Last year, Up-Front Agency announced that they would be creating a new group in which Ichioka Reina will be the leader. Almost one year passed, and fans sat waiting patiently for any updates on the group. Personally, my patience was wearing thin, and I was on the verge of using what little Japanese skills I had to write a passive aggressive letter to the company.
Thankfully, the company recently released an update on the group on their website. Ichioka Reina’s group will be a performance-focused group that aims to “improve the quality of singing and dancing.”
Additionally, Up-Front will also be debuting another group with Takase Kurumi and Kiyono Momohime. This group will be focused on theatre and comedy along with the usual idol song performances. This group will also perform in joint lives with the other new group (like Kobushi and Tsubaki Factories). The company wants to make new and unconventional idol groups.
To find new members of these groups, the company will be holding an audition. They will be looking for people that not only love Hello Project but also have a skill or talent that “no one else can beat them in.” More details about this audition will be released later this month.
I am surprised that they are creating two different groups. For the past year, Reina, Kurumi, Momohime and Manaka have been grouped for live Hello Project concerts. I know Manaka is based in Hokkaido, but I expected Momohime, Reina and Kurumi to be placed in the same group.
However, now as I think back, during their debut announcement in last year’s Kenshuusei test event, Kurumi and Momohime were set to debut in a new acting unit. Therefore, I really should not be surprised that they will be part of a theatre troupe group. This is a great and unique idea. It is different from the usual idol group concept. Their unique approach might give them a lot of attention in the industry. Momohime and Kurumi are very versatile and talented. I believe that this concept is perfect for them.
I am not sure what is meant by a “performance group.” Many fans speculate that the company may be taking a similar route to LDH, the company that houses groups like E-Girls and EXILE, which has groups of talented dancers and selected vocalists. These groups usually put on high-quality live performances that set them apart from other J-POP groups.
If Hello Project is attempting to create a group that can compete with groups like Flower and Happiness, they will need to recruit the best singers and dancers that they can find. I am not saying that Reina is not talented. However, if they want to put on shows with high-quality dancing and singing that is comparable to LDH (or even AAA) Reina, and many of the Kenshuusei need to practice really, and they need to snag high-level and debut-ready performers from the auditions.
The company should also invest in getting new choreographers. A lot of Hello Project’s choreography has been repetitive and lacking. I am just saying, if they aim to improve the “quality of singing and dancing,” they should also improve their human resources.
I will be upfront about my opinion about these auditions (pun 100% intended). The past few auditions held by Hello Project has been unsuccessful.
The 13th Generation auditions for Morning Musume had no winners. They just ended up choosing from the Kenshuusei.
They also had to hold the 12th Generation auditions twice.
More recently, none of the finalists in last year’s Hello Project audition were successful. Unsuccessful applicants were just added to the Kenshuusei.
What makes the company think that this audition will be any different? Especially, since this time their standards have been raised even higher, and the stipulations are different. I honestly see another failed audition in the future. It is a waste of time and resources. I am not motivated to follow this audition in any way. I will be very shocked if winners are announced. I expect them to choose existing members of the Kenshuusei as usual. I hope Hello Project surprises me by doing the opposite, but I have little hope. The company aims to have both groups start activities in the summer or fall. We will see if they will achieve this goal since auditions have not formally started as yet.
I am very interested to see how these groups will be managed. I am also excited to see what their names will be. I hope that some of the Kenshuusei get to debut in these groups. What are your expectations for these new groups? Let me know in the comments below!