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.
Now, Uta-chan didn’t die. If all of this reads like an obituary, that’s not my intention. I’m just trying to clear my head of the mess left behind. Before you read my thoughts, you might want to read the official press release from Hello! Project, or the translated press release from blog! project. You may want to also read playing manager Tsugunaga Momoko’s thoughts on the Shimamura Uta affair (EDIT) or blog translations from Yamaki Risa, Morito Chisato, or Ozeki Mai. Fair warning: Yamaki and Ozeki’s blogs will crush you.
Hello! Station introduced the world to little Utachan on November 12, 2014. At the time time, Country Girls and Uta made a big enough impression on me that I went to great lengths to learn all about these fresh young faces. Shimamura Uta shared a scant 219 days of her life with us idol fans and HaroWota. In this short time, Uta rose to the forefront of Hello! Project as one of the faces of the new generation of idols. For a couple of months, it seemed like EVERYONE was mad about Uta. You name it: wota and idols alike were taken by Uta’s innocence and charm. I personally spent a few nights tweeting nothing but pictures of Shimamura Uta. Even if she wasn’t my clear favorite in the group, I enjoyed her charm and presence. Let me make this clear: I LOVED Shimamura Uta. I know many wota invested heavily into Uta-chan.
Hello! Online user Claneksi (YouTube channel here) took the time to create this great video for the community (THANK YOU!). You can see each girl light up when she sings a line, which is great for those of us who want to know who is singing what and have poor eyesight (note the dance version). The lines are very well balanced- this is not a Riho/Reina duet. There are a couple things to be learned here. Firstly, Oda Sakura did not become the instant lead that some had suspected. To tell the truth I actually wished she had more solo lines, but that’s not the way Tsunkuboy wanted it. Second, judging by this video and the dance shot Mizuki spends a significant amount of time in the center (mostly during the second chorus). As her solo time has been gradually increasing, I’m guessing that Terada-san is pleased with her, um, development.