The Price of the “Sotsugyou” ~ Part ED

You can read Part 0 here, Part 1 here, and Part 2 here!

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

How has your week been? Well, I’ve been doing somewhat better than last week, though there were some rock bottom moments here and there. I’m fine now, thank goodness.

On a brighter note, I’ve been setting myself up to provide more video content, most likely of an art-related nature. However, I have considered doing a Q&A session while working on a possible tribute pic for Fukuda Kanon (unrelated the one mentioned in this post’s footer). In fact, I’ve been considering it for a long time now.

Speaking of which, for the past few weeks, I’ve been exploring the following:

…is there a correlation between graduations and high sales? Rather, the question would be “What effect do graduations have upon overall sales?

Well, I decided to answer this using Morning Musume as an example.  In Part 0, I began to discuss my fascination with the correlation between graduations and sales, using Morning Musume as an example. In Part 1, I began to take a deeper and chronological look starting with the first 9 graduation singles and their respective departees. In Part 2, I continued to do this with the later 9 graduation singles and their departees. This week, I will close it all together and bring it home!

First off, let’s look at the chart below.

MorningMusume_gradsingleschartB
Click on the chart for a full view.
The data and associated charts (eheh ^^;) can be found in this spreadsheet. The source of the data is generasia and the Hello! Project Wikia. Also, as you might notice, some singles only have their total sales numbers listed, leaving their first week sales to be known to those who do….

While the initial jump to stardom was quite brisk and high, the cool-down provided a more even picture. Indeed, fans continue to cry out for a “second Golden Age” where they sell LOVE Machine-level amounts of units per single or overtake the 48s in rankings. To recap from Part 0:

Why sales? Well, for many an idol fan, it’s considered to be the most important metric of an idol’s success. Given the nature of the idol as a living marketing device, this is plausible. (Plus, I somewhat got that impression from the Memorial Surveys I held for Michishige Sayumi and Berryz Koubou.)

Needless to say, the (justified) cries were not easily able to be silenced. I had to investigate this almost fetish-like fascination with sales, to see if there really is merit to the belief that such events create spikes. MM provided a great amount of cyclical data to showcase this. Ray put it beautifully when he covered the first proper part of this series:

…I wonder if it’s necessary to factor in the group’s overall arc – from underdogs to Love Machine superidols to a media mainstay to the last majo [sic] girl group during a long (female) idol drought. The first few years of the new millennium were so tumultuous for the group that I can’t help but think of that dramatic rise and fall while going through what amounts to the group’s history.

For the sake of my research, I had to look at the big picture. Compared to ANGERME (who are just beginning to experience this effect), Morning Musume has over 15 years of graduations to sift through. As they’ve been through the ups and downs of life and the extreme hardships therein (see what I did there?), MM would be a great example at this effect. Now, they’re far from the only H!P group to experience this, but there’s a certain specialness to a Morning Musume graduation. With ANGERME edging closer to becoming “the Morning Musume of the Kenshuusei era” (between the pre-debut campaigns and the massive promotional campaigns, to name a few things), I had to take action.

(Yes, I know such accolades like “Japan Record Award for Best New Artist” was won by C-ute and the fact we have two “Berryz Koubou successor” groups is a testament to the legacy of the H!P Kids are proof enough. Kudos the reviewer of “Piriri to Yukou!” on Yes!Asia who accurately predicted that the Berryz would have an MM-like impact. Heck, one can look at Momoko’s appearance in Country Girls to be akin to Ishikawa Rika, Konno Asami, and Fujimoto Miki’s appearances in CG’s predecessor. But I digress.)

When I first came onto this project, I was curious. Plus, to be honest, I was also looking for something more “evergreen” than single reviews and news reactions as (ANGERME and C-ute singles aside) we’re somewhat heading into a “dry season” for H!P news. In addition, I was approaching a point in my comic project where pages were more detailed and intense. This is in addition to other projects (like the Fukuda Kanon Tribute Project) and not counting the M3’s Cake Day on the 23rd of this month and other real-life obligations.

I must also admit that along the way, I ran into some burnout because I was tackling a lot of these projects. Of course, if you’ve read the respective parts, you would’ve noticed that. If the posts were not exactly up to snuff, I apologize. However, I am eternally grateful for the fact this hard work wasn’t put to waste and it was quite illuminating.

For example, imagine my surprise at the high sales of Sayumi’s farewell single. Neverminding the impact she’s had, this was quite interesting. The sales were so high that on an over all scale, it managed to make the Top 10 on both sales lists alongside more “classic” singles. In fact, in terms of First Week Sales, it made the Top 5!

I was also surprised to find that Renai Hunter was (compared to other grad singles) a low-seller. Still, as we become more accustomed to graduations, perhaps the sales would be more stable.

Now, going back to why I did this is Fukuda Kanon’s graduation from ANGERME. The group is quickly becoming a second Morning Musume, primarily for Kenshuusei. Like it or not, that’s what history is telling us. The 4th Gen audition is approaching its twilight and Kaguya-hime Cinderella’s revolution is nearing its end. (Somewhat appropriately, the current M3 Mystery is the revolving door system in Morning Musume and ANGERME.)

As for why the single measured between the grad single and the penultimate single is simple: many of the grads came right around the time of a single’s release so there was little room for a good measure. Eventually, I forgot that grads were increasingly giving more space between their announcements and their departures so that failed to be truly calculated. Fortunately, you can read a variety of stats of this nature and other data in this doc.

I will admit this was quite the eye-opening experience for me, along with a learning one. If I tackle another project like this, it’ll go a lot better than this. Hopefully, I’ll be less bogged down with burnout and depression (helped little by the fact this topic is quite a downer, no matter what camp you’re in) to be able to keep this up reasonably.

Thank you all for the fun and more…

…and that’s all there is, there isn’t anymore.

As previously mentioned, the current M3 Mystery topic is fittingly the revolving door system in Morning Musume and ANGERME.

Also, don’t forget the Fukuda Kanon Tribute Project held by the Chuu!Sugoi!Idol Team. You can read details on it on the group’s Facebook page or the blog itself, even reblog on Tumblr via M3’s (unaffliated) blog. It ends on he 20th so act fast!

Coming soon is the review for C-ute’s 28th single, Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ / Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!. Just tell yourself that they’re both for the Japan Wrestling Federation and you’ll feel a lot better (especially with the former song).

Until next time!
— Magi-Kat

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