The one who is called the ace of Morning Musume '14 is the 9th generation member, Sayashi Riho. Her delicately adorable appearance belies the high quality of her dance skills, which has drawn attention to her ever since the auditions. She is the one who most often takes the center position in Morning Musume '14 now.
Sayashi Riho is a hard worker. She may have picked up her dance skills at Actors School Hiroshima, but she has had to grind her singing ability from level zero like everyone else.
Even so, from the moment she joined, she has had more lines than her fellow generation-mates, and following the graduation of Niigaki Risa and Mitsui Aika, the next new single under the leadership of Michishige Sayumi, "One Two Three", saw her share center with 6th generation member Tanaka Reina, taking a large share of the singing parts. In the following autumn concert tour right after, her singing parts were also abruptly increased.
The parts that had once belonged to her seniors, she was now made to sing them all. Even though the fans themselves had been looking forward to see who would inherit the lines of those who had graduated, the gaps left by Takahashi Ai and Niigaki Risa, who had been the vocal mainstay of Morning Musume for so many years, were probably too huge to fill immediately.
She may not have inherited all their parts, but what she did inherit would prove a serious challenge to her abilities at the time. It might have been a basic requirement for idols to be able to sing while dancing, but keeping up with the intensive dancing Morning Musume required while singing unfamiliar and challenging new parts could not have been an easy task, be it skill-wise or even mentally and emotionally.
Around that time, her voice would often grow hoarse towards the end of a concert, high notes would often spiral out of control, and you could see how she seemed high-strung and unsettled.
However, as she gained more experience with every performance, she seems to have learned from those and begun to change. Even Tanaka has this to say: "Sayashi studies how I sing, and adopts the techniques for her own".
And yet, she chooses not to demonstrate evidence of her working hard, and has said that she has never considered all the hard work to be too harsh on her. Even if it had been too harsh on her, it is possible that she would never show it to others around her. It is entirely likely that for her, giving her all in order to produce the best possible performance was just a normal thing she had to do. It may also have led others to believe that she could do anything, but I believe that she simply works at it until she can do it. This may seem like just a simple, everyday thing, but actually putting it in practice is far more difficult.
There has always been a stiffness to her expression as she continued her struggle onstage. Obviously she has to be smiling while on stage, but one could still spot the nervousnessness and tense determination on her face. But that has started to shift slightly from somewhere around last year.
The expressions she projects towards the fans, as well as the eye contact she exchanges with the other members have all softened somehow, and it shows how she has come to enjoy the performances for themselves. Her expressions we are able to see live on stage have now come to be filled with both pride and joy.
It is possible that her trust and composure in her surroundings, as well as her own growing confidence in her performance ability, has projected itself through her aura. If you were to watch her now, you can truly feel that she is having fun, and in a way, that is truly moving.
Just a few years ago, the little Sayashi that was still so young was trying her best to look as mature as possible in order to catch up to her seniors. While that had been interesting in its own way, watching her now after she has accumulated all that experience with each new stage, and seeing her grow in confidence and ability from all the hard work she has put in, that famously smug expression of hers suddenly evokes a deeper emotion.
With the addition of the 12th generation members come 2015, it is possible that other members apart from Sayashi may take the center spot, but this is precisely what makes Morning Musume interesting. Even if she is no longer standing in the center of the formation, she has already become a strong pillar of support within the group, the steady presence that will draw them all onward.
While she has overcome many challenges ever since joining the group, the upcoming graduation of Michishige Sayumi on November 26 will prove to be the greatest trial, not only for her, but for the group as well. And then there is also the wall known as the "Golden Era", or in other words, the Morning Musume of the past.
Even so, though she has her worries and doubts, it is clear that she has already found the conviction within herself to shoulder the burden of Morning Musume and its future. In inheriting the soul and legacy of the group, while striving to lead them to their next revival and also aiming to head to even greater heights for herself, surely she will continue working even harder from now on.
However, while the cool Sayashi on stage is indeed impressive, the fact that she managed to grow mold instead of mint, or the fact that she is said to be too shy to communicate properly with others -- all these things just serve to enhance the gap between her stage persona and herself as a normal girl, which is why I will secretly hope that she continues being awkward like this forever .
On September 30th, at Morning Musume '14's Nippon Budoukan concert, the new members of the 12th generation were revealed. Ogata Haruna, Nonaka Miki, Haga Akane, Makino Maria; these four possess potentials to become great talents one day. After Michishige Sayumi leaves, these girls will be added as part of Morning Musume '15 to write a new chapter in the history of the group. Also, this 10-person lineup that had revived a time of miracles for Morning Musume '14 finally comes to an official end.
The day right before the 12th generation members were officially admitted, in a show of the miraculous bonds of trust and mutual reliance fostered under the care of Michishige Sayumi, the 10 members of Morning Musume '14 used their day off to hold a takoyaki party together. Such a gathering on their own private time was a first in the history of Morning Musume, and a fitting episode to add to the legacy of this 10-person lineup.
We could go on talking about the greatness of Michishige Sayumi as a leader, but the remaining 9 members from the 9th generation onwards are also amazing individuals in their own right that have gathered under the star that is Michishige Sayumi. In a sense, it recalls the story of The Tale of Eight Dogs. Much like the gathering of eight samurai in the tale, each with their own virtues of "Benevolence", "Duty", "Etiquette", "Wisdom", "Loyalty", "Trust", "Filial Piety" and "Harmony", they are cast in a legend of their own.
Even so, to have assembled such a collection of members can be called a matter of fate, or even an impossibility in itself, to the point where it feels like the cast of Tale of Eight Dogs have been revived in the present. This actually seems more plausible than the alternative. To carry the spirit of Michishige Sayumi into the future, the 9th generation members and those who came after them have been so assembled. Which is why, now, we shall assign each of the virtues of the samurai from Tale of Eight Dogs to each of the members from the 9th generation onwards, to see how they will carry the will of Michishige into the future.
Benevolence: 9th gen, Suzuki Kanon The kindness and affection demonstrated to others. If we had to pick someone from the members who represented the trait of kindness, there is none other. If you were to search for someone in this world who could express such a level of affection in their smile, there is no one else. For Michishige Sayumi, she is one who always treats the other members and the fans with the utmost kindness. The person who will inherit this trait is Suzuki Kanon, 9th gen member.
Duty: 9th gen, Sayashi Riho Instead of pursuing her own desires, to devote oneself to doing the right thing. As one who stands in the center, in both singing and dancing, she is the one who leads Morning Musume in their performances. Her stoic image is far from average or common, her aloof nature is subtle and solemn, her love for Morning Musume backing her every move. For Michishige Sayumi also, it is not only for her own sake, but for the sake of Morning Musume that she is always prim and proper. The one who will inherit this trait is Sayashi Riho, 9th gen member.
Etiquette: 10th gen, Iikubo Haruna One who is proficient in social etiquette, the model member who is capable of navigating tricky social relations with ease. As a sub-leader from the 10th generation, the one in charge of flattering others, her skill at handling others will surely make her an indispensable part of Morning Musume from now on. As for Michishige Sayumi, from the time she took the leadership role, even though she was stuck in the midst of a bunch of kids, she never once showed any displeasure, and strove to create an era of Morning Musume where everyone got along. The one who will inherit this trait is Iikubo Haruna, 10th gen member.
Wisdom: 10th gen, Ishida Ayumi The ability to grasp the situation as it is, and recognize the truth behind things. This girl who is infamous for her "Daishi Feeling" is nevertheless someone who takes a wide view on things, able to objectively observe herself and her surroundings from the view of a third party, making her crucial to things. For Michishige Sayumi, she too was able to view herself and the other members from the side of the audience, and elevate everyone's strengths up to the next level. The one who will inherit this trait is Ishida Ayumi, 10th gen member.
Loyalty: 9th gen, Fukumura Mizuki Straightforward with no hidden sides, the heart of one who will devote herself wholeheartedly to a cause. As subleader and one who supports the leader in all things, she is one who is never double-faced, who loves Morning Musume and its fans more than anyone else. This too, is much like Michishige Sayumi who is always herself be it at work or in private. The one who will inherit this trait is Fukumura Mizuki, 9th gen member.
Trust: 10th gen, Kudo Haruka To be completely truthful and honest. Even as the youngest member of the group, she would never use that as an excuse to fool around, and instead focus on improving wholeheartedly. Just like Michishige Sayumi, who when she first joined could barely keep up at singing and dancing, surely she will also grow and evolve to match her predecessors. The one who will inherit this trait is Kudo Haruka, 10th gen member.
Filial Piety: 11th gen, Oda Sakura A child who is obedient to her parents. The parental figures for the members are basically the past members of Morning Musume who have come before them. As the sole member of the 11th generation, she has had to carry the weight of expectations on her without falling for her own hype, and continue working hard to surpass her seniors. This is much like how Michishige Sayumi has been working hard to overcome the past legacy of Morning Musume that overshadows everything they do. The one who will inherit this trait is Oda Sakura, 11th gen member.
Harmony: 10th gen, Sato Masaki To attend to those older and your older siblings. This girl is able to cling to anyone, and regardless of age or seniority, she is able to express how much she likes someone, which makes her an irreplaceable presence. Surely she will continue loving the other members, and be loved by them in return. As Michishige Sayumi herself once said, "I was born to become part of Morning Musume", she has come this far while respecting her seniors. The one who will inherit this trait is Sato Masaki, 10th gen member.
Nothing in Particular: 9th gen, Ikuta Erina As there are only 8 traits, she is the only one who was left over after assigning the rest. But this is hardly a negative thing. She is much like Geronimo, a character from Kinnikuman. Even though she was chosen without displaying much evident talent, she clawed her way up, the only one with the guts to make her own miracle. Come to think of it, Michishige Sayumi too was someone who, when she first joined, was someone you would never imagine could have become as great a leader as she is now. The fact that Morning Musume exists to allow such people to follow their dreams is in itself wonderful. The one who will inherit this trait is Ikuta Erina, 9th gen member.
Conclusion Before her graduation on November 26th at Yokohama Arena, Michishige Sayumi will be drilling her will and spirit into her juniors. Such spirit will surely also be inherited by the 12th generation members who will commence activities from now on. The greatest leader in history, Michishige Sayumi, may be graduating on November 26th (Wed), but her spirit will live on in Morning Musume. The strongest lineup that was the 10 members of Morning Musume '14, as people are starting to call them. The one person who will be hoping for her juniors to surpass her more than anyone else, that has to be Michishige Sayumi.
As can be intimated from Morning Musume's national tour titled 「GIVE ME MORE LOVE ~Michishige Sayumi Graduation Special~」, Michishige Sayumi, who has been in the group for 11 years, will be graduating at the final show of the tour at Yokohama Arena.
Morning Musume...the fact that they were once the top idols of the nation is well known. After experiencing turbulent times, we have also come to hear of their popularity starting a revival in these past few years. So what draws the fans to these girls? So we approached these fans directly at one of their concerts at Nippon Budoukan held in the later half of September, to ask about what they charmed them!
- There were many fans wearing Michishige T-shirts When we reached the venue, like the last time when we came to cover Berryz Koubou's concert, the female fans really stood out. At a rough estimate the female fans were about 30-40% of the crowd. Even taking into consideration that this was a graduation tour, we still saw an overwhelming number of fans, regardless of gender, wearing the "Michishige T-shirt".
- The performance level is amazing The first views we heard were "Their formation dance is wicked cool!", "They sing live and they're good at it!", and this was the majority of the opinions voiced. The units belonging to Hello! Project never ever scrimp on training, and their standards of singing and dancing were all held at high levels. Which probably led to how their concerts are viewed as amazing.
- Quality music There were many fans who also said "the music is good". Just like the popular tunes of their past, their songs continue to be catchy and the lyrics still reflect a unique character. Their producer, Tsunku-san, seems able to draw out the best of the girls with his unique vision.
- The weight of their legacy is different from other idols The most expressed views were, "They have the weight of their history to bear", "the legacy they shoulder is different from other idols". Morning Musume originally debuted in 1997, and this is the 17th year they have been active. As of October 1st 2014, their entire roster of members past and present comprise of 38 girls.
- High levels of professionalism According to the fans, the first thing drummed into the new members isn't dancing or singing skills, but pride as a member of Morning Musume. So that they wouldn't drag into the mud the legacy of Morning Musume that their seniors had built up before them...... Apparently this is linked to their high levels of professionalism to live up to the standard.
- Morning Musume will not disappear "We don't have to worry about it ending" -- such a view was extremely interesting. Even with the cycle of members being added and leaving, in the end Morning Musume is still going strong after 17 years. For other idols, the worry about them disbanding is often heard, but for fans here, "this just doesn't happen with Morning Musume", so there's a sense of assuredness in permanence.
- Grand welcome when you join, and graduations are... Apparently, when new members join, they are greeted with 100% welcome. How the new members' personalities will reflect on Morning Musume, the fans apparently have fun watching over how events play out. However, this also leads to graduations being about 1000% more depressing. "It's because she decided it for herself", there were many fans who said this while still in tears themselves.
In conclusion, the fans are drawn by "The pride of those who would defend the legacy of Morning Musume, and how the current members continue to grow and evolve". How will these girls hold up after the most recognizable of them, their leader Michishige Sayumi, graduates? We will see how things turn out.
Starting from 2014, Morning Musume officially changed their name to Morning Musume '14, and beginning with their appearance on Music Station this year, they have started to appear on more music and variety programs, even securing CM deals, the number of their media appearances increasing at an almost shocking rate. There has also been an increase of women in their concert audiences, and also an influx of new fans. It's almost appropriate to call this a dramatic turn in events.
In the first place, if they hadn't persisted for 17 years such an event would never have occurred. Even during the period where they were all but invisible in media, the members then defended their group's legacy and polished up their concert performances to high levels, which led to what we have now. That's why, with things as they are now, we can breathe a sigh of relief and say "thank goodness". At this point in time, opinions may be divided over whether to call this phenomenon "a re-breakthrough", but I feel that to the members, there is no way they are calmly accepting this. Perhaps it is through the influence of their leader Michishige Sayumi, who has been through all the bitter and sweet times that came before, but there is no way we could see the members being flippant about this.
Their current tour, "Morning Musume '14 Concert Tour Spring ~Evolution~", which started from March 15th 2014, is the best place to see their ambition for continued self-improvement (the tour is still ongoing at the moment). This tour applies the format set up by the previous autumn tour "Chance!", with the setlist containing many songs from the album "Morning Musume '14 Coupling Collection 2", as well as songs for each member to show off their individuality, displaying more variety than the "Chance!" tour had.
The concerts I watched were at Morioka, Sendai, and Nakano respectively, so I can only write about my experiences from those days, but I was most struck by the improvement Ishida Ayumi and Sato Masaki had made. Especially in the 3 songs where Ishida led the stage, more than seeing an evolution of her previous self, it felt more like "who was that?", the difference was that marked. As she has some skill in acting, it may have been her getting into character for those songs which resulted in such a performance. As for Sato Masaki, her singing prowess has obviously increased, and during her line in Naichau Kamo, she was able to convey the gloominess of the line and make you pause at it. For this girl, you can never tell if she's planning something or doing it spontaneously, but it seems that this time round, she has been putting a lot of thought and work into her own singing style.
And as for Sayashi Riho who is often entrusted with the center position, even though she is still only in the first year of high school, she fulfilled the twin roles of both singing and dancing perfectly. That dancer in her showed no flaws in her performance as always, and served as a powerful unifying force for the group. Even within the restrictions of the choreography, she is able to emphasize even the smallest movements, a sign of her great talent. In their current style of formation dance, her role in the group's image cohesion can only be considered a plus in how it is being used. However, as she is the type who gets inspired by the challenges the people around her give her when they outstrip her in any one aspect and evolves to match them, she is by no means complete as she is now. Even when the 12th generation auditions were first announced in 2013, she herself said that she wanted "someone who could inspire her to flip the switch within her to hit even greater heights", and I look forward to how she will continue to evolve with the addition of new members in the future.
The Tohoku performances of the "Evolution" tour were plenty fun in of themselves, but I can't say immediately that this is the extent of the group's evolution. I keep thinking this with every new tour, and end up revising my opinion each time. This time too was the same. In the latter half of this tour, the Nakano Sun Plaza concert on 5/6, the performance pumped up by the passionate cheering from the crowd continues. Even so, they were not straining hard at all and were brimming with confidence, and you could sense that they could still go even further. With the members coming together as one, the songs were developed and expressed in full flower through this tour. Even so they were never on autopilot, and in their persistently aggressive stance, there was a sense of reliability in there. Especially for "Wagamama Ki no Mama Ai no Joke", compared to all the times I've listened to it on the CD, this had the best effect, and after it was over I reflexively let out the breath I had been holding. Not only for the songs but also for the members, they were all truly experiencing "evolution".
In the 3 concerts I went to, the way Michishige Sayumi danced also left a deep impression on me in how she expressed her movements in the choreography. She always knows how to show off the best side of herself, and for the new song "Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe", she spared no effort in showcasing the best points. She never slipped up for the rest of the songs either, and as the concert ended, her exhaustion was no different from the fans'. She may have been spurred on by a strong sense of having to cherish each and every song, especially after having announced her graduation during the 4/29 concert.
It may be saddening to think of Michishige Sayumi graduating, but this was a result of her deliberations. As she announced her graduation in her hometown of Yamaguchi, she expressed nothing of her personal ambitions after graduating from Morning Musume, and in a way you could sense her personality through her speech. Living true to herself, she breaks none of the expectations others have come to expect from her, even as she gave her graduation announcement.
The Michishige up to now has staked her own personal image on the line in the media in preparation for the battles to come, and now the harvest from the seeds she had sown there are coming in as a result of her hard work. If I were to summarize her efforts, it would be to say that she is dependable. She builds up that sense of "trust towards an idol" that could be so easily destroyed in a moment alongside the fans, creating an unwavering sense of security as she went. Having been in the group for 11 years, she has improved compared to the previous tour, and in that continuous improvement you could see her "never say die" spirit, but if you stop to think about it, it must have been tough for her. Of course, her looks have no equal in their allure. As she heads towards graduation like this, she will be the very model of idol-dom in her role as leader, unmatched by anyone else.
The history of idols is like a history of festivals. That said, there are many genres even within idols, but Michishige Sayumi walks the original path of idols in her own way, leaving an indelible mark on it. That is how I see it. Nevertheless, the brilliance of Morning Musume '14 can hardly be reduced to only the achievements of the leader. This viewpoint is simply a reflection of events, lacking in exactness. In a way it's a setup to further emphasize the sense of loss (regarding the graduation). Furthermore, the junior members were also full of ambition, and were growing from strength to strength at just the right pace. I feel that the girls still have a long way to go to fulfill their potential in both talent and personality, and the tour allows me to see that "ah so this girl can be interesting like this too".
Morning Musume continually goes on to win the trust of their fans by always giving their best, leaving a long legacy to follow. This does not change even after their name change to Morning Musume '14. Michishige also commented that she wanted to "make Morning Musume the coolest and biggest thing it can be before graduating, and then pass on the baton to the next generation", and that could be read as her passionate declaration of giving her all to the group. Taking that into consideration, the coordination these 10 members displayed in the previous autumn tour can be said to have been surpassed by the "Evolution" concert at Nakano Sun Plaza. Having been entrusted with this level of enthusiasm, they can only keep getting stronger. After their rebirth into Morning Musume '14, in less than 6 months' time they will be performing in New York in October. During this period, how far can these girls go? That battle is right now.
How would you divide the members of Morning Musume ’14 into the categories of angel and devil? Who is pure-hearted like an angel, and who is sneaky like a little devil? Please choose, and tell us your reason why.
I think Fukuchan is an angel. She even looks sort of white and gives off a fluffy sort of feeling. Furthermore she’s also really kind, and she has the image of being always pure-hearted and innocent, although she sometimes ends up complaining about things. (lol) She’s that kind of angel.
Surprisingly I think Eripon might be an angel too. She might seem like the type who would kick others aside in her rush to push to the front, but she’s actually just trying her best to make an effort, be it for work or on variety shows. Well that’s how I see it, but even though she’s trying so hard she can’t seem to get it completely right and it seems like a fruitless effort, but I believe her heart probably doesn’t have any darker sides to it.
Sayashi is probably a devil (lol) Sayashi is really good at it, you see. Sometimes I feel like she’s thinking “If I say something like this at this time, Michishige-san would be happy about it maybe?”. Of course she has plenty of moments where she’s naturally cute, but she also has moments where she’s obviously planned it, but when suddenly turns around and goes “Michishige-san~”, her expression is at that moment would be even more amazing if she did it without thinking about it first. I kind of do want her to be wondering “will Michishige-san be happy if I do this?”, and I also want her to do it for my sake. But also, if she does it naturally without thinking of all those things, the quality of her smile would be even better, and I find it really cute too so sometimes I think it’d be great if she did it naturally too. Also, I think Sayashi also plans her comments beforehand, but that’s really good for her to do too. She’s not really the kind who just catches what’s going on on the spot to make a joke out of it, and in a way it’s a little bit devilish of her to have carefully planned everything beforehand, but basically the part where she’s seriously planning ahead makes me think of her as a little devil.
I think Suzuki’s an angel. She laughs when she wants to, and eats when she wants to (lol) It’s not about purity or anything, but I feel like she lives honestly, true to herself.
Iikubo has to be a devil. No matter how you look at it (lol) At first, just for a moment, a really short moment (lol) I felt for that little moment that she could be an angel (lol) But after spending some time with her, I really do feel like she’s a good girl, pure and kind with a good heart…however at the same time it also feels like she plotted to make everyone feel that way about her , even though she’s really a good person underneath, but since she goes around praising everyone, I can’t help but feel that “oh so she’s like that too”, and it sometimes makes me a bit sad and lonely because “I’m not the only one she does this to”, and that sense of possessiveness she makes people feel makes her sort of like a devil.
As for Ishida, I wonder~ At first I thought she might be a little devil, but recently I think she might be more of an angel. I always said here that Ishida’s the shy type, and she’s the type who is always thinking “I have to work hard, I have to lead everyone”. She’s also looks like the type to think “I’m good at dance, so I have to look after the rest of 10th gen”, and I end up with the image of her always doing her best at things. But as time goes by, even though that part of her hasn’t changed, in a good way I have started seeing more sides of Ishida, and she’s been getting more interesting as a result (lol) So in that sense she makes it fun for everyone around her, which makes me think she’s an angel.
Kudo is an angel too. If she grew out her hair she’d be even more of an angel (lol). If she were to just grow it out a little more, it’d be just exactly what I want, just that little bit more. And if we put her in frilly clothes, she’ll look like a perfect angel, and Kudo is such that her personality is pretty straightforward, so it feels like she’s concealing nothing of herself, and that makes me think that she’s an angel.
Sato is completely a devil. There’s no way she’d have a personality like that without being a devil (lol) And furthermore she treats everyone around her as if they were devils like her too. Sato tends to say “I hate you” and start having childish squabbles with the other 10th gen members, and most of the time she’s like “I won’t ever talk to you again” or “I’m telling Minishige-san!!” (lol) But more than her being a devil, it’s just that everyone has grown to accept that that’s Sato’s personality. And if Sato didn’t acknowledge this about the people around her, it’d be a problem too, but as a member of Morning Musume, it feels like “Sato’s just like that”, and because we understand this, we are able to have fun with it. Especially within 10th gen itself. That’s why this turned out so well, and it allows Sato to unleash her devil side freely.
I think Oda Sakura-chan is also a devil too. It isn’t like there’s anything about Oda’s personality that marks her as one, or that something happened or that she did anything backstage that would make her one, but she’s definitely no angel (lol). How do I put it, she just has a really unique air to her, not just weird or strange, but truly unique. It’s like she’s in her own universe. When it comes to angels, I feel like they have to be all “If I do this others will be happy”, and they have to be somehow cute too. But for Oda when she says something it’s kind of like “Oh, is that so?”, and she prefers to be cool and all, and in that sense she’s more a mysterious girl than she is a devil.
Source: Konya mo Usachan Peace (5/19) http://helloprocanvas.ldblog.jp/archives/38919896.html