Eight Years Today…
Eight years ago today an 18-member Hello! Project released three singles, each from a new unit that was created from memebrs of Morning Musume, T&C Bomber, Coconuts Musume and soloist Heike Michiyo. The members of Country Musume and Miyoshi Chinatsu did not participate in the first “shuffle units” as they were not directly produced by Tsunku and indeed not full members of the “Tsunku-family.”
The groups that were created were not given expiry dates nor were they given a permanent status. They were experimental and upon release of their first singles what happened next would remain to be seen. The three groups that were created were; Akagumi 4, Kiiro 5 and Aoiro 7. Each group had a different style, Akagumi 4 were mature and sultry, Kiiro 5 were fun and youthful and Aoiro 7 had a “digi-punk” image.
Each group would compete to see who could sell the most singles and the process of recording the single, shooting the promotional photography and recording the PV were broadcast on ASAYAN.
Akagumi 4 went on to sell 507,850 copies of their single Akai Nikkichou. This is the 10th best selling single Hello! Project has released.
Kiiro 5 went on to sell 475,970 copies of their single Kiiroi Osara de BOOM BOOM BOOM. This is the 13th best selling single Hello! Project has released.
Aoiro 7 went on to sell 385,540 copies of their single Aoi Sportscar no Otoko. This is the 20th best selling single Hello! Project has released.
As can be seen from these figures these “shuffle units” sold rather well and the subsequent shuffle units that would appear in later years achieved nowhere near as high sales.
Also unlike the subsequent shuffle units, the 2000 shuffles did not disband almost as soon as they released their singles, on the contrary the groups performed together on several occasions and even had a summer special on ASAYAN. The groups also had second generation members which was not seen in any other shuffle units.
Since 2005 Hello! Project has scrapped the shuffle unit idea as sales were seriously dwindling. Personally I miss the shuffle units as they were an opportunity to see members of Hello! Project perform in a different capacity and often allowed members the chance to interact with other members we would not usually see them with. Though one has to admit, there are various examples of groups in recent years that have released only one or two singles and are somewhat reminiscent of the shuffle units.