Is Nacchi Back Yet?

Filed in Cult of Pop 1.0

Abe Natsumi was punished at the end of last year for plagiarism. Best as I can tell, in one of her photo or essay books, she claimed as her own creation some poems that were actually song lyrics written by other people. This was several years ago and was apparently not a well-kept secret of any sort. However, sometime in November there was a fuss raised over this act of plagiarism – which Nacchi claims was a case of mistaken intent, that she didn’t realize she had used ideas and words that weren’t hers – and she was duly punished.

For two months, December 2004 and January 2005, Nacchi would be out of the public eye. That meant missing out on several performances of the Hello! Project All-Stars for their single, “All for One and One for All” (in which she had solo lines), year-end performances on various shows – most notably the 55th Kouhaku – and even the graduation of Morning Musume’s Iida Kaori. The last was a particularly onerous punishment, as Nacchi and Johnson were two of the five original members and the ones who stuck with the group longest (Nacchi graduated in January of 2004).

Here in Hawaii, the Alo-Hello store stopped carrying Abe Natsumi items, instead a message was posted which explained the punishment, why she was being punished, and Nacchi’s apologies for this incident.

Anyway, it’s now February 1st. So being a dedicated otaku, I went to the Alo-Hello store after work and looked around. There was no Nacchi stuff available (and for that matter, nothing new for sale in general – new goods tend to come in one big wave, every couple months). I asked the girl working the register and she said that they weren’t allowed to carry Nacchi’s stuff – and when I mentioned it was February already, she said that they haven’t heard back yet from Japan. When Japan tells them they can sell the Nacchi stuff again, they will do so.

It would’ve been nice if I was able to come in and buy Nacchi goods, if only as a show of solidarity to her. She’s not even close to being one of my favorite Musume – I can think of a good half-dozen who I’m more loyal to, and even among the first generation she’s a firm third behind Ishiguro Aya and Nakazawa Yuko.

That said, the whole plagiarism scandal and punishment was a mountain/molehill situation and shouldn’t have been handled as it was. On the BBS’s I frequent, there was talk of conspiracy; just a couple days ago, there were posts musing that the exile was actually a way to hide a pregnancy. Given my recently revised notions of the Love Machine curse, I’m willing to entertain the possibility as a very remote chance.

However, setting aside such notions, I’m hoping that we can now move past the scandal and let Nacchi return to the Hello! Project fold. I’ll still buy Nacchi stuff when it’s finally made available, and just hope she’ll be making an appearance on Japanese TV very soon.