W (pronounced ダブルユー) is a former Hello! Project duo comprised of fourth generation Morning Musume members, Kago Ai and Tsuji Nozomi. The duo's name could also be read as Double U or Double You. The duo formed in 2004 and remained active until 2006, releasing a total of two albums and six singles.
Occasionally, Tsuji and Kago would introduce themselves as a unit at live performances and concerts using these words: "Leader no Tsuji Nozomi to, sub-leader no Kago Ai, futari awasete, W deesu!!" ( リーダーの辻希美と、サブリーダーの加護亜依、二人合わせて、ダブル・ユーでーす!!; Tsuji Nozomi, the leader, and Kago Ai, the sub leader, the two of us together are W!)
W's formation was announced not long after the graduation of Kago and Tsuji from Morning Musume was announced in early 2004. At the time, the duo—longtime best friends since they met at the auditions that landed them in Morning Musume in 2000—were simultaneously in both Morning Musume and one of its most popular sub-groups, Minimoni. Minimoni was about to be disbanded with the inevitable departure of Mika Todd, leaving Kago and Tsuji without any associated acts with which to perform. The decision to pair the two best friends together was made almost immediately and W was born.
As they were winding down their Minimoni and Morning Musume duties, W released their debut three-song EP, "Koi no Vacance," the title track being a rocked-up cover version of a 1960's hit by Showa period female duo The Peanuts. The EP was followed a few weeks later by their debut album as W, "Duo U&U," which contained covers of other Showa period female duo songs exclusively. One of the other groups covered by W on the first album was Pink Lady, a 70's-era duo that was becoming active again as a performing, if not recording unit.
Since Kago and Tsuji had done two Pink Lady songs ("Southpaw" and "Nagisa no Sinbad") on Duo U&U, Pink Lady were invited to perform with W on Japanese television as a one-time four-piece ensemble. Their joint performance of "Southpaw" became a trading favorite amongst American Hello! Project fans on VCD, DVD, and BitTorrent (Pink Lady also sat in with Kago, Tsuji, and their Morning Musume bandmates on "Nagisa no Sinbad" and a medley of the former act's "S.O.S." and the latter's "LOVE Machine" on the same show).
Kago and Tsuji performed their graduation concert in August 2004 and a week later, their second single, "Aa Ii na!," was released. Not only was it the duo's first release since they departed Morning Musume, it was also the first W single to feature an original composition by Hello! Project founder/producer/songwriter Tsunku. A third single of original material, "Robo Kiss," followed three months later.
In December 2004, W joined their fellow Hello! Project members on the 2004 shuffle unit single "ALL FOR ONE & ONE FOR ALL!," credited to the H.P. All Stars. W also began joining Morning Musume onstage at concerts during this period to perform Kago and Tsuji's final Morning Musume single, "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari" together with their former bandmates. These appearances served to dispel unsubstantiated Internet rumors that Kago and Tsuji's departure from the band was due to personal differences.
Their second album, 2005's "2nd W," released not even ten months after their first album, contained an even balance of new W originals and more Showa period classic J-pop cover songs, many of them topically centering around the end of the duo's teenage years (Kago turned 17 a month before the album's release; Tsuji would turn 18 that June). Their prolific pace continued when a new non-LP single, the Devo-influenced "Ai no Imi wo Oshiete!," followed a few months afterwards.
In the Spring of 2005, W starred in their first concert musical, Cara & Mel, the Case of the Stolen Dangerous Violin, a stage show which was released soon after on DVD.
In September 2005 the duo released their 6th single "Miss Love Tantei." The song and video featured a more mature Kago and Tsuji and actually earned them not only critical acclaim, but also some comparisons to Russian pop group t.A.T.u. because of the song intro's unintentional resemblance to "Not Gonna Get Us." The video, which features Kago and Tsuji playing multiple roles (including a reprisal of their stage musical roles of Cara & Mei), raised even more eyebrows when the duo were depicted adopting the controversial ganguro look in one scene.
In addition to their musical career, W continue to appear on Hello! Project's weekly TV show Hello! Morning, often in tandem with Morning Musume.
In videos and in concert appearances, W sometimes performed or co-headlined with Berryz Koubou, the eight-member preteen girl group formed under Hello! Project. Berryz Koubou appeared as dancers on W's "Aa Ii na!" and "Robo Kiss" videos.
On January 11, the release of a new single, "Dou ni mo Tomaranai," was announced to be released on February 22, which would be followed up by their third full-length album, W3:Faithful on March 15. The title of both of these releases became known on February 7, 2006—coincidentally, Kago's 18th birthday.
On February 9, it was confirmed that the magazine Friday (the same one that caused Yaguchi Mari's sudden departure from Morning Musume) would be publishing photos of Kago smoking. The legal age for smoking in Japan was 20, and Kago had just turned 18 two days prior. On February 10, 2006, Hello! Project issued a press statement saying that the singer had been suspended "indefinitely." Speculation as of that date was that the punishment would be brief. However, Kago was under house arrest in her parent's home for an entire year.
As of February 10, the forthcoming seventh single and third album releases by W, scheduled for March 8 and March 15 respectively, as well as the promotional appearances for them, have been postponed indefinitely due to the scandal.
In January, Kago returned to Tokyo and was working at the offices of UP-FRONT GROUP, the agency behind Hello! Project, while the company was making preparations for her, and presumably, W's return to the public eye.
On March 26, following a newly publicized scandal involving Kago dating a thirty-seven-year-old man, as well as smoking again, it was announced by UP-FRONT AGENCY that her contract had been cancelled. An English translation of the announcement:
"To whom it may concern:
Regarding our client Kago Ai and the article in the weekly magazine that went on sale on March 26th, the information in the article has been verified with Kago herself, to our regret.
One year ago, when Kago was 17 and the smoking problem happened, we still considered her future in this company, and as punishment, she was imposed to house arrest in her parents' home. Seeing how she had progressed over that year, it was decided to start from scratch and start preparing for a comeback by bringing her to Tokyo and having her do clerical and other office duties, starting on January 23rd. Although this worked out well for two months, there was another incident and the comeback plan was abandoned. After consulting with the family, as she is a minor, it has been confirmed, and she has been released from her contract."
Life After W
With the termination of Kago's contract, Tsuji was left without a singing partner and W disbanded. On April 24, 2007, news about Tsuji's new unit was released. The unit, named Gyaruru, was supposed to be made up of Tsuji, Tokito Ami and Gal Sone and was under the TNX label.
On May 8, 2007, multiple Japanese news sources announced that Tsuji (19) was nine weeks pregnant, and engaged to actor Sugiura Taiyo (26), leading actor of Ultraman Cosmos. They had been dating since Summer 2006, after the two were introduced to each other earlier in April. Their marriage was set for June 17, 2007 (her twentieth birthday). Tsuji stated at the press conference that she would return to the public eye "when things calm down" after childbirth. As an official statement from her agency had not yet been made, it was assumed that she would be allowed to return to show business after her leave. However, her position within Gyaruru had since been filled by Abe Asami, sister of Abe Natsumi.
Tsuji was the voice of the character Athena in the animation series Robby & Kerobby, and released a single as the character: Koko ni Iruzee!, a cover version of the Morning Musume song by the same name. She had since relinquished the role to Niigaki Risa, due to her pregnancy.
Upon marriage, she changed her name to Sugiura Nozomi, but continued to use "Tsuji Nozomi" as a stage name.
On November 26, 2007, Tsuji gave birth to a girl named Sugiura Noa (杉浦希空) at 12:45 am, weighing 2.73 kg (6.0 lb; 0.430 st).
Almost one year and a half passed before anything was heard from her as an artist. On June 19, 2008, Tsuji made an appearance at the Nakazawa Yuko Birthday Live 2008 event, handing a birthday cake to Nakazawa. On January 30, 2009, Tsuji opened an online blog called Non Peace (のんピース). She also performed at the Hello! Project 2009 Winter Kettei! Hello☆Pro Award '09 ~Elder Club Sotsugyou Kinen Special~ concert on February 1, 2009, her first performance in one year and nine months.
Upon her expulsion, Kago all but vanished from the public eye completely. It was later found that she had moved to America and was living in Los Angeles learning English, although this was misreported as New York for quite some time. On April 6, 2008, it was reported by Yahoo! News that Kago was returning to the entertainment industry.
In June 2018, for the first time in nearly 12 years, fans saw the thawing of Kago's relationship with UP-FRONT PROMOTION after she was invited to perform at the Hello! Project 20th Anniversary!! Hello! Project 2018 SUMMER's August 25 and 26 tour dates, where she was warmly welcomed by the audience and attending members. While Tsuji couldn't appear at the concerts due to being pregnant with her fourth child, she later updated her blog to post photographs with Kago and say that she dreams of the day they can stand on stage together again.
On March 30, 2019, the duo reunited for the first time in 13 years to perform at the Hello! Project 20th Anniversary!! Hello! Project Hina Fes 2019 <Hello! Project 20th Anniversary!! Premium>. Following their appearance at the concert, the duo released five songs digitally on the same day led by the song "Choi Waru Devil". These songs were originally to be released in 2006 on their 7th single "Dou ni mo Tomaranai / Choi Waru Devil" and third album W3:faithful.
On June 16, 2019, it was announced that W would make their first TV appearance in years by performing in the TV Tokyo Ongakusai 2019 on June 26. Together they performed a medley of "Samishii Nettaigyo" and "Robo Kiss".
- [2004.05.19] Koi no Vacance (恋のバカンス; Vacation of Love)
- [2004.08.18] Aa Ii na! (あぁ いいな!; Ah, How Nice!)
- [2004.10.14] Robo Kiss (ロボキッス)
- [2005.02.09] Koi no Fuga (恋のフーガ; Fugue of Love)
- [2005.05.18] Ai no Imi wo Oshiete! (愛の意味を教えて!; Teach Me the Meaning of Love!)
- [2005.09.07] Miss Love Tantei (Missラブ探偵; Miss Love Detective)
- [Cancelled] Dou ni mo Tomaranai / Choi Waru Devil (どうにもとまらない/ちょい悪デビル)
- [2019.03.30] Choi Waru Devil (ちょい悪デビル)
- [2004.12.22] Petit Best 5 (プッチベスト5) (#7 Robo Kiss (Jisedai Remix))
- [2005.12.21] Petit Best 6 (プッチベスト6) (#6 Miss Love Tantei)
- [2013.12.31] Hello! Project no Zenkyoku kara Atsumechaimashita! Vol. 2 (ハロー!プロジェクトの全曲から集めちゃいました! Vol.2 吉田豪編) (#13 Robo Kiss)
- [2020.01.08] Petit Best 20 2020 (Disc 1 #6 SEXY SNOW)
- [2004.10.14] W no Eizou no Sekai Vol.1 (Wの映像の世界 Vol.1)
- [2004.11.17] 2004 Natsu First Concert Tour "W Standby! W & Berryz Koubou!" (2004夏 ファーストコンサートツアー｢Wスタンバイ！ダブルユー＆ベリーズ工房！｣)
- [2005.07.06] Fushigi Shoujo Tantei Cara & Mel Ma no Violin Thounan Jiken (ふしぎ少女探偵 キャラ&メル 魔のヴァイオリン盗難事件; Cara & Mel, the Case of the Stolen Dangerous Violin )
- [2005.11.09] 2005nen Natsu W & Berryz Koubou Concert Tour "HIGH SCORE!" (2005年夏 W＆Berryz工房 コンサートツアー「HIGH SCORE!」)
- [2005.12.07] Hello☆Pro Party~! 2005 ~Matsuura Aya Captain Kouen~ (ハロ☆プロ パーティ~! 2005 ~松浦亜弥キャプテン公演~)
- W DVD Magazine vol.1
- W&Berryz DVD Magazine vol.2
Total Sales Count
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- "W（ダブルユー）3月発売予定シングル・アルバム・シングルV発売中止のお知らせ" (in Japanese). Hello! Project Official Website. 2006-02-10 (Archived 2013.10.18).
- "「Hello! Project 2018 SUMMER」ハロー！プロジェクトOGのゲスト出演が決定！" (in Japanese). Hello! Project. 2018-06-15.
- "私の相方♡". (in Japanese). Tsuji Nozomi Official Blog. 2018-08-27.
- "W(ダブルユー)「ちょい悪デビル」3/30配信！". (in Japanese). UP-FRONT WORKS. 2019-03-26.
- "「テレ東音楽祭」にW（ダブルユー）、森高千里、バブルガム・ブラザーズ、WANIMAら追加" (in Japanese). natalie. 2019-06-15.
- "加護亜依＆辻希美「W（ダブルユー）」13年ぶりテレビ出演に「鳥肌」「全然変わらない」" (in Japanese). modelpress'. 2019-06-26.