I finally watched a Juice=Juice concert DVD. This was taped on May 3, 2015 at Nakano Sunplaza. I will certainly be watching more. As usual, Karin Miyamoto, Sayuki Takagi and Tomoko Kanazawa really stand out, while Akari Uemura and Yuka Miyazaki function provide solid support. The girls are all in fine voice and several songs bring out the best of their vocalizing, especially “Senobi,” “Tsuzuiteiku Story,” “Wonderful World,” and the two covers they do, “Kousui,” a Melon Kinenbi song, and “Magic of Love,” an old Taiyo to Ciscomoon song. “Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo” finds Karin, Sayuki and Tomoko alternating all the solo lines, while Akari and Yuka join them in the group lines. I wish they did all their songs like that. Tomoko has a solo bit at the end of “Kousui” that’s just beautiful.
I was also impressed with the variety of song styles on display and the range of musical influences. No two songs sounded quite the same. How many H!P groups can we say that about? One of the songs, “Tick-Tock Watashi no Shun,” sounded more like a Country Girls song. A couple more had a distinct Latin flavor: “Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS” and “Kaze ni Fukarete.” Some of the songs sounded a bit odd to me and hard to place musically, including “Hajimete wo Keikenchuu” and “Ça va? Ça va?.” Also, Juice=Juice has already compiled such an extensive back catalog that they don’t need to rely on covers the way recent concerts by Country Girls and Kobushi Factory do. There are only two covers here, as already mentioned. There are 21 songs total, 19 by J=J and two by six members of Hello!Pro Kenshuusei. All 19 of the J=J songs are included on the three-disc J=J album, “First Squeeze!,” which was released two months after this concert. My only complaint about the concert is that there are no solo numbers by Karin, Sayuki and Tomoko. I hope future concerts correct this oversight.
I consider Karin the most dynamic performer in Hello! Project today, outside of Momoko Tsugunaga and the members of C-ute. Once they’ve graduated this spring, Karin will be the reigning star of H!P, in my book. She had some competition for that honor when Riho Sayashi was in Morning Musume and Meimi Tamura was in Angerme, which was the case when this concert was recorded, but both have since graduated and moved on. Karin’s groupmate Sayuki may have a better voice, but Karin brings so much to the stage when she performs, in her movements and facial expressions, her energy and confidence and, most importantly, the joy she radiates as she performs. I remember being one of the fans who felt Karin should have joined Morning Musume or become a solo artist. Well, I’ve been proven wrong. Her role as the center of J=J has really allowed her to shine.
Hello Pro Kenshuusei contributes significantly to this concert. Six of them perform two songs of their own and they return with seven other KSS members (13 in all) as backup for J=J on four additional songs. The six who perform the songs include three future members of Tsubaki Factory: Yumeno Kishimoto, Kiki Asakura, and Kisora Niinuma; one future member of Country Girls, Musubu Funaki; one future member of…to be determined, Reina Ichioka; and one I was completely unfamiliar with, Kizuki Horie.
When all 13 KSS members participating in this concert came out, I spotted six future members of Kobushi Factory: Rena Ogawa, Minami Nomura, Rio Fujii, Ayano Hamaura, Rei Inoue, and Natsumi Taguchi.
Rena’s on the left in this shot:
Minami’s right behind Sayuki in this one:
Rio’s on the left:
You can spot Ayano in between Yuka and Karin in this one:
Rei’s on the left:
Natsumi’s second from right:
There was one I couldn’t identify. It didn’t help that the camera crew tended to avoid close shots of KSS in the J=J numbers and it helped even less when the end credits rolled and the credit just said “Hello!Pro Kenshuusei,” without listing the names. In the past they used to list all the names of participating members. It’s really unfair to the girls to relegate them to anonymous status.
Once upon a time, the end credits for Hello!Pro Eggs looked like this: