Morimoto Ryutaro on indefinite suspension!

A completely unexpected and shocking scandal is rocking the idol world. Hey! Say! JUMP’s youngest member, 16 year old Morimoto Ryutaro, has been caught underage smoking. And because of this scandal Ryutaro will cease all of his activities in the entertainment field indefinitely. He will also be edited out of the cover of Hey! Say! JUMP’s new single, Over, and will not participate in the Summary concerts.

Here are the larger pictures of him smoking:

Is anyone else having really bad Kago Ai flashbacks? All Ryutaro needs to do is date a 40 year old woman, and he’s as good as history. All joking aside, this is a completely serious issue. Not only is underage smoking illegal it’s also taken very seriously in Japan. It’s easy for fans living in the West to dismiss this scandal as not a big deal at all. When underage celebrities in America are caught doing a lot worse, nothing happens to them. Back in the day Lindsay Lohan drank underage, Taylor Momsen flashed her underage boobs, and Miley Cyrus was caught smoking “salvia.” Among many other underage scandals that I’m sure exist, but don’t know of off the top of my head. But for some reason in the US they got a slap on the wrist, and people didn’t seem to really care. However, just because America seems to be more lenient about these things, doesn’t mean Japan should or will be. We’re talking about idols here. Idols who get kicked out of their group for being caught with a boyfriend. (Well, that only happens to female idols. I won’t get into how unfair and sexist that is.)

People should legit be worried that Ryutaro might never return to Hey! Say! JUMP again. I am sure everyone is familiar with the big NEWS scandals of 2005 and 2006. First NEWS and Kanjani8 member Uchi Hiroki was suspended indefinitely for underage drinking. Then in 2006 NEWS member Kusano Hironori was caught for the same thing. Which of course lead NEWS to go on a year long hiatus. And we can all see how that turned out for them. They never returned to their groups. And are pretty much in obscurity. It took Uchi 3 years before his comeback solo concert. And since then all he’s been up to is random appearances on Shounen Club, is part of the Johnny’s New Year’s Countdown, and he was in a drama. And that’s it. In the 3 years since his scandal he’s basically done nothing. He’s only done the little bit he has done because he was a fairly popular member. But what about Kusano? Kusano, who to this day I am convinced is completely innocent. If you look at the pictures it does not look like beer. In Kusano’s parting words he said something along the lines of even though I am compeltely innocent I will dissapear from the public anyway. It was completely sad. And what is Kusano up to? Nothing! He studied dance in New York for a year and was a model for some random brand. But his pictures are still blurred in tabloid papers. All because Kusano wasn’t that popular. Uchi, who was drunk in public and was a public nuisance, got to make his comeback. But Kusano, who is seemingly innocent and even claims to be innocent, has done virtually nothing. And to be honest, none of that makes sense to me. The only logical reason for it has to be because Uchi is more popular and can make more money then Kusano can.

And if Kusano isn’t doing anything after his scandal because of popularity, where does that leave Ryutaro? Ryutaro is obviously one of the least popular Hey! Say! JUMP members. He’s on the bottom tier alongside Inoo Kei and Okamoto Keito.

Fans could also argue that Ryutaro will be fine because smoking isn’t as a big a deal as drinking is. Which seems a little weird to me. I don’t really think you can judge the 2 in that way. Underage is underage. Whether it’s drinking or smoking. That’s just my opinion though. Obviously JE thinks it’s a huge deal. It’s such a big deal that he is being treated to the same punishment that Uchi and Kusano were put under for a quote unquote less severe scandal. Also, note that Ryutaro was put on an indefinite suspension. Indefinite! Which means this suspension can last for however long Johnny’s sees fit. 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, or never if he feels like it! Don’t just assume that everything will be ok for Ryutaro because you feel it should be. Or that you feel it’s not a big enough scandal to warrent an indefinite suspension. The bottom line is Johnny’s makes the decisions. He decides what’s fair and what’s unfair. What’s a scandal and what isn’t. And the other bottom line is, Ryutaro broke the law. Which in turn makes the entire agency he works for look bad. I’ve said this before, I will bet you a million dollars that all idols, yes ALL idols male and female, have to sign a morals clause. And if they break that at any time the agency has every right to fire them, or punish them however they see fit.
On the other hand, maybe fans are right and smoking scandals aren’t that big of a deal. And Ryutaro will eventually return to Hey! Say! JUMP. So, let’s look at the only other idol smoking scandal I know of, Aibon’s. In 2006 Hello!Project member, and member of idol group W, Kago Ai was caught smoking underage. In a very grainy and unclear tabloid picture I might add. Aibon was immediately suspended for one year and W’s next single was put on hold. She then was later fired after being caught in another scandal. When Aibon eventually made her comeback she talked to teenagers and encouraged them to not smoke underage. She said that one foolish and careless act ruined her life. In responce the people she talked to said how they were shocked and disgusted by her scandal. They couldn’t believe she would do something like that. Not only because she seemed to be a good girl, but because she was a role model. However, Kago Ai was extremely popular, and therefore lucrative for H!P. I firmly believe she was only given such a small hiatus because of her popularity. And we all know that if a member of H!P is popular enough their scandals get swept under the rug or are more lenient. Nothing came of Tanaka Reina’s, Kamei Eri’s, or Natsuyaki Miyabi’s boyfriend scandals. But less popular members like Arihara Kanna and Murakami Megumi were given the boot. Or excuse me, they left to “continue their studies.” And even popular members Yaguchi Mari and Fujimoto Miki were forced to resign as leader of Morning Musume after their boyfriend scandals. H!P scandals also come down to popularity, and their position within the group. Obvious a leader in a scandal was setting a horrible example for the rest of the group.

All Morimoto’s future really comes down to is luck and popularity. Ryutaro obviously doesn’t have popularity on his side. So, fans just have to hope that Johnny realizes that smoking underage isn’t really that big of a deal. I mean, apparently Johnny knew Ryutaro was smoking from time to time. I think that will play a big role in how long he is under suspension.

But for me personally, I actually don’t care that much about this scandal. Yes, it is sad that he’s under suspension and he may never come back. And that HSJ might never be 10 members again. Or that fans are left hanging about his fate like they were with Uchi and Kusano. All of that is incredibly sad. But Ryutaro isn’t really my favorite member. And as selfish as it sounds, I’m just happy it’s not a member I actually care about. That and the fact that I don’t really feel any sympathy for him. It was his fault. He was the one that not only broke the law, but was stupid enought to let people take pictures of it. The one picture he was legit caught off guard. But the picture where he’s wearing the black shirt, he’s trying too hard to look cool, and it looks almost like he’s modeling for the person who’s taking the picture. If Ryutaro can’t do the time, he shouldn’t have done the crime.

9th gen sneak peek!

Today I woke up to the most exciting news of my week. Well, most exciting fandom releated news anyway. After months of nothing but vague updates when an audition phase ended, we finally have a solid update on Morning Musume’s 9th generation auditions. And when I say solid update I mean a preview of the auditioners. That’s right, on today’s episode of Bijou Gaku they showed a sneak peek of the 9th gen audition process. The show also indicated that over 9,000 applicants auditioned for the 9th gen. Which is roughly 2,200 more than the 8th gen auditions. And can I just say I love being wrong. During NMB48 it was announced that they had 7,256 applicants, and, being the optimist I am, I said that Morning Musume would be lucky to get half that. Well to my pleasant surprise they got more. Roughly 1,750 more, which is hardly a difference. But it is way better than the 4,000 I was expecting.

Here are the preview pictures of the girls. These pictures on my blog are in a small size so they don’t cut in half. Please click on each picture to make them bigger. Usually I resize every picture to be a near perfect size for my blog. But for these pictures I tried to do minimal resizing, to keep the pictures as large as possible.
 

Out of these girls 397 has the most star quality. She looks absolutely adorable and infectious. 405, 891,and 862 also stand out.
 

Here 142 stands out the most. She’s got that awkwardness in her look that Airi did when she was little. 858, 339, have potential.
 

This girl looks extremely tired.
 

This girl looks fashionable.
 

I want this girl in 9th gen! She looks like a mix between Kumai Yurina and Wada Ayaka. Adorable!
 

This girl kinda looks cute, but I can’t really see her face.
 

Next.
 

She kinda looks like an uglier version of Ogawa Saki.
 

For some reason she reminds me of JunJun. She’s a little too chubby though. Sorry for being so brutally honest.

Her face is too pumpkin like. XD
 

Now this girl looks fresh and cute.
 

These girls look like they are 16. Which in my opinion is too old. I’d like for the girls to be no older than 14.
 

From the side the girl in black looks like Fukuda Kanon. The chick in pink looks dazed.
 

This girl has features that remind me of Yajima Maimi. I think with a little time and makeup, she could become quite a beauty.
 

There’s nothing special about this girl.
 

I don’t care how old this girl is, I want her in the 9th gen! She is incredibly gorgeous!
 

Eh. She’s kinda ugly.
 

This girl kinda looks like Yaguchi Mari from the Morning Coffee PV.
 
 

This girl’s eyes are too far apart. Did she happen t suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome? Oh, that’s just mean. XD

This chick’s eyes are uneven!
 

This girl is really pretty. When you’re that young and are already pretty, chances are you’re gonna grow up to be pretty.
 
 
Now, Morning Musme auditions usually last about 3 months after they start broadcasting. So if the show starts broadcasting in December or January, you should expect the new members in March or April. Let’s just hope Tsunku doesn’t lose anymore girls to AKB48 again.
I am extremely excited to see what the dance and voice training songs are going to be. Since they are usually newer songs I’m going to guess the dance sing will be Kimagure Princess, Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game,  or Moonlight Night ~Tsukiyo no Ban da yo~. And I’m going to guess the vocal training song will be Seishun Collection, Namdacchi, or Loving You Forever. That’s like a dream. But they will most likely be doing songs from the 11th album. Which I kinda don’t want to see happen. Mostly because I haven’t even gotten the chance to listen to the 11th album yet. XD

Eggs that I could see in the 9th gen of Momusu

Like most Hello!Project fans currently, I have been thinking a lot about Morning Musume’s 9th generation auditions. Taking in all the wonder, anticipation, and utter excitement for my first Morning Musume audition since becoming a fan. What will the girls look like? What will they sound like? Will foreigners get in? Will Jang Dayun become a member? (She could have totally been studying Japanese this whole time! And that’s why she was hidden away.) And since the second phase of auditions is fast approaching I’ve been thinking a lot about the Hello!Project Eggs that may have auditioned. Since we will never know which Eggs actually auditioned, all 20 could have auditioned or only 2. Just thinking of that has made me wonder which Eggs I could actually see becoming part of Morning Musume. My dream for the 9th gen auditions would be for Tsunku to accept 5 new girls. Every generation, except 3 and 7, has accepted at least 3 members. With the maxim being 4. And since Morning Musume will be at its smallest since it was formed I’d like to see Tsunku go all out and take 5 girls. And I’d honestly like half of them to be Eggs. Why? It’s simple, Eggs are trainees. And they simply do what they are, they train. Since they’ve been training for years already it’s an extremely easy transition to join Morning Musume.

So here are the Egg members I think actually stand a shot at becoming full fledge Momusu members. All but one of the members I have selected have made their CD debut as Egg members. And the one that didn’t was a backup dancer in one of ManoEri’s PV. Now some people reading this might have a problem with that. But the simple fact is their previous work will play a main factor in them being picked for Morning Musume. Not only does this exposure effect their popularity among wota, it shows that Tsunku/H!P has already seen something special about them. Which is a huge factor in all of this.
I’ve also included the ages of each girl so you can decide for yourself if you feel she’s too young or too old to join the group.


1. Fukumura Mizuki, age 13 turning 14 in October

AKA Maeda Yuuka’s replacement in Shugo Chara Egg. Now I have to honestly say after S/mileage was formed and they got new Shugo Chara Egg members I didn’t bother listening to any of the new Shugo Chara songs. I have never actually heard any of them until I started making this post. But after I heard Mizuki’s voice I was simply blown away. Her voice is actually strong, not Takahashi Ai strong, but it’s strong. Right now she’s at about an Aika level, but with more time to grow she could be at a Risa level. She has a nice tone in her voice. And she would blend exceptionally well with any member she could possibly be paired with, since her voice is very light and almost elegant sounding.


2. Saho Akari, age 15

AKA the girl who was shafted from S/milege. Or more commonly known as a Shugo Chara Egg member. I never paid much attention to Akari while she was in Shugo Chara Egg. I was too focused on the awesomeness of Yuuka and Kanon. Not only that but she was put in a group with voices that where extremely cutesy sounding, and Akari’s was much deeper in comparison. So she was easily overlooked in my opinion. But after Yume to Genjitsu I became an instant Akari fangirl. Her voice sounds absolutely incredible. And surprisingly really adorable sounding. It has that perfect mix of cuteness and power. The likes of Kamei Eri, Kago Ai, Suzuki Airi, and other possess. And I didn’t think it was possible but in the live performance of Yume to Genjitsu Akari actually sounds better than Airi. Besides her obvious vocal ability Akari is completely stunning.


3. Sekine Azusa, age 14

AKA the girl who was a backup dancer in the Onegai Dakara PV. I have never in my life heard of this girl before I started looking up the Egg members. And I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to find out about her. This girl has some serious pipes on her! No, really she does. During this duet with Kikkawa Yuu she was able to hold her own against her. Her voice is wonderfully unique, and something I’d love to see in Momusu. She can even hold out her notes beautifully. I am seriously upset that this is like the only performance of her I can find.


4. Miyamoto Karin, age 11 turning 12 in December

AKA the Shin Moni member. I don’t immediately think there’s anything great about Karin. Nor do I think her voice is all that great or special. But I do think she’s one of those idols who will get better with some years to grow. Karin also seems to be a pretty popular Egg. So at most I see her being added for her cute factor, and nothing really beyond that. And to anyone reading this who has any problem with her young age, may I remind you Koharu was only 12 years old when she joined. And look how amazing that turned out to be!


5. Kitahara Sayaka, age 16 turning 17 in November


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

AKA the girl from Milky Way. Sayaka, Sayaka, Sayaka. I don’t think there’s anything I can say about Sayaka. Well nothing other than SAYAKA CANNOT SING. Dear god, her voice makes my ears bleed! To all Koharu haters out there, have you by chance heard Sayaka sing? Her voice is screechy, squeaky, and she can’t sing in tune. She’s just overall very unpleasant to listen to. But the sad part is she has a good chance of actually joining Morning Musume. Because since she was put in Milky Way she has become very popular. Therefore wota would be mega happy to see her in Momusu, and would boots the sales. Horrendous voice aside I personally think she’s too old to be put in Morning Musume. I know it’s 10-17, and she’s 16, but that honestly seems to old to me. But she will also be 17 very soon. Mitsui Aika is 17 and she’s already been in Morning Musume for 4 years. I know Sayaka could be in Morning Musume for like 8 years still but I don’t know, I just feel the members should be no older than 15.

What does Morning Musume’s future look like?

It seems like every Morning Musume member is the same. No matter when it is, everyone wants to know who the next member to graduate is going to be. With graduations being completely random, and 1/9 odds that your favorite will leave is too risky for most fans. It seems like every fan has underline feelings of fear and hope that their idol isn’t next.
Because just like Ice Ages, we’re somewhere in between graduations. We’re just in the short calm period before another one happens. And even though Koharu is graduating in December you’d think I’d stop worrying about graduation for now. But, the truth is I’m more curious about who’s going to leave next and what’s next for Momusu more than ever.
With Koharu leaving, and shaking up the current line up for the first time in 2 years, that gives Morning Musume new options. And of course by new options I mean new members. A lot of people have been buzzing lately about new members joining, because it has to happen sooner or later, and now is the perfect time. Koharu is graduating in December, so I’m hoping Tsunku announces the 9th gen auditions by the end of February the latest. Then we could have new members in the begining of April the earliest. But whenever the auditions actually happen, the biggest question to me is what kind of members would we actually be getting.

Lately Morning Musume has been having more mature and adult songs. With Koharu leaving, and the exception of Aika, Morning Musume will be filled with girls from the ages of 18-23. Which is the perfect age range to sing current Morning Musume. Morning Musume is also getting its popularity back singing these kinds of songs. Which makes me think Tsunku will opt to get older members, 17-18 years old, to keep the popularity alive.

But what I’m actually hoping will happen is, Morning Musume will add a couple of younger members. Nothing will change the pace of current Momusu like adding 13-15 year olds. The same thing happened when the 4th and 5th gen joined. Little by little they went from more mature sounding songs to cuter sounding songs. It also caused Yuko to leave the group.

But with new members also means new members leaving. Which brings me to the actual point of this post, who I think will graduate after Koharu. And if you go by past graduations in correlation to members being added, the next member to leave could be sooner than you think. Yuko left 3 singles after the 4th gen joined, Nacchi left 3 singles after the 6th gen joined, Mako and KonKon left 3 singles after the 7th gen joined, and Yossie left after one single with Aika.

Now at first I thought I knew for a fact was going to leave. I thought she would leave even before Koharu, but I was wrong. And the more I think about it there are 3 members I think could be the next to go. You can never be 100% these things, but these 3 seem to have legit reasons to leave.

Michishige Sayumi:

I know Sayumi is a popular member and that she sells well, but lets be honest the girl can’t sing. She has improved greatly since she first joined, but how her voice sounds now is as good as it’s ever going to be. And frankly it’s not good enough to be a big part of the group. And right now she’s just floating awkwardly. Her personality is even pushing the limit. How long can she be the cutesy, childish, slightly ditzy one, who is endearingly full of herself? She’s 20 years old already, it just seems silly now. In all honesty she’s gone as far as she can within the group. Sure, she got a solo song, but that’s only because everyone who wasn’t a main singer got one. (LinLin got hers on the Chanpuru, but I’m not sure why JunJun got nothing.)

Takahashi Ai:

I know it’s almost blasphemy to even mention Ai-chan actually leaving, but it’s time for her to go. She’s been in Morning Musume for 8 years. In those 8 years she’s had plenty of time to shine and plenty of time in the spotlight. I think it’s finally time for everyone else to get attention. I mean, she basically sings half of every single. She’ll probably stay to train the new members, but beyond that I see her leaving immediately, like Yossie did. And for people who think Momusu can’t afford to lose her vocals, they can and eventually they’ll have to. Beside Morning Musume has a vocal powerhouse in the making, her name is LinLin.

Niigaki Risa:

It seems kind of odd to add Risa here, but only because she has the least legit reason to leave. But be that as it may, I can still see it happening. So why is it I think Risa will leave? It’s simple, Reina. They’ve been pushing Reina up front ahead of Risa for a while, basically preparing her to be the next leader. But she can’t exactly do that if the current sub leader is Risa. If Risa leaves Reina will be all that closer to becoming the next leader. And yes they could make Risa the leader and Reina the sub leader, sort of like they did with Miki and Ai, in hopes of having some aces in the group. On the other hand, Risa has also been there for 8 years. And in all honesty if they were going to hold onto any 5th gen member as long as possible it would be Ai, not Risa. But even if she doesn’t leave next, whenever she leaves it won’t be a shocker.

Sorry to everyone reading for the extremely long post. But as you can tell I put way too much though into Morning Musume. And if none of this actually happens, I’m sorry but I’m no Mayan Calendar.