In Which Platinum Gen Changed Everything: Part Three

PART THREE: Paving the way for Colourful Era

I still think the Platinum Era members of Momusu had it tough and it’s only now that people are realizing how amazing that group became. During promotions for their 20th anniversary, Shige said that if people were going to praise the members of that time, she wishes they would have done it back then. As Takahashi pointed out, “No one called it ‘Platinum’ at that time!” One of the most frustrating things they heard back then was, “What is Morning Musume up to nowadays?”

There were many factors contributing to their lack of popularity in Japan, but one of the major ones I cited was the appearance of AKB48. They were younger, newer, they were more accessible (at the time) and they had the variety emphasis Momusu no longer had. Momusu had to figure out what it wanted to be in the bridge period between the Golden Era and whatever they were to become. I think people generally agree that their Golden Era ended when Yossy graduated, but the usual transition was interrupted by Fujimoto Miki unexpectedly resigning to be with the man she eventually married (“Shoujiiiiii!”). Until Tsunku could find our ninth generation, Momusu had to recreate itself without their senpai to help.

One of the main things I kept seeing in blogs was ranting about ‘stagnation’ and it still bothers me. For a period of such immense changes, people didn’t seem to see anything but the lack of auditions and reliance on the same types of songs for each new release. I’m going to try and explain why I feel they didn’t stagnate; in fact, I think their development raised the bar for future generations and paved the way for the Colourful Era.

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In Which Platinum Gen Changed Everything – Part Two

PART TWO: The Stagnation Situation

After about two years of Platinum generation, with their slowly declining sales and lack of television presence, it seemed like every post about Momusu involved the word ‘stagnation’. The O.Gs were almost always onscreen when Momusu got to appear and as a result, the concept of the Golden Age became a topic of endless, heated debate. This is also the first time I ever encountered the concept of ‘rage-quitting’ a fandom: “They are just so bad that I am QUITTING them dammit!!.

Never mind all the changes that had happened two years ago and how lightning quick O.Gs had graduated or just exited (it was hard to catch your breath after Abe Natsumi graduated); Never mind the unprecedented move of having Chinese members in Momusu, or the fact that long-time shows had ended and new shows had taken their places; Never mind how H!P was slowly condensing, splitting into Elder Club and WonderfulheartsLand only to have a massive Elder Club exodus in only a couple years; Never mind how very different concerts became when there wasn’t that strong emphasis on variety anymore and how each girl had to step up her game.

Nope. All that mattered was Momusu was the same as it was a year ago, and let’s not forget the looming juggernaut of the emerging AKB48!

What was Itsumo Genki, Momusu-Supporter, to do? Was it really that bad? Let’s take a look at some of the things that I can remember people hating about the Platinum era.

Continue reading “In Which Platinum Gen Changed Everything – Part Two”

In Which Platinum Gen Changed Everything

PART ONE: The Ace Question

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There is no other period of Morning Musume history that gets more criticism, insults, and terrible reviews than the Platinum Generation. At least there isn’t to my knowledge and I’ve been in this fandom for a decade now (wow, who else feels old?). It’s strange to me, who became a fan in late 2006, that this era is now becoming a bit as mythical as the Golden Age. Obviously it’s nowhere near as admired and lusted after, but people now seem to acknowledge how spoiled we were back in the age of JunLin, Takahashi Ai and, depending on your level of crack-consumption, Miracle-Ace Koharu. Since the kyuukies, the polish of the group with only three newbies has gone down. The vocals aren’t as strong, for example and mileages vary on performance level.

In one of her many awesome posts, Magi-kat made the point that there is a whole generation of new Momusu fans who are used to the conditions of one or two members getting all the solo lines, the relentlessly pushed ‘Ace’ member carrying all the pressure, and members staying in the group for decades. That was simply never the norm until Platinum Era.

So what was the Platinum Generation/Era? Why did people hate it so much if it created a generation of fans? Why is the question of the Ace so important for people now?

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Remembering the Ai-Era

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

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