ARTICLES Hello!Pro Trainees "Ability Diagnostic Test" Spring 2021 -- 10,000 word super commentary by Tsunku♂ (Part 1)

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Hello!Pro Trainees "Ability Diagnostic Test" Spring 2021 -- 10,000 word super commentary by Tsunku♂ (Part 1)​

2021/06/02

The other day, "Hello! Project Kenshuusei Recital 2021 ~Spring Public Ability Diagnostic Test~" went on at Yokohama Landmark Hall with no audience. While watching the livestream broadcast of the show that day, Tsunku♂ wrote down his analysis for the trainees, split here into two parts.
(Text: Tsunku♂ / Editing: Ozawa Aya / Illustrations: Mizushina Takayuki / Translation: Lurkette)

It was my conversation with Tower Records President Minewaki in January that spurred me to watch the Hello!Pro Kenshuusei diagnostic test from last year, after not watching anything for a long while.

Time has passed since then, and now it is May 29, 2021. The diagnostic test happened again this year.

Thinking back on it, the "ability diagnostic test" started when the title was based on something I had mentioned, and then we decided to put it into action. That's why I was to serve as the head of the judging panel...

At first it seemed like it would be a kind of public lambasting, but I wanted to know how the instructors of each sector would be captivated by the trainees, so I got the instructors of each department to be judges, as well.

To put it simply, the original point was to analyze one by one the girls who normally danced anonymously in the background. At the time, there weren't many Hello!Pro Kenshuusei, compared to the AKB groups' trainees. I thought it would be okay to take a look at all of them.

Additionally, I felt like it would be a waste to lose significant talent because some trainees from different prefectures would feel like nothing they did mattered if they weren't in Tokyo and would leave. The test started as an experiment for this, to be a place where these girls could receive praise for their talent and effort. Above all else, seeing them individually would go on to change my impressions of them, as well as how I made music for them.

So, that's how it started, but things happened, and for a while I did not have the opportunity to watch the Kenshuusei. After talking with President Minewaki, however, I watched the video of last summer's test.

A lot of time had passed since that test had ended, and I did my commentary without knowing what things were like for them at the time and not knowing how things had progressed. Sorry...

On this day the timing was right, so I watched them online, in real time. This way, I got to feel the attitudes of the judges panel and to watch each performance carefully.

So then. Times will change, and the social standing of idols will also change. That also means music trends will change, naturally.

As a matter of course, they grew up in the age of idols all across Japan, so the girls naturally know about idols in the j-pop world, including Hello!Pro. It also makes sense that with the global hits from BTS, they'd have an interest in k-pop culture. Honestly, they are supposed to be interested.

Furthermore, these days there is new content being born from places outside of the entertainment world (from social media and such). That means that there is a new form of star that didn't exist before. I'm certain that for preteen girls, they aspire to be different kinds of stars as new ones emerge from each era. I feel right now that we're rushing in to an era of solo artists. A little earlier it was an era of searching for "one's own" in the middle of the unison power of a group, and coming out of that, there's a market building for those who offer themselves individually, free from any group attachment. I think that self-produced style stands out.

(Of course, it is a fact that the culture of groups, akin to the Takarazuka Revue, has been inherited into our culture, and so there are fans who are deeply-rooted in supporting that kind of content)

So, in this sort of age, we have the Hello!Pro Kenshuusei "Ability Diagnostic Test."

Between what I said earlier about the members and the trends I talked about, coupled with number of Kenshuusei, I felt that there were a variety of different personalities that stood out to me.

Certainly, in terms of their ages, they are also in the middle of the self-awakening that happens in the transition from child to adulthood. I got the sense from several girls that they were trying to figure out who they wanted to be in Hello!Pro, in society.

I think the girls themselves know how they've spent the year's time since the last test, but teenage years are when you can change and grow into a completely different person in the course of a year.

So then, let's take a look at the girls who have clearly changed since last year!

Table of Contents​

  1. To the people reading this note
  2. 1. Arisawa Ichika: "SONGS" - Morning Musume.
  3. 2. Hiromoto Ruli: "Dondengaeshi" - ANGERME
  4. 3. Murakoshi Ayana: "Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku" - ANGERME
  5. 4. Nishizaki Miku: "Aishite aishite ato ippun" - Morning Musume.
  6. 5. Hirayama Yuki: "Rock no teigi" - Tanaka Reina
  7. 6. Ebata Kisaki: "VERY BEAUTY" - Berryz Koubou
  8. 7. Uemura Hasumi: "Otona na no yo!" - Berryz Koubou

To the people reading this note​

I have written different amounts for each girl, but that is not a measure of a good or poor appraisal. Please bear in mind that for the longer ones, they are that long because I remembered an example or episode due to their performance that may also be applicable to other members, as well.

1. Arisawa Ichika: "SONGS" - Morning Musume.​

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Date of birth: December 23, 2003 (17)
Joined November 2020 Tenure: 7 months
Interesting. I'm not sure what sort of drawing or formula they use for the order, but I wouldn't think it by design that the top batter is someone who joined only half a year ago. I think they do some sort of lottery, but joining in November of last year means that I think that, in terms of Hello!Pro lifespan, she has practically no experience.

I guess she had some practice elsewhere before she joined the Kenshuusei? At first glance, I feel that she has had some sort of training or experience to have this kind of performance ability. These days, though, you can watch YouTube and become a dancer and perform at home, so that is also a possibility.

In terms of rhythm, compared to the other trainees who have had rhythm drilled into them at Hello!Pro since their early teens, she does lose it at the more precise sections. A phrase I use a lot is, "fine muscles," and to that extent she does have that training, and she dances all the way to her fingertips.

There are signs she listens intently to Hello!Pro music (surely Morning Musume.!?), and I can feel the respect she has for the original singing. However, because she has so little experience with this, she can't help but dip into doing an imitation of the song. It's sort of funny, the parts where the original singer changes, her singing voice also changes.

Still, even referencing the songs with past Hello! members who were good at singing, her imitation is good. I anticipate her completing her sense of self within 2 years, in terms of age.

2. Hiromoto Ruli: "Dondengaeshi" - ANGERME​

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Date of birth: June 18, 2003 (17)
Joined August 2019 Tenure: 1 year, 10 months
I see, so even someone with facial expressiveness like this at this age could have under 2 years of training; it makes me wonder if she had lessons before she joined.

Her expressions when singing are everything, but I feel a pureness from her, even from her hairstyle this day, like she's the type to be able to bring out her true self on stage. Like, "I'm not hiding anything. I'm giving everything in this moment."

She's sharp in a few places in the song, but that's part of her being "unreserved," so for now we can say it's a good sharp. As for her dancing, she also has developed those "fine muscles" down to her fingertips, so she can dance very well.

When it comes to singing, there are those who can sing, to a certain extent, from the start, and there are those who gain stability through hard work. A lot of people talk about the high level of talent of the Platinum Era, so using them as an example, Takahashi was the type who had the ability to sing to begin with, and Kamei and Niigaki were the of type who built up acquired skill.

I consider Hiromoto to be the latter. I feel like she's the type to catch your ear and keep building her singing abilities. One piece of advice I could give here is that it would be better to hold the mic one centimeter closer to her mouth.

For now, however, I want her to innocently sing more and more.

3. Murakoshi Ayana: "Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku" - ANGERME​

画像3

Date of birth: February 11, 2008 (13)
Joined August 2019 Tenure: 1 year, 10 months
When I first saw her I didn't pay attention to her age, but as I watched more, and watching again now, I do realize that she is 13.

My first thought when I saw her was something like, "This is Hello!Pro, this is a relief." There's no mistaking it at this point in time, but since she's only 13, in the future she will mostly likely leave a very different impression before you know it.

This bare-faced feeling she gives is definitely a huge advantage for her. That said, in spite of her age, she has perfected those fine muscle movements. She completely expresses the nuances even in her fingers. I was shocked that she also sang so steadily, without losing the rhythm, without going off-pitch.

She picked a rhythm-heavy song to sing, but truthfully, I feel that she could still sing songs that are medium tempo or that require belting.

What made me feel warm inside was her left hand holding the mic while she sang. She sings while popping her fingers along (dare I say to keep rhythm), but it's curiously adorable.

It was memorable that even during the MC afterward she was doing it still. For today, I have no further corrections to give her.

4. Nishizaki Miku: "Aishite aishite ato ippun" - Morning Musume.​

画像4

Date of birth: April 17, 2006 (15)
Joined August 2019 Tenure: 1 year, 10 months
Well now, another trainee with under two years of experience. I think joining Hello!Pro is precisely why she can keep acquiring more skill.

Normally with 15 year olds, I say that's when girls can sing a little, dance a little: they can remember choreography, but that isn't dancing. Even if they can sing with gusto, they usually hold notes too long, and it's tiresome. The Kenshuusei will learn more by watching their seniors, getting advice from them from time to time, and taking guidance from their instructors.

Nishizaki is one such girl, but one of her strengths is that she knows her own weaknesses and doesn't show them. She also sings the whole way through, maintaining her own pauses and breathing, so I want to praise her guts in getting it done. She's the type who will absolutely improve if she keeps training.

I struggled to remember what the original dance was like so I googled it, and, well, the members at the time were all well and good, and so even if the dance itself didn't have that fine rhythm, it wouldn't have any negative effect on their singing, so in the original dance, even in the intro, it doesn't have that minute of a rhythm.

That's why it didn't work here, because for someone in training to see that and do it, it looks like her dancing isn't really on rhythm. The song has a kind of oo-cha oo-cha oo-cha oo-cha rhythm, and the "cha" is accentuated, otherwise, if you don't keep count in your head, the dance and movements will end up straying from the song.

However the original dance might be, if you're not working out the rhythm and accents that every song has on your own, you'll misunderstand the surface-level parts of the original dance, and then you don't understand the core of the song.

Something cute she does for me personally is how she naturally breaks into falsetto at the end of long notes. It might be good for her to try holding the mic at different angles so that the build of her voice is more audible.

5. Hirayama Yuki: "Rock no teigi" - Tanaka Reina​

画像5

Date of birth: July 25, 2006 (14)
Joined August 2019 Tenure: 1 year, 10 months
This another fairly difficult song choice~. But I see that as an indication of high self-confidence.

This is a performance that, from the intro on, makes me think she has prepared appropriately. I felt her spirit and her personal speed. Even when she got to singing, she expressed who she is. She isn't yet a pro, but she made me feel that she has that "special something" that corresponds with that.

So why isn't she what I'd consider a pro? It's very simple, her performance is still in some respects about "me and everyone else," or even, "me and myself (my world)," and isn't at all a conversation between "me and you" (which is what a song is).

From an amateur perspective, the barrier to being a "pro" is thin, like a Japanese sliding door. But it's not something you can break down so easily.

She's still 14, so she will keep climbing and growing more and more, but, dare I say, I think there were several points that indicated to me that she will carry the future of Hello!Pro's singing. Naturally, then, I want her to break down that barrier to going pro. Not too forcefully, however.

As more concrete advice, she should be fervent in trying to maintain the minute rhythm in both the A and B melodies while she is part of the Kenshuusei.

Tanaka Reina was someone who had rhythm so instilled in her body that she wouldn't lose it even if she were sitting down, so she should try to be like the 14-year-old Tanaka was nailing down that rhythm. Go for it!

That said, this power is tied to the future of Hello!Pro. Makoto touched on it as well, but she made a good choice of a skirt with that sort of movement. The song was good.

6. Ebata Kisaki: "VERY BEAUTY" - Berryz Koubou​

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Date of birth: January 30, 2007
Joined August 2019 Tenure: 1 year, 10 months
There were a lot of girls who were speedy in the first block, which shows in their song choice, so the perspective completely changes when she comes on. Man~. They need someone like this.

Even though the melody is a medium tempo, she never slacks on her rhythm or dancing. I don't know if she knows that's what she was doing, but she keeps the rhythm, and she even places accents in her dance in time with the snare beats. But she's doing it behind the beat, because in reality, the placement of those accents is 0.1 or 0.2 seconds after the beats. This kind of dancing is difficult even for girls who are good at it.

It was surprising to see her dance behind the beat, since even many of the reference dancers the girls use to learn new songs are pressed on rhythm. However, it doesn't seem like she learned to dance this way as a hobby. I wonder if she has some foundation in classical ballet? Her smile looks quite refined.

Even when she enters the A melody, she doesn't lose that 16-beat. This is something that lately is the 180-degree opposite of Hello!Pro, so I felt her individuality in that regard. From the crescendo of the A melody, it starts to descend, which is actually quite difficult, but she sings it while maintaining her pitch. The choreography is connected to the melody of the chorus and she moves so comfortably, which drew me in more, and with the rhythm and head of the chorus, my guard came down all at once.

She said she is aware she's not great at singing, but she is stable. If I were forced to give some advice, it's things in the B melody: the "te" of "doushite," the "yo" of "hasha ga nai no yo," the "ka" or "kaite iru no deshou ka." It's a waste to lose the rhythm when you're extending those notes. You can't drop the rhythm on whole notes or half notes. Remember this in the future!

7. Uemura Hasumi: "Otona na no yo!" - Berryz Koubou​

画像7

Date of birth: February 25, 2008 (13)
Joined August 2019 Tenure: 1 year, 10 months
She was in elementary school when she first joined, but I feel that now she is starting to bloom. The impression she left me with after last year's test was that she was a lot rougher, but she still has some wildness in a good direction, but now with some smoothness and flexibility, so in her show performance, she is growing.

She keeps the rhythm without interruption, and if she can keep that up for another 6 months or so, it will surely be fruitful in her singing. She consistently has accents after the beat in the dance during the chorus, so I think she did very well in choosing and practicing this song.

In her MC, it's like a completely different person again, so Hello!Pro supporters can't look away from her.

If I were to send a girl on the rise like her one hint, it would be that each of her movements are a little big still, which, what am I trying to say? She hasn't yet gotten those "fine muscles" I talk about so often, so please think about that.
 
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𝐇☀𝐍𝐄𝐘

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Furthermore, these days there is new content being born from places outside of the entertainment world (from social media and such). That means that there is a new form of star that didn't exist before. I'm certain that for preteen girls, they aspire to be different kinds of stars as new ones emerge from each era.

I haven't actually thought much about this :whaaat:
 

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"Certainly, in terms of their ages, they are also in the middle of the self-awakening that happens in the transition from child to adulthood. I got the sense from several girls that they were trying to figure out who they wanted to be in Hello!Pro, in society.

I think the girls themselves know how they've spent the year's time since the last test, but teenage years are when you can change and grow into a completely different person in the course of a year."


It's crazy how fast teenagers and children grow in just a year, they're at that really unique age where nothing stays the same, and so their own stances and beliefs are molded and shaped with every interaction, it's such a strange thing to watch.
 

Lurkette

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If anyone would like to watch along with the review, the recital has been uploaded here:
(Part 1)
 
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