In 2011 I was able to see PASSPO three times and pre-dia five (“wow, good for you” /sarcasm). I didn’t hit the weird, fanatical level of fandom, I was just your typical “cool-guy-who-loves-PASSPO-but-isn’t-an-insane-wota”. In 2012 I want to become an insane wota and see them at fanatical levels though!! *Kidding* Unfortunately with school and other travel plans, I have no idea when I’ll have the time to see them again. (Why can’t they just come to me?)
I’ve been making predictions about PASSPO since this summer (in other news, this summer I became a huge nerd). Some of my predictions I scribbled in crayon on random pieces of paper, while others I just kept to myself. My main predictions: PASSPO would be the next “big” idol group, ViVi Natsu would sell 50,000 first week, CHECK-IN 55,000 first week, and they would perform at least one concert in America. I was wrong on each one, oops :).
(* Although ViVi Natsu probably sold close to that much if you include concert and event sales that oricon doesn’t track /excuses)
Predictions aren’t about accuracy though, they’re about having fun!
This summer I thought PASSPO was on the verge of breaking out at a mainstream level (I really wanted to be able to use the word “PASSPOpular”). At the very least I felt they would distance themselves from established groups like Idoling and Momoiro Clover and new-gen™ groups like Super Girls. I thought AKB’s gimmickry and overexposure would start turning off fans in mass, and PASSPO would be the biggest beneficiary of the hypothetical AKB backlash (since I consider PASSPO to be the Anti-AKB). If there has been an AKB backlash, it hasn’t been at the tidal wave level I predicted.
Based on the sales of ViVi Natsu and CHECK-IN, PASSPO record sales are in a holding pattern more so than reflecting a growth phase. On the other hand, they are performing in venues that are progressively higher in capacity – theaters three to five times larger than the clubs they were booking at the beginning of the year.
Something I think hurt PASSPO’s momentum is the decision to ban moshing at their concerts. The insanity of their lives really differentiated them from the huge pack of idol groups. The energy of the audience at the July concert and the November concerts were really different, and not in a good way. Designating areas exclusively for girls was fine, since that should have resolved any issues the staff had with the fans. Banning moshing on top of that was overkill. If moshing was banned, there was no longer a need to have a girl-only areas. Segregating fans is lame and goes against their progressive roots.
☆PASSPO in 2012☆
A New Member
I don’t think PASSPO will exist as a nine member group for long. Their choreography is designed for ten girls, with most dances relying on symmetrical patterns and formations, and others featuring the girls pairing up (Sakura Iro and Hareru yo, and possibly other new songs I haven’t seen performed, such as their “unit” songs which I had forgotten about until just now). Kaho was also one of the primary vocalists and after Shiori, she was the most enthusiastic during their live shows. Replacing a member is unfortunate, but it can be opportunity to improve and gain exposure.
The original members of a group are almost always the best, which is why I would prefer the producers to headhunt rather than audition a replacement. Platinum probably also has talent within their agency that would be compatible with PASSPO, like Terumi and Runa going from BA5 to pre-dia (and most recently Yuzuka going from D-rive to pre-dia).
I was actually thinking of a specific girl to replace Kaho.
Akari Hayami, formerly of Momoiro Clover would be a great fit for PASSPO. She’s the right age, has “idol” talent and experience, has a style that seems compatible with PASSPO, has an affiliation with Universal through the movie Cheerfu11y, and because of that movie already knows several PASSPO members (Naomin, Anna, and Shiori). I’m pretty sure she is focused on becoming an actress though.
A total wild-card would be Mai Oshima. Her solo career at Avex hasn’t taken off at all, but even if she was dropped I doubt she would want to go back to being an “idol”. She’s not really the right age, but she would be the best vocalist if she joined (and she already knows the ViVi Natsu choreography :) ). I always had a feeling she wouldn’t mind getting some sort of revenge on AKB either (even though she still indirectly works with them occasionally). I doubt this would ever happen, but I would love it if it did.
I hope that whoever replaces Kaho isn’t assigned the color green. Green should be permanently retired, just like an athlete would have their jersey number retired.
I don’t think PASSPO will do an overseas concert in 2012. I think the “world tour” plan they announced last year when they were signed to Universal has been completely scrapped. Instead, they will probably continue to focus on building a domestic fanbase beyond just Tokyo.
I think future singles will come in “normal” and “limited edition” dvd versions, and will no longer release “individual versions”.
PASSPO x SUBWAY
PASSPO and SUBWAY weirdness will continue. I love PASSPO. I hate SUBWAY. PASSPO members love SUBWAY, so I don’t know what to think anymore. Is it still okay to hate SUBWAY?
Wait, what is the point of this? I have no idea. Maybe PASSPO can get sponsored by SUBWAY.
Concerts on DVD and Blu-Ray
PASSPO NEEDS to release concerts on DVD/BD.
There are groups like Idoling and Afilia Saga East that put minimal emphasis on live performances, yet have released a DVD for every single one of their concerts. Idoling has all of their numbered concerts on DVD and one for their Shinahachi live. Of course in ASE’s case, they’ve only had one concert, but that one DVD is one more than PASSPO.
I would love a PA-SS-PO trilogy of concert DVDs similar to their PA-SU-PO gravure DVDs, with the following breakdown as an example:
PA – 2010 1st Anniversary concert.
SS – 2011 Halloween Flight (which was also Mio’s birthday concert).
PO – 2011 2nd Anniversary Concert (which was also Shiori, Sako, and Makoto’s birthday concert).
There also needs to be a Zepp Tour DVD, focusing on the Tokyo concert (Kaho’s graduation).
The Shibuya AX digest that was included with the limited edition of CHECK-IN was really disappointing. It was such a sloppy and lazy production (probably edited by a total amateur) and did a horrible job at capturing the awesomeness of that concert.
Every time there is a big concert (Ai’s birthday, Halloween concert, 2nd Anniversary, Zepp Tour) PASSPO fans all across the world hope for a ustream. Unfortunately there hasn’t been a streamed concert since May 2011. They have two upcoming shows for PAL members on January 14 and 15, and if my memory is correct the last ustreamed concert was also a concert for PAL members. Since all my predictions are usually wrong, I’m not going to make an official prediction, but there is at least precedent that a PAL concert has been ustreamed.
☆pre-dia in 2012☆
With SDN48 being dismantled (or put on permanent hiatus), pre-dia is one of the only mature j-pop groups (not counting the groups made up of AV or gravure idols). I hope pre-dia stays true to their concept and just because SDN became a horrible joke, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for a non-gimmicky, mature idol group.
Pre-dia currently has nine songs and they just announced they will debut a couple of new songs at their concert in January. I’m not expecting a repeat of CHECK-IN’s nine new songs, but it seems like they already have enough new material to release an album by February.
I have a feeling “Do the Party” (awesome song, horrible name) could end up like Kiss=Suki (i.e. a song that could have been released as a single, but due to the timing of their album isn’t). If it follows the K=S pattern there will be an awesome PV (that hopefully is included with the album and not sold separately).
Major Label Debut
I think it is only a matter of time until pre-dia get’s picked up. *So I’m just going to wait in front of my computer until it happens*. I don’t really like Universal (mainly because they cancelled the DVD release of PASSPO’s movie), but they are the best option to allow pre-dia and PASSPO to remain sister groups, which I think is really important.
Pre-dia has always been more volatile than PASSPO when it came to member’s staying in the group. I was hoping the current lineup would remain intact for a long time, but just today they announced two new members and Sachiko’s graduation. At least none of the front girls or popular members have left, but it still kind of freaks me out that graduations seem to come out of nowhere.
PASSPO and pre-dia Collaboration
I think it would be awesome if PASSPO and pre-dia collaborated a lot more than they currently do. Anything from a PASSPO x pre-dia single to projects like a variety show and/or movie featuring both groups. I also think they should tour together, and not simply have pre-dia be the opening act. Pre-dia is doing solo concerts now so both groups should have equal time, although PASSPO would headline. And if there is a collaborative single, it should be called “Party Crashers”.
Oops, this took way longer than I thought it would. Time to get out of here. Happy new year!