So, at the end of this year which has seen me blog basically nothing, I somehow have decided to create a year in review to encapsulate everything.

Obviously, living in Japan means rather than being able to sit and review things I'm usually out doing things, so that's counted against me this year. So to has the fact that I think I've only actually listened to one non-idol album released this year. Not good.

So, to get this underway...

Biggest Twat of 2015

So, this year, being inundated in the underground as much as I am, it's gonna have to be someone in that field. I'll give it to Seiji. If you haven't heard, Alice Project's manager/producer/whatever got embroiled in many, many scandals. Disturbing scandals. It came to light that Steam Girls member Karen's death last September was probably suicide. There were claims of members being forced into sexual service, plus the obvious fact that many were being paid very little.

Many members quit in light of these scandals, and the man himself has disappeared since. Kamen Joshi went from getting a ridiculously high selling single to all but disappearing from the mainstream in the space of months. Many of their long-time fans quit. In light of this I'm not surprised Alice is on a downward spiral. I was kind of tempted to go to Nanaka's birthday just out of nostalgia, but I didn't. It seems like flogging a dead horse.

Alice Project is dead. It's just not stopped moving yet.

Best Music Video of 2015

Bowen Staines. Need I say more? Everything the man touches is magic.

Best Photobook of 2015

Never honestly thought I'd do this.

It's like they hired a professional photographer for a change. Only taken them 11 photobooks.

Biggest Disappointment of 2015

Honestly, Lolisyn. It was all going so well, then in the space of maybe one month it all went shit. At the one-man show in May, they performed so many new songs that no one knew what to do. They were also completely different in style. I tried getting behind it. I failed. Since then I've seen Lolisyn maybe twice. The first time they failed at going to France. The second time they had 7 fans. Since then they've been to America, but now they've announced that second gen is leaving. I can only hope they go onto something better.

Longest Short PV of 2015

Mugen Regina are an adult, actressy kind of idol group. Their music is also pretty much on the metal end of the spectrum, and sometimes they like going rather proggy in their direction. I think I'd like it more if it weren't just 5 riffs repeated in different orders for the 12 minute duration of the song, but the short version PV is 9 minutes long which I think is slightly non sequitur.

Best 80s Throwback PV of 2015

KOTO is fun. I keep meaning to review her album and I just... can't. I know I'll give it a bad rating. I love it but I'll give it a bad rating. Dammit. Her dancing so fun.

Best Genre Crash of Idols in 2015

Now, metal in idols is big now. We can all see that. The whole Kawaii Metal thing has exploded what with the mainstream press attention lavished upon Babymetal, and some other groups have been getting some exposure recently (more on that later), but... Doom Metal? Really? nIo were always kind of on the cutting edge, helping to introduce crazier ideas into other idol groups (including stage crashing at times). But they're from Ishikawa, which despite the new Shinkansen isn't exactly the best location you'd think for idols. Being a subgroup of Oyayubi Princess is also kind of weird. Either way, I kind of dig the song. Channels Pentagram like hell. I love some old Doom.

Most Morbid PV of 2015

Well, cannibalism. Yay.

Most Manly Man In An Idol Group of 2015

Rei would kill Ladybeard in a fight. That's actually a deathmatch I want to see. Also Rei's growls are better. 

Most Fruitless Way To Raise Your Wage

They've already taken you to NYC and LA to film the PV, don't push your luck.

Still a better gimmick than Death Rabbits though. And their songs are better.

Biggest CD Release of 2015

Yes, that is a CD in an LP sleeve. No, I don't know why.

Best Picture of Dani Filth Looking Like A Spanner of 2015

Best Baseball Batting Instruction Video of 2015

Aaaaaah, MONTERO!

Best Ronnie James Dio Impersonation of 2015

Holy fuck, Maina. You got some pipes.

Also mad props for the Bathtime parody.

Most Accessible Idol Group of 2015

I mean in terms of being open, friendly and normal, not the music, which is pretty damn challenging if you just listen to idol pop. I dunno if anyone has heard of Necronomidol, but they're pretty chill. They do many shows with punk and metal bands, their members are all pretty nuts (Sari wears corpsepaint, Hotaru doesn't wear shoes often, Karen is often doing more wotagei than dancing), and their manager is an American with a huge beard. That certainly makes participating in their lives and buppan a hell of a lot easier if you speak no Japanese. They also have basically the most liberal "rules" in the idol world. There's no love ban rule, they're not really banned from doing anything that's not outright illegal. Also at buppan you can basically talk to them until the queue gets big enough for Ricky to bother moving you. Chekis are also ridiculously cheap at 500 yen. Honestly, even though I have groups I like musically more, Necronomidol are definitely always worth sticking around for or going early for if they're on. Or going at midnight, as I did at the weekend. Dammit.

Most Metal Album Artwork of 2015


Necronomidol's artwork is always amazing too. Though this is a single rather than an album.

Easiest Song To Thundersnake To of 2015

Thundersnake being the wotagei move.

That chorus is just made for it. Also well done ANGERME for finally unleashing your inner anger.

Best Ankle Breaking Dance Move of 2015

I'm surprised and awed that none were hospitalised.

Most Amazingly Non-Sucky English in an Idol Song of 2015

I'm surprised. It actually sounds like English instead of Engrish. Let's leave aside the multiple problems with trying to fit English lyrics into a Japanese melody and just appreciate the effort they made.

Worst Idol Experience of 2015

Has to be Angerme. Went to their release event for the above single, waited in the rain to see a pretty shit performance, then for the handshakes had to go through a ridiculous amount of security, all for 0.002 seconds of interaction. My first H!P experience in Japan, and probably my last. Even 9nine don't fuck over fans that much.

Biggest Idol Surprise of 2015

That Hiroro and Cha-pon from 9nine still remember my name, despite going nearly a year without seeing them, and then a good 6 months. As for Umika... well. She was mildly less frigid than the Antarctic.

Most Experimental AKB Song in a Long Assed Time of 2015

Team 8 are cute. But this has some crazy guitars, weird synths, strange vocal melodies and everything. I'm actually even nearly finding myself liking it.

Most Epic Song of 2015
Most Psychedelic Video of 2015

Oh, Ebichuu. I love this song. I love this video. And it's all for a biscuit commercial. Why can't they be this good at doing their own stuff?

Most Photogenic Idol Group of 2015

Maboroshi Karen GeNE. Only two of their four members but I've not taken pictures of the other two. But these two are really good. Kanami (top one) is tiny and she has a really fun way of acting at both buppan and during photoshoots. She's just chill. Yumino (bottom) is the leader and she's really down-to-earth and easy to talk to. Also she's really good at getting exactly the right pose at exactly the right time, which means I get many more usable photos from much less time.

Top 5 Idol Albums of 2015

As I've not listened to much outside idol music this year, I'm just doing idol albums for a change. And there have been some good ones. Also, despite me loving the Guso Drop disc, it's only got 6 tracks and the length is firmly in EP territory so I'm disqualifying it from the running. If I hadn't it'd be second.

5. Passpo - Beef or Chicken?

When you just really need a happy, cheerful slice of decent to good pop-rock, Passpo deliver. They follow the same kind of formula as usual, but spice it up with some more harder numbers, including American thrash inspired stuff (Not in Theory, Fake), some slower ballad rock that turns into punk (向日葵), actual upbeat pop (Shiny Road), an experimental in mixing dance beats and heavy guitars (High Tension Emotion), and kinda folky funky something (Fairy Tale). Some of the guitar solos are also pretty good. The girls all blend into each other as usual. I've honestly never had any interest in learning who the members of Passpo are. Still, the album is a good little ride. 7.8

4. Passcode - All is Vanity

I've already reviewed this so you can't be too surprised. They impressed me at TIF and I've not seen them since. But the album was a highly toxic, brutal journey through the realms of EDM, Punk, Thrash, and Digital Hardcore. Honestly not much to complain about except what I've previously mentioned. They replaced one of their members. I'm not sure which one. I'm not sure it really matters. Oh well. Still, worth a listen. 8.2

3. Fruitpochette - The Crest of Evil

That is one sexy cover. Fruitpochette released their debut album this year and basically eliminated 90% of their "core" and focused entirely on metal, which was to the good. This album punches hard, but backs it up with good instrumentals, good vocals, and decent production. The style is pretty consistent throughout, but there are some standout moments, notably the entire song of Paradox which is basically guitar sex. There are some more experimental moments that play with synths and acoustic guitars. All around good album. 8.8

2. Hauptharmonie - Hauptharmonie

Hauptharmonie confuse me. Their songs are basically divided into three categories. 1) Post-rock which has some kind of indie sensibilities. 2) Dark, classy adult songs, most of which are ballads. 3) Ska. The third one is the one that originally got me into them but that this album takes all of these diverse styles, presents them alongside each other and still somehow manages to come out with a coherent album is amazing. It starts off in the indie rock/post-rock mode, with some really good songs. Then we move onto a brief ska interlude with Tempting 10 Attempts of Temperance. I love ska. Then we go into dark adult mode for a song, before returning to post-rock with Ictus of Sun, another gorgeous little song. The next two songs fuse the two genres, before we get Bou, the most dirty little seedy song ever. It just oozes sex. The guitars and bass intertwine with piano and the vocals to produce something that sends shivers up your spine. We continue in the kind of adult rock kind of mode for a few more songs, then hit Nikolaus Knopp Platz, a ska-tinged ode to the Japanese cluster in Dusseldorf where their producer used to live. After this we have the slightly more straightforward ska Discovery Kataisi, which is sexy as a really sexy thing. Then, Caterwaul. It screams, it wails, it's ska metal and jazz all together and I love it. After reaching climax it's like the warm glow aftermath with Her Herb's Harvest, and it all ends in glorious lesbianism with Love Likes a Mille-Feuille. Great album. 9.1

1. 2& - Live Idol Artist

It had to happen. 2015 was the year that an idol album finally did what no other idol album had ever done. It made me give it a ten. Seriously, this album has no filler, no wasted seconds, no extraneous shit, no bad moments. This is basically a little diamond that's not been polished to oblivion. It has rough edges, but they add to its charm rather than detract from it. The whole album is beautiful, and with Saki releasing her first new song in nearly a year in February, I'm looking forward very much to where she goes from here. 10

So, next one I'm gonna review is Passcode's All is Vanity, because it's the one that most recently came into my possession. Also because I went to a fuckload of boring shit at Tokyo Idol Festival and after missing 3 of their four sets, Passcode did something good and amazed me.

Usually when I see Passcode it's crammed into a very small venue (Shinjuku Holiday, which is fine for the stuff I usually go to see but strangely when Passcode appear so do lots of fans), but luckily when I saw them this time it was in Zepp Diver City. With about 2000 people. On the other hand Zepp is rather larger (like, 25 times larger) than Holiday, and Holiday probably had about 200 people in it. So this time was quite relaxing by comparison. Also despite the constant death threats and brutality from event security about crowd-surfing, moshing, jumping and lifting, (PoP got banned from the second day because of it) all of these happened during PassCode and the security did fuck all. How weird.

Anyway, to the review.

Preamble: No idols, no real indication of it being an idol album. Definitely doesn't look anything like a metal cover. Looks similar to what those big assed Ministry of Sound compilations look like, with the title usually exploding through something.

Explosions are good.

1. Toxic. There is a technique in recording called the Wall of Sound. This is not it, though at first listen it does seem as if you're being blasted from all sides. This is called Loudness War. And thus, your ears bleed. So techno-y at the start. Then a nice little hook into the main verse. Guitars are pretty good. Vocals are vocodered to all shit. Chorus is still loudness war to fuck. Post chorus has less of the synths and more guitars so doesn't suffer as much, but it's all quite loud. Then after second verse we get instrumental break, techno break and screaming. The whole concept of structure has disappeared. Prechorus only before second chorus. Strange. Some thrash metal pop to end. Damn short. 7/10

2. 激動プログレッシブ. 

Nice and calm to start with, quite children's song-esque and then YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. Yea, that's Passcode. Techno-lead guitar-heavy pop. Some blastbeats in the verse, which is fun. This unison is grating. Preprechorus sounds megaphoned. Prechorus is nice and soft again, with some solo parts. Chorus mixes nice and evil sort of, with understandable vocals and smashed to brutality music. Post-chorus has some more screaming and sort of a rap. Then dance track with vocoding. Then breakdown. Or drop. Not sure what to call it. It has both metalcore and dubstep elements. Then another verse. Then preprechorus with no tune. Luckily prechorus and chorus save me. Interesting but not amazing. 7/10

3. Kissの花束. What do you mean a perfectly normal pop song? This reminds me (heavily) Himekyun's Koi no Prison. Just, you know, with good recording quality and more blastbeats. The acoustic guitars are nice. The solo vocal parts are nice. The blending of acoustic and electric guitars are nice. The basslines are exquisite. This is actually a pretty nice song. Chorus is nice and calming. Seems strange the more I like a song the less I write about it. Mid-8 has chiptune! Cute chiptune. And banging beats. And sexy basslines. And screaming. Of course. Shame that Passcode's screaming seems a little stripped of humanity, sounds too similar to screamo vocals instead of the metal equivalent. Still, a damn good little song. 10/10

4. Club Kids Never Die. And now we're starting with the chiptune. And big guitars. And some chanted vocals. The synth riffs in Passcode are so hyperspeed sometimes. The verse here is sexy as hell. The riffs and vocals intertwine really well. The prechorus is really short, and the chorus is... well, amazing. Half-speed, big hook, pianos playing through the background. Then screaming. Blastbeat section. Scream battle section. Then breakdown. This is more metalcore so it's a breakdown. Not a bad one. Then more screaming. Chorus makes its glorious return. I love this. Really love it. 10/10

5. XYZ.

Firstly, the PV is rather entertaining in a completely surreal way so I do suggest you check it out. Once more, techno metal (or core) is the way forward, this time with a Southern Metal riff to back it up. Verse has a nice pattern, but the vocal melodies aren't particularly interesting. Prechorus is where it picks up. Some fun. Then the chorus is once again fun. Some synths up top to keep things bright, guitars doing stuff.  Vocals not too bad. Post-chorus has some screaming, which is nice. Second time is pretty similar. Then suddenly some kind of trap music starts. Then insanity. Mid-8 is very good. Chiptune buildup chorus is a nice twist on the trope, especially with chipmonked vocals. Intriguing... but highly disturbing. 9/10

6. Let the revelry begin. Normal rock song? No synths at the beginning. Oooh, nice riff, second one. Then normal rock for verse, with nice vocal melodies. Seems to be mixing influences of Southern Metal and NWOBHM. Good idea. This whole run from start to end of second chorus is perfect. Mixing the genres back and forth. Slight use of vocoding in it, but it's Passcode. Mid-8 is quite nice too, with a sexy bass. Buildup is cool too, but not that far removed from normal. Damn shweet little song. 10/10

7. over there.

Another rock song, this one with a heavy bass again. Kind of ballad-y. Or just slow. More good riffs, and good vocal melodies make this a good one. Chorus is another blinder. These chorus writers are amazing. All of them have been pretty damn good. If only all the verses and stuff were amazing too. What's this? A solo! z0mg! A sexy solo with lots of listenability too. I like. Nothing wrong with this. 10/10

8. アスタリスク.

More cute music. Then screaming and metalcore. Good metalcore though. The riff during the verse is pretty complex. I like it. Also then after the verse is another screaming break. Prechorus is nice and cutesy and has a sexy piano in it. Chorus has synths back, and once again it's a godly chorus. Then a breakdown. True breakdown. Then synths. Then mid-8? Or something. And now for something completely different. Screaming raps. Now a solo on a shakuhachi. And Koto. Then chorus. What the fuck just happened? 9/10

9. Seize the day!! Some more straight up rock here. Sounds good. Until... synths! Guitar driven synthpop is back. And then the verse drops the synths again. So odd. Prechorus has a nice feel. Chorus is, guess what, damn good. May as well just stop saying it. Mid-8 is once again pretty happy and sweet, with some nice beats dragging it along. Guitar solo! Woooo! Nice one too. Buildup chorus takes a loooooooooong pause, so much that I think the song ends there. But they be trolling and they finish with a chorus and outro. How... normal. 9/10

10. Link. Another poppy guitar-piano song. Reminds me of Twinklestars, this one actually. Straight up happiness. Verse starts with just piano and vocals. Some funky guitars and bass drive this upwards, quite high. Chorus is cute as fuck and I love it. Second verse slow down like hell and then buildups up and down, then up and zooms into second chorus. Piano solo! Sexy as hell. Very swing jazz. Then, buildup with guitar leads, and strings help buildup chorus sexy time. 10/10

Overall: I do like PassCode. I like the idea, which is to meld really heavy techno to really heavy guitars and see what happens. They also have good ballads and pop-rock songs which makes them stand out against Fruitpochette and Babymetal who tend to stick with one thing and ride with it. As I said the thing with the screams is a kind of annoyance. There are two girls who scream in the group but I can't tell which of them is doing it at any given time. If you compare and contrast to Guso Drop, the only other group I know where two girls scream, they're both wildly different. They also inject more voice into their screams, but that comes down to Rei being death metal, Saki being kind of thrash metal, and the two Passcode girls being screamo.

So, this is something I've been needing to do for about two years, but I've got like loads idol albums to review. This isn't really a good situation, because some of them are fucking good, and some of them are fucking terrible, and I want to tell people how good or shit they are.

Obviously, last time I reviewed an album I gave it 10. I still stand by it. So the next "album" (it's an EP, actually), is by the same agency and same producer, and one of the same idols. But with 4 extra idols.

It's also a completely different style.

I will now list the albums I need to review because holy shit there are a fuckton of them and I need to remind myself of the gravity of the task facing me.

Bellring Shoujo Heart - Undo the Union
Cheeky Parade - Cheeky Parade I - WWDD
FRUITPOCHETTE - Shippu Jinrai (EP)
FRUITPOCHETTE - The Crest of Evil
Hauptharmonie - Hauptharmonie
Himekyun Fruits Can - Jounetsu Emotion
Himekyun Fruits Can - Lightning Princess
KOTO - Platonic Planet
nanoCUNE - Tenjou Yuuen
9nine - Magi9 Playground
Party Rockets - Triangle
Passcode - All is Vanity
PASSPO - Jejejejet!!!
PASSPO - Beef or Chicken
Sakura Gakuin - 2013 Kizuna
Sakura Gakuin - 2014 Kimi ni Todoke
Tsubasa Fly - Black and White
Tsuki to Taiyou - 2014 (EP)
Yuikaori - Bunny

Oh shit.

We'll see eh.

So first up...

Preamble: The packaging for this is utterly insane. It's LP sized, which is all well and good if it's an LP. It's a CD. The CD is stuck to the middle of an LP-shaped and sized piece of card that has all the lyrics and liner notes on it. Really weird idea. Takes up a lot of space. Crazy.

1. Level.

Level is a cool song. It starts with techno synths and a buildup of terror, and then the djenty as fuck guitars hit you and everything goes chaotic all at once. This is brutal. The vocals aren't amazing, because the member prefer fucking things up than singing most of the time. Obviously, in the prechorus where Saki sings the level jumps up a lot. Then screaming. From Saki. Chorus is pretty nice, actually, with more screaming. Post-chorus has a really strange part of "look my [body part]" which ends with brains. Then Rei gets in on the screaming, adding a new dimension (Rei's growls are more death metal to Saki's more higher pitched thrash metal screaming). Then rap. Too many genres. Little break with Anna monologue before chorus. Lyrics are pretty funny. All in all, damn good song.

2. 別に上手じゃなくていいじゃん、たかが音楽なんだから。ねぇ?…刺女△. The song title roughly translates to "It Don't Matter Even If it Ain't Done Well, Because It's Only Music. Right?... Thorn Woman." in case you were wondering. Again, more techno beats from the start, then enter guitars. I can't listen to this song without hearing the wotagei anymore. Dammit. The vocals are still interestingly not amazing, but the music, despite the title is actually quite good. Prechorus just consists of "Toge Onna, oh yay!" Next bit also quite short on lyrics, but very good. Next section once again to Rei-chan fucking the shit out of your ears with death vocals. Then chorus, with some lyrics and a bit of screaming. Then a post-chorus breakdown with slowing down guitars and evil. Ultimately this is a good song and the title is rather redundant.

3. slow RAIN@東京. Glow umbrellas. That's all you need to know. Fucking glow umbrellas. This is a ballad, ostensibly, but it's a Guso Drop ballad, meaning that it's all wall-of-sound guitars and sexy ambiances. The guitars are sexy as hell. Vocals actually take centre stage here, with all of them trying. Obviously Saki is the best, Yura tries her best, and well... yea. It's a nice change of pace in the EP and in concerts. At least, it stops everyone killing each other for a while. Obviously, it wouldn't be Guso Drop without screaming, so Rei does some before second verse. After second verse, no chorus, there's a ピチピチちゃぷちゃぷらんらん coming in. Everyone gets in a circle and yells it. It's very nice. Community spirit and all that. Then Saki screams. Yea. It's that kind of group. Last chorus sounds nice on the recording. Usually it's just screaming. Yea.

4. 反抗期熊さんボコボコparadise!! Ah, Kumaboko. Again, brutal guitars. Two-stepping intro with some ska-feel. SKA METAL! Verse has like the only member call in Guso Drop songs (AAAAAAAH! SAKI-CHAN!) after she finishes singing. Usually doesn't happen. Lots of headbanging and two-stepping parts. And then the chorus, which usually involves about 20 people crowdsurfing along with a giant teddy bear which just got murdered recently. It's not bad musically either. After second chorus there's an interesting minimalist (for Guso Drop) with just drums and one guitar riff, which then builds with vocals and bass, then a second harmonising guitar, as the girls look for the teddy bear. Then it usually comes to the stage. Then one of them kills it, with Anna usually screaming in its face. No wonder it's dead. Very energetic and fun song. Even if you usually die.

5. Level6. So, this is what happens when you Level up. Basically a sequel to Level, it features a Pink-Floyd-esque tape loop of Level before Level 6 starts. Then really brutal guitars. MIX in this is English then Iescraper mix. Weird, I know. Guitars are brutal. I wanna know what pedals Daichi used. Obviously, pre-chorus we get Saki screaming. Chorus is really nice. It isn't often I get to appreciate it, I'm usually being killed in a moshpit. Post-chorus is Anna monologue, which is disturbing as usual. Then headbanging and Shion usually starts spitting water at everyone. Then panic mode with Yura singing. Then comes, honestly, the most glorious thing in idol music. A screaming battle between Saki and Rei. Saki usually rides around the crowd on someone's shoulders and Rei usually takes a baseball bat and kills someone's knees so she can stand on them. The screaming is good. I love this shit.

6. ド田舎PUNK擬女.

And now for something completely different. Just, you know, a little punk song in the middle of the djentstepdeathtrance. Ultimately it's not a bad punk song. The vocals are suitably poorly sung. Ultimately I think it's the worst song on the EP, but that's only because the others are pretty damn good. It's a good dose of punk and does its job. There are slow bits and fast bits, lots of D-beats and interesting stuff. It's also the longest song on the EP by some measure, which is strange for a punk song. Also, there's whistling because they probably couldn't think of any lyrics. Rei always stagedives near the end. Still, nice way to end.


Honestly, in the past nearly 6 months I've been to maybe 40 or 50 Guso Drop shows. The songs haven't changed all that much. They've recently added Hirari, Hirahira, which is amazing. They also apparently have performed 『I(∵)L』 (pronounced IDOL) when I wasn't there, and have another two tracks, Tearing Teens and a new one called Bousou Shoujo written by Goto Mariko waiting in the wings. You'd think I'd have overdosed on hearing pretty much the same 7 songs that many times, but it doesn't seem that way. Still, I do want them to perform some more new stuff soon.

Anyway, good EP. Try it. You might enjoy it.

And no, I'm not giving you a choice. Some of these you will have read about on here before. This time I'm including some more information, some prices, and some suggestions.

So, as it's been a few months since I wrote anything, I'll just jump straight into it.

Kimi to Boku, Tokidoki Melancholic

Kimiboku have hooked me. Two members in particular I enjoy keeping my eye on. Their live is full of helpful cheer, wonder and strangeness. The music is "fairy-tale-esque", meaning lots of interesting creepy stuff, a bit of symphonic metal, and some waltz. Their stage presence is somewhat changed by the addition of Yuna and Ryon, who stand on steps in the crowd with flags and basically lead the audience choreography. It's like strictly official furicopy. The wota antics are also utterly bonkers, as is the case for all groups produced by AkeyP. Never seen people trying to swim in a paddling pool in the middle of a gig before until this.

For live positions, close to front is best. If you like Yuna's flag waving, go left. If you like Ryon's, go right. The stage members keep changing positions so I've not really worked out who is where yet in terms of wota positioning, but I usually stay left and keep my eyes on Minmin and Saki. Saki, by the way, is a dead ringer for Sakura Gakuin's dearly departed Horiuchi Marina.

Cheki prices are 500 for plain, 1000 for deco. Possibly more now for take-home decocheki where they pretty it up at home and such.

Definitely worth the mush it'll turn your brain into.

Maboroshi Karen GeNE

This group do strange things to my brain. Two of them look like middle schoolers but are hard drinking women in their early 20s. They also seem to enjoy removing clothing. Or maybe it's just the weather... Their music can be very ska. Their fans are very energetic. They're a bit nuts (they started climbing on the crowd the other day. Not stagediving, just... walking on the crowd).

I don't really know where anyone stands, so no real surety to my vaunted knowledge. But try to catch them in yukata one day, it really is awesome.

Chekis are 1000. They sign it afterwards. Try to know their names beforehand or the manager gets pissed off at you.


And now for some real ska. And I mean, real ska. They have some songs which are so ska that it reminds me entirely of Madness. Or other ska bands. It's amazing. The concerts are best during these songs. They also have some alt-rock and shoegazing songs, which are nice, and some songs which are unfortunately not that good. You have to hope for a good setlist. Luckily they're quite good performers so even the subpar songs can come out well. On the other hand, there's Caterwaul, which is so insane it sounds like Madness invaded Diablo Swing Orchestra. Or vice versa.

Here, try it:

Also Aimi (Aihara Emi) is another drunk. Drunken idols... so much fun. Chekis are about 1000.

Next Shoujo Jiken

So, Shuri disappeared. Nono graduated. Eri joined, then quit. All that's left is Mai. But she's still fucking amazing. Mai is the sweetest idol you'll ever meet, she's pretty chill, will happily chat with you for ages and can death growl.

Come on, that's hardcore. I think I was there that day. Sometimes the fans can be a little thin on the ground, but that doesn't matter because they're all insane so they still make more noise than anyone else. Definitely worth a shot.

Chekis are 500, decochekis are 1000, talking with Mai = priceless.

Tsuki to Taiyou

Honestly, Tsukitai's fans sometimes keep me away from their lives because some of them are completely out of control. Most of them don't wear clothes, for example. On the other hand, the lives themselves are always fun to watch, and if you can avoid the worst of the pinchike, utterly enjoyable. I just wouldn't advise ever seeing them at a show you don't have to pay for, because free shows pinchike levels are off the charts.

Honestly, that video's missing a member but I don't really pay much attention to Sayanee so I can't really tell. Nanamiinu (yellow) has the biggest (and most... vocal) fanbase, who like mentioning how well-endowed she is. I like Tomonya (red), who happened to be a U15 idol a while back. She's really chill to talk to though. The music's also pretty good.

Chekis are 500, deco-chekis are 1000, take-home and make pretty chekis are 1500.


Honestly, if you don't know about Necronomidol yet, you really should. They were formed by an American guy who makes horror/monster toys, and the advertisement specifically wanted girls who weren't quite sane. As a result you end up with girls like Sari, who wears really well done shironuri (like Japanese corpsepaint) and has green hair, and Hotaru who very rarely actually seems to acknowledge the existence of footwear. They started out really black metal, but have now moved to a slightly more radio-friendly (slightly...) format of ambient and darkwave. Which is what a fuckton of real black metal bands did anyway. They also just added two members who I've never met.

They're all quite fun to talk to, and so is Ricky, the manager/producer, so go see them. Deco chekis are like 500 yen (or they were last time I went) which are like the cheapest in the idol world.


Koto is like nothing you've probably ever seen. It's really quite weird how she dances. It's almost like she's possessed. Her songs are pretty shweet techno kind of songs. But she does really dance like a complete motherfucker. I dunno how she does it. She also makes her own choreo, and her PVs are just... weird. But her high points are her lives, where her dancing just... goes even further.

Really, just watch the song at 6:20 and you'll understand.

Chekis with her cost 1000. Trying to figure out how to furicopy may result in bodily harm.

Petit Pas

Petit Pas aren't a new group. I'd seen them a while back, but my favourite member left so I sort of forgot about them and wrote them off as just another load of BiS clones. Then Suzu and Nozomi joined and I got back on board. nerve is still their signature song, but they're getting some originals in heavy rotation now which is good.

Kokoro is really cool, Suzu is chill as hell and Nozomi is cute. I think the best live I ever saw them have was a two-man at Next Shoujo Jiken's free shows, where I was one of about 7 people for Next Shoujo Jiken and the other 50 people in a 40 capacity venue were there for Petit Pas. Fell over a few times. They also performed in pyjamas which was really cute.

Suzu also comes to Guso Drop as a fan a lot so that's pretty cool.

Chekis are like 1000.

Kumada Kanae

Kumachan is a nutcase. A 139cm tall nutcase with a helium voice and a poison tongue. She even has a song called "Kimowota no Uta" about how disgusting her fans are. It's really quite adorable how she dotes on them even as she heaps abuse on them. Her lives are also legendary for "Cider Terrorism", where she performs Hatsukoi Cider. Sometimes as many as 13 times (more on that in a minute). It speeds up every time. It's brutal.

She will come into the crowd. She will probably use you as a stool. She will probably annoy you. But it's worth it.

Chekis are 500 yen for a good mood cheki with "no signing, very little interaction, very soon bye-bye" cheki which is recommended for DDs, pinchike and poor people; 1000 for a normal cheki with 90-120 second of talk time and signed; and 1500 for a salty mood cheki which she decorates at home, and has a photo card as well.

Guso Drop 

Well... I was gonna mostly do groups newish to this blog today but fuck it. Guso Drop are still the best live idols out there by some way. Where else do you get them stagediving (at random, sometimes), spitting water at you, slapping you, sometimes riding you around the crowd, joining in moshpits, starting moshpits, playing games, having a laugh and generally not giving a fuck? Also Anna sometimes just stands on stage and eats. Both Saki and Rei growl. Their instores turn into utter nightmares for the stores. Their lives are getting crazier. Shion kicked me in the face...

This is an instore event.

This is a punk live.

What the fuck is the difference?

Audience participation is necessary. Come, and I wish you luck!

Chekis 1000. Get a communication ticket with it, use that to get it signed. Communication ticket with every 1000 of swag you buy, actually, so you can just use it to talk to them.

Honourable Mentions:

2&, for never giving up and still doing crazy backflips during a live, plus awesome music.

Lolisyn, for being insane and the crowd even more so.

(rare as fuck Croissant 2)

Zekkyousuru 60do, just because epic.

So, everyone (I assume) who reads this blog has probably seen me gushing about Saki at some point over the past year. And now, finally, the time has come when I can do what I do best, and rip apart some music. Today I attended Saki's birthday live, which was frankly awesome, and the price of entry was to buy her album, which was released today. So I did. Despite already having purchased two copies. Well, idol marketing gimmicks never change. So I have two spare copies if anyone's interested after reading this review.

Because I have a chance, and because, after all, Saki is a "live idol artist", I'll go into some of what happened today. The hall was covered in balloons and feathers. She had a live band. She wore a new black and red dress that she broke even before the end of the live, and because she wasn't wearing anything except underwear under it, had to go do an impromptu costume change. She stagedived. She jumped into the crowd and started leading us in running around. It was great fun.

So yes, if you get the chance to see 2& do so, because it's usually quite nuts.

Anyway, onto the album. It has 9 songs, not massive, you might think, but it's 47 minutes long so longer than a lot of real albums, so that's what I'm classing it as.

Preamble: The album cover is basically a really weirdly rendered image of fans kechaing the stage. Weird for an idol album, but hell, it's different.

1. 片目のLiliy. This song starts off in the same way the album will continue, with some cool rock surges and Saki sounding amazing. The verse and chorus all come and go in somewhat of a blur due to how sexy the music is. But the highlight of the song is when the music stops and she just yells "助けて!" at the top of her lungs. The music in this is glorious, wonderful little riffs and basslines that draw you in and Saki's voice that leaves you begging for more. Glorious start to the album. 10/10

2. 限界圧縮人形. The beginning of this song has the most flangey guitar riff ever. But it's sexy as hell. Then bass and drums. And Saki's voice again singing sweet sweet sounds over the top. The music goes from sparse to dense and back again, and Saki's voice is the main constant, staying strong throughout. The bassline in this song is fantastic. The chorus is also really a fistpumping affair. You know... if you weren't too busy furicopying. In the middle-8 there's a simple bass riff where Saki walks around in a circle during lives, and then starts going slowmotion when the flange guitars come back in. Truly fun to watch. Also nice to listen to on CD.  10/10

3. ネガポジmonster. Ah, Negaposi Monster. The song that first got me into Saki. It's held up well, especially in its newly re-recorded form. Again, the bass is funky as hell, with the guitar pretty much playing backup throughout most of the song. But again, Saki holds it together with her vocals. Also, in the chorus there's some glorious tap guitar going on. There's some glorious progressive feels in the middle-8, despite it being funky. Now Saki's screaming again. It's all good. Seriously fun song. 10/10

4. 兎と奴隷とカシオペア. Cassiopeia starts with a glorious little bass riff on the top strings, guitar noises and Saki singing just about as high into head voice as she can. Then we get some rock feel, which pushes the song along a bit. Then it quietens down a bit and we get to explore some more sonic landscapes, then the guitar starts noodling and the drums go a bit manic, and we get some glorious vocals. The guitars and bass interplay in this bit are orgasm worthy. And Saki's voice just chills me with how epic it is. Then another section with some headbanging. Then some crazy blastrolling on the drums into the chorus. At least, I assume it's the chorus. It's the happiest and fastest part of the song. Then we get a long slow part where it slowly builds up into a thing of pure beauty. This song is so prog in its layout. I lost count of the sections, but it's at least as rhapsodical as Iine, if not moreso, as the only thing that actually repeats is the 30 odd seconds of the chorus, which is a variation anyway. 10/10

5. 未来を. This is it. The most sexy intro of all. Saki's voice in the intro is just perfection. Then we're into fast funky rock again. Really, this could be a million-selling Red Hot Chilli Peppers single and no one would bat an eyelid. My mind can't keep up with how awesome it is. They've stuck some vocal effects at the beginning of the second verse, which keeps me from breaking the limiter on it. But it's still perfect. The chorus is perfect. The verse is perfect. In the middle 8 there's some nice bass riffs and then guitar buildup which is shwing. GUITAR SOLO! There aren't enough words to express how much win this song actually is. 10/10

6. ○の理論. 8 minutes and 21 seconds. This is one long assed idol song. Honestly, before today's live I'd never heard it so I had no idea what to expect. But it's (as you could probably tell from the length) progressive as fuck. Starts with some slow guitar and keys with Saki's voice sitting just on top. Then the funk starts. The riffs continue but the vocals, bass and drums break off into different patterns, almost reminding me of some jazzy type rock. It's been two minutes and we're still on the second riff, but because the bass and drums keep changing it isn't boring. Oh wait, third riff has started. Saki's vocal lines in this are superb. Then we get everything except the drums stop for a bit. And everything slows down to a really slow pace. Then it gets violent. Then after that section, we get some sexy bass twanging, very funky and sweet. Been 4:30 and no repeated sections yet. Then suddenly keyboards whine in and we get a chorus. Completely out of context to what surrounds it. Such a shock to the system. Certainly would wake you up. Now we repeat some sections. Saki's just singing "Oh yay!" at points and it still sounds good. She could sing pretty much anything and I'd like it, I think. It sort of goes hyper at the end repeating the same thing whilst speeding up to insanity and my brain has broken. 10/10

7. ドリーム. Dream starts off sounding like a cute 90s pop rock tune, with the guitars like they are now. But when the main riff and bass (which is turned up to 11) hit, the comparisons fly out the window. Again, the pounding bassline and guitars make a sexy platform for Saki to stand on, and then she does it with ease. The vocal melodies are sweet as a really sweet thing. The prechorus is especially wonderful. The chorus is a pure rock thing, and Saki sounds better than all of the early 2000s pop rock singers put together. Some of the slower bits in the buildup chorus are quite sweet as well. A lovely little song. 10/10

8. リアル. Real and Dream are built off the same structure. But there the difference ends. Whereas Dream tries to cute you into submission before bludgeoning you, Real has some pan-faded guitars to confuse you then just hits you with a hammer to the face with one of the best fucking riffs I've ever heard. Again, vocal melodies worth listening for alone. The guitar lines are wonderfully lush, and the drums build everything up nicely. The prechorus is an amazing buildup to the chorus, which will rip your face off. So much pace and energy even on CD you'll be hard pressed to not start jumping around like an idiot listening to it. The only thing they couldn't do on the recorded version is include Saki's gymnastics in the mid8 somehow. The buildup chorus is also wonderful. This is perfection in aural form. 10/10

9. ポッピングシャワーの雨. Popping Shower... after Real it's a shock to the system. Where Real mixed shoegaze and power into one (somehow), Popping Shower is funk as fuck. Still, the riffs are glorious and the bass and drums keep everything intact. Saki's also cute as hell on this song. They've added some spoken overdubs after the singing parts with her repeating lyrics or laughing. The chorus is powerful as hell, and the prechorus does a nice job of building us up to it. They've also recorded a crowd for the chorus, in which Saki does a call and response with the crowd yelling "zutto!" So they've actually put the crowd response in. They even had Saki's usual MCish thing in the middle 8 where she tells the crowd that 2& = Saki and them, and then basically has them all yell Double And over and over. Which they've also kept in, a nice touch. Gives it a bit of a live album feel towards the end. 10/10

Overall: So, shit. It finally happened. Albums that do this to me are few and far between. The last was Ayreon's The Human Equation back in 2004. This album is damn good alternative rock (a hint of shoegaze at times) with strong funky basslines and cool guitar licks, supported by a solid drum foundation. All the music on this album was done with a live band, so it's all pretty natural sounding. Saki's singing is also damn good: whilst live there can be the imperfections caused by hoarseness or the sound board being set up incorrectly, in a studio environment that basically all fades, so her performance here is top notch. Nothing wrong at all with the production (it was mastered in Sony's studios), the strength of the music is fucking fantastic (thanks Shachou), and yea. Honestly the only nitpicky bit I have would be that I think Real would be a better album ender than Popping Shower because of how powerful is, but I can see that because of Saki being a "Live Idol Artist" they wanted to show a feel of that during the last song, and Popping Shower is probably the most vocal the crowd get so they chose that.

So yes. This is the first idol album to achieve what this has just done.

Other albums that have done this to me include Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, Led Zeppelin's 4, Opeth's Blackwater Park, and Ayreon's Human Equation. There aren't many. It epitomises perfection. I've always said that my rankings are somewhat logarithmic so that the highest marks are almost impossible to achieve.

Well, Saki deserves it. So does Shachou for writing such glorious songs.

So, we come to part two of this year's late as fuck list. This is where half of you will likely sigh, give up, and go back to your mainstream idols in a fit of frustration, no doubt moaning that I simply "don't get it". Well, fuck it. Having experienced both sides of it in the past year, I'm happily in the underground camp now. So this list will likely include a bunch of idols you may not have heard of before. If you haven't, I highly suggest you check them out. Most of them have an internet presence, even if their activities exist almost entirely in playing live houses 3-6 times a week. Expand your world.

So before that, I'll go into a quick offshoot list of girls who did something to impress me this year, even if they're not really idols I like, that I have any hopes for, or usual contenders for this list.

-Yoshii Kanae from 9nine. Kanchan is a really good singer, and she really went gung ho to fish me when I was attending all those 9nine events last year. Shit, it was nearly a year ago. How time flies. She is also one of only two idols who can pronounce Krv with no difficulty whatsoever. And she does it incredibly sexily.
-Nishiwaki Sayaka, also 9nine. Again, went over the top in trying to get me to oshihen from Umika. Also just really happy. All the fucking time.
-Kumada Kanae, also known as Hatsukoi Cider. What the actual hell drugs she's on I don't know, but they're hilarious. She abuses the hell out of her fans. She's 139cm tall and looks about ten years younger than her 18 years old. Or is she 19? I can't remember. Either way, when she performs Hatsukoi Cider, she will blow your mind. Simply because she does it five or six times. Or, as I went to her birthday show... 12 on her own, once with Eren, once with Lolisyn, and then once in a metal arrangement with Lolisyn. Not counting the little play that happened with members from another group, and every time one of them fluffed their lines, Hatsukoi Cider. YES TIGER!
-Eren. Speaking of, Eren is awkward and amusing enough to warrant an honourable mention.
-Buchou from Death Rabbits. A 37 year old man in an idol group with a few 13 year olds. Really only getting a mention because of him being weak as hell. Beaten to shit in a Zekkyou moshpit. Beaten to shit in a Lolisyn moshpit and used as a climbing frame. For someone wearing armour and a good 6ft tall, he sure does get beaten up a lot.

Anyway, a recap of the 20-11 list:

20. Nakano Ikumi (AKB48)
19. Okada Nana (AKB48)
18. Ogata Haruna (Morning Musume)
17. Owada Nana (AKB48)
16. Ichino Narumi (SKE48)
15. Tomonya (Tsuki to Taiyou)
14. Akiyoshi Yuka (HKT48)
13. Kimoto Kanon (SKE48/HKT48)
12. Matsugami Yuko (Slime Girls)
11. Ishida Ayumi (Morning Musume)

So, onwards to the top ten.

10. Komiyama Haruka (AKB48)

Komi has impressed me, and I hope to see some more impressing. She reminds me of how Mayu used to be before she got all plastic-y and boring. Her lyric writing is hilariously poor, but the cutesy "Oh no!" in the middle made me laugh too hard. She's aiming for a black-hearted fishing-genius character, like Milky or Suda, so as those two both amuse me a lot I'm keeping my eye on her.

9. Kawamura Nanaka (Kamen Joshi/Alice Juban/Prism/Idol Youkai Kawayushi♥)

Wonky eyes, check. Stubby legs, check. Stupidly overexcited dancing, check. Yaeba, check. Fun to talk to, fun to meet, and she's not really that popular. So if you do find yourself at a PARMS show for any reason, I'd suggest finding the white glowsticks in Alice Juban and stand behind them, and watch how she plays the audience like a pro. She's also pretty funny on their new TV program, going to some rather underhanded lengths in order to win ¥10000. She's also pretty forthright with her views on twitter. Definitely the only one left worth supporting now Tomoe's gone.

8. Tanaka Natsumi (HKT48/SKE48)

Natsumikan is basically now HKT's MC Boss. Hyakkaten 3 is a perfect example, as they do an ANNEX with no Sasshi. Almost half the time Boss has to step in to get some of the more shy (or inexperienced) members to do what they're supposed to. Also her comedic MC duet with Akiyoshi in live shows is brilliantly hilarious. Her height is continuing to get bigger and bigger. She's evolving into the Tsukkomi of all HKT, and it's brilliant. Truly living up to her title of Boss.

7. Mai (Next Shoujo Jiken)

Next Shoujo Jiken were, to me, the spark that lit the fire. Attracted by the rumours of three girls running around barefoot stabbing each other and just laying down during performances and not being fucked to move, I decided last March to go and see what all the fuss was about. Before I went, the girl called Shuri looked the cutest, but after seeing them perform, Mai was the one who sold it all best. Shuri was like a force of nature, Nono was a bit too calm. Mai was just gloriously indolent. After the show I spent far too long talking to her and Nono. And that was that. Even through to the present, she's the one constant in Next Shoujo Jiken (Shuri disappeared one day, Nono graduated in December). Another constant is her hilarious inability to spell Krv. I've had Krb, Calb, KARV and nothing at all. All very dojikko moe. Until she starts growling. Hell yea. Plus she wants to play at Fuckingham Palace. Fuck yea. And Fuck You, because that's their motto.

6. Kai (Zekkyousuru 60do)

Ah, Kai. The English-speaking, skateboard-riding, crowdsurfing, cosplaying prime masochist of the idol world punk girl. That's a lot of boxes to tick as an idol. She really just does tick pretty much most boxes though. Cute as hell, sweet as anything to talk to, she has far too much energy live, is somewhat hilariously timid at times, and all in all is the perfect foil to her more boistrous colleague.

5. Kawashima Umika (9nine)

So, yet another good year for Umika. Her photobook did well, she was in another couple of pretty good dramas, she managed to fight off the damage done by Kanchan and Chapon to retain her status as my 9nine oshi, and in general just did everything right again. Not to mention the Takoyaki Apocalypse, which, btw, I finally ate on Tuesday night, marking nearly 350 days since she told me to eat the bloody thing and me actually doing it. Also, it fucking sucks. But hey, can't rank her down for having weird tastebuds.

4. Hiro (Gouhou Lolita Syndrome)

We're moving closer to the sharp end of this, and we come to one of the sharpest idols around. Hiro is fun. But she's also gloriously brutal. Her headbanging is for all intents and purposes the greatest in the idol world, to the extent that it's hard even for me to keep up. Her singing is good, she avoids the growling that Halu can pull off but makes up for it with an incredibly intense live performance. I'd be remiss if I didn't link (again) to Croissant. It's also fun when Hiro stands on you. Or stands on the edge of a table that the other edge is crushing your neck. Yes. Fun.

3. Montero (Zekkyousuru 60do)

Oh Montero, hypersadistic idol of ultimate proportions. Her atrocities grow with each passing week. The two most recent chekis I've had with her, for an idea: jumping off the top of a railing onto me, and putting her entire bodyweight on my face. Luckily she's not that heavy or my jaw would likely have broken. She's mental as fuck live, she's hilarious to talk to, and she'll do wonderful, terrible things to your helpless body. What the hell isn't to like?

2. Saki (2&/Guso Drop)

Saki had been leading this race until very recently, when #1 just edged ahead. Saki has pretty much everything an idol needs in a neat little package. She's cute, she's a good singer, she can dance, she does gymnastics that somehow fit into her performance, and she's utterly illogical. Seriously, read her tweets. No one has a fucking clue what she's on about half the time, least of all her producer. Still, she's fun to talk to, and you never know what you're going to get. Also, her secret hidden identity as Guso Drop's Saki, which is really only ever acknowledged on Twitter and very very occasionally during live MCs as being "separate entities", is the worst kept secret in idoldom. She will happily talk about it and 2& stuff when with Guso Drop during the communication time. Still, with her album out next Wednesday and Guso Drop going from strength to strength, I think the time to challenge the establishment will soon arrive.

1. Shion (Guso Drop)

Ultimately, it had to be. Basically, since I got to Japan I've been fighting a losing battle. I've been trying to keep myself neutral in Guso Drop, declaring myself Hako-oshi, but I've been increasingly drawn to Shion's more and more violent performances. When I first went to see them, back in November, she was pretty normal. The best of the lot at headbanging, but other than being the long, black-haired classical Japanese beauty of the group, she was pretty normal. Then I came back in February. She's covered in blood and bandages. She's brutal as anything. I've always gravitated towards those that have the most tempestuous stage presence, just see Nanaka from Alice Juuban. But Shion takes tempestuous stage performance and throws it up about three hundred levels. When the other girls are raising their arms up and down, Shion's looks like it's about to tear out of the socket. When the other girls are wandering around the crowd high-fiving people, she's hitting them. When the others throw things into the crowd, Shion throws them at the crowd. Or just spits water in their face. Wait, she does that anyway. She's taken to bringing 4L bottles of water, just to drench herself and the crowd with. She's also delightful to speak to, really cute and fun. Chekis are always amusing. And then Tuesday happened. Their last day at Shinjuku Red Nose, the members of the fanclub were invited to bring along cameras. So I did. And Shion broke her ribs. I think I caught the moment on camera. The floor was slippery, everyone fell over. Not only did she finish the performance, she came out and did chekis and communication time as well. And then, far from taking a break, or giving up, she's been performing in a wheelchair. Not your Mitsui Aika sit alone on the side of the stage wheelchair live either. She's rolling herself on (in fact, the first time she did she banged her leg into the barrier on the edge of the stage), dancing in the chair and causing havoc with waterpistols. And her "injuries" are also getting more extreme. She's taken to bandaging up and applying fake blood to her legs, her arms, pretty much everything except the part that's actually injured. And now, thanks to the efforts of another gaijin fan, the term Wheelchair Cheki has entered the wotaku vocabulary. Here's mine.

So yes, for her valour, her fortitude, her epic stage presence, her cuteness, general awesomeness and all around brilliance, Shion is my number one pick for who is going to light my world on fire this year. She's already made a damn good start.

Have some more pictures for good measure.

It's February. Time and beyond for top idol lists. Usually I do it in January but this year I had to move to Japan so that's occupied me rather a lot, trying to find a job and not spend all my money. Last year I gave top spot to Oota Aika, expecting her to achieve some modicum of extra popularity and impetus to spur HKT on to greater heights. Needless to say, that hasn't really happened. However, since last year I've spent rather a lot more time attending indie idol events, meaning that this year's list will see quite a massive change. Goodbye, one longtime mainstay of this list. Etc etc.

The rules, as usual:
1. I define idols as current members of a current group who currently release idol music, or solo singers who do the same and are generally defined as idols.
2. If a former member of an idol group redebuts under a different name or as a solo singer, or both, and is still primarily known as an idol, they qualify.
3. However, members of retrospective groups that merely take the limelight away from current members do not.

Last year's list (and previous ranks in parentheses):

20. Yogi Keira (-/-/-/19)
19. Ego Yuna (-/-/-/-)
18. Tani Marika (-/-/-/-)
17. Shiraishi Mai (-/-/-/-)
16. Jonishi Kei (-/-/-/-)
15. Kimoto Kanon (-/-/1/2)
14. Shiroma Miru (-/-/-/20)
13. Murashige Anna (-/-/-/God)
12. Nakamoto Suzuka (-/-/-/-)
11. Nabilah Ayu Ratna Azalia (-/-/-/-)
10. Suzuki Airi (9/8/3/10)
9. Ariyasu Momka (-/-/7/8)
8. Ishida Ayumi (-/-/-/4)
7. Nakagawa Haruka (-/-/16/-)
6. Akiyoshi Yuka (-/-/-/-)
5. Kawashima Umika (-/1/8/3)
4. Michishige Sayumi (12/10/17/-)
3. Motomura Aoi (-/-/-/-)
2. Okada Nana (-/-/-/-)
1. Oota Aika (-/-/9/-)

So, firstly, to the people who dropped out of the list.

-Yogi Keira ruined everything when she graduated from NMB. Her impish smile will be missed.
-Michishige Sayumi fulfilled all my hopes for her tenure, probably ended as Momusu's best leader ever (no matter how ridiculous that may sound) and left Momusu in a vastly improved situation than when she inherited it.

Fall Out of List:

-Ego Yuna is still cute as a really cute thing, but she seems to keep getting pushed to the side in lieu of Ryoha (who is less attractive, less interesting and in general just a bore) and other than a few appearances on Ebi Calcio she's not been in anything I've seen.
-Tani Marika got exiled to SKE, promptly evolved not one iota and is still loud, obnoxious and funny. Unfortunately the SKE crowd (Suda and Matsumura aside) are a bit more serious than HKT, and so her attempts at doing things tend to come off as overblown. Despite the relative success of her and Matsumura's hitchhiking trip from Wakkanai to Nagoya and their prize-winnings lifestyle things on the Ebi series, and MCing Zero Position, she drops out.
-Shiraishi Mai (and a lot of Nogizaka actually) just coasted through the year, content in their relative success.
-Jonishi Kei, despite winning AKB Shirabe's "most delightful breasts" award (it had a better name but I've forgotten it) has really not done a whole lot of standing out this year.
-Ditto for Shiroma Miru, even though she became a centre.
-What happened to Murashige this year? She disappeared or something. She's done about one thing I found interesting, and that was on Odekake about two weeks ago.
-Nakamoto Suzuka, despite still being awesome, and despite seeing her live, and despite being in the top tier of idol singers, has not really had any exposure at all beyond lives, which considering the amount of promotion and shit Mutou Ayami gets, strikes me as Amuse not having a fucking clue what to do with Babymetal other than live concerts.
-Nabilah impressed me so much in 2013 that I had high hopes for her in 2014, and they didn't materialise. However, she seems to have some stuff lined up for this year, including a film, so maybe she'll be back on next year.
-Suzuki Airi *shock horror gasp*. Despite being on this list every year since its conception, she has finally dropped off. Why? Actually, it's because of Berryz. This list is more a "idols I expect to see a lot of in the coming year" than an oshi ranking, because Airi would still be my #1 in H!P. And because Berryz have been put on a bus, and with H!P giving us more and more units, I'm thinking that the time may not be far away from the bus coming back for C-ute to embark as well.
-Ariyasu Momoka. Honestly, Momoclo haven't really impressed me at all this last year. Momoka's still a glorious ditz and gloriously cute, but one can't stand still forever. Having positioned themselves as an A-tier group along with the 48 Empire, Momoclo are falling into the trap of coasting along with minimal effort.
-Harugon has impressed me again, but it was just not quite enough to attain ranking this year.
-Motomura Aoi disappeared until like really recently, but it wasn't enough to retain her position.
-Oota Aika does some things. Not enough to repay my faith in her when she obtained captaincy.

Nearly Made It:
-Yamada Nanami from Team 8 was quite hilarious on AKBingo. One to watch.
-Mukaichi Mion (Team 4) getting quite some attention, most of it good.
-Moriyasu Madoka (HKT) gradually getting closer to being epic.
-Tashima Meru (HKT) also impressed me with the fact that centre was taken from her and she's not really changed at all. I think a lot of people had the feeling that Meru was like a super-entitled girl who felt she had a right to be at the front, but she's carried on as she was beforehand and not seemed in the least upset. Might be that she just takes things as they come. Of course, with HKT's documentary out this year I might be completely wrong.
-Akimoto Manatsu and Nakamoto Himeka from Nogizaka. Akimoto is really cute. Himetan is also really cute and can sing. They're both pretty amusing. Possible for next year if Nogizaka start doing fun things again.
-Kikuchi Moa from Sakugaku and Babymetal. Now firmly established as my SG oshi (until she graduates too), she's taken on the mantle of student council president and done it well. She's also damn amazing in Babymetal concerts.
-Tamura Meimi from ANGERME. Honestly, she was right on the verge of getting in. Lilium gave me a greater appreciation of her voice, of her weird as hell looks, of her skills... then she cut her hair and started to look a bit like a slightly overweight Johnnys' Junior member. Maybe if she grows it out.
-Steam Girls' Koyanagi Tomoe and Asakura Ayaka. Tomoe has long been my Alice Project oshi. Until, you know, I actually started going to shows and she was never there. At Kamiya's birthday show I finally got to see her in action, but she buggered off before buppan. And now she's just quit so yea, fucked. Ayaka is cold as anything, but when she grins it's just really cute. So I say true but ridiculous things to make her grin. This pisses off Dean.
-Kubota Misa and Amaki Jun from Armour Girls. Jun is cute and funny, but she missed out on the top twenty for two reasons, both of which are attached to her chest. Misa is also stupidly cute, and has a real possibility of stealing my Armour oshi title from Jun.
-Megu from Tsuki to Taiyou. Dat scream.

So once again, a shitload of new entries to the list. Hooray.

20. Nakano Ikumi (AKB48)

So, Team 8's centre has been impressing the hell out of me all over the place. Despite being that cute she's quite big, which is an interesting point which propels her up with Natsumikan as a really tall but still underage girl. I think the standout moment was where she randomly came out and confessed to Yamada Nanami in a single motion on AKBingo after Iwata Karen's somewhat joking coming out of her own. I don't know what the plans for Team 8 are, whether they're a permanent team or just going to build up to a 47 prefecture tour and then disband, but I'm hopeful for Nakano's future.

19. Okada Nana (AKB48)

A bit of a fall for Nana, but it doesn't matter because she's still brilliant. As one of the members who basically give me some hope that AKB's variety talent won't fade soon, she's again had a pretty strong year at being serious business and meanwhile having a bit of a laugh as well. She's also (as you can see above) incredibly cute and so I hope for many very pleasant gravure spreads in the coming year.
18. Ogata Haruna (Morning Musume.)

So, the (to me) outstanding talent of Momusu's 12th generation. Why? Of course, it's because of Henkka. When the hell isn't it? This delightful thread gave me shivers of anticipation. It's been far too long since Kemekosomeone in Morning Musume has been willing to make a complete tit of themselves before they even have an established character. And I can't really count Aichan or Aika because that's how their faces actually looked like. And Norks evidently doesn't like doing the silly faces, so now it's Fuckface's turn. Plus, when she's not doing stupid faces, she's a figure skater and pretty damn cute, and she's from Osaka. Perfect.

17. Owada "Anything That Has A Pulse" Nana (AKB48)

So, apart from being cute as a really cute thing, what does the latest AKB "Next Generation Ace" (gotta be about thirty of those already, seriously...) have that sets her apart from the rest? Well, acting for one. Major role in that Sailor Zombie thing they had going for a while, now a supporting role in the latest Majisuka Gakuen. But there's something more. A quick search of AKB's Yuri Detector Tumblr yields that she's in more "pairings" than just about anyone ever. Very good at giving wota fanservice then. I expect a lot from her.

16. Ichino Narumi (SKE48)

That picture probably best symbolises Naru for me. She's only really recently come to my attention, in some swimming themed episodes of the SKE Zero Position show where she randomly tried swimming whilst dressed in a kappa kigurumi. Considering she nearly won despite the handicap, that was quite amusing. Apart from that, she's sort of been a loli character for a while, though she's now approaching 16 and SKE has a few members younger than her. She also looks a load like someone a bit higher on this list, and is really cute, so yes. Here.

15. Tomomi (Tsuki to Taiyou)

Tsuki to Taiyou are a group of quite young, quite fresh idols with a producer who called himself AkeyP and is full of really... really mental ideas. Like trying to get them to be mascots for the World Cup in 2018 in Russia by making them do 100 keepie-uppies each. At the moment the best score by one member is like 4. Good luck. Music-wise as well they're all over the place. Pop, metal and stuff that mixes the two. As for why Tomonya, well, she's just... cute. Even though she does have a pretty weird looking face. She's also really not put off by anything. I turned up to a show covered in (fake) blood once. The other members were all like "shit, what happened!?" Tomonya was just getting pissed off at me for not pronouncing cheki as "cheke", as only ever happens in AkeyP produced idol groups. For that, she gets here.

14. Akiyoshi Yuka (HKT48)

So, Akiyoshi. She's grown a lot over the last year. Gone from making cute faces and looking in awe at the world as if she's never seen anything before to being one of HKT's go-to-girls for MC skits, most notably in partnership with Tanaka Natsumi in the Mikan Sisters combi. Mikan sisters because Natsumikan is Natsumikan and Yuka just really... really fucking likes oranges. Notable in that the height difference is also pretty extreme. But it's always fun to watch. Of course, with the rise of NakoMiku, and lately Aramaki and Jaws Aika Eretan, Akiyoshi has been free to find her own niche that doesn't rely on being the token loli character. Her development into the world's best idol with a pentagonal face has just begun.

13. Kimoto Kanon (SKE48/HKT48)

There have been a few plus points that Non has had this year that helped her regain some ground in this list. The first is that she's turned into a fucking stunner. Secondly, despite Ebishow/Calcio/whatever this year being a bit pedantic and featuring frankly not enough Non, when she did appear, she shone. Thirdly, HKT. Good move. Sort of reinforced KIV as probably my favourite team in 48. Fourthly, she had her own entire corner on the otherwise frankly woeful Arubaito Theatre. As that corner consisted of her going to a lot of different places and then slowly removing her shoes and socks to the glorious accompaniment of Chopin's Nocturne Op9No2, and then going barefoot, the millions of foot fetishists that seem to frequent this site (based on the #2 most popular post ever on here, anyway) no doubt cried out, and then were suddenly silenced. Either way, more Non this year please, 48.

12. Matsugami Yuko (Slime Girls)

Matsugami Yuko, if you didn't know, is Alice Project's resident wristslitter. Well, we surmise that simply from the fact that she always has a bandage, or sleeve, or long glove, or a load of flowery wrist decorations, that go over her arm. But considering Alice Project... I wouldn't put it past them. But yes. Wristslitter. Yuko is cute. She is usually quite happy to talk to anyone. Recently she stopped showing up but it was because of a family loss or something, not because she did something stupid. Unlike that other girl...  Either way, one of the few beacons of hope for Alice Project.

11. Ishida Ayumi (Morning Musume.)

The hardest part of this post (yes, even harder than those black jokes in the entry before this) was deciding whether to use a cute Daaishi pic, a sexy Daaishi pic, or a pic full of Daaishi Feeling. That I even worried before I decided shows how much Ayumi is worth. Honestly, Daaishi Feeling is so strong in some pictures that I save them even though I have limited space. My poor HDD is overflowing with them. So I went for a cute one. Just because. So, why has Ayumi impressed me? Photobook. Being cool. Being funny in Lilium. Being full of Daaishi Feeling. And she's just so bloody adorable. And this year I think she's going to knock off Riho and steal the crown for herself. Fakjea.

So, part two of this post, with the top ten, will probably be posted. Eventually. If rabid Alice Project fans haven't ripped my entrails out.