I recently finished watching the latest of the AKB48 documentaries No Flower Without Rain. Much like its predecessors it was full of behind the scenes footage, interviews with the members and semi-manufactured drama. In other words, it’s a decent watch for idol fans interested in those kinds of things.

When the documentary ended I was left wondering why UP-FRONT have not done something like this with all the change going on in Hello! Project? After all, there were plenty of opportunities during the mass exodus of the Elder Club and the subsequent passing of the torch to the next generation.

It would have been nice to hear the thoughts of the entire Hello! Project on a turning point in their history. I’m sure the making of DVD’s associated with the final concerts during that time were nice, but those are filtered by management to keep a certain image of constant happiness.

Nothing ever really goes wrong right? No one ever leaves because they’re disgruntled, want to focus on studies, becomes a model or suddenly get a boyfriend bunion right?

No. That never happens at all.

Unfortunately Hello! Project doesn’t necessarily show as much transparency as some fans would like them to given their rich history.

But that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. A recent television special on the 15-year anniversary of Morning Musume was fairly enlightening even if it was still sort of towing the company line. If you go back even further to episodes of Utaban, then there was a bit of revealing information that was mainly used for comedy fodder.

I guess that is better than getting nothing at all?

Those who demand somewhat unfiltered behind the scenes content will probably not get much beyond that. It is pretty much status quo for shiny happy time when it comes to any backstage footage and the majority of Hello! Project fans don’t mind living within the illusion that H!P is an eternally blissful wonderland. And perhaps that’s how UP-FRONT likes it? Their fans don’t ask for these kinds of things so why bother right?

The way I see it there are two scenarios in which UP-FRONT will release the flood gates, or at least allow a trickle of water to spittle out.

1) The old guard of Morning Musume/graduated members of Hello! Project start leaving the public eye & refuse to be milked for the nostalgia factor.

2) The popularity of Hello! Project starts to dip significantly and something like an unfiltered documentary is needed to hype the organization up to the general public and remaining fans.

UP-FRONT will most likely not be doing much other than their brand of fan service for the time being. Boring? Yes. Uninspired? Yes. But that’s the way things are. To be honest, I feel UFP would be unable to take an unbiased look at Hello! Project so the result may end up being the same old, same old if they ever did attempt to film their own documentary.

Instead maybe one day a third party will be allowed to show an impartial view of the inner workings of Hello! Project without having to jump through too many hoops. Wouldn’t that be nice?


  • Arbitrary_greay May 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Actually, H!P regularly releases “documentaries” on through their DVD Magazines. Volm. 5 is a close look at the concert rehearsal process, 15 covered Sexy 8 Beat and Yossy’s graduation, 23 was a interview on every member’s impressions of each other, 35 was a Pika Pika documentary, etc, etc. 23 and 35 are uploaded to Youtube subbed as well. Most of the older magazines can be found on Veoh.

    I fell HARD for MM’s Platinum Era because of the platinum era documentaries.

    Every concert DVD includes a backstage making of bonus, but I find that the best clips usually come from the DVD Magazines, which have a little bit more direction than the aimless shenanigan-cams of the making ofs. The magazines often include hilarious MCs from the non-DVD-filmed concerts as well, and wowza did I fall in love with 6th gen because of those.

    I haven’t seen the magazines for Berryz or C-ute. Most of the H!P ones are variety froo-froo, but Volm 9 is a concert documentary (with Tsunku interview!) subbed and on Vid48

    I believe the 10th and 9th gen audition documentaries are in the DVD magazines as well?

    • Greg May 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

      I would consider 90% of that content to be glorified fluff pieces. What I was writing about is getting more raw and dirty without the “idol spin”.

      The only things I have seen out of H!P that meets that qualification is audition footage. And that is becoming a rare beast these days.

  • David Chang May 27, 2013 at 6:09 am

    I would love an H!P documentary with the same production value as the AKB48 documentary films. Considering the fact that the idol industry seems to run itself via smoke and mirrors though, a truly transparent documentary is unlikely.

    You could also argue that the AKB48 documentaries are just huge propaganda pieces and that there’s no real substance in them. (I’m guessing this was coming from someone who was jealous though… :P) Even the NHK documentary couldn’t be considered unbiased because NHK has a pretty close relationship with AKS and its parent companies / affiliates. Isn’t the head producer of NHK also an AKB fan?

    Maybe something close to an unbiased behind the scenes look was the Jounetsu Tairiku of Maeda Atsuko that was included in Flower. I wanted to say it was a third party producing it, but I believe King Records was the company that had it done.

    At the end of the day, maybe we’ll never find out and perhaps that’s the way it’s meant to be. 🙁

  • Steve Summers May 27, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I guess they really wouldn’t be idols if they didn’t have the “idol spin,” that’s largely what its all about. Its one of those things where you really can’t take anything besides release dates and actual certifiable facts as the truth in this industry, you have to learn to accept that its not entirely real, or you tread dangerously close to getting consumed and brainwashed by the fantasy of it all. An element of fantasy is pretty much required to enjoy what idols do, but its how you personally handle it and how you keep it under control that determines what kind of fan you are.

    I also agree that AKB’s documentaries are at least partially fabricated for entertainment purposes, but damn if they aren’t entertaining. H!P’s attempts at this are noticeably phony, as is everything they do, but it seems far less likely for them to do anything that’s really close to the truth without the ruse.

    This is another reason I like Idoling!!! more than a lot of the other idol troupes out there right now, is their management is very in tune with fans and kinda puts their own methods into play to keep fans from getting too engulfed in the fantasy. On a recent episode, they asked the question of which girls were just playing a kind of character or act for their idol persona and which ones were actually their real personalities, and 90% of the members said its just an act (they even said exactly which members gave which answer.) They are clearly presenting the girls as entertainers, not as this sad, delusional projection of a girl you’d want to date, like most other idols, even though they still follow some of the industry trends and procedures. They like to drive home some of the reality of what idols do which is extremely unprecedented for the industry and very refreshing, and yet still goes unnoticed.