2011 is coming to a close at the end of this month, and what a year it has been for Hello! Project… While my interest has not fully recovered from its gradual recession over the past 5 years, it has been piqued by all the auditions, graduations, and yes, even the occasional good song.
Over the past year, we’ve had 2 new generations for Morning Musume, a hotly debated new generation for S/mileage, and also some heart-breaking graduations. Looking at you, Ogawa Saki and soon, Maeda Yuuka.
Anyway, there is a really awesome member ranking, where you choose your favorite out of 2 members presented to you, and keep picking until your member order is completed. You can check it out here – but you better know everyone either by face, or by name kanji, because it’s all in Japanese.
I thought this was really cool, because I thought I knew who would rank where, but there were some unexpected results. Who is falling to the bottom and who is rising to the top? My results were certainly interesting…
At the top, we have:
1. Fukuda Kanon 福田 花音
2. Maeda Yuuka 前田 憂佳
3. Suzuki Airi 鈴木 愛理
4. Suzuki Kanon 鈴木 香音
5. Tsugunaga Momoko 嗣永 桃子
6. Natsuyaki Miyabi 夏焼 雅
7. Tamura Meimi 田村 芽実
8. Takeuchi Akari 竹内 朱莉
9. Sayashi Riho 鞘師 里保
10. Kudou Haruka 工藤 遥
No surprise in my top 3 – I’ve been swooning over Kanon and Yuuka since they were eggs, and Airi since she she was in Aa!. This does illustrate what a blow it will be for me when Yuuka leaves, though.
Kanon gets the top spot because she has everything I look for in an idol: Voice – both in her ability to hit the notes, and the sound of her voice in general (this is important, as there have been members who can sing, but I hate the sound of their voice. Case in point, Linlin). Looks – she is sooooo damn cute, I love her eyes especially. Personality – she’s silly, fun, cute and goofy. And charisma – there is something that just draws me to her, and I can’t really explain it.
There are surprises that are in my top 10, as well. My love for Suzuki Kanon, I had not measured to be so high as it ended up being. She was my number one pick in the 9th gen audition for her great personality, and she only got better and better when she joined the group. Her singing isn’t there just yet, but boy is she entertaining, and her placement shows just how important a good personality is for me.
Momoko and Miyabi are no-brainers in my top 10. I’m so happy for Buono!, because I really don’t like most of Berryz, but these two are awesome singers, and I really enjoy both of their voices immensely. With all 3 members of Buono! in my top 10, it’s no wonder I like them as a group so much.
The biggest surprise standing out to me here is Tamura Meimi, at number 7? WHAT? I didn’t even support her in her audition or campaign to become a real member. She was very shrieky, even if she was cute. I really came around to her in S/mileage’s last PV , and in the appearances I’ve seen her in on shows and whatnot. I didn’t expect her so high, though. It’s very odd that I would put her above Akari, who I’ve been gunning for as a full H!P member and not just egg for years.
Riho has impressed me with how her singing has come along since audition, and her dancing is fantastic, of course. She has been getting a lot of hate for being in the spotlight, but I like what I see. Haruka, I’m loving so far. I look forward to having a unique voice like hers in Morning Musume. Her mature, kinda bossy personality makes an interesting combo with her cuteness, and I wonder if it might shake the group up a little bit. I look forward to it.
One more thing I want to add before going to the “middle” members – Had Saki O not graduated, she would have easily been at spot number 4, right after Airi. I will always miss you and your awesome voice and mischevious personality, Sakitty.
Heading down to the middle third of members:
11. Tanaka Reina 田中れいな
12. Hagiwara Mai 萩原 舞
13. Tokunaga Chinami 徳永千奈美
14. Ishida Ayumi 石田亜佑美
15. Iikubo Haruna 飯窪 春菜
16. Niigaki Risa 新垣 里沙
17. Michishige Sayumi 道重さゆみ
18. Fukumura Mizuki 譜久村 聖
19. Ikuta Erina 生田衣梨奈
20. Satou Masaki 佐藤 優樹
21. Okai Chisato 岡井 千聖
As much as I bitch about how she used to be better , Reina still has one of my favorite voices in H!P, and it keeps her up high. Maimai has been one of my only-liked members of C-ute since its inception, and I also love her voice. I see her get a lot of hate for her voice and looks sometimes, and it puzzles me because she’s not the ugliest girl in her group, nor is she a bad singer. To each their own I guess, because some of my most-disliked are pretty universally revered by other fans.
Chinami is an interesting one in here for me. For years I couldn’t give 2 shits about her, she was a bad singer, only attractive in a kinda weird way, and basically a background girl in one of my least favorite H!P groups. But something got me watching her in TV shows, and then I got to know her personality, and she won me over. The girl is super fun and entertaining. Her weirdness delights me, and even though I maintain that she can’t sing, she has charmed me.
Sayumi’s inclusion at such a high level is quite funny, if you know how I felt about her from the beginning. She was easily my most disliked H!P member for years, at least until Koharu came along. But, once Sayu started singing a bit better, and stopped ruining every song she was in, I started to come around to her and her hilarious self-obsessed TV persona, and I actually do like her now.
Some of the girls in here, I am surprised by how low they are. I have a feeling I’m really going to like the other 9th and 10th gen’ers in this section, once I get more of a feel for their performance and personalities. I do feel it’s a bit early to be judging the non-eggs of 10th gen because they haven’t appeared in any releases or concerts yet.
As an aside in this section, had she not graduated this year, Takahashi Ai would have been at the top of this section, even though I was happy about her graduation. I feel like her time was over in Morning Musume, but I would have loved her as a soloist.
So now, we get to the bottom of the barrel. Er, the bottom 3rd. From this point on, my level of like starts to wane rapidly…
22. Mano Erina 真野恵里菜
23. Mitsui Aika 光井 愛佳
24. Kumai Yurina 熊井友理奈
25. Nakajima Saki 中島 早貴
26. Nakanishi Kana 中西 香菜
27. Yajima Maimi 矢島 舞美
28. Sugaya Risako 菅谷梨沙子
29. Wada Ayaka 和田 彩花
30. Shimizu Saki 清水 佐紀
31. Sudou Maasa 須藤 茉麻
32. Katsuta Rina 勝田 里奈
From Mano through Kana, I don’t actively dislike these girls, but they don’t interest me at all either. Mano rarely puts out something I like, and although her singing has improved, she’s still not a worthy soloist in my opinion. Aika is all but useless, and I feel like we rarely get any personality. Yurina and Saki, I had liked them both in Guardians 4, and their roles in their respective revival sub-groups of Tanpopo# and Petit Moni V, but they have not done anything to interest me this year, and they aren’t very consistent vocalists. After so many years, I expect a bit better than either is. And Kanana, you are cute, but I still do not want you in my S/mileage at all, at least until you can learn to sing. For the record, Fuyuka, had she not dropped out as a Smileage sub-member, would have been right after Kana.
From Maimi down, we are into the full-out dislike. I think Maimi is the one that will surprise people the most, because she is pretty well liked, everywhere. Well, not by me. I think she’s ugly (gasp!), has a horrible singing voice (shock!), and her personality is… what? I don’t even really know what her personality is, because she bores me so. The fact that everyone loves her, and that she gets a huge chunk of the lines in every C-ute song, irritates me and leaves her in the bottom of my list. I’m just not a fan.
Even worse, we have Risako next. Risako’s wailing is the biggest factor in me not being able to get into a lot of Berryz songs. Sometimes the song is almost good, but then Risako gets a big climactic line and bursts my eardrums. Even in Berryz songs I really like, like Dschingis Khan and Dakishimete Dakishimete, she nearly kills them.
Ayaka does almost the same thing for S/mileage as Risako does for Berryz, but on a lesser scale. She is ranked lower for me than Risako though, because I know she hates me too, being a gaijin and all that. Well, Dawa, you aren’t cute, you can’t sing to save your life, and you’re annoying, so F you too.
Wait, how did Saki S and Maasa rank lower than Dawa and Risako? I thought I hated the other two more. I guess it’s all just a blob of dislike for the rest of them at this point. I can’t stand either Saki or Maasa’s voices, and they’re both pretty fug. Especially Saki, ick. Fandom just loves her, too, which I do not understand at all.
And at the bottom… I guess looks count for something with me, because Rina is as bad as it gets in H!P. Her mismatched eyes and face overall bugs me so much that somehow she got the bottom spot. Her personality is understated and boring, and although her singing is good, I just do not understand this girl being an idol. Cheer up though, Rina – to be honest, I hate just about everyone in the bottom 5 equally.
So that’s it – My Hello! Project member rankings of 2011. I’m curious to see how they will change in the next year, who will move down and who will move up. I’m quite surprised by how far some of them have come, some even in just a few months, so you never know!
Now, I’m curious about everyone else! Who were your tops and bottoms, and why? I’d love to see!