My story follows a similar origin as Thea’s - I was into anime, and then, by proxy, J-pop, and then, eventually, H!P.
Back in… 2009 or so, I really got into the Mahou Sensei Negima! anime and manga. They had 32 voice actresses for the 32 “main” characters and treated them like a massive idol group when it came to their music. I loved watching their lives, listening to their songs, trying to learn who was singing what part in songs, etc. It was definitely my “idol preschool” now that I think about it
Around 2011, I decided I wanted to get into “normal” J-pop. So being the thrifty 13 year old I was, I searched something like “best J-pop songs” on Google and read through all the Yahoo! Answers threads I could find. I was introduced to Ayumi Hamasaki, Hikaru Utada, Kumi Koda, etc, but they weren’t really my “style.” Then someone mentioned loving “Sakura Mankai” by “Morning Musume.”
Curious, I went to YouTube, watched the MV, and loved it. But in particular, one of them most caught my eye - Eri. I decided she was my “temporary” favorite and wanted to learn more about the group because of her. So then I watched a tooooooooooooon of HaroMoni content to see Eri, and then GakiKame theater, and that 100% sold it to me. Eri was my favorite!
And so, for half of 2011 and half of 2012, I was happy in my little golden-to-platinum era bubble. I had just missed Eri’s graduation, so I was bummed about that. I decided eventually that I should “move on” and look at the new members and releases. So even though it wasn’t new at the time (I think Renai Hunter was lol), I watched Maji Desu ka Ska! and thought it was cute. I thought Mizuki was pretty. And then I read she loved Eri so she was my new favorite instantly
I didn’t like Sayu all that much back then - I could appreciate the fact she and Eri were close, but she wasn’t my “style.” It wouldn’t be until 2013-2014 that I really grew to respect and like her. I can’t say “love” as… in all honesty, to this day, Eri is still my most cherished favorite. But I enjoy the Sayu content she chooses to bless us with, lol.
ANYWAY, getting back to the main story. I piddled around with some of the “newer” releases, but then, indeed, I saw the dance shot for One Two Three. Unlike Thea, I am unable to truly appreciate dancing like it should be, but dude, that song was so boss to my 14 year old self. I was hooked and asked my mom to buy me the 10ki edition because I really loved Seishun Domannaka.
At this time, Mizuki was still my new “favorite”, but I thought Sayu was super cute in the MV and promotions, so that planted the seed, so to speak. I went through many phases trying to land on a new favorite before I stuck with Sayu - I enjoyed her interviews and the depth of her personality a lot and she inspired me to just put yourself out there.
So anyway… from One Two Three on, I followed MM! I started tapping out about 2017-2018, I’d say. Everything just sounded the same to me after a while. I’ll try and check out some of their new every now and again, but it’s still just too same-y for me. I really like 13ki and 15ki, but I don’t have a major favorite anymore. I like Miki, Kaede, Reina, Rio, Homare, and Mei the most. I think maybe when 9-11th graduates, and if their sound hopefully gets a little more variety, I will try them on for size again. Until then, I just check them out every now and again.