According to the recent article posted at the official H!P website on March 31st, 2009 something unprecedented will occur as members Nakazawa Yuko, Iida Kaori, Abe Natsumi, Yasuda Kei, Yaguchi Mari, Ishikawa Rika, Yoshizawa Hitomi, Tsuji Nozomi, Konno Asami, Ogawa Makoto, Fujimoto Miki, Inaba Atsuko, Satoda Mai, the entire group Melon Kinenbi, Maeda Yuki, Matsuura Aya, Miyoshi Erika, Okada Yui and Ongaku Gatas will graduate all together on a single day. I'm hearing now that a final concert event for everyone mentioned in this graduation article will be held to commemorate the event and I imagine everything that these members have meant to H!P over the years spent there. The article is below:
なお、上記メンバーがハロー！プロジェクト・エルダークラブとして出演するコンサートは、2009年1月31日（土）及び2月1日（日）横浜アリーナで行 われる「Hello！Project 2009 Winter 決定！ハロ☆プロ アワード ’09 ～エルダークラブ卒業記念スペシャル～」で最後になります。
代表取締役社長 持田 陽司
So many questions unanswered as of yet as to the reason(s) for this mass graduation all of the sudden but one can speculate that it was brought upon by perhaps an ever growing financial "burden" put upon UFA as it continually is expanding and adding artists at an almost alarming rate. New Eggs are entered into UFA all the time and with the recent Taiwan auditions UFA is seemingly heading into a new direction here. I guess some of those upcoming "Mega Best" CD collections may have been an early sign of things to come now looking at them in hindsight. So what does it all mean? Of course some of these members may still be under UFA label but may go on to other record companies and outside management to venture into new music possibilities. Hello! Project seems to be heading in the direction towards youth more than ever with this move although it's always been a prominent part of their image throughout the years. Eggs are the future and the usual graduations aren't keeping up with the new members being added giving H!P a ballooning effect…whether that be good or bad. And in so many cases, just looking at the names here on the upcoming graduation list you have to really consider that so many of these artists are grossly underused and some to a point of seemingly total inactivity. Yasuda Kei? Where's she been recently…filing papers in Tsunku's office? Marippe….has become a host of H!P events and makes only scarce appearances on various H!P fan club DVDs only it seems. Such a waste really. Iida Kaori…..???? I can't even guess as to what she's been doing in H!P as of late. Nono…is listed as back but what has UFA really given her recently? Even artists such as Nacchi, Maeda Yuki, and Yukosan to name just a few have seen so little music releases as of late. I mean getting your one single a year just doesn't seem right for someone listed as an official member don't you think. Inaba Atsuko….another member who's activity in H!P is next to non existent these days. Some groups have faded from their once successful standings as well. Melon Kinenbi for instance has seen both their release frequency and sales drop dramatically. LOL and UFA didn't even bother putting them into one of their latter pv releases. :O And this graduation is easily being bundled up as the graduation of the "Elders Club" so that in itself says it all. UFA is most likely indeed heading into a younger generation approach. Are then Aichan and Gakisan on the edge? I hope not.
Ayaya and Mikitty on the other hand could really possibly benefit from the change of address. Mikitty in particular whose been for the most part aside from an enka flavored single (which was great!!) been inactive on the music front could really use this new freedom to find other more promising venues to get back into the music arena and I think she could be very successful if given the right approach and right production team who know how to utilize her vocal prowess and image. Ayaya. I'm just boggled by this one. She's the most mainstream out of the entire H!P. Why they would want to part ways is puzzling but at the same time maybe it's for the best as well. UFA seems (looking at it in hindsight) to now be not only focused on the youth but perhaps their ability and capacity for producing talent and new talent has gone even beyond that….as to say that UFA is maybe only capable of producing the younger idol acts and not anything that occurs after 20 or so years of age…that being a generously high age number in this case. Gomaki got out not too long ago and her joining Avex really supports this thinking although entirely speculative. Avex is what H!P isn't and vice versa so perhaps it's just time to move on as these artists are doing. Some may not return…I don't have any doubts in that but along with that is the large hope that many of them will. Some haven't even been given a chance here…Biyuuden disbanded and since then Erika and Yui have gotten no new venues to carry them. So I guess this has maybe been in the works for some time now..but who knows when it comes to anything related to H!P. I've been part of their rollercoaster ride since it began commercially in early 1998 and then saw the sudden addition of three members…and the ongoing additions and graduations that ensued afterwards through the years. Sometimes surprising but really nothing and I mean nothing like this!! :O
So I'm trying to find the silver lining in all of this and what I can come up with is perhaps that the music writing will become less "diluted." With less artists/groups to tend to, the cream of the music compositions will see an easier less stretched distribution. There was a time when Tsunku's name would appear in just about every H!P related release in the lyrics & music writing credits and over time that has become less and less. No doubt he's super busy with all sorts of projects but it would truly be nice to see his name a lot more frequently. Solo artists in particular have seen the Tsunku name vanish from their music writing credits recently and for some time now and one can hope that with less songs needed the demands will become much easier for Tsunku to accomplish. Of course the outside writing is welcome as well but I just love Tsunku's diversity which he has displayed time and time again! And will this mean more kids units…only time will tell but one thing is for certain…Hello! Project has had more face lifts than Joan Rivers! Surely they'll survive this one as well.
So while some members will most likely benefit from this event, others will whether welcome or not be left on the outside looking in I'm afraid. Going solo isn't in the cards for everyone as it's just the hard truth no matter how much I wish it differently for everyone involved here. Ayaya's sales may have fallen off as her fan base in H!P is largely of her younger pop tune genre and many may have not taken well to her mature approach as of late. I for one think that she not only needs to appear her age in music but also that I can enjoy where she's been musically and where she's headed in this new phase of life. Idols no doubt can't keep singing "Momoiro kataomoi" (my upmost favorite Ayaya song of all time!) forever and they must move on musically and image wise so, Ayaya has. But perhaps her fan base to which H!P caters to isn't buying in on it. Not right or wrong…just difference in taste. If she does indeed plan to further her music career elsewhere after the split in March of next year then I do think that she can really embrace that new start and it will be with a venue which produces something much more suited to her at this stage in her career. Not to say that she can't sing any more fun and cute songs…not that at all but it probably needs to be done by a production team more suited to the mixing of genres that what H!P is capable of…or so it seems. Excel at what you're best at. H!P will always be H!P in that sense…great at it, while other labels such as Avex or Pony Canyon will go about it in their own best way. Rikachan &Yossi have their new gig "Hangry & Angry", I'd love to see Yukosan get back to regularly scheduled releases if that's what she chooses, Nono/Konkon/Makochan…it's just so hard to say what will happen with them as it's like they just got back and now this?, Shibata "bunny" Ayumi…I'd love to see her in a new group somewhere, Okada & Miyoshi….ditto!, and OMG Nocchi?!!…what will become of Nocchi?!!! I shutter to think but someone with her appeal, charm, talent, and charisma must not go unseen!
And then there's my beloved Nacchi. Hello! Project without Nacchi sounds so odd and it would be like Chocolate milk without chocolate or politics without lying. 😛 Seriously though….really saddened by this announcement the most. And it really can't be helped. After all Nacchi is and has always been my favorite member in all of Hello! Project. Some may have gotten close to toppling her top spot in my heart such as Aichan, Ayappe, and Kamei but none have ever succeeded. I will miss Nacchi as part of H!P. Sounds really eerie just to type those words together. Watching Nacchi grow up litererally in her time in H!P has been the most joy for me. She really symbolizes its beginning and now with her announced parting I'm feeling really depressed now….so I must stop typing and I bet some of you are thinking…"thank goodness!…I thought this would never end!" 😛 So whatever the outcome here I wish every single member the best in their future endeavors whatever their hearts so choose! But I will miss them all and most of all I will miss Nacchi, for Hello! Project is the house that Nacchi built.