ARTICLES Hello!Pro Trainees "Ability Diagnostic Test" Spring 2021 -- 10,000 word super commentary by Tsunku♂ (Part 2)


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Hello!Pro Trainees "Ability Diagnostic Test" Spring 2021 -- 10,000 word super commentary by Tsunku♂ (Part 2)​


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, with this being the second of two parts.
(Text: Tsunku♂ / Editing: Ozawa Aya / Illustrations: Mizushina Takayuki / Translation: Lurkette)

Table of Contents​

  1. To the people reading this note
  2. Onoda Karin: "Do it! Now" - Morning Musume.
  3. Matusbara Yuliya: "Are you Happy?" - Morning Musume.
  4. Hashida Honoka: "Kiss!Kiss!Kiss!" - Buono!
  5. Kitahara Momo: "Boogie Train '03" - Fujimoto Miki
  6. Nakayama Natsume: "Kioku no meiro" - High-King
  7. Ishiyama Sakura: "Magic of Love (J=J 2015 ver.)" - Juice=Juice
  8. Yofuu Runo: "Kono sekai wa suteta mon ja nai" - Juice=Juice
  9. Hello!Pro Kenshuusei "Ability Diagnostic Test" in summary

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.

8. Onoda Karin: "Do it! Now" - Morning Musume.​

Date of birth: January 23, 2008
Joined November 2018 Tenure: 2 years, 7 months
She's only 13 but already in her third year of training.

I'm happy she chose this song. This song has been sung in the past by many of her seniors skilled at singing, so she took on the challenge knowing full well that comparisons would be made, which is so great of her. It doesn't show on her face, ultimately, that she's counting out the rhythm in her head, but it is impossible to move forward without that fundamental understanding.

For her, she keeps rhythm in her head, I can sense when she's singing that she has the rhythm in her head, and that she understands how to steadily count and divide the rhythm. It's surely not limited to this song, I'd like to think she practices a number of different songs, counting the rhythm out on a regular basis.

Usually, girls will get to a point where they have the 16 beat internalized and then that will influence their singing, but in her case, even though the song is already playing at a 16 beat, she still doesn't have the rhythm in her dancing by the beginning of the chorus. If she could become aware of the rhythm in her body, she'll likely be much, much better.

I have no problems if she can sing the song properly, but during her performance her right hand (right arm?!) fell into a repetitious and indifferent pattern a number of times, so that's something she could improve. Also, her bangs or should I say the tendrils on the side of her face, just pick one side to have them on, it allows people to see your face better, and I think it's definitely the way it's done in the entertainment business.

9. Matusbara Yuliya: "Are you Happy?" - Morning Musume.​

Date of birth: February 26, 2008 (13)
Joined December 2017 Tenure: 3 years, 6 months
Here she is, what a tour de force. The mic still seems a little big at her age, but because of her intense energy, the mic occasionally shakes. But that's fine. Being as excited as this is good for Hello!Pro right now. Really good.

Well, for homework, that mic is something to work on. She has this long-awaited vigor and performance ability, so how should she progress now?

First, she should not try to be the all-mighty (a jack of all trades), she should make one choice of the thing she is good at (pick dancing if you're good at dancing, etc.), and then only do that for 6 months to a year. Train.

If she wants to be the number 1 trainee, and then decides to be number 1 in Hello!Pro, regardless of her image or age, her performance skills will get absolutely get better as a result.

Actually, this strategy isn't just for her, I could say it to anyone. If it's school or anything else, the key to raising your collective skills is working on your worst subject. That is where you will see the most gains. For example, if you were to score a 70 in English, a 50 in Japanese, and an 80 in math, if you work on the 50 points in Japanese, your overall grade will noticeably improve, whereas if you decide to work on math, there are only 20 more points you can gain from it. You can gain 50 from Japanese. This is a very important strategy for getting into high schools and such.

However, in show business, while it's good to raise your overall skill level, I think the easiest thing to do is to bring your 80 points up to 100 and give highlights for the rest. Then, it's about confidence, thinking, "I can do it if I try," and everything else will raise up at the same time, I believe.

She's still so young, so I definitely want her to get stronger.

10. Hashida Honoka: "Kiss!Kiss!Kiss!" - Buono!​

Date of birth: October 17, 2005 (15)
Joined August 2019 Tenure: 1 year, 10 months
I'm glad to see another Hello!Pro type of girl such as her. It's a relief. Like, "This is it!"

It's just, that's the thing. She's not merely a happy-go-lucky kid, she's got that calculated aggressiveness that Hello!Pro has. She seems like a professional. Thinking of her that way, her singing is good, too. She just barely stays in key during the high notes; it's like watching someone walk a balance beam in high heels.

A girl like this has to grow within Hello!Pro. If she isn't appreciated by the staff and the fans, the entertainment world will gradually get gloomier.

Well, it is the age of Fuwa-chan on TV, and even now Michishige Sayumi is working as the professional Michichige Sayumi, so for her to grow up watching people like them, I want girls like her to grow.

I want her to hold on tight to her own positions. I want her to move forward without bending or wavering.

11. Kitahara Momo: "Boogie Train '03" - Fujimoto Miki​

Date of birth: August 30, 2006 (14)
Joined August 2019 Tenure: 1 year, 10 months
She's got a voice. Yeah, a strong voice. How nice~. A girl who chooses this song is definitely a girl with confidence. And she lives up to the expectation.

She's got sharpness, she's got speed. She dances at 100%, through her back like she should. She seems focused, and her singing has energy and rhythm. Fujimoto at the time of this song also had that spirit and vigor in her singing, so this single is filled with it. If she listened to the song and committed that passion to heart, it surely shows in the result.

I think her dance and vocal coaches clearly understood that this song is not simply about singing and dancing cutesy. She puts her heart and soul into a presentation that has little room for error.

These days things are more artistic, so girls naturally want to wear black, have no bangs, and act a bit more mature as much as they are able, so for her to put on a production like this with the costume and the hair is amazing. A girl like this can perform in any role, at the end of the day.

In the B melody she starts to take a break, but she should walk to the side with the rhythm just as hard.

12. Nakayama Natsume: "Kioku no meiro" - High-King​

Date of birth: July 20, 2005 (15)
Joined March 2017 Tenure: 4 years, 3 months
The "a" in "amai" at the very start is so strong that I have to give her 100 points for it. I think she really gets it.

Her singing is such that it makes me think she's thoroughly listened to Hello!Pro's back catalogue. She has grown up in the rich fields of Hello!Pro, so the rhythm and vibrato are drilled into her body in that way. She acts like a professional.

She's someone who can use that fine vibrato, and she should be aware of the minute details of the rhythm, but in "ru" of "dakishimeta yoru," among others, she plays it too safe and completely goes off rhythm.

Which is to say, you absolutely can't play it safe in singing. These days, there are lots of TV shows where people compete in karaoke battles scored by AI, so now people stand out when they sing the notes more reservedly. If Hello!Pro members were to sing in such a way that they'd score high marks in karaoke like that, they'd quickly hit a wall, so it's best to stop doing that.

(The truth is even if you score high marks in karaoke, you can't lose the rhythm. Also, so that no one misunderstands me, I do like those karaoke shows (lol).)

If we assume that everyone in Hello!Pro values the live experience with the fans, singing isn't about staying on pitch. Even if you're out of sync, you have to put soul into it.

Whoops, I got off track, but while it may very well be that she was much looser in the beginning stages, I want to say that this time spent learning different things as a trainee has given her the strength she has worked on to sing and give a performance like this today.

She gives care to the way she holds the mic, her dancing, and the camera. Her hairstyle works, and as she herself said she didn't go too heavy on her makeup but there is a sadness to her look. When she camera zoomed in on her face I wanted to keep watching her forever, that's how strong her expressions were.

As I said in the beginning, she has got the fine vibrato and rhythm, so she'll grow even more if she can incorporate that into each song.

Earlier, I told young Matsubara to focus on one thing, but I believe Nakayama is the type that should work on everything, in every genre. If she can do that, she'll become so reliable, she'll be that person who can immediately tell you how things should be if you ask her for direction.

13. Ishiyama Sakura: "Magic of Love (J=J 2015 ver.)" - Juice=Juice​

Date of birth: February 22, 2004 (17)
Joined November 2020 Tenure: 7 months
"Huh? Who was this?" is what I was thinking while I stared at her.

There we have it. She just joined. While I was processing that, I thought she made an incredible song choice, but then I realized it was the Juice=Juice version, so it changed how I was processing her performance yet again (lol).

What was she doing and where before she turned 17? I think it's peculiar, because auditions tend to pull people from right before and right after middle school. But I'm grateful for whatever path brought her here to Hello!Pro Kenshuusei while she's still so pure and adorable, even at this age.

So, well, her vocalizations. At this early stage still she's probably not singing to her full potential yet, and her throat is still tight, but in about 6 months she'll be able to hit the high notes better. I feel like her voice hasn't completely changed yet, either.

Setting aside my generalizations up to this point, she actually sings in a breathy way that makes singing difficult. Well, she's already 17, but naturally she's having to play catch-up to the members in the parts I described above. While she is a rookie, I want to her to make up for her real weak points.

To be more specific, there's the aforementioned 16 beat that should be drilled into you while you're still a child. She's weak here. Juice=Juice's Kanazawa also joined the Kenshuusei at around this age, so I had wondered if learning the rhythm would be impossible for her, but she cleared it. I think if Ishiyama focuses on the song and the rhythm now, it will quickly become part of her body.

She's not really a kid, so to speak, but when I watched her, I wondered if she joined because she likes K-pop idols, but then Makocchan said that she seemed like an idol from the 80s, so I ended up realizing there are different ways to look at things (lol). How interesting.

The banter between Miyamoto Karin and Makoto at the end gets 100 points.

14. Yofuu Runo: "Kono sekai wa suteta mon ja nai" - Juice=Juice​

Date of birth: December 20, 2007 (13)
Joined August 2019 Tenure: 1 year, 10 months
Of course, I want this girl to become a central singer. She has attributes that are very Hello!Pro, but all in all, she is unique.

From the moment I heard the intro chorus, to the end of the intro, I thought, "Oh no, I don't have anything to say to her~."

However, I don't know if it was because she was relieved at getting the intro okay, or if she simply wasn't paying attention, but she slips a bit going into the A melody. Personally that was sort of a relief because I thought, "Hey, she does still have room to grow!"

One should be neither greedy nor reserved when singing, but you can't get carried away. There are lots of ways to provide guidance to people, like you should have more fun, or you should do this decisively, but the most difficult thing of all is when something is natural, like the wind, the air.

That is all just to say that I want her to be comfortable with her singing. She's a girl that already had talent to some extent, so the key point for her is what age she is when she realizes that she can sing.

I definitely didn't understand when I was 13, but I started doing impressions of Southern All Stars for my class and it was a hit, people were telling me how good at singing I was, and I started to get a big head about it. If at that time a really famous singer had told me that, I would have been shocked. This is the kind of world she lives in, so I felt that I needed to write this to teach her about it in advance.

To speak technically, she does have the 16 beat. However, when all the notes rise, she doesn't hold them long enough. The song has a 16 beat rhythm, but it's jumpy. If you don't understand what I mean, definitely ask Mr. Hashimoto.

Anyway, the rhythm is not tsk-chack tsk-chack, it's ts-tsk-chack ts-tsk-chack. If she can bring out that small pause in the rhythm, she could be a wonderful singer.

She worked so hard at the intro and the A melody that she started to tire in the B melody, and suddenly the rhythm was off, so that needs to be worked on. It's not just there, but at the "jaa" in "suteta mon jaa nai" and the "ii" in "niji wa donna iro" when she extends the notes, her rhythm disappears. This is something I want her to really be concerned with.

It's not just singing, her expressions, dancing, sharpness. Her overall skill level is very high. Well, to give her something technical, when she jumps into the B melody, she's not getting behind the 4 beat. Each individual beat has an accent. This shouldn't be a very hard problem for her to solve.

Hello!Pro Kenshuusei "Ability Diagnostic Test" in summary​

So then, I wrote everything out in a day. (Well, there's still editing and corrections to do, so it might take some time for this to publish)

Now, announcing the "Tsunku♂ Awards" that you must be curious about!

Is what I'd like to say. I gave out various awards last year, but I gave up on that this year. Before I wrote this, I thought, "I'll watch the show and skip the judging results, but I'll check what everyone voted for and who the instructors give awards to once I decide my own awards." However, I did not.

This year, instead of Tsunku♂ Awards, I want the girls to read my commentary and glean meaning out of it. This isn't me running away or avoiding the situation, none of that. All I want is for the trainees right now to make the most of what I've explained to them, more than I want to give out individual awards.

That's because there was not a single trainee who was in the position of being a small fry (apologies, for the bad expression). In the future, some will go to existing units, some will form new units, but I see chances of success all around. This group is full of members who make me believe that.

I will say, if I must, that the commentary I gave to the skilled girls, the growing girls, the girls who quickly need to fix their weak spots, is with a critical eye.

Whee~, I'm going to take a little break.

Though, I do actually wonder who got what awards~? I guess now I can go check.


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Aug 6, 2019
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If you want to watch along (Onoda Karin starts at 44:00 in the first video):
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