W is for Wanton

Filed in American Wota 1.0

As some of you may be aware, I’ve been having a ball posting about Tsuji’s pregnancy and nuptials both at MM-BBS and the AW Forum. It’s helped me to gather my thoughts and figure out what the scandalicious exploits of the terrible two can tell us about the idol world and Hello! Project. All the chatter about the sexual misadventures of W has also made me want to post genitalia-free screencaps from that AV tribute, Double U Dream starring Amai Mitsui and Miho Yui. So I decided to combine my random thoughts with these not-so-random images. Who needs another retrospective of Tsujikago pictures when this is closer in spirit to the topics of discussion? And I promise that the next time Ayaya gets caught shopping for toilet paper, I’ll use the appropriate Ran Monbu screencaps.

So. Many questions have popped up by fans about this scandal, especially given its proximity to Kago’s own latest indiscretion. What the fuck happened to W? Why is W fucking up? W knows how to fuck? Why do others get to fuck W and I don’t? Questions like that.

Actually, the last two questions probably loom most in the back of many fans’ mind. Kago’s willing to date men twice her age. Tsuji doesn’t know how to use protection. The virginal notion of the Morning Musume girls gives way to much more sordid images…

Images like the ones depicted here? Perhaps Double U Dream is more documentary than AV fantasy? Okay, okay, that may be too much of a stretch…

But let’s admit this much: fans who love Tsuji and Kago, who drool over their bodies, whether cosplaying as dinosaurs (which I personally considered quite sexy) or in swimsuits, now know for sure – these girls have had sex. They have needs and know how to take care of them. (They just don’t know how to cover up that caretaking.) And in Kago’s case, her standards may include men who would otherwise have thought themselves out of her league. (Beautiful women with not-so-beautiful men tend to do that in general.)

Following this train of thought, other questions can’t help but be asked. What exactly have Tsuji and Kago tried sexually? I won’t go into an explicit list, as I’m sure you can fill in the gaps as needed. How many partners have they had? There were rumors of Kago with some guy from Orange Range – which only show how crap her taste in men are. Have Tsuji and Kago experimented with each other? Have they ever shared a man? And who else in Hello! Project – a place that values purity and innocence in their image – is also sexually active? Visions of Playstations and toilet paper and exiled members of KAT-TUN dance before our eyes, renewed in their prurient possibilities. But those are only the most obvious!

So what’s the big deal? Girls sleep around all the time! Well, UFA made it a big deal by being so restrictive and then making a big stink about it. These girls are human, they have needs of their own. At the very least, I’m going to assume that some of the Elder Club are sexually active: they’re just smart enough to keep their private lives out of the public eye and to not get pregnant. (How they avoid pregnancy, I’ll again leave to our respective imaginations.) In other words, they know how to keep a firewall between their private lives and their geinou careers – something Tsuji and Kago have both had problems with. Above all in their careers, it’s best to protect your image and protect your fertile eggs – in that specific order, mind you.

And while it’s possible to expand our inquiries to Yaguchi Mari and consider this a Minimoni epidemic of rampant horniness, I’ll resist. First, I’m more of a W fan than a Minimoni fan. Second, it’s not like Mika and Takitty have yet been caught doing mattress jankenpyon. Third, Yagu’s own scandal is relatively tame compared to the Tsujikago duo: she was caught with a boyfriend and that’s it, she wasn’t sneaking off to an onsen or getting knocked up. While we assume she’d been doing renai revolutions on his manpower, all accounts claim he’d been a gentlemen and was in good graces with her parents. Before they broke up, at least.

Besides, there’s a wonderful symbolism in considering this as a problem of W proportions. Kago and Tsuji are not only the terrible two of Morning Musume, they were also the first children to join and stay with Hello! Project. Asuka left while still quite young – and she never seemed all that childish to begin with – while Gocchin seemed more mature than her age, in part because she was pretty hot and well-developed. In contrast, Kago and Tsuji acted like kids given the pop world as their playground, and each other as their soul- and playmates.

They went through audition hell but came out of it as members of the superstar idol group that had already taken Japan by storm. As a result, they went from obscurity to national sweethearts and standard-bearers in a matter of weeks. As a result, they’ve been pop royalty – if not queens, then duchesses or princesses – for nearly half their lives. And within the H!P collective, they were among the top tier, even given their own lines on “All for One and One for All”. As a result, this fall from grace – even if it’s because they’re doing what many other young adults their age do (dating, having sex, making bad decisions) – becomes a postmodern cliché, a pre-packaged morality tale which only exposes how different morality is in this day and age.

That broader perspective is why I can’t help but be amused at how the two kiddie darlings of “Happy Summer Wedding” and “The Peace!” and “Robokiss” are showing just how grown-up they are in their private lives. I know it’s wrong to delight in the problems of others, but there are too many ironies to ignore here! There’s the impeccable timing. The fact that this happened so soon after Kago getting booted out of H!P for going to an onsen with a considerably older man – and this after she’d been exiled for a year because she was caught smoking. I was suffering from Kago fatigue, I couldn’t even watch pre-fourth gen Momusu videos without thinking about it. And just when it seemed over and we thought that was that… Tsuji breaks her own news.

The calculated closeness of the duo brings up some other interesting suppositions and juxtapositions. We can joke that Tsuji and Kago always did things together, and now getting fucked – literally and metaphorically – is something else they shared. Or the fact that they were the winners of the infamous Bakajo Tests – runner-up Kago only got caught sneaking around with an older man, while queen Bakajo Tsuji took it all the way and got impregnated. Not being smart enough to hide from the media or to have your boyfriend wear a condom (or at least pull out) may not make them morons (no more so than other careless girls their age), but certainly doesn’t earn them a spot in Mensa.

I’m also reminded of that wonderful episode of Arizona no Mahou where the girls married each other – Tsuji as the bride, Kago as the groom. (Still one of my favorite H!P clips of all time.) Who knew marriage would truly be the case for at least one of them this soon? (And not even the one we would have expected!) Or how about Tsuji’s new unit and the fact that it has a gyaru motif? Considering the unfair stereotype of promiscuity associated with the subculture, it’s unfortunate that she opted for this image right before the pregnancy announcement was made.

There’s the acting role the father-to-be is best known for – it’s a strange otaku fantasy come to life. Imagine the headline: “Ultraman Uses His Love Machine!” “New H!P Egg Is On the Way!” Or to go for a pure H!P joke, “Do It! Now Leads to Happy Summer Wedding!” There’s “Curious Nono gets the Sexy Beam from Ultraman!” The material just about writes itself. Almost.

Reactions have been less anguished than Kago’s scandal, as some noted. Part of it is the notion that Tsuji didn’t deserve to be in fourth gen and was always something of the H!P idiot. For me, though, part of what keeps this such a light-hearted affair is that there is a joyous occasion beyond the scandal.

Granted, this isn’t the ideal way to start a family – conceived both out of wedlock and in the public eye. But as a proud daddy who almost named my child Ai Nozomi, I have to say a baby can be a wondrous and life-affirming experience. (Keep in mind, I didn’t have to actually squeeze my Haruna Moni out of my body, so I’m not going to comment on the miracle of childbirth itself.) Tsuji’s getting a great looking husband and will hopefully make sure her baby is as healthy and well-cared for as possible. That’s a great deal of blessing and grace right there.

After all, she could have tried to keep it secret and had an abortion. (A train of thought that makes you wonder if there have been H!P abortions in the past…) Or she could have decided to be an unwed mother. It’s her business why she made the choice that she did – most likely, parental pressure and a decision that this is the right, traditional path to take – but it strikes me as a move that attempts to make the best of an unexpected (not unfortunate) situation. And again, I know the bias of daddyhood is speaking here, but it would delight me as long as I know that it delights Tsuji. Or she at least makes a convincing claim of delight in public, which is about as much as fans can hope for.

So on the face of it, Tsuji’s scandal is so much less desperate than Kago’s, who was already under a cloud and has relatively questionable taste in men. We can see an upbeat result to Tsuji’s situation, with the wedding and the birth. With Kago, all we get is lung disease, a sordid other-woman vibe, and a harassed restaurant staff.

As for Tsuji’s career being imperiled… maybe, maybe not. She’s been knocked up, but she’s a Golden Age Morning Musume starting a family with Ultraman. She’s proven herself over the years to be a very entertaining geinou, if not a talented singer – and she’s done even more to prove her worth in the past year of solo work. Squeezing out a little Nono may just be a way for her to refocus her geinou persona for wider appeal.

Tsuji certainly isn’t alone in her actions – especially in the world of Japanese pop idols. Hirosue Ryoko got pregnant, married, and resumed her acting career. Imai Eriko of the late, great Speed resumed her singing career after her own shotgun wedding. Heike Michiyo, the winner of the Asayan contest that led to Morning Musume, just announced her own pregnancy and marriage.

And let’s not forget that first – and still greatest – Musume Mother, Ishiguro Aya!

As I’ve said time and again, she remains my all-time favorite member of Morning Musume, the Musume MILF extraordinaire, the Naho Ozawa of Hello! Project – a woman with class and beauty and cleverness to spare. After she got knocked up by lucky bastard / Luna Sea drummer Shinya, she married to him, had her baby, struggled some with motherhood, had another baby, wrote about her experiences, had another baby, and turned her motherhood into a new niche for her in the geinou world.

I don’t think Ayappe has done any professional singing since the Tanpopo reunion, and apparently she smokes – so I’m guessing her voice isn’t as good as it once was. But her motherhood expertise doesn’t require her using any of her previous geinou skills – outside of her natural charm and beauty, that is. That’s more than enough, really.

In contrast, there’s the other Musume who got pregnant and had a shotgun wedding. Sayaka Ichii was impregnated by her fellow bandmate in Cubic Cross, they got married, and quickly disappeared from the media limelight. At least, I hadn’t heard from her since then.

(And now that I think of it, another great irony becomes evident: in the “Love Machine” PV, it’s Ayappe and Sayaka who grab their bodies and shake it to the “nice body body body” line. Coincidence? Perhaps the whole knocked-up / shotgun wedding / sex scandal curse happens to certin pairs of H!P females?)

I don’t think Tsuji needs to go back to singing postpartum – mostly because she’s never been much of a singer to start with, though she has learned quite well to work with her limitations. However, the Ayappe and Sayaka routes are available, depending on what exactly she wants with her life. As opposed to being a motherhood expert like Ayappe, she can turn her image of clumsiness and stupidity to highlight in her own inimitable way the difficulties of young motherhood as a kind of broad comedy.

Or even better, she can go with the sexy MILF route and do a tastefully nude photobook after she gives birth, or even a Demi Moore styled pose as her belly and breasts and buttocks thicken with that distinct maternal glow. It’s certainly a way to win the attention of the public if she still wants it – and if the baby is cute, that’ll make her even more marketable, as a telegenic baby is the best prop one could ask for.

Looking further down the road, I agree completely with pengie and some others that W will be reformed in the future, if not by that name. This would also be the only scenario where I can see Tsuji returning to music – with Kago as her partner-in-crime, back to old times for them and for a public newly curious about the Promiscuous Pair from the !Projects. H!P actually laid out the groundwork for a comeback in deciding to make the first and third albums cover collections from past female duos. Even if the girls can’t get permission to do H!P songs, they’ll have a repertoire the public will be familiar with.

Granted, it’s become apparent in this past year that Tsuji and Kago aren’t the BFFs that their image projected over the years… however, their on-stage chemistry has been undeniable and I’m sure they can reclaim that without a problem. That is their secret weapon, that is what makes their mutual return to the geinou spotlight not only a possibility but a long-term probability.

The most interesting aspect to me, however, is the sharp contrast that these W events draw between the idea of consequence-free sex and consequence-free sexuality. The difference should be obvious enough: consequence-free sexuality is when someone or something projects sexual appeal but does so with no harm to the observer or the observed. Consequence-free sex is the idea that having sexual intercourse will lead to no repercussions. Both are fantasies, with little relevance in our day-to-day world: there are always consequences in what we do, especially in the realm of sex and sexuality. To think otherwise would be foolish and inviting problems into one’s life.

And yet, consequence-free sexuality is the very basis for idols: they are attractive young women who inspire fantasies in their wota audience, often emphasizing their feminine wiles without becoming too vulgar or explicit. By nature of their marketing, pop idols are teases: they connect in media-controlled intimacy with their wota, showing skin and striking poses while maintaining a virginal image. Purity and innocence are a virtue, making them “worthy” of the worship they receive.

U15 gravure idols truck even more heavily in this kind of tension, which is one reason I enjoy them so much. The interplay between innocence and naivete with the strong sensual come-ons are either taken with a postmodern wink or drive one crazy. (Both, in my case.) Older gravure models – both those who pose nude and those who don’t – are also about the tease, promising a riper sexuality but not crossing the line into, you know, actual fucking.

Actual fucking is left to the pros, of course, such as Mitsui and Yui. AV idols deliver the goods in consequence-free sex, precisely by the nature of the work they do.Because of the insular, sex-centered fantasy world which is the specialty of so much porn, AV idols are goddesses of consequence-free sex, avatars of constant feel-good fucking. (Most of the time, that is – the most recent Maria Ozawa DVD reminded me that the Japanese AV world also delights in sexual fantasies that are all about negative consequences – at least for the woman) You can fuck as many partners in as many ways as you like and gain all the pleasure that will give you, with none of the drawbacks or complications, physical or emotional. That’s the secret of an AV idol’s happiness, or at least of the personae they promote through their work. Anyone aware of the adult industry – even in general – knows this isn’t the case behind the scenes. But this is what they peddle, the same way idols peddle a milder, less aggressive version of this fantasy.

It’s not a bad fantasy, after all. Most of us would love to be able to partake of consequence-free sex if such a thing existed. Most of us appreciate consequence-free sexuality whenever we watch a PV or look at a photobook. It’s a good economic model, a boost for both the libido and the capitalist system that keeps the libideo well-fed. But most anyone with a whit of common sense knows that this isn’t the case in real life – that it is just a fantasy and we’ve got to watch ourselves in the day-to-day. Drooling at some hot young thing in a Maryknoll school outfit may be something you want to hold back. Sleeping with somebody who isn’t your significant other should make you think twice and not just excuse with, “If it feels good, do it.”

And so, I find myself wondering: Is there a connection to draw between the consequence-free sexuality of the idol fantasy and the rather consequential sexual activity of two of the most popular idols of the past decade? Maybe. If anything, I think it’s a case of inverse proportions: even as they were told to project a sexy (if often juvenile) image to their fans, they were also told by UFA that the natural outcome of such attractiveness and behavior was forbidden to them. They were allowed to perform mating rituals but not allowed to actually pursue a mate.

Which doesn’t mean that dancing around in those RR21 outfits or posing in bikinis for their photobooks or Kago flashing her panties in “Chu Natsu Party” or Tsuji mimicking the grind moves of Melon Kinenbi in a concert turned these girls into sluts. If anything, that was just these girls being idols and following their scripts. To say that their less-than-demure behavior on-stage led to less-than-demure behavior off-stage is like saying Anthony Hopkins really eats people when he’s home between movies.

Whether or not the stupidity and childishness that they display as part of their idol personae played a role in what’s happened to these girls recently… well, that’s an iffier argument. That seems to be a part of their personalities as well as personae, and would contribute to bad judgment the way it would for a non-idol girl who does something similar. But like I said, it’s an iffy call – after all, Charmy has an airhead persona but has indicated through her career choices and leadership she’s anything but. In that case, it’s more persona than personality, if you catch my drift.

Returning to UFA’s restrictions on socializing with the less-fair sex, it isn’t all that unusual, though it’s growing more archaic. Such restrictions can be seen in other venues: convent schools, traditional religious households, anyplace which thinks the tide of hormones can be held back with the proper set of rules and regulations. Proponents of such strict control consider it a way to protect the innocent, providing useful discipline for future temptations. And yet, such restrictiveness tends to backfire for reasons that seem obvious to anyone with an eye for human nature. Prohibitions lead to curiosity and a fascination for the forbidden, leading to more risk-taking and larger consequences than if something was permitted. “In for a penny, in for a pound – if I’m going to get in trouble anyway, I might as well break as many rules as I can.” Catholic school girls rule, after all, and Salt Lake City used to be notorious for the wild groupies waiting backstage at rock concerts.

And keep this in mind: Tsuji and Kago may have been the first children raised by Hello! Project, but they are by no means the last. Every generation after the fourth has leaned towards the less hairy side of puberty and the H!P Kids have now become a force to be reckoned with as C-ute and Berryz prepare to dominate the spotlight. Wonderful Hearts Land is filled with girls who may not have shared in the same level of geinou success as Tsuji and Kago, but who certainly have learned similar lessons, been forced to live under the same rules, and who face much of the same pressure as their naughty senpai. Megukami has paid the price for it already – unfairly, I’ll still argue – and I’m sure she won’t be the only one.

So while I don’t see a direct connection between the girls’ sexy images and their sexual activity, I do see a direct connection between the restraints of their career choices and the recklessness which we’ve witnessed this past year. I hope that it will be a caution, an important warning, to the management of UFA. However, it seems that UFA is acting as expected, clamping down even tighter on their idols and warning them again about not following their natural instincts, to not give in to the same impulses that they sing about in every song and with every performance. It’s an irony that doesn’t strike me as funny at all, just tragically misguided.

Ultimately, blaming UFA and their policies is still a somewhat reductive perspective, as would blaming Tsuji and Kago’s reckless natures. After all, UFA is merely following the rules of the idol world as they understood it, keeping their employee in line and behaving as the idols they’re expected to be. And the recklessness of Tsuji and Kago has served them well as idols, their willingness to rush in where angels fear to tread has led to so many cherished memories among their fans. (Kago’s date with Gackt immediately comes to mind! And remember when Kago expressed surprise at Gackt’s supposed age? Maybe that was the seed of her present interest in older men.) Looked at from the right angle and the proper rhetorical tilt, the seeds of any tragically grand downfall can always be found in the same traits that contributed to success. The idol world giveth, and the idol world taketh away…?

Or perhaps not. Tsunku has apparently disagreed with UFA’s decisions regarding his two proteges. From what I understand – and correct me if I’m wrong – if he had his druthers, the girls would still be a part of Hello! Project. Whether this is from sympathy for the two young women, an uncanny insight of the untapped potential and income Tsujikago can still provide, or some other obscure Tsunku-esque reason, I’m not sure. Tsunku and the two fourth gen stalwarts share a long history that encompasses some of the most memorable highs of Hello! Project’s decade of existence, and has seen the girls grow from children to adults. It’s not a surprise that he’s not ready to just throw it all away without a thought – but perhaps he’s also considered the contradictions in the idol world and wants to change it, if only for his and his girls’ long-term benefit? If that’s the case – and if tensions actually arise between UFA and Tsunku – then I’m willing to bet TNX will play a major role in whatever fallout occurs, especially if there’s an Avignon-esque split in this corner of the idol world. Who knows? TNX may well become the new home for Tsuji and Kago.

Unlikely? Preposterous? Well, we’re living in unlikely and preposterous times, it would seem! I’m sure there’s still a surprise or two left in this ongoing saga. If you’d told me at the start of the year that Kago’d be coming back, I’d have been mildly skeptical at best. If you told me she’d come back only to be kicked out again for screwing around with a man my age, I’d have scoffed at such inanity. And if you’d told me that Tsuji’d be knocked up and kicked out of H!P as well, I’d have asked what you were smoking and what it’s laced with. Whatever crazy scenarios we can come up with, we may not be that far off the mark.

So we should all fasten our seatbelts, it’s going to be a long, bumpy night… but there may just be a new dawn worth looking towards.

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4 Responses to “W is for Wanton”
  1. Rikki says:

    Has Nono been kicked out of H!P as you say? No other source is saying that.

  2. CJ Marsicano says:

    Rikki – no official decision has been made by H!P yet, and Nono pretty much said at her press conference that she’d come back after the baby was born, so I’m presuming that she’ll be on maternity leave.

  3. hydralisk says:

    If W reforms it will never be as popular as before because the fantasy is over.

    Nice piece! If those two AV had tried to make fun of Tsuji/Kago before the scandals broke it would only have made us indignant, but now it’s hilarious.

  4. Ray Mescallado says:

    I jumped the gun in assuming UFA would boot Tsuji, taking it as a fait accompli in light of how they treated Kago and Megukami, It’d be wonderful if they allowed Tsuji to stay around, though it’d also expose the hypocrisy of their current no-dating policy as far as the other girls are concerned. “Don’t date boys… but if you do, make sure you get pregnant and we won’t fire you.”