My thoughts on the Koharu situation

If you’ve been paying attention to the Hello!Project fandom the past few days you’re probably well aware of the Koharu situation. And to anyone who’s not I’ll briefly go over what happened.

Recently Koharu was on the radio show Youngtown. On it she expressed how she really felt while she was a member of Morning Musume. She said she only joined as a stepping stone to become a model. That she didn’t like catering to her mostly male fanbase. And that being a CamCam model is a step up from being a member of Morning Musume. All while being incredibly rude and interrupting people while they spoke, questioning how Sayumi really feels about Morning Musume, and overshadowing the real guest of the show.

I don’t really mind about Koharu joining to become a model. It’s silly to think idols join groups just to become idols. Probably, half if not more, join for other reasons such as wanting to act or dance. Over half of Morning Musume’s 9th and 10th gen didn’t join because of their love of the group. Most of the girl’s families suggested they audition. Which isn’t really that big of a deal. This is also obviously not limited to female idols. Inoo Kei literally entered Johnny’s because he saw a Johnny on TV eating delicious food and he thought if he joined he’d be able to eat delicious food too. Yabu Kota’s sister sent in his application without him knowing because she was a fan of Arashi. Kyomoto Taiga was scouted by Johnny himself after he saw a photo of him and his father. So, there are lots of idols who join for what would be considered not the “right” reasons. Koharu herself said she only joined Morning Musume because she was 12 at the time and the auditions were open to 12 year olds.

So, Koharu joining the group for another reason other than loving the group and sincerely wanting to be an idol has never been a secret. And to be honest it has never hindered my love for her one bit. Anyone out there who has been reading my blog since it’s inception knows that I am, and always have been, a gigantic Koharu fan. And if you’re a really active reader you know that Koharu was the first idol I’ve ever listened to by sheer accident. And that if it wasn’t for her I probably wouldn’t know, or care, that idols even existed. I would have been none the wiser and most likely would have dived deeper into Jrock and became a bigger fan of it than I was at the time. So, honestly I owe a lot to Koharu. And as silly as it seems, I’ve always held a special place in my heart because of that.

I love Koharu and I guess that love clouded things a bit for me because I never thought or considered that she left the group because she didn’t want to me a member. I never really understood why she left when she was still so young and so popular. But I guess my mind would not let me think even for a minute that she really wanted to leave. I just always thought there was some other inside reason that us fans will never know about.

But when I read this I actually felt kind of sad, and it actually kind of hurt. I felt a very slight twinge of pain in my heart. Because the personal image of Koharu I made was shattering. Idols themselves are basically delusions. There’s no disputing that. They have this pure (whatever your definition of pure is) image. And they cater exclusively to whatever fantasy you create for them. Whether it’s them being this ideal, untouchable, unattainable significant other. Or just them having this “nice person” persona.

I always saw Koharu as just this energetic and goodhearted person. Who was always happy and smiling. Someone who just seemed genuinely sweet, carefree, and a lot of fun. But reading that she is pretty much ungrateful for being a member of Morning Musume, and that she pretty much regrets her time in the group, just left a bad taste in my mouth. Not only is this disrespectful to the group itself it’s disrespectful to all the past and present members, to H!P, to Tsunku, to any girl who ever auditioned for the group and didn’t make it, and especially to the fans.

But what really hurt was when she said bad things about her fans. That she didn’t like having to cater to her mostly male fanbase and that most of the modeling jobs were for men’s magazines. It shows that she didn’t care a whole lot about her fans, and probably even found them to be gross. Even though I’m not a male fan that hurts me. It shows her fans meant almost nothing to her. As someone who supported, and continues to support her, wholeheartedly it’s quite a shock and pretty upsetting.

I mean, we’re talking about not only an idol I love pretty much the idol I love. My first idol. An idol I held higher than any other idol. An idol I literally shed tears over on numerous occasions. When her graduation was announced, during her graduation concert, reading the graduation letters, watching the graduation ceremony, and some odd performances.

I know I shouldn’t be getting this upset, but I honestly can’t help it. I know that deep down most idols feel this way. But most idols aren’t brazen enough to say it. And honestly I guess I prefered my personal Koharu delusion. Pretty much the only time H!P idols ever speak out about this sort of thing is when they make a clean break from H!P/UFP. We saw this when Goto Maki bad mouthed Tsunku after switching to Avex. Or when Kago Ai expressed how she felt like a puppet who was unable to love while she was a member of Morning Musume and H!P in her first photobook after being fired. So, this makes me think either Koharu ended her contract with them or desperately wants to. And it also shows just how good idols are at putting on their idol act or persona.

I’m sure a lot of fans would probably be happy with that. Since most people didn’t think she fit Dream Morning Musume. And honestly I always felt she was out of place in the group too. But I loved Koharu and was happy she was a part of it.

So, how do I feel about all of this and Koharu? Well, I’m writing this post days after first hearing about it, so I’ve had time to really collect my thoughts about it. But I’m just torn. I have so much love for Koharu, but at the same time I feel hurt. To me she’s not the same Koharu. I see her in a different light now. She’s the girl who doesn’t appreciate what she was given. Who doesn’t realize and appreciate that without Morning Musume she’d never have the opportunity to become a model. And that at least some of her post-Momusu modeling career fanbase only cares about her because she was in Morning Musume.

I’m sure some people maybe have some new found respect for her telling it like it is, or think that she’s gutsy, but she just came off as spoiled to me. And that’s just sad.

21 thoughts on “My thoughts on the Koharu situation”

  1. Regarding the Koharu debacle, TnB did an English translation of most of the Youngstown Talk at mmbbs.

    http://mm-bbs.org/index.php?s=7972543f2057d1f6a25daf0478808e86&showtopic=5567&st=90&p=142505&#entry142505

    After reading it, I didn’t find Koharu to be ungrateful to Morning Musume. Of course, her choice of word might make it sound like she is (Koharu: No, I thought “If I do it now I can still recover.”). But as she explained later, what she wanted to say was at 17 years old she still have the chance to try out lots of other things.

    However, it’s true that she sounds unhappy to have mostly male fanbase. And being an idol, the things that you do will of course cater to those male fanbase. I guess it will be difficult to increase her female fanbase if the things that you do are targeted in a different direction. Which is why she couldn’t stay in Morning Musume while pursuing a modelling career aimed at female.

    Personally, I think this whole debacle started because Koharu is too straightforward. She isn’t tactful. After all these years in the busines and at her current age, I would have thought that she will be more tactful.

    I blame Sayumin for this (joking).

    1. I understand what she meant by since she’s still young she could still have no time to do pretty much anything. Whereas if she graduated at 25 she might have been a little limited. Even if she did try to cover her poor choice of words it does seem like she completely meant she was young enough to recover from being a part of Morning Musume.

      She does. And I find it completely untrue that being an idol means you can only have a male fanbase just because you’re catering to male fans. I’ve been a female fan of Koharu and Momusu since I was 14 years old. And I looked up to the girls because they were similar in age. Tbh I payed way more attention to her while she was in a group aimed at men then I have since she make a model aimed at women. Probably because you don’t have the same closeness now that she’s a model.

      I do think this is Koharu’s personality of never thinking before she speaks to an extent. Whether she says all of this with her Koharu flare you can tell that she probably feels this way.

  2. It’s really not that big of a deal apparently. Sayu said in her blog sometime after that recording and Koharu’s guest appearance at Hello Project’s concert that “Koharu is still the same as ever”. So it’s not as shocking to the members and her her fans ..
    .
    But for me personally who never really paid any attention to her, not because i hate her or anything, she’s just really isn’t my type of idol and i don’t find her interesting, listening to that radio show was well…. the words that immediately comes to mind was “spoiled, entitled, ungrateful, tactless brat”. In retrospect all the members especially Gaki, Sayu and Junjun complains about her back then and Sayu’s stories about how frustrating it was when she got pushed into mentoring her (so much so that she plucked her own eyebrows out due to stress lol) makes a lot more sense now.

    My final take on this mirrors Sayu somewhat. Some of those who already like her will still like her for her blunt uncaring attitude, some who hated her from the start will feel vindicated by her complete lack of tack, appreciation/gratitude, maturity and intelligence to keep those shit to herself…..and some of those who don’t care a whit about her in the first place will continue to do the same XD
    It’s not on the level of a career breaking misstep or a full blown scandal … yet, who knows? maybe if she still can’t keep her mouth shut about certain things in the future lawl

    1. Obviously it’s not going to be that big of a deal to the members since they’re not fans, and nothing hurtful was directly said to them. And the members themselves never seemed to be that great of friends with Koharu to begin with. Remember all the back-handed compliments and kinda snide remarks in their graduation letters to her?

      She does sound spoiled. And I think all of the complaints about her from other members was mostly because Koharu fooled around too much and never listened. It was just the type of her person she was. I don’t think it had anything with her being ungrateful then it was just because she was young when she was a member and liked to play around. I Aibon and Nono honestly caused more trouble when they were members.

      That’s my take on it as well. But as someone who supported her a lot, I don’t even know where I am in her fanbase anymore.

      It’s obviously not a scandal. I honestly don’t see it hurting her current career too much. But it does upset the fans. And the wota are going to start looking at her differently. I wouldn’t be surprised of she doesn’t do much more things with H!P.

      1. Aibon and Nono had the no-nonsense first generation members like Nakazawa, Iida and Nacchi who’d keep them in check.

        Unfortunately in Koharu’s case leader Yoshizawa let her round around free of consequence and Tsunku/the agency spoiled her terribly what with hailing her as miracle, pushing her hard with a concert tour named after her(first ever) and showered her with solo project opportunities. Worse, they shoved all the responsibilities to educate and bring her up to speed with the idol life to Michishige who at the time was still a timid, unpopular member (probably the least popular of that lineup). Surprise surprise , Kusumi ends up walking all over her senpai and basically being very unruly during her time in Momusu. It wasn’t until Aichan being leader and consequently Gakisan stepping up as a strict subleader, that the group started to feel more cohesive again, but by then the damage is already done and none of them are particularly fond of Kusumi since..

        A few days ago when Ishikawa, Yoshizawa and Fujimoto substituted Michishige and Mitsui (they had a harocon that night) for Young town and the subject comes up again, Sanma flat out said it was Yoshizawa and Tsunku’s fault that Kusumi ends up being that way lol.

        1. I guess. But they still did run wild a bit.

          You do have a point. I guess all that attention early on did go to her head a bit. Tbh I never really noticed it while she was a member. But in retrospect it does make perfect sense. I did see on TV where Sayumi said that Koharu was a little rough to handle. But I always calked that up to Koharu’s carefree image. As for Ai-chan and Risa not being to fond of her since that’s always been pretty apparent. None of the members ever seemed to be really close with Koharu.

          I didn’t hear anything about Sanma saying that it was their fault. I don’t think it was really Yossie’s fault. I remember her yelling at Koharu but she just never really seemed to listen.

  3. Why do people defend Tsunku? If you have more and more girls coming out and stating their discomfort about him and the idol life in general, can you at least once see it from their view?

    I understand as a producer you have to make sure your “product” is in top form and brings in as many fans ‘old and new’ as possible, but as the years go on, you can see there is some negative build up. And instead of addressing it, the producer decides to stick with it, making the next Generation of girls less likely to want to be an idol. This could very well effect the idol industry if word gets out that the ugly side shadows the good parts.

    1. Well, it’s obviously not just Tsunku. He seriously does not have as much power as most fans think. And all of the idols who have complained about idol life had nothing to do with Tsunku or H!P. They complained about what being an idol is. Which is: no dating, no love life at all, make the type of music we say, act this way, etc. And those are the unwritten laws of being an idol that EVERY idol group and agency follows. From AKB to Johnny’s. Idols aren’t their own artists that can do what they want, they are barely individuals. They are completely marketed. It’s what idols have always been and always will be. If you recall when Koharu first joined she said she wanted a cool image like Yossie. But obviously that wasn’t going to sell so she had the cutesy image.

      I don’t think this will effect the idol industry because everyone knows what’s going on. These rules are enforced to keep the wota happy not the idols happy. It almost seems like you only think these are H!P’s ways of doing things. Which is horribly untrue. As for making girls not want to be idols that is never going to happen. There will always be girls out there that want to be famous and sing in a pretty dress. Heck, if they announced somewhere that they were accepting foreign girls to idol groups, I’d hop on a plane and audition. So, it’s pretty safe to say girls, and guys, will always want to be idols.

      And if you think it’s bad that girls can’t date what about the male idols? Female idols can graduate and then get married and have kids. But after Kimura Takuya’s marriage there’s been a marriage ban in Johnny’s. Which is why Jin’s shotgun wedding pretty much ruined his career.

  4. I know I’m late but I’m just adding my input to this situation. If it really was for her to get a stepping stone to be a model I don’t really think that’s bad. But why oh why is she in Dream Morning Musume then? Get her out if she doesn’t want to be an idol…I didn’t like her in the group anyways.

    1. As I said in my post I don’t think it being a stepping stepping stone is bad either, lots of idols do that. Just her negative viewpoint on her fans hurt me.

      I have absolutely no idea why she’s in Dream Morning Musume. When they were announced I immediately questioned that in my blog. Well, DoriMusu isn’t really that active. Didn’t they say that concert in the Budokan was the last thing they were doing?

  5. Some of this isn’t so bad, and the announcers were kind of twisting her words, but yeah… she does come off really spoiled and full of herself with all the interrupting and saying things like “Oh, I never practice modeling” even though other girls do. It makes it sound like she doesn’t take her job seriously, and she never has. Like she just expects everything to be handed to her on a silver platter and for people to love her because she’s just soooo great. The whole thing just screams spoiled and self-centered.

    1. I think that’s probably the mentality that Koharu has gotten since leaving Momusu. While she was a member of Momusu she was a popular and because of that she was just handed a solo career without really having to work for it. So, I don’t doubt that she expects the same treatment with modeling now. Which is a little sad.

  6. OK, this is the first I’ve heard of this incident, and I haven’t listened to the broadcast yet (I’m such a terrible Koha fan), but this mostly does not come as a surprise to me. In her autobiography that came out two years ago, she talks a lot about her bad experiences being in the group, like how she was constantly overworked (partly because she’d been given a voice-acting job and solo work for Kira☆Revo on top of being a MoMusu。) and suffered all sorts of health problems because of it. It’s clear that she had aspirations for becoming a model long before she joined, and that it was her decision to leave the group because she’d had enough. And this was in a book published by Up-Front, so she may have had to tone things down a bit. I’ll go listen to the broadcast now.

    Anyway, I’ve been translating her book for a year and a half now and am working on polishing up the final draft, which I hope to release on the 10th of this month to coincide with the book’s 2nd anniversary. I already sent her a copy of the second draft for her birthday last year. So for all the English-speaking fans who can’t read Japanese, you can read her account of her experiences before, during, and after MM。 soon.

    1. Well, I’ve never read her autobiography because I can’t speak Japanese. But what you are saying about it really makes me want to read it. I had no idea that she felt that way about her time in Momusu at all, which is why this radio show was such a shock to me.

      I wish you luck on your final draft. I hope it goes smoothly because I am very interested in reading it. 😀

        1. Thanks for the update on this, it completely slipped my mind! I’ll be sure to check this out ASAP. 😀

  7. if it was Tsunku’s intention to go with this renewing members every year or so to replenish the group and maintain fans or create new ones, it’s a pretty interesting business idea. From what I understand coming from Tsunku himself, (i’m a very recent MM/H!P fan as of 2/2013) Morning Musume was/is simply a way for unknowns with potential to grow and have an experience in the entertainment business and that they are obligated to have the chance to move on, aka graduate, so they can do bigger, better things from what they’ve learned and experienced as a Morning Musuime. I have no problem if Koharu’s initial intention was from a business P.O.V. I don’t think prior members at that time wanted to join because of their “love” for MM either and I don’t think Tsunku had any prerequisites for those auditioning that they “had to” love MM in order to become a member: Eri wanted to join cause she wanted to simply change and I believe Konno wanted to join cause she thought it was something different (i could be wrong about this). We must remember that the individual members, not even the original members, own the Morning Musume brand (though I’ve read that its creation wasn’t entirely Tsunku’s alone and that original member, Yuko Nakazawa was also a co-creator.

    But the thing is, MM had evolved from its origins back in the late 90s to something more than just a business idea. In spite of Eri and Konno wanting to join the group for reason besides their love for it, they made an effort to make the most of their time & experience and see where it can take them. I think the girls who had joined prior to Koharu entering the scene showed us how they learned to grow, develop and trust one another. And it showed. And the reason why it had the following it did as oppose to it dying off. It was a sort of a camaraderie yet sisterly cohesion that was shared that we all related to. Even with her debut in Hello Morning in ’05 and well into her years past the honeymoon stage during the Haramonie series in ’07-’08, I could sense she wasn’t making an effort to put time to develop as a MM let alone being close to the others whom she’s already been with for 3 years. Perhaps her personality was the type that wanted to keep things strictly business which i understand. No one owned any obligation to the fans that being a part of MM they had to also be chummy with one another on or off stage to please the fans. But the thing is, that was the very thing that kept fans glued to them cause they showed a side of them as idols that they were very normal and goofy at one instance, yet can also be very professional on stage. It wasn’t something that they had to do as a MM member. It simply developed naturally as they bonded with one another. This sort of thing started to wane once Koharu entered the scene. Coincidence? Tsunku’s excuse for choosing her was cause he thought she would be the 2nd “Ace.” Little did he know then that after her recent revelation of what she now once thought of MM, not cause of what she could bring to the table as a singer/performer, but because it was simply a stepping stone to something else, pretty much makes sense to me now after reading so many youtube comments back in February when i first became a fan why they were saying things like “Tsunku dropped the ball in the 7th.” Now, some of her devoted fans will try to turn this around and say he first dropped the ball in the 6th. But the thing is, at least Sayumi has expressed her love for being a member, has easily bonded with the originals like Mari, Yuko and Ida by her 2nd year, has not stated MM was just a platform to sell herself, and that she has made an effort to improve her singing in order to help the group. The fact that Sayu also stayed this long and will likely surpass Risa as the longest enduring MM as well as showed her experience as a now leader of this new gen, shows her devotion to H!p and MM. Something that CANNOT be said of Koharu’s “professional” character.

    and with that before i close, one thing i also want to reiterate what was commented above, if Koharu felt that way about Morning Musume to begin with, why is she even in Dream Morning Musume? The fact that she’s in a group who has devoted themselves to the company for that long and have someone like her among them who’s expressed MM and H!P were mere steps on the ladder, is not only insulting to Tsunku and the original members, but it makes a mockery of devoted fans who’ve followed MM from day one as well as those who auditioned in the 7th who not only HAVE talent but also WANTED to bring something to the group that Tsunku was looking for (like their 2nd Ace, or the next spark plug “Mari” who can give them energy well into the next generation). Is her modeling career stuck that she needs to use MM again? It’s pretty despicable and desperate if you ask me. It leaves a bad taste for this newcomer fan. At least that other JPop group “A” (not gonna say their name for fear of a backlash), have admitted they formed merely for marketing and to try and sell a lot from displaying their “merchandise” and nothing else. Koharu would’ve fit well there, just sayin’

    1. she was close with Mitsui because she was close in age. I never really saw her interact off or on camera with the Chinese members, Lin Lin and Jun Jun. There was speculation back then that when Ai-chan became leader she wanted Koha to call her Aichan instead of being so formal by calling her Takahashi-san since she had already knew her for two years in ’07. I think she looked up to Yossie since she said she admired her. I think when Yossie graduated, you can tell in variety shows she was openly displaying disinterest. What bothers me now after hearing her interview was she hated to play to the male fans of Morning Musume, i’m not a guy btw. I just feel this sort of negative attitude would spread to other things including her singing or performing. I mean, if she thought that way when she auditioned, what else was she expecting if or when she was accepted into the group & world of being an idol? To me that just made her look stupid and selfish, even though she was only 12 at the time. Yet, she knew exactly what she was getting into knowing that getting into Morning Musume would be a catapult to modeling. Like i said, Koharu is selfish, not considerate, very ungrateful and very unworthy of being an idol.

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