Late last night I was recovering from another day of helping people with their Id10t issues and I wandered into the International Wota chat room to catch up with my fellow music fans & to ask for some help about a computer issue I never had to actually do myself before. (Recovering data from a failing hard drive if you’re interested.)

The moment I joined the chat someone mentioned something about a Hello! Project member’s upcoming graduation. I asked who it was and the reply was simply “Saki”. Well there’s more than one Saki in H!P and I immediately thought of Captain. (Shimizu Saki for those who don’t do the nickname thing.)

My heart began to sink and an overwhelming feeling of sickness came over me. It’s only recently that she has grown out of her awkward phase and is now this super hot (and legal where I live) young woman. I was beginning to think that my years of peak Captain ogling were over and she would fade into obscurity.

The “Saki” response was then followed up with “S/Mileage” and all that rage and anger building up from losing Captain ass was replaced with a confused “Who?”

Ogawa Saki

Okay, I actually am a big fan of S/Mileage’s music but honestly the only members names I actually know of are Yuuka and the Kago Ai clone (Kanon I believe is her name?) so the name Ogawa Saki was drawing a blank in my head. It wasn’t until I looked her up that I remembered which member she was.

The reasoning for Ogawa’s departure is already well documented by many sites and I would suggest going to Hello! Sayunii if you want a detailed low down of events. But to make things simple for those of you who don’t want to read long lines of questionably translated text, Ogawa decided on her own to leave.

She wasn’t forced out by wanting to pursue a career in modeling, bunions, getting preggers by a Johnny’s boy or just being too damn old. (She still has a good 6 – 7 years left before she becomes a shriveled up 20 something.) She just felt that 7 years in show business was enough and being a normal, every day person was a better fit for her at this time in her life. This isn’t anything new, we had Asuka Fukuda from first generation Morning Musume leave to pursue a normal life as did Maiha Ishimura from Berryz Koubou.

Understandably many who are fans of Ogawa are not pleased with this unexpected turn of events. I know the pain of seeing favorite members leaving so for first timers, you can get yourself an Ogawa Saki S/Mileage crying towel at Hello! Store USA (shipping costs will vary depending on where you live.)

Reading into her comments and Tsunku’s you can kind of tell there is a bit of resentment on the part of UFA in her leaving, even though she gave fair warning. Her graduation date is August 27. I wouldn’t even call it a graduation date, her resignation date, her quitting date, her “I’m free of this shit!” date are more appropriate.

That means no weepy graduation ceremony for her. No special colored glow sticks, no graduation merchandise and no happy fleecing of the wota. I am surprised at this since UFA never turns away from making some money off these kinds of events. Ogawa must have really pissed them off with her decision to leave so abruptly.

With her departure the real reason for the S/Mileage audition came to the surface. I still think UFA should still go ahead with the whole sub-member deal just because if first generation S/Mileage had to go through a bunch of hoops and bullshit to become part of the group, so should the new draftees. Just because one member decided show business wasn’t for her doesn’t mean the new recruits get a free shot at the open slot.

I don’t really have a positive or negative reaction to this news. Yes, it’s sad that a founding member of S/Mileage is gone but then it’s not like there already isn’t someone in line to replace her. We just don’t know who that is yet. Nor is this some sort of game changing event that will forever alter the future of Hello! Project. That will depend on the results of the sub-member boot camp.

I say call me when Yuuka gets shipped out. Then you’ll hear some complaining. Until then I’ll just sit back, watch the gong show that has become S/Mileage & hope for the best.