Well, it’s done, the Takahashi Ai era of Momusu (we are calling it an era!!). Now that I have some much needed time away from work, I can think through how I feel about this. It’s still new for me, so bear with me a little?
Takahashi Ai had to take the reigns from Yossy, the last of the ‘Golden Era’ musumes. She led the group through nearly four years of big moments: their first trip to America, their first (I assume) trip to Paris, their first number one since ‘Aruiteru’ and two major member additions – the Chinese half of our eighth gen and the delightful ninth gen. I’ve read so many blogs saying that under her lead the group ‘stagnated’ (people rely on that word a lot) because the songs all started to sound alike and because the line-up of front-girls never changed. I’ve also read talk that claims because she was such a powerful performer she overshadowed everyone. To paraphrase another blogger (if this is you, tell me and I will credit you properly) “There’s no need to push anyone else to improve. Takahashi will carry everything!”
I don’t think there has ever been a case quite like that in Momusu history. Even in the Goto era we had such powerhouses that it didn’t matter how hard they pushed her – the others kept speaking up and getting in our faces (and that is why Dream Momusu can exist). With the Ai era, I don’t think it was even just that she overshadowed everyone. That was part of it, but I think Momusu was just missing that senpai-kouhai dynamic that was so prevalent before Yossy left. Let’s face it, none of the Gokkies are leader material on first glance. I think that is largely why Momusu became so close and familial. There was such an emphasis on unity, very few line-up changes and much less of an age gap so everyone became comfortable with each other. They were comfortable enough that some OGs mentioned it specifically. Eventually Ai herself commented that Tsunku’s advice was to make it a “close and family-type” group because it would work for her.
Takahashi led the group and then H!P itself through a very strange time. Getting rid of the Elder Club and restructuring H!P back into a place for the younger performers was a huge step. I personally loved this era and after Yossy left I didn’t even know if I would still be a Momusu fan. But I am, perhaps moreso than ever before. I just wanted to reminisce about Takahashi’s lead because I don’t want to write another post about how great, adorable and talented she is and how she will be missed (even though those things are all very true). I wanted to really look at the things that I loved most about it and see what conclusion I can come to.
This ended up quite long, so forgive me. m (_ _) m
Continue reading “Remembering the Ai-Era”