Minimoni (ミニモニ。) was a Hello! Project group and a sub-unit of Japanese pop girl group Morning Musume. They were one of Morning Musume's most popular sub-units for their entire existence due to a combination of their outrageous music videos and live performances, their vocal harmonies, and their widely varied musical styles.
Minimoni's highest selling single is Minimoni Jankenpyon! / Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu Daisukki! with 763,380 copies sold. Their lowest selling single is Mirakururun Grand Purin! / Pi~hyara Kouta with 16,410 copies sold.
First Generation (2000-2003)
- Yaguchi Mari (矢口真里; Graduated from the group in 2003) Leader
- Mika (ミカ)
- Tsuji Nozomi (辻希美)
- Kago Ai (加護亜依)
Second Generation (2003-2004)
The group was founded in late 2000 by Morning Musume member Yaguchi Mari, who had an idea for a sub-unit whose members were 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) in height or shorter. Yaguchi, and Morning Musume's songwriter and producer Tsunku, selected two of Morning Musume's newest members, Kago Ai and Tsuji Nozomi, for the new sub-unit and the trio began performing in concerts as Minimoni. American-born Mika of Coconuts Musume was later added to give the unit "an international flavor" and Tsunku made them official. Their debut single, Minimoni Jankenpyon! / Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu Daisukki! , was a #1 hit.
While Minimoni was initially directed towards younger listeners (in spite of the fact two of the members, Yaguchi and Mika, were in their late teens), they also had an older fan base consisting of older Morning Musume fans (especially of Yaguchi, Kago and Tsuji) and the parents of the younger Minimoni fans.
The quartet released several singles in 2001 and 2002, and most of these tracks were compiled into their first album "Minimoni Song Daihyakka 1kan." The album's musical styles spanned wildly from track to track, defiantly incorporating such diverse styles as blues, electronica, march music, jazz, reggae, and horn-driven 60's soul music.
The unit's almost anarchic presentation would also carry into some of their television appearances, many of which are circulated online, especially among the band's non-Japanese cult audience. These antics have included: Kago playfully saying "big doo-doo" (in English) in response to a Japanese TV interviewer's question (a bleeped version of the clip has been misidentified as "Kago says f*** you"); band members collectively grabbing the buttocks of a female assistant backstage at a concert (dubbed by some Western fans as the "Minimoni Ass Grab," in parody of the song title "Minimoni Bus Guide"); and an Utaban appearance where Kago slugged Yaguchi in the crotch while Yaguchi was in the middle of a sentence (which was actually a Morning Musume appearance for the song "Souda! We're Alive").
Simultaneously with their single releases, the unit became the subject of a series of short cartoons of their own, Yarunoda Pyon!, in which they supplied their own voices. They also contributed their voices to the Hamtaro cartoon series, in which hamster versions of Minimoni are featured. The group recorded two songs especially for Hamtaro under the group pseudonym 'Minihamus.'
Yaguchi graduated from Minimoni to take on leading the sub-unit ZYX, one of the first Hello! Project groups to incorporate the Hello! Project Kids (including a couple of then-future members of Berryz Koubou and ℃-ute). Another Morning Musume member, Takahashi Ai, took Yaguchi's place, while Mika, as the oldest member of the current lineup, took over as the unit's leader.
That same year, all five members of Minimoni filmed the movie Minimoni the Movie Okashi na Daibouken! (Minimoni The Movie The Great Cake Adventure), part of the story-line of which, in the context of the movie's fantasy setting, "explains" how Yaguchi ended up leaving Minimoni to begin leading ZYX and how Takahashi ended up in the band.
They started to have a more mature, modern R&B-heavy sound to their music with the single "CRAZY ABOUT YOU," a style the unit explored more heavily on their second album "Minimoni Songs 2." However, their silly side was also well represented on the album with two more songs they contributed to Hamtaro as Minihamus. Former member Yaguchi also appears on three cuts, two of which previously appeared on the Okashina Daibouken soundtrack. They also starred in a mini-series called Minimoni's The Brementown Musicians starring Takahashi, Tsuji, and Kago; Mika made brief appearances in two episodes.
The unit disbanded in May 2004 after the graduation of Mika and the release of one final single, "Lucky Cha Cha Cha!"
An interesting side note is that Mika usually wore drastically different costumes than her band mates (while the other girls wore skirts and bows, Mika was often seen wearing jumpsuits or typically more masculine outfits).
For the celebration of 20 years of Morning Musume, Minimoni received a segment all to itself. Tsuji Nozomi and Yaguchi Mari were asked to reform Minimoni for one time only. The two elders were joined by the then current members Ishida Ayumi and Yokoyama Reina to perform Minimoni Jankenpyon. It should be noted, three members of the original line up were present, but Takahashi Ai did not take part. Yaguchi later consoled Tsuji in claiming "Look, the new generation isn't out of breath."
Minimoni in American media
In February 2006 Minimoni's name was invoked on American television (NBC's The Tonight Show With Jay Leno) during a skit claiming that one of Leno's house band members had started out as a member of Minimoni; a manipulated picture of the Leno band member with Minimoni (in their outfits from the cover of "Minimoni Songs 2") was aired as part of the sketch.
In June 2007, an excerpt from an late 2000 appearance by Minimoni on Hello! Morning of a prairie dog turning his head suddenly, became the basis for the Internet phenomenon The Dramatic Chipmunk. A parody of the Dramatic Chipmunk clip, including lookalikes of Minimoni, appears in Weezer's music video for their 2008 single "Pork and Beans."
- Yaguchi Mari (矢口真里) continued as sub-leader of Morning Musume after she left Minimoni. In 2003 she also formed the short-lived unit ZYX with four members of the Hello! Project Kids. In April 2005, she resigned from Morning Musume due to a scandal and embarked on a solo career under the Hello! Project banner.
- Mika (ミカ) lived and studied music in Los Angeles, occasionally traveling to perform with her father, jazz pianist Johnny Todd. She released a self-titled solo EP in 2005 that was available only at her rare live performances.
- Tsuji Nozomi (辻希美) and Kago Ai ( 護亜依) graduated together from Morning Musume in August 2004 to form a new unit, W, under the Hello! Project banner. Following Kago's suspension, Tsuji continued as a soloist in Hello! Project until May 10, 2007 when she announced that she was engaged to actor Sugiura Taiyou and already two months pregnant with his child. On November 26, 2007, Tsuji gave birth to a girl named Sugiura Noa. Tsuji currently has 4 children.
- Kago Ai ( 護亜依) was suspended in February 2006 and then terminated in March 2007 after a series of tabloid scandals. She made a comeback on April 6, 2008, but was no longer associated with Hello! Project. She performed in a Sammo Hung movie in Hong Kong. Kago currently has a daughter. She returned to the pop music industry again in 2014, forming the group Girls Beat, but due to further scandal involving her husband, the group went on an indefinite hiatus.
- Takahashi Ai (高橋愛) continued as a member of Morning Musume and was the leader of the group and of the entire Hello! Project label until her graduation in 2011. Her distinctive vocals have been more prominent on their singles and on their albums "Ai no Dai 6kan," "Rainbow 7" and "SEXY 8 BEAT." She is currently a soloist as a part of M-line.
- Studio Albums
- [2002.06.26] Minimoni Song Daihyakka 1kan (ミニモニ。ソング大百科１巻)
- [2004.02.11] Minimoni Songs 2 (ミニモニ。ソングズ２)
- Soundtrack Albums
- [2003.02.19] Minimoni the Movie Okashi na Daibouken! Original Soundtrack (ミニモニ。じゃムービーお菓子な大冒険！オリジナルサウンドトラック)
- [2003.03.26] Hamtaro Original Soundtrack (劇場版とっとこハム太郎 ハムハムージャ！幻のプリンセス オリジナルサウンドトラック)
- Major Singles
- [2001.01.17] Minimoni Jankenpyon! / Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu Daisukki! (ミニモニ。ジャンケンぴょん！/春夏秋冬だいすっき！)
- [2001.09.12] Minimoni Telephone! Rin Rin Rin / Minimoni Bus Guide (ミニモニ。テレフォン！リンリンリン/ミニモニ。バスガイド)
- [2001.12.05] Minihamus no Ai no Uta (ミニハムずの愛の唄) (Minihamus)
- [2002.01.30] Minimoni Hinamatsuri! / Mini Strawberry Pie (ミニモニ。ひなまつり！/ミニ。ストロベリ〜パイ)
- [2002.04.24] Ai~n Taisou / Ai~n! Dance no Uta (アイ〜ン体操/アイ〜ン！ダンスの唄) (Bakatono-sama to Minimoni-hime)
- [2002.11.27] Genki Jirushi no Oomori Song / Okashi Tsukutte Okkasui~! (げんき印の大盛りソング/お菓子つくっておっかすぃ〜) (Minimoni to Takahashi Ai + 4KIDS)
- [2002.12.04] Minihamus no Kekkon Song (ミニハムずの結婚ソング) (Minihamus)
- [2003.04.09] Rock 'n' Roll Kenchoushozaichi ~Oboechaina Series~ (ロックンロール県庁所在地～おぼえちゃいなシリーズ～)
- [2003.05.14] Minimoni Kazoe Uta ~Ofuro Version~ / Minimoni Kazoe Uta ~Date Version~ (ミニモニ。数え歌〜お風呂ば〜じょん〜/ミニモニ。数え歌〜デートば〜じょん〜)
- [2003.10.16] CRAZY ABOUT YOU
- [2003.11.19] Mirakururun Grand Purin! / Pi~hyara Kouta (ミラクルルングランプリン!/ピ~ヒャラ小唄) (Minihamus/Purin-chan)
- [2004.04.21] Lucky Cha Cha Cha! (ラッキーチャチャチャ！)
- [2001.05.28] Minimoni Photo Book (ミニモニ。Photo Book)
- [2002.12 or 2003.01] Minimoni Cafe e Oide yo! (ミニモニ。カフェへおいでよ!)
- [2001-2004] Tottemo! Minimoni (とっても!ミニモニ。)
-  Minimoni Yarunoda Pyon! (ミニモニ。やるのだぴょん!)
-  Minimoni Love Install (ミニモニ。ラブインストール)
- [2002-2003] Minimoni ni Omakase! series (ミニモニ。におまかせっ!)
- [2003-2004] Minimoni Daisuki! series (ミニモニ。大好きっ!)
-  Minimoni de Bremen no Ongakutai (ミニモニ。でブレーメンの音楽隊)
-  Minimoni de Bremen no Ongaku-tai (ミニモニ。でブレーメンの音楽隊)
- [2002.12.14] Minimoni the Movie Okashi na Daibouken! (ミニモニ。じゃ ムービー お菓子な大冒険！)
- [2002.03.20] Minimoni Dice de Pyon! (ミニモニ ダイスdeぴょん!)
- [2002.04.01] Minimoni Mika no Happy Morning Chatty (ミニモニ。ミカのハピモニ chatty)
- [2002.04.01] Minimoni Issho ni Utsun da Pyon!! (ミニモニ。いっしょにうつんだぴょん!!)
- [2002.04.05] Minimoni Keyboard ga Mieru Moni!! (ミニモニ。キーボードがみえるモニ!!)
- [2002.04.26] Minimoni Seal Harun da Pyon! (ミニモニ。シール はるんだピョン！)
- [2002.09.19] Minimoni Shakatto Tambourine! Da Pyon! (ミニモニ。シャカっとタンバリン!だぴょん!)
- [2002.09.26] Kids Station Minimoni ni Naru no da Pyon! (キッズステーション ミニモニ。になるだぴょん!)
- [2002.12.12] Minimoni Onegai Ohoshisama! (ミニモニ。おねがいお星さま!)
- [2002.12.12] Minimoni Step Up Pyon Pyon Pyon (ミニモニ.ステップぴょんぴょんぴょん♪)
- Yaguchi Mari proposed the idea for the unit to Tsunku.
- For one episode of Utaban, Minimoni had a fifth member, Giant Moni.
- Yaguchi Mari stated in "Unlucky Laboratory" that she was "Unlucky" to join Minimoni.
- The "Dramatic Chipmunk", a meme with millions of views on YouTube, is actually a clip of a prairie dog taken from a Minimoni Chiccha segment on Hello! Morning.
- For Ishida Ayumi's 2018 birthday event, it was her wish to form a Minimoni '18 unit with the four shortest girls in Morning Musume '18: herself, Oda Sakura, Yokoyama Reina, and Morito Chisaki. They performed two songs, Minimoni Telephone! Rin Rin Rin and Minimoni Jankenpyon!.
- On February 12, 2018, TV Tokyo aired a television special celebrating Morning Musume's 20th anniversary. Original Minimoni members Yaguchi Mari and Tsuji Nozomi made an appearance and performed Minimoni Jankenpyon! with Morning Musume '18 members Ishida Ayumi and Yokoyama Reina.
- Much like Minimoni, the 2018 unit Minis? also consisted of some of the shortest active members in Hello! Project at the time.
On May 26, 2009, Minimoni's original leader, Yaguchi Mari, posted a blog discussing how Tsunku had contacted her asking for permission to bring the unit out of hiatus. Tsunku would later make a post on his own blog confirming that Minimoni would be revived with an entirely new line-up, confirming S/mileage member Fukuda Kanon as the first member. Morning Musume's Linlin was announced later as the unit's leader, and that Hello Pro Egg members Takeuchi Akari and Miyamoto Karin would be the final two members in the new line-up. This line-up is referred to as Shin Minimoni (新ミニモニ。; New Minimoni).
On the last day of Morning Musume Concert Tour 2010 Aki ~Rival Survival~, Linlin graduated from Morning Musume and Hello! Project, and thus left Shin Minimoni.
The three remaining members continued to perform as a trio during the Hello! Project 2011 Winter ~Kangei Shinsen Matsuri~ A gana Live, after which the group became inactive.
- [2009.07.15] Hello! Project - Chanpuru ① ~Happy Marriage Song Cover Shuu~ (チャンプル1 ~ハッピーマリッジソングカバー集~) (#4 Tentoumushi no Samba)
- [2009.12.02] Hello! Project - Petit Best 10 (プッチベスト10) (#9 Pen Pen Kyoudai)
- Shin Minimoni was composed entirely of members who were part of Hello Pro Egg at one point.