Never Forget

13 08 2010

“Retcon”, it’s a word in my list of favorite words to use for no real reason. Though, when I say no real reason, I am usually (there are rare instances) using the word correctly. Actually I have a lot of words that I love using when there are simpler words that could’ve done the trick. But I digress.

Retroactive Continuity. The word, “retcon” is a portmanteau of retroactive continuity which simply means to alter established facts on purpose. Usually it is to clean up existing continuity or to correct for happenings that would cause a review of previous established continuity. Retconning as far as I know only applies to fictional works. I suppose for non-fiction works retconning would just be erasing or altering history. But retconning sounds SO much cooler than erasing history. Maybe we can make a new word … erastory, altestory? Nah, that doesn’t have a good ring to it.

So if you’ve gotten this far I will now proceed to the meat of the day. What I want to talk about today is: retconning in Hello! Project. You see the other day when the horses started neighing, thunder was striking all over the place, goldfishes around the world were swimming in figure eights, and pandas started walking into bars and shooting patrons and abruptly leaving before they paid their bills… So the other day, I was looking at this picture. And that’s when I decided I wanted to talk about retconning in Hello! Project.

モーニング娘。9期メンバーオーディション

This picture came to us just the other day when all of the above happened. Or for more realistic people, when Tsunku-san announced the upcoming audition as well as the pending graduations of Kamei Eri, JunJun, and LinLin. At first, I thought this was a photoshop someone did for being optimistic about the news. Apparently it isn’t and can be found on the official site (full of Japanese writing and all). It struck me as odd that the message on the graphic was written in English rather than in Japanese. In English grammar this would’ve implied one member would be chosen. But in Japanese grammar this could be ambiguously plural, so I have no beef with that. It also struck me as odd that the “9TH” is in the background rather than the foreground. If anything this is probably a sign to any auditionees that they will be dropped to the background when they get into Morning Musume. Let’s hope that’s not the case. I know these are excessively obscure details that have no basis whatsoever. I’m just overanalyzing. But it’s what I do!

Notice anything funny?

What really strikes me as interesting is the girls on the poster. Take a moment to account for all the girls shown. I have provided the picture once more for your convenience. I’ll list them below in order of generation.

1st Generation:   Iida Kaori, Abe Natsumi, Yuko Nakazawa
2nd Generation:  Yasuda Kei, Yaguchi Mari
4th Generation:   Yoshizawa Hitomi, Ishikawa Rika, Tsuji Nozomi
5th Generation:   Konno Asami, Ogawa Makoto, Niigaki Risa, Takahashi Ai
6th Generation:   Kamei Eri, Michishige Sayumi, Tanaka Reina, Fujimoto Miki
7th Generation:   Kusumi Koharu
8th Generation:   Mitsui Aika, JunJun*, LinLin*

* If we are to include JunJun and LinLin as 8th generation members. I’ve always liked to think of them as 8.5 generation. Nonetheless, they would get their own category if you don’t want them to be grouped with the 8th generation.*

Take a close look at those numbers. The first thing that should have occurred to you is that as we went from one to eight, we somehow skipped the number three along the way. Odd, considering how important the 3rd generation was to Morning Musume. It was the first generation where they added only one member and it was arguably the first step into the Golden Era of Morning Musume. So why is Goto Maki, the sole member of the 3rd generation, not on this poster?

Well Goto Maki is no longer with Hello! Project, despite her humble beginnings. Nor is she with Up-Front Agency. In fact, somewhat ironically she’s with Avex Trax today (if you don’t get why it’s ironic look up Koda Kumi’s history). Perhaps being in another agency really bars her image from being used. But as a part of history it sure would’ve been important to put Gottsuan’s image there. Her success story would have been very appealing to would be Musumes out there.

Next, many fans may notice another very popular member missing from this poster, Kago Ai. I noticed it right away. However, being fired from the agency doesn’t particularly help so I can admittedly understand that she has effectively been erased out of Morning Musume’s history. Though at that Fujimoto and Yaguchi are both acknowledged despite their troubles and abrupt resignations devoid of the traditional graduation. But alas, they were never fired like Kago was. And even now they live free lives in the entertainment and modeling world. Tsuji and Iida are another case as I suppose there is lenience to the fact that they were simply sitting around doing next to nothing. Not quite nothing, that was Ayaka’s job back then. But notice the troublemakers are all there, just not the real troublemaker.

The original 1st generation of Morning Musume consisted of five girls, two of which are not on the poster. Remember Ishiguro Aya and Fukuda Asuka? Many recent fans may not especially if they are not particularly keen on the early years of Morning Musume. By any chance might you remember Sayaka Ichii who joined alongside the 2nd generation? Nope. These three girls have long since left Morning Musume. Their fate, to be remembered by fans of their time or simply be learned by fans of our time.

So you may probably see what I am getting at here. Being that Fukuda was the first girl to leave she is a long forgotten member that is seldom appreciated due to the lack of time that she served in Morning Musume. Ishiguro and Sayaka got to experience the beginnings of Morning Musume’s Golden Era. But did these three make any lasting legacies? Well they were part of it. Goto Maki as well rode the wave of popularity being the center right next to the face of Morning Musume, Nacchi. Also, it can’t be denied that Kago was an amazing core component of the 4th generation. But her past actions cannot be denied either.

Speaking of actions, many agree that the 4th generation’s entrance was the mark of a significant change in Morning Musume. No doubt, Goto Maki was 13 years old when she joined but she certainly didn’t exude the image of 13. But when we got Kago and Tsuji you could no longer deny it. And how could you think of Tsuji and not think of Kago? They were practically one person. It was supposed to be just Kago but Tsunku pulled a fast one and dropped Tsuji in too. And remember how Konno was called an absolute failure and yet she was dropped into the group as well? Remember how Tsunku failed to find someone in his first round of 7th generation auditions? These were defining moments in the previous auditions of Morning Musume.

Here’s an interesting quirk. If you look at the picture closely you might notice many of the girls are displayed with their stock art from their debut or at least close to it. Not quite all though. Yoshizawa, Ishikawa, and Tsuji are clearly way past their debut phase. You can tell by their hairstyles. Gaki-san and Takahashi are shown in their Mr. Moonlight costumes, their debut. But Konno and Ogawa aren’t. What’s up with that? Possibly a way of lightly differentiating the two members that are still very much a part of the current Morning Musume. The entire 6th generation are in their Shabondama outfits but Fujimoto has since left the group. Koharu is very reminiscent of her early debut phase and Aika’s photo is taken directly from Egao YES! Nude. Last but not least, both JunJun and LinLin are shown in their Onna ni Sachi Are costumes from the cover. Even the 1st and 2nd generation girls are shown in their very early looks. A lot of people might not even be familiar with Yaguchi as she has since rather dramatically changed. Guess I can throw that theory of consistency out.

Would this mean that Up-Front Agency wants to specifically highlight the 4th and 5th generation to prospective auditionees? After all the 4th and 5th generation were at the peak of Morning Musume’s popularity. There seems to be something special about using different art for the already graduated girls of those generations. Either that or the art they had happened to have on hand were a bad match for making the poster. I like to believe there’s a conspiracy and not simple laziness.

Anyone missing? Nope, all present.

Historians have a duty to recall history factually with no bias. They have to look at things and leave everything intact provided that it was documented. Wikipedia will tell you that all of these girls existed and the things they did. Hello! Project’s official site doesn’t as far as I know. They acknowledge the OG Morning Musume and the incumbent Morning Musume members. But for us fans, we know they existed. That is not to say that newer fans will know absolutely. I remember when I started in 2005 I wasn’t very fond of the late 90s sound and look that they had. As a result I knew barely anything about the first three missing girls (Fukuda, Ishiguro and Sayaka). Though I appreciate them now as I feel as a fan I should acknowledge the elders so to speak.

The history of Morning Musume is that they were once five and today they are eight. Soon they’ll be five again. And soon after that they will be a number larger than five. History tells us all the defining points, all the stories of each of the 25 girls who have been a part of this group. And with a group like Morning Musume, history is of utmost importance. It isn’t a matter of how old they were and what singles they released. Nor is it a matter of where they had their concerts and their awards. The history of Morning Musume is the record of all 25 girls past and present that left their own marks in the world.

Just because the OG Morning Musume members are still here doesn’t mean they’ll be here tomorrow. After all, Kago would have been a part of it all and look where she is. In the wake of the graduation announcements of Kamei, JunJun and LinLin, we should take a moment to reflect. Yes, the impending future is important. But at the same time, we should take a moment to reflect, to appreciate the things these members have done for the group, for themselves and for us. For after they are gone that may be the last we see or hear of them as they fall out of the spotlight like many others before them. Such is the way of the passage of time.

In a way Morning Musume is an ongoing retroactive continuity. The continuous shift of members serves to temporarily erase the history of the members of years past. Listen to LOVE Machine and realize that no one from that time is in the group today. It’s like reading a Superman comic where Superman could only jump 1/8th of a mile and would never even dream of flying. We all know today, Superman can easily just fly and cover that 1/8th of a mile. Though people would be surprised to hear that indeed, the original Superman was only capable of leaping 1/8th of a mile and could do no such thing as flying. Would you be surprised to hear that Gaki-san used to have long hair braided into pigtails? That’s a rhetorical statement by the way, we don’t need to get into a discussion over the current affairs of her hair.

We cannot forget that there have been 25. Even Up-Front can’t forget. They’ll NEVER FORGET. Even if they want to retcon the girls that have seemingly contributed little to nothing, or the girls who have tainted the history that people still remember to this day, they can’t. Look at the cover for the Coupling Collection. All 25 girls are displayed. If you are a new fan and see several faces that you don’t recognize, stop and take a moment to learn about these mysterious faces. Take a moment to hear their voices resonating throughout the songs. Don’t let anyone tell you that these girls were not a part of Morning Musume or that they were missing girls. And if you are already familiar with it all. Take a moment too to appreciate not just today’s Morning Musume, but Morning Musume as a whole. They are very much there. That is the magic of history. It only becomes the way that they have written it once everyone forgets. In the wake of recent developments I implore everyone to not forget especially JunJun and LinLin. The time they have spent with us is precious and deserves more than a page of history.

I just want everyone to see that poster and remember that in that poster belongs five girls who were very much there like the other 20. We may understand why they’re not there. But understand why we have to remember why they are truly there. Young girls who see this audition flyer deserve a chance to create a legacy. They deserve to be the next Goto Maki and sing the next LOVE Machine. They deserve to be the leader one day and rule with an iron fist like Nakazawa. They deserve a chance to be on that flyer when the 10th generation gets scouted for. They deserve a chance to be like their idol that may just so happen to not be displayed. Believe me, when I met Kago last year, I was surprised to see young girls that fall right in the range of audition age. They were holding on to Kago uchiwas from a time long forgotten as they awaited intently to greet their idol.

Of course, you may have just read all of this and figured out something that I figured out as I was writing the post. The probable reason why the images of the five missing girls are missing are more than likely just legal issues of not getting permission from the respective parties. After all, all the girls that are out are no longer with UFA. But then again I would argue against that in the case of Coupling Collection. I mean they are just using stock art.

And before I forget, the upcoming audition will make history. Any step small or big serves to alter the future and remain as a reminder. Fans who remember the “old days”, reminisce in a history that they either experienced or have experienced vicariously. So do you remember? Don’t just remember all the good times. Remember the bad times too and the hard times. It will serve to surprise us as the future unfolds. Or maybe it will serve to disappoint, how are we to know? Tomorrow we will just have to add more to the books. But such is the joy of being a fan of the group as a whole. And that is what I am. On the contrary, I am not a history major.

~Siggy, who applauds anyone who notices the running gag he unintentionally wrote into the post~

If you happen to be reading this, I assume you gave up and noticed that there was an odd space before the end of the post. If this wasn’t whited out, you should cautiously proceed as I am about to spoil the answer for you. Here’s the answer. Did anyone notice that I unintentionally forgot Yasuda Kei and never mentioned her apart from listing her. Ironic that her graduation song was “Never Forget”. I’ll never forget indeed. Talk about retconning… lol

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5 responses

19 08 2010
Cat

I’ll spoil it for everyone xD But after all, NF was the graduation song of Morning Musume. Originally intended for Fukuda Asuka, later covered by Yasuda Kei…

As a fan of old MM and especially, of Kago and Goto, I find it sad and disheartening that they aren’t included in the picture… But well… it’s all business I guess

19 08 2010
siggyx4scythe

I suppose it is all business.
As I grow I find myself increasingly more aware of the subtleties of business and professionalism. And while I like the extra step of insight, I sometimes want to go back to the magical days of oblivousness.
Did you figure out the gag without consulting the spoiler?

11 10 2010
isilwentari

Thank you for writing this. I was one of those fans who didn’t appreciate the history at first. It was all Yossy all the time. I slowly started to love the group as a whole, and that’s what I love about Momusu. There is so much to love and learning the history shows you that. It’s amazing the things they have accomplished and it would be unfair to attribute these things to just one girl or one generation.

And yeah. I got the gag. ;-P

16 10 2010
Myu

Saw your post while browsing for MM stuff – I completely agree, but I actually noticed this myself while watching a couple of interviews with the former members (the Kizuna Restaurant and the Shabekuri 007 ones). In the Shabekuri 007 special Mari talks about Ai Kago, but only says something like “the really bad girl” and won’t say her name and in Kizuna Restaurant none of the forgotten five are mentioned at all.

I did wonder if it was some sort of legal issue, but would the rules in Japan be that strict? I can’t think of any reasons why they would want to ‘forget’ Asuka Fukuda – I don’t think she’s signed with any agency, but I think she did say in an interview a few years ago that she left MM basically because the other girls were horrible to her.

1 01 2011
Year in Review 2010 « Conflict Productions

[…] Momusu. But before we look forward to next year, since this is a year in review, take a moment to savor all the moments this past year. Remember the presence of JunJun and LinLin and Kamei and their […]

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