studies.
Kami Twins abruptly ended their activities on 2/19.
All of the members of Yamaguchi prefecture idol group Orange☆Miru fi~yu are graduating and the group is going into indefinite hiatus. They are holding graduation lives on 3/31 and 4/1.
Prak Cat decided to close the second chapter of their group on 2/22 because all the members want to focus on individual activities.
All of the members of Mi-II are graduating and the group is going on hiatus on 3/25.
Graduations, Withdrawals, and Dismissals
Usako Minano withdrew from SHINGEKI on 2/22 when a rule violation was detected and her contract was cancelled with her agency. As you may know, I’m a big fan of SHINGEKI, but I wouldn’t say this announcement came as a huge surprise. SHINGEKI was auditioning for a new member, so I had a feeling someone would go and Usako got barely any screen time in SHINGEKI’s recent PV. It’s a bit odd, because there were warning signs for a while and Usako made an announcement saying that she couldn’t balance her idol activities with her schoolwork/trying to graduate high school, but the announcement made it sound like something was suddenly uncovered. Not sure what happened exactly, but it sucks to see Usako go.
Sakura Himeno suddenly graduated from Canpale on 2/21 to aim higher and she didn’t have a graduation live. That’s literally what it said, kinda harsh, huh?
Mezami Ando graduated from Muse Idol Kenkyuusei on 2/21. She plans to continue in the entertainment industry and will talk more about her plans in March.
Kimi ni Toritsu Kitai member Shiro was dismissed on 2/19 because of circumstances.
Kyuukyoku Shoujo Carat member Konone Ayazuki graduated on 2/25.
mini-chu!!! member Massu graduated on 2/25 to challenge new things.
Marmalade Cupid member Ponzu retired on 2/23.
Graduation, Withdrawal, and Dismissal Announcements
HKT48 member Mashiro Ui announced her graduation from the group during her birthday performance on 2/21. She is a member of the 2nd generation and is 18 years old. Mashiro has never ranked in the sousenkyo or been part of an A-side, but she is the only HKT member to have done all the units of Team H’s third stage and she’s part of the unofficial subunit I4U.
X21 member Mika Ijima announced that she will be graduating from the group on 3/25.
Zettai Chokkyuu Joshi! Playballs members Ayame Mizuki and Kaho Onomura announced that they are graduating on 3/25. Playballs has been having a lot of member changes recently, huh? Kaho joined after I left Japan, so I don’t know her well, but she was my friend’s favorite member, so it’s a bummer she’s leaving so quickly. I never met Ayame, but I thought she was gorgeous and fun to watch on stage. Luckily, Playballs have a few trainee members, so I’m sure they’ll be promoted up to full members soon and boost the numbers of the group.
Elfloat member Mizuki announced that she will be graduating in April. This announcement was a bit of a surprise for me. Mizuki is one of Elfloat’s original members and the group has had the same three person lineup for two and a half years now. They’ve done really well for themselves despite only having three members and are one of the more popular underground idol groups. It’s sad that we’ll be seeing Mizuki go, but Elfloat is auditioning for new members, so it’ll be interesting to see who joins.
Wonder Weed member Hikari Ushii will be graduating at the end of March. I saw Wonder Weed perform a bunch of times and she was a great performer and seemed really fun, so it’s too bad.
Chihiro Semoto plans to graduate from Yurutto Kakumei in April to walk a new path.
26ji no Masquerade member Shion Asakura announced that she will be graduating on 3/23.
KRD8 members Kana Takamoto, Nozomi Tatsumi, and Yuriko Sakamoto are graduating on 3/31. Kana and Nozomi are original members of the group.
clipclip member Sayaka Kanade is graduating on 3/24. She plans to continue in the entertainment industry.
ChopChops and Yoyogi Joshi Ongakuin member Ami Mochizuki announced that in the spring, she will end her activities with ChopChops to focus on Yoyogi Joshi Ongakuin.
Momoka will be graduating from Osaka CLEAR’S on 3/31.
Solo idol Niina Sakuraba has announced that she will be retiring from the idol industry on 7/28.
Aichi prefecture Higashimikawa local idol group Gurumeidotai member Hiasa is graduating on 3/11 to find work as a government official.
JA Oigawa Nousanbutsu PR unit Chakana member Ryou is graduating this spring to work towards a new dream.
MNCorps members Ryona Mitsuhashi and Toshimi Nagasaki are graduating on 3/31.
SIR 3rd generation member Rira Natsuki is graduating on 2/26.
And More member Miku Hayasaka announced that she will be studying abroad as part of her college curriculum from March until June. She will be studying in Taiwan and she’s leaving March 2nd. However, Miku plans to go back to Japan twice a month on the weekends to perform in lives. I don’t really know And More or Miku well, but doesn’t that seem kind of crazy? They’re a small group and flight tickets are expensive (Taiwan’s close but it adds up). I really doubt the agency is willing to pay, so either she has a family member who works for an airline company or her family’s really rich. Either way, studying abroad is a once a lifetime thing for most people and I think she should just take the four month hiatus, but this way is better for her fans I guess.
Guruguru Punch member Yuka is going on indefinite hiatus to focus on her club activities. Her last live will be 3/3.
Other Mainstream Idol News
All of the Nogizaka46 3rd generation members opened their own blogs on 2/22. You can look at them here.
The third Nogizaka46 46-hour TV special has been announced for March 23-25. They will be live recording at Makuhari Messe and subunits Wakasama Corps will stream on SHOWROOM, Chu-Lip will stream on YouTube, SUIKA will stream on LINE LIVE, Inu Men will stream on Abema TV, Manatsu Respect Corps will stream on niconico, and Sayuringo Army Corps will stream on Rakuten TV. I don’t follow Nogizaka too closely, but this sounds pretty cool. I might have to check out some of the streams.
Nogizaka46, Dempagumi.inc, and BiSH will be performing at Yokohama Arena on 5/23. The event is called GIRLS POWER LIVE and is based on the concept of the power of women.
Ex-AKB48 member Atsuko Maeda will be starring as a housekeeper, Aya Nakamura, in the TV Asahi adaptation of Agatha Christie’s detective novel 4.50 from Paddington. It will air on 3/24.
Japanese fashion magazine Ray announced that Nogizaka46 member Mai Shiraishi will be graduating as their exclusive model in their next issue. It will be released 3/23.
STU48 is getting a new TV show, STU48 no motto STU48! It will be delivered on haremachiTV.
STU48 also announced a Setouchi tour, with 43 stops from 3/12-5/12 in Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Ehime, Hyogo, Okayama, and Kagawa.
The lineup for AKB48’s Guam live on 4/21 has been announced. The performing members will be AKB48’s Nana Okada, Rena Kato, Seina Fukuoka, Yukari Sasaki, and Miyuu Omori, AKB48 Team 8’s Nao Ota and Nanami Yamada, SKE48’s Nao Furuhata and Mina Oba, NMB48’s Sayaka Yamamoto and Yuuri Ota, and NGT48’s Yuka Ogino, Maho Yamaguchi, Moeka Takakura, Ayaka Tano, and Ayuka Nakamura. No HKT48 or STU48 members will be participating because of handshake schedules. Seems like a pretty random group of girls, doesn’t it? They got a lot of popular 48G members, though, so I imagine anyone who lives in Guam or is considering going to this concert is excited.
Auditions for Last Idol 2nd generation members were announced. While 1st generation members were able to already be part of an agency and hold concurrent positions in other idol groups, the 2nd generation is looking for amateurs only and concurrencies are not allowed.
Tsubaki Factory’s first concert tour was announced. It will start 4/15 and go until 5/27. There will be stops in Gunma, Osaka, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Kanagawa, Aichi, Kyoto, Chiba, and Miyagi.
Kobushi Factory’s spring tour dates were also announced. The tour will go from 4/8-6/10 and there will be stops in Miyagi, Yamanashi, Saitama, Hiroshima, Osaka, Aichi, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Hokkaido.
Ex-Berryz Koubou member Yurina Kumai walked the runway for Yumi Katsura on 2/20. Maybe this isn’t huge news, but damn, she looks good and that is a beautiful dress.
Other Underground Idol News
Majibanch member Shi-ta passed a voice acting audition for 23/7, an upcoming mobile RPG. She will voice the character Arsene Lupin. Majibanch is my favorite group and I’m so excited for Shi-ta. She recently decided that she wants to seriously focus on trying to get voice acting work and after failing an audition for Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, this is really great news. I’m a bit biased, but I think Shi-ta’s really talented and it’ll be interesting to see how she does with her first voice acting role.
Zekkyou Suru 60do’s 47 prefecture tour dates were announced. The tour will start in Aichi on 4/4 and end in Mie on 7/28.
That’s it for this week! Did I miss anything? Anything that surprised, excited, or distressed you this week? Let me know!