In light of the horrible, dare I say devastating, news that Rihona is graduating from Street-sei at the end of the month, I thought it would be an appropriate time to revisit the formation of GEM, considering the final lineup could have been completely different had certain events in Street-sei played out differently. In fact, the more I reflect on how GEM was formed, the more grateful I am that my favorite GEMber and oshiGEM made it into the group. It’s scary how easily Sara could have been overlooked and suffered the same fates as Rihona, Yukipa, Haachin, and countless other members of Street-sei.
When the 3rd generation of Street-sei was chosen in 2012 it seemed like they were destined for greatness and would have countless opportunities to either form their own groups or join existing ones. Fast forward to 2014, it turned out the “miracle gen” only had one real chance, which was getting selected for GEM. Although two additional 3rd gen members were selected for SUPER☆GiRLS, the circumstances were much different since they were dependent upon Saori’s graduation and KP’s dismissal. The main reasons GEM was their only shot is because (1) iDOL Street is at best in a holding pattern, and at worst, in a decline (in terms of popularity and support they are receiving from avex) and (2) the GEM lineup decimated the Street-sei talent pool. The subsequent 4th and 5th generations haven’t come close offsetting the loss of talent, therefore a potential 4th group has two huge problems: (1) inadequate support from avex and (2) insufficient talent. Considering (1) avex has a long history of providing only minimal support for their pop groups, (2) SUPER GiRLS sales have dropped, and (3) the idol scene is finally showing signs of fading, I think if avex were to sign off on a new group, the project would be significantly less ambitions than any of the other three i-Street groups. I used to hype the 4th group because I really wanted Rihona, Saku, and Haachin in a group as soon as possible. But with Rihona graduating, the 4th group is completely screwed, because they no longer have the mix of center, aces, and front girls necessary to build a group around. Resources spent on the 4th group would now be better served reversing SUPER☆GiRLS decline, or pushing Cheeky Parade and GEM, which at this point have considerable more upside.
Therefore, the selection of the GEM lineup was huge, because any girl who didn’t make it would have been trapped on the sinking ship that is Street-sei. And despite Sara’s talent, she easily could have been overlooked. If she wasn’t chosen for GEM she would have been split up from Rana, her BFF/”sister,” and would be wasting away in Street-sei (assuming she hadn’t already graduated). In which case I wouldn’t be a GEM addict and this reflection wouldn’t even exist. Instead I would be doing something productive like volunteering at the local homeless shelter or discovering the cure for hiccups. (Or more realistically, you would be doing something completely unproductive like confessing your love for Chubbiness and pondering which group is the best of all time, them or AKBN0!)
If Sara didn’t join GEM none of the above photos would have ever existed! That’s GEMerterrifying! (First, “GEMerterrifying?” Really? Second, some of those photos were pre-GEM, so they would have existed even if she wasn’t chosen) Oh, I was hoping you wouldn’t notice. That’s not the point though. The point is they are the best duo since Batman and that other guy… Batman Jr.
Now that GEM is more established and have successfully conquered Japan, I’m sure there are fans who are completely oblivious to their history, which was filled with suspense, laughter, heartbreak,
betrayal, and non-stop kawaiiness. I think the formation of the group is fascinating because fans got to at least partially watch the selection process play out during Sutorigu (a series of concert “battles” between all of the Street-sei teams).
May 2012 – avex Idol Audition 2012
June 2012 – 29 girls are selected and 5 Street-sei teams are formed (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, and Fukuoka)
July 24-28, 2012 – First live performances: all five teams alternate as the opening act for a series of SUPER GiRLS concerts.
November 2012 – Street-sei members are informed of the GEM concept and 13 girls are selected as the “starting lineup”
December 25, 2012 – First GEM performance at the SUPER GiRLS Christmas Something Something concert (they performed “Speed Up”)
January 3, 2013 – Second GEM performance, they performed “Speed Up” and “Do it! Do it!” A week or two later they had another performance at an i-Street event. This was the third and final time all 13 starting members would perform together.
January 21, 2013 – Sutorigu concert series begins
February 11, 2013 – 1st “GEMstar” performance (7 member unit of the top GEM candidates)
March 30, 2013 – “GEMstar” opens for SUPER☆GiRLS Celebration tour.
April 1, 2013 – Sutorigu final (Osaka wins, Yuuki is MVP, Maya is GEMVP). Chisami, Kako, and Sara were added as GEM candidates and three GEM candidate members realign to the Tokyo team.
April 3, 2013 – Kako and Sara’s first performance as members of GEMstar
April 8, 2013 – Nagi withdraws from iDOL Street.
June 10, 2013 – Final GEM lineup is announced at SUPER☆GiRLS Budokan Something Something concert.
GEM candidate rankings (based on the order the members were announced). The rankings are important because of the “key factors” that forever altered the GEM lineup (OOooaOOOh this sounds interesting!)
(Note: the order they were announced doesn’t necessarily reflect the order they were ranked at the time, but Maya and Rana were, and currently are, the top two, and Yuki, although popular, is the least talented (and oldest), so it’s possible the above order was how they were ranked at the time the linup was decided. Even though Kako and Sara were announced 6th and 8th, I think most fans would agree that they were wildcards).
Important events that forever altered the GEM lineup (aka the hypothetical ramblings of a GEM fanboy with too much free time)
1. Nagi suddenly withdrawing from the group was a huge turning point and we’ll probably never know the impact her exit had on the final lineup. Nagi was close to being a lock: her personality alone practically ensured she would be selected. Based on the above ranking, had she stayed, I think she would have been ranked #6, thus pushing everyone starting with Kako down one spot. With her withdrawing it’s also possible that she allowed the 11th ranked candidate to get bumped into the top 10. However based on the above ranking, Yuki would have been #11, which is significant because Nagi and her were best friends and had created their own unofficial comedy duo called YuNagi. I kind of feel that Nagi and Yuki were an implied pair, that is, if one was selected, both would be. If this is true, Yuki could have been selected even if she was ranked 11. But would GEM really have 11 members??
2. No pop group has ever debuted with 11 members! Therefore it’s possible that GEM was initially designed to have 12 members and not 10! If there was a 12th member it probably would have been Naapon. And if Naapon was chosen for GEM, she wouldn’t have eventually joined SUPER☆GiRLS… which could conceivably have created it’s own chain reaction of events (e.g. Rihona joins SG along with Risa and Koume).
3. Haachin confusing her “my pace” personality with “my pace” dancing. Not counting rehearsals, the GEM “starting lineup” had only 3 performances together to prove they were qualified for the group. Two of the lives eventually made it online, but it was the Idol Yokochou footage that really showed which members were ready and which either weren’t… or in Haachin’s case, which member didn’t seem to care. Her dancing was lazy and sloppy and clashed with the high-energy style of the songs. It’s frustrating because she is actually a good singer and dancer. As a 2nd gen Street-sei member, had she put the appropriate effort into her performance, it’s conceivable she could have been in the top 10.
4. Rihona missing Sutorigu because of school put her at a huge disadvantage. Every Sutorigu concert had a day and night show, and she missed practically every day show. Since Sutorigu began after the starting lineup had already been selected, and she wasn’t included, it’s possible that she was also missing other events/rehearsals leading up to Sutorigu. If the producers could go back in time with the knowledge they currently have, I’m positive that not only would she have been in the starting lineup, but she would have been ranked as high as 5 or 6.
5. If the above scenarios involving Nagi, Haachin, and Rihona never happened, the GEM lineup may have looked like this:
The GEM lineup in “parallel universe #1” where Nagi didn’t withdraw, Rihona’s schedule didn’t conflict with school, and Haachin wasn’t super lazy:
——— (cutoff #1)
——— (cutoff #2 – based on the logic that if Nagi made it they would automatically choose Yuki as well)
The GEM lineup in “parallel universe #2” where Nagi did withdraw, but Rihona’s schedule didn’t conflict with school and Haachin wasn’t super lazy:
———– (cutoff, since Nagi withdrew the condition for adding Yuki wouldn’t exist in this scenareo)
Obviously “parallel universe #1” GEM is infinitely the best GEM because 13 members would have been chosen (umm… I thought earlier you wrote the group may have been designed for 12 members *confused*). The point is that there may have existed a plan for more than 10 members (whether it was 12 or 13). The weird thing about “parallel universe #2” GEM is Chisami wouldn’t have been included. Based on member solos (or lack-thereof), Chisami is currently ranked 3rd in the group (slightly ahead of Jurin). If you watch or listen to their songs, only Maya and Rana get more solo lines. Those kind of decisions aren’t random and they reveal member hierarchy.
Returning to reality, it’s completely unfair that a talent like Rihona isn’t in GEM. She’s like one of those unlucky gymnast or figure skater prodigies who were a few months too young to qualify for the olympics, but had they been eligible would have been a favorite. And by the time the Olympics came around again, at that point they had unfortunately already moved on. Her graduating without joining a group makes Risa joining SUPER☆GiRLS a million times more annoying. The iDOL Street producers really effed up by allowing an asset like her to slip through their fingers. It reminds me of the failed PASSPO audtion and Misa not joining the group. These were potential miracle members who were denied the chance to improve the trajectories of their respective groups.