Unlike my previous two puzzles, in which the instructions tell you what to do in rather vague terms, this one doesn’t say a single thing about what you should actually do to solve the puzzle (as long as you don’t fill in the nonexistent grid).
So the natural thing to do with such an instructionless puzzle is to look at it and see what comes to mind. The puzzle consists of an image containing the title, a cryptic one-line message, and 30 images of what looks like CD scans, modified to obscure all visible text. One is tempted to identify these CDs, and rightly so.
There are various ways to get this information: for example, looking at the H!P CDs in your own collection, looking at non-H!P CDs (probably not helpful), recalling CD designs from memory, and searching online for photos or scans that match these CDs, including scans of other material besides discs that share features present on the discs (like covers and liner notes). Whatever you do, you will probably observe a number of things after identifying some of these CDs, not necessarily all of them:
- They seem to be all Hello! Project CDs.
- They seem to be all singles.
- There seems to be at least one pair of CDs taken from the regular-edition version and the limited-edition version of the same single.
- Given the large number of H!P releases, the CDs here seem disproportionately representative of only three groups: Morning Musume, Berryz Koubou, and ºC-ute. And given how few ºC-ute releases there have been, half of them indie releases, this should be very odd indeed.
- The CDs appear to be evenly distributed among those three groups (which is certainly possible since there are a total of 30).
- The titles seem to be ordered in some fashion, with groups of consecutive titles having the same starting letter.
These are all useful observations, particularly the last two, and indeed, the CDs are all singles of Morning Musume, Berryz Koubou, and ºC-ute, 10 of each. Some further investigation reveals that the titles are ordered in lexicographical order by kana (the Japanese analog of Latin alphabetical order), with titles originally spelled in Latin characters converted to kana (I used the Japanese Wikipedia articles of each of these singles to determine the proper kana, though my attempt to add stubs for each of ºC-ute’s indie singles failed >_<). This information is probably very helpful in identifying CDs that you are stuck on, as it obviously narrows down the possibilities.
It is possible to solve this without identifying each CD, but it would be helpful to do so. The CDs are (in the order they are presented in the puzzle):
|1||Morning Musume||I WISH||アイ ウィッシュ||regular|
|2||Morning Musume||AS FOR ONE DAY||アズ・フォー・ワン・デイ||regular|
|3||Morning Musume||Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii Jan||アンビシャス やしんてきでいいじゃん||limited|
|4||Morning Musume||Osaka Koi no Uta||おおさか こいのうた||regular|
|5||Berryz Koubou||Koi no Jubaku||こいのじゅばく||regular|
|6||Morning Musume||Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~||ゴー ガール こいのヴィクトリー||regular|
|7||Berryz Koubou||Kokuhaku no Funsui Hiroba||こくはくのふんすいひろば||regular|
|8||Morning Musume||Koko ni Iruzee!||ここにいるぜぇ!||regular|
|11||Berryz Koubou||Jiriri Kiteru||ジリリ キテル||regular|
|12||Berryz Koubou||Special Generation||スッペシャル ジェネレ〜ション||regular|
|13||Morning Musume||Souda! We’re ALIVE||そうだ ウィア アライブ||regular|
|15||Berryz Koubou||Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi||つきあってるのにかたおもい||regular|
|16||Morning Musume||Do it! Now||ドゥー イット ナウ||regular|
|17||ºC-ute||Tokaikko Junjou||とかいっこ じゅんじょう||limited|
|18||ºC-ute||Tokaikko Junjou||とかいっこ じゅんじょう||regular|
|19||Morning Musume||Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago||なみたが とまらない ほうかご||regular|
|20||ºC-ute||Namida no Iro||なみだのいろ||regular|
|21||Berryz Koubou||Happiness ~Koufuku Kangei!~||ハピネスこうふくかんげい||regular|
|22||Berryz Koubou||Fighting Pose wa Date ja nai!||ファイティングポーズはダテじゃない！||regular|
|23||Berryz Koubou||VERY BEAUTY||ベリービューティ||regular|
|24||ºC-ute||Massara Blue Jeans||まっさらブルージーンズ||regular|
|25||Berryz Koubou||Munasawagi Scarlet||むなさわぎスカーレット||regular|
|26||ºC-ute||Meguru Koi no Kisetsu||めぐるこいのきせつ||limited|
|27||ºC-ute||Meguru Koi no Kisetsu||めぐるこいのきせつ||regular|
|28||ºC-ute||LALALA Shiawase no Uta||ららら しあわせのうた||regular|
|29||ºC-ute||Wakkyanai (Z)||わっきゃない ゼ||regular|
|30||Berryz Koubou||Waracchaou yo BOYFRIEND||わらっちゃおうよボーイフレンド||regular|
(I tried to pick the most distinctive CD designs out of all the Morning Musume and Berryz Koubou singles, and tried to use regular editions where available, but I failed to find high-quality scans of the regular editions of “Shabondama” and “Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii Jan”, so I used their limited editions instead, which have similar designs. Ideally, it would have been nice to use all ten of ºC-ute’s singles, but I wasn’t able to get scans of “Ooki na Ai de Motenashite” or “Koero! Rakuten Eagles”, so I used both regular and limited editions for “Meguru Koi no Kisetsu” and “Tokaikko Junjou”.)
The next step involves figuring out what to do with the black and white circles filling the centers of the discs. If you turn to the title image, you’ll notice that the title, PUZZLE! TIME, is written below a set of dots. The dots are in standard braille notation and correspond to the characters in the title. (If you weren’t familiar with braille, you could easily find out that this is braille by observing that the dots are arranged in blocks of six, and searching for writing systems using 6-dot blocks.)
Below the title is the katakana representation of the title: パズル！タイム. Underneath this is another set of dots, which turn into gibberish in standard braille, but do in fact correspond to the kana in Japanese braille.
Turning back to the CDs, we notice that the total number of discs is 30, which is divisible by 6! So could the discs be encoding 5 braille characters? And if so, how are they supposed to be arranged?
To answer this, look at the line below the title image: Every single issue will be addressed in time. Like the corresponding line in my previous puzzle, this one is a multiple pun. In fact, I believe it is a quadruple pun. To get the desired clue, interpret every single as meaning “each single”; issue as meaning “release”; addressed as meaning “assigned an address at a particular location”; and in time as “within our timeline” (and not “eventually”). That is, the clue reading is Each release in the single format will be assigned an address at a particular location within our timeline.
This is in fact an instruction for you to assign addresses to these discs. The most natural thing to use is the singles’ release dates, since they fix each single within our timeline at a particular, unambiguous point.
Now we have something to use to order the discs. Since 5 braille characters form a matrix with 3 rows and 10 columns (if spelled out side by side as in the title image) and we have 3 groups represented by 10 discs each, it would make sense to have each row correspond to the discs of each group. So separate the discs into three sets and sort each one by release date.
Now we need to order the rows. The most natural ordering of the three groups is by date of formation (since we’re using dates to sort the discs), so the top row should be Morning Musume, the second row should be Berryz Koubou, and the third should be ºC-ute.
Following this ordering, we get the following arrangement of black (filled) dots and white (unfilled) dots, grouped into five blocks (here, O = filled and . = unfilled):
O. OO .. .O O. OO .O .O O. OO OO O. .. OO .O
In standard braille, this is gibberish. But using Japanese braille, we get み – つ – (dakuten) – ほ – し, or みつぼし (mitsuboshi), the final answer.
This is the title of Tsukishima Kirari starring Kusumi Koharu (Morning Musume)’s first album, alternatively written ｢☆☆☆｣. It’s also a fitting answer for this puzzle since Morning Musume, Berryz Koubou, and ºC-ute are the “three stars” of Hello! Project, so to speak.
Thanks to the following people for uploading and/or scanning some of the discs used in this puzzle. The rest were discs that I scanned myself.
CatchFiveBats for “Fighting Pose wa Date ja nai!”, “Happiness ~Koufuku Kangei!~”, “Koi no Jubaku”, “Waracchaou yo BOYFRIEND”, “Munasawagi Scarlet”, “Kokuhaku no Funsui Hiroba”, “Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi”, “LALALA Shiawase no Uta”, and “Namida no Iro”
IndigoSkies for “Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii Jan”
missing-reina for “Special Generation”, “Jiriri Kiteru”, “Massara Blue Jeans”, “Soku Dakishimete”, “Wakkyanai (Z)”, “Sakura Chirari”, “Meguru Koi no Kisetsu” (both versions), “Tokaikko Junjou” (both versions)