The following is an expanded comment I left at the Jicchan website concerning the treatment of Suzuki Kanon in the “Hello! Station Version” of the latest Morning Musume ’15 singles “”Seishun Kozo ga Naiteiru” and “Yuugure wa Ameagari”. This thread translated Japanese reactions to Western reactions to the PVs. It was an ugly affair that exposed many preconceptions and prejudices held by the Japanese people. It read like mudslinging across language barriers by two groups devoted to the same fandom.
As you read the comments, I think we all need to remember that the Japanese people are just that: people. They may have different prejudices and misguided notions as the average Westerner (myself included), but those prejudices exist nonetheless. In short, Japan is not a magical land where you can watch anime 24/7 and walk around shamelessly with your dakimakura while 12 inch mobile phone charms dangle magically at the end of your iPhone. Whatever you saw in Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s Pon Pon Pon PV, people don’t actually fart rainbows.
I say all this because I want to diffuse a dangerous “Us vs. Them” mentality that seems to be building. Necessarily, those of us who do not live in Japan cannot engage in idol music the same way as people living in Japan. It’s reality. Face it. This doesn’t make your reality any better or worse than the reality of Japanese wota. It’s just different. Differences in cultural experiences also means that the traits most valued in Japan are different than the traits valued overseas. No one is really “right”. Much of our preferences are nurtured by years of cultural immersion, which differs from person to person and from locale to locale. Of course Western fans have different tastes than Japanese fans!
I’ll note that I’m more of a Karin fan than a Kanon fan. I don’t have anything negative to say about Kanon- it’s just preference.
I understand Kanon fans being upset at her lack of time in the PV; I understand their disillusionment when faced with the solo shots of Karin. I really get it. I’m an Ikuta Erina fan.
I think we all need to understand that we are talking about a business venture. Like it or not, Karin is much, much more popular than Kanon where it counts- in the pocketbook and in Japan. When presented with an opportunity to push Karin to a wider audience, UF/H!P would be stupid not to capitalize. Along those same lines, they are wasting an opportunity to promote the future of Hello! Project if Karin isn’t given ample screen time and close-up shots. Putting Karin in a PV and not giving her close-ups is practically leaving money on the table. So, in my mind this is not a case of management slapping Zukki in the face; it’s an instance of management capitalizing on an opportunity gifted through unfortunate circumstance. It’s not personal. It’s business.
And, exactly who are management hurting with their promotion of Karin? We already know they think very little of foreign support and fandom. Even if we buy a CD Single or two (or a dozen) from a legal overseas vendor, our purchases will not count on the Oricon charts. Sure, they’re happy to take foreign money, but it won’t affect anything where it counts (Japan).
Are we worried about Kanon? I’m worried about Kanon, too. But, also remember that aside from being talented, she is extremely lucky to have a place in a group like Morning Musume. After spending any amount of time in the fandom, you will see many extremely qualified girls passed up in their audition for the group for seemingly no reason. Kanon knows how lucky she is. She also knows her place in the group. I believe enough in Kanon to think that she has the wisdom to leave the group if the cons ever outweighed the pros.
[UPDATE 2015.04.01: @realskoban adds a piece of the puzzle that I left out. It’s an excellent bit of editorial from an experienced hand. Please read at http://icejiggly.blogspot.com/2015/04/2ch-does-not-represent-japanese-fandom.html%5D