Maho wo Kakete: The #JusticeForMahohon Story

Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!

Hoo boy, it’s been a while. A lot has happened and there was a topic I’ve been meaning to tackle for a while. (A few actually.)

Heck, this year is a special year as it’s M3 2.0’s 10th Anniversary (and the “completion” of my five-year challenge). However, first thing’s first: Let’s talk about one of the big elephants in the room.

In early January (the 9th, if you want to be pedantic), a major new story broke that shook the J-idol scene and (for better or worse) beyond: NGT48 member* Yamaguchi Maho was (non-sexually, gotta emphasize this here) assaulted by two mid-twenties men. I’d go deeper, but there’s wonderful news articles and even a post by the Great and Powerful Chiima (and qqpy) that does a better job than I ever could of getting everything together. (This is why you keep everything organized and collected, kids.)

I’ll just add on to say that the story became huge enough to be picked up by international news outlets and even have a Twitter Moment. Plus, a follow-up tweet as I was working on this post. Plus, a later major break that even further tore this story open. There’s also recent news that NGT48 is restarting with a new lineup (oh boy, though “reorganization” is probably more accurate)…. And Maho will be at their final event for current teamswherein she announced her graduation from NGT48 (AND THANK THE STARS FOR THAT!).

Now, with that out of the way… With the momentum having “died down” (relatively speaking), I suppose it’s time to provide my take. (Warning: Incoming ramble.)

When I found out, I was shocked, despaired, even angry. Being a longtime follower of entertainers, I’m no stranger to the more unsavory aspects of the industry. One of the most viewed posts on the blog was me giving my take on an ex-idol’s attack that thankfully had a happy ending. (On top of that, I really need to stop having the 48G posts be about stuff like this. It reflects badly on me and I wish the girls—or any idol—no harm. Here, have some Queen & Elizabeth.)

Now, I myself am I not that into the 48s. I acknowledge the fact they’re a dominant force in J-pop (nevermind the idol scene), to the point where the non-initiated conflate the 48G model with the modern J-idol model (something that became fantastic in the wake of Zombie Land Saga’s airing). However… much like the incident a few years ago at the handshake event, I couldn’t help but feel outrage, shock, and disappointment. In fact, this is far worse than that, because a good portion of this is from the management. (It does not help that this news hit Western ears when other #MeToo-related stories were bubbling. Between John Lasseter’s controversial hiring and the R. Kelly thing, this is a topic that is going to hit a sore spot for some.)

I’m also reminded of Candye Syrup and the ruckus surrounding the circumstances of the first gen (and–primarily–their producer). This was actually why they were removed from the Magic Metal Meteora 2018 marquee prior to its unveiling (thus moving up LADYBABY, freeing their space for DEADLIFT LOLITA). I was made aware of this when the KyanShiroP Higaisha no Kai (きゃんしろP被害者の会; “KyanShiroP Victims Association”) Twitter followed my account in late June 2018, weeks before I had even announced the event publicly! Reason I didn’t say/do much other than retweet the pinned post was… truth be told, I didn’t (and to some extent, still don’t) have much confidence in my translation skills, especially since I was just one person who isn’t a professional translator nor did I have enough connections/experience to do this story justice. For that, I am deeply and eternally sorry.

On that note, there’s the fact the story broke a week after Morning Musume’s audition was announced. As such, more than one person brought up the very real possibility that this count taint idols as a whole to the point that it could affect auditions, either positively or negatively. May explain some of the desperation that hit UFA in regards to the creation of BEYOOOOONDS (and H!P’s future as a whole).

Nevermind the fact that this event marked one of the biggest “scandals” in J-idol history, especially at the very end of the Heisei Era. (Indeed, Maho’s graduation was announced weeks before the abdication and said event will take place after the enthronement.) In a lot of ways, the 48/46 Groups are very much the successors to Aki-P’s previous smash hit idol group Onyanko Club. (Hell, an AKB subunit was explicitly named to be a successor to an Onyanko Club one.)

In any case… While this chapter seems to be over, it will carry with it a shadow that looms over days to come. Sure, it seems to have died down, yet another harsh memory as Maho sets to depart for oh-so-much greener pastures. However… the genie’s out of the bottle, the gates were opened, consequences were had… and will be had.

What will become of the idol industry following the triple graduation, especially with the Heisei Era behind us and the Reiwa Era in full swing? Only time can tell at this point; we’ll just have to see.

Until Next Time!

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