By this time this article is published Mano Erina will have officially graduated from Hello! Project and released into the wild to roam free.

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I have always found her graduation to be something of a mystery.  She had it pretty good as Hello! Project’s only soloist and by all accounts was positioned well in the artist hierarchy.   So why leave when in a mostly ideal situation?

Here’s my theory. She began to look rather womanly so maybe she wasn’t loli enough for the core Hello! Project fanbase anymore.  She can’t possibly compete with the U-15’s for the wota’s love at the ripe old age of 21 right?

Actually, I think the acting bug hit her hard and perhaps she felt that being within the confines of Hello! Project were limiting her choices for roles.  After all, she just can’t go and play some hard-nosed or against type character without worrying about her idol image first.

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Those are just my musings.  Who knows why she’s leaving but at least she’s going out on her own terms. But let us not dwell on what could have been or why she’s gone and instead try to celebrate her time in Hello! Project.

At first I did not like Mano Erina.  I thought her vocals were lacking any emotion and her music while decent, it was not anything special.  Her early material sounded like she was going through the motions and just saying whatever words were written for her verbatim like a robot.

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But as she progressed through her indie phase to her major label debut there was a marked improvement with each release.  Although I feel that H!P’s producers must have had a hard time finding her sound until near the end of her time with the organization.

That is the real disappointment with her departure since there’s so much untapped musical potential that will never be fulfilled. Especially since someone finally figured out what to do with her.  If she decides to continue with music hopefully she’ll end up on a label that will continue to nurture her musical growth.

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Just don’t make her a boring adult contemporary singer please.

The good thing is that Mano has already picked up an acting gig post-graduation and it sounds like something that is against character type.  I’m looking forward to seeing this other side of her.  Should this not work out for her there’s always Kamen Rider movies to go to.

Then again, she could always follow the advice of New School Kaidan’s leader:

I’m not going to disagree with that suggestion. I would welcome it with open arms and unzipped pants.  But I’m good either way.

The only lingering question from her graduation is since her album and concert titles have used friendship as a concept, is it fair to say that she has been un-friended by Up-Front and Hello! Project?  Just wondering.

Whatever the case, God speed and good luck to Mano Erina in her future endeavors whatever they may be. Congratulations and enjoy your new found freedom.

Images source – Oricon