Times like these always provide a good opportunity to stop for a bit and question stuff. Question the idols. Question the system. Question the fans. Question yourself, even.
THAT SHIT just might be CRAY
Much has already been made amongst idol fans regarding a certain AKB member’s recent hair-razing (see what I did there?) shenanigans, especially with international mainstream media outlets actually finding it newsworthy, but I never really had planned to comment too much about it, especially with this being a H!P-centric blog and my own minimal interest in the AKB world. Still, considering how the news itself and the reactions to it reflect on the idol industry as a whole, it has definitely encouraged me to once again take a look at my own place in the fandom and how I got here in the first place.
WE CAN BE REBORN ALL THE TIME Oops, wrong idol group.
People lined up to see the Titanic sinking; instead we rose up from the ash like a phoenix
It’s safe to say that my entry into H!P fandom was burdened by some horribly awkward timing. Not only had I just missed out on Morning Musume’s big Los Angeles appearance by a few months, but I came around at a time when many were ready to start digging the grave for this once-prominent idol group collective. The Elder Club had just graduated, meaning most of the girls that sparked my initial interest were long gone by the time I showed up. Their weekly TV show had been cancelled just a year before, meaning no more new chances at memorable moments like the ones done in years past. Their former “home away from home” in Utaban no longer respected them, preferring to dwell in ancient history instead. Momusu’s new songs of the time were an acquired taste: they were good, but sounded too much like each other and clearly lacked the instant spark of the classics. And fans were slowly but steadily jumping ship, some running off to the emerging South Korean scene, others to another idol family called AKB48 that was starting to gain momentum that year.
Throw in the graduation announcement of Koharu Kusumi, one of the more visible and marketable members of that era (and whose recent smack talk I may or may not address in a future write-up), and it’s no surprise that the end felt like it was near. Did I really become a fan at the worst possible time? Was I meant to come full circle in time to witness the collective’s final attempts at relevance?
It took about 7 years for me to become a Hello! Project fan. It took another 3 years for me to fully accept it.
I had no real intention to dive into this fandom when I first started exploring a few things in the summer of 2009; a boredom-induced search for videos of Japanese people attempting to speak English led to stumbling upon a series of short, comedic lessons involving members of a particular J-pop group. Things could’ve (and probably should’ve) ended there…except I had recognized the name of this group before, as well as a few of its members from random media encounters in the past. This was certainly not the first time I’d be seeing the girls of Morning Musume in action, and, because of that, it definitely would not be the last.