To Be Clear

4 05 2012
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ULTRA SMART decision

Let me be clear about this. I wasn’t expecting this announcement. If you haven’t already heard, Mitsui Aika is graduating from Morning Musume effective on the earliest possible graduation stage. This means that in two weeks Mittsi is going to be graduating alongside Gaki-san. There are a couple of things that I want to say before I lose the burn to write about it and get boggled in my own graduation activities.

First and foremost,
I am a fan of Morning Musume, the group. I may love certain members and may not love other members but I am in love with the group. Considering the root of Mittsi’s problems, her leg injury, put her out of commission for months on end. There was a time when you wouldn’t even notice that she was a part of the group. She’s in promotional materials for AI BELIEVE, but she appeared in ? one concert? the final concert. After that she finally made a big comeback announcement. As far as I know her performing has been minimal since then. She’s there! But not 100% there. The dreaded foot injury is something that should ring a bell for those of us who follow C-ute. Kanna mysteriously disappeared for some time before being dropped (not graduated) from the group. When I had heard about Mittsi’s injury, I was hoping this wouldn’t be the case. But Mittsi appeared for promotional materials, songs, etc. She just couldn’t perform on stage!

But there was hope and she was recovering. I personally felt that she was going to break the precedent set forth by Kanna and really be the first true recovered Morning Musume girl. In light of this announcement, alas it was not to be. Months of being out of the public eye, rehabilitation and probably more importantly months of missed or incomplete rehearsal and practice… that’s all devastating to the career for any one. If Mittsi could’ve come out of this and remained relevant to the public eye, she should get a purple medal (get it? her color is purple).

For the group, I would imagine this was difficult for some of the newer girls when they might have had to re-learn formations for one member out. They might have had that planned out already so perhaps not as bad. But still, it lowers the group’s morale. There was actually a time, where Mittsi was so out of commission, we had a magazine image featuring the 11 girls of Morning Musume. Mittsi is of course #12…

I recall when fans first saw this, SOME didn’t notice that Mittsi wasn’t in it. In fact, I myself missed the fact that there were 11 girls and not 12 girls. There’s going to be an entire generation of fans that will be confused at first because they don’t see Mittsi there and see her elsewhere around the same time frame. There’s also going to be an entire generation of fans that will be massively confused at her appearance in promotional materials but her lack of appearance in other things. Granted, there will be fans who do proper research and many of us who are currently invested as fans know. But for the future fan that has yet to know, this will be a landmark of misplaced confusion. See Renai Hunter for a severe case.

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She doesn't even get to DO THAT

I would say the most controversial thing about Mittsi’s graduation, is that she is being pushed into Gaki-san’s graduation concert. Today is May 4th and the upcoming graduation concert is May 18th. That’s two weeks. Certainly, two weeks is a very awkward time frame for re-organizing plans for the concerts as well as production schedule for graduation goods. However, really the most controversial thing would be that she is graduating at the end of the ULTRA SMART concert tour. The end of the ULTRA SMART concert tour has the special distinction of being called, ULTRA SMART Niigaki Risa Graduation Special.

Now yes, I am a big fan of Gaki-san. I would be lying if I said this doesn’t disturb me. On one hand, this is Gaki-san’s night. Takahashi led the charge on her concert and had everything personalized to her tastes. You can definitely see it. Gaki-san’s tour? Well, I can’t say that I feel that the tour was really made for her, so Gaki-san already lost out on that. Now the addition of Mittsi to the graduation agenda, kind of dampens this further. I’m glad that Mittsi gets a proper send-off. In fact, I’m glad that I’ll get to see two graduations! But I do feel salty about Gaki-san sharing her concert. It kind of reminds me of when JunJun and LinLin graduated with Kamei. I felt that was a bad match. In the end it turned out all right (to me at least). Perhaps it’ll turn out fine for Mittsi and Gaki-san. THEY BETTER HAVE MITSUI GRADUATE FIRST, THEN GAKI-SAN. Sorry… just thinking out loud.

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Now depending on the area you’re from and the fan environment that you’re around, there’s going to be a mixed bag of reactions and comments. The fandom that I am around seems to be rather two sided. One side is an absolute bashfest of Mittsi and the other side are the defenders. To be honest, it doesn’t make me rage but it makes me … disappointed? I guess that would be the word. It makes me disappointed that Mittsi gets made fun of so much etc. The defenders, I seem to notice mainly because of the bashfest. Mittsi fans seem to be on the defense every now and then. It’s a product of the bashing that Mittsi gets, that we end up having such a schism in fandom. Not that I’m calling anyone out for being a fan of Mittsi or anything, I’d rather be calling out bashers. I just feel like I see this kind of divide here with Mittsi more than any other girl. I suppose the second girl to get this treatment would be Gaki-san, but it’s nowhere near as severe.

*sigh* So tl;dr, I’m disappointed that Mittsi gets the treatment she does. I personally don’t dislike her to the point that I would bash her. I’m not the kind of person to bash the girls for a group that I love and respect. But at the same time, I don’t jive with those kind of comments etc. It isn’t funny and it’s mostly uncalled for. My view on Mittsi is that she hasn’t had the time to shine on me. To be fair, with kyuukies coming in and the whirlwind of graduations etc, it’s hard. Initially, Mittsi was in my bottom ranking guaranteed. She’s now second to last. But during her time with Morning Musume, she’s proved herself to me. If anything, this entire process of health recovery (she isn’t the first girl to think of her health first) on top of her duties as a member of Morning Musume has been endearing.

Mitsui Aika, congratulations on your graduation. May you live a healthy life! Word on the streets are that she’s not graduating from Hello! Project so she may still yet be in the limelight! I know that you’ve truly enjoyed your time in Morning Musume and many adoring fans have enjoyed your presence as well! I respect your initial wishes to keep up with the group and I respect even more the fact that you’ve thought all of this through. Like I said, it’s been endearing. I’ll always remember you for being a trooper.

I’ll try my best to forget how you stole my dear Gaki-san’s night.

~Siggy, who is now so hype to see two graduations in one~

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Operation Good Building PHASE ONE

29 03 2012

Hi my loyal readers, all two of you! I apologize for the lack of updates, such is the life of a graduate student. I’ve been busy finishing my coursework for my last year in school, finding jobs, getting sick, flailing over RihoRiho, etc etc.

But I do have an update for the both of you! I have named my plan to see Gaki-san, Operation Good Building. Among my advisors, it has actually been codenamed オパレションいいびる (Operation Ii Biru) which is literally Operation Good Building. Props for who knows the origin of this name.

Unbelievably I’ve managed to raise over $2500 real money since I decided to partake in this operation back in January. If it were me, years ago, I would’ve never believed it. But now I can believe it. And I’m not going to let something silly like money (though one may argue how “silly” the reality of a lack of money really is) stop me from realizing my dreams.

It’s official lady and gentleman! I have booked my flight ticket for Japan. I am set to leave on the morning of May 14th, land in Japan sometime in the afternoon on the 15th. I’ll be spending the 15th to 23rd in Japan and make it back to the US on the 23rd due to the nonsensical time zone lapse.

Unfortunately, I was unable to procure a FC ticket for Gaki-san’s graduation concert. So I need to accelerate my plans to carefully acquire a ticket… but alas, that will come when the time comes.

So far the schedule is loosely decided as this:

May 13th – GRADUATE. Yes, no concert for me, but I will have my own graduation!

May 14th – Plane. This is the first time I’ll be on a plane since my childhood. I have no idea what to expect except that I’ll be excessively bored.

May 15th – Day 0, Settle. I’m going to arrive in Japan, settle down at home base and try to cope with possible jet lag and get my supplies, info, routes, yoyos strung, and everything in preparation for the week.

May 16th – Day 1, Test Run. First test run to get to Budoukan to make sure I can get there when it counts. Check out local sights like Akihabara! Spingear yoyo shop is there so I will definitely want to be ready to represent the yoyoing Gaki-san wota!

May 17th – Day 2, Test Run 2. Second test run to get to Budoukan.

May 18th – THE DAY. GAKI-SAN FOREVER

May 19th – 23rd – Free run. I’d like to hit other sites like the Gundam Park that will be opening in April, Tokyo Tower, Nagoya, Shibuya and other assorted places.

I’m really open to suggestions actually because I have no idea what I want to do since I’ve put so much thought into Gaki-san on the 18th. I do know that some of my fellow wota friends will be around and I’m looking forward to hanging with them. So if you’re going let me know so we can meet up and hang out in what will be arguably the trip of my lifetime!

Even if you’re not going, comment and let me know Tokyo area-wise anything cool that I should do / visit. I can’t promise it now, but I’d really like to blog all about it. You know me with the way I write, I may as well write a novel for just a week long trip. But I’ll try to be brief so I can enjoy Japan to the fullest. Or maybe I’ll wait until after. But then it won’t be fresh. Ah alas…

~Siggy, who loves Pyoko Pyoko Ultra the more he hears it~





AI BELIEVE

8 01 2012

No doubt if you have been keeping up with Hello! Project for the past week, you must already know the biggest latest announcement. For those who don’t know, Niigaki Risa announced that she will be graduating from Morning Musume and Hello! Project at the end of Morning Musume’s spring concert tour.

Play it cool

Gaki-san is my favorite member of Morning Musume, of Hello! Project. After laying my Kago fandom to rest, Gaki-san is overwhelmingly the heart of my idol fandom. Needless to say, I didn’t know what to think when I read the news on Twitter. How does one react to news like that? To know that someone who you look forward to seeing and hearing will no longer be there is sad.

Secretly, they know a lot that we don't know about

I wasn’t looking forward to the fact that after years of dodging bullets, the graduation has finally come. What’s more, apparently it was supposed to happen even earlier. Admittedly, I felt perhaps Gaki-san was meant to graduate with Takahashi. Perhaps that was part of the reason why Gaki-san was hesitant to write about how she felt about the graduation when Takahashi announced hers. We could speculate forever if Gaki-san was held back by her own will or if they urged her to hold back so that she could meet and train the 10th generation. But I’m not here to speculate, such things are not for me to question.

For whatever reason, Gaki-san didn’t graduate in late September with Takahashi. She’s now set to graduate some time in May. Soon after the announcement I was talking to a friend of mine and with my eyes closed, I had a sudden epiphany. For whatever reason, Gaki-san didn’t graduate in late September with Takahashi. She’s now set to graduate some time in May. I went online and looked up my school calendar and looked up the current schedule of Morning Musume’s spring tour. It occurred to me, somehow… somehow, it could be possible. Somehow, I might be able to see her before she graduated.

SOMEHOW

If indeed Gaki-san is set to graduate on the last concert of the spring tour on May 13th. That places her concert right after I finish school. As it stands it is mere days before my own graduation from school. Do I expect her to graduate on that day? No, however no additional information has been announced that deters me from the current target date.

I have looked forward to seeing Morning Musume live for the longest time. The first night, I frantically started thinking a lot. Is it really possible? Can I go? How much money would I need? What would I need? Where would I stay?

There are so many questions. There are so many things I need to prepare for. I’ve never been out of the country. I’ve never traveled a long distance by myself. I’ve never placed myself into a foreign country where I wasn’t semi-fluent in the language. There’s a lot to consider …

And yet as I was questioning myself at every turn, I realized something. I realized, I wasn’t saying no. I realized, I wasn’t telling myself I couldn’t do it. This time it was different, I was telling myself what do I need to do? What kind of problems would I run into?

Is this love?

At some point, I realized … I was thinking about going to a foreign country, alone, for the first time all for one girl. One girl, who I wouldn’t even talk to, possibly not even make full eye contact with. One girl, who at the end of the day would not know who I was. I was thinking about making one of the biggest decisions in my life all for Gaki-san.

And I thought for a moment … is this love? Now, of course not love, by the standard metric that is a relationship with a companion. But something different all together. The only way I can explain what I felt that night was, “is this love?”. If you are ever in the same situation that I described, think about it and let me know.

Gaki-san in lovely red

Long story short (which I never do on this blog), I entertained the idea of going to Japan to see Gaki-san one last time before she would graduate. When Morning Musume came to Anime Expo, they were on the opposite side of the country of me. I resolved I couldn’t go on day one. Did I regret it? Yes.

But as you read, that night I had a very different reaction. I didn’t say it was impossible. I was convincing myself that if Gaki-san meant that much to me, it could be possible. Well, what if it weren’t possible? I would never know unless I tried, wouldn’t I? What if I tried and couldn’t make it? Well, at least I knew I tried. What if I could have tried harder, wouldn’t I regret that I was so close? That was where I came up with my resolve. I didn’t want to be me years ago who didn’t even try to make Anime Expo happen. I didn’t want to give up before I even tried.

Sometimes life changes in the oddest ways. Some people find their calling in the most unforeseen hobbies. Other people find the love of their life in some freak accident. Morning Musume has a lot of meaning to me. I believe that this graduation is not meant to be a concert that will merely be recorded on DVD for fans to reminisce and future fans to see. If anything, Takahashi graduating first taught me one important thing and that’s the meaning of, AI Believe.

AI BELIEVE

I believe that if this means as much to me as I believe it does, I will make it happen. I believe that I won’t let anything stop me from getting on a plane to Japan and getting into that concert hall. I believe that this graduation means so much more than just a step in my fandom. I believe I will make it to Japan to see Gaki-san graduate from the group that I have come to and will continue to hold dear to my heart.

~Siggy, who almost teared up writing the last paragraph~





A Whirlpool

3 07 2011

Long time no see everyone! I’ve been all kinds of busy in the past two months setting up the next stage for my life.

But alas, here I am once again showing a commitment to my blog. There happens to be a lot of happenings since the last time I updated. So let’s rewind a little bit.

  • AKB48
    Those girls are at it again. Congratulations to all the records that you’ve all shattered. My interest in AKB remains mostly as it was for the past years. So I don’t have much more to say about them. I heard and saw the original Beginner PV recently and immediately felt as if I had heard it already. Though I think I did hear Beginner before, the sound is distinctly AKB so perhaps I am expecting too many different things from them. What’s more, I’ve seen/will be seeing more of them in dramas so who knows maybe I’ll have more to write about AKB some time soon.
  • S/mileage
    That they will be having a new audition was admittedly unexpected. I have treaded lightly for some time now but this change of members will be a very exciting move. Every group beyond Morning Musume (even Mano Erina to some extent) has propagated small waves in the entertainment world for Hello! Project. I really look forward to see what the auditions will bring in. The way Tsunku-san described the member additions it seems akin to the original Berryz Koubou dynamic. Considering their challenge to SNSD, more members surely would make that viable.
    And can you imagine a bunch of legs being shooed into the audition room and then Tsunku-san checks all their legs out. Amusing thought…
  • Morning Musume
    I actually quite like Only you and the B-side as well. It looks like September can’t come any sooner and I know I’m going to feel pretty sad to see a whole dynasty go away when Takahashi graduates. More on that if school doesn’t swallow me whole. Maybe I’ll just preempt it and write my graduation post a whole month ahead and time release it.

Now on to more pressing matters!

 

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Ganbarimasu

23 04 2011

Long time no see all, no surprise school has been keeping me more than busy. And with the way I blog, that would take way too much time out of my routine schedule, so no insightful posts. Tonight is an exception, assuming that I can finish the draft before I get sleepy or have to do something.

While sitting on the bus traveling back to the shore, I was being contemplative.  Have no idea why, but it tends to happen when I look outside windows in the dark while moving. Auto vehicles do that.

So what pray tell have I been contemplating about? I’ve been thinking about the word “がんばる”. For non-Japanese readers that word is “ganbaru”.

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3D Idols

19 02 2011

3D viewing technology has been around for a long time. We all have eyes (unless one is closed off or is heavily impaired) and hence have the ability to view the world around us in three dimensions. Our eyes can simultaneously see how tall people appear to be…

She is TALL and I LOVE her for thatOur eyes can also judge how wide people may appear to be…

No lie, Hello! Online made me pick this, I am not bashing on Risako on purpose ^_~You may see these pictures and perceive height and length. Well, some people call it length and width. Whichever you like. What we cannot readily perceive is depth. The third component which completes our perception. Take the below picture. It is a 2-dimensional image, after all you are most likely viewing this on your computer monitor or a mobile phone. The sense of depth that you have somehow tricked yourself into perceiving is due to optical subtleties such as foreground versus background or shadows.I wonder how tall Momo is compared to YaguchiBut what if we could indeed see these images in 3D without actually being the cameraman and taking these pictures ourselves? Read on for my take on the recent trend of 3D entertainment.

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Connections

11 01 2011

More than likely, anyone reading this post will have already heard the news. The news has been erred! Tsunku has selected the winners of his 9th generation audition for Morning Musume. Congratulations to Sayashi Riho, Ikuta Erina and Kanon Suzuki and the surprise Egg promotion, Fukumura Mizuki!

Zukki~~~I’m going out on a limb and saying that this generation is definitely going to be stronger than 8th generation. No offense to Mittsi fans out there but Zukki has already captured my heart with her smile.

Oh wait… no that’s old news. The above would have totally been the topic of this post had I had one in the pipeline. Unfortunately, priority in news has delayed my impressions of the 9th generation. Let’s rewind the clocks a bit. Last night I had a nosebleed. It just came out of nowhere, like I can’t make this stuff up. No one punched me, no one landed a football on me. It just starts. In the past I have related nosebleeds to premonitions or reactions to major events.

I usually read all my tweets and Facebook updates before I go to sleep. I went to sleep comparatively earlier than usual (somewhere around 1 AM) because I wanted some rest after bleeding. I wake up somewhere around 10AM and check my tweets. I usually check my tweets at my bed with my TweetDeck for Android app which extends a yellow bar from the last read update so you can see how much you have ahead of you. For some reason or another the bar was extremely long, over twice the length that I was used to seeing from just one normal sleeping period. Color me surprised, I should have known why.

When she talks something is up

Takahashi Ai, the current leader of Morning Musume and Hello! Project has announced her graduation. She will be graduating at the end of Morning Musume’s fall tour. After going through the past couple of graduation announcements the shock factor really did not shock me as much this time. But at first, reading those words seemed so matter of fact. I almost felt if it wasn’t real yet I knew very much so it was real.

Read onwards for my feelings on this and a completely unnecessary but interesting analysis.

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