Buckle up, this is a long one.
While perusing the Hello!Online picture board, my eye was caught by the poll in the lower right hand corner. I prepared myself for a quick click of the mouse, a cursory viewing of the results, and moving on with my picture browsing. The only problem…. the poll and it’s possible choices were hard to pick between. As I sat weighing the possible choice to best fit, I though, Hey! Why not write a post about it?
The question is, What was the biggest H!P event of 2007? And boy howdy weren’t there A LOT this year? Like, whoa. It gave me a ton to think about, so I decided to go ahead and analyze each option.
Yoshizawa’s brother killed.
I wholeheartedly love Yossi, so for the New Year to start out this way was terrible. I felt truly horrified when I read the news and deeply saddened on Yossi’s behalf. Understanding her need to grieve, there was a wave of support for her from the H!P blogging community should she decide to take a leave of absence. Color us all shocked and amazed when she shouldered her burden and kept performing. For myself (and many others I am sure) it only further cemented our love and respect for this amazingly strong and talented young woman.
Since Hitomi decided to continue on with her career, this family tragedy did not have the effect it could have had she decided not to return. So this event, while horrible, was not the biggest thing to happen to H!P this year.
Momusu gets 2 Chinese girls.
This was big, this was HUGE and a complete and total shock to fans. Not only were there two new surprise members of the Eighth Gen of Momusu, but they hailed from the land beyond Japan! Sure there were foreign members in other H!P acts before, but NOT in their flagship group. Fan reaction went wild. A lot of people had faith in Tsunku’s decision, he had proven his intuition right before, and we were willing to keep our faith in his ability again. However some us, I am ashamed to say, attacked the two new girls, Junjun and Linlin, some people even went so far as to post horrendous racial and derogatory comments on their personal blogs! Those kind of actions are beyond belief. To think that foreign fans would be so embracing of one type of nationality and not another is mind boggling. As fans we should open our arms to any and all under the H!P banner.
I didn’t mean for that to turn in to a lecture. Getting back on track I would have to say that this was definitely a top contender for the biggest event in H!P for the year.
The end of Hello!Morning.
Honestly, I was really sad to see Hello!Morning go, but willing to embrace Harmoni@ (of which I’ve seen all of 2 or 3 episodes). We really should have seen the departure of H!M coming down the pipeline somewhere in the near future. So while this might have been a personal blow to some people who enjoyed H!M, Momusu is still on the air, so really, not that big of a deal. Plus I am sure H!P were trying to mix up the format of the show a bit to get the girls out and interacting with the public and maybe something new would draw in new viewers.
Kago Ai returns, Friday’d, Fired.
I actually did the write ups for every other topic before going in and writing this one. My God, this one still has me by the heart. At the time this scandal broke I was just getting into other H!P acts that weren’t Morning Musume, and W was the forerunner of my fandom. Ai and Tsuji were just so damn CUTE together! At first I was really disappointed in Aibon. Not so much that she got caught smoking underage, but that she was smoking at all. It’s so damn bad for you! Especially if you are a singer by profession. I felt terrible for Tsuji as this put her singing career at a standstill, and removed (it seems permanently) any chance of the fans hearing W’s last album Faithful.
But as time went on and we started to learn the extent of Ai’s burden, I began to feel for the poor girl more. Being the sole bread winner for her family, her Dad a split ex-con, her Mother a single Mom, and Aibon with much younger siblings to care for. I’m sure her workload was incredible, and she was trying to balance work with her relationship with (the now infamous) Ishimoto Yasuyuki. The poor girl was just trying to live a normal life outside of her “idol” duties.
This whole thing really brought to light the immense responsibility it is to be an idol. You have to be “in character” ALL THE TIME. There is no turn off switch, no down time. If you’re out in public, even just running to the store for toilet paper, or going out to eat, you still have to be in persona. She’d been living this life since she was 12 years old, and I’m sure she was tired of trying to wear that image 24/7. It’s really very, very sad. These girls sacrifice so much for the sake out our entertainment. Granted we reward them back with love and money, but is the trade off really equal?
This was a huge blow to H!P and I think one of their first MAJOR scandals. Even still, Aibon, I love you and hope you someday step up to the microphone again. (If not could we please at least run in to each other somewhere in NYC? I was crowd watching for you last weekend. LOL!) These events definitely rank up there as the biggest things to happen to H!P in 2007.
Yoshizawa graduates from MM.
Yossi! I was terribly sad to see Yossi leaving MM. However, she really was getting beyond the age demographic of the group. Other members graduated from MM and pursued solo careers (some with a hell of a lot more success than others) so it really shouldn’t have been that much of a shock. Plus it was known before her graduation even took place that she’d be participating in a new group and/or solo activities, so we knew she wasn’t totally going to disappear off the radar.
Kaorin I can say I really wasn’t too shocked to hear about. Tsuji on the other hand I was a little shocked about. We had heard a really awesome live recording of a new unit she was participating in, Gyaruru, under Tsunku’s TNX label, and seemed to be moving on from the scandals that broke up W. I was ultimately really excited for them both. Except for bowing out of the spotlight, this didn’t really affect H!P much as the two weren’t at the forefront at that moment in time. A great personal development for them both, but not the biggest event.
Fujimoto Friday’d/leaves MM.
Honestly… God I hope people don’t kill me for this, but honestly I didn’t really care all that much. I’m not that big of a Miki fan. I thought she was great in GAM, but like Yossi, she was getting a little too old for Momusu and it really was time to move on. If H!P couldn’t see it, then Miki was going to show them herself. I have utter respect for her there, standing up like she did, in the end though it was A-OK by me that she left Morning Musume.
Goto Maki leaves H!P.
This totally and utterly caught me by complete surprise. I really don’t feel like going into too much detail here as it’s all been discussed before…. but reading Maki’s reasons; exhaustion and artistic differences over her musical direction, I totally understand why she left. Was I sad to see her go? Absolutely, especially after she released such a kick ass album! But she wanted to move on with her life and I totally respect that. Losing their most successful solo artist had to be a blow to H!P, but if she was asking for it a long time coming, then it wouldn’t have been a shock to them. A shock to the fan community, but not to H!P.
There were a few other things that happened this year that I thought were pretty big that weren’t on the poll. The biggest…. the return of Konkon! That was HUGE! I was so excited when I heard she was coming back. What a windfall for the fans to have one of our departed beloveds come back to us! How awesome is that?!
In other news I finally received my package today containing the 10th Anniversary Morning Musume essay & photobook, as well as the photobook for Hitomi’s graduation concert this past spring. I’ve done a cursory glance through both and will be adding reviews and scans later, time permitting before Christmas. I will say though that the concert photobook has some amazing shots I’d love as posters.
On one last note, does anyone else find it amusing that the Up Front! International website is only in Japanese?