It was about 1:30 AM when I got a tweet from one of my loyal listeners about a subject for my show. It was rather cryptic but then a flood of tweets starting coming in from different folks about one piece of news out of the Hello! Project camp. Takahashi Ai is graduating from Morning Musume and Hello! Project. I’m sure many of us felt like our pal Ralph Wiggum upon reading that and maybe some still do.
Yes. This news tastes like burning.
Well before I get on to actual thoughts on this news I would like to say I told you all that Momusu was going to get blown up. (Listen to my drunken rants on the New Years day podcast) What surprises me is that UFA is accelerating the process, A LOT.
I didn’t expect an announcement of either Ai or Gaki until later in the year or early in 2012. But hey, my drunken rants about the destruction of Morning Musume are actually coming true. Yay for my psychic abilities, you can come to me for lottery numbers if you want.
Anyway, I think this is a massive blow to Morning Musume and Hello! Project. Not only are they losing one of their few recognizable faces but they’re also losing what I consider to be THE strongest vocalist in the entire company. But I guess 10 years was enough with all the kids groups becoming of age and the recent additions of the youngins in the 9th generation.
This will probably hurt Morning Musume more than the entire Hello! Project and many are predicting this to be the last hurrah of the group writing them off because Ai-chan was the last glimmer of hope they have been holding on to. I predict their fan base to go further down the toilet once she graduates. I even think that on her grad day a bunch of wota dressed in yellow will jump in front of trains to show their devotion to her. Think of the Suicide Club movie & you’ll get where I’m going with this.
Honestly Momusu without Ai-chan is going to have an even harder uphill climb to make it back to the top of the girl idol group mountain and even if the 9th generation girls pan out Morning Musume will probably never hit the peaks of success they had in the past. Vocally the post Ai-chan version of the group will be the weakest (unless the 9th gen girls outside of Riho surprise). I suspect Reina and Gaki will take the lead vocal responsibilities with Riho and maybe Sayu or Aika getting the secondary assignments.
Of course that would be ideal. This is idol land we’re talking about and since the focus is on getting the 9th gen some exposure I see Reina and Riho getting the leads with Gaki and Sayu becoming the secondaries. Everyone else can hang in the background. Speaking of Gaki, having her as leader is awesome but it’s going to be weird to see her without BFF Ai-chan. I expect that maybe this is not the end of the announcements and Gaki’s tenure as leader may be short lived.
I will not immediately write off the group once Ai-chan leaves. I will give them time and will wait to see if they will indeed rise from her shadow as many predict. If they falter continuously I will once again call for the group to be blown up or retired as gracefully as possible.
As for Ai-chan’s future? Who knows? Even though she’s kind of reached her best by date in idol world (24 is considered old apparently) she has enough talent to do theater, television or (hopefully) pursue a solo singing career.
For now I believe we should all enjoy the short time she has left in H!P. I am making plans to attend her graduation concert since it coincides with my planned trip to Japan at the last quarter of the year. I don’t care where I sit as long as I’m there. Hopefully she gets a large venue for her send off.
I encourage all of you to try to make your way to Japan as well and show your support for her in person.