The first h!p graduation that really affected me was Konno Asami’s in the summer of 2006. I was just beginning to pay attention to individual members, and it was adorable Konno who stood out. So because I realized that she would be leaving h!p and I could no longer watch her grow and perform, it was a very personal graduation for me. After seeing a few more graduation concerts (Ishimura Maiha’s, Nono and Aibon’s and Iida Kaori’s), I came to think of graduations as sources of only negative feelings.
Thus when my all-time h!p favorite (Yossy) announced that she was graduating from Morning Musume, I was sure that nothing good could come of it. After all, I reasoned to myself, wasn’t Yossy the only member of Morning Musume I liked? Could I still listen to Momusu without my favorite member’s presence? I was already preparing to forget about Morning Musume.
However, something amazing happened. Instead of making me lose all interest in the group, Yossy’s graduation helped me to see the potential and talents of other members. Before her graduation, they were all eclipsed by Yossy’s presence and I could see only her. I had no second favorite within the group and couldn’t even tell most of their voices apart. But when Yoshizawa graduated, the other girls presented themselves to me in a whole different light. The first person about whom my opinion changed was Kamei Eri.
Before Yossy’s graduation Kamei was one of the few current members to have caught my attention at all. This was because I had read that she used to have a shy character, then underwent a transformation of sorts and become more social and such. That sort of change appealed to me. However, she didn’t stand out to me physically in any sense; I didn’t think she had much presence within the group and quickly disregarded her to go fangirl over some Yossy performances. Now? She’s my favorite current member, and perhaps my 3rd favorite member of H!P, overall. I would never have discovered just how much I love this girl had Yoshizawa not graduated when she did (Oh, and Eri’s Maple photobook probably helped a bit, too).
Michishige Sayumi was the next girl about whom my opinion changed upon Yossy’s graduation. Before, I held little opinion on Sayu beyond “Oh, she can’t sing very well and thus she annoys me. Plus I don’t know why everyone says she’s so cute”. Now that there’s no Yossy around to overshadow her, Sayu has suddenly taken on another dimension in my eyes: She’s become sexy (Sayumi is secretly the sexiest member of Morning musume). I’ve even started liking her singing voice- to a degree. And now I can see why everyone thinks she’s so cute: She really is!
Reina may be the only member to have not benefited in my mind when Yossy left. I had to take notice of Reina now that Yossy had left, since she began to be pushed to the front more. And I didn’t like what I saw. I could devote a whole page towards figuring out exactly what it is about Reina that grates on me so much- her apparent dropping of the Yanki personality, her constant winking (I’m starting to worry that she should see a doctor about it) or just her voice when she tries to make it sound all cutesy- but that is perhaps the subject of another post.
In short? I’ve come to realize that the graduation of a member- whether they be your favorite, the one you never noticed, or the member you love to hate- is not nessecarily a bad thing. In my case, it was a very, very good thing indeed.