Top 12 Maimi moments of 2012
Welcome to 2013, Maimi fans! We leave behind us a 2012 that was jam-packed with amazing Maimi moments, in what was one of the best years ever to be a fan of Maimi. Therefore, I wanted to take a moment and reminisce about some of Maimi’s biggest moments in 2012. Here are the top 12 Maimi moments of 2012 as ranked by MaimiLog. Click “Read the rest of this entry” to get started!
12. “Black Angels” 2 & 3
Maimi made waves with her turn as the hardened assassin “Reira” in the 2011 DVD movie “Black Angels”, which ended with the villainous Reira joining the side of good. One year after the release of “Black Angels”, two sequels to the movie were announced seemingly out of nowhere, and were released back-to-back in July and August. Though the focus of both movies shifted to the new characters introduced in each, it was still a treat for all of us to see Maimi reprise her role as the fan-favorite Reira.
11. Maimi & Chinami “ANNEX” Event
When Maimi and her best friend Berryz Koubou’s Tokunaga Chinami were asked seperately which members in Hello! Project they’d like to form a unit with, both girls chose each other. Then, in February of 2012, the two of them finally got the chance to perform together as a duo at the “HaroPuro ANNEX ~Berryz Koubou x ℃-ute = Sweet♡~” events. The event was just one of the many collaborations waiting for Maimi and her bosom buddy in 2012.
10. “Geki Saka” Challenges
Following her bicycle trek to the Kunouzan Toshogu shrine (more on that later), Maimi became a “cycling idol” of sorts. She appeared on the cover of cycling magazines and was given a segment called “Geki Saka” on the “Yu! Style” television program, in which she was challenged with riding a bicycle up several formidable slopes. The segment, which ran for 6 episodes, ended with Maimi biking up Mt. Fuji’s Subaru line.
Ever since her first photobook in 2007 (“Maimi”), Maimi’s photobook releases have become a yearly event. As the end of 2012 was in sight and it looked like the streak might be broken, Maimi’s 6th solo photobook, “Hatachi”, was announced and released in November. “Hatachi”, which means “20-years-old”, was Maimi’s first photobook since reaching that milestone.
Late in 2011, Maimi fans were treated to 3 solo DVD releases released in consecutive months exclusively on the e-LineUP! website, for a total of 4 solo DVD releases in 2011. While that might seem like enough DVDs to tide fans over for awhile, we as Maimi fans were hungry for the next installment. News of her next DVD release, titled “Chelsie”, finally surfaced in October. Not only was it Maimi’s first solo DVD release in 2012 and her first since turning 20, but it was also her first solo DVD to be released outside of e-LineUP! since 2010.
7. “CAT’S♥EYE” Play & Unit
2012 was the 10th anniversary of the year the Berryz Koubou and ℃-ute members joined Hello! Project as the Hello! Project Kids, so it’s no surprise the amount of collaboration the two units had last year. The aforementioned ANNEX events, the Berikyuu single “Chou HAPPY SONG”, and the play adaption of the famous anime, “CAT’S♥EYE”. The play featured Shimizu Saki, Sudou Maasa, Kumai Yurina, and Sugaya Risako from Berryz Koubou, and Nakajima Saki, Hagiwara Mai, and of course Maimi from ℃-ute, with Maimi playing the lead role of “Kisugi Hitomi”. In addition to the play, a special unit, “CAT’S♥EYE 7”, was formed to sing the titular theme song.
6. “Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku” (Yajima Maimi Short Movie “Totsuzen” Dance Ver.)
There was a lot of buzz surrounding ℃-ute’s first single of 2012 and it’s first solo single since September of 2011, “Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku”. Not only would each member have a solo version of the song on the limited editions, but it was also announced that 30 versions of the music video would be uploaded to the official ℃-ute channel on YouTube. No one was ready, however, for what turned out to be Maimi’s ultimate solo version, the “Yajima Maimi Short Movie “Totsuzen” Dance Ver.” Clocking in at just over nine minutes and directed by Hata Takehiko, the man responsible for the play “Ran”, the bulk of the video is a drama centered around Maimi’s character who was recently dumped. After a pick-me-up talk from her friend, played by “Sugar Spot” co-star Murakami Haruna, Maimi decides to walk home by herself, and spontaneously bursts into dance on the way.
5. “Sugar Spot”
Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, Maimi and Chinami’s ANNEX event was just a taste of things to come for the duo in 2012. Late in 2012, it was announced that Maimi and Chinami would co-starring in the Otona no Mugicha play “Sugar Spot”, written and directed by the highly-regarded Shioda Taizo. This play offered Maimi not only the chance to work with her best friend again, but also to work with Otona no Mugicha and Shioda Taizo, who she hadn’t worked with since her first play “Neru-ko wa ℃-ute” and who was equally as excited to work with her again. Maimi impressed many with her performance, and with her ability to prepare for both a play and ℃-ute’s winter tour at the same time.
4. Yajima Maimi & Suzuki Airi Acoustic Live
It’s no secret to most Western Maimi fans who the most popular Maimi-pairing is. Something as simple as a 2-shot of Maimi with her fellow ℃-ute member Suzuki Airi from one of their blog updates is enough to set of an avalanche of “YAJISUZU!!” comments. It’s no surprise that the pairing of Maimi and Airi is popular, as both are beautiful and talented women who built up a lot of chemistry together as the front-girls for ℃-ute in the 7 years since ℃-ute’s formation. So, as expected, there was a lot of excitement when it was announced that Maimi and Airi would not only have a live together, but also one where they were backed by an acoustic band. The live featured a tracklist chosen by the two, both girls playing an instrument (piano for Maimi, guitar for Airi), and even some Western songs thrown into the mix (“Venus” by Shocking Blue and “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne”).
Maimi has been a staple of Hello! Project’s TV shows for quite sometime, making a ton of appearances on “Bijo Gaku” and “HaroPuro TIME”. As such, it was no surprise when the nature-loving Maimi also started appearing on H!P’s nature-centric show, “Hello! SATOYAMA Life”. Out of “Hello! SATOYAMA Life” came the “SATOYAMA movement”, which contained Maimi’s first sub-unit since High-King, “DIY♡”. The unit is made up of Maimi, Chinami, Natsuyaki Miyabi (Berryz Koubou), Nakajima Saki, and Iikubo Haruna (Morning Musume), and to date has released one single, “Fore Fore ~Forest for Rest~”. The group instantly made a splash when a video of their first live performance of the single was uploaded to the SATOYAMA channel on YouTube, and more than doubled the views of the other flagship SATOYAMA movement unit.
2. Maimi’s 20th Birthday
In 2002, a 10-year-old Maimi passed the Hello! Project Kids audition to become a member of Hello! Project. Not only did 2012 mark the 10 year anniversary of her and the other H!P Kids members joining H!P, but it was also the year she reached a milestone in Japanese culture, turning 20-years-old and becoming an adult. Once Maimi turned 20, there was extra emphasis on all of her activies, as each one was her first since reaching that age. Her first performance as a 20-year-old, her first play, photobook, DVD, etc. And while most of us Western fans didn’t get the chance to celebrate her birthday with her at the ℃-ute birthday event or her casual dinner show, our birthday wishes certainly reached her through the “Maimi Yajima 20th Birthday Project”, which contained 25 messages from fans in 12 different countries.
1. Maimi’s Bicycle Pilgrimage
One thing that is absolutely undeniable about Maimi is her love for her group ℃-ute. Maimi always puts the group before herself, and will go to great lengths to make sure they’re a success. Nothing in 2012 showcased that more than Maimi’s bicycle trip from Tokyo Tower to Kunouzan Toshogu shrine in Shizuoka to pray for the success of ℃-ute’s single “Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku”. The trip was about 220km (about 137 miles) long, took 3 days, and we got to make the entire trip with Maimi over the course of 6 episodes on “HaroPuro TIME”. It was far from an easy trip, as along the way Maimi had to deal with getting lost, her bicycle breaking down, getting fatigued, and (of course) bad weather. The entire trip culminated with Maimi having to carry her bicycle up 1159 steps to the Kunouzan Toshogu shrine in the rain in order pray for the single’s success, an image that I’m sure will remain with many Maimi fans for a long time. Maimi’s incredible act paid off, as “Kimi wa Jitensha Watashi wa Densha de Kitaku” sold over 46k copies, became ℃-ute’s highest selling single at the time, and reached number 3 on the Oricon weekly charts.
And that’s it for the top 12 Maimi moments of 2012. There are no doubt many moments amongst these, not to mention any moments that didn’t make the list, that will fondly be looked back on by both Maimi and us fans for many years to come.