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Mano Erina to Graduate From Hello! Project July 22, 2012

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Blog Stuff, Hello! Project, Jpop, Mano Erina.
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As I’m sure you all know by now, Mano Erina is going to graduate from Hello! Project on February 23rd. You can read translations of the official announcements here.

I must say I’m surprised to see that H!P is letting go of their only soloist. Her career seemed pretty solid as her sales were always decent and she still has her youth. Judging by the official comments it seems she just wants out of the idols business and to take a different turn in her career.

Mano has always been a bit of a sore topic for me as I’ve always felt that I’ve wanted more from her. While I won’t deny that she has grown into an impressive performer over the years, she has yet to really bring the whole package together. Her singing never matured to a point that I’d like to see, and I’ve never felt that she has ever really had a “great” song. Sure, she has had some “good” songs, heck, even a few great PV’s but no singular release that I can point to and go, “Yup, that’s why Manoeri is such a great idol.”

The frustrating thing is that I have no doubt she is capable of it. She already has most of the pieces, I just hope by the time of her graduation she can complete the puzzle. It would be a crying shame otherwise.

In more upbeat news: NEW HEADERS! After more than two years of using the same header, Isilie was kind enough to make some new ones for me. I’ll be rotating them every couple of days so keep a look out for them!


A Personal Memory about Niigaki Risa and Mitsui Aika May 18, 2012

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume, Niigaki Risa.
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So that time is finally upon us, that time I’ve been dreading for months now. Risa is really going to graduate in a few hours. I can’t even really believe that it’s going to happen. ><

Well, in the same fashion as I have with all of the other recent graduations I'd like to share a personal memory I have about Risa and Aika from the time when I was able to interact with them at Anime Expo 2009.

At Anime Expo there were two autograph sessions, both of which I was fortunate enough to attend. The first session happened immediately after their very first event, a Q&A session with the fans. I of course attended that Q&A but had less than stellar seats, so this autograph session was really the first time I was able to really see the girls.

So, not only was I up-close to them, but I was actually interacting with them.

It freaked me out pretty bad. A mix of disbelief, shock, awe, happiness and probably a few other superlative emotions all combined to turn me into a grinning fool who could barely squeak out a "Hello," and "Thank you," to these girls.

Risa would have none of that however. As soon as she finished signing my poster she stuck her hand out for a handshake. I could barely believe it. So despite my state of now compound shock, I of course I shook her hand.

That autograph session was pretty relaxed in terms of atmosphere, and all of the girls were shaking hands with the fans, but only when the fans initiated it. Risa was the only one of them to put her hand out and shake with every single fan. Her desire to connect with her fans was something that really impressed me then, and still impresses me now. It's no small secret how much she loves Morning Musume, but after seeing that I really think she cares about the fans just as much.

As for poor Aika, unfortunately I can't say I have a particular story about her. She was upbeat and enthusiastic every time she was with the fans, which was something I certainly appreciated. I also found her to be a bit cuter in person than in photographs or video. She never really mastered being as photogenic as the other members.

It was hard for me to accept Ai leaving the group, but Risa's graduation is on a whole another level. She could sing and dance with the best of them in Morning Musume, but the thing I really loved about her performances was the raw energy she brought to everything. She made it clear as day that she absolutely loved what she was doing, and that kind of transparent happiness is always a joy to behold.

So thank you Risa for helping make these last three years I've been following Morning Musume so enjoyable. I anxiously await your next endeavor 😀

Mitsui Aika to Graduate From Morning Musume May 14, 2012

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume.
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As I’m sure you are all aware of now, Mitsui Aika is going to graduate alongside Niigaki Risa on May 18 at the Morning Musume Concert Tour 2012 Spring ~Ultra Smart~ Niigaki Risa Graduation Special. Apparently Aika’s ankle injury didn’t heal properly and it would pose too great a risk for her to continue performing with the group.

I hate to say it, but I don’t feel Morning Musume is really losing anything of great value here with Aika. For me the girl just never “clicked” into any role in the group. Her singing and dancing were never particularly great (or for that matter bad enough to admonish). Her personality seemed a bit dull, and she didn’t even seem to fit in all that well with the other members in the group. She was always this odd little background member.

One thing that is unique about her graduation is simply the timing of the announcement only two weeks before the event. As far as I’m aware, that’s the shortest span for any member that has left the group in a legitimate (read: non-scandal) manner. To me it almost seems a bit suspicious. While I have little doubt that her ankle injury was legitimate, I feel that there is something that is being left out of the story, because frankly, the reason they are giving about the injury healing improperly hardly seems to justify the rush graduation. Possibly the injury is much worse than they’ve been letting on, or there was some contractual dispute rising from her resent absences?

The kind of funny thing is that around December, one of my friends and I were talking and I was telling him all about how I thought that Aika would be the next to graduate. Even at that time I was starting to feel that her ankle injury was taking a bit too long to heal and she would be forced to leave the group because of that. Well, being half right isn’t too shabby!

All that being said, I do feel a bit bad for the girl regarding the circumstances of her graduation. Seeing how the announcement was only two weeks before the event, I imagine that many of her fans that would have liked to have attended simply won’t have the chance. Then there’s the whole bit about that particular concert already having been named the Niigaki Risa Graduation Special (albeit, as a Risa fan, I can’t say I’ll be losing sleep on that one ;D)

Oh, and yeah, the blog isn’t entirely dead …yet! 😀

What the heck Tsunku? – Part 2 August 9, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume.
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So, I’ve been able to sit on this news for a little while now and my initial anger has thankfully died down quite a bit. That’s not necessarily a good thing as I’ve replaced that anger with sadness. I feel sad for both Eri and the pandas, but for different reasons.

They tell us that Eri is graduating because of her atopic dermatitis, for those that don’t know (which included me), is a type of eczema. The horrible thing about her disease is that there exists no cure. She can merely hope to try and prevent it from flaring up again, and when it does, to try and treat the symptoms. When I was in high school I knew a girl whose mother had eczema, and I heard countless horror stories about how bad it could be. Now, I don’t remember which kind of eczema she had, and there is really no way to know how Eri’s condition compares, but I still find it heartbreaking that she has been, and will have to go through that kind of pain.

At least this is a legitimate reason to graduate. As Tsunku even mentioned, I’m sure that applying make-up and quick costume changes are probably nearly unbearable when it’s acting up. She’ll have been a member for over seven years when she graduates this December, and while I certainly would have liked to see her go for a couple more, I don’t think anyone could say she hasn’t had a career to be proud of.

Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same thing about Junjun and Linlin. It seems that just recently that those girls really seem to come into their own, which is exactly why Tsunku says he wants to get rid of them. No, really. This is from Tsunku’s statement from their Official Myspace:

…while being skilled singers and entertainers, they also greatly improved their japanese proficiency and they are now grown-up women. This is why I took the decision to graduate both of them at the same time as Eri Kamei on the last day of the Morning Musume。

So he’s just using Eri’s wishes to graduate as an excuse to dump the Chinese girls. That is soooo not cool on so many levels. I mean really, they drag those poor girls over from China into a country where they don’t understand the language and then put them through fairly rigorous dance and vocal training, and now that they’ve become accustomed to the language and proficient in song and dance they decide to send them back. Classy.

gaa_fee on Hello!Online took the courtesy of translating Linlin’s blog post on her graduation:

Today at the Concert, we announced that Junjun, Kamei-san and I would be graduating.
How should I express my feelings? I don’t know.
At first, when it was said to me, it felt completely unreal. I thought to myself, “maybe when I wake up, it should all just be a dream?”
When I heard the news from Tsunku-san on stage, in front of everyone, I realized it was not changing, that this was real, and the realness of the announcement suddenly hit me.

I can’t express my feeling in words.

To all the people we’ve worked with together, the staff, the manager, and my most favorite (suki, suki, daisuki) members and fans of morning musume, I really, really don’t want to leave all of you.
When I finally got used to Japan, when I finally got used to group activities, when I finally got a lot of friends, when I finally got to met all of you….

Now that I look back, when I came to Japan and joined morning musume at 16, my mom and dad was not here, when it was lonely,
you guys were always there for me, supporting me every step of the way.
everyone made it a warm and comfortable home for me in Japan.

Really, really, thank you.
I really, really love you all.

From now on, I will have to travel alone. Even though the path I’ll take will be completely different from before, Linlin will not be afraid.
Because, wherever I am, the friendship that tie us together will never change.

I’ve always thought of myself as a strong girl, but the tears just won’t stop, even when I try…
But I don’t want any of you to cry for me. Because your smiles are linlin’s biggest happiness.

be well, be glad, be happy every single day.

Sleep tight… Linlin.

I mean, my god, that just hurts to read. Those are not the words of someone who wants to leave. I know I said that I really wasn’t angry anymore, but screw that, I’ve just made myself angry again. >:[

Heck, while I’m at this, let’s just throw some more fuel on the fire! Here are the official comments from the girls, again from their official myspace:

Eri Kamei
As Tsunku♂ said, I will graduate on the last day of the Autumn 2010 Tour from the Morning Musume。 to focus on my health. It is my decision but let me reassure you, my condition is not that serious. I just wanted to focus on my recovery for a while because lately, I was thinking a lot about how I could become a pretty woman. I took this decision with that in mind.
But I really love to do concerts so today and until the Autumn Tour, I am counting on you to sing, dance and have fun with me.
Thank you for your continued support.

Jun Jun
Since I came to Japan, I did and I learned so many things. Thank you so much.
But what really made me happy was to meet all of you, I am so thankful for this.
With this emotion in my heart, I want to make more and more happy memories with you. Until my graduation at the end of Morning Musume。 Autumn Tour, I intend to sing with all my heart.
Thank you for your support until the very last day. Thank you all.

Lin Lin
Since I first joined the Hello! Project Egg and then the Morning Musume。, I was so happy every single day. Of course, I sometimes missed my home but thanks to everyone around me and all of your support, I now feel that Japan and the Hello! Project is like my home.
During the Autumn Tour, I intend to sing with everything I got so I count on your support and I hope to see you there.
Wo Ai Ni.

Again, poor Eri wants out because of her condition, and the pandas are just being strong-armed.

Reading the official comments really hammer home just how heartfelt Linlin’s blog entry is. Of course her “official statement” has to be all cheery and up-beat, but if you look at her blog it’s really nothing but unbearable sadness. According to gaa_fee apparently it’s even worse in the original Japanese. The girl simply doesn’t want to leave, and frankly I don’t want her to either =(

Hello!Fansubs took the liberty of translating a news report about the graduation. You can see Risa trying to fight back from crying before Tsunku even starts saying their names. As sad as it sounds I actually find it a little painful to watch. Seeing those three’s faces just kills me.

I originally wanted to write this post to put my mind at ease a little bit. That really didn’t work out too well… =\

Edit: Thanks to Hello!Online’s klay we know have an English translation of Junjun’s blog post on the graduation:

Junjun’s here now..
I’ve worried everybody..

In yesterday’s concert.. Teacher Tsunku announced the news about Junjun, Linlin and Kamei-senpai’s 3 person graduation.
This sudden news must have given everyone a shock..
Sorry.. For making everybody so heartbroken.. For making everybody cry..

On the day that Kusumi-senpai graduated.. Junjun was thinking.. If mine’s about to come soon..
After all I’m already 22 years old.. And a transfer student..
University transfer students also stay for four years right..

Even though I had some mental preparation.. This day came so suddenly…
Junjun is still unable to cope with it.

Am I really leaving?…
Leaving the members that I’ve been with for four years..
Leaving you all that have been taking care of Junjun..
Leaving my manager and the staff who have been helping Junjun out during work..
Leaving the stage that I’ve sung and danced with you all..

I’m reluctant. I’ll really miss it…
Junjun doesn’t know what words to use to describe her feelings now..

I remember the Junjun that first came to Japan..
Coming to this foreign country..
Without knowing one Japanese sentence at all..
The words that the people beside me were saying.. The things that they were laughing at..
I didn’t know.. I didn’t know anything..
Junjun is not that type of people that easily mixes around with others..
That’s why when I first started out and faced other people and other matters.. Junjun was very closed up.. Very cold..

Slowly.. I’ve familiarized.. I’ve understood.. I’ve liked it.. I’ve been mixed in..
And I’m leaving…

Maybe this is what fate arranged for me..
So many people in the world.. To be able to meet is destiny..
Separation is also for another meeting..
Junjun cherishes this meeting a lot..

The day that I was at Yoshizawa-senpai’s concert only seemed like yesterday..

The tears that came after that.. The smiles.. They all are in Junjun’s memories..
I can’t forget them.. And I’m unable to forget them..

Maybe if I leave first.. It will make it more relaxing and smooth for Junjun (laugh)
After experiencing the graduation of Kusumi-senpai..
Compared to sending other members off.. I rather be the one that’s sent off..
Sorry.. For having these kind of feelings..

As for my future.. It’s still undecided..
But one thing that is for sure.. Junjun will definitely face the future..
Just like that time that I was selected to come to Japan.. My own future.. My own choice..
Junjun decided that she won’t give up..
I will start everything anew..
Even it it’s tough.. Even if it’s difficult, Junjun will endure it…
It’s different.. The Junjun now has all of you by her side..
Junjun said before.. You all are Junjun’s family..
A family that’s all over the world is still a family.. Right?..
That’s why Junjun will be brave..

The things I’ve learned during the four years in Morning Musume is the most precious experience..
No matter what I do from now on.. I believe that it’ll help Junjun become better..

There’s still four months left..

I hope that everyone will stay by 8-nin Morning Musume’s side. And walk with us until the end..
I also hope that everyone will increase their support for Morning Musume.

Again, this stuff is just hard to read, and again, you can tell she doesn’t want to leave just the same as Linlin. Heck, the more I keep thinking about it the more preposterous the whole thing seems. This whole business of graduating nearly half the current line-up has to be a joke, right?

Too bad it isn’t funny.

What the heck Tsunku? August 8, 2010

Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume.
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I am rather unhappy right now. Actually that is kind of an understatement. Apparently, Tsunku has decided to graduate Kamei Eri, Junjun, and Linlin. Sure, there is going to be a ninth generation, but frankly I really don’t care all that much right now.

I’m darned sad to see Eri go, but she’s been there for quite a while (in Morning Musume terms), and I don’t think anyone could say that she hasn’t had a good run. What I’m really angry about is seeing Junjun and Linlin going so quick. The poor girls haven’t had a line to themselves in a single since their debut in Onna ni Sachi Are. They better as hell get a damned lead spot in their next single this October.

I really don’t care about being eloquent or insightful right now. I’m frankly just upset. I was actually fully intending to write about Matsuura Aya’s Machiawase, but there’s no way I could concentrate on that right now.

Also, I’ve just finished the last of my beer. Gaaaah. =(

Edit: Also, apparently poor Eri is graduating because she has a type of eczema. That’s even more fantastic, because now I feel even worse. I can’t just feel bad that she’s being thrown out of the group that she’s been a member of for nearly seven years, but she also has to live with a painful chronic skin condition?