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.
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.
"Hare ame nochi suki ♥" (music video)…
"Sakura mankai" (music video)…
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. 🙂