So, as most people who are, or used to be, fans of H!P have already heard, Tsunku stepped down, or “graduated” from being a producer way back in 2014, after Momusu went to New York. We are only now hearing about it because (I think) of Tsunku’s book. He confesses that he’d quietly stepped down after that concert, no trademark mid-concert announcement or any sort of fanfare.
I suppose it’s been fairly obvious with the amount of non-tsunku songs lately and the lack of “produced by Tsunku” stamps on productions.
The reaction seems to be a resounding ‘meh’, at least from the blogs or discussions I’ve read. People don’t seem to care much because so many have rage-quit or lost interest in the past few years. While they are sorry about Tsunku’s suffering, they seem to feel it’s a good decision and a long time coming.
*sigh* I hate moments like this.
Don’t get me wrong here, I completely understand the logic that says, “He’s been doing this for over a decade and his music is just not the same anymore. Besides, he needs to think about his health right now.”
His music is definitely not the same as it was in the beloved 2000-2005 era that almost everyone seems to cherish. Removing his vocal chords must have been traumatic, never mind whatever he went through beforehand to treat his cancer. He must be exhausted in every possible way.
But it’s Tsunku! Let’s not pretend this is no big deal.
It’s widely acknowledged that the stupid handling of the groups in the past few years (or longer, depending on who you ask) hasn’t been Tsunku’s fault. He has to answer to the company and Up Front seems to only want his face so he can continue to play scapegoat. It’s debatable whether he’s been in charge of anything minus composition and baffling costumes. Tsunku is the face of H!P and therefore, lazy people like me have blamed him for anything we don’t like, for years. I even had a short-lived “series” (heavy on the air-quotes there) about Tsunku’s Insanity.
In my defense, I was very green when I began blogging in 2008. I’d only been a fan a few years and there were tons of things I just didn’t understand yet. I’m sure there is tons I still don’t understand. The point is, whether people get the business side of H!P or not, Tsunku has stepped down and I can’t pretend he’s to blame for a silly decision.
Like I’ve mentioned, a lot of people don’t seem to be concerned about this, because they no longer have an interest or, more harshly, because to them, Tsunku hasn’t been any good for years so he should have left a long time ago. Obviously, I haven’t read every post ever about this, so correct me if I’m wrong here.
I haven’t found a lot of people who are mourning. I suppose finding fans who have loved H!P no matter how silly, boring, or predictable (you know, aside from me) would be impossible. There are those “hardcore fans” who will never leave and have kept the ship afloat, so to speak, for years with their unending support, but they are probably in Japan. English-speaking fans seem to be few and far between nowadays.
Tsunku has described H!P as “an extension of [himself]”, so without his influence, won’t H!P cease to be H!P? Are there others who “get” H!P and care enough about it to not only keep it going, but raise it up again?
Some have pointed out that H!P will keep going because of the fans they already have, at least for a few more years. Maybe with new producers and other songwriters, H!P will gain new fans and some notoriety again. Look at a new song like Angel-May’s Taiki Bansei: Tsunku had nothing to do with it and yet it’s fresh, catchy, and H!P-like enough that fans can embrace it. Look how they are finally utilizing the Egg (they will always be Eggs to me) system and giving already experienced and talented girls a chance to shine.
I don’t think Tsunku will ever stop composing. I watched a recent report featuring Tsunku (News Watch 9: New Start from Despair), the first interview he has done since his surgery. Typing out his answers, a composed, sombre but calm Tsunku says that without his voice he felt like he would disappear. He despaired and the only thing that brought him back was his loving family. He decided he would continue to compose, even though it is now a struggle because he can no longer sing “examples” to his groups. It’s almost torture, but he’s soldiering on.
“I’ve been able to see life through a completely different perspective.”
His wife seems lovely and his children are adorable. Among the sweet things they literally stand up and yell about their father is, “He’s cool and good at sports. He never gets angry and he loves everyone. He’s so nice!” Clearly, he’s in good hands.
I expected him to leave H!P entirely way back when we first heard about his cancer. When I found out about his surgery, I was floored. I kept thinking about how devastating it must have been for his career, but most of all his psyche. I am nowhere near as talented as Tsunku is, nor do I claim to be a good singer, but I will say that I love singing, more even than writing (my other great love). I don’t remember a time when I didn’t sing, or when singing was ever painful, or when singing didn’t return me to myself, no matter how terrible things got. I can’t fathom an existence in which I physically couldn’t sing.
I don’t mean to be melodramatic and of course, I don’t know Tsunku personally, but my sympathy for him is stronger than my concern for H!P. I’m very glad he will keep composing, mainly because it’s an outlet he doesn’t have to lose. Music is wonderful that way; there are so many forms of musical expression and thank God for that.
(gif by Airiri)
Now what of H!P in the hands of…whomever? Evolution seems to be a welcome word for most former, or casual H!P fans. No one seems to agree on what that means. Some love the emphasis on robo-dance music and some hanker for the days of genki-pop sugar, or more traditional idol fare. Some perhaps want a mix of the two.
I just want things to keep going. Momusu will always be the group I follow, but H!P is where they live. They are the main sail on the ship, regardless of how many people feel they don’t deserve it. Angel-May is heading forward full-speed, C-ute has a few more years left, Kobushi Factory kicks ass and J=J are well-established now. The other groups still haven’t won me over, but I wouldn’t underestimate them.
After all, J=J got under my skin there for a while.
Did I mention Hello Project’s new Hello Station Dance Group (lame name aside)? The group focusing only on dance that gives some of the lesser-known dancers a chance to show-off? And is hawt? I loved watching them struggle to learn this routine on Green Room and then seeing the results of their hard work. More of that please!
(gif from Phyllis on tumblr)
I love Tsunku compositions. I don’t love every single one, obviously, but he’s composed non-stop for over a decade for goodness knows how many groups and he can still take my heart and squeeze it until it explodes with happiness. He can do that through one song or one particular line, even after all this time. I’m definitely glad he’ll still be around.
Gross metaphor aside…
If new management means better costumes, evolution, snappy choreography and Tsunku getting to bask in his family? I’m all for it.
But it will never be the same again. This is big.
I suppose time will tell if it’s a good thing for H!P or not.