And isn’t it ironic?
I think I can safely say I’ve been an well-behaved fan of JPop for at least 6 years now. (Hold on, let me do some mental math. Sailormoon fanfiction site with Japanese music in late 1999, first burned JPop CD in 2000, trip to Hong Kong with airline JPop radio channel in summer 2001, carry the one and subtract the two though it’s totally unnecessary… okay. 6 years. Ish. Maybe 7. Give or take a few months.) And for all my best efforts, I find I’m now stuck in the midst of two distinct communities with an amazing, if not extreme, amount of fans for Tsunku’s eventual New World Superpower, Hello!Project.
While I’m clearly not one of them myself.
I’m not sure what I did to deserve this.
Er, before I get stuff lobbed at me, let me clarify. I have no hatred for H!P in all its immense amounts of adorability and pink/yellow/orange happiness and even Girl Power. (Though I never thought I’d use that phrase in relation to something not Spice Girls.)
I’ve watched a number of videos – one of my clearest and earliest JPop memories is seeing the video for Morning Musume’s The Peace! pop up while in Hong Kong.
I’ve heard a couple of songs (and sung them, too) and I’ve definitely liked a bunch. And hey, I want to sing some more. That say something, right?
I have a working knowledge of what I consider to be, at least, the basics of H!P – Morning Musume and its members (both past and present), Matsuura Aya, Berryz Koubou, a bit about Coconuts Musume and Melon Kinenbi, and the various shuffle groups. Oh, and the estranged singer siblings (Goto Yuuki, Abe Asami).
I even had a favorite member of MoMusu – Ogawa Makoto – though I could not tell you why I liked her. (Not in the least. I zoomed in on her, decided I liked her, end of story. And yes, I was disappointed to hear she was leaving, but it never registered as much on my radar.)
And of course, I’ve been around for the various scandals, whether it’s all the Ayaya x Tachibana Keita rumors that popped up while I was in the wFL fandom, Yaguchi Mari leaving, Kago Ai smoking, or the recent rash of “PLZ 2 B LEAVING HAROPURO”. (And hey, I even know about Goto Yuuki’s own little scandal and his marriage – and though he’s not H!P, he’s far from the mainstream I tend to safely wade in.)
I’d even go so far as to say I know more about H!P than I do about Johnny’s. (Which is sad, because I definitely enjoy my daily dosage of pretty boy even if the fandom scares me.)
Basically I’ve been there, seen it, done that (and though I wouldn’t hit it anytime soon) – and I’m still not an H!P fan. Tried it, tried to be it, couldn’t get into it.
But here I am, actively participating in a singing group that undeniably draws inspiration from Morning Musume and covers Tsunku’s music with an almost ridiculous regularity. Here I am, being (somehow) included amongst the bloggers linked to at International Wota, which, despite including links to posts on other artists, undeniably has a large portion of H!P fans reading it and writing for it.
So I figured (excuse the coming pun) it was time to figure out why it is that I’m inexplicably drawn to the H!P fandom though I’m not a member of it.
But you know what? It’s not that hard to find yourself in there even though you’re not one. H!P fans are some of the most vocal and active fans to be found in J-Pop fandom that I’ve seen. There’s a much larger fanbase for some avex and SONY artists (*ahem* Hamasaki Ayumi, anyone?), but H!P fans seem to care a lot more about being heard and making themselves heard, sometimes literally.
The funny thing is, being in the midst of all these fans actually seems to be making it harder for me to get into and enjoy the mass of Tsunku-produced girls. I haven’t listened to a single Tokito Ami song, and I’ve avoided Tsuji Nozomi’s solo single under the name “Athena”, and let’s not even get into how I have a bunch of Morning Musume’s latest singles sitting on my laptop taking up space that I haven’t unzipped yet, but Koharu’s album and latest solo single are both sitting pretty on my MP3 player. (Unlistened to, yes, but at least they’re there so I’ve given them some sort of notice. Barely. Shush.)
But then again, it’s funny I’m here to begin with.
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