The following editorial contains my thoughts on the upcoming departure of Tsugunaga Momoko. I know for a fact my opinions do not reflect those of the other Selective Hearing staff. Just to cover our bases, my opinions also do not necessarily reflect those of our partners or affiliates as well.

Tsugunaga Momoko

On November 5, 2016 UP-FRONT made an announcement concerning the manager of Country Girls Tsugunaga Momoko. On June 30, 2017 she will be graduating from Country Girls and Hello! Project. She will also be leaving the entertainment industry to pursue a career in early childhood education.

The full announcement from UP-FRONT and a statement from Tsugunaga can be found on their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/notes/up-front-link/en-concerning-momoko-tsugunaga/1208580165867565

It’s hard to believe that Tsugunaga Momoko has been with Hello! Project for 15 years but it’s true. With the disbandment (let’s stop sugar coating the truth and call it what it is) of Berryz Koubou it was inevitable that one of them would pull the trigger on their graduation. It’s surprising that Momoko was the one to do it.

After all she is the manager of Country Girls and Buono! had recently made a comeback with a new single and concert tour. One would figure that she had enough to keep her occupied. But the lure of teaching the youth of Japan seems to have enticed her enough to change her career path.

This announcement in combination with C-ute’s disbandment around the same time period marks the end of the H!P kids era. For some fans desperately clinging on to the glory days of Hello! Project this may bring about some sense of closure before they fully embrace the new generation or it could mark the end of their fandom altogether.

Whatever your personal case may be it can most likely be agreed that this is another major milestone reached in the world of Hello! Project. And for some it might be a rather cruel summer in 2017.

In regards to Tsugunaga herself, she’s never been one of my favourites in Berryz Koubou or in Hello! Project but I will admit she did bring the variety gold when called upon.

Unfortunately her over the top character became more annoying over time and eventually outstayed its welcome with me as she got older. I do hope that before she leaves entertainment for good Kato Koji drop kicks her one more time just because. I would find that funny and kind of a fitting exit from showbiz.

Although I’m sure some of you would probably just get emo over seeing her get kicked (gently) in the head again. If you love her character, more power to you. To each their own after all. I’m not stopping you from enjoying her in “Momochi” mode. I just feel that particular gimmick isn’t cute when it’s done by a 24-year old.

Buono 2016

What does sadden me about her departure is that it spells the definite end of one of the best H!P sub units of recent memory, Buono! What fleeting hope remained with their reformation has now been dashed and it feels like whatever they did was their last hurrah. If their concert and single were indeed their last activities I guess they at least went out with somewhat of a bang instead of a whimper. So much lost potential. Sad.

Anyway, you have until end of June 2017 to plan for Tsugunaga’s eventual graduation concert. If you are a Hello! Project fan who intends to see her and C-ute off, it’s going to be an expensive time for you. Unless you happen to live in Japan, then maybe it might be a little less costly.