Greetings, Citizens of the Universe.
Welcome, one and all, to a little something I call Magnolia Month. On every “Magnolia Monday” in August, I will put out a Kobushi Factory-related post. Now, how did this come about? Well, the original plan was to do a little mini-special event where I’d review the MV for Kobushi no Hana and the (as of this writing) latest single for the Maggies. (As you can kinda see, I decided to return to that idea and those will be saved for later.)
However, Fate had other ideas. All you children who love stories gather ’round…
On an overcast July morning, I looked around social media and the internet in a state of boredom. I try to think about my comic, drafting ideas for promo once my break ends. I resolved an issue that was roadblocking me the night before and considering my weird sleep schedule (coupled with the strange weather), I was hoping for something. I thought, “you’re just tired and need to go to bed. You’re having an off day.” Being with family helped, as we got to chatting.
I resigned myself to another uneventful day of waiting for the H!P summer tour to start, Haromageddon 2017 having died down for now.
And then… I check the Hello! Project fan page and was greeted with a terrible surprise.
I had to read the announcement twice to really grasp it, make sure I wasn’t reading it wrong in my state. I then read the source announcement in Japanese and then in translated form, courtesy of Chrome’s translation add-on. I look at my WordPress reader and find Hello! News Service had reported on it. I go on Twitter and fans on both sides of the Pacific are abuzz. Same (albeit quieter) story on Google+ and Tumblr (almost certainly due to the fact it was a developing story at the time). Blog!Project translated Hirose Ayaka’s blog post about it, the original form of which I found through Twitter.
I looked at my stats and saw my post about Rio’s graduation was regaining steam. (Speaking of which, I now regret a certain sentence in said post: “Be glad Rio is graduating after a period of deliberation, not something like a contract dispute.”)
My initial reactions were simply “Oh dear” or “Oh boy” or “Oh crap.” It could even be summed up in a DBZA line, this time from Yamcha (of all people).
“‘Oh God, oh man, oh jeez, oh crap!'”
However, it then returned to the same line I used the last time I touched on Rio’s departure…
In my mild frustration, I took to writing the initial draft of this post… and… forever crushing my credibility.
It doesn’t change the fact that Fujii Rio’s contract… …has been obliterated.
Holy s💛💛💛 indeed.
Oh, and happy (belated) birthday, Ikuta Erina.
…So yeah, how am I now that the dust has settled? Better, I guess. I guess I was caught by the shock of it all. (As you may have guessed, it was Fujii Rio’s then-graduation that spurred this event.)
The news caught fans on both sides of the Pacific by surprise. (I know because Fujii Rio was listed as a trending search topic in both English and Japanese for the most recent 90 days as of this writing.) Fans were desperate for answers and rumors and speculation ran rampant.
“What did she do?” “Did she date?” “I bet she was caught smoking.” “She must’ve been caught slacking off!” “She looked like she was done. She must’ve been slacking!”
The purpose of this post was for me to offer my take and it is this: It’s sad this happened and I really hoped there’d be answers, probably to come during the H!P Summer Tour (which has started a few weeks ago).
However, my gut was giving me a more devastating feeling, a realization as it were: we may never find out the “violation.” Given the swiftness of the news and how UFA kept their mouths shut about it, not even giving a note on UP-FRONT LINK “Concerning Fujii Rio” (I checked practically everyday), the management probably just wanted it to be over and dealt with. Given how shame and disgrace works in Japanese society, they probably have extra reason to just push it aside in favor of the Summer Tour and the hype therein.
Am I going to add to the speculation pot? No. It’s too easy to be lost in the headcanon and I know from experience that getting too far into that can distort your perception, especially in the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts.” (The very concepts grinds my gears, but enough about that.)
If you do want a speckling of fan speculation, look no further~! ❤
As for me, I’m just going to look towards the warmth and bloom with purity.
Next Time on Magnolia Month: Shalala! Ninjas Can Do It, Can’t They?
- Fujii Rio’s contract with UP-FRONT is terminated (Hello! News Service)
- Breaking: Fuji Rio’s contract terminated! (Sakura Mankai)
- Hello! Project fan page post
- Contract Terminated! Kobushi’s Fujii Rio Fired From Factory! (Okay! Musume Time)
- Fujii Rio’s Contract With Up-Front Has Been Immediately Terminated (Kimi.Kame)