Kenshusei, Kenkyuusei, Cadets, and Trainees: Following Tomorrow’s Idols Today

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Kenshusei, Kenkyuusei, Cadets, and Trainees: Following Tomorrow’s Idols Today

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Reina Yokoyama and Kaede Kaga were introduced as the 13th generation members of Morning Musume.’16 on December 4, 2016 at the Nippon Budokan “Morning Musume.’16 Concert Tour Aki ~MY VISION~”. Great shouts of joy arose from the audience and some even burst into tears with the announcement.

Repeating its members’ enrollment and graduation, Morning Musume. crosses over into their 20th year in 2017. Their fans are used to the sight of the ceremony and should not have been moved so much with the scene. However, the addition of Yokoyama and Kaga made a deep impression on the fans. That emotion welled up because of their history as Hello! Project Kenshusei.


Kaede Kaga and Reina Yokoyama

It is not uncommon these days that sister groups are formed for trainee members. Hiragana Keyaki, Yokasei from Niji no Conquistador, and Love-Ken from Lovely☆DOLL are some examples. The members belonging to sister groups work hard to be promoted to the top groups.

The number of fans following trainee groups is quite large. Tickets for the solo concert of Hiragana Keyaki held on October 28, 2016 sold out in a flash. Hello! Project Kenshusei even gives regularly scheduled performances at Nakano Sun Plaza and Zepp Tokyo. They may be groups made up of trainees but, their popularity matches and sometimes exceeds that of famous underground idol groups. What is it that attracts people to these trainees? Being a fan of Hello! Project Kenshusei myself, I will introduce some crews from my experience.


Kenshusei Concert at Zepp Tokyo on June 12, 2016

When in talking about idols, the story cannot be ignored. Suppose that you present how attractive Momoiro Clover Z or only based on their performance, you would not be able to tell even the half of their charm. Dramatic events happen only through the process of them climbing their way to the top and move people from the bottom of their heart.

Nobody knows when trainee can make their debut, rather they might end up just as they are. It often happens that the official website tells that one’s training finished and people cannot see her anymore. The image of a girl working hard and polishing her skills to debut is something that strikes deep in the heart of fans.

One of the goals for a trainee is to be promoted to a top group and they can finally be recognized as an idol. Sharing anxiousness and happiness alongside the trainees, their fans learn more about their stories, becoming emotionally invested in them. It is nothing more than the process of growing and becoming idols that may be the most appealing trait that trainees possess.

In Hello! Project they are called Kenshusei (trainee) but what kind of training do they actually do? Of course, there is singing and dancing. Hello! Project is well known for its high standards of dancing and singing and the trend is same for Hello! Project Kenshusei. All the members of Kobushi Factory, who recently released their 1st major label album in 2016, are former Hello! Project Kenshusei.

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However, the author believes the true purpose of being Kenshusei is not only to improve performance skills but to study moral education. The hard training period brings out hidden talents as an idol as a result. Those who become a member of a top group from Kenshusei never forget to give thanks to their fans and staff, which is a matter of course and the most important.

Karin Miyamoto joined Hello! Project Kenshusei (Hello! Project Egg at that time) in 2008. Although she was well-known among fans of Hello! Project, she failed many auditions for Morning Musume. and S/Mileage. The experiences might have strengthened and arranged her attractively as an idol.

She said in an interview after the announcement of her joining Juice=Juice, “I am the most happy now in that I can repay the kindness to those who supported me as a Kenshusei and will try to do my best for them.” As a result of her earnest efforts, she and Juice=Juice were finally able to reach one of the goals of idols, performing at Nippon Budokan.


photo by Mime Soga

The period for Kenshusei is not something glorious. However, the term affords idols nourishment that makes them shine brightly later as an idol. The feelings of fans that support such trainees can be understood. I would be overjoyed if you read this article and become a fan of these kinds of trainees and are able to witness that glorious moment when they become full-fledged idols.

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Growing up in Akihabara culture, ykmk became an otaku covering idol, anime, and pop music.

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