So..........................now what? o.o
For a less, ahem, emotional (to put it nicely) answer, here's my own wild speculation:
I've been dwelling on this news all day at work, and while of course I'm shocked and saddened by it, I also thought it through and am now very curious and cautiously excited for what the possible master plan could be.
Riho is on a fasttracked graduation. She's leaving Morning Musume, but not Hello Project. She mentioned wanting to learn English overseas.
I see someone mentioned Aika, who, similarly, was fasttracked into graduating Momusu (although due to notable injuries in her case) but not H!P, then later went overseas to learn English...and came back to work as a reporter for Up Front Link.
clusterfuck except not really
temporary hitch known as the YouTube Reddening, Up Front has made it clear that H!P is aiming for a worldwide reach. The subtitled music videos, sending Aika to New Zealand, the New York concert, the drafting of Miki Nonaka, the recording of an English lyric song for an English-speaking TV show...all signs point to this continuing. Riho Sayashi could be the new centerpiece of this ambitious quest. So far these international skills have been relegated to side gimmicks and lesser members: Coconuts Musume and Minimoni in the past, Aika currently, and Miki, who despite a promising future is still a new girl. Now imagine if the flagship member of the flagship group was also able to communicate with everyone both inside and outside Japan!
These attempts by the company to reach beyond Japan could have been important learning experinces and experiments, and Riho's graduation could be the next step. But we can also look at the most recent single: "Oh My Wish" and the aptly-titled "Ima Sugu Tobikomu Yuuki" seemed to be experiements themselves as well, with Riho taking a backseat to "lesser" members to see how well such configurations could fly. With the resulting success of that single, perhaps management now has enough faith in the rest of the group to shake things up a bit. This past year has already been a test to see how well H!P can fare with Tsunku in a reduced role; how will Morning Musume '16 do without their ace? Maybe a new ace within their ranks is ready to rise...if Riho's time is up, this girl's time is now, doot doo-doot doooooo.
I'm also excited for Riho herself. She gets a chance to experience what life is like outside of H!P, while building on her existing passions and skills. Maybe she's aiming for the United States, where we have prime time TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance
and America's Best Dance Crew
, so she can learn from the top tier stars and teachers of the biggest media market. Maybe she's still embarrassed by "Watsugozara Kamozaland" and her New York intro and wants to conquer that barrier. Someone mentioned her weight concerns, so maybe she wants to experience some cultures where one doesn't have to be delicately stick-thin to be considered healthy. If you love your child, send her out into the world.
And again, she will still be a Hello Project member. If all else fails, she still has a home to come back to. She can easily parlay her current ace status, combined with whatever she may learn on the outside, into something moderately successful, if not a solo career then perhaps a new group beholden to her own leadership, and without the baggage of Momusu's history. Who knows, maybe management will do the crazy thing and bring her back into the group after her absence! It's not like learning new dances will be difficult for her (but then again, she'll be older and possibly slower).
I'm sad for Morning Musume to lose such a key member so quickly. I'm sad for the 9th generation being broken up already. But we've come a long way since the days when Riho was nothing but some random 12-year-old joining a "dead" group, and I wanna see how this crazy development turns out.
This would be the part where I post that Tsunku "goddamn genius" image macro, but he's not calling the shots anymore.
so who do we blame now when things go wrong