I first heard of Kobushi Factory around the time 10-year veteran unit Berryz Koubou began their indefinite hiatus. Since “koubou” means workshop, I guess Hello!Project producer Tsunku wanted a similar naming pattern hoping they’d be around just as long. In general, their name is also meant to “represent both the coming of spring and grace of the kobushi magnolia (辛夷), as well as the strength of a fist (拳).” I found their first single Nen ni wa Nen on YouTube, though at the time there was only a “live music video” (a real music video was later made). Since then, I’ve been following them pretty closely all the way up to their latest single.
The video features clips of the members rehearsing in a dance studio, some of which is appropriately timed to the music. It also shows the members preparing for a live concert, making promotional material and distributing flyers. This may be slightly dramatized, but it gives a glimpse into the lives of idols, especially those that have to handle their own PR. The video also shows “live performances” of the song, though some of them seem to be just for the video (the members using mic stands and sometimes looking right into the camera).
The overall song very much reminded me of AKB48, especially with the shortage of solo lines (which this group hasn’t done since Sakura Night Fever). The rhythm is pretty steady and the title message of “We can do this” is very positive and energizing. In AKB terms, the general vibe is right on par with Everyday, Katchusha.
With the word “ninja,” you kind of expect at least a slight ninja vibe and the costumes certainly did not disappoint. Singing about missions, ninja school, and frenemies, interspersed with nonsense phrases like “Dodatte” and “Shinobi Shinobazu,” makes the song feel silly and lighthearted, like the theme song for a kids’ ninja cartoon.
I’ll admit this song had me thinking “This is kinda ridiculous” at first. But after a few more viewings, I found myself singing along with the chorus like “All right, this isn’t so bad.” With a lively dance routine and energetic rhythm, this song is certain to wind up on somebody’s “pick me up” playlist.
Shortly before finding these videos, I learned that member Rio Fujii is set to graduate at the end of the Hello!Project 2017 summer tour. She expressed gratitude at joining Kobushi Factory and becoming an idol, but after her senior year of high school, she decided to peruse her old dream of becoming a teacher or a nurse. I always find it sad when wants to leave the entertainment industry, but hopefully Fujii-san can find happiness in the next chapter of her life. Her final single as a member of Kobushi Factory is due to be released on June 14.
Follow-up note: It has recently been revealed that Rio Fujii has been terminated prematurely due to unspecified contract violations, and will thusly not be featured in the summer tour.