Well, I woke up to the most wonderful news this morning… As pretty much all of the H!P fandom knows, 5th generation member, co-longest serving Morning Musume and Hello! Project member, and current H!P and MM leader, Takahashi Ai, announced at yesterday’s H!P Winter 2011 concert that she would be graduating from both MM and H!P at Morning Musume’s 2011 fall tour.
Link to a youtube video with some clips of Aichan’s performances and her announcement at the Winter Concert. I just need to say, Kioku no Meiro – HAWT. <3
I wasn’t shocked to read that. The news wasn’t a surprise. When I attended the concert where Tsunku personally announced the upcoming (now past) graduations of Kamei Eri, JunJun and LinLin, my heart plummetted – expecting and dreading to hear that Aichan, Risa or both would be graduating. Of course, at that time, it wasn’t the case. However, ever since then, I have been waiting for this bombshell which I knew would rock my H!P world.
I joined the H!P fandom around the time when 5th gen joined. I’ve been watching Aichan grow almost every step of the way, and what a great 9 and a half years its been. Her announcement said that she still has about 9 months to go before graduation. However, if she’s graduating during the fall tour, shouldn’t it bee 11 months? The fall tour usually ends in early to mid December… I hope she’s not saying that she’s graduating at the start of the fall tour… That just wouldn’t make any sense.
There’s a lot of talk and speculation going on about what Morning will be like once Aichan’s gone, that this is the beginning of the end of the Momusu legacy. I don’t want to get into that here. Over the upcoming months, I think there’s going to be too much of that kind of talk. And really, I don’t want to speculate on the possible downfall of the group that Aichan truly seems to love with all her heart. Instead, I just really want to convey my love and appreciation for this woman who has provided me with so much entertainment over the years.
I know there are still quite a few months before she graduates, but I don’t mind reflecting on her wonderfulness again come that time. XD Really, when have I ever had trouble gushing about Aichan?
It’s funny. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling strangely nostalgic about Aichan. Maybe it was the release of the Gokki FC event DVD. Maybe it was watching her get so emotional during the graduations of Kamei, JunJun and LinLin. Maybe it was watching subs of Kamei, JunJun and LinLin’s memories of Aichan and their comments to her on their graduations DVDs…. Whatever it was, I have been feeling such an astounding amount of affection for the girl who started out so awkward when she joined at the age of 14 and who has blossomed into the amazing leader and performer that she is today.
Watching what her now former members have had to say about her really shows what she does for the group. All the girls mention how Aichan has been there for them to go out for meals, to talk, to cry… Even Koharu said this in her graduation DVD (well, not so much the crying, but going for meals and talking). She is really someone they can rely on for emotional support, and I think that goes beyond the bonds of Morning Musume. As the leader of Hello! Project, she spends time with members of Berryz Koubou and C-ute as well. I’ve heard some of the girls from those groups mention going to the movies or the theatre with Aichan (and she pesters them all to call her Aichan, just like she hounded her fellow MM members – and she was able to wear them down XD). I am really looking forward to Aichan’s graduation DVD, and I’m ready have the waterworks going as Risa give Aichan her graduation message. Seeing how much Risa was crying on Eri’s DVD, I can’t imagine she’ll be any better on Aichan’s DVD.
I can already forsee that for the next few months, I’m going to be on Aichan overload. As the time draws nearer to her graduation, I can see myself getting increasingly sad. I’m happy for her and I’m positive that she will be absolutely amazing in whatever she pursues in the future (PLEASE let one of those things be a solo singing career), but I’m sad for myself knowing that I won’t be able to watch adorable Aichan/Risa moments on DVD magazines or at concerts. I will have to console myself by watching video after video of Aichan being her dorky, goofy self. It’s CLAZY (see clip below if you’ve never watched Aichan’s “It’s CLAZY” infomercial segment) for me to imagine Momusu without Aichan, simply because she’s been my #1 girl since Rika graduated back in 2005. And I must say, this is the first graduation announcement that has made me sad since Rika’s graduation announcement.
It is going to be so strange to watch Morning Musume without Aichan and Risa together. I really did think the two would graduate together, much like Mako and Konkon did. At Aichan’s graduation concert, I really want an Aichan/Risa duet of Suki na Sempai, even though they’re the eldest and longest serving members of Hello! Project. They can cry it out together just like they did at Mako and Konkon’s grad. I have to say that even after all these years, that Suki na Sempai performance is one of the most heartwarming and gutwrenching performances I’ve watched in my H!P fandom.
For the Aichan haters and non-believers, you’re really missing out. I can understand feeling frustration when she gets the centre position and the bulk of the lines, at the expense of whoever your favourite member happens to be. However, you cannot deny that she has the talent and the stage presence for the amount of screen time she’s given. I’ve seen others comment on how Aichan seems conceited and gives off the vibe of being better than the rest. Personally, I have never once gotten that feeling from her, and that is not just my bias as a huge fan of hers. Aichan has a very strong stage presence. Because of that, others may take it as her trying to steal the spotlight from others, but how can you knock her for being the amazing performer that she is? And if all you’re seeing of her is her concert performances and her parts in PVs , you’re missing out on all the insecurities she has, her constant drive to improve herself, and the ridiculous amount that she beats herself up for not picking things up quickly enough or screwing up (in her eyes) during a concert performance. In addition to that, Aichan’s strong performances give the other members something to aspire to and strive for. As I’ve said before in my previous Aichan gushing posts, Aichan leads by example, and what an example she sets for her girls.
What I noticed in all of the graduation DVDs (Koharu’s, Eri’s and Jun/Lin’s) is that Aichan has asked that each of the girls not forget about her… And all their responses have been incredulity at the thought of forgetting someone like Aichan. My feeling of Aichan has always been that she’s incredibly humble and often self-depricating. It has really endeared her to me over the years.
I’m sad that it was news of this sort that pulled me out of my silence on this blog. I think in the upcoming months, I may start a series of my favourite Aichan moments as a sort of countdown to her graduation. We’ll see if I post those here or at Lovely Bean. For now, I will leave you with a few clips that I re-stumbled upon of Aichan over the past few days and have been leaving me laughing and smiling (and wotaing).
First up, what has kept me laughing for the past few days… I got the sudden urge to load this up and I can’t stop repeating it. It’s from Morning Musume’s DVD Magazine Vol. 15 – where the girls reflect on the Sexy 8 Beat Concert tour. At one of the closing MC’s, as Aichan’s signing off, she makes the most adorable bumble. I love her reaction to her screwup, and I love the expressions on Eri and Yossy’s faces as they try to comprehend Aichan’s skill at speaking. XD
This clip and the following is jsut a great intro and signing off by Aichan and my other favourite member, Ishikawa Rika. I always loved the duo of Super Cutie Ishikawa and Super Beauty Takahashi. And for this post, I think it’s fitting, for as I mentioned earlier, the last MM grad announcement that made me sad was Rika’s. The second half of the Super Duo will be leaving. T__T
And finally, a clip of Aichan doing the same intro at the Gokki FC event this past summer. I love how she intones the “Super Beauty”. XD
As we progress towards Aichan’s graduation, I’ll be cherishing every moment that I can of my favourite member. If she graduates at the end of the fall tour (which should be in December), I definitely won’t be able to make it out for her graduation as I can’t take vacation time from work in that month… But if it does end up that she gradutes in 9 months, which would be October-ish, I will do everything in my power to get myself back to Japan to see it.