The first thing I want to do is clarify the title of this article. I’m not going to discuss live performances by the Japanese idol group monogatari, but rather the different phases that the group has gone through over the course of five years. That’s right, monogatari has existed in one form or another for five years as I type this. Some of the information and photos I am going to use in this article have been deleted from the internet. Thankfully I have saved it, and I will share all of what I have with you!
The group now known as monogatari actually began as a temporary unit named Norns in December 2013, formed by Millennium Promotion. They are based in Harajuku at Millennium Dance Complex. Although Millennium Dance Complex is at eight locations in the United States, there is only one in Japan. Many girls auditioned and fans voted on their favorite members. The name was changed to Millennium Girls and four members elected by the fans participated in the first single “Kiss My Girls”, the video of which debuted on YouTube on April 7, 2014. The single was released on May 10, 2014.
Five girls elected by fans participated in the second video, “Kyoshitsu Sabaibaru”, which debuted on YouTube on July 17, 2014. (I feel I must give fair warning that this video contains more fan service than usual.) By August there was a tour to vote on the next single’s members. On September 17, 2014 there was a DVD and Blu-ray release of the PVs. On December 27, 2014 Millennium Girls’ second single, “#Noisy Girl”, was released. (I’m assuming “Kyoshitsu Sabaibaru” was the B-side of “Kiss My Girls”.) This was the first single released outside of venues. The DVD and Blu-ray for “#Noisy Girl” was not released until May 30, 2015 (but only at venues where they performed.)
The amount of girls who were in Millennium Girls has changed over time, like you would expect from any idol group. The problem is that I don’t have a complete list of all of them. In mid-2014 I had typed a list of 38 girls, although the official website had the photos of two more whose names were not revealed. Here is the list I typed.
Utashiro Miku (歌代 ミク) - Born on January 12, 2002
Marumi Ruki (丸海留希) - Born on December 24, 2001
Kayama Amu (香山あむ) - Born on January 30, 2001
Aozora Asuka (青空 明日香) - Born on December 19, 2001
Yokota Miyuki (横田 美雪) - Born on March 19, 2001
Fukumoto Karen (福本 カレン) - Born on July 10, 2000
Nishime Sae (西銘 紗英) - Born on January 23, 2001
Saegusa Nana ( 三枝 菜々) - Born on April 11, 2000
Takeuchi Konatsu (竹内 己夏) - Born on August 13, 2001
Takenashi Ria (小鳥遊 りあ) - Born on January 12, 2000
Mizuse Airi (水瀬 あいり) - Born on March 17, 2002
Hiiragi Usa (柊 宇咲) - Born on April 27, 2003
Kodama Nonno (児玉 のんの) - Born on June 3, 2003
Tateishi Rira (立石 梨礼) - Born on May 27, 2003
Kurasawa Haruka (倉澤 遥) - Born on October 7, 2001
Mine Yuuki (三根 優希) - Born on January 23, 2001
Sueki Momo (末木 もも) - Born on December 25, 2001
Sakaguchi Honami (坂口穂乃実) - Born on July 6, 2000
Momose Serina (百瀬せりな) - Born on September 1, 1999
Katase Hinako (片瀬 ひなこ) - Born on May 1, 1998
Hayama Hitomi (葉山 ひとみ) - Born on April 12, 1999
Fushima Riho (伏見 莉穂) - Born on November 28, 2000
Matsunaga Remi (松永 麗未) - Born on August 30, 1999
Mita Karin (三田 佳凛) - Born on October 10, 1999
Konohana Erika (此花 エリカ) - Born on July 5, 2000
Serikawa Risa (芹川 梨咲) - Born on January 2, 2002
Muzutani Sachika (水谷 幸果) - Born on November 16, 1999
Uesugi Seri (上杉 世凛) - Born on May 14, 2003
Itsugu Kanami (井次 かなみ) - Born on October 13, 2001
Mizuki Yuika (美月 唯花) - Born on April 10, 2001
Midorikawa Miu (緑川 美海) - Born on November 2, 2000
Yoshida Shikura (吉田 しくら) - Born on August 13, 2004
Shirakawa Saki (白川 咲希) - Born on March 28, 2000
Miura Nanaho (三浦 七帆) - Born on August 31, 1996
Otsuki Rena (大槻 レナ) - Born on July 23, 2001
Saeki Runa (佐伯るな) - Born on November 11, 1998
Runa is the main focus of the video “Kyoshitsu Sabaibaru”. Miku, Ruki, Amu, Asuka, Miyuki and Karen are the singers on “#Noisy Girl”. It should be noted that when Millennium Girls changed their name again, to Harajuku Monogatari, they reworked both “Kiss My Girls” and “#Noisy Girl” for their live performances. Unfortunately (at least for a fan like me) the singers were not the exact same girls.
I think one of the things that might confuse people about Millennium Girls is that there are two YouTube channels for this group. The first was called soma I and the other Millennium Promotion Official Channel. The soma I channel last uploaded a video on January 19, 2015. The first video on MPOC was uploaded on August 19, 2015. I’m not sure why there was a seven month span between uploads, or why a new channel was created. Why not simply rename the channel? By Fall 2015 the name of the group was changed to Harajuku Monogatari (although one YouTube video says “Harazyuku Monogatari” in English).
The selection of which girls appeared on stage and in the singles continued until the early part of 2016. Eventually the group was reduced to 13 girls. On July 20, 2016 three singles were released simultaneously, two singles by subunits and one by the full group; “WIN the STAR” by Harajuku Monogatari ~Pray uS~, “WE are ONE” by Harajuku Monogatari ~Cloth~ and “PARTY ANIMALS” by all the members. One more single, “Shinpaku 1 Metre”, was released by the ~Pray uS~ subunit on December 14, 2016, followed by a nine track “mini album” on March 15, 2017 titled “Sanzen Sekai” from the full group.
Unknown to many idol fans, in 2015 a documentary film was being made under the title Tokyo Idols. It premiered in the U.S. at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2017 and in an edited for TV version in the U.K. as Tokyo Girls on June 27, 2017. Among the idols featured in the film were Harajuku Monogatari. One girl from each group profiled was chosen to be interviewed, and in Harajuku Monogatari’s case it was Kayama Amu. Unfortunately, the director of the movie took every opportunity to embarrass the idols and the fans who were interviewed. Amu caught this, and didn’t give the director the answers she was probably seeking.
Harajuku Monogatari (May 5, 2017)
For a few months in 2017 the members of Harajuku Monogatari were wearing fake fur sleeves on their right arm in each girl’s member color. Three singles were released that year. 2017 was also the first year in which the group was invited to Tokyo Idol Festival. In December 2017 there was an announcement that Harajuku Monogatari was changing its’ name to monogatari (with a lower case m). This meant that the group had used four names in as many years that they were active (at the time). Harajuku Monogatari officially ended on December 31, 2017 and monogatari had begun on January 1, 2018.
The first single by monogatari, now with only eleven members, was “Re:born”, released on March 27, 2018. A very energetic dance number, “Re:born” was exactly that, with an exciting music video. While previous singles and videos were also exciting, this was possibly the group’s best single. It took until August 8, 2018 for the next single to be released. “Mou Ikkai Kimi ni Suki to Ienai” has driving rock music, and passionate vocals by leader Fukumoto Karen to go with it. Overall, though, the music video is a bit bland. (And I’d like to add, doesn’t have enough Aozora Asuka scenes to please this fan.)
Believe it or not, I have wanted to write an article on this group, which I originally came to love as Millennium Girls, for over four years now. I’m not sure what will be next with monogatari as they finish off their fifth year of being an idol group and head towards their sixth year. All I know is I’m still in love with this group.
Takeuchi Konatsu Twitter (graduated member)
Yokota Miyuki Twitter (graduated Millennium Girls member)