July 13, 1989 — Yamaguchi
2003/01/19 ~ 2014/11/26
— As the 8th leader you were a central figure in the group breaking through once more, and that has resulted in the name “Michishige Sayumi” becoming almost deified.
Michishige: I was genuinely happy to have been told things like that. It felt like my 10+ years of hard work had finally been recognized. I’m no god though — I even got a leg cramp during a very important part of my graduation concert. But I think even in that moment, the fans all knew: this is the real Michishige Sayumi. Like, “I guess Michishige Sayumi will remain Michishige Sayumi until the very end.” (laughs)
— From the very beginning, you had difficulty with singing and dancing. Rather than standing out in performances, you got your big break through variety TV. Later, your image as the group’s leader became properly established, and then that graduation concert happened…
Michishige: I consider myself a perfectionist, and yet, there is always something lacking about me. That was the case for those entire 12 years. Even with the leg thing, it wasn’t just that one instance — I’d be getting cramps all the time and thus causing trouble for others. I’m bad at singing, bad at dancing, I’m a deeply jealous person, and I do not have a good personality. (laughs) In those 12 years, not once was there a time when I was truly perfect. So I feel that, in a way, maybe that graduation was actually very fitting for me.
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2: 名無し募集中。。。 2019/03/02(土) 21:55:15.53 0
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The composure of a champion.
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I like the honesty.
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As punishment, she should be forced to do a solo next year.
July 7, 1997 — Fukuoka
Ikuta: I wrote a message in my kindergarten graduation album that said, “I want to join Morning Musume together with my friend.” Morning Musume was very popular at the time of course, as was Minimoni. I especially loved Yaguchi Mari.
— Minimoni did indeed have the support of many kindergarteners and elementary schoolers at the time.
Ikuta: What I liked about Yaguchi was how happy and bright she was, but it was also her eye-catching looks — she was like a cartoon character in how easy it was to spot her. I had a huge collection of Minimoni merchandise. One of the more rare things I had was this Minimoni PC software… It was like this, “let’s get good on the keyboard together with Minimoni!,” type thing. Minimoni was pretty much guiding my whole life back then.
Looking Up to Morning Musume
Ikuta: To me, Morning Musume were always big stars — someone I looked up to. There were lots of kids around me who also liked them, and there was this one friend especially with whom I made a promise that we’d join Morning Musume together. We both loved them to the point where she would wear like boy’s clothes and I would wear a dress and we’d dance to “Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~.“
It’s not that there was one specific thing that made me like Morning Musume — it was more like, before even noticing it, Morning Musume was already there in my life… and I was a fan.
August 10, 1981 — Hokkaido
1997/09/14 ~ 2004/01/25
Abe: In the beginning, it was a source of pressure for me being in the center and being the face of Morning Musume. But at some point down the line, I came to think of it as my destiny. I started to think, “this is the reason for my existence,” and once I did, I became able to overcome anything and everything, no matter how bad it felt like I couldn’t stand it anymore.
— Ever since the group’s formation, you were “Nacchi” — the center, ace, main vocalist, and face of Morning Musume.
Abe: Even as far back as elementary school, I always had difficulty doing the same things as everyone else. I’d always want to do something no one else was doing. So when I became a member of Morning Musume, it was this feeling of… “Me? In a group? Being an idol?“
— The same group that first began right there is now 20 years old.
Abe: It feels like a huge miracle. I think of it as fate. The bonds between us five original members are to the point where I think we must have been close even in our past lives. I mean, we ended up together despite all our age differences and different places of birth. Moreover, we were the ones who failed the audition; the ones who weren’t chosen. The group was formed through pure happenstance and lucky timing. It really is just a miracle.
February 15, 1999 — Osaka
2014/09/30 ~ 2018/06/20
Ogata: 20 years of history — I really do think that’s incredible. It’s because my parents’ generation knows about Morning Musume’s history and their achievements that they gave me permission to go to Tokyo and take part in their auditions. The group’s history is what allowed me to even take on that challenge in the first place.
— So your parents were forced to say, “well, if it’s Morning Musume…” Did it make you think about the greatness of your seniors?
Ogata: They used to be only these people on the TV screen for me… like, just these “amazing people.” So then when I first met them in real life, it had such a big impact on me that I couldn’t even talk. They’re all so kind. It felt different from meeting Sayashi Riho, who is someone I also admired. The original members especially, it really felt like I was meeting these hugely influential superstars. It made me want to brag to everyone I knew about having met them.
— You also got to collaborate with them, didn’t you?
Ogata: That made me feel like I was only a fan again. Honestly, when I look at the CD covers, it doesn’t even make sense to me that I’m pictured there with them. Half of me feels glad about it, while half of me is just confused.
February 19, 2000 — Tochigi
Morito: It feels like I just made it in time for the 20th anniversary. I was already a member of another Hello! Project group, so I could’ve never imagined any of this happening…
The First Ever “Concurrent Member”
— One thing that’s interesting about you is how the way you came to join Morning Musume is different from all the other members. In fact, you’re a first in the group’s entire 20-year history.
Morito: Yes. I was a member of Country Girls first, and I joined Morning Musume while being a concurrent member of my first group. I had initially applied for the 12th generation auditions because of my admiration for Sayashi Riho, so I was very happy about getting to do this.
— Being a concurrent member, I would think you have a different perspective about many things compared to the other members…
Morito: After I failed the 12th generation auditions and joined Country Girls, I think after that point I only saw Morning Musume as our senior group.
— Did it feel wrong for you to be a member of a different group even though you had so hoped to join Morning Musume?
Morito: For the first month or so, I did feel sad about how I had failed the audition. But when the rehearsals for Hello! Con started, that sadness changed to me feeling so glad about how I was now in Hello! Project. Simply just being able to hold a mic in my hands and sing and dance was so much fun. I think it was in that moment when I gave up on my dream of getting into Morning Musume.
Part Twelve: “The Pinnacle of Desire: Unashamed Love”
Writers Yuzuki Asako and Asai Ryo
profile the lyrics of Hello! Project songs!
Song #1: Morning Musume ’17 – “Jealousy Jealousy”
Asai: Stuff happened and we took a break from the last issue our column was supposed to be featured on. People taking breaks — it just happens to be all the rage in H!P right now, too!
Yuzuki: And lots of stuff happened within H!P itself during our break.
Asai: I wish I could genuinely congratulate myself for the restart of our column… but truth be told, I’m actually a bit worried as to whether or not we’ll be able to go on…
Yuzuki: Back when Sayashi quit, and then later when Zukki quit, we were similarly saying “we don’t know if we can do this anymore…” But then they’d come out with something like “Watashi no Nanni mo Wakacchanai” or “Utakata Saturday Night!” and that’d get us back on our feet, but…
Asai: There’s lots of things going on within H!P right now, and while we of course hope that it all works out well for them, it kind of feels at times like we’re being seriously tested… tested to see whether we can remain as excited about H!P as before. And ultimately, the biggest change — even though it’s not something that’s only just started recently — is the decrease in the number of Tsunku♂ songs. It’s only obvious that the organization would keep introducing more and more creators, and sure, something like Tsuno’s “Utakata Saturday Night!” was great. But still…
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Retweeted by Fukuda Maro:
“I seriously want each and every otaku who lectures idols to read this like a thousand times… 😢”
— くま林 (@kumakumarinko01) 2019/1/20
Don’t Lecture Idols
Mofuku-chan: Don’t lecture them. “I liked that one thing you did yesterday, but that other thing wasn’t so good.” There’s seriously nothing good about saying stuff like that to idols!
Yoshida Go: If it’s not positive in nature, then just don’t say it.
Mofuku-chan: When you praise them for the things they did right, that’s what’s going to allow them to grow. As a producer, I’m the person who will do all that scolding for you. So please do not lecture them.
Yoshida: It’s such a commonplace thing, too. I mean, the wota who think, “I’m the only person who dares to scold her for the things she did wrong.“
Mofuku-chan: “The condition of your voice wasn’t too great yesterday.” That kind of stuff. They say it with this self-satisfied look on their faces. Seriously, just stop it! The idols will absolutely hate you if you say stuff like that. And that’s a promise. If they did something wrong, then guess what: they already know!
Yoshida: Or stuff like, “hey, the condition of your skin is kind of bad today, isn’t it?” (laughs)
Mofuku-chan: They already know that!
Yoshida: “Having a bad hair day?” or whatever. Just don’t say it.
Mofuku-chan: It’s the role of people like me to tell them that. So, again, you the fans shouldn’t be saying that stuff to them. It hurts them so much. You wouldn’t believe how deeply it can hurt a girl who’s going through puberty when you tell them stuff like that. It’s as if you were breaking a huge glass into a million pieces. Please handle them with absolute care. Because they’re flowers. Treat them as princesses. Tell them how beautiful they are… how cute they are… how lovely they are. Always give them those kind words so that one day they will bloom. Just… take it easy. Do not lecture them.
Yoshida: Our only job as fans is to give them that support; to love them.
Mofuku-chan: I really do think so. All those harsh comments and all the stuff that’s kind of difficult to phrase well, let me be the one to tell them all of that in your stead. Backstage. Leave it all to me. I’m sure even the stuff that I tell them hurts them. It must make them have all kinds of thoughts. But I’m going to try to tell them the best I can. So please: you just do the praising.
Yoshida: Well said. (laughs)
Mofuku-chan: There’s stuff that’s difficult even for me to say to them. I can’t always just praise them every time. But you can — at handshake events or whatever. That’s really what I hope the fans would all do.