In a season rife with change, the latest graduation announcement comes from Hello! Project. And, it’s a big announcement. Almost as soon as the red glitter is brushed from the floor from Sayashi Riho’s graduation, another 9th generation Morning Musume graduation is announced. Suzuki Kanon leaves the group this spring. Specifically, Zukki last performance with the group will be the concluding performance of Morning Musume ’16’s “~Emotion in Motion~” tour. So far the date looks to be May 22 at the NHK Osaka Hall in Osaka, although additional dates may be added.
With Kanon’s departure, we are square in the middle of end of the ninth generation. I take keen interest in this generation because they got the revival of Morning Musume started in 2011. As the Platinum Generation members faded away, Fukumura Mizuki, Ikuta Erina, Riho, and Kanon were deprived of their kouhai status almost prematurely. They had to grow up quickly to anchor this new generation Morning Musume. The group rose from the lowest valley in the history of the group due in a part to the stewardship of these four girls. After five years in the group, we are now seeing the goodbyes. Although many things still lie on the table for Kanon, it’s about the right time for her to move on.
Now, I can’t say that Zukki was my favorite Morning Musume member. I appreciated her winning smile and jovial manner. I think her voice was criminally underused by the group. And, like most people, I easily identified with Kanon. Unlike her generation-mate Riho, Zukki seemed like an everyman. Her talent and personality may have put her in the group, but she was far from a diva and not nearly the professional as the others. She was not afraid to laugh, act silly, or become the butt of a joke.
It wouldn’t be an article about Suzuki Kanon unless we talked about her weight. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with her figure- she just didn’t have the figure of a typical idol. But look, almost everyone looks like a cow next to something like Iikubo Haruna. To think the constant scrutiny, less-than-flattering tweets, and other electronic blips directed at Suzuki Kanon didn’t affect Suzuki Kanon is unfathomable. Maybe this issue, which has been riding Kanon for almost the entirety of her tenure, figures into her decision to graduate. Frankly, it would be strange if it didn’t.
Perhaps other reasons for her graduation exist. In my mind, I can see how Sayashi Riho’s graduation opens the flood gate. If Riho, the jewel of the ninth generation and the ace of Morning Musume can leave the group, why would anyone else think they are indispensable? Morning Musume seem to add a powerful voice with every new generation, so the loss of her contributions on that level are ameliorated. Unlike the other girls in her generation, Kanon never seemed destined to lead the group. Like I posited for Riho, the new 12th and upcoming 13th generation need to gain a foothold in media outlets, which is a gentle way of saying that Kanon might be in the way of their development. Her tenure in the group rendered somewhat rudderless, a graduation just ahead of her 18th birthday feels appropriate.
Nobody likes seeing their idols fade away. In my case, I hate to see the entire 9th generation vanish before my eyes. I think stating she would like to pursue work related to welfare speaks volumes about the kind of person Suzuki Kanon is: kind, compassionate, and for the people. When any of Morning Musume needed an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or a person to lean on, Suzuki Kanon was there. It seems Zukki will be there to provide smiles and help to the nation of Japan with her new dreams. Healing people and helping people … doesn’t this sound suspiciously like an idol? Before her spotlight fades, we have the task of making green brightly illuminate her last few live performances- I’m talking to you, Houston.