With another year over, a new one is set to begin. As per the usual tradition here on Selective Hearing, both myself and fellow staff writers will deliver our thoughts regarding the year that has flown by. Here we can recount exciting events, note the graduations of certain Idols, the emergence of new groups and artists, and talk about the losses we have experienced in the entertainment industry this year.

So far, all I can say is, it’s been a year. There have been heavy moments, and then there have been heavy moments that remind us of how human our Idols are. In so many ways, this year has been a spiral of emotions, and I can only hope that, for the last few days of 2017, the end of the year doesn’t shock us all with another piece of news to throw us off balance when we’re ready to head into 2018.

Regardless of a few sad moments in the year, I have had my good times. Now, it’s time to focus on some of the bigger moments within the year, and talk about the good, the bad, the shocking and the sad. This is Version ’17: A Year in Review.

It’s time to talk Idols.

In Terms of Idols and Lives

This year played a key role in my development as an Idol fan, because finally, I was able to actually watch some Idol lives! Of course, both Idol lives were Hello! Project related, and whilst I wasn’t particularly keen on H!P at the time of ℃-ute’s concert Paris this April, I have to say, watching both ℃-ute and Juice=Juice live has allowed me to come back as a fan, albeit begrudgingly. Of course, their music and videos play a key role in how much I like them, too.

It’s been a good year for performances, because I was able to see two wonderful groups from H!P, and experience my first true Idol live, as well as the handshake and high-touch events that came with the concert experience. I was able to meet various fans, talk about Idols and Hello! Project and, of course, write about my experiences and a new desire to watch more Idol lives in the future. Though I am completely new to it, it’s fun and worthwhile, and I’ve made some new friends because of these wonderful experiences.

Hopefully 2018 will see a few more Idols come to the UK, and I hope beyond all hope that I will be there to experience it once again, regardless of the group that heads my way. It was a great experience, and I aim to relive it again fairly soon.

Regarding Hello! Project, In General

Let’s just say, it’s definitely been a year when it comes to Hello! Project. I mean, a lot has happened, both good and bad, and all the in-between. Of course we remember the worst of it all, because we thrive on drama and sadness, and anything that can make the gossip mill run at full force. It’s how we are, and it’s how a majority of us will always be.

Still, there have been some moments in H!P that have made history, in one way or another.

Firstly, there have been the Graduations, Withdrawals and Disbandments. ℃-ute ended their 12 year run in June this year, Tsugunaga Momoko has completely left the industry after being active for 15 years, Buono! officially disbanded, Kudo Haruka graduated just this December, and Kobushi Factory lost three members in the space of just under a year, with one ‘graduation’ and two withdrawals. I can only guess that a number of Kenshuusei also left, but honestly, I hardly pay attention to those lot.

So, in total, that’s ten members who have left Hello! Project, and three of them were due to contract issue. This has created such a buzz in the H!P fan community, and of course, there is a lot of speculation. Graduations and withdrawals are typical within the Idol world, of course, but to lose so many in the space of a year is quite alarming, especially for Hello! Project. Yeah, they are nearing a graduation or two each year, but not ten. That’s AKS and HouPri territory.

I could speculate and ramble a lot more on this topic, but I’ll keep it in, because it’s honestly not been all bad in H!P. Yes, these withdrawals within Kobushi Factory have been shocking and sudden, but there have also been a few good things to happen within the company. Surprising, I know.

To keep this brief, let’s talk about a few other bad things that H!P threw up on us this year:

That Country Girls part-time crap. Yeah, no, that can go away, and was a pile of bull on H!P’s part. Also, we’ve recently had H!P cut their PV’s short, something which isn’t a major issue, I suppose, but it has annoyed fans plenty since it was implemented. It’s as if H!P are trying to be Avex or Universal Music or, heck, AKS.

There’s also the deal with H!P playing their stupid audition game as of late, where they don’t choose anyone through an audition because no one is apparently good enough for them. That’s more annoying than anything, and like the PV thing, it’s irking fans. So, cut it out, H!P.

I think that’s it for the bad. Of course, Aikawa Maho’s continued absence isn’t great, either, but the fact she’s still on hiatus is at least a sign she’s not being kicked off the face of the Idol Earth. Not yet.

Okay, happy thoughts now. Let’s think of the good that H!P have actually provided this year, shall we?

One of the good things to happen has to be the return of Michishige Sayumi, who made her re-debut this March, delighting plenty of fans. Since her return, the Idol has been performing, modelling, voice acting, and even recorded a solo album at some point in the year. After a short, three-year absence, she’s really packed a lot of things into 2017 to make up for lost time. Speaking of returns, 2017 also saw Inaba Manaka’s re-emergence after her own graduation from Country Girls back in 2016, with the Idol coming back as a Leader for the Hokkaido branch of Kenshuusei, as well as working as a solo act from time to time. As expected, a lot of fans were delighted by this news, too, myself included.

We also had the 20th Anniversary of Morning Musume ’17 this year, which brought a good deal of cover songs, a brand new album, a new member picked up from the Country Girls fiasco, as well as various other things like promoting miso soup and any other relevant activities. Aside from the graduation of Kudo Haruka this December, all of Morning Musume ’17’s activities and releases have been wonderful and highly promising, and I’ve finally regained my faith in the group. Let’s hope that H!P don’t jack it up, somehow.

Other good things within the H!P realm include:

Tsubaki Factory winning that Rookie of the Year award, H!P producing consistent content in the form of Digital Singles, as well as the production of good, even amazing, Music Videos. We are also seeing a lot more variety in songs this time around, and experiencing a few more ‘shuffle’ releases thanks to H!P’s adventure into digital releases.

We also saw the debut of Danbara Ruru and Yanagawa Nanami in Juice=Juice, as well as Funaki Musubu and Kawamura Ayano in ANGERME. Oh, and Morito Chisaki in Morning Musume ’17, though I nearly forgot she was a part of the group. These additions (more specifically, the additions of Nanami, Musubu and Chisaki) may have seen mixed reviews at first, but fans have accepted the girls into their respective groups, and are delighted for them.

And finally, of course, let’s mention the World Tour that H!P did for Juice=Juice, and the excitement us fans felt for them. The fact H!P have shelled out not only for MV’s and music, but also one of their groups going to so many different countries for a few months, is incredible. It’s a dream come true, and it’s brought a lot of hope to the fandom. So, despite all the hiccups H!P go through, and the aggravation they make us feel, they at least did some good in 2017 to keep us happy and in love with them.

Well, not in love, but they at least kept our interest. They’re being smart, for once.

… Wow, I might have exhausted myself in regards to H!P. Okay, NEXT!