Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Thoughts on Graduations

As per usual, everything in this post is purely my opinion. I'm sorry if at any point I offend you, and if you don't want to read it, don't. I'm not making you read anything, so please keep this in mind if you choose to read on.

Today, my friend Chiima asked me to try and translate Chiba's (second) graduation announcement (I apologize in advance for any mistakes made in translation). This coming so soon after Otsuka Aina's withdrawal from Juice=Juice, and Sea*A's announcement that they will disband, not to mention the seemingly last graduation from H!P for a while after their 2-3 year flood of them, it's kind of disheartening, even if I don't really know HouPri well enough to be concerned (HouPri went from 7 members to like 20 and I didn't even realize...).

If you recall, or know, I did a review on Sea*A's singles quite a while back. Recently, I realized I hadn't re-uploaded their songs since I got my new computer, so since then I've been listening to them (particularly DREAM SHOOTER and DELI-DELI*DELICIOUS) quite a bit. It was only a day or two after I got the songs back on my ipod did Chiima inform me of the announcement that they were disbanding. I'll admit, I wasn't too fond of Entry, and didn't pay much attention to them since it's release, but as a proud owner of their other three singles, and their mini-album, I was very shocked and quite sad. You don't see many Japanese units that form out of Japan. But for some reason, I wasn't heartbroken about it. Having listened to their old songs so much in those couple days before hearing this, I realized that, as amazing as these girls are, I was completely satisfied listening to their old stuff forever. Sure, it would be great if they could release more in the future, but it it's not like if an H!P unit suddenly announced it was disbanding. The difference between H!P units and Sea*A too me is primarily that I feel like it would take listening to Sea*A's songs on repeat a week straight before I got sick of them, but H!P has very few songs that I still love since I first heard them. I'll miss these girls, but they've left me with some unforgettable, amazing songs, and I greatly appreciate it.

Otsuka Aina, also if you recall, was on my list of H!P girls I hoped would get to be in a unit this year. So it may be obvious, but upon Juice=Juice's formation, she was my favorite of the 6. However, her voice stood out from the rest in an unpleasant way, to me, considering she's a lead. With Karin's gentle and cute but still mature voice, Sayuki's strong voice, and Tomoko's deep, accented voice, she sounded like a humming bird among lions and tigers. Perhaps it wouldn't have sounded so out of place if Akari and Yuka got more lines, since they have pretty cute voices too, but they didn't, so that's that. But my point is, since the group formed, my love for each individual member grew, yes, it's just that some grew more than others and Aina dropped to my 4th favorite. So, she wasn't my oshi anymore. That softened the blow. But when I woke up to facebook posts about her leaving, at first I didn't really know what to think. I thought it might be a joke or a rumor, I mean, their debut was just announced, it seemed so unreal. But looking into it more, I learned that it wasn't a joke, it was serious. I wasn't really sure how to react... I was sad, and frustrated, but I understood that her parents are responsible for her and there's nothing I could do. I was ready to just accept it and move on, but SOMEONE -stares intently at a certain blogger who's already been named- repeatedly posted about it on facebook and it started to depress me. 

It's not that I have any particular love for Aina compared to the others, it's that the group IS Aina just as much as it is Yuka, Tomoko, Sayuki, Karin, and Akari. I really can't imagine how Juice=Juice will look without Aina. However, this situation is very similar to the one in which Murakami Megumi graduated from C-ute. Megumi, like Aina, was one of the main leads of her group for the Indies singles, and C-ute was even worse about line distribution at the time then Juice=Juice was. But now, 7 (I believe?) years later, C-ute is not only still standing strong, but also getting amazing venues (Budokan and Paris, anyone?), amazing songs, amazing goods, and lots of love. If C-ute can do it, I think Juice=Juice will manage too. I mean, the Juice=Juice members are much older and (mostly) more experienced then C-ute was back then, so yes, I'm expecting them to pull through it.

Now it's Chiba Sakino from Houkago Princess. As I mentioned before, I'm not too familiar with this group. Chiima's asked me to translate stuff for them before, and always links me to their songs, but I just can't bring myself to love them like she does. So there's not much for me to say on a personal level. However, when translating her second graduation announcement, even I felt like I was going to cry. She really sounded unsure of herself, like even upon writing the blog post she was still conflicted. It really gave me the impression that she still didn't know what to do, but she had come to a fork in the road, and just standing in the middle wouldn't allow her to advance in either direction. I do, though, fully support her decision. Sakino wants to pursue her dream in fashion, and that's a very respectable dream. I really hope that her fans will continue to support her as she moves into her new line of work.


So for a little bit, I want to mention a few points about graduations in general. 

Firstly, just because someone graduates, doesn't mean they cease to exist. I don't know about other agencies, but most of the time in H!P, members who graduate will still pursue careers as talents. Reina's still in Lavendor, Gaki's done lots of stage plays, Mano also expressed that she'd like to pursue acting, etc. As fans, instead of wallowing in pity when they graduate, spend that time following them. Find what they're up to even after they graduate, and continue to support them, even if they just want to continue their education. In cases such as Aina, who most likely won't return to the idol world, it's best to support her parents' decision and trust that they've made it for Aina's sake. Also, continue to support Juice=Juice, I'm sure it's what she would have wanted. 

The second thing I'd like to mention, is that it's bound to happen eventually. Especially in H!P, where members have changed around a lot, and they get younger every year, it's only a matter of time before the older members leave and give other young girls a chance to possibly get in and become idols themselves. A lot of people may argue that 23-26 isn't old, but, one, in the idol world it kind of is, and two, like I mentioned above, just because they graduate from H!P, doesn't mean they're done with singing, dancing, acting, etc. If they stay too long, it might be more difficult to pursue other lines of work within the idol world (I don't know, I'm not in that world, but with how young most people are, that's what I would assume anyway). 

Thirdly, sometimes, members join who, from the beginning, don't plan on being a member very long. AKA they use it as a stepping stone. Get fans through the group, and then move on to what they want to do with a head start thanks to the support of their fans. The prime example I'd like to use is Kusumi Koharu, since she's admitted to it. She said in an interview or a show or something (I don't remember what it was, but there was a lot of drama about it) that she used Morning Musume as a stepping stone to become a model. It seems a lot of fans were mad at this? A lot of the people I have on facebook were anyway, but I think it's a pretty smart thing to do. Maybe some people think it's "wrong" to take the spot from someone who "really wants it," but that's how the world works from how I see it. The best way to get a job is networking. That's somewhat of an extreme example of doing so. Another possible example of this is Umeda Erika. Although she never admitted this was her goal, it worked out in the end that her time in C-ute was to her benefit.

Lastly, It keeps things fun! Yeah, it's hard to say goodbye, especially to your favorite members, but really, how many people reading this would be a fan of Morning Musume if it was still Yuka, Kaori, Natsumi, Aya, and Asuka? Chances are if members didn't graduate, they probably wouldn't hold auditions for new ones either. If these 5, with Yuko in her 40s now, were the only people who had ever been in Morning Musume, chances are a lot of people would see the group as outdated or just plain old. I mean, look at Berryz. I mean no offense by it, Berryz is one of my favorite groups ever, but even I'll admit that they're stuff recently has gotten boring. Some people probably think and say it's not them, it's the songs they're getting and such, but in my opinion, it IS them. They're nothing wrong with them, it's just that they've been the same for so long, it feels like everything they release is just basically the same stuff over and over again. This doesn't mean that I want anyone in Berryz to graduate, I'm just saying that when a group stays the same for too long, the stuff they do might tend to get repetitive or boring.


Change is a part of life, and trust me, I'm the LAST person to be happy with that fact. But it's something we do have to live with, so we're faced with a choice. We can either wallow around always sad about losing what we love, or we can look forward to what benefits these changes might bring. In Morning Musume's case, you can get depressed over you're favorite member graduated, or you can look forward to the new girls that come in. But the one thing I want to ask of every fan out there: never stop supporting both your favorite members and the groups they were in! You have no idea how much it hurts me when I saw people say things like "I don't even want to support Juice=Juice anymore, it's pointless without Aina" and people DID say this! That's not what Aina OR Juice=Juice would have wanted. Nor is it was Aichan or Gakisan or Reinyan would have wanted with Morning Musume. All of these girls worked very hard to help their groups succeed, and I'm sure any of them would hate if a fan bailed out on the whole group just because they left.

I hope people will keep what I've said in mind in the future, and continue to support both current and past members of the groups they like from here on.

Have a nice day and I hope you don't let all these goodbyes ruin your month.

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