If you’re reading this, you probably have already heard the news.
Ogawa Saki will be graduating from Hello! Project. That’s right, former Hello! Project Egg, S/mileage member, Oha-Star girl is all of a sudden going to graduate. Her last event will be on the 27th. This news comes hot on the trail of S/mileage’s auditions resulting in 5 new sub-members.
But that news is for another day.
I’ll admit that I have little interest in S/mileage. In my Hello! Project hierarchy Manoeri is at the very end followed closely by Berryz Koubou. S/mileage is a bit above Berryz as I do like some of S/mileage’s songs. But I have very little vested interest in S/mileage.
An exchange of tweets yesterday in regards to Ogawa Saki’s graduation led to my burning desire to write this blog post. The opinions I express here need not be the same way you should feel as many people may have a different outlook to it. But it is something that I wanted to get off of my chest.
First the facts, Ogawa Saki as far as I have heard has had no suspicious activity. Yet she is graduating within the week of her announcement. According to the official statement, she made the sweeping movement to secure her spot out back in May. The auditions were then “hastily” set underway in June.
It could be a big cover up in which she is getting kicked out immediately for some suspicious activity or it could be the truth that she wants to return to the life of a normal school girl. Whatever the case, she is leaving. This is arguably the fastest non-scandal related leave that I can recall.
Now you can be apathetic or devastated. Or you could be anything in between in light of this development. Once again, my disclaimer is that I am not greatly vested in S/mileage. Am I a fan? I suppose that depends on the terms and conditions that one abides by. I like their stuff, so I consider myself a casual fan at best. My interest for them is nowhere near the level of vested interest I have for Morning Musume.
This disclaimer is important. For the longest time I was greatly aware of Maeda Yuuka but I didn’t even know Wada Ayaka’s name. Ogawa Saki stuck out for me as I knew her elsewhere. She was on Oha Star along with Kusumi Koharu for some time. In fact, if I had to designate a favorite in S/mileage, it would be Ogawa Saki. But I don’t claim to know much about her. I am at best a passing by fan.
And for a passing fan, this news is disturbing to me. Today, it feels like you’re rooting the underdogs who will never win if you align yourself with any act that is not AKB or Korean. S/mileage is new, relatively speaking, and many see S/mileage as the light at the end of the tunnel for Hello! Project. For one of the girls to leave this group is big.
Consider that these four girls have been together for two years (nearly seven if you count how long they have actually known each other). That’s a very long time for girls to develop their chemistry as friends, rivals, co-members. I fear that this graduation could lower the girls’ morale. Even worse, it could affect the new sub-members who already have the impending doom of not being able to make the cut as a regular member.
Now today I tweeted my sadness in regards to Ogawa Saki’s graduation and in return I saw some tweets that I felt were rather controversial. At first, this tweeter conjectured that Ogawa Saki was the least popular member so it was no big deal. This tweeter then followed up with their opinion that it wasn’t a big deal since it is common for idol groups to lose members and that S/mileage’s stable line-up wasn’t really a big deal.
Here we have numerous fans sad to hear that their favorite girl is leaving. We have other fans so disapproving that they may consider giving up on the group. Then we have fans and other people who may not be fans who consider this no big deal. I’ve already stated why this is a big deal. But in reading this one tweeter’s tweets I thought of something else.
In the long run, idol groups lose members all the time. In the long run idol groups lose relevance, break up, disappear, etc. All of these things happen in the long run. But as fans how interested are we in the long run? If we know the inevitable fate of our favorite idol (whichever fate you please to select) what pleasure is there in following them?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I think as idol fans we are much invested in the short run. We cheer on our idols as they attempt to chart Oricon. We work hard everyday to inch ever closer to that stage where we watch them perform for what may seem to be an eternity. We congratulate them in the fleeting moment that is a handshake event.
To view Ogawa Saki’s leave as inevitable and not a big deal is to discount her achievements and time as an idol. Perhaps in the bigger picture it is true that we’ll all forget about it and think about it in passing months from now, maybe years from now if S/mileage remains. It is inevitable.
But just like the picture that embodies S/mileage’s efforts to debut, we can look at two pictures. We can look at the big picture and see where S/mileage is going. Or we can look at the small pictures and see the thousands of smiles they’ve touched and remember our joy when we made them one step closer to their dreams.
What I want to say is, take this to heart. Even if you aren’t a fan, this is not an everyday thing. It’s just like being told that you are joining three other girls to form a group after years of training. It’s like being told that you’re given the chance to make a debut. It’s like collecting the smiles of 10,000 people and putting them together to embody your hopes and dreams. It’s not an everyday thing. It’s an age of smiles.
~Siggy, who takes this to heart~