On this day back in the year 2001, Morning Musume`s 5th generation was selected from the Love Audition 21. The group of Takahashi Ai, Konno Asami, Ogawa Makoto and Niigaki Risa joined the power house of Morning Musume, who had just released their hit, The Peace! Let’s take a look back at the momentous occasion which brought the current leader of Hello! Project and Morning Musume and the current sub-leader of Morning Musume into the fold.
It’s amazing to see how much Ai and Risa have changed over their 8 years in Morning Musume. When they were chosen, they were awkward, insecure little girls. Aichan was a few weeks shy of turning 15, and Risa was around 2 months from turning 13. They were
BABIES back then!! I love how from the 4 of them, Risa is the only one who smiles (before she breaks down into tears) when her name is called. The others look absolutely shell-shocked. As I watch these old audition results, I’m always so amused at how different the reactions are from the reactions you see when someone wins something like American Idol.
When they first joined, I was very against 5th generation. I was a new Morning Musume fan, but I got started on Morning musume stuff pre-5th gen (obviously). I filled myself with TV appearances of 4th generation Morning Musume, watched Yuko’s graduation concert and Green Live… And seeing these 4 newbs (even though I was a H!P newbie myself) irked me ’cause I felt like it would take time away from my favourites.
It took me a while to warm up to 5th gen, though as I mentioned in my Anime Expo posts, I fell in love with Ai with the release of Souda! We’re Alive, just 6 months after 5th generation. Makoto caught my attention through her roles in Hello! Morning skits, and I enjoyed Risa and Asami’s personalities after watching the Okajo Dumbest Member test (LOL at Risa naming China’s capital “Chan pon chan”).
Ai’s been in my top 5 of Morning Musume since 2002, Risa made her way up there by 2004, and I can confidently say that these two have been top two Morning Musume members since my previous #1 Musume graduated on May 7, 2005, the one and only Ishikawa Rika. That’s a good 4+ years with these two girls at #1 and 1 (I really can’t pick between the two…) for me.
I think today, the anniversary of the start of their official journey as Morning Musume and Hello! Project members is a great day to celebrate the awesomeness that they have brought to the Hello! Project collective, and the awesomeness that is their friendship.
Who would have thought that two of those little girls in the first video of this post would eventually become the leader and sub-leader of Morning Musume, and that Ai-chan would become the leader of Hello! Project? When Elder Club graduated earlier this year, there was a lot of talk about how Ai-chan would handle all the responsibility that would be passed on to her with the graduation of Nakazawa Yuko. I think it will be interesting to watch the summer Hello! Project concert, for this will be the first one under Ai-chan’s leadership. I do have to say that the graduation of Elder Club hasn’t decreased my interesting Hello! Project in the slightest… If anything, Morning Musume’s recent visit to LA at Anime Expo has skyrocketed my love for Morning Musume, which had previously been fading. And this renewal of affection for the group is mainly attributed to the two girls I’ve been going on about in this post.
These two really seem to be leading the group well, as evidenced by one of Morning Musume’s latest DVD magazines (Vol 23). Each of the girls sat down and described each other in “one” (lol, yeah right. XD) word… Let’s see what was said about subleader:
I have to say that I aboslutely love JunJun’s answer. “Papa.” With her and Ai-chan saying that she is very dependable (and Reina saying she’s a clock), you can see she’s a very stable support for Ai-chan as her subleader. She looks out for the others and you can feel the warmth the other girls feel for her (as shown by LinLin and Eri’s answers). Sayumi is the only odd one out… She’s not very considerate towards her subleader. XD
In the Hello! Project blogosphere, Ai-chan has been scrutinized by fans from the moment she became leader. When she took over the position, many bloggers expressed their lack of faith in her ability to lead. However, as you can see from the answers of the girls, Aichan is highly respected and she truly leads by example. They all obviously admire her and aspire to reach the level she reaches when she performs… Except Reina who just talks about Ai-chan’s choice in clothing, which I found quite amusing… And JunJun. “Mama”. XD I love how Leader and Subleader are “Mama” and “Papa” to JunJun. It’s so cute.
As for Ai-chan and Risa’s answers for each other, it gives you a glimpse into their close relationship. They’ve been together for 8 years now… They’re obviously close friends. Risa is Ai’s pillar of support in the group, which makes a lot of sense as the main responsibility of Morning Musume falls to Ai, and I’m sure she needs someone to fall back on when it gets to be too much.
Risa’s answer regarding Ai makes me think of their Futarigoto – A close friend (actually, Ai’s response makes me think of that Futarigoto as well). She calls her stubborn, but she says it in such a lighthearted way, that you know it’s something that likely annoys her to no end at times, but is also one of Ai’s most endearing traits.
These two have grown up together, have made each other better and have worked hard to make Morning Musume into a unifed group ever since they began their tenure as leader and subleader over 2 years ago. I say they have made Momusu into the unified group they are today, for they’re the ones who really dealt with incorporating JunJun and LinLin into the group, and I’m sure that was a new challenge for them as the two girls are from a completely different culture.
Watching these two grow up and growing up with them has been a joy and I look forward to watching, hopefully, at least a few more years of them with Morning Musume. When these two eventually graduate, it will be the saddest graduation concert in my history of being a Hello! Project fan. Elder Club’s graduation was sad, but I think the mass departure made the concert less emotional for me. The more intimate 1 or 2 member graduations have always hit closer to home, and having the one on one messages from each member (BAAAWWWW Mako-chan & KonKon graduation). If I thought the first half of 5th gen graduating was sad, I haven’t seen anything yet… And I have to say, these two girls just HAVE to graduate together, ’cause I can’t see see them being in Morning Musume without each other.
I guess to end this off, I just have to say HAPPY 8th ANNIVERSARY AS MORNING MUSUME MEMBERS AI AND RISA!!!! <3 All of your hard work has definitely brought a smile to this fan for 8 years and I look forward to supporting the two as they continue forward! ... And just because, here's a final moment of Ai and Risa awesomeness from a recent appearance on Music Fighter (for Naichau Kamo).