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.
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.