Saturday, August 24, 2013

And the Winner Is... NO ONE!



I'm sorry, I shouldn't laugh. Or I shouldn't type out my laughter at least. But I'm sorry, I can't help but laugh when a shocking announcement about any idol group comes up. As long as said announcement doesn't cause pain or misfortune for any of the members in the group. You all probably know what I'm talking about now: the announcement of AKB48's Team 4 being revived! Nope, nope, but we will get about that later because that's shocking news in a different way. So what happened today that has caused me to erupt into bounteous amounts of laughter? The 12th Generation auditions for Morning Musume! Or the... result of the auditions. Because today, Tsunku, the eternal member of Morning Musume, that no one from the final round of the 12th Gen. auditions had been added the group? Why? Because apparently, the current lineup is so strong that they don't really need more members, and of the pool of auditionees, none of them were really qualified to be in Morning Musume.

And so, for the first time in eight years, a Morning Musume audition has ended with no one being chosen. Yes, as most of you will recall, the seventh generation auditions technically ended with no winner either. However, most of you will also remember that a 7th generation was eventually added to Momusu: Kusumi Koharu, sole member of her generation and designated "ace" of Morning Musume. Whether or not she lived up to that role is still highly debated today among fans. Annnd, I'll just leave it at that! Like with any collective reaction to news about Morning Musume, the international fanbase has yet again imploded on itself and caused a rip in the fabric of the universe. Figuratively speaking. Though to be fair, this is a pretty big deal. Since auditions and graduations are at the foundation of Morning Musume, the fact that a 12th Generation was not picked is worth discussing. I mean, this is only the second time this has ever happened, and the fact that it even happened a second time took nearly everyone by surprise. And now what are we left with? Not a bunch of fans giving thoughts and critiques on the new members, but a bunch of fans reacting to the lack of new members.

And as you may have deduced from the beginning of my reaction to this news, I'm taking it pretty well.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I am very shocked at this announcement. But at the same time, I can't help but do what I do best and laugh about it. I have to laugh with all the other fans who are just as amused about this announcement as I am. I mean, laughter is a coping mechanism, even I'm not really upset that 12th Generation wasn't selected. I even think when I first read the news and saw the video, I was happy so yeah... This announcement's really taking a toll on my mental state, huh? Look, I think I'm getting more worked up about Perfume's Level 3 album than this announcement. I think it also has to do with the fact that I didn't even really hear a lot about the 12th Generation auditions. After the announcement, way back in March (yeah, it's been five months now), it was almost like the auditions had never even happened.

I'd hear something about it every so often, like a wisp of information passing through the night before disappearing, never to be seen or heard of again. I didn't even see the training camp footage until a few days ago. Hell, we didn't even learn the names of the finalists, or the number. And to be frank, none of the girls I saw in the video stood out to me. They all looked young, sounded squeaky, danced decently... there was one girl in the process of doing a card trick, which is pretty cool. But beyond her, no one really stood out to me in talent or personality. Considering this audition was focused on a "Mirai Shoujo" type of girl, is it really that surprising no one was picked if these were the finalists to chose from? I don't know, maybe if we'd seen more of these girls' personalities beyond a 1-minute clip, I'd have felt more strongly about the lack of a winner from these auditions. But we weren't, and I barely had any information about these auditions when the announcement was posted. I'd already felt indifferent towards the auditions, and even now, I'm still rather indifferent to this whole ordeal.

Honestly, I'm actually relieved that a 12 Gen. wasn't picked right now. Back in March, when the auditions were announced, I was not very thrilled about it. I'd almost even say I was downright apathetic towards the news. Or I tried to be at least. I have a very love/hate outlook toward the Morning Musume auditions. On one hand, they can be very exciting and interesting to watch. You get to see who the future members may be and try and figure what each girl could add to the group. Then when the results are out, you can make guesses and predictions about the new members' roles in the group: who will be pushed, who won't, who's going to stand out, who will stick around the longest. The auditions can be very entertaining but at the same time, they can be very tedious and painful to watch.

I think it might be because I'm someone who frequently auditions myself (not for idol groups but for theatre stuff), but I can't help but feel bad for the girls who don't get in, and that they're being broadcasted and scrutinized in front of an entire crowd of people. Auditioning can be a very intimate and emotionally tolling process, much like applying for a job. You have all this pressure stacked on you along with a desire to be talented and lucky enough to pass, you feel like you're on an emotional roller coaster, and you pretty much have to bare your soul in front of a group of strangers and hope that they like what they see. So yeah, there's my soapbox about the pains of auditioning, but even without that aspect of the Morning Musume auditions, I still don't find them to be completely amazing. I don't like that they're dragged out, and I especially don't like how a lot of the fans will rip each other apart during the audition process and after the auditions have passed. And then there's the whole fiasco about "Are X Generations auditions really necessary right now?" Though I was on the bandwagon that getting a 12th Generation was too soon for Morning Musume.

I mean, look at the group right now. Really look at the lineup. Doesn't it look balanced? Doesn't it look like a group and not just a mishmash of inexperienced newbs who are still adjusting to the idol life? Ever since Reina left (and this really shows in the latest Momusu PVs), I feel like the 9th, 10th, and 11th generations have really grown as idols and developed group chemistry. They've proven that they can still stand as a strong group without Reina, especially vocals wise. Personally, I'd be happy if this was the lineup for say, the next year or two. Maybe Sayumi graduates in the next year or so and it's all 9-11th generation. I'd be okay with that. And by that time, I think I'd be more open to another audition to be held. Besides, I think ten is a good number for Momusu. Why? Because... look, I've noticed over time that there's this pattern with Morning Musume and their hierarchy of who gets promoted/pushed.

Usually you have around four or five girls who get excessive attention in the group. In this case, those girls at the moment would be Sayashi Riho, Oda Sakura, Fukumura Mizuki, Sato Masaki, and Ishida Ayumi. You could also count Iikubo Haruna and maybe Kudo Haruka, but I'm just going off the vocal and visual distribution. Then you have everyone else and they... don't get that excessive attention. Don't get me wrong, they still get attention, just not as much. I feel like that's become a pattern with Morning Musume that UFP rigidly sticks to, and just adding more girls isn't really going to shake that pattern up too much. They'd just take up more space, and very likely only a fraction of the girls in the 12th Generation would even get added to that "push-list." So in conclusion, I'm pretty glad that the 12 Generation hasn't been added right now. I want to see more of this current lineup in action before more girls are thrown into the mixture.

Something I should also mention is that while the 12th Generation auditions brought about no winner now, Tsunku also said that he intended to hold another set of auditions for the 12th Gen. Take that as you will, but I'd think that in the near-future, this process will start back up again. I'd say around the end of 2013 or early 2014. And then we can have that all-out meltdown that occurs in the H!P fandom we were all anticipating! So now, for better or worse, the member count for 12th Gen. is zero. Are you one of those fans running up and down the streets screaming obscenities or are you like me and laughing at all the jokes about Tsunku being the 12th Generation?

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