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I have been sucked into the minimoni abyss. (that link will take you to a very silly promotional for their singing group and cartoon). I suggest that you right-click the hyperlinks in this entry to open in separate windows.

Anyway, Mini Moni. They were a splinter group from the Japanese girl-group collective known as Morning Musume. For those who don’t know about Morning Musume, Wikipedia lines it all out. It’s basically a herd of singing teenage girls whose ranks wax and wane as girls join or “graduate” into solo careers, other groups, or a non-performance life. They have several sub-groups, including Country Musume, whose songs have a kind of retro-feel and whose members are from small towns, and occasionally, to boost ratings, they “shuffle” into variety groups. Kago Ai, a popular member of Mini Moni, was in one summer group called 3nin Matsuri, and you can see their video for “Summer Party” right here. For whatever it is worth, “chu” is the sound effect for kissing, hence the obnoxious pink lipgloss the girls are wearing, to emphasize their *smooch* moue´ expressions.

This Guardian article gives a pretty good explanation of how J-Pop and entertainment promotion works, and describes the televised events surrounding the various celebrity groups. By their own legend, Mini Moni was established by Morning Musume member Yaguchi Mari as a showcase for a group of very petite girls with big personalities. Mischievous 12-year-old Kago Ai and her hyperactive best friend Nozomi Tsuji were Mari’s initial teammates, but Mari decided their group needed a fourth member. Eventually, she decided on Mika Todd, an American girl hailing from Hawaii (and a member of Musume sub-group Coconuts Musume, who were all from Hawaii) who made the 150cm height cutoff (that’s about 4’9″) and who was fluent in both Japanese and English. In this third video you can see that Mika is going to fit in with Mini Moni very well. She can keep up with Ai for silliness, which has got to be hard work. Finally, we get a staged version of Tsunku’s approval for Mini Moni to be established as an official Morning Musume sub-group.

And now, on to the fun stuff: the music videos!

This is absolutely my favorite MiniMoni song. It is quite danceable and incredibly catchy. MiniMoni Telephone (ring, ring, ring). I dare you to not feel chipper when you hear this one. Practice for the dance routine. One of the features/promotions for MiniMoni was a cartoon where the girls were transformed into PowerPuff-esque caricatures, and this one features Ai, Tsuji, and Mika dressed up as cell-phones to celebrate the release of their single MiniMoni Telephone (ring, ring, ring).

Jankenpyon! Here, the girls are rock-paper-scissors playing outerspace bunnies. Again, it is hard not to grin, bounce, and dance along.

Mini Moni Bus Guide Mika Todd drives the bunny-bus while Ai, Tsuji, and Mari narrarate a tour for a gaggle of identical bunny-girls.

Strawberry Pie (ai yi yi yi yi yi) This song is so sweet, it is like a canned whipcream fight. Fun, frothy, and while it might make you a little dizzy, you should experience it at least once.

Kazoe Uta, which seems to be some kind of counting song, set in a dollhouse or a fantastical bathroom, or perhaps a fantastical dollhouse bathroom.

Lucky Cha Cha Cha. This would be the theme song from the movie they starred in.

MiniMoni Hina Matsuri The MiniMoni girls are flying around on a gigantic pink-white-and-green cake dressed as Girls’ Festival Dolls.

Rock n’ Roll Kenchoushozaichi A song for memorizing the prefecture capitals–they remember the names of the prefecture capitals by the foods each city is most famous for.

Ai-in Dance with famous Japanese comedian Shimura Ken. This song is surreal, even by MiniMoni standards.

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