Takahashi Ai Graduates, Long Live The Queen

Takahashi Ai Grad

On September 30th Takahashi Ai graduated from Morning Musume and Hello! Project ending a 10 year odyssey that saw her go from incredibly talented (yet awkward) 5th generation member to one of the most accomplished members and leader of Hello! Project.

Takahashi Ai Grad

Over the past few days many fans have expressed their feelings on the end of an era. For some it essentially kills off their Morning Musume (and maybe their Hello! Project) fandom while for others it represents the beginning of the old guard passing the torch to the younger generation.

Takahashi Ai Grad

I have found it incredibly difficult to comment on Takahashi’s grad because its impact didn’t fully hit me. Not until I saw clips from her graduation ceremony. I’ll admit it, I bawled like a fucking baby the moment Risa started in on her words to Ai.

Many may have found Takahashi to be one of a rather vanilla personality. Personally I don’t believe that was the case as she showed during her stint on Hello! Morning’s news segment consistently upstaging Ishikawa Rika. There’s also her classic appearance on Utaban where she got her nickname of “Tettekete” because of her typewriter like delivery of Tokyo Japanese.

Takahashi Ai Grad

… and there’s always this. If you don’t know what this is I feel sorry for you.

She definitely made up for the perceived deficiency with raw talent that may be unmatched by remaining Morning Musume and Hello! Project members. Not many have her ability to sing and perform just about anything and make it look effortless.

I’m not sure if others will agree, but Takahashi’s graduation is on the same level of the entire Elder Club graduating. Yes, her departure has just as much impact as that event. Maybe even more so. That of course is subjective but I tend to think that with her gone, it will lead to several other old guard Morning Musume members following her out the door.

It will be strange to hear a Morning Musume song without Takahashi’s voice and even stranger to see a video without her in it. Whatever she plans to do with her future I’m sure she’ll be just as awesome as she has been the past 10 years in Hello! Project.

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Greg is the creator, administrator, editor, code monkey, overlord and general jack of all trades at Selective Hearing. He can be found lurking among the overseas Asian pop fandom and bumming around Japan every year for some reason or another.