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Niigaki Risa to Graduate From Morning Musume January 14, 2012

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume, Niigaki Risa.

Well, I’ve certainly put off writing this post for long enough.

I admit that when I first heard the news of her graduation I wasn’t livid like I had been at the last two graduation announcements. No, frankly, I was broken. Risa is the last member of Morning Musume I really like. When I listen to a Morning Musume song it’s her voice I listen for. When I watch on of their performances, it’s her dancing that I keep an eye on. Sure, I enjoy the work of the other girls, but they aren’t the main attraction for me.

Like Ai’s graduation this certainly wasn’t that big of a surprise. She’s been a member of the group for well over ten years, and frankly after the addition of the last two generations it’s fairly obvious that there is a conscious effort to lower the age of the group.

I am rather relieved that Risa was at least allowed to graduate on her own after Ai (you can read about that, and translated versions of the official statements here). A double graduation of both Ai and Risa would have been really quite traumatic. Risa is the last link the current Morning Musume has to their “Golden Age” so to speak. If the graduation of Ai signified the end of an era, so will Risa’s graduation, albeit a bit more subtly.

I’m also rather glad she was at least allowed to be leader, even if just for these few short months. She always seemed like she would make a perfect leader when she was second-in-command, and combined with the fact that she was charged with breaking-in the brand new tenth gen I am happy that she was given some important tasks to accomplish during her last few months.

I’m not quite so thrilled that she’s graduating on April 1st, though. Since I’ve finally been able to put some money aside I made up my mind that I’d finally make the pilgrimage, so to speak, to Japan this fall. If she was graduating in the Fall I would have gone to that concert. Absolutely no question. But May? There’s no way I can take off that much time so soon.

Also, it’s not like I just wouldn’t mind seeing her stick around a little bit longer, especially considering that PyocoPyoco Ultra (Risa’s probable graduation single) is the first Momusu single in quite a while that I rather dislike. Tsunku has tweeted a few snippets that there might be a new single with a “cool” image, so I certainly hope that that does come to be. Well, comes to be before May that is.

Something else that bothers me a bit is how the leadership of Hello! Project as a whole will shift from Morning Musume to Berryz Kobo, Shimizu Saki to be specific. I have nothing against Shimizu, but it still seems like an odd turn of events. Is MM losing their flagship status in Hello! Project? Or is there so little faith in Sayumi as a leader that they won’t give her that responsibility? That last question would somewhat address the reason as to why the position of sub-leader seemed to be abolished once tradition would have dictated that Sayu would have been given the position.

So after Risa leaves I’m certainly not going to lose interest in Morning Musume. The sixth gen are still enjoyable to watch. The ninth gen is solid, and I’m still looking forward to what the tenth gen can bring to the table. My main draw, Risa’s fierce delivery of nearly everything she did, will be gone though, and I’m not going to lie when I say that I can’t help but imagine that it will diminish my enthusiasm a bit.



1. isilwentari - January 14, 2012

Ah – I know what you mean about her fierce delivery. I think that is so much a product of when she came into Momusu. She loved it so much and back then it was a group where you had to be fierce to stand out amidst so much personality. Hopefully the next generations will find their own ways to carry on that tradition. Mame`s grown so much. I hope she gets a cool grad single. I`ve always wanted her to go solo, but I guess that isn`t in the cards, eh?

2. clocutron - January 15, 2012

Well, I’m certainly not thrilled about this graduation as I think Risa deserved more time in the leadership position. Also, she really does have a fantastic voice and I will miss her vocal contribution to Momusu’s music. That being said, she’s never really been a favorite of mine. I don’t have anything negative to say about her as I don’t reallt have anything against her. I’ve just never followed her as closely as certain other members.

To be honest though, I really haven’t been following the group as a whole very much for a while now. I don’t really know much of anything about the girls of the last two generations. I’ll have to get back on track and learn more about them. My only real concern now is when to expect Reina and Sayumi to graduate. It seems to me that this has been a very calculated reformation of the group.

Perhaps it will serve to revitalize H!P as a whole but it’s hard to envision that when, as you mention, H!P leadership is moving out of Momusu. I like Captain quite a bit but it does seem like a strange move. Maybe you’re right that Momusu will no longer enjoy it’s status as the H!P flagship group – also hard to envision since it’s been that way since the beginning of Hello!Project. However, it’s been obvious for some time now that H!P needs something to revitalize – new girls, new energy, etc. It’ll certainly be interesting to watch what other changes are in store throughout 2012.

3. Nights4Saturn - January 17, 2012

@Isilwentari: I know what you mean about how when Risa joined Momusu used to be a much more competitive place. Now, I can only really see Riho still display that kind of fierce drive. Maybe well start to see something similar as the ninth and tenth gens compete with each other?

I too hope she gets a cool final single, maybe even a solo b-side like Ai had? Although that might just be me dreaming a bit on that one!

I think acting and musicals fit her pretty well. I’d love to see her go solo as well, but I just kind of have a hard time imagining her performing entirely alone. It’s odd.

@clocutron: I honestly don’t expect Reina or Sayu to have much time left in the group. To me it really looks like they are trying to push the average age of the members down. I certainly don’t see them making it past the end of next year. Plus, graduations bring in bigger crowds and sell more goods… =\

I was kind of just thinking aloud when I was mentioning about MM losing their flagship status, but like you said, it’s a very weird move. MM is still their biggest seller so I find it hard to believe they’d be pushed down the totem pole. It could be more of a symbolic gesture that all of the groups are now on a more equal ground in Mobekimasu? That could also imply that we might be seeing more of that in the coming year to maybe go against the much larger ***48 groups…

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