Eight Little Magnolias debuted in Idol Heaven.
One got terminated and then there were seven.
Seven Little Magnolias cured our idol fix.
One graduated and then there were six.
Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!
All you children who love stories gather ’round. I have quite the yarn for you story-lovers here.
…travelling in Devon
Back in July, mere days after the Fujii Rio stuff came out and I began drafting a post about it, it was announced that Ogawa Rena would go on hiatus. The official reason was “treatment for anxiety neurosis,” but circulating purikura pictures caused fans to believe a different tale.
Given that Magnolia Month was fully booked (there were only four Mondays in August and despite the free Thursdays, I was too worn out from crafting the posts to even consider it. This (along with the brutal heat waves and the sheer burnout I was experiencing due to sociopolitical events, along with my desire to be in good spirits around my birthday and try to get some work done on the comic) was why I didn’t review “Minmin Rock’n’roll.” Besides, as more and more details came to light, as the story unfolded further, it further drained me (and when you’re already emotionally drained, that is not desirable), I didn’t give it too much thought. I was already trying to psyche myself up for the monumental task of crafting 10 posts and publish them on time.
Mid-August. A month has passed since the Eruption of Mt. Fujii and things seemed to have calmed down. The Summer Schedule rolled out with five posts published with another on the way. I had also finished up the construction and scheduling of the remaining posts on the list.
Then, out of the abyss… an update: Renako’s hiatus was to continue until further notice.
“What about Ogawa Rena?” “What about Ogawa Rena?” That was the dialogue in my head at one point regarding the matter. There was something that prevented me to wanting to write about Renako’s situation, even when I was free and able to. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there had to be some reason for this.
A possible answer appeared a few weeks later, as Labor Day (and Hurricane Harvey) was behind us (at least in the US), the younger among us are back in school, and the Escalation Game continues to play out in parts of Asia. (How many nuclear tests and missile firings were carried out this year again?)
…chopping up sticks
On a sleepy Wednesday morning in early September, I was scrolling down my timeline on Twitter and then I came across this Tweet:
I couldn’t believe what I just read. “Ogawa Rena graduated from Kobushi Factory.”? Many were calling it, even demanding it. However, seeing Sato Masaki and Inaba Manaka return from their hiatuses brought us hope that we wouldn’t have another Arihara Kanna. (Yes, I know about the pictures. A good scroll through her tag on the Hello!Project Confessions Tumblr will stamp them onto your retinae.)
I… I must know more about this. Where’s the fire to this smoke?
In my desire for information and confirmation (not to mention my puzzlement at how silent things were outside of Japan, forgetting the fact that this was after school had started in a lot of places), I cobbled together a Twitter Moment detailing the initial news and responses. (Of course, about 99.9% of it was in Japanese and I’m linking it rather than embedding it because it’s a very lengthy Moment.)
When I shared my Moment with friends on Facebook Messenger, I attached this little quip that summed up a portion of my feelings:
Damn, the ONLY good thing to come from Magnolia Month was that all of the “backlog” Kobushi Factory posts are done.
Indeed, Kobushi no Hana finally has a review and I don’t have to worry about covering their (as of this writing) latest single without all of this baggage attached to it.
…playing with a hive
Kobushi Factory. How ironic now that you were named so as to give off an image of strength and resilience, swearing to sing songs with honesty and “bloom with purity.” You were nicknamed the “One Punch Mags” on M3 because your name was picked as a pun, referring just as much to a punch as a genus of magnolia. It’s pretty much akin to the Southernism “steel magnolia,” conjuring images of womanly grit (though I expect that term to be controversial to some readers at the time of this posting).
You were called “Maggies” as a shorthand reference to your official English name because writing “Kobushi Factory” all the time gets a tad tiring at times. (The common nickname for KF, especially among the Japanese, is simply “Kobushi.” Renako herself recently referred to the fandom as “Kobushi-gumi.”)
Strength. Purity. Vigor. Grace. Coming of spring (and thus life and zest). Such imagery from two simple words, even if one was simply the Berryz equivalent of “Musume” (or in the case of a revival of one such group, “Girls”).
What bittersweetness to come. I’ll just reiterate what I’ve said in a recent review:
Oh, what the future had in store for you, Kobushi Factory. This was such an innocent time when you seemed to be at the apex of your career, if not reaching it.
Here’s hoping this rollercoaster can end and we find some stability, especially with an anniversary single on the way. Kobushi Factory will continue on, stronger than before. They have to.
You know what? I’ll just let fellow bloggers Morningtime and Chiima respectively say it. They did it better than I could (links in the Further Reading section):
…obviously Rena leaving is sad news for her fans. Graduations are part and parcel of idol life but sudden immediate graduations are always the worst. Kobushi are a great group though and will be just fine with six….
It’s not the end of the world, of course. It may feel like it, but it really isn’t. KF will be okay. H!P will probably sink a bit more, but it’ll hold on. Somehow, H!P always does. They’re like bloody cockroaches.
One Tweeter even mentioned that the flower had six petals, prompting consternation.
Anyway… here’s hoping that a proverbial bumblebee doesn’t sting one so we won’t say “…and then there were five.” (Hold my beer.)
P.S. U. N. Owen is UFA!
- Ten Little Idols (Morningtime)
- Ogawa Rena has left Kobushi Factory (Hello! News Service)
- Ogawa Rena Leaves Kobushi Factory, Entertainment Industry (Kimi.Kame)
- Welcome To Graduation Gate ’17! The Flowers Are Wilting, Heads Are Banging (Against Walls) (Okay! Musume Time)