Hello! Project / Jpop

Speculation: The next 3 to graduate from Morning Musume

There has been a lot going on in the world of Morning Musume in the past year or so. After years without changing, we’ve had a total of 4 graduations. We’ve had an astounding 8 additions, 4 for 9th gen, and then 4 more for 10th gen. It’s change in the Momusu world like we haven’t had in a long time!

All the recent change has gotten me thinking, about the next additions and subtractions that may happen in the future. I don’t see anything huge happening this year, we have already had that. But what’s in store next? Here’s who I think should go, when, and why.

1. Mitsui Aika

When: Next year, 2012

Why: Dead Weight.

I’m sure the (4 or 5) Aika fans out there will disagree with this, but here’s what I think: Aika doesn’t add to the group. Let’s go over her history, and growth in the group, and what she brings to Morning Musume.

Aika was the only one chosen in the 8th generation, and that was the first mistake UFA made, in my opinion. If you are going to be a 1-member addition, the spot light is on YOU. You don’t have 2 or 3 other members that people are also watching, monitoring, scrutinizing. If the girl can’t really, truly stand out, and shine on her own, I don’t think it’s a good idea for her to be the only member added at one time.

Let’s look back at former 1-member additions. We had Gotou Maki, who was outright incredible from the beginning. Girl was made to be a star. Then we had Koharu. I’m NOT a fan of Koharu, but as far a a 1-member generation goes, it worked for her because she was heavily pushed and promoted by the company. Like her or hate her, she did stand out. But Aika… She’s like an entire generation of nothing.  Never pushed to the center (except for Egao YES Nude). Never highly promoted. And more importantly, never really changed.

Oh, well, her image did change. I will give Hello! Project huge points for making her look better.

Let's not forget that she looked like this when she joined...

And eventually looked MUCH better. Give her a little credit where it’s due.

Is that even the same girl?

But the issue is that her talent hasn’t changed. She doesn’t sound a bit better singing today than she did in Egao YES Nude. In fact, sometimes she sounds worse, as she gets very nasal and her attempt at sounding cute just doesn’t go well with her type of voice. She’s OK, sometimes, but she’s bad sometimes too, and I’m disappointed at her lack of progress.

But hey, vocals aren’t everything in Morning Musume. We all know that. So how about personality?

…Well, I still don’t feel like I really know her personality well at all. Yeah, we got a cool glimpse at her criticizing 9th gen and making them cry once  (… even if Riho has already far surpassed her in talent…).  But I just don’t feel like she’s really given me anything to love her for.  Trust me, I want to like her, I’ve been waiting for her to blossom for years, but I’m just not seeing much of ANYTHING.

That brings me to the other reason I think she should graduate. She absolutely doesn’t add to the group in her current condition – she’s got a broken leg, or something, so she can’t perform, can’t dance, and can’t sing. Oh, wait, the singing thing wasn’t related to the leg. But still! It’s not like this is her first injury, either. She’s had problems with her feet before too. I think she and UFA need to just realize, this girl is not cut out for the idol business. Maybe she could pull off doing variety or something, but the singing and dancing thing is just not going well for her.

Sorry Aika.

2. Tanaka Reina

When: the year after next, 2013

Why: She used to be better

Reina… Ahh, it makes me sad. I remember back when she joined. I was impressed with her from the start,  loved her yankee personality, I loved her look, and I loved her vocals with her lead part in Shabondama. I became further impressed with her voice with her lines in Otome-gumi, especially Ai no Sono. I still am impressed, with old Reina. It’s new Reina that I’m not so big on.

When I look at these pictures I get all nostalgic for old Reina again.

Reina started off STRONG – Strong vocals, good looks, and a spunky personality and style that set her apart from the rest of the group.

Ohmygod this photo. *_*

But look at her now – that ain’t the same Reina. Doused in glitter, winking up a storm, and what happened to her personality?

She was freakin’ gorgeous, cool, and stylish, and her voice gave me the chills.

Seriously stunning!

But now…

WTF happened to the girl in the last 3 pictures??

Glitter? Check. Winking? Check.

Gigantic bow? Also check.

Yes, I fully realize that most idols are probably quite a bit fake. But what appealed to me about Reina at the beginning was that she seemed to set herself apart from that. She really had a spark about her back then.

What happened? Probably just the industry taking its toll. I’m being critical of her here, but I’m sure it is incredibly hard to put yourself on display and be scrutinized by people all over the world,  to have a huge part of your life broadcast. I think the new Reina is part a defense, something “perfect” to project, and part pride. She comes off as stuck up now, but I think it’s from being in the spotlight all the time, and from having succeeded.

As for her voice, well, I still think it was better before all the spunk was trained out of it, but it’s still good, most of the time. But I think she should be the next to go in the group. I actually wish she’d left before now, so that I could always think back to her as Tanaka Reina, that badass chick with the killer voice, instead of… Winky.

Probably how Reina feels about this post.

3. Niigaki Risa

When: 1-2 years from now, 2013 or 2014

Why: Tenure

Risa… She is one of the Morning Musume success stories for me. She’s come very far, from awkward kid in sad pigtails…

Some of the worst styling in HP.

… To gorgeous, confident leader of Morning Musume.

Holy stylish. It's like her and Reina moved in opposite directions.

Her vocals have gone from awful in her audtion, to some of the very strongest in the entire group. And her unique, deep voice adds a lot to the group.

I don’t want Risa to go right away. I think she should get some time in as leader. She’s worked hard and deserves a bit of the spotlight now. Unlike some other members in the past, when she joined, she took a few years to really get good and get some attention paid to her. Now I think she really deserves it, even though I do feel like I’ve seen less of her personality since becoming leader. Probably trying to set a good example, and be a little more grown up.

But, due to her tenure I do think she has to go, within a few years.  Here’s my stipulation though: I don’t want her to go, until Kanon has improved vocally. Judging from what I’ve heard in recent lives, her voice has the potential to become very much like Risa’s – lower, and possibly powerful. It’s not there yet, not at all, but she’s grown a lot vocally in the past few months and I can see it happening within a year or two. Between Kanon and Haruka, I think the lower register of Morning Musume will be all set, and then I won’t mind to see Risa graduate.

So those are my hopes and predictions… Wait, where’s Sayu? Well, about her… I actually would like to see her as leader. If you had asked me a few years ago about when I thought she should graduate, I would have told you it should have been the day after she was added, she was that terrible. And she was a horrid vocalist for YEARS. But a few years ago she somehow learned to inflect her voice and sound semi-tolerable, and less like a cat throwing up. Also, I think her personality, love it or hate it, is beneficial to the group. She stands out and is recognizable, which Morning Musume absolutely needs right now. So, I think she’s safe for a while.

As for additions, well, I’m going to let the new members show their stuff before I even think about that.


One thought on “Speculation: The next 3 to graduate from Morning Musume

  1. You know what?

    I agree with everything you said, and believe it or not, I am an Aika fangirl – I think the girl is adorable, however I do think that it is her time to go. Unlike most of the other members of Morning Musume (excluding 9th Gen and 10th Gen – they have a while yet), she hasn’t come up to the plate and shown herself to her full potential. Currently, the only title most can hold her to is ‘Boobs of Musume’, because that’s all she is right now.

    I think the girl is wonderful, and I adore her, but she’s not done much as of late other than remain in the background. Even with JunJun and LinLin, she’s faded to the background and stayed there happily. I think that UFA have given her enough chances to shine, but she just hasn’t!

    And Gaki can stay forever, as far as I’m concerned – though I would like to see her married and having kids at some point like Tsuji xD

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