Thirteenth Impact

Like a cruel angel
Become legends, girls!

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe and congrats on surviving the Third Impact!

Just for that, Hello! Project has rewarded us for our survival with some momentous news: Morning Musume ’16 will be holding auditions for a 13th Generation.

The fan reaction to this has been polarizing. To some fans, this is the H!P equivalent of a Third (or maybe Fourth) Impact. To some others, this news was a godsend. Take a look at the blog posts below to get an inkling on the variety of reactions:

Here are my feelings on the matter. To begin, I’ll share my comment from one of the aforementioned posts:

…it’s part of Morning Musume’s gimmick to hold auditions and new generations don’t always equate to “oshi replacements.” I think part of the problem is that many fans came in during the “Stable Era” and the “Idol Sengoku Wars” so they become resistant to change. They can’t stand the fact that Morning Musume has an ever-changing lineup and any changes are “turning the group into AKB.”

There also the fact that (as noted by another blogger) most of MM’s current lineup are in the graduation threshold so we may see a changing of the guard soon anyway. Tenures like Sayumi’s or Ai’s are actually pretty rare, even if Morning Musume is stronger for it. (One problem they ran into in Japan was the public having trouble identifying members, due to the very “revolving door” system that brought them fame.)

Even then, just because we have new blood coming in doesn’t mean they’ll get pushed RIGHT AWAY. Maki, Riho, and Reina are rare cases where they were made aces right off the bat (and Maki and Reina in particular got major roles in their debut single). It also took our fan favorites (i.e. Kamei) time before they became the highlighted darlings we know them as today. (I remember when Eri was a newbie. Her status came from years of prepping.) For certain members, they have extra years to build hype and chops due to being Kenshuusei.

I don’t look at it as some sort of apocalypse. I see it as Morning Musume (’16) continuing the tradition. (Who remembers when auditions were an annual thing?) I’m excited for the new blood that comes with the group and it’s frankly why I didn’t “graduate” from the fandom when I said I would, 9th Gen grads becoming a thing aside.

(Casual reminder that January 2nd was when AiRisa announced their grads! Better an announcement for an AUDITION than another GRADUATION, am I right?)

I love the fact the auditions are happening. Okay, granted, I still haven’t learned the faces and names of about half of Country Girls, both of the Factories, 12th Gen members who aren’t Nonaka Miki, and just figured out who’s who in ANGERME. Am I going to hold it against them? No. (It’s more so my fault than theirs. Plus, one big reason anyone is familiar with them is because a good chunk of them are Kenshuusei, which have a built-in fanbase that had followed them immensely for years.)

Regardless, I don’t mind new blood being injected.

TRADITIOOOOOOOON! TRADITION!

“Tradition. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof!”

Sorry, those Fiddler on the Roof commercials wormed that song into my head.

It’s H!P, it’s Morning Musume! As I said in another comment, the new members add “variety and freshness” to a group already brimming with such. Anyone who has been in the fandom (at least, before the Platinum Era when everything became streamlined and static) knows that Morning Musume (as a concept) worked its magic best when it had a large pool of members to go with. Granted, this was the era of the units where at least one member was a participant in and a lot of variety show appearances (i.e. Utaban), but the large number and variety of members ensured there was something for everyone.

Auditions used to be an annual thing, one constant that kept people coming. (This was of course coupled with its Shadow counterpart, graduations.) As you might notice from the spotlighted grads during the Price of the Sotsugyou series, there tends to be a minimum of one graduation per year with 1-2 being announced/happening on a regular basis. This was offset by the addition 1-4 girls via auditions.

This leads to the other point…

Auditions Are The Elixirs of Life

Another reason I’m all for the auditions is because they help ensure the survival of the group once the most senior graduation enters the graduation threshold. On one hand, a stable lineup helped with recognition. On the other, once the members became too old, the group’s was near the brink of destruction. I once threatened to graduate once all of the members that were in the group in late 2003 (when I became a fan) left. By that logic, I shouldn’t even be talking about this as I would’ve left in late 2014.

However, I didn’t. Why? Because of UFA’s decision to announce the then-long-awaited 9th Generation auditions alongside Momusu’s biggest graduation ever.

We’ve reached the point where those chosen by those auditions are graduating to bigger, better things. The graduation wave will begin again, but we must prep the Mothership for this. If not for the 9th Gen’s appearance, Morning Musume would’ve remained at its lowest membership count at 5 (possibly lower). Due the influx of numbers, the group was better able to handle the graduation of longtime members, who were finally able to retire from Morning Life. (As mentioned before, decade-long tenures in the idol world are rare. The Platinum Era, the Berryz, and C-ute have all spoiled us.)

All the more reason to enjo— you get the picture.

The Future Is Now

“But Kat,” you cry. “they’re obviously trying to find a new center/ace and replace Riho. Why can’t they pick a current member?”

Who says the New Girl(s) has to be a Replacement Riho? Recent singles have shown our current ladies can handle themselves. However, there’s still the fact this came from years of hard work and persistence (especially for the former Kenshuusei among them). Even Riho had to keep up her craft, even if her vocals (and mental health) began to falter towards the end.

No matter when a girl joins, she has to build up her name from the ground up. Some have it easy (Maki, Reina, etc), but they still have to fight for relevance. Morning Musume as an entity constantly fights for relevance in a Post-Idol Boom world. What better time than now, rather than later? (Take it from someone who is still dealing with the consequences of jumping on the bandwagon too late. Who the frack joins Facebook and Twitter in 2014?!)

Showtime Synergy

Now, this part might also be hypocritical from me as I don’t like the insidious aspects of it, but as the Dazzlings have said…

“What’s wrong with a little competition?”

While these ladies have their time to shine, some kouhai will surely inspire them to work harder (and they work hard as it is). Morning Musume gets its brewing female fanbase from the amount of quality put into the performances. These ladies, befitting the term “idol,” are sources of inspiration and aspiration.

Our ladies are inspirational. Let our ladies continue to inspire the next generation (literally) and see those results in action. (Niigaki joined and remained a member out of sheer love for the group, even putting off a potential double grad with her BFF so the 10th Gen can get better footing. Talk about dedication!)

This is especially great for fans of Kenshuusei (and YouTubers) as they could very well be a Next Gen member. In light of Kenshuusei often graduating (and those who follow them know they’re very prone to this, especially before they were given the limelight), wouldn’t it be nice to see these trainees get a proper debut?

Closing Thoughts

Morning Musume is a group of constant change. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s actually what made this group great! Isn’t it exciting to follow an idol’s narrative from audition to graduation (and even beyond)?

From my view: Auditions are a tradition for Momusu, along with the thing that kept it alive and well. It’ll take time for her to blossom and she would bring strength to the group (and draw it from it as well).

I know this is a polarizing topic (what isn’t, really?), but that’s my take. I’m not going to speculate about the numbers because frankly, I’ll just be happy with results. (Remember that in my years as a fan, I’ve seen some dud auditions.) Speculating can even be a source of vexation (as one blogger encountered).

I only ask that we as a fandom be civil about this. I know it’s okay to have your opinions, but be mindful. You will encounter those on the other camp (see the links), but your viewpoint as a valid as the others.

I understand the fears some might have: the AKB-izing of H!P, too many girls, it’s too soon, etc. Regardless…

Let’s take a little something from a reblogged reply on Tumblr as it puts it far better than I am the moment:

…it’s probably a matter of perspective in the end and all opinions are very valid.

Regardless of how we all feel, the auditions are happening. Your response is a unique marker of yourself as a fan and it’s okay. Differences are what make fandoms fun and engaging (provided they don’t devolve into acts of savagery that’d make us facepalm).

The current M3 Mystery is your feelings about the Morning Musume ’16 audition announcement. The latter is especially relevant in light of recent news.

Until the Next One!
Magi-Kat

Remember to vote for your favorite Ice Fairy Oshi and costume of yore!
Don’t also forget that submissions are being accepted for a Tamura Meimi tribute project.

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4 Responses to Thirteenth Impact

  1. morningtime says:

    The audition announcement surprised me a bit but auditions are always fun. Who knows what amazing young idol might suddenly appear. Okay like you I struggle with some of the recent additions too but that’s no big deal. It’s normally groups I don’t follow that much. Besides which some idols just take a bit of time to really find themselves. Then there are the girls that have a quick impact. If Momusu find one or two like that it can only help the group. I’m looking forward to seeing how things pan out. I hope we get to see audition footage at some stage. I remember the 9th gen auditions and everyone was roiting for their personal favourites. They should do that kind of thing again. Get the fans supporting idols before they are even idols!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Oh yeah, did I mention H!P has two soloists in the form of Mitsui Aika and the recently graduated Sayashi Riho? While Mitsui has more of a staff-related role, what with her provided English reports on the Up-Front Link Facebook page, along with Sayashi studying abroad and thus technically on hiatus, it just means more for the sea. There’s also whoever wins the controversial 13th Generation Audition. […]

    Like

  3. […] from me, though I will admit I get her confused with a now-former Kenshuusei a lot… Given the 13th Generation auditions happening, I wouldn’t be surprised if one managed to debut through this route. (I’d rather not […]

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  4. […] began with a review of the final single of Morning Musume ’15, followed by news of the (first) 13th Gen auditions (how are those going by the way). The next weeks were about Juice=Juice and their Budokan-bound […]

    Like

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