Top 10 Geinou Girlfriends Revisited
To get the renewed American Wota up and running, let’s proceed with an unapologetic act of objectification and wota worship. CDTV released their latest list of most desirable idols and I realized I hadn’t done one in way too long…
Since it’s been over a year and a half, this Top Ten has changed considerably - but looking at this list, I’m pleased that my wota passions still run deep and wide. Being father of a five-month-old, I’ve been more distracted from the idol world than I’d like - though to be honest, playing with Haruna and making her laugh or spit up on my shirt beats watching a Berryz concert any day of the week. However, the ten idols here still make me all giddy and happy in that uniquely silly, fan serviced kind of way. Fatherhood is a whole different kind of enchantment, but when I have the time to slip back into drooling otaku mode, these young ladies in particular can work wonders on me and renew my faith in the overly commercialized, intensely marketed, pre-manufactured wonder that is the idol world.
So without further ado, let’s begin with the hottest member of Maria…
10. Tattsu -The drummer for Maria has emerged as just the right mix of kawaii and kakkoii. The Coming Century members of the group seem like more obvious choices, but are perhaps too sweet for the jrock idol vibe: Maiko’s become bland post-Zone, her co-singer / co-bassist Aika is even blander, and keyboardist / violinist Aika is a bit too effervescent. (She can only bop so much behind the keyboards before I begin wishing it was Viv from Spinal Tap instead.) The 20th Century members of the group are more intriguing: Sacchin is standoffish, Ayuka has the girl-next-door charm Maiko used to have, and Tattsu is passionate in her drumming and thus intriguingly hot. In “Tsubomi” she was irresistible, and the CDTV performance of “Chiisana Uta” also stuck with me. It’s an added bonus that she writes music for the band, meaning she’s a multi-faceted creative soul - and all this without a bikini photobook.
9. Michishige Sayumi -One of three current Morning Musume that I care about. (The other two being Mikitty and Micchi, of course.) And as I’ve stated before, she was the one I hated most back when I first became a Momusu fan - but of course, one of the joys of H!P is watching the idols grow and evolve, even as one’s opinions shift and change. Sayumi’s not much of a singer, nor is she physically coordinated (check out her Metro Rabbits practice sessions), but she’s emerged as a top-rate geinou among idols who’re considerably less interesting (take your pick) or who made some wrong choices (i.e., Reina deciding to become more kawaii when her yankee tough girl attitude was the best showcase for her). An idol is all about projecting an image that is quirky enough to be memorable but also relying on a subtle mixture of cuteness and sexiness. Sayumi has managed this as she’s blossomed physically from a cute teenager to a positively beautiful young woman.
8. Ozawa Maria - The woman who made me fall in love with AV as an idol medium in its own right. Before Maria, I was intrigued by AV idols but none of them particularly stuck with me. Something about Maria made her not only memorable, but addictive - she was the first porn star who engendered the kind of wota attachment that I’d felt only for pop idols up to that point. I particularly recommend her work in Bako Bako Promiscuity 16 and Number One Style, but I know I’m biased. She’s not the most graceful or even the sexiest of AV idols out there, yet she projects a unique persona - a mix of come-hither / come-all-over-me enticement and regally standoffish ice-queen cool - that she knows how to balance for maximum AV effect. If anything, she’s emblematic of the S1 idol ethic, a specific kind of stylized AV performance that I’m still trying to figure out but which is perhaps the Japanese equivalent of Vivid’s style in America or Private in Europe. Which I guess makes her something like the Sylvia Saint of Japan?
7. Yuki -The singer for Bennie K and the more ethereal of this powerhouse duo, Yuki has a beautiful voice and a strikingly vulnerable presence that nevertheless radiates inner strength. She’s kind of like a modern J-urban Stevie Nicks, but without the annoyingly raspy vocal tics or all those damn scarves. Bennie K was one of my big discoveries of last year that I never really bothered to write about in the blog, and I hope to make up for that soon.
6. Cico - The rapper for Bennie K, and the butch in their butch-femme dynamic. (Which isn’t to imply that Bennie K are lesbians, or that they aren’t. I wouldn’t be surprised either way, actually, though I’m guessing they aren’t for some reason.) I like how she’s unafraid to come across as rough-and-tumble, even a bit vulgar, while always reminding us she is indeed a woman. Watching her dance in “Disco Senpai” and “Rensou Game” shows how being one of the boys doesn’t keep a true woman from being sensual. (Her dance in “1001 Nights” is a bit too obvious on that count, though very funny on its own terms.)
5. Ishiguro Aya -The Musume turned mother, and number one the last time I did this list. I still find her work with Hello! Project some of the most sensual and playful from any idol in that collective’s ten-year history, while her current work promoting motherhood has bestowed a wonderful milfy goodness that makes me both envious and proud of her husband Shinya.
4. Amuro Namie -Avex’s greatest diva, Namie has a mix of qualities that make her sui generis (a statement I’m sure I’ve made before). There’s the tragic family history, the earlier pop princess reign, her divorcee milf status, and her current role as the queen of hip pop: all of it adds up to an idol persona that is mature and experienced, yet continues to surprise and delight within her chosen genre. She can be dark and brooding, clever and playful, or something in-between, and it all suits her. It’s possible to just watch her and watch her and never grow bored, she’s that compelling an artist and idol. Which can also be said about the next choice…
3. Ozawa Naho -The AV idol I cherish most of all, Naho has a distinctive look and personality which somehow makes fucking on-camera seem sophisticated, clever, and requiring a true artisan at work in the fields of eros, instead of just being a lot of desperately exhibitionistic masturbation fodder (though yes, it also serves that purpose). There’s as much satisfaction and joy in watching her simply talk to the camera as there is in watching her perform. If I was rating according to the quantity and quality of filthiest thoughts about a geinou, Naho would be number one, hands down, in my Top Ten. (”Hands down” - come on, that’s begging for some kind of snarky remark from you bastards.) But I also think she’s the geinou I’d most enjoy having a simple conversation with, I get a sense she’d have a lot of interesting things to say and actually be thoughtful as well as engaging about it. I may be wrong, but the fact that she projects this quality is an essential part of her idol persona’s genius.
2. Kago Ai -Aibon’s return reminded me just how much I love her. Her picture’s been up on my wall since I first moved to Hawaii and has never been taken down, not even during this past year in a world sans Aibon. But that was a fondness for what was, I now realize - a bit of nostalgia for the Golden Age, Minimoni, her shuffles work, and about half of what she’s done in W (much as I love “Robokiss”, we can probably ditch about half of W’s oeuvre and be none the poorer for it). What places her so high in this list this time is that her exile from H!P street has changed her in some manner fan have yet to determine with any certainty. The weight loss has transformed her looks wonderfully (though Aibon with meat on her bones was also quite delectable), but there’s also this new gravitas to her - it positively glows from the photos of her. While it’s too early to say, I think I’d be disappointed if she goes back to her childish ways. (It would be a step back for Tsuji, too, who has come into her own in Aibon’s absence.) The exile may have been just what she needs to change her image and make an even greater impact on the geinou world.
1. Kashiyuka - Perfume’s middle child has completely won me over by her sheer kawaii-ness. Perfume released the best single and PV of last year with “Electro World”, and from watching the video repeatedly I was completely enchanted by Kashiyuka especially. A-chan almost made this list, and if it was a top 25 I think Nocchi would make it as well. Like Bennie K, Perfume is another group that made a major impact on me last year but saw little exposure in my blogging. (The last two I’d include in such a list are Kishidan and DJ Ozma, though they’re essentially two sides of the same strangely postmodern coin.) Falling in love with Amuro Namie’s R&B style was itself a huge leap - falling for a Jpop techno group that uses cyberpunk for their leitmotif should’ve been an even tougher horse pill to swallow, but in Perfume’s case I couldn’t get enough. In some ways, I believe they are the perfect idol group, up there with SweetS and Speed and second-gen Tanpopo. The fact that Perfume’s current incarnation is so obviously prefabricated and dictated from above only adds to the idol aura, as far as I’m concerned.
Articulating what makes Kashiyuka so charming is difficult, but part of it is certainly the disingenuous girl-next-door manner in which she carries herself. She doesn’t have the sophistication or charm of a Naho Ozawa, the mystique of an Amuro Namie, or the quirkiness of a Cico or Yuki. What she does have is an effortlessness to how she projects her kawaii-ness - she doesn’t go out of her way to be especially cute (at least, it doesn’t seem that way to me), and yet it’s so obvious. This young lady practically demands to be squee’d over, yet she performs like that isn’t the case. It’s both maddening and irresistible - and a very different take on the idol persona than the kind of aggressive kawaii-ness mastered by the likes of Ayaya and Momoko, who constantly emphasize how squee-able they are (at least, Ayaya used to, before she made the bad business decision of acting more mature).
Which perhaps shows how shallow I am, but a Top 10 Geinou Girlfriends list in and of itself should already prove an excellent indicator of that anyway.
I also have to give Kashiyuka huge props for her admission during a show - as reported by Santos of Idolizing St. Anna - that Perfume does techno music but that if you aren’t into techno it’ll all sound the same. That still sticks with me since it’s so forthright and honest about something so many performers would just try to gloss over and pretend isn’t the case. And that quality of straightforward innocence is something Kashiyuka does beautifully - actually, all of Perfume have mastered a kind of aho kawaii (again, props to Santos) that is less about stupidity than a pronounced naivete that suits their specific idol personae. It’s in their singing style, in their use of techno, even in their dance moves… if anything, Perfume struck me as apt a meta-commentary on the idol world as SweetS was in their Bounceback era. For me, there’s no higher compliment than that - and Kashiyuka seems to best personify that quality.
Of course, you all think I’m completely wrong and fucked up a list which could have been more essentially truthful and better captured the beauty and objectification that is the idol world. And I’ll say what I said last time: make up your own damn lists and share it! And make sure to include pictures, because that always helps in eyecandy projects like this.