Kago Gets Friday’d, Suspended from H!P

Filed in Cult Of Pop 2.0

Good Lord. This is not news I wanted to wake up to…

For those who don’t know yet, Kago Ai was caught smoking at a restaurant by the magazine Friday and – at eighteen – she is too young to smoke legally in Japan. As a result, she’s suspended indefinitely from Hello! Project though UFA has announced they’ll talk to her parents about her career. The always informative ikimasshoi and Idolizing St. Anna both have great pieces on this that you should read.

For some reason, this doesn’t bother me as much as the news about Nacchi’s plagiarism at the end of 2004 or Mari being Friday’d with her boyfriend roughly ten months ago. Those just about freaked me out and had me running to the Alo-Hello store in Waikiki for solace… Of course, there’s no Alo-Hello store in Waikiki anymore (still a cause for much disappointment in my life), but I already have plenty of Kago Ai memorabilia anyway, including the only two H!P stuff on my wall right now. (Berryz calendar should be arriving soon.)

I don’t believe Kago will be kicked out of H!P mostly because she’s too valuable in terms of sales and visibility. Call me cynical or hopeful, but money talks bigger than morals in this day and age. And considering how prevalent underage smoking is, it seems even more tempest in a teapot to me…

I expect she’ll return in a month or two, and W’s upcoming single will be delayed. I’m also guessing she’ll no longer be captain of the H!P Kickball team.

But.

Let’s suppose… just suppose… that Kago is kicked out of H!P permanently. And beyond that, decides not to be in the entertainment business anymore. What then?

I’ll miss her, I’m sure, but for some odd reason I don’t think it’ll hurt me as much as, say, Zone’s break-up or Yagu quitting Momusu. And the reason, when I think about it some, is simple: it’s an acceptable ending. Not a good ending, by any means, but one that works. There isn’t as strong a sense of unfinished business or of lost potential or of being left in a lurch. Her narrative as an idol will end, if not on a satisfying note, then with more closure than those other two events I cited.

Does this make sense? I’m still wrapping my head around it since I’m surprised at how little wailing and gnashing of teething and rending of garments this news has caused in me. It’s not like I don’t love Kago deeply, but if it was time to let go, this isn’t a bad juncture to do so. She just turned eighteen, a symbolically fraught age for her especially, and W has had a decent run these past two years. All we see in the future is more W work and little else. So if it’s going to end, now would be as fitting as any other time. If W won’t stick around long enough to be their generation’s Pink Lady, then an early retirement – and a chance to consider other avenues in life – isn’t such a bad thing.

Truth be told, a part of me has suspected that she’d quit and get married at a young age because that’s what her parents did.

Pursuing this hypothetical further, Tsuji would have to continue without her life partner – another reason why Kago getting kicked out is unlikely. But as noted, Tsuji’s developed greatly on her own and could manage better now than before without Kago. What the heck, give her a few H!P kids and start a new unit if that were the case. That would actually be pretty exciting in its own right, though not as musically satisfying as W.

I think this may be denial talking, that I don’t really believe she’s out and so I can indulge in some silly hypotheticals. Or perhaps I’m just trying to brace myself for the worst case scenario if it does happen…

Stay tuned. There’s probably more developments brewing.

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9 Responses to “Kago Gets Friday’d, Suspended from H!P”
  1. CJ Marsicano says:

    I’m sure the Sunday Blog Round-Up is going to be full of Aibon links this weekend.

    Excuse me while contemplate spanking Aibon in a manner even my girlfriend would approve of.

    Le sigh.

  2. Chuck says:

    Unlike Mari, Ai hasn’t been removed from H!P’s Web site, so I really don’t think they’re planning on giving her the boot.

  3. underk2c says:

    In terms of the music business, plagiarism is much worse than dating or smoking. Idol business, I guess around the same. But Mari was probably on her way out of MM, so it’d didn’t seem that harsh to me. Similarly, I don’t think Kago is going to be getting that bad of a “punishment” here. Like you said, W is too valuable, whereas you can make a case for Nacchi’s solo career and Mari’s soon departure were not as valuable. Maybe this is just a stunt to stick Kago in Def Diva II.

  4. Steve Harrison says:

    Gee, Aibon out of H!P just for a few puffs on a cig??
    What a crock… H!P, and the Japanese media/fans etc. think it’s morally reprehensible for a kid of 18 to be smoking, but at the same time thinks it’s all right to market U-15, U-10 little girls to middle-aged men??!!

    In a society (Japan..and I love it) where you can go into any major book store like Kinokuniya, Maruen, etc. and find PBs featuring half-naked 8-10 year olds, and underpantied, legs-spred, pop-sucking 13 year olds (Shihono Ryou) displayed on the shelves, and in store windows, and big posters on the store walls……What more can I say?

    If Aibon is finished in H!P, then one of two things will happen. She will either be picked up by another big idol/music label like AVAX, or HORIPRO or… she can move to the US and stay with me in the beautiful Bay Area and raise our lovely Eurasian kids….Oh, I forgot, I am already married..make it Utah then!

  5. CJ Marsicano says:

    Chuck:

    Mari is still on H!P’s website. And she just did a song with Berryz Koubou last November.

  6. Chuck says:

    Mari was completely taken off when it was still in the air whether or not she would be with Hello! Project anymore. They put her back on as a soloist a week or two later. That’s what I meant. It doesn’t look like they’re even considering putting Ai out to pasture.

  7. CJ Marsicano says:

    According to this translation of the Hello! Project press release, it wasn’t Aibon that was suspended, but the event they were going to have on the 11th:

    http://community.livejournal.com/hello_news/18108.html?style=mine#cutid1

    Make of that what you will.

  8. CJ Marsicano says:

    At least there’s one Aibon fan out there with a sense of humor…

    http://cjmarsicano.livejournal.com/694865.html

  9. Steve Harrison says:

    Oh, i just read the link…

    English trans. is:

    To stop this serious matter, the management team is has decided that Kago Ai shall be disciplined beginning today, which was due to previous lack of guidance.

    “To prevent a regretful scandal like this occurring a second time hereafter, Kago Ai, her parents, and our staff are together undertaking discussions regarding this incident. For any betrayal felt by the fans of Kago Ai and ‘Hello!Project’ by her involvement in the above, we are truly sorry.”

    I think the key words above are “lack of guidance” “to prevent this occurring a second time…”
    I read between the lines to mean:

    1) The parents are being put on notice to reign in their “little juvenile delinquent” or more serious punishments inc. Aibon being forced out of H!P.
    2) Tsuku will prob. force Aibon to live in the H!P compound until 21, and let out only with supervision.
    3) She of course will have to not only apologize to her fans, but will prob. have to do CMs and ads about the horrors of smoking.
    4) When not actually working in H!P, she will become Tsunku’s personal Meiko, and learn to play the shamisen and koto. (Since I play and perform on the koto, I think I will send a letter off to Tsunku right now, offering my services at no charge……except for Aibon being my personal attendent at the Atami onsen!