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A Personal Memory about Takahashi Ai September 30, 2011

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Morning Musume, Takahashi Ai.

Alternate title: "O Captain, my Captain"

This post should go live at the very beginning of Takahashi Ai’s graduation concert, which means by the time you’re reading this Morning Musume is going to be down it’s longest lasting leader and has swelled in size to twelve including the four brand-new tenth gen members.

I’m actually a little hesitant about titling this post as “Remembering…” as in Takahashi will no longer be with us. Luckily it looks like that won’t be the case as Ai-chan already has a musical in the works as part of her post-graduation plans and it was even mentioned that Jishin Motte Yume wo Motte Tobitatsu Kara would only be the first of her solo songs. I’m really only using this title to tie back in to the good-bye I gave to Eri, Junjun and Linlin back in 2010 as I had good reason to believe that we really wouldn’t be hearing all that much from them afterwards (reasonably correctly too, I might add). [Edit: I’ve succumbed to pressure and changed the title anyway… ^^;]

So in keeping with the theme of “Remembering…” I’d like to talk about a personal memory I have of Ai-chan from July of 2009 when I was fortunate enough to see Morning Musume when they attended Anime Expo in Los Angeles, California. At the time I wasn’t a huge Morning Musume fan, but I was pretty familiar with them through their association with Hello! Project and thus, Matsuura Aya.

The first event that Morning Musume participated in was a Q&A event closely followed by a signing/handshake session. At that session they had all of the girls lined up by seniority, so Ai-chan was first, Risa second, etc.

Now if any of you are unaware, Reina has a very complex signature. Complex to the point that it took her so long to sign things that she was significantly holding the line up, and because of that people got to spend quite a bit more time interacting with Ai, Risa and Sayu than the rest of the girls.

So when I finally get to go up to the front of the line you have to realize I’m nervous as all heck. It was really a surreal moment to see these girls in the flesh, to actually realize that they’re real people. It sounds so incredibly silly when I think back on it, but that really is the general feeling that I had at the time.

So I go up to Ai-chan and we exchange a “Hi,” I hand her my poster, she signs it in few seconds, hands it back, and I say thank you.

…and then I just stand there.

I’m standing in front of Ai-chan. Both of us are just starring at each other. Oh gosh, what the heck do I do? Should I say something? I should say something! What should I say? I shouldn’t say it in English, she probably wouldn’t understand. So I open my mouth, still forming the words in my head…

“Me gusta…”

CRAP! That’s Spanish, that’s even worse than English! So I close my mouth quickly without saying anything. Again, again! I need to try again! So I try to take a second shot…

“Creo que…”


It was at that point there that I broke and realized the absolute absurdity of my situation. I was standing in front of Takahashi Ai, the leader of the Japanese pop group Morning Musume, in the middle of downtown Los Angeles and I’m desperately trying to speak Spanish to her. If you would have told me that such and event would transpire just six months before hand I wouldn’t have believed you, heck I still sometimes have a hard time believing it actually happened!

So after coming to such a realization I just giggled. It was the only thing I think I was actually capable of doing at that point; the whole thing was just so silly.

Takahashi, God bless her, was just beaming at me the whole time I was standing there in front of her. And you know what her response was to my giggle?

She giggled right back.

Takahashi Ai and myself giggled at each other.

I didn’t have much of chance to take in what had happened as maybe two or three seconds later the line moved and I went to see Risa.

Our whole meeting lasted maybe 25 seconds over two years ago and I can still remember every detail perfectly. Seeing her face light up like that when she giggled is something that I’ll never forget.

So, thank you Ai-chan.

Thank you for helping make that day something special. Thank you for leading Morning Musume for the entire period of time in which I’ve actually been a fan. And, finally, thank you for simply providing me with so much enjoyment over these last two years through your work.


10th Gen! September 29, 2011

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume.
Tags: , , ,

Morning Musume’s tenth generation were just announced today. The four new members include, from left to right, Kudou Haruka(11), Satou Masaki(12), Ishida Ayumi(14) and Iikubo Haruna(16).

Save for Ashida, I must say I’m quite surprised with the picks!

Starting with Kudou, wow is she young! Last audition I was complaining about how young all of the new members were, but even they were older than Kudou. In fact, at eleven years old I think Kuduo might be the youngest Morning Musume member ever. To be perfectly fair though, she really was one of the most talented members during the audition. I have a feeling she’ll be a very impressive member someday.

During the first HelloPro! TIME where the 10th gen auditions were being covered Satou was an early favorite of mine, that is, until she tried singing or dancing. While she might be darn cute, she really was near the very bottom technically. If she can manage to improve in those two exceptionally important areas she should be able to do well for her self.

Ishida was really the only one out of the group that I expected to make the cut. Like Sayashi in the last audition, Ishida was head and shoulders above everyone else technically. ALso like Sayashi, Ishida seems to be an especially proficient dancer. Other than that though, I don’t feel particularly strongly about her.

On a bit of a side note, I’m rather fascinated by Morning Musume’s recent tendency to go for such highly skilled new members, like Sayashi and Ishida, while still also picking complete amateurs like Ikuta and Satou. It seems like they’re building up a lopsided pool of talent. In such a group atmosphere wouldn’t the more talented members be held back by the others? Sure, in concerts and the like you can let individual members have their moment to shine, but that really doesn’t do much to show the population at large how talented some of these girls really are.

Getting back on track, Iikubo was probably my biggest surprise. While she is rather pretty, I was sure her age would have prevented her from joining. While members have joined in the past who were quite a bit older than her, she is still quite a bit older than everyone else who got to the final rounds of the 9th and 10th gen auditions. Add that to the fact that she wasn’t particularly talented at singing or dancing compared to the others, and you can see where my surprise comes from. Still, I’m certainly not upset by this as it’s rather nice to have someone new to the group who has actually finished middle school.

Going forward with a twelve member group after tomorrow, of which eight are pretty darn fresh, Risa and Sayu are going to have their work cut out for them!

Takahashi Ai is Adorable September 17, 2011

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume, Takahashi Ai.
Tags: ,

Not exactly shocking news, is it? Next thing you know I’ll be telling you about how fire is hot and how the sky is blue, but also sometimes black! 😀

Recently Ai-chan performed Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai! from her graduation commemorative edition of Morning Musume’s 47th single Kono Chikyū no Heiwa o Honki de Negatterun da yo!/Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai! *gasp* on Coming Soon!! If you haven’t already seen it, you can watch her performance here:.

In another piece of incredibly surprising news, she of course blows it out of the water. What really caught my eye though happened at the very end, after her performance itself had concluded. She, a professional idol who has been performing in-front of people for over a decade, giggled at her own performance:

I’ve already watched that clip at least a few dozen times by now, but I still can’t help but smile a little bit every time I see it. She puts on this cool and confident persona while she’s on stage, but as soon as it’s over she immediately reverts back. It’s just so incredibly endearing that after so much experience, and obvious skill at her trade, she is still so humble. Some of this might come from the fact that she is simply more comfortable performing in a group along with the other Morning Musume girls rather than solo like she is here.

Speaking of performing with the other Morning Musume girls, as of the time of writing, Ai-chan has less than two weeks left with the group. I’m really having a hard time wrapping my head around that. I can’t even begin to imagine what Morning Musume would even sound like without Ai-chan since her vocals have been so prominent for the last six years.

While I do look forward to seeing Risa finally become leader, it’s going to be bittersweet at best.

In Which Morning Musume’s Ikuta Erina Finally Takes Part in the Most Honored of Idol Traditions September 8, 2011

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Morning Musume.
Tags: , ,

I am of course talking about nothing other than shilling stuff on TV.

Idols such as Moritaka Chisato has sold everything from telephones to vodka and even Matsuura Aya has sold items ranging from gas scooters to ice tea. Now while they might be soloists, Morning Musume members are no strangers to being pitch(wo)men either. Members such as Goto Maki* and Fujimoto Miki* have both appeared in commercials of their own.

So I present to you the Oha Girls’ CM for the Miracle Spin Baton:

So wait, the “Miracle Set” comes with not only the Miracle Spin Baton but a bag for your baton and a scrunchie!?! Holy cow, sign me up! 😀

As a bit of background: Ikuta joined the children’s television show Oha Star’s Oha Girls as a replacement for S/mileage’s Ogawa Saki after her abrupt graduation. I must say I’m rather impressed that awkward little Ikuta was chosen for this position. I think this will be a great opportunity for her to become more comfortable with being outgoing in front of a camera, not to mention getting some quality exposure for herself away from Momusu proper (where she is admittedly overshadowed). Even in the last 3/4 of a year since she has joined she has made some very noticeable gains in regards to her on-camera presentation so I’ll definitely be looking forward to how her participation her can help her improve even more. That being said she also needs to work on her Miracle Spin Baton spinning technique! Shiori (the one in blue with the ponytail) is totally showing Ikuta up with her one-handed spinning style!

As a note about the commercial itself, I must say I find it quite amusing in no small part due to the fact that I can actually understand all the dialog in it. Something that shouldn’t necessarily be taken as a compliment to my Japanese language skills! 😀

* Yes, I know both of them were also soloists at one time as well. Maybe that’s foreshadowing for Ikuta? Ehhhhhh, maybe not… ><