[I started this post last year around August, but since I was in the second month of a new and high-stress job, I never finished it. I know Haruna-Derp-a-thon has already graduated, so here’s a small tribute a couple months late.]
*sigh* Isn’t this a little too soon?
This is the graduation that everybody expected when Ogata announced hers a couple months ago. Honestly, people have been expecting this one for a few years now. Our sweet, sweet, honey, Derp-master, Iikubo Haruna is graduating from Momusu.
I feel like in the last few years, Iikubo has slipped further and further into the background. I don’t just mean the old-standard complaint of “she gets no lines” (which is true, when you ignore album tracks, or spoken lines in singles), but even when I watched dvd magazines and such. For a while there, I didn’t really see her.
I don’t know if that’s just my memory playing tricks or if maybe she decided to back up a bit and let the new members forward.
But I really missed ‘sweet, sweet, honey-time’.
Now, if you guys remember way back in ‘Colourful era’ (is it still Colourful era?) or what Itsumo Genki calls ‘Robo-Musume’, Iikubo’s member colour was “chocolate”.
Which was so weird. I mean, it was a weird choice.
But it looked awesome!
I loved it BECAUSE it was an odd choice. I also loved that it built in something everybody could tease her about. Her constant protestations of, “It’s not BROWN! It’s CHOCOLATE!” got attention right away.
[And this is where I left off. Let us continue in 2019, after her graduation, which at the time of writing this, I haven’t seen yet.]
When Haruna first joined, she had this almost vacantly excited attitude towards everything. While the other 10th gen members were looking tiny and nervous during their first concert introductions, she just belted out her greeting to a huge audience and then kept exclaiming, “Wow this is fun” once she got backstage.
Then she began complimenting. And not really generic compliments either; they seemed at least mildly tailored to the person she was speaking about. It was like she could find something good to say about anyone. I LOVE that about her. It seemed so down-to-earth.
I like that as stylish as she is and as pretty, she never came across as full of herself. She always laughed at her self good-naturedly. She felt like a calming presence.
As for her performance ability, well she tries. Her dancing has obviously improved more than her singing, but she has a sweet little voice. She’s not a member I’ll remember for her voice, like Ogata, but for everything she brought.
[After Watching her Graduation Concert…]
This might be kind of a harsh thing to say, but you can always tell when a beloved member is graduating vs a member who is beloved among the members. If the member has a bigger fanbase, they go ALL out.
Take Mitsui’s grad for example: tacked on to Niigaki’s with a graduation memorial dvd that didn’t even have her get the usual messages from each member that literally every other grad memorial had (correct me if I’m wrong here)! But when the members got to talk to her during the concert, you could tell everybody adored her, or appreciated her, even if her fanbase was small.
Duu’s concert came complete with her gorgeous send-off song and a world of heartwarming moments. She had (has) a much larger fanbase than Mitsui, and the concert seemed to celebrate her before it bothered showing us the group without her.
I remember a whole lot of dancing in Iikubo’s concert, but not a whole lot of moments where I felt that kind of appreciation for her role in Momusu. Certainly there were the grad messages and a letter from her best bud Ayaka (they were adorably awkward together), but I don’t remember much else aside from dancing.
It was a good concert, but it didn’t make me cry or tear up the way I expected it to. There seemed to be a real emphasis on, ‘Ok she’s leaving but look we have a new dance-y single and let’s all dance and WOOOOO!’ Chalk that up to the company really wanting us to be ok with her leaving. With Tsunku, he’d probably be more sensitive to Iikubo fans who wanted more. The company seemed to want to distract me from the sadness with cool-ness.
Yeah, that’s not what grad concerts are about, UpFront.
And hey. maybe I was reading it wrong. I hope fans were happy with it.
I’m also not trying to suggest that she has a small fanbase. I’m actually not sure about her popularity in Japan; I’m not exactly as in the “game” as I’ve been in the past.
Well, Derp-a-thon looked gorgeous and I will miss her unique presence. She’s already thriving, making her own anime/manga/online avatar and I know that she will continue to delight her fans.
I think the question now is: How is Ayumin gonna handle Masaki-kins by herself?