Earlier today, I received the following question in response to my previous post.
In regards to the dating comment, maybe I’m misunderstanding, but it seemed to me more or less like Tsunku didn’t personally care whether or not the girls dated… […] I wonder if Tsunku agrees with the no dating rule for idols? Has he ever said so?
The short answer is: no, I don’t remember Tsunku♂ ever specifically stating anywhere whether he is or is not a fan of the no-dating rule. (I could very well be wrong on this subject, however. If so, please do let me know in the comments.)
But here’s a longer, more speculative answer.
First, here’s Asai Ryo talking on the subject in a 2016 interview. Asai, if you don’t remember, is the writer of the source novel for Juice=Juice’s TV drama “Budokan.” He is also a fan of Hello! Project.
There are people who get so angry whenever idols do something human-like. It just strikes me as so strange. Why would you get angry if you find out they have a boyfriend? How is it even possible for you to get so angry when they’re found out to be using some nice designer bag? I wish those people could come to realize that idols are only human.
Today, it’s the person on the consuming end who gets to be more and more selfish towards idols. “Be cute, be young, but don’t you dare be in love.” “Sing, dance, practice like hell, but even if you do get tired, don’t go and eat so much you’ll gain weight.” These people are making humanly impossible demands. But what they’re saying is: “Sure, it might be impossible for a human. But you’re an idol, right? So do it.“
There’s this line in Morning Musume’s “Give me Ai” that goes: “konna fuu ni hito wo suki ni naru no nante motto saki da tte omotteta” (“I didn’t think I would fall in love like this so soon“). The fact that she’s saying she didn’t think it would be “so soon” means she thought she would one day graduate from being an idol, and that’s when she would get to experience love. Right? To me, it feels like with that line Tsunku♂ is trying to send a message to these idol girls: “You’re not weird even if you have feelings of sexual desire. You’re not weird even if you fall in love.“
But what does Tsunku♂ himself say? Well, I think the interview excerpt below might be as close as he’s gotten to outright saying he doesn’t like it. That’s how I interpret it anyway — perhaps your interpretation will be different. In any case, this is Tsunku♂ from an early 2014 magazine article.
The members of Berryz Koubou and °C-ute, for example, have already been in this line of work for 12 years. These 12 girls gave away everything that normal teenagers might otherwise experience. Honestly, if I was to ask myself if I could do the same? I wouldn’t have the confidence to be able to answer “yes.”
Christmas, Valentine’s, New Year’s… All these sources of joy that normal girls get to experience. I would simply feel empty if they had had it all taken away for nothing. It could end up with them thinking, “ah, I wish I would have just chosen love instead…“
Speaking as their producer: I do not want their youths to have been all for nothing.
Assuming you’re interested in my opinion, I have to be careful when answering the question so as to not let bias or wishful thinking get in the way of what’s true — after all, I believe my own views on the matter are quite clear. I already know some of you share similar views as me; a lot of you don’t. But we don’t have to turn this into yet another discussion of what you and me think about this rule.
The question today is: what does Tsunku♂ himself think about the no-dating rule?
In short: I most certainly do not believe Tsunku♂ to be a proponent of the no-dating rule. Like I said, while I don’t remember ever hearing him specifically say so, I base this answer on the general impression I have of the man and my understanding of his worldview after translating a couple of books on or by him, reading many of his interviews, and I suppose most of all, listening to his music.
You might accurately call it a gut feeling.
At the end of the day, I think a fair way of summarizing this is pointing to something Tsunku♂ said in 2012 when he elegantly stated that he personally views Hello! Project as being “a production; not a product.” And what, if anything, is the idol scene’s no-dating rule if not the mark of a product?