Are you a Hello!Project or AKB48 fan? Have you ever heard or seen the name “Idoling!!!” on various websites or forums and wondered what it was all about? Here’s a short introduction to the most contemporary media-driven idol group in the industry today.
For those unfamiliar with Idoling!!!, the group is similar to Hello!Project or AKB48 in that they are one of the few very large idol groups out there, with around 20 members at any given time, and they also have auditions, sub-groups, frequent concert performances, graduations, and all the other things we follow idols for. They’re also on a major record label and have a full financial backing from FujiTV, one of the biggest TV networks in Japan, which allows them to have their own TV show with multiple new episodes each week.
The group was created by FujiTV in 2006 as a “TV idol experiment” with the concept to watch as the girls evolve and experience new things or take on new challenges on their road to being an independent idol in the industry. Because of their ownership by FujiTV, they produce more television content than any other idol group out there (actually more than all other idol groups combined..) and provide a wealth of current TV appearances even outside of FujiTV to compliment their own show as well as their music releases, which currently consist of 19 main singles and 4 albums, along with other side-projects, including a collaboration single with AKB48.
The purpose here is to introduce all the members of the group in a way that many current idol fans may be able to relate to, by using one of their most fun and colorful vacation-style PVs (filmed at an Okinawa beach resort in 2010,) which also contains overwhelming amounts of disgusting bikinis, for those of you who like your idols that way. I’ll give a short bio and some trivia to give a little idea what the girls of Idoling!!! are all about. There may be a girl (or many) that fits your idol interests who can give you lots of new content to enjoy in your idol viewing activities.
The video is for the song “I no STANDARD” which is a b-side from their 12th single. The song features solo lines from all 20 members, so it makes it easy to point out which is which, and also gives you a better chance to see and hear what they’re like instead of trying to pick them out in a crowd. I’ll list the girls in order of when their solo lines come up and provide a picture as well. Let’s get started!
(Also, before I start, be aware that every girl who has ever been in Idoling!!! has a number assigned to them, almost like a player on a baseball team, so when you see a “#” next to their name, that is their designated number, not their age or anything else.)
First, the PV, which runs in 720p, and is suggested in that resolution if your computer/connection can handle it:
#20 Okawa Ai (大川藍)
Born: 1993, 3rd Gen member
Okawa is known as one of the craziest, most outlandish members of the group, always making obnoxious faces, speaking with a heavy Kansai-ben accent, and having an extremely lanky body structure that allows her to make strange movements when she dances. Her skill at physical comedy is unmatched among Idoling!!! members. She is very into fashion and is a full-time featured model for the popular fashion magazine “JJ,” where she is recognized for her very long legs; a major requirement for Japanese fashion models. Think of a ten times crazier, more immature version of AKB’s Shinoda Mariko. Ai was also a guest star on an episode of the live-action “Ouran Host Club” TV show, based on the anime of the same name.
#15 Asahi Nao (朝日奈央)
Born: 1994, 2nd Gen member
Nao is the tomboy of the group, often getting flak for her wispy voice, muscular body structure and consistently short hair. Despite getting picked on for for having a few manly features, she’s still cute as a button and has a very funny character. She has high-intensity reactions to a lot of situations (think Kashiwagi Yuki) and has a lot of female fans in the Idoling!!! community. Nao was also a star in the web drama series “Secret Girls” along with Hashimoto Kaede and Ito Yuna, which also included being in the musical sub-group of the same name and she is a long-time feature model in the fashion magazine “LoveBerry.”
#21 Hashimoto Kaede (橋本楓)
Born: 1997, 3rd Gen member
Kaepyon is like the cute little sister of the group and was the youngest member for a pretty long stretch until the 5th Gen young-ins arrived. She’s always been the respectful, quiet girl who only speaks out when she’s asked and is always extremely well-behaved and adorable. She is also a member of the sub-group “ChocoLe” along with two of the 5th Gen Idoling!!! girls and was a star on the web drama series “Secret Girls” along with Asahi Nao and Ito Yuna, which also included being in the musical sub-group of the same name. She has similar mannerisms and character to AKB’s Mayuyu combined with C-ute’s Nakajima Saki, if I had to compare.
#7 Yazawa Erika (谷澤恵里香)
Born: 1990, 1st Gen Member
Yazawa was always the oppai queen of Idoling!!! and besides Shinozaki Ai, she’s one of the most notable oppai singing idols that has ever existed. And by “notable,” I mean “has the biggest boobs.” Her chest is the stuff of legend, and she’s never afraid to remind you of it. She has an extremely loud, crazy character, which will be very apparent from the first time you see her on camera. Erika graduated from Idoling!!! at the end of 2011 and is still active in the variety and gravure industries today and is a frequent guest on the variety show “London Hearts.”
#3 Endo Mai (遠藤舞)
Nickname: Maiple, Maipuru
Born: 1988, 1st Gen Member
Mai is our dear, perverted leader. Mai has been the leader of the group for the longest time of any member (2009-current) and is often looked at as the old lady of the group. Mai has an extremely strange personality for an idol, and isn’t quite like any other out there. She likes to touch other girls a lot and talk about perverted things, she listens to heavy metal in her free time, speaks very bluntly, uses swear words often, etc. Despite her having a lot of un-idol personality traits, she’s still one of the most popular members of the group by far. She is also a virtuoso of music, being able to play a laundry list of instruments including guitar, bass, piano, flute, saxophone, as well as write her own songs, and has a singing range that can go from low-end idol spectrum notes up to an opera register (listen to “LA LA LA no SONG” for an example of the latter.) She is the best singer in the group and also had a solo concert in 2012 where she performed with a full live band and strings section. Mai is good friends with Japanese rock star TM Revolution and is often the main co-host of his various TV and web shows, also working with his music/idol production company. She was the main star of a feature film from 2011 named “Koneko no Kimochi.” It was recently announced that Mai will have her solo debut in July 2013 with a solo single.
#6 Tonooka Erica (外岡えりか)
Born: 1991, 1st Gen member
Ton-chan was the baby of 1st Gen Idoling!!!, in part because she was the second youngest girl there, but she always had a more adorable, younger personality than the other member who was actually younger than her. She has a very large following among the Japanese fan base and is considered one of the stronger singers of the group so she gets a good amount of solo lines and leads in their music. She has an irresistible smile and a very athletic body, a pretty deadly combination. She has a lot of similar features to Abe Natsumi as well as Goto Maki during the time she was in Morning Musume, with a bit of the “normal” or “girl next door” kind of aura. Erica takes part in a number of TV drama series and was also a supporting cast in the 2011 film “Koneko no Kimochi” along with Endo Mai.
#23 Ito Yuna (伊藤祐奈)
Born: 1995, 4th Gen member
Yuuna is known as a kind of protégé to Okawa Ai, being very talented at physical comedy and outlandish improv catch-phrases and musical comedy. She is being pushed as one of the better singers in 4th Gen Idoling!!! and seems to keep constantly improving her vocal talent over the last few years. She is also known for having long legs and lanky structure, much like Okawa. Yuna starred in the web series “Secret Girls” along with Asahi Nao and Hashimoto Kaede, which also included being in the musical sub-group of the same name.
#12 Kawamura Yui (河村唯)
Born: 1989, 2nd Gen member
Umeko is the “angry old lady” of the group, despite being younger than a few of the current members. Think of a new generation of Nakazawa Yuko. Besides her crazy, hot-tempered character, she’s one of the best singers in the group and is known for her big hips and muscular body structure (as you will surely see in the video.) She has her own variety TV show (Ruri Umeko no Nandemo Yarimasu Ka???) along with 1st Gen member Yokoyama Rurika, where they tackle various jobs and challenges in the name of entertainment. Yui originally auditioned for Morning Musume’s 8th gen auditions, but when Mitsui Aika was chosen and no other girls from that audition got accepted, she went to an Idoling!!! audition shortly thereafter, and the rest is history.
#17 Miiyake Hitomi (三宅ひとみ)
Born: 1992, 2nd Gen member
Hii-chan is known as the pretty little rich girl or princess of the group, having come from a well-off family and often dressing herself in extravagant fashion and posing like a model in her spare time. She definitely also carries a bit of the prissy attitude that goes with that background, but not quite in a way that she comes off as a bitch to other people too often. She is pushed as one of the better singers of the group when 1st Gen isn’t around, and has come a long way with her vocal performance since her early career. Hitomi also acted in the live-action adaptation of the anime “GTO” and has done anime seiyuu work in “Code Geass.”
#24 Nomoto Manami (野元愛)
Born: 1996, 4th Gen member
Mana was basically always the chubby little girl who cried all the time, but I mean that in the most adorable way. She became known as the sumo of the group in the athletic events and challenges they had. Think of a new generation of Nozomi Tsuji before the 8 children. Her chubbiness also later led to her being a pretty worthy successor to Yazawa in the oppai department, if you catch my drift. Unfortunately, Mana departed from Idoling!!! in late 2012 to help support her family.
#8 Fonchi (フォンチー)
Born: 1990, 1st Gen member
Fonchi is the original non-Japanese heritage member of the group, being 100% Vietnamese. She was raised in Japan but learned a lot about Vietnamese culture and has become a sort of ambassador for Viet culture in Japan since her departure from Idoling!!! at the end of 2011. Fonchi is also pretty big in the gravure industry thanks to her abounding assets, which you’ll also see in the video. She had her own TV show in 2012 (Fonchi 21sai no Hello Work) where she explored what kinds of jobs are in the job market of Japan and tried her hand at a new one for each episode. Fonchi is an avid video gamer and coffee addict, and has admitted to even skipping work sometimes because she was too addicted to a video game. In 2010, Fonchi was also part of a musical duo named “Pao” along with actress Yoshikawa Maria.
#19 Tachibana Yurika (橘ゆりか)
Nickname: Yurippe, Yurikaru
Born: 1992, 3rd Gen member
Yurippe is the fit, cheerful girl of 3rd gen whose pretty looks and singing talent have put her near the top of my favorites list since I first saw her. Her smile is entrancing and her character is a blast to watch on screen, since she’s known for wordplay comedy and is often called one of the most attractive members of the group by staff and fans alike. Yurippe has her own TV show (Tachibana Yurika no Challenge Life) where she explores many aspects of Japanese culture and art. She is a big sports fan, especially soccer (football,) and as of late 2012, she received an official soccer coaching license with the Japan Football Association. In 2012, Yurika also took part in Avex’s TRF tribute project “TRF Respect Idol Tribute” along with girls from fellow idol groups Tokyo Girls Style, Dream5, BiS, and Cheeky Parade.
#25 Goto Kaoru (後藤郁)
Born: 1995, 4th Gen member
Kaoru is the quiet, reserved girl of 4th gen, but has looks that kill as well as one of the best singing voices in the group. She doesn’t say very much on camera, and often sits in constant observation of what’s going on around her (think Iida Kaori, gazing off into space,) but definitely knows how to socialize backstage. Kaoru currently has a steady acting part on TV comedy veteran Shimura Ken’s new TV show “Shimura Dayo.”
#11 Morita Suzuka (森田涼花)
Born: 1992, 2nd Gen member
Suu-chan was always the cute little monkey of the group with a snappy, blunt attitude, contrary to her cute image. Her big ears earned her the monkey title among fans during her time with the group. She was very outspoken and was often asked to comment on various things on the Idoling!!! TV show just to get her blunt, sometimes offensive responses. Suu-chan graduated from Idoling!!! in early 2012, after already being involved in a number of acting roles, most notably as a lead role in Toei’s popular “Shinkenger” sentai series and it’s subsequent movies, as well as many other popular Toei film projects.
#9 Yokoyama Rurika (横山ルリカ)
Born: 1991, 1st Gen member
Rurika is the the golden girl of 1st Gen Idoling!!!, always having a cheerful smile and strong, determined character. She is the most traditionally “idol” girl in the group, and is often the #1 member in staff and fan opinions for her character. She has her own TV variety show (Ruri Umeko no Nandemo Yarimasu Ka???) along with 2nd Gen member Kawamura Yui and appears on a few other FujiTV programs as a guest. Rurika is also the first Idoling!!! girl to be given a solo career, and her first solo single comes out on June 19th 2013!
#16 Kikuchi Ami (菊地亜美)
Born: 1990, 2nd Gen member
Amimi is the loud-mouth, husky voiced gossip girl of Idoling!!! with an overwhelmingly outgoing personality and charm to spare. Ami is the variety queen of Idoling!!!, appearing on multiple variety programs on a weekly basis outside of the Idoling!!! TV show. She is well-known for being a huge idol fan herself and being friends with many other idols from outside Idoling!!!, especially her friendships with Sashihara Rino of AKB48/HKT48 and Tsugunaga Momoko from Berryz Kobou/Buono. Ami doesn’t try to fool herself or anyone else into thinking she’s a good singer, but uses her charm and personality to gain her fans and friends, in the same way as, say, Michishige Sayumi and Momochi put together, but with personality instead of just cuteness and irritating character.
#22 Kurata Ruka (倉田瑠夏)
Born: 1996, 4th Gen member
Ruka is considered the most energetic dancer of the group and was previously an Avex kids dancer since a very young age. You’ll often see her dancing like mad during Idoling!!! dance breaks at their live shows, and doing some of the more extravagant moves in some of their normal choreography (even in this video.) Ruka is still one of the youngest members right now, and has a lot of fans because she still has a very young image, where some fans still consider her loli territory.
#13 Nagano Serina (長野せりな)
Nickname: Seri-chan (usually just goes by Serina)
Born: 1994, 2nd Gen member
Serina is the original crazy loli of the group, and she made her debut in Japanese show business when she was only 4 years old. She was originally a child star on the popular morning show “Oha Star” and also appeared in a ZONE music video. She was just 12 years old when she joined Idoling!!! and held the youngest member title for a while until 3rd gen’s Hashimoto arrived. Serina was originally known for her “Puni-Puni” gag for many years, which she has mostly retired since then, but you’ll see it constantly in her older appearances. She is currently attending university and has largely dropped her abrasive, childish personality in recent years. Of any member, she is one you’ll see the most visible growth from as a person. Think if both characters from Hello!Project’s “W” were combined (and a little more quiet,) that would give you a good idea of what Serina was like for the first few years of being in Idoling!!! even though she has recently become more mature.
#14 Sakai Hitomi (酒井瞳)
Born: 1989, 2nd Gen member
Sakachii is known as the country bumpkin/hillbilly of the group, being from Miyazaki prefecture, and having a strong Miyazaki accent, which she constantly denies having (just how Takahashi Ai always denied her hometown accent, even though it was painfully obvious.) Sakachii is also known among her fans and fellow group members as being the “oshiri” of the group, much like Mayuyu is to AKB, because of her big butt. She also appears in TV commercials and promotions for various companies from PC manufacturers to Domino’s Pizza.
#26 Ojima Chika (尾島知佳)
Born: 1994, 4th Gen member
Ojima is the bully of the group, despite her young age, since she has a very strong and aggressive character, and is also taller and more muscular than most of the other members, with a more mature appearance. She is sort of a spiritual successor to Yazawa (whom she idolizes, along with Fonchi) in being the oppai girl of the current Idoling!!! lineup, and is similarly popular in gravure because of this. She definitely can’t sing well, but she has established a pretty good fan base for herself despite that shortcoming.
That concludes the introductions. While this video isn’t the most current thing around, since 4 members from this video have left, and 4 new ones have joined, this is still one of the best starting points for the group and getting to know the girls of Idoling!!! If you have any other questions or want to see more of what these girls can do, give some feedback in the comments or head over to JPH!P’s “Non-stop Idoling!!!” forums or the Idoling!!! fan Facebook group, where we have lots of current discussion and resources for you to get new content, ask questions, and get up-to date news about these girls, as well as a number of subtitled TV episodes to enjoy.
Man, that’s a lot of exclamation points in one article.
Non-stop Idoling!!! Forum
Idoling!!! official YouTube channel, where new content is uploaded almost every day and most of their music PVs are available (all in Japanese)