Zone’s Last Song

Filed in Cult of Pop 1.0

I don’t cry when people die. I’m rarely emotionally moved, something I’m perfectly aware of and relatively content with. That said, watching Zone’s last song was enough to get me bawling like a beaten three year-old redheaded stepchild.

I finally saw the Music Stationclip with Zone’s last performance, April 1st at the Budokan. Their last encore was “Secret Base” and it was stranger and more touching than I expected. It wasn’t like a Morning Musume graduation, where you’re often happy and think the current graduate has served her time and is ready to move on. This feels premature, uncalled for – I’m tempted to say unfair, but that’d be too much.

This was the end of a good thing that promised to keep getting better.

“Secret Base” is growing on me, if only because it’s becoming more and more laden with extra meaning. The song itself is quite pretty, if meandering, and Miyu always does a great job with the vocals on this song. That said, it would’ve been less of a tearjerker if the girls had gone for one of their more upbeat songs – why not “Sotsugyo” (the first single from this current line-up) or even “Akashi” (a dark song, but life-affirming)?

The girls were all dressed in white gowns with headdress of various kinds. Tomoka had a tiara, Maiko had flowers, Mizuho had a bow. With Miyu wearing a veil, it looked like the bride’s side of a wedding, with a Jumbotron screen for an alter and the groom’s side in the audience, waving light sticks back and forth in a rhythmic fashion.

Maiko was the first to start crying, about midway through the song. Somehow that made sense to me, though I don’t know why. I thought, “That’s just like Maiko,” though I know very very little about the group’s personal lives. She later managed a smile and again I thought that was typically Maiko, putting the bravest face forward. At any rate, when Maiko started to cry, I began crying too.

The bride Miyu teared up and even choked down a line at one point, which was surprising. She always struck me as the most professional of the group, the most career-driven and serious. Since Takayo left, Miyu became the center of the group. She earned it, and again I hope she knows what she’s doing with the solo career.

Mizuho was beautiful, solemn… She’s supposed to be the reason Zone decided to disband, but I find it hard to hate her for that. They’re all so young, and if they want to explore new opportunities in their life, I can only wish them the best. (I think it would have been easier if the decision to break up was initiated by all four members at the same time, but apparently not – there was even talk of a three-member version of Zone, but that got canned.) Mizuho has always been the loudmouthed obnoxious member of the group, so watching her in recent weeks gives me a sense that she’s grown up a great deal.

And while I hate to bring it up, I can’t help thinking of a theory someone posted on the boards that Mizuho’s pregnant and that’s why she had to leave the band. If that’s the case, I honestly don’t know what to think. I’m sure it isn’t, but there’s something about the sudden-ness of the break-up (and past statements from Mizuho which at least hinted that she was romantically active) which leaves me wanting a more satisfying answer.

Tomoka, visibly upset. I just hope we see her doing something after this. I’d pick up anything by her – a new CD, a photobook, whatever. One year in the spotlight isn’t enough for someone like her.

Will there be a Zone reunion in the future? I have no idea. Before, I was confident it would happen – who would walk away from the rock and roll lifestyle, especially when so young? But I walked away from my dream dotcom job and was relieved when I did so. And the demands of the pop idol lifestyle (especially in Japan) may not match up enough to the rewards (especially in Japan). Maybe Ishiguro Aya, Fukuda Asuka, Ichii Sayaka, and Takayo were all correct in getting out of the Pop Life and into something else.

I keep saying I’m going to miss Zone, but it’s about as simple as that. I’m really going to miss them.