Three graduations: Meimi Tamura from Angerme; Kanon Suzuki from Morning Musume; Manaka Inaba from Country Girls.
Meimi and Kanon had graduation concerts.
Manaka Inaba didn't.
Two new members for Morning Musume: Kaede Kaga and Reina Yokoyama.
Two new members for Angerme: Moe Kamikokuryo and Momona Kasahara.
Two new members for Country Girls, announced at the end of 2015, but making their performing debut in 2016: Nanami Yanagawa and Musubu Funaki.
Three new members for Tsubaki Factory: Mizuho Ono, Saori Onoda, Mao Akiyama.
The announcement of C-ute’s graduation in 2017 and Momoko Tsugunaga’s graduation around the same time...
...means the last H!P members who were performing when I became a fan in 2005 will be leaving.
Meimi Tamura did a solo concert, which I purchased and watched.
Kobushi Factory released their first CD album, which came with a DVD offering a concert they did this past summer. They also released their first concert DVD.
See my previous blog entry for full coverage of the summer KF concert:
Masaki Sato suffered an injury that could ultimately force her to leave MM.
Morning Musume came to Houston.
I covered the Houston trip in two previous blog entries:
Part 1: http://madara-blog.livejournal.com/9716
Part 2: http://madara-blog.livejournal.com/9733
I visited Japan for the first time and saw two Morning Musume concerts there and two HinaFest concerts, enabling me to see virtually the entire H!P lineup in one fell swoop. (Maho Aikawa was absent so I need to see Angerme live again!)
I also attended a Satoyama/Satoumi event where I got to see a lot of the OG’s in person.
I covered this event in two previous blog entries:
Part 1: http://madara-blog.livejournal.com/9617
Part 2: http://madara-blog.livejournal.com/9648
Angerme's Ayaka Wada published another book on art this year and I purchased a copy in Japan:
Too bad I'm unable to read it. But it's got nice pictures.
I purchased my first Juice=Juice CD album (3 discs!) and first concert DVD with them.
I purchased my first Country Girls concert DVD. (I still haven’t watched it or the J=J concert.)
I watched 36 concert DVDs this year, 22 of them for the first time.
One of the best was the Angerme concert featuring Kanon Fukuda’s graduation, which took place on November 29, 2015, but the DVD didn’t come out till March of this year. (I was able to purchase it in Japan.)
H!P continued its practice of including “Dance Station” numbers in every H!P concert.
I’m finally starting to learn who the Hello! Pro Kenshuusei members are. (Of course, it helps when they get promoted into one of the groups.)
And on a more local note, I did H!P songs in Karaoke sessions with friends this past fall.
Of course, I have to have the lyrics printed out in Roman letters before I can sing along.
And I saw Nova Drop, a local group filled with friends of mine, perform H!P songs live at a club in New York on Japan Night.
H!P highlights of the year:
Lady Kaga looks to be about the best thing to happen to Morning Musume since Ayumi and Haruka joined some five years ago.
I liked Country Girls just fine without new members, but since they lost Manaka this year, the addition of Musubu and Nanami brought some fresh spirit and energy. I like them.
I wanted to do a whole entry on Meimi’s solo and graduation concerts, but in the meantime, here’s what I wrote about Meimi’s graduation on Facebook:
"Earlier today I finished watching Meimi Tamura’s graduation concert, Angerme Concert Tour 2016 Haru "Kyui Ittai" - Tamura Meimi Sotsugyo Special. Wow! Sublime. Just one great number after another. And she is at her peak. One song in particular, “Jojou Kumikyoku Smile Fantasy,” is unlike anything I’ve seen her do before. She performs it with the four older members. It’s from the Smile Fantasy stage musical they did. The grad ceremony itself is relatively quiet and restrained. She has such grace, such poise, such delicacy. I don’t think I’ve seen a graduation like this before."
And here’s what I wrote about her solo concert on FB:
"I received my copy of Meimi’s Solo Special Live this week and watched it on Meimi's birthday. It was recorded the day before her graduation from Angerme. It’s only got about 45 min. of Meimi singing, which isn’t nearly enough. (15 minutes is taken up with an MC segment with Ayaka.) The first set is heavy with standard idol tics and I was starting to get impatient. But 30 minutes in, right after the Ayaka segment, she really hits the sweet spot when she tackles a number of very soulful and dramatic songs, most of which were new to me and it’s just her and the mike, no prancing around. Two of the songs were from special units from 2 years ago (Jurin and Triplet); two were from stage musicals that the girls did; and one was an old Aya Matsuura song. Really good stuff and definitely a side of Meimi I’ve never seen in the concerts or PVs."
Kobushi Factory and Tsubaki Factory became major acts in the H!P lineup, with KF promptly moving past CG and J=J to become my fourth favorite group after MM, Angerme, and C-ute. (And no doubt moving up to 3rd place after C-ute leaves.)
I got two concerts by KF this year. I wrote about one in my previous entry and here are pix from the other, “Kobushi Factory Live Tour 2016 Haru - The Cheering Party!” held on April 30, 2016 at Nagoya Diamond Hall.
The C-ute Spring 2016 concert, “C-ute Concert Tour 2016 Haru ~Concerto~” was really good and featured a killer number called “Yokaze no Message,” where Maimi unleashes the great singer she can sometimes be, amidst some very creative production design.
Several of my favorites have moved on (Riho Sayashi, Kanon Fukuda, Meimi Tamura) or soon will (Momoko, C-ute), but there’s enough formidable talent in H!P to keep me engaged throughout the foreseeable future.
And in the future, I hope we can look forward to more of this: