ANGERME sends off one its original members with a song that tries to encapsulate the essence of the group’s first six years of work. Fun and funky blends equal parts with Smileage’s “Shortcut” and ANGERME’s”Taiki Bansei“.
Before I get too deep into discussion, I’m going to get some screen caps out of the way. I hope you don’t mind.
Since “Gashin Shotan” will be Fukuda Kanon’s swan song, this release should have something to do with the bright young star of Hello! Project’s past. Years after her debut, when I think about Kanyon’s time in the Projects, I think about a career spent in shadows. Fukuda’s calling card was once her physical similarities for former H!P ace and walking cautionary tale Kago Ai. H!P exasperated the matter by placing Kanon in the Shin Mini Moni revival unit in 2009 alongside Morning Musume’s Linlin, future ANGERME member Takeuchi Akari, and Juice=Juice’s Miyamoto Karin. In her first unit, Shugo Chara Egg!, and the first incarnation of S/mileage, Kanon lived just left of center behind H!P wondergirl Maeda Yuuka.
Despite her talent and efforts, Kanon never quite became the breakout star some predicted she would become. The middle child in me really feels for the girl. As years went on, her insecurities became very public as she posted her struggles with her weight. In a public lashing that probably hurt more than she let on, Tsunku blasted her “Cinderella” character and ordered her to cease using it. A career under intense wota scrutiny severely messed with this girl’s head. But, when Yuuka and Ogawa Saki practically abandoned ship in 2011, Kanon remained a rock for S/mileage and ANGERME as she anchored the group’s vocals. Extreme hardships, indeed.
All of the above may not mean anything to the casual Hello! Project fan. Kanon is an idol; this is her job. But, when Fukuda starts the first verse with the lines “You’re so negative, we only have one life. Challenges that bring no defeat means nothing, does it? Feeling of not being good enough, not being alert and being just a coward”, she’s lived all of that. The chorus lyrics are equally close to the bone with lines like “The bitter the memory, the sweeter it gets” and “A crisis is a chance! Extreme hardships!” Lyrics like “Unforgettable humiliation, bring it on! Excessive self-consciousness is constantly telling myself so” read like they’re straight from her diary. Kanon sings these lines as though she is passing along the wisdom of 11 years in the Projects to her junior members.
Let’s face it- “Gashin Shotan” is Fukuda Kanon’s song. Even if she wasn’t my favorite in S/mileage I would find the story of Fukuda Kanon in Hello! Project compelling. The girl spent more than half of her life thus far in the Projects. She remained loyal to her group and thanklessly carried them on her shoulders after some devastating loses. Now that ANGERME appears poised for their greatest successes, Kanon can finally rest and maybe take that long overdue vacation. And, after losing three members over the years, the group finally gets a chance to send off one of their own properly. If I don’t get another chance to say it publically, THANK YOU, Kanon. I hope you keep inspiring people in the years ahead.