モーニング娘。さくら組, 永遠に。。。

maiZe and I share the same sentiment when it comes to what is arguably one of Hello! Project's best units ever, this temporary unit being Morning Musume Sakuragumi which was active from late 2003 until approximately the summer of 2004. I remember the "scare" of 2003 which occurred when fans became alarmed at the possibility that Momusu was being permanently separated into two units, the other being "Otomegumi." But to everyone's relief these two units just turned out to be extensions of Momusu in the form of two temp units.

While their sister unit Otomegumi had an impressive lineup of members, for me personally the two just couldn't be compared as I loved Sakuragumi on a level simply not attainable by Otomegumi and it went beyond the obvious overall favored member lineup as Tsunku penned much more favorable songs for Sakuragumi which just matched my tastes so well.

Don't mind my bias 😛 here as I simply couldn't have chosen a better group lineup…Konkon, Gakisan, Kamei, Yossi, Marippe, Aichan, Aibon, and Nacchi weren't just beautiful as a group together but in addition their ensemble of vocals were also spectacular. The one regretful thing being Nacchi's departure before their second single "Sakura mankai" which I would have so loved to heard/seen her in!

A not too often mentioned concert release that I really love is Sakuragumi's concert DVD which was released in June of 2004 as the unit went into inactivity. As both "Gumi" units only released two singles each these individual concerts include an impressive array of old and new H!P songs which fill up their concert song lists going as far back as "Morning Coffee."

From their live DVD I've chosen to upload Sakuragumi's two title tracks here…

"Hare ame nochi suki ♥" and "Sakura mankai" are both such exceptional songs in every regard and with this lineup of members both songs seem to be a perfect custom fit for their vocal prowess to shine. The highs in "Hare ame nochi suki ♥"'s beautifully written chorus as hit by Aibon, Nacchi, and Aichan are immaculate. Perhaps stronger in the studio version but nonetheless sweet here as well.

Morning Musume Sakuragumi "Hare ame nochi suki ♥" live

Sakuragumi's follow up single "Sakura mankai" remains as what I consider to be H!P's most aesthetically beautiful project to date and from their kimonos to the setting of the pv's shoot, "Sakura mankai" presents an all too seldom used approach to Japanese music videos as it brings to life the traditional architecture of their country. I've always found the visuals of the location picked for this song's pv to be wonderfully rooted in Japan's culture and the build up to the visually explosive chorus shines with memorable choreography, falling cherry blossoms, and beautiful uchiwa "dance." Both pvs follow these live clips.


Morning Musume Sakuragumi "Sakura mankai" live

"Hare ame nochi suki ♥" (music video)…

Morning Musume Sakuragumi "Hare ame nochi suki ♥" pv

"Sakura mankai" (music video)…

Morning Musume Sakuragumi "Sakura mankai" pv

I can watch this pv over and over…so beautifully shot and the aura of Japan is absolute here.

And Gakisan's hair, finally allowed to be let down…and without bangs it really gave her a very mature look way back then. ^-^


♥ the chorus scenes!!!

I love the closing of the pv where each member has to bite down on something….but Gakisan's is the absolute best as I guess they ran out of props so all that was left to use was her hair. 🙂


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About MorningBerryz

Lover and free spirit who's interests in Japanese culture and the like are insatiable. I am of pure Japanese/Okinawan descent, love my cats, sleep and am a bit naughty at times :).
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16 Responses to モーニング娘。さくら組, 永遠に。。。

  1. I really liked the Sakura-gumi as well~ Sakura Mankai being my favorite of the two by a landslide. (In fact, I was supposed to make the costume, but haven't had time to craft anything since 2004. >_>;; – maybe in a few more years. XD)


  2. Hotaru says:

    I love Sakuragumi too <3. All of the members in this group had an air of knowing what they were doing, or at least, pulling everything off amazingly well. Sakura Mankai is one of my all time favorite Hello! Project songs, as well as the PV being one of my all time favorites. Even though I like a lot of the members in Otomegumi, Sakuragumi's songs and performances were more memorable for me.


  3. Slasha says:

    I love Sakura-gumi. It was my favorite out of the two MM sub-groups. Although I liked both of their songs, Sakura Mankai is definitely my favorite. I love the sound of all of the different traditional instruments coming together. The kimonos, the uchiwa, and the falling cherry blossoms make a good PV formula. I wish they would try to use that for a PV today.


  4. Rad♂ says:

    This was Tsunku's most amazing and successful experiment. I'm convinced he used it as a model for Berryz Kobo and C-ute when it was obvious fans would never tolerate a permanent Morning Musume division.
    The major benefit to come out of this was to arrive at an ideal unit size, which is seven (both Berryz and C-ute started with eight, with some flexibility to accommodate at least one graduation each). Seven members makes for ideal choreography and vocal densities, which is exactly what Sakuragumi and Otomegumi produced. Morning Musume has always been the pleasant exception, with 10-14 members most of the time.
    I preferred Otomegumi's upbeat, contemporary style and awesome black-and-white unis, but Sakuragumi's kimonos were striking and unforgettable.


  5. paul.thomas says:

    I remember when I first got into Morning Musume and then I stumbled across both Sakuragummi and Otomegumi, I was so confused, I had no idea what was going on, lol.Out of the two units I think I favoured Otome, with Nono, Sayu and Reina really winning it over for me, but both units were amazing. It's been quite some time since I watched both their concert DVDs, I think I'll have to dig them out next weekend and give then a watch.


  6. zdorama says:

    "Sakura Mankai" definitely a fave for me, Car loves it as well!I remember we'd be pulling into a parking lot, and sitting in the car, trying to figure out who was singing each line before we got out!


  7. strawberrie says:

    I'm more of a Otomegumi fan. It's because of Tsuji that I really got into Morning Musume but when I saw the name Morning Musume I was getting confuse (not realizing there was two subgroups and the members are changing. Even thought I prefer the Otomegumi concert DVD I still bought both because Aibon was in Sakuragumi.


  8. Their pink kimonos are the cutest!!!…I hope you do get around to making one one day. I've always thought of kimonos to be such complex outfits and my mom has a Japanese geisha doll which wears a really fancy one and it was quite a challenge for her to finish it following only an image of it. The folding of an obi itself is so artful LOL I wouldn't know where to start. 😛 Thank you for explaining! I love those final close up scenes and Yes! Gakisan's definitely the best and cutest although it probably wasn't intended to be cute. 😛 Totally agree, this was really a turning point in Kamei's overall personality and interaction within Momusu and H!P. I was happy to see her get key solo lines as well and her unique way of singing was really beginning to shine back then too. It was nice to watch these again after some time had passed. 🙂


  9. "Ai no sono touch my heart" is a really great song but Sakuragumi for me too was just so much better. They seemed to have tried to divide Momusu into "equal" parts but really most of my favorite members ended up in Sakuragumi and I thought Tsunku gave them two much better title tracks. The "sakura" theme worked really well too and it gave this unit a distinct and unmistakable identity.


  10. It seems so obvious for H!P to employ such Japanese elements into their releases and yet these types of releases are few and far between for the most part. I too would love to see/hear more productions which incorporate their traditional use of instrumentation and visuals from outfits to sets. "Sakura mankai' truly remains special in this way and when I watched it back then I was only beginning to realize how much of a landmark release this would stand out to be. Now several years later, looking back on it it's odd that there haven't been more releases like this since.


  11. I've never thought about how this may have inspired Tsunku into the creation of similarly sized units with BK and C-ute in mind. I'm happy that you agree that these units were really special and unique and Tsunku really did some of his best work on these projects back then. In fact on a side note, don't you really miss the yearly summer shuffle groups! I guess with so many units popping up right now in H!P he probably doesn't see the need for them anymore, but still the shuffle groups were always something to look forward to each year and on many occasions these groups involved so many members which is always nice to see..especially with members that don't get enough exposure. ^ ^ Both Sakuragumi and Otomegumi were spectacular units each with their fair share of endeared members and "Ai no sono~touch my heart!~" is definitely a favorite of mine! But I didn't really care for Otomegumi's follow up single and I really favor Sakuragumi between the two overall as both of their songs were so well written and they may have had an "unfair" advantage as the "sakura" theme really gave them a distinct and memorable aura especially when coupled with the traditional instrumentation and sites of Japan incorporated into their releases…"Sakura mankai" being the main focus here. But both groups were really incredible and I would so love to see Tsunku take a stab at a similar project today with today's current Momusu lineup.


  12. Looking back it's amusing to remember how there was a panic about Momusu being split into two separate groups permanently back then. Me included… 😛 But as soon as things were cleared up and these were understood to just be temporary extension projects of Momusu the excitement of both Sakuragumi and Otomegumi grew so much. It must have been really odd when you saw these two groups appear made up of Momusu members back then I imagine. Ah I'm so happy that you have these concerts too!! Not too many fans mention them so I've always wondered just how well remembered they are. Sounds like you have some great and nostalgic viewing for next weekend and as I've just watched Sakuragumi's concert I'm planning to watch Otomegumi's concert next….probably on the weekend too! 🙂


  13. Now that you mention it "Sakura mankai" does offer really great solo line distribution and I love that Car also got into this song too. I'm hoping that you shared the pv too as it's visually one of H!P's best alongside the likes of "The Manpower!!!" and other top tier H!P pvs I think…ah too many to mention here as a list here of top pv faves could go on for some time. 😛


  14. You're definitely not alone as I know of quite a few fans who were originally attracted to Momusu by Nono and Aibon. ^-^ Really amazing how the endearment of a single member can lead to so much more as H!P is so vast with so much to love. Getting into Momusu at the time of these groups' creation as you've noted must've really added to the confusion I imagine….most fans at the time as I remember were kind of panicked that Momusu may have become two separate groups permanently. 😛 Really funny to think about that now! 🙂 Tsunku really did that by design I think, putting Nono in Otomegumi and Aibon in Sakuragumi. I'm happy that you purchased both concerts too! ^ ^


  15. Saburo says:

    Said it before, I'll say it here: The "gumi" groups SAVED 2003 for me. I was going through another case of H!P malaise, being uninspired by the year's singles. And then these two songs came outta nowhere for me, hitting me like a thunderbolt. One song dynamic and energizing, the other pure and utterly affectionate.I remember at the time people online usually picked their fave gumi group based on their fave members and I had a sort-of BS position that Otomegumi had some relevance because of the GREAT CHARMY ISHIKAWA. But in reality, it wasn't even close. Otomegumi was basically Charmy, Mikitty and a bunch of castaways. Sakuragumi, on the other hand, had… everyone I loved in Musume and Company.


  16. Very well said, those are perfect descriptions for these endeared group's offerings! Truly for me too most of the Momusu "yolk" ended up in Sakuragumi by far but the Rikachan/ Mikitty dynamic is very notable as well. I love how they seemingly "purposely" divided Aibon and Nono lol just to split allegiance. 🙂 Some of Tsunku's best work to date is found in the Gumi projects.


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