Niigaki Risa

The news blew up all over Twitter and Facebook that Niigaki Risa is set to graduate from Morning Musume  and Hello! Project at the end of Hello! Project’s Spring concert tour. While everyone expected her to be next in line to go, it’s surprising that she is leaving so quickly. Many predicted she would last at least a year before her graduation to guide the plethora of noobs within her own group before departing.

Many thanks to Chuu! Sugoi! Idol for the translation of her announcement below

I have always been thinking the timing of graduation since new member join in Morning Musume. I want to act as an actress or others. so I decide to graduate. I’ll do my best as leader until the spring tour end. so please cheer for me.

Okay… Many would read into that as Gaki has decided to move on to pursue other career opportunities. That’s all fine & dandy if you like to believe that any of the girls in Hello! Project actually have a choice in the matter. They are after all, contracted talent and as was exemplified by Kusumi Koharu’s premature ousting from Morning Musume they do what they are told to do & show a happy face for the fans.

Is that a pessimistic view? Yeah. Is it the least popular, non Kool-Aid & blinders look at the situation? Yes. But it also makes sense business wise as Morning Musume is stocked full of new and young talent and they don’t necessarily need to hang on to the “old ladies” of the 5th – 8th generation anymore. Why hold on to the past when you have your future right in front of you?

I tried discussing this with some folks on Facebook but one person assumed I was a 12 year old fan girl from Hello! Online bitching like I was on my first period. I’m pretty sure that you all know that isn’t the case. I’ve had this lowered view of Morning Musume (& the idol world in general) for quite some time. So much for an “intellectual” or “civil” discussion on social networking. Thank God for Twitter where I can pick less closed-minded individuals to talk about this stuff with.

Michishige Sayumi

Anyway this leaves my shining hope in Morning Musume Michishige Sayumi as leader of Morning Musume and Tanaka Reina as sub-leader. Yes, you have a bunny and a cat as your heads of state in Morning Musume. That’s not that bad actually. Some may find that statement rather startling but those are my personal biases and the fact that Sayu’s reign over Momusu would be both epically awesome and fail is a bonus. As one of my IW cohorts pointed out, Sayu doesn’t really inspire confidence as a reliable mentor to the impressionable young 9th & 10th generation members.

The other question with Niigaki leaving is who is the next leader of Hello! Project? As Bryan from Hello! Ranking pointed out to me on Twitter, historically the leadership of H!P is rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

But should Michishige assume leadership after Niigaki’s graduation don’t you think that things would get a hell of a lot more interesting in H!P? Again both epically awesome and fail at the same time. Can you imagine the members of H!P saluting her with an Usa-chan Peace! as she walks by having the younger members of the project throwing rose petals at her feet?

A more interesting rumor in relation to this entire sequence in events is that perhaps in the first time in a very long time a non-Morning Musume member will be given the power glove of H!P. The person in question is the Captain of Berryz Koubou Shimizu Saki. Well that certainly changes things up doesn’t it? Either way the age of blandness and complacency in H!P could be shattered with the last remnants of Takahashi Ai’s reign heading out to greener pastures.

It seems like Hello! Project and UFA are really shaking things up to start 2012. Will this move backfire on them? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Sources:

Nikkan Sports Entertainment

Hello! Project Offical Site