Morning Musume 13th Generation: The Fan Poll

As some of you may know from my twitter account and various Facebook postings, I recently conducted a poll to see which member of Hello! Project Kenshuusei was most wanted in the 13th generation of Morning Musume. There were a total of 321 responses, and respondents were allowed to vote for more than one Kenshuusei.  I won’t belabor the point much; so here are the results

13th generation fan poll


As you can see, the runaway leader in this poll was 20th generation member Danbara Ruru with 176 votes (54.8% of respondents).  The top four were rounded out with Kiyono Momohime (199 votes, 37.1%), Takase Kurumi (97 votes, 30.2%), and Ichioka Reina (93 votes, 29%).

My personal picks for 13th generation are Danbara Ruru, Kawamura Ayano, Kiyono Momohime, and Takase Kurumi with longtime members Ichioka Reina and Kaga Kaede barely missing the cut.

Then again, I don’t have a great record for predicting new generations of Morning Musume, so I wouldn’t be surprised if none of my picks make it.

So who will be the 13th Generation?  We will all find out very, VERY soon!

Tomita Mayu and Idol Violence

May 20, 2016. Local idol Tomita Mayu was violently stabbed 20+ times in the neck and chest by a man said to be her fan. From reports and tweets, the assailant, Iwazaki Tomohiro, 27, felt spurned by the young talent when she returned a gift he had given her (I believe a wristwatch?) months earlier. Tomita Mayu had been scheduled to perform at the event Koganei City, western Tokyo when she was confronted by Iwazaki near the entrance to the live house about two hours before the event’s scheduled start time. The downward spiral which began with a returned gift culminated horrifically with Iwazaki repeatedly stabbing Tomita in the neck, back, arms, and chest. As of writing, Mayu is still in critical condition and has yet to regain consciousness.

Continue reading

Changing the Guard

Michishige Sayumi – November 2014
Berryz Kobo- March 2015
Shimamura Uta- June 2015
Fukuda Kanon- November 2015
Sayashi Riho- December 2015
Tamura Meimi- May 2016
Suzuki Kanon- May 2016

Look at that list. This 1.5 year span from November 2014 to May 2016 sees the loss of 13 girls from Hello! Project. Some real prominent names occupy this list as well. Girls who anchor their respective group in some form suddenly drop from the scene in droves. The last time I remember such a large exodus from the projects was the Elder Club mass graduation in 2009.

I don’t think this particular batch of departures signifies anything as sweeping as the Elder Club graduation. Some key positions opened up, and it’s interesting to see who will fill the void. Let’s go down the line?

Michishige Sayumi
Sayumi makes some strong argument for the most productive Morning Musume Continue reading

When the green leaves your cheeks

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.

Continue reading

Fukuda Kanon and Me

I’ve planned to write about Fukuda Kanon for a while, and now these words are reaching the void days after her graduation from S/mileage, ANGERME, and Hello! Project. My difficulty with words manifested, and I stopped and started writing about Fukuda Kanon many times now. I attribute this to the complex character that Kanon formulated . Sometimes she seemed very troll-ish and sometimes even resentful of her idol career. Reports of disinterested handshakes and cold fan interactions didn’t really help either. Why so I love this girl?

One thing seems true: Fukuda Kanon loves Hello! Project probably more than most of us. Like most of the Eggs who graduated from the early years of the program, Kanon spent half her life in the Projects. Steadfast and determined, Kanon continued her career despite slaps in her face and ample opportunity to search out greener pastures. If her resilience doesn’t indicate some degree of passion, then I’m not sure I’m passionate about anything.
Continue reading

Zukki and Karin, and Where It Matters

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