I won’t call this earth shattering news, but in an unexpected move Tsunkuboy decided to re-brand Morning Musume starting 2014. Rather than simply calling the group “Morning Musume”, we are to now refer to the girls by year as well. Thus, starting in January Morning Musume will become Morning Musume ’14 (Morning Musume One Four). The name change is meant to distinguish the girls, and their achievements, from each other while still carrying the legacy of the name Morning Musume. This is tricky- Tsunkuboy wants to distance the girls from the past while still linking the girls to that past. In other words Tsunkuboy is trying to accomplish two diametrically opposed tasks with the same maneuver.
I’ve already read skepticism about this move from “Morning Musume trampling on their name” to the obligatory “Morning Musume 48 (in 2048)”, to the NSFW “Morning Musume 69”. I wonder how many of the critics also consider themselves the kind of fan who screams “music first!”. Personally, I don’t think this name change will amount to very much. We are going to ignore the “14” moniker and keep calling them Morning Musume. The name change is only about disambiguation, right? There’s no way that this name change is going to affect my personal fandom for the group because I don’t love this group because of their name!
One might argue that the name change isn’t necessary. They’re right- it’s not necessary. As a fan of the group, I have no trouble remembering that the Morning Musume in 2013 has Sayashi Riho, the Morning Musume in 2009 had Takahashi Ai, and the Morning Musume in 2004 had Goto Maki. But you know what? The Japanese seem to enjoy numbering things (seriously, have you ever heard a Western artist refer to their “14th single”?) so why the hell not. I’m still going to call them Morning Musume in casual conversation- assuming I ever have an IRL conversation about Morning Musume.
What hasn’t been covered much is Tsunku lol’ing at himself and admitting that the name change might prove too confusing, and he may give up on the name change in that case. Then again, here we are talking about a trifle of a name-change that might be discarded in a few weeks/months. I guess you can continue sending your angry social media updates to Tsunkuboy if you really don’t like the change. He might just listen to you.
Also, lost in the hubbub is the announcement of the inaugural single by Morning Musume ’14 on January 29, 2014. This may also be the last single by Morning Musume ’14! Wait, is this the 1st single of Morning Musume 14, or the 55th single of Morning Musume, or both? Regardless, you can start adding your adoration for autotune now.