This was probably the biggest and most shocking news recently in the Hello Project world. Yes, you read the title right. Inaba Manaka, a former Country Girls member, is the newest member of Juice=Juice!
No one expected it. Usually, I skim through Hello Pro Station videos, since in my opinion, they are really dull, and I have a limited understanding of the Japanese language. However, when I saw Manaka in the first few minutes of the last episode, I knew something was up. Lo and behold, she was announced as a new member of Juice=Juice. It was a surprise to her as well!
I am very elated at this news. I loved Manaka when she was in a group. I am not saying that she would not have thrived as a soloist, but I think she fares better in groups. She is a wholesome performer – she sings and dances well, and she is excellent at MCing. She can easily be the centre of any group. Juice=Juice is a great group for her to join. Most of the members are older and multi-talented, just like Manaka. Each member excels in their own way as well. You got the vocal powerhouses like Sayuki, Ruru, and Tomoko; the prevalent members like Karin, Nanami and Akari, and the great and kind leader Yuka. Now, they got Hello Project’s best dancer, Manaka.
Juice=Juice has turned into Hello Project’s powerhouse group. Move over, Morning Musume ’18!
At the same time, I have my qualms about her addition to the group. What can be the potential for the group’s success can also lead to its demise. I am still getting used to 7-nin Juice=Juice, it seems like there are so many members since I have gotten used to the 5-nin group. Now, there is an 8th member of the group.
Also, the group seems too wholesome. You may question as to how that is a problem, but I think Manaka could have been added to some of Hello Project less balanced groups, such as Morning Musume (though they already have a ton of members), Kobushi Factory or even one of the newer groups set to debut later this year. Juice=Juice is already full of talented. I felt like it is at its tipping point nearing the state of overcapacity.
Those of you familiar with ecosystems and biological and natural studies will know of the term “carrying capacity,” which is the paramount point where the ecosystem can support its constituents without degradation. I think Juice=Juice is at its carrying capacity point. I do not believe any more members should be added to the group after Manaka. I apologize for bringing in technical terms into a Hello Project post. I just seem to love bringing in my Environmental Studies background into everything.
Anyway, I am excited to see Manaka start a new journey with Juice=Juice. Particularly, I would love to see her perform “SEXY SEXY.” I hope it is included in the summer tour for Hello Project.
Hello Project is going through numerous modifications for its 20th anniversary. Manaka’s addition to Juice=Juice is only one of the many changes. Members of the two new groups have been announced, Kago Ai and Ichi Sayaka are returning to the H!P stage, and a potential Sayashi Riho return is looming in the distance. I cannot wait to see what the summer brings!