Most of the time I focus my interest in the small idol agencies ,however I have supported Morning Musume & Hello!Pro since the very birth of Morning Musume. We have traveled every step of the way.
When I first saw that Riho Sayashi would be graduating Morning Musume 15’ December 31st to focus on English and dance studies . My first second thoughts were “WTF”.Then I thought I can understand her wanting to become a world class dancer , but I also thought how this would effect the group loosing their key member. I truly think in the short term it cripples the group a little ,but not as much as a small agency group. There are solid vocalists and dancers in the group to adjust and they can easily promote a well-groomed trainee into the group.
It seems that it was not only fans that are in shock today ,but the very idol world itself is in shock. Oricon has run a big feature on the Sayashi-effect that has hit the genre. Here are some highlights from the article.
Not included in the article
My “little sister” Yura-tan from the Idol group Meltia – Crushed beyond words!
In the Oricon article
From the family 48s
Rino Sashihara (HKT48) –Rino is a big time Hello!Pro wota , she once called Sayashi “divine” Her reaction much like Yura-tan “Shocked and unable to express her emotions at this time!”
Rena Matsui (Graduated) -“I’m shaken”
Shu Yabushita (NMB48)- “Sayashi-sama… I’ll support you!” (Sama -is a rarely-used more respectful version of san for people much higher in rank than oneself close to royalty level)
Kome Watanabe-“Sayashi Riho-san is graduating…”
Columnists , Commentators, Producers ,Artists
Kamiko Inuyama (Columnist)- “I can’t get my feelings together”
Mikito Tsurugi(Producer)-She mentioned that it seemed like Sayashi could never get past Sayumi`s graduation and the burdens of being the ace ,might have become more than her young head and heart could take.
Mitsuro Kobo (Manga Artist) – Was left Speechless
Kyosuke Usuta (Manga Artist)-“This can`t be true?”
Ai Takahashi – gave a long reflection ,but ended with the touching words “Please run swiftly forward to the end just being yourself.”
℃-ute’s leader Yajima Maimi-Spoke of the courage Sayashi has to face a new challenge ,to leave Japan and face the unknown. She offered the company members advice- “So that she won’t fail going overseas, we also have to keep Hello! Project lively and energetic, and create an atmosphere so that she’s able to relax and come back when she’s ready.”
Mizuki Fukumura (Morning Musume Leader) –A long reflection with the key point of “I didn’t think we’d be sending off Riho-chan first”. “I want to make precious the remaining time I can have with Riho-chan.”
Kanon Suzuki –A long reflection post with the key point -“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked”
It is not often that you will find such idols that come along and touch the hearts of many , maybe she was an idol that lost her fight with cancer ,maybe she was the ever smiling glass frame wearing idol ,who one day simply found life difficult to continue.
Throughout the history of idol genre we have lost idols to death ,graduations and we have dealt with them and move forward . Then there are times when the genre gives an idol beyond her years , beyond her group destine to be more than the genre can offer. SUMETAL is one such idol as is Sayashi.
This genre is better for having her in it , but her star is beyond the limits idol can offer . In some ways being an idol held her back ,forced to work within the limits of an image driven genre.
Now with the time nearing Sayashi can now look to becoming the performer that lives In her true self.
In the end this is all that we can hope when an idol enters an agency ,is that along her journey she discovers her true self and moves forward afterwards confident to face the world alone.
Whatever her future will bring ,I have no doubts that she will be star that idol could not hold in its hand. Sayashi`s star is bright and just starting to shine .
Do your best moving forward Riho-chan.