Minna no Kodomo-chan Kicks off Summer with an Inexplicable Home Movie

I knew there was a reason to get out of bed today!

I don’t know if 2019, for idol, can truly be salvaged. After the huge run of beloved personalities and groups hanging it up just in the first quarter and a sudden paucity of particularly great releases, here we stand at the unofficial gateway to summer needing some kind of savior. Might we remember the year for the two BiSH EPs-turned-album? What about NECRONOMIDOL’s upcoming record? Or maybe something out of left field, yet to come?

Or maybe what two-time Corenament champions Minna no Kodomo-chan, who got me so very eager to see what they were going to be able to do with five straight months of new music when they … announced that that they were releasing five straight months of new music. Have mercy. You’d think that idols who consistently dominate the international popularity contests epic athletic contests annual contests that I definitely don’t rig Corenament would have just this enormous battery of digitized content for we humble gaijin fans to embrace, but it’s just not true — the best way to describe MV releases from the Children is “semi-annual.” (Or at least that’s the case for their history so far!) Rather, as we learned with “The Walls” a couple of weeks ago, they hold those cards close so as to unleash their full power at opportune and always impressive moments.

So this string was going to be special, you know? With five months of fresh material in the offing, it’s reasonable to hope that at least one track would get video treatment. And, brother, that hope was not in vain, though you may lose all hope by the time you reach the end:

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Melon, Who Gonna Melon, Does Melon: New Single

I’d been very curious about what Melon Batake a go go were going to do with their next (major) release. At first, those thoughts centered around the whole business of their recent international work — what’s well and truly next at that point? Where do you take things? Where do you aim? Within the concept, what’s possible?

Well, the new single is out in June, and the MV is here, and now we know:

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And Then We Are Graced with New Shihatsu-machi Underground

There must be some kind of theme going on out there, you guys, because just as I was gearing up to write that other piece this morning about getting something new from a total personal favorite but being underwhelmed by it, up in the TL showed the get-hype letters M and V in a tweet from Shihatsu-machi Underground as well, and I dang near squeed in delight. The result was, again, not quite what I was going for, but I’ll be damned if I don’t shout loudly in your face that you need to listen to this and celebrate everything that the group does. I absolutely can not, will not be capable of supporting them to the fullest at all times and for all reasons, though, and I’m motivated as much by the fact that resources were spent to produce this spot (which means that they exist! in surplus!) and that maybe my inerrant devotion these girls and their work can pay off for them in even microscopic ways. They deserve it, even if the subject in question at all times isn’t necessarily what I wish I were getting, for its very existence is a gift:

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There Was New Toricago for Your Ears and Eyes

I was going to try to make more of this yesterday but flat ran out of time for it, but if you were aware of its release, you no doubt knew in your heart of hearts that this post would be blogged: Yes, Maniac bias Toricago did in fact release a new MV yesterday, and yes I smashed the hell out of that Play button as soon as an opportunity was presented. And what’s the occasion? As far as I can tell: Because they can. Which, hey sure, that’s kind of your MO as a group, and I’m sure that there’ll be more than enough of that attitude on display in this photobook that you’re promoting via image of member wrapped in gauze.

Anyway, the MV:

Full disclosure: I’m personally somewhat less enthusiastic about this one than pretty much everything else from Toricago that I’ve ever had the pleasure of covering. Not because of the song’s character, mind you — if I discounted every culturally homi-viable idol as a result of occasional ballads, I’d have nothing left to write too-long sentences online about — but because on top of having all the teeth of a newborn, it’s surprisingly meek even when it should have more emotional lift. Didn’t expect that from Toricago! I mean, it’s nice and all, but I don’t do this business for nice! I do it for everything but nice no matter how nice a nice thing can sometimes be!

It’s Alive! A New One from Jekyll and Hyde

Well if this isn’t a blast from the past! I don’t know how many of you guys recall when Jekyll and Hyde, my all-time favorite duality idols, was something that I tried to keep up with, but man, those were good times. What a group! They didn’t seem to release much stuff, but they performed constantly and lived in this corner of chika that always seems to produce quality acts that don’t quite crack through to a bigger presence. Most notably, though, they seemed to always be holding auditions, as if there were multiple side and sister projects planned. It was a trip.

And then things happened and directions shifted and before long I’d almost completely forgotten about the group. It’s been almost a year since the last thing, which was itself oddly similar to the thrust of this piece! Shame, Maniac, shame. Thank heavens for YouTube notifications, even when they’re several days late and seem to be completely devoid of context! But as soon as I realized what I was looking at, I knew that this was nothing to Weekender, but something to stick back out there to a group of people who are always hungry for more new idol and for whom this particular more idol just about is new — and in MV form!

Idols should always two-step

Man, that’s some frickin’ idolcore right there. What with all of the arthouse, alt-pop, post-rock whatever have you trends running through idol anymore, it’s awesome to hear a group killing a song in that particular vein of blendered genre-disregarding noise that made me so enthusiastic about this stuff in the first place. Nice hook, good vocals, punchy tune — you could do a lot worse, and they didn’t do bad at all!

So what is J&H up to anymore? Well, despite being down to two members (from their previous, like nine), they unveiled this sucker at their one-man a few weeks ago. This member business appears to be a calculated and fairly recent development at that, though, as photos from said one-man will indicate. Those kinds of changes are usually indicative of trouble, so maybe that’s the whole point of the MV. I don’t know! It’s been ages since I was invested in J&H, so I’m even less on top of things in this case than I am with most of the things in idol that I’m not at all on top of anymore! If you have details, they’re very welcome in the comments!

I’ll Definitely Take This Version of Kinder, Gentler BiSH

I was so tired, you guys. Like you know when you reach a point where not even sleep seems like it’s going to get the job done, and what you really need is to remove any and all obligations from your schedule for a few days while you blissfully do absolutely nothing of import? That’s where I was yesterday! And I thought to myself, you know what, you still need to finish the week, but let’s keep the sideshows to a minimum and just chill when possible. No projects, no working out, no bringing the job home, no idol.

So of course on that last point I knew better immediately and thought out loud, “Right, and now watch BiSH or somebody drop another MV and then all your not-plans will be for naught.”

Silly, silly Maniac. If I’d been mindful in even the tiniest way, I’d have known that, yes, another BiSH release was looming, and with it likely something to talk about. They were pretty clear about the build for CARROTS and STiCKS — one EP each in April and May, and then the full album in June — and had already provided one MV as promo to prove it. Why was I sleeping on this?

Here we are, then. And can I admit that I had the most conflicted smash of the Play button of my entire life? The song title and general visual aesthetic put my mind right down the path of expecting yet another Kentacore ballad that would probably sound very cool and nice and possibly even powerful, like that style is at its best, but very much the same, and yeah, that blunts a lot of enthusiasm. On the other hand, their last lead song and MV were absolutely delicious and reinvigorated my old passion for the group, so I had to see where this landed one way or another, right?

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This New QUEENS Stuff Is More Fun Than Anything Else You’ll Do Today

And in continuing the quick recent trend of things being announced and/or released on the final day of the Heisei Era, we have QUEENS, who are lots of fun anyway but capable of turning that all the way up to 12 just to spite your grumpiness you big, grumpy bear, who announced at their one-man the release of their first full album for June by dropping an MV that I just very loudly said on Twitter that I’d anticipated, which turned out to be for the wrong reasons by bear with me!

First, the MV that I urge you to take Dramamine before viewing:

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It’s the Flip Side of ZOC

First, disclosure: ZOC’s official Twitter gave me a full-on heart attack the other day when I was idly just trying to clear out the notifications and I saw … a blog post from Seiko without context! DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNNN. But naw, it was nothing, no graduation announcement or a “that was fun, what next” or anything, just words of praise and encouragement from the boss behind it all. Yes, the legend herself is still part of the group she founded.

And on that note, given that their first single released yesterday, it only made sense for ZOC to release an MV for the B-side!

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It Was about Time for Something uijin, and They Delivered

Yesterday was a surprisingly full day of single releases. I guess that literal-end-of-an-era thing was a good reason!

Among this little glut of wins for people like us was uijin, who are wonderful and can do no wrong, and who I’d been watching a little closer lately after their little sister group did this just a couple of weeks ago, and who are in the midst of one of those consecutive-single-release things that all the kids are into these days … who gave us an MV for their latest single, “ignition”! End of weird paragraph!

I’m just the tiniest bit disappointed that the MV wasn’t a full-on commitment to what’s otherwise an energy-addled, aptly named song, but that’s fine because it turns out that they’re using to doubly promote their big one-man on Sunday. Not the choice that I’d make, but an acceptable one! It’s not like they released any video at all in conjunction with the March single’s release. When it’s uijin, you take what you can get!

Here’s How Yoneko Ended The Heisei Era

Does Yoneko ever stop and take a break? Apparently not, because she’s released yet another new, self-composed song and music video to commemorate today’s transition from Heisei to Reiwa era. Directed by Kai, of all people, in the first in what I hope will be many collaborations by ex-Bellrings who jumped to Trash-Up records. 

The song itself reminds me of Bellring gone lo-fi. And the music video fits pretty well, matching both Yoneko and Kai’s recent forays into retraux aesthetic. I’m not going to lie, through about half of the song I was expecting a sudden burst of clear vocals and thrashing guitars at each break, but nope, she sticks to the quiet, fuzzy audio quality for the entire track. But after I got used to it, I really began to appreciate the simplicity of one girl and her electric guitar. Would I say this was a good tribute to the ending Heisei era? I’m not really well-versed enough in Japanese culture to know for sure. But it’s a quality, chill, lazy-day track that I could easily imagine myself listening to alone in the garden on a sunny day, or in my bedroom on a late night, and that’s good enough for me.

Now, where’s that Kanra/Kai/Mizuho reunion single we all want?