I’m surprised at the timing, but not at the news.
Niigaki Risa, a staple of Morning Musume for years, current leader, and longest serving member, announced her graduation at the winter concert today. The news is something that many expected, due to her tenure. And yet, the timing of it was, for me, unexpected, because Morning Musume has only just lost Ai-chan and gained the new members. They haven’t even released any material officially since the last big change. I thought for sure that this announcement would come at the end of 2012, and not the beginning, but…
Niigaki Risa said she decided her graduation for herself, and even talked of how she might have wanted to leave with Ai-chan. I think her staying longer, to help train the new idols, was a good decision, but I would have preferred a little more time. Her voice was a unique one in the group, she became an excellent singer, and her deeper range stands out from the rest. Vocals-wise, I hope to see Suzuki Kanon grow enough as a singer to take over her singing role in the group. The other member that has a promising lower range is 10th generation member Kudou Haruka, whose husky voice could do well in her parts.
I am a bit sad to see Gaki going, mostly because in the past few years, the girls that leave haven’t gone on to do much else. Back in the day, when someone graduated, you thought they might get their own new group (like W or Biyuuden), or become a soloist (like Goto Maki), but there aren’t such pretenses anymore. The girls that leave, leave, and it’s more surprising to hear of stuff they do than to not hear about them much anymore.
Risa has said that she wants to do more acting and singing, both of these are things she excels in, and I do wish her the best luck in her career. I think she has a lot of talent and a good personality for TV, so I hope this is not the last we hear from her. She has been a great asset to Morning Musume and Hello! Project, and I will miss her presence very much!
I didn’t think I’d be too sad, since this is something I saw coming, but, I can’t help it. It was the chicken outfits, wasn’t it, Gaki? I understand. Run while you still can. ;_;