The Reasons for Graduations

Every time a H!P graduation is announced, I suddenly find myself surrounded by the same cynicism as the previous umpteen times. What really brought the issue home recently was Ogawa Saki's sudden graduation, and with the recent departure of Takahashi Ai from Morning Musume it has managed to remain somewhat topical.

What exactly is the issue? Graduations, and the motives behind them.

When Sakichi's graduation was first announced, within moments the fanbase was up in arms. It's moments of huge news like this when I love to check member threads on Hello! Online. To see an otherwise sleepy thread suddenly propelled to having two or three dozen people viewing the page at any given moment. News like this has even broken H!O in the past. If I recall, the site went down just after Ai's graduation was first announced as people rushed to confirm and discuss the news.

And so, upon informing my good friend Lone!Wolf of the news, he quickly stated the thing which I've always hated to acknowledge. "Seems it was her own decision," I retorted to his initial cries of anger. "Yeah. And Kanna was ill and Erika wanted to be a model," he sarcastically threw it back at me.


"I don't believe this UFA-created lie." He continued. "We don't know that she wrote it. It might be either UFA told her to say it, or said it for her."

Ouch again.

Such responses are all too common. As with some of the examples he used, when graduations are announced like this, suddenly people are quick to spin it. "Were they covering up a scandal?" "She's pregnant!" and so on.

This is rumour-mongering which, even now, I can't bring myself to permit. Some call it naiveté, but I have always operated by the belief that, if I trust my Idols, they'll never break that trust. They have no reason to lie about why they are leaving, just as I have no reason to doubt them. Does that make me foolish? I dunno. But it's a belief which is far more respectful to the girls themselves. 

I hold that the mistrust of UFA and the girls generated by these announcements is fueled, primarily, by a kind of selfish desire for the girls to never leave. We can't expect them to stick with it all purely for our sake and then lash out at them when they fail to live up to those expectations. Surely it's better that, when the girls feel that this is an industry which they just aren't cut out for, they make their peace and do something else with their lives? So that we can continue supporting her, and she can continue living as a normal girl, away from the stress of the entertainment business.


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