2014 Top Idol List: 10-1

Greetings mortals, and welcome back to the countdown of impressive idols who impress me by doing impressive things. Or something along those lines. This time we come to the top ten, those who make me think this year will be all about their awesomeness. Usually my thoughts are completely wrong, but I reckon I'll get it perfectly right one year.

20-11 was filled with 48 girls. 10-1 is also filled with girls, but I can't remember if they're 48 or not yet. Probably. If you have 250 idols you're sort of decimating the field. Anyway, some recapping action:

20-11 went a little something like this:

20. Yogi Keira
19. Ego Yuna
18. Tani Marika
17. Shiraishi Mai
16. Jonishi Kei
15. Kimoto Kanon
14. Shiroma Miru
13. Murashige Anna
12. Nakamoto Suzuka
11. Nabilah Ratna Ayu Azalia

Once again the rules:

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.

And top ten time.

10. Suzuki Airi (°C-ute)

Airi is basically this list's eternal mainstay. I can't see her going a whole year without impressing me somehow. This year her photogenic reign of tyranny continued, she kept being a really cute and derpy mindjob spanner and did some weird song with Risako. She came to Paris, again, and this time I actually met her, nearly got moe'd to death, and still utterly failed at taking a decent picture of her. Her vocals have remained consistently steady, and yea, another year of awesome to come. Probably. Usually is.

9.  Ariyasu Momoka (Momoiro Clover Z)

What would Momoclo do without their token pint-sized mini moe? Despite spending the first quarter of the year being unable to talk, due to an operation on nodules or something. What resulted was adorable. After recovering, she's still incapable of pronouncing anything, still sings like a fucking rocker, and it's still all fine. I'm hoping that this year, without a hampered start, she gets the best year ever. And a photobook or something.

8. Ishida Ayumi (Morning Musume.)

I think it's fair to say Ayumi saved Momusu for me. What with electrodancemusume and '14 and whatever the hell tosspot idea Tsunku thinks up next going on, Ayumi is refreshingly simple. Not in a dig at her intelligence way, just that she's happy to take things as they come and move on. Her poor character courtesy of 2ch probably introduced her to people in a big way, and even now she's probably riding somewhat unknowing on the coattails of that. But yea, she still stands out the most for me in Momusu. She stood out by far the most in Juice=Juice when she covered for Karin, but that's to be expected. J=J seem pretty dull to me at present. Still, this past year, with glorious (though mildly plagiarised) photobook and the cutest reactions on that wake-up-concert-prank thing, she's riding high again. Now she just needs to bump off Riho and take the centre spot for herself...

7. Nakagawa Haruka (JKT48)

Oh Harugon. More than a year in Jakarta has changed her nearly beyond recognition. When she left she was slowly being pushed backwards, as younger and fresher girls were taking her place. Cue an adult image-change, disassociation from her nickname, and a transfer. I don't think many expected her to last long. I doubt fewer still expected her to emerge not only unscathed, but approaching conversational fluency (though pronunciation lacking) in Indonesian, getting a role in an Indonesian drama (along with Stella, also formerly of JKT, and Gackt. Fucker is still everywhere) and basically fitting in better than she did in AKB. Takajo has been left behind in the dust, splitting her time between AKB and JKT means neither gets her full attention and it shows, she's seemingly fading. Harugon, on the other hand, sat out the election, and instead took centre in the JKT version of Koisuru Fortune Cookie. Not bad for a mid-line girl whose only claim to fame before JKT was being in Mayuyu's glorified solo unit before they decided to let girls go solo. I see Haruka getting only better from here, and watch out world.

6. Akiyoshi Yuka (HKT48)

There's something oddly refreshing about watching young idols who actually act like children. Some often grow up incredibly quickly in the pressure-rich environment (see Matsui Jurina and Kudou Haruka, for example), so when you get the occasional Kago-Tsuji, Sato Masaki or Akiyoshi Yuka, you can't help but be amazed by their ability to stay young at heart throughout it all. Granted, with Kago it sort of went horribly wrong somewhere, but still. Akiyoshi, if you don't know, is in HKT. She's just been promoted to Team H, but she made her name as a kenkyuusei. This year HKT had two programmes that stuck in my mind: Tonkotsu Mahou Shoujo Gakuin, and Odekake. On the former, Akiyoshi decided to ask the guests any number of rude questions, but with an air of childish innocence that made it impossible for any of the guests or producers to get pissed off at her. Odekake gave us this gem, among other things. So yes. We'll see what the future holds, but it looks pretty good.

5. Kawashima Umika (9nine)

Much as with Airi, it seems like it's almost impossible for Umika to have a bad year. This time around, she acted in one of the weirdest but most amusing dramas I've ever seen, called Pin to Kona! which is about kabuki. Because, you know, kabuki rocks. She was also in Tank Top Fighter with Ono Erena (which was quite good until I stopped watching when dramacrazy decided to jack in and I moved over to other places which didn't work), and the latest incarnation of the ever expanding backwards, forwards, sideways and in no general direction at all Spec. Musically, 9nine have ripped off Yes, Ayreon and Perfume and got away with it this year, and now they're the new ending theme of the Magi anime, an honour formerly reserved for shitty J-rock bands and Nogizaka46, so it's some exposure. Anyway, new photobook coming in March. Probably some more amusing drama roles. 2014 looks sweet.

4. Michishige Sayumi (Morning Musume.)

With Sayu's leadership now in full swing, it's easy to underestimate her influence. Whilst leaders of H!P past have been pretty uncontroversial, Sayu seemed to get quite a bit of hate from Reina fans who thought that a narcissist wasn't best placed to be in charge. Well, she's proven that wrong quite conclusively. On the balance of things, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Sayu is the best leader Momusu has had since Yuko. Kaori was so laid back she was horizontal. Yossie was cool and drove them forward but didn't really function as an idol at the same time. Yaguchi and Mikitty... well, the less said the better. Aichan was just a large wall of blandness who got in the way of more interesting members and probably did more to hurt Momusu as a whole than Kago, and Gaki helped get the 9th and 10th gens in shape but ultimately was a minor relic. Sayu though, occupies sort of the same position as Yuko did. Far older than anyone else in the group. World of experience (though with Sayu at least it's idol-based, not OL-based as Yuko had) and manages somehow to keep them somewhat functioning as a team, whilst not leaving their own character in a rut. As it is, Sayu still feels just as fresh as the other members, perfectly happy playing silly games with them or doing the dancing and singing, which she still sort of sucks at, but it's not like she's out of place like Yuko was. At this rate she could go another five years and I doubt anyone would notice that she was 17 years older than the youngest member of the 15th gen or something. She's just impressed the shit out of me. Well done Sayu.

3. Motomura Aoi (HKT48)

I wrote a bit on my year in review about Kojima Fujiko. I called her an utterly indolent wastrel, which is true. She also has a smile which sort of closes her eyes at the same time, I suppose you could call it a "shit-eating grin" or something if you wanted. Motomura Aoi has that same smile. Aoitan is HKT's queen of crying her fucking eyes out. She cries at almost everything. Or so you think. Until they went camping on an episode of Odekake, and she randomly took control, brushed everyone else aside, started a fire using the power of her mindtwigs and stones, and pretty much did everything because most of HKT are cute but utterly useless. So now she was the crybaby who was the fire venus. But wait. On another episode of Odekake they did some more outdoor stuff. Aoitan found some worms and bugs and then took great delight in tormenting the other girls with them, then pissed them off by giggling the entire time. She's also a spanner. Definite one to watch.

2. Okada Nana (AKB48)

I had thought, when I wrote my list last year, that my top spot in AKB was practically guaranteed to be Iwata Karen. Twelve months later, and I can't see anyone displacing Nana. This year she's been promoted to Team 4 and been the standout girl of that team in my eyes. Her face is capable of such a wide variety of amusing expressions, yet somehow Ooya Shizuka on AKBingo made her the most recognisable member of any generation since the 10th with one simple phrase: "Ain't you taking it too seriously!?" Since then, Nana's had AKBingo specials all about her "majime" character, and how far she can be led astray if given directions by those she holds in a position above herself. It's a character, but it's an amusing one. She's also fantastic to look at, so yes. Probably a good one to keep an eye on. Not gonna declare her my AKB oshi though, as history shows that I'm never gonna have another one for more than a few months.

1. Oota Aika (HKT48)

This entry pretty much mirrors that of Harugon above. Middle-row AKB member in Mayu's shadow transfers and suddenly finds a new lease of life. Only with Lovetan, it's not translated to increased popularity so much as increased influence. Though her popularity has risen too, I suppose. But yes, when Team KIV finally starts, it's Lovetan who'll be leading the charge. Considering she was once one of the youngest of AKB, she's overcome her younger cohorts and become truly powerful simply by relating her experiences. It's interesting to think that during the whole of 2013, HKT lost a total of one member. Other groups lost them by the hatful. I put it down to increased responsibility for Sasshi (who was obviously proven right in how she attempted to handle the HKT scandal vs the theatre manager at the time, who is no longer theatre manager but Sasshi is) and Lovetan. Between the two of them they've turned HKT into a functioning unit. Their combined experience as a pushed-to-shit-and-then-scandalled and clean-as-a-whistle-but-displaced-by-newcomers obviously keeps their youngers in check, making sure that they retain their characters and yet never cross the boundaries (or at least, visibly. There are rumours circulating about Sakura, Aoitan and someone else seeing blokes, but who honestly cares as long as they're still performing well?). Besides that, what does Lovetan have over Sasshi that gets her on the list but not Sasshi? Well, a wicked sense of humour, when she's on her game. Lovetan is one of the few girls who you really do have to wonder if that twinkle in their eye is just the lighting or if they actually are really sadists who want to hurt you. In a nice way. She's also gloriously sexy. And still capable of being heart-stoppingly moe when she so desires. So, impressed in 2013. Massive hope for 2014 now she's officially a captain, and that hot mess called Watarirouka Hashiritai is getting disbanded too so maybe even more of a hint of a coming breakout moment. We'll see. For now, she's my #1 pick for greatness.

So there you have it, my list for the year. Two posts in a week. It's like rain falling on the Sahara or something. Doubt it'll happen again soon, unless I drastically change my blogging habits. Still, never hurts to hold out some hope...

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