Mako-chan Got Hosed

Filed in American Wota 1.0 has the news that Makoto graduated with Konno today. I didn’t have any special posts in mind for this graduation or the expected graduation of Mako-chan in August – neither are my favorites, and I’ve been more of a Berryz fan in recent months anyway – but this can’t go without some kind of comment.

I don’t want to state the obvious: that fans invest a great deal of themselves in these graduations, that they want to give each and every girl a special send-off, and that surprising everybody with this sudden change not only hurts Makoto and Konno, but also those fans. We all can figure these things out. And yet, the Powers That Be – H!P management, UFA’s higher ups, the marketing folks, concert arrangers, I’m not sure who’s responsible here – did not take this into account and somehow figured this was a good idea.

One day of warning would’ve been enough. One fucking day, and it would’ve spread among the mo-wotas through word of mouth and 2ch and however else is available to them. We need to give Momusu fans – especially the scary fuckers with the lightsticks who jump like pogos throughout the concert – credit where credit’s due, they’re resourceful and passionate enough to make sure a graduating girl is treated properly and they would have given Makoto as good a send-off today as she would have in August. If they were properly warned.

Would motivation matter in this case? Would the reason for the surprise move influence how I feel about it? Maybe this is what Makoto wanted, maybe she needs to go overseas earlier than scheduled. (Though I thought she was in this summer’s musical…) Or maybe she wanted her and Konno to leave the group together. If so, I still think the fans should have been warned – but I could live with it. Education has its own demands above and beyond idol life, as we’ve learned time and again.

That said, I tend to think that this was all about money – while the graduation of Nacchi or Tsujikago or Rika would mean big sales and respectable media attention, second-stringers like Konno and Makoto aren’t as reliable prospects revenue-wise so might as well cut the losses and do them together. And I really can’t blame such thinking in and of itself – after all, one of the reasons I like Jpop so much is because it’s pretty damn blatant about placing commerce on an equal footing with art. However, you don’t screw over your customer base because that’s bad business and this is definitely a case of screwing over your customer base, of depriving them one of the deepest pleasures they gain from your product. Especially in a market that relies so heavily on the emotional connection between the customer and the product, that is built almost solely on a seemingly irrational devotion of a customer to a particular brand.

Of course, another edict of business is that you do whatever you can get away with, and by basing their market almost solely on a hardcore fan base that’s slavishly dedicated to Hello! Project, the folks that run H!P believe they can pull such moves and the fans would stick around anyway. (The similarities to the American comic book market are too damn strong to not mention in passing, yet again.) I don’t think they’re wrong, either. There may be a lot of grumbling and symbolic protests on the internet, but everyone who’d’ve been disillusioned enough by this situation to give up on Morning Musume had long-ago stopped paying attention to the group anyway.

I wish I could say I’m going to stand up and not give any more of my money to H!P… but I’m too much of a wota anyway to let principles stand in the way of my fanboy obsessions. Beyond that, such a stand also hurts the idols I care about as much as the company; this rule of unintended consequences is where middlemen gain so much of their leverage, after all.

Ultimately, this will pass, tempers will cool (if they even flare at all), and this moment will just be another sour note in a long line of sour notes. I still wish both Konno and Ogawa the best of luck in their future endeavors, and I still look forward to seeing what the new 8-nin Morning Musume will deliver. Perversely, I’m actually getting what I want – the 8-nin line-up – even sooner than I expected, so I guess I should feel happy about it.

But given the circumstances, I would have gladly waited another month or two if it meant giving Makoto what she deserves.

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7 Responses to “Mako-chan Got Hosed”
  1. Sarah says:

    The forums I’ve been reading give the impression that though Mako gave her graduation speech and had her good-byes at the concert, she won’t actually be leaving MoMusu until the original date in August, at the end of the musical.

    But I agree it’s still frustrating that there was no warning that she would be giving her speech along with Konno. It’s not fair to her and it’s not fair to her fans.

  2. Craig says:

    It makes me think twice about the R7 concert DVD because IMO shouldn’t that be the graduation also? I mean what are they trying to say? ‘We don’t want these 2 f**kers to f**k up our new DVD with their grads’? F**k them if that’s what they thought. Show me a concert where you actually want all the people in the group in the group. In other words show me the next concert DVD f**kers (f**king killing me trying to pay for all the products anyway… ).

  3. Julia says:

    I’ve been watching KonKon videos all day…now I have to watch all the Mako-chan videos right away too? I haven’t finished the KonKon ones yet! Oh man…

  4. Johnny says:

    Totally unfair!

    What the heck were they thinking?!?

  5. pengie says:

    I, too, wish it would be possible for me to say “that’s it, no more of this”–Makoto was my favorite member, after all, so I’m especially annoyed by this mess–but the problem with (appeal of?) H!P is that there’s really no way you can do that. The songs are too catchy, the members too attractive, and so on. It’s like some twisted guilty pleasure.

    I (and a lot of others) are just hoping that UFA realizes their mistake and grants Mako her own ceremony on the date we were all given for her graduation in the first place. She really does deserve better.

  6. Chuck says:

    I had figured she was actually graduating from the group a month early, but the H!P site still lists Makoto as part of Morning Musume. Maybe she will get her own graduation after all. It would be weird to have it where she has a graduation ceremony, keeps on going with the group, then suddenly disappears.

  7. acetonic says:

    Mako didn’t that big of a sendoff because she did not graduate. It was her final concert as a Momusu so they gave her flowers but she probably didn’t want to take away from Konkon’s special day. Mako will be around for another month and they will probably give her a fond goodbye at her last performance in the musical.